Congratulations, you have arrived at
The Tooting Broadway
Theosophy in the State
Every great body of ethical teaching has stood or fallen according to its effect on men as they form organised states. Since a man is a unit of a social organisation, the value which any ethical teaching may have for the individual is inseparable from its application to the community of which he is a part.
Just as an understanding of certain simple truths of Theosophy modifies a man's conception of himself, so too the conception of what constitutes the true state, when viewed in the light of Theosophy,profoundly modifies a man's attitude to his life among his fellow men.
For what is the modern state today ? In the main it is very little different from the pack which we find among the higher vertebrates, like jackals and wolves. As the aim of the pack is to protect itself against a common enemy, and to get more easily food for itself, so the chief aim of the modern state is to protect itself against aggression and to increase its means of
sustenance. The morality of the pack rules the state today; any individual who
diminishes the power of the state's resistance or of its aggression, or who
lessens the quantity of food, is regarded as the enemy of the state. Hence our attitude to the law-breaker and to the poor; the criminal is looked upon as one who has lost his right of citizenship, and he is punished more to deter others from crime than with the intention of redeeming him; we do not inquire into what made him commit the crime and who is responsible for the environment which made his criminality possible.
The poor man is considered a failure in life, a part of the refuse of civilisation, and we do not inquire how far the state itself is
responsible for the causes of his poverty. Armies and navies are part and parcel
of modern civilisation, and woe indeed to that state which should refuse to imitate all the other states and not equip itself to be efficient in destruction. In our ordinary conceptions of the state, in most peoples minds, the individual is largely regarded as an animal to be curbed for the good of the
state, and the neighbouring states are regarded as rivals against whose enmity
the state must ever be on the watch. How radically different is the Theosophist's conception of the state will be seen when we apply Theosophical truths to the problems of the state.
There are two fundamental facts about the true state, and they are: first, that the State is a Brotherhood of Souls, and secondly that the State is an expression of the Divine Life of God. Let us see how the state appears in the light of these two truths.
The State is a Brotherhood of Souls. The individuals who compose the state are
Souls, immortal egos in earthly bodies; they are the members of the state in order to evolve to an ideal of perfection. As souls, and as all partaking of one Divine Nature, all within the state are brothers; whether rich or poor, cultured or ignorant, law-abiding or law-breaking, all are brothers, and nothing one soul does can modify that fact of nature. The educated or the proud may refuse to see an identity of nature with the ignorant and the lowly; the weak and the criminally minded may show more the attributes of the brute than of the God. Yet
is there in high and low alike the one nature of the Divine Life, and nothing a man does can weaken the bond of brotherhood between him and all the others.
But this Brotherhood of all souls is like the relation of brotherhood within a family; brothers are not all of the same age, though they are of the same parents. So too, among the souls who compose a state, there are elder souls and younger souls; it is just this difference of spiritual age and
capacity which makes possible the functions of the real state.
The age of the soul is seen in the response to ideals of altruism and co-operation; he is the elder soul who springs forward to help in the welfare of others, and that soul
is the younger who thinks of self-interest first and follows its needs in preference to self-sacrifice on behalf of others. The divisions which we now have in a state's life of rank and of wealth are no true distinctions which divide the elder souls from the younger souls; one man born into a high class or caste may yet be a very young soul, while another whose birth is ignoble, according to the world's conventions, may be far advanced as a soul.
There being in each state elder souls and younger souls, the Law of Brotherhood
requires that the elder shall be more self-sacrificing, on behalf of the younger, than the younger should be towards the elder. Since life through long ages has given more to the elder souls than to the younger, more is required from the elder, both of self-sacrifice and of responsibility.
By the natural order of events, the direction of a state's affairs will fall inevitably on the elder souls. It does not matter whether the power in a state is administered by a monarchy, oligarchy or democracy, because when the state begins to perform its true functions, the direction of its affairs is by
an aristocracy, by the best souls, that is, the elder and the more capable souls. These best souls may call themselves democrats or republicans, and may hold their power in trust from the masses, but the fact remains the same that the guidance of the state is entrusted by the younger souls into the hands of the elder souls. Till the day comes in the far-off future when each soul will
himself, as the Divine Lawgiver, be a law unto himself, the direction of the state must come into the hands of a few, whom we call the rulers or administrators.
