IS CREATION POSSIBLE FOR MAN?
THE EDITOR OF THE THEOSOPHIST,
Talking the other day to a friend, who, like me, without being
a Theosophist, takes a very great interest in the movements of
your Society, I incidentally happened to remark that the "Brothers
of the first section" were credited with such large powers,
that even creation was not at times impossible to them.
In support of my assertion, I instanced their own cup and saucer
phenomenon, as narrated by Mr. Sinnett in his "Occult World,"
which phenomenon appeared to me to be something more than the
mere reproduction, transference or unearthing from
its hiding-place of an article lost or stolen, like
the brooch. My friend, however, warmly objected to my statement--remarking
that creation was not possible to man, whatever else he may be
able to accomplish.
Believing, as I then did, in Christianity as the most perfect
heaven-descended code of ethics on earth, there was a time in
the history of my chequered life, (chequered, I mean, as regards
the vast sea of doubt and unbelief on which I have been tossing
for over twenty years) when I would have myself as warmly, even
indignantly, repelled the idea of creation as a possibility to
man; but the regular reading of your journal, and a careful perusal
of Mr. Sinnett's book and of that marvel of learning and industry
your own "Isis Unveiled," have effected quite a revolution
(whether for good or bad has yet to be seen) in my thoughts, and
it is now some time since I have begun to believe in the possibility
of phenomena beyond the range of my own narrow vision.
Will you kindly tell me which of us is right, my friend or I?
Not having the honour of being personally known to you, I close
this letter only with my initial.
The question to be dealt with is hardly whether our correspondent
or his friend is right, for we understand him to take up the prudent
attitude of a seeker after truth who shrinks from affirming dogmatically
that creation is possible for man, even while unwilling
to accept the dogmatic negative assertion of his friend that "it
is impossible." Before coming to the gist of the question
raised, we have, therefore, to notice the illustrations which
this letter affords of the ways in which such a question may be
When our correspondent's friend denies that creation is possible
for man, we can hardly assume that he does so from any conviction
that he has sounded all the mysteries of Nature, and knowing all
about the universe,--being able to account for all its phenomena--has
ascertained that the process, whatever that may be, which he conceives
of as creation does not go on anywhere in obedience to the will
or influence of man, and has further ascertained that there is
something in man which makes it impossible that such a process
should be accomplished. And yet without having done all that,
it is bold of him to say that creation is impossible. Assuming
that he is not a student of occult science,--and the tone of the
letter before us conveys the impression that he is not--our friend's
friend when he makes his dogmatic statement, seems to be proceeding
on the method but too commonly adopted by people of merely ordinary
culture and even by a few men of science--the method which takes
a large group of preconceived ideas as a standard to which any
new idea must be applied. If the new idea fits in with, and seems
to support the old ones, well and good; they smile upon it. If
it clashes with some of these they frown at it, and ex-communicate
it without further ceremony.
Now the attitude of mind exhibited by our correspondent, who finds
many old beliefs, shattered by new ideas, the force of which he
is constrained by moral honesty to recognize, and who, therefore,
feels that in presence of the vast possibilities of Nature he
must advance very cautiously and be ever on his guard against
false lights held out by time-honoured prejudices and hasty conclusions,--seems
to us an attitude of mind which is very much better entitled to
respect than that of his over-confident friend. And we are the
more anxious to recognize its superiority in the most emphatic
language, because when we approach the actual question to be discussed
the bearing of what we have to say will be rather in favour of
the view which the "friend" takes of "creations,"
if indeed we are all attaching the same significance to that somewhat
It is needless after what we have just said to point out that
if we are now going to make some statements as to what is, and
what is not the fact, as regards some of the conditions of the
universe we are not on that account infringing the rules of thought
just laid down. We are simply giving an exposition of our little
fragment of occult philosophy as taught by masters who are in
a position to make positive statements on the subjects and the
credibility of which will never be in danger from any of those
apparently inexplicable occurrences related in the books to which
our correspondent refers, and likely enough, as he justly conceives,
to disturb many of the orthodox beliefs which he has seen crumbling
It would be a volume we should have to write and not a brief explanatory
note, if we attempted to begin, by elucidating the conviction
we entertain that the Masters of Occult Philosophy above referred
to are entitled to say what is and what is not. Enough for the
present to say what we believe would be said in answer to the
question before us, by those who know.
But we must have a clear understanding as to what is meant by
creation. Probably the common idea on the subject is that when
the world was "created," the creator accorded himself
or was somehow accorded a dispensation from the rule ex nihilo
nihil fit and actually made the world out of nothing--if that
is the idea of creation to be dealt with now, the reply of the
philosophers would be not merely that such creation is impossible
to man but that it is impossible to gods, or God; in short absolutely
impossible. But a step in the direction of a philosophical conception
is accomplished when people say the world was "created"
(we say fashioned)--out of CHAOS. Perhaps,
they have no very clear idea of what they mean by Chaos, but it
is a better word to use in this case than "nothing."
For, suppose we endeavour to conceive chaos as the matter of the
universe in an unmanifested state it will be seen at once that
though such matter is perfectly inappreciable to ordinary human
senses, and to that extent equivalent to "nothing" creation
from such materials is not the production of something which did
not exist before, but a change of state imposed upon a portion
of universal matter which in its previous state was invisible,
intangible and imponderable, but not on that account non-existent.1
Theosophists-Occultists do not, however, use the word "creation,"
at all, but replace it by that of EVOLUTION.
Here we approach a comprehension of what may have been the course
of events as regards the production of the mysterious cup and
saucer described in Mr. Sinnett's book. It is in no way inconceivable
that if the production of manifestation in matter is the act accomplished
by what is ordinarily called creation that the power of the human
will in some of its transcendent developments may be enabled to
impose on unmanifested matter or chaos, the change which brings
it within the cognisance of the ordinary human senses.
Theosophist, December, 1881
1 It is one of the many reasons why Buddhist philosophy
refuses to admit the existence and interference in the production
of the universe of a direct creator or god. For once admit, for
argument's sake, that the world was created by such a being,
who, to have done so, must have been omnipotent, there remains
the old difficulty to be dealt with--who then created that pre-existing
matter, that eternal, invisible, intangible and imponderable something
or chaos? If we are told that being "eternal" and imperishable
it had no need of being "created," then our answer will
be that in such a case there are TWO "Eternals"
and two "Omnipotents"; or if our opponents argue that
it is the omnipotent No.1 or God who created it, then we return
from where we first started--to the creation of something
out of nothing, which is such an absolute absurdity before
science and logic that it does not even require the final unanswerable
query resorted to by some precocious children "and who created
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