CONFERENCE ON THEOSOPHY.
TO THE EDITOR.
Sir — Will you kindly grant me a little space to answer the questions propounded by the Rev. J. D. Thompson as given in your report of his ' Conference on Theosophy ?' First let
me say that all true Theosophists will wel- come such fair expositions of their views as are therein enunciated, and even more will they welcome the kindly, fraternal, theosophical feeling which prompted the rev. gentleman to say, ' We had tried the method of difference long enough ; the method of agreement should have a turn.' And they would, moreover, fain give him a fraternal grip for his concluding remarks. Would that all professing Christians were animated by a similar Christ-like charity! Mr. Thompson asks firstly — 'Was theosophy capable of being assimilated by ordinary people — capable of being a ' gospel' in any real sense to them ?' To this I would reply no, if by 'ordinary people' is meant the mass of illiterate mankind. Students of theosophy are taught that the religion in which a man has been brought up, if he sincerely believed in it, is the best system for him at present. But when he begins to find that there are many puzzling problems of life to which his religion has no answer theosophy steps in and say ' try this or that doctrine as a working hypothesis.' Secondly, 'Did its truths, as Mrs. Besant claimed, render life easier to bear and death easier to face?' Most decidedly. Theoso phists are taught that all the ills of life are simply so many lessons — so many oppor- tunities for the will to be strengthened and the ego to acquire spiritual food ; whilst as to death, it is but the entering upon a period of cessation from the activities of spiritual struggles, in order to obtain that rest which is urgently required for the assimilation of the spirituality we have already acquired. It is analogous to discontinuing a meal when our hunger is satisfied in order to digest our food. Thirdly, ' What comfort did it give in bereave- ment if it held out no hope of after meeting or of mutual recognition?' Of course it is too much to expect that all theosophical doctrines should be correctly presented from an orthodox pulpit, and here Mr. Thompson has fallen into error. We are distinctly taught by the theosophic leaders that friends do meet and recogise one another in devachan; and, moreover, that whereas now we can never really know each other owing to the veil of flesh, then our true oharacter will be far more fully revealed. 'Now we see through a glass darkly, but then faco to face.' Fourthly, 'Did it tend to withdraw men and women from practical work and conduct them into a cloudy dreamland away from real sympathy with the sorrows of the unfortunate and from active effort to help them?' In answer to this let me quote from 'The Voice of the Silence,' one of the standard theo- sophical works — 'Lot thy soul lend its ear to every cry of pain, like as the lotus bares its heart to drink the morning sun ;' *'Let not the fierce sun dry one tear of pain before thyself hast wiped it from the sufferer's eye, but let each burning human tear drop on thy heart, and there remain, nor even brush it off until the pain that caused it is removed ;' 'Inaction in a deed of mercy becomes an action in a deadly sin.' In fact, tbeosophical literature teems with just such teaching, and the doctrines of karma and reincarnation, if properly grasped, compel a man to afford practical sympathy wherever possible. Fifthly, 'How did it compare with the best forms of Christianity as a practical force?' I think I have already said enough to answer this ques- tion. We cannot compare the two, for they are essentially identical. I am. Sir, &c., W. ERNEST COOKE, F.T.S.