PSYCHOLOGY - THE SCIENCE OF THE SOUL
ETHICS and law are, so far, only in the phases
where there are as yet no theories, and barely systems, and even
these, based as we find them upon à priori ideas
instead of observations, are quite irreconcilable with one another.
What remains then outside of physical science? We are told, "Psychology,
the Science of the Soul, of the Conscious Self or Ego."
Alas, and thrice alas! Soul, the Self, or Ego, is studied by modem
psychology as inductively as a piece of decayed matter by a physicist.
Psychology and its mother-plant metaphysics have fared worse than
any other sciences. These twin sciences have long been so separated
in Europe as to have become in their ignorance mortal enemies.
After faring poorly enough at the hands of mediaeval scholasticism
they have been liberated therefrom only to fall into modern sophistry.
Psychology in its present garb is simply a mask covering a ghastly,
grimacing skeleton's head, a deadly and beautiful upas flower
growing in a soil of most hopeless materialism. "Thought
is to the psychologist metamorphosed sensation, and man a helpless
automaton, wire-pulled by heredity and environment"--writes
a half-disgusted hylo-idealist, now happily a Theosophist. "And
yet men like Huxley preach this man automatism and morality in
the same breath.... Monists1 to a man, annihilationists
who would stamp out intuition with iron heel, if they could."
. . . Those are our modern western psychologists!
Everyone sees that metaphysics instead of being a science of first
principles has now broken up into a number of more or less materialistic
schools of every shade and color, from Schopenhauer's pessimism
down to agnosticism, monism, idealism, hylo-idealism, and every
"ism" with the exception of psychism--not to speak of
true psychology. What Mr. Huxley said of Positivism, namely that
it was Roman Catholicism minus Christianity, ought to be
paraphrased and applied to our modern psychological philosophy.
It is psychology, minus soul; psyche being dragged down
to mere sensation; a solar system minus a sun; Hamlet
with the Prince of Denmark not entirely cast out of the play,
but in some vague way suspected of being probably somewhere behind
When a humble David seeks to conquer the enemy it is not the small
fry of their army whom he attacks, but Goliath, their great leader.
Thus it is one of Mr. Herbert Spencer's statements which,
at the risk of repetition, must be analyzed to prove the accusation
here adduced. It is thus that "the greatest philosopher of
the nineteenth century" speaks:
"The mental state in which self is known implies, like every
other mental act, a perceiving subject and a perceived object.
If then the object perceived is self, what is the subject that
perceives? or if it is the true self which thinks, what other
self can it be that is thought of?2 Clearly a true
cognition of self implies a self in which the knowing and the
known are one--in which subject and object are one; and this Mr.
Mansel rightly holds to be the annihilation of both! So that
the personality of which each is conscious, and of which the existence
is to each a fact beyond all others the most certain, is yet a
thing which cannot truly be known at all; the knowledge of
it is forbidden by the very nature of thought."3
The italics are ours to show the point under discussion. Does
this not remind one of an argument in favor of the undulatory
theory, namely, that "the meeting of two rays whose waves
interlock produces darkness." For Mr. Mansel's assertion
that when self thinks of self, and is simultaneously the subject
and object, it is "the annihilation of both"--means just
this, and the psychological argument is therefore placed on the
same basis as the physical phenomenon of light waves. Moreover,
Mr. Herbert Spencer confessing that Mr. Mansel is right and basing
thereupon his conclusion that the knowledge of self or soul is
thus "forbidden by the very nature of thought" is a
proof that the "father of modern psychology" (in England)
proceeds on no better psychological principles than Messrs. Huxley
or Tyndall have done.4
We do not contemplate in the least the impertinence of criticizing
such a giant of thought as Mr. H. Spencer is rightly considered
to be by his friends and admirers. We mention this simply to prove
our point and show modern psychology to be a misnomer, even though
it is claimed that Mr. Spencer has "reached conclusions of
great generality and truth, regarding all that can be known of
man." We have one determined object in view, and we will
not deviate from the straight line, and our object is to show
that occultism and, its philosophy have not the least chance of
being even understood, still less accepted in this century, and
by the present generations of men of science. We would impress
on the minds of our Theosophists and mystics that to search for
sympathy and recognition in the region of "science"
is to court defeat. Psychology seemed a natural ally at first,
and now having examined it, we come to the conclusion that it
is a suggestio falsi and no more. It is as misleading a term,
as taught at present, as that of the Antarctic Pole with its ever
arid and barren frigid zone, called southern merely from geographical
considerations. For the modern psychologist, dealing as he does
only with the superficial brain-consciousness, is in truth more
hopelessly materialistic than all-denying materialism itself,
the latter, at any rate, being more honest and sincere. Materialism
shows no pretensions to fathom human thought, least of all the
human spirit-soul, which it deliberately and coolly but sincerely
denies and throws altogether out of its catalogue. But the psychologist
devotes to soul his whole time and leisure. He is ever boring
artesian wells into the very depths of human consciousness. The
materialist or the frank atheist is content to make of himself,
as Jeremy Collier puts it, "a very despicable mortal . .
