THEOSOPHY, Vol. 51, No. 1, November, 1962
(Pages 14-15; Size: 6K)
[Article number (1) in this Q&A Department]
IT has been said that the fundamental principles of Theosophy cannot be proven by present scientific methods. Considering that these principles are universal and operate on all planes, one wonders why the findings of science, even though limited to physical phenomena, should not constitute proof of these principles, at least to the extent that they are evident on this plane.
Modern science has indeed proved many Theosophical principles, so far as they are observable on the physical plane. It is clear, for example, that the law of periodicity has been demonstrated in countless instances. One might in fact say that every scientific discovery, every new insight into the laws of nature, is a proof of some aspect of Theosophy. And yet it is probably too much to expect science to demonstrate these basic laws in their application to planes higher than the physical -- planes which science with its best physical and intellectual instruments cannot detect or investigate. It does not seem, therefore, that a syllogism is forthcoming that will "prove" reincarnation or karma to anyone's satisfaction. So long as science insists in seeing the evidence, it cannot begin to comprehend the hidden side of nature.
Science, fortunately, is beginning to outgrow its purely physical world-view, and has discovered vibrant life in objects which were assumed by nineteenth-century investigators to be dead. It is not always necessary nowadays to be actually able to see a thing in order to admit its presence. For example, numerous atomic theories were developed without anyone ever seeing an atom. The intellectual inevitability of such a concept was sufficient to make scientists accept its existence. However, when it comes to an investigation of such concepts as reincarnation and karma, the intellect is itself insufficient to produce even a semblance of proof. At best, perhaps, science will eventually be made to admit the possibility of these doctrines; but no certainty, no final proof, will be found until we learn an altogether different kind of thinking, and approach our investigations with the attitude that all life, from the atom to the cosmos, is sentient and intelligent, and bound up with ourselves in the stream of evolution. This change of attitude will most probably be the result of intuition rather than logic, even though at present "intuition" is almost a bad word in scientific circles; for it is only through this spiritual faculty, which transcends the intellect, and which every individual must exercise for himself, that the proof of occult principles will be found. Our intellect, if trained to reason by analogy and to test the maxim "As above, so below," may without too much difficulty be able to recognize the plausibility of Theosophical principles. But certainty (for which man is ever striving) will only come in a sudden flash of intuition. Scientific societies don't have such flashes; individuals have them; and so this final proof is one which each man must arrive at for himself.
From one point of view, though, it is fortunate that we must in the final analysis rely upon ourselves. Our century has placed so much trust in science as the deliverer of mankind from all woes that many men have practically stopped thinking. They feel, perhaps, that if they wait long enough, science will find the answers for them. Probably most of us have been at least partially guilty of delegating our hopes to this amorphous messiah, which is generally referred to as "they." "They say we'll get to the moon in five years. Maybe in ten they'll know what comes after death." It would be an exaggeration to say that we think for ourselves only when choosing cigarettes, and even then we make our choice on the basis of what "they say" about this or that filter. But how much of an exaggeration is it, really?
This tendency to have our thinking done by proxy is perhaps the most destructive aspect of our atomic age, and represents the reverse of progress. It is indeed fortunate, therefore, that science cannot have our intuitions for us: all real knowledge must come to us through real effort. As Mr. Judge puts it, "He who thinks his desire will be fulfilled, as the little bird in the nest, who has only to open his mouth to be fed, will very truly be disappointed."
[Article number (2) in this Q&A Department]
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