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An introduction to the "Body of Knowledge" known as Theosophy

Part 123 - Let Us Asume

THEOSOPHY, Vol. 27, No. 8, June, 1939
(Pages 356-358; Size: 9K)

MANY are the unsolved problems of science as well as of religion. While one deals chiefly with the physical and the other with the metaphysical facts of experience and observation, both use the mind as well as the senses, so that the materialist is perforce a psychologist, the spiritualist perforce a materialist.

The materialistic assumption to account for things as they are and the process by which they have reached their present status is called Evolution. The religious assumption for the same phenomena is given the name of Creation. The reasoning power of both is thenceforth employed in the endeavor to unify the facts perceived with the initial assumption. Whoever observes either effort to co-ordinate mind and sense, the physical and the psychical, without himself entering into the arena, cannot fail to perceive that each will reach a foregone conclusion. Whichever the result thus determined, all history shows that in time further facts, originally unknown or unheeded, upset the assumptions and calculations of both. Indeed, one has but to inspect a little more closely to note that the present-day materialism is the outcome or result of medieval religion; to note that present-day science shows many indications of returning (or reverting) to the religious assumption. The great lukewarm mass in its turn can always be observed to assume that its authorities, priestly or practical, are "right."

What is implicit in any and all assumptions, however named, might and should be considered by everyone, because what is implied is far more important than what is expressed. Every attempt to solve any problem implies (a) certain universally verified or verifiable facts; (b) gaps or "missing links" between the facts; (c) that it is possible to bridge these gaps so that the unbroken series of the facts shall be universally verifiable.

Where there is actual knowledge assumption is impossible -- precisely as where there is light, darkness is impossible. Everyone recognizes that human knowledge is incomplete, so that all thinking requires assumption as well as facts and the knowledge of them. No physical fact has ever yet been found to be in contradiction to any other, but what has been learned is that our senses often give errant and contradictory reports. Reports to whom or what? To the Perceiver via the Mind, while each man's daily experience shows him that he is as often and surely as seriously deceived by his mind as by his senses. Yet no actual knowledge has ever yet been found to be in contradiction to any other mental fact. The physical contradictions, then, cannot lie in what is perceived, but in errant sense-vision. So metaphysical contradictions must inhere in errant and defective mind-vision.

These limitations are serious enough as handicaps to the pursuit of facts in either the mind-world or in that of the senses. But their limitations become almost insuperable when efforts are made to reconcile the two worlds of human existence and experience -- that is, to unite the facts of both into one body of knowledge. Hence, men are forced to resort to assumptions, and are for the most part content to pursue this method without ever inquiring into the occasion for this necessity. Everyone is aware that action based on sense-perceptions alone leads to anomalous results. But although the senses are in themselves unrelated, so far as we know, everyone is aware that the normal man possesses, in common with the animals, at least five distinct senses. So he checks the evidence of each against the others, and thus obtains more or less accurately unified sense-impressions. These constitute the facts of the physical world, so far as man is concerned. But no one possesses the same accurate knowledge of his mind that he does of his senses. Why not?

Speaking analogically, it would seem clear that thought, will, feeling, memory and imagination, the five mental faculties, correspond with the five physical senses. Just as we get the mental impressions called sensation from the five physical senses, so do we derive from the mental senses those psychical impressions that constitute our ideas, our notions, our convictions, on this or that subject. Sense-impressions convince us of the reality of the objective world. Psychic impressions convince us of the reality of the subjective universe. But whence and what are those impressions which urge us ceaselessly to the assumption that the two worlds are not fundamentally antagonistic but correlative, and so can be reconciled and unified into a common body of truth? What is the urge which drives science to the assumption that matter and force are one? What the urge that drives religion toward the assumption that God and Man, good and evil, life and death, may all be reconciled in terms of unity?

No one can doubt that the reports of the senses are disorderly as well as inaccurate. Who but will admit that his ideas are inaccurate, his mind disorderly? Is it not a proper assumption that the inaccuracy inheres in the disorderliness? That we would do well to study the nature of the senses and the mind instead of devoting all our attention to the two sets of impressions we receive from them?

In any case, how could anyone ever derive the conviction, whether of the reign of Law or the will of God, from either set of impressions? Whence, then, comes the certainty we have of either Law or God? Whence what we call fact, knowledge, Truth? Yet every man has these convictions and their correlatives -- that there is purposiveness, cause and effect, continuity, in all the operations of Nature; in short, that there must of necessity be a rational and moral explanation of existence which will include, correlate, reduce to "law and order," unify, the most irrational and immoral actions and conduct.

Why not, then, assume that the human heart has not yet fully uttered itself, and that we have too long taken it for granted that we understand the extent of its powers -- that we know ourselves already? Why not assume that we should be developing new sensibilities and a closer relation with nature, thus enabling us to descry facts and truths beyond our present ken? Why not assume that the Buddha, the Christ, the Sage, the Philosopher, the man of genius, the great discoverers in every field of physical and psychic nature, the hero, the martyr, the philanthropist, have all been men who assumed that there is more in Nature and in Man than other men could even imagine? Why not assume that they knew what they were talking about, and set about profiting by their instruction?

Why not assume that the Great of all time were not so foolish as to spend their lives in the endeavor to teach what it is impossible for us to learn? Why not assume that what we now are, They once were, and that what They now are, we may become, by traveling the route They taught and exemplified? Why not assume that what now seems to us merely Their assumption, can be substantiated, verified, realized by man to be in fact the Way, the Truth, and the Life?

 

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:

POWER OF IMAGINATION

The idea or the faculty of imagination is both rudder and bridle to the senses, inasmuch as the thing imagined moves the sense. Pre-imagining is the imagining of things that are to be. Post-imagining is the imagining of things that are past.

--LEONARDO DA VINCI.

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