[From the London Spiritualist, March 22nd, 1877.]
TWO peas in the same pod are
the traditional symbol of mutual resemblance, and the time-honoured simile
forced itself upon me when I read the twin letters of our two masked assailants
in your paper of Feb. 22nd. In substance they are so identical that one
would suppose the same person had written them simultaneously with his two
hands, as Paul Morphy will play you two games of chess, or Kossuth dictate
two letters at once. The only difference between these two letterslying
beside each other on the same page, like two babes in one cribis,
that "M.A. Cantabs" is brief and courteous, while "Scrutators"
is prolix and uncivil.
By a strange coincidence both these sharp-shooters fire from behind their
secure ramparts a shot at a certain "learned Occultist" over the
head of Mr. C. C. Massey, who quoted some of that personages views,
in a letter published May 10th, 1876. Whether in irony or otherwise, they
hurl the views of this "learned Occultist" at the heads of Col.
Olcott and myself, as though they were missiles that would floor us completely.
Now the "learned Occultist" in question is not a whit more, or
less, learned than your humble servant, for the very simple reason that
we are identical. The extracts published by Mr. Massey, by permission, were
contained in a letter from myself to him. Moreover it is now before me,
and, save one misprint of no consequence, I do not find in it a word that
I would wish changed. What is said there I repeat now over my signaturethe
theories of 1876 do not contradict those of 1878 in any respect, as I shall
endeavour to prove, after pointing out to the impartial reader the quaking
ground upon which our two critics stand. Their arguments against Theosophycertainly
"Scrutators"are like a verdant moss, which displays
a velvety carpet of green without roots and with a deep bog below.
When a person enters on a controversy over a fictitious signature, he
should be doubly cautious, if he would avoid the accusation of abusing the
opportunity of the mask to insult his opponents with impunity. Who or what
is "Scrutator"? A clergyman, a medium, a lawyer, a philosopher,
a physician (certainly not a metaphysician), or what? Quien sabe? He
seems to partake of the flavour of all, and yet to grace none. Though his
arguments are all interwoven with sentences quoted from our letters, yet
in no case does he criticize merely what is written by us, but what he thinks
we may have meant, or what the sentences might imply. Drawing his
deductions, then, from what existed only in the depths of his own consciousness,
he invents phrases, and forces constructions, upon which he proceeds to
pour out his wrath. Without meaning to be in the least personalfor,
though propagating "absurdities" with the "utmost effrontery,"
I should feel sorry and ashamed to be as impertinent with "Scrutator"
as he is with usyet, hereafter, when I see a dog chasing the shadow
of his own tail, I will think of his letter.
In my doubts as to what this assailant might be, I invoked the help of
Webster to give me a possible clue in the pseudonym. "Scrutator,"
says the great lexicographer, is "one who scrutinizes," and "scrutiny"
he derives from the Latin scrutari, "to search even to the rags";
which scrutari itself he traces back to a Greek root, meaning "trash,
trumpery." In this ultimate analysis, therefore, we must regard the nom de plume, while very applicable to his letter of February 22nd,
as very unfortunate for himself; for, at best, it makes him a sort of literary chiffonnier, probing in the dust-heap of the language for bits of
hard adjectives to fling at us. I repeat that, when an anonymous critic
accuses two persons of "slanderous imputations" (the mere reflex
of his own imagination), and of "unfathomable absurdities," he
ought, at least, to make sure (1) that he has thoroughly grasped what he
is pleased to call the "teachings" of his adversaries; and (2)
that his own philosophy is infallible. I may add, furthermore, that when
that critic permits himself to call the views of other peoplenot yet
half digested by himself"unfathomable absurdities," he ought
to be mighty careful about introducing as arguments into the discussion
sectarian absurdities far more "unfathomable" and which have nothing
to do with either Science or Philosophy.
I suppose [gravely argues "Scrutator"] a babes brain
is soft and a quite unfit tool for intelligence, otherwise Jesus could
not have lost His intelligence when He took upon Himself the body and the
brain of a babe [!!?].