. no better than a heap of organized dust, a talking machine,
a speaking head without a soul in it . . . whose thoughts are
bound by the law of motion." But the psychologist is not
even a mortal, or even a man; he is a mere aggregate of sensations.5
The universe and all in it is only an aggregate of grouped sensations,
or "an integration of sensations." It is all relations
of subject and object, relations of universal and individual,
of absolute and finite. But when it comes to dealing with
the problems of the origin of space and time, and to the summing-up
of all those inter - and co-relations of ideas and matter,
of ego and non-ego, then all the proof vouchsafed to an opponent
is the contemptuous epithet of "ontologist." After which
modern psychology having demolished the object of its sensation
in the person of the contradictor, turns round against itself
and commits hari-kari by showing sensation itself to be no better
This is even more hopeless for the cause of truth than the harmless
paradoxes of the materialistic automatists. The assertion that
"the physical processes in the brain are complete in themselves"
concerns after all only the registrative function of the material
brain; and unable to explain satisfactorily psychic processes
thereby, the automatists are thus harmless to do permanent mischief.
But the psychologists, into whose hands the science of soul has
now so unfortunately fallen, can do great harm, inasmuch as they
pretend to be earnest seekers after truth, and remain withal content
to represent Coleridge's "Owlet," which--
Sailing on obscene wings across the noon,
Drops his blue-fringed lids, and shuts them close,
And, hooting at the glorious sun in heaven,
Cries out, "Where is it?" . . .
--and who more blind than he who does not want to see?
We have sought far and wide for scientific corroboration as to
the question of spirit, and spirit alone (in its septenary aspect)
being the cause of consciousness and thought, as taught in esoteric
philosophy. We have found both physical and psychical sciences
denying the fact point-blank, and maintaining their two contradictory
and clashing theories. The former, moreover, in its latest development
is half inclined to believe itself quite transcendental owing
to the latest departure from the too brutal teachings of the Büchners
and Moleschotts. But when one comes to analyze the difference
between the two, it appears so imperceptible that they almost
merge into one.
Indeed, the champions of science now say that the belief that
sensation and thought are but movements of matter--Büchner's
and Moleschott's theory--is, as a well-known English annihilationist
remarks, "unworthy of the name of philosophy." Not one
man of science of any eminence, we are indignantly told, neither
Tyndall, Huxley, Maudsley, Bain, Clifford, Spencer, Lewes, Virchow,
Hæckel nor Du Bois Raymond has ever gone so far as to say
that "thought is a molecular motion, but that it is
the concomitant (not the cause as believers in a
soul maintain) of certain physical processes in the brain."
. . . They never--the true scientists as opposed to the false,
the sciolists--the monists as opposed to the materialists--say that
thought and nervous motion are the same, but that they
are the "subjective and objective faces of the same thing."
Now it may be due to a defective training which has not enabled
us to frame ideas on a subject other than those which answer to
the words in which it is expressed, but we plead guilty to seeing
no such marked difference between Büchner's and the new monistic
theories. "Thought is not a motion of molecules, but it is
the concomitant of certain physical processes in the brain."
