THEOSOPHY, Vol. 51, No. 1, November, 1962
(Pages 8-11; Size: 12K)

LETTERS-QUESTIONS-COMMENT

[Article number (1) in this Department]

EDITORS, THEOSOPHY: Theosophy ought not to be allowed to degenerate into dogma. Those who made Theosophy were determined to remove the confusion of dogmas from the face of truth. Their entire effort was directed toward digging some small facet of truth out from under the superstition and confusion that have covered it for countless centuries. They wrestled with the mental inertia of their times (dogma provides a kind of security that even the bravest souls wear like armor and shed with great reluctance), and each emerged from his struggles with some small vision still warm within his grasp. Their writings are the legacy of their attempts to describe their vision.

But the job is not done. The founders of Theosophy would be the first to agree that the end is not in sight. Every Theosophical idea needs to be re-examined, to be clarified, and to be constantly re-evaluated in the light of new knowledge. We proudly announce that the truths we study can withstand the cold light of logical examination, but we seldom realize that truth, like other living things, thrives in light but quickly dies in darkness.

Some people who study Theosophy treat it like a science they must memorize. The danger here is in the fact that Theosophy becomes an iron-clad doctrine, poorly understood, but eloquently mouthed. Truth should be challenged. If it is to be strong enough to be lived, its muscles will have to meet resistance.

Theosophy has always seemed to me to be a dynamic, living and growing thing, particularly because it dares to challenge its own (as well as other) beginnings. Madame Blavatsky was great because she dared to challenge "self-evident" truths. She did not ask herself, "How much have I memorized of the accepted 'truth'?", but, "How much truth can I add to our present knowledge?" And she was fully prepared to discard ideas that were no longer valid.

How much more meaningful and exciting can a study of Theosophy become when you feel that you are not only learning about it, but you are adding to the present knowledge even a small amount! The writings can give us much more of reality if we can feel that we are carrying on the tradition of research and exploration rather than parroting the discoveries of the past.

And there is a way we can do this. It merely becomes a matter of motive. If we think of ourselves as "researchers" or "investigators," and do our own in-depth probing studies of some small Theosophical concept, armed with a constant doubt, we challenge the concept and force it to prove itself. If the concept we examine fails to meet our test, if it proves not to be true, we have done Theosophy as well as ourselves a great service. There is no place in Theosophy for illusions and delusions. If, on the other hand, the concept proves to be true under the most severe tests we can make, we may find that we have discovered some additional data about it as well.

In either case what we learn should be written down and shared with a study group. A number of small pieces brought together by many people can fit together to make a large and important pattern clear. If we dare to doubt, and if we have the courage to face the discovery of new truths that eliminate old ones, we may make some worth-while inroads into the unknown.

Reader
Since this contributor speaks of what the "founders of Theosophy" might have to say about the way in which Theosophical study and work are pursued, there is some point in going directly to the founders, in this case to H.P.B. In her article, "What Are the Theosophists?", she wrote:
The most important of [our objects] is to revive the work of Ammonius Saccas, and make various nations remember that they are children "of one mother." As to the transcendental side of the ancient Theosophy, it is also high time that the Theosophical Society should explain.
With how much, then, of this nature-searching, God-seeking science of the ancient Aryan and Greek mystics, and of the powers of modern spiritual mediumship, does the Society agree? Our answer is: with it all. But if asked what it believes in, the reply will be: -- "as a body -- Nothing." The Society, as a body, has no creed, as creeds are but the shells around spiritual knowledge; and Theosophy in its fruition is spiritual knowledge itself -- the very essence of philosophical and theistic inquiry. Visible representative of Universal Theosophy, it can be no more sectarian than a Geographical Society, which represents universal geographical exploration without caring whether the explorers be of one creed or another. The religion of the Society is an algebraical equation, in which, so long as the sign of equality is not omitted, each member is allowed to substitute quantities of his own, which better accord with climatic and other exigencies of his native land, with the idiosyncrasies of his people, or even with his own. Having no accepted creed, our Society is very ready to give and take, to learn and teach by practical experimentation, as opposed to mere passive and credulous acceptance of enforced dogma. It is willing to accept every result claimed by any of the foregoing schools or systems, that can be logically and experimentally demonstrated. Conversely, it can take nothing on faith, no matter by whom the demand is made.

