THEOSOPHY, Vol. 40, No. 9, July, 1952
(Pages 414-417; Size: 12K)


[Article number (8) in this Q&A Department]

WHY is it that people accept the ideas presented in the great classics and admit they are great, yet they reject Theosophical literature which only presents the same ideas in a more positive manner?

(a) People born into the Western tradition of thought have been plagued by various forms of authoritative religion for centuries. These have specialized in categorically telling people what is right and what is wrong -- what true, what untrue. But slowly some of the followers of Christianity began to be leaders in their own right, and the age of inquiry was born. They had a rugged path to tread in order to gain the seemingly simple goal of the right to think for themselves. Little wonder so many of the free minds of today shy away from the "systems of thought" which offer ready answers to every question; it was a battle not easily won, and they do not intend to let its fruits slip easily out of their fingers.

They observe the way many people seem to swallow a religion and all its teachings in one gulp -- converted to a religion more than converting themselves to a new horizon of thought. Such people seem to easily slip out of one form of religion into another. It is merely a matter of changing gods. Those who take exception to this practice of unthinking acceptance of creed are likely to sit as far on the other side of the fence as possible. So although students of Theosophy try to institute an entirely different sort of procedure for its study -- that of objective, independent search -- the philosophy, nevertheless, has a formal title, and consists of a series of definite doctrines, thus qualifying it for space in the realm of the taboo. Whether or not Theosophy embodies the same ideas as the great classics, it still appears to teach them. Some are tired of being taught; they want to do a bit of discovering for themselves. Perhaps they would like to go adventuring into the world of thought alone. Perhaps they realize that truth must be self-discovered.

Real learning is necessarily, then, a natural process, and, as necessarily, a slow one. It is always an individual matter, and those who feel this strongly may not want to get involved with any formal body whose doctrines might tend to impose themselves on the freedom of their minds. So they turn to the classics -- to Shakespeare or Plato -- for their inspiration. There they kind what they want without fear of "the institution," and there they are sure of keeping their freedom. A Theosophical teaching is embodied here, for it is said that the wise man must rise above all formal creeds and become "in some measure a spectator of all time and all space."

One cannot help but admire such an attitude, for underlying it is a belief in the sacredness of individual choice and in the freedom which must prevail in order for the creativity of the mind to effect growth by self-induced and self-devised efforts, But from a Theosophical point of view, there is yet another important thing for a man to learn before he becomes a really philosophical searcher for truth, and that is that truth must be searched for everywhere and in all things. Such an one has an obligation to investigate any possibility with an open mind and a questing spirit, whether or not it is contained in a "religion" or any other category.

(b) People who study the classics are not necessarily concerned with man as a consciously responsible moral being. Theosophical literature concerns itself primarily with man as such. There seem, therefore, to be two reasons for a rejection of Theosophical literature while accepting classical writings. One reason is the matter of why the classics are accepted: are the ideas fully examined and their total meaning extracted and digested? Not always, we think. Some accept the classics as "great" for reasons not pertaining to the greatness of the ideas. Society says that to be well-educated a man should know the classics. Therefore one reads them. At the same time, however, he may belong to the Catholic church and advocate the doctrines of Catholicism. Reading the classics for reasons of social standing or to fulfill requirements in school does not necessarily insure that the reader will grasp the full meaning, or even slightly understand, the ideas presented. Such people can fit their conception of the classical ideas in with religious beliefs and find nothing amiss. No vital questions occur to them; the classics are simply accepted as "great."

Another reason for acceptance of the classics and rejection of Theosophical literature is in a sense more encouraging. Although the trend of today is to seek something, anything, which will tell people how and what to do and provide someone who will accept the responsibility of man's choices, there are those who shy away from any "system of thought." They will not accept as truth an idea which is based on authority. They cannot simply believe. They admire freedom and accept with delight the conception of man as noble and godlike. They think it inconceivable that there might not be absolute justice and want to find a valid reason for being brotherly.

We say theosophical literature contains all this and much more. Yet the teachings have a certain name -- Theosophy. It is a system of thought, presented under certain auspices. Although the ideas may be accepted more than willingly, there are many who cannot accept Theosophy: they do not want to be in any way prejudiced in viewing ideas. These people are seeking truth without regard to who presents it, or where it comes from, thinking truth to be where you find it, and not with any particular organization. Perhaps such people, who continue to study the classics and other great works, are more perceptive, rational, and well integrated than some who call themselves Theosophists.

In our many different experiences, we sometimes feel inadequate in defining such terms as "Soul," "Personality," "Ego," and "Monad" in their Theosophical context. Could some Theosophical explanation be given for these terms?

In any problem of this type, possibly the best thing for the individual to do is to consult The Secret Doctrine or any other book that represents basic theosophical teachings, although one is bound to "interpret" to his own degree of understanding. One's definitions will change, improve or enlarge with increased reading or thought, but a beginning must be made somewhere.

"Soul" is an abstract word when not qualified to some degree and means little by itself. There are many different types of souls, i.e., Animal Soul, Divine Soul, Human Soul, Universal Soul, etc.

Animal Soul: Animals have latent in them the germ of the highest immortal soul which develops after a series of innumerable evolutions. The animal has an astral body that is similar to man's; the animal monad, however, does not reincarnate individually, but into a higher species, and it does not have a "Devachan." This monad, not being individualized, as in man, represents in the animal kingdom a class of intelligence. Sometimes we speak of "animal soul" when referring to the fourth or kamic principle within man. This is the principle to which Manas is usually attracted in its lower aspect, that is, through selfish and sensual desires.

Human Soul: The fifth principle within man -- the mind principle (Manas). The two higher principles can have no individuality on earth without this focal agent. It is said to be the connecting link between spirit and matter. It differentiates man from the animal, for the mind of man is self-conscious.

Divine or Spiritual Soul: Buddhi, or the sixth principle. Buddhi is a latent principle that has to have the conjunction with self-consciousness before it becomes the discriminating soul. Buddhi, in a sense, is still somewhat "material" when compared with divine spirit-Atma, yet it is also said that "the bulk of collective recollections can never desert this divine soul within us."

Monad: The monad is the combination of the last two principles in man, though the monad is threefold, inclusive of Manas. It is said that the Atma-Buddhic monad emerges from its state of spiritual and intellectual unconsciousness, then gets involved in the plane of Mentality. The only difference between the human monad and the animal monad is that the human monad possesses self-conscious intelligence, while the animal has only the instinctual faculty. It is monadic life, though, which passes through the various stages of evolution to be finally lighted up by the mind principle.

Personality: This is usually referred to as a reflection of both the higher and lower selves. It is in this sense that man is dual. The lower principles are not immortal but, on the other hand, the life-atoms of the lower principles are drawn by affinity and Karmic law to the same individuality. (See S.D. II, 672 and fn.)

Ego: This is the immortal soul that reincarnates from age to age. It may be "differentiated" from the "Monad" in the sense that it represents the higher trinity (Atma-Buddhi-Manas), while the monad represents only Atma and Buddhi. Ego is also referred to as the individuality or higher ego.

It would be well for the individual interested in further information on the importance of these terms to read H. P. Blavatsky's Key to Theosophy, pages 171-176; and refer also to the Secret Doctrine Index under the headings discussed.

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