Malakhov P. - Daily Steps towards Brotherhood

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Daily Steps towards Brotherhood

by Pavel Malakhov
Published in "Modern Theosophical Thought", 2022-2 (7)
Published in The Theosophist, vol. 144, No. 2-3, November-December 2022. Translated from Russian by Vladimir Baziukin.
in Russian: Малахов П.Н. - Ежедневные шаги к братству

As we all know, there exist various paths facilitating spiritual development of the human being, each of them being quite justified as far as it helps individuals who follow this path to progress towards the refinement of their nature. Thus, anyone seeking to develop their understanding of how the world works finds it important to conceive the subject intellectually before they can integrate the resulting conception into their living practice. Theory and speculation are no idle words for individuals of this kind, but rather tools for achieving their own progress. They need first to elaborate a clear-cut conception of what brotherhood[1] really is, how helpful and necessary it might be, before they agree to make the conception part of their daily reality. Hopefully, the ideas I am presenting further on, will help some to come closer to the adoption and implementation of this noble concept.

Subject of Investigation

The Theosophical Society (TS) was founded precisely for the practical application of brotherhood principles — a fact which not only found its formal expression in the Society's first Object but also was clearly set forth in the short message of the Mahachohan, the Teacher of the Mahatmas who had inspired the establishment of the TS. Following is a fragment of his message:

“… how is the combative natural instinct of man to be restrained from inflicting hitherto unheard of cruelties and enormities, tyranny, injustice, etc., if not through the soothing influence of a brotherhood? . . .

Perish rather the Theosophical Society . . . than that we should permit it to become no better than an academy of magic and a hall of occultism. That we, the devoted followers of that spirit incarnate of absolute self-sacrifice, of philanthropy, divine kindness, as of all the highest virtues attainable on this earth of sorrow, the man of men, Gautama Buddha, should ever allow the Theosophical Society to represent the embodiment of selfishness, the refuge of the few with no thought in them for the many, is a strange idea, my brothers.”

Such an emphasis on the understanding and feeling of brotherhood is made by people whose brief fragmentary reflection of their knowledge is the voluminous work of The Secret Doctrine, taken in all its complexity and depth — that is, they are people with a fairly well-developed intellect, imagination, and intuition. It means that there is something fundamental underlying the brotherhood idea, something that enables one to penetrate far deeper into the laws of the Universe compared with what can be obtained by means of intellect alone.

To be able to understand anything, one should push oneself inwardly towards it. This holds true not solely for the intellectual approach, but for such approach as well. Therefore, let us try to get an intellectual understanding of brotherhood by means of logical reasoning so that, upon giving intellect the food it needs, we can pass on to other levels of understanding to end up finding ways for implementing this idea in our everyday life.


Theosophy asserts that the human being is multiplanar in the literal sense of the word. He perceives the world from several angles and on several planes of existence simultaneously. Thus, we distinguish our physical body with its five senses from what we experience independently of the latter: for example, alarm, uncertainty, fear, affection, and other emotions and feelings. Another level of existence is represented by our own thoughts and the way we perceive other people's thoughts. Theosophy and some other teachings, however, maintain that apart from these three, there exists a spiritual level that links all creatures together. Thus, for example, we can describe our four planes of existence as follows:

  1. Physical, where our physical body with its senses exists;
  2. Substantial, sensual, or psychic, where our sensual perceptions and emotional experiences dwell;
  3. Intellectual, where our thoughts appear, exist, and evolve;
  4. Spiritual, what represents the enduring reality, our immortal nature.

Just as any concept can be considered in accordance with the above four planes of existence, brotherhood can be represented as the fourfold:

  • physical, members of a family, or neighbours;
  • psychic, those compassionate, those sharing our feelings;
  • intellectual, like-minded persons, or those sharing the same faith;
  • spiritual, teachers, guides; but as all separating boundaries begin to disappear at higher grades of existence, the very notion of brothers or sisters disappears, melting in the universal Unity and common perception of Reality.

Table A, below, “Brotherhood Levels”, deals in more detail with human communication to specify human qualities reflecting the concept of brotherhood at each level.

