Rosicrucian Writings Online

What Membership Means To You

By The Imperator
[H. Spencer Lewis]
[From The Rosicrucian Digest October 1932]
IN the past month my vacation took me through a number of western States and into Canada and I had the privilege of meeting men and women of various organizations with which I am connected and enjoying the unique position of being a mere member of these organizations and viewing my membership from a more interesting point of view. I tried to place myself in the position occupied by most of you who read this magazine and I tried to analyze your point of view and the benefits of being a member of any large national or international organization.
I recall how I was impressed with this different point of view when I walked into one of the large hotels of Vancouver, Canada, to attend the weekly meeting of the Kiwanis Club of that city. I had in my wallet a card which showed that I was a member of the Kiwanis Club of San Jose and other papers showing that I had even been a member of the Board of Directors of this Club. But as I crossed the threshold into the meeting of the Vancouver Club I did so not as an officer or member of that Club but a mere visitor, and I tried to put myself into that position to the fullest degree.
I registered as a visitor, I sat quietly at one of the tables as a visitor, and waited until inquiry was made about me and I was briefly introduced to the other members.
My membership in the Kiwanis organization of San Jose does not automatically give me membership in every other Kiwanis Club of the United States, Canada, or anywhere else. My membership in a French dramatic and literary club does not automatically include membership in a branch of that organization in England, or other lands, or even here in the United States where I live. I do appreciate the fact, however, that my membership in certain organizations does give me the great privilege of visiting any branches of that organization in any lands in accordance with the rules and regulations of those branches. If I apply at the meeting place of one of these branches and find that they have suspended meetings for the summer time or, because of political or economic conditions, have suspended meetings for a long period, I cannot justly and conscientiously demand that since I am a member in good standing elsewhere, I must be accorded the same privileges as I have at home. Certainly this will seem reasonable and logical to every thinking person, but I wonder sometimes whether our members fully appreciate these fine points and, when visiting our various branches in the United States, do so with the proper attitude.
Our branches here in North America are not only always ready and willing to show every courtesy to visiting members but they are more than anxious to entertain the visitor in such a manner as to make him appreciate the value of his membership. But the attitude on the part of the visiting member must be one of understanding and he must assume the attitude of a visitor in order that he may enjoy to the fullest extent the courtesy thus extended.
Foreign Membership
In the first place, our North American members are members of a separate and distinctly limited part of the Rosicrucian organization. They are members of the North American jurisdiction of AMORC and by courtesy and universal custom are recognized as such by all foreign jurisdictions of the organization. But each jurisdiction of the organization is a separate and distinct body. The AMORC in North America is the most modern, the most recent, and the most distinctive of any of the Rosicrucian organizations that has ever been formed or that ever existed.
It is not as though the AMORC in North America was a direct and unbroken continuation of some other foreign organization of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood. The fact of the matter is that there is no single jurisdiction of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood anywhere in the world that has had a continuous and unbroken existence. The Rosicrucian Order in France today is not a continuation of the previous bodies that have existed in France but a more or less modern organization perpetuating the activities and ideals of not only the previous French bodies but of all other bodies throughout the world.
The remnant of the Rosicrucian Order that exists in Germany today, greatly reduced in size and activity by the World War and by the passing of the 108 year period of silence, is not an unbroken continuation of the organization that flourished so greatly in Germany in the 17th century, but is one that was formed since then on more modern lines to perpetuate the ideals and principles of the older organizations in Germany. The organization that flourished there so greatly in the 17th century was not a continuation of the one that had flourished in Germany a century or more earlier but merely a rebirth of it in a new form and as a new and independent entity.
It is absurd, therefore, for any person to think that any one of the present jurisdictions of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood is an unbroken continuation of daily, weekly, and yearly activities of the old fraternity. The Rosicrucian founders must have conceived at some period in their history of the possibility of the organization requiring re-birth and re-forming and, therefore, planned that the organization as an entity should exist much like a human entity with periods of activity here on the earth plane alternately interrupted with periods of inactivity awaiting re-birth in entirely new form and with no other connection with the previous organization except that of spirit and principle.
Thus we find throughout the world that the Rosicrucian Brotherhood in each jurisdiction or in each country has passed into silence for a period of approximately 108 years, during which time the organization as an entity has carried on no outer activities and no material expression of its existence and then has been reborn under new leadership, under new systems, and evolved regulations and with no tie to the past except that of the spirit, ideals, and purposes of the Brotherhood.
