The Hill of Discernment

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The Hill of Discernment

By Alfred Trevor Barker

William Quan Judge

Friends: We are met together here tonight to do honor to the memory of William Q. Judge, to whom we owe it that we have the privilege of meeting together here week after week. It was owing to William Quan Judge that the American Section of the Society remained in being; and it has been said, and said very truly, that the present state of the Theosophical Movement cannot be understood correctly unless one understands the significance and place of Judge's work. For a few minutes we want to go over the facts of his life as they are recorded for us, to see why he holds such a high place in our hearts.

Judge was born in 1851 in Ireland, and he died in 1896, so that he was still in his forties — he was a young man; and it was as a young man of only twenty-one years of age that he came into contact with H. P. B. He met her in New York just before 1875 and he was associated with her at the founding of the Society.

There is one wonderful thing that each of us, individually, as students of the great philosophy, ought to think of, and that is the amazing difficulties and personal struggles that Judge had to overcome in his own life. We are apt to remember only the splendor of the achievement of his later years, forgetting perhaps that, although it is on record that he took up his work in the body of William Quan Judge with a long history and record of devoted service to his credit, in spite of that and his great innate inherent knowledge, he passed through trials and tribulations and suffered in the Cause to which he was pledged more than any other with the exception of H. P. B.

H. P. B. herself said that Judge suffered more than any other chela at that time — and still he asked the least. That is one of the many things that she said about him; and there are on record many of his letters that go to show that, although H. P. B.'s great mission was brought home to him personally, by daily contact, throughout those early years before she left for India in 1878, the Masters, through her, became a reality to him, and as a result one might expect to find that Judge had that wonderful sense, that inner sense of contact with the blessed Masters throughout the whole of his Theosophical career. But Brothers, it was not so.

In spite of the fact that in 1888 we find H. P. B. writing of Judge that he was an accepted chela of thirteen years' standing, which meant that his past service had entitled him to become a chela from the very commencement of his contact with H. P. B.; in spite of that, he has placed it on record that after H. P. B. left for India he felt almost completely isolated, almost completely alone. He complains bitterly in his letters to Colonel Olcott — writing to H. P. B. begging for some news, some word through H. P. B. that he was not altogether forgotten. He was left to fight out his battle and conquer himself and he had to win that battle alone, and yet we know that during those years when he seemed even to himself to be left very much alone, the Masters themselves gave him the name of the "Resuscitator of Theosophy in America," during those years in which he slowly built the foundation of the Movement in that country.

Because he was a married man and had a child, we realize that he passed through all the experiences of humanity; and it must be that fact — added to his struggles against poverty and all the difficulties that we know that every aspirant to Theosophical knowledge has to pass through — it was those facts undoubtedly that gave him his tremendous breadth, his great sympathy, and his wonderful understanding and compassion.

Finally the clouds lifted in 1886, the hour of Judge's mission struck, and then he started that wonderful beacon of light — The Path. H. P. B. herself, then the editor of Lucifer said: "Judge, your magazine is pure Buddhi, and poor old Lucifer is nothing but the fighting, combating Manas." That is what she said of her pupil and his work, and there is no more delightful task for a student of Theosophy than to turn over the early pages of this magazine, in fact all the volumes of The Path, and see the inspiration that was in the articles that Mr. Judge put there. They are an absolute revelation to those in this day who are not familiar with his writings.

To anyone who would understand Theosophy I would earnestly recommend the study of those magazine-writings, because in them Theosophy is simplified, expounded and applied, made comprehensible to us. He was the first to bring it to the understanding, so to speak, of the man in the street.

Judge always did that. They said that he was not a good speaker. He had hardly any gifts of 'personality,' and yet, so those who heard him have told me, there was something in Judge's talks that always appealed to the very hearts of his listeners — because he had that profound knowledge and that profound understanding, he was able to strike fire into the hearts of all that heard him. It was a very wonderful quality; and more than once, to those of his pupils who complained to him personally that the clouds were coming and the light was blotted out he said: "I know, I know that place. Sit down till the clouds roll by, because certainly they will," and that is what he did himself.

The place of Judge in the Theosophical Movement, his important place, is that which be held after H. P. B. died, for he it was alone who maintained the esoteric tradition in the Theosophical Movement. By that I mean something very definite. Judge, throughout all his writings, throughout everything that he ever said, never wavered once in his loyalty to his first teacher, H. P. B. There was never any evidence that he wrote even a fraction off the line that she laid down. In that I suppose he gives us one of the most wonderful examples of constancy that any Theosophical student could possibly wish to have, and I draw your attention to it for this reason — that Judge died a martyr, and he died accused of having tampered with various communications from the Masters of whom he was the agent. If there were any truth in those accusations, there is not the slightest doubt that they would have found a reflexion in his public writings. At least, if there were a fraction of truth in them, he would have reacted by condemning his accusers, but he did not do it.

Judge, throughout the whole of those last two bitter years of his life, when he stood accused by those whom he had helped the most, and by some who should have known him best, simply bent his head. He denied the truth of the accusations. He could not offer any complete explanation, for the simple reason that he was bound by the esoteric rule of silence under which he was forced to work, and under which H. P. B. was also forced to work.

