- Right Motivation - An important lesson for any Theosophist to learn is that there is a direct relationship between applying the fundamental principles of the philosophy in everyday life and comprehending its mysteries. Both of these are necessary to the fulfillment of the work of Theosophy - which is the true service of humanity.

A result of this lesson is a conviction that the individual can and ought to be a vital center of theosophical influence in the world. To live the life of a devotee to the principles of Theosophy is to understand the doctrine. The best way to promulgate the teachings of Theosophy as an individual is to make one’s life an example to others.

Who would be a good example for us to emulate, so that we can better help and teach others? William Q. Judge, a co-founder of the Theosophical Society in 1875, and friend and co-worker with H.P. Blavatsky, comes to mind. We will look at key points in the life and work of W.Q. Judge for the Theosophical Movement in the next few issues to see what lessons we can learn from his example. Let’s begin with an examination of the motivation we have for studying the teachings. Good results start with good beginnings, and all the results of our actions begin with the motivation behind our acts. Whenever we approach the teachings, whether it be the first time, or through a book, lecture, or study class, we have a certain attitude towards the teaching and the teachers which reflects our motivation for listening, reading or studying.

If there is doubt, curiosity, suspicion, resentment, fear, one needs to examine their motivation. On the other hand, where there is faith and trust, one needs to look no further than to one’s motivation for an explanation. What are some of the different motivations for study? How did W.Q. Judge approach the teachings and the teacher for the first time and what effect did it have?

At the time of H.P.B.’s death, Judge wrote these words about his first meeting her: “It was her eyes that attracted me, the eye of one whom I must have known in lives long passed away. She looked at me in recognition at that first hour, and never since has that look changed. Not as a questioner of philosophies did I come before her, not as one groping in the dark for lights that schools and fanciful theories had obscured, but as one who, wandering many periods through the corridors of life, was seeking the friends who could show where the designs for the work had been hidden. And true to the call she responded, revealing the plans once again, and speaking no words to explain, simply pointed them out and went on with the task. If was as if but the evening before we had parted, leaving yet to be done some detail of a task taken up with one common end; it was teacher and pupil, elder brother and younger, both bent on the one single end, but she with the power and the knowledge that belong but to lions and sages. So, friends from the first, I felt safe.”

As we can see from the words of W.Q.J., his motivation to search in many different directions was a desire to work for humanity. All he needed was knowledge as to what was needed and how best to proceed. This he recognized he could find in H.P.B. as his teacher, not because of any physical qualities, but because of an intuitive soul recognition and recollection awakened by an inner feeling of unity of aim and purpose with the teacher.

The actual instruction came later, but the basis of their unity as teacher and pupil was first and it was founded on a feeling of sympathy and similarity of aim and purpose, which is the clearest outward indicator of our spiritual identity and unity.

If one comes to Theosophy and feels themselves to be in sympathy with its aim and purpose, then that is a good indicator of having the right motivation to study and apply the teachings. It may be due to work and study along these lines many times in the past, or it may come from the experience of suffering in this life. If the feeling is not there, it can be nurtured and developed, even as one proceeds with study and work. Weak or strong, this right motivation should never be neglected or taken for granted. It is our strongest protection and guide in living Theosophy.


“It is the motive, and the motive alone, which makes any exercise of power become black, malignant, or white, beneficent Magic. It is impossible to employ spiritual forces if there is the slightest tinge of selfishness remaining in the operator .... The powers and forces of animal nature can equally be used by the selfish and revengeful, as by the unselfish and the all-forgiving; the powers and forces of spirit lend themselves only to the perfectly pure in heart — and this is Divine Magic ... The right motive for seeking self-knowledge is that which pertains to knowledge and not to self. Self- knowledge is worth seeking by virtue of its being knowledge, and not by virtue of its pertaining to self. The main requisite for acquiring self-knowledge is pure love. Seek knowledge for pure love, and self-knowledge eventually crowns the effort.” - H.P. Blavatsky, Practical Occultism


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