The Theosophical Forum – October 1936

WHY STUDY THEOSOPHY? — J. H. Venema

a. In order to understand and follow the sublime rhythm of the Universe;
b. in order to understand the working of consciousness;
c. and in this way to be able to drink of the spiritual elixir of life and to comprehend the ineluctable law of Nature: Brotherhood.

Sooner or later we have to face facts; why not sooner! Theosophy will help you. Procrastination here is the thief of the ever-flowing spiritual elixir of life offered to you, of a power to quicken your spiritual evolution and to help establish the Brotherhood of Humanity. In answering the question: Why study Theosophy? let us first of all keep the above three statements firmly in our minds. They are key-notes.

At present we hear people talk much about "problems" of various kinds. How Theosophy would help to solve them! The trouble is that we see in many cases the causes of them but do not go far enough, i. e. to accept the consequence of seeing the causes, namely that somehow, somewhere, Nature's rhythm has been disturbed and that equilibrium can be obtained only if both as individuals and as nations we begin to follow again that mighty rhythm. No use trying to battle against the cosmic laws!

Problems? Unrest, anxiety, loneliness, being fed up with the humdrum of life? Wondering if this world is mad? No thoughts about the question or the truth of immortality, because this life requires so much attention? Wondering if human beings can ever find truth? Try the study of Theosophy! Ah, but listen, don't throw it aside after a superficial look at it or after concluding that it "requires a bit of study." Don't begin by saying: It doesn't give me sufficient facts to go by, before you have honestly tried. Don't indeed throw the blame on Theosophy, the ancient divine Wisdom, which has lived throughout the ages and will live in the future, because it is based on the very structure of the Universe. My invariable reply to people who say that Theosophy didn't give them what they had expected is: Theosophy has not yet done anything for you? What have you done for Theosophy? Studied it, penetrated into it, and above all, made it a living power in your life? If you have not done the latter, how can you judge? Have you ever passed on the greater vision that this ancient Wisdom gives to a distressed soul? Have you ever told somebody about it who knows less than yourself? That's the way to realize the truth of Theosophy and to see that it is highly practical. If Theosophy does not lead you straight to practical life, you cannot have studied it. No use for me to study those "Rounds and Races," I heard somebody say. Ah, my good fellow, if you just knew what intensely practical life lies in those very teachings about the Rounds, the Races, and the Hierarchies, how they would solve human and world problems, what a discovery you would have made! For Theosophy will make you understand — and prove it! — the sublime eternal rhythm of the Universe and make you follow it, yes, even in your daily work; it will make you conscious, so to speak, of your consciousness; it offers you the sparkling elixir of life. But the requisite is that you work a little for it and try to make it a living power in your life.

Why study Theosophy! In reality the answer lies in the three above-mentioned statements; but in order to elucidate them, I am going to defend two theses. And in defending them I challenge the world! I challenge contradiction. For has not experience taught me that contradiction of them in the end inevitably leads to confirmation, light, vision — if you contradict in order to find, to seek? Again I say: no use fighting against the cosmic laws. The other day a thinking young man came to one of our Theosophical meetings to be able to prove that "Theosophy was a hopelessly wrong doctrine and against the teachings of Christ." But to do so, he said, "I must first know exactly what it is." Right-O! He regularly attended our study-class for a time, contradicting here and there, questioning . . . then coming to conclusions. He is a hard-working Theosophist now, i. e. he studies and passes on what he learns in the right way.

Now then, our two theses:

a. It militates against all philosophic, spiritual, and logical thinking to postulate separateness between man and man (living or so-called dead), or between man and the Universe around him, with everything there is in it.
b. It militates against all philosophic, spiritual, and logical thinking to relegate immortality of the human spirit or soul to a nebulous "hereafter.'

Defending these theses we first of all point to the majestic, eternal rhythm of Nature. The knowledge and recognition of this fact — and who would deny it with the facts before him? hands us a real master-key. Look at the planets, the stars and their courses, the cosmic atoms — solar systems, and we see order, harmony, intelligence and law. Then penetrating as far as we can into the infinitesimal, the atoms, we see the same order, intelligence, and harmony. Who would maintain that the Universe is chaos when looking into the deeps of space, gazing at the marvelous beauty of a starlit night. Coming — going, endless rhythm, smaller rhythm — greater rhythm; greater rhythm — cosmic rhythm; the majestic ebb and flow of the Boundless. Read the masterly way in which H. P. Blavatsky pictures this rhythmic movement of the universe in her The Secret Doctrine, and who is to be blamed if this fascinates him to his dying day? A sublime truth, and yet, good heavens, how intensely practical! For let us come to conclusions: we realize that we can by our actions, thoughts, and emotions, for a shorter or longer time disturb this rhythmic movement, especially in its smaller cycles, and then we wonder that "circumstances turn against us," be they circumstances of the individual or of nations or whole parts of the world, continents. Then in these circumstances we have to find a "way out." Yes, study Theosophy! For we shan't find a "way out" unless we know well how we "got in'!

