From H.P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. III
Articles by HPB
I would advise all in general that they would take into serious consideration the true and genuine ends of knowledge; that they seek it not either for pleasure or contention, or contempt of others, or for profit, or for fame, or for honour and promotion, or such-like adulterate or inferior ends; but for merit and emolument of life, that they may regulate and perfect the same in charity.
IN the present article I shall carry no coals to Newcastle. This means that I do not propose to teach learned Brahmins the mysteries of their religious philosophy, but will take for my subject a few things from the Universal Kabbala. The former--once placed upon polemical grounds--is an awkward adversary to fight. Unless one has instead of a head an encyclopaedia crammed with quotations, figures, numbers and verses scattered throughout crores of pages, such polemics will be more injurious than useful. Each of the disputants will find himself with the same number of adherents to his views as he had before, as I neither will convince a single man from the party opposed to him.
Repeating with Sir T. Browne that "I envy no man that knows more than myself, but pity them that know less," I will deal now with questions I am thoroughly conversant with, and in support of which I can quote good authorities.
Having studied the Kabbala, for nearer forty than thirty years, I may perhaps be allowed to regard the Zohar as a legitimate ground for me to stand upon. This, however, will be no discussion, but simply a few statements of facts. Four names and teachings from the Kabbala have been brought forward to oppose our septenary doctrine:
I. We are told that the Tetragrammaton "is in the way of a final union with the Logos." Because his mystic "constitution," "as represented by the sacred Tetragram has not a septenary basis."
II. That "it is one of the oldest directions of the ancient Wisdom-religion that the macrocosm 1 [Footnote 1. Just so Malkuth is the 10th Sephiroth, but as the "Bride of Microprosopus" [Translation: Lesser face or Denudata -BN] or Tetragrrammmaton, who is hexamerous- [Translation: having parts arranged in groups of six -BN] Malkuth, or the material limb, is the seventh. She is the fourth letter of IHVH, or He, but the Logos, or son, is only the letter V (Vau) as will be shown.] should be interpreted according to the plan revealed by Malkuth."
III. That (a) "Shekinah is an androgyne power"; and (b) that she "should be accepted as a guide to the interpretation of the constitution of the microcosm."
IV. That "Its (Shekinah's) male form is the figure of man seen on the mysterious throne in the vision of Ezekiel."2 [Footnote 2. Theosophist, August, 1887, pp. 700 and 705. ]
I am afraid none of the above statements are correct. I am compelled to say that each and all are entirely erroneous. My authorities for saying so, will be the three chief books of the Zohar--"The Book of Concealed Mystery" and the two "Assemblies"--the "Greater" and the "Lesser," as also the Kabbala of Knorr von Rosenroth, 3 [Footnote 3. Now translated by S. Liddel Macgregor Mathers, F.T.S. See his "Kabbala Unveiled." ] the Sepher Jetzirah, with its commentaries, and the Asch Metzareth, containing a key to the Kabbalistical symbolism, and all supplemented with various codices.
An axiom echoed from the hoariest antiquity teaches us that the first step to knowledge is to know and to confess that we are ignorant. I must have taken this step, for I fully realize how very ignorant I am in many things, and confess how little I know Nevertheless, what I know, I do know.
And perhaps, were I wiser, I ought to be glad to know so little because
If ignorance is the curse of God,
As Shakespeare has it, too much of
Knowledge, when wisdom is too weak to guide her,
In this particular case, however, I have no fear of being thrown out of my stirrups. I venture even to say that it is quite impossible with the Zohar before one's eyes and its (just) hundred and seventy passages of references and several hundreds of comments and glosses upon the real meaning of Tetragrammaton alone Meanwhile, as "no man knoweth all"--errare humanum est [Translation: to err is human -BNet] --and as none of us, so far as I know, has reached the glorified position of an omniscient Buddha or a Sankaracharya, it is but just that we should compare notes and unveil that which can be lawfully unveiled. Hence I shall endeavour to show the true nature of the "Tetragrammaton" and prove its four letters to be a mere glyph, a mask to conceal metaphysically its connection with, and relation to, the supemal and the inferior worlds. I will give nothing of my own speculations or knowledge, which are my personal property, the fruitage of my studies, and with which, therefore, the public has nothing to do. I shall only show what the Tetragrammaton is said to be in the Zohar, and as explained to the writer personally by a Hebrew initiated Rabbi, in Palestine and made very plain to every advanced Kabbalist.
I. The Tetragrammaton is called in the Kabbala by various names. It is IHVH, the Microprosopus, in distinction to AHIH, the Macroprosopus. It is the LESSER FACE, a reflection (tainted with matter or Malkuth, its bride, the mother earth)--of the "Vastor," rather "Limitless" Face; therefore he is the antithesis of Macroprosopus. But who, or what is Macroprosopus, itself?
II. It is not "Ain-Soph" the Non-Existent, or Non-Being, no more than is Tetragrammaton; for both AHIH and IHVH are glyphs of existence, and symbols of terrestrial-androgynous, as well as male and female--life. Both are therefore mixed with Malkuth,--H-eva, "the mother of all that lives," and cannot be confounded in our spiritual perceptions with EHEIEH--the one ABSOLUTE Esse, or "Be-ness," as some call it, though Rabbis have tried hard to have the mantle fall upon their exoteric god. They are reflections of the Ain-Soph, the Hebrew Parabrahmam; for Ain-Soph is negative, and they, actual, positive life--therefore Maya or Illusion.
This is proven clearly by their dual presence in the cross--the oldest phallic symbol, thus--
--as shown in The "Kabbalah Unveiled," p. 31. 4 [Footnote 4. So old and so phallic, indeed, that leaving the ansated cross of Egypt aside, the terra cotta discs called fusaioles, found by Shliemann in abundance under the ruins of ancient Troy, are almost in these two forms
the Indian Svastica and the Cross, the latter being Svastica or "Thor's Hammer" minus its four addtional angles. No need to explain that the Orientalists who are unable to soar higher than the material plane, are nevertheless right, and that they have discovered one of the secret keys (of exoteric religions, only however) in asserting that the origin of the cross is the arani and pramanthâ, the stick and the perforated vessel for kindling fire of the ancient Brahmins. Prometheus stealing the fire of (pro) creation to endow men with, has undeniably the origin of his name in Pramanthâ. The god Agni was celestial fire, only so long as he was hidden in his casket. No sooner had Matare-swan, the Rig-vedic aërial being, forced him out of it for the benefit of the consuming Bhrigus, than he became terrestrial fire, that of procreation, therefore phallic. the word mathâ or pramanthâ, we are told, has for its prefix pra, adding the idea of robbing or stealing by force to that contained in the root mathá of the verb mathani, or manthnami, "to produce by frction." Hence Prometheus stealing the heavenly fire to degrade it (in one sence) on earth. He not only kindles the spark of life in man of clay, but teaches him the mysteries of creation, which, from Kriyasakti, falls into the selfish act of procreation. (Vide supra-text.) ]
III. There are two "Tetragrammatons" in the Kabbala, or, rather--he is dual, and for the matter of that, even triple, quaternary and a septenary. He becomes nine and thirteen only toward the end when "thirteen" or UNITY destroys the septenate symbolized by the "Seven Inferior," which seven, are "the seven kings of Edom," (when the races are concerned) and the seven "lower Sephiroth" when the human principles are referred to. The first Tetragrammaton is the ever concealed one, the FATHER,--himself an emanation of the eternal light, thence not Ain-Soph. He is not the four-lettered Tetraktis, but the Square only, so to say, on a plane surface. It is the ideal geometrical figure formed of four imaginary lines, the abstract symbol of an abstract idea, or four "mathematical" lines enclosing a "mathematical" space--which is "equal to nothing enclosing nothing"--as says Dr. Pratt, speaking of the triangle in his "New Aspects of Life." A Phantom veiled with four breaths. So much for "Father" Macroprosopus-TETRAGRAMMATON. Whereas
IV. Microprosopus-Tetragrammaton--the "Son" or Logos, is the triangle in a square; the seven-fold, cube; or as Mr. R. Skinner shows it--the six-faced cube unfolded becomes the seven-partitioned cross, when the androgyne separates into opposite sexes. 5 [Footnote 5. Four in length or the vertical line, and three horizontally. See Theosophist, April, 1887 ] In the words of a commentary on the Secret Doctrine--
"The circle emanates a light which becomes to our vision four-cornered; this unfolds and becomes seven." Here the "circle" is the first sephira "the kether" or crown, the Risha Havurah, or "white head," and the "upper skull." [It is not limitless, but temporary in this phenomenal world.] It emanates the two lower Sephiroth (Chokhmah and Binah, which are "Father-Mother") and thus form the triangle, the first or upper triad of the Sephirothal Tree. This is the one or the monad of Pythagoras. But, it has emanated from the Seven Elohim, male and female, who are called the "Upper Father-Mother." These are themselves the reflections of the Female Holy Spirit, of which it is said in Sepher Jezirah "One is She, the Elohim of life." 6 [Footnote 6. See the "Kabbalah Uveiled." Introd. pp. 21-22 ] How far yet from AIN-SOPH the ALL, are these numbers 7 [Footnote 7. Sephira means a numeral; it is one, and therefore singular, and the Sephiroth is a plural word, both of which have passed their names to our "ciphers" and are only the numbers of the creative hierarchies of the Dhyan Chohans. When the Elohim say "Let us make man," they have to work from the first to the last seventh, each endowing man with its own characteristic or principle. ] of the Jewish Kabbala, for they are in fact only secret numbers and glyphs. Microprosopus comes the fourth.
Let any one turn to Plate IV of Kabbalah Denudata (Eng. Trans.) drawn by Mr. Mathers. Let him throw a glance at the "Symbolical Deific Forms" placed in their relations to the four Kabbalistic worlds--and he will soon see that "Tetragrammaton" or Microprosopus, the "Lesser countenance," comes as the fourth. For clearer explanation I copy a small portion of the table.
It thus follows that although Macroprosopus--or kether, the crown of numbers, for it is the white head, or O, the cipher 8 [Footnote 8. The Hebrews had no word for a cipher or nought, hence the symbolism of a head or a round circle. ] is still removed from Ain-Soph, being only its universal reflection or light--that it is not the tetragram. It is simply SPACE, the boundless and the inscrutable, the supernal soil in which are concealed he archetypal ideas or forms of all; from which grows the ROOT of Kosmos, the universal Tree of Life in the creative world. The trunk of this "tree" are the "father, and mother, the 2nd and 3rd Sephiroth, or Chokhmah and Binah," respectively, Jehovah and Jehovah-Elohim." 9 [Footnote 9. The student must bear in mind that Jehovah as a name is always male and female, or androgynous. It is a compound of two words-Jah and Hovah or Jah eve." Jah alone is masculine and active; therefore while th 2nd Sephiroh Chokhma, "Wisdom," is masculine and stands for Ab "Father," Binah, "Intelligence," is feminine. passive, and stands for Ama "Mother," the great deep whose name is "Jehovah." But the masculine name is symbolized by one letter alone, the-Yod-whose significance is entirely phallic. ]
V. "The Father-Mother" belong to the creative world, because it is they who create; i.e., they are the bisexual material, the essence out of which the "Son," (the universe) is formed. This Son is Microprosopus, or TETRAGRAMMATON. Why is he the four-lettered symbol? Whence the sacredness of this Tetraktis? Is it the ineffable name, or is it in any way connected with that unpronounceable name? I do not hesitate to answer in the negative. It is simply a blind, a symbol to veil the better the septenary constitution of man and his origin, and the various mysteries connected with it. Its name, the Tetragram, is composed of four letters, but what is their secret, esoteric meaning? A Kabbalist will not hesitate to answer: "read it numerically and compute the figures and numbers, and you will know." .
Now "Tetragrammaton" is Father-Mother and the "Son" in one. It is Jehovah, whose name is written IHVH, and whose letters read symbolically according to the method revealed at the FOURTH initiation, 10 [Footote 10. Tradition says that the last initiates into the seven mysteries of Microprosopus and the supreme Tett (number 9 and the letter t.) the mystery of the two Aima (the two mothers, or the first and the sedond H. of the word IHVH) were the three Rabbis Shimeon, Abba and Elazar who, in the mysteries or Sod, has stood for Kether, Chokhma, and Binah. (See "Zohar, the Lesser Hoy Assembly") After their death the knowlege of the five upper initiations was lost. ] will read in two ways. It is composed of two masculine letters (IV) and two feminine characters (two H, he); or the "superior" and the "inferior" H. The first is the "supernal mother" or "the female Jehovah, as Binah"; the other is the inferior H," or the 10th Sephiroth, Malkuth, the foundation of matter. It is impossible to reveal in print the first reading, when it is written AHIH, beyond stating that exoterically it is connected with the "I am that I am" and with Eheieh "Absolute BENESS or SAT."
It can be read in twelve different ways, each sentence being symbolized in a sign of the Zodiac. These transpositions are all made to refer to the mystery of being or existence--as an abstract conception.
