October 2007 Newsletter
The following articles are reproduced from the October 2007 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
"So-called ‘Occultism’, or rather Esoteric Science, has to be traced in its origin to those Beings who, led by Karma, have incarnated in our humanity, and thus struck the keynote of that secret Science which countless generations of subsequent adepts have expanded since then in every age, while they checked its doctrines by personal observation and experience. The bulk of this knowledge -- which no man is able to possess in its fullness -- constitutes that which we now call Theosophy or ‘divine knowledge’. Beings from other and higher worlds may have it entire; we can have it only approximately."
By N. C. Ramanujachary
Reprinted from The Theosophist, September 2007
The word ‘occultism’ is derived from ‘occult’, which has its origin in the Latin word occulere, meaning ‘to conceal’. Madame H. P. Blavatsky brought currency to this word in her articles and books, using it as identical in meaning to adhyātma-vidyā in India. In her essay ‘Practical Occultism’, she even suggests that ‘it is easy to become a Theosophist’ but ‘it is quite another matter to put oneself upon the path which leads to the knowledge of what is good to do, as to the right discrimination of good from evil, a path which also leads a man to that power through which he can do the good he desires, often without even apparently lifting a finger’. She raised the status of ‘occultism’ to that of ‘Wisdom’ (jñāna) in the East and to that of ‘Science’ in the West. She began to mention the terms ‘Occult Wisdom’ and ‘Occult Science’ very often in her writings. Many times she refers in The Secret Doctrine to ‘Occult Philosophy’ as a description of the accumulated wisdom of the ages.
She refers to Occult Science as the science of the secrets of Nature -- physical, psychic, mental, and spiritual. She identifies ‘Kabbalah’ in the West with the occult science, while in the East she refers to ‘mysticism, magic, and yoga philosophy’ which constitute the ‘seventh darśana, there being only six darśana-s in India known to the world of the profane’.
Occultism has come to mean ātma-vidyā in India, which is a comprehensive term for all knowledge about the manifest and the unmanifest. When the term was introduced in the West, and references to Hermes, Kabbalah, and modern neo-Platonism were made in explanation, learners started distinguishing between ancient and modern occultism and wondering how they could be fused. When a request was made to T. Subba Row to explain what ‘modern occultism’ was, he wrote a short letter in reply. This letter contains much worthwhile information, fit to be recorded for all time.
T. Subba Row asserts that there is no difference between ancient and modern occultism. Occultism is ‘founded on the same principles’ but is ‘expressed in varied terms in different ages’. His explanations of the term are as follows: ‘It is the Science or Wisdom giving a true and accurate explanation of the workings of the laws of Nature, together with their application, throughout the Universe.’ ‘It is the science of the origin, destiny, and powers of the universe, and all things therein.’. ‘“Occultist” again is a term derived from “occult”, which is identical in spirit and letter to the term “seer” (darśi) or “yogi” (mystic).’
An occultist uses ‘the invisible forces of Nature’ in providing currents of heat, electricity, etc. ‘as elements in their higher and more spiritual forms’. The scientist on earth has to split these ‘elements’ on the lower material plane and make ‘primary substances’ of them for experimentation. For an occultist all Nature is a ‘unity’. This unity is ‘composed of manifestation on different planes, the perception of which planes depends on the development of the perceiver’. Thus we see that this unity is made up of constituents at various levels or planes, not ‘make-believe’ but an inherent root or source of all. This primary understanding of the term ‘unity’ is necessary for one to move further into matters of spiritual or divine import, particularly concerning the energies at work.
An occultist believes that all things in manifestation develop through ‘evolution’ and this is ‘the law pervading all’. The Divine Logos is the original source. The human, a lower expression, has ‘almost infinite development’ as his or her capacity. This is vouched for as an Eternal Truth. Man in the course of his development attains additional powers (faculties) of perception and action. He becomes capable of controlling elements. All the powers attributed to a ‘personal god’ gradually become tools for his use.
An occultist believes that Nature and its Laws are One. All action by men and women of the world ‘contrary to these laws’ will be destroyed by Nature. A developed man or one who would aspire to attain divinity must therefore ‘become a co-worker with Nature’. Action in conformity with the One Law alone sustains and brings good to humanity. Men and women of the world should work ‘unswervingly’ for the highest good.
Occultism gives ‘a rational sanction for right conduct’. No other system offers this sanction. Subba Row is very definite when he says ‘morality is a cosmic law’ and ‘not a superstition’ or superimposition by man.
