Ye shall know the truth,
And the truth shall make you free.
— St John
Ever since the distinction between experiment and experience in the 18th century, and their division into practical and inner knowledge or experience, respectively, the onset of a mass migration from subjectivity to objectivity can be traced. Notions about science, method, and truth — what have been retrospectively termed the scientific revolution — hardened to the organisation and methods of the Natural Sciences: primarily Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.2 In the ensuing exploration of matter, scientists became so absorbed in analysing endless forms and figures that their original aim, to find Truth, that absolute and undisputed reality, has been largely forgotten.
Truth is a non-negotiable and elusive secret.3 Robert Frost was sententiously brief when he shared the frustration of many thinkers:
We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the secret sits in the middle and knows.
The prevailing belief that the modern and the “objective” are far more useful and gainful domains of “knowledge” 5 than their long-forgotten archetypal fountain, degrades Man’s essence and potencies. It also deepens the chasm between the illusionary world we live in and the real world that sustains us. Could it be that the magnificent body of Higher Knowledge, that has been painstakingly assembled and verified by a procession of sages and seers since time immemorial, is Itself the key to Frost’s secret? And that Ageless Wisdom cannot be dismissed as old myths and unauthenticated beliefs of primitive societies without obscuring further the perception of its critics?
This is how BP Wadia, a philosopher of unsurpassed erudition and devotion to the Cause of Theosophy, describes the lop-sidedness and futility of Man’s attempts to explore the darkness of matter without the Lamp of Spirit:
Modern knowledge is not in a position to define, describe or expound the nature of that Law which is at once the Deity and the Universe — for the two are one. It is not in a position to do so because it deals mainly with one of the aspects, the material universe, and is therefore contacting the effect side of the Law. When it emphasises the research of Living Forms and Conscious Intelligences instead of forms of life and modes of motion it will touch the causal aspect of the Law which is Deity, universal, impersonal, ever-Becoming, rooted in Be-ness and the basis and playground for the birth and death of all Beings — atoms or gods or intelligences.
“There is nothing new under the Sun,” 2 “there is nothing new except what is forgotten.” 3 Whatever we can possibly need, or ever wanted, is within us. Referring to William Shakespeare, John Dryden notes that:
He was naturally learned; he needed not the spectacles of books to read nature; he looked inwards, and found her there.
HP Blavatsky was not impressed with the science of her time either:
. . . modern sciences and speculations are but the réchauffé dishes of antiquity; the dead bones (served with a sauce piquante of crass materialism, to disguise them) of the intellectual repasts of the gods. Ragon was right in saying in his Maçonnerie Occulte, that “Humanity only seems to progress in achieving one discovery after the other, whereas in truth it only finds that which it had lost . . . And now modern thinkers begin to rediscover them once more.”
Plato explains that intelligence (νοησις) is the soul’s perpetual desire for new experience:
. . . Tου νεου εσις, or the desire of that which is new: but that things are new, signifies that they perpetually subsist in becoming to be. Hence, that the soul desires things of this kind, is indicated by him who established this name νεοησις: for it was not as first called νοησις, but two ε ε ought to be substituted instead of η, so as to produce νεοεσις.
The intractable difficulty in acquiring the kind of knowledge that can bring meaning and purpose to life, lies in the mind’s “extraversion.” Conditioned to look outwards, it finds it hard to evaluate a torrential inflow of sensory information fairly and accurately and, therefore, is prone to mistake sensations for reality, foes for friends. Alas, the “Third Eye” is no more! Katha Upanishad admonishes the Supreme Lord for having “inflicted an injury upon the sense-organs in creating them with outgoing tendencies.” 1 Unlike Shakespeare, most of us have to rely on second-hand knowledge (HeadLearning or Eye Doctrine) until such a time as our higher faculties are sufficiently awakened as to permit access to the fountain of true knowledge within (Soul-Wisdom or Heart Doctrine). Then, we will realise that all that we ever sought has always been within us. Till then, “of our pleasant vices” the gods will continue making “instruments to plague us.”
A little learning is a dang’rous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
What is it then that misguides us so convincingly as to make us view our kith and kin as aliens? It is a misplaced centre and focus of being, an Iness set apart from the Oneness. It is the Me-ness of the mass that identifies and sympathises with Me and Mine. It is the
. . . the great dire heresy of separateness that weans thee from the rest.4 . . . the great snow that cuts off man from man, so that none may know whether it fares well or ill with his nearest neighbour.
It is SELFISHNESS that, perhaps unknowingly, inflicts untold pain and misery everywhere. Small wonder then that in their self-imposed exile from the solidarity of The One, the Many feel isolated and lonely. From a universal standpoint, they lost their bearings.
We all search and re-search, but only those who dare to look inwards can find Truth. Here lies the etymon of Esotericism and its unsuspected effectiveness in spiritual development. Even Selfishness is but Love misdirected. Said of Pompey by Cicero:
Good heavens! Was there ever anything so foolish as a man to be in love with himself without a rival to dispute his claims?