The great principle to guide them in their administration is that in all the state's affairs the principle of Brotherhood shall dominate in all things. This will mean the clear recognition that any preventible suffering or ignorance or backwardness of even one citizen is to the detriment of the welfare of all the citizens; that since the destiny of each is inseparable from the destiny of all, as rises one so rise all, and as falls one so fall all; that there must be no
shadow of exploitation of one man by another, of one class or caste by another.
Since, too, all men are souls and, even the least developed, Gods in the making,
it becomes the duty of the administrator in all laws and institutions continually to appeal to the hidden Divinity in man. In existent states, the attempt is first and foremost to curb the remnant of the brute in man, utterly forgetting the power in him of co-operation on the side of good, if
only the God in him were to be appealed to.
When there comes in the state the recognition of this hidden God in a man, a
complete revolution will take place in our attitude to and in our treatment of the criminal. First and foremost, whatever he does, he is our brother. He is a younger brother truly to those of us who are the elders and give implicit and willing obedience to the laws of the state; but though he fall a thousand times, he is our brother even after the thousandth time. The problem of crime then turns first upon the understanding of the causes which contribute to crime, and secondly of the means of the proper building of the character of the law-breaker which will make failure impossible again for him.
The contributory causes to crime are physical and mental. Of the physical, want
of health is the great cause; it may be due to malnutrition or to bad housing
conditions or to disease, but where an individual lacks health of body, due to
any one of these causes, part of the responsibility of the crime rests upon the
state's administrators and upon all who have appointed them by their suffrages.
The mental contributory causes are both of the individual and of the community.
The individual has in him a weakness of character brought from his past lives, a
weakness strengthened by an unfavourable environment, instead of, as it should be, atrophied by a favourable one; to the strength of his own failing, the individual is responsible for his crime.
But the strength of his own innate failing may not necessarily be the full strength evidenced in the crime; sometimes much of the strength required for committing the crime was given to the criminal by others.
Thus, for instance, when a weak-willed, undeveloped man in a fit of drunkenness commits a murder, we should see, were we to analyse fully all the hidden causes, that there was added to his fury and anger an
additional power of hatred from outside. Some outwardly law-abiding citizen may
have willed with hate to kill an opponent but have refrained, because of the
consequences to him of the crime; but though he refrained from the act, he did
not refrain from the powerful thought of murder. His thought, launched into the
atmosphere, flies to the weak-willed, drunken man, whose will alone would not be sufficient to impel him to murder, and fastens upon him at the time of anger,
and discharges its full force through him, and so commits vicariously a murder
through him. In each criminal act of every criminal all of us have a share; it is the thoughts of malice and hatred of the seemingly law-abiding citizens that
as much contribute to crime as the innate weakness of the criminals themselves.
Crimecommitted by a few is caused by all, and the final doer of the act is not alone responsible for the act, but also each and every one who impelled him to that act.
Next follows the consideration of the cure of the criminal. Since the criminal
is fundamentally diseased, and since all have contributed, some more and some
less, to his disease, the cure must not have the slightest thought of punishment
about it. On the contrary, it must be guided by the thought of atonement. It was
the state's function as guardian of every citizen to see that in his environment
everything which could foster the seed of evil in the weak-willed man or woman
had been removed; if he or she commits a crime, it is a proof that the state had
betrayed the trust imposed upon it by the Divine Law. We, as citizens of the
state, must cure the disease of the law-breaker, not by our hatred, as now when
we imprison and punish him, but by our Brotherhood. We do not punish the
consumptive, but try to cure him with the best treatment we can give, sparing
him none of the state's resources to save his life. Similar must be our attitude
to the law-breaker, who is our brother.
If only we could realise our Brotherhood with each citizen in the state, we should
discover dozens of new modes of curing crime. Already our growing sense of
humanity has discovered alternatives to banishment in goal in the system of
Probation adopted in many countries for first-offenders, and in the Juvenile
We are beginning to treat the criminal as if he were indeed still a man; only a little further development is needed on our part, and we shall know him as ever our brother.
