Malakhov P. - Practical realization of the three objects of the TS
Published in "Modern Theosophical Thought", 2017-2 (4)
The theme at a round-table held during Theosophical readings in Makarevka. Translated from Russian by Olga Fyodorova
in Russian: Малахов П.Н. - Практическая реализация трёх целей ТО
When it comes to fraternity of any scope, the first thing is the idea of gratuitous and unconditional help to another person. The less there are the benefits to our own in our care, the more there is fraternity in our actions. Help as such can be different, but it is fraternal only when there is no selfishness in it. When each of our actions is saturated with a brotherly feeling, then we approach altruism – conscious selfless work for the benefit of the whole society.
A brotherhood is a union, but any herd of animals, a flock of birds or a school of fish are also a union, the value of human unity being in the fact that man does so by his own will; the more he penetrates into the idea of the inseparable unity of all beings, one universal and all-spreading life, the more consciously he seeks for unity, without violating necessary identity and individuality of each person.
Speaking about altruism, hearing about it, we can ask ourselves: "how congenial is this life style to us?", "Which exactly altruistic work are we doing?", "Having understood the evolutionary necessity of altruism, how did we apply this principle to our life"? Often some people complain that the other around them are not perfect and at the same time they don’t pay any attention to their own shortcomings. Such people believe that if they had an opportunity, they would show latent inner altruism in full. But it is a self-deception or laziness, isn’t it? After all, there are certainly some people in our environment who set an example of altruistic actions. Even if these people themselves are not perfect, but their actions bring them closer to perfection. Red Cross, Greenpeace, homes for the elderly and the homeless, hospices and animal shelters, all of these are quite affordable opportunities for altruism.
How ready are we to act unselfishly? Why not, for example, sweep around your house? Despite the fact that there is a street cleaner, who is paid for it; despite the fact that it is not you but your neighbours, who drop garbage. Often we are ready to justify our inaction by somebody’s shortcomings or duties. But altruism differs from fulfilling one's duty. It consists of actions that no one obliges us to do, no one promises us any rewards, but our inner confidence that we should do our best to help other people, regardless of our personal interests, supplies us with necessary motivation and power to act. Those conditions that serve to justify ourselves in doing nothing are the tests that we fail to pass. In fact, nothing prevents us from making the world better but ourselves, for there are many opportunities and it is up to us whether we use them or not. The Universal Brotherhood, referred to as the first object, is precisely a conscious association for the common good. Civil laws and religious dogmas are not able to provide a strong link. They are the echo and the threshold of the self-cultivated inner sensation of a strong connection with all people, from which responsiveness, care, responsibility, compassion and many other moral qualities of a person result.
The realization of the first object is altruism towards people.
Without individual inquiry, we can’t speak of any conscious unity. What does "a comparative study of religion, philosophy and science" mean? All three concepts are spheres of human thought. Each direction in any of the three spheres is the result of the human mind activity. Nowadays, the first concept implies meditation on the connection of a person with the divine world, the second one – abstract reflections on the interrelations and essence of things, and the third one – practical basing and application of any branch of knowledge. However, not so long ago thinkers did not make such distinctions, since a whole world outlook should include all the three and not one of them cannot be self-sufficient without the other two.
Some of us are familiar with the feeling of intellectual hunger: when you want to learn something, comprehend some idea, sort something out, put everything in order. Also, many people know the feeling of intellectual saturation: for example, when someone talks about a decent life, what to do and how to build relationships properly, people who listen to him gradually become saturated with beautiful words and harmonious logic and, having received enough good messages to satisfy their own mental digestion, leave to have a rest without doing anything to apply what they heard. It’s already enough for them to have this sense of saturation, they feel as if everything that the speaker said has already come true and they do not need to apply any efforts. In fact, even the most beautiful word or the most correct thought needs some actions in order to become a reality. Helena Petrovna spoke about the popular AUM mantra, that
"Aum means good action, not merely lip-sound. You must say it in deeds."
Thus, any idea, even the most exalted, must be expressed through our deeds.
Of course, we are not perfect and not always our good thoughts can turn into deeds, but without trying to do these good deeds, without trying to change ourselves and realize our ideals in life, we won’t be able to move along the path of spiritual development. Each attempt will turn into a small step on it and each action will give the necessary experience, strengthening us for further progress. Therefore, the practical result of understanding and implementing the second object will be actions that can help people to overcome ideological barriers. There can be spreading literature, arranging dialogues and writing analytical articles explaining the traits of each culture.
The second object draws our attention to diversity of the human thought, to different ways of comprehending the world. A distinctive feature of man in comparison with the lower kingdoms of nature is his ability to think. Therefore, the development of this ability is a necessary task. Mankind as a whole must comprehend the entire diversity of the world, all its features and extremes, hence great variety of opinions and methods of cognition. Scientific institutions, philosophical schools, religious confessions are all various ways of learning the world. Theories, hypotheses and teachings are products of the human thought. Every serious thinker contributes to the universal picture, thereby helping the entire humanity.