To try to understand the apparent inconsistencies in the life of H. P. Blavatsky and William Q. Judge demands a far greater knowledge, a far greater understanding of the laws of the occult universe than most of us have; but you will find the explanation of many of those apparent inconsistencies in the first letter of the section called 'Probation and Chelaship' in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett. It deals with H. P. B. and there is a statement there that no messenger of the great Lodge is allowed to go out into the world "in his integral whole" unless he be an initiate of the fifth circle.

H. P. B., who taught William Quan Judge, had not passed that point, and therefore she was actually a psychological cripple in a peculiar way, because a certain portion of the constitution of the Messenger is actually missing, as the phrase in that letter goes. It is something which has never been publicly explained; but nevertheless the Master says that many apparent inconsistencies of conduct were due to the fact that the Messengers had not the power to fight and defend themselves. They had become, friends, literally in many respects, as regards their consciousness, as little children, and they had no more power either to offend or defend themselves in many ways than little children; and therefore those of us who can look over the history of the last fifty years, if we have not already as students, become convinced of the integrity of William Quan Judge, let us pause, let us hesitate before in our remotest thought we condemn one of the great Messengers that have come to us from the Lodge of Masters. It is a dangerous thing at any time to condemn others, but it is still more dangerous in the case of those who have come to bring us the light and the teachings that the great Messengers do bring.

I am irresistibly reminded of something that the present Leader of this Society, Dr. G. de Purucker, said recently at Point Loma in connexion with another great and misunderstood Messenger of the Great Lodge, Cagliostro. He was explaining something about the life of that individual; and having shown that the different names that he bore could all be explained esoterically and rendered in a particularly interesting manner, he goes on to say how strange it is that Cagliostro was called "an orphan, the unhappy child of nature." Friends, I just want to say that I am reading this to you because it does throw light on this question of William Quan Judge:

. . . every initiate is in 'orphan' without father, without mother, because mystically speaking every initiate is self-born. How strange it is that other names under which Cagliostro is stated to have lived at various times have in each instance a singular esoteric signification! Study these names. They are very interesting.
Perhaps I might go one shade of thought farther: to every Cagliostro who appears there is always a Balsamo. Closely accompanying and indeed inseparable from every Messenger there is his 'Shadow.' With every Christ appears a Judas. And as regards what you, my brothers, have so admirably set forth this evening concerning the reason, as given by our beloved H. P. Blavatsky, of Cagliostro's 'failure,' let me point this out: that Cagliostro's failure was not one of merely vulgar human passion, nor was it one of vulgar human ambition, as ordinary men understand these terms. When Julian the Apostate — called 'apostate' because he refused to be an apostate from the ancient religion of his forefathers — led his army against Shapur, King of Persia, he did so well knowing that he was acting against the esoteric Law; and yet in one sense be could not do otherwise, for his individual karman compelled him to the act. I tell you that there are at times more tragedies in the life of a Messenger than you could easily understand, for a Messenger is sworn to obedience in both directions — obedience to the general law of his karman from which he may not turn aside a single step, and obedience equally strict to the Law of those who sent him forth. There are in such cases problems to solve sometimes which break the heart, but which nevertheless must be solved.
Be, therefore, charitable in your judgment of that great and unhappy man, Cagliostro! — Lucifer: the Light-Bringer, January-February, 1931, pp. 21-2
That is what Dr. de Purucker said about him, and it is something that I think we would do well to reflect upon, because with every Messenger, I do not care who he is, there will be inexplicable acts, but, friends, there will never be criminal acts. There will be things we do not understand, and they spring from that childlikeness (not childishness) of mind and heart that make them appear as nothing in the eyes of men — and that all the great Teachers have while they live and work among us.

Now the results of that campaign against Judge were very successful. They split the Society, and it has resulted in — i. e. the Karma of the whole thing is — the many different Theosophical Societies that exist today. But its main result was to blind the great majority of Theosophists by blackening the memory of Judge, and to blind modern students to the great light that lies enshrined in his writing and teaching. It had another effect in that many Theosophical students are unaware that it was Judge who fulfilled H. P. B.'s last hope, which was to keep the link unbroken with the blessed Lodge of Masters.

Friends, he did this, and he died a broken man; but he died with complete forgiveness in his heart, and it was a wonderful thing that was placed on record by his own students: that throughout those last two years of his life, when those who still worked with him outwardly were constantly plotting against him, he worked with them well knowing it. He 'carried on,' and his last message to the sections of his own Society, and to the thousands of his own students who remained true to him and the work he did, was to "Hold fast, go slow"; and he said: "Whatever you do, stand ready for the time when the great injustice and the great wrong that has been done will be recognised by those members of other Societies. Then be ready to hold out the hand of friendship, to hold out the hand of brotherly co-operation, that the wounds of the past may be healed."

It is not too much to say that those who honor the memory of William Quan Judge by living and practising the truths that he taught are actually walking in the footsteps of their predecessors, the footsteps of those predecessors who have gone before them in the age-old path that leads to the feet of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace.

Let us close our meeting tonight by invoking the aid of those same Masters through the divinity that exists in the heart of each one of us:

Oh my Divinity! thou dost blend with the earth and fashion for Thyself temples of mighty power.
Oh my Divinity! thou livest in the heart life of all things, and dost radiate a golden light that shineth for ever and doth illumine even the darkest corners of the earth.
Oh my Divinity! blend thou with me that from the corruptible I may become incorruptible; that from imperfection I may become perfection; that from darkness I may go forth in Light.



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