The Rosicrucian Order in America ceased its last public and material activities as an organization some time about the year 1801. Of course, the ending of wide activities cannot be brought about suddenly and the transition from activity to inactivity is gradual, but by 1825 the American public was justified in its belief that the Rosicrucian Brotherhood as an organization in a material form and with material activities on the part of its associated members had discontinued. We know, of course, that its members continued to study and to make researches and to practice the ideals of the organization and that they continued to privately and secretly initiate the younger members of their families and to pass on to them as a high charge of spiritual responsibility the keeping alive of the flame of Rosicrucianism within their breasts from one generation to another.
When 108 years of this outer inactivity had passed, the year 1909 found many in this Western World anticipating the re-birth of the organization and a number of such persons did come together and assist in the preliminary foundation work of the present AMORC organization.
But when the first meetings were held in New York City in the latter part of 1909 and then held at the spring and fall equinox of each of the succeeding years for the purpose of enlarging the number of applications for charter membership and to study and analyze the ways and means of announcing the birth of the new organizations, these persons were participating in the foundation of an entirely modern and entirely separate branch of the organization and were neither continuing the membership and activities of the earlier AMORC organization nor those of any foreign organization. While it is true that every new branch or re-birth of the organization is assisted or sponsored in a way by some existing jurisdiction, or by the highest officers of some foreign district, there are no material ties that bind the new organization to the old for the new body simply receives the spirit and soul of the work and gives it a modern form of expression.
We can see in this the analogy to the conception and birth of the human body and its period of earthly activity. As the human body requires approximately nine months for its material completion before it can receive and express the soul of its divine connection, so each new jurisdiction of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood devotes a number of years to the formation and completion of a physical body. This work is done in silence or with considerable privacy until it is ready to express the spirit that is to animate the body thus formed. Then it announces itself to the world as a Rosicrucian organization and not by its name or title, and not by the physical elements that compose its body, and not by the personality of its membership, but by the spirit of its work it proves itself to be a body properly perpetuating the Rosicrucian ideals but in no sense continuing anything of a physical organization of the past.
In spirit, therefore, every Rosicrucian organization throughout the world is united just as every electric lamp in a large auditorium is an independent fixture made, perhaps, in different factories and of different shapes and colors and never having come in contact with any of the other lamps on the same circuit, but all of them expressing the same energy that as a spirit force ties them together in one circuit of expression and to serve a similar purpose in a similar way.
The AMORC of North America is, as I have said, a modern and independent organization. It is not a part of the physical organization of any other Rosicrucian body in any part of the world. Each is perpetuating, not continuing, the activities that represent the fundamental principles of the Brotherhood but the work is carried on differently by each jurisdiction to meet not only the local political, educational, cultural, and religious conditions of the country but to meet even the spirit of its people and in this latter regard the Rosicrucian Order of North America, being located in the Western World with a great background of Western World traditions and a wonderful spirit of modernism, is quite unique in its method of operation and its method of carrying on the ideals of the organization, but nevertheless perpetuating them as faithfully as it is humanly possible to do so.
After all, the great essential purpose of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood is to be of practical value to the individual member in his personal necessities and problems. These may not always be material problems, for they may be intellectual, spiritual, or social. Whatever they may be, the assistance he asks must be outlined to him simply and rationally and in keeping with his present understanding and environment. I feel safe in saying that every citizen of North America feels that he has problems which are essentially different from many of the problems persons in foreign lands have to face. Certain it is, however, that the environment of the citizen of North America and the times and conditions in which he lives demand that the assistance offered to him be strictly in harmony with these modern conditions and deal with the subjects in a familiar manner. For this very reason alone, a modern organization of Rosicrucians in North America must be quite distinct from Rosicrucian organizations in foreign lands.
Truths are the same in any tongue and in any land and the yearnings of the inner self are the same on the part of all human beings who have reached a stage of evolution where they are anxious to assist themselves in making the most of their circumstances and surroundings. In these fundamentals the spirit of Rosicrucianism throughout the world is unvarying and definite. It is this spirit of truth, of practical helpfulness, and revealing the great mysteries of life, that constitutes the very life of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood and it is this that each new jurisdiction of each new organization of the Brotherhood seeks to perpetuate and keep evolving in the consciousness and lives of men and women.
Hundreds of our members have gone abroad and have sought the privilege of visiting and meeting with Rosicrucians of foreign lands. Many of them have been highly successful in making unique contacts and in sharing with the benefits offered on rare occasions. On the other hand, a few have been disappointed from time to time in seeing that the methods of operation, the times and places of meeting, and the manner of dispensing the helpfulness of the organization are different and unavailable. They find courteous treatment but not the open and public activity they expected. They find a greater degree of secrecy and a very great degree of conservatism. If they approach the foreign organization properly in a true spirit they find a unique response. If they seek to challenge the existence or operation of any foreign organization, they find a similar degree of contest and denial. In many lands the activities of Rosicrucianism are strictly limited by political and other regulations which forbid private assemblies, secret conclaves, closed meetings, or fraternal activities of a personal nature.