Table A

Brotherhood Levels
Level of communication Individuals involved Modes of communication Valuable qualities of brothers and sisters
physical relatives, neighbours, community Meetings and congresses, handshakes and embraces, specific vestments and paraphernalia; sharing things and providing financial aid; creating a common space (home, community) generosity, thoroughness, diligence
psychic those sympathizing, empathizing sympathy, ability to listen to and cheer up others; creating a friendly atmosphere, cosiness gentleness, responsiveness, affection, friendliness, kindness
intellectual like-minded persons and those sharing the same faith discussion, formalization of cooperative arrangements, modes of expression, work on the text and wording (rules, regulations, commandments), structuring; promoting a culture of creativity tolerance, inclusiveness, flexibility of mind, creative approach
spiritual teachers, guides unselfish transmission of knowledge; meditation; dissolution of one's Self in the others; manifesting oneself as a vehicle of natural forces ability to synthesize ideas and penetrate into the essence of things; altruism

If we find there is something that prevents us from experiencing friendly feelings towards others, let us examine what it is and to which level of existence it pertains. Is the obstacle really ours and is it insurmountable? This requires from us conscious realization of what it is that we regard as ourselves. The question itself is fundamental and difficult enough to demand that we examine it closely. Yet, it is not due to the human constitution theory offered to us by Theosophy (fairly simple in its general outlines) that makes the question so difficult. Rather, it is due to our attachment to lower principles. Thus, according to the classical theosophical description, human constitution can be represented in a simplified way:

  1. Physical body — an outer shell of the rest of the principles enabling our consciousness to gain experience in the densest layers of matter.
  2. Astral body — the prototype of the physical body; the vehicle of the sensual principle responsible for the connection between our mind and the exterior world.
  3. Prâna — the energy principle which is responsible for human beings’ industry and vitality; this principle pervades the remaining bodies, linking them with each other.
  4. Inferior mind, concrete — intellectual activity, high adaptability to the environment, the ability to analyse information supplied by senses; its main function is to provide vital activity, survival of man; develops a new personality for each reincarnation.
  5. Superior mind, abstract — rational or reasonable activity, the ability to discover laws, understand events as they occur; its main function is to comprehend the world; develops an immortal individuality.
  6. Buddhi — a transcendental principle, which connects our evolving individuality with the reflection of the ideal universe inside of us, its basic function being individualization of the eternal and unconditioned existence or reflection of the latter inside of us.
  7. Âtma — another transcendental principle, but there is nothing individual about it; its basic function is to maintain connection with the entire Universe.

We are all these seven principles simultaneously, but what we regard as ourselves at any given moment of our lives may vary a great deal. Hence, there is a great difference in our understanding of Brotherhood.

1) Should we view ourselves as bodies alone, then brotherhood will take shape in our view as a union of bodies. Brotherly activities shall be expressed as general meetings, personal attendance, special handshakes and embraces, specific vestments, and paraphernalia. What is important at this level is sharing things and providing financial aid, improved living conditions, establishment of communities and communes, and so on. Brotherly qualities would include generosity, thoroughness, and diligence.

2) Should we perceive ourselves, above all sensually, then the brotherhood idea will find expression, in our eyes, through sympathy, the ability to listen to and cheer up our neighbours. A friendly atmosphere in our group will be of great importance to us, and, accordingly, we will be seeking to act in a more environment-friendly and positive manner, following the principle: “Never do harm.” It will become important for us to see gentleness, affection, kindness and responsiveness in other people. Naturally enough, we will be cultivating the same qualities in ourselves.

3) Should we identify ourselves with intellectual activities, we will try to rub shoulders with like-minded people and those sharing our own faiths. The brotherhood criteria will then embrace the similarity of views while in our practice we will seek to develop a proclivity towards acting thoughtfully and reasonably. A creative approach to any problem will also become an important requirement for us. At still higher levels of our development, we will seek to expand our intellectual horizons. Next, brotherly relations would give rise to a highly marked ability to accept other people's view of the world. Therefore, flexibility of mind, tolerance and inclusiveness will become qualities that we will value most of all in others.