Then a full tide of wisdom will be ours to solve many of the problems which baffle us today as we try to improve the lives of our fellow men.
If all our laws could be so framed as to reveal that the sacrosanct ideas of the
state are not of rights to property but of preserving Brotherhood; that men are
not regarded as brutes, whose animality is taken for granted, but rather as the
sons of God, whose divine nature is continually expected to reveal itself in
response to ideals of integrity and virtue and Brotherhood; that he who refuses
to co-operate with the state is not regarded by the state as less a citizen and
a brother but the more to be tended and cherished because of his weakness; if
this conception of the state could be taught to every child and reverenced by
every man and woman; then indeed would crime diminish generation after
generation and the joys of co-operation replace the bitternesses of competition,
and for the first time would appear on earth a true state. Some day there will
be everywhere on earth these true states, for it is the Divine Plan that men shall come to realise that a state is a Brotherhood of Souls.
The State is an expression of the Divine Life of God. Stage by stage in an ascending ladder of life, the Nature of God as the Immanence reveals itself in stone and plant, in invertebrate and vertebrate; each stage reveals more of His life by greater complexity of the organism, bringing about on the side of the Form many units built up into a whole, and on the side of the Life, a new expression of life higher than the separate lives of its component parts. So too is there taking place with men, and through men, a fashioning of new vehicles
for the life of God. At one stage it is God the Man; at a later stage it is God the Family, and dimly we see in the family more of the possibilities of life for each member of it, and by realising these possibilities we feel a new call to sacrifice and idealism - for the Family. The man, as the unit of a family, finds that his Divine Life is surrounded by a larger, more mystically beautiful radiance, which envelops him as the nutrient matter surrounds the nucleus in the cell.
Then comes the later stage still, when another and a more glorious wave of
Divine Life descends on men, and out of families builds a State, fashioning out
of units a new and a larger whole. Thence appear new possibilities of life for each within the state. A new sphere of Divine Life surrounds the souls who make the state, feeding them with new hopes and dreams with which to live, even as the mother nourishes within her womb the child and feeds its young life with her own blood.
Could but citizens know of this brooding Life which is the essence of the state,
then would they joyfully build for it the perfect vehicle out of themselves and
their homes and their cities. Ugliness would vanish, to be replaced by beautiful
dwellings and stately cities; disease and misery would be as an evil dream, and
poverty and bitterness and strife could nevermore mar the serene and joyous life
of the state. In each citizen's face would then be seen something of the glory
of the state; the artisan who toils as for the state would have a beauty of bearing all his own; the artist and dreamer would reveal a beauty all his own, other than the beauty he discovers and proclaims. For, as man seeks God, so God seeks man; as man through slow passage of time rises from the savage to be the civilised man, from the solitary, self-seeking man to be the unit of a family,
and then of a state, so God descends to man first as the man's conscience and his hopes and dreams of immortality, then as the family, and then as the state.
For the true state is a revelation of God, and it is because that revelation is yet to come that man strives to change his environment from good to better, from better to best. Through barbarities and savageries, through selfish greeds, through fratricidal wars, the world's states are changing age by age, and men rise from the brute to the God; they change because God the State
calls for His habitation. It is this knowledge of God the State which Theosophy
reveals to all who desire to understand, what is the future that awaits men.
When men understand
what makes the true state, then will come a fuller revelation still of God as
than the blue or the gold, or ask that the sunset be of one colour alone ? So
shall the world be some day, when the Wisdom of God "mightily and sweetly
ordereth all things". To this Day of all humanity the world's states are
tending, and they will reach their goal at last because it is God's Plan that
Wisdom in planning, confidence in endeavour, and a joyous outlook night and day to all things in life are his who thus sees God's world and man's world illumined by Theosophy.
The Tooting Broadway
Find out more about
Theosophy with these links
Independent Theosophical Blog
One liners and quick explanations
About aspects of Theosophy
H P Blavatsky is usually the only
Theosophist that most people have ever
heard of. Let’s put that right
Classic Introductory Theosophy Text
Book of Theosophy By C
Try these if you are looking for a local group