What Is Truth?

Kenneth Morris

Men tend to think their own things the best things: that what they do not know is inferior to what they do know; that their own religion is the only true one, and their own the greatest, most valiant and happiest of nations. So rises that kind of nationalism which leads to war, and that kind of religion that leads to intolerance and persecution. Knowledge of human history would dispel the one delusion; knowledge of the world's faiths would dispel the other. The Superior Race is the human race; the Highest Religion is not one of the religions, but Religion itself, the Truth that underlies them all.

You may ask, How should we humans know what is Truth? or say, It is impossible that we should. But why should it be impossible? In the apple are seeds which contain everything that is in the apple tree; now apple trees can grow from them. We are apples on the tree of the universe; in us must be everything that is in the universe. By search within we could find out what secrets the stars hide from us; why the Boundless is strewn with an infinity of universes; what suns are for, and what planets; and why there are human beings and for what reasons they prosper or are miserable. It must be so; self-knowledge must be the key to all knowledge, just because the universe produces us and all the forces, powers, capacities, faculties and essences that are in it go to our making and are latent in us also. As we are conscious beings, so is the universe. As we have many grades of consciousness in us, so there is an infinity of grades of consciousness in the universe. As we can evolve: can master the lower elements in our being and develop a higher consciousness and character in ourselves, so is the universe evolving, and all the infinite myriads of beings that make it up. And as you cannot find or imagine, and there cannot be, a higher or truer purpose for our existence than that we should so evolve, so it becomes certain that evolution is the great business of all existence. The stars are evolving, and the atoms; the gods of the Milky Way and the infusoria in a drop of water. There is no particle of matter but is the embodiment and final outward expression of an evolving entity; and there is no human being who, if he knew his business and the purpose of his existence, would not set his mind to freeing himself from the things in himself that keep him down, and growing in himself the things that would make him valuable to humanity.

Have there been men who knew Truth? There have: Great Masters of Religion who spoke with authority and whose words and teachings ring with that knowledge. They came to give an impetus to human evolution by teaching men how to live in accordance with the Way of Nature, the Laws of Life, and what that Way is, and what those Laws. They were the Founders of the religions; they did not preach different religions, but Religion itself; which is also the Science of sciences and essential Philosophy. Jesus's philosophy is not given in the gospels; that he had one is proved by a couple of texts however: To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven — mysteries meaning, secret teachings; and, Whoso doeth the will of the Father shall know of the doctrine. There were then secret teachings, a doctrine, to know; something not givable to the multitude; and the way to come to know them was by loving your enemies, doing good to them that hated you; forgiving unto seventy times seven times — which is as good as saying to infinity, because if you forgive a man 490 times you will have acquired the habit and will go on doing it automatically. But put these ethical teachings of Jesus side by side with the grand philosophical teachings of the Buddha — who taught the same ethics — and one sees there was a reason for all Jesus said: his injunctions were not impracticable counsels of perfection, but plain common sense. If the universe is constructed as the Buddha, Laotse, Krishna, Sankaracharya and others said it was, then the only safe and sound way you can react to enmity and hatred is with love. The world needs men who will seek knowledge of truth that they may help humanity with it, who will grow wise and large-hearted by putting truth into practice. Study the teachings of the great Saviours of mankind and you will find that they all taught the same Divine Wisdom: that the purpose of existence is evolution; that every entity is an evolving consciousness, that we can carry out the purpose of our existence by making ourselves daily greater and nobler; that to do so we must live in such and such a manner. A man can do that, or he can stay still and waste his life playing with existence; or again he can cultivate selfishness and go down. These two courses, staying still and going down, involve suffering and misery; going forward and up, evolving by living in accord with the way of Nature, means happiness, strength, courage and wisdom. This doctrine is indeed Divine Wisdom; because one must give it a name, Ammonius Saccas in the third century referred to it by the Greek term Theosophy which literally translated means "Divine Wisdom." The term continued in use on and off by the philosophers through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It is not a religion: it is Religion itself.

(From Sunrise magazine, January 1952; copyright © 1952 Theosophical University Press)

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