THEOSOPHY, Vol. 37, No. 5, March, 1949
(Pages 214-216; Size: 9K)
[Article number (18) in this Q&A Department]
BOTH God and the First Fundamental are beyond the reach of human understanding and investigation. How, then, could you explain the difference between them to, say, a Christian friend?
The God of the Christian doctrine is outside human comprehension, true, but at the same time he is constantly interfering (apologies to the Christian friend!) with human affairs and the material universe. How is it possible for a being capable of effecting results in the world we know and live in to be completely beyond the scope of the laws of that very world? If he can affect human beings, he must be to some extent within the mental reach of those beings. Also, being is necessarily limited, and anything possessing limitations, no matter how great it may be, can be at least partially understood by other limited beings.
The postulate of the Unknown and Unknowable Source of all does not involve these contradictions. In the Theosophical philosophy, the Causeless Cause has no relation to the manifested world; it does not punish offenders against the law of the universe; it does not reward those who obey. It does not watch the fall of the sparrow, in short. "It" is not a being, but a boundless Presence incapable of any personal qualities and therefore beyond the reach of any personal perceptions. Is there not a great difference between these two conceptions?
Isn't it good to break social conventions now and then? People get so stuffy about what is and isn't "done." There seems a really positive value in doing what we want to do, rather than being compelled or persuaded by something or someone outside. It's part of integrity, isn't it?
It's not "good" to break a social convention unless there is, in certain circumstances or for certain people, something "bad" about that convention. To go about heedlessly mocking tradition just because it's tradition will build integrity no more than sand builds a sea-wall. The first step in making ourselves "whole" or integral is the discovery of exactly what constitutes that being we call ourselves. According to theosophical philosophy, we are not single, simple organisms whose only conflict arises from external conditions. We are complex beings who carry within ourselves our own field of battle.
There is, first, the soul, itself a trinity of spirit, discernment and mind. Then there is the body, figuratively speaking. For within the term "body" are to be included those desires which spring from it, which have no link with the soul; and also that portion of the mind which habitually concerns itself with rationalizing those desires to the end that the man may think them good as well as desirable and may act on them. This is the mind called kama-manas, for it never operates apart from kama -- desires, passions, inclinations and tendencies. Integrity has been obtained when the man is able to "will one thing," but only things of the spirit have a steady, permanent claim on the Will.
Remembering this, we may ponder a statement by H. P. Blavatsky in the S.D. (I, 639): "Those who believe in Karma have to believe in destiny, which, from birth to death, every man is weaving thread by thread around himself, as a spider does his cobweb; and this destiny is guided either by the heavenly voice of the invisible prototype outside of us, or by our more intimate astral, or inner man, who is but too often the evil genius of the embodied entity called man." It may well be that those urges which we conceive to be the expressions of our very own being are from that "more intimate" man of matter; and that impulsions which seem to us foreign, or forced and unnatural for the personal man, are the pointing of the higher prototype "outside" us.
If we regard all tendencies in the direction of organization with scepticism, do we not sooner or later drift into anarchy?
Until such time as all men have gained supremacy over themselves and found the means of permanent and unremitting self-control -- which is the true anarchy -- the complete absence of any external constraint (the ordinary conception of anarchy) would be as dangerous to mankind as the present domination of the many by the few through the agency of organizations of one kind or another. Still, there's no reason why we shouldn't regard all tendencies in the direction of organization "with scepticism." In fact, if enough people could consistently do that, we would have fewer organizations of a dubious nature, for whatever remained would be simply instruments for the manifestation and easier working of the "spirit" behind. Form would not be worshipped for its own sake, and this is what makes organizations dangerous.
To consider abolishing all organizations seems about parallel to saying that since the body is the focal point of all our troubles, let us do away with it, and live pure and uncontaminated in spirit. We know that the purposes of evolution demand that we learn how to live pure and effective lives of spirit while in the body, and the same holds for organizations. They are like the legendary changelings -- unless we watch them carefully, a switch may occur which will change a living movement into a static dogma. Organizations are necessary evils which we have not yet learned how to turn into obedient "goods."
Both the Christian and the theosophist say that there is only one Truth. What then is the difference -- are not both positions dogmatic?
Perhaps the difference could be illustrated in this way: the traditional Christian holds the position that there is but One Truth -- and that his particular church, priest, or god is in exclusive possession of it. The theosophist, if he takes the position set forth by Madame Blavatsky and William Q. Judge, makes the philosophical assertion that there can be but one Truth, including all lesser truths within its scope. The theosophist does not say that he knows this Truth, or that only theosophists can reach to it. He simply reasons that it is impossible for there to be more than one absolute, eternal, unchangeable Truth in the universe. Furthermore, he has dedicated himself to searching for it, and this is quite different from the assertion that he has it.
The statement that there is only one truth may easily be made a sectarian claim rather than a philosophical axiom. When this happens, there is exclusiveness and narrowing of perspective. The question is well raised, since it should be continually before our minds that truth is not limited to any quarter of the globe, to any period of time, to any particular race of men. So the theosophist can find a further reason for the establishment of a nucleus of universal brotherhood and toleration, since in such a nucleus alone can the seed of universal truth be sown.
[Article number (19) in this Q&A Department]
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