Science and religion in theosophy
By Sri Aurobindo | Express News Service | Published: 12th April 2017 10:34 PM |
BENGALURU: I have said that I wish to write of Theosophy in no strain of unreasoning hostility or spirit of vulgar ridicule; yet these essays will be found to be much occupied with criticism and often unsparing criticisms of the spirit and methods of Theosophists.
There is, however, this difference between my criticisms and much that I have seen written in dispraise of the movement, that I censure not as an enemy but as an impartial critic, not as a hostile and incredulous outsider but as an earnest and careful inquirer and practical experimentalist in those fields which Theosophy seeks to make her own.
Theosophy was not born with Madame Blavatsky, nor invented by the Mahatmas in the latter end of the nineteenth century. It is an ancient and venerable branch of knowledge, which unfortunately has never, in historical times, been brought out into the open and subjected to clear, firm and luminous tests. The imaginations of the cultured and the superstitions of the vulgar played havoc with its truths and vitiated its practice.
The Theosophical Society was the first body of inquirers which started with the set & clear profession of bringing out this great mass of ancient truth into public notice and establishing it in public belief. Instead of bringing them out into public notice they have withdrawn them into the shrouded secrecy of the Esoteric society; instead of establishing them to public belief.
I do not deny that it has done valuable service in appealing to the imaginations of men both in India & Europe; but it has appealed to their imaginations and has not convinced their reason.
When there is so serious failure in a strong and earnest endeavour, we must look for the cause in some defect which lies at the very roots of its action. And it is just there at the very roots of its active life that we find the vital defect of modern Theosophy.
Mrs Besant would have us believe that Theosophy is Brahmavidya. The Greek Theosophia and the Sanscrit Brahmavidya, she tells us in all good faith, are identical words and identical things. Even with Mrs Besant’s authority, I cannot accept this extraordinary identification.
It is still not the knowledge of the One, not the knowledge that leads to salvation, but the knowledge of the Many, - of our bondage & not of our freedom, Avidya & not Vidya. I do not decry it for that reason, but it is necessary that it should be put in its right place and not blot out for us the diviner knowledge of our forefathers.
Theosophy is or should be a wider & profounder Science, a knowledge that deals with other levels & movements of consciousness, planes if you like so to call them, phenomena depending on the activity of consciousness on those levels, - for what is a world but the synthesis in Space & Time of a particular level of consciousness, - forming a field of consciousness with which material Science, the Science of this immediately visible world, cannot yet deal, and for the most part, not believing in it as fact, refuses to deal. Theosophy is, therefore, properly speaking, a high scientific enquiry. It is not or ought not to be a system of metaphysics or a new religion.