The Theosophical Forum – June 1948

THE ICE OF SCHOLARSHIP — A. Birch

The Eye Doctrine and the Heart Doctrine are two different things. Head-Learning and Soul-Wisdom are the two powers in man which must be mutually adjusted to achieve balance. Yet "personality" is so subtle and so persuasive in its ways that those subject to it — and who are not? — find it very difficult to attain and maintain that balance.

It is a curious but true proposition that if a god as he is came among men as an active power, he would be an imbecile. Without the intermediate apparatus of the "mind" he or it would have no means of expressing itself. Several interesting deductions follow from this proposition, one of them being that mind in the sense of intellect, brain-mind intellect, is not a divine thing, though it may be on the way to becoming one. This being so, the cultivation of mind is a means to an end and not that end itself.

There is a strange fascination in scholarship when the student has passed a certain point. We are apt to grow into the feeling of scholarship for its own sake; it is a feeling which grows by feeding until often a scholar will imagine there is nothing more important.

Why should it not be so?

The reason is clear in the light of Theosophical teaching. It is that the brain-mind is part of the "mortal" side of man's composite nature. After the death of the body the intellect dies in its turn, but what we may call the Intellect persists. It persists by assimilating itself to the "immortal" part, technically called the Higher Manas, which in its turn blends with the still more spiritual part, the Buddhi. Sometimes in ancient literature the Higher Manas is called the Intellect, but that does not identify it with the brain-mind function and the psyche or emotional nature, the desire nature, which is also one of the "mortal" parts of man.

The translation of "psyche" as "soul" means very little because two people appear to have the same definition of soul, and very few think of it as a vehicle for something else, which is a good suggestion as to its meaning.

Therefore it is necessary for the Divine and Spiritual in man to have their vehicles as a means of expression if they are to accomplish anything on the human plane or level. But if these vehicles are cultivated for their own sakes the object gained is of more or less temporary advantage. We have to live and work on this plane at present, therefore it is quite right to keep our tools sharp and polished, so far as we can, but it is important to remember that they are only tools, means to an end.

What is far higher than the mind and scholarship is Intuition in its true sense. This intuition is one of the functions of a higher part of man than the mere thinking intellectual apparatus. It is a spiritual function rather than intellectual and the man who uses it — all have it, active or latent — attains instantly to perceptions which for the intellect may take long years of study.

In the Bhagavad-Gita the distinction between these various rungs on the ladder of consciousness is well illustrated and in the recension by W. Q. Judge runs as follows: The thinking principle is higher than the senses, the discriminating principle is higher than the thinking principle, and He is superior to the discriminating principle.

This classification calls the psychic, emotional and desire parts of man's composite nature "the senses" — they are all of the lower, mortal, earthly nature. In the letter of James, the "Brother of the Lord," the phrase runs, "earthly, sensual, devilish," and the Greek word for sensual is "psychic." The psyche belongs to the senses, not to the higher part.

Magnificent as it is and sublime the heights to which it attains, scholarship alone is cold, dry, brilliant. "It needs the gentle breezes of Soul-Wisdom to brush away the dust of our illusions," as the Voice of the Silence says. Crowned with the warm living human power of love and sympathy and understanding for all beings, scholarship is a splendid enterprise. Alone it is cold and lifeless, however sparkling it may seem. As Mr. Judge once said to an enquirer, "I do not want the ice of scholarship to form around me."


The Theosophical Forum

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