But IHVH, the Tetragrammaton of the formative world, and the spouse of the "Bride," whose kingdom is Asiah or matter, though easy of explanation, is still more difficult to reveal in words, not on account of its sacredness, but rather of its indecency. I refer the reader for the plain symbolism of the four letters I, H, V, H, to Mr. R. Skinner's "Source of Measures," p. 10, wherein that symbolism is given. Hindus see it daily in their Linghas and Yonis. It is Jehovah-Tzabaoth, the Septenary Elohim concealed in the Holy of Holies, the Argha, or Noah's Ark. Therefore (see Plate in K. Unv.) he is the seventh Sephiroth among the "superior" septenary, as Malkuth is the seventh of the "inferior" Sephiroth. Microprosopus is the third letter V (Vau) and is called tetragram only, because he is one of the four letters which embrace the whole nine Sephiroth--but not Sephira. He is the secret septenary, which has been hitherto occult, and now is thoroughly unveiled. On the tables which give the relations of the Sephiroth with the ten divine names, the ten archangels, their ten orders, the planets, etc., demons and the ten arch devil--Netzach, the 7th Sephiroth, whose name is exoterically "firmness and victory," and esoterically something more, is called by its Divine name Jehovah Tzabaoth and corresponds with Haniel (human physical life) the androgyne Elohim, with Venus-Lucifer and Baal, and finally with the letter Vau or Microprosopus, the Logos. All these belong to the formative world.
They are all septenates, all associated with plastic formation and MATTER--their "bride." The latter is the "inferior mother" Aima, "the woman with child" of the 12th chapter of Revelation, pursued by the great Dragon (of wisdom). Who is this Dragon? Is he the devil Satan, as we are taught to believe by the Church? Certainly not. He is the Dragon of Esoteric Wisdom, who objects to the child born of the "woman" (the universe), for this child is its mankind, hence ignorance and illusion. But Mikael and his angels, or Jehovah Tzabaoth (the "Host") who refused to create as the seven passionless, mind-born, sons of Brahma did, because they aspire to incarnate as men in order to become higher than the gods--fight the Dragon, conquer him, and the child of matter is born. The "Dragon" of esoteric wisdom falls back into darkness indeed! 11 [Footnote 11. The key which opens this mystery is the seventh key, and relates to the seventh trumpet of the seventh angel, after whose blast St. John sees the woman and "War in Heaven" (See Revelation, chap. XII, and try to understand.) This allegory "War in Heaven" has six othr meanings; but this one is on the most material plane and explains the septenary principle. The "woman" is crowned with 12 stars and has the sun and moon to clothe her (twice seven), she being the universe; the Dragon has seven heads, seven crowns and ten horns-another occult symbolism, and he is one of the seven LOGOI. Perchance those who have reflected over the strange behaviour of Narada may understand the analogy. Indeed, a Prajapat and a great Vedic Rishi, and yet one who is ever interfering with the physical procreation of men, he seduces twice the thousands of Daksha's sons into remaining celibates and Yogis, for this he is cursed to be incarnated, born in a womb, and those who know something about numbers and cycles wil now understand better the meaning of this allegory. ]
Therefore, though I do not feel the slightest objection to any mystic willing to unite himself with the Logos called "Tetragrammaton" or Microprosopus, I personally prefer a union with Macroprosopus, on general principles; at any rate in this cycle of incarnation. After which, with the help of the "PERFECT NUMBER," I hope to see the supernal light reducing to ashes not only my "seven inferiors" (the Microprosopus), but even the semblance of the thirteen in the unity, that "wage war with seven," (Book of Conc. Mys. v. 27) and along with them the Macroprosopical square. The letter Yod in the path of the ninth Sephira having a decidedly phallic signification, I decline union with the lower sevenfold and seven lettered Jehovah, and prefer pinning my faith to "Ain-Soph"--pure and simple; otherwise, why leave the bosom of Orthodox church at all? As well join the "Salvation Army" at once, and sing "Blood, blood," the whole day.
The "Logos" which we recognize is not the Tetragrammaton, but the CROWN, Kether, which has nought to do with the material plane nor with Macro, or Microprosopus--but which is connected only with the pro-archetypal world. As it is said,
"By gematria AHIH equals IHV without the H, the symbol of Malkuth," the "Bride," (p. 31). "Closely associated with. . . the letters of the Tetragrammaton is that subject of the four Keroubim (cherubs). . . . Therefore the Keroubim represent the powers of the letters of the Tetragrammaton on the material plane. . . The Keroubim are the living forms of the letters symbolized in the Zodiac by Taurus, Leo, Aquarius and Scorpio. . ." (pp. 32 and 34, Int. to Kab. Den).
What the symbolism of these four animals represents in its turn "on the material plane" is again known.
Taurus--whether called Siva's Bull, the Egyptian Bull Apis, the Zoroastrian "Bull" killed by Ahriman,--is ever a symbol of the seed of life, of generative as well as of the destructive force, while Scorpio is the symbol of sin (in the sexual sense) of evil and spiritual death, and Scorpio is the fourth number of Tetragrammaton--or Malkuth.<p">"The mystery of the earthly and mortal man is after the mystery of the supernal and immortal one . . ." In the form of the body is the Tetragrammaton found. "The head is (the letter Yod), the arms and shoulders are like (supernal) H, the body is V, and the legs are represented by the H (he) final." (Kal. Unv. p. 34.)
In the "Scale of the number Seven," the name of God is represented with seven letters. The scale is septenary; whatever way one looks from the first original or archetypal down to the seventh or temporal world.
The "Tree of Life" has seven branches and seven fruits on it. In the "Book of Concealed Mystery," BRASHITH, the initial word in Genesis, reads Bera sheth, "He created the six." Upon these depend all things which are below (v. 16), all things being synthesized by Malkuth--the Seventh--Microprosopus.
"Microprosopus is formed of the six Sephiroth, three male and three female" (v. 67). The limbs of the Tetragrammaton are called the six members of Microprosopus, and 6 is the numerical value of V (Vau) his letter. When they (the limbs) touch the earth, they become seven (p. 32, Kab. Unv., and verse 9 of Comm. xxii. in Book of Numbers).
The whole "Book of Concealed Mystery" is full of such sentences. "The Microprosopus is six-fold. . . ." As he is formed of six Sephiroth which are called with Malkuth the inferior seven. These members are emanated from the first six (creative) words pronounced. "His seventh principle is represented by the tenth Sephiroth . . . who is Eve in the exoteric system, or the inferior mother. . . .'' Hence the seventh week is called the Millennium, the Sabbath, and also the seventh kingdom." (Book of Conc. Myst. v. 22.)
The Kabbalists have always made a difference not only between AIN-SOPH, the numberless and the Inconceivable, but even between Microprosopus and the lower Tetragrammaton, the "Son," thence, the Logos. For, it is written in the "Greater Holy Assembly"--
"(83.) And concerning this the children of Israel wished to know in their minds, like as it is written" (Exodus xvii. 7), 'Is the Tetragrammaton in the midst of us, or the negatively existent one?" Where they distinguished between Microprosopus who is called Tetragrammaton, and between Macroprosopus, who is called "AIN, the negative existence" (p. 21). But--the "Yod of the ancient one is hidden and concealed." (73. Int.)
(v. 1152.) We have learned that there were ten (companions, the Sephiroth) who entered into the SOD (mysteries of creation) and that seven only came forth.
(v. 1158.) And when Rabbi Shimeon revealed the Arcana, there were found none present there save those (companions).
(v. 1159.) And Rabbi Shimeon called them the seven eyes of Tetragrammaton, like as it is written, Zach. iii. 9, "These are the seven eyes of Tetragrammaton."
In the Bible the latter word is translated "The Lord," which shows plainly that the Christians have accepted for their "Lord God" a fourth Sephirothal emanation and the male letter "Vau."
Is this the "Logos" every initiate has to seek union with, as "the ultimate result of his labours"? Then, he may as well remain in his septenary mortal body as long as he can.
With respect to the other "obstacles," they are as incorrectly stated. The "Figure of the man on the Throne" in Ezekiel answers in esotericism to the archetypal plane, the world of Atziloth, not to the Schekinah in Malkuth and Asiah, on the material plane; as will become evident to any one who analyzes the vision kabbalistically. For, firstly, there are four clear divisions of the symbolism of the vision; namely, the form of the man, the throne on which he is seated, the firmament above the heads of the living creatures, and the "living creatures" themselves with their ophanim or wheels. These again clearly answer to the £our Kabbalistical worlds or planes themselves, i.e., Atziloth, the Archetypal--the shadowy figure of the man; Briah, the Creative,--the throne; Jetzirah, the Formative, the firmament; Asiah, the Material, the living creature These answer again to the four letters of the tetragram: thus, the uppermost point of Yod in IHVH to the "figure of the man," the H (He) to the throne, the V (Vau) to the firmament, and the final to the creatures. (See Plate IX of the Kabbalah Unveiled.)
The "figure of the man" is not "the male form of Shekinah.'' Shekinah is not "an androgyne power."12 [Footnote 12. I have consulted with our brother Mr. S. Liddell Macgregor Mathers whether any Kabbalist justified the idea that Shekinah as "an androgyne power." He said no-"it is sexless ad is the divine presence." (See his Kaballah, page 55, note between verses 32 and 33. ] Shekinah is sexless or feminine if anything. It is primordial light emanating from the ever-concealed Ain-Soph. In the archetypal world it is Sephira, in the material and the formative it becomes Shekinah, the latent life and light of this inferior world of matter--the "veil of Ain-Soph and the "divine presence" on the path of Malkuth from the material to the higher worlds. She is the Buddhi of the physical body--the soul or spark burning in the vessel; and after the vessel is broken, merging into the seventh (according to Theosophical computation) and into the first or Macroprosopus Kabbalistically, as it is the first ray from the concealed. 13 [Footnote 13. Nor is Shekinah a Sephiroth, for she proceeds from, and is latent in, the tenth Malkuth, and is destroyed with the latter. (See 22, Book of Conc. Myst.) The mistake has probably arisen from Shekinah's divine name being Adonai and the angelic Keroubim. But no Kabbalist will give out in print the key to this. ]
The plan revealed by Malkuth is given in the "Book of Concealed Mystery," the Sephra Dzenioutha, v. 31, as follows:
"The Tree which is mitigated (that is, the Path of the kingdom or Shekinah, which is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which in itself existeth from the judgment, but is mitigated by the bridegroom through the influx of mercies) resideth within the shells; (because the Kingdom hath its dominion over all things, and its feet descend into death). In its branches (in the inferior worlds) the birds lodge and build their nests (the souls and the angels have their place). Beneath it those animals p have power seek the shade (that is the shells, Klipoth, 'for in it every beast of the forest doth walk forth.' Ps. civ. 20).
"This is the tree which hath two paths for the same end (namely, good and evil, because it is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) . And it hath around it seven columns (that is, the seven palaces), and the four splendours, (that is, the four animals) whirl around it (in four wheels) on their four sides (after the four-fold description of the chariot of Yechesgiel (Ezekiel)."
This tree has seven branches, 14 [Footnote 14. See engraving from the Babylonian account of creation (by G. Sith, "Chaldean account of Genesis") of the Sacred Tree, with figure on each side and serpent in the background. This engraving is taken from an early Babylonian cylinder, and represents the said tree with its seven branches. ] on each of which are four leaves and three fruits. Moreover there is an evident analogy between the above verse in S.D. and Chapter I to IV of Revelation. For the seven churches "of Asia" are identical with the "seven palaces" in Asiah, or the material septenary place. The seven stars which are in the right hand of the "figure" in the 1st chapter are not these seven churches, but the seven keys to them; and the two-edged (androgyne) word which proceeds from his mouth is the Yod of IHVH. This "figure" is the septenary "Tetragrammaton" the V (Vau). 15 [Footnote 15. Or Vau, whose number is six and symbolism-a hook or crook; phallic. ]
But this figure is a different thing altogether to the one which is on the throne in Ezekiel's vision. For the former (the figure in Chapter I of Revelation) is on the planes of Jetzirah (the world of formation, the habitat of the angels who would not create), and the figure of Ezekiel is on the plane of Atziloth, and is described in the 4th chapter of the Apocalypse as the "one who sat upon the throne."
In order to be two, to bear the burden of the above statements, I have applied to Mr. S. L. Macgregor Mathers (than whom there are few more learned Kabbalists in England, though I do not certainly agree with all his views. But on this question we are in almost full agreement). Our brother has kindly consented to give an opinion in writing, and this is how he distributes the SEPHIROTHAL Tree.
