The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
February 2004 Vol. 6 Issue 12
Listen to one of the many utterances in the on the liberating, all-conquering divine power of spiritual knowledge:
"the sacrifice through spiritual knowledge is superior to sacrifice made with material things; every action without exception is comprehended in spiritual knowledge. . . . Seek this wisdom by doing service, by strong search, by questions, and by humility; the wise who see the truth will communicate it unto you, and knowing which you shall never again fall into error. . . . By this knowledge you shall see all things and creatures whatsoever in yourself and then in me. Even if you were the greatest of all sinners, you shall be able to cross over all sins in the bark of spiritual knowledge. As the natural fire reduces fuel to ashes, so does the fire of knowledge reduce all actions to ashes. There is no purifier in this world to be compared to spiritual knowledge; and he who is perfected in devotion findeth spiritual knowledge springing up spontaneously in himself in the progress of time." -- Bhagavad-Gita
This persistent, untiring search is study, acquiring know-ledge, an eager search for truth, a deeper penetration into the science of life, of inner and outer nature, of its laws or working methods, in a word the age-old wisdom, theosophy.
If we believe that spiritual knowledge will voluntarily spring up from spiritual and intellectual laziness if only we devote ourselves occasionally to vague daydreaming, which indeed finds material in undigested or poorly understood teachings, then we deceive ourselves. Truly here, if anywhere, does it hold true: "The Kingdom of Heaven must be taken by storm." Step by step we must fight our way from one small accretion of land to the next on the field of knowledge. Doubt, fear, and discouragement must be rooted out like weeds, so that they may not stifle the delicate shoot of sprouting knowledge. Nor does this imply an uncritical reception of all that is offered us. The opposite is true. An uncritical attitude in study fosters uncertainty, undermines that firm confidence which is the consequence of independent, fundamental, and serious testing.
Knowledge is of two kinds, though they in their inmost part may be one. It is partly, as Plato says, a reawakening of what we have known in ages gone by, partly a reflex on our human consciousness of the relatively unlimited knowledge and wisdom which dwell in our higher self. Neither of these forms can be confused with a mere mentally collected supply of facts. These are valuable as building material, but real knowledge comes from within, and it is this which shall voluntarily sprout forth in that soul which in unceasing meditation seeks the highest being. Studies, if they are to lead to real knowledge, are therefore an offer laid on the altar before this highest, divine self. Then they will bear fruit and that fruit is spiritual knowledge. -- Torsten Karling
We cannot see like a hawk or track like a dog or hear like a hunted deer; but we can see a Rembrandt picture and feel the thrill of a Beethoven sonata or a great poem. And surely it is noteworthy that just here our sensitivity passes beyond the realm of mere observation into that of feeling; beyond the facts that you observe there is the sense of other things, not fully known, which have value and importance…. Are we not probably now in the presence and under the influence of unknown forces concerned with deeper, more remote values or beauties or loyalties, which are beyond the range of our exact knowledge and power of definition, but by no means beyond the reach of an undefined but strong and even passionate feeling: "This is what I value, this is what I love, this is what I must obey." -- Gilbert Murray
Theosophical Book Circle: On April 8th we will begin reading and discussing a new book, the Chinese classic by Lao Tzu, the Tao Teh Ching. The meetings will be held once a month, generally on Thursday (Wednesday, May 5th is an exception), from 7:30 to 8:45 pm, at Newport Way Library in Bellevue. All are welcome to attend!
Our topic this month is: "Knowledge and Mystery." We will be discussing such questions as: What can the human mind encompass? Is what we "know" an aid or a hindrance on our quest for understanding and wisdom? What are the relations among consciousness, mind, ego, intuition, emotion, and perception? What is our essential being? How shall we approach significant matters that will always remain unknowable? What is the relationship between the finite and the infinite, between manifested and unmanifested? How have mystics expressed experiences that transcend human language and the physical world? What did St. Paul mean in saying "we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery"? Come share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
As I understand the matter, our conscience, to which we all too infrequently pay heed, is that friendly, warm-hearted whispering from above, which we feel as showing us right and wrong, and it comes from the stored up ethical wisdom in our being. It is not in the disputatious brain-mind; it is in the heart. It is the highest part of the human ego, the treasury of ethical experience, the accumulated wisdom of past lives, garnered and treasured in our higher parts; and as far as it goes its voice is infallible and powerful. But it does not go far enough to make its voice in our soul an infallible guide, because we have not had past human lives throughout eternity and we are not infinite beings, humanly speaking.
One person's conscience is strong; another's is weaker. The one person may have learned to hearken more attentively to the inner monitor. Therefore its voice is familiar, strong, and steady. We love this voice, and one reason we do is because it is so personal to ourselves. It is the highest part of each one of us as a human being, whispering to us admonitions of right, and denying to us the ways of wrongdoing. It is the buddhi-manas or soul-mind, garnering experience of past ages of births and rebirths, the echo of past sufferings and heartaches from which we have gleaned wisdom and treasured it on the tablets of the self. That is the conscience.
But higher than conscience is intuition. Its voice is infallible because it is the whispering within us, as it were, of the truths of the cosmic spirit. It is a ray direct from the divine spirit in our hearts. Our conscience won't tell us the truth about a fact of nature, nor whisper into our minds guidance along the paths of scientific or religious or philosophical discovery, because it is the garnered ethical wisdom familiar to the soul of each one of us. But the intuition will tell us instantly, it has instant vision of truth. Its voice is neither familiar nor unfamiliar. It is utterly impersonal. It is neutral in this respect; and it is the voice of the atma-buddhi-manas or spirit-soul-mind within us, the monad as H. P. Blavatsky called it.
The conscience, then, is our own treasury of spiritual-ethical wisdom. It is infallible as far as it goes, as far as we can hear its voice; and we can hear it ever more by practice, by training, by hearkening to it, by just recognizing it and following it. But because it is only our own gathered treasury, it is not infinite, and therefore not in the true sense always infallible. But so far as concerns each one of us as individuals, when our conscience whispers to us, let us follow it, because it will whisper only when we are in danger, or when we are seeking to do aright. Whereas the voice of the intuition is the voice of the spirit within us, and it is infallible. It has no frontiers. It is, so to speak, a ray direct from the mahabuddhi or oversoul of the universe; and we can allow intuition to become ever stronger within us, enlightening our minds and opening our hearts, by not being afraid of having hunches or of following our conscience and our intuitions when they come to us. They are coming to us all the time.
Most people are ashamed to act intuitively. They don't want to make mistakes. Prudential, yes! But it is only prudence, and uncommendable, if it is merely because you don't want to begin to make a fool of yourself until you have learned more. The strong person is not afraid of making a fool of himself occasionally, because he knows that that very fact will stimulate him, awaken him, make him think; and after awhile he will not make a fool of himself. He will learn to trust his inner powers. That is the way to cultivate the intuition, by not being afraid of what is within you. Suppose you do make mistakes -- what of it? By practice in its exercise the mistakes will grow fewer and fewer.
Make a companion of your conscience. The man or woman who has not heard the voice of conscience whispering in his soul, who has never felt its presence, is not truly human. It is a light which lives within us always and which tells us what is right -- and to follow it; what is wrong -- and to abandon it. Stimulate your conscience, open your hearts and minds to it. Your lives will be beautified, strengthened, made happier than now they are, because you will be following the voice within which is the accumulated wisdom of the ages.
Furthermore, just in proportion as you learn to know your conscience which is your own self, the higher part, and trust it and follow it, the more will intuition brighten your lives, bringing you knowledge direct, knowledge infallible.