S Nicholson How Masters Know Truth prfweb[1]

-How the Masters Know Truth
Shirley J. Nicholson
How do we know anything? Those who study thought processes
tell us we work mostly with concepts, maps, descriptions, not
with the reality they describe. We can see this for ourselves
through observing our thinking. We may find that too often
inaccurate perceptions are the basis for a mistaken concept, and
that we form opinions and biases without being aware that they
color our perception of the truth. We tend to exaggerate the
size and importance of what we feel is our best interest. For
example, studies show that underprivileged children perceive
coins as being larger than do more affluent children. But we can
move toward truth if we can learn to distinguish opinion from
fact and see things as they really are, unmixed with our wishes
and fears, which throw a kind of veil over the bare, direct
Ordinarily we get knowledge from what the senses tell us,
providing us with facts from which we make deductions. Sherlock
Holmes is a good example. He might see a corpse, a bullet, a
shoe print, or other physical evidence. He would use his “little
gray cells” to deduce that a six-foot farmer had been present at
the scene of the murder. Holmes used the scientific method of
making predictions from hypotheses and concepts based on
physical evidence. He also used intuition. He intuitively knew
where to look for clues and how to put the pieces together. He
used empathy as well. He had knowledge of the criminal mind and
could feel as another would have felt.
The Master Koot Hoomi, the principal author of The Mahatma
Letters, a book of letters from two Masters to two early
Theosophists, hints that Masters know truth in a different way
from our usual modes: “Believe me, there comes a moment in the
life of an adept when the hardships he has passed through are a
thousandfold rewarded. In order to acquire further knowledge, he
has no more to go through a minute and slow process of
investigation and comparison of various objects, but is accorded
in instantaneous, implicit insight into every first truth. . . .
The adept sees and feels and lives in the very source of all
fundamental truths—the Universal Spiritual Essence of Nature”
(Barker and Chin, 55).
Like Sherlock Holmes, the Masters use empathy to perceive,
but their capacity for perception clearly surpasses ordinary
human means. There is much evidence that K. H. and other adepts
knew in ways scarcely available to us. At one point K. H.
relates an incident that occurred when Henry Steel Olcott and H.
P. Blavatsky had a serious disagreement. Olcott, on shipboard,
was thinking dark thoughts about her. K. H. wrote to Olcott that
he was aware of these thoughts and counseled him about them
(Jinarajadasa, 50).
But the first truths that the Master referred to as a prize
of adeptship are much grander. They are fundamental, primary,
first principles from which other truths can be derived. They
are changeless, eternal. In logic, these first principles
consist of axioms, assumptions, theorems on which patterns of
reasoning are built. In physics, gravity is an example of a
first truth; falling apples and the orbiting behavior of
spaceships are its effects.
The principles of Theosophy can be considered first truths.
The fundamental truth is unity, the one source that is behind
all interconnections and brotherhood. As the late Theosophical
teacher Ianthe Hoskins said so often, quoting HPB, “Existence is
one thing.”
Another principle can be found in the cycles that occur
everywhere in nature, of which reincarnation is an instance.
Still another is the unfoldment of consciousness from within,
which gives rise to evolution in the kingdoms of nature, as well
as to races and rounds. This is associated with emanation of
forms from higher or more ethereal levels of being to lower or
denser ones. The planes of nature derive from this universal
We know basic truths primarily as concepts, through words,
thoughts, theories of which we are convinced. But Theosophical
teacher and author Joy Mills tells us that we must learn to
distinguish first truths from the mental concepts that derive
from them. The Masters experience these first truths, not
through thought processes, but as “instantaneous, implicit
insight.” This kind of knowing is a function of consciousness
itself. Concepts and constructs have their place, but they
cannot replace this fundamental knowing. Indeed such
instantaneous insight suffers in the translation into content or
ordinary knowledge. As is said in the Mahatma Letters, “‘Truth’
is One; and cannot admit of diametrically opposite views; and
pure spirits who see it as it is with the veil of matter
entirely withdrawn from it—cannot err” (Barker and Chin, 67;
emphasis in the original).
We live primarily in the personality, the physical body,
the emotions, and the lower or concrete mind, whereas adepts are
centered in the higher individuality: atma or essential being,
buddhi or higher intuition, and manas or spiritual insight and
knowledge. Adepts live, not in truths, but in Truth.
The adept sees and feels and lives in the very source of
all fundamental truths—the Universal Spiritual Essence of
Nature, that from which all emerges—Ultimate Reality. Noted
Theosophical author I. K. Taimni has said that in Ultimate
Reality all truths of existence are contained in an integrated
and harmonized form. They appear as partial and different truths
of infinite variety in the realm of manifestation. In occultism
only Ultimate Reality is referred to as Truth.
Trying to portray a state of total contemplation, the
sixteenth-century Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross says that
he passed beyond all ordinary knowledge and reached a state of
knowing beyond words. Similarly, the Tao Teh Ching says that the
Tao (the essential reality) that can be said is not the true
Tao. The third Chinese Ch’an Buddhist patriarch advised that if
you stop talking and thinking, “there is nothing you will not be
able to know.” Our ordinary state of mind is subject to
distortion, fantasy, dreams, maya or illusion. We must quiet
this mind in order to see Truth.
The Idyll of the White Lotus, a work by the nineteenthcentury Theosophist Mabel Collins, says: “The principle that
gives life dwells in us, and without us, is undying and
eternally beneficent, is not heard, or seen, or smelt, but is
perceived by the man who desires perception” (Collins, 123). If
we can still our minds and learn to perceive it, we move a step
above our “land of dream and fiction” to the Masters’ “Truth
land” (Barker and Chin, 440). It is then possible to have
moments of “instantaneous, implicit insight."
Barker, A. T., and Vicente Hao Chin Jr., eds. The Mahatma
Letters from the Mahatmas M. and K. H. in Chronological
Sequence. Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1998.
Blavatsky, H. P. The Secret Doctrine. Adyar: Theosophical
Publishing House, 1979.
Collins, Mabel. The Idyll of the White Lotus. Adyar:
Theosophical Publishing House, 1952.
Jinarajadasa, C., ed. Letters from the Masters of Wisdom, First
Series. Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1948.
Shirley Nicholson, former chief editor for Quest Books, served
as director of the Krotona School of Theosophy in Ojai,
California, and later as administrative head of the Krotona
Institute. She is corresponding secretary for the Esoteric
School in North America. She is author of two books on
Theosophy, compiler of several anthologies, and has written many
articles for Theosophical journals.