“Enq: What do you understand precisely by “duty” in Theosophy? It cannot be the Christian duties preached by Jesus and his Apostles, since you recognize neither?
Theo: You are once more mistaken. What you call “Christian duties” were inculcated by every great moral and religious Reformer ages before the Christian era.
All that was great, generous, heroic, was, in the days of old, not only talked about and preached from pulpits as in our own time, but acted upon sometimes by whole nations. The history of the Buddhist reform is full of the most noble and most heroically unselfish acts.
“Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another; love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing; but contrariwise, blessing” was practically carried out by the followers of Buddha, several centuries before Peter.
The Ethics of Christianity are grand, no doubt; but as undeniably they are not new, and have originated as “Pagan” duties.
Enq: And how would you define these duties, or “duty”, in general, as you understand the term?
Theo: Duty is that which is due to Humanity, to our fellowmen, neighbors, family, and especially that which we owe to all those who are poorer and more helpless than we are ourselves.
This is a debt which, if left unpaid during life, leaves us spiritually insolvent and moral bankrupts in our next incarnation. Theosophy is the quintessence of duty.
Enq: So is Christianity when rightly understood and carried out.
Theo: No doubt it is; but then, were it not a lip-religion in practice, Theosophy would have little to do amidst Christians. Unfortunately it is but such lip-ethics.
Those who practice their duty towards all, and for duty’s own sake, are few; and fewer still are those who perform that duty, remaining content with the satisfaction of their own secret consciousness.
It is – “……the public voice of praise that honours virtue and rewards it”, which is ever uppermost in the minds of the “world renowned” philanthropists.
Modern ethics are beautiful to read about and hear discussed; but what are words unless converted into actions?
Finally: if you ask me how we understand Theosophical duty practically and in view of Karma, I may answer you that our duty is to drink without a murmur to the last drop, whatever contents the cup of life may have in store for us, to pluck the roses of life only for the fragrance they may shed on others, and to be ourselves content but with the thorns, if that fragrance cannot be enjoyed without depriving some one else of it.”
H. P. Blavatsky