The United Lodge of Theosophists is an association of students of Theosophy which came into being through the determination of a small number of Theosophists to pursue the objectives of the Theosophical Movement without organizational distractions and formalities. The conception of U.L.T. (United Lodge of Theosophists) as a vehicle for Theosophical work derives mainly from the experience and insight of Robert Crosbie, a man who, throughout a long association with the original Theosophical Society, was witness to the schisms and divisions caused in the movement by organizational claims, controversy over “authority,” and the competition of personal leaders. In 1909, with the help of a few others who had come to share his unsectarian view of Theosophy, Mr. Crosbie. formed the United Lodge of Theosophists—a body which was defined by a simple statement of policies and intentions—and set about the task of restoring the record of the Theosophical teachings available to the public and inaugurating a program of practical Theosophical education. There has been no change, from that day to this, in the U.L.T. statement of purpose, called the “Declaration,” and little alteration (none in principle) in the modes of work established by Mr. Crosbie during his lifetime.
Although study and understanding of Theosophy are regarded by its advocates and supporters as a lifetime under taking, a general view of this philosophy is necessary to a comprehension of U.L.T. The basic idea is that there is in every human being the latent capacity for self-knowledge, for self-reliant decision on all the great questions, and for progress in understanding through the study and application of philosophy in daily life. While people may and do learn from one another and, indeed, learn better and more rapidly in cooperative association than in any other way—each individual is ultimately responsible for his own growth, and is himself the only final authority concerning what he will accept as knowledge and truth. It follows that the best association is one which provides a maximum of individual freedom and at the same time full opportunity for contact and collaboration with others who are endeavoring to move in the same direction.
What, then, is the ground of unity among students of Theosophy in U.L.T.? It is agreement on the Objects of the Theosophical Movement and on the proposition that the teachings of Theosophy are the best available guides to an understanding of those Objects and to the planning of work in their behalf. Stated briefly, they are:
I. To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or color;
II. The study of ancient and modern religions, philosophies and sciences, and the demonstration of the importance of such study; and
III. The investigation of the unexplained laws of Nature and the psychical powers latent in man.
Theosophy teaches that human intelligence is essentially an expression of the soul—reality in every man; that this soul is an individual, evolutionary pilgrim engaged in a long series of embodiments (incarnations) through which it grows in knowledge and ethical awareness, moving toward the climactic development of perfection as a human being—perfection in terms of the possibilities of this period of evolution. It teaches that this cycle of growth proceeds under the government of natural law—a law which applies as much to the moral as to the physical life, and which, if studied in its manifold phases and subtle effects, can be understood and relied upon by human beings. (In the East, and increasingly in the West, this principle of order is known as the Law of Karma.)
Theosophy proposes further that all human souls—as well as the soul-aspect of everything in nature—is rooted in an ultimate principle of Reality which is the source of all. This is the old idea of an unknown and hidden Deity—abstract to intellect, wholly hidden from sense, yet an absolute presence within all life and every aspect of being and nature. It is the changeless and essential unity intuited as the Nameless One, the Primary Reality which supports the Universe. It is the center and undefined Subject behind all intelligence, yet not limited or confined by any form. This principle, Theosophy holds, is the source and justification of all ethical conceptions, and the deeply felt premise of all ideals of brotherhood.
In consideration of the fact that the mind, in its highest sense, is the place of realization and growth, individual students come to regard these general principles as meaning that human life is a continuous process of learning, and that this learning involves unceasing revision of the terms of individual understanding, which process, as men gain awareness of its operations, becomes the best evidence we have of the reality of the Higher Self in every man. The evolutionary work pursued by the ego throughout incarnation after incarnation is held to be the consequence of what the individual eventually realizes directly of his own destiny as a spiritual being. In the United Lodge of Theosophists, this view of soul— growth or development manifests in primary attention to “self-induced and self-devised efforts” (see the Declaration), as distinguished from formalized programs of education and fixed methods for progress in Theosophy.
These fundamental conceptions or propositions about meaning in human life are really the ground of the U.L.T. form of association of students of Theosophy. Confidence in the capacity of the students to define for themselves their commitments in the service of Theosophy rests upon the evolutionary principle of self-reliance taught by Theosophy. The absence of organizational procedures and apparatus is in recognition of the idea that these mechanisms are not necessary to the study of philosophy. U.L.T. is not concerned with externalities, but with study and growth in philosophical understanding.
In the early days, Robert Crosbie wrote:
Let “U.L.T.” flourish on its moral worth alone. The work we have to do, the knowledge we have to give out, depends upon no other names than those of the true Teachers, H.P.B. and W.Q.J. Associates must learn to look to them, to point to them and to the Masters whom they served. Nothing else will restore the Movement. Unity is the keynote of our attempt, and living persons, if made prominent, will detract from that attempt, will be attacked, to the injury of the Movement. So we will keep their names out of consideration.
Let the curious and antagonistic surmise all they want to—the really earnest will then judge by the fruits, not by persons. Theosophy does not emanate from any society nor from any living persons. So far as the world and all Theosophists are concerned, Theosophy comes from H.P.B. and W.Q.J., or rather, through them. So, to avoid misconceptions, we get back of living persons to the Message and the Messengers.
W.Q.J. was not the “successor” of H.P.B.; he was her colleague and co-worker who retained his body a few years longer than she remained in hers. He was the “stone that was rejected by the builders,” who desired to pose as successors to H.P.B.— to the confusion of all who depended upon them. The real foundation of the “successor craze” is the itch for more instructions; this begets the hunt after anyone who will promise fresh “revelations.” What was given out by H.P.B., and applied by W.Q.J., was not and is not studied by Theosophists at large, or it would have awakened a fuller thought and investigation by the students. All the theosophical follies are the result of ignorance, superstition and selfishness, which knowledge alone can overcome. Our efforts may seem inadequate, but they are in the right direction, and “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” We will do what we can and all that we know how to do, enduring the evils of the present while attempting that which will work for greater good in the future. . .
H.P.B. once wrote: “If anyone holds to Buddha’s philosophy, let him say and do as Buddha said and did; if a man calls himself a Christian, let him follow the commandments of Christ—not the interpretation of his many dissenting priests and sects.” The moral is—if anyone desires to be a Theosophist, let him study Theosophy as it was given by those who enunciated it. For one to accept as true what any teacher chooses to tell him, without any means given him by which to verify the statements made, or without verifying for himself the facts alleged—is simply to believe on blind faith, as do so many others.
Our own difficult task is to avoid all semblance of authority of any kind, while being at the same time sure of our ground and not afraid to say so. We have, like the Founders, to give everyone an opportunity to see for himself that what we have to say is well founded. We have to strike the key-note for those who come after us; once struck, it will be followed by those who take hold. The others will find it “too absorbing and too lofty” for them, and will not attempt it. In other words, we have to show the raison d’être of U.L.T., so that others may see it as clearly as we do.
Communications from interested persons on any of the subject matters here discussed are always welcome, and every assistance possible gladly rendered by the Correspondent Associates of the Parent Lodge. All such communications should be addressed to
The General Registrar, or
The Theosophy Company,
Theosophy Hall, 245 W. 33rd Street
Los Angeles, California 90007, U.S.A.