The Theosophical Forum – February 1936

THEOSOPHICAL NOTEBOOK: XVII

XVII — What is the Difference between a Visionary and a Sage or Seer?

The Seer or Sage is Master of things occult; he knows the ways of Nature because he has worked with her, and Nature has revealed to him her secrets of the universe. Through many initiations he has perfected his own inner self, so that he has resided in many mansions, and experienced true life as it really is.

The Visionary feels intuitively that Nature contains many secrets that he imagines he knows, but his knowledge consists mostly in blind faith that such things do exist; he therefore teaches according
to his personal belief, or his limited knowledge of the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom. — Lucinda J. Turner

A seer is one who has his inner or spiritual eye developed through ages of right living and right thinking; and this mode of life in itself is a pathway that is open to us all if we but follow the Laws of Being. Seers are such outstanding historical figures as the Christ, the Buddha, Lao-Tse, Confucius, Krishna, Apollonius, Orpheus. Those Teachers behind the Theosophical Movement known as the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion may also be classed as Seers.

A Visionary, though not an ordinary man, is still far below the evolutionary attainment of a Seer, for he is still ruled by his brain-mind, and it is only intermittently that his nature is illumined by flashes of the spirit. — W. E. Schwede

When we speak of a visionary our mind immediately calls up something that is not stable, something that is transitory, illusive, or imaginary. A visionary, therefore, is one who has fanciful ideas of things as he thinks they are, or as he would like them to be.

A Seer, however, is one who sees, who knows because he is able to see. He has evolved to the point where his powers of perception are swayed by nothing outside of himself. He sees; consequently he knows. A visionary thinks he knows. — Mamie Hageman

A visionary is one who visions the Truth, but colors it with his own imagination and personal conception, although he does not realize that he is doing so. The Seer or Sage is one who knows because he has actually seen and experienced the Truth of Divine Knowledge. In the hierarchy of Teachers, the visionary is one 'rung' above the genius; the Sage or Seer is on the highest 'rung,' in so far as we can understand in our present stage of evolution. The visionary is guided by his intuition only. The Sage has been taught through initiation, by those greater than himself. How can you distinguish? Look within your own heart and you will know if the teachings are true. — Claire Turner

A Great Seer or Sage gives teachings to the world which may be found to have existed at the heart of all World-Religions and Philosophies since time immemorial; a visionary gives to the world only
the vagaries and intellectual fancies which may emanate directly from his own mind, or from within the intellectual belt immediately surrounding him. The teachings of a Great Seer or Sage are impersonal; the teachings of a visionary generally personal. The teachings of a Great Seer or Sage urge each and every man to look to the Christos within himself — Man Know Thyself! The visionary, on the other hand, teaches — Man, accept what I teach — which is but a reflexion of the personality. — Florence Mathews

Aside from natural evolution, the main difference between a visionary and a seer is that of spiritual guidance. A visionary is an untrained and uninitiated seer, whereas a true Seer is an initiated visionary. A visionary is so called because he has 'visions,' but due to lack of training in fully developing the spiritual faculties, the visions are invariably colored by the individual's emotional or imaginative nature. The 'vision 'is only partly true, because the visionary's inner faculties are not fully developed.

A Seer is one who 'sees.' Through initiation he has been taught to perceive Truth in all its pristine purity, and thus to pass it on. Therefore, seeing Universal Truth, his Teachings are universal, both in time and place. — Florence Wickenburg


The Theosophical Forum

THEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE