The School of Antiquity: Its Meaning, Purpose, and Scope

By J. H. Fussell
[Condensed from an address delivered at the Isis Theater, San Diego, California, on November 22, 1916, and published in 1917 as one of the School of Antiquity Papers. Joseph H. Fussell (1863-1942) was private secretary to William Q. Judge from 1892-96, General Secretary of the Theosophical Society and private secretary to Katherine Tingley form 1900-29, and General Chairman of the TS Cabinet under KT and G. de Purucker. Educated in mathematics and physics at University College, Nottingham, England, he was a 32 degree Freemason.]

WHAT DO WE MEAN by true education? The word comes from the Latin meaning "to lead forth," and we find the following definitions in Webster's Dictionary:

Educate: to bring up or guide the powers of, as a child; to develop and cultivate, whether physically, mentally or morally, but more commonly limited to the mental activities or senses.
Education: properly a drawing forth, implies not so much the communication of knowledge as the discipline of the intellect, the establishment of the principles, and the regulation of the heart.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines educe as to "bring out, develop, from latent or potential existence," while Herbert Spencer has said: "To prepare us for complete living is the function which education has to discharge."

It is one thing to define, but quite another to understand. We have only to look at conditions in the world today to realize how far they belie the supposition that we are an educated people, in the best sense. True, there is the communication of -- shall we say knowledge, or is it not rather mere information? There is some discipline of the intellect, but is it right discipline? As for "the establishment of the principles, and the regulation of the heart," how much evidence is there of these in modern life? And where shall we look for examples of "complete living," for which it is the function of education to prepare us? Indeed, by what criterion shall we judge the completeness of a life? And what is it that is latent or potential within human nature that it is the province of education to bring out?

What, in a word, is man, both potential and actual? Answer that, and the whole problem of education becomes clear; fail to answer it rightly, and education will continue as it is today, a blind groping, an experimentation.

There have been many attempts to define and explain man; but one dominant dogma has seized hold upon the human mind of the present age and insidiously affected every department of its activity. This assertion is that man is an animal and an evolution from the animal. Being so generally and "scientifically" taught, it is inevitable that the mass of people should hold the same general view and that it should color their whole life.

But there have been and are those who also have something of the mystic or poet in their nature, who have glimpsed the light as it streams from the radiant garments of truth. One such was Carlyle when he said that man is

A soul, a Spirit. Round his mysterious Me, there lies, under all those wool-rags, a Garment of Flesh (or of Senses), contextured in the Loom of Heaven; . . . Deep-hidden is he under that strange Garment; amid Sounds and Colors and Forms, as it were, swathed in, and inextricably overshrouded; yet it is skywoven, and worthy of a God. Stands he not thereby in the center of immensities, in the conflux of Eternities? . . . where else is the God's-Presence manifested, not to our eyes only, but to our hearts, as in our fellow-man?

Is not education, then, the leading forth of the godlike qualities latent in every person, in every child? Is it not to bid the hidden god come forth? This is the theosophical idea of education, which is also that of the School of Antiquity. In the words of Katherine Tingley, the Foundress and Directress of the School of Antiquity, with reference to the Raja-Yoga system of education:

The truest and fairest thing of all, as regards education, is to attract the mind of the pupil to the fact that the immortal self is ever seeking to bring the whole being into a state of perfection. The real secret of the Raja-Yoga system is rather to evolve the child's character than to overtax the child's mind; it is to bring out rather than to bring to, the faculties of the child. The grander part is from within.
The basis of the Raja-Yoga education is the essential divinity of man, and the necessity for transmuting everything within his nature which is not divine. To do this no part can be neglected, and the physical nature must share to the full in the care and attention which are required. Neither can the most assiduous training of the intellect be passed over, but it must be made subservient to the forces of the heart. The intellect must be the servant and not the master, if order and equilibrium are to be attained and maintained. In such a system as this it is necessary that the teachers shall not only understand the principles of Theosophy, but that they shall apply those principles to their own lives.
True education is the power to live in harmony with our environment, the power to draw out from the recesses of our own nature all the potentialities of character. The Raja-Yoga system of education at Point Loma is therefore not confined to the receipt of information at certain stated hours of the day, and in a specified manner. It consists in the regulation of the whole life upon the highest ideal which must alike govern the most hidden thought as effectually as it does the mutual relationship of the students.

