The Theosophical Forum – November 1942

THE T. S. AND THE LOST CAUSE OF MATERIALISM — G. de Purucker

Last words of Dr. de Purucker to the members of the International Headquarters Lodge, spoken at the close of their regular study-meeting, held September 13, 1942.

The origin of the Theosophical Movement began not in arbitrary decisions by the powers that be, but because of conditions of cyclic necessity. Thus, when H. P. B. came, she came because of a need to keep alive in men their spiritual intuitions, and by so keeping them alive, prevent men from falling under the sway of a world ruled by brute force, in which might was considered right and in which the only justice was the booty of the strongest. She knew that the will of brutal power would govern mankind unless checked and stayed by those innate rules of right residing in the souls of men.

How came about this situation in our world? Because of two things: A religion which had become thoroughly materialistic, thoroughly; so much so that men no longer believed that this universe was run by spiritual powers enforcing the rule of right; and therefore that men could act pretty much as they pleased if they but rendered lip-homage to an ecclesiastical set-up. This idea coming from the religious side of man's knowledge, education, and social contacts, was more than strengthened by an equivalently evil power emanating from the ranks of modern scientists. And this latter power had incomparably more influence on men's minds than the former, the dicta of the Church and its Hierarchy. Why? Because men had begun to believe that the noble research into nature undertaken by science gave us truth; and men were justified in so believing, for that is the real work of scientists: the investigation of facts and the collating of them into a comprehensive philosophic mold. And a great many scientists do work most earnestly and with energy and most praiseworthy perseverance to that noble end. But it is a very different thing when men who themselves had already lost all belief in a spiritual control of the universe, began to theorize and lay down laws of theoretic speculation regarding the origin of the universe and the origin of man, the working of the universe and the continuation of man therein, and the future of the universe and man's future in it. These were not scientific facts discovered by research. They were theories only, speculations only, hypotheses only, derived from the imagination of men who had lost a belief in a spiritual control of the universe. Sincere efforts these were, of course, but they were based on no spiritual belief, and therefore these scientists could not render into a comprehensive whole, a philosophic whole, the facts in nature which they had discovered.

Thus, examine those early days of complete materialism beginning about the time of Voltaire and others. I use Voltaire as an example, not because he was the originator of this era; but he was one of its earliest products and one of its noblest. He was a fighter against dogmatism of any kind. More glory to him! But his work likewise destroyed belief in a spiritual universe.

Thus, then, what were these scientific theories on the one hand and religious theories on the other hand? That this universe runs itself, that there is no spiritual power in it controlling it or guiding it, and that things happen by chance not by law. This was uttered out of one side of the mouth and out of the other side of the mouth of scientists came the equally fervent statement: the universe is caused by the laws of nature. With one side of the mouth they preached fortuity and chance and with the other side they preached laws. It never seemed to strike them that these two preachments were mutually destructive.

What were, then, the factors that Darwin stated made evolution, or what were the conditions under which evolution took place, or again what caused evolution? — phrase it as you wish. It was a struggle — it was a struggle in which the fittest survived, not the best, not the noblest, but the strongest. This was thought of as a law of nature. There was not a word in Darwin or in Lamarck or in Haeckel or in Huxley, or in any of these great men so called, of fifty or eighty years ago, about this world's being ruled by intrinsic moral sanctions, not a hint of it. It was a rule of brute force in which the strongest survived, a struggle in which the fittest survived, and the fittest meant the most brutally strong, not the best. Thus, as I have often pointed out, a man and a shark in the ocean — which is the more fit to survive in case a conflict should arise between them? The shark will survive because it is in its element. He is the fitter in that element and he will kill the man. Yet the man is the nobler creature, the better, the more evolved.

That is what Darwinism is: chance action by nature in a desperate struggle to survive, in which the weak are eaten or go to the wall and brutal strength only is the cause of victory. These ideas are destructive of the soul-life of mankind, whether they are born from theology or science. Get these facts clear, and examine, as we Theosophists have for all these years, the lapses from logic in our scientific works, the lapses in the reasoning of our scientists.

