There is a tremendous responsibility involved in the giving out of truth, or what purports to be truth. Few men have any realization of the enormous power of ideas over the understanding. The spread of religions, the ready acceptance of philosophical principles, the luxuriant growth of political fads, are all examples of the manner in which men may be swept from their intellectual and moral moorings of principle by the ideas sweeping over their minds and overwhelming both will-power and sense of moral responsibility. It is by no means a truth, as every sane man knows, that ignorant dabbling with a fact of Nature will inevitably produce nothing but things that are good. If so, then, to use a figure of speech, a little child could safely play with dynamite, an idiot could enter a chemical laboratory and safely experiment with various kinds of explosives. Nature is impersonal; as the old saying goes, the rains from heaven fall alike on the just and on the unjust; but it is in the mind and heart of man that reside the sense of moral responsibility and the understanding of what that responsibility means.
If you plant a seed, a thought, in the mind of another man or woman, and that seed, as all such mental seeds do, enters like a thief in the night into his mind and finds lodgment therein, he may be totally unprepared to combat it when it fructifies as an effect, and it may actually ruin his life when it does so fructify; because in the meantime it has found an appropriate ground and has grown apace, blossoms forth as a flow of psychological force of which he becomes the unfortunate victim. For the ideas were not his own; they did not originate with him; he understands neither their origin nor the manner of controlling them. Who then is responsible, he or you? You, certainly.
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What did Paul of the Christians mean when he said to "prove all things and to hold to that which is good"? Who is the judge of the good? Is it not the inner faculty of judgment and understanding? Or are we going to take somebody's say-so and prove all things that come to us by that somebody's say-so? If so, we are merely testing one dogmatic declaration by another dogmatic declaration, and this we positively refuse to do.
Anything you accept from outside, you take either on trust or on faith, unless you have the faculties developed within yourselves of judgment, discrimination, intuition, and understanding, these four being fundamentally one. Is it not therefore clear that the information enabling one to prove all things is the developing of the inner eye, so to speak? Where else on earth, or in the heavens, or in the regions under the earth, could such an infallible touchstone be found?
Hence, if you want to prove all things, then do it in the manner that Paul of the Christians said, and that all other great philosophers and thinkers have said: Cultivate within yourself your inner faculty of understanding; and this can be done by deep thinking, meditation, refusal to accept others' say-so, by the exercise of will-power in an inflexible determination to solve questions for yourself, cost you what it may.
Such mental and spiritual exercise develops the faculties within you; or, to put it more truly, tears down the barriers preventing those faculties from expressing themselves; tears away the veils from before the face of the inner spiritual sun, whose rays are those inexpressibly fine things within yourself. Do this and exercise yourself in it, and as surely as the sun deluges the earth with light will you attain to what you are seeking, the faculty of proving all things by knowing them for true or for false. There is the whole thing in a nutshell.
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Truth must satisfy the entire nature of man if it be announced as such; otherwise we claim it is not truth; it is hypothesis; it is a theory; it is an imperfectly investigated fact of Nature, perhaps. In any case, if it does not satisfy the devotional, the intuitional, the mystical; if it does not satisfy the intellectual, the co-ordinating faculties in us; if it does not satisfy our inquisitive and penetrating mind, that is, our astral-physical mind or ordinary brain-consciousness — in other words, if it does not satisfy the three inner operations by and in and through which only the human consciousness can act — then we claim there is something wrong, and we refuse to accept it otherwise than as a speculation, clever perhaps, possibly true, but not yet proved.
So then, if there be in the world a truly fundamental system of teaching, a religion-philosophy-science — which it must be if it comprises all the operations of human consciousness — then that Truth must include all these three. Otherwise it remains imperfect, and its dicta can be not otherwise than imperfect likewise.
(From Sunrise magazine, October 1951; copyright © 1951 Theosophical University Press)