THEOSOPHY, Vol. 20, No. 11, September, 1932
(Pages 488-491; Size: 11K)

THEOSOPHY AND SCIENCE

AN INSPECTION OF ARMS

Behold! O Master, the mighty army of the sons of Pandu drawn up by thy pupil, the clever son of Drupada. In it are warriors with great bows, equal to Bhîma and Arjuna in battle ... and all the sons of Draupadi, too, in their huge chariots. Be acquainted also with the names of those of our party who are the most distinguished.... They are all of them practiced in the use of arms, armed with divers weapons, and experienced in every mode of fight. This army of ours, commanded by Bhîshma, is not sufficient, while their forces, led by Bhîma, are sufficient. Let all the generals, according to their respective divisions, stand at their posts, and one and all resolve Bhîshma to support. --Bhagavad-Ghîta, Chapter I.
AT any given period, the life of a people is over-shadowed by some prevailing authority, religion, or philosophy; thinking is colored by it, and the respect of men centered upon it and upon its sponsors, who bask in the sunshine of popular reverence, finding the prevailing order good. But from time to time the divine discontent inherent in the race bursts its fetters and a new era is ushered in with more or less of turmoil. For a half-century we have been, and for a half-century more will be, in the midst of such a transition period.

Some centuries since, to utter doubts of the creeds, to cast disrespect upon the priest, was at the best to court classification as one weak of wit. Did not all men know that Holy Writ was the very criterion of truth? And how dare one dispute with the clergy, who could read and thus understood things hidden from the commonalty?

Now as ever before, men will have a creed, will have leaders esteemed more than common man by dint of greater education, deeper knowledge, or perchance greater pretense -- in the mind of the crowd there is no dividing line. Now as ever, all hasten to travel comfortably together upon a beaten highroad; a road which was the Catholic Church some time since, and is now that strange hodge-podge of conflicting theories named "Science."

Unlike the old, the new state religion ministers to human desires in understood regions, dealing no longer in empty promises of the two kinds of hereafter. Hence, in a race whose song is "Material Good is the only God, and Science is His prophet," science has a vastly firmer base, infinitely more potential power, than any of the Medieval hierarchies.

Theosophy had no quarrel with the teachings of Jehoshua "of Nazareth," for they are part and parcel with it. It had and has an unflinching battle to wage with the creeds and dogmas of whatsoever kind erected upon those pure and simple words, creeds quarried of ignorance and superstition and cemented with self-interest.

Theosophy has no quarrel with Science in its true sense; that is to say, with proven facts, nor even with theories when they be held or taught as merely such, however erroneous. It has, and has to wage war to the knife, with biased theories set forth as "facts;" with incompletely understood phenomena elaborated by the powers of imagination into "laws" and forced upon all and sundry. It has, in a word, no quarrel with real scientists, whose progenitors were the Crookes' and Curies. But it has a feud with the teachings of the "Sunday-supplement" scientist, of the pompous yearling graduate eager to claim for himself the name of "savant," and of the apostles of irresponsibility sometimes hight "biologist" or "endocrinologist;" he who, building upon partly understood facts and in serene ignorance of every other line of research than his own hobby, compounds acids to throw in the eyes of every man who dares look up from the slimy grovel of animal desires.

Unfortunately, the real scientist is not only submerged in the blatant notoriety-seeking of the fool in his assumed wisdom, but himself holds a legitimate position not lightly to be resigned. Gifted with intellect, of long and rigid training in his chosen line, and having spent the best years of his life in discovering what to him is truth new in the history of the Universe; often possessed of the best of motives, secure in the belief that true good for humanity lies along the road painfully hewn by himself; such is the scientist of the true élite. To such men the ultimate triumph of Theosophy would mean this: that during the laborious centuries of the rise of modern science, an obscure group of men beyond the Himalayas watched its struggles as a parent watches the feeble essays of a child; a group possessed not only of all the knowledge science has, or will obtain, but of powers now thought beyond the ken of mankind; powers so jealously guarded that not the greatest figure in all public life, past, present, or future, might be permitted to touch them save on one condition; that of resigning all pretense to present knowledge and of entering the portals of the Masters sworn, in life and for lives, to self-subjection under such discipline as is unendurable even in idea to the men of the West. For Theosophy to triumph, for it to be recognized that the Guardians of the Wisdom now possess the ultimate criterions of all truth, means that men of science may no longer weave theories before the gaping multitudes; it means that the thrill of discovery must suffer paralysis, and that the investigator must sink to the rank of a builder of machines. It means that for "Science says" must be substituted "Theosophy teaches." Let us not disguise the seriousness of the issue; against this consummation scientific men, the best as well as the worst, will fight to the death.

When the swelling stream of fact, fed by their discoveries, shall begin to bear the race once more toward the ocean of Theosophy, but two alternatives will remain. The Scholar may, if his search has been honest and of good motives, literally follow the facts where they lead -- and become a Theosophist. But "Narrow is the way, and few there be that find it." In all but a few, a very few cases, men brought to the issue, their motives laid bare, will choose belief rather than fact, theory rather than law, personal desire rather than truth. How often in the history of Theosophy have we seen human beings who once knew, "turn once more away from Truth's bright face!" Therefore let hopeful Theosophists look for little from men of science -- save desperation when in its appointed course Theosophy rises from a slow fire burning underfoot, to the raging forest fire it was of yore, destroying without ruth the flimsy houses of mind, by loving and desirous fancy builded.

Already once more the self-sufficient ranks of the science of the day are awakening, stirring to a hidden menace as yet but dimly felt; nervous still from conflict with "Fundamentalism," whose unsuspected strength was placated by smooth and hurrying tongue, Science senses the unseen but crescendo power of a foe infinitely more dangerous. Science against Fundamentalism was a war of machine guns against pitchforks, of a battleship against a plesiosaurus. But the warriors of Theosophy, like some in the great conflict, cross the field empty-handed and take their weapons from the enemy. Not in the position of the theologians, armed with wooden guns and pious hope, are true Theosophists, however few in number as yet.

But efficient use of weapons requires skill; the more so when they are weapons of reason and fact; weapons to be employed in a manner strange to our hands and minds. For their use is to be for the enforcement, by facts, correlations, and instances drawn from all Nature, of the indwelling Law of Universal Brotherhood. Too many of us, overborne by the vast pretense of science to cryptic knowledge, find not within themselves the courage and self-confidence to look in the cannon's mouth; to them as yet the infinite powers and infinite range of possibility of the human soul are not real; to them Theosophy is a religion, a hope. This attitude binds helpless so long as held; yet it is wretchedly unfounded. Theosophy is a statement of the fundamental laws of Nature; the mysteries of science are shallow when unearthed from their ponderous verbiage, and those minds -- especially those which pretend to crushing discoveries -- are no superhuman ones. The authority of the scientist more often arises from years of laborious specialization on the part of a mediocre mind, than from any vast intelligence or learning. The best of true scientists inveigh against the poverty of outlook, the lack of system, the self-advertisement, the duplication of effort, and the unfamiliarity with coordinate facts, of the average scientist. Such minds as this do not win decisions on ultimate philosophical issues -- and: all their facts are ours and every scientist who publishes truths our unconscious ally. More than that, there are already a few wooden horses in the scientific Troy, and there will be more as the truly honest, earnest, and intelligent "come out from among them." The war will not be bloodless; we must prepare for stern events; for the cycle last century will come again, and some may learn in person the cost of Theosophy to the Messengers. Perchance no full decision may issue; but neither will the battle be lost -- if those who hold the Wisdom in trust be true and be brave; the cycle is here.

"Therefore fight, O Bharata!"


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