THEOSOPHY, Vol. 17, No. 12, October, 1929
(Pages 560-562; Size: 9K)


THEOSOPHY presents to the world not merely a body of knowledge very different from the knowledge possessed by the most learned scholars and scientists of our universities, but it postulates in addition a method for the acquisition of that knowledge which is in marked contrast to the method employed by science. The importance of method consists in the fact that there may be a relationship between knowledge and the method for its attainment. Let us first inquire into the objectives at which both occult and profane science seek to arrive. In a sense, these objectives are the same. Do not science and speculative philosophy also seek a unitary basis of knowledge and of life? Do they not also seek uniform and universal laws in a universe of infinite variety and apparent confusion? Whence this urge to seek solutions to these self-posited problems? This urge, Theosophy teaches, has its origin in what it terms "inherent ideas." The occult scientist postulates three fundamental propositions well known to all Theosophic students, and the truth of these propositions the Secret Doctrine regards "as evident as the sun in heaven." To the materialistic scientist they are not so evident and he racks his brains seeking to prove the truth of that which the occultist regards as axiomatic. In this fact lies an important difference in the methods of Theosophy and of science. The occultist is engaged in investigating the applications and the ramifications of his three fundamentals "in the bewildering series of evolutionary progress" and in every department of nature. The scientist and speculative philosopher, ignorant or unconvinced of the inherent reasonableness of the basic conceptions of the Secret Doctrine, enters upon his investigations and speculations with a confused understanding. He is torn between the light of Buddhi(1) cast upon his intellect in spite of himself, and the determination of his lower mind to deny that light, unless it can establish its justification, by external proof. He soon finds himself wrapt in a bewildering maze of particulars and the end of his labors finds him in a state of "confusion worse confounded"; for no amount of purely external investigation can reveal the hidden heart of life.

It is commonly stated that modern science employs the inductive method in the pursuit of its knowledge, and that it proceeds from particulars to universals; whereas occult science employs the very reverse, or deductive, method, proceeding from universals to particulars. The nomenclature here used is rather that of science than of occultism and because of this it is necessary to examine this statement closely and to define clearly the terms employed. The universal of science is merely a particular of a larger scope. Science is engaged on the objective, external and phenomenal plane; its work consists almost exclusively in the classification of phenomena, and the universal arrived at is only the designation of a particular group of phenomenal observations. Science is engaged in extending and investigating merely the surface area of knowledge and no amount of such explorations can ever reveal the content of that which lies beneath the surface, any more than an exploration of the surface of the earth can throw much light upon the treasures hidden within. In fact, as soon as a profane scientist or a speculative philosopher begins to explore beneath the surface he approaches the adytum and sacred precinct of the occultist.

An example of such a philosopher was Leibnitz. It was Leibnitz who destroyed the contrast of animate and inanimate matter by showing that the atom as an external and material thing was untenable. If there is no limit to the divisibility of matter into atoms, then this argument carried to its logical conclusion reduces the atoms to mathematical points. They are now no longer physical but metaphysical entities and must be sought for and investigated in the depths of inner, abstract space rather than in the length and breadth of outer, concrete space. In place of the material atoms, Leibnitz saw an infinity of metaphysical and immaterial atoms, which he denominated monads. Every monad was a living mirror of the universe and a God, and monads were everywhere. Leibnitz' concept of the monads may be regarded as the occult conception of universals. In the occult sciences, the minutest particle at every point of space is a basic unit holding in potentiality and in latency the infinite possibilities of all life. In principle and in essence a molecule and a man are equal, the difference between them being merely in the extent to which that which was latent is now patent. Theosophy teaches that not only is a man a microcosm or little universe, but that every atom at every point of space is likewise a potential microcosm, a universal, if we care to use that term. The whole is in every part and every part is in the whole. The occultist admits of no particulars in the sense that science uses that term. There are only universals in various stages and degrees of evolution and unfoldment.

The basic difference in the points of view of science and Theosophy lies in the fact that science endeavors to prove with the eye of matter that which can only be perceived with the eye of spirit. It is ever the inner man who is the eternal witness, the Great Sifter, the changeless center. It is the center that establishes the relationship and determines the value of all peripheral objects. The shifting, the changeable, the evanescent, the illusive; these can never throw any light upon the Real and the Eternal; and yet this is the tantalizing task that science sets before itself. The mystery of life keeps ever receding for those who would approach it via its endless and labyrinthian emanations. Life can never be known from the outside.

The materialistic scientist sees no connection between ethics and knowledge. He is puzzled when informed that the acquisition of real wisdom is dependent on altruism and brotherhood. Yet it is a fundamental teaching of the Wisdom-Religion that metaphysical and spiritual truths cannot be known or understood without a certain ethical attitude towards life. That in ethics should be found a method for the acquisition of knowledge is a point that science will not concede and actually scorns. This attitude is the result of, and goes hand in hand with, the conviction that by looking outward upon the world of matter, are to be found solutions to the baffling riddles that confront man at every turn. The concept of brotherhood rests on the concepts of a unitary basis of all life, of the operation of law in every department of visible and invisible nature, and of the progressive evolution of all beings on equal terms. Since these universal ideas can never be attained through the investigation of particulars in the phenomenal world, science is ignorant of the spiritual unity of all life, is baffled by the apparent breakdown of law in the cosmos, and divides nature into unrelated elements, forces and beings. Seeing nought but separateness and struggle, its loftiest ideal of altruism never rises above enlightened selfishness; and for it, brotherhood, selflessness and sacrifice are anomalies that find nowhere their justification in nature. It is only when man realizes that universal compassion is the law and the essence of spiritual life, that nature yields up her mysteries and that which before was dark becomes as bright as the noonday sun. Only in the first object of the Theosophical Movement is to be found the key to the method for the acquisition of occult knowledge.

Next article:
The One Desire


COMPILER'S NOTE: I added this footnote; it was not in the article. If it doesn't paint an accurate enough picture, or is incorrect, I hope the Editors of THEOSOPHY magazine will spot it and point it out to me, so that I can make the necessary corrections.

(1) "Buddhi" means Intuition.
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