Nov 20, 2014

W. Q. Judge And His Example

To Be Restrained, To Be Liberal, To
Be Merciful, This Eliminates Selfishness

Steven H. Levy

William Q. Judge (1851-1896)

“It is not thought that Utopia can be
established in a day; but through the
spreading of the idea of Universal Brotherhood,
the truth in all things may be discovered.”


Regardless of one’s race, creed, sex, condition, or affiliation, Theosophical or otherwise, a Theosophist is engaged in the true service of humanity. What is the true service of humanity?

Fortunately, we do not have to rely on any external authority to know what is the right service of humanity. Such reliance would only result in dissention and differences of individual opinion.

The best sources of inspiration may emerge in the study of Theosophical teachings and literature. A fine example of a Theosophist engaged in the true service of humanity is to be found in the life and work of William Q. Judge (W.Q.J.).

In her first message to the American Theosophists in 1888, H. P. Blavatsky credits the existence for the Theosophical Society in America chiefly, if not entirely, on the sustained efforts of W.Q.J., and suggests that the policy followed would be an admirable example for all. She wrote:

“Theosophy has lately taken a new start in America which marks the commencement of a new Cycle in the affairs of the Society in the West. And the policy you are now following is admirably adapted to give scope for the widest expansion of the movement, and to establish on a firm basis an organization which, while promoting feelings of fraternal sympathy, social unity, and solidarity, will leave ample room for individual freedom and exertion in the common cause - that of helping mankind.” [1]

The policy followed by W.Q.J., that would establish the keynote for Theosophical work in America, was sounded in his editorial in the first issue of “Path”, published in 1886. The magazine’s founders, he said -

“…Have resolved to try on the one hand to point out to their fellows a Path in which they have found hope for man, and on the other to investigate all systems of ethics and philosophy claiming to lead directly to such a path, regardless of the possibility that the highway may, after all, be in another direction from the one in which they are looking. From their present standpoint it appears to them that the true path lies in the way pointed out by our Aryan forefathers, philosophers, and sages, whose light is still shining brightly, albeit that this is now Kali Yuga, or the age of darkness ....”

And W.Q.J. added:

“The very first step in true mysticism and true occultism is to try to apprehend the meaning of Universal Brotherhood, without which the very highest progress in the practice of magic turns to ashes in the mouth ....”

“We appeal, therefore, to all who wish to raise themselves and their fellow creatures - man and beast - out of the thoughtless jog trot of selfish everyday life. It is not thought that Utopia can be established in a day; but through the spreading of the idea of Universal Brotherhood, the truth in all things may be discovered. Certainly, if we all say that it is useless, that such highly-strung, sentimental notions cannot obtain currency, nothing will ever be done. A beginning must be made, and it has been, by the Theosophical Society. Although philanthropic institutions and schemes are constantly being brought forward by good and noble men and women, vice, selfishness, brutality, and the resulting misery, seem to grow no less. Riches are accumulating in the hands of the few, while the poor are ground harder every day as they increase in number. Prisons, asylums for the outcast and the magdalen, can be filled much faster than it is possible to erect them. All this points unerringly to the existence of a vital error somewhere. It shows that merely healing the outside by hanging a murderer or providing asylums and prisons will never reduce the number of criminals nor the hordes of children born and growing up in hot-beds of vice. What is wanted is true knowledge of the spiritual condition of man, his aim and destiny. This is offered to a reasonable certainty in the Aryan literature, and those who must begin the reform are those who are so fortunate as to be placed in the world where they can see and think out the problems all are endeavoring to so he, even if they know that the great day may not come until after their death. Such a study leads us to accept the utterance of Prajapati to his sons: ‘Be restrained, be liberal, be merciful’; it is the death of selfishness.” [2]

What can we learn from this editorial by W.Q.J about the true service of humanity?

The true service is to offer a path of hope to humanity. If philanthropic efforts and greater distribution of wealth were the answer, there would not exist today so much selfishness, vice, brutality and suffering. All these noble plans have failed because they intend to improve the outer condition of humanity. However, hope is an attitude of mind that is based on faith, will, and knowledge, all of which are qualities of the inner man. Although that path of hope may be most clearly pointed out to some in eastern philosophical and religious literature, the true servant of humanity investigates all systems of ethics and philosophy that claim to offer hope to mankind.

The truths in all religions and philosophies that offer light and hope for humanity are those that reveal the fact and meaning of universal brotherhood. Faith in the progress of the human condition and the will to work for a brighter future are dependent on knowledge that we are not isolated and alone. Universal brotherhood means that the effort of the individual influences the welfare of others and the progress of others lifts the individual by degrees through the fact of our unity and interdependence. Hope is not a sentimental feeling. It is recognition and conviction that universal brotherhood is a fundamental law of nature.

What needs to be gathered from all philosophies and religions are those truths that provide a better understanding of the spiritual condition of man. This is the key to self-knowledge and a truer realization of the Self. Once a human being understands that he is essentially a spiritual being, one’s purpose and destiny become clear. The clearer our vision of the future, the more hope and aspiration one has to reach the end in view.


[1] “Five Messages”, H. P. Blavatsky, Theosophy Company, Los Angeles, First Message, 1888. The book is available in PDF at our associated websites.

[2] “Theosophical Articles”, W. Q. Judge, Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, Vol. II, pp. 569-572.


The above text was first published in the March 2012 edition of “The Aquarian Theosophist”.


In September 2016, after a careful analysis of the state of the esoteric movement worldwide, a group of students decided to form the Independent Lodge of Theosophists, whose priorities include the building of a better future in the different dimensions of life.