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Theosophy (Religion & Science)


Theosophy Basics I, December 1996

Science & Religion: Bridging The Gap

Martin Euser

Introduction

Did you ever wonder why there is such a big gap between science and religion? Did you ever see a possibility of bridging this gap?

As a scientist and psychologist I can clearly see the narrow limits to which science has confined itself. As regards religions, most of them have big trouble to present a clear, consistent philosophy of life. Neither of them can answer urgent ethical questions satisfactorily.

So we face the strange situation of science, claiming certain theories to be a fact of life, while religion claims other visions to be true.

Now, common-sense-logic demands that there is one truth; at least we cannot embrace two essentially different opinions about life and nature.

In fact there is an old philosophy called Wisdom-Religion that claims just to bridge this gap. Nowadays this philosophy is called Theosophy, brought to the West by H.P. Blavatsky under guidance and inspiration of her teachers (the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion). This will be the subject of this document. At this place it will be proper to state that this is not just a fancy philosophy, but, on the contrary, a grand system of truths based on the spiritual visions of thousands of wise men, prophets and great founders of religions through the ages. This philosophy can and should be tested by all serious searchers for truth. Theosophy gives some guidelines how this should be done. At the end of this document this will become clearer (if not, put your questions and I will discuss it). It is most certainly a practical philosophy of life, what will become apparent if you apply its principles to daily life.

The gap, spoken of above, has not always been there. It has grown gradually, as science split itself from theology. Nowadays science is completely materialistic in its views. Even consciousness is reduced to materialistic processes. But we can already notice the vague contours of a new, less materialistic science that incorporates the paradigm of wholeness or the essential connectedness of all beings. David Bohm was one of the pioneers in this area.

Paul Feyerabend, a philosopher of science, has shown that scientific models are comparable to the models of nature, pictured in the old myths of humanity. See his work ~Against method~, 1975. This should make the scientists think again about their paradigma. It is totally outdated and they find themselves stuck in their attempts at understanding nature in greater depth (I'm not talking about technology).

Plato would say that materialistic science can never arrive at truth, because it wholly depends on what our senses tell us about the world. Instead we should develop our inner sense of understanding to such a degree that we can perceive the causes behind all visible phenomena. Our outer senses are just a help for living on this outer plane of life.

Theosophy closes the gap between science and religion by providing the knowledge of the principles of nature which can be recognized by both religion and science, if properly investigated. In essence, Theosophy is the core of all great religions and grand philosophies (such as from Plato and Pythagoras). In its religious aspect it tells us what the goal of all life is; in its philosophical aspect why things are as they are. In its scientific aspect it tells us how nature works. These three aspects are all interconnected and should never be seperated, because seperation causes a real loss of understanding. Seperation also causes science to lose its ethical basis, which is just what has happened during the last centuries.

Knowledge of (esoteric) science gives tremendous responsibilities. Abuse by selfish minds can cause severe disasters. That's why this kind of knowledge is severely restricted from being given to humanity. Of course, sometimes dangerous knowledge is discovered by scientists themselves, like the secrets of nuclear energy. It has created a real threat to the safety of mankind.

Well, you might ask, what knowledge is given to this world? This is the subject of the next section:

THE SEVEN JEWELS OF WISDOM

Theosophy gives an outline of universal principles, the operations of which can be recognized by everybody with an open mind. Recognition of these principles is possible through gradual development of the faculty of understanding (by unselfish service to mankind combined with esoteric study). All these principles can be found in the literature of many religions, especially the mystical sections, e.g. Sufism, Gnosis, ancient Kabbalah, certain parts of Buddhism, Hinduism, etc, as well in old myths.

The most important principles or truths are called:
"The seven jewels of wisdom".

Together, these jewels give a sublime, practical system of ethics, incorporating the idea of Universal Brotherhood (the essential connectedness of all beings). These jewels can be used to build a system of science, which is based on consciousness as a primary factor. Those that want to know more about the jewels than is said in this essay are referred to the bibliography at the end of this article (the books mentioned there are now on the web!)

First Jewel

The first jewel concerns the doctrine of reincarnation or reimbodiment.

