THEOSOPHY, Vol. 51, No. 8, June, 1963
(Pages 206-208; Size: 10K)


[Article number (8) in this Department]

I NOTICE THEOSOPHY gives favorable presentation of the Unitarian-Universalist platform -- one which gives tolerance toward all faiths. At the same time, H. P. Blavatsky implied that a continual grim struggle was inevitable between the Theosophist and the conventional Christian, (cf. "Theosophy or Jesuitism", THEOSOPHY 42:389, 437). Does not the Theosophist seem less tolerant than the Unitarian when he attacks all anthropomorphic conceptions of deity? Why should not each have the faith that best suits his emotional needs -- the Roman Catholic faith, the Protestant faith, or Theosophy? [Note: For those who would like to read it, once you have finished reading this article, I've placed a link to HPB's "Theosophy or Jesuitism?" article at the end of this one.--Compiler]

If one believes that "religion" is correctly defined only as a psychological phenomenon, he must then make a distinction between "good" and "bad" religion on the basis of its effect on the personal life of the believer. It must be recognized that not all beliefs are sane, not all illusions conducive to health and happiness. But the question becomes far more complex if we consider the possibility that religion is also the attempt of the individual psyche to grapple with certain principles of eternal reality.

The essential Theosophical view on "religion and religions" is expressed by H. P. Blavatsky:

What is also needed is to impress men with the idea that, if the root of mankind is one, then there must also be one truth which finds expression in all the various religions. When one party or another thinks himself the sole possessor of absolute truth, it becomes only natural that he should think his neighbour absolutely in the clutches of Error or the Devil. But once get a man to see that none of them has the whole truth, but that they are mutually complementary, that the complete truth can be found only in the combined views of all, after that which is false in each of them has been sifted out -- then true brotherhood in religion will be established; all have an equal right to have the essential features of their religious belief laid before the tribunal of an impartial world.

Theosophy is like the white ray of the spectrum, and every religion one of the seven prismatic colours. Ignoring all the others, and cursing them as false, every special coloured ray claims not only priority, but to be that white ray itself, and anathematizes even its own tints from light to dark, as heresies. Yet, as the sun of truth rises higher and higher on the horizon of man's perception, and each coloured ray gradually fades out until it is finally reabsorbed in its turn, humanity will at last be cursed no longer with artificial polarizations, but will find itself bathing in the pure colourless sunlight of eternal truth. And this will be Theosophia.

Two adverse tendencies are clearly apparent in the history of the development of religions. The first of these finds classical illustration in the relationship of the Brahmin priests to the Indian people. As the guardians of the truths of the temple, the Brahmins passed from a natural attitude of custodianship to one of possession, assuming the right to decide which truths should be given out to the masses-- at what time and for what purposes. But the conception of aristocracy, especially in the field of ethical and spiritual culture, is a tragic farce. Truths may not be possessed by the Brahmins, by the priests of medieval Catholicism, or by anyone else. No religious guide comes with clear credentials unless his fundamental belief is that within each man is a core which touches a universal reality, and the latent capacity for individual self-knowledge.

But the democratization of religious truths is similarly erroneous in conception, for democracy, like aristocracy, still concerns itself with conceptions of status and possession. Just as the priests cannot withhold any real truths from the populace, so, on the other hand, is it impossible for the populace to vote a truth into existence. Popular approval of conceptions does not make them true. The pre-Columbian belief that the earth was flat failed to change the spherical shape of this globe. In both instances, man becomes alienated from whatever source-springs of spiritual truth might otherwise be available to him. In effect, it has always been the religious politicians, the "scribes and Pharisees" of every age, who have represented man's tendency to alienate himself from truth.

On the other hand, all great teachers have held the same conviction -- as Erich Fromm puts it: "The aim of human development is the achievement of these ideals: knowledge (reason, truth, logos), brotherly love, reduction of suffering, independence, and responsibility. These constitute the ethical core of all great religions on which Eastern and Western culture are based, the teachings of Confucius and Lao-tse, Buddha, the Prophets and Jesus. While there are certain differences of accent among these teachings, e.g., Buddha emphasizing reduction of suffering, the Prophets stressing knowledge and justice, and Jesus brotherly love, it is remarkable to what extent these religious teachers are in fundamental agreement about the aim of human development and the norms which ought to guide man."

The Theosophist, like the psychologist, is bound to point out that metaphysical ideas have consequences -- not only upon man's psychic nature but also upon the ethical and spiritual core of his being. If we hold that a man's taste for religion is simply like his taste for food, and each to his own, we are also holding that there is no gnosis, no knowledge or truths concerning the soul -- or, to carry the matter one step further, no soul. And, as philosophical psychology develops in our time with an almost breath-taking rapidity, the evidence continues to mount that any religious belief which serves partisan ends is destructive of human potential. Man lives in his capacity to grow, and whenever he is given an excuse for partisanship he becomes a potential destroyer, not only of his fellows through persecution and war, but of himself.

An authoritarian God is a dangerous God, and any religion which claims to draw strength from a single miraculous individual is a dangerous religion. The Theosophist is not concerned with attacking any faith which rests on the innate dignity or creative potentiality of man, but, because his gnosis tells him that every man may grow spiritually, he is in inevitable conflict with any doctrine which emphasizes human weakness, sinfulness, or incapacity.

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:


The greatest mistake we can make in life is to rest upon laurels. We must never be content with what has already been achieved. Life never ceases to put new questions to us, never permits us to come to rest. ... The man who stands still is passed by; the man who is smugly contented loses himself. Neither in creating nor experiencing may we rest content with achievement; every day, every hour makes new deeds necessary and new experiences possible. 


[Note: Here's the link to HPB's article, entitled "Theosophy or Jesuitism?", that was mentioned in the question to the Editors at the beginning of the above article.--Compiler]

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(July 1963)
[Article number (9) in this Department]

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