The Theosophical Forum – February 1936


There is a vital relation between our modern age, with its hardbitten objectives and its determinism to the actual, and the purpose underlying a genuine Mystery-School. For it is no exaggeration to say that a Mystery-School, or Esoteric University, is the only place where the Science of the Actual may be found.

It is interesting to observe that though there has never been a time in the history of the known world when so many schools, academies, educational leagues, and universities have flourished as at the present time, it is exactly in this present moment that we are unable to say what is the matter with civilization. We are so far from any knowledge of the actual that we do not really know how to deal with a single one of our problems — poverty, crime, war, drug-addiction, and similar evils. They are all real enough, but their cause and cure is not taught in our universities. We undoubtedly lack some key — some great co-ordinating fact without which we shall never be able to find our way out of the wild disorder which is modern life.

A Mystery-School teaches the facts about the invisible Universe. That is why it is a Mystery-School. The Mysteries are not something which cannot be known: they are facts of life which for the time being are hidden from our comprehension. Was there ever a period in man's development when he was aware of so many unexplained conditions as he is at this moment? We are, as already suggested, surrounded by inexplicable mysteries. We need a school where the facts which underlie them can be explained to us.

A Mystery-School, then, is a University which teaches the science of the invisible Universe, where the reason for things can be found. That is where the key, the great co-ordinating fact, lies — in the existence of an invisible Universe.

When we guide and care for a child we are watching the development of something from the invisible to the visible world — the, to us, occult evolution of an individuality. When we look upon a chair or a crystal we behold a coherence of atoms which we can see only because they are in such rapid motion that they impinge upon our physical vision. But that which the object seen really is — the invisible center of energy holding together those atoms — belongs to the realm of the occult and will never be visible to our physical vision. In the case of the chair it is the idea of some creative brain, co-ordinating visible energies, that has brought the artifact into being: in the case of the crystal it is invisible Nature that has been at work.

What are these energies which are the 'actual' at the back of all visible forms? Is it not here that we must seek for the Science of Reality: in the invisible, the causal worlds?

It is to serve this need, this present insistent demand for a Science of Reality, that the Mystery-Schools of Antiquity have come again into being. Lost to humanity through many centuries, their beacons are once more lighted at this opening of the New Era. And they are restoring to education other lost keys, some among which are imbodied in famous sayings of antiquity: Man, know thyself; Man is a Microcosm of the Macrocosm; As it is above, so it is below; as it is below, so is it above.

It is of course not surprising that science and education have lost these keys. They were, so to speak, thrown upon the dust-heap when Justinian closed the last of the Mystery-Schools. Man's attention was then definitely forced from a study of himself as the key to reality into a study of systems and physical phenomena. When his gaze was directed within it was to a religious phantasmagoria constructed upon theological speculation. And the final return to nature and 'reason' was inevitably hampered by its own unconscious reaction towards the illusive phenomena of the exterior physical world.

But all this has been changing in the last fifty years, particularly since the founding of the Theosophical Society and the publication of The Secret Doctrine. So that the man who is in harmony with the Zeitgeist is all for the mysteries — those metaphysical facts and that science of consciousness which even physicists and biologists begin to recognise as the background of life.

The final key to all our problems is the spiritual psychology of the Mystery-Teachings. Man, know thyself, and in so knowing gain understanding and mastery of the invisible Universe! Above the lintel of the newly re-established Esoteric University we can read the invitation of the Great Teachers, the Mahatmans, who have restored its opportunities to the world: Knock! and it shall be opened unto you!

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