THEOSOPHY, Vol. 50, No. 3, January, 1962
(Pages 116-118; Size: 10K)


[Article number (16) in this Department]

PARTICIPANTS in ULT study classes often discover that discussion concerning the brief Declaration of ULT can be continually provocative -- of itself a fact of some interest and significance. Perhaps this is because its broad general statements invite the individual to attempt more specific definitions of purposes, which would certainly be true in regard to the phrase "the cause of Theosophy," which occurs in the first sentence. What is the "cause of Theosophy," and is it possible to use the word in the plural instead of, or as well as, in the singular? In other words, is there one "cause" or are there many causes? [Note: "ULT" means "The United Lodge of Theosophists".--Compiler]

One of the best definitions of a single "cause" for the Theosophical Movement was formulated during the early days of the Theosophical Society. In a paragraph preceding a statement of the Three Objects of the Society, it was stated that the chief aim of Theosophical effort was "to keep alive in man his spiritual intuitions." The assumption behind such a statement is, of course, that every human being has spiritual intuition -- that he will ultimately depend upon himself as a revealer of truth to himself. The dissemination of Theosophical doctrines might be regarded, from this viewpoint, as providing assistance in clarifying and strengthening one's own intuitions. This formulation supplies a natural introduction to the Three Fundamental Propositions of The Secret Doctrine, for the basic application of these to the individual suggests an illimitable potentiality for learning, an endless cycle of opportunities for learning, and an endless series of goals to be reached through the transformation of one's own nature.

The first specific "cause" which H.P.B. herself endeavored to serve was that of providing a philosophical explanation and background for understanding spiritualistic phenomena. This, in 1875, might be regarded as a specific historical need brought about by the transitions of mind which placed interest in Spiritualism somewhere between orthodox religion and orthodox science. Similarly, publication of Isis Unveiled undertook to serve another cause -- to bridge the gap between the profound philosophy of the ancients and the needs of modern man, and to bring a closer alliance of East and West through encouragement of the study of Eastern religion and philosophy. But behind these specific causes, which seem to relate to a particular period in history, some basic philosophical intentions can be discerned. The great problem in regard to the development or maintenance of spiritual intentions is twofold: first, the establishment of criteria for distinguishing between the psychic and the noëtic and, second, encouraging an attitude which seeks truth wherever it may be found, and not simply within the confines of one's own religious or cultural tradition. These two objectives were characteristic of the Theosophy of Ammonius Saccas in the third century, and are the hallmarks of Theosophical history under whatever name or in whatever century.

Another way to formulate the Theosophic "cause," both in and out of historical time, is to say that men must be encouraged to blend their natural propensities for both gnosticism and agnosticism.

The necessity for the agnostic perspective lies in the fact that the man who is attaining to wisdom must be able to distinguish, consistently, between his opinions and that which he truly knows. The true gnostic is above all a contemplative man and never a propagandist. So, we find H.P.B. explaining in her article, "What is Truth?", why the human propensity for proselytizing must be transcended by those who would best serve the Theosophical Movement:

Concerning the deeper spiritual, and one may almost say religious, beliefs, no true Theosophist ought to degrade these by subjecting them to public discussion, but ought rather to treasure and hide them deep within the sanctuary of his innermost soul. Such beliefs and doctrines should never be rashly given out, as they risk unavoidable profanation by the rough handling of the indifferent and the critical. Nor ought they to be embodied in any publication except as hypotheses offered to the consideration of the thinking portion of the public. Theosophical truths, when they transcend a certain limit of speculation, had better remain concealed from public view, for the "evidence of things not seen" is no evidence save to him who sees, hears, and senses it. [Note: Since you may want to read it after you finish reading this article, I have provided a link to "What is Truth?" at the end of this one.--Compiler]
If gnosticism can be "practiced" only by the individual in solitude, the virtues of agnosticism may be shared. That is, when a number of people who approach philosophical questions with divers emphases agree that they are on the search for truth, rather than its possessors, they are prepared to learn one from the other. It is the Theosophist's conviction that there are metaphysical truths which can be discovered and known -- but it is also his conviction that truth cannot be revealed. H. P. Blavatsky once discussed the origin of historical Theosophy by reference to an Egyptian school professing allegiance to Pot-Amun, God of Wisdom. The hierarchical dissemination of the doctrines was presumably replaced by these early Theosophists with a dedication to truthseeking on the part of the individual. Later, as Edith Hamilton shows in her Echo of Greece, this point of view characterized the transition between the authoritarian transmission of the doctrines of the Wisdom Religion and the "self-induced" emphasis of the Greeks. So, while the Theosophist believes in the reality of metaphysical truth, he is enjoined to melt the ingredients of experience and doctrine in his own crucible, and to feel that "truth" is a word which has relevance to him only when the process has been completed in his own laboratory.

In the contemporary world, the Theosophist's determination to practice the virtues of both agnosticism and gnosticism is evident in the percipient men of every intellectual field. The present is a time of deepening respect for the metaphysical conception of "soul," with probing of the mysterious resources called "intuitional" within each human being, and of recognition that physical and psychic man is but a reflection of the noëtic. It is certainly the "cause" of the Theosophist to appreciate and enhance such recognitions -- meanwhile further developing their implications through the process of his own thinking.

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:


If a man has so fixed his soul on the Supreme soul, has so surrendered his will to the divine Will, has so identified himself with the Deity that he feels he is but a tool in the omnipotent hand, the divine carelessness will have entered into him, and that will give him strength.

"Thoughts in Solitude" (THEOSOPHY 4:327)

Note: In case you want to read it, before going on to the next article in this Department, here's the link to HPB's article, entitled "What is Truth?", that was mentioned and quoted from in the above article by the Editors.--Compiler

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(February 1962)
[Article number (17) in this Department]

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