Maya, or the power of self-ideation, is what tricks us to think we are apart from each other and makes us believe that we are in-dividual and in- dependent entities. That is why maya is usually interpreted as illusion. But without its make-believe power, no sentient, objective existence could have been possible either. It seems that during unimaginably long periods of selfconscious reflection, the reflection itself overgrew unchecked, arrogated its Master’s identity, and started playing “god” on earth — petty ruler of its little world of shadows. This is the origin of Selfishness, “that feeling which seeks after the aggrandisement of one’s own egotistic personality to the exclusion of others.” 1 It is Selfishness and the itch for power that cut us off from our fellow human beings around us and One Spirit of Truth within. Such are the bitter fruits of in-dependence. Life can only be sustained by sacrifice and unquestioning co-operation of all kingdoms of life with Nature, while the sacrifice of higher realms of consciousness uplifts the lower and sanctions the communion of Love.
This world is all a fleeting show,
For man’s illusion given;
The smiles of joy, the tears of woe,
Deceitful shine, deceitful flow —
There’s nothing true but Heaven.
Ordinary men are nothing mightier than self-ideating bundles of pseudoinfinite duration. Krishna-Christos, who lives in the heart of every being, explains this great mystery to Arjuna:
Even though myself unborn, of changeless essence, and the lord of all existence, yet in presiding over nature — which is mine — I am born but through my own maya, the mystic power of self-ideation, the eternal thought in the eternal mind.
Our true self and self in all is the Inner Man, a Pilgrim-Son of “Unconscious Subjectivity.” The latter evolves by projecting aspects of Itself onto a screen made up by self-conscious minds, as a means of exploring ever loftier states of clear perception.
The breath of heaven, or rather the breath of life, called in the Bible Nephesh, is in every animal, in every animate speck as in every mineral atom. But none of these has, like man, the consciousness of the nature of that highest Being, as none has that divine harmony in its form which man possesses. It is, as Novalis said, and no one since has said it better, as repeated by Carlyle: “There is but one temple in the universe, and that is the Body of Man. Nothing is holier than that high form . . . We touch Heaven when we lay our hand on a human body!” . . . This sounds like a mere flourish of rhetoric [adds Carlyle], but it is not so. If well meditated, it will turn out to be a scientific fact; the expression . . . of the actual truth of the thing. We are the miracle of miracles — the great inscrutable Mystery of God.”
For the Occultist, there is no such a thing as the “inscrutable Mystery of God”:
Conceivable as the idea may seem to you, trained in the pernicious fallacy of the Christian — “the ways of the Lord are inscrutable” — it is utterly inconceivable for me. Must I repeat again that the best Adepts have searched the Universe during millenniums and found nowhere the slightest trace of such a Machiavellian schemer — but throughout, the same immutable, inexorable law. . . . It is not “the ways of the Lord” but rather those of some extremely intelligent men in everything but some particular hobby, that are to me incomprehensible.
During the course of Spirit’s long imprisonment in the murkiness and iniquity of Matter, the Pilgrim has lost his bearings and replaced High Life with low life, Impersonal Self with personal self, Absolute Truth (paramarthasatya) with relative truth (samvriti-satya).
“Paramarthasatya” is self-consciousness in Sanskrit, Svasamvedana, or the “self-analysing reflection” — from two words, parama (above everything) and artha (comprehension), satya meaning absolute true being, or esse. In Tibetan, Paramarthasatya is Dondampai-denpa. The opposite of this absolute reality, or actuality, is Samvriti satya — the relative truth only — “Samvriti” meaning “false conception” and being the origin of illusion, Maya; in Tibetan Kundzobchi-denpa, “illusioncreating appearance.”
As might be expected, the multitude is thinly attracted to such considerations, believing them to be “theoretical” and utterly irrelevant to everyday life. What’s in it for me? is on everyone’s mind and lips. So dazzling, powerful, and absorbing is the pull of maya, that there is neither the inclination nor the incentive for anyone to forego the allure of the senses for some rarefied state of being, whose existence is not even suspected. Such are the dire effects of maya. Its extraordinary power converts daydreams to simulated realities so persuasively, as to make us doubt the existence of the former and act “rationally” albeit foolishly. Under maya’s spell, the Self within is oppressed by a tyrant enthroned in a virtual playground of his own delusions. This tyrant, victim of his own failings and vices, is no one other than the personal mind or “personality,” says The Voice of the Silence. 4 All our woes and wickedness come from the whims of that deluded master, not from other lower natures who are our friends and companions in life, but whom we invariably hold responsible for our pains as well as our pleasures. Fascinated by the endless novelties and the glamour of sentient life, Man surveys his universe — ever adding “the endowments of the mind to the charms of [his] person.” 1 His mind is captivated by “the charm of novelty.
Overfed by the sweet delicacies of personal life, he accumulates gravitas. Kipling says that he is gathering “too much ego in his cosmos.” 3 His “little personality constitutes the whole universe” 4 says Blavatsky.
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