A powerful genius and promoter of the Theosophical movement in America has passed away from the gaze of the eye, but the organization of which he was the head is a living witness to the worth of him who in his last incarnation bore the name of William Quan Judge.
My acquaintance with him dates from 1888; he was the only man I ever met with whom I felt safe in all directions. The depth of his nature as it appeared to me was fathomless. His character was balanced, for he had an all absorbing ideal, his thoughts and doings emanated from the soul and not from superficial motives. He was careless of the impressions that he might produce by anything he said or did, the personal element being mostly absent, and he was sincere always, unless it was at times when he would permit the surface man to prevail and submitted to the frolics and idiosyncrasies of his more human nature, but even then there was mastery supreme.
He had the faculty of observing and synthesizing circumstances, persons and events; in fact here I often detected what people sometimes call occult knowledge. For instance: once during conversation, while he spoke, I thought of the time of day and was about to move my hand towards the watch-pocket but without actually doing it, when he broke in and said, “It is half-past eight,” and continued the conversation.
He was an occultist; he had the power of self-control and could subdue the turbulent wanderings of the mind, sit still in the midst of his own nature, supported by his ideal and view any and every situation dispassionately. What wonder that he saw clearly! In matters Theosophical all his mind and soul was aglow and alive with deepest interest; whatever question or problem arose he would view it starting with his basic ideal of the spiritual unity of all things, the Self; sublime harmony was contained in its comprehension, and a mode of adjustment for everything found in its source.
This philosophy he claimed is brought to view in the book of books, the Bhagavad Gita, and he used to say that the Gita and Secret Doctrine were quite enough for him to attempt to understand and to follow in this life.
To careful readers of Theosophical literature it cannot have failed to occur that such a remarkable depth of character as was shown in Mr. Judge’s great boldness, precision and wisdom must have belonged to an old and advanced Ego. Of this there can be no doubt, for those who have heard him speak in public. Whoever was in a receptive mood when he spoke, must have heard in his voice the ring of inexpressible sympathy and have felt that his words were laden with the wisdom of the ages.
He never tired of making things plain and simple, so simple that it was possible almost for poor mortals to understand the sublime truths to which he gave utterance, and I am sure that he lighted the fire of love in many a breast and awakened others from impotent slumber. I have reason to believe that his last incarnation was one of those in which the Ego takes consciously hold of a matured body whose owner had either departed by death, or sacrificed his life and his body on the altar of the great cause, for the sake of humanity, thus becoming a vehicle for the manifestation of a high occultist.
He was called by some “The Rajah.” I wrote him once at the end of a period of prolonged anxiety, worry and trouble in my affairs, asking what was the lesson to be learned from it, as I could not make the application myself. His reply was: “The lesson is not different from anything in life. It is just Karma, and being applied to large circumstances seems larger, but is in reality no more than the small ones of others. Calmness is the best lesson to learn with an indifference to results. If all comes right it is well, and if you have been calm and detached then it is better, for you shall have made no new Karma of attachment by it. Calmness also preserves health in all affairs more than anything else and also leaves the mind free to act well.”
An interesting incident, one that should provoke thoughtfulness, was this: In 1891, during a conversation between members of the Aryan Branch, the assertion was made that the proportions of the symbol “Tau,” which was then worn as an emblem by many members,—were not correct. I cogitated in my mind what the correct proportions might be, leaving the solution of the question to some time when I would have the chance to get the information from a work on symbolism. Three months passed without such opportunity, and the subject recurred to my mind frequently; however, I spoke to no one whatever about it. One evening, before the Branch meeting, I approached Mr. Judge as usual for a few minutes conversation, when he drew from his pocket an envelope on which was the sign of the “Tau,” drawn with pen and ink, which he handed me with the words, “These are the correct proportions.” He never gave me an explanation and I never asked for one, but it led me to observe him more closely and much more attentively than before.
From him I learned to disentangle principle from condition. He viewed all questions from the standpoint of the principle or essence that each contained in itself, without reference to personality, and his quick perception of every situation, together with the application of his ideal principles, enabled him to judge correctly at all times.
During the period of the fierce persecution carried on by members of the Society against him, he exhibited calmness supreme, he resolved to work ceaselessly and did so unmoved. He succeeded well, as the great activity of the movement now going on in this country shows; he had around him a strong band of helpers who never wavered for a moment in their confidence in him, or his judgment, truthfulness and aims. They still stand like a rock as then.
Whenever his advice was followed on the lines of his own example in any matter in or outside of the Society’s work, it would invariably simplify the most complicated situation; in other words the standpoint of truth and the establishment of harmony was ever the attitude which he held towards everything that he touched. He was non-argumentative, because he thought by argument no one could be finally convinced,—“each has to hew out his own conviction,”—nevertheless he was easily approachable, gentle, sympathetic, but above all strong and powerful whenever and wherever it was necessary to put in a word at the right time, or to act on the spot.
Needless to say that my association with him caused a change in my life and doings, such as to enlarge my views of existence and to help me to take up a more helpful attitude towards my fellow men, thus binding me to him in everlasting gratitude.