Here the figure on the throne in Ezekiel's vision refers to Kether; the throne to Chokhmah and Binah, the world of Briah, whose alternative name is Korsia,--the throne; the firmament is Microprosopus, who consists of the six Sephiroth, Chesed, Geburah, Tiphereth, Netzach, Hod and Yesod. Now Yesod is the path of ingress into Malkuth or the created material world; and the Shekinah is the Presence in Malkuth, the Queenly Presence; for Shekinah is feminine, and not androgynous. And the seal of the Macrocosm the six pointed star,
the 16 [Footnote 16. It is the seal of the Macrocosm certainly, but it becomes that of Microcosm only when the five pointed star is enclosed within it, for it is the latter which is properly the sign of Macroprosopus. It is the Shatkon Chakram (the wheel of Vishnu) and the Panchakon (Pentagram). We would call the former the seal of Macropropsopus only when the hexagam is surrounded by or within a circle; not otherwise. But this does not affect the question. The Kabbalah of Knorr Von Rosenroth contain a good many errors, and other versions-especially the Latin translations, all made by Christians bent upon squeezing out nolens volens[Translation: and refuse to willingly -BNet] a prophetic and Christian meaning out of the Zohar-more still. ] is the emblem of Microprosopus, the Tetragrammaton--the Vau of IHVH, who stands within the seven light-bearers of Malkuth, which are no other than the seven last Sephiroth themselves, or the six Sephiroth which compose Microprosopus with Malkuth added as the seventh. 17 [Footnote 17. The Sephra Dzenioutha says concerning Malkuth, "The Sheinah (or queenlly presence) which is below that is a Path of the kingdom, namely Malkuth, the tenth and last Sephira." (I. c. 32). ]
Nothing can be plainer I believe. Whatever the transcendental, metaphysical speculations and interpretations, which, of course, can be satisfied with Tetraktis on the plane of the Archetypal world, once that we descend into the world of the Astral and of the phenomenally occult, we cannot have less than seven principles upon which to base ourselves. I have studied the Kabbala under two learned Rabbis, one of whom was an initiate, and there was no difference between the two teachings (the esoteric Eastern and the Western) in this instance.
Of course it is well known that any one endowed with even a moderate dose of ingenuity can, if he has studied the three Kabbalistic modes of interpretation--especially the Notarikon--make what he likes of the unpointed Hebrew words and letters. But the explanations I give require no Notarikon, but simply a knowledge of the seventh esoteric key. With Massoretic points one can transform the astral Jehovah Tzabaoth, and even Jehovah-Elohim into the "One living" and the highest God the "God of gods"--whereas he is merely one of the formative and generative gods. A good instance of the above dishonesty is found in Mr. Mather's translation of Knorr von Rosenroth's Kabbalah Denudata. He gives us six specimens of the various readings of the first word only (B'rashith) in Genesis. With the rules of Notarikon the opening sentence "B'rashith Bara Elohimeth hashamayim v'eth h'arets," or "In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth," may be made to mean whatever one pleases; since the first and solitary word B'rashith is forced to yield six dogmatic teachings of the Latin Church.
As shown by the aforesaid Kabbalist, Solomon Meir Ben Moses, a convert to Roman Catholicism in 1665, who took the name of Prosper Rugere, succeeded in proving on strictly Notariconist grounds that the said first word (B'rashith) revealed six Christian meanings, the 1st of these was "The sun, the spirit, the father, their trinity, perfect unity"; the 3rd, "Ye shall worship my firstborn, my first, whose name is Jesus"; the 5th, "I will choose a Virgin worthy to bring forth Jesus, and ye shall call her blessed." The sixth is given in the foot-note below. 18 [Footnote18. In the Notarikon "Every letter of a word is taken for the initial or abbreviation of another word, so that from the letters of a word a sentence may be formed." Thus, from the letters of this word B'rashith, I too could easily make a sentence which would read: -"Beware! rows are soon hatched in Theosophy," and then offer it as a divine warning and revelation, taking as my authority the "Book of God." This reading would be as true, but more to the point than the 6th of Prosper Rugere's versions; for he made of B'rashith -"Beaugoh ratzephim Asattar Shegopi Jeshuah Thakelo," which translated, read "I, (God) will hide myself in cake (wafer) for ye shall eat Jesus, my body" and converted thereby, and forthwith, another Jew to Roman Catholicism!] The two others are repetitions.
The same remarkable elasticity of interpretation is afforded in the esoteric texts of other nations. Each symbol and glyph having seven keys to it, it follows that one party may be using one key to any subject under dispute, and then accuse another student, who is using another key of deliberate misinterpretation.
Such is not my policy however. In esoteric matters I would rather seek conciliation than quarrel over mistakes made, whether real or imaginary; because the CAUSE and the triumph of truth ought to be dearer to a true Occultist and Theosophist than petty successes over disputants.
No one occultist, if he is true to his colours, can give out the meaning of all the "Seven Mysteries of Wisdom"--even if he himself is acquainted with all--which would be a marvel, indeed. For those "Seven Mysteries" in toto are known thoroughly only to the "MASTERS OF WISDOM"; and those Masters would hardly indulge in polemical discussions whether in newspaper or periodical. What is the use then of losing time and power over proving that one facet of the diamond shines with more light and brilliancy than its sister facet instead of uniting all the forces to draw the attention of the profane to the radiance of the jewel itself? We students of the sacred science ought to help each other, encourage research and profit by our mutual knowledge, instead of unprofitably criticizing it to satisfy personal pride. This is how I look at it: for otherwise our enemies, who started by calling us humbugs on the sole strength of their sectarian and materialistic prejudices and bigotry, will be justified in reiterating their accusation on the ground of our mutual denunciations.
Materialism is raising its ghastly head higher than ever.
Knowledge, one of the scientific papers of London, gives us a foretaste of what is in store for the occultist. While reviewing the Kabbalah Unveiled, it is loud in proclaiming "the extraordinary intellectual vagaries of the Hebrew commentators on their scriptures." It crushes under the weight of its materialist contempt the idea from Dr. Ginsburg's "Essay on the Kabbalah"--that the mysteries of being were "taught by the Almighty himself to a select company of angels, who formed a theosophic school in Paradise!" and winds up by a tremendous point of mocking admiration, in parenthesis (!). This, on page 259 of Knowledge, Sept. 1, 1887. On page 245, Mr. Edward Clodd offers us, instead of the teachings of the "Theosophic angels," those of the Darwinists of the Haeckelian School. Having surveyed "a vast field" in Kosmos, "the limits of which shade into the unlimited on all sides," this anti-Kabbalistic champion of modern science ends his "vagaries" by the following startling enunciation:
We began with the primitive nebula, we end with the highest forms of consciousness; the story of creation is shown (!?) to be the unbroken record of the evolution OF GAS INTO GENIUS (!!!) .
This shows how we stand with the men of modern science and how much we need all our forces to hold the materialists at bay.
One word more and I have done. I am repeatedly asked to show my authority--book, page and verse--for the esoteric doctrine of the "Septenary." This is like saying to one in the midst of a desert prove to me that water is full of infusoria when there is no microscope to be got. Better than any one, those who make such a claim upon me, know that outside of the few places where secret MSS. are stored for ages, no esoteric doctrines were ever written and plainly explained; otherwise they would have lost long ago their very name. There is such a thing as an "unwritten" Kabbala, as well as a written one, even in the West. Many things are orally explained, and always have been. Nevertheless, hints and allusions to it are numerous and scattered throughout the exoteric scriptures, and the classification depends, of course, on the school that interprets it, and still more upon personal intuition and conception. The question is not whether there are three, five or seven colours in the rays of the spectrum, for every one knows there are in fact and nature, but one--the colourless white. And, though Science discerns very plainly seven prismatic rays as clear as are the seven notes in the scale; yet, one has heard of very great men of science who insisted there were only four or five until it was found out that they were colour-blind.
H. P. BLAVATSKY
Theosophist, November, 1887
THEORIES ABOUT REINCARNATION
From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol II
Articles by HPB
OVER and over again the abstruse and mooted question of Rebirth or Reincarnation has crept out during the first ten years of the Theosophical Society's existence. It has been alleged on prima facie evidence, that a notable discrepancy was found between statements made in Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, 351-2, and later teachings from the same pen and under the inspiration of the same master.1 [Footnote 1. See charge and answer, in Theosophist, August, 1882. ]
In Isis, it was held, reincarnation is denied. An occasional return, only of "depraved spirits" is allowed. "Exclusive of that rare and doubtful possibility, Isis allows only three cases--abortion, very early death, and idiocy--in which reincarnation on this earth occurs." ("C.C.M." in Light, 1882.)
The charge was answered then and there as every one who will turn to the Theosophist of August, 1882, can see for himself. Nevertheless, the answer either failed to satisfy some readers or passed unnoticed. Leaving aside the strangeness of the assertion that reincarnation--i.e., the serial and periodical rebirth of every individual monad from pralaya to pralaya 2 [Footnote 2. The cycle of existence during the manvantara-period before and after the beginning and completion of which every such "monad" is absored and reabsorbed in the ONE soul, anima mundi. ] is denied in the face of the fact that the doctrine is part and parcel and one of the fundamental features of Hinduism and Buddhism, the charge amounted virtually to this: the writer of the present, a professed admirer and student of Hindu philosophy, and as professed a follower of Buddhism years before Isis was written, by rejecting reincarnation must necessarily reject KARMA likewise! For the latter is the very cornerstone of Esoteric philosophy and Eastern religions; it is the grand and one pillar on which hangs the whole philosophy of rebirths, and once the latter is denied, the whole doctrine of Karma falls into meaningless verbiage.
Nevertheless, the opponents without stopping to think of the evident "discrepancy" between charge and fact, accused a Buddhist by profession of faith of denying reincarnation hence also by implication--Karma. Adverse to wrangling with one who was a friend, and undesirous at the time to enter upon a defence of details and internal evidence--a loss of time indeed--the writer answered merely with a few sentences. But it now becomes necessary to well define the doctrine. Other critics have taken the same line, and by misunderstanding the passages to that effect in Isis they have reached the same rather extraordinary conclusions.
To put an end to such useless controversies, it is proposed to explain the doctrine more clearly.
Although, in view of the later more minute renderings of the esoteric doctrines, it is quite immaterial what may have been written in Isis--an encyclopedia of occult subjects in which each of these is hardly sketched--let it be known at once, that the writer maintains the correctness of every word given out upon the subject in my earlier volumes. What was said in the Theosophist of August, 1882, may now be repeated here. The passage quoted from it may be, and is, most likely "incomplete, chaotic, vague, perhaps clumsy, as are many more passages in that work, the first literary production of a foreigner who even now can hardly boast of her knowledge of the English language." Nevertheless it is quite correct so far as that collateral feature of reincarnation is therein concerned.
I will now give extracts from Isis and proceed to explain every passage criticized, wherein it was said that "a few fragments of this mysterious doctrine of reincarnation as distinct from metempsychosis"--would be then presented. Sentences now explained are in italics.
Reincarnation i.e., the appearance of the same individual, or rather of his astral monad, twice on the same planet is not a rule in nature, it is an exception, like the teratological phenomenon of a two-headed infant. It is preceded by a violation of the laws of harmony of nature, and happens only when the latter seeking to restore its disturbed equilibrium, violently throws back into earth-life the astral monad which had been tossed out of the circle of necessity by crime or accident. Thus in cases of abortion, of infants dying before a certain age, and of congenital and incurable idiocy, nature's original design to produce a perfect human being, has been interrupted. Therefore, while the gross matter of each of these several entities is suffered to disperse itself at death, through the vast realm of being, the immortal spirit and astral monad of the individual--the latter having been set apart to animate a frame and the former to shed its divine light on the corporeal organization--must try a second time to carry out the purpose of the creative intelligence. (Isis I, 351.)
Here the "astral monad" or body of the deceased personality--say of John or Thomas--is meant. It is that which, in the teachings of the Esoteric philosophy of Hinduism, is known under its name of bhoot; in the Greek philosophy is called the simulacrum or umbra, and in all other philosophies worthy of the name is said, as taught in the former, to disappear after a certain period more or less prolonged in Kama-loka--the Limbus of the Roman Catholics, or Hades of the Greeks.3 [Footnote 3. Hades has surely never been meant for Hell. It was always the abode of the sorrowing shadows of astral bodies of the dead personalities. Western readers should remember Kama-loka is not Karma-loka, for Kama means desire, and Karma does not. ] It is "a violation of the laws of harmony of nature," though it be so decreed by those of Karma--every time that the astral monad, or the simulacrum of the personality--of John or Thomas--instead of running down to the end of its natural period of time in a body--finds itself (a) violently thrown out of it by whether early death or accident; or (b) is compelled in consequence of its unfinished task to re-appear (i.e., the same astral body wedded to the same immortal monad) on earth again, in order to complete the unfinished task. Thus "it must try a second time to carry out the purpose of creative intelligence" or law.