4) When we reach the level of spiritual perception, unity and the public good will become our key values as we seek to share everything we have there. Yet, unlike the preceding planes, this one focuses on non-material benefits alone. Therefore, while unselfishly sharing our knowledge and wisdom we should realise we are acting on the spiritual plane. In that event, we have no wish to prove anything or convince anybody; we are only eager to answer questions asked, speaking the language familiar to the enquirer. This is a level where we accept the exterior world in all entirety, and, thus, none of those who consciously stay on this plane, desire to create anything for themselves or change it to suit their needs. All their acts are connected with the needs of other people.

Seeking to act in perfect agreement with Nature, individuals here voluntarily become creative conductors of higher powers and dedicate themselves to the service of all beings with the care of a parent, while taking the position of an older brother, that is, the senior among equals. At still higher levels of this plane, however, even the notions brother or sister disappear, because we find ourselves in a state of an integral perception of reality shared by all, staying at the same level, so that regarding the lower ones such people regard themselves not as elder brothers but, rather, as auxiliary forces of Nature which provide the necessary conditions for development. In other words, their feelings and assistance are impersonal and, of course, absolutely disinterested.

The higher the level of brotherhood we can make part of our worldview and field of our activities, the easier it will be for us to show brotherly feelings at other, lower levels. Yet, activities at some of the levels will not replace activities at the others. Each level is sufficiently important, because a complete human being must feel completely at home at each of the levels. In ordinary life, however, we see that the development of these levels does not proceed one after the other, but simultaneously, and the speed of progress may be different.

Sometimes the intellectual level can significantly overtake the physical and psychic ones, and then the idea of brotherhood fails to come to fruition, remaining a mere idea. An individual like this will remain a theoretician useless to other people.

Should the psychic level happen to take the leading position, one could see such people overwhelmed with emotions: they eagerly share their problems and experience with others, but they are unable to resolve their problems either because they fail to see any solutions or they are too lethargic to translate them into life.

If it is the physical level that comes out on top, one can watch people build assembly and conference halls, but cannot come to terms in them; they may establish communities but fail to get along with others in them; they may earn a great deal of money and acquire material wealth by joint effort but they fail to distribute the capital fairly.

Should, however, an individual withdraw into isolation at the spiritual level, he will, then, become useless for the rest of humankind: while perceiving higher energies and plunging into the field of divine wisdom, he loses the ability to serve as their conductor and transmitter for other people.

Therefore, the evolution of the human being must proceed at all levels, and each level must be given equal attention, and we should improve our ability to show allegiance to the brotherhood principles at each level, which means that each level requires its own regular practice.

The Practice of Brotherhood

For everyone practicing brotherhood, it is very important to understand that it is primarily a state of consciousness, or a set of conditions under which such consciousness is possible and the violation of which makes it impossible. Just as we cannot experience both hatred and love at the same time, so there are states — for example, arrogance, vindictiveness, irritation, irresponsibility, fanaticism — that are opposite to brotherhood and undermine it. In this regard, the necessary daily practice will include switching oneself from negative states to positive ones. Each individual will have his own list of qualities to pay attention to. To begin with, we need to focus on minimising feelings and thoughts that alienate us from other people, cause irritation, rejection, and dissatisfaction with communication.

Without setting ourselves the goal of comprehensively highlighting the possible practices for people of different characters and inclinations, we will outline some practical advice for those who are prone to intellectual activity. For such people, a fundamental disagreement with their opponents on any worldview issue can often be an obstacle to cooperation and brotherly communication. In that event, two approaches can help to remove the barrier: acceptance and understanding. Both approaches have their own realisation paths which embrace a number of quite specific actions.

Based on acceptance, brotherhood principles can be inculcated through passive actions that are the result and expression of empathy, compassion, and resignation. The implementation of the following tips may prove helpful for achieving success during one's daily meetings and conversations:

  • let the other person have his own opinion, different from ours;
  • allow others to make mistakes;
  • admit the possibility of yourself being wrong;
  • accept the imperfection of the world as an inescapable fact, including the imperfection of others and yourself;
  • assume your opponent has good intentions, avoid taking his words as an insult;
  • do not talk down your opponent, do not try to dominate, accept him as an equal; or if you find it difficult to do, try to imagine him as your superior in erudition and pay attention to his strong sides;
  • accept the idea of universal unity and inextricable connection with other people: our connection cannot be escaped, brotherhood exists regardless of our desire, understanding, or participation — it is an integral part of being.

