The Builders of a Cosmos
Hierarchy of our World
I want to put before you, if I can in these three lectures, a certain view of the world, and of the way in which that world is guided and directed. As this meeting is a public meeting, there is one statement I think that I ought to make, which it would not be necessary to make, if it were composed of members of the Theosophical Society. It is important to remember that in the Theosophical Society we have no authority on matters of opinion. Every member is free to work out his own theory of life, to choose his own line of thought, and no one has the smallest right to dictate to any member what he should choose or what he should think. In the Theosophical Society there is only one condition which binds a member, namely, the recognition of Universal Brotherhood. Outside that every member is absolutely free. He may belong to any religion, or he may belong to no religion at all. If he belongs to a religion, he is never asked to leave it, to change it, but only to try to live up to its — teachings of spiritual life, recognising the unity of all, to live in harmony with people of his own faith and people of other faiths. When we speak of Theosophy, we may take the word in one of two senses. The first, what it should be to the individual. In that sense there is no difference between Theosophy and the ancient Brahmavidya of India, the Para Vidya, and the Gnosis of the Greek — no difference at all. It is the recognition that man can realise God. It is called, in the Upanishad “the knowledge of Him by whom all things are known”. It is a difficulty rather of our language that we speak in that sense of “knowledge”, because knowledge implies a duality, or indeed a triplicity — the Knower, the Known, and the Relation between them — whereas when the Spirit of man, who comes forth from Ishvara, realises his own nature, it is no longer a case of thinking or of knowing. It is a case of realising that identity. You know it is written again in the Upanishad: “He who says ‘I know’, he knows not,” because the very word knowledge is an error in this realisation. In that, we do not say, “I know”; we say, “I am”. This gives the primary meaning of the word “Theosophy”. Then it is also used in a secondary sense: a certain body of teachings. No one of these particular teachings is binding on any member. The whole of these teachings together are the teachings the Society is formed to put forward in the world, but it does not make them binding on its members. That policy — rests on a very sure foundation. The foundation is that no man can really believe a truth, until he has grown to the extent which enables him to see it as truth for himself. A teaching is not really a part of your spiritual life; it comes within the mental life, into that part of your nature which is said to be knowledge, the intellect; and that is able to see that which is akin to itself. The truth in you recognises the truth outside you, when once the inner vision is open. Hence, in the Society, the study of the great fundamental truths of all religions is one of its objects. Members are not asked whether they believe in them or not. They are left to study them, in the full conviction that just as when the eyes are open the man who is not blind sees by the light of the sun, he is not asked to believe in the light, so is truth in the mental world. As soon as the eyes of the inner nature, the eyes of the intellect, are open, it is not a question of argument, but a question of sight. You recognise the truth because the faculty of truth in your own nature shows that it exists. You see by it, as you see by the light of the sun. As long as a man is blind, the sun to him as light is nothing. When the eyes are opened then no argument is necessary as to the existence of the light by which he sees. Truth is regarded in that way, and hence the student is left to study until for himself he knows the truth of any doctrine. The teachings which are spread by the Society are those which you find in every great religion. If, for — instance, you take a book published by the Central Hindu College as a text-book for Hindu boys, and an Advanced Text-book for Hindu young men in the College, you will find in them certain truths. They are given in the Hindi form. If you take the Theosophical text-book, used for teaching in schools where all religions are taught, where there are boys whose parents hold particular religions, you have those truths given which are common to all religions. The only difference is that in the Theosophical text-book, the various Scriptures of the world in different religions are quoted in support of them...