London, UK, in the 1880s, when the present letter was written. While big cities
may have changed, most challenges and opportunities faced by human soul are
very much the same in 21st century as they were hundreds or thousands of years ago.
A 2012 Editorial Note:
The following undated letter was
written to London students. The text has
appeared in various periodical publications,
including “The Adyar Bulletin”, in August
1910, “The Theosophical Forum”, in August
1948, and “The Theosophist”, Adyar, in
September 1954. Different editors have diverse
opinions as to its exact date. It was most likely
written some time in 1887. We reproduce it
from “The Theosophist” magazine, July 1988,
pp. 386-389, where it was published under the
title “Extract of a Letter to a London Group,
1887”. We add a few explanatory footnotes.
(Carlos Cardoso Aveline)
I can do you no good if you yourselves fail to place yourselves in the atmosphere of Theosophy and the Masters; or rather, if you still fail to sense Them around yourselves - as you have done till now. As you say, the flesh is ever weak and the spirit only occasionally willing in human nature. Still, who of you can say that this sudden revolution in your minds - in the minds of a few chosen and exceptional Theosophists I mean and the ensuing awakening after nearly a year of apathy and inactivity are not due to a guiding hand? That is a mere evidence and the effect of a cause due to no chance!!!
My dear colleagues, there is an uninterrupted concatenation of causes and effects, a Nidana  in the life of every Theosophist, if not of every member of our Society.  And it is this which distinguishes it chiefly from other Societies whose motors are Science on the physical plane or Faith, on the gushing emotional plane, like that of the Salvation Army for instance. No one seems even to suspect the real, true nature of the Theosophical Society - which cannot die were all Oxford, Cambridge and the Austrian, German and Russian secret police to try to destroy it. Individual Branches may collapse - the Parent Body whether in Adyar or at the North Pole cannot be annihilated - for it is the nursery and granary of the Societies in the twentieth century. But it is working on the lines traced by the Masters to prevent the said Branch-bodies from collapsing - and if I can prop up yours let me be used as the meanest pillar, or mortar on your trowels to cement and mend the cracked walls of the luckless London Lodge. But if the masons do not put first in order their material and prepare the bricks, what can the cement do? How can I create Theosophy in the hearts from which Theosophy has fled, perhaps forever - if it has ever been there.
Please let me explain myself for once so that you may all know what I mean. I will not speak of Theosophists of the London Lodge, in general, but will confine what I have to say to your own small group and let you draw yourselves your inferences and parallels therefrom. I just mentioned the Nidana (law of cause and effects) in the life of every Theosophist who is in dead earnest. I must add a few words to this. To begin with, none of you, sons of your generation and environments seem to have paid the smallest attention to that mysterious Nidana, none - even amongst the most earnest has ever thought of watching, studying and profiting by the lessons contained therein - the web of life ever woven round each of you, yet it is in that intangible, yet plainly visible web (to those who would see its workings), in that ever open book traced in the mystic light around you, that you could learn - aye, even those possessed of no clairvoyant powers. If I came and asked you: Why didn’t you, helped merely by the light of your reasoning powers and intellects - on the physical, let alone the spiritual plane - why have you never followed those daily records in the life of every one of you - those trifling events of which that life is composed, for no better proof can you ever get of the invisible Presence among yourselves - what would you say! How could we know? would probably be the answer. But surely Mohini  must have told you! But whether he has or not, it is so. You speak of contact with the Master or Masters, saying you have striven to obtain it and you admit that you may have even shared it, “unconsciously and in a measure”. I say you have, and that before you can hope to get more you have to realize that which you had.
