By Pablo Sender
From time to time, the feeling that we need a change in the way we live grows among people, and this need manifests itself in different ways.
Some hope a change can come from an outside source—a given configuration of the planets on the sky, or the coming of a divine savior. While predictions about the end of the world, where only the “worthy ones” will be saved, or massive changes in people, have been present almost since the beginning of our recorded history, all of them have failed to be fulfilled.
Social, political, and economic reforms have also taken place many times. Although in many instances the changes did produce a certain improvement, none of them have been able to put an end to wars, inequality, exploitation, etc. Why have they failed? Sometimes the reform is merely a reaction to the current state affairs, and cannot bring any real change. In other cases, the new system is based on a mistaken view of men or society, and even if it solves some of the existing problems, it creates new ones. But sometimes the attempt to produce a change has been wise and idealistic and yet, it ended up in failure. There are instances of leaders with an altruistic vision and a gifted personality whose accomplishments degenerate because there is corruption, selfishness, and ignorance in the hearts of the people.
This is probably why Mme. Blavatsky, co-founder of the Theosophical Society, said: “We don’t take any concerns in politics, because what is the use of making political reforms with men who are not yet reformed?” (The SD Commentaries, p. 549)
Real, deep, changes cannot be imposed on people from outside. If we want to change the world effectively, the effort should be directed towards encouraging people to produce an individual change. This is not to say that external reforms are not necessary, but if people work earnestly to modify their own nature, then the external changes will be the natural result of that transformation in their understanding, and will be naturally effective.
Now, the word “individual change” is somewhat misleading. From a Theosophical point of view, the individual effort to produce a personal transformation has a further reaching effect than we usually think at first. Mme. Blavatsky wrote, “It is held as a truth among Theosophists that the interdependence of Humanity is the cause of what is called Distributive Karma, and it is this law which affords the solution to the great question of collective suffering and its relief. It is an occult law; moreover, that no man can rise superior to his individual failings, without lifting, be it ever so little, the whole body of which he is an integral part. In the same way, no one can sin, nor suffer the effects of sin, alone. In reality, there is no such thing as ‘Separateness’.” (The Key to Theosophy, p. 123)
Since each of us share a common consciousness with the entire humanity, we can contribute to produce a change on the whole by changing the part we have potentially full power over: ourselves. But this is not an easy task. As the Buddha said, to defeat the “self” is harder than to defeat a thousand men in a thousand battles.
If organizations like the Theosophical Society labor effectively to show people why we all need to work on our self-reformation and how to do it, and it offers support and resources, humanity will gradually but steadily change in the right direction. These kinds of organizations, although not actively engaged on political or social reform, may become a powerful force for change. And each one of us, doing simply our part, will contribute to make a difference.