Part 3 THE SYNTHESIS OF OCCULT SCIENCE
Jan 10, 2006 04:42 AM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
January 10, 2006
Re: Part 3 THE SYNTHESIS OF OCCULT SCIENCE
Here is part 3 of this valuable article.
Part 3 THE SYNTHESIS OF OCCULT SCIENCE
It has often been thought a strange thing that there are no dogmas and no
creed in Theosophy or Occultism.
Is theosophy a religion? is often asked. No, it is religion. Is it a
philosophy? No, it is philosophy. Is it a science? No, it is science. If a
consensus of religion, philosophy, and science is possible, and if it has
ever been reached in human thought, that thought must long since have passed
the boundaries of all creeds and ceased to dogmatize.
Hence comes the difficulty in Answering Questions. No proposition stands
apart or can be taken separately without limiting and often distorting its
meaning. Every proposition has to be considered and held as subservient to
the synthetic whole.
Really intelligent people, capable of correct reasoning, often lack
sufficient interest to endeavor to apprehend the universality of these
principles. They expect, where they have any interest at all in the subject,
to be told "all about it" in an hours conversation, or to learn it from a
column in some newspaper; all about man, all about Nature, all about Deity;
and then either to reject it or to make it a part of their previous creed.
These are really no wiser than the penny-a-liner who catches some point and
turns it into ridicule, or makes it a butt for coarse jest or silly sarcasm,
and then complacently imagines that he has demolished the whole structure!
If such persons were for one moment placed face to face with their own
folly, they would be amazed.
The most profound thinker and the most correct reasoner might well afford to
devote a life-time to the apprehension of the philosophy of occultism, and
other life-times to mastering the scientific details, while at the same time
his ethics and his religious life are made consistent with the principle of
altruism and the Brotherhood of man. If this be regarded as too hard a task,
it is, nevertheless, the line of the higher evolution of man, and, soon or
late, every soul must follow it, retrograde, or cease to be.
Man is but a link in an endless chain of being; a sequence of a past
eternity of causes and processes; a potentiality born into time, but
spanning two eternities, his past and his future, and in his consciousness
these are all one, Duration, the ever-present.
In a former article man was shown to be a series of almost innumerable
"Lives," and these lives, these living entities called "cells," were shown
to be associated together on the principle of hierarchies, grouped according
to rank and order, service and development, and this was shown to be the
"physical synthesis" of man, and the organic synthesis as well.
Disease was also shown to be the organic nutritive, or physiological "sin of
separateness." Every department of man's being, every organ and cell of his
body, was also shown to possess a consciousness and an intelligence of its
own, held, however, subordinate to the whole. In health every action is
synchronous and rhythmical, however varied and expanded, however intense and
Enough is already known in modern physics to justify all these statements,
at least by analogy. The principle of electrical induction and vibration,
the quantitative and qualitative transmission of vibration and its exact
registration, and their application to telegraphy, the telephone, and the
phonograph, have upset all previous theories of physics and physiology. "A
metallic plate, for instance, can that talk like a human being? Yea or nay?
Mr. Bouillard--and he was no common man--said No; to accept such a fact were
to upset all our notions of physiology. So said Mr. Bouillard, right in the
face of Edison's phonograph in full Academy, and he throttled the luckless
interpreter of the famous American inventor, accusing it of ventriloquism."
Occultism teaches that the Ego both precedes and survives the physical body.
The phenomena of man's life and the process of his thought can be
apprehended and explained on no other theory.
Modern physiology teaches in detail certain facts regarding the life of man.
It, moreover, groups these facts and deduces certain so-called principles
and laws, but such a thing as a synthesis of the whole man is seldom even
attempted. "Psychology" is mere empiricism, represented by disjointed facts,
and these, of course, but little understood, and more often misinterpreted.
Ask the modern physiologist if man can think when unconscious, and he will
answer No; and if asked if man can be conscious and not think, he will as
readily answer No. Both answers will be based on what is known, or supposed
to be known, of memory. The idea that the real man, the Ego, is always
conscious on some plane, and that it "thinks," as we ordinarily use the
term, only on the lower plane through the physical brain, in terms of
extension and duration, or space and time, is seldom in the least
apprehended by the modern physiologist.
If, however, one grasps the idea of the ego as the real man dwelling in the
physical body and using it as its instrument through which it is related to
space and time, perception, sensation, thought, and feeling, the gaps in
physiology and psychology begin to disappear. Here again it should be
particularly borne in mind that this doctrine of the ego must be considered
in the light of the complete synthesis of occultism, and just to the extent
that this is intelligently done will the significance of the ego appear.