If reason has been so far developed as to become active and discriminative there is no 4 [Footnote 4. Had this word "immediate" been put at the time of publishing Isis between the two words "no" and "reincarnation" there would have been less room for dispute and controversy. ] (immediate) reincarnation on the earth, for the three parts of the triune man have been united together, and he is capable of running the race. But when the new being has not passed beyond the condition of Monad, or when, as in the idiot, the trinity has not been completed on earth and therefore cannot be so after death, the immortal spark which illuminates it has to re-enter on the earthly plane as it was frustrated in its first attempt. Otherwise, the mortal or astral, and the immortal or divine souls, could not progress in unison and pass onward to the sphere above5 [Footnote 5. By "sphere above, of course "Devachan" was meant. ] (Devachan). Spirit follows a line parallel with that of matter; and the spiritual evolution goes hand in hand with the physical.
The Occult Doctrine teaches that:
(1) There is no immediate reincarnation on Earth for the Monad, as falsely taught by the Reincarnationist Spiritists; nor is there any second incarnation at all for the "personal" or false Ego--the perisprit--save the exceptional cases mentioned. But that (a) there are rebirths, or periodical reincarnations for the immortal Ego--("Ego" during the cycle of re-births, and non-Ego, in Nirvana or Moksha when it becomes impersonal and absolute); for that Ego is the root of every new incarnation, the string on which are threaded, one after the other, the false personalities or illusive bodies called men, in which the Monad-Ego incarnates itself during the cycle of births; and (b) that such reincarnations take place not before 1,500, 2,000 and even 3,000 years of Devachanic life.
(2) That Manas--the seat of Jiv, that spark which runs the round of the cycle of birth and rebirths with the Monad from the beginning to the end of a Manvantara--is the real Ego. That (a) the Jiv follows the divine monad that gives it spiritual life and immortality into Devachan--that therefore, it can neither be reborn before its appointed period, nor reappear on Earth visibly or invisibly in the interim; and (b) that, unless the fruition, the spiritual aroma of the Manas, or all these highest aspirations and spiritual qualities and attributes that constitute the higher SELF of man become united to its monad, the latter becomes as Non existent; since it is in esse "impersonal" and per se Ego-less, so to say, and gets its spiritual colouring or flavour of Ego-tism only from each Manas during incarnation and after it is disembodied, and separated from all its lower principles.
(3) That the remaining four principles, or rather the 2½--as they are composed of the terrestrial portion of Manas, of its Vehicle Kama-Rupa and Lingha Sarira--the body dissolving immediately, and prana or the life principle along with it--that these principles having belonged to the false personality are unfit for Devachan. The latter is the state of Bliss, the reward for all the undeserved miseries of life,6 [Footnote 6. The reader must bear in mind that the esoteric teaching maintains that save in cases of wickedness when man's nature attains the acme of Evil, and human terrestrial sin reaches Satanic universal character, so to as some Sorcerers do there is no punishment for the majority of mankind after death. The law of retribution as Karma awaits man at the threshold of his new incarnation. Man is at best a wretched tool of evil, unceasingly forming new causes and circumstances. He is not always (if ever) responsible. Hence a period of rest and bliss in Devachan, with a utter temporary oblivion of all the miseries and sorrows of life. Avitchi is a spiritual state of the greatest misery and is only in store for those who have devoted consciously their lives to doing injury to others and have thus reached its highest spiritualitiy of EVIL. ] and that which prompted man to sin, namely his terrestrial passionate nature, can have no room in it.
Therefore the reincarnating*[Footnote * The following "Important Correction" by Mme. Blavatsky,and editorial note by Mr. Judge, appeared in the Path for January, 1887.
To All The Readers Of The Path:
In the November number of Path in my article "Theories about Reincarnation and Spirits," the entire batch of elaborate arguments is upset and made to fall flat owing to the mistake of either copyist or printer. On page 235, the last paragraph is made to begin with these words: "Therefore the reincarnating principles are left behind in Kama-loka, etc.," whereas it ought to read "Therefore the NON-reincarnating principles (the false personality) are left behind in Kama-loka, etc.," a statement fully corroborated by what follows, since it is stated that those principles fade out and disappear.
There seems to be some fatality attending this question. The spiritualists will not fail to see in it the guiding hand of their dear departed ones from "Summerland", and I am inclined to share that belief with them in so far that there must be some mischievous spook between me and the printing of my articles. Unless immediately corrected and attention drawn to it, this error is one which is sure to be quoted some day against me and called a contradiction.
H. P. Blavatsky
November 20th, 1886
NOTE--The MS for the article referred to was written out by some one for Mme. Blavatsky and forwarded to us as it was printed, and it is quite evident that the error was the copyist's, and not ours nor Madame's; besides that, the remainder of the paragraph clearly shows a mistake. We did not feel justified in making such an important change on our own responsibility, but are now glad to have the author do it herself. Other minor errors probably also can be found in consequence of the peculiar writing of the amanuensis, but they are very trivial in their nature. (ED. Path) ] principles are left behind in Kama-loka, firstly as a material residue, then later on as a reflection on the mirror of Astral light. Endowed with illusive action, to the day when having gradually faded out they disappear, what is it but the Greek Eidolon and the simulacrum of the Greek and Latin poets and classics?
What reward or punishment can there be in that sphere of disembodied human entities for a fœtus or a human embryo which had not even time to breathe on this earth, still less an opportunity to exercise the divine faculties of its spirit? Or, for an irresponsible infant, whose senseless monad remaining dormant within the astral and physical casket, could as little prevent him from burning himself as any other person to death? Or again for one idiotic from birth, the number of whose cerebral circumvolutions is only from twenty to thirty per cent of those of sane persons, and who therefore is irresponsible for either his disposition, acts, or for the imperfections of his vagrant, half developed intellect. (Isis I, 352.)
These are, then, the "exceptions" spoken of in Isis, and the doctrine is maintained now as it was then. Moreover, there is no "discrepancy" but only incompleteness--hence, misconceptions arising from later teachings. Then again, there are several important mistakes in Isis which, as the plates of the work had been stereotyped, were not corrected in subsequent editions.
One of such is on page 346, and another in connection with it and as a sequence on page 347.
The discrepancy between the first portion of the statement and the last, ought to have suggested the idea of an evident mistake. It is addressed to the spiritists, reincarnationists who take the more than ambiguous words of Apuleius as a passage that corroborates their claims for their "spirits" and reincarnation. Let the reader judge 7 [Footnote 7. Says Apuleius: "The soul is born in this world upon leaving the soul of the world (anima mundi) in which her existence precedes the one we all know (on earth). Thus, the Gods who consider her proceedings in all the phases of various existences and as a whole, punish her sometimes for sin committed during an anterior life. She dies when she separates herself from a body in which she crossed this life as in a frail bark. And this is, if I mistake not, the secret meaning of the tumulary inscriptions, so simple for the initiate.: "To the Gods manes who lived." But this kind of death does not annihilate the soul, it only transforms (one portion of it) it into a lemure. "Lemures" are the manes, or ghosts, which we kow uder tha name lares. When they keep away and shows a beneficent protection, we honour in them the protectin divinities of the family hearth; but if their crimes sentence them to err, we call them larvæ. They become a plague for the wicked, and the vain terror of the good." ("Du Dieu de Socrate" Apul. class, pp. 143-145.) ] whether Apuleius does not justify rather our assertions. We are charged with denying reincarnation and this is what we said there and then in Isis!
The philosophy teaches that nature never leaves her work unfinished; if baffled at the first attempt, she tries again. When she evolves a human embryo the intention is that a man shall be perfected--physically, intellectually, and spiritually. His body is to grow, mature, wear out, and die; his mind unfold, ripen, and be harmoniously balanced; his divine spirit illuminate and blend easily with the inner man. No human being completes its grand cycle, or the "circle of necessity," until all these are accomplished. As the laggards in a race struggle and plod in their first quarter while the victor darts past the goal, so, in the race of immortality, some souls outspeed all the rest and reach the end, while their myriad competitors are toiling under the load of matter, close to the starting point. Some unfortunates fall out entirely and lose all chance of the prize; some retrace their steps and begin again.
Clear enough this, one should say. Nature baffled tries again. No one can pass out of this world (our earth) without becoming perfected "physically, morally, and spiritually." How can this be done, unless there is a series of rebirths required for the necessary perfection in each department--to evolute in the "circle of necessity," can surely never be found in one human life? and yet this sentence is followed without any break by the following parenthetical statement: "This is what the Hindu dreads above all things--transmigration and reincarnation; only on other and inferior planets, never on this one!!!"
The last "sentence" is a fatal mistake and one to which the writer pleads "not guilty." It is evidently the blunder of some "reader" who had no idea of Hindu philosophy and who was led into a subsequent mistake on the next page, wherein the unfortunate word "planet" is put for cycle. Isis was hardly, if ever, looked into after its publication by its writer, who had other work to do; otherwise there would have been an apology and a page pointing to the errata and the sentence made to run: "The Hindu dreads transmigration in other inferior forms, on this planet."
This would have dove-tailed with the preceding sentence, and would show a fact, as the Hindu exoteric views allow him to believe and fear the possibility of reincarnation--human and animal in turn by jumps, from man to beast and even a plant--and vice versa; whereas esoteric philosophy teaches that nature never proceeding backward in her evolutionary progress, once that man has evoluted from every kind of lower forms--the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms--into the human form, he can never become an animal except morally, hence--metaphorically. Human incarnation is a cyclic necessity, and law; and no Hindu dreads it--however much he may deplore the necessity. And this law and the periodical recurrence of man's rebirth is shown on the same page (346) and in the same unbroken paragraph, where it is closed by saying that:
But there is a way to avoid it. Buddha taught it in his doctrine of poverty, restriction of the senses, perfect indifference to the objects of this earthly vale of tears, freedom from passion, and frequent intercommunication with the Atma--soul-contemplation. The cause of reincarnation 8 [Footnote 8. "The cause of reincarnation is ignorance" -therefore there is "reincarnation" once the writer explained the causes of it. ] is ignorance of our senses, and the idea that there is any reality in the world, anything except abstract existence. From the organs of sense comes the "hallucination" we call contact; "from contact, desire; from desire, sensation (which also is a deception of our body); from sensation, the cleaving to existing bodies from this cleaving, reproduction; and from reproduction, disease, decay and death."
This ought to settle the question and show there must have been some carelessly unnoticed mistake, and if this is not sufficient, there is something else to demonstrate it, for it is further on:
Thus, like the revolutions of a wheel, there is a regular succession of death and birth, the moral cause of which is the cleaving to existing objects, while the instrumental cause is Karma (the power which controls the universe, prompting it to activity), merit and demerit. It is therefore the greatest desire of all beings who would be released from the sorrows of successive birth, to seek the destruction of the moral cause, the cleaving to existing objects, or evil desire.
They in whom evil desire is entirely destroyed are called Arhats. Freedom from evil desire insures the possession of a miraculous power. At his death the Arhat is never reincarnated; he invariably attains nirvana--a word, by the by, falsely interpreted by the Christian scholar and skeptical commentators. Nirvana is the world of cause, in which all deceptive effects or delusions of our senses disappear. Nirvana is the highest attainable sphere. The pitris (the pre-Adamic spirits) are considered as reincarnated by the Buddhistic philosopher, though in a degree far superior to that of the man of earth. Do they not die in their turn? Do not their astral bodies suffer and rejoice, and feel the same curse of illusionary feelings as when embodied?
And just after this we are again made to say of Buddha and his: Doctrine of "Merit and Demerit," or Karma:
But this former life believed in by the Buddhists, is not a life on this planet for, more than any other people, the Buddhistical philosopher appreciated the great doctrine of cycles.
Correct "life on this planet" by "life in the same cycle," and you will have the correct reading: for what would have appreciation of "the great doctrine of cycles" to do with Buddha's philosophy, had the great sage believed but in one short life on this Earth and in the same cycle. But to return to the real theory of reincarnation as in the esoteric teaching and its unlucky rendering in Isis.
Thus, what was really meant therein, was that, the principle which does not reincarnate--save the exceptions pointed out--is the false personality, the illusive human Entity defined and individualized during this short life of ours, under some specific form and name; but that which does and has to reincarnate nolens volens under the unflinching, stern rule of Karmic law--is the real EGO. This confusing of the real immortal Ego in man, with the false and ephemeral personalities it inhabits during its Manvantaric progress, lies at the root of every such misunderstanding. Now what is the one, and what is the other? The first group is--
1. The immortal Spirit--sexless, formless (arupa), an emanation from the One universal BREATH.
2. Its Vehicle--the divine Soul--called the "Immortal Ego," the "Divine monad," etc., etc., which by accretions from Manas in which burns the ever existing Jiv--the undying spark--adds to itself at the close of each incarnation the essence of that individuality that was, the aroma of the culled flower that is no more.
What is the false personality? It is that bundle of desires, aspirations, affection and hatred, in short of action, manifested by a human being on this earth during one incarnation and under the form of one personality.9 [Footnote 9. A proof of how our theosophical teachings have taken root in every class of Society and even in English literture may be seen by reading Mr. Norman Pearson's articles "Before Birth' in the Nineteenth Century for August, 1886. Therein, theosophical ideas and teachings are speculated upon without acknowledgement or the smallest reference to theosophy, and among others, we see with regard to the author's theories on the Ego the following: "How much of the individual personality is supposed to go to heaven or hell? Does the whole of the mental equipment, good or bad, noble qualities and unholy passions, follow the soul to its hereafter? Surely not. But if not, and something has to be stripped off, how and when are we to draw the line? If, on the other hand, the Soul is something distinct from all our mental equipment, except the sense of self, are we not confronted by the incomprehensible notion of a personality without any attributes?"
