Philosophers and Philosophicules // Theosophical Movement and New Renaissance
The article about the modern Philosophicules in both the scientists, philosophers, and theologians was first published in Lucifer, Vol. V, No. 26, October, 1889 (pp. 85-91), Blavatsky clearly states, that the Theosophical Movement is an attempt at a new renaissance, and its absence of dogma. “We fail to find outside of our Society any attempt at philosophical revival, unless the word “philosophy” is made to lose its original meaning.”
Philosophic and religious views were held by the members of the Theosophical Society, but as a body, it had no creed. The doctrines promulgated by the nineteenth-century theosophists do not make collectively, what is “Theosophy.” Its doctrines and philosophical explanations are but fragmentary glimpses, if not fundamental, consistent, and concise. Theosophy is the ancient Wisdom philosophy, as known to even the most astute and renowned names of the classical thinkers, and even those thought to be atheists (ancient). While, holding in rank some persons of various tradition, including Brahmins, Zoroastrians, Christians, Buddhists, etc., in the case of both Vedic and Christian orthodoxy, the teachings made public were opposed, as inimical to the exoteric systems. Scholars and the upper-lipped have criticized the dichotomy of exoteric and esoteric, even denying there is such a thing; and for reasons that the use of the dichotomy have become hitherto overused by vain personalities and pseudo-intellectuals using ideas as tactical persuasion for cults.
As Damodar K. Mavalankar, Wm. Q. Judge, and Helena Blavatsky all mention, o c c u l t i s m is not the whole of Theosophy, nor are the teachings outlined in Sinnett’s Esoteric Buddhism, or even that of The Secret Doctrine are the whole of the secret doctrines of the East.
A student doesn’t have to be interested in occultism.
“These are self-evident facts. And yet if answered that it is not so; that the T.S. as a body teaches no special religion but tolerates and virtually accepts all religions by never interfering with, or even inquiring after the religious views of, its members, our cavillers and even friendly opponents, do not feel satisfied. On the contrary: ten to one they will non-plus you with the following extraordinary objection:—
“How can this be, since belief in ‘Esoteric Buddhism’ is a sine qua non for acceptance as a Fellow of your Society?”
Here, she explained difference between the Theos. Soc. and Scientia:
“It is vain to protest any longer; useless, to assure our opponents that belief in Buddhism, whether esoteric or exoteric, is no more expected by, nor obligatory in, our Society than reverence for the monkey-god Hanuman, him of the singed tail, or belief in Mohammed and his canonized mare. It is unprofitable to try and explain that since there are in the T.S. as many Brahmins, Mussulmans, Parsis, Jews and Christians as there are Buddhists, and more, all cannot be expected to become followers of Buddha, nor even of Buddhism, howsoever esoteric. Nor can they be made to realize that the Occult doctrines—a few fundamental teachings of which are broadly outlined in Mr. Sinnett’s Esoteric Buddhism—are not the whole of Theosophy, nor even the whole of the secret doctrines of the East, but a very small portion of these: Occultism itself being but one of the Sciences of Theosophy, or the WISDOM-Religion, and by no means the whole of THEOSOPHY.”
She speaks at the time of prejudices against Theosophy because of misunderstanding. This misunderstanding is not the fault of the theosophists, who, as this reveals, explained themselves repeatedly:
“So firmly rooted seem these ideas, however, in the mind of the average Britisher, that it is like telling him that there are Russians who are neither Nihilists nor Panslavists, and that every Frenchman does not make his daily meal of frogs; he will simply refuse to believe you. Prejudice against Theosophy seems to have become part of the national feeling. For almost three years the writer of the present—helped in this by a host of Theosophists—has tried in vain to sweep away from the public brain some of the most fantastic cobwebs with which it is garnished; and now she is on the eve of giving up the attempt in despair! While half of the English people will persist in confusing Theosophy with “esoteric bud-ism,” the remainder will keep on pronouncing the world-honoured title of Buddha as they do—butter.”
One should be pressed to ask, ‘why the wish to spread ‘Eastern Esotericism’ and Asian philosophy (broadly) to the Europeans?’
Why is it so important?’
“It is they also who have started the proposition now generally adopted by the flippant press that “Theosophy is not a philosophy, but a religion,” and “a new sect.””
THEOSOPHY was and is not a new sect, of neither Christianity or Buddhism. It is neither a philosophy, because it holds every branch of philosophy, as every religion and science. The true definition of philosophy, regards Theosophy as the very synthesis of Philosophy in its broadest sense and qualifications, H.P.B. goes on to state.
“Let us try to give once more a clear and concise definition of Theosophy, and show it to be the very root and essence of all sciences and systems.”
Philosophy. “When applied to god or gods, it became in every country theology; when to material nature, it was called physics and natural history; concerned with man, it appeared as anthropology and psychology; and when raised to the higher regions it becomes known as metaphysics. Such is philosophy —“the science of effects by their causes….”
Theosophy is “divine” or “god-wisdom,” “the wisdom of the gods,” hence must be the essence of the system of philosophy, Sir William Hamilton defined as “the science of things divine and human and the causes in which they are contained.” In the most basic understanding, philosophy is the love of, and the search after wisdom. Wisdom, terrestrial (of the mind), but also divine. No materialist philosopher, or physicalist position can redefine that, being that it is the very condition of Causal law (physics), and the most important under various religious philosophy, hence belonging to no one religion.
“Theosophy claims to explain and to reconcile religion with science. We find G. H. Lewes stating that “Philosophy, detaching its widest conceptions from both (Theology and Science), furnishes a doctrine which contains an explanation of the world and human destiny.” (The History of Philosophy, Vol. I, Prolegomena, p. xviii.) “The office of Philosophy is the systematisation of the conceptions furnished by Science . . . Science furnishes the knowledge, and Philosophy the doctrine” (loc. cit.). The latter can become complete only on condition of having that “knowledge” and that “doctrine” passed through the sieve of Divine Wisdom, or Theosophy.
