Writings of Ernest Egerton Wood
Masters and Men
Ernest Egerton Wood
An Extract from Natural Theosophy
First Published 1930
THE LIBERATED MAN
theosophical world seems to be dividing itself on the old question: which is
important for educative purposes, environment or character? Nobody of any
consequence has ever suggested that character can be implanted by environment.
Theosophist proposes the method of the builder, which assumes that a man
as a house is built, that he is a vacant site to which you bring various
and there build them up into a house. Nor the method of the sculptor,
assumes that human character is crude stone and someone must from the
chip away the unwanted portions, just as a sculptor takes a block of
and leaves a statue, which in a sense was in the stone all the time.
of forms were in that stone; the sculptor chooses one. But every man is a
living being with a character of his own.
Masters we mean those men who have realized the goal of human life and are no
longer in bondage to things. They know the world of life. So they regard the
creations as merely a shadow-world. They may remain in that world,
human bodies, but they are interested as teachers in calling people to
their world, which is the world of life.
who recognize the life never become builders or sculptors of men, but may be
gardeners or teachers, who know that every seed will grow according to its
kind, that both the pattern that is to be made and the power with which it is
built come from within the seed itself. Therefore no thoughtful writer has
suggested that Masters can give life to anybody or can evolve anybody or
help anybody to evolve themselves. They can give money, and have been known to
do so. And they can give thought-forms. But they cannot give growth or
evolution, understanding or love or power.
Theosophical Society has the same function as the Masters. Its purpose is
to attempt to feed the people, but to call their attention to great truths
which they can feed, clothe, shelter, amuse and educate themselves
men, without the suffering which they have been bringing upon themselves
long, Its first object — brotherhood — is to be understood in this deep and
way. Greater than any material gift is the offering of wisdom.
understanding. It is one of the powers of our life. It is tested by
for if I have made a machine, and it will not work, that tells me that my
was wrong, Let me tell a story about thought-power, which is
for by some good and honorable friends. In a certain city in
was over a deep gully a bridge which came popularly to be known as
bridge”, because from it a number of people threw themselves to
every year. A group of friends who were accustomed to experimenting with
thought-power decided to meet once a week, fix their attention upon that
bridge, and think thoughts of cheerfulness, strength and hope. They told me
that since they had begun the practice, which was about two years before, there
had not been a single suicide from that bridge. I cannot personally vouch for
their accuracy, but I can easily believe in such an occurrence, because I have
had other striking experiences of the power of thought.
would happen in this case ? The thought-form acts as one
It says: “Come now, things are not as bad as they have appeared, and
there is a possibility of happy life, which you really want. Please do
lose your balance, but consider the facts.” Reason prevails, and the
suicide changes his mind. The thought-form reminds him at a critical
of ideas which had been obscured in his troubled mind.
is good work, of course, in the way of lifting a lame dog over a stile, but
there is life to be lived and it must live in its own strength. Every
recognizes that, however simple may be the idea which he is putting
his class, no student will grasp it until he has made some effort of
and of thought. There is a moment between the hearing of his words or
seeing of the experiment that he is doing, and the student's understanding.
that moment the student thinks, and nobody can do it for him.
in the same way the work of an artist. With skill he produces beauty.
is the test of skill, as power is the test of knowledge, and both these
from inward effort alone. Painting pictures for a man who has no hands will not
make him into a painter — or even for a man who has hands.
babies does not teach them to walk. On the contrary, I knew a naughty
boy who when about four years old would insist upon being carried up hill
out for a walk. He had been carried too much.
the guiding lines given to us when we are learning to write prevent
from writing straight, because they teach us to think that they are
Only a few days ago I was writing a letter on an unruled writing
Suddenly I said to myself: “Why, I am writing straight, without lines !”
that moment my writing became crooked. Such is the power of suggestion.
Crutches are only for cripples. You do not teach a baby to walk with crutches.
THE MASTER'S PRESENCE
people think they need a personal Master, by that thought they destroy their
power and delay their own progress. If they think they could do better with
personal Master than without one, it is the same thing. If they could, he
be there. There are two kinds of persons to whom the Masters cannot
their contribution to the common brotherhood — those who cannot get on with
them, and those who cannot get on without them. But really
is no need to search for a teacher, because when we start learning he is
there. The entire galaxy of all who have attained liberation or entered
the world of life is always at hand, for they are the one life, which is
our essential life. No one can shut that open door.