As regards brotherhood based on understanding, the following active efforts are required for self-transformation and self-perfection:

  • try to understand where your opponents may be right, try to grasp the context of what they said; taking into account their worldview, try to understand what precisely they meant;
  • do not impose your opinion, restrain your desire to convince the opponent with an abundance of arguments;
  • do not press your opponent emotionally by raising your voice, push, or sensuality of speech;
  • do not ignore arguments that challenge your claims; change your worldview in accordance with them so that it retains the property of consistency with all the facts known to us;
  • if we disagree, it would be advisable to avoid answering with a negative: “no, because ...” and try to answer in the spirit of clarification: “yes, this is true in such and such a context, but in another context it may be different”;
  • use only words that are familiar to your opponent, do not flaunt erudition;
  • pay more attention to understanding the opponent's position than to explaining your own.

The practical application of each advice and both approaches will bring us closer to the state of brotherhood. No theory can give us an experience of this state, one needs to experience it personally, for which appropriate conditions must be available. In this regard, it should be noted that one of the most important practical hints says that brotherhood is a collective state; it cannot be achieved individually; it is the result of interaction with others. On the other hand, brotherhood is primarily an internal state; it embraces our own feelings and state of mind, our own world outlooks; it cannot be instilled from the outside; it must be nurtured from within. These considerations lead us to understand the need to unite with others and motivate ourselves to do so.

The Value of Unity[2]

A lack of mutual understanding is, quite often, the reason why people cannot unite. Sometimes, we find it difficult to find a common language with another person. It would be a good thing to learn to speak in such a manner that others can understand us at once. But often misunderstandings can be easily overcome if you consider the words of our opponent in the right context. In this regard, any collective action will be useful, as it will allow us to better understand the way other people think. Yet, we find it difficult, sometimes, to find a common language, because we are too greatly attached to our own contexts, to the prevailing images and concepts, to certain meanings of words and interpretations of concepts.

In similar situations, we need to find such examples of a more universal language that could allow us to overcome the rigidity of thinking. Here mathematics can come to our rescue, taken as a universal language, strict and logical, for describing the world. Unemotional and concise, it often enables us to bypass differences and reach a consensus. Yet, mathematics, too, has its own paradoxes to resolve for which we need to deepen our understanding of the subject, and find a suitable context in which a mathematical expression can be given without contradictions. Reflection on some of these paradoxes will be fruitful not so much for the development of logic, but for the strengthening of brotherhood feelings among people. How is this possible? Let us consider the idea based on the following examples.

Paradoxes of Mathematics

Table 1

Expression Context
1+1=2 Things and objects – an ordinary computation method.
1+1=3 A family; a birth of trinity out of duality.
1+1=10 The interior (threefold) world and the exterior (sevenfold) world give rise to the tenfold Universe.
1+1= The interweaving of spirit and matter forms an infinite world; the relationship between two people can develop infinitely.

The expression 1 + 1 = 2 is clear to everyone and most likely will be accepted by everyone without objection as reliable. But we can write another expression: 1 + 1 = 3. True, it seems to contradict the former, but only because it is considered in the former context. Yet, as soon as the latter expression is given in a different context, it turns out to be true as well. For example, it can describe a family in which parents give birth to a child. In this context, the expressions 1 + 1 = 4, = 5, etc. will also be true, depending on the size of the family.

Another context where the expression 1+1=3 is also true would be the evolution of the universe: with the emergence of duality (spirit and matter, 1 + 1) there immediately arises a third aspect of the universe — a relationship between them, which can be interpreted as force, fohat or consciousness — depending on the interpretation key applied. Also, the interweaving of spirit and matter gives all the 10 aspects of the world (3 of which express the internal nature, and 7 express the external), which means that the expression 1 + 1 = 10 will also be true. As we proceed to apply the same cosmogonic key and expound the idea of differentiation of the One Principle through duality, trinity, and so on ad infinitum, we come to the validity of the expression 1+1=

The same expression 1+1= can be given in a different context. Mutual relationships between two persons can develop infinitely if both keep in mind the plus sign between them, expressing the idea of complementing and increasing one by means of the other. In this context, a plus is a process, not a one-time action.

