THEOSOPHY, Vol. 49, No. 12, October, 1961
(Pages 546-547; Size: 7K)


[Article number (13) in this Department]

IF it is true that the Theosophist should be characterized by his determination to know the difference between his own belief and his own knowledge, this implies that part of a student's relationship to Theosophy will be apt to be "religious," while another aspect could be called "scientific." Why is so little attention apparently given to clarification of these distinctions in Theosophical meetings?

In the first place, the present state of the human mind is all-too-much given to labeling and classification -- as a substitute for understanding. The student of Theosophy is presumably a seeker after philosophical truth. This means that he accepts the responsibility for distilling, by himself and for himself, whatever genuine "truths" are to be found hiding behind the categories. As Kenneth Patton once said: "Words, our own or another's, can never be more than a commentary upon living experience."

The terms "scientific" and "religious" are chiefly words. So, supposing one could say that such a meeting among Theosophists as the White Lotus Day observance should be classified as "religious" because it contains elements of a ceremonial? Suppose it should be decided by Theosophists together that this is so? Would it not be an invitation, then, for those who like to think of themselves as primarily representing the "scientific" side of Theosophy to tend to criticize or attitudinally dissociate themselves from the spirit of such a program? Similarly, if a series of meetings were concerned with the study of a Theosophically-tending development in psychiatry and psychoanalysis, would not those who fancied themselves as custodians of the "heart doctrine" tend to dissociate themselves attitudinally from the intellectual context of such a series of meetings?

Reflection upon a normal life-cycle, viewed psychologically, suggests a good deal on this question. For it is not uncommon to find both the very young and the very old principally "religious" -- while the middle years of the same individuals' lives may have been marked by great emphasis upon the measuring, weighing, analyzing capacities of the intellect. That is, it is the nature of man to move from rough terrain, whereon he wanders, vain yet somehow heroic, to a plateau which provides rest -- and a feeling of a certain accomplishment in reaching it. For the child, the feeling of security is only partially provided by his efforts in past lives, and therefore his early "religion" in this life is also a representation of a successful merging with the psychological environment of his parents. But the child must be "born again" in this life -- away from the simplicities of his earliest beliefs, just as the very old, resting so often in one or another stylized faith, will have to be born again in the next life -- to a newly challenging environment of ideas.

And the analogy carries provocatively still farther. For it is not only when we are very young and very old that we lean chiefly upon beliefs; the times vary throughout the entire life, according to personality and circumstance. Some would say that this simply represents an inevitable oscillation between radicalism and conservatism, but the matter is a bit more complicated, since the radicalism may be either benign or fanatical -- and the conservatism represent either a desire to preserve or a desire to protect oneself from truth. An agnostic may be as arrogant as a devout believer -- even though this is less likely -- and arrogance is the death of learning.

A basic question of this nature, concerning, as it does, "belief," "faith," and "knowledge," becomes considerably enlightened by application of some of the implications resident in the Three Fundamental Propositions of H. P. Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine -- for the impulsion of Theosophy is towards a kind of self-initiation in thinking which has little in common with either religious or scientific means of approaching "epistemology." First, it is affirmed that the spirit of philosophy alone is capable of transmuting doctrines and "facts" into wisdom. The "spirit of philosophy" does not live in books or in teachings or in objective experiments, but it does live, according to degree, within each man. Through cycles of manifestation this "eternal, immutable" principle behind all creativity leads each individual on through "a series of progressive awakenings," as old mental constructs are transcended and discarded. This is an unfoldment, so to speak, from the spiritual core of each individual being and for this reason cannot be cajoled into existence by dogma or system, cannot be evoked through adherence to any ideology. Yet, according to the degree in which the spirit of living philosophy is born -- or re-born -- in each man of wisdom, a current of inspiration swells and spreads in every direction.

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