To this query the author answers as any true theosophist would: "The difficulties of the question really spring from a misconception of the true nature of these attributes. the components of our mental equipment-appetites, aversions, feelings, tastes and qualities generally-are not absolute but relative existences. Hunger and thirst for instance are states of consciousness which arise in response to the stimuli of physical necessities. They are not inherent elements of the soul and will disappear or become modified, etc." (pp. 356 and 357). In other words, the theosophical doctrine is adopted, Atma and Buddhi having culled off the Manas the aroma of the personality or human soul-go into Devacan; while the lower principles, the astral simulacrum or false personality void of its Divine monad or spirit, will remain in the Kamaloka-the "Summerland." ] Certainly it is not all this, which as a fact for us, the deluded, material, and materially thinking lot--is Mr. So and So, or Mrs. somebody else--that remains immortal, or is ever reborn.
All that bundle of Egotism, that apparent and evanescent "I" disappears after death, as the costume of the part he played disappears from the actor's body, after he leaves the theatre and goes to bed. That actor re-becomes at once the same "John Smith" or Gray, he was from his birth and is no longer the Othello or Hamlet that he had represented for a few hours. Nothing remains now of that "bundle" to go to the next incarnation, except the seed for future Karma that Manas may have united to its immortal group, to form with it--the disembodied Higher Self in "Devachan." As to the four lower principles, that which becomes of them is found in most classics, from which we mean to quote at length for our defense. The doctrine of the perisprit, the "false personality," or the remains of the deceased under their astral form--fading out to disappear in time, is terribly distasteful to the spiritualists, who insist upon confusing the temporary with the immortal EGO.
Unfortunately for them and happily for us, it is not the modern Occultists who have invented the doctrine. They are on their defense. And they prove what they say, i.e., that no "personality" has ever yet been "reincarnated" "on the same planet" (our earth, this once there is no mistake) save in the three exceptional cases above cited. Adding to these a fourth case, which is the deliberate, conscious act of adeptship; and that such an astral body belongs neither to the body nor the soul still less to the immortal spirit of man, the following is brought forward and proofs cited.
Before one brings out on the strength of undeniable manifestations, theories as to what produces them and claims at once on prima facie evidence that it is the spirits of the departed mortals that revisit us, it behooves one to first study what antiquity has declared upon the subject. Ghosts and apparitions, materialized and semi-material "SPIRITS" have not originated with Allan Kardec, nor at Rochester. If those beings whose invariable habit it is to give themselves out for souls and the phantoms of the dead, choose to do so and succeed, it is only because the cautious philosophy of old is now replaced by an a priori conceit, and unproven assumptions. The first question is to be settled--"Have spirits any kind of substance to clothe themselves with?" Answer: That which is now called perisprit in France, and a "materialized Form" in England and America, was called in days of old peri-psyche, and peri-nous, hence was well known to the old Greeks. Have they a body whether gaseous, fluidic, etherial, material or semi-material? No; we say this on the authority of the occult teachings the world over. For with the Hindus atma or spirit is Arupa, bodiless, and with the Greeks also. Even in the Roman Catholic Church the angels of Light as those of Darkness are absolutely incorporeal: "meri spiritus, omnes corporis expertes," and in the words of The Secret Doctrine, primordial. Emanations of the undifferentiated Principle, the Dhyan Chohans of the ONE (First) category or pure Spiritual Essence, are formed of the Spirit of the one Element; the second category, of the second Emanation of the Soul of the Elements; the third have a "mind body" to which they are not subject, but that they can assume and govern as a body, subject to them, pliant to their will in form and substance. Parting from this (third) category, they (the spirits, angels, Devas or Dhyan Chohans) have BODIES, the first rupa group of which is composed of one element Ether; the second, of two--ether and fire; the third, of three--Ether, fire and water; the fourth, of four--Ether, air, fire and water. Then comes man, who, besides the four elements, has the fifth that predominates in him--Earth: therefore he suffers. Of the Angels, as said by St. Augustine and Peter Lombard, "their bodies are made to act, not to suffer. It is earth and water, humor et humus, that gives an aptitude for suffering and passivity, ad patientiam, and Ether and Fire for action." The spirits or human monads, belonging to the first, or undifferentiated essence, are thus incorporeal; but their third principle (or the human Fifth--Manas) can in conjunction with its vehicle become Kama rupa and Mayavi rupa--body of desire or "illusion body." After death, the best, noblest, purest qualities of Manas or the human soul ascending along with the divine Monad into Devachan whence no one emerges from or returns, except at the time of reincarnation--what is that then which appears under the double mask of the spiritual Ego or soul of the departed individual? The Kama rupa element with the help of elementals. For we are taught that those spiritual beings that can assume a form at will and appear, i.e., make themselves objective and even tangible--are the angels alone (the Dhyan Chohans) and the nirmanakaya10 [Fotnote 10. Nirmanakaya is the name given to the astral forms (in their completeness) of adpts, who have progressed too high on the path of knowledge and absolute truth, to go into the state of Devachan: and have, on the other hand, deliberately refused the bliss of nirvana, in order to help Humanity by invisibly guiding and helping on the same path of progress elect men. But these astrals are not empty shells, but complete monads made up of the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th principles. There is another order of nirmanakaya, however, of whch much will be said in the Secret Doctrine. --H.P.B. ] of the adepts, whose spirits are clothed in sublime matter. The astral bodies--the remnants and dregs of a mortal being which has been disembodied, when they do appear, are not the individuals they claim to be, but only their simulachres. And such was the belief of the whole of antiquity, from Homer to Swedenborg; from the third race down to our own day.
More than one devoted spiritualist has hitherto quoted Paul as corroborating his claim that spirits do and can appear. "There is a natural and there is a spiritual body," etc., etc., (I Cor. xv:44); but one has only to study closer the verses preceding and following the one quoted, to perceive that what St. Paul meant was quite different from the sense claimed for it. Surely there is a spiritual body, but it is not identical with the astral form contained in the "natural" man. The "spiritual" is formed only by our individuality unclothed and transformed after death; for the apostle takes care to explain in Verses 51 and 52, "Immut abimur sed non omnes." Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed. This corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality.
But this is no proof except for the Christians. Let us see what the old Egyptians and the Neo-Platonists--both "theurgists" par excellence, thought on the subject: They divided man into three principal groups subdivided into principles as we do: pure immortal spirit; the "Spectral Soul" (a luminous phantom) and the gross material body. Apart from the latter, which was considered as the terrestrial shell, these groups were divided into six principles; (1) Kha "vital body"; (2) Khaba "astral form," or shadow; (3) Khou "animal soul"; (4) Akh "terrestrial intelligence"; (5) Sa "the divine soul" (or Buddhi); and (6) Sah or mummy, the functions of which began after death. Osiris was the highest uncreated spirit, for it was, in one sense, a generic name, every man becoming after his translation Osirified, i.e., absorbed into Osiris-Sun or into the glorious divine state. It was Khou, with the lower portions of Akh or Kama rupa with the addition of the dregs of Manas remaining all behind in the astral light of our atmosphere--that formed the counterparts of the terrible and so much dreaded bhoots of the Hindus (our "elementaries"). This is seen in the rendering made of the so-called "Harris Papyrus on magic" (papyrus magique, translated by Chabas) who calls them Kouey or Khou, and explains that according to the hieroglyphics they were called Khou or the "revivified dead," the "resurrected shadows." 11 [Fotnote 11. Placing these parallel with the division in esoteric teaching we see that (1) Osiris is Atma; (2) Sa is Buddhi; (3) Akh is Manas; (4) Khou is Kama-rupa, the sea of terrestrial desires; (5) Khaba is Lingha Sarira; (6) Kha is Pranatman (vital principle); (7) Sah is mummy or body. ]
When it was said of a person that he "had a Khou" it meant that he was possessed by a "Spirit." There were two kinds of Khous--the justified ones--who after living for a short time a second life (nam onh) faded out, disappeared; and those Khous who were condemned to wandering without rest in darkness after dying for a second time--mut, em, nam--and who were called the H'ou--métre ("second time dead") which did not prevent them from clinging to a vicarious life after the manner of Vampires. How dreaded they were is explained in our Appendices on Egyptian Magic and "Chinese Spirits" (Secret Doctrine). They were exorcised by Egyptian priests as the evil spirit is exorcised by the Roman Catholic curé; or again the Chinese houen, identical with the Khou and the "Elementary," as also with the lares or larvæ--a word derived from the former by Festus, the grammarian; who explains that they were "the shadows of the dead who gave no rest in the house they were in either to the Masters or the servants." These creatures when evoked during theurgic, and especially necromantic rites, were regarded, and are so regarded still, in China--as neither the Spirit, Soul nor anything belonging to the deceased personality they represented, but simply, as his reflection--simulacrum.
"The human soul," says Apuleius, "is an immortal God" (Buddhi) which nevertheless has his beginning. When death rids it (the Soul), from its earthly corporeal organism, it is called lemure. There are among the latter not a few which are beneficent, and which become the gods or demons of the family, i.e., its domestic gods: in which case they are called lares. But they are vilified and spoken of as larvæ when sentenced by fate to wander about, they spread around them evil and plagues. (Inane terriculamentum, ceterum noxium malis) [Translation: inane terrors, however, certainly noxious evils -BN]; or if their real nature is doubtful they are referred to as simply manes (Apuleius, see--Du Dieu de Socrate, pp. 143-145. Edit. Niz.). Listen to Yamblichus, Proclus, Porphyry, Psellus, and to dozens of other writers on these mystic subjects.
The Magi of Chaldea believed and taught that the celestial or divine soul would participate in the bliss of eternal light, while the animal or sensuous soul would, if good, rapidly dissolve, and if wicked, go on wandering about in the Earth's sphere. In this case, "it (the soul) assumes at times the forms of various human phantoms and even those of animals." The same was said of the Eidolon of the Greeks, and of their Nepesh by the Rabbins. (See Sciences Occultes, Count de Resie. V. 11.) All the Illuminati of the middle ages tell us of our astralSoul, the reflection of the dead or his spectre. At Natal death (birth) the pure spirit remains attached to the intermediate and luminous body but as soon as its lower form (the physical body) is dead, the former ascends heavenward, and the latter descends into the nether worlds, or the Kama loka.
Homer shows us the body of Patroclus--the true image of the terrestrial body lying killed by Hector--rising in its spiritual form, and Lucretius shows old Ennius representing Homer himself, shedding bitter tears, amidst the shadows and the human simulachres on the shores of Acherusia "where live neither our bodies nor our souls," but only our images.
". . . Esse Acherusia templa,
Virgil called it imago "image" and in the Odyssey (I. XI) the author refers to it as the type, the model, and at the same time the copy of the body; since Telemachus will not recognize Ulysses and seeks to drive him off by saying--"No thou art not my father; thou art a demon,--trying to seduce me!" (Odys. 1. XVI. v. 194.) "Latins do not lack significant proper names to designate the varieties of their demons; and thus they called them in turn, lares, lemures, genii and manes." Cicero, in translating Plato's Timæus, translates the word daimones by lares; and Festus the grammarian, explains that the inferior or lower gods were the souls of men, making a difference between the two as Homer did, and between anima bruta and anima divina (animal and divine souls). Plutarch (in Proble. Rom.) makes the lares preside and inhabit the (haunted) houses, and calls them cruel, exacting, inquisitive, etc., etc. Festus thinks that there are good and bad ones among the lares. For he calls them at one time prœstites as they gave occasionally and watched over things carefully (direct apports), and at another--hostileos.12 [Footnote 12. Because they drove the enemies away. ] "However it may be," says in his queer old French, Leloyer, "they are no better than our devils, who, if they do appear helping sometimes men, and presenting them with property, it is only to hurt them the better and the more later on. Lemures are also devils and larvæ for they appear at night in various human and animal forms, but still more frequently with features that THEY borrow from dead men." (Livre des Spectres. V. 1V, p. 15 and 16.)
After this little honour rendered to his Christian preconceptions, that see Satan everywhere, Leloyer speaks like an Occultist, and a very erudite one too.
"It is quite certain that the genii and none other had mission to watch over every newly born man, and that they were called genii, as says Censorius, because they had in their charge our race, and not only they presided over every mortal being but over whole generations and tribes, being the genii of the people."
The idea of guardian angels of men, races, localities, cities, and nations, was taken by the Roman Catholics from the pre-christian occultists and pagans. Symmachus (Epistol, 1. X) writes: "As souls are given to those who are born, so genii are distributed to the nations. Every city had its protecting genius, to whom the people sacrificed." There is more than one inscription found that reads: Genio civitates--"to the genius of the city."
