It is truly a wonderful universe in which we live! And yet how little we know of it -- even of our own mother earth. What brought it into being? What is its past? What is its vital inner and to most of us its invisible structure? What is its destiny? And what of man, its child? Yet there is an answer to these questions, an explanation which by its nature is wholly satisfactory both to the spiritual part of us and to our intellect. It is an explanation of the facts of being not based upon the changing viewpoints of men who, however noble and earnest they may be, are nevertheless researchers only, going ahead warily step by step in their most laudable endeavor to know more of the mysteries of nature. It is an explanation which has been passed on down from immemorial time by great seers, men with wide and profound spiritual vision, who have penetrated behind the many veils of the phenomenal universe, who have sent their spirit with its accompanying consciousness deep into the womb of Being, and have brought back conscious records of what the universe is behind the veils of the outward seeming, and have handed it on through the ages to their disciples, earnest and truth-seeking men, desiring to know the truth at all costs.
This transmitted truth, this coordinated explanation of things, is given to the world today under the name of Theosophy. H. P. Blavatsky, the chief founder of the Theosophical Society of modern times, did not originate, did not invent, the majestic religion-philosophy which passes currently under this name. She was the representative of a certain body of wise and spiritually-minded men, who chose her as their messenger to the world in the nineteenth century, on account of her great spiritual and intellectual gifts. She was to strike the keynote of certain age-old truths which had been forgotten during the passage of many ages; and the aggregate of these teachings which she gave forth in outline in her great work, The Secret Doctrine, she called "the Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy."
It should not be imagined that The Secret Doctrine gives all the details of everything that is known. Such a supposition would be an absurdity; but it gives generalizations of the principles and of the lines of thought of the ancient wisdom, and these are illuminating and very helpful.
This school of thought is not based on dogmatic statements. It does not demand of anyone an unquestioning and blind adherence to declaratory assertions made by anybody either now or in the past; but it calls upon everyone to study what he reads or what he hears, and from that earnest and self-revealing study, to draw out for his own benefit, as well as for the benefit of his fellows, for his own self-development and understanding, as well as for the self-development and understanding of his fellows, the truths which those who have advanced beyond the average understanding of men have told us that they have found and experienced in these teachings.
It is for each one of us to test these teachings, to study them honestly and, above all, to abide by the honest decisions which we ourselves will draw from our study. In thus exercising our inner faculties of will and judgment and intuition, we open within ourselves doors by which the radiant truth may enter our souls. To aspire towards truth is a spiritual exercise of the noblest kind.
There is Truth in the universe. What is that Truth? It is the universe itself, or rather the nature of the universe as manifested in the operations of that universe, which is thus self-expressing itself. Its laws are the courses of action of that universe manifesting itself in cosmic terms; and a true philosophy, a true religion, a true science, attempts to interpret these essentials in formulations of thought. The illuminated human intellect can so interpret these essentials because we, as offsprings of the universe, have all the faculties and powers latent in us that the universe has, expressing themselves in us as our own powers and faculties. Thus we have the organs to understand the universe, and this understanding comes to us through the unwrapping of the enshrouding veils of our nature.
Now the faculty of understanding is something we can evolve. This does not mean that we must build up an organ of understanding much as a man will build a house of wood and bricks. Not at all. Our understanding is within us, not without; and as we grow in self-consciousness, we shall understand ever more clearly the manifesting of the inner light that is at the core of each one of us. Therefore has every teacher said: Look within! Follow the path leading inwards!
Every human being thus becomes the pathway to truth, because in him lies the understanding. Each one of us, each for himself, is a key to all the portals of the universe. By following the pathway which reaches from our own heart and mentality, along the lines of our spiritual being, always inwards, we attain an ever closer approximation towards that sublime goal which on account of our expanding consciousness grows ever larger and seems to be ever receding into some higher and grander truth; literally into that universal life in whose roots every human being takes his origin, verily the heart of the universe itself.
Yet, though truth comes ultimately from within, we can learn much from the fruitage of the mature thought of another mind. Even though it is an importation into our mind and is not the fruitage of our own inner revelation, we can learn much from what great and good men may tell us if we take it into ourselves and honestly ponder over it and seek to understand it.
What did Paul of the Christians mean when he said to "prove all things and to hold to that which is good"? Who is the judge of the good? Is it not the inner faculty of judgment and understanding? Or are we going to take somebody's say-so and prove all things that come to us by that? If so, we are merely testing one dogmatic declaration by another dogmatic declaration.
