Tim Wyatt – England
The author at home, working
Freedom of thought is embedded into the DNA of Theosophy. As Theosophists we possibly pride ourselves on having open minds and the ability to think for ourselves. In some cases that’s more aspirational than actual. We have as many closed minded people as any other organisation – and according to some, even more.
Free-thinking is not only absolutely central to our own personal psycho-spiritual evolution but that of this very planet and the cosmos itself. And we have to resist those forces which oppose freedom of thought because constricting thought is anti-evolutionary.
Down the ages free-thinking has been very much a minority pursuit. Why? Because the risks were enormous, the immediate rewards minimal and very often it could get you killed. It still can if you happen to belong to some of the more poisonous sects of the world’s religions. We are living in dangerous times and we have to resist those forces which want to homogenise ideas and control us. It’s vital to oppose mental totalitarianism wherever we encounter it.
As we all know there is nothing but consciousness in one form or another in this infinite, eternal and boundless universe of which we are part. The human kingdom of nature in which we are involved plays a pivotal role in how this consciousness develops, how it is controlled and the influence it has, especially on the material plane of existence. The human kingdom, through which all other kingdoms of nature have passed or will pass, is the great possessor and processor of consciousness.
We have the potential to be thinking beings. The word ‘human’ is derived from the Sanskrit word for thinking, manas but this remains a latent capacity in many people – and the circumstances of the age in which we live, especially our huge over-use and over-reliance on technology, doesn’t always make thinking any easier.
Most people go through life never having an original thought of their own. Their minds are inevitably shaped by other people’s opinions. In fact the vast majority of us are never brave enough to develop our own ideas – either because we haven’t got the ability or we simply can’t be bothered. Very often it’s a case of fear of what others may think of us. We’re scared of ridicule and being ostracised.
But another key aspect of being a free-thinker is learning about the nature of fear itself and learning how to eliminate it from one’s emotions.
Very, very few people want to step out of line. It’s easier to knuckle down and accept the majority view however grotesque or absurd that may be. This is true of social, political, religious or commercial organisations. It’s especially true of the work-place and the education system.
Which brings us on to one of the gravest threats to humanity at any given time – as great as war, famine, environmental despoliation. Yes, we’re talking political correctness. Getting the masses to toe the line. Political correctness has always been in town.
Let’s not forget that the prevailing opinions in any society at any given time are usually wrong and often criminally so. And this is no exception now.
Societies have never liked rebels, free-thinkers, dissidents or anyone who rocks the boat. They are ridiculed, side-lined, banished, punished and often killed either by the dominant religion, the state or the mob - or sometimes by a combination of all three. Historically Christianity has been especially gifted at this type of repression with its Crusades, invasions, inquisitions, witch-burnings and the wholesale destruction of individuals and entire societies who dared to challenge its authority.
And then, of course, there’s the industrial scale sex abuse. In two centuries The Catholic Church murdered two million women it suspected of sorcery because they happened to live in a secluded crumbling hovel with a black cat or two for company.
Even now the Catholic Church has its many, many prohibitions and mortal and venal sins. These days, of course, it enforces its long list of orthodoxies with more subtle and psychological methods than the rack or the hot pliers. Let’s not forget that the inquisition still officially exists. It now bears the more innocent title of The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. But it’s still in business.
These days some perverted minorities within Islam have assumed the global role of executioner-in-chief of those who question or disobey its morbid tangle of tyrannical doctrines or who dare to commit the ultimate crime of apostasy and forsake the word of Mohammed.
During my life-time – sadly and tragically much of it spent as a journalist – I’ve watched as free speech and expression have been continuously attacked and eroded by these insidious forces of political correctness. People use to hold to the idea: ‘I totally disagree with what you say but I’d fight to the death to preserve your right to say it.’ Unfortunately this is usually no longer the case.
Being PC is entirely incompatible with being a spiritual explorer or indeed a Theosophical adventurer. In fact, it’s a form of cowardice.
Our present form of political correctness – or more accurately the Marxist manipulation of language – actually began decades ago but it didn’t really start to take hold until the 1970s. Today the source of much of this dangerous poison is in our academic institutions – and perhaps it’s a merciful blessing that Theosophy and academia have never really hit it off. These days the mildest off-the-cuff remark from a Nobel Laureate can see them hounded out of a prestigious university post within hours – all because a bunch of hard-core of zealots didn’t agree with what their choice of language.
I’ve always regarded political correctness as a malignant disease – a manipulative cancer of the mind. Someone close to my heart – the highly controversial figure of David Icke – described political correctness splendidly as ‘the moronic silencing the intelligent.’ Political correctness is the ultimate crime against free-thinking.
Would you have wanted to be PC in Nazi Germany, Stalin’s Russia or Mao Tse Tung’s China? Or what about England in the 18th Century when buying into the Trans-Atlantic slave-trade was the cool investment of the day?
If Madame Blavatsky had followed the politically correct line of her day then Theosophy in its modern form would never have been conceived let alone born. Theosophy was – and still is – so far ahead of the mainstream mind that the ideas and propositions she was suggesting were literally off the radar.
No one has the right to tell others what words to use, what ideas to entertain or what to believe in. That’s fascism – a word the PC brigade love to apply to anyone who disagrees with them. There are more bona fide fascists within PC circles than anywhere else. Fascism has inexorably shifted from the Right to the Left side of the political spectrum.