Every great institution is the expression of a group of ideas and is established for the fulfillment of some purpose, whether or not these be clearly defined and whatever be their real intrinsic value. This is certainly true of the School of Antiquity. It was founded in New York in 1897; it is incorporated under the laws of the State of West Virginia; and its home and center of activities, teachings, and researches are at Point Loma, California, where is also situated the International Theosophical Headquarters. [The International Headquarters has been located near Pasadena, California, since 1951. -- ED.] It is international in spirit and in fact; it is unsectarian, neither putting forward nor upholding any creeds or dogmas, nor being in any way concerned with politics. Its search is for truth; its beacon the clear light of truth. Its officers, professors, and teachers are all unsalaried and receive no financial recompense. They work only for the love of the work and for the joy of service.

The idea on which this school is founded is in part expressed in its title, The School of Antiquity: briefly, it is that humanity is heir to the wisdom of the ages, which is no mere rhetorical phrase, but voices the fact that there has existed down through the ages a primeval teaching, a body of doctrines, which are the basis of all the great world religions; that this body of teaching has been known by various names in the past, such as the wisdom-religion, and is today known as theosophy. Further, it is not religion or philosophy or science alone, but it embraces and is the synthesis of all three. Helena P. Blavatsky, in The Key to Theosophy (pp. 4, 7), declares:

The "Wisdom-religion" was one in antiquity; and the sameness of primitive religious philosophy is proven to us by the identical doctrines taught to the Initiates during the Mysteries, an institution once universally diffused. . . .
The WISDOM-RELIGION was ever one, and being the last word of possible human knowledge, was, therefore, carefully preserved.

However great may appear to be the scientific achievements of today along material and mechanical lines, yet even in regard to these the most learned of modern scholars still stand upon the threshold of knowledge; while with still greater force does this apply to our knowledge of man, his nature and powers, potential and actual, his relation to the universe, his origin, evolution, and destiny. A little over a century ago the vast treasure-house of Oriental literature was made accessible to the Occidental world. The influence of this literature on modern philosophy is freely acknowledged, but as yet little attention has been directed to its scientific side. Indeed it was not until Madame Blavatsky published her monumental works, Isis Unveiled in 1877 and The Secret Doctrine in 1888, that attention was definitely called to the fact that the ancients had advanced as far in scientific research as they had in philosophy and metaphysics. Modern science is but touching the fringe of the knowledge possessed by the sages of antiquity.

"Among many ideas brought forward through the theosophical movement," says William Q. Judge, "there are three which should never be lost sight of"; and they express better than any words of mine the philosophic aspect of the idea which is the very foundation of the School of Antiquity:

The first idea is, that there is a great Cause -- in the sense of an enterprise -- called the Cause of Sublime Perfection and Human Brotherhood. This rests upon the essential unity of the whole human family, and is a possibility because sublimity in perfectness and actual realization of brotherhood on every plane of being are one and the same thing. . . .
The second idea is, that man is a being who may be raised up to perfection, to the stature of the Godhead, because he himself is God incarnate. This noble doctrine was in the mind of Jesus, no doubt, when he said that we must be perfect even as is the father in heaven. This is the idea of human perfectibility. . . .
The third idea is the illustration, the proof, the high result of the others. It is, that the Masters [the great helpers of humanity] -- those who have reached up to what perfection this period of evolution and this solar system will allow -- are living, veritable facts, and not abstractions cold and distant. They are . . . living men . . . [who] as living facts and high ideals will fill the soul with hope, will themselves help all who wish to raise the human race. -- Irish Theosophist (3:5), February 15, 1895, p. 75

Another point is that true education does not consist merely, or mainly, in the training of the intellect or in the acquirement of knowledge, as these words are generally used. Katherine Tingley holds that "intellect" and "knowledge" have a far deeper significance than is given to them today; and that the right training of the one and the acquisition of the other (in this deeper sense) depend not alone on book study and laboratory investigation, though these have their place, but also and essentially upon right conduct, purity of life, self-control, and the following of high ideals. The designation Raja-Yoga was selected by her as best expressing the purpose of true education (the Raja-Yoga College being a department of the School of Antiquity for the education of the youth of both sexes), the etymological meaning of the term being "royal union" -- "true education consists in the harmonious development and balancing of all the faculties."

