Rosicrucian Writings Online
Rosicrucianism, A Unique
IT IS MORE THAN SOME PEOPLE UNDERSTAND AND
DIFFERENT THAN SOME BELIEVE
By H. Spencer Lewis, F. R. C.
[From The Rosicrucian Digest June 1931]
THE wide-spread interest in the Rosicrucian studies and in the philosophies and practices of the Rosicrucians is constantly arousing questions in the minds of those who have become somewhat familiar with the term "Rosicrucian" but understand little of the origin and purposes of the organization of Rosicrucians.
In the first place, the foundation of the organization had for its purpose the establishment of a unique system of instruction and guidance for human beings throughout the world. Regardless of when and where this foundation first occurred, or who conceived of its first plans, or when these plans were first put into practice, we can determine by the very earmarks of its work throughout history, that it was always an unique institution. It had no other system or school of ancient times to follow, nor was it bounded by tradition to any former principles or methods. By its very nature, it was contrary to the established beliefs and philosophies of all times, and by its aims and purposes, it was admittedly opposed to, or, at least, distinctly different from all the other methods and systems established by man for the propagation of better living, greater joy, and happiness.
It is strange, however, how many peculiar ideas are held by persons who think that the Rosicrucian organization is something entirely different from what it really is. There are those, for instance, who think that it should be a very conservative, veiled, or hidden group of almost invisible beings, and that it should have no physical organization, no outer manifestation, and no general publicity. These persons assume, without any reason for doing so, that the organization was always purposely veiled, and held in secrecy, and that any present day form of publicity is contrary to its ancient traditions and principles. There is no foundation for this belief and, in fact, it is the very opposite of the truth.
There are very few so-called fraternal, or social, or other organizations of human construction, that have had the wide-spread publicity and the outer dissemination of facts regarding it than the Rosicrucian organization has always had. Tracing its history back as far as the introduction of printing or the development of the printing art to a point where it could be used with economy and rationalism in an extensive way, we find that the Rosicrucian Order used the printing art more profusely than any other so-called fraternal or humanitarian movement.
In the years between 1610 and 1620 when the art of printing was developed to an economical basis, the Rosicrucians were the first to use it in world-wide advertising. It issued a number of pamphlets that were printed not only in many thousands of copies but in many languages and given international distribution in a manner that astonished people in those days. In fact, the Rosicrucian propaganda of that century was equivalent to a world-wide radio broadcast of today. These pamphlets were not addressed in a conservative way to a few people, or to the select or elect, the cultured or the rich, and well-to-do, but addressed to the thinking people of the world. The pamphlets were so distributed that everyone who could read could find a copy of them and learn of the message that the Rosicrucians had for the entire world.
If we, today, were to attempt in a comparative manner such a world-wide appeal, it would be looked upon as the most bombastic and unrestrained form of propaganda that had ever been issued; and yet, there are those today who think that even our present form of publicity is entirely inconsistent with the supposed conservatism of the Rosicrucian organization in the past. Not only did these pamphlets in the 16th century issue from the Rosicrucian offices in a determined effort to popularize the Rosicrucian work, but there were other pamphlets issued by private individuals of high and low station who commented on the official publications, and thus added to the world-wide publicity. And, these were later announced by other official publications until we find that in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, thousands of books and pamphlets were issued in Europe and other parts of the world in an attempt to make the organization thoroughly and competently known to every person who cared to know anything about it.
As I have said before, it is doubtful if any other organization can show in a complete bibliography a list of so many books, manuscripts, pamphlets, and other pieces of printed matter dealing with the teachings, purposes, ideals, and activities of the organization. Certainly, this would not indicate extreme conservatism nor even a mild attempt to hold the organization out of the popular class.
Secondly, the very ideals and purposes of the organization depend upon more than support or cooperation of a few, no matter how well selected or chosen they may be. The great work of the Rosicrucian organization can be accomplished only through the cooperation and the interest of the multitudes. Its very work lies, not with the classes, but with the masses, and the success of its plans will depend upon the cooperation of every human being, who can be educated or trained to think along some of the lines of thought propagated by the organization.
Therefore, we see it is not a class movement but a popular movement, and the more popular it becomes and the more intimately acquainted with every one of its details becomes every living being, the more completely will its work be achieved. In fact, the Rosicrucians look forward to the day when some of its principles will be taught in the public schools to every boy and girl. It looks forward to the time when every church and every humanitarian movement, every school and college, every newspaper and magazine, will propagate some of its principles, just as these organizations today propagate the ideals of honesty, truthfulness, patriotism, hygienic living, and other principles that make for the development of civilization. In those days, the work of the organization will be carried on by hundreds of other organizations and it is possible that the Rosicrucian movement as an entity will cease to function. But not until that point is reached will the Rosicrucians discontinue their activities in behalf of mankind.
