THEOSOPHY, Vol. 45, No. 8, June, 1957
(Pages 359-361; Size: 10K)
(Number 5 of a 7-part series)


[The short articles comprising this series are derived from characteristic talks given during the years 1915-35. As often as practicable, the words of the speaker have been used without change, in the hope of conveying some of the force originally imparted to the ideas.]
OCCULTISM is the knowledge of the mysteries; and the mysteries of nature are manifold. Each man is not only a mystery to himself, but he also confronts mysteries on every hand. These mysteries, man is incessantly trying to solve by indirect means -- through the senses, by inferences, by deductions made from the testimony of the senses, and by speculations that he postulates.

Let us postulate three categories of nature: objective nature, subjective nature, and the unknown "something" in which both reside. That is, physical nature, psychic nature, and Spiritual or metaphysical nature. It is the mysteries of these three "natures" that man attempts to solve -- usually by recourse to one of the four specialized approaches toward an understanding of nature: science, logic, religion, or philosophy.

The basis of exact science is an attempt to explore and to understand the riddle of the universe by an empirical, or phenomenal, study of objective nature. If we consider, we will find it a very curious thing that the moment a man becomes a student of objective nature, he comes bolt upright against invisible nature, which cuts across his field of vision. This intangible, invisible, unknown something which brings to man the things that he studies, holds them under his eyes for a time, and then takes them away from him, is called by scientists "force" or "energy," indifferently. So, immediately, the objective universe places a man in a mysterious contact with a non-objective universe; yet the scientist knows that there is an immediate relation between the world that he calls "force" and the world that he calls "matter." Man's knowledge of force is where it transects matter -- comes into conflict, so to say, with matter.

Learning that force does come into what we may call opposition with matter, scientists have tabulated and classified the forms of interference in the same way that they have classified the forms of matter. So they speak of mechanical energy, chemical energy, electrical energy, vital energy. They might just as well say Tweedledum, Tweedledee, and Timbuctoo: they are only giving names, and explaining nothing.

Yet there is a connection between force and matter -- of this the scientist is assured. This third element of the physical trinity the scientist calls "law"; and he comes into contact with it in a much more real sense than any Christian divine ever came into contact with any member of the theological trinity. Just as we know matter only by its interference with us, and know force only by its interference with matter, so we know law only by its interference with force and matter. So far, the scientist is an occultist; but one who falls short, and must forever fall short, of complete knowledge -- like a man endeavoring to solve a problem of four unknown quantities with three equations.

What we will call "logic" is not either formal, syllogistic logic nor the logic defined in dictionaries, but is, rather, that invisible power, principle, function, or process, by which we are able to determine a relation between two occurrences, calling one "cause," the other "effect" -- no matter to what we may apply our logic. The scientist uses this sort of logic in setting up his hypothesis, which he then tests. So that what the scientist knows, is true -- that is, the facts he establishes are "real" facts.

The theologian, on the other hand, has no such excellent occult discipline, no such rigid regimen, no such sureties from which to proceed as has the scientist. The theologian perceives, logically, that all that is, in any event, is but an effect: that the event is not self-originating, not self-sustaining, not self-destroying. He therefore "knows" that there must be something which stands in some kind of efficient relation to the cosmos, to the phenomena of the cosmos, and to man. In this, the theologian is wiser than the scientist. But the religionist is right only in the perception that until the subjective universe becomes as cognizable, as exactly charted, as the objective universe, the scientist can never arrive at real knowledge -- which is what Occultism is. (Yet the scientist at least realizes, as the religionist does not, that that only is knowledge to any man which he has verified for himself.)

Philosophy is a consideration of the principles of everything; its tool, speculative logic. Science traces phenomenal causes; religion dreams of ultimate Cause; philosophy speculates on causation. Thus, our science is practical, our religion is dream-stuff extruded into the waking consciousness, our philosophy is speculation. All these approaches to the study of the nature of things depend upon the medium of the five senses and inferences from perceived phenomena. If there is an underlying reality, you could never know that it exists, even if you did "guess" it by these methods. This knowledge, then, is false, or limited, occultism.

Man has a physical body here; he has an astral body(1) on another plane of nature; he has a mind on a still different plane of nature; a psychic form, you might call it, on its plane of nature. But the man, himself, dwells in none of these bodies nor on any of these planes. He dwells on the plane of the changeless, the eternal -- free from birth, free from death, free from sorrow, free from every tendency, because he recognizes the identity of the "real being" everywhere, in everything. He has then a flawless knowledge of Universal Brotherhood from within, from the Spiritual standpoint, the inclusive standpoint. He is concerned with souls, not bodies; with truth, not dogmas; with practice, not profession. But above all he is interested in that kind of practical expression of fraternity which works for the emancipation of the soul in the only way that any soul ever can be emancipated -- through knowledge: through that knowledge of God, that knowledge of nature, that knowledge of the soul which is inherent in every man by virtue of the fact that he is Spirit.

There is, therefore, no more noble, no more worthy, no more wonderful thing than for a man, charts in hand, comrades on the voyage ranged alongside him, to begin to explore the penetralia of his own nature. Veil after veil will lift, and with each lifting of the veil his horizon grows wider and wider; but still there will be veil upon veil behind. And the danger for him, the neophyte in occultism, is that when he has penetrated but one step beyond the mundane, has lifted but one of the veils, he shall think that he knows it all. The progress of the Ego is a series of progressive awakenings, in each of which he thinks: "Now, at last, I have reached reality." Yet not until he has united his consciousness with the one eternal Self, is he free from that dream called Maya(2), manifested existence.

All these things can be known by a man, of and for himself; for true Occultism is self-knowledge, self-discipline, self-control, self-mastery.

Next article:
Seeds and Seedlings
Cycles of Destiny
(Article 6 of 7)


COMPILER'S NOTE: I added these footnotes; they were not in the article. If any of them don't paint an accurate enough picture, or are incorrect, I hope the Editors of THEOSOPHY magazine will spot them and point the inaccuracies out to me, so that I can make the necessary corrections.

(1) "Astral" means the Electro-Magnetic spectrum at every level. The "Astral Body" is the electromagnetic design body that the physical molecules adhere to in the building up of every form, in every kingdom, on the physical plane. The theosophical "Astral Light" is the "Ether" of modern science. It is the source of the idea known as the "Recording Angel" -- because every thought, word, and deed is recorded, stored, and magnetically reflected back to its source at a dynamically proper time: in other words, when conditions naturally warrant or permit it. We call this Karma, or Lawful action and reaction. All of us are also magnets for imprints in the "Astral Light" which were put there by others and which are similiar to us in character. So we constantly affect and infect each other in this way -- for good or for bad.
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(2) "Maya" means Illusion.
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