It was into a world governed by a belief in brutality as nature's sole way of functioning that came the God-Wisdom through H. P. B., and, as she proclaimed, her first work was to keep alive in man his spiritual intuitions, so that he would react against this "rule" so called and mis-called, this "accident" in nature, this rule of brutal force. Look at the actions of the peoples of the earth during the last hundred years or more — no, the last three or four hundred years. Look at the world today. The result of soul-loss, of the stifling of the spiritual instincts of the human being. Indeed we Theosophists have reacted with power against these teachings, whether from the theologic or the scientific side. We have faced the scorn and the ridicule of a day when even to speak of the human soul meant loss of caste.

Look what H. P. B. did. Almost alone and single-handed she challenged the thought-life of the world and brought about by her courage and her teachings the founding of the Theosophical Society, proclaiming aloud and to all and sundry that the world was ruled by moral law and that he who infringed that law whether under the hypocritical guise of virtue or whether openly and desperately as the criminal does — that he who breaks that law shall pay. Today the world no longer believes that. It believes that the only way to make what they think is a criminal pay is to use greater brutal power than anyone else does. They no longer believe in the rule of spiritual law. They no longer believe that this universe of ours is governed by moral sanctions. They take the law into their own hands.

Is this the truth? Is this religion? Is this philosophy? Is this science? It is not religion, it is not philosophy, it is not science. All these three in their essence proclaim the rule of law in nature; that this law is spiritual and therefore moral; that there is cause and there is effect emanating from that cause, and that these effects are ineluctable and cannot ever be avoided: they should, can, and will haunt your footsteps as the cart follows the foot of the ox which draws it — a magnificent old Buddhist statement of the Dhamma-pada written in a day when men believed that the universe was ruled by spiritual and moral sanctions.

Do an evil deed and, sure as the cart follows the foot of the ox which draws it, that evil deed will haunt you and find you out in this life or in a future one. This is religion, this is philosophy, this is science; especially science, teaching as this last does its doctrine of cause and effect, its doctrine that effect follows cause and is alike unto its parent cause. The world no longer believes in these things. The peoples no longer believe in them. Only those fine spirits whose intuition flames brighter than in the majority of our fellow human beings have disbelief in these teachings of materialism now dying: dying in religion, dying in philosophy, dying in science, but whose maleficent consequences afflict us like Atlantean karman even today weighing heavily upon us.

So it is important to support in the science of our time all those elements which uphold the belief in a spiritual governance of the world. It is important for us as Theosophists to support in philosophy those elements, those philosophic elements, which teach that the universe is controlled by intrinsically moral sanctions. It is important for us Theosophists to support with deepest sympathy and understanding those elements in religion which, casting aside the materialism of the last 1800 years more or less, teach that divinity filleth all vessels, whether vessels of honor or vessels of dishonor; for to divinity neither the one nor the other is dishonorable. That divinity is the spirit universal out of the womb of which come all beings and things, and back into which celestial haven in due course of the revolving ages all things and all beings shall one day return.

I think, dear Brothers and Companions, that the most needed thing today for us Theosophists is this: to do our utmost to bring about a renascence, a rebirth, in the minds of men of the truth that this universe of ours is under the most strict cosmical moral law, in other words of harmony; for what in the universe is harmony, in the human soul we call the ethical instinct. Remember that the man who is sincerely convinced that his thoughts and feelings are going to result in action and that he is responsible for this action, will take thought and long and searching thought before he acts. There you are. There is the secret of the whole thing. Just that simple law, a belief by us men that this universe of ours is not the product of chance; that it is infilled with moral power and that this moral force resides in the human soul and that this moral force in the human soul should be our guide in our daily conduct. If men followed just that simple rule our life here on earth would be a heaven when compared with what it now is. All too long has thinking man been under the illusion of maya, that he could take nature's laws into his own hands and in his feeble manner with his weak and shaky intellect attempt to administer cosmic justice.

How the gods must laugh at us! And if they weep, as some say they do, how at times their celestial eyes must be filled with the tears of divine pity for man!


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