Only the ancient profane, never seemed sure any more than the modern whether an apparition was the eidolon of a relative or the genius of the locality. Enneus while celebrating the anniversary of the name of his father Anchises, seeing a serpent crawling on his tomb knew not whether that was the genius of his father or the genius of the place (Virgil). "The manes" 13 [Footnote 13. From manus -"good," an antiphrasis, as Festus explains. ] were numbered and divided between good and bad; those that were sinister, and that Virgil calls numina larva, were appeased by sacrifices that they should commit no mischief, such as sending bad dreams to those who despised them, etc.
Tibullus shows by his line:
Ne tibi neglecti mittant insomnia manes. (Eleg., I, II.)
"Pagans thought that the lower Souls were transformed after death into diabolical aerial spirits." (Leloyer, p. 22.)
The term Eteroprosopos when divided into its several compound words will yield a whole sentence, "an other than I under the features of my person." It is to this terrestrial principle, the eidolon, the larva, the bhoot--call it by whatever name--that reincarnation was refused in Isis. 14 [Footnote 14. Page 12, Vol 1, of Isis Unveiled, belief in reincarnation is asserted from the very beginning, as forming part and parcel of universal beliefs. "Metempsychosis" (or transmigration of souls) and reincarnation being after all the same thing. ]
The doctrines of Theosophy are simply the faithful echoes of Antiquity. Man is a Unity only at his origin and at his end. All the Spirits, all the Souls, gods and demons emanate from and have for their root-principle the SOUL OF THE UNIVERSE--says Porphyry (De Sacrifice). Not a philosopher of any notoriety who did not believe (1) in reincarnation (metempsychosis), (2) in the plurality of principles in man, or that man had two Souls of separate and quite different natures; one perishable, the Astral Soul, the other incorruptible and immortal; and (3) that the former was not the man whom it represented--"neither his spirit nor his body, but his reflection at best." This was taught by Brahmins, Buddhists, Hebrews, Greeks, Egyptians and Chaldeans; by the post-diluvian heirs of the prediluvian Wisdom, by Pythagoras and Socrates, Clemens Alexandrinus, Synesius, and Origen, the oldest Greek poets as much as the Gnostics, whom Gibbon shows as the most refined, learned and enlightened men of all ages (See "Decline and Fall," etc.). But the rabble was the same in every age: superstitious self-opinionated, materializing every most spiritual and noble idealistic conception and dragging it down to its own low level, and--ever adverse to philosophy.
But all this does not interfere with that fact, that our "fifth Race" man, analyzed esoterically as a septenary creature, was ever exoterically recognized as mundane, sub-mundane, terrestrial and supra mundane, Ovid graphically describing him as--
Bis duo sunt hominis; manes, caro, spiritus, umbra
Terra tegit carnem, tumulum circumvolat umbra,
Orcus habet manes, spiritus estra petit.
H. P. Blavatsky
Ostende, Oct., 1886.
Path, November, 1886
THE THEOSOPHICAL MAHATMAS
From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. I
Articles by HPB
IT is with sincere and profound regret-though with no surprise, prepared as I am for years for such declarations-that I have read in the Rochester Occult Word, edited by Mrs. J. Cables, the devoted president of the T.S. of that place, her joint editorial with Mr. W. T. Brown. This sudden revulsion of feeling is perhaps quite natural in the lady, for she has never had the opportunities given her as Mr. Brown has; and her feeling when she writes that after "a great desire . . . to be put into communication with the Theosophical Mahatmas we (they) have come to the conclusion that it is useless to strain the psychical eyes towards the Himalayas . . . is undeniably shared by many theosophists. Whether the complaints are justified, and also whether it is the "Mahatmas" or theosophists themselves who are to blame for it is a question that remains to be settled. It has been a pending case for several years and will have to be now decided, as the two complainants declare over their signatures that "we (they) need not run after Oriental mystics, who deny their ability to help us." The last sentence, in italics, has to be seriously examined. I ask the privilege to make a few remarks thereon.
To begin with, the tone of the whole article is that of a true manifesto. Condensed and weeded of its exuberance of Biblical expressions it comes to this paraphrastical declaration: "We have knocked at their door, and they have not answered us; we have prayed for bread, they have denied us even a stone." The charge is quite serious; nevertheless, that it is neither just nor fair-is what I propose to show.
As I was the first in the United States to bring the existence of our Masters into publicity; and, having exposed the holy names of two members of a Brotherhood hitherto unknown to Europe and America (save to a few mystics and Initiates of every age), yet sacred and revered throughout the East, and especially India, causing vulgar speculation and curiosity to grow around those blessed names, and finally leading to a public rebuke, I believe it my duty to contradict the fitness of the latter by explaining the whole situation, as I feel myself the chief culprit. It may do good to some, perchance, and will interest some others.
Let no one think withal, that I come out as a champion or a defender of those who most assuredly need no defense. What I intend, is to present simple facts, and let after this the situation be judged on its own merits. To the plain statement of our brothers and sisters that they have been "living on husks," "hunting after strange gods" without receiving admittance, I would ask in my turn, as plainly: "Are you sure of having knocked at the right door? Do you feel certain that you have not lost your way by stopping so often on your journey at strange doors, behind which lie in wait the fiercest enemies of those you were searching for?" Our MASTERS are not a jealous god"; they are simply holy mortals, nevertheless, however, higher than any in this world, morally, intellectually and spiritually. However holy and advanced in the science of the Mysteries -they are still men, members of a Brotherhood, who are the first in it to show themselves subservient to its time-honored laws and rules. And one of the first rules in it demands that those who start on their journey Eastward, as candidates to the notice and favors of those who are the custodians of those Mysteries, should proceed by the straight road, without stopping on every side-way and path, seeking to join other "Masters" and professors often of the Left Hand Science; that they should have confidence and show trust and patience, besides several other conditions to fulfill. Failing in all of this from first to last, what right has any man or woman to complain of the liability of the Masters to help them?
Truly " 'The Dwellers of the threshold' are within!"
Once that a theosophist would become a candidate for either chelaship or favors, he must be aware of the mutual pledge, tacitly, if not formally offered and accepted between the two parties, and, that such a pledge is sacred. It is a bond of seven years of probation. If during that time, notwithstanding the many human shortcomings and mistakes of the candidate (save two which it is needless to specify in print) he remains throughout every temptation true to the chosen Master, or Masters (in the case of lay candidates), and as faithful to the Society founded at their wish and under their orders, then the theosophist will be initiated into ______thence-forward allowed to communicate with his guru unreservedly, all his failings, save this one, as specified, may be overlooked: they belong to his future Karma, but are left for the present, to the discretion and judgment of the Master. He alone has the power of judging whether even during those long seven years the chela will be favoured regardless of his mistakes and sins, with occasional communications with, and from, the guru. The latter thoroughly posted as to the causes and motives that led the candidate into sins of omission and commission is the only one to judge of the advisability or inadvisability of bestowing encouragement; as he alone is entitled to it, seeing that he is himself under the inexorable law of Karma, which no one from the Zulu savage up to the highest archangel can avoid--and that he has to assume the great responsibility of the causes created by himself.
Thus, the chief and the only indispensable condition required in the candidate or chela on probation, is simply unswerving fidelity to the chosen Master and his purposes. This is a condition sine qua non; not as I have said, on account of any jealous feeling, but simply because the magnetic rapport between the two once broken, it becomes at each time doubly difficult to re-establish it again; and that it is neither just nor fair, that the Masters should strain their powers for those whose future course and final desertion they very often can plainly foresee. Yet, how many of those who, expecting as I would call it "favours by anticipation," and being disappointed, instead of humbly repeating mea culpa, tax the Masters with selfishness and injustice? They will deliberately break the thread of connection ten times in one year, and yet expect each time to be taken back on the old lines! I know of one theosophist-let him be nameless though it is hoped he will recognize himself--a quiet, intelligent young gentleman, a mystic by nature, who, in his ill-advised enthusiasm and impatience, changed Masters and his ideas about half a dozen times in less than three years. First he offered himself, was accepted on probation and took the vow of chelaship; about a year later, he suddenly got the idea of getting married, though he had several proofs of the corporeal presence of his Master, and had several favours bestowed upon him. Projects of marriage, failing, he sought "Masters" under other climes, and became an enthusiastic Rosicrucian; then be returned to theosophy as a Christian mystic; then again sought to enliven his austerities with a wife; then gave up the idea and turned a spiritualist. And now having applied once more "to be taken back as a chela" (I have his letter) and his Master remaining silent-he renounced him altogether, to seek in he words of the above manifesto-his old "Essenian Master and to test the spirits in his name."
The able and respected editor of the Occult Word and her Secretary are right, and have chosen the only true path in which with a very small dose of blind faith, they are sure to encounter no deceptions or disappointments. "It is pleasant for some of us," they say, "to obey the call of the 'Man of Sorrows' who will not turn any away, because they are unworthy or have not scored up a certain percentage of personal merit." How do they know? unless they accept the cynically awful and pernicious dogma of the Protestant Church, that teaches the forgiveness of the blackest crime, provided the murderer believes sincerely that the blood of his "Redeemer" has saved him at the last hour-what is it but blind unphilosophical faith? Emotionalism is not philosophy; and Buddha devoted his long self-sacrificing life to tear people away precisely from that evil breeding superstition. Why speak of Buddha then, in the same breath? The doctrine of salvation by personal merit, and self-forgetfulness is the comer-stone of the teaching of the Lord Buddha. Both the writers may have and very likely they did-"hunt after strange gods"; but these were not our MASTERS. They have "denied Him thrice" and now propose "with bleeding feet and prostrate spirit" to "pray that He (Jesus) may take us (them) once more under his wing," etc. The "Nazarene Master" is sure to oblige them so far. Still they will be "living on husks" plus "blind faith." But in this they are the best judges, and no one has a right to meddle with their private beliefs in our Society; and heaven grant that they should not in their fresh disappointment turn our bitterest enemies one day.
Yet, to those Theosophists, who are displeased with the Society in general, no one has ever made to you any rash promises; least of all, has either the Society or its founders ever offered their "Masters" as a chromo-premium to the best-behaved. For years every new member has been told that he was promised nothing, but had everything to expect only from his own personal merit. The Theosophist is left free and untrammeled in his actions. Whenever displeased--alia tentanda via est [Translation: another way must be tried -BNeditors ] --no harm in trying elsewhere; unless, indeed one has offered himself and is decided to win the Masters' favors. To such especially, I now address myself and ask: Have you fulfilled your obligations and pledges? Have you, who would fain lay all the blame on the Society and the Masters-the latter the embodiment of charity, tolerance, justice and universal love-have you led the life requisite, and the conditions required from one who becomes a candidate? Let him who feels in his heart and conscience that he has,--that he has never once failed seriously, never doubted his Master's wisdom, never sought other Master or Masters in his impatience to become an Occultist with powers; and that he has never betrayed his theosophical duty in thought or deed,-let him, I say, rise and protest. He can do so fearlessly; there is no penalty attached to it, and he will not even receive a reproach, let alone be excluded from the Society-the broadest and most liberal in its views, the most catholic of all the Societies known or unknown. I am afraid my invitation will remain unanswered. During the eleven years of the existence of the Theosophical Society I have known, out of the seventy-two regularly accepted chelas on probation and the hundreds of lay candidates-only three who have not hitherto failed, and one only who had a full success. No one forces anyone into chelaship; no promises are uttered, none except the mutual pledge between Master and the would-be chela. Verily, Verily, many are the called but few are chosen-or rather few who have the patience of going to the bitter end, if bitter we can call simple perseverance and singleness of purpose.
What about the Society, in general, outside of India? Who among the many thousands of members does lead the life? Shall anyone say because be is a strict vegetarian-elephants and cows are that -or happens to lead a celibate life, after a stormy youth in the opposite direction; or because he studies the Bhagavad-Gita or the "Yoga philosophy" upside down, that he is a theosophist according to the Masters' hearts? As it is not the cowl that makes the monk, so, no long hair with a poetical vacancy on the brow are sufficient to make of one a faithful follower of divine Wisdom. Look around you, and behold our UNIVERSAL Brotherhood so called! The Society founded to remedy the glaring evils of Christianity, to shun bigotry and intolerance, cant and superstition and to cultivate real universal love extending even to the dumb brute, what has it become in Europe and America in these eleven years of trial? In one thing only we have succeeded to be considered higher than our Christian Brothers, who, according to Lawrence Oliphant's graphic expression, "kill one another for Brotherhood's sake and fight as devils for the love of God"-and this is that we have made away with every dogma and are now justly and wisely trying to make away with the last vestige of even nominal authority. But in every other respect we are as bad as they are: backbiting, slander, uncharitableness, criticism, incessant war-cry and ding of mutual rebukes that Christian Hell itself might be proud of! And all this, I suppose, is the Masters' fault: THEY will not help those who help others on the way of salvation and liberation from selfishness--with kicks and scandals? Truly we are an example to the world, and fit companions for the holy ascetics of the snowy Range!
