Can We Be Wrong?

THEOSOPHY, Vol. 22, No. 9, July, 1934
(Pages 395-396; Size: 6K)
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AS the world of men in which we live is not motivated nor operated in conformity to Theosophical teachings, it is quite the usual thing for students of Theosophy to find themselves at variance with the thoughts and actions of those about them, while they must still conform in outward detail at least to established custom. When one is working with a group whose members think and act as he does his convictions are apt to be a bit stronger than when he is alone, but it is when surrounded by those of opposite aim and motive that his real tests come. He may be tempted to compromise, to seclude himself, or to conceal the nature of the ideas under which he labors. Excuses for such temptation are matters of every day occurrence, but excuses for falling into temptation are not to be considered. As Theosophists are not accountable to any central or local authority, to whom could such excuses be offered?

When one is in Rome he may be affected by Roman ideas and may outwardly conform to such practices and customs as do not involve compromise, hypocrisy or deceit; but if one has obtained at home a reasoned conviction that certain ideas are true he will know that any change in his location will not alter the truth of them.

To be in such condition and subject to the pressure of ideas alien to his convictions is at this time the lot of practically every Theosophist. This should be cause for rejoicing; it is a golden opportunity. Ideas do rule the world, but the ideas held by any majority of men are by no means, because of their majority, a criterion of truth. Yet, when we are alone in conviction on any certain matter, and opposed by dozens or hundreds who act from a purely personal and "one life" basis, their very earnestness, the apparent logic of their arguments and the popular support they enjoy may cause us to ask ourselves, "Can we be wrong?" And who can answer the question save ourselves, for who else knows?

We can, indeed, be wrong and frequently we are wrong. We are always wrong when we ask that question, because we are considering our little selves instead of the value of the ideas under question. Here is our opportunity -- two of them, in fact: one, to place ourselves in proper relation to ideas; this done, we are no longer concerned as to whether we are right or wrong. The other is, by standing firm to teach a respect for, and possibly agreement with, the ideas we know to be true, however unpopular. How is it possible for us to find ourselves in opposition to popular ideas, unless we are either moved by the truth within us, or are swayed by some emotion or complex? If we know the former to be the case, we are right; if the latter, we are wrong.

To stand upon our conviction in the face of popular prejudice requires strength; to make wise use of what we know as right requires discrimination. Every Theosophist knows why nothing worth while can be gained by argument. Every Theosophist should know the occult meaning of the saying "Blessed are ye when men shall revile and persecute you for my sake; rejoice and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven."

One student, complaining to another that he was treated by his associates as being "queer" because he was a Theosophist, was told "If you are sure that Theosophy is right, remember it is their queerness which makes you seem queer to them," and thus found an intelligent basis upon which to deal with and tolerate his neighbors.

When arguments are loudest, Truth seems to stop her ears; when we know what is right we will not argue. Let us remember, if we can, how we acquired the degree of Theosophical knowledge we possess. In the beginning we heard certain propositions laid down; they seemed to be logical and the ideas were repeatedly said to be "universal and without exception." Wanting the truth, we began to test those ideas, and have been testing them ever since. We will continue to test them, because our nature is the same as that of those fundamental ideas of Life, Law, and Being. They have been tested ever since Man became a thinking being, and have always been found "universal and without exception." Dogmatism? No, -- fact! All our real knowledge has come about by that testing, along with practical application.

Having such criterion for the testing of all ideas, we must of necessity stand alone when false ideas hold sway over men's minds. Yet we are not really alone; the entire universe is in sympathy with us, for it exists in accordance with the ideas for which we stand. Let us remember that no major premise or minor detail of the Theosophical philosophy has ever been found in error, notwithstanding the many challenges made. We can be wrong -- but only when we fail to act upon such basis of fact!