Sunrise Magazine Online

What is Truth

By Gottfried de Purucker

Probably not in historical times has there been such a widespread awakening in religious feeling and in general religious interests as exists today; but no longer do men quibble and quarrel over mere questions of form, theological or ecclesiastical nor over mere hair-splitting definitions involving doctrines. Rather is the feeling today in men's hearts that there is a concealed but not unsolvable Mystery behind the outward seeming of Nature which men's minds only belittle in any attempt at a description of it; and that the only way by which to acquire this reality is for oneself to penetrate into the temple of Truth. There is nothing so chastening to the mind as this feeling of reverential aspiration: nothing that wipes away so quickly the feelings of egoism and ignorant self-sufficiency of judgment. All men are able to see if they will but fit themselves for the seeing, and no man with this conviction in his heart will ever declare dogmatically "I am the prophet of truth!"

Truth may be defined as that which is Reality, but present human intelligence can make but an approximate approach to this Cosmic Real which is measureless in its profundity and infinite in reach, and therefore never fully comprehensible by the intellect. There are, however, relative truths, and it is these that the mind can comprehend and therefore can understand.

That original Truth, from which all great religions and philosophies sprang in their origin, the student may discover for himself, if he will; and he shall then know that Truth is ageless and deathless, but yet takes up its abode in every earnest human heart, where it awaits recognition in order to pour its flood of light into the waiting mind. In each age a new revelation of this Truth is given forth to the peoples of the Earth; and each such 'revelation' contains the same old Message that previous revealings had brought to the world, albeit the 'new' installment may be couched in a later and different tongue. Therefore, behind all the various religions and philosophies there is a secret or esoteric Wisdom, common to all mankind, existent in all ages, and revealed in one form or another as the cycling centuries slowly pass. This Wisdom is Religion per se, universal and impersonal, and its human proponents, however grand, are merely the Voice announcing it to mankind from age to age.

It was through the crystallization of ideas around a sublime core that the dogmatic religions were born. Some great primal truth, or body of verities, is given forth at cyclical times in human history, and a new religion is then and there begun; and as long as the original promulgator with his magnificent mind and high intuitional faculty is there to direct and to guide the works and channels of the movement, it prospers well. But when he passes on, then come smaller men on the scene: less intuitive, less profound in their views, and often ambitious and it may be self-seeking; and they also teach, and add accretions of their own imaginings to the primal spiritual verities. The consequence is ecclesiastic or religious dogma in the modern sense; and therefore ultimate disappointment and sorrow ensue to the faithful; for man clings very closely to his religious ideas, because fundamentally he is a religious being, since his own inmost nature is not only linked by unbreakable bonds with the Cosmic Spirit, but is a ray of that Cosmic Spirit itself.

Religion and Philosophy and Science are fundamentally but one thing manifesting in three different manners. They are not three things outside of man, foreign to him. They are themselves activities of the human psychological and spiritual natures; and while they can be considered as three different ways of arriving at Truth, or Reality, this is merely for convenience of expression. They are like the three sides of a triangle: if any one or two sides are lacking, the figure would be imperfect. Religion, Philosophy, and Science, must unite and all at the same time, if we wish to attain to the actual truths of Nature. In themselves, they represent truth in proportion as these three functionings of the human spirit are uninhibited by mental or emotional veil; for Truth in itself as man can understand it is but a systematic formulation of Nature's own operations and functions — not merely physical nature, but rather, the vast realms of the inner consciousness.

Thus, religion, philosophy, and science compose one triform method of understanding — what? The nature of Universal Nature and its multiform workings; and not one of these three activities of the human spirit can be separated from the other two if we wish to gain a true picture of things as they are in themselves. For Science is an operation of the mind in its endeavor to understand the How of things. Philosophy is that same striving of the human spirit to understand the Why of things. And lastly, Religion is that same striving of the human spirit towards union with the Cosmic All.

Let men once realize and feel the force of the verity that true religion and philosophy and science all spring from within, from the higher nature of man, and are therefore different but closely similar pathways in man's journey towards Truth, and instinctively man will search for larger knowledge of the unifying spiritual-intellectual power behind and within and beyond these three functionings of his consciousness, all having one tendency, one trend, because all working towards one objective: to reach the Heart of Things — Truth, Reality.


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