Another mistaken belief on the part of those who do not understand the organization is that it should not go into the byways and open its portals to the publicans and sinners. It is strange how this desire to keep something good exclusively for those who think they constitute the elect of the world is old and historically inconsistent. Jesus was charged with failing to conserve his message for the worthy and offering it freely to publicans and sinners, to the lowly and the humble. Yet, there are thousands today, who, while proclaiming the goodness of the broadness of the mission of Jesus, think that the work of the Rosicrucians should be confined to those who can garb themselves with a cloak of exclusive position either socially or financially.
And, there are those who think that the Rosicrucian organization has some mysterious or secret foundation in a divine decree proclaimed by God to a few. This is tommyrot. The organization, itself, was the outgrowth of the desire on the part of the mass for helpful knowledge. Its earliest foundation was laid among men and women of all positions and laid by these persons themselves, and not by a group of a few individuals who claimed to have authority from on high. The organization never claimed to be a part of any other organization or to have any connection with any other organization. It claimed to be governed by itself exclusively in a semi-autocratic manner. Its membership always had the right to propose and make certain recommendations and to have a voice in the general plans. Any decrees, rules, regulations, proposals, or propositions submitted to the membership and approved by the members became a rule if the majority so determined.
Nothing in the rules and regulations of the organization has ever tended to bind it to any ancient traditions or any other established teachings, or methods of work. In each age and each instant the organization rapidly adopted newer and more modern methods and always tried to take a position of being in advance of man's evolution and prepared to anticipate his needs and requirements. Each jurisdiction was permitted to adopt such methods as would enable it to work more successfully in the environment and with the class of people with which it had to deal, yet it retained mutual relationship with all other branches or jurisdictions, and through an international council composed of the leading or advanced workers in each country, it consistently tries to exchange ideas and incorporate the best thoughts of each nation of people.
In other words, the organization does not claim any divine origin nor recognize any divine leader as its superior officer. It has no world master to which any individual must pledge allegiance, and it will not recognize the dictatorship of any self-appointed or otherwise appointed authority, external of its own membership or external to its own progress in each jurisdiction.
It does claim, however, that the term "Rosicrucian" covers a Divine system of activity, and definite methods, and a definite nature of study. The organization throughout the world, regardless of jurisdictions or local conditions, has Cosmically decreed principles, which it consistently propagates and to which all members must subscribe. These fundamental principles were established in the organization centuries ago, and have been added to and modified by the Great Cosmic Masters. These things constitute the landmarks of the organization and are the exclusive property of the Rosicrucian organization.
Furthermore, the organization has never claimed to be a charity organization nor a purely eleemosynary one. There are those who believe this, but have no reason for so doing. To expect the Rosicrucian organization in any time of its past history or at the present time to carry on its great work and depend solely and exclusively upon voluntary donations or gifts of charity money from city or state funds is ridiculous. Throughout all its history, the Rosicrucian organization has always been known to have ample funds and to use these in many ways and methods, without limitation, without restriction, and without hesitancy, to carry out any sudden or definitely planned campaign of benefit to its own organization or for the good of humanity.
In fact, in days gone by, the organization has been openly and publicly charged with having found the secret of transmuting base metals into gold, or of making precious metals and rare gems, and in this way financing its tremendous activities. Those who know the truth of the matter understand that the art of transmuting is a costly one, and that no financial gain could possibly come through any exercise of this knowledge.
The organization, on the other hand, has always expected its members to support its work in a definite manner and to contribute to its funds very freely in order that it might carry on its work in a manner befitting the integrity and dignity of the organization. Today, as in the ancient times, the organization builds beautiful buildings in beautiful parks or proper settings, and freely indulges in the arts to beautify its offices, its temples, and everything that it deals with. It makes contributions to research activities, to excavation expeditions in foreign lands, to scientific tests and experiments.
It is in a position financially and otherwise to carry out any of its whims or fancies, to elaborate upon any of its plans, to engage in any research or experimental activity that may lead to new knowledge or helpfulness to not only its members but persons everywhere. It believes thoroughly in the wide-spread of literature and in bringing this literature especially into the hands of those who have been unfortunate. For this reason, the organization today supplies hundreds of libraries, hospitals, sanitariums, and prisons with literature, which some persons think should be reserved exclusively for the elect or the select.