Raja-Yoga Academy, International Theosophical Headquarters, Point Loma

The purpose of the School of Antiquity naturally follows and is in harmony with the idea we have briefly outlined. In its Charter its purpose is given by Katherine Tingley as:

to revive a knowledge of the sacred Mysteries of Antiquity, by promoting the physical, mental, moral and spiritual education and welfare of the people of all countries, irrespective of creed, sex, caste or color; by instructing them in an understanding of the laws of universal nature and justice, and particularly the laws governing their own being: thus teaching them the wisdom of mutual helpfulness, such being the Science of Raja-Yoga.
The School of Antiquity shall be an Institution where the true "Raja-Yoga," the laws of universal nature and equity governing the physical, mental, moral and spiritual education will be taught on the broadest lines. Through this teaching the material and intellectual life of the age will be spiritualized and raised to its true dignity; thought will be liberated from the slavery of the senses; the waning energy in every heart will be reanimated in the search for truth and the fast dying hope in the promise of life will be renewed to all peoples.

At the ceremony of the laying of the cornerstone at Point Loma, California, February 23, 1897, of the building which shall stand as the home of the School of Antiquity, Katherine Tingley said:

Through this school and its branches, the children of the race will be taught the laws of spiritual life, and the laws of physical, moral and mental development. They will learn to live in harmony with nature. They will become compassionate lovers of all that breathes. They will grow strong in an understanding of themselves, and as they attain strength they will learn to use it for the good of the whole world.

Laying the Cornerstone, Point Loma, February 23, 1897

According to these quotations there is something more in life than the gratification of personal desires or the accentuation of the personality; something more in education than the storing of the mind with information and facts, or the acquirement of intellectual treasures; something more than even study of the highest philosophy or the contemplation of the loftiest ideals. They call for an awakening of the noblest energies of the human soul and spirit, and the employment of all the powers of mind and heart and body in the service of the human race. They arise out of and imply universal brotherhood as a supreme fact in nature. They demand right living, not merely right thinking. They are in accord with that superb declaration of Carlyle: "The end of man is an action and not a thought, though it were the noblest."

Linking the purpose of the School more directly with its meaning, we may say that it is to put that idea into effect. It is to recover the lost knowledge of antiquity and to apply it to the needs of the present. It is to link up the present with the past, and from the lessons so learned, to apply our knowledge and our highest endeavors that the future -- which inevitably grows out of both past and present -- shall be an era of enlightenment and happiness, not merely for a chosen few, but for all humanity.

The purpose of the School of Antiquity is to link up all the sciences with philosophy and religion -- using these terms in their broadest meaning; to show their relation to life and conduct; to demonstrate that for the acquirement of true knowledge (not mere information or theory, deduced too often by faulty reasoning and from incomplete data) an "eager intellect" is not the only prerequisite, but first, a "clean life" and a "pure heart," unselfishness and pure motive; and that only he whose life is clean and whose heart is pure can gain entrance to the portals of divine wisdom. To show furthermore that what are usually regarded as merely ethical, spiritual, or religious injunctions, such as "Live the life if you would know the doctrine," "Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all these things shall be added unto you," are scientific statements of fact.

As to the scope of work of the School of Antiquity, it includes science, philosophy, religion (in its true meaning), and the arts; in fact, all departments of knowledge and achievement with special reference to their bearing on human life and development, and also with particular regard to the teachings and achievements of the ancients. Special attention is therefore paid to archaeological research and a study of ancient records, monuments, traditions, and myths. Of the arts, particular mention should be made of music and drama, though all the fine arts and handicrafts have an important place in the curriculum of the School, for the reason, to quote Herbert Spencer again, that its aim is to prepare "for complete living." To this end all faculties must be developed, not alone of mind, but of soul and body. Hence, hand and eye, ear, and voice must be cultivated. Only so can the character be completely rounded out, only so can life in all its fullness and richness be made possible. And particularly are music and drama, if rightly studied, factors in the development of soul qualities, in character building, and in the gaining of self-control.

