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It is emphatically necessary to remember that speech must be absolutely true, Accuracy in speech is a quality rarely shown in these days, and careless exaggeration is painfully common. Many people are habitually so loose in their statements that they lose all sense of the meaning of words; they constantly say ‘awfully’ when they mean ‘very’ or describe something as ‘killing’ when they are trying to convey the idea that it is mildly amusing. The occultist must not be led away by custom in this matter, but must be meticulously exact in all that he says. There are people who consider it allowable to tell a falsehood by way of what they call a joke, in order to deceive another and then to laugh at his credulity – a credulity which is surely in no way blameworthy, since the victim has simply given the narrator credit for being enough of a gentleman to speak the truth! I need hardly say that such falsehood is absolutely impermissible. There can never under any circumstances be anything amusing in telling a lie or deceiving anyone, and the word or the action is just as definitely a wicked thing when spoken or done for that purpose as for any other.

The wise man will never argue. Each man has a certain amount of force, and is responsible for using it to the best possible advantage. One of the most foolish ways in which to fritter it away is to waste it in argument. People sometimes come to me and want to argue about Theosophy. I invariably decline. I tell them that I have certain information that I can give, certain testimony that I can offer as to what I have myself seen and experienced. If this testimony is of value to them, they are more than welcome to it, and I am glad to give it to them, as indeed I have done over and over again in this and in other books; but I have no time to argue the matter with people who do not believe me. They have the full right to their own opinion, and are at perfect liberty to believe or disbelieve as they choose. I have no quarrel with those who cannot accept my testimony; but I have also no time to waste over them, for that time may be far better occupied with those who are prepared to accept such message as I have to give.

Whistler is credited with having once remarked in the course of a conversation on art: “I am not arguing with you; I am telling you the facts.” It seems to me that that is the wisest position for the theosophical student. We have studied certain things; so far as we have gone we know them to be true, and we are willing to explain them; if people are not yet prepared to accept them, that is exclusively their affair, and we wish them good luck in whatever line of investigation they wish to take. Argument leads constantly to heated feelings and to a sense of hostility – both things by all means to be avoided. When it is necessary to discuss any subject in all its bearings, in order to decide upon a course of action, let it be done always gently and temperately, and let each man state his own case kindly and deliberately, and listen with all politeness and deference to the opinions of others.

– Charles Webster Leadbeater

From: The Hidden Side of Things

The Theosophical Publishing House

Adyar, Chennai

ISBN 81-7059-337-9