Theosophy proceeds from a spiritual point of view. It says that consciousness is prior to form or manifestation. Consciousness imbodies itself periodically in a suitable form. Socrates talks about this in Plato's Phaedo.

This doctrine really is the about the law of cycles. All processes in nature are of a cyclic nature. There are literally hundreds of examples in nature that substantiate this law. Some more examples:

  • the seasons in nature
  • growth of seeds, fruition, decay, death and rebirth of new seeds
  • fever
  • revolution of planets around the sun
  • civilizations
  • valencies in the periodic system of chemical elements
  • processes of thought (a thought is born, can grow and can die..)
    This particular example will be explained more fully in theosophy basics, part 2, because of its special importance in getting control of your life.

What looks like an unconnected bunch of examples, is in reality related to each other by a process called: the analogical workings of nature.

Second Jewel

The second jewel is the old doctrine of Karma (law of cause and effect) which is about the restoration of harmony after disturbances.

This law states that every action produces a reaction that is in accord with the action. This law is active on all planes of being: physical, psychologically and spiritually. The Christian bible has the proverb: 'As ye sow, so ye shall reap', which is exactly the same idea.

Karma is the universal law of justice, perceptible to the mind's eye (cf. Plato). There is no other logical consistent explanation for the very great differences between people than provided by this jewel of wisdom and the twin doctrine of reincarnation. It also is the most dificult principle to grasp, because of its endless ramifications and applications to all aspects of life.

Those who believe in blind chance may do so, but they are really incapable of explaining many phenomena like telepathy, clairvoyance,etc. Also, it is downright amazing to me that relatively few people observe the intelligence working through nature, configurating a single cell into a human body, and, maybe even more striking, the intelligence that is unfolding right under their noses in their children growing up. There are very marked stages visible in the above mentioned processes and I don't think that materialistic science will ever be able to explain these stages and processes. Theosophy gives at least some hints about the forces, energies, that play a role in these processes.

Third Jewel

The third jewel concerns the doctrine of hierarchies.

This principle of nature is not well-known. Yet Plato and Pythagoras taught it in their academies. They stated the hierarchical structure of nature to be a fact. Indeed, we can observe some remarkable examples in nature and elsewhere that point clearly in this direction:

  • Our body is organized in a most hierarchical fashion. It is composed of organs, which are itself composed of tissues, which are composed of cells, which are in its turn composed of certain structures,etc.
  • The many kingdoms of nature have a certain hierarchical relationship which can only be mentioned briefly here. The mineral kingdom can said to have a relation to the human body. (think only of the bones in the human body) The plant kingdom uses minerals in its chemical, physiological processes. The animal kingdom uses the mineral and plant kingdoms The human kingdom uses (or maybe better: misuses) all kingdoms below it. (an example of a remnant of the plant kingdom in the human body is: hair)

    There are other kingdoms which cannot be elaborated upon now, but may be briefly mentioned. Above the human kingdom there are divine kingdoms (why would the human race be the most evolved species in the universe? It isn't.)

  • In man himself there is most certainly a hierarchy of beings

    For simplicity I only mention some:

    • the mineral and plant parts in man (bones, resp. hairs)
    • the animal part in man
    • the thinking part in man
    • the inspirative part in man
This will probably raise some questions. In theosophy basics, part 2, I say a bit more about these parts. Mark that these ideas were well known among many of the ancient peoples. On Hawaii we can find the Huna-religion which just treats of the same ideas as found in this example. Of course, Plato, Pythagoras, Confucianism, the Kabbalah and also Christianity (body, soul, spirit) refer to the fact of the composite human nature.
 
Societies have inherently such a structure. There is a government (which does a good or bad job..), there are states, counties, towns, families and individuals.
  • Because intellectual knowledge is higher valued than real wisdom, we see the deplorable picture of governments that are not able to really help their people. The accumulated wisdom of all ages is available tho those who want to listen and think it over.. In lit. 1 one can find more about this jewel, which is also called the doctrine of emanations, because hierarchies are a result of emanations from the Spirit (Self) configurating Itself in matter in various degrees or states.

    Fourth Jewel

    The fourth jewel is the principle of the unique characteristic of every being and class of beings. This is a rather abstract principle to grasp.