Anything we accept from outside, we take either on trust or on faith, unless we have the faculties developed within ourselves of judgment, discrimination, intuition, and understanding, these four being fundamentally one. Is it not therefore clear that the process enabling one to prove all things is the developing of the inner eye? Where else could such an infallible touchstone be found?
Hence, if we want to prove all things, then we must do it in the manner of all the great philosophers and thinkers: cultivate within ourselves the inner faculty of understanding. This can be done by deep thinking, meditation, refusal to accept others say-so, by the exercise of will power in an inflexible determination to solve questions for ourselves, cost us what it may.
Such mental and spiritual exercise develops the faculties within us; or, to put it more truly, tears down the barriers preventing those faculties from expressing themselves. As we thus exercise ourselves, as surely as the sun deluges the earth with light will we attain to what we are seeking: the faculty of proving all things by knowing them for true or for false. There is the whole philosophy in a nutshell.
Now, the operations of the human consciousness are threefold, if you analyze them carefully; and these have been designated by the words religion, philosophy, and science. Religion comprises the mystical and the devotional (but not the emotional) faculties of man. Philosophy comprises faculties of the human mind which we generally call coordinating; in other words, the intellectual side, that which gathers together and formulates in intellectual fashion the truths which the consciousness intuits in or obtains from nature, often through a study of the outside world. And third is the operation of the human mind which classifies, through and by its inquisitive nature, the facts of the beings surrounding us, which it studies; and that is science.
We cannot separate these three operations of human consciousness and put each in its own thought-tight compartment. They are not fundamentally different, but are like the three sides of a triangle, or like three views or ways of looking at truth, and their unified vision proclaims the recondite facts of Being.
And on what grounds do we say that these three are one and not three radically separate things? Because the supposition that they are separate would be contrary to everything we know of nature and its fundamental unity. It would be contrary to the fact that these three avenues to truth evolve from man himself, who is a child and therefore a part of nature, and who, therefore, expresses all nature's laws and operations in himself, be they in germ or be they more or less developed. Religion, philosophy, and science are the three offsprings of the spirit of man.
As said, they are not three things in themselves, existing so to say in physical or mental space, nor do they represent three intrinsically separate laws of the cosmos. But unless the complete nature of man is brought to bear on these, unless these three facets of the human consciousness cooperate in him completely, there is something wrong, and the mental precipitate will be dogmatism.
There is a tremendous responsibility involved in the giving out of truth, or what purports to be truth. Few people have any realization of the enormous power of ideas over the understanding. The spread of religions, the ready acceptance of philosophical principles, the luxuriant growth of political fads, are all examples of the manner in which men may be torn from their intellectual and moral moorings of principle by the ideas sweeping over their minds and overwhelming both willpower and sense of moral responsibility.
Further, the science of only yesterday has built up barriers of materialistic thinking which have crippled the intuitions, warped the mental faculties, and have left to the men of our time a heritage of soulless dogmas. I have often wondered how many human minds have been ruined, and how many human souls have been emotionally degraded, by the old materialistic teaching of our fathers and grandfathers, that man is nothing but a fortuitous congeries of materials and of something somewhat more subtle, springing from this material, and called force. The idea that there is nothing within or above man intimately connected with him but dead matter, and blind force arising out of dead matter in some perfectly incomprehensible manner, is in itself degrading and unproductive of good.
What is needed is a radical change in the consciousness of men. When this takes place, and if it be directed by the forces of light and heart flowing from within, then the human race need have no fear of anything within or without. But such a change in men's hearts, such a change in men's minds and will, is a matter of long-time education, and comes not overnight.
Yet a very great help towards its coming, and making for the breaking down of the barriers which prevent its coming in order that such a new spirit may enter into our hearts and live there and govern our conduct, is the public promulgation and acceptance by men of the noble ideal of a spirit of reverence for truth so great that nothing will be held of value before it. Henceforth all religious and scientific discoveries would be placed as an impersonal offering upon the altar of truth. What a beautiful ideal, not alone for scientists, religionists, and philosophers, but also for each one of us to follow. There would then be no more enunciations of dogmatic hypotheses or theories, but a reverent placing of a life's work on the altar of that divine ideal, everlasting truth. Great knowledge brings modesty; increasing knowledge brings increasing reverence for truth.