"The Eumenides" Finale, Katherine Tingley's production, Greek Theater, Point Loma, 1922

Included also in the work of the School of Antiquity, as an aid to the fulfillment of its purpose -- the enlightenment of the human race -- mention should be made of the vast output of literature. In addition to the publishing and distribution of the standard theosophical books in English, French, German, Swedish, Dutch, Spanish, and Japanese, special mention should be made of its periodicals: The Theosophical Path; the Raja-Yoga Messenger (a magazine for young folk, conducted by students of the Raja-Yoga College and Academy); and The New Way, "For Prisoners and Others, Whether behind the Bars or Not," established by Katherine Tingley especially to bring a new hope and courage into the lives of the discouraged and unfortunate. [Link to article on The New Way.]

The scope of the School of Antiquity is measured only by human knowledge and experience, by the life of the whole of humanity, not merely of the present or immediate past, but of all the past. Its study is the study of both man and the universe, their evolution and destiny.

It is of special interest to note the relationship which the School of Antiquity bears to the original Theosophical Society, founded by Helena P. Blavatsky in New York in 1875. The Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society, which is the name by which the original Theosophical Society is now known -- after its reorganization under Katherine Tingley in 1898 -- is open to all who accept its principal object, which is "to demonstrate that Universal Brotherhood is a fact in Nature, and to make it a living power in the life of Humanity." This Society and Organization was "ordained and established for the benefit of the people of the earth and all creatures." It is "part of a great and universal movement which has been active in all ages"; it demands merely the acceptance of the principle of Brotherhood and the sincere endeavor to make it the rule and guide of life, and as far as possible to study and apply the principles of theosophy to daily life and conduct.

What the world needs today is a demonstration that life does not call for competition, nor is it in truth a struggle for existence; it needs a demonstration of the practicability of men and women living in harmony, without strife or personal jealousy, but united in the joy of service for humanity; it needs a demonstration of the larger life of the soul, and the practical realization that there is Divinity at the heart of every human being. And this need could be fulfilled and made only by the establishment of a school.

In 1894 William Q. Judge made known to several of his students that H. P. Blavatsky had foretold to him that following her own work would be "the establishment in the West of a great seat of learning, where shall be taught and explained and demonstrated the great theories of man and nature," those great theories or teachings, in fact, which it had been Madame Blavatsky's work and mission to make known again to the world. There is a special interest in this statement for the reason that Katherine Tingley, when a child of only eight years, had told her grandfather that some day when she grew up she would build a beautiful city in "Gold-land," where should come to live people and children from all over the world.

What is the real meaning of a school? It comes from the Greek schole, meaning primarily "leisure," later meaning "philosophy," and then applied to designate a "lecture place" or place of instruction. But consider its primary meaning, leisure. The true meaning of leisure is not doing nothing, idleness, having no occupation; its root meaning is that of the Latin word licere, hence "permission," "opportunity." This is the true meaning of the word school: it is a place of opportunity, and it is in this sense that the establishment of the School of Antiquity is of such vast importance to the world. It is not only a place of opportunity for the demonstration of true living, or for the gaining of true knowledge, but for the training of those who in time shall, as they become fitted for the high calling, go out to teach and help in their turn. The students of the School of Antiquity are not only those who, residing at the International Theosophical Headquarters, Point Loma, have been privileged to have this opportunity, but there are many in other parts of the world who participate directly in its benefits; for its activities are worldwide.

To sum up, all knowledge is a sacred trust which has been handed down from time immemorial from one great teacher to another, as well as preserved in ancient writings, at one time lost to the world, at another time made known. And the time has now come when, in accordance with cyclic law, the opportunity can be again presented to all seekers after truth and to all lovers of humanity to enter the portals of the Temple of Wisdom. To all such the invitation is given: "Ask and it shall be given unto you: Seek and ye shall find: Knock and it shall be opened unto you."

  • (From Sunrise magazine, April/May 1998. Copyright © 1998 by Theosophical University Press.)

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