Now what is a concomitant, and what is a process? A concomitant,
according to the best definitions, is a thing that accompanies,
or is collaterally connected with another--a concurrent and simultaneous
companion. A process is an act of proceeding, an advance or motion,
whether temporary or continuous, or a series of motions. Thus
the concomitant of physical processes, being naturally a bird
of the same feather, whether subjective or objective, and being
due to motion, which both monists and materialists say is physical--what
difference is there between their definition and that of Büchner,
except perhaps that it is in words a little more scientifically
Three scientific views are laid before us with regard to changes
in thought by present-day philosophers:
Postulate. "Every mental change is signalized by a molecular
change in the brain substance." To this:
- Materialism says: the mental changes are caused by the molecular
- Spiritualism (believers in a soul): the molecular changes
are caused by the mental changes. [Thought acts on the brain matter
through the medium of Fohat focused through one of the principles.]
- Monism: there is no causal relation between the two sets of
phenomena; the mental and the physical being the two sides of
the same thing [a verbal evasion].
To this occultism replies that the first view is out of court
entirely. It would Inquire of No. 2: And what is it that presides
so judicially over the mental changes? What is the noumenon
of those mental phenomena which make up the external consciousness
of the physical man? What is it which we recognize as the terrestrial
"self" and which--monists and materialists notwithstanding--does
control and regulate the flow of its own mental states. No occultist
would for a moment deny that the materialistic theory as to the
relations of mind and brain is in its way expressive of the truth
that the superficial brain-consciousness or "phenomenal
self" is bound up for all practical purposes with the integrity
of the cerebral matter. This brain consciousness or personality
is mortal, being but a distorted reflection through a physical
basis of the mânasic self. It is an instrument for harvesting
experience for the Buddhi-Manas or monad, and saturating it with
the aroma of consciously-acquired experience. But for all that
the "brain-self" is real while it lasts, and weaves
its Karma as a responsible entity. Esoterically explained it is
the consciousness inhering in that lower portion of the Manas
which is correlated with the physical brain.
Lucifer, October, 1896
1 Monism is a word which admits of more than one
The "monism" of Lewes, Bain and others, which endeavors
so vainly to compress all mental and material phenomena into the
unity of One Substance, is in no way the transcendental monism
of esoteric philosophy. The current "Single-Substance Theory"
of mind and matter necessarily involves the doctrine of annihilation,
and is hence untrue. Occultism, on the other hand, recognizes
that in the ultimate analysis even the Logos and Mulaprakriti
are one; and that there is but One Reality behind the Maya of
the universe But in the manvantaric circuit, in the realm of manifested
being, the Logos (spirit), and Mulaprakriti (matter or
its noumenon), are the dual contrasted poles or bases of all phenomena-subjective
and objective. The duality of spirit and matter is a fact, so
long as the Great Manvantara lasts. Beyond that looms the darkness
of the "Great Unknown," the one Parabrahman.
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2 The Higher Self or Buddhi-Manas, which in the act
of self-analysis or highest abstract thinking, partially reveals
its presence and holds the subservient brain-consciousness in
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3 First Principles, pp. 65, 66.
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4 We do not even notice some very pointed criticisms
in which it is shown that Mr. Spencer's postulate that "consciousness
cannot be in two distinct states at the same time," is flatly
contradicted by himself when he affirms that it is possible for
us to be conscious of more states than one. "To be known
as unlike," he says, "conscious states must be known
in succession" (see The Philosophy of Mr.
H. Spencer Examined, by James Iverach,
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5 According to John Stuart Mill neither the so-called
objective universe nor the domain of mind-object, subject-corresponds
with any absolute reality beyond "sensation." Objects,
the whole paraphernalia of sense, are "sensation objectively
viewed," and mental states "sensation subjectively viewed."
The "Ego" is as entire an illusion as matter; the One
Reality, groups of feelings bound together by the rigid laws of
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"No Religion Higher Than Truth"
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