The Hill of Discernment

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The Hill of Discernment

By Alfred Trevor Barker

Let Us Go Forward

— Extracts from Inaugural Address on Dr. Barker's assuming the duties of President of the English Section of the Theosophical Society, 7th September, 1930.

Friends and Brothers: I want tonight, with your permission, to have a heart-to-heart talk with you as members of the Theosophical Society. I want to tell you frankly and intimately what is in my mind and heart in taking up the responsible position of President of the English Section, which our Leader, G. de P., has placed upon my shoulders.

In view of the fact that I am personally unknown to the majority of members in this country, it may perhaps be interesting to you to hear what it was that caused me to join your ranks. Up to February or March of this year I had never contacted any member of this Society, nor had I had any correspondence with Point Loma. Together with my friend Mr. R. A. V. Morris I had been working for some time upon the preparation of the old magazine writings of H. P. B., with a view to their publication in book form. The work was already far advanced when Dr. Kenneth Morris arrived in this country from Point Loma, and hearing from his brother what we were doing, and realizing that similar work was in progress at Point Loma in connexion with the H. P. B. Centennial Committee, the work of which at that time had not been made public, he drew our attention to the matter. This resulted in a meeting and some conversation between Dr. Morris and myself, during the course of which he suggested that it might be worth while communicating direct with G. de P. in regard to these literary matters.

I immediately wrote to Dr. de Purucker, stating frankly what we were engaged upon, and offering to co-operate with him if our purposes should be the same. I received in response one of the most courteous and friendly letters that it has been my lot to receive from a leader of any Theosophical Society. The correspondence continued. The co-operation of Mr. Morris and myself with the H. P. B. Centennial Committee became a fact, and it was not long before we turned over the whole of the manuscript of the H. P. B. articles which we had prepared to Point Loma.

As you will discover when the Centennial Edition of her works is published there will be something like thirty large volumes of those teachings for our instruction — so much is there that I venture to think for most of us, what remains to us of one short life will be insufficient even with concentrated attention thoroughly to grasp and understand it. The task of a real Theosophic student demands some little sacrifice of personal preconceptions, of the ideas which he may have acquired as a result of his education, heredity and environment, and from teachers of other systems of thought. If we would truly enter into the spirit of her teaching, then we must try to come to it with a fresh mind.

Our Leader has declared in no uncertain terms that we must concentrate our efforts upon what he calls our magnum opus, the understanding and dissemination of the teachings of Theosophy. In order to do that successfully a spirit of union, peace, and brotherly harmony is essential. Whatever we do, therefore, in the promulgation of Theosophic teachings through the lodges in this country, I appeal to all members everywhere to regard it as a sacred duty to let it be known and understood that in this Society we are loyal to the great Founders of the movement, and to the teaching which They gave through H. P. B. There is a dynamic force in this idea which together with the principle of brotherly charity for all, is alone capable of unifying the Theosophists of all societies — which is the aim which lies closest to our Leader's heart. All the bitterness and strife which has occurred since H. P. B.'s passing is rapidly being forgotten under the beneficent policy which our Leader is following. No Theosophist would dare to belittle H. P. B. and remain worthy of the name. And while it must necessarily take them some time to prove for themselves that our Society has never departed from the program and the teaching which she gave, they will all respond to the note of H. P. B. — because H. P. B. is in reality but a symbol of the work of the Masters Themselves.

Let us look at the matter now quite impersonally, and let us get the idea that we are not here, as it were, to enthrone a president, but rather to enshrine in our hearts a few main ideas which will help us to guide our activities along the main lines which our Leader has laid down.

The great guiding principle to be followed in our meetings is to endeavor to forget our own views and personal opinions entirely. The public in general and students in particular are not interested in or hungry for the necessarily incomplete personal opinions of any one of us on philosophical matters in general, but I suggest that they and we do want to hear the Message of the great Masters on any aspect of the teaching which may be under consideration. Therefore let our attitude be not 'I think,' but rather 'the teaching is' so and so. In this way, all answers to questions should be given in terms of the teaching so far as we understand it — ever bearing in mind that there is meaning within meaning, and that as veil after veil is removed from before our eyes, still beyond there are yet other veils before we reach the final understanding and know the whole Mystery.

And so I stand before you, Brothers, pledged to carry out this great task, and asking for your help, your co-operation and your encouragement. With hearts aflame with the Light and the Peace of the Great Lodge, let us go forward shoulder to shoulder, knowing that we can trust each other because we are united by a common purpose, a common teaching and a common love for all humanity without distinction of race, of caste, of creed, or of color.



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