The Great Movement by Emmett Small
Emmett Small – 1974
Back of and beyond the Theosophical Society–all Theosophical Societies–stands the Theosophical Movement. The words clumsily express the thought, but the thought should be clear to all theosophical readers. The Movement is enduring, the Society can be transient; the Movement is ever aiding the constructive evolutionary tendency; the Society can fluctuate, and in certain cycles become a passive or even negative instrument; the Society can hold a transient fellowship, from which, perhaps karmically rightly, the individual may sever attachment; the Movement commands undying fealty. William Q. Judge at a time of great stress in the society some 80 years ago [written in 1975] made strong and clear this distinction when he declared the Theosophical Movement
“is moral, ethical, spiritual, universal, invisible save in effect, and continuous … The Theosophical Movement being continuous, it is to be found in all times and in all nations. Wherever thought has struggled to be free, wherever spiritual ideas, as opposed to forms and dogmatism, have been promulgated, there the great movement is to be discerned … [on the other hand a Society formed for visible work] is a visible organization, an effect, a machine for conserving energy and putting it to use; it is not nor can it be universal, nor it it continuous. Organized Theosophical bodies are made by men for their better c0-operation, but, being mere outer shells, they must change from time to time as human defects come out, as the times change, and as the great underlying spiritual movement compels such alterations. – “The Path”, X, 5, Aug. 1895
The spirit of all this is quite clear, and it is not inappropriate in this theosophical centennial year of 1975 to give careful thought to the idea. Mr. Judge with prophetic eye piercing the future even marked a time when other breaks would come, but when, despite these divisions, groups of Theosophists around the world would be regarded like Freemasons as “independent in government” but “united with all Theosophists” in a great International Theosophical Body–meaning loyalty to the Movement. “The real unity and prevalence, and the real internationalism,” continued Judeg, “do not consist in having a single organization. They are found in the similarity of aim, of aspiration, of purpose, of teaching, of ethics …”
Judge sounded the keynote eighty years ago. Is not that the “unity” that today is needed and ever to be desired? It is a reaching upward of all Theosophical Societies, Groups, Centers, Lodges, and individuals, a reaching upward towards those Ideals represented by that Apex, invisible but universal–the Theosophical Movement. And that very aspiration is part, if we view it rightly, of the ineluctable evolutionary processes of the universe, constructive, harmonious, enduring.
Not a whit of disloyalty to one’s own Society should be read in this. Fulfilling responsibilities and doing one’s duty in immediate karmic relationships and surroundings is in itself a support of the Movement. Seeking to understand and to embody in daily practice the teachings of Theosophy as given by H.P. Blavatsky and her Teachers and thus to help one’s own lodge or group in their unswerving loyalty to high theosophic principle, is to support the Movement. To speak out strongly against what one considers error in promulgating the teachings, while yet reserving to others the right to express their own views, is to support the Movement. To try to understand–and it is doubtful if most of us do–H.P. Blavatsky in the unique position she held as the mouthpiece of Those who sent her, as a trained disciple, “no second to her living fit for this work”*–is to support the Movement.
The opportunity is at hand to view the whole theosophical effort in the light of this larger, co-operative and basic unity, to work together more imaginatively, more understandingly, more practically. It is not a matter of words. It is a matter of recognizing the uses of Form but rising above it and embracing the Spirit which invigorates and sustains all things.
September 15, 1975
*”The Mahatma Letters”, p. 263
Emmett and Carmen Small 1998