For many a year men have been discussing arguing, enquiring about certain great basic truths – about the existence and the Nature of God, about His relation to man, and about the past and future of humanity. So radically have they differed on these points, and so bitterly have they assailed and ridiculed one another’s ...
For many a year men have been discussing arguing, enquiring about certain great basic truths – about the existence and the Nature of God, about His relation to man, and about the past and future of humanity. So radically have they differed on these points, and so bitterly have they assailed and ridiculed one another’s beliefs, that there has come to be a firmly-rooted popular opinion that with regard to all these matters there is no certainty available – nothing but vague speculation amid a cloud of unsound deductions drawn from ill-established premises. And this in spite of the very definite, though frequently incredible, assertions made on these subjects on behalf of the various religions.
This popular opinion, though not unnatural under the circumstances, is entirely untrue. There are definite facts available – plenty of them. Theosophy gives them to us; but it offers them not (as religions do) as matters of faith, but as subjects for study. It is itself not a religion, but it bears to religions the same relation as did the ancient philosophies. It does not contradict them, but explains them. Whatever in any of them is unreasonable, it rejects as necessarily unworthy of the Deity and derogatory to Him; whatever is reasonable in each and all of them it takes up, explains and emphasises, and thus combines all into one harmonious whole.
It holds that truth on all these most important points is attainable – that there is a great body of knowledge about them already existing. It considers all the various religions as statements of that truth from different points of view; since, though they differ much as to nomenclature and as to articles of belief, they all agree as to the only matter which are of real importance – the kind of life which a good man should lead, the qualities which he must develop, the vices which he must avoid. On these practical points the teaching is identical in Hinduism and Buddhism, in Zoroasterianism and Muhammadanism, in Judaism and Christianity.
Theosophy may be described to the outside world as an intelligent theory of the universe. Yet for those who have studied it, it is not theory, but fact; for it is a definite science, capable of being studied, and its teachings are verifiable by investigation and experiment for those who are willing to take the trouble to qualify themselves for such enquiry. It is a statement of the great facts of Nature so far as they are known – an outline of the scheme of our corner of the universe.
HOW IS IT KNOWN
How did this scheme become known, some may ask; by whom was it discovered? We cannot speak of it as discovered, for in truth it has always been known to mankind, though sometimes temporarily forgotten in certain parts of the world. There has always existed a certain body of highly developed men – men not of any one nation, but of all the advanced nations – who have held it in its fullness; and there has always been pupils of these men, who were specially studying it, while its broad principles have always been known in the outer world. This body of highly-developed men exists now, as in past ages, and Theosophical teaching is published to the Western world at their instigation, and through a few of their pupils.
Those who are ignorant have sometimes clamorously insisted that, if this be so, these truths ought to have been published long ago; and most unjustly they accuse the possessors of such knowledge of undue reticence in withholding them from the world at large. They forget that all who really sought these truths have always been able to find them, and that it is only now that we are in the Western world are truly beginning to seek.
For many centuries Europe was content to live, for the most part, in the grossest superstition; and when reaction at last set in from the absurdity and bigotry of those beliefs, it brought a period of atheism, which was just as conceited and bigoted in another direction. So that it is really only now that some of the humbler and more reasonable of our people are beginning to admit that they know nothing, and to enquire whether there is not real information available somewhere.