THEOSOPHY, Vol. 55, No. 11, September, 1967
(Pages 324-327; Size: 13K)


OCCULTISM is knowledge of the mysteries. Each of us, if he stops to realize, will see that he is not only surrounded by mysteries on every hand, but that he is also a mystery to himself. Each person tries to solve these mysteries in his own way -- through the senses, through deductions made from their testimony, through inference, and through speculation. Often mere familiarity allows him simply to accept these mysteries as commonplace; but the moment a person begins to wonder, he is at least pointing his foot toward the path of occultism.

There are, according to Theosophy, three great divisions of Nature. First, there is the objective nature in which we live, whose reactions we suffer or enjoy; second, there is an invisible, indwelling, energizing nature, the exact model of visible nature, which stands to visible nature as cause to effect; third, there is something behind both of these, an unknown something in which both objective and subjective nature reside. We call the first "physical nature," that nature which we embody and which is everywhere in evidence about us; the second, the subjective and causal side of the physical nature, we call "psychic"; and the third, we call "Spirit," the source of both physical and metaphysical nature. The physical and psychic natures change constantly -- all physical changes being preceded, accompanied, or followed by psychic or mental changes. But the Spirit does not change -- not in the same sense that intellectual or physical nature changes. It, alone, is eternal and indestructible. These three -- the physical, the intellectual or psychic, and the spiritual or monadic "universes" -- are a trinity synthesized by Life. This Life pervades them all, permeates and sustains them all; so that these three "worlds" are but modifications, or aspects, of Life.

Just as we may speak of the auricles and ventricles of the heart as regulating the circulation of the blood in the body, so might we speak of four great branches, or arteries, which convey the pulsating activities of the intellect. We call these science, logic, religion, and philosophy. It is worth considering that in truth all four of these branches are four different ways of approaching the solution of the mysteries. They may, therefore, be said to be tentative occultism, human occultism.

Let us take first what seems to many to be the nearest to real knowledge, what we call "exact science." Everywhere there are men of ability, of integrity and courage -- all that constitutes what we may call character -- diligently prosecuting the studies of the mysteries of physical nature. Although we call them scientists, they are one and all would-be occultists. For the more a scientist knows, the more he is aware of that immense and shoreless world of which he knows nothing. Thus his study of the objective universe places the scientist in mysterious contact with a non-objective universe, and he sees that there is an immediate relation between the world that he calls force and the world he calls matter.

Yet his only knowledge of force is where it transects matter, comes into conflict, you might say, with matter. And he has tabulated and classified the forms of this interference in the same way that he has classified the forms of matter. He speaks of electrical energy, mechanical energy, chemical energy, vital energy -- but this is only giving names, making classifications. Through his study, however, he comes into contact with the third element of the physical trinity -- law. We know law only by its interference with matter and force; we know force only by its interference with matter; and we know matter only by its interference with us. So the scientist is an occultist who falls short, and must forever fall short, for he is like a man endeavoring to solve a problem of four unknown quantities with an insufficient number of equations.

So far as logic is concerned, it is enough for our purpose to consider it as that invisible power, principle, function, or process, by which we are able to determine the relation between cause and effect -- no matter to what we may apply it.

We turn now to the "occultists" who try to ignore objective nature -- the theologians. They tend to ignore physical nature as determinedly as the scientist ignores metaphysical and spiritual nature. The theologian "teaches" about the nature of the soul and the nature of the spirit and the nature of God -- all of which constitute a universe invisible to him. He is wiser as a would-be occultist than the scientist, in that he perceives that any external event is but an effect -- 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 phenomena of the cosmos. But his thinking does not proceed from any such fundamental sureties as does that of the modern scientist. For what the scientist does know, is true as far as it goes. 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 true occultism is.

Now if we go beyond religion, which neglects the facts of science, and beyond science, which neglects the facts of religion, we come to philosophy; and we find that in the West philosophy, which should be a consideration of principles, is all based on speculation. So we have a philosophy which is speculative, a science which is practical, and a religion which is a sort of dream-stuff extruded into the waking consciousness. Our logic is good as far as it goes; but it does not go far enough because its premises are false or only partially true. So we can see that all the methods of investigation in vogue, from the highest to the lowest, cannot solve the mystery of whence we have come, how and why we are here, what our future destiny or destinies may be -- and these are the real mysteries.

Fifty centuries ago The Bhagavad-Gita gave the scientific formula, the logical basis, the religious direction, the philosophical modulus, by which a man might find out for himself the truth of the four assumptions with which we began the consideration of this subject. It charts the path of true occultism, and for the man who follows the chart the path becomes ever less dark and mysterious, ever more lucent, until it becomes translucent. Then it is the light of knowledge.

There is now, there always has been, and there always must be, one life, one source, one infinite, fathomless, immeasurable principle which is alike the source and the container of all that is. It holds all experience -- physical, astral(1), psychic, ethical, moral, and spiritual. It holds all forms and conditions within itself as Space holds objects. It is the ONE LIFE. In this One Life there is an infinity of modifications; but everything that is, sprang from the One Life, and by some process of modification, of sequence, of concatenation of cause and effect, without hiatus or interlude from start to finish, has become what it now is. Thus the immortality of everything in this universe depends upon its identity with the One Life.

Now, if in the Absolute everything is, and if we are identical with the Absolute, then every man is just as much a perceiver, just as much an actor or sower, just as much an experiencer or reaper, as any imaginable god. There is in every man, by virtue of his identity with the One Source, every power that is in That source. Just so, Life exists as an entirety. Life is one, though the forms through which it pulsates are countless. Intelligence is one, though the minds through which it operates are innumerable. It follows, then, that any being of perception -- that is any spiritual being, any soul -- is a modification of Spirit, and in order to become all-knowing, he must individually acquire that knowledge and omniscience which always did and does exist in the whole.

True occultism is the discipline by which this knowledge may be attained. It is that discipline by which self-control, self-knowledge, and self-mastery may be gained. The moment a man has carried these to perfection, he realizes that, though he has a physical body here, an astral body on another plane of nature, a mind on still a different plane of nature, he himself dwells in and on none of them. He dwells on the plane of the changeless, the eternal -- free from the delusions of birth, death, and sorrow, 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 center, the all-inclusive point. He is now concerned only with souls, not with 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 can ever be emancipated -- through knowledge. True occultism encompasses the whole range of Nature and of Man.

There is, therefore, no more noble, worthy, or wonderful a thing than for a man 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. The danger for the neophyte in occultism is that when he has penetrated but one step beyond the mundane, has lifted but one of the veils, he may 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." But since his perception and his cognition are only a part, however large that part may be, which he has mistaken for the whole, he is still dreaming. Not until he has united his consciousness in the One Eternal Self, is he free from that dream called Maya(2). 

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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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