Thus, these examples of rigorous mathematics enable us to see how important context is for resolving contradictions. Any spoken or written word is a mere form used to express a thought, behind which one has to recognize the thought itself.

Acting Together or Alone — What Is Better? What Stands in the Way of Unity?

It is a widely known maxim that together you can do more than alone. Yet, the peculiarities of some people give reverse examples (see Table 2 further below).

1) Some people are stubborn, unwilling to meet halfway, negotiate, or seek a compromise. Obviously, you cannot get very far with them as they are just unable to take part in simple joint actions.

2) There are also people who are so destructive that taking them on a team will paralyze or destroy the activities of everyone else. These are primarily cynics, pessimists, and nihilists, for whom there are no authorities or bright sides in life. These are extinguishers of fires and initiatives.

3) Attempting to unite with a fanatic or a narrow-minded person is complicated by the fact that such people do not accept anything that goes beyond their understanding and beliefs. Any dissent is perceived by them not as an addition, but as an encroachment on authorities and commonly accepted principles. Uniting with such people is possible only at the expense of narrowing your own worldview and limiting your own scope of actions.

4) Interaction with complete egoists and introverts (if the possibility of such interaction happens) is also unproductive. Such people are thoroughly useless to those with whom they associate. Their own progress may be quite high, but their benefit to others is just nought.

5) Some people are so obscure social enigmas that it is not clear altogether what might come out of communicating with them. The way they think and motivate their actions are so confusing that they make it difficult to plan and work together. They are referred to as playing some deep game. Sometimes, it is not clear whether you can find a common language with them at all, or even establish common grounds with. They can fail you, disrupt joint plans, they do not keep their promises, constantly making some kind of excuse for avoiding working together.

Table 2
Expression Context
1 + (-1) = 0 A stubborn, wayward person.If, in the presence of different points of view, it is not possible to find a compromise, the union will be fruitless.
10 + (-1) = 0 A destructive cynic, pessimist, and nihilist.Taking such an individual on a team can paralyze or destroy the activities of everyone else.
1 + 0.1 = 0.1 A narrow-minded fanatic.Uniting with such people is possible only at the expense of narrowing your own worldview and limiting your own scope of actions.
1 + 0 = 1 An egoist or introvert, focused on his own Self.Individuals of this type are unable to share or spend time or any material, emotional, or intellectual resources on others.
1 plus integral.png Social enigmas playing a deep game.The unpredictability of their actions complicates cooperation: it is not clear whether a person of this kind can be relied upon, whether he will follow the agreement.

Is it possible and useful to express brotherly feelings towards all of the above categories? What is the use of associating with such people? How can our interaction with them help us, them, or others?

Perhaps, these are questions that should remain open to us for a lifetime, since, every now and then, we will encounter people who have the above qualities to a greater or lesser extent. That is what the world will be like until it becomes perfect, that is, for a very long time: and if we are to use theosophical terms – to the end of time, in the literal sense.

However, the following few thoughts can come to our aid in order to find more or less suitable answers to these questions, according to each case.

  • Am I myself free of the negative qualities I see in others?
  • Fate brings us together with those who can help us improve ourselves most effectively.
  • Our inner circle, for example, our family and friends, is what acts as a most powerful catalyst accelerating the process of our self-transformation.
  • The interior nature of each person is good, kind, and perfect. Only, some individuals have these qualities concealed rather deeply for the time being so that many still need special conditions for the qualities to manifest themselves in full. Yet, this state will become a natural condition of all mankind someday.
  • One should not impose on others or force anybody to do anything – any process takes its time. This applies both to how we treat others and how we do ourselves.
  • It is only our lower nature, our personality, that is inclined to be upset, annoyed, or offended, while our higher and real self, our individuality, does not experience negative emotions, feelings and states.
  • Everything changes over time.

We must also admit that, quite often, most of us need rest — a break not only from our work and communication, but also from our efforts towards self-improvement. Therefore, whenever we feel we are about to lose our temper or explode, it would be useful to remember that it is impossible to solve all issues and problems at once. Sometimes the right decision would be not to press ahead, but to wait, not to force, but to bypass, not to overcome, but to submit. Just as steel is tempered in temperature fluctuations, so our aspirations should be tempered in activity fluctuations. As the proverb goes, haste makes waste. If we find ourselves unable to get through to someone, we should leave this person alone for a time. If we see that we cannot get rid of some of our weaknesses, we should switch our attention to cultivating our strengths. The main thing is to keep moving and prevent all kinds of gusts, breaks, cracks, burnouts, and so forth, including in our relationships with other people. Then these relationships will only grow stronger, even if we keep away from each other for a while. Such a position would allow us to keep the focus on brotherhood, even in difficult and hostile times.