But when we come to consider ourselves individually, it is quite another thing. The Society's members represent the most varied nationalities and races, and were born and educated in the most dissimilar creeds and social conditions. Some of them believe in one thing, others in another. Some incline toward the ancient magic, or secret wisdom taught in the sanctuaries, which was the very opposite of supernaturalism or diabolism; others in modern spiritualism, or intercourse with the spirits of the dead; still others in mesmerism or animal magnetism, as only an occult dynamic force in nature. A certain number have scarcely yet acquired any definite belief, but are in a state of attentive expectancy; and there are even those who call themselves materialists, in a certain sense. Of atheists and bigoted sectarians of any religion, there are none in the society, for the very fact of a man's joining it proves that he is in search of the final truth as to the ultimate nature of things. ... The very root idea of the Society is free and fearless investigation. ... Be what he may, once that a student abandons the old and trodden highway of routine, and enters upon the solitary path of thought -- Godward -- he is a Theosophist; an original thinker, a seeker after the eternal truth, with "an inspiration of his own" to solve the universal problems. (The Theosophist, October, 1879.) [Note: For those who would like to read the whole thing, once you have finished reading this article, I've placed a link to HPB's "What Are the Theosophists?" article at the end of this one.--Compiler]

Here, surely, is scope for all the suggestions of our correspondent. This was Madame Blavatsky's statement of the platform of the original Theosophical Society. It breathes a spirit of daring and of absolute impartiality. However, to this broad opportunity for individual thought and research should be added another invitation by H.P.B. -- the invitation to the specific studies she made available as a teacher. Implicitly, there is here a decision to be made. Shall we accept the counsels of H.P.B. as a guide in exploring the enormous terrain of world knowledge, of religio-philosophic teachings, and the mysteries of the inner man?

If we choose H.P.B. as a teacher, as many Theosophists have done, there is then the obligation to study her writings intensively, and to understand them as well as we can. But there is also the obligation to maintain the spirit of open-mindedness and individual investigation that she herself exhibited. Faithfulness to H.P.B. means the self-reliant practice and search our correspondent recommends. And at the same time it means following the approach of the teacher and using intelligently the curriculum of self-education as she presented it to her students. What is at issue in this decision is the question of whether the determination to follow H.P.B. can have a sectarian result or be narrowing to the mind.

The idea of doing "original work" in Theosophical research need not be feared or avoided, so long as it is recognized that the chief object of the Theosophical Movement is to root in Western civilization certain primary spiritual attitudes, as the means to self-reliant, brotherly conduct in human relations and in the search for truth. And if "original work" means forging a contemporary idiom which embodies ancient truths of the Wisdom Religion, no more important task could be undertaken by Theosophical students.


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

PROLIFERATION

Masters could give now all the light and knowledge needed, but there is too much darkness that would swallow up the light, except for a few bright souls, and then a greater darkness would come on. Many of us could not grasp nor understand all that might be given, and to us would result a danger and new difficulty for other lives. But, concretely, there is a certain object for our general work. It is to start up a new force, a new current in the world. See how many have gone out from time to time from your centre to many and distant parts of the world, and how many will continue to go for the good and the gain of man of all places. They have gone to all parts, and it must be that even if the centre should be disrupted from causes outside of you, its power and reality will not be destroyed at all 


--WILLIAM Q. JUDGE


[Note: Here's the link to HPB's article, entitled "What Are the Theosophists?", that was mentioned and quoted from in the above article by the Editors.--Compiler]

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