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Nov 24, 2004 05:01 PM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck

Nov 24 2004

Dear Friend:

Perhaps this might help clear up what THEOSOPHY means by "truth."

What is Truth? Is it an endless quest ?

If you wish to look at this metaphysically, then indeed you have an almost
irresolvable paradox.

If you take Karma and Reincarnation into account, and add to that the
concept that the REAL MAN is an eternal Monad which continually reincarnates
under the impulse inherent in himself and to all the many types and kinds of
beings that make up surrounding Nature -- and its many forms and substances
(also made up of immortal monads) the paradox unravels:

An immortal being is not concerned with time as he uses many bodies in which
to become "perfect." He is however concerned with his present position and
with his motives for future work and direction. So, I would consider those
to be important.

But what does "perfect" mean? Let us assume it means to become thoroughly
conversant with all aspects of life and the ways and methods it uses to
organize and nurture its many forms and creatures - all living together --
and continually interacting. It is, as one might suggest, a "path" to
wisdom. It might be surmised that all great teachers / reformers have used
this symbol.

To me, it also implies that of the utmost importance is a knowledge of that
which is righteous, compassionate, generous, altruistic and legitimate from
that which is selfish, vicious in any way, and isolationist.

Let us say that an individual resolves not only to learn all Nature can
teach, (that is obvious, as it lies all around him, and his own life
depends on Nature's generosity) but that his response will be an attempt to
help Nature in her many works. 

How can he do this effectively? How can he avoid interfering in Nature's
works? Both of these views need t be studied and it has to be seen if they
form a part of the greater study: "to become thoroughly conversant with all
aspects of life and its many forms and creatures - all living together and
continually interacting."

Would this not imply an effort gently but continuously applied to so govern
his own life and responses as to equilibrate all existence around him, and
assist in the process of general evolution? This may be called "brotherhood
in action." It is also service.

An example of this kind of sublime SERVICE is offered to us to consider in
SECRET DOCTRINE, Vol. I, pp. 207-210. There the nature, function and
devotion of a Planetary Spirit is described.

The SPIRIT (ATMAN) which is universal (as MAHATMA) already exists as a
basis in every smallest aspect of Nature, and also in Man, as the ATMA is
the base for the 6 other principles which extend between that SPIRIT and the
MATTER of which our physical body is the grossest representative.

Our Consciousness is ONE, and it pierces up and down the 7 planes of being
and serves to uphold the memory of the Souls' experience on any plane and in
every state. 

The vehicle for the consciousness on any plane or any state of matter
depends on the

effort made by the Individual to refine and purify the matter that he uses
there in each state or plane. This effort marks the evolution and progress
of Nature and the important service that each human performs in this
process. It is the process of

lifting the whole mass of "matter" up to the condition, nature and stature
of CONSCIOUS GOD-HOOD. This is done gradually and over an immense period of
time. There is neither rush, nor hurry in this work. All beings have to be
given an equal chance. The Intelligence that animates as a "monad" the
grain of sand (figuratively) of today will aeons hence, become through
evolution and assistance, then by self-effort (our stage) a full Mahatma. 

The problem is now identified. How does an embodied Mind, forced to use a
brain of matter, view the period and condition of living beyond the birth
and death of this personality it is now living in.? It becomes clear that
the Personality of this present

existence has limits to its present views, but no limits to its potentials.

It is also clear that theoretically the INDIVIDUALITY (ATMA-BUDDHI-MANAS)
periodically illuminates with its wisdom the Personality when this latter
seeks for DIVINE WISDOM. All true wisdom comes from within. It is one with

H.P.Blavatsky wrote an article WHAT IS TRUTH ? in which she makes clear many
things. Let me extract a few quotations from that to illustrate:


Truth is the Voice of Nature and of Time--

Truth is the startling monitor within us--

Naught is without it, it comes from the stars,

The golden sun, and every breeze that blows. . . .


WHAT is Truth?" asked Pilate of one who, if the claims of the

Christian Church are even approximately correct, must have known

it. But He kept silent... But the same question stands open from

the days of Socrates and Pilate down to our own age of wholesale

negation: is there such a thing as absolute truth in the hands of

any one party or man? Reason answers, "there cannot be."

There is no room for absolute truth upon any subject whatsoever,

in a world as finite and conditioned as man is himself. But there

are relative truths, and we have to make the best we can of them.

