THEOSOPHY, Vol. 16, No. 9, July, 1928 (Pages 395-397; Size: 9K)
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MEN are so constantly engaged in the search for the truth in regard to this, that, or the other subject in which they are interested that few ever take thought as to the nature of Truth itself. So, all of us are conditioned in various ways: by "circumstances over which we have no control," and by circumstances over which we do have at least a measure of control. Each man finds out for himself, as he makes efforts, that these two apparently irreconcilable factors are not fixed and unvarying agencies. Progress in every sense is the continual augmentation possible to each man in his control over the other factors of existence besides himself. Every time we speak of the body or of matter, of force or energy, of mind or will, we are in fact speaking of the two other elements of Life besides our Self.
The Theosophist is a man who has taken thought sufficient to know for himself that it is not merely the passive truth that we are conditioned by circumstances external and internal which is to be considered, but that it is at least equally the truth that we can ourselves condition these very "circumstances": that we can take such an attitude in regard to them that steadily our power over them increases and, by consequence, that the true power of variance is in ourselves and not in the circumstances. "Circumstances," Mr. Judge once wrote, "are a fixed and unvarying quantity; it is we ourselves who are the variants." Instead of merely accepting his statement, as so many do with their Theosophical teachings, here and there a few "put them to the proof" in their own reaction to circumstances -- and so become Occultists, even if only Neophytes in Occultism.
One who becomes a sincere Theosophist has thus recognized Truth -- but with his mind only. His heart has not yet received it. What is it to "take to heart" the truths of Theosophy? What but to put them to the proof in one's own life and circumstances -- to at once become a genuine Occultist. Who does this will at once begin to assimilate truth, and so his understanding of and control over circumstances will steadily increase; Theosophy will become a living Power in his Life, instead of merely a form of religious or scientific faith or conviction.
Not Theosophists alone, but the sincere student of Science, the sincere man of affairs, the sincerely religious man, the sincere man, in short, no matter what his environment of thought and action -- all are very near to Truth. What brings them into this proximity, this rapport with Truth? Not their respective beliefs and opinions, but their sincerity. And what conditions them? These very opinions and beliefs -- fixed convictions.
Study of the facts of physical existence has brought the earnest scientist into the outer court of Truth. He knows it is but the outer court, for all his study tells him that whatever the facts may be, those unknown as well as those known, they are all under Law. So the Scientist perforce becomes an Occultist, for he at once begins to study the operation of Law, and in measure as those operations become clear to him so does his control over the "circumstances" of physical existence and nature increase. But even our greatest scientists stop short at this point. None of them studies the nature of Law. To do that would be to become a metaphysical as well as a physical scientist. It would be well, then, to bear in mind, in our adoration of the achievements of "science," that all our Science and Scientists are as ignorant in respect of the metaphysical world as the veriest babe or savage. The Scientists are all conditioned by abysmal ignorance of the nature of Mind through which alone they know even of the physical operations of Law. This ignorance is self-imposed, for it is not due to any absence of metaphysical facts, nor to denial of the reign of Law in the world mental as in the world physical, nor to the lack of appropriate instruments for scientific experiment and investigation. Why should not the same success, the same control over metaphysical "circumstances" attend the truly Scientific investigator of psychic facts and laws as is everywhere in evidence in the world of physical circumstances? Can any one be found to object to the theory or theorem?
Whatever may be the defects and failures of Religion, it is none the less certain that in one respect the genuinely religious man has made discoveries and achieved results in a field where Science has made no progress whatever. All religion in its pure sense is an entrance, a deliberate entrance, into the metaphysical world. Granted that the experimentation is crude; granted that the various religious theories are conflicting and self-contradictory -- is it too much to say that they are no more crude or self-destructive than the experiments and theories of the various schools of science?
If we study the "revelations" of succeeding generations of science we shall quickly find scientists just as guilty as theologians of heralding as finalities what in sober fact are but glimpses into the arcana of nature. Science has made and is every day making just as dogmatic declarations of final "truth" as the most bigoted sectarians -- and these declarations are just as rapidly upset and replaced by fresh revelations, making the same claims of being the "last word" of Truth.
What hampers the scientific student? It is his materialism -- his refusal to admit the existence of any other factors in nature than those he reckons with; his attitude of negation. Squarely faced, this attitude is a monstrous conceit, an affirmation, in effect, that he already knows so much that no one can teach him anything, because no one is wiser than he. Is not this attitude wholly unwarranted -- a self-imposition as well as an imposition on all those whom he professes to teach?
What hampers the religious student? It is his superstition -- his refusal to admit the presence in the metaphysical world of any other facts and factors than those he has experienced, the possibility of any truer and more enlightening explanation of his own experiences than his convictions in regard to them, whether original or adopted. Impersonally faced, is not this the identical attitude of conceit, of the assumption of superiority, of personal infallibility in the world invisible that the scientist holds in the world visible? If the Scientist really knew there would be no place for mere theories. If the religionist really knew, there would be no room for mere revelations. And in neither event would there be any possibility of contradictions between the theories of the one, the revelations of the other, and between both and the known facts. The limitations of both are self-imposed by those who hold them, and an imposition on all those who trust them and look to them for guidance.
No one questions the facts of life -- the facts physical or the facts metaphysical. They are equally known to all men, and even where not known, equally capable of verification. Is this true of any theory or of any revelation? Then those who rely on them, who believe in them, who study them, for anything but what they are -- mere speculations, guesses -- are not only suffering from self-imposed limitations, but are preferring error to truth, dreams to reality, and so every day becoming more and more mere "creatures of circumstance" in the metaphysical universe.
The Theosophist-Occultist, therefore, is on a stage of evolution beyond both the scientist and the religionist. He is studying not so much the facts of life physical and metaphysical, not so much the operation of Law in these two fields of experience, as studying the nature of Law itself -- and verifying the accuracy of his understanding by putting it to the proof in his "circumstances", whatever they are.
Compromise in Science and Religion (Part 1 of 2)