St. James teaches two kinds of wisdom; a teaching with which we fully concur. He draws a strong line of separation between the divine or noétic "Sophia"—the Wisdom from above—and the terrestrial, psychic, and devilish wisdom (iii, 15). For the true Theosophist there is no wisdom save the former. Would that such an one could declare with Paul, that he speaks that wisdom exclusively only among them "that are perfect," i.e., those initiated into its mysteries, or familiar, at least, with the A B C of the sacred sciences. But, however great was his mistake, however premature his attempt to sow the seeds of the true and eternal gnosis on unprepared soil, his motives were yet good and his intention unselfish, and therefore has he been stoned. For had he only attempted to preach some particular fiction of his own, or done it for gain, who would have ever singled him out or tried to crush him, amid the hundreds of other false sects, daily "collections" and crazy "societies"? But his case was different. However cautiously, still he spoke "not the wisdom of this world" but truth or the "hidden wisdom" . . . which none of the Princes of this World know (I Corinth. ii.) least of all the archons of our modern science.
With regard to "psychic" wisdom, however, which James defines as terrestrial and devilish, it has existed in all ages, from the days of Pythagoras and Plato, when for one philosophus there were nine sophistae, down to our modern era. To such wisdom our century is welcome, and indeed fully entitled, to lay a claim. Moreover, it is an attire easy to put on; there never was a period when crows refused to array themselves in peacock's feathers, if the opportunity was offered.
But now as then, we have a right to analyze the terms used and enquire in the words of the book of Job, that suggestive allegory of Karmic purification and initiation rites: "Where shall (true) wisdom be found? Where is the place of understanding?" and to answer again in his words: "With the ancient is wisdom and in the length of days understanding" (Job xxviii, 12 and xii, 12).
Here we have to qualify once more a dubious term, viz: the word "ancient," and to explain it. As interpreted by the orthodox churches, it has in the mouth of Job one meaning; but with the Kabalist, quite another; while in the Gnosis of the Occultist and Theosophist it has distinctly a third signification, the same which it had in the original Book of Job, a pre-Mosaic work and a recognized treatise on Initiation. Thus, the Kabalist applies the adjective "ancient" to the Manifested WORD or LOGOS (Dabar) of the forever concealed and uncognizable deity. Daniel, in one of his visions, also uses it when speaking of Jahve—the androgynous Adam Kadmon. The Church man connects it with his anthropomorphic Jehovah, the "Lord God" of the translated Bible. But the Eastern Occultist employs the mystic term only when referring to the reincarnating higher Ego. For, divine Wisdom being diffused throughout the infinite Universe, and our impersonal HIGHER SELF being an integral part of it, the atmic light of the latter can be centered only in that which though eternal is still individualized—i.e., the noétic Principle, the manifested God within each rational being, or our Higher Manas at one with Buddhi. It is this collective light which is the "Wisdom that is from above," and which whenever it descends on the personal Ego, is found "pure, peaceable, gentle." Hence, Job's assertion that "Wisdom is with the Ancient," or Buddhi-Manas. For the Divine Spiritual "I," is alone eternal, and the same throughout all births; whereas the "personalities" it informs in succession are evanescent, changing like the shadows of a kaleidoscopic series of forms in a magic lantern. It is the "Ancient," because, whether it be called Sophia, Krishna, Buddhi-Manas or Christos, it is ever the "first-born" of AlayaMahat, the Universal Soul and the Intelligence of the Universe. Esoterically then, Job's statement must read: "With the Ancient (man's Higher Ego) is Wisdom, and in the length of days (or number of its re-incarnations) is understanding." No man can learn true and final Wisdom in one birth; and every new rebirth, whether we be reincarnated for weal or for woe, is one more lesson we receive at the hands of the stern yet ever just schoolmaster—KARMIC LIFE.
"The Dual Aspect of Wisdom"
Lucifer, September 1890