In every age there have been Sages who had mastered the absolute

and yet could teach but relative truths. For none yet...has, or

could have given out, the whole and the final truth to another

man, for every one of us has to find that (to him) final

knowledge in himself. As no two minds can be absolutely alike,

each has to receive the supreme illumination through itself,

according to its capacity, and from no human light.

The greatest adept living can reveal of the Universal Truth only

so much as the mind he is impressing it upon can assimilate, and

no more... The sun is one, but its beams are numberless; and the

effects produced are beneficent or maleficent, according to the

nature and constitution of the objects they shine upon.

Polarity is universal, but the polarizer lies in our own

consciousness. In proportion as our consciousness is elevated

towards absolute truth, so do we men assimilate it more or less

absolutely. But man's consciousness again, is only the sunflower

of the earth. Longing for the warm ray, the plant can only turn

to the sun, and move round and round in following the course of

the unreachable luminary: its roots keep it fast to the soil, and

half its life is passed in the shadow. . . .

Still each of us can relatively reach the Sun of Truth even on

this earth, and assimilate its warmest and most direct rays,

however differentiated they may become after their long journey

through the physical particles in space. To achieve this, there

are two methods. On the physical plane we may use our mental

polariscope; and, analyzing the properties of each ray, choose

the purest.

On the plane of spirituality, to reach the Sun of Truth we must

work in dead earnest for the development of our higher nature. We

know that by paralyzing gradually within ourselves the appetites

of the lower personality, and thereby deadening the voice of the

purely physiological mind--that mind which depends upon, and is

inseparable from, its medium or vehicle, the organic brain--the

animal man in us may make room for the spiritual; and once

aroused from its latent state, the highest spiritual senses and

perceptions grow in us in proportion, and develop pari passu with

the "divine man." This is what the great adepts, the Yogis in the

East and the Mystics in the West, have always done and are still


But we also know, that with a few exceptions, no man of the

world, no materialist, will ever believe in the existence of such

adepts, or even in the possibility of such a spiritual or psychic

development. "The (ancient) fool hath said in his heart, There is

no God"; the modern says, "There are no adepts on earth, they are

figments of your diseased fancy." ...

Such articles as our editorials, ...are not intended for

Materialists. They are addressed to Theosophists, or readers who

know in their hearts that Masters of Wisdom do exist: and, though

absolute truth is not on earth and has to be searched for in

higher regions, that there still are, ...some things that are not

even dreamt of in Western philosophy.

It thus follows that, though "general abstract truth is the most

precious of all blessings" for many of us, as it was for

Rousseau, we have, meanwhile, to be satisfied with relative

truths. In sober fact, we are a poor set of mortals at best, ever

in dread before the face of even a relative truth, lest it should

devour ourselves and our petty little preconceptions along with


As for an absolute truth, most of us are as incapable of seeing

it as of reaching the moon on a bicycle.

Firstly, because absolute truth is as immovable as the mountain

of Mahomet, which refused to disturb itself for the prophet, so

that he had to go to it himself. And we have to follow his

example if we would approach it even at a distance.

Secondly, because the kingdom of absolute truth is not of this

world, while we are too much of it. And thirdly, because

notwithstanding that in the poet's fancy man is ... in reality a

sorry bundle of anomalies and paradoxes, an empty wind bag

inflated with his own importance, with contradictory and easily

influenced opinions. He is at once an arrogant and a weak

creature, which, though in constant dread of some authority,

terrestrial or celestial, will yet...

. . . like an angry ape,

Play such fantastic tricks before high Heaven

As make the angels weep.

Now, since truth is a multifaced jewel, the facets of which it is

impossible to perceive all at once; and since, again, no two men,

however anxious to discern truth, can see even one of those

facets alike, what can be done to help them to perceive it?

As physical man, limited and trammeled from every side by

illusions, cannot reach truth by the light of his terrestrial

perceptions, we say--develop in you the inner knowledge. From the

time when the Delphic oracle said to the enquirer "Man, know

thyself," no greater or more important truth was ever taught.

Without such perception, man will remain ever blind to even many

a relative, let alone absolute, truth. Man has to know himself,

i.e., acquire the inner perceptions which never deceive, before

he can master any absolute truth.

Absolute truth is the symbol of Eternity, and no finite mind can

ever grasp the eternal, hence, no truth in its fullness can ever

dawn upon it. To reach the state during which man sees and senses

it, we have to paralyze the senses of the external man of clay.

