COMPASSION: The Basis of Peace & Understanding
an Article by Colin Price [biog]
Compassion and brotherhood are closely linked. Brotherhood is the essence of the first object of our Theosophical Society. A brotherhood, sisterhood and fellowship without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour. The selfless giving without thought of any reward describes the altruism which H. P. Blavatsky says should be the hallmark of every true theosophist.
COMPASSION IN EDUCATION
Compassion should be the emotion which invokes this altruism and brings it into action. The compassion intended in our first object is totally non-discriminatory. It is not reserved for those who are members of our family or friends or acquaintances or those who belong to the same social group or religion or have the same ethnic origin. It includes those people whom we have never met or are likely to meet who live in some far-off country where they do not have access to all those things which we take for granted in our modern civilised society. Such things as expert health care, universal education, adequate food and housing. The under-privileged for whatever reason are deserving of the compassion and physical support whoever and wherever they are.
Compassion should be the hallmark, the central theme for all true religion. Sadly the history of the modern world shows us that differences of political agenda and nationality or tribe have completely extinguished any sign of compassion even between groups of people who had many other things in common which could have provided a basis for peace and understanding.
In the middle ages the hatred and cruelty shown to people who did not conform to certain religious doctrines is almost unbelievable. This was followed by terrific fighting between Catholics and Protestants in Europe after the Reformation. Two world wars in the last century started between Christian nations demonstrate again how fragile human brotherhood is and how rare is compassion. Even worse was the slave trade over several centuries which inflicted barbaric cruelty on black Africans because it made the slave traders wealthy.
Compassion for the theosophist is no more a choice than for any other member of the human race. It is a duty and it arises from the same basis as our concept of brotherhood - recognition that we derive our very existence from the same originating first cause. We are sparks of the same Divine flame. In fact we share this with all life and so theosophists extend the same principles of compassion to the animal kingdom. We are concerned with the whole life of planet Earth with its finely tuned ecology and our recognition of the interdependence of all life, including the vegetable kingdom.
Compassion is indeed a characteristic of the awakened soul. Jesus said -
H. P. Blavatsky (H.P.B.) in her article Is Theosophy a Religion? explains how often religion fails to bring people to a realisation of the nature of an awakened soul and how much Theosophy is needed to facilitate this process of developing awareness.
It is perhaps necessary, first of all, to say, that the assertion that ''Theosophy is not a Religion", by no means excludes the fact that ''Theosophy is Religion" itself. A religion in the true and only correct sense is a bond uniting men together - not a particular set of dogmas and beliefs. Now Religion, per se, in its widest meaning in that which binds not only all men, but also all BEINGS and all THINGS in the entire Universe into one grand whole. This is our theosophical definition of religion; but the same definition changes again with every creed and country, and no two Christians even regard it alike.
We find this in more than one eminent author. Thus Carlyle defined the Protestant Religion in his day, with a remarkable prophetic eye to this ever-growing feeling in our present day as:
In her turn Mrs Stowe, whether consciously or otherwise, seemed to have had Roman Catholicism rather than Protestantism in her mind, when saying of her heroine that:
But to theosophists (the genuine Theosophists are here meant) who accept no mediation by proxy, no salvation through innocent bloodshed, nor would they think of ''working for wages" in the One Universal Religion, the only definition they could subscribe to and accept in full is one given by Miller. How truly and theosophically he describes it, by showing that -
The above is a correct definition of what true Theosophy is, or ought to be (Among the creeds Buddhism alone is such a true heart-binding and mind-binding philosophy, because it is not a dogmatic religion). In this respect, as it is the duty and task of every genuine theosophist to accept and carry out these principles, Theosophy is Religion, and the Society its one Universal Church; the temple of Solomon's wisdom, in building which ''there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was building" (1 Kings 6); for this ''temple'' is made by no human hand, nor built in any locality on earth - but, verily, is raised only in the inner sanctuary of man's heart wherein reigns alone the awakened soul. Thus Theosophy is not a Religion, we say, but Religion itself, the one bond of unity, which is so universal and all-embracing that no man, as no speck - from gods and mortals down to animals, the blade of grass and atom can be outside of its light. Therefore, any organisation or body of that name must necessarily be a Universal Brotherhood. (Is Theosophy a Religion? H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings Vol.X 163 link)
H.P.B. continues to explain that the principles contained in the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus are the same as those of Theosophy because they are the universal ethics which were preached by Buddha and Confucius, Krishna and all the great Sages for thousands of years before the present age. If we can live up to such Theosophy, she says, "it becomes a universal panacea indeed, for it heals the wounds inflicted by the gross asperities of Church "isms" on the sensitive soul of every naturally religious man." One of the karmic effects of compassion is indeed to provide a basis for peace and understanding in the hearts and minds of everyone whenever human beings have to work together. It ensures that harmony prevails on every occasion whether in personal relationships between two individuals or within a family group or the workplace or the political arena. It is the failure to achieve this harmony derived from compassion which is the cause of all the strife and hatred in the modern world.
In his 2001 Blavatsky lecture, Theosophy: Its Beneficent Potentialities, Geoffrey Farthing link to article also makes the link with the spiritual progress of human society:
... and from H.P.B. herself: