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IN THE LIGHT OF THEOSOPHY

From The Theosophical Movement
Vol 74 No. 6 - April, 2004
"Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven [which is within you] and all other things will be added unto you," teaches the Bible. "The real riches lie in the kingdom within, yet many people live their whole lives not knowing how to find them," writes psychotherapist Jasmin Lee Cori (Sunday Times of India, February, 8). We should not seek this inner life superficially but try to penetrate to the core of our being. There are various paths open to us. "In a sense, there are two journeys: one to find ourselves and one to lose ourselves. Of course it is not that simple. At different levels, the truth looks different....Just as the view from the mountain looks different from different vantage points, so too the view of reality varies according to our level of consciousness." Many of the popular books on spiritual growth are concerned with the first journey and confuse self-actualization with self-realization. Self-actualization is fulfilling all of one's human potential, whereas self-realization consists in knowing one's identity as the more universal self. When we undertake the journey of finding ourselves, we are conditioned by our past. The second journey consists in realizing that we are not what we think ourselves to be, but are part of the larger unity. Jasmin Cori writes:

It may be said that both journeys culminate in knowing who we really are....In the first journey, what we discover is the authentic person, without mask or self-limitation. In the second journey, we learn that any such identity is still only a part of the picture....we discover that we are something much more eternal and mysterious, something that can change into almost any form and still be true to itself...

Thus it is not about controlling, but about giving up control; not about knowing, but about entering the way of unknowing; not about getting more, but about giving up everything that stands between you and the no-thing-ness of your true nature....The contemplative life is about...surrendering everything between you and God.

We are given hints regarding the inner spiritual journey in various verses of The Voice of the Silence, which advises us to sacrifice the personal self to the Impersonal Self. Thus:

The Path is one for all, the means to reach the goal must vary with the Pilgrims....Kill in thyself all memory of past experiences. Look not behind or thou art lost....Within thy body—the shrine of thy sensations—seek in the Impersonal for the "Eternal Man"; and having sought him out, look inward: thou art Buddha.

In a meditation recommended by Mr. Judge we seem to undertake a journey to find our true Self by losing some aspects of ourselves. Thus:

Every day and as often as you can, and on going to sleep and as you wake—think, think, think, on the truth that you are not body, brain, or astral man, but that you are THAT, and "THAT" is the Supreme Soul. For by this practice you will gradually kill the false notion which lurks inside that the false is the true, and the true, the false. By persistence in this, by submitting your daily thoughts each night to the judgment of your Higher Self, you will at last gain light. (Letters That Have Helped Me)


It seems that the paradoxical concept, we must "stoop to conquer," is being discussed and even practised by some in the business world. Robert Greenleaf, a retired AT&T executive, writes of Servant Leadership in his book under that title—a concept that springs from genuine concern for the people. A servant is able to become a leader because his motive is to "serve"—first, last and all the time. According to Greenleaf, a servant-leader is servant first and hence different from the person who is leader first, who is motivated by the desire for power or material possessions. We observe this slow transformation from servant to leader in the lives of great men, who had the compelling drive to be of use to the world and solve its problems, writes Suma Varughese (Life Positive, February 2004). "It is the service motive that makes servant leadership a spiritual idea, for all true service comes from an understanding of the unity of creation." Stephen R. Covey, author of the pathfinding 7 Habits Series, speaks of a paradigm shift in the management role, "from one who drives results and motivation from the outside in, to one who is servant-leader—who seeks to draw out, inspire and develop the best and the highest within people from the inside out." Greenleaf advocates that the leadership concept must be based on openness, the ability to listen, humility, the cultivation of intuition as a means to insight, introspection, faith and so on.

Mahatmas—truly Great Souls—describe themselves as "servants of humanity." The moral principle underlying the concept of servant-leader is humility. Tao Te King teaches that qualities of lowliness and humility are necessary for all great leaders and rulers. Thus:

He who is great must make humility his base. He who is high must make lowliness his foundation....

Therefore the Sage, wishing to be above the people, must by his words put himself below them; wishing to be before the people, he must put himself behind them. In this way, though he has his place above them, the people do not feel his weight....Therefore, all mankind delight to exalt him, and weary of him not.

