The disease of compromise

THEOSOPHY, Vol. 14, No. 7, May, 1926
(Pages 313-315; Size: 9K)
Theosophy Magazine site (

PEACE, unalloyed, exists only on the spiritual plane pure and simple. Material life subsists by the separateness of things, and is therefore inherently paradoxical; and being paradoxical, being separative, can only be an existence of eternal strife.

The meaning of manifestation is that primordial spirit constantly seeks through material experiences for Svasamvedana -- the power of self-consciousness and self-analysis; thus, individuality. But individuality can be gained and maintained only by excluding all else, or by including all else within the sphere of consciousness. Individuality is sought in the lower kingdoms by engulfing and destroying other individual forms of life and by excluding and holding at bay still others, ever striving in their turn to invade, disrupt, and destroy. Let any being cease for a moment this offensive and defensive activity, and it will vanish from the plane of manifestation.

The human plane, that of self-perception, being reached, the turning point between evolution of consciousness into matter and involution of that consciousness into spirit has been reached.

Human animal existence is separative and destructive; spiritual existence is unifying and integrative, and the ego which is spiritualizing itself has to carry on the process no longer by taking but by giving, no longer by destructive imbibition but by self-identification with all nature, though operating from the firm basis of its individual self-consciousness.

But man is the miniature summation of the Universe; within him material evolution and spiritual involution proceed simultaneously and interlocked. Therefore, however tall he may grow in the stature of spiritual wisdom, his feet to some extent are enmeshed in matter throughout the evolutionary cycle. And so ever the Master of Wisdom has to deal with all the voracious and destructive elements in nature which seek to encroach upon and destroy individuality and self-consciousness.

Spirit, as it releases itself from the bonds of matter, identifies itself with All Spirit, and so gains that power by which matter itself can be spiritualized. But the tendency and desire of matter is to absorb within itself and obliterate spiritual power and spiritual knowledge. The race of the spiritual man must be run from beginning to end, clean-cut and without faltering, and with no narrow margin of doubtful victory at the goal. Therefore the spiritual entity, first of all, has to retain its nature and individuality intact, and must never go backward or relinquish any particle of knowledge gained or any self-purification achieved. Here we perceive the meaning of a great analogy -- the relation between the higher and lower selves of man and the higher and lower forms of knowledge, spoken of in the Ancient Works.

That higher knowledge is Atma Vidya -- Theosophy -- produced by the Higher Self of humanity and maintained clear and intact down through the ages by that Higher Self, manifest in the persons of the Masters. That higher knowledge is essentially and basically "vast, substantial, and unchanging" -- the Ultima Thule beyond which human intellect at this stage cannot go.

The lower knowledge is relative knowledge, all that knowledge which can be achieved by the unaided efforts of the Kama-Manas of humanity -- intellect cogitating on the animal plane. It is that knowledge whose rise, now as theology, now as magic, and again as science or philosophy, is seen in every civilization. In each cycle it approaches very near to the boundary which divides relative knowledge from true knowledge, but never quite attains; though in truth, its power and sustenance are drawn from the decaying fragments of former incarnations of the Archaic Science.

As the Higher Self of every man stands immovable in the midst of his being, the ultimate savior and redeemer of his nature, so Ancient Wisdom is maintained in the world as the eternal redeemer of mankind, as the finally dependable rectifier and purifier of his science, theology, and philosophy. The dividing line between the higher and lower selves in man is almost impossible to discern, so closely welded are his spiritual and animal natures. Just so difficult to perceive is the line between truly spiritual wisdom and the higher aspects of that lower relative knowledge of science and theology. It is that close relation in the individual man which makes possible all his self-deceptions and delusions, which enables him to clothe his carnal ambitions with the aureole of righteousness, under the guise of religion, or hide his egoistic and appetite-controlled mental activities, all too often, with the high-sounding name of "science."

Such perversions are compromises and signs of spiritual weakness; and a compromise is victory for the cohorts of matter, defeat for Spirit. It is a mixture of activity, but action ultimately must become absolutely purified.

The outer world is the reflection of the inner. Man's mental activities in regard to his intellectual surroundings are the projection of the unseen activities proceeding on the battlefield where the great war between his spiritual and animal natures is under decision. Just as the elemental forces of the human being continually tear down, pervert or destroy and dissipate his own spiritual striving and aspirations, so in the outer world these disintegrative forces are represented by the will to tear down, to partition, destroy and dissipate the Ancient Science.

Men have nothing to fear from the outside. The true enemies of their higher selves are the internal forces of their natures. The most potential enemies of Theosophy are those who, sincerely believing, carry into their relationships with it their own internal chaotic condition, seeking to force it into compromise with the lower knowledge as they compromise with their own animal selves. And many -- very many -- sacrifice piecemeal on the altar of public or "scientific" opinion that very doctrine which has been their mental and moral salvation -- that doctrine which would not have endured in the world through any given decade, had all its servitors adopted their own attitude toward it.

The Higher Self in man does not exist as a source of supply or a means of delectation for his animal self. Its purpose is complete subjugation, purification, control and spiritualization of that lower self. The purpose of Theosophy in the world is not that it be used as an intellectual gratification for speculators, not as a means on the part of the intellectualist of attaining personal knowledge devoid of interest in the welfare of humanity, not as a means of gratifying the emotional natures of the religious-minded. It is in the world as an eternal standard and measuring-rod by which the progress and status of mankind and its sciences, philosophies, and religions can be accurately gauged; as a power through which its forms of thought may clear themselves of error, delusions, and delay, if so minded.

Theosophy has carried the wisdom of primordial Divinity across the unfathomable gulf of ages. It has outlived in turn countless civilizations, each with its sciences and philosophies, hailed by their devotees as the last attainable word in human knowledge; and it has maintained its intactness from the very beginning, against the destructive and disintegrative efforts of those who, believing themselves devoted, nevertheless sought to draw Wisdom down to the plane of animal intellectualism, to call down Spirit from its divine heights because they lacked the strength and courage to lift themselves to those heights.

Spirit, flowing through the lower channels, is not Spirit, but matter; Theosophy, degraded and corrupted, in compromise with the ephemeral views of the lower reason, is no longer Theosophy, but a hybrid intellectualism, as potential for evil as in its pure state it is potential for good. Let us not deceive ourselves or confuse the issue.