THEOSOPHY, Vol. 19, No. 2, December, 1930 (Pages 52-57; Size: 19K)
THE demand of the scientist that occultism furnish proof of a metaphysical and spiritual Kosmos puts the occultist in a peculiar position. The proof demanded is in the name of the five physical senses -- the only avenues leading to scientific understanding; and since the demand concerns the existence of non-physical (though not non-material) universes and beings, the occultist instantly recognizes the utter futility of trying to satisfy the materialistic conception of proof. Should he reply that, in the very nature of things, physical senses cannot contact the metaphysical and that such contact can only be had through the development and use of certain inner senses -- the profane scientist considers that the occultist has but begged the question, and departs more than ever convinced that occultism is superstition.
The scientist has first to learn the proper method of approach to the door of the Hall of Wisdom, for that method of approach never lies in making demands. The initial steps to spiritual knowledge are negative ones and consist of refraining from certain types of thinking, speaking and action. The seeker must first unlearn much if not all of what he heretofore regarded as knowledge. This is not easy to do. In fact, the pain is so great that most aspirants stop right here and go no further. The preliminary step involves the tearing of one's self away from those moorings which have held him fast for untold ages -- moorings of a personal, family, racial, social, political and economic character. No wonder that some of the most brilliant intellects of all times have turned their backs on occultism, hugging closer than ever their ingrained religious, social and scientific prejudices. They would not qualify -- the price demanded being ever too great for them. No one can expect to have occult knowledge and remain undisturbed. It is bound to stir up one's life to the very depths. Hence the earnest seeker for hidden Wisdom must perforce become a "disciple." The cold search for knowledge is not the end of occultism; and this is the first lesson the seeker learns.
Occult knowledge begins and ends in Motive. Why does one wish to know? True knowledge is Power and power is dangerous in the hands of the irresponsible. Can we not, therefore, see that he who dictates terms and makes demands can never know, no matter how justified he may consider his terms and demands to be? The Adept custodians of true knowledge and the Masters of Life consider that it is unsafe to entrust anyone with their secret learning in whom may still lurk even the possibility of selfishness. All purely personal desires and ambitions must be killed out beyond the possibility of reanimation.
Of course, what has just been stated is meant for scientists who demand direct and first-hand proof of the Theosophic teachings concerning Nature and Man. But for those whose intuitions have not been crowded out by over-indulgence in mere sense-knowledge, Theosophy establishes a number of Fundamental Propositions whose validity is absolutely Universal.
The first of these propositions is that the Universe, both visible and invisible, is a boundless Ocean of Life and that all Space is filled with endless hierarchies of living beings of every degree and grade of intelligence, from the highest on the Spiritual pole of Life -- the Masters of Wisdom -- to the elemental beings which make up the Matter-pole of that same Life. The gradation from the Highest to the lowest and from the lowest to the Highest is continuous -- the Whole making up the endless chain of Being and Becoming. Science divides Nature into animate and inanimate kingdoms, the mineral kingdom, the lowest known to science, being classed as inanimate. The fallacy of this view is apparent when one considers how everything that is "dead" passes into life, and vice versa. That there is a perpetual circulation going on through all the Kingdoms of Nature, science itself does not deny. But on what conceivable hypothesis, theory or speculation can it explain how death can generate life or life give birth to death! We have to posit miracle to explain that. Miracle throws our all-denying scientist into the lap of our all-believing theologian. The savant protests against our conclusion and at once proceeds to spin a new theory, hoping by words to avoid the unwelcome classification with the champions of an Almighty God. If theories, speculations and hypotheses form the unknowable background of science, why not posit an hypothesis which at least explains all the facts, without doing violence to logic and reason? The assumption that All is Life is a real "working hypothesis;" the Theosophist can assure his brother scientist that he will never have occasion to substitute any other hypothesis in its place. He can assure him further that in time he will no longer regard the Unity and Universality of Life as hypothetical but as self-evident TRUTH.
