THEOSOPHY, Vol. 13, No. 12, October,
IN closing the first two volumes of her "Secret Doctrine," H.P.B. said that they constituted only a "commencement," a "prelude" for the assistance of the "True Theosophists" to whom her great work is dedicated. "Until," she wrote, "the rubbish of the ages is cleared away from the minds of the Theosophists, it is impossible that the more practical teaching should be understood." She claimed only to have made a start at felling and uprooting "the deadly upas trees of superstition, prejudice, and conceited ignorance" in the mind of the race at large, by providing and massing the facts, the theories, the dogmas, the practices and their fruits of our modern civilization, and examining, contrasting, comparing them, one with another, in the light of history, of reason, of logic, of experience, for their respective success or failure in solving "the riddle of existence" -- in ameliorating the conditions of mankind by satisfactorily explaining the problems of life here and now, as they incessantly confront and overwhelm each and all of us. In doing all this, she did not go outside the ordinary intelligence and the ordinary experience of the average man: she called in no "evidence aleunde," as the lawyers term it.
From this point of view both "Isis Unveiled" and "The Secret Doctrine" are monumental treatises on the theory and practice of jurisprudence -- not that "law and equity" which constitutes the theory and practice of Courts in determining moot and disputed civil and criminal cases, but that actual and inescapable jurisprudence which requires and compels every man to be his own plaintiff and defendant, his own witness, his own judge and jury, his own Court of Last Resort, the enforcer of his own Decrees, in all the business of Life -- his conduct towards himself, his fellows and nature.
In modern times Gibbon, Macaulay, Milman, Buckle, Lecky, many men of science, many theologians, many publicists and statesmen, many economists, many jurists and philosophers as well as philanthropists, have deeply studied and pondered the problems of human life, have delved with immense labor, patience and erudition into the past experience of the race. They have applied the fruits of their research in writings on the religions, sciences, arts, as developed by our ancestors in the individual, family and communal relations which make up a civilization. They are all stories of failures to achieve and maintain an ideal. "Magnificent, though in ruins" might epitomize the practical results accomplished. Nations and civilizations, like individuals, are born, grow, develop, put forth mighty efforts -- and perish. Humanity fails and falls, falls and fails. This is the history of Man. The various races now existent, from the extreme of aboriginal savagery or decadence to the full and slackly held petals of the flower of our own civilization, do but present in living flesh before our eyes the story of the whole past. The best that the noblest minds of the race, those who in every epoch have seen that within that civilization itself was contained the elements of its own destruction -- these lofty and philanthropic men today, no less than in all the past, who see the handwriting on the wall, see, alas, no better or other course than to point out the staring facts, to repeat the ancient and futile shibboleths which have not saved former civilizations, which have not prevented the poisoning of our present one, which possess no power other than of mere expedience and palliation.
Vast as are her two chief works in contents, H.P.B. has summarized all this in such form that the common mind as well as the elect of our age can grasp the sufficiency of the evidence, the certainty that "the law in the case," as understood and applied by high and low, does not accord with the Constitution of Nature and of Man, and that what is required, if we are not to add one more to the long list of failures, is an altogether new conception of the Fundamental Principles of Life and Action than are embodied in the philosophy, science and religion of mankind. It is in the fundamental views of life -- views which are unquestioningly accepted by the votaries of each -- that she finds "the rubbish of the ages," and which Theosophists must clear away from their minds. That which men dignify and revere as Philosophy, Religion, and Science is what she means. Their mental deposits, their moral influence, their effect on conduct in all men and in each man she calls "superstition, prejudice, and conceited ignorance." Whether in the form of established unquestioned Codes, or in the subtler form of individual and racial preconception and bias, they operate as an external Authority and an internal Sanction, to which each devotee submits and which each seeks to impose on others.
The extent to which any student of "Isis" and "The Secret Doctrine" has accomplished for himself the clearance from his mind of this "rubbish of the ages" is undeniably evident within and without. To what extent have
"science, theology, every human hypothesis and conception
born of imperfect knowledge, lost forever their authoritative character
in his sight"
as they had in hers and in her Masters? To what extent have the principles, the teachings, the examples and the applications of Theosophy cleared away from the minds of Theosophists the "superstition, prejudice, and conceited ignorance" inherent in human nature -- the mental and moral fruitage of reliance on and obedience to false fundamental views of Life and duty?
Totally differing from any other Philanthropist since the days of Krishna, of Buddha, and of Christ, H.P.B. did precisely as those great Predecessors and Teachers did -- she swept aside the "law and the prophets" -- the Authorities and the false Fundamental views -- of all the sectarians, and redirected the mind of the race to the Eternal Verities.
Necessarily her work was both destructive and creative, and such must be the work of the Theosophist in clearing his own mind. There is that in the nature of man which cannot tolerate Falsehood, once it is seen to be falsehood; which reveres as an ideal and emulates in conduct what it esteems to be Truth. It is not too much to affirm that no man can deliberately adopt as a canon of faith, a criterion of morals, a code of ethics, a fundamental basis for thought and action, what he sees and knows to be fundamentally imperfect; or abstain from efforts to clear his mind of rubbish, his nature from bias, once he sees these in himself for what they are.
Masters know what "rubbish of the ages" affects us all, overlays, blinds, stupefies, the inner man, and prevents the God Within from accomplishing his undying task, his immortal destiny through no matter what eons of suffering and defeats. They have become what They are by clearing Their own minds of this rubbish. They know there is no compromise possible between the human and the divine views of the Eternal Verities; They know that "the self of matter and the Self of spirit can never meet. One of the twain must disappear; there is no place for both" in the mind and heart of the True Theosophist.
The Christians thought H.P.B.'s quarrel was with religion. The Scientists thought that her quarrel was with Science. The Spiritualists thought that her quarrel was with their Communications. Not so. She taught true Religion, true Science, true Psychology in one -- Theosophy -- and exemplified all three in her own Person and Work.
Theosophists think they can compromise, in themselves and in their work, by adopting and applying the methods of modern religion, modern science, modern spiritualism, in their Theosophical study and work. They can, and do in all too many instances. This is but to gild and harden the "rubbish of the ages" in themselves and in others -- is but to repeat history, as other Students of other Teachers have done, till human nature prevailed and divine nature was lost to sight.