The brief and concise outline of the philosophy of occultism given in the
Introduction to the Secret Doctrine is therefore very significant, and the
student who desires to apprehend that which follows in these two large
volumes ought to study this outline very carefully.
No subsequent proposition, no principle in the life of man, can be correctly
understood apart from it.
The subject-matter following is necessarily fragmentary, but the outline is
both inclusive and philosophical, and if one reasons logically and follows
the plainest analogies he can never go far astray.
The relation of mind to brain, of thought to consciousness, of life to
matter, and of man to Nature and to Deity, is there clearly defined; not,
indeed, in all its details, but in a philosophical modulus, to be worked out
in reason and in life.
The all-pervading Life, the cyclic or periodical movements, the periods of
action and of repose, and the intimate relations and inter-dependences of
all things apply to Cosmos, and equally to every atom in its vast embrace.
Students sometimes complain that they cannot understand, that the subject is
so vast, and so deep and intricate, and not made clear. It is because they
do not realize what they have undertaken.
Occultism can neither be taught nor learned in "a few easy lessons." The
"object lessons" sometimes given by H.P.B., almost always misunderstood and
misapplied, though often explained at the time, served as often to excite
vulgar curiosity and personal abuse as to arrest attention and study.
If, before the advent of the T.S. in the face of the creeds of Christendom,
the materialism of science, the indifferences and supercilious scorn of
Agnosticism, and the babel of spiritualism, it had been proposed to begin at
the foundations and reconstruct our entire knowledge of Nature and of man;
to show the unity and the foundations of the worlds religions; to eliminate
from science all its "missing links"; to make Agnosticism gnostic; and to
place the science of psychology and the nature and laws of mind and soul
over against "Mediumship"; it would have been held as an herculean task, and
declared impossible of accomplishment.
Now that the thing has virtually been accomplished and this body of
knowledge presented to the world, people think it strange that they cannot
compass it all, as the poet Burns is said to have written some of his
shorter poems, "while standing on one leg!"
Again, people complain at the unfamiliar terms and the strange words
imported from foreign languages. Yet if one were to undertake the study of
physics, chemistry, music, or medicine, quite as great obstacles have to be
overcome. Is it a strange thing, then, that the science that includes all
these, and undertakes to give a synthesis of the whole realm of Nature and
of life, should have its own nomenclature?
Beyond all these necessary and natural obstacles, there is another, viz.,
that contentious spirit that disputes and opposes every point before it is
fairly stated or understood.
Suppose one ignorant of mathematics were to proceed in the same manner and
say, "I don't like that proposition," "I don't see why they turn a six
upside down to make a nine," "Why don't two and two make five?", and so on,
how long would it take such a one to learn mathematics?
In the study of the Secret Doctrine it is not a matter of likes or dislikes,
of belief or unbelief, but solely a matter of intelligence and
understanding. He who acknowledges his ignorance and yet is unwilling to lay
aside his likes and dislikes, and even his creeds and dogmas, for the time,
in order to see what is presented in its own light and purely on its merits,
has neither need nor use for the Secret Doctrine.
Even where a greater number of propositions are accepted or "believed" and a
few are rejected, the synthetic whole is entirely lost sight of.
But, says some one, this is a plea for blind credulity, and an attempt to
bind the mind and the conscience of man to a blind acceptance of these
doctrines. No one but the ignorant or the dishonest can make such an
assertion in the face of the facts.
Listen to the following from p. xix, Introduction to the Secret Doctrine.
"It is above everything important to keep in mind that no theosophical book
acquires the least additional value from pretended authority." S D
If that be advocating blind credulity, let the enemies of the T.S. make the
most of it. If any authority pertains to the Secret Doctrine, it must be
sought inside, not outside. It must rest on its comprehensiveness, its
completeness, its continuity and reasonableness; in other words, on its
philosophical synthesis, a thing missed alike by the superficial and the
contentious, by the indolent, the superstitious, and the dogmatic.
"O wise man: you have asked rightly. Now listen carefully. The illusive
fancies arising from error are not conclusive.
The great and peaceful ones live regenerating the world like the coming of
spring, and after having themselves crossed the ocean of embodied existence,
help those who try to do the same thing, without personal motives." --Crest
Jewel of Wisdom [Shankaracharya]
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