Masters work behind the scenes, and are not out of touch with any part of
Some one wrote to Madame Blavatsky and asked to be put in connection with the
Brothers. Her reply was: “ Do you know so little of the laws of their order as
not to understand that by this very act of yours — which was entirely
and a spontaneous proof of your loyalty — you have drawn their
to you already, and that you have established relations with them
It is not within our power to do anything for you more. Occultism is not like
which holds out to you the false promise of mediatorial
and vicarious merit. Every one of us must work his own way up
the Brothers. If you want to see them, act so as to compel them to let
do so. They are equally with all of us subject to the laws of attraction and
those who most deserve their companionship get it. Take a
hour each morning upon first rising, and in an undisturbed place free from
noises and bad influences concentrate your thoughts upon them and upon your own
higher self, and will that you shall become wise, and illuminated and
THE MASTER'S WORK
then does a Master do? He is a witness to the life beyond all appearances,
his own. As fire tells us not to burn ourselves, so does the Master tell us
to forget ourselves. People forget themselves not only in anger sometimes,
in a thousand things and nearly always.
Master's human form is beautiful because his life is true. Consider the
limbs of a race horse They have been produced quite naturally by life
to run. What would be the use of a small horse worshiping that beauty of
? He must run. So the Master says to us: “ Do not worship me. Know that
is life which can be fulfilled in full living, and from which all beauty,
and love will flow.”
can realize that the Masters see benefit wherever people are trying
express their life, even though there be grave attendant defects. Let me take
crude and rather painful example — that of the old practice of foot-binding in
is entirely our own fault.
the main point of all this, the abiding good of it, is that they show an
However ignorant they were, they were well-meant, and were therefore in
degree expressions of life. Whenever mankind puts itself to some trouble
an idea, however stupid, it is good, for there will then be progress. There
no room for ridicule, and little for interference or correction.
is great danger in what is usually called devotion. True devotion is
for the beautiful, the good and the true, wherever it may be seen. It is
for life. But most devotion implies disrespect for life, inasmuch as it
out one expression of life for its fervent admiration, and almost
despises the rest. So is God shut away, as people go into caves to
devotion has nothing to do with that self-abasement which makes a man think
that because he is inferior to another he must not rely on his own judgment.
evolved or unevolved he may be, that is exactly what he must do. The man who
does not make his own vision of the goal for himself does not awaken to the
full his own life in the present moment of living, and therefore does not make
the most use possible for him of that moment.
is always some danger even when virtues are extolled. Such praise implies
suggests that they are beyond ordinary life, and the feeling arises; “It
be uncommonly good of us if we did this. We are not quite expected to do it”.
to say; “O, but that is for those who have taken the yellow robe”.
have come across some cases of partial mental paralysis due to misuse of the
of Masters. I have heard one say; “This work has failed; that shows that
Masters did not want it.” It was perfectly clear to me that the cause of the
was that he had not used his brains in the work under reference. Then
when the thought was habitually turned to the Master as if he were a
entity, in moments of difficulty, for example, when there was a blank
conversation, the man would find himself able to think only of the Master's
And also in danger, or in any crisis, do you pray or do you keep your head ?
You cannot do both. Every occasion is a crisis, did people but recognize it.
what of Master's authority ? Does he not know more than we? The Master is a
witness of the light, but it is the light that lighteth every man that cometh
the world. His form is only an illusion; it is not our goal, but our life,
is also his life, is our goal. There cannot be a form of a Master. There
nothing unusual in this. In a chemistry class the professor is not our goal,
chemistry is our goal. Leaf whispers to leaf, and tells rejoicingly of the life
it feels, like lovers hand in hand looking at the same moon. It is the power of
love that with it we thus at last come to look with all eyes at all things.
Master's work and orders ? I see no use in them unless they are our own work
and orders at the same time. If a man does his honest best he will be doing
what the Master wants to have done. If our understanding rises to what the
Masters call their mind-plane their ideas become our ideas, we think their
thoughts with them, and there is nothing to be gained by insisting that the
ideas or purposes are theirs, not ours, which is a mode of separation of the
Masters and ourselves, and tends to prevent our union in the one life.
cannot have this separation in fact. You cannot have men gradually making
own noses perfect according to their own thoughts, feelings and actions,
at the same time the Masters moulding those noses according to some external
plan. Masters' work and orders are surely a question of our being attuned to
their spirit and their law, which is our own true spirit and law, In that
(if such it can be called) is perfect freedom, Their teaching
an intuition, but not usually peculiar and distinguishable from what we call
own thought. There is no necessity to import into the idea of our relation
Masters the dramatic and separative characteristics of human domination or
by man with man. Masters are masters of life not masters of men.