There is implicit in the proposition that All is Life, the existence of a being at every point of space; space including not only ordinary physical space, but six other layers or planes, which are not within the ken either of the bare physical senses or the tools invented to assist these senses -- tools such as the microscope, the telescope and the spectroscope. While our scientists, with the possible exception of Einstein, are now inclined to acknowledge a far greater range of life in physical, concrete space, they balk at the mere thought of the existence of Subjective Space. Yet the Space they deal in constitutes the mere shell of Kosmos. Regarding other worlds and beings, the Secret Doctrine has the following to say, Vol. I, p. 605:. . . when "other worlds" are mentioned -- whether better or worse, more spiritual or still more material, though both invisible -- the Occultist does not locate these spheres either outside or inside our Earth, as the theologians and the poets do; for their location is nowhere in the space known to, and conceived by, the profane. They are, as it were, blended with our world -- interpenetrating it and interpenetrated by it. There are millions and millions of worlds and firmaments visible to us; there are still greater numbers beyond those visible to the telescopes, and many of the latter kind do not belong to our objective sphere of existence. Although as invisible as if they were millions of miles beyond our solar system, they are yet with us, near us, within our own world, as objective and material to their respective inhabitants as ours is to us. But, again, the relation of these worlds to ours is not that of a series of egg-shaped boxes enclosed one within the other, like the toys called Chinese nests; each is entirely under its own special laws and conditions, having no direct relation to our sphere. The inhabitants of these, as already said, may be, for all we know, or feel, passing through and around us as if through empty space, their very habitations and countries being interblended with ours, though not disturbing our vision, because we have not yet the faculties necessary for discerning them. Yet by their spiritual sight the Adepts, and even some seers and sensitives, are always able to discern, whether in a greater or smaller degree, the presence and close proximity to us of Beings pertaining to other spheres of life. Those of the (spiritually) higher worlds, communicate only with those terrestrial mortals who ascend to them, through individual efforts, on to the higher plane they are occupying. . . .Only Adepts and some seers by their spiritual sight and through individual effort are able to discern and to ascend to these metaphysical and spiritual worlds, and no scientist can get first-hand proof in any other way. If the materialistic scientist doubts that outside of this earth the physical universe of astronomy is minus living beings, how can he be expected to accept the existence of physically disembodied beings in the depths of abstract space? Yet, through thought, through will, through feeling and through imagination Man contacts these planes all the time. Such is the obdurate blindness of the Age, that the most sacred faculties and powers in Man are regarded as the products of matter, or airy nothings which are doomed to disappear with the death of the form.
In considering Theosophy's Second Fundamental Proposition -- the Universality and Periodicity of Law -- the same difficulty, as with the proposition of the universality and continuity of Life, confronts the scientist. The materialist is willing to concede the truth of our second fundamental as far as the physical Kosmos -- the outermost layer of space; but as the five outward senses cannot follow the working of Law beyond and within the physical, our men of learning go no further. This attitude of mistrust of the reality of the inner nature and its promptings, confronts the scientist with the same alternative previously noted in connection with the First Fundamental -- the alternative of miracle, of chance, or chaos. From the inevitable conclusion of this attitude of negation our scientist shrinks, as it is he, in especial, who prides himself on being the champion, par excellence of law and uniformity in Nature. He meets the inevitable conclusion in characteristic fashion by evolving new theories from his ever fertile brain, by strained explanations of Life's mysteries. Why not accept as a "working hypothesis", on the ground of its inherent reasonableness, the reign of law in all things and in every circumstance? If law reigns in the objective sphere we ordinarily contact, why not also in the preternatural and subjective spheres -- spheres with which we are even more truly in touch than with the gross physical plane? We are already in contact with these subjective spheres through our inner faculties and powers -- partially recognised by the psychologist as powers and faculties of mind -- fully recognised and understood by the Occultist as the faculties and powers of the Immortal Soul and Spirit. The Western Psychologist has barely begun to exploit those avenues leading to the inner worlds, because of great reliance placed by Western learning upon the reality of external Nature.
Man, occultism teaches, is the epitome of the Universe. He has faculties and powers through which he can know and experience the Whole of Nature, from the most sublime and spiritual to the most illusive and gross aspects of the One Life. MAN is the key to Nature's secrets. Yet, such are the lethal effects of materialism, that in every summary of the ultimates of Kosmos -- the materialist omits SELF. This is the blind spot in the scientific vision; and until it is recognised, the gulf between the occult and profane sciences will remain absolutely impassable.