This is a difficult task, we may be told, and most people will,

at this rate, prefer to remain satisfied with relative truths, no

doubt. But to approach even terrestrial truths requires, first of

all, love of truth for its own sake, for otherwise no recognition

of it will follow.

And who loves truth in this age for its own sake? How many of us

are prepared to search for, accept, and carry it out, in the

midst of a society in which anything that would achieve success

has to be built on appearances, not on reality, on

self-assertion, not on intrinsic value? We are fully aware of the

difficulties in the way of receiving truth. The fair heavenly

maiden descends only on ...the soil of an impartial, unprejudiced

mind, illuminated by pure Spiritual Consciousness; and both are

truly rare dwellers in civilized lands...

How profound the remark made by Byron, that "truth is a gem that

is found at a great depth; whilst on the surface of this world

all things are weighed by the false scales of custom," is best

known to those who are forced to live in the stifling atmosphere

of such social conventionalism, and who, even when willing and

anxious to learn, dare not accept the truths they long for, for

fear of the ferocious Moloch called Society...

And now, having passed in review all this, pause and reflect, and

then name... that exceptional spot on the globe, where TRUTH is

the honoured guest, and LIE and SHAM the ostracized outcasts? YOU

CANNOT. Nor can any one else, unless he is prepared and

determined to add his mite to the mass of falsehood that reigns

supreme in every department of national and social life.

"Truth!" cried Carlyle, "truth, though the heavens crush me for

following her, no falsehood, though a whole celestial Lubberland

were the prize of Apostasy." Noble words, these. But how many

think, and how many will dare to speak as Carlyle did...? Does

not the gigantic appalling majority prefer to a man the "paradise

of Do-nothings,"... of heartless selfishness? It is this

majority that recoils terror-stricken before the most shadowy

outline of every new and unpopular truth...

SELFISHNESS, the first-born of Ignorance, and the fruit of the

teaching which asserts that for every newly-born infant a new

soul, separate and distinct from the Universal Soul, is

"created"--this Selfishness is the impassable wall between the

personal Self and Truth. It is the prolific mother of all human

vices, Lie being born out of the necessity for dissembling, and

Hypocrisy out of the desire to mask Lie. ...SELFISHNESS kills

every noble impulse in our natures, and is the one deity, fearing

no faithlessness or desertion from its votaries. Hence, we see it

reign supreme in the world and in so-called fashionable society.

As a result, we this god of darkness under his

trinitarian aspect of Sham, Humbug, and Falsehood, called

RESPECTABILITY. Is this Truth and Fact, or is it slander? Turn

whichever way you will, and you find, from the top of the social

ladder to the bottom, deceit and hypocrisy at work for dear

Self's sake, in every nation as in every individual.

But nations, by tacit agreement, have decided that selfish

motives in politics shall be called "noble national aspiration,

patriotism," etc.; and the citizen views it in his family circle

as "domestic virtue."

Nevertheless, Selfishness, whether it breeds desire for

aggrandizement of territory, or competition in commerce at the

expense of one's neighbour, can never be regarded as a virtue.

We see smooth-tongued DECEIT and BRUTE FORCE... called Diplomacy,

and we call it by its right name. Because the diplomat bows low

before these two pillars of national glory and politics, and

...gets by deceit what he cannot obtain by force--shall we

applaud him? A diplomat's qualification--"dexterity or skill in

securing advantages"--for one's own country at the expense of

other countries, can hardly be achieved by speaking truth, but

verily by a wily and deceitful tongue; and, therefore...a living,

and an evident LIE...Every class of Society lives on LIE, and

would fall to pieces without it...

Society of the middle classes is honeycombed with false smiles,

false talk, and mutual treachery. For the majority religion has

become a thin tinsel veil thrown over the corpse of spiritual


Even Science, once the anchor of the salvation of Truth, has

ceased to be the temple of naked Fact. Almost to a man the

Scientists strive now only to force upon their colleagues and the

public the acceptance of some personal hobby, of some new-fangled

theory, which will shed lustre on their name and fame. A

Scientist is as ready to suppress damaging evidence against a

current scientific hypothesis in our times, as a missionary in

heathen-land, or a preacher at home, to persuade his congregation

that modern geology is a lie, and evolution but vanity and

vexation of spirit....