And now a few words more before I close. I will be asked: "And who are you to find fault with us? Are you, who claim nevertheless communion with the Masters and receive daily favors from Them; Are you so holy, faultless, and so worthy?" To this I answer: I AM NOT. Imperfect and faulty is my nature; many and glaring are my shortcomings--and for this my Karma is heavier than that of any other Theosophist. It is--and must be so--since for so many years I stand set in the pillory, a target for my enemies and some friends also. Yet I accept the trial cheerfully. Why? Because I know that I have, all my faults notwithstanding, Master's protection extended over me. And if I have it, the reason for it is simply this: for thirty-five years and more, ever since 1851 that I saw any Master bodily and personally for the first time, I have never once denied or even doubted Him, not even in thought. Never a reproach or a murmur against Him has escaped my lips, or entered even my brain for one instant under the heaviest trials. From the first I knew what I had to expect, for I was told that, which I have never ceased repeating to others: as soon as one steps on the Path leading to the Ashrum of the blessed Masters--the last and only custodians of primitive Wisdom and Truth--his Karma, instead of having to be distributed throughout his long life, falls upon him in a block and crushes him with its whole weight. He who believes in what he professes and in his Master, will stand it and come out of the trial victorious; he who doubts, the coward who fears to receive his just dues and tries to avoid justice being done--FAILS. He will not escape Karma just the same, but he will only lose that for which he has risked its untimely visits. This is why, having been so constantly, so mercilessly slashed by my Karma using my enemies as unconscious weapons, that I have stood it all. I felt sure that Master would not permit that I should perish; that he would always appear at the eleventh hour--and so he did. Three times I was saved from death by Him, the last time almost against my will; when I went again into the cold, wicked world out of love for Him, who has taught me what I know and made me what I am. Therefore, I do His work and bidding, and this is what has given me the lion's strength to support shocks--physical and mental, one of which would have killed any theosophist who would go on doubting of the mighty protection. Unswerving devotion to Him who embodies the duty traced for me, and belief in the Wisdom--collectively, of that grand, mysterious, yet actual Brotherhood of holy men--is my only merit, and the cause of my success in Occult philosophy. And now repeating after the Paraguru--my Master's MASTER--the words He had sent as a message to those who wanted to make of the Society a "miracle club" instead of a Brotherhood of Peace, Love and mutual assistance--"Perish rather, the Theosophical Society and its hapless Founders," I say perish their twelve years' labour and their very lives rather than that I should see what I do today: theosophists, outvying political "rings" in their search for personal power and authority; theosophists slandering and criticizing each other as two rival Christian sects might do; finally theosophists refusing to lead the life and then criticizing and throwing slurs on the grandest and noblest of men, because tied by their wise laws--hoary with age and based on an experience of human nature millenniums old--those Masters refuse to interfere with Karma and to play second fiddle to every theosophist who calls upon Them and whether he deserves it or not.
Unless radical reforms in our American and European Societies are speedily resorted to--I fear that before long there will remain but one centre of Theosophical Societies and Theosophy in the whole world--namely, in India; on that country I call all the blessings of my heart. All my love and aspirations belong to my beloved brothers, the Sons of Old Aryavarta--the Motherland of my MASTER.
Path, December, 1886
THE THEORY OF CYCLES
From H.P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. III
Articles by HPB
IT is now some time since this theory, which was first propounded in the oldest religion of the world, Vedaism, then taught by various Greek philosophers, and afterwards defended by the Theosophists of the Middle Ages, but which came to be flatly denied by the wise men of the West, like everything else, in this world of negation, has been gradually coming into prominence again. This once, contrary to the rule, it is the men of science themselves who take it up. Statistics of events of the most varied nature are fast being collected and collated with the seriousness demanded by important scientific questions. Statistics of wars and of the periods (or cycles) of the appearance of great men--at least those as have been recognised as such by their contemporaries and irrespective of later opinions; statistics of the periods of development and progress at large commercial centres; of the rise and fall of arts and sciences; of cataclysms, such as earthquakes, epidemics periods of extraordinary cold and heat; cycles of revolutions, and of the rise and fall of empires, &c.; all these are subjected turn to the analysis of the minutest mathematical calculations. Finally, even the occult significance of numbers in names of persons and names of cities, in events, and like matters, receives unwonted attention. If, on the one hand, a great portion of the educated public is running into atheism and scepticism, on the other hand, we find an evident current of mysticism forcing its way into science. It is the sign of an irrepressible need in humanity to assure itself that there is a Power Paramount over matter; an occult and mysterious law which governs the world, and which we should rather study and closely watch, trying to adapt ourselves to it, than blindly deny, and break our heads against the rock of destiny. More than one thoughtful mind, while studying the fortunes and verses of nations and great empires, has been deeply struck by one identical feature in their history, namely, the inevitable recurrence of similar historical events reaching in turn every one of them, and after the same lapse of time. This analogy is found between the events to be substantially the same on the whole, though there may be more or less difference as to the outward form of details. Thus, the belief of the ancients in their astrologers, soothsayers and prophets might have been warranted by the verification of many of their most important predictions, without these prognostications of future events implying of necessity anything very miraculous in themselves. The soothsayers and augurs having occupied in days of the old civilizations the very same position now occupied by our historians, astronomers and meteorologists, there was nothing more wonderful in the fact of the former predicting the downfall of an empire or the loss of a battle, than in the latter predicting the return of a comet, a change of temperature, or, perhaps, the final conquest of Afghanistan. The necessity for both these classes being acute, observers apart, there was the study of certain sciences to be pursued then as well as they are now. The science of today will have become an "ancient" science a thousand years hence. Free and open, scientific study now is to all, whereas it was then confined but to the few. Yet, whether ancient or modern, both may be called exact sciences; for, if the astronomer of today draws his observations from mathematical calculations, the astrologer of old also based his prognostication upon no less acute and mathematically correct observations of the ever-recurring cycles. And, because the secret of this science is now being lost, does that give any warrant to say that it never existed, or that, to believe in it, one must be ready to swallow "magic," "miracles" and the like stuff? "If, in view of the eminence to which modern science has reached, the claim to prophesy future events must be regarded as either a child's play or a deliberate deception," says a writer in the Novoyé Vremya, the best daily paper of literature and politics of St. Petersburg, "then we can point at science which, in its turn, has now taken up and placed on record the question, in its relation to past events, whether there is or is not in the constant repetition of events a certain periodicity; in other words, whether these events recur after a fixed and determined period of years with every nation; and if a periodicity there be, whether this periodicity is due to blind chance or depends on the same natural laws, on which are more or less dependent many of the phenomena of human life." Undoubtedly the latter. And the writer has the best mathematical proof of it in the timely appearance of such works as that of Dr. E. Zasse, under review, and of a few others. Several learned works, treating upon this mystical subject, have appeared of late, and of some of these works and calculations we will now treat; the more readily as they are in most cases from the pens of men of eminent learning. Having already in the June number of the THEOSOPHIST noticed an article by Dr. Blohvitz On the significance of the number Seven,1 [Footnote 1. See volume I, pp. 345-50 ] with every nation and people--a learned paper which appeared lately in the German journal Die Gegenwart--we will now summarize the opinions of the press in general, on a more suggestive work by a well-known German scientist, E. Zasse, with certain reflections of our own. It has just appeared in the Prussian Journal of Statistics, and powerfully corroborates the ancient theory of Cycles. These periods, which bring around ever-recurring events, begin from the infinitesimal small--say of ten years--rotation and reach to cycles which require 250, 500, 700 and 1000 years, to effect their revolutions around themselves, and within one another. All are contained within the Máhá-Yug, the "Great Age" or Cycle of the Manu calculation, which itself revolves between two eternities--the "Pralayas" or Nights of Brahma. As, in the objective world of matter, or the system of effects, the minor constellations and planets gravitate each and all around he sun, so in the world of the subjective, or the system of causes, these innumerable cycles all gravitate between that which the finite intellect of the ordinary mortal regards as eternity, and the till finite, but more profound, intuition of the sage and philosopher views as but an eternity within THE ETERNITY. "As above, so it is below," runs the old Hermetic maxim. As an experiment in his direction, Dr. Zasse selected the statistical investigations of all the wars, the occurrence of which has been recorded in history, as a subject which lends itself more easily to scientific verification than any other. To illustrate his subject in the simplest and most easily comprehensible way, Dr. Zasse represents the periods of war and the periods of peace in the shape of small and large rave-lines running over the area of the old world. The idea is not new one, for, the image was used for similar illustrations by ore than one ancient and mediaeval mystic, whether in words or picture--by Henry Kunrath, for example. But it serves well its purpose and gives us the facts we now want. Before he treats, however, of the cycles of wars, the author brings in the record of the rise and fall of the world's great empires, and shows the degree of activity they have played in the Universal History. He points out the fact that if we divide the map of the Old World into five parts--into Eastern, Central, and Western Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, and Egypt--then we will easily perceive that very 250 years, an enormous wave passes over these areas, bringing into each in its turn the events it has brought to the one next preceding. This wave we may call "the historical wave" of the 250 years' cycle. The reader will please follow this mystical number of years.
The first of these waves began in China, 2,000 years B.C.--the "golden age" of this Empire, the age of philosophy, of discoveries and reforms. "In 1750 B.C., the Mongolians of Central Asia establish a powerful empire. In 1500, Egypt rises from its temporary degradation and carries its sway over many parts of Europe and Asia; and about 1250, the historical wave reaches and crosses over to Eastern Europe, filling it with the spirit of the Argonautic expedition, and dies out in 1000 B.C. at the siege of Troy."
A second historical wave appears about that time in Central Asia. "The Scythians leave her steppes, and inundate towards the year 750 B.C. the adjoining countries, directing themselves towards the South and West; about the year 500 in Western Asia begins an epoch of splendour for ancient Persia; and the wave moves on to the east of Europe, where, about 250 B.C., Greece reaches her highest state of culture and civilization--and further on to the West, where, at the birth of Christ, the Roman Empire finds itself at its apogee of power and greatness."
Again, at this period we find the rising of a third historical wave at the far East. After prolonged revolutions, about this time, China forms once more a powerful empire, and its arts, sciences and commerce flourish again. Then 250 years later, we find the Huns appearing from the depths of Central Asia; in the year 500 A.D. a new and powerful Persian kingdom is formed; in 750--in Eastern Europe--the Byzantine empire; and, in the year 1,000--on its western side--springs up the second Roman Power, the Empire of the Papacy, which soon reaches an extraordinary development of wealth and brilliancy.
At the same time, the fourth wave approaches from the Orient. China is again flourishing; in 1250, the Mongolian wave from Central Asia has overflowed and covered an enormous area of land, including with it Russia. About 1500, in Western Asia, the Ottoman Empire rises in all its might and conquers the Balkan peninsula; but at the same time in Eastern Europe, Russia throws off the Tartar yoke, and about 1750, during the reign of Empress Catherine, rises to an unexpected grandeur and covers itself with I glory. The wave ceaselessly moves further on to the West, and, beginning with the middle of the past century, Europe is living over an epoch of revolutions and reforms, and, according to the author, "if it is permissible to prophetize, then, about the year 2,000, Western Europe will have lived one of those periods of culture and progress so rare in history." The Russian press, taking the cue, believes that "towards those days the Eastern Question will be finally settled, the national dissensions of the European peoples will come to an end, and the dawn of the new millennium will witness the abolishment of armies and an alliance between all the European empires." The signs of regeneration are also fast multiplying in Japan and China, as if pointing to the approach of a new historical wave at the extreme East.
If, from the cycle of two-and-a-half century duration, we descend to those which leave their impress every century, and, grouping together the events of ancient history, will mark the development and rise of empires, then we will assure ourselves that, beginning from the year 700 B.C., the centennial wave pushes forward, bringing into prominence the following nations--each in its turn--the Assyrians, the Medes, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Macedonians, the Carthaginians, the Romans and the Germanians.
The striking periodicity of the wars in Europe is also noticed by Dr. E. Zasse. Beginning with 1700 A.D., every ten years have been signalized by either a war or a revolution. The periods of the strengthening and weakening of the warlike excitement of the European nations represent a wave strikingly regular in its periodicity, flowing incessantly, as if propelled onward by some invisible fixed law. This same mysterious law seems at the same time to make these events coincide with astronomical wave or cycle, which, at every new revolution, is accompanied by the very marked appearance of spots in the sun. The periods, when the European powers have shown the most destructive energy, are marked by a cycle of 50 years' duration. It would be too long and tedious to enumerate them from the beginning of History. We may, therefore, limit our study to the cycle beginning with the year 1712, when all the European nations were fighting at the same time--the Northern, and the Turkish wars, and the war for the throne of Spain. About 1761, the "Seven Years' War"; in 1810 the wars of Napoleon I. Towards 1861, the wave has a little deflected from its regular course, but, as if to compensate for it, or, propelled, perhaps, with unusual forces, the years directly preceding, as well as those which followed it, left in history the records of the most fierce and bloody war--the Crimean war--in the former period, and the American Rebellion in the latter one. The periodicity in the wars between Russia and Turkey appears peculiarly striking and represents a very characteristic wave. At first the intervals between the cycles, returning upon themselves, are of thirty years' duration--17I0, 1740, 1770; then these intervals diminish, and we have a cycle of twenty years--1790, 1810, 1829-30; then the intervals widen again--1853 and 1878. But, if we take note of the whole duration of the in-flowing tide of the warlike cycle, then we will have at the centre of it--from 1768 to 1812--three wars of seven years' duration each, and, at both ends, wars of two years.
