THEOSOPHY, Vol. 51, No. 5, March, 1963
(Pages 120-122; Size: 9K)
[Article number (5) in this Q&A Department]
The tragedy of life for most people seems to lie in their inability to grasp the hidden meaning in all external events. And indeed, without some inner sense of perspective, life does seem chaotic and unjust. Yet how much real perspective do even Theosophists have? And do not even they, when struck with personal tragedy, repeat the words, "It is our Karma," with much the same inner despair and ignorance as any Christian might say, "It is the will of God"?
What one is given in Theosophy is not knowledge, but the keys to knowledge; not soul perspective, but an assurance that such perspective exists and is attainable by human beings. If a Theosophist is deeply convinced of his potential to attain spiritual knowledge, then there is indeed a world of difference between his saying, "It is my Karma," and a Christian's saying "It is the will of God." Both men may be ignorant, but at least the Theosophist need not despair until God's will changes.
A statement in The Secret Doctrine (I, 37) may help to make this distinction clear. There H. P. Blavatsky speaks of the past, present, and future as being parts of one eternal duration: "No one could say that a bar of metal dropped into the sea came into existence as it left the air, and ceased to exist as it entered the water, and that the bar itself consisted only of that cross-section thereof which at any given moment coincided with the mathematical plane that separates and, at the same time, joins the atmosphere and the ocean." Yet it is only that mathematical line, only the present moment, which our senses are able to perceive. At any one time, we can contact only a tiny cross-section of that "bar"; the rest is hidden in the future or in the past. But naturally, as H.P.B. states a little further on, "whatever reality things possess must be looked for in them before or after they have passed like a flash through the material world." In all probability, the Theosophist is as yet unable to perceive the "sum total," the complete reality, of persons, things, and events, but he knows that such a totality exists, and that one day, through unrelenting search, he will comprehend it.
Fortunately, though, everyone has intuitions from time to time, since everyone is an immortal soul; and one might truly say that it is through these occasional intuitions "that the heart of man is fed." "How could he live else?" Clearly, he could not. If men were not every once in a while struck by the sheer beauty of a countryside, a symphony, or a human being, the present high suicide rate would surely be much higher than it is. For the beauty they are struck by is not merely that of an illusionary form; it is a reminder of the indwelling spirit, of its perfection and harmony.
Yet an occasional intuition is a far cry from a systematic philosophy. Great as the Spirit is, it has to act "according to the ideas that are in the mind," as Robert Crosbie points out. Certainly, it is difficult enough to gain spiritual knowledge even with the help of Theosophy; but without such a guide, our intuitions remain inchoate and unobjectivized. In order to comprehend the confusing succession of "relative realities," we have to be fully aware of the steps we have taken, and the steps immediately ahead of us; in other words, we must have some kind of intellectual perspective before we can hope to attain further perspective of soul.
An analogy might perhaps be drawn with the way in which certain planets were discovered. Early in the last century, an undergraduate student at Cambridge, John C. Adams, began some immensely difficult calculations based directly upon Newton's law of universal gravitation. When he had found his solution, he wrote to the Royal Observatory, suggesting that its powerful telescope be directed at a certain time to a particular location in space. He was not believed, yet it was on the basis of such calculations that the planet Neptune was eventually sighted in 1846.
Theosophy gives us a sense of spiritual as well as physical space and, in addition, some of the universal laws which we may use in our own "calculations." Each one must make his discoveries for himself, and see with his own eyes the stars in the perspective of a constellation, but a philosophy, if accurate, can give him hints as to where and how to look.
The task is of course made quite difficult by the fact that nothing visible is permanent. "The existences belonging to every plane of being, up to the highest Dhyan-Chohans, are, in degree, of the nature of shadows cast by a magic lantern on a colourless screen; but all things are relatively real, for the cogniser is also a reflection, and the things cognised are therefore as real to him as himself," (S.D. I, 39) . Yet despite the enormous difficulties confronting one who is striving to free himself from illusion, the goal is attainable -- if only after a long series of what H.P.B. calls "progressive awakenings."
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
THREE GREAT IDEAS
Among many ideas brought forward through the theosophical movement there are three which should never be lost sight of. Not speech, but thought, really rules the world; so, if these three ideas are good let them be rescued again and again from oblivion.
The first idea is, that there is a great Cause -- in the sense of an enterprise -- called the Cause of Sublime Perfection and Human Brotherhood. This rests upon the essential unity of the whole human family, and is a possibility because sublimity in perfectness and actual realization of brotherhood on every plane of being are one and the same thing. All efforts by Rosicrucian, Mystic, Mason and Initiate are efforts toward convocation in the hearts and minds of men of the Order of Sublime Perfection.
The second idea is, that man is a being who may be raised up to perfection, to the stature of the Godhead, because he himself is God incarnate. This noble doctrine was in the mind of Jesus, no doubt, when he said that we must be perfect even as is the father in heaven. This is the idea of human perfectibility. It will destroy the awful theory of inherent original sin which has held and ground down the western Christian nations for centuries.
The third idea is the illustration, the proof, the high result of the others. It is, that the Masters -- those who have reached up to what perfection this period of evolution and this solar system will allow -- are living, veritable facts, and not abstractions cold and distant. They are, as our old H.P.B. so often said, living men. And she said, too, that a shadow of woe would come to those who should say they were not living facts, who should assert that "the Masters descend not to this plane of ours." The Masters as living facts and high ideals will fill the soul with hope, will themselves help all who wish to raise the human race.
Let us not forget these three great ideas.
--WILLIAM Q. JUDGE
[Article number (6) in this Q&A Department]
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