The realization of the second object is altruism towards ideas.
Study of the world, its properties and features, as well as one’s capabilities is the inborn quality of man. Since the very first days a person starts to comprehend his environment better and better. Children do not have to get interested in the world. Often it is quite the opposite: the adults say to a child: "do not go there," "do not touch it," "it's still too early for you to know," and so on. Children perceive the outside world as an extension of themselves, hence their surprise and resentment when something happens not at their will, and hence the immediacy with which they communicate with nature and other people.
Thus, since the very childhood we are familiar with the feeling of the integrity of the world with us, our inseparable connection and unity with everything around us. Since the very beginning, we perceive ourselves not as separate beings, but as part of the whole. This is a characteristic feature of altruism. It is true that many adults see altruism from another aspect: as a rejection of one's interests in favour of others.
The third object of the TS draws attention to the fact that while serving others, a person should not forget about himself. After all, any of us is a reflection of the universe. A reflection and a part of it at the same time. We can do some work for the good of others, and yet understand our own involvement in the world, we should not strip ourselves out of it and forget about ourselves. By studying ourselves, we study the laws of the universe, and by improving ourselves, we invariably improve the whole world.
Paying close attention to yourself and taking care of your improvement is not the same as living alone with your own interests. An egoist who lives for himself only, forgetting about others and an altruist who lives for others only and forgetting about himself, both separate themselves from the world, violating its continuity and oneness. One life fills all beings, uniting us with each other. Realizing this, we will be able to comprehend ourselves and study the whole world. The forces that we find in ourselves are those that move all cosmic bodies; the problems we face are the obstacles that every developing person has to deal with, and those discoveries that we do when observing ourselves can help others to solve their difficulties more easily and quickly.
The trouble with many people in the modern society is that they are trying to change the world, paying little attention to changing themselves. Since this trait is a property of consciousness, it manifests itself in all activities: not only in technocratic progress, not only in exploiting the resources of the planet, not only in violent relation to other people, this trouble can touch upon even initially altruistic motives. An altruist who wants to give himself up to serving people can easily turn into a religious fanatic, firmly convinced that he knows what will be the best for everyone. Such blind devotion to one's own ideal distorts reality and turn his service into a punitive expedition. Therefore, the noble desire to change the world for the better is best realized through studying and changing ourselves.
The realization of the third object is altruism toward ourselves.
Those who wish to enter the path of spiritual development often dream of acquiring a spiritual teacher, meeting him and following his instructions. But, as it is said, a teacher accepts someone who is helpful in his work. The Theosophical Society is not a club of Theosophy admirers, as clearly stated in the Maha-Chochan's Letter, but the unity of people aspiring to comprehend it, to consolidate its principles in everyday life through their own example. It wouldn’t be too much for each of us to remember this and examine the arsenal of one’s abilities to answer the question: "How else can I help people?".
We are entrusted some work as we are getting ready, from small tasks to greater and more significant ones. If we are not able to handle a small task and find a way out of the difficulties that we face without any assistance, then how can we be entrusted a more complex task that requires greater responsibility and entails the necessity of solving much more serious problems. Therefore, it will be useful for everyone to pay attention to what he can really do, being under existing conditions... and what he does. In an impartial analysis, it will be found that in many cases, it is not external circumstances that prevent us from doing good, but our own internal shortcomings: laziness, irritability, resentment, unsociability, selfishness, etc. Any external sources can either inspire us or test, leaving our transformation to our own decision.
In the everyday life of the Theosophy student, sooner or later, time and place for altruism should appear. And this will be expressed not only in meditations or prayers for the common good, not only in feeling of compassion, but also in real physical actions, since the theosophy student, knowing the multilevel structure of the universe, strives to promote the evolution of the universe on all planes of its existence.
Introducing the care toward others in everyday practice, we are getting more aware of the urgency of the idea of universal brotherhood, we do not only know about it, but we start to understand its necessity from within. The magnetic property of thought manifests itself in each of our aspirations: the more time we devote to the idea of brotherhood, the more multilaterally we approach it, the more fully it is revealed to us; the more we penetrate into the meaning of religions or doctrines, the more we understand their one essence, and the more carefully we look at life around us and the more closely we pay attention to changes taking place within ourselves, the better we understand the structure of the world.
Each of our efforts in these three directions will be a practical realization of the three objects of the TS.
Now, let's pay attention to the very name: "Theosophical Society". Our community is called upon to reflect both of these concepts, being both theosophical and society. Both terms are reflected in all three of its objects, representing its content and essence at the same time. The Theosophical Society is theosophical, because it unites people without making any difference of their qualities and features, it appeals its followers to free exploration of worlds, external and internal. It is a society or a secular organization, since its task is to form a body or a vehicle for realization of ideals in everyday life, under those momentary conditions that form the present day with its conditions and features.
- Blavatsky Inner Group meetings, September 17, 1890.