Capacity for Truth

by Michael Colantoni


The simple fact that the average person permits whatever desire for knowledge he may possess to be overborne by dislike arising from his superficial impression of philosophy or by a feeling of fear of the abstract itself unfits him to pursue such study. For there are certain cardinal characteristics required of every man before he can even be permitted to cross its very threshold. Nobody can hope to philosophise with profit who lacks seven psychological qualities. They are necessary because they represent the means whereby he may hope successfully to reach his end. An explorer who wishes to penetrate into difficult new territories, who will have to cross mountains, rivers and deserts on his journey, should, if he knows his business at all, first prepare for the expedition by obtaining a proper equipment. He who seeks to explore the hidden philosophy and penetrate into the new territory of truth must likewise look to the nature and quality of his own personal equipment before his mind may venture forth into an activity which is likely to try and test his capacity to the uttermost.

It is not anybody and everybody who can undertake such an expedition. Those who will fulfil the preliminary conditions can alone hope for final success. These conditions are not externally imposed but are inherent in the very nature of the apprehension of truth, and therefore their fulfillment is inexorable. Nor are they manufactured arbitrarily by any exacting teacher. They are imposed by Nature herself and accepted by long tradition. However, nobody need trouble himself with them unless he or she belongs to the earnest few who seek to know the ultimate secret of life at any cost. All other persons can comfortably ignore them and take their own time and ease in life. Emerson has well said : ” Take what thou wilt, but pay the price.” These words fit quite squarely at this point of our quest.

In the Western countries it has always been open for anyone to enter upon a philosophical study, but in Asia the aspirant was first required to show or acquire a modicum of suitable capacity for the task. Until both aptitude and attitude were acceptable he was regretfully refused instruction. It did not matter to the custodians of wisdom whether he held any religious faith or none, whether he was an atheist or a Christian or a Muslim, but it did matter that he should get psychologically fit. This difference is an important one and helps to account for the superior result and notable success obtained by the Asiatics. Fichte, however, must have caught a glimpse of the need for this disciplinary preparation, because he once said : “What kind of philosophy a man chooses depends ultimately upon the kind of man he is.” The successful assimilation of the higher truth will be in exact proportion to one’s personal qualification.

Dr. Paul Brunton – The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga, 1941 (Ch. V – The Philosophical Discipline)