However being a Theosophist doesn’t necessarily mean being a free-thinker – often far from it. Like every other spiritual tradition Theosophy has more than its fair-share of the narrow-minded, the muddle-headed and die-hard dogmatists.
There are those who sincerely believe that the wisdom died on the 8th of May 1891 when Madame Blavatsky passed from the physical realm. This Back To Blavatsky brigade go around telling everyone that everything since HPB is somehow bogus, flawed or inauthentic – neo-Theosophy or more patronisingly, pseudo-Theosophy. The irascible old aristocrat would have hated that. She always insisted that she’d only lifted a tiny corner of the veil and that she was an early pioneer – NOT the last word. She said it quite clearly: ‘Orthodoxy in Theosophy is neither possible nor desirable.’ Madame Blavatsky was a monumental figure – a beacon on the way – but she wasn’t the final answer because there is no final answer.
Which brings us on to an area which arguably influences modern human thinking more than anything else – science – and its twisted sister, technology. We’ve developed an abusive relationship with this technology, not to mention an unhealthy obsession bordering on extreme fetishism. This technology which was meant to liberate us has enslaved us, over-complicating our lives and creating a raft of addictive dependencies and negative behaviours. This technology is beginning to own us.
Science has the same levels of hubris and dogmatism that the Catholic Church espoused back in the 13th Century. Science doesn’t like dissidents any better than the sadistically sanctimonious prelates of the past. Luckily, there are rebels who reject the still dominant notion amongst the scientific community that we live in a purely material universe, which formed by accident and has no purpose whatsoever. And they have often risked their academic reputations in their bid for truth.
Science is a work in progress but it pretends it has all the answers. It can tell us all the hows but none of the whys. Theories such as relativity, the Big Bang, the expanding universe and various other chunks of current dogma are regarded as hard-and-fast laws. They’re suppositions – not the final truth.
When science does finally get to grips with the notion that life is eternal and exists everywhere on many levels – which it will, eventually – then we might finally understand ourselves as human beings and gain a greater insight into what we’re actually doing here – and why. But science needs to free up its own mind-set first.
If only a few more of these people in white lab coats hit on the deeper truths of the cosmos we may have a revolution on our hands – and we would develop a less slave-like, consumer-orientated relationship with technology. Science needs a lot more free-thinkers. However, there is a slow but inexorable convergence of science and spirituality.
When it comes to our own psycho-spiritual development, free-thinking is not just a desirable optional extra. It’s crucial and central to our own evolution as individual monads and as a brotherhood of humanity in the making. If we accept the lies and distortions of any given time in history – a version of events driven by those in control via the unimaginative, the narrow-minded and the bigoted – and if we never question the prevailing absurdities and errors of that society, no one ever moves on.
Free-thinking drives the universe. It’s a pure, un-polluting fuel that will never run out and will always ultimately take us to where we want to go. If we act like sheep we will never progress. We need to act like lions instead. And remember lions never worry about what sheep think about them.
Free-thinking is about being adventurous. It’s about being brave. And above all, it’s about being able to espouse ideas which are far beyond the common currency of the time.
Theosophists and their kindred spirits have faced this particular battle ever since Blavatsky went public with these timeless esoteric ideas in the 1870s. Although met with huge interest by a small, free-thinking minority, Theosophy faced sneering derision and acid-like scepticism. A lot of people just didn’t understand it and nothing much has changed today. Things may have become somewhat more tolerant in some areas in the intervening 140 years but opposition to the Ageless Wisdom view of ourselves and the cosmos remains entrenched if not structural.
This means that to seriously pursue a Theosophical line of thinking inevitably means going against the mainstream mind-set. For example, try telling most people that death is a myth, that we’re kept alive by nature spirits and that our ancestors came from the moon and they’ll be reaching for the phone to have you whisked away by attendants in white coats wielding straight-jackets. For your own good.
As most of us are aware, we create thought-forms every time we think – either consciously or unconsciously. Many of these thought-forms can become extremely solidified. When they do, they produce constricted and static thinking. They dictate behaviour and the course of events. It means that individuals, groups and organisations can all become ensnared by these often very powerful mental entities which are extremely difficult to dislodge, dismantle and destroy. This is especially true of the Theosophical movement which shows a dogged refusal to divest itself of its cultish 19th Century identity.
To move on we have to be free-thinking in the sense of being open-minded and questioning everything without being naïve or gullible. Open-mindedness and free-thinking are the proverbial and inseparable bedfellows. They are interdependent and you can’t have one without the other.
A huge problem for us and everyone else on any kind of spiritual path is that it doesn’t take long for interesting ideas to get frozen into unimpeachable dogma which can neither be questioned nor challenged. This is potentially catastrophic. And it’s happened to every single spiritual tradition and religion that has ever existed. When you have this impermeable coagulation of ideas, there is no longer any free movement of thought to keep these notions alive. And so they fossilize and grow no further. They recede into oblivion.
Ultimately Theosophy is much more than an organisation. It’s a set of ideas. Even more crucially it’s a way of living the life of a free-thinker. Which means Theosophy should be a movement, a real emerging brotherhood, and not just a creaky fixture relying on buildings, committees and rules. It’s a living, dynamic, comprehensive, coherent and credible series of universal principles.
It’s the perfect spiritual cocktail for free-thinkers.