THEOSOPHY, Vol. 84, No. 12, October, 1996
(Pages 357-359; Size: 7K)


It is under cyclic law, during a dark period in the history of mind, that the true philosophy disappears for a time, but the same law causes it to reappear as surely as the sun rises and the human mind is present to see it. ... because first, it is impacted in the imperishable center of man's nature; and secondly, the Lodge forever preserves it, not only in actual objective records, but also in the intelligent and fully self-conscious men who ... cannot lose the precious possessions they have acquired.
--The Ocean of Theosophy
PLATO'S METHOD, like that of geometry, was to descend from universals to particulars. For him it was enough to know the great scheme of creation to be able to trace the mightiest movements of the universe through their changes to their ultimates. The petty details, whose observation and classification have so taxed and demonstrated the patience of modern scientists, occupied but little of the attention of the old philosophers. Yet the dullest of Plato's disciples could tell more about the great cosmic laws and their mutual relations, and demonstrate a familiarity with and control over the occult forces which lie behind them, than the most learned professors of our day.

The doctrines of the old philosophers, but reasserted an astronomical doctrine which prevailed in India at the remotest antiquity. The ancients thought that there was a sex in plants as well as in animals, that musical notes depended on the relative length or tension of the strings from which they were emitted, and were measured by ratios of number. That mathematical laws pervaded the world and even qualitative differences were supposed to have their origin in number; and the annihilation of matter was denied by them, and held to be a transformation only.

The Platonic philosophy was one of order, system, and proportion; it embraced the evolution of worlds and species, the correlation and conservation of energy, the transmutation of material form, the indestructibility of matter and of spirit. Plato never claimed to be the inventor of all that he wrote, but gave credit for it to Pythagoras, who, in his turn, pointed to the remote East as the source whence he derived his information and his philosophy. A philosophy so profound, a moral code so ennobling, and practical results so conclusive and so uniformly demonstrable is not the growth of a generation, or even a single epoch. The proofs of this identity of fundamental doctrine in the old religions are found in the prevalence of a system of initiation; in the secret sacerdotal castes who had the guardianship of mystical words of power, and a public display of a phenomenal control over natural forces.

Truly the fate of many a future generation hung on a gossamer thread, in the days of the third and fourth centuries. Never did the Neo-platonic school reach such a height of philosophy as when nearest its end. Uniting the mystic theosophy of old Egypt with the refined philosophy of the Greeks; nearer to the ancient Mysteries of Thebes and Memphis than they had been for centuries; friendly with the acutest men of the Jewish nation, who were deeply imbued with the Zoroastrian ideas, the Neo-platonists tended to amalgamate the old wisdom of the Oriental Kabala with the more refined conceptions of the Occidental Theosophists.

At the beginning of the fourth century crowds began gathering at the door of the academy where the learned and unfortunate Hypatia expounded the doctrines of the divine Plato and Plotinus, and thereby impeded the progress of Christian proselytism. She too successfully dispelled the mist hanging over the religious "mysteries" invented by the [Church] Fathers. This alone would have been sufficient to imperil both herself and her followers. But there was a still greater peril, Hypatia had studied under Plutarch, the head of the Athenian school, and had learned all the secrets of theurgy. Her doom was sealed by [Bishop] Cyril, whose eloquence she eclipsed, and whose authority, built on degrading superstitions, had to yield before hers, which was erected on the rock of immutable natural law.

But, if the knowledge of the occult powers of nature opens the spiritual sight of man, enlarges his intellectual faculties, and leads him unerringly to a profounder veneration for the Creator, on the other hand ignorance, dogmatic narrow-mindedness, and a childish fear of looking to the bottom of things, invariably leads to fetish-worship and superstition.

The dispersion of the Eclectic school had become the fondest hope of the Christians. It had been looked for and contemplated with intense anxiety. It was finally achieved. With the death of the martyred daughter of Theon [Hypatia] there remained no possibility for the Neo-platonists to continue their school in Alexandria.

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:

In the knowledge of limits and relationships man discovers the eternal self, thenceforth to move with obedience and discipline in full freedom. 


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(1) Note: Collated from Isis Unveiled.
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