Ueberweg (A History of Philosophy) defines Philosophy as “the Science of Principles,” which, as all our members know, is the claim of Theosophy in its branch-sciences of Alchemy, Astrology, and the occult sciences generally.
Hegel regards it as “the contemplation of the self-development of the ABSOLUTE,” or in other words as “the representation of the Idea” (Darstellung der Idee).
The whole of the Secret Doctrine—of which the work bearing that name is but an atom—is such a contemplation and record, as far as finite language and limited thought can record the processes of the Infinite.
Thus it becomes evident that Theosophy cannot be a “religion,” still less “a sect,” but it is indeed the quintessence of the highest philosophy in all and every one of its aspects. Having shown that it falls under, and answers fully, every description of philosophy, we may add to the above a few more of Sir W. Hamilton’s definitions, and prove our statement by showing the pursuit of the same in Theosophical literature. This is a task easy enough, indeed. For, does not “Theosophy” include “the science of things evidently deduced from first principles” as well as “the sciences of truths sensible and abstract”?”
The Press and Theosophists in the 1880’s
H.P.B. was very aware of the opinions about her and Theosophists:
“We need not go out of our way to notice at any length such foolish statements about Theosophy and Theosophists as are found almost daily in the public press. Such definitions and epithets as “newfangled religion” and “ism,” “the system invented by the high priestess of Theosophy,” and other remarks as silly, may be left to their own fate. They have been and in most cases will be left unnoticed.”
Unpopular persons aren’t judged on their intrinsic value, but by personality, gossip, and the prejudices attributed to that character by the masses, whose prejudices are strengthened or manipulated.
“Our age is regarded as being pre-eminently critical: an age which analyses closely, and whose public refuses to accept anything offered for its consideration before it has fully scrutinized the subject. Such is the boast of our century; but such is not quite the opinion of the impartial observer. At all events it is an opinion highly exaggerated since this boasted analytical scrutiny is applied only to that which interferes in no way with national, social, or personal prejudices. On the other hand everything that is malevolent, destructive to reputation, wicked and slanderous, is received with open embrace, accepted joyfully, and made the subject of everlasting public gossip, without any scrutiny or the slightest hesitation, but verily on a blind faith of the most elastic kind. (…) Neither unpopular characters nor their work are judged in our day on their intrinsic value, but merely on their author’s personality and the prejudiced opinion thereon of the masses. In many journals no literary work of a Theosophist can ever hope to be reviewed on its own merits, apart from the gossip about its author. (…) As a first result, the former is judged by the distorted reflection of the latter created by slander repeated in the daily papers. The personality of the writer hangs like a dark shadow between the opinion of the modern journalist and unvarnished truth; and as a final result there are few editors in all Europe and America who know anything of our Society’s tenets.”
“How then can Theosophy or even the T.S. be correctly judged?”
She also directed her criticism toward Christian missionaries.
“How long, O radiant gods of truth, how long shall this terrible mental cecity of the nineteenth century Philosophists last?”
H.P. Blavatsky calls the Theosophical Society a humble but unworthy vehicle of Theosophy, or the Sapiential Tradiion, meaning what, for us? It means, the success and failure of Theosophists are dependent on themselves. If no one does anything, nothing gets done.
“How much longer are they to be told that Theosophy is no national property, no religion, but only the universal code of science and the most transcendental ethics that was ever known; that it lies at the root of every moral philosophy and religion; and that neither Theosophy per se, nor yet its humble unworthy vehicle, the Theosophical Society, has anything whatever to do with any personality or personalities!”
In other worlds particular gods, prophets, angelology, &c.
Scientism and Philosophism
Here’s the best part —
“Many optimistic writers would fain make of this mercantile century of ours an age of philosophy and call it its renaissance. We fail to find outside of our Society any attempt at philosophical revival, unless the word “philosophy” is made to lose its original meaning. For wherever we turn we find a cold sneer at true philosophy. A sceptic can never aspire to that title. He who is capable of imagining the universe with its handmaiden Nature fortuitous, and hatched like the black hen of the fable, out of a self-created egg hanging in space, has neither the power of thinking nor the spiritual faculty of perceiving abstract truths; which power and faculty are the first requisites of a philosophical mind. We see the entire realm of modern Science honeycombed with such materialists, who yet claim to be regarded as philosophers. They either believe in naught as do the Secularists, or doubt according to the manner of the Agnostics. Remembering the two wise aphorisms by Bacon, the modern-day materialist is thus condemned out of the mouth of the Founder of his own inductive method, as contrasted with the deductive philosophy of Plato, accepted in Theosophy. For does not Bacon tell us that “Philosophy when superficially studied excites doubt; when thoroughly explored it dispels it”; and again, “a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth of philosophy bringeth man’s mind about to religion”?
The logical deduction of the above is, undeniably, that none of our present Darwinians and materialists and their admirers, our critics, could have studied philosophy otherwise than very “superficially.” Hence while Theosophists have a legitimate right to the title of philosophers—true “lovers of Wisdom”—their critics and slanderers are at best PHILOSOPHICULES—the progeny of modern PHILOSOPHISM.”
“…critics and slanderers are at best PHILOSOPHICULES—the progeny of modern PHILOSOPHISM.”
“Between degrading superstition and still more degrading brutal materialism the white dove of truth has hardly room where to rest her weary unwelcome foot.” (see Mahatma Papers MS. Letter to Theosophists)