Can universal brotherhood ever be realised? is an unspoken question in the minds of many who strive to realise it, but find themselves unable to do so. If the question means can men ever attain unity of personal aims, interests and ideals, the answer must clearly be no. Considering that man has been struggling, consciously or unconsciously, throughout his history for unity, it is almost startling to perceive how little true wisdom he has developed through his failures. He sees, if he but opens his eyes for a moment, that no two persons are alike. How then can there ever be unity in personal life? If he looks closer and examines those frequently recurring, though impermanent, instances of solidarity among masses of men, he will find that they are occasioned merely by community of self-interest respecting one matter or another. The individual unites with others into an army, a tribe, a nation, and may even imagine that this association means that he is living in brotherhood with them but such is not the case. It is the furtherance of his own interests that moves him, and being bonded with others enables him to further them best. Alone he could not do so.
Right down through every movement promoted with the declared intention of uniting men, the same thing is found. It is found in so-called spiritual movements. A society or sect is founded which men are invited to join, thus declaring their unity with their fellows, but does unity ever result? Let each answer this question for himself. When a man joins a church, society or movement and subscribes to the principle of universal brotherhood, is he truly sincere? Let him ask himself and answer truly. Does he join because he is aware that all men are brothers, regardless of his personal outlook, or does he join because he looks to gain something from the association? It is an illusion of consciousness centred in the personal self, that such a thing as brotherhood, or unity of personalities, is possible. But the germ of truth is within it, as in all other illusions. Track this spark of truth to its source and you will awake to the reality of brotherhood. All men are brothers – more than that they are ONE, but they are that unity only on the spiritual planes, the planes of reality. To realise universal brotherhood then implies withdrawal of consciousness from the plane of personality to the plane of reality. To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood does not, then, mean the mere organisation of any society with this ideal as its declared object. Such a thing in itself will come no nearer to attaining the ideal than have any of the innumerable “brotherhoods” which exist, or have existed with a more or less similar object, declared or understood. In very truth forming such a society, or joining such a society, is more likely to defeat than promote its object. Is it not inevitable that those, living in the separate self, should be aware of the opposition of those, who refuse to join their society, or who regard its ways and works unfavourably? If they are aware of any such opposition then they are not realising brotherhood. If one is aware of his identity with all life, which means consciousness of the reality of brotherhood, is not one then the brother of all men, and if so how will joining a society add to the reality? If consciousness of brotherhood is there, there is no necessity to form a society to promote it. If it is not there, then a society professing it is but an empty form.
Yet, as I say, at the root of all this external effort there is the spark of truth. The nucleus of universal brotherhood can be formed, and is formed, “WHERE TWO OR THREE ARE GATHERED TOGETHER IN MY NAME” – that is to say when one or two or any number are united in the pursuit of Spiritual Realisation. The true OCCULT BROTHERHOODS are such nuclei. Those yet unprepared to advance towards the goal may search the wide world over, and may employ an army to aid him in his search, but he will never find their lodges, or lists of members, nor articles of association. You cannot find them or become one of them through any will or desire of your own. But they can find you, and make you one of them, at the moment your face is set towards the Light. At the moment when any one of us makes his first conscious effort to separate himself from personal selfhood at that moment he becomes according to his line of advance, a neophyte in one or other of the Seven Great Brotherhoods which encircle the earth, and are synthesised by the Eight, The Brotherhood of Perfect Men. I do not say that one will, in this life or even in the next, become objectively conscious of his neophyteship, nor of his Brotherhood, nor of any teacher or messenger from it. But that does not matter, because never again, unless he wilfully turn his back upon the light, will he be without a friend or guide.