One practical assistance in the task of transforming Theosophical learning into knowledge is to have a clear purpose in mind while studying the teaching. The undercurrent of thought should always be, “How can I make this idea clear to someone else? Could I explain this by using a simple illustration?” The mind so trained runs naturally to applications; it sees Theosophy in every man’s work and field of experience. To “talk Theosophy” no longer means employing a particular vocabulary, but the spread of a few leading ideas, no matter what their incidental garb.
It is important, also, to beware of Theosophical “shibboleths.” There are forms of pat expression that students sometimes repeat until their meaning is virtually lost. If, in thinking about a problem, a set of words comes to mind mechanically, it is well to attempt another form of expression. Explanations which have crystallized into familiar word-formations need to be broken up and recast with fresh and larger meaning. The student whose habits of thought and forms of speech are not constantly being regenerated by further study is in danger of falling into a Theosophical rut. Yesterday’s truth gets stale if today has not added to it. The Theosophist, less than any one else, can “rest on his laurels”.
Another warning may be entered in connection with all metaphysical studies. Metaphysics provides systematic description of the nature of planes and principles above the physical, reaching upward, in progressive abstraction, to the primary Cause of manifested existence. The teaching of the seven principles is metaphysical; the various planes and states of consciousness are metaphysical conceptions. While within each man are the substantial realities, to which these abstract ideas correspond, the student has no knowledge of such recondite aspects of the philosophy, until he can literally control the principles under consideration. Knowledge is conscious power, nothing less.
The student should realize, that he has only abstract and theoretical information about the principles, until he begins to identify and control their operation, in some degree, within his own being. If, after reading the chapter on Manas in The Ocean of Theosophy, he has never caught his own mind performing the “natural motions” described by Mr. Judge, and from that time forth made a deliberate effort to direct his intellectual energy, then, to him, Chapter Seven is still a mere “dead letter.” Mr. Judge’s injunction, given elsewhere, to try to see a deep occult significance in every event, however trivial, is another way of saying that we need to practice on ourselves the philosophy we study in theory.
Theosophy has indeed an answer to every question, but it is not the Theosophy that is printed in books that gives us knowledge. The answers in the books are rather the keys to mysteries locked within ourselves, and for learning to become knowledge, the keys have to be turned. (Vol. XXX, April, 1942, p. 242.)