Lie has spread to such extent--supported as it is by custom and

conventionalities--that even chronology forces people to lie...

Where then is even relative truth to be found? If, so far back as

...Democritus, she appeared to him under the form of a goddess

lying at the very bottom of a well, so deep that it gave but

little hope for her release... This is why, perhaps, all the

votaries of hidden truths are forthwith set down as lunatics.

However it may be, [the theosophist] will hold to fact, pure and

simple, trying to proclaim truth whensoever found, and under no

cowardly mask. Bigotry and intolerance may be regarded as

orthodox and sound policy, and the encouraging of social

prejudices and personal hobbies at the cost of truth, as a wise

course to pursue in order to secure success ...

...Theosophy is divine knowledge, and knowledge is truth; every

true fact, every sincere word are thus part and parcel of

Theosophy. One who is skilled in divine alchemy, or even

approximately blessed with the gift of the perception of truth,

will find and extract it from an erroneous as much as from a

correct statement. However small the particle of gold lost in a

ton of rubbish, it is the noble metal still, and worthy of being

dug out even at the price of some extra trouble. As has been

said, it is often as useful to know what a thing is not, as to

learn what it is.

[The theosophical philosophy] offers as many facets of the One

universal jewel ...and says...: "Choose you this day whom ye will

serve: whether the gods that were on the other side of the flood

which submerged man's reasoning powers and divine knowledge, or

the gods ...of custom and social falsehood, or again, the Lord of

(the highest) Self--the bright destroyer of the dark power of

illusion?" Surely it is that philosophy that tends to diminish,

instead of adding to, the sum of human misery, which is the


Theosophy allows a hearing and a fair chance to all. It deems no

views--if sincere--entirely destitute of truth. It respects

thinking men, to whatever class of thought they may belong. Ever

ready to oppose ideas and views which can only create confusion

without benefiting philosophy, it leaves their expounders

personally to believe in whatever they please, and does justice

to their ideas when they are good...

To sum up the idea, with regard to absolute and relative

truth...Outside a certain highly spiritual and elevated state of

mind, during which Man is at one with the UNIVERSAL MIND--he can

get nought on earth but relative truth, or truths, from

whatsoever philosophy or religion.

Were even the goddess who dwells at the bottom of the well to

issue from her place of confinement, she could give man no more

than he can assimilate. Meanwhile, every one can sit near that

well--the name of which is KNOWLEDGE--and gaze into its depths in

the hope of seeing Truth's fair image reflected, at least, on the

dark waters. This, however, as remarked by Richter, presents a

certain danger. Some truth, to be sure, may be occasionally

reflected as in a mirror on the spot we gaze upon, and thus

reward the patient student. But, adds the German thinker, "I have

heard that some philosophers in seeking for Truth, to pay homage

to her, have seen their own image in the water and adored it

instead." ...It is to avoid such a calamity--one that has

befallen every founder of a religious or philosophical

school--that [Theosophy] offers...only those truths which they

find reflected in their own personal brains. They offer the

public a wide choice, and refuse to show bigotry and intolerance,

which are the chief landmarks on the path of Sectarianism...

This, however, only regards the merely intellectual aspect

of philosophical truths. Concerning the deeper spiritual, and one

may almost say religious, beliefs, no true Theosophist ought to

degrade these by subjecting them to public discussion, but ought

rather to treasure and hide them deep within the sanctuary of his

innermost soul. Such beliefs and doctrines should never be rashly

given out, as they risk unavoidable profanation by the rough

handling of the indifferent and the critical.

Nor ought they to be embodied in any publication except as

hypotheses offered to the consideration of the thinking portion

of the public. Theosophical truths, when they transcend a certain

limit of speculation, had better remain concealed from public

view, for the "evidence of things not seen" is no evidence save

to him who sees, hears, and senses it.

It is not to be dragged outside the 'Holy of Holies," the temple

of the impersonal divine Ego, or the indwelling SELF. For, while

every fact outside its perception can, as we have shown, be, at

best, only a relative truth, a ray from the absolute truth can

reflect itself only in the pure mirror of its own flame--our

highest SPIRITUAL CONSCIOUSNESS. And how can the darkness (of

illusion) comprehend the LIGHT that shineth in it?

[ Extracted from H P B'S article: WHAT IS TRUTH ? "Lucifer"

Feb 1888 ]


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