The very opposite of Oliver Johnson evidently, this Jesus-babe of "
Such an argument might come with a certain force in a discussion between
two conflicting dogmatic sects, but if picked "even to rags" it
seems but "utmost effrontery"to use "Scrutators"
own complimentary expressionto employ it in a philosophical debate,
as if it were either a scientific or historically proved fact! If I refused,
at the very start, to argue with our friend "M.A. Oxon.," a man
whom I esteem and respect as I do few in this world, only because he put
forward a "cardinal dogma," I shall certainly lose no time in
debating Theosophy with a tattering Christian, whose scrutinizing faculties
have not helped him beyond the acceptance of the latest of the worlds
Avataras, in all its unphilosophical dead-letter meaning, without even suspecting
its symbolical significance. To parade in a would-be philosophical debate
the exploded dogmas of any Church, is most ineffectual, and shows, at best,
a great poverty of resource. Why does not "Scrutator" address
his refined abuse, ex cathedrâ, to the Royal Society, whose
Fellows doom to annihilation every human being, Theosophist or Spiritualist,
pure or impure?
With crushing irony he speaks of us as "our teachers." Now
I remember having distinctly stated in a previous letter that we have not offered ourselves as teachers, but, on the contrary, decline any such
office whatever may be the superlative panegyric of my esteemed friend,
Mr. O. Sullivan, who not only sees in me "a Buddhist priestess"
(!), but, without a shadow of warrant of fact, credits me with the foundation
of the Theosophical Society and its Branches! Had Colonel Olcott been half
as "psychologized" by me as a certain American Spiritualist paper
will have it, he would have followed my advice and refused to make public
our "views," even though so much and so often importuned in different
quarters. With characteristic stubbornness, however, he had his own way,
and now reaps the consequence of having thrown his bomb into a hornets
nest. Instead of being afforded opportunity for a calm debate, we get but
abuse, pure and simplethe only weapon of partisans. Well, let us make
the best of it, and join our opponents in picking the question "to
rags." Mr. C. C. Massey comes in for his share, too, and though fit
to be a leader himself, is given by " Scrutator" a chief!
Neither of our critics seems to understand our views (or his own) so
little as "Scrutator." He misapprehends the meaning of Elementary,
and makes a sad mess of Spirit and Matter. Hear him say that Elementary
Is a new-fangled and ill-defined term . . . not yet two years old.
This sentence alone proves that he forces himself into the discussion,
without any comprehension of the subject at issue. Evidently, he has neither
read the mediaeval nor modern Kabalists. Henry Kunrath is as unfamiliar
to him as the Abbe Constant. Let him go to the British Museum, and ask for
the Amphitheatrum Sapientiæ Æternæ Kunrath.
He will find in it illustrative engravings of the four great classes of
elementary Spirits, as seen during an evocation of ceremonial Magic by the
Magus who lifts the Veil of Isis. The author explains that these are disembodied
vicious men, who have parted with their divine Spirits, and become as beasts.
After reading this volume, "Scrutator" may profitably consult
Éliphas Lévi, whom he will find using the words " Elementary
Spirits" throughout his Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, in both senses in which we have employed it. This is especially the
case where (vol. i. p. 262, seq.) he speaks of the evocation
of Apollonius of Tyana by himself. Quoting from the greatest Kabalistic
authorities, he says:
When a man has lived well, the astral cadaver evaporates like a pure
incense, as it mounts towards the higher regions; but if a man has lived
in crime, his astral cadaver, which holds him prisoner, seeks again the
objects of his passions and desires to resume its earthly life. It torments
the dreams of young girls, bathes in the vapour of spilt blood, and wallows
about the places where the pleasures of his life flitted by; it watches
without ceasing over the treasures which it possessed and buried; it wastes
itself in painful efforts to make for itself material organs [materialize
itself] and live again. But the astral elements attract and absorb it;
its memory is gradually lost, its intelligence weakens, all its being dissolves.
. . . The unhappy wretch loses thus in succession all the organs which
served its sinful appetites. Then it [this astral body, this "soul,"
this all that is left of the once living man] dies a second time and for
ever, for it then loses its personality and its memory. Souls which are
destined to live, but which are not yet entirely purified, remain for a
longer or shorter time captive in the astral cadaver, where they are refined
by the odic light, which seeks to assimilate them to itself and dissolve.
It is to rid themselves of this cadaver that suffering souls sometimes
enter the bodies of living persons, and remain there for a time in a state
which the Kabalists call embryonic [embryonnat]. These are
the aerial phantasmas evoked by necromancy [and I may add, the "materialized
Spirits" evoked by the unconscious necromancy of incautious mediums,
in cases where the forms are not transformations of their own doubles];
these are larvae, substances dead or dying with which one places himself en rapport.
