THEOSOPHY, Vol. 17, No. 12, October,
VERY often, inquiries are made as to the "difference" between Theosophy and various other teachings. Not infrequently these inquiries come buttressed with arguments to the effect that there is truth in other teachings, and that of course Theosophy could not reasonably claim it all -- "No one has the monopoly on truth, you know!" Such statements may even be augmented by evidence in the way of detailed descriptions of saintly characters presently enrolled in churches, the pointing out of obvious facts in certain philosophies, the relating of healing accomplished by cultists, and eulogies of "wonderful" men and women who are putting forth attractive "new" ideas and who are declared to be most intelligent, honest, sincere and devoted.
Gainsaying none of the evidence thus presented, but going back to the original question about the difference between Theosophy and other teachings, there is but one answer to make: Theosophy differs from anything only as Truth differs from falsehood. Theosophy is not a system of claims, nor a formulation of guessing men. It is a body of Knowledge, garnered through age-long observation, scientifically conducted, on the part of Super Men -- Beings whose sight pierces below the surface facts and phenomena of life, and who see with Soul-vision, looking "directly on ideas." They whose knowledge Theosophy represents see both from within outward, and from without clear in to the spiritual reality that resides at the heart of all things. They know through self-effort, and so can all men know by pursuing the same method, for Theosophy is Their gift to Their younger brothers. It both presents the Doctrine and reveals the way and means by which each may become the Knower of it. An open mind is called for.
Now, since all things, from least to greatest, are the result of action; and since "every action without exception is comprehended in spiritual knowledge," Truth can exclude nothing. So Theosophy, being knowledge of Life in all departments, includes everything, explains everything -- even falsehood. It differs from nothing that is true, because it is the truth about all things, visible and invisible.
Again, Truth is changeless and cannot be contaminated. Granting then that there is truth in Christian Science, Spiritualism, New Thought, Rosicrucianism, and all the many cults and "isms", why should Theosophists veer away from any of them? Why not be "broad" and "tolerant" by including them all, subscribing to them all, supporting them all, recommending them to enquirers? The student of Theosophy does not "combine" it with any other teaching for the same reason that he would refrain from drinking from a sewer or a poisoned fountain. Water itself can not be contaminated; neither can Truth. But just as water can be used as a solvent and carrier of filth and poisonous substances; so can the pure Teaching, by being deflected into corrupt and poisonous channels become commingled with utter misconceptions. But no matter with what water may be commingled, it will eventually return to the Ocean-mother's bosom pure and clear. And so it is with truth: it shall rise triumphant above the falsehoods spoken in its name. Then why the anomaly of these falsehoods?
Perhaps a quick survey of the genealogy of spurious teachings may help us to understand a little better, these strange perversions: not a teaching but that, traced to its source, will be found to have originated, either directly or indirectly, in the Ancient and Eternal Wisdom Religion. What is the trouble then? How is it that the children of immaculate parentage have become corrupt? How came this straying from the Royal Lineage -- the path of the Eternal Verities? Through small beginnings and slight divergencies, the which, long continued, resulted in large increment and great angles of inclination. The article "a" is such a little letter; but what a vast gulf lies between a religion and religion, a philosophy and philosophy, a science and science! Now this is how it came about -- the only way that such a thing could come about. The direct progenitor of the article "a", in this connection, is an ancient derelict named "my". The parent Truth includes all, enlightens all, teaches love and service of all. But some of the children of Truth, after following the precepts, and having attained some degree of knowledge, and proficiency in its application, began to see a difference between themselves and their brothers and sisters not yet so far developed. The Mother had helped them much, thinking to have their able assistance in nourishing and strengthening her feebler children. But these stronger ones became weary of assisting the rest, with no reward to themselves; and dwelling on this idea, became enamored and enmeshed in their cogitation, and finally left the family of "ALL," and changed their name to "My", yet still claiming their inheritance of Truth. This "My" off-shoot from the original "All" family became very prolific, bringing forth many, diverse, and contentious progeny, now known under the name of "a". All of this numerous brood are haughty graduates from the University of Personal Desire. The diplomas from the innumerable departments of this University are all inscribed, "This is the Way!" And the slogan of every graduate is, "Follow me."
Under the tutelage of such as these come many, in their quest of the Soul, only to meet with disillusionment and fall into scepticism. Too often, such suffering seekers are long in awakening to the fact that a counterfeit bespeaks the Real, somewhere. Others more wary -- perhaps more intelligent, or possibly less guileless and devoted -- than those who have been trapped, stand apart and, impartially looking, perceive "some truth" in all teachings. If this perception is due to intelligent, calm judgment, backed by real Soul-hunger, it will inevitably be discovered that on the opposite side of the shield engraved "some truth", there will be found "much falsehood." This carefully pondered will reveal the implied fact of dire danger, and the possibility of woe unspeakable.
Never yet has error been found to agree with error; hence the "Lo, here; and Lo, there!" But Truth always agrees with Truth. Theosophy is not a collectivity, but a Unity; it is not made up of the truths in other systems; but all the truth in other systems emanated from Theosophy. They are but sparks stolen from the Hearth-Fire of the Mother doctrine, and used to feed the consuming flames of self-seeking, in many places. To the self-gratulatory, Theosophy in its purity and wholeness may not "smile." For it holds no special privileges and bestows no personal honors. It reveals no royal road for the select few; but it offers to all the "precious boon of learning truth, the right perception of existing things, the knowledge of the non-existent." It honors the Self of all and points out the "Kingly Knowledge and the Kingly Mystery" to each who humbly seeks.
"Difference" is not a suitable word to use in regard to Theosophy. Differences do not pertain to it; they all lie in the other teachings, and would be better denominated "divergencies." Theosophy marks out the natural lines of evolution. To diverge from these, is to depart from the inherent Plan of Nature. The Goal can not be reached through by-paths and side-lines. These, one and all, lead nowhere and end in bottomless quagmires. Very different is the fate of any beguiled into them, from the glorious destiny of those who follow in the foot-steps of the Predecessors, striving earnestly "to fit themselves, by study and otherwise, to be the better able to help and teach others." Vast, indeed, is the difference between slavery and freedom!