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Editorial 6

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Editorial nr. 6

Philosophy

Philosophy means literally ‘love for wisdom.’ The pursuit of philosophy alone makes man a different tribe of animal from all other animals. Investigation and understanding of the environment – the basis of science, for practical purposes, is a property that even animals have to a certain extent. Animals may also be said to be unconsciously religious, because they live according to a greater nature – thus, unknowingly they ‘walk in God’. As one Native American, Black Elk, expressed it: “Birds have the same religion as we have, because they make their nests round.” Animals are great artists, though most probably they are not mentally aware of the beauty of their designs or songs. It seems ‘pre-programmed’, though with a freedom for adjustment to circumstances. It is difficult to know whether a singing bird experiences anything of the celestial beauty he produces for the human ear in his own feelings. Still, beauty would not exist if there were no consciousnesses to enjoy it – and therefore to produce it, I would suppose. Or is beauty only a added label invented by the human mind, and in which nothing and nobody in the universe shares?

Humans can do all these things also: they investigate, attune to the divine in Nature, produce beautiful things and do so at least partially conscious. But humans need accumulated knowledge, intuition, insight and inspiration to make progress in their self-conscious pursuits – they can not do it with their analyzing and synthesizing brain-mind alone.

Philosophy, however, pondering the nature and essence and reason of all that exists, is uniquely human. Philosophy is beyond the quest for direct practical application. It tries to ponder things as they are. Philosophy is there to satisfy the best of the human mind, and thus provides in perhaps the greatest joy a human being can have. Philosophy serves the higher mental and intuitive growth of the human being, and philosophers ponder questions which apply beyond physical existence and are independent of physical existence. Questions concerning justice, ethics, principles of life or of statesmanship, beauty, the nature of the divine, the nature of love, of compassion are the field of the human philosophical mind only. Therefore we can call this mind ‘the higher mind’ in contradistinction with the ‘lower’ or ‘animal’ mind we all have as well.

Philosophy demands of us to see clearly within our mind, and try to attune our mind to or ‘feel’ or probe what is beyond the mind. It demands the Realization that the mind itself is a derivative of Reality, and therefore is the latter’s veil and obstacle. Philosophical thinking or the noetic mind should only and always be directed towards the highest: called buddhi in Theosophical Sanskrit. From the noetic the phenomenal can be viewed. The noetic or truly noble mind perceives and sheds a light on every mundane problem. The greatest philosophers among humanity (which may not necessarily be the known and revered ones) have really helped the progress of human evolution, have removed stains of misunderstanding from the human mind and worked successfully to better the human condition of life at least to some extend. This they could do to the measure they were able to subject their mind to true spiritual insight. The greatness (not the weaknesses) of the western culture as well as other cultures is due to such people. The weaknesses of course come forth from the less perfect and often self-interested minds of the masses, including ‘sophists’ and politicians, etc., and the great enemy to progress: psychological conservativism. Nevertheless conservativism is important if applied in the right way: as custodian and protector of true values which are beyond time and culture.

In an Indian context a pseudonym of philosophy is jñāna yoga: seeking connection with Truth through wisdom-knowledge. A philosopher must ultimately conquer the illusion of existence. Another pseudonym for philosophy is darśana, i.e. viewpoint, also any philosophical school of thought in India. Viewpoints can differ, and with that approaches towards the ultimate goal of wisdom can differ. Viewpoints differ and evolve according to the limitation or progress of the human mind.

World wide, Gautama the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Śaṅkarāchārya, Pythagoras and Plato can probably rightly be regarded as the greatest philosophers who ever lived in history of our epoch in at least about the last two and a half millennia. They started new epochs of thought, and many philosophers and schools of thought followed in their wake.

The function of the Theosophical movement is not to bring a new philosophy, but to point out that great systems of thought, science and religion have flourished and do flourish in many countries and did so in ages long before the present age. Theosophical literature has the property of attacking and destroying impurities that have through time entered into once pure thought systems, and thus Theosophists support every effort to extract the corn from the large heaps of chaff. We do not embrace any particular philosophy because it is old or respected or well-known in this or that part of the world, but because of its intrinsic values and knowledge.

We plan to post on this websites a growing collection of articles, some written by ourselves, but most of them selected from other sources from different countries and periods. The editors are open for suggestions.

We more than hope that the subject matters means something valuable for you.

– Daily Theosophy

Link to the section on Philosophy