THEOSOPHY, Vol. 17, No. 9, July, 1929
(Pages 407-409; Size: 9K)
ANCIENT AND MODERN WISE-MEN(1)
MODERN science is a bugbear for many a good Theosophist, causing him to hide his real opinions for fear they should conflict with science. But the latter is an unstable quantity, always shifting its ground, although never devoid of an overbearing assurance, even when it takes back what it had previously asserted. A great many persons imagine, knowing but little in reality about science, that it is sure, certain, and fixed in the vital premises which underlie the practical outcome seen in many branches of life's activity.
Why is this so? An inquiry into the question discloses the fact that some, if not all, the basic postulates of science are the purest abstractions, and that many statements from which deductions of facts are drawn are themselves the merest hypotheses. We will also find that the commonest of people unconsciously use in every work-a-day act the most abstract and indefinite premises without which they could do but little. The axioms of mathematics are unprovable; the very word assumes that they have to be accepted. Being accepted, we go forward and on the basis of their unproved truth demonstrate other and succedent matters.
The atom and the molecule are very influential words. They are constantly used by people claiming to follow science, but who indulge in criticisms on the uncertainties of Theosophical speculation. Yet no one ever saw an atom or a molecule. They are accepted as facts by science -- just as the spiritually-inclined accept the existence of the invisible soul -- yet it is impossible to objectively prove either the one or the other. They are deemed to be proven because they are necessary. But let a Theosophist say that the astral body exists, and Mahatmas also, because both are necessary in evolution, and at once a demand arises for "demonstration" by objective proofs.
The scientific materialist says: "What nonsense to speak of coming out of the Absolute!" We may reply, "What nonsense for the mariner to attempt to guide his ship by that which has no existence whatever, except in fancy; by that which is a pure abstraction!" Where are the parallels of longitude and latitude? They are imagined to be on the earth, but their only visible existence is upon the chart made by man, and their real existence is in the mind of the astronomer and those who understand the science of navigation. The sea captain may think they are on the chart, or he may not think of it at all. Where do they stop? Nowhere; they are said to extend indefinitely into space; yet these abstractions are used for present human commercial needs. Is this any less vague than Theosophy?
The ancient Sage was like the modern captain. The captain takes an observation of the illusionary stars and the blazing sun, thus discovering whether his ship is near or far from land. The Sage observed the Zodiac, and from the manner it and its boats were related to each other he was able to calculate whether the human freight in the boat of human evolution was near a rock or on the free, open sea in its eternal and momentous journey.
The sun is the apparent source of energy, and is confidently supposed by many to be a mass of burning material. No one, however, knows this to be so. No one was ever there, and the whole set of theories regarding the luminary rests on assumptions. Seeing that electricity is now so much better known, and that it is apparently all-pervading, the ancient idea that the sun is a center of electrical or magnetic energy which turns into heat as well as other things on reaching here, becomes plausible and throws some spice of illusion into the doctrine that our sun is a mass of burning matter. Considering how little is known of the sun of this system, it is not to be wondered at that still more is this the case respecting the true sun ... astronomers learnedly declare all that they do not know about the mighty orb, relegating the ancient ideas on the subject to the limbo of superstitious nonsense.
The brilliancy and nearness of the moon and her many recurring changes all aid in fixing the attention of science. Modern and ancient science alike unite in watching the night's great light as she performs her journey round us. H. P. Blavatsky is our sole originator of a theory regarding the satellite which one could not have invented with the most wonderful imagination. The same writer goes on to assert that six mysterious doctrines or facts remain yet untold, and all relating to the moon. But whatever those mysteries are, the fate of our satellite is very clearly asserted, for the benefit of those who have confidence in H.P.B.'s teachers, and who are willing to take the key of correspondence for the unlocking of the lock of Nature.
It has been the custom of many people to belittle the ancients by assuming that they knew but little of mechanics, certainly not so much as we do. The builders of the pyramids have been described by modern guessers as making their calculations and carrying on the most wonderful engineering operations with the aid of pools of water for obtaining levels and star angles: they could not, it was assumed, have instruments except the most crude. So also the old Chinese were mere rude workmen, although it is well known that they discovered the precession of the equinoxes over 2,000 years ago.
It will probably be found, in the course of time, that the oft-repeated statements of H. P. Blavatsky that the ancients had all of our arts and mechanical devices were true. She asserted that they had flying machines. Perhaps when the great West is convinced that the old Aryans had mechanical contrivances equalling our own, it will be ready to lend a readier ear than now to the philosophies the East has so long held in keeping.
Brotherhood as an object is the highest philanthropy, and especially so when connected with science.
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:
EAST AND WEST
Concretely there is a certain object for our general work. It is to start up a new force, a new current in the world, whereby great and long-gone Gnanis, or wise ones, will be attracted back to incarnate among men here and there, and thus bring back the true life and the true practices. Just now a pall of darkness is over all that no Gnani will be attracted by. Here and there a few beams strike through this. Even in India it is dark, for there, where the truth is hid, the thick veil of theological dogma hides all; and though there is a great hope in it the Masters cannot pierce through to minds below. We have to educate the West so that it may appreciate the possibilities of the East, and thus on the waiting structure in the East may be built up a new order of things for the benefit of the whole. We have, each one of us, to make ourselves a centre of light; a picture gallery from which shall be projected on the astral light such scenes, such influences, such thoughts, as may influence many for good, shall thus arouse a new current, and then finally result in drawing back the great and the good from other spheres from beyond the earth. This is not spiritualism at all, for it has no reference to the denizens of spook-land in any way.--W.Q.J.
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(1) Excerpted from the writings of William Q. Judge.
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