THEOSOPHY, Vol. 42, No. 3, January, 1954
(Pages 124-127; Size: 12K)


[Article number (26) in this Q&A Department]

WITH some there is an intuitive realization of the validity of Theosophic principles and ideals, although intellectually some may not "know" the philosophy well enough to adequately describe or explain its logic to anyone else. Conversely, an arm-chair philosopher or intellectual may have a comprehensive grasp of Theosophic doctrine and many of the intricacies involved in its theoretical development, yet fail to make it a living power in his life. How account for these discrepancies, and, since even in the first instance there are genuine discrepancies, what price must be paid for the imperfections thus represented?

These "discrepancies" and various combinations and emphases in human nature may be seen as necessary and quite meaningful in light of the third fundamental proposition, as stated on page 17 of The Secret Doctrine, where is posited "the obligatory pilgrimage for every Soul through the Cycle of Incarnation (or 'Necessity') in accordance with Cyclic and Karmic law, during the whole term." "The pivotal doctrine of the Esoteric philosophy admits no privileges or special gifts in man, save those won by his own Ego through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations." Man is on a pilgrimage, and fruits of past actions, whether mental or physical, have strengthened some parts of his potentialities more than others.

It is extremely difficult to have at one's command all the subtle and numerous factors of a situation involving a decision. But difficult as it may be, it is only when one accomplishes this that he finds the balance between "intuitive realization" and the intellectual grasp of "Theosophic Doctrine." Past choices build certain tendencies and leanings, either toward logical understanding or toward intuitive realization; or perhaps they are of such a nature that they lead the individual to explore neither of these two aspects of the soul; they may rather bring him to find all his questions answered by whatever personal, family, race or cultural atmosphere is his. But intuition and intellect remain the only vehicles through which spiritual ideas can manifest.

As to the instances mentioned above: intuition is sometimes described as the direct descent of Buddhic knowledge onto this plane of consciousness. But it is not easy to detect an "intuition," because of the confusion so often affecting the physical and emotional vehicle. Thus one cannot be sure that a given "feeling" is born of intuition or merely a queer sort of rationalization on the part of the personal self. Logic is needed because logic is a discipline of the mind. In the use of logic, one is compelled to bring to the fore all the ideas on a question that he can discover, and to reject those which do not, on the test of reason, hold true. He is therefore attempting to face facts honestly and objectively, leaving his sometimes untrustworthy feelings temporarily out of the picture.

Even the painter who is a genius in his field cannot express himself to the fullest of his capacity if his tools are clumsy and inadequate. So with the soul: "mental conceptions and perceptions" need to be "clean and clear," as Robert Crosbie put it. Thus the man who can intellectually comprehend ideas is constructing part of the roadway leading to truth, even though the road does not guarantee that the journey will be successfully made. Intellect is a means to an end, not an end in itself, and perhaps the loneliest of men is the one who cannot reach beyond intellect.

Mr. Judge once stated: "Suppose the inquirer is disposed at the outset to take the word of theosophical writers, then caution is just as necessary, for theosophical literature does not bear the stamp of authority. ... Many theosophists accept doctrines but are not able to say what it is they have accepted." This brings up another aspect of the question. It should be possible for the "intuitive" student also to persistently question and re-examine.

What is the role of independence -- or self-dependence -- if it must ultimately give way to interdependence? Why is it necessary to develop the first only to have it replaced by the second?

(a) During the later years of youth almost everyone experiences the drive for independence -- physical, mental, moral. Such may be deemed good and necessary so long as it does not constitute thoughtless rebellion. The development of "self-dependence" must then be a loosening of dependence upon others and a strengthening of inner soul qualities. This goes hand in hand with the increased use of its instruments by the indwelling ego.

Of course, independent will might be put to an unfortunate use unless a higher, intuitional, directing force comes into play. Expressed morally the directing force is a grasp of interdependence, but spiritually it must be a realization of the great unity of life. The evolutionary journey, then, in large or small, would be a "return to spirit" through the development of the lower instruments and their control by the real man. Personality would seem to correspond to dependence, soul or moral nature to independence and the spiritual nature to interdependence.

Only through the unfolding of the lower nature and its intelligent use could we expect to feel the force of higher capabilities within.

(b) Independence of thought and action would seem to be a necessary stepping stone to interdependence. Can one ever know what it means to help another, to feel oneself as a part of a whole, unless he himself has experienced some of the same things on his own?

To answer the second part of the question -- how can we reach high school unless we have progressed through elementary school? The elementary school must eventually give way to high school, but could one know and understand the lessons of high school unless he had fully mastered the earlier lessons -- could one be a good member of a group unless he had learned to stand on his own?

From the time one is a very small child -- completely dependent on parents for care and comfort -- the individual is continually striving for his independence. Things children do -- we call them play -- are all efforts toward learning self-directed use of the soul's instruments. One continues to learn -- to demand his independence in various ways. Some day he may reach a point when for the benefit of the whole he begins to consider how best to fulfill a function in the general scheme of things. It is at this point that one begins to relinquish his independence for the greater whole. Some never reach the state of independence, others -- the greater number by far -- never reach the state of interdependence.

(c) This brings to mind the phrase uttered by Jesus: "Come ye out and be ye separate." This certainly meant becoming independently devoted to an ideal. The ideal in Theosophy is a recognition of the fact that actually since life is one, then all is interdependent. It obviously requires a tremendous "independent" effort to realize this. Many people know it intellectually, but not practically. No matter what one may have to do, mentally or physically, his ideal precedes him. And the ideal of Theosophy is independent recognition of the interdependence of man. A child begins its life depending on its parents, and they in turn must have achieved a certain degree of interdependence in conducting family affairs.

(d) The existence of the two attitudes, "man is a unique individual," and its seeming opposite, "man should desire to become absorbed in unity," is expressed by Karen Horney in The Neurotic Personality of Our Time: "By vanishing to (personal) nothing, we become part of the creative principle of the universe. This seems to be the great consolation which religion has to offer human beings; by losing themselves they can become at one with God or nature." Yet "Man in our culture feels strongly that his own self is a separate unity, distinguished from or opposite to the world outside."

Is individuality replaced by inter-dependence? Man, in a sense, is unique and separate from his fellow men and surroundings. But there is a common denominator to all things that exist and it is this common denominator that enables a person to extend himself into every conceivable idea. Developing true independence does not involve separating one's intangible qualities from those about him, but upon recognition of the identity which binds him to all ideas, thereby enabling him to understand the problems of other men. In becoming a self-conscious being he chooses, after viewing the various possibilities from a spectator's seat, to release himself from those ideas and tendencies which inhibit him from sharing with other individuals. If he tries to take a short cut to universal brotherhood, he will be likely to fall into a "feeling of not having a say in one's life but of having to let others bear the responsibility for it and make the decisions; a feeling of being putty in the master hands," to quote Dr. Horney again. This can be quite adequately applied when examining the personal-God idea so prevalent in the Western culture. If, after a man has conceived himself as "close to God," he yet is "still on the outside" and will feel intrinsically weak, unable to develop his potentialities and make sound relationships. As we probably all have experienced, it is impossible to have fully worth-while friendships if one is unwilling to be a self-generating force in the growth of the relationship.

The losing of oneself in something greater than man's personal problems is of greater importance if one is not running away from them. Inter-dependence then is an outgrowth of true independence.

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(February 1954)
[Article number (27) in this Q&A Department]

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