Reprinted by Blavatsky Study Center

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Two Schools of Thought

by Boris de Zirkoff  (1)

Within the ranks of the organized Theosophical Movement, there have existed for a number of years past two schools of thought vastly different from each other.

One of them is primarily based upon the writings of H.P. Blavatsky, the chief founder of the Theosophical Society, and the pronouncements of her own superiors in the occult hierarchy. To these may be added a considerable number of essays and articles written by some of the direct pupils of the Teachers, and frequently under their own direction.

The other school is based upon claimed psychic investigations and clairvoyant revelations of several individuals whose claims have remained unsupported and unchecked by any collateral authority, and have been accepted on their own say-so, without any subsidiary corroboration.

The teachings of these two schools of thought diverge from, and very often contradict, each other on various important points. In the very nature of things, they cannot be harmonized.

Personal attachments of students to one or another "authority," genuine or claimed, is of course no guarantee, and therefore cannot decide either the nature or the implications of one or the other approach to the subject of occultism. Something more is required than emotional reactions or the tendency to overlook essentials and disregard fundamental differences.

It is quite probable that in a Movement like ours, no matter what historical era it may manifest itself, there will arise from time to time individuals whose psychic tendencies will be the basis for various claims of special knowledge, and groups of followers will always be found to give them the emotional support which they desire - a support devoid of any intellectual basis or independent analysis of the claims made. This seems to be the fate of all occult and pseudo-occult movements whose history has come down to us, however imperfectly.

It is a curious commentary upon human confusion in general, and the psycho-mental uncertainty of some students of Theosophy, that Publishing Houses within the organized Theosophical Movement sell indiscriminately various works belonging to the two diametrically opposite schools of thought mentioned above, and often advertise them on the same page of their publications. Considering this fact, the accusation made by some hostile critics that the organized Movement is not vitally interested in spreading truth (as it understands it), but in merely selling books on the general subject of occultism, is not without foundation, and should be sympathetically considered and analyzed.

There is, however, a very important fact which must not be overlooked by students. It is concerned with science and scientific discoveries and developments of recent years.

It so happens that scores of the most up-to-date scientific pronouncements concerning the nature and structure of the universe support and uphold many of the statements contained in the writings of H. P. Blavatsky and her own Teachers, while the same pronouncements go contrary to, and disavow the claims of psychic investigators and the results of their research. This fact is of primary importance and should be given most careful consideration by students of Theosophy.

Recent developments in the field of astronomy, chemistry, physics, anthropology, biology and, above all, in the newly developed area of parapsychology, present a long list of discoveries, as well as theories, which were foreshadowed in The Secret Doctrine and other contemporary writings from high occult sources. The scientific achievements and conclusions have thrown further doubt, however, on a number of psychic speculations the nature of which had been suspect for some years past.

There is a serious warning contained in this fact of observation.

It would be regrettable if the reader were to jump to the totally unwarranted conclusion that no reliance whatever should be given to the pronouncements of psychics and clairvoyants, on the ground that they are, allegedly, always wrong. This is not true.

Psychic vision can be objective and reliable, but only in the case of those extremely rare individuals who have received severe and sustained occult training, maybe for more than one lifetime, under the guidance of a competent Teacher, himself a genuine Initiate. Many are those who have psychic vision, or psychic sensitivity of one type or another; many are those who are to some extent clairvoyant or clairaudient. But the overwhelming majority of them do not know what they see or hear and, jumping to conclusions, ascribe what they perceive to totally wrong causes, and interpret them in accordance with one or another theory or pet illusion which gives a special bent to their mind and their emotions. Hence the unreliability of otherwise kindly and friendly folk claiming to be the custodians of higher knowledge.

The only way in which truth can be sifted from a lot of psychic rubbish, as far as students of Theosophy are concerned, is by a calm analysis of the teachings of the two schools referred to above. Compare their pronouncements on the basic occult subjects. Consider their implications. Do not jump to conclusions on the basis of an inadequate research. Find out whether the propositions under consideration are logical, reasonable and universal; whether they fit together into a harmonious whole; whether they follow one from the other and support one another. If they do not, reserve your judgement and remain alert. A more prolonged study may be required before you can arrive at a conclusion that will satisfy you in every way.

On the eve of the centenary of the modern Theosophical Movement, we are called upon to purify the Theosophical atmosphere of unfortunate delusions and to abide as closely as possible by the original teachings as a sacred trust in our care.

(1)   From Theosophia, Summer, 1971. Boris de Zirkoff was compiler of Theosophical Publishing House's Blavatsky Collected Writings.