What Metaphysics, Higher Ethics, Philosophy and Religion really are
Cambridge University, in England, used to have a Faculty of Moral Sciences. But the humane disciplines were hived off to become separate subjects, and when the faculty was finally renamed the Faculty of Philosophy, philosophy was the only subject taught. This was a great pity, for it led to the separation of the sciences which has now become the norm, to the detriment of the wholeness of learning cultivated by the Sages of Greece and Egypt. Consequently few now know what Metaphysics, Higher Ethics, Philosophy and Religion are, and even fewer care. This is a great pity, as we shall see.
Wikipedia defines 'Metaphysics' as "a traditional branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world that encompasses it." This is not such a bad definition, but does it explain what Metaphysics actually is? We should say it does not. Before we can arrive at an explanation we need to know what is meant by the words 'being' and 'world.' Wikipedia acknowledges this difficulty when it goes on to say "...the term is not easily defined." We should say it is not defined at all, least of all by material science.
Let us try again. The word is derived from the Greek 'meta', meaning "beyond" and 'physika', meaning "nature." So we can say that Metaphysics is a science which goes beyond nature. But we must be careful here to distinguish between 'nature' with a small 'n', which occult science defines as the natural world we perceive and know through the use of our physical senses and Nature with a capital 'N' which is the source of All.
That this is the correct definition is confirmed by Aristotle who called Metaphysics the 'Queen of Sciences.' This is rather apt since occult science says that Nature is the womb of all things, both material and spiritual. So we may say as Thales of Miletus (ca. 624-546 B.C.) did that Metaphysics seeks to explain the universe and our place within it "by tracing all things back to a single first cause". In this it differs fundamentally from material science which continues to deny any 'first cause', unless we regard the 'Big Bang' as such, but this only begs the question of who or what caused the 'bang'. Science will answer "nothing."
To which occult science answers: '"poppycock!" Ex nihilo nihil fit (out of nothing, nothing comes) was a truism with the Greek philosopher Parmenides more than 2,500 years ago, but it seems that modern scientists think they know better. You can read about the many flaws in the current theories of science about the universe in the afterword to the article on gravitational waves we refer to elsewhere on this website.You will then know whether modern science knows more about metaphysics than Parmenides did.
What about 'Higher Ethics', 'Philosophy' and 'Religion'? Our word 'ethics' comes from the Greek 'ethika' meaning 'morality'. The contemporary view of morality is that it comprises a set of cultural values, or rules of right and wrong within the context of prevailing social conventions and constraints. This view is reinforced by the argument that when such constraints are suspended or removed (such as during natural disasters and revolutions), people shed their morals (or ethics) as readily as a rat shakes off his fleas! But is this universally true? We should say it is not.
There are many instances of persons who hold fast to their morality in the face of overwhelming trials and temptations. Does this mean that ethics may be based on something more than mere compliance with social conventions? Occult science affirms that it does. Such people seem to know intuitively what is right and wrong. If this conviction does not come from acquired cultural values, where does it come from? Occult science states that it comes from the Higher Self, which inherited this moral sense from its Divine Parent, whether we call that parent Soul, Spirit or a first cause. This brings our question into line with Philosophy and Religion, for who can conceive of a wise philosopher or genuinely religious person who does not possess a code of Higher Ethics?
When we speak of Religion, we are not referring to the thousands of systems, sects or schisms which claim that only their teachings lead directly to God, under whatever name they worship Him, Her or It, forgetting that there are many more paths to God than man could ever invent or devise religious systems. The true occult scientist studies and respects all religions insofar as they inculcate the love of man for his creator and teach the virtues of goodness toward all.
The Socratic aphorism "Know thyself" will be familiar to many. It is through the knowledge, rightly called 'occult' of who and what we really are that the student of occult science may develop and use the hidden powers we all possess (wrongly called 'psychic' by many), to solve the deepest mysteries of philosophy and religion. This in turn will lead to an understanding of the real meaning of 'being' and 'world' such as no material scientist can dream of.