In every sense, the organization is an outer body, and not a secret organization at all. While it does have many secrets which it preserves for those who attain them, it has no secrets preserved for those who are worthy of them merely because of social or financial position.
As every branch of the organization knows and as every officer and executive throughout each land understands, there are thousands of members who are in unfortunate circumstances and cannot pay their dues or meet their obligations or contribute to the support of the work at various times in their lives. The organization continues to help these persons and once a Rosicrucian every member is continued as a Rosicrucian as long as he lives, regardless of his financial or social condition, unless he violates some law of the land or some high principle and standard of the organization.
The belief that only eminent scientists, or only cultured persons of royal blood, so to speak, were originally allowed to enter the organization is a ridiculous thought in the face of the wide-spread publicity and the desire of the Rosicrucians to make their organization of benefit to every human being.
It is true, on the other hand, that there have been those persons who have entered the organization and who were shocked to find themselves in association with those whom they considered of less social position. These persons have found themselves inharmonious with the Rosicrucian principles and have been allowed to separate themselves from the organization.
In some countries, these self-excluded ones have formed Rosicrucian societies or circles of their own and are happy in the fact that they are a member of a group that can count its adherents on the fingers of their hands. Some such in each country are responsible for the wrong opinion of the Rosicrucian principles. They demand exclusiveness and disclaim recognition of Rosicrucian standing to any humble person in any ordinary walk of life.
The fact of the matter is, however, that the Rosicrucian organization is continuing to grow and to become one of the most popular movements of helpfulness to mankind that the world has ever known. And the members are beginning to express in many ways the pride they have in their organization. The increasing membership and the increasing power of the devotion of the members constitutes a factor that has always been one of the most valued assets of the organization and is today the greatest force it has to exercise.
The organization is happy that it has in its ranks here in America, for instance, men who occupy the position of judges in the Superior Courts and of high potentates in national and state affairs. It is happy also in the membership of men prominent in scientific fields, in art and literature, and that it can count many newspaper editors and publishers, many lawyers, and physicians, many well-known persons in every walk of life. But, it is just as proud of the fact that it has in its membership the humble characters of the ordinary walks of life where the mass of humanity is the greatest, and where the work is the greatest, and where the redemption of man must have its great foundation in order that a new civilization can be constructed for the future.
There are thousands in America today who point proudly to the fact that they are members and that their children, now old enough to join, are being brought into the organization to start the progress through the generations that are to follow. There are hundreds who point proudly to the fact that their grandparents were members of the organization, or that their ancestors of many generations ago were members. We, on the other hand, as executives of the organization, are proud of the fact that we have thousands of devoted friends who are truly our brothers and sisters in the great work, and the time is coming when thousands upon thousands of men and women in the future will proudly exhibit their Rosicrucian emblems to their children or leave these things as family heritages and bring joy to the hearts and minds of newer generations who will feel that it is a rare privilege for them to continue the work started by their forebears.
Our appeal must continue to be to the mass. Our appeal must be in the form that the mass can understand. We must meet every type of mind on the plane of its comprehension, and on its own level, and then proceed to raise that mind to a higher one. To see, you must stop to conquer. To see, you must reach down and extend a helping hand to those who may be beneath us only in a physical, material, or social sense, for none are beneath us in a truly divine and spiritual sense. We must use all of the material methods to combat the ignorance, the superstitions, and the temptations of the world. We must go off of the highways into the byways and into the valleys of darkness as well as upon the mountain tops.
We must seek everywhere for the one who is seeking for us, and for what we have to offer, and any method, any program, any form of propaganda that will help to bring our message and our work before any person of any class or position in life who may be benefitted by it is a worthy work, regardless of the criticisms of the few who, having contacted the organization and now enjoy its benefits seek to close the portals to the mass of mankind and dwell in the false joy and happiness of exclusion and seclusion.
Do your utmost, therefore, to herald the message from the housetops, and from the mountain tops. Millions must be called, for, after all, only a few are chosen in each period of the day and each period of the year. We do not do the choosing. Each chooses for himself whether he will dwell in light or darkness, but we must offer the light to all and make it available to everyone who may choose to have it, and to do this, our propaganda, our efforts, our offers of help must be wide-spread without any restrictions based upon classification of peoples and regardless of any man-made distinctions.
It is a joyful work for all, and it must be made universal to be consistent with our knowledge of the universality of God's love and the brotherhood of man.
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