"To fully define Theosophy, we must consider it under all its aspects. The interior world has not been hidden from all by impenetrable darkness. By that higher intuition acquired by Theosophia – or God-knowledge, which carried the mind from the world of form into that of formless spirit, man has been sometimes enabled in every age and every country to perceive things in the interior or invisible world. Hence, the "Samadhi," or DyanYog Samadhi, of the Hindu ascetics; the "Daimonion-photi," or spiritual illumination of the Neo-Platonists; the "sidereal confabulation of soul," of the Rosicrucians or Fire-philosophers; and, even the ecstatic trance of mystics and of the modern mesmerists and spiritualists, are identical in nature, though various as to manifestation.
The search after man's diviner "self," so often and so erroneously interpreted as individual communion with a personal God, was the object of every mystic, and belief in its possibility seems to have been coeval with the genesis of humanity, each people giving it another name. Thus Plato and Plotinus call "Noetic work" that which the Yogin and the Shrotriya term Vidya. "By reflection, self-knowledge and intellectual discipline, the soul can be raised to the vision of eternal truth, goodness, and beauty – that is, to the Vision of God – this is the epopteia," said the Greeks. "To unite one's soul to the Universal Soul," says Porphyry, "requires but a perfectly pure mind. Through self-contemplation, perfect chastity, and purity of body, we may approach nearer to It, and receive, in that state, true knowledge and wonderful insight." And Swami DayanandSaraswati, who has read neither Porphyry nor other Greek authors, but who is a thorough Vedic scholar, says in his Veda Bhâshya (opasnaprakaruank. 9) – "To obtain Diksh (highest initiation) and Yog, one has to practise according to the rules . . . The soul in human body can perform the greatest wonders by knowing the Universal Spirit (or God) and acquainting itself with the properties and qualities (occult) of all the things in the universe.
A human being (a Dikshit or initiate) can thus acquire a power of seeing and hearing at great distances." Finally, Alfred R. Wallace, F.R.S., a spiritualist and yet a confessedly great naturalist, says, with brave candour: "It is 'spirit' that alone feels, and perceives, and thinks – that acquires knowledge, and reasons and aspires . . . there not unfrequently occur individuals so constituted that the spirit can perceive independently of the corporeal organs of sense, or can perhaps, wholly or partially, quit the body for a time and return to it again . . . the spirit . . . communicates with spirit easier than with matter." We can now see how, after thousands of years have intervened between the age of Gymnosophists2 and our own highly civilized era, notwithstanding, or, perhaps, just because of such an enlightenment which pours its radiant light upon the psychological as well as upon the physical realms of nature, over twenty millions of people today believe, under a different form, in those same spiritual powers that were believed in by the Yogins and the Pythagoreans, nearly 3,000 years ago.
Thus, while the Aryan mystic claimed for himself the power of solving all the problems of life and death, when he had once obtained the power of acting independently of his body, through the Atman – "self," or "soul"; and the old Greeks went in search of Atmu – the Hidden one, or the God-Soul of man, with the symbolical mirror of the Thesmophorian mysteries; – so the spiritualists of today believe in the faculty of the spirits, or the souls of the disembodied persons, to communicate visibly and tangibly with those they loved on earth. And all these, Aryan Yogins, Greek philosophers, and modern spiritualists, affirm that possibility on the ground that the embodied soul and its never embodied spirit – the real self, are not separated from either the Universal Soul or other spirits by space, but merely by the differentiation of their qualities; as in the boundless expanse of the universe there can be no limitation. And that when this difference is once removed – according to the Greeks and Aryans by abstract contemplation, producing the temporary liberation of the imprisoned Soul; and according to spiritualists, through mediumship – such an union between embodied and disembodied spiritst becomes possible. Thus was it that Patanjali's Yogins and, following in their steps, Plotinus, Porphyry and other Neo-Platonists, maintained that in their hours of ecstasy, they had been united to, or rather become as one with God, several times during the course of their lives.
This idea, erroneous as it may seem in its application to the Universal Spirit, was, and is, claimed by too many great philosophers to be put aside as entirely chimerical. In the case of the Theodidaktoi, the only controvertible point, the dark spot on this philosophy of extreme mysticism, was its claim to include that which is simply ecstatic illumination, under the head of sensuous perception. In the case of the Yogins, who maintained their ability to see Iswara "face to face," this claim was successfully overthrown by the stern logic of Kapila. As to the similar assumption made for their Greek followers, for a long array of Christian ecstatics, and, finally, for the last two claimants to "God-seeing" within these last hundred years – Jacob Boehme and Swedenborg – this pretension would and should have been philosophically and logically questioned, if a few of our great men of science who are spiritualists had had more interest in the philosophy than in the mere phenomenalism of spiritualism."
Many more essays on Theosophy and Theosophy books by H.P. Blavatsky, William Q. Judge and Robert Crosbie, as well as the unique Lead Articles by Sri Raghavan Iyer that originally appeared in HERMES Magazine, can be found and accessed at no charge at the Theosophy Trust website, https://www.theosophytrust.org/.