Arguments in Favour of Unity

Whenever we talk about the need to strive for brotherhood, we do not wish to emphasize the fact that all people belong to the human race or the planet. This indisputable fact would inspire but only few people to fraternal relations. Some other facts and arguments are needed in order to realize not only the necessity of such relations, but also their usefulness and practicality. What exactly are these arguments? This question, perhaps, will also always remain open, since the answer to it largely depends on a number of reasons: our maturity (biological, psychological, mental, and spiritual), our outlooks, our reasoned social position, the books we read, people we meet, failures or successes we experience, and it may just depend on our moods.

Following the chosen scheme, we will examine several considerations on this subject, expressed mathematically and taken in the appropriate contexts. Due to the symbolism of mathematics, the proposed expressions can likewise be given in other contexts, which everyone can choose according to their taste (see Table 3).

Table 3
Expression Context
1 + ∞ = ∞ The possibilities of any of us are limited, but when united with others, they increase to infinity.
0 + ∞ = ∞ We become omnipotent even if, initially, we know nothing and cannot do anything.
Fraction plus infinity equals infinity.png All our unsightly sides, sharp corners, and roughness are smoothed out and corrected as we strive to unite with others.
Fraction plus infinity equals one.png To achieve wholeness and completeness, one has to contain in himself the diversity of the world in its entirety.

Argument 1. The benefit of any association lies in overcoming both internal and external restrictions. The abilities of any of us are limited, but when united with others, they increase invariably. In their ultimate state, when we reach universal unity, these abilities will expand to infinity.

Argument 2. Even if we know nothing and cannot do anything, even if we consider ourselves useless grains of sand, by uniting with others, we grow and increase by the size of those we join. Gradually, by identifying ourselves with the group we operate in, we come to realise that we are not as helpless, weak, and insignificant as we previously thought and what we have done in cooperation is quite tangible and significant. Further on, we may discover that our small group is actually part of some larger group, and as we begin to identify ourselves with the latter, we move on to the realisation of the fact that there are still greater and far more significant results and achievements to which we have contributed. Thus, by expanding our identification with others, we gradually become omnipotent, but with one qualification: the personal aspect of this omnipotence disappears, since the "I" becomes "we" at this level. Moreover, this transformation occurs gradually and painlessly in the process of our involvement in the common work.

An employee of any large enterprise provides a good example of the 1st and 2nd arguments. He, following this path, can go through the following stages of transforming his perception of himself: individual — department — division — enterprise — national industry — national economy — international industry — humanity.

Argument 3. It is not always that we represent an integral person, or, speaking mathematically, we are not always equal to one. Worse, our complex and contradictory inner nature does not even allow us to understand what exactly our state is equal to at every given moment. However, our aspiration to be useful to others will help us in resolving this issue — not so much in understanding our true value (this may come as a concomitant result), but in realising that our incompleteness is not fatal, incorrigible, or final while association with the rest will contribute to make us more complete. All our unsightly sides, sharp corners and roughness are smoothed out and corrected as we strive to unite with others. Zooming in always results in small details falling out of view. Thus, by expanding the scope of our interests and activities, we naturally get rid of personal shortcomings. By dedicating our lives to the interests of others, by shifting our focus from the personal to the public, we gradually get rid of everything personal, including personal shortcomings. This would be a smoother and less painful way for us to get rid of them than a direct fight against them and suppression by willpower.