Theosophy teaches that true discipline cannot come about by imposing rules or through any other external control. Thus Mr. Crosbie advises:

The Authority which we recognize is not what men term authority, which comes from outside and which demands obedience, but an internal recognition of the value of that which flows through any given point, focus or individual. This is the authority of one's Self-discrimination, intuition, the highest intellection. If we follow what we recognize in that way, and still find it good, we naturally keep our faces in that direction. (The Friendly Philosopher, p. 372)


What is Truth? It is not easy to define and is equally difficult to find in our world of illusions. We live in the world of relative realities and half-truths, says Z. Husain (Dignity Dialogue, February 2004). "Our moods, our happiness, our sadness are all relative." Are the table and chair in front of us really motionless, as we suppose? The moon appears motionless in the sky, but is that so? We say nothing moves against gravity, and yet water travels against gravity and feeds the highest leaf on the tree. Husain writes:

Most of the time we ourselves keep the truth hidden. Our judicial system proclaims, "Truth shall prevail." But each step of the judicial ladder defines truth in a different way. So where is the Truth?...

All beliefs acquired inductively from experience can at best be probable, but not certain. Socrates, who was condemned to death, held the belief that all truth is innate in the human soul. A man has only to discover himself and gain the knowledge.

Where should a common man go to find the truth?

In the article "What is Truth?" reprinted in U.L.T. Pamphlet No. 17, H.P.B. differentiates between Absolute and Relative truths. She points out that even to acquire relative truth we must cultivate love of truth for its own sake. On the other hand, Absolute Truth can only be attained by paralyzing the lower personality. Thus:

In every age there have been Sages who had mastered the absolute and yet could teach but relative truths. For...every one of us has to find that (to him) final knowledge in himself. The greatest adept living can reveal of the Universal Truth only so much as the mind he is impressing it upon can assimilate, and no more. (p. 2)

Outside a certain highly spiritual and elevated state of mind, during which Man is at one with the Universal Mind—he can get nought on earth but relative truth, or truths, from whatsoever philosophy or religion. (p. 11)

To reach the Sun of Truth we must work in dead earnest for the development of our higher nature. We know that by paralyzing gradually within ourselves the appetites of the lower personality, and thereby deadening the voice of the purely physiological mind...the animal in us may make room for the spiritual.... (pp. 2-3)


All forms of life—plants, birds and beasts—display an instinct for globalization, writes Bittu Sahgal, editor of Sanctuary Asia magazine, in his article appearing in Afternoon Despatch & Courier (February 4). It has been observed that when food was short in Siberia, the birds flew to India. Similarly turtles, whales and the vast schools of fish have been found to follow their globalization instincts in search for food and safety. Ultimately their instinct guides them back to the nesting beach or tree on which they were born. "But not a single species ever tried to overpower nature." Sahgal writes:

There is one overriding principal intrinsic to the survival of such pioneer globalisers—never do they destroy the resources upon which they depend. If they break this cardinal rule...they die....

Homo Sapiens of all descriptions—the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organisation varieties, plus the World Social Forum ones—would do well to look closer at the manner in which nature commands, marshals and protects its wards. Never has nature forgiven one species for exercising more power and influence than it deserved. Which is precisely what Homo Sapiens is busy doing right now, ignorant perhaps of the fact that the extinction files are full of those who tried to battle nature.

Theosophy teaches that the ancients have always revered Nature, never seeking to conquer it. An article, "Morality and Pantheism that appeared in the magazine The Theosophist (November 1883), expressed the Theosophical views regarding man-nature relationship thus:

If an individual attempts to move in a direction other than that in which Nature is moving, that individual is sure to be crushed, sooner or later, by the enormous pressure of the opposing force. We need not say that such a result would be the very reverse of pleasurable. The only way therefore, in which happiness might be attained, is by merging one's nature in great Mother Nature, and following the direction in which she herself is moving: this again, can only be accomplished by assimilating man's individual conduct with the triumphant force of Nature, the other force being always overcome with terrific catastrophes. The effort to assimilate the individual with the universal law is popularly known as the practice of morality.


