Setting the Stage
An introduction to the "Body of Knowledge" known as Theosophy
Part 90 - Seeds And Seedlings 2
THEOSOPHY, Vol. 44, No. 12, October, 1956
(Pages 563-566; Size: 11K)
(Number 2 of a 7-part series)
[The short articles comprising this series are derivations from characteristic platform talks given during the years 1915-35. As often as was practicable, the words of the speaker have been used -- hoping thus to convey some of the force originally imparted to the ideas.]
ONE of two views of life govern all of us, more or less unconsciously to ourselves. One of these is the religious view; the other is what we may call the materialistic, or scientific. Most people either do not consider these two contrasting terms at all, or, if they do, make no real effort to find out what portion of our nature they relate to. Both are to some extent right; both, in some respects, wrong. The trouble lies in mistaking a part for the whole, in confusing partial truth with the whole truth. Over and over again, we have had a direct perception of pure truth; and so powerful is the nature of straight or direct perception that it instantly affects us so deeply that we mistake our glimpse of the eternal verities for a full and rounded view.
The scientist knows that man is no special creation. He knows that nothing in nature is a special creation; that whatever exists in nature has come about under law, as the sequence of a long-continued concatenation of causes and effects. So that anything that now is, stands at the summit of a long and silent evolution which preceded it. Scientists know that; we know that. There is no possibility of a man's failing to gain that absolute knowledge -- that whatever we cognize is preceded by an everlasting procession of sowing and reaping, by repeated cycles of creation, preservation, and destruction, by recreation and redestruction, until finally whatever we have represents the capstone of a structure, whether finished or unfinished.
Yet just as the scientist may be said to have a knowledge that the religionist has not, so the religious man has a knowledge that the scientist has not. The religionist has jumped a gap, but does not know how he jumped it. The religionist knows that behind everything that is, whether its birth or its life or its death, its good or evil experiences, there is Intelligence of some kind. Yet, not knowing what that Intelligence is, nor seeing any relation between his own limited area of perception and the Intelligence which he sees behind all things, the religionist tries to formulate that unknown Intelligence in terms of his known intelligence. He tries to describe the flawless power behind all the operations of nature, however imperfect those operations may be, by formulating the nature of that perfection in terms of his own imperfections.
What is the matter with science? A missing link. What is the matter with religion? A missing link. That is all. It is just here that the Theosophist steps in to provide the missing link. For in a very practical sense (although we may not like the word), Theosophy and the men who speak of Theosophical teachings are scavengers, or gleaners. As scavengers, they clean up what religionists and scientists have tossed away as trash; as gleaners, they sort out the worth-while bits, and with them build a "bridge" between religion and science.
All of us have a religious side to our nature, whether we are Christians or non-Christians, scientists or materialists. We have found that both good and evil experiences are encountered by every man, and these good and evil experiences are not to be classified in terms of matter. Whatever they are, they are immaterial. Nor are they to be classified in terms of forces; nor in terms of correlations of forces and forms. They are to be classified in terms of consciousness. You can take a stone, pick it up and pitch it across the room, or throw it out of a high window, or toss it in the fire, or bury it in the ground, or drop it to the bottom of the sea -- it doesn't bother the stone one bit. But pick one of us up and pitch him across the room (same act), or throw him out of the window (same act), drop him to the bottom of the sea (same act), or put him in the fire (same act), and the man will suffer, as we say, "the tortures of the damned." Yet all this happened in the same space, with the same kind of matter, with the same forces, and in the same correlation. The difference is not in any of these things; the difference is in consciousness. All this indicates that the scientist's missing link is the nonrecognition of consciousness as one of the incessantly present factors in all things. The religionist intuitively recognizes the presence of consciousness. It is the conviction, or recognition, of something in him besides matter and force and their correlations -- the perception which he calls "good and evil" -- that makes a man religious by nature. Being religious by nature, he takes that form of religion into which he is born, as he takes the physical form into which he is born.
Once a man sees that religion is one of the keys to nature and to man, no matter what religion it is, and that science has the key to one of the departments of nature and of man, and that the religious key fits one part of our nature, but won't work in the other, and that by using both keys he is still confronted with mystery, he is confused. There remains a mystery that is yet to be clarified.
Scientists do not understand that both force and matter are intelligence. True, it is not the same kind of intelligence as ours, but in its own way it vastly surpasses our intelligence. When our scientists recognize that what they call "forces" are intelligent beings, so fine, so different in their nature and character that their mere contact with matter moves matter, and that these beings can be appealed to in their intelligence, science will have become religious. And when our religionists, in the course of time, begin to realize that Christ had no patent on divinity, that any man may know what Christ knew, that any man may enjoy the communion with the Father that Christ enjoyed, that any man may express the compassion that Christ expressed -- in short, that the same source of strength and knowledge that Christ drew from is in each man -- when that happens, religion will have become scientific.
The scientist disregards one important thing: responsibility to man and nature. There is no sense of responsibility in science, nor ever has been. We are here reminded of the story of the Scotch Laird who, when he was dying called his son to him and said: "My son, get money. Get it honestly if you can, but get money." So it is with the whole attitude of modern science: get knowledge; get it honestly if you can, but get knowledge. But of what avail? All these forces that science has learned to handle are used for evil more frequently than they are for good! That is due to the irresponsibility of modern science.
The religionist, on the other hand, although he has grasped the idea that there is an Intelligence beyond ours, cannot get away from the idea that such knowledge as is superior to ours, is another existence. So although he teaches man's responsibility, he does so in precisely the same terms as a slave-owner teaches it to his slaves. To a religious mind, responsibility means "obedience to the Will of God."
It is here that the Theosophist, the scavenger, again steps in. You threw away, he says, the fact that every being is -- not "was" nor "will be," but is -- eternally the One Element. You failed to notice, and therefore tossed away the fact, that whether we speak of matter or force, or mind or soul or spirit, we are speaking all the time of one and the same element in one of two conditions; a condition of knowledge or a condition of ignorance. The trouble with man is that he accepts ignorance. The trouble with man is that he does not see the identity between the creative power in him and the creative power that he names God; that he does not see the identity of the perceiving power in himself with that all-seeing Eye he calls God; that he does not perceive that the intelligence within him is identical with the Supreme Spirit or Supreme Intelligence.
When a man sees, not God as one thing and himself as another, but each as One Element, One Self, One Spirit, then the man begins to strive for knowledge. As he attains knowledge, that in him which is heterogeneous becomes homogeneous; that in him which is at war with the rest of nature becomes at peace with the rest of nature. And when that occurs, even though the man becomes no different in external appearance, "he" has changed beyond recognition: wisdom has replaced ignorance, purity has replaced impurity, selflessness has replaced selfishness. That man has evolved through faith (Religion) and law (Science) and knowledge (Theosophy) until he has "created" the Man of Spirit within the man of matter. Thus have creation, evolution, destruction, and recreation come full circle.