Further, Lévi says (Op. cit., p. 164):
The astral light is saturated with elementary souls. . . . Yes, yes,
these spirits of the elements do exist. Some wandering in their spheres,
others trying to incarnate themselves, others, again already incarnated
and living on earth; these are vicious and imperfect men.
And in the face of this testimonywhich he can find in the British
Museum, two steps from the office of The Spiritualist (!)that
since the Middle Ages the Kabalists have been writing about the Elementaries,
and their potential annihilation, "Scrutator" permits himself
to arraign Theosophists for their effrontery" in foisting upon
Spiritualists a "new-fangled and ill-defined term" which is "not
yet two years old"!
In truth, we may say that the idea is older than Christianity, for it
is found in the ancient Kabalistic books of the Jews. In the olden time
they defined three kinds of "souls"the daughters of Adam,
the daughters of the angels and those of sin; and in the book of The
Revolution of the Souls three kinds of "Spirits" (as distinct
from material bodies) are shownthe captive, the wandering and the
free Spirits. If "Scrutator" were acquainted with the literature
of Kabalism, he would know that the term Elementary applies not only to
one principle or constituent part, to an elementary primary substance, but
also embodies the idea which we express by the term elementalthat
which pertains to the four elements of the material world, the first principles
or primary ingredients. The word "elemental" as defined by Webster,
was not current at the time of Kunrath, but the idea was perfectly understood.
The distinction has been made, and the term adopted by Theosophists for
the sake of avoiding confusion. The thanks we get are that we are charged
with propounding, in 1878, a different theory of the "Elementaries"
from that of 1876!
Does anything herein stated either as from ourselves, or Kunrath, or
Lévi, contradict the statement of the "learned Occultist"
Each atom, no matter where found, is imbued with that vital principle
called spirit. . . . Each grain of sand, equally with each minutest atom
of the human body, has its inherent latent spark of the divine light?
Italicizing some words of the above, but omitting to emphasize the one
important word of the sentence, i.e., "latent,"
which contains the key to the whole mystery, our critic mars the sense.
In the grain of sand, and each atom of the human material body, the Spirit
is latent, not active; hence being but a correlation of the highest
light, something concrete as compared with the purely abstract, the atom
is vitalized and energized by Spirit, without being endowed with distinct
consciousness. A grain of sand, as every minutest atom, is certainly "imbued
with that vital principle called Spirit"; so every atom of both, following
the law of evolution, whether of objective or semi-concrete astral matter,
will have to remain eternal throughout the endless cycles, indestructible
in their primary elementary constituents.
But will "M.A. Cantab.," for all that, call a grain of sand,
or a human nail-paring, consciously immortal? Does he mean us to understand
him as believing that a fractional part of a fraction has the same attributes,
capabilities, and limitations as the whole? Does he say that because the
atoms in a nail-paring are indestructible as atoms, therefore the body,
of which the nail formed a part, is necessarily, as a conscious whole, indestructible
Our opponents repeat the words trinity, body, soul, Spirit, as they might
say the cat, the house, and the Irishman inhabiting itthree perfectly
dissimilar things. They do not see that, dissimilar as the three parts of
the human trinity may seem, they are in truth but correlations of the one
eternal Essencewhich is no essence; but unfortunately the English
language is barren of adequate expressions, and, though they do not see
it, the house, the physical Irishman, and the cat are, in their last analysis,
one. I verily begin to suspect that they imagine that Spirit and Matter
are two, instead of one! Truly says Vishnu Barva Brahmachâri, in one
of his essays in Marathi (1869), that:
The opinion of the Europeans that matter is Padartha (an equivalent
for the pada, or word Abhâva, i.e., Ahey, composed
of two letters, Ahe, meaning is, and nahin, not, whereas Abhâva
is no Padârtha) is foolishly erroneous.
Kant, Schopenhauer and Hartmann seem to have written to little effect,
and Kapila will be soon pronounced an antiquated ignoramus. Without at all
ranging myself under Schopenhauers banner, who maintains that in reality
there is neither Spirit nor Matter, yet I must say that if even he were
studied, Theosophy would be better understood.
But can one really discuss metaphysical ideas in a European language?
