The Key to Theosophy
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
The Key to Theosophy
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
The Difference Between
Faith and Knowledge,
Or Blind and Reasoned Faith
Q. You say that they accept and believe in the doctrines of Theosophy. But, as
they do not belong to those Adepts you have just mentioned, then they must
accept your teachings on blind faith. In what does this differ from that of
A. As it differs on almost all the other points, so it differs on this one. What
you call "faith," and that which is blind faith, in reality, and with regard to
the dogmas of the Christian religions, becomes with us "knowledge," the logical
sequence of things we know, about facts in nature. Your Doctrines are based upon interpretation, therefore, upon the secondhandtestimony of Seers; ours upon the invariable and unvarying testimony of Seers. The ordinary Christian theology, for instance, holds that man is a creature of God, of three component
parts-body, soul, and spirit-all essential to his integrity, and all, either in
the gross form of physical earthly existence or in the etherealized form of
post-resurrection experience, needed to so constitute him forever, each man
having thus a permanent existence separate from other men, and from the Divine.
Theosophy, on the other hand, holds that man, being an emanation from the
Unknown, yet ever present and infinite Divine Essence, his body and everything
else is impermanent, hence an illusion; Spirit alone in him being the one
enduring substance, and even that losing its separated individuality at the
moment of its complete reunion with the Universal Spirit.
Q. If we lose even our individuality, then it becomes simply annihilation.
A. I say it does not,since I speak of separate, not of universal individuality.
The latter becomes as a part transformed into the whole; the dewdropis not
evaporated, but becomes the sea. Is physical man annihilated,when from a fetus
he becomes an old man? What kind of Satanic pride must be ours if we place our infinitesimally small consciousness and individuality higher than the universal
and infinite consciousness!
Q. It follows, then, that there is, de facto, no man, but all is Spirit?
A. You are mistaken. It thus follows that the union of Spirit with matter is but
temporary; or, to put it more clearly, since Spirit and matter are one, being
the two opposite poles of the universal manifested substance-that Spirit loses
its right to the name so long as the smallest particle and atom of its
manifesting substance still clings to any form, the result of differentiation.
To believe otherwise is blind faith.
Q. Thus it is on knowledge,not on faith, that you assert that the permanent
principle, the Spirit, simply makes a transit through matter?
A. I would put it otherwise and say-we assert that the appearance of the
permanent and oneprinciple, Spirit, as matter is transient, and, therefore, no
better than an illusion.
Q. Very well; and this, given out on knowledge not faith?
A. Just so. But as I see very well what you are driving at, I may just as well
tell you that we hold faith, such as you advocate, to be a mental disease, and
real faith, i.e., the pistis of the Greeks, as "belief based on knowledge,"
whether supplied by the evidence of physical or spiritual senses.
Q. What do you mean?
A. I mean, if it is the difference between the two that you want to know, then I
can tell you that between faith on authority and faith on one's spiritual
intuition, there is a very great difference.
Q. What is it?
A. One is human credulity and superstition, the other human belief and
intuition.As Professor Alexander Wilder says in his "Introduction to the
It is ignorance which leads to profanation. Men ridicule what they do not
properly understand … The undercurrent of this world is set towards one goal;
and inside of human credulity … is a power almost infinite, a holy faith capable
of apprehending the most supreme truths of all existence.
Those who limit that "credulity" to human authoritative dogmas alone, will never
fathom that power nor even perceive it in their natures. It is stuck fast to the
external plane and is unable to bring forth into play the essence that rules it;
for to do this they have to claim their right of private judgment, and this they
never dare to do.
Q. And is it that "intuition" which forces you to reject God as a personal
Father, Ruler, and Governor of the Universe?
A. Precisely. We believe in an ever unknowable Principle, because blind
aberration alone can make one maintain that the Universe, thinking man, and all
the marvels contained even in the world of matter, could have grown without some intelligent powers to bring about the extraordinarily wise arrangement of all
its parts. Nature may err, and often does, in its details and the external
manifestations of its materials, never in its inner causes and results. Ancient
pagans held on this question far more philosophical views than modern
philosophers, whether Agnostics, Materialists, or Christians; and no pagan
writer has ever yet advanced the proposition that cruelty and mercy are not
finite feelings, and can therefore be made the attributes of an infinite god.
Their gods, therefore, were all finite. The Siamese author of the Wheel of the
Law,expresses the same idea about your personal god as we do; he says:
A Buddhist might believe in the existence of a god, sublime above all human
qualities and attributes-a perfect god, above love, and hatred, and jealousy,
calmly resting in a quietude that nothing could disturb, and of such a god he
would speak no disparagement not from a desire to please him or fear to offend
him, but from natural veneration; but he cannot understand a god with the
attributes and qualities of men, a god who loves and hates, and shows anger; a
Deity who, whether described as by Christian Missionaries or by Mohammedans or Brahmins, or Jews, falls below his standard of even an ordinary good man.
Q. Faith for faith, is not the faith of the Christian who believes, in his human
helplessness and humility, that there is a merciful Father in Heaven who will
protect him from temptation, help him in life, and forgive him his
transgressions, better than the cold and proud, almost fatalistic faith of the
Buddhists, Vedantins, and Theosophists?
A. Persist in calling our belief "faith" if you will. But once we are again on
this ever-recurring question, I ask in my turn: faith for faith, is not the one
based on strict logic and reason better than the one which is based simply on
human authority or-hero-worship?Our "faith" has all the logical force of the
arithmetical truism that two and two will produce four. Your faith is like the
logic of some emotional women, of whom Tourgenyeff said that for them two and two were generally five, and a tallow candle into the bargain. Yours is a faith, moreover, which clashes not only with every conceivable view of justice and logic, but which, if analyzed, leads man to his moral perdition, checks the
progress of mankind, and positively making of might, right-transforms every
second man into a Cain to his brother Abel.
Q. What do you allude to?
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