With our next issue this series demonstrating H. P. Blavatsky's brilliant sword-play in defence of Theosophy comes to an end. In the present number she shows how Theosophy towers above physical science, and yet is not mere metaphysics, but a universal transcendentalism which rejects any testimony not based on the evidence of the highest principles in man — the sixth and seventh. Originally appearing in the French magazine, La Revue Theosophique, 1889, under the title "Le Phare de L'Inconnu," the series was first published in translation in The Theosophist, Volume X.
The disciples (lanoos) of the law of the Diamond Heart (magic) will always help each other in their studies. The grammarian will be at the service of him who looks for the soul of the metals (chemist). — Catechism of the Gupta-Vidya
The profane would smile if we told them that in the occult sciences the alchemist could be of use to the philologist, and vice versa. They would understand better perhaps, if they were told that by this word grammarian or philologist we mean one who makes a study of the universal language of corresponding symbols; although only the members of the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society can understand clearly what the term "philologist" means in this sense. All things in nature have correspondences and are mutually interdependent. In its abstract sense Theosophy is the white ray from which are born the seven colors of the solar spectrum, each human being assimilating one of these rays to a greater degree than the other six. It follows, then, that seven persons, each imbued with his special ray, can help each other mutually. Having at their service the septenary sheaf of rays, they have the seven forces of nature at their command. But it follows also that, to reach that end, the choosing of the seven persons who are to form a group, should be left to an expert — to an initiate in the science of occult rays. But we are here upon dangerous ground, where the Sphinx of Esotericism risks being accused of mystification. Yet official Science itself furnishes us the proof of what we say, and we find corroboration in physical and materialistic astronomy. The sun is one; its light shines for all the world; it warms the ignorant as well as the astronomical adept. As to the hypotheses concerning our day-star, its constitution and nature — their name is legion. Not one of these hypotheses contains the whole truth, or even an approximation to it. Frequently they are only fictions soon to be replaced by others. For it is to scientific theories more than to anything else in this world here below that the lines of Malherbe apply:
. . . . Et Rose, elle a vecu ce que vivent les roses,
L'espace d'un matin.
Nevertheless, whether or not they adorn the altar of Science, each of these theories may contain a fragment of truth. Tested, compared, analysed, pieced together, these hypotheses may one day supply an astronomical axiom, a fact in nature, instead of a chimera in the scientific brain.
This does not mean at all that we accept as a portion of truth every axiom recognized as such by the Academies. For instance, in the evolution and phantasmagorical transformations of the sun-spots — Nasmyth's theory of the moment — Sir William Herschel began by seeing in them the inhabitants of the sun, beautiful and gigantic angels. Sir John Herschel, observing a prudent silence concerning these celestial salamanders, shared the opinion of the elder Herschel that the solar globe was nothing but a beautiful metaphor, a maya — thus announcing an occult axiom. The Sun-spots have found a Darwin in the person of every astronomer of any eminence. They have been taken successively for planetary spirits, solar mortals, columns of volcanic smoke (probably issuing from their own academic brains!), opaque clouds, and finally for shadows in the form of willow leaves. At the present time the god Sol is degraded. It is said to be nothing more than a gigantic coal, still glowing, but quite prepared to be extinguished upon the hearth of our little system.
Then there are speculations put forward by some of the members of the Theosophical Society, who, although belonging to the Society have never studied the esoteric teachings. These speculations can never be other than hypotheses, no more than colored with a ray of truth; enveloped in a chaos of fancy and often of unreason. By selecting them from the heap and placing them side by side, one succeeds, nevertheless, in extracting some philosophic truth from these ideas. For, let it be well understood, Theosophy has this in common with ordinary science, that it examines the reverse side of every apparent truth. It tests and analyses every fact put forward by physical science, looking only for the essence and the ultimate and occult constitution in every cosmical or physical manifestation, whether in the domain of ethics, intellect, or matter. In a word, Theosophy begins its researches where the materialists finish theirs.
"Then it is metaphysics you offer us? Why did you not say so before?" object the critics.
No, it is not metaphysics, as that term is generally understood, although it plays a part sometimes. The speculations of Kant, of Leibnitz, and of Schopenhauer belong to the domain of metaphysics, as also those of Herbert Spencer. Still, when one studies the latter, one cannot help but think that Dame Metaphysics is introducing herself at the masked ball of the Academic Sciences adorned with a false nose! The metaphysics of Kant and of Leibnitz — as proved by his Monads — is as far above the metaphysics of our days, as a balloon in the clouds is above a pumpkin in the field below. Nevertheless the balloon, however much better it may be than the pumpkin, is too artificial to serve as the vehicle for the truth of the occult sciences. The latter is a goddess perhaps a little too decolletee to suit the taste of our extremely modest scientists. The metaphysics of Kant taught its author, without the help of the present methods or perfected instruments, the identity of the constitution and essence of the sun and the planets; and Kant affirmed, when the best astronomers, even during the first half of this century, still denied. But this same metaphysics did not succeed in proving to him the true nature of that essence, any more than it has helped modern physics, notwithstanding its noisy hypotheses, to discover the true nature of that essence.
Theosophy, therefore, or rather the occult sciences it studies, is something more than simple metaphysics. It is, if I may be allowed to use the double terms, meta-metaphysics, meta-geometry, etc. — a universal transcendentalism. Theosophy utterly rejects the testimony of the physical senses, if the latter have not spiritual and psychic perception as a basis. Even in the case of the most highly developed clairvoyance and clairaudience, the final testimony of both must be rejected, unless by those terms is meant the photos of Iamblichus, or the ecstatic illumination of Plotinus and of Porphyry. The same holds good for the physical sciences; the evidence of reason on the terrestrial plane like that of our five senses should receive the imprimatur of the sixth and seventh senses of the divine ego before a fact can be accepted by the true occultist.
Official Science hears what we say and laughs. We read its reports, we behold the apotheoses of its soi-disant progress, its great discoveries — of which more than one, enriching the wealthy few, has plunged millions of the poor into still more horrible misery — and we leave it to its own devices. But, finding that physical science has not made a step towards the knowledge of the real nature and constitution of matter since the days of Anaximenes and the Ionian School, we laugh in our turn.
In that direction the best work has been done and the most valuable scientific discoveries of this century have, without a doubt, been made by the great chemist William Crookes. (1) In this particular case a remarkable intuition of occult truth has been of more service to him than all his great knowledge of physical science. It is certain that neither scientific methods, nor official routine have helped him much in his discovery of radiant matter, or in his researches into protyle or primordial matter. (2)
1. Member of the Executive Council of the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society. (return to text)
2. The homogeneous element, non-differentiated, called meta-element. (return to text)