Not alone Man, teaches Theosophy, but every atom, every monad, every speck in space is a more or less complete copy of "the vast, inclusive original." Man, however, not only reflects the Whole passively, as do the kingdoms below him; but, in addition, he possesses the power of realizing that Whole actively. This brings us to the third of Theosophy's Fundamentals. MAN is the impelling Power in Kosmos, Its Will -- in the highest spiritual sense, of course. Being Self-conscious, that Will is now Self-directive, the rate of Kosmos following Man's lead. We can thus see what a tremendous responsibility is Man's, for unless that Will is guided by impersonal and universal considerations, it can be turned into an engine of destruction. It is so turned when Man uses his will for personal and selfish ends. In the latter sense, Man may be said to be the author of all the evil in Kosmos. The mundane scientist knowing nothing about this, craves for power over nature, and is annoyed at the reticence of the occultist; even takes this reticence as a sign that the occultist is trying to evade the real issues involved by assuming an air of mystery. The fact is that only to disciples -- those who have resolved to live for the SELF of ALL -- are entrusted the secrets of Nature. How hopeless it is, then, to convince the proof-loving materialist of the range and depth of the occult philosophy, so long as he remains as he is. So far as evolution is concerned, the materialist is content with the Darwinian concept. An understanding of the psychic, intellectual and predominating spiritual impulses behind and within all changes of form requires the exercise of the inner vision, and this our scientists deride and scorn. They continue vainly searching for missing links. Logic ought to tell them that if the universe has gaps in it and such a thing as a void is possible, then it follows that there must be missing links, and they might just as well give up their search. One error begets another. Posit the Universality and Continuity of Life and Law and how can there be missing links? Man's salvation from the confusion of life lies in Universal Concepts and Universal Relationships. His thinking and his living will then become the dual aspects of the ONE Supreme Spirit -- which is HIMSELF.
The scientist boasts of the modernity of his knowledge. To him the latest is the best and the furthest advanced. For him the beginning of the era of worthwhile learning and investigation traces back a bare few centuries, at best. The occult scientist traces his doctrines to an immemorial Past with no missing links. This is beautifully expressed in the first item of the "Summing Up" of the Secret Doctrine (Vol. I, p. 272-3):The Secret Doctrine is the accumulated Wisdom of the Ages, and its cosmogony alone is the most stupendous and elaborate system: e.g., even in the exotericism of the purânas. But such is the mysterious power of Occult symbolism, that the facts which have actually occupied countless generations of initiated seers and prophets to marshal, to set down and explain, in the bewildering series of evolutionary progress, are all recorded on a few pages of geometrical signs and glyphs. The flashing gaze of those seers has penetrated into the very kernel of matter, and recorded the soul of things there, where an ordinary profane, however learned, would have perceived but the external work of form. But modern science believes not in the "soul of things," and hence will reject the whole system of ancient cosmogony. It is useless to say that the system in question is no fancy of one or several isolated individuals. That it is the uninterrupted record covering thousands of generations of Seers whose respective experiences were made to test and to verify the traditions passed orally by one early race to another, of the teachings of higher and exalted beings, who watched over the childhood of Humanity. That for long ages, the "Wise Men" of the Fifth Race(1), of the stock saved and rescued from the last cataclysm and shifting of continents, had passed their lives in learning, not teaching. How did they do so? It is answered: by checking, testing, and verifying in every department of nature the traditions of old by the independent visions of great adepts; i.e., men who have developed and perfected their physical, mental, psychic and spiritual organisations to the utmost possible degree. No vision of one adept was accepted till it was checked and confirmed by the visions -- so obtained as to stand as independent evidence -- of other adepts, and by centuries of experiences.
Teachers and Teachings
ONE (1) FOOTNOTE LISTED BELOW:
COMPILER'S NOTE: I added this footnote; it was not in the article. If it doesn't paint an accurate enough picture, or is incorrect, I hope the Editors of THEOSOPHY magazine will spot it and point it out to me, so that I can make the necessary corrections.
(1) "Fifth Race" means the whole Human Race here. The use of this term is that of a Root-Race. A "Root-Race" is contained within a much longer evolutionary period (or cycle) called a Manvantara, which has a beginning and an ending. In the present Manvantara we are in the evolutionary period of humanity known as the Fifth Sub-Race of the Fifth Root-Race. A Manvantara is many millions of years long. Within that immense period there are seven Root-Races, each of which is divided into seven "Sub-Races", which are each divided into seven "Family-Races. It is always cycles within cycles. The shortest of these cycles is about 30,000 years. There is always a long period of overlapping as one racial period of development blends into the next one. But it is we, each eternal soul, individually, and all of us together, who are going through all of these evolutionary periods over and over again, incarnation after incarnation, from age to age, with no final end to this cosmic process.
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