Realization of the ‘unity of Nature’ is the fundamental knowledge necessary for an aspirant. Then he easily assents to the idea that ‘one life pervades all’. This ‘one life’ is at work within and without in all men and women in the world. Within, it is the so-called ‘conscience’ (antarātmā), which discriminates right from wrong, but is also the seed of ‘a higher faculty of perception’, ‘a light to guide’. This is reflected as Will, a force capable of indefinite increase and extension (icchā-śakti). This seed is the jñāna, and as it is propelled by icchā, modifies itself into kriyā-śakti. Icchā-, jñāna- and kriyā-śakti are interrelated and intertwined energies in all human beings. They have their root in the original source.
The forces of Nature have been personified in mythology. They thus become ‘partial expressions’ of the Universal Truth. An intuitive study of mythological accounts will pave the way to the attainment of occult knowledge handed down from generation to generation since time immemorial, from Teacher to pupil, carefully guarded against distortion, and ‘pure’ in its essence and form. This occult knowledge is passed on from Teacher to pupil only after a strict examination of the ability of the latter, so that it can do no harm and suffer no misuse at his hands.
There are certain higher faculties of mind, called in general extrasensory powers, accessible to some, such as thought-reading, psychometry, clairvoyance, mesmerism, and so on. Witnessing or experiencing these make us believe that there could be many ‘unsuspected powers and faculties’ latent in us. These can be scientifically cultivated and perfect control over them attained by an occultist. The attainment of such powers will help us to become ‘free from the ordinary cares of life, and immune to anxiety’. They tend to raise the mind above the plane on which material things affect one’s equanimity, and with such equanimity alone ‘the pursuit of occultism becomes possible’.
Occultism is the Secret Wisdom and is the only foundation of all ancient philosophies and religions in the world. It is wisdom that is relevant to all space, all states of mind, and all time. The Initiates and Adepts of occultism form an ‘unbroken succession’ called the ‘occult hierarchy’. Its throne is stated to be never vacant, suggesting that spiritual guidance is available to all eligible.
Because of the use of the term ‘occultism’ in Theosophical literature, particularly by Madame Blavatsky and T. Subba Row, it was fancied to be a theme of altogether modern invention. A nation or a generation of men and women, here and there, may close its eyes to the ‘divine light of wisdom’ or attempt to misinterpret or misrepresent it, but it ‘will not cease to shine’ in its full splendour and glory at all times and in all places.
Dr. N. C. Ramanujachary is a national lecturer of the Indian Section and had lectured several times at the Singapore Lodge.
A Course in Theosophy and Meditation Course
As part of our continuing effort to achieve our twin-object of popularizing a knowledge of theosophy and induction of new members, we will be starting a new theosophy course. Once again, the theosophy course will be combined with the popular meditation course, both to optimize our resources and also to give attendees the benefit of two courses at the same time.
The schedule of the combined Meditation Course and the 26th edition of A Course in Theosophy is given in the October 2007 Programme.
Theosophy encompasses the science of life and the philosophy of living and has helped many people in the world. All members can help in the mission of popularizing a knowledge of theosophy. You will be doing humanity a great service by reaching out and bringing newcomers to the Society, to expose them to the theosophical teachings.
Religion --The Cause of
Two-Thirds of the World’s Evil
The belief in God and religion are central to the lives of most people. Both subjects, God and religion, are not taken lightly by the average man and they do not lend themselves to intellectual discussion, if not altogether considered blasphemous to discuss at all. Indeed, religion is a potentially volatile subject and is known to lead to great strife amongst people. In studying the Mahatma Letters, we come across some notes made by the Master K.H. on what A. O. Hume called a “Preliminary Chapter on God,” intended as a preface to a book he was writing on Occult Philosophy. Some of the most profound comments are found in the Master’s notes including the following remarkable statement.
“I will point out the greatest, the chief cause of nearly two thirds of the evils that pursue humanity ever since that cause became a power. It is religion under whatever form and in whatsoever nation. … It is belief in God and Gods that makes two-thirds of humanity the slaves of a handful of those who deceive them under the false pretence of saving them. ”
For the benefit of those who missed the Study Class on the Mahatma Letters, we will have a special study class on Saturday, 27 October 2007, at 4 p.m. to go over this particular letter on God and religion written almost exactly 125 years ago. This will be followed by a video entitled “Is Religion Really the Cause of Two-Thirds of the World’s Evil?” with Professor Robert Ellwood pondering over this statement and its relevance today in this 35 min. programme.