    The idea behind this principle is that every being, consciousness, manifests itself in just that form that is in accordance with the developed qualities of the reimbodying consciousness. Human consciousness takes a human form (body), animal consciousness reimbodies into an animal, etc. More specifically stated, a horse-consciousness becomes a horse; a rose-consciousness becomes a rose, etc.

    This brings up the question of heredity. Materialistic science tells us that the cause for a rose-seed developing into a rose lies in its genes. Well, to be sure, heredity exists, but it is only a secondary phenomenon. We can ask a question: what are the causes for a certain pattern of genes to exist? This question can never be answered by science as it is now. Theosophy gives some general clues when we combine the seven jewels together. At this point I should point out that there are many questions of detail which require a life-long study and research. At the end of this document I will provide some keys to be used in this kind of research.

    It should be clear by now that this principle reverses the point of vision regarding heredity: heredity is not a cause for our character, but just the result of our character that we built during ages and ages. Heredity confines itself to the physical aspect of man.

    Fifth Jewel

    The fifth jewel of wisdom concerns the principle of progressive evolution.

    Now, evolution as it is understood by Darwin and his followers concerns itself with the transformation of forms and the survival of the fittest.

    Theosophy regards these processes as secondary processes and states clearly that consciousness is the primary factor in evolution. It doesn't deny a struggle between beings, but points out that there is actually a lot of cooperation in nature. Indeed, we begin to understand a little more of the intricate ecosystems, symbiosis, mimicry, etc. (a nice question for you: why do zebras have black and white stripes that make them very visible to lions, etc.- certainly not an evolutionary advantage for them..)

    Evolution means literally, to e-volve, to manifest certain qualities (of consciousness in matter!). No phenomenon is possible without an active, intelligent force. Each phenomenon is evolved from Universal Life-Matter in a long line of differentiations. At the same time it is Life, involved in Matter. So, we have two concurrent processes, instead of just an empty transformation of forms as the Darwinists will have us believe.

    Now, regarding the term progressive evolution, it is stated that there is a gradual development of qualities of consciousness, as can be seen in the different kingdoms of life. Plants are more evolved than minerals. Animals are more evolved than plants, men are more evolved than animals (some people may think differently..). Of course, we see men often behave like animals (this is a part of our nature) but there are also many examples of unselfish people who sacrifice their own life for others.

    Man has evolved the thinking faculty to some degree, animals have this faculty in a latent condition.

    Progressive evolution states that beings in a certain kingdom develop their consciousness by experience in this world, they reincarnate in the same kingdom until they have reached the limit of possible experience in this kingdom. Then these beings can enter the next higher kingdom, after a certain period. In this new kingdom they can evolve higher aspects of consciousness. This fifth jewel is clearly connected with the third one, hierarchies, and the first one, reincarnation.

    In fact all these jewels are indissolubly interconnected. Those who wish to pursue the subject of evolution, as theosophy describes it, further are refered to lit. 2. (online on the web)

    For men, it is taught, there are still a lot of aspects of consciousness that can be developed. To give two important examples: the faculty of understanding (discernment) and the faculty of inspiration (consciousness of the essential unity of all beings). This is our great task. Nowadays we mostly let control our lives by our lower desires and impulses. Instead, we can use the faculties of Imagination and Will to create a powerful image of Brotherhood, cooperation and peace. This fascinating subject is elaborated in part 2 of theosophy basics. It is really a most effective way of changing the mental atmosphere (noosphere) on this planet. Plato says: 'Ideas rule the world', and he is right. Of course, we should also perform the necessary actions to help realise our ideals.

    All the great Teachers of humanity point out the way out of human misery . This is further elucidated in the next two jewels.

    Sixth Jewel

    The sixth jewel of wisdom states that: duality is the basis for all manifestations

    Krishna speaks about the 'pairs of opposites' in the Bhagavad Gita. Mind and Matter are the two poles of manifestation. The interaction of these two poles causes all progress and regress. This, again, is a most profound subject with profound philosophical implications.

    We can choose between selfish action or selfless service for the benefit of the whole. Those who act selfishly confine their consciousness to a very narrow area of existence and experience.