Argument 4. There are many people who constantly feel they miss something to feel truly integral. Interaction with other people, in this event, will help one to complete the missing elements, properties and qualities. In this way, we can restore our integrity, achieve this feeling, become a unit or a single whole. If we lack concentration, in a team with a focused and purposeful person we will be able to complete the work we have begun. If we do not have enough intellectual power to understand some issue, by associating with a person endowed with this quality we can gradually receive answers in a form we clearly understand. If we lack warmth and tact, by uniting with those living in such an atmosphere, we will certainly begin to melt and our coarse, rough, and angular forms will gradually begin to acquire a more streamlined, attractive, and harmonious look. Thus, we will gradually begin to acquire a sense of wholeness, and this feeling itself will grow more and more while manifesting in us as it will pass through a different understanding of ourselves as:

I — We — All

and, accordingly, through the following perceptions of ourselves:

  1. Self-sufficiency, integrity of oneself, but not understood as something separate from everything else, but rather as having everything necessary for a full-fledged existence and activity.
  2. Involvement — I am a part of something bigger, each of us depends on the other and influences the other. Absolute independence is fundamentally impossible, we constantly and invariably – consciously or unconsciously, whether we want it or not – change each other because we are in one bundle, atoms of one molecule, cells of one organism.
  3. All are one — throughout the world, there is only one movement, dissected by time into different streams, the essence of which does not change. The energy that sets them in motion remains the same, since it has one source. Likewise, the general direction of movement remains unchanged for all, despite the turbulences and deviations caused by free will.

All the above arguments reflect the idea of merging an individual with infinity — an idea that frightens many, since this state is understood as a loss of individuality, one's complete disappearance or final death. But those who have progressed much further than we have in this direction say that we have nothing to fear. The cyclic law will not fail to provide us with such a period of unconscious existence; it may be a night's sleep between two days, an afterlife between two incarnations, a pralaya between two manvantaras, and so on; but it is the same law that will certainly return us to conscious individual activity.

Each of us has a separate body, separate feelings, and separate thoughts. Although each of their individual elements may resemble a great deal those present in another person, even though each of these elements may be far from unique in itself, every combination of them is still unique. And it will always remain our individual objective to find ways for this unique combination to be used in the interest of some useful work done within the framework of our common evolution.

Proceeding from Reflection to Action

A human being is understood, first of all, as a rational consciousness. Consciousness, like intelligence, is movement. Movement may be fast or slow, going in the right or wrong direction. Yet, by one way or another, the process of transformation is on the go permanently. Therefore, if we manage to tune ourselves into cooperation, if we find the necessary motivation for ourselves and involve ourselves in activities for the benefit of other people, we will then significantly accelerate our own development, thereby saving ourselves from unnecessary or erroneous movements.

Of course, our primal focus must be on improving ourselves: correcting our own shortcomings and developing precisely our own strengths is the safest way,[3] but if, while doing so, we will also prove able to find such ways of interacting with another person that will help him to overcome his shortcomings and change in a positive sense greater (or faster) than in a negative one, the effectiveness of our activity will increase significantly. The improvement of each individual will lead to the benefit (in the literal sense) of the world, of mankind at large, since the whole consists of parts, and an improvement in any part means an improvement in the whole.

The connection between a human being and humankind is mutual. This is something one must always keep in mind. The latter (mankind) can find existence only through the manifestation of the former (a person), which, from a practical point of view, means that we cannot aspire towards the universal brotherhood as long as we ignore those close to us or try to get rid of them. “We cannot” not in the sense that this cannot be avoided (as it is precisely the ignoring of the neighbour that occurs at the first stage of our striving for the ideal), but in the sense that it is the people next to us who create exactly the working environment we need for the implementation of our aspirations. It is through them that our goal can be achieved.

We must add, in this regard, that no true achievement is possible unless we are involved in the work. Reflection and theory are just where the human journey begins. Actually, its full implementation should take place on all planes of our existence, which means that along with a deeper awareness of our ideals, we must be active to translate them into life. Therefore, each one striving for brotherhood, self-improvement, and desirous to help others should take part in joint projects and meetings. Only by doing so can we identify our strengths and weaknesses, know ourselves better, and transform ourselves ultimately.


  1. The words “brotherhood”, “man”, “men”, “he” and the like are used in a wider sense, refering to a human being(s) in general.
  2. .This part of the article was prepared for the round-table discussion "Practical Value of Theosophists' Unity” held at the National Theosophical Congress 2021.
  3. See this MTT issue [No. 2022-1 (13)], article "The Creating Power of Egoship" to read more about this and the role of altruism in self-development.