THE WISDOM AND THE WAY
By Eric McGough
These are the full session notes from the Theosophical audio course – seven pages.
For details of this audio course and others in this series, click –
North Wales Centre for Theosophy.
SESSION 1 - WHY WE NEED THE WISDOM TEACHING
In the West – we, the privileged few – have reached a time when we are almost overwhelmed with spiritual teachings of every kind. Never in the history of mankind have a people been faced with so much information, so much choice. There is a definite atmosphere of ‘pick and mix’ spirituality, where seekers no longer feel settled to one approach but take a bit from here and some from there.
The freedom to chose, and even to shift promiscuously from one teaching to another, can be seen as a result of the lessening grip of orthodox religion during the twentieth century. Its parallel can be identified in the promiscuity of sexual relationships and the breaking down of the traditional family unit, which has grown at the same pace over the same period.
This development is part of a natural progression, a breaking down of the old order and a building up of the new. What we are seeing now is a period of transition; this brings with it a measure of chaos or lessening of discipline - in this case, of spiritual discipline.
What do I mean by ‘transfer of power’? What power am I talking about? I am referring to the power to mediate between man and his idea of God. For the last four thousand years that power has been firmly in the hands of the Priest, the Rabbi, the Guru, and any one else with the ability to attract a following. The age of Aries saw the establishment of what we now regard as orthodox religion, with its Father figure, male dominated control. This followed on from the previous age of Taurus when the Mother figure, a symbol of fertility and female sexuality dominated supernatural thought. Today, we are leaving the age of Pisces, which after Aries would influence us to seek truth for ourselves. It was an age of the individual, and the lessening of the authoritarian grip referred to, is the culmination of that vibration. It was the age of the Son, the third aspect of the trinity. And the son was to go out and find his own way in the world, thus realising his own potential and a freedom of thought hitherto unknown.
One of the most important lessons to be learned from this new-found freedom is that FREEDOM IS NOT LICENSE. The fishes of Pisces may be swimming in opposite directions but they are tied together by the cord of karma showing us that what we do as individuals affects all of us.
So the transfer of power is from the traditional God mediator to the individual, the individual who Jesus said had the Kingdom of Heaven within him, and here is the key. If the kingdom of heaven is inside us and we no longer have to rely on the priest to mediate, how shall we awaken that knowledge, that connection between our minds and our higher self? How shall we commune with the God within? The answer lies in the symbolism of the new age, Aquarius. The age that we are struggling to adjust to even now during this transition from one age to the next and from one way of knowing to the next. As Pisces was the age of emotion – symbolised by the element water, so Aquarius is the age of the mind – symbolised by the element air - freedom, communication, higher view, release, awakening. All of the signs have two main aspects, and in the case of Aquarius we have the lower and the higher mind - science, the lower, art and philosophy the higher. The lower includes all the knowledge of self-improvement, academic learning, and the development of concentration. The higher mind includes self-awareness, wisdom, and the development of meditation and intuition.
Now we can see why we need the wisdom teaching!
The wisdom teaching is not at all like past forms of knowledge. On the surface it does seem to be simply another version of spiritual knowledge but this is not the case. The wisdom teaching is the source of all knowledge, whether philosophical, scientific, or spiritual, and as such has the power to link directly to the higher mind and the Buddhi consciousness beyond.
The ancient wisdom is so called because its origins are so far back in history that only the adepts - whose task it has been to safeguard it for this age - know its true source. Up until now, the only way that a seeker could gain access to its teachings was to commit to a secret brotherhood and live a life of discipleship to a master of the wisdom. Today, we are more fortunate in that we have open access to at least some of its teachings, following the dissemination by the masters through H P Blavatsky and one or two others during the last quarter of the nineteenth and the first quarter of the twentieth centuries.
Aquarius is the first of the spiritual ages of the greater zodiac. It represents the next step in the evolution of our life wave. But in order for us to fulfil its requirements we must take that step as a matter of conscious choice. Not all of us are ready to make that choice at this time. It requires more than simply taking in a head full of knowledge. The knowledge that we get from books and from lectures is second-hand, it is other people’s words, like these you are reading now. Only the wisdom teachings can awaken that intuition, that ‘tuition from within’ that connects you to the higher truth, which is an essential part of your spiritual self. When Jesus said that heaven was within us he might just as well have said that the truth was within us, for they are both the same. The truth that I am talking about is universal truth, spiritual wisdom, which transcends all brain knowing.
Theosophy is a modern word for the Ancient Wisdom Teaching. It was used by Ammonius Saccas and his disciples in the third century AD. In philosophical terms this was ‘Eclectic Philosophy’ designed to reconcile all religions and philosophies under a common system of ethics, based on eternal truths. The Greek, Diogenes places it at the heart of Egyptian philosophy attributing it to the cult of Amun, the God of wisdom. In India its equivalent is Brahma-Vidya – divine knowledge.
We do not have to be ready to take the ‘next step’ to study theosophy, even as mere knowledge learning it is second to none. Any study of theosophy will enhance our understanding of life and the inner workings of nature, and therefore can not fail to help us to live more meaningful lives.
Those of you who think that they are not capable of studying theosophy with the result of opening spiritual awareness through the higher mind may be surprised. Spiritual processes are subtle, and opening up to knowledge from within is as gradual as the opening of a flower. We need only study the ancient wisdom as best we can and leave the opening process to its own ways.
In the meantime, we can use the knowledge aspect of the teachings to bring our personalities up to date. We all have outstanding issues left over from the ages of Taurus, Aries, and Pisces. These hangovers are like brick walls standing in the way of our self-development. They hold us back because they are strong influences determining the way that we see things. They are conditioning, prejudices, negative attitudes, and outworn ethics, which must be seen in the context of the light of the New Age.
IN THE ‘SECRET DOCTRINE’ MADAM BLAVATSKY BEGINS BY STATING WHAT SHE CALLS THREE FUNDAMENTAL PROPOSITIONS. (Here, they are edited to reduce them to the essential statements.)
These are -
1. That there is an Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless and immutable PRINCIPLE, on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception and can only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude. It is beyond the range and reach of thought. One Absolute Reality, which antecedes all manifested, conditioned being.
2. The Eternity of the Universe in toto as a boundless plane periodically ‘the playground of numberless Universes incessantly manifesting and disappearing’ called ‘The Manifesting Stars,’ and the ‘Sparks of Eternity.’ The eternity of the pilgrim is like a wink of the Eye of Self-Existence. As the Book of Dzyan puts it – ‘The appearance and disappearance of worlds is like a regular tidal ebb of flux and reflux.’
3. The fundamental identity of all souls with the Universal Over-Soul - the latter being itself an aspect of the Unknown Root – and the obligatory pilgrimage for every soul (a spark of the former) through the Cycles of incarnation, or necessity, in accordance with Cyclic and Karmic Law during the whole term.
1. One absolute, eternal principle.
2. Creation is cyclic at all levels.
3. One Life, and all expressions of it must pass through all cycles according to Law.
The Theosophical Society in Wales