THEOSOPHY, Vol. 17, No. 7, May, 1929
(Pages 318-319; Size: 7K)
IT is often asked: How should I or my friend study theosophy? In beginning this study a series of "don'ts" should first engage the student's attention. Don't imagine that you know everything, or that any man in scientific circles has uttered the last word on any subject; don't suppose that the present day is the best, or that the ancients were superstitious, with no knowledge of natural laws. Don't forget that arts, sciences, and metaphysics did not have their rise with European civilization; and don't forget that the influence of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle of ancient Greece is still imposed upon the modern mind. Don't think that our astronomers would have made anything but a mess of the zodiac if the old Chaldeans had not left us the one we use. Don't forget that it is easy to prove that civilization of the highest order has periodically rolled around this globe and left traces great and small behind. Don't confuse Buddhism with Brahmanism, or imagine that the Hindus are Buddhists; and don't take the word of English or German Sanscrit scholars in explanation of the writings and scriptures of eastern nations whose thoughts are as foreign in their form to ours as our countries are to them. One should first be prepared to examine with a clear and unbiased mind.
So much has been said during the last 1800 years about Rosicrucians, Egyptian Adepts, Secret Masters, Kaballah, and wonderful magical books, that students without a guide, attracted to these subjects, ask for information and seek in vain for the entrance to the temple of the learning they crave, because they say that virtue's rules are meant for babes and Sunday schools, but not for them. And, in consequence, we find hundreds of books in all the languages of Europe dealing with rites, ceremonies, invocations, and other obscurities that will lead to nothing but loss of time and money. But few of these authors had anything save "mere eye-knowledge." 'Tis true they have sometimes a reputation, but it is only that accorded to an ignoramus by those who are more ignorant. The so-called great man, knowing how fatal to reputation it would be to tell how really small is his practical knowledge, prates about "projections and elementals," "philosopher's stone and elixir," but discreetly keeps from his readers the paucity of his acquirements and the insecurity of his own mental state. Let the seeker know, once for all, that the virtues cannot be discarded nor ignored; they must be made a part of our life, and their philosophical basis must be understood.
Knowledge concerning, and control of, the finer forces of nature are not things which should be sought after at our elementary stage of progress, nor would such attainment be appropriate, even if possible, to anyone who had not thoroughly mastered the principles of Theosophy itself. Study the elementary principles of Theosophy and gain some idea of your own nature as a human being and as an individual, but drop entirely all ambition for knowledge or power which would be inappropriate to your present stage, and ... correct your whole conception of Theosophy and Occultism.
As to understanding the doctrines, it is my opinion that this is as easy for the uneducated as for the educated. Indeed, in some cases, over-education has been a bar, and deep intellectual study of Theosophy has led to a want of comprehension of the principles of Brotherhood and to a violation of it. The purpose and aim of Theosophy in the world is not the advancement of a few in the intellectual plane, but the amelioration of all human affairs through the practice of Brotherhood. Of course, in Theosophy, as in any other Science one understands more as one reads more, and I recommend you to read and digest such of our books as you can conveniently procure.
No new ethics are presented by Theosophy, as it is held that right ethics are for ever the same. But in the doctrines of Theosophy are to be found the philosophical and reasonable basis for ethics and the natural enforcement of them in practice. Universal brotherhood is that which will result in doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, and in your loving your neighbor as yourself -- declared as right by all teachers in the great religions of the world. Ethics of the purest are found in the words of Jesus, but are universally negatived by Church, State, and individual. The Theosophical doctrines of man and nature give a true and necessary basis and enforcement to ethics, devoid of favoritism or illogical schemes of eternal damnation. Theosophy constantly proves to us that "There is no religion higher than Truth."
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:
THE FIRST LESSON
The first lesson taught in Esoteric philosophy is, that the incognizable Cause does not put forth evolution, whether consciously or unconsciously, but only exhibits periodically different aspects of itself to the perception of finite Minds.--S.D. II, p. 487.
REVIEWING "THE NEW CYCLE"
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(1) Excerpted from the writings of William Q. Judge.
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