    Those who work for the benefit of the world extend their consciousness to higher planes of consciousness. Of course, this is a gradual process. In Buddhism, there is a teaching about the Path of Compassion. Those who work for the benefit of others , who have no feelings of seperateness from others (the greatest heresy in Buddhism) tread this Path ( not for themselves, but for others). They refuse Liberation or Nirvana when faced with the possibility of acquiring this, because they do not want it as long as others suffer in misery. They do not desert the poor orphan humanity. This is the most sublime ethics ever conceived in the entire history of mankind!

    Seventh Jewel

    The seventh jewel is about knowing the essence of all life.

    What is the origin of all things? How does the One Essence becomes the manifold? These questions are really most fundamental in philosophy. It refers to the Source of all manifestation.

    Is it possible to know the origin of life? Yes, Theosophy answers. In the heart or core of each being Universal Life is to be found. 'Thou Art That', the Upanishads say. Every human being can discover this Divine Spark inside by gradually evolving higher aspects of his/her consciousness. This will result in a realization of the connectedness of all beings. This realization can be called 'enlightenment' and is really a stepwise, gradual process.

    Mark that evolution is the expression of inner faculties of consciousness. It has nothing to do with color of skin, etc. By treading the Path of Compassion, not for one self, but for the whole, one is bound to discover the core or essence of things.

    To be realistic, this will take many reincarnations. Of course, this doesn't matter, because there is no end to evolution..

    The only thing that matters is the right application of the right understanding of the ancient wisdom to daily life by using your common-sense.

    Some keys for the scientist-philosopher.

    The main purpose of all that has been said is to demonstrate the existence of a coherent, consistent philosophy of life, which shows us the rationale for ethical behaviour. Who would be so stupid to hurt his fellowmen when he understands that by doing so he is really hurting himself? The essential connectedness of all beings is a central theme in this philosophy.

    The second purpose of this document is to provide some stimulating thoughts for those scientists (or people who are really interested in science) who understand that a synthesis between old religious truths and science is a possibility. Now, I cannot provide a finished, complete system of deductive methods of esoteric science. A lot of building blocks are already provided however by Theosophy.

    An important principle can be found in the statement:

    "nature works along analogical lines". Macrocosmic processes are analogical to microcosmic processes.

    The application of the seven jewels of wisdom is possible by using this masterkey of analogy.

    The Hermetic axiom: "As above, so below" is to be applied in every direction conceivable. A deep study of the third jewel, along with the other jewels of course, will yield surprising results, I think.

    Also a study of old myths and sacred literature will furnish food for deep contemplation. H.P. Blavatsky tells us, in the Secret Doctrine, that seven keys of interpretation must be applied to each symbol and allegory to fully understand what is meant.

    These seven keys are: geometrical, numerical (e.g.,Ancient Kabbalah), physiological (& anthropological), physical-chemical, metaphysical, astronomical (& Ancient astrology, now hardly available), and psychological.

    This is really a master-project, which none can undertake alone. Nevertheless, I hope some daring minds will take up the challenge of synthesizing religion, science and philosophy into one system along the lines sketched. The broad outline of this system is already given to us by Theosophy. I recently discovered (June, 1996) that Vitvan [see introductory note of mine in theosophy corner] has done some valuable work in this direction.

    Science will need to incorporate consciousness as a basic factor into its system, otherwise it will fail to fulfil its real task: helping people to understand how nature really works, thus motivating them to act and think according to the principles of the timeless wisdom hidden in the book of nature; principles which are, to some extent, revealed by Theosophy.

    Bibliography. [see also a fuller bibl. in theosophy basics, part 2]

    1. Fundamentals of the esoteric philosophy, G. de Purucker.
    This file is in Adobe Acrobat 3.0 format. Be sure to download an Acrobat 3.0 reader at Adobe's site or a suitable Netscape plug-in at Netscape's site.

    2. Man in evolution, G. de Purucker.
    New paradigma regarding evolution

    3. More online theosophical books

    4. Katherine Tingley manuals on theosophy
    A series on some of the main tenets of theosophy

    Next to Theosophy Basics Part 2 ...