reading, not between the lines and within the words.
Nov 02, 2005 05:21 AM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
ON READING THEOSOPHY IN SEARCH OF TRUTH
A suggestion from the author of LIGHT ON THE PATH :
There is another way of reading, which is, indeed, the only one of any use
with many authors. It is reading, not between the lines but within the
words. In fact, it is deciphering a profound cipher.
All alchemical works are written in the cipher of which I speak; it has been
used by the great philosophers and poets of all time. It is used
systematically by the adepts in life and knowledge, who, seemingly giving
out their deepest wisdom, hide in the very words which frame it its actual
mystery. They cannot do more.
There is a law of nature which insists that a man shall read these mysteries
for himself. By no other method can he obtain them. A man who desires to
live must eat his food himself: this is the simple law of nature—which
applies also to the higher life A man who would live and act in it cannot be
fed like a babe with a spoon; he must eat for himself. …
To a deaf and dumb man, a truth is made no more intelligible if, in order to
make it so, some misguided linguist translates the words in which it is
couched into every living or dead language, and shouts these different
phrases in his ear. But for those who are not deaf and dumb one language is
generally easier than the rest; and it is to such as these I address myself.
There are four proven and certain truths with regard to the entrance to
The Gates of Gold bar that threshold; yet there are some who pass those
gates and discover the sublime and illimitable beyond. In the far spaces of
Time all will pass those gates.
But I am one who wish that Time, the great deluder, were not so
over-masterful. To those who know and love him I have no word to say; but to
the others— and there are not so very few as some may fancy—to whom the
passage of Time is as the stroke of a sledge-hammer, and the sense of Space
like the bars of an iron cage, I will translate and retranslate until they
1. Kill out ambition.
2. Kill out desire of life.
3. Kill out desire of comfort.
4. Work as those work who are ambitious.
Respect life as those do who desire it.
The four truths written on the first page of Light on the Path,” refer to
the trial initiation of the would—be occultist. Until he has passed it,
cannot even reach to the latch of the gate which admits to knowledge.
Knowledge is man’s greatest inheritance; why, then, should he not attemptto
reach it by every possible road ?
The laboratory is not the only ground for experiment; science, we must
remember, is derived from sciens, present participle of scire, “to
know,”—its origin is similar to that of the word “discern,” “to ken.”
Science does not therefore deal only with matter, no, not even its subtlest
and obscurest forms. Such an idea is born merely of the idle spirit of the
Science is a word which covers all forms of knowledge It is exceedingly
interesting to hear what chemists discover, and to see them finding their
way through the densities of matter to its finer forms; but there are other
kinds of knowledge than this, and it is not every one who restricts his
(strictly scientific) desire for knowledge to experiments which are capable
of being tested by the physical senses.
Everyone… has guessed, or even perhaps discovered with some certainty, at
there are subtle senses lying within the physical senses. There is nothing
at all extraordinary in this; if we took the trouble to call Nature into the
witness box we should find that everything which is perceptible to the
ordinary sight, has something even more important than itself hidden within
it; the microscope has opened a world to us, but within those encasements
which the microscope reveals, lies a mystery which no machinery can probe.
The whole world is animated and lit, down to its most material shapes, by a
world within it. This inner world is called Astral by some people, and it is
as good a word as any other, though it merely means starry; but the stars,
as Locke pointed out, are luminous bodies which give light of themselves.
This quality is characteristic of the life which lies within matter; for
those who see it, need no lamp to see it by. The word star, moreover, is
derived from the Anglo-Saxon stir-an,” to steer, to stir, to move, and
undeniably it is the inner life which is master of the outer, just as a
man’s brain guides the movements of his lips. So that although Astral is no
very excellent word in itself, I am content to use it for my present
The whole of “Light on the Path” is written in an astral cipher and can
therefore only be deciphered by one who reads astrally. And its teaching is
chiefly directed towards the cultivation and development of the astral life.
Until the first step has been taken in this development, the swift
knowledge, which is called intuition with certainty, is impossible to man.
And this positive and certain intuition is the only form of knowledge which
enables a man to work rapidly or reach his true and high estate, within the
limit of his conscious effort.)
To obtain knowledge by experiment is too tedious a method for those who
aspire to accomplish real work; he who gets it by certain intuition, lays
hands on its various forms with supreme rapidity, by fierce effort of will ;
as a determined workman grasps his tools, indifferent to their weight or any
other difficulty which may stand in his way. He does not stay for each to be
tested—he uses such as he sees are fittest.
All the rules contained in “Light on the Path,” are written for all
disciples, but only for disciples —those who “take knowledge.” To none else
but the student in this school are its laws of any use or interest.
To all who are interested seriously in Occultism, I say first—take knowledge
To him who hath shall be given. It is useless to wait for it. The womb of
Time will close before you, and in later days you will remain unborn,
without power. I therefore say to those who have any hunger or thirst for
knowledge, attend to these rules.
They are none of my handicraft or invention. They are merely the phrasing of
laws in super-nature, the putting into words truths as absolute in their own
sphere, as those laws which govern the conduct of the earth and its
The senses spoken of in these four statements are the astral, or inner
HPB in the SECRET DOCTRINE makes a suggestion:
“The processes of natural development which we are now considering will at
once elucidate and discredit the fashion of speculating on the attributes of
the two, three, and four or more "dimensional Space;" but in passing, it is
worth while to point out the real significance of the sound but incomplete
intuition that has prompted—among Spiritualists and Theosophists, and
several great men of Science, for the matter of that *—the use of the modern
expression, "the fourth dimension of Space."
To begin with, of course, the superficial absurdity of assuming that Space
itself is measurable in any direction is of little consequence.
The familiar phrase can only be an abbreviation of the fuller form—the
"Fourth dimension of MATTER in Space." † But it is an unhappy phrase even
thus expanded, because while it is perfectly true that the progress of
evolution may be destined to introduce us to new characteristics of matter,
those with which we are already familiar are really more numerous than the
The faculties, or what is perhaps the best available term, the
characteristics of matter, must clearly bear a direct relation always to the
senses of man. Matter has extension, colour, motion (molecular motion),
taste, and smell, corresponding to the existing senses of man, and by the
time that it fully develops the next characteristic—let us call it for the
moment PERMEABILITY—this will correspond to the next sense of man—let us
call it "NORMAL CLAIRVOYANCE;" thus, when some bold thinkers have been
thirsting for a fourth dimension to explain the passage of matter through
matter, and the production of knots upon an endless cord, what they were
really in want of, was a sixth characteristic of matter…”
S D I 251
“Nature is never stationary during manvantara, as it is ever becoming, † not
simply being; and mineral, vegetable, and human life are always adapting
their organisms to the then reigning Elements, and therefore those Elements
were then fitted for them, as they are now for the life of present humanity.
It will only be in the next, or fifth, Round that the fifth Element,
Ether—the gross body of Akasa, if it can be called even that—will, by
becoming a familiar fact of Nature to all men, as air is familiar to us now,
cease to be as at present hypothetical, and also an "agent" for so many
And only during that Round will those higher senses, the growth and
development of which Akasa subserves, be susceptible of a complete
As already indicated, a partial familiarity with the characteristic of
matter—permeability—which should be developed concurrently with the sixth
sense, may be expected to develop at the proper period in this Round. But
with the next element added to our resources in the next Round, permeability
will become so manifest a characteristic of matter, that the densest forms
of this will seem to man's perceptions as obstructive to him as a thick fog,
and no more. “ S D I 257-8
[Back to Top]
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application