“Each Member a Centre” is a short but powerful and memorable article by William Q. Judge, who was a co-founder of the modern Theosophical Movement alongside H. P. Blavatsky. The article can be found in “William Q. Judge Theosophical Articles” Vol. 2 and WQJ Pamphlet #4 “Work for Theosophy,” published by Theosophy Company and available from the United Lodge of Theosophists.
The numerous centres of the ULT around the world are called “lodges” rather than “branches” but the principle expressed in the article still applies . . . and the article focuses particularly on how an individual student of Theosophy, even an apparently isolated one, can themselves become a potent centre of Theosophical influence. Here is “Each Member a Centre”:
“Some years ago one of those Masters in whom so many of our members believe directed H.P.B. to write a letter for him to a certain body of Theosophists. In this he said that each member could become, in his own town or city, if earnest, sincere and unselfish, an active centre from which would radiate unseen powerful forces able to influence men and women in the vicinity for good; and that soon enquirers would appear, a Branch in time be organized, and thus the whole neighborhood would receive benefit. This seems just and reasonable in addition to its being stated by such high authority. Members ought to consider and think over it so that action may follow.
“Too many who think themselves theosophically alone in their own town, have folded their hands and shut up their minds, saying to themselves that they could do nothing, that no one was near who could possibly care for Theosophy, and that that particular town was the “most difficult for the work.”
“The great mistake in these cases is forgetting the law indicated in what H.P.B. wrote. It is one that every member ought to know – that the mind of man is capable of bringing about results through means of other minds about him. If we sit and think that nothing can be done, then our subtle mind meets other minds within the radius of our sphere – not small – and shouts into them: “Nothing can be done.” Of course then nothing is done. But if unselfishly and earnestly we think Theosophy, and desire that others should, like us, be benefited by it, then to the minds we meet in stray moments of the day and in many hours of the night we cry “Theosophy,” and “Help and hope for thee.” The result must be an awakening of interest upon the slightest provocative occasion.
“Such an inner attitude, added to every sort of attempt at promulgation, will disclose many unsuspected persons who are thinking along this very line. Thus will the opportunity of the hour be taken advantage of.
“Our last Convention marked an era: the dying away of strife and opening of greater chances, the enlargement and extension of inquiry and interest on the part of the great public. [Note: This article was published in October 1895, after a convention at which Mr Judge and the most sincerely pro-Blavatsky Theosophists declared complete independence and organisational autonomy from Col. Olcott and Annie Besant’s Adyar-headquartered Theosophical Society.] This is a very great opportunity. Branches and members alike ought to rise to meet and use all that this will afford. Remember that we are not fighting for any form of organization, nor for badges, nor for petty personal ends, but for Theosophy; for the benefit, the advantage and the good of our fellow-men. As was said not long ago, those of us who follow after and worship a mere organization are making fetishes and worshipping a shell. Unselfishness is the real keynote.
“Those of us who still, after years and after much instruction, are seeking and wishing for personal progress or preferment in the occult side of life, are destroying that quality first referred to – of being a living, breathing centre of light and hope for others. And the self-seekers thus also lessen their possible chances in the next life here.
“Close up the ranks! Each member a centre; each Branch a centre; the whole a vast, whirling centre of light and force and energy for the benefit of the nation and of the race.”
The letter written by HPB “to a certain body of Theosophists” was subsequently published in “Five Messages from H. P. Blavatsky to the American Theosophists” and the relevant passage appears on p. 4:
“The multiplication of local centres should be a foremost consideration in your minds, and each man should strive to be a centre of work in himself. When his inner development has reached a certain point, he will naturally draw those with whom he is in contact under the same influence; a nucleus will be formed, round which other people will gather, forming a centre from which information and spiritual influence radiate, and towards which higher influences are directed.”
A similar point was touched upon by HPB on p. 236 of her book “The Key to Theosophy”:
“In every conceivable case he himself must be a centre of spiritual action, and from him and his own daily individual life must radiate those higher spiritual forces which alone can regenerate his fellow-men.”
In “Letters That Have Helped Me,” Mr Judge makes several further references to this concept:
“The best advice I ever found was: 1st, Use your predominant gifts to the best advantage. 2nd, Do not impede your fellow in so using his. 3rd, Follow the methods of Nature. Find a current or a nucleus, and work in it. No matter whether it seems perfect to you or not. Leave results to the Law. But if no nucleus is found, become yourself a center. The Divine will enter and work through you.” (p. 159)
“There is, first, our own work, in and on ourselves, each one. That has for its object the enlightenment of oneself for the good of others. If that is pursued selfishly, some enlightenment comes, but not the amount needed for the whole work. We have to watch ourselves, so as to make of each a centre from which, in our measure, may flow out the potentialities for good that from the adept come in large and affluent streams. The future, then, for each, will come from each present moment. As we use the moment, so we shift the future up or down for good or ill; the future, being only a word for the present, not yet come, we have to see to the present more than all. If the present is full of doubt or vacillation, so will be the future; if full of confidence, calmness, hope, courage and intelligence, thus also will be the future. . . .
“The only way we can alter it is by such action now as makes of each one a centre for good, a force that makes “for righteousness,” and that is guided by wisdom. . . .
“But, concretely, there is a certain object for our general work. It is to start up a new force, a new current in the world, whereby great and long-gone Gnanis, or wise ones, will be attracted back to incarnate among men here and there, and thus bring back the true life and the true practices. Just now a pall of darkness is over all that no Gnani will be attracted by. Here and there a few beams strike through this. Even in India it is dark, for there, where the truth is hid, the thick veil of theological dogma hides all; and. though there is a great hope there, the Masters cannot pierce through to minds below. We have to educate the West so that it may appreciate the possibilities of the East, and thus on the waiting structure in the East may be built up a new order of things for the benefit of the whole. We have, each one of us, to make ourselves a centre of light – a picture gallery from which shall be projected on the astral light such scenes, such influences, such thoughts, as may influence many for good, shall thus arouse a new current, and then finally result in drawing back the great and the good from other spheres, from beyond the earth.” (p. 71, 73)
“Try to progress in harmony; the other kind of progress will then follow in due course. Be a centre of harmony yourself and others will help you in spreading that feeling throughout. Let us all draw closer together in mind and heart, soul and act, and try thus to make that true brotherhood through which alone our universal and particular progress can come.” (p. 168-169)
“And now as to the Branch. A rush of members is not good for it unless those in are able to cope with the rush. Hence it is of high importance that the branch should educate and strengthen itself, or it may grow too rapidly, like a child, and get weak, and thus retard itself. If, on the other hand, a large number of its members become each one a centre and a power from having good knowledge of the subject, then you would see the branch go on with undoubted power and force. If you had lecture after lecture, and merely new members and no building up of the old members, your branch would die the moment the supply of lecturing was cut off. Try and impress this on whatever of the members are willing to listen.” (p. 169)
“Remember, however, that you yourself can be and are a centre to the extent that you make Theosophy a living power in your life.” (p. 174)
This principle was well absorbed by Robert Crosbie, the founder of the ULT, who had been a close colleague of William Judge and a pupil of both he and HPB. In one of his letters, found on p. 21 of “The Friendly Philosopher,” appears the advice:
“Let your words and acts bespeak the power and knowledge that is really yours. Then will you be a radiating center of light, unconsciously doing good wherever you go and whatever you do.”
If you found this article of interest and inspiration, you will find some of these points elaborated on in Assimilation To The Masters.