Here in North America the Governments of the several countries occupying this continent are liberal, broad-minded, and guarantee the utmost of personal freedom. We should rejoice in this and pray for the time when other jurisdictions may enjoy the same privileges. But we would have all of our members of North America understand, if they do not already know from what we have said in all of our literature, that membership in the Rosicrucian Brotherhood of North America constitutes today a membership in the largest of all of the present Rosicrucian jurisdictions throughout the world and carries with it the spiritual, mental, psychic, Cosmic relationship with all other Rosicrucians who are perpetuating the Rosicrucian ideals as we are perpetuating them. But there is no material association, no material ties, no material affiliations existing between these various jurisdictions except in each personal instance where the individual member through his own efforts, through his own attainment, through his own journeys along the path, establishes these various contacts and brings himself within the aura of one or more of the existing bodies of the organization.
Inner Circles
Most of our members realize as they advance through the higher grades of the work that the path upon which they travel in their progress through the studies is like a spoke in a great wheel and that it leads to a central point where the radius of the circle is smaller than it is at the outer end of the spoke. The outer circle of this great wheel is broad enough to include all who are called to come upon the paths that lead to the hub of the great work, but as each travels toward this hub on his individual path he finds the circle narrowing with fewer and fewer participating in his progress.
At the hub there is an inner circle. It is not a circle composed of those who have been selected or who have been given preference or who have reached the point through bearing gifts or offering sacrifices to any individual. They reach this point through personal attainment and the development of a personal power that makes them worthy of such a position. Those who reach this inner circle are so closely united spiritually, mentally, and Cosmically, with the inner circle of each of the various foreign jurisdictions of our organization that they are conscious constantly of the unity of the Brotherhood throughout the world, but this unity is not of a material sense and these members delight in the fact that it is not of the material sense but wholly spiritual and Cosmic.
While we who are the directors and chief executives of the organization in North America are in correspondence and fraternal contact with the high officers and executives of other jurisdictions, and while there are members of an International Council residing in each of the jurisdictions and constituting a world wide advisory board, nevertheless, the real affiliation with the true inner circle of the Universal Brotherhood of Rosicrucians is a spiritual contact and relationship entirely independent of all material, earthly, physical connections.
Thus the organization in North America offers to the Western World citizens an opportunity to share in the ideals and purposes and benefits of a modern Rosicrucian body perpetuating and keeping ever alive in the hearts of men and women the spiritual and Cosmic principles which are the foundation stones of Rosicrucianism. It offers a membership in a strictly modern and continually evolving and progressing organization that is not limited in its expanding consciousness by any of the material traditions of the past. It offers a membership that is strictly western in its physical formation and strictly independent in all of its material forms, having been born in modern times, in modern ways, and in keeping with the democratic spirit of the Western World, is more democratic than autocratic in its form of government, yet adhering to the ancient principles of autocracy in a manner that will perpetuate the ideals without conflict with the democracy of the Western World.
In keeping with the business methods, the organization system, and the social laws of the Western World, the AMORC of North America is incorporated as a non-profit, fraternal, educational society. By the very virtue of its State charter and legal status it cannot be physically a part of any other foreign organization except in spirit. It is governed by a Supreme Grand Lodge composed of a Board of Trustees, and with a Grand Council composed of representatives from every part of the North American district. It holds its National Convention annually in order that every member may express in person whatever resolutions or motions for the improvement of the work that he or she may believe to be advantageous, and these suggestions and ideas are discussed and analyzed openly before a representative body of the members at the Convention and adopted upon recommendation of those assembled when such recommendations are not in conflict with the established constitution of the organization and the rules and regulations of the country in regard to incorporated societies and organizations.
Because of these opportunities to express opinions, because of the constantly evolving nature of the organization, and because of its progressive spirit, the members of AMORC in North America are enjoying greater benefits, greater blessings from the organization, than those who live in some of the other foreign jurisdictions, and I hope that each and every member will pause in his progress in the studies to analyze the many hundreds of other benefits that the organization offers him in addition to his instruction and to measure these not only from a material point of view but from a spiritual and Cosmic point of view and thereby discover the real value of membership in this modern Western World organization.
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Our statistics determine that the Rosicrucian membership is about evenly divided in so far as sex is concerned. Yet the majority of contributors of articles to the "Rosicrucian Digest" are men, not that we prefer the writers of articles to be men but because the male membership of the organization seems to be more active in a literary sense. Yet we know from correspondence that the women members and women readers of the "Rosicrucian Digest" think just as intently, just as deeply along these lines as the men. Therefore, we urge them to throw down the wall of tradition and conservatism and submit to the Editorial Department articles for publication if they meet with the requirements of the "Digest".

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