I doubt it. We say "Spirit," and behold, what confusion it leads
to. Europeans give the name Spirit to that something which they conceive
as apart from physical organization, independent of corporeal, objective
existence; and they call spirit also the airy, vaporous essence, alcohol.
Therefore, the New York reporter who defined a materialized Spirit as "frozen
whiskey," was right in his way. A copious vocabulary, indeed, that
has but one term for God and for alcohol! With all their libraries of metaphysics,
European nations have not even gone to the trouble of inventing appropriate
words to elucidate metaphysical ideas. If they had, perhaps one book in
every thousand would have sufficed to really instruct the public, instead
of there being the present confusion of words, obscuring intelligence, and
utterly hampering the Orientalist, who would expound his Philosophy in English.
Whereas, in the latter language, I find but one word to express, perhaps,
twenty different ideas, in the Eastern tongues, especially Sanskrit, there
are twenty words or more to render one idea in its various shades of meaning.
We are accused of propagating ideas that would surprise the "average"
Buddhist. Granted, and I will liberally add that the average Brâhmanist
might be equally astonished. We never said that we were either Buddhists
or Brâhmanists in the sense of their popular exoteric Theologies.
Buddha, sitting on his Lotus, or Brahmâ, with any number of teratological
arms, appeals to us as little as the Catholic Madonna or the Christian personal
God, which stare at us from cathedral walls and ceilings. But neither Buddha
nor Brahmâ represents to His respective worshippers the same ideas
as these Catholic icons which we regard as blasphemous. In this particular
who dares say that Christendom with its civilization has outgrown the fetichism
of Fijians? When we see Christians and Spiritualists speaking so flippantly
and confidently about God and the "materialization of Spirit,"
we wish they might be made to share a little in the reverential ideas of
the old Âryas.
We do not write for "average" Buddhists, or average people
of any sort. But I am quite willing to match any tolerably educated Buddhist
or Brâhman against the best metaphysicians of Europe, to compare views
on God and on mans immortality.
The ultimate abstract definition of thiscall it God, Force, Principle,
as you willwill ever remain a mystery to Humanity, though it attain
to its highest intellectual development. The anthropomorphic ideas of Spiritualists
concerning Spirit are a direct consequence of the anthropomorphic conceptions
of Christians as to the Deity. So directly is the one the outflow of the
other, that "Scrutators" handiest argument against the duality
of a child and potential immortality is to cite
Jesus who increased in wisdom as His brain increased.
Christians call God an Infinite Being, and then endow Him with every
finite attribute, such as love, anger, benevolence, mercy! They call Him
all-merciful, and preach damnation for three-fourths of Humanity in every
church, all-just, and the sins of this brief span of life may not be expiated
by even an eternity of conscious agony. Now, by some miracle of oversight,
among thousands of mistranslations in the "Holy" Writ, the word
"destruction," the synonym of annihilation, was rendered correctly
in King Jamess version, and no dictionary can make it read either
damnation or eternal torment. Though the Church consistently put down the
"destructionists," yet the impartial will scarcely deny that they
come nearer than their persecutors to believing what Jesus taught, and what
is consistent with justice, in teaching the final annihilation of the wicked.
To conclude, then, we believe that there is but one undefinable Principle
in the whole Universe, which being utterly incomprehensible by our finite
intellects, we prefer rather to leave undebated than to blaspheme Its majesty
with our anthropomorphic speculations. We believe that all else which has
being, whether material or spiritual, and all that may have existence, actually,
or potentially in our idealism, emanates from this Principle. That everything
is a correlation in one shape or another of this Will and Force; and hence,
judging of the unseen by the visible, we base our speculations upon the
teachings of the generations of Sages who preceded Christianity, fortified
by our own reason.