It seems twenty-first-century technologies pose a greater threat to humanity than did the twentieth-century technologies underlying weapons of mass destruction. Unlike twentieth-century technologies, the modern technologies—robotics, genetic engineering and nanotechnology—appear to be within reach of individuals, as they "do not require large facilities and rare materials. Knowledge alone will enable their use," writes Bill Joy, a co-founder and chief scientist of Sun Micro-Systems (Wake Up India, October-December, 2003). We seem to have overlooked the ensuing consequences, in our desire for new discoveries and innovations. We need to proceed with caution, seeing that benefits seem to far outweigh the dangers and disadvantages. "Specifically, robots, engineered organisms and nanobots share a dangerous amplifying factor: they can self-replicate. A bomb is blown up only once, but one altered gene can become many, and quickly get out of control." There are ethical issues involved. For instance, it is possible to construct destructive nanotechnological devices that are selectively destructive, affecting certain area and only a select group of people. Nanotechnology—which consists in manipulating matter at the atomic level—threatens to destroy the biosphere on which life depends. Thus:

The only realistic alternative is relinquishment: to limit development of the technologies that are too dangerous, by limiting our pursuit of certain kinds of knowledge. Although humankind inherently "desires to know," if open access to, and unlimited development of, knowledge henceforth puts us all in clear danger of extinction, then common sense demands that we re-examine our reverence for knowledge....

The new Pandora's boxes of genetics, nanotechnology and robotics are almost open, yet we seem hardly to have noticed. Ideas cannot be put back in a box: unlike uranium or plutonium, they do not need to be mined or refined; they can be freely copied. Once they are out, they are out....

If we could agree, as a species, what we wanted, where we were headed and why, then we could make our future much less dangerous—then we might understand what we could and should relinquish. If the course of humanity could be determined by our collective values, ethics and morals, and if we had gained more collective wisdom over the past few thousand years, then a dialogue to this end would be practical....

It is also felt that scientists, technologists and engineers should adopt a strong code of ethical conduct that would ensure that they will desist from creating or developing any knowledge-enabled technologies of mass destruction. Material progress or scientific pursuits do not make for happiness. Individual and collective happiness rests on the realization of interdependence and a strong feeling of love and compassion for humanity in the heart of every individual.

Theosophy teaches that certain kinds of knowledge are like two-edged weapons that can both kill and save and hence must be used with care. In an Editor's Note to the article, ³From Theosophy to Shakespeare² (The Theosophist, July 1883), Mme. Blavatsky expresses the view—relevant even today—that certain scientific discoveries should never be made public. Thus:

Some of the discoveries of certain sciences—such as chemistry and physical science—ought to have been kept "occult" at any rate. It is very questionable whether the secrets of gunpowder, nitro-glycerine, dynamite and the like, have more benefited than wronged humanity; at least they ought to have been withheld from the knowledge of the ignorant and unprincipled portions of mankind. Such, at least, was the opinion of Faraday, and some other great men of science. And this may explain, perhaps, why the occultists will not give out their even more perilous secrets promiscuously.

Light on the Path says that scientific quest for knowledge—obtained by work and experiment—is held in high esteem by the Adepts. "Every fresh discovery drives them a step forward." And yet, science needs to base its work on the foundation of morality and philanthropy, as expressed by a Master of Wisdom:

Now for us poor and unknown philanthropists, no fact of either of these sciences is interesting except in the degree of its potentiality of moral results, and in the ratio of its usefulness to mankind....May I not ask then without being taxed with a vain "display of science" what have the laws of Faraday, Tyndall, or others to do with philanthropy in their abstract relation with humanity viewed as an integral whole? What care they for MAN as an isolated atom of this great and harmonious Whole, even though they may sometimes be of practical use to him?


For countless generations hath the adept builded a fane of imperishable rocks, a giant's Tower of INFINITE THOUGHT, wherein the Titan dwelt, and will yet, if need be, dwell alone, emerging from it but at the end of every cycle, to invite the elect of mankind to co-operate with him and help in his turn enlighten superstitious man. And we will go on in that periodical work of ours; we will not allow ourselves to be baffled in our philanthropic attempts until that day when the foundations of a new continent of thought are so firmly built that no amount of opposition and ignorant malice guided by the Brethren of the Shadow will be found to prevail.

—Master K.H.



"No Religion Higher Than Truth"
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A section in the monthly magazine: discussing current developments in science and the world and relating them to the teachings of Theosophy
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