I must confess and it is better that I should, that you have received no active direct help from the Masters (except Mrs. Cook [Mabel Collins]on the psychic plane) ever since the last collapse and the great trial of the London Lodge. For that trial has engulfed for ever those whom They sent to help and work and who were the first to desert their duty and even turns traitors in their hearts to the cause they had pledged themselves to further. But the trial was meant for all the London Lodge , not merely for those who had called the karma upon themselves. Nevertheless if the Masters had to withdraw from the London Lodge in general, they have never ceased to have their eye upon isolated individuals in it; upon those who remained true to themselves and their personal aspirations, if not to the cause and general good, as they ought to have done, had they been Theosophists as well as mystics. And I know that Masters have without interfering with karma - something even They have no right to meddle with - precipitated and in other cases retarded some events and contingencies in the lives of all and each of you who are earnest and true. Had you only paid attention to those casualities and little events, the working of these might alone have revealed to you a guiding hand. But, even you seem to have lost sight of a grand truth uttered by one of you, namely, “that the world, the work-a-day world, in which men live and move and have their being as though there were no other, is only a semblance”, and that “beyond these appearances there was hid a reality far higher, far nobler”. You have seen in certain events nothing to which the above words, in another connection, would be applied to and thus you have failed to apply them yourself, as to those with whom you are working in your group. Yet it is the first rule in the daily life of a student in occultism, namely, to never take off your attention from the smallest circumstances that may happen, whether in your own or your fellow-workers’ lives; to record and place them in order on those records, whether they may or may not be connected with your spiritual pursuits, and then bind (religare) them together by comparing notes with the records of the others, and thus extract from them their inner meaning. This you ought to do at least once a week. It is from these totals that you would find out the direction and path to pursue. It is the phenomenon of “thought-transference” and guessing thoughts of Bishop and Company applied to the events in life. For once compared and summed up, those events (the most trifling are often the most determinative), grouping together and their course, would reveal to you, as a scarcely perceptible motion of a muscle in the hand (with which he is in contact) reveals to Bishop the direction he has to follow - the very way you have to follow to get true light. Working by himself no man can achieve this - but when you are several it is comparatively easy. It is the method used for the youngest chelas, and answers several objects pursued. It concentrates their attention upon the noumena  of the simplest phenomena or events in life (those events being guided and prepared by the invisible Guru) and draws their attention from things that would only interfere with their mental training. It sharpens and develops their intuition and at the same time makes them gradually sensitive for the smallest changes in the spiritual influence of their Guru.
But if proceeding on the social lines, each fellow of your group prefers to see in every event or casuality of his life the effect of either a cause produced by his own free agency or a simple chance, then you will never establish in your group the first requisite element - perfect unityof thought and harmony between your spiritual selves. You cannot proceed straight from the Universals but have to begin from the particulars. Arithmetic and addition before Mathematics and meta-mathematics. Once an earnest mystic joins the Theosophical Society  he is invisibly and unconsciously to himself placed on quite a different plane than those around him. There are no more meaninglessor trifling circumstances in his life, for each is a link purposely placed in the chain of events that have to lead him forward to the “Golden Gate” or the “Gates of Gold”. Each step, each person he meets with, every word uttered may be a word purposely placed in the day’s sentence with the purpose of giving certain importance to the chapter it belongs to and such or another (Karmic) meaning to the volume of life.
 The Nidana, usually Nidanas, is precisely the uninterrupted concatenation of causes and effects which tie the individual to the outer world. The Nidanas (Causes) are described as 12 in Buddhism.
 A reference to the original Theosophical Society, which ceased to exist by 1895.
 Mr. Mohini M. Chatterjee was a disciple of the Masters of the Wisdom for various years, and he had visited London.
 This is most likely a reference to the events of 1885 and 1886.
 In the text “The 1900 Letter From a Mahatma”, which can be found in our associated websites, one can read these words from the Master: “At favourable times we let loose elevating influences which strike various persons in various ways. It is the collective aspect of many such thoughts that can give the correct note of action.”
 “Noumena” - the invisible essence behind outer phenomena.
 “Theosophical Society”, id est, the theosophical movement.
On the role of the esoteric movement in the ethical awakening of mankind during the 21st century, see the book “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.
Published in 2013 by The Aquarian Theosophist, the volume has 255 pages and can be obtained through Amazon Books.