I have already illustrated the incapacity of some of our critics to separate
abstract ideas from complex objects, by instancing the grain of sand and
the nail-paring. They refuse to comprehend that a philosophical doctrine
can teach that an atom imbued with divine light, or a portion of the great
Spirit, in its latent stage of correlation, may, notwithstanding its reciprocal
or corresponding similarity and relations to the one indivisible whole,
be yet utterly deficient in self-consciousness. That it is only when this
atom, magnetically drawn to its fellow-atoms, which had served in a previous
state to form with it some lower complex object, is transformed at last,
after endless cycles of evolution, into manthe apex of perfected being,
intellectually and physically, on our planetin conjunction with them
it becomes, as a whole, a living soul, and reaches the state of intellectual
A stone becomes a plant, a plant an animal, an animal a man, and man
say the Kabalists. And here again, is the wretched necessity of translating
by the word "Spirit" an expression which means a celestial, or
rather ethereal, transparent man. But if man is the crown of evolution on
earth, what is he in the initiatory stages of the next existence, that man
who, at his besteven when he is pretended to have served as a habitation
for the Christian God, Jesusis said by Paul to have been "made
a little lower than the angels"? But now we have every astral spook
transformed into an "angel"! I cannot believe that the scholars
who write for your paperand there are some of great intelligence and
erudition who think for themselves, and whom exact science has taught that
ex nihilo nihil fit; who know that every atom of mans body
has been evolving by imperceptible gradations, from lower into higher forms,
through the cyclesaccept the unscientific and illogical doctrine that
the simple unshelling of an astral man transforms him into a celestial Spirit
and "angel" guide.
In Theosophical opinion a Spirit is a Ray, a fraction of the Whole; and
the Whole being Omniscient and Infinite, Its fraction must partake, in degree,
of the same abstract attributes. Mans "Spirit" must become
the drop of the Ocean, called "Îshvara-Bhâva"the
"I am one body, together with the universe itself" (I am in my
Father, and my Father is in me), instead of remaining but the "Jîva-Bhâva,"
the body only. He must feel himself not only a part of the Creator, Preserver
and Destroyer, but of the Soul of the Three, the Parabrahman, Who is above
these and is the vitalizing, energizing and ever-presiding Spirit. He must
fully realize the sense of the word "Sahajanund," that state of
perfect bliss in Nirvâna, which can only exist for the It, which has
become coëxistent with the "formless and actionless present time."
This is the state called " Vartamâna," or the " ever
still present," in which there is neither past nor future, but one
infinite eternity of present. Which of the controlling "spirits,"
materialized or invisible, have shown any signs that they belong to the
kind of real Spirits known as the "Sons of Eternity"? Has the
highest of them been able to tell even as much as our own Divine Nous can
whisper to us in moments when there comes the flash of sudden prevision?
Honest communicating "intelligences" often answer to many questions:
"We do not know; this has not been revealed to us." This very
admission proves that, while in many cases on their way to knowledge and
perfection, yet they are but embryonic, undeveloped "Spirits";
they are inferior even to some living Yogis who, through abstract meditation,
have united themselves with their personal individual Brahman, their Âtman,
and hence have overcome the "Agnyanam," or lack of that knowledge
as to the intrinsic value of ones "self," the Ego or self-being,
so recommended by Socrates and the Delphic commandment.
London has been often visited by highly intellectual, educated Hindûs.
I have not heard of any one professing a belief in "materialized Spirits"as
Spirits. When not tainted with Materialism, through demoralizing association
with Europeans. and when free from superstitious sectarianism, how would
one of them, versed in the Vedânta, regard these apparitions of the
circle? The chances are that, after going the rounds of the mediums, he
would say: "Some of these may be survivals of disembodied mens
intelligences, but they are no more spiritual than the average man. They
lack the knowledge of Dryananta, and evidently find themselves
in a chronic state of Mâyâ, i.e., possessed of the idea that they are that which they are not.
The Vartamâna has no significance for them, as they are
cognizant but of the Vishama [that which, like the concrete
numbers in mixed mathematics, applies to that which can be numbered]. Like
simple, ignorant mortals, they regard the shadow of things as the reality,
and vice versâ, mixing up the true light of the Vyatireka
with the false light or deceitful appearancethe Anvaya.
. . . In what respect, then, are they higher than the average mortal? No;
they are not spirits, not Devas, . . . they are astral Dasyoos."
Of course all this will appear to "Scrutator" "unfathomable
absurdities," for unfortunately, few metaphysicians shower down from
Western skies. Therefore, so long as our English opponents will remain in
their semi-Christian ideas, and not only ignore the old Philosophy, but
the very terms it employs to render abstract ideas; so long as we are forced
to transmit these ideas in a general wayparticularly as it is impracticable
without the invention of special wordsit will be unprofitable to push
discussion to any great lengths. We would only make ourselves obnoxious
to the general reader, and receive from other anonymous writers such unconvincing
compliments as "Scrutator" has favoured us with.
New York, March 7th, 1877.