There is that rhythmic movement in the Universe which I might well call the constant urge to restore equilibrium, to bring harmony where it has been disturbed. It is Karman, a mighty propelling rhythm, a propelling force upwards if we work along with it, a dreadful counter-current if we work against it, that is, against Nature's heart. And here comes the greater vision: this Karmic rhythmic movement with us or against us, according to our actions and thoughts, works in and through that other rhythmic cycle, the coming and going of man — rebirth. Everything in this mighty rhythm is interdependent, interconnected, so that if I try to disturb my fellow-being's rhythm, or that of my younger brothers, the beasts, yes even of the plants, I can only disturb along with it my own rhythmic movement upwards. And I shall have to restore the equilibrium somewhere, somehow, myself, or I shall for ever find myself working in a hopeless way against the great rhythmic currents, i. e., never find harmony and peace again. For the great purpose of this same mighty rhythm is EVOLUTION, from the smaller to the grander, more majestic rhythm, and in the far future to cosmic rhythm. The divine cosmic entities are such because they have reached this cosmic movement.

Brotherhood a vague empty formula? Would you preach separateness between man and man, between man and the universe, if the rhythmic movement of the cosmos manifests itself in the very breathing of your lungs, in the beating of your heart, in the circulations in your body, reflecting the circulations of the Cosmos? Yes, indeed, why study Theosophy! In order to be able to use and apply this wonderful key, and in daily life. Don't tell me that Theosophy is not intensely practical.

And these same thoughts lead our minds to consciousness and immortality. The rhythmic coming back of man — reincarnation — must show us, if we study the Theosophical teachings about it properly, that we are immortal here and now. What a change does this bring into our lives! The theological doctrine of Creation and Doomsday naturally led to the dreadful one-life-theory and a nebulous "hereafter"; and what a dreadful immortality in that hereafter! In her own masterful way H. P. Blavatsky in The Key to Theosophy showed the illusion and illogic of such a conception. On the basis of the grand rhythm, Theosophy tells you that there is continuity of consciousness in that compound entity called man. But as he passes through many spheres, worlds, or planes, there is change of consciousness or rather consciousnesses. But, heavens above, this change does not only take place when man "shuffles off the mortal coil"; it takes place every moment right here on this earth during our life in the body; and when we study these changes we get downright proofs that we are immortal here and now and that there are not only many "hereafters," but also, as we say in Dutch, many "herebefores.'

Why study Theosophy! In order to get the power of discrimination between the purely human consciousness-center and the spiritual and the divine consciousness-centers. To see them working in the smaller rhythmic movements of our lives here, in sleep and death — the twin-brothers — hence to try to lead a spiritual life here, to master the self by the Self, and so to know, to prove to yourself, the truth about immortality. We have a word in Dutch for "becoming conscious" (bewustwording), and Theosophy teaches us to become conscious of our consciousnesses, i. e., to experience the fact that consciousness is fundamental in everything; it means to experience how this consciousness works, how it evolves, and how it is connected with universal consciousness. And a great mystery, I assure you, lies behind this teaching that will fascinate you more and more and — teach you who and what are those other yous, your fellow-beings. It will make you drink of the spiritual elixir of life. It is to be found!

Last century a movement was coming back — a rhythmic movement, based on the rhythm of the Universe, established at the right time by those who knew by first-hand knowledge and experience of this rhythm, of the mysteries of consciousness, and who had drunk of the spiritual elixir of life. We call them the Masters of Wisdom, Compassion, and Peace. H. P. Blavatsky, their servant, tells us about them. That movement is the Theosophical Society and as it existed in ancient times, in ages long ago, it came back at the proper time. You may study Theosophy outside that movement and be satisfied. But far greater work is the study of it inside the movement, for unity makes strength, and by that greater strength you will feel more of the above described sublime rhythm, and you will be able to study Theosophy in a more profound way. Why study Theosophy indeed? — TO LEARN TO LIVE, TO LIVE REALLY!


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