Finally, the author comes to the conclusion that, in view of facts, it becomes thoroughly impossible to deny the presence of a regular periodicity in the excitement of both mental and physical forces in the nations of the world. He proves that in the history of all the peoples and empires of the Old World, the cycles marking the millenniums, the centennials as well as the minor ones of 50 and 10 years' duration, are the most important, inasmuch as neither of them has ever yet failed to bring in its rear some more or less marked event in the history of the nation swept over by these historical waves.
The history of India is one which, of all histories, is the most vague and least satisfactory. Yet, were its consecutive great events noted down, and its annals well searched, the law of cycles would be found to have asserted itself here as plainly as in every other country in respect of its wars, famines, political exigencies and other matters.
In France, a meteorologist of Paris went to the trouble of compiling the statistics of the coldest seasons, and discovered, at the same time, that those years, which had the figure 9 in them, had been marked by the severest winters. His figures run thus: In 859 A.D., the northern part of the Adriatic sea was frozen and was covered for three months with ice. In 1179, in the most moderate zones, the earth was covered with several feet of snow. In 1209, in France, the depth of snow and the bitter cold caused such a scarcity of fodder that most of the cattle perished in that country In 1249, the Baltic Sea, between Russia, Norway and Sweden remained frozen for many months and communication was held by sleighs. In 1339, there was such a terrific winter in England, that vast numbers of people died of starvation and exposure. In 1409, the river Danube was frozen from its sources to its mouth in the Black Sea. In 1469 all the vineyards and orchards perished in consequence of the frost. In 1609, in France, Switzerland and Upper Italy, people had to thaw their bread and provisions before they could use them. In 1639, the harbour of Marseilles was covered with ice to a great distance. In 1659 all the rivers in Italy were frozen. In 1699 the winter in France and Italy proved the severest and longest of all. The prices for articles of food were so much raised that half of the population died of starvation. In 1709 the winter was no less terrible. The ground was frozen in France, Italy and Switzerland, to the depth of several feet, and the sea, south as well as north, was covered with one compact and thick crust of ice, many feet deep, and for a considerable space of miles, in the usually open sea. Masses of wild beasts, driven out by the cold from their dens in the forests, sought refuge in villages and even cities; and the birds fell dead to the ground by hundreds. In 1729, 1749 and 1769 (cycles of 20 years' duration) all the rivers and streams were ice-bound all over France for many weeks, and all the fruit trees perished. In 1789, France was again visited by a very severe winter. In Paris, the thermometer stood at 19 degrees of frost. But the severest of all winters proved that of 1829. For fifty-four consecutive days, all the roads in France were covered with snow several feet deep, and all the rivers were frozen. Famine and misery reached their climax in the country in that year. In 1839 there was again in France a most terrific and trying cold season. And now the winter of 1879 has asserted its statistical rights and proved true to the fatal influence of the figure 9. The meteorologists of other countries are invited to follow suit and make their investigations likewise, for the subject is certainly one of the most fascinating as well as instructive kind.
Enough has been shown, however, to prove that neither the ideas of Pythagoras on the mysterious influence of numbers, nor the theories of ancient world-religions and philosophies are as shallow and meaningless as some too forward free-thinkers would have had the world to believe.
H. P. Blavatsky
Theosophist, July, 1880
THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY:
Articles by HPB
[AS EXPLAINED BY M. EMILE BURNOUF, THE FRENCH ORIENTALIST]
"It is another's fault if he be ungrateful; but it is mine if I do not give. To find one thankful man I will oblige many who are not. -SENECA.
. . . . The veil is rent Which blinded me! I am as all these men
IT has seldom been the good fortune of the Theosophical Society to meet with such courteous and even sympathetic treatment as it has received at the hands of M. Emile Burnouf, the well-known Sanskritist, in an article in the Revue des Deux Mondes (July 15, 1888)--"Le Bouddhisme en Occident."
Such an article proves that the Society has at last taken its rightful place in the thought-life of the XIXth century. It marks the dawn of a new era in its history, and, as such, deserves the most careful consideration of all those who are devoting their energies to its work. M. Burnouf's position in the world of Eastern scholarship entitles his opinions to respect; while his name, that of one of the first and most justly honoured of Sanskrit scholars (the late M. Eugene Burnouf), renders it more than probable that a man bearing such a name will make no hasty statements and draw no premature conclusions, but that his deductions will be founded on careful and accurate study.
His article is devoted to a triple subject: the origins of three religions or associations, whose fundamental doctrines M. Burnouf regards as identical, whose aim is the same, and which are derived from a common source. These are Buddhism, Christianity, and-- the Theosophical Society.
As he writes, page 341:
This source which is oriental, was hitherto contested; today it has been fully brought to light by scientific research, notably by the English scientists and the publication of original texts. Amongst these sagacious scrutinizers it is sufficient to name Sayce, Pool, Beal, Rhys-David, Spencer-Hardy, Bunsen. . . . It is a long time, indeed, since they were struck with resemblances, let us say, rather, identical elements, offered by the Christian religions and that of Buddha. . . . During the last century these analogies were explained by a pretended Nestorian influence; but since then the Oriental chronology has been established, and it was shown that Buddha was anterior by several centuries to Nestorius, and even to Jesus Christ. . . . The problem remained an open one down to the recent day when the paths followed by Buddhism were recognized, and the stages traced on its way to finally reach Jerusalem. . . . And now we see born under our eyes a new association, created for the propagation in the world of the Buddhistic dogmas. It is of this triple subject that we shall treat.
It is on this, to a degree erroneous, conception of the aims and object of the Theosophical Society that M. Burnouf's article, and the remarks and opinions that ensue therefrom, are based. He strikes a false note from the beginning, and proceeds on this line. The T.S. was not created to propagate any dogma of any exoteric, ritualistic church, whether Buddhist, Brahmanical, or Christian. This idea is a wide-spread and general mistake; and that of the eminent Sanskritist is due to a self-evident source which misled him. M. Burnouf has read in the Lotus, the journal of the Theosophical Society of Paris, a polemical correspondence between one of the Editors of LUCIFER and the Abbé Roca. The latter persisting--very unwisely--in connecting theosophy with Papism and the Roman Catholic Church--which, of all the dogmatic world religions, is the one his correspondent loathes the most--the philosophy and ethics of Gautama Buddha, not his later church, whether northern or southern, were therein prominently brought forward. The said Editor is undeniably a Buddhist--i.e., a follower of the esoteric school of the great "Light of Asia," and so is the President of the Theosophical Society, Colonel H. S. Olcott. But this does not pin the theosophical body as a whole to ecclesiastical Buddhism. The Society was founded to become the Brotherhood of Humanity--a centre, philosophical and religious, common to all--not as a propaganda for Buddhism merely. Its first steps were directed toward the same great aim that M. Burnouf ascribes to Buddha Sakyamuni, who "opened his church to all men, without distinction of origin, caste, nation, colour, or sex" (Vide Art. I. in the Rules of the T.S.), adding "My law is a law of Grace for all." In the same way the Theosophical Society is open to all, without distinction of "origin, caste, nation, colour, or sex," and what is more--of creed. . . .
The introductory paragraphs of this article show how truly the author has grasped, with this exception, within the compass of a few lines, the idea that all religions have a common basis and spring from a single root. After devoting a few pages to Buddhism, the religion and the association of men founded by the Prince of Kapilavastu; to Manicheism, miscalled a "heresy," and its relation to both Buddhism and Christianity, he winds up his article with--the Theosophical Society. He leads up to the latter by tracing (a) the life of Buddha, too well known to an English speaking public through Sir Edwin Arnold's magnificent poem to need recapitulation; (b) by showing in a few brief words that Nirvâna is not annihilation; 1 [Footnote 1. The fact that Nirvana does not mean annihilation was repeatedly asserted in Isis Unveiled, where its author discussed its etymological meaning as given by Max Müller and others and showed that the "blowing out of a lamp" does not even imply the idea that Nirvana is the "extinction of consciousness." (See vol. i, p. 290 ad vol. ii. pp. 117, 286, 320 566,etc. ] and (c) that the Greeks, Romans and even the Brahmans regarded the priest as the intermediary between men and God, an idea which involves the conception of a personal God, distributing his favours according to his own good pleasure--a sovereign of the universe, in short.
The few lines about Nirvâna must find place here before the last proposition is discussed. Says the author:
It is not my task here to discuss the nature of Nirvâna. I will only say that the idea of annihilation is absolutely foreign to India, that the Buddha's object was to deliver humanity from the miseries of earth life and its successive reincarnations; that, finally, he passed his long existence in battling against Mâra and his angels, whom he himself called Death and the army of death. The word Nirvâna means, it is true, extinction, for instance, that of a lamp blown out but it means also the absence of wind. I think, therefore, that Nirvâna is nothing else but that requies æterna, that lux perpetua which Christians also desire for their dead.
With regard to the conception of the priestly office the author shows it entirely absent from Buddhism. Buddha is no God, but a man who has reached the supreme degree of wisdom and virtue. "Therefore Buddhist metaphysics conceives the absolute Principle of all things which other religions call God, in a totally different manner and does not make of it a being separate from the universe."
The writer then points out that the equality of all men among themselves is one of the fundamental conceptions of Buddhism.
He adds moreover and demonstrates that it was from Buddhism that the Jews derived their doctrine of a Messiah.
The Essenes, the Therapeuts and the Gnostics are identified as a result of this fusion of Indian and Semitic thought, and it is shown that, on comparing the lives of Jesus and Buddha, both biographies fall into two parts: the ideal legend and the real facts. Of these the legendary part is identical in both; as indeed must be the case from the theosophical standpoint, since both are based on the Initiatory cycle. Finally this "legendary" part is contrasted with the corresponding features in other religions, notably with the Vedic story of Visvakarman. 2 [Footnote 2. This identity between the Logoi of various religious and in particular the identity between the legends of Buddha and Jesus Christ, was again proven years ago in Isis Unveiled, and the legend of Visvakarma more recently in the Lotus and other Theosophical publications. The whole story is analyzed at length in the Secret Doctrine, in some chapters which were written more than two years ago. ] According to his view, it was only at the council of Nicea that Christianity broke officially with the ecclesiastical Buddhism, though he regards the Nicene Creed as simply the development of the formula: "the Buddha, the Law, the Church" (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha).
The Manicheans were originally Samans or Sramanas, Buddhist ascetics whose presence at Rome in the third century is recorded by St. Hippolytus. M. Burnouf explains their dualism as referring to the double nature of man--good and evil--the evil principle being the Mâra of Buddhist legend. He shows that the Manicheans derived their doctrines more immediately from Buddhism than did Christianity and consequently a life and death struggle arose between the two, when the Christian Church became a body which claimed to be the sole and exclusive possessor of Truth. This idea is in direct contradiction to the most fundamental conceptions of Buddhism and therefore its professors could not but be bitterly opposed to the Manicheans. It was thus the Jewish spirit of exclusiveness which armed against the Manicheans the secular arm of the Christian states.
Having thus traced the evolution of Buddhist thought from India to Palestine and Europe, M. Burnouf points out that the Albigenses on the one hand, and the Pauline school (whose influence is traceable in Protestantism) on the other, are the two latest survivals of this influence. He then continues--
Analysis shows us in contemporary society two essential elements: the idea of a personal God among believers and, among the philosophers, the almost complete disappearance of charity. The Jewish element has regained the upper hand, and the Buddhistic element in Christianity has been obscured.
Thus one of the most interesting, if not the most unexpected, phenomena of our day is the attempt which is now being made to revive and create in the world a new society, resting on the same foundations as Buddhism. Although only in its beginnings, its growth is so rapid that our readers will be glad to have their attention called to this subject. This society is still in some measure in the condition of a mission, and its spread is accomplished noiselessly and without violence. It has not even a definite name; its members grouping themselves under eastern names, placed as titles to their publications: Isis, Lotus, Sphinx, LUCIFER. The name common to all which predominates among them for the moment is that of Theosophical Society.
After giving a very accurate account of the formation and history of the Society--even to the number of its working branches in India, namely, 135--he then continues:
The society is very young, nevertheless it has already its history. . . . It has neither money nor patrons; it acts solely with its own eventual resources. It contains no worldly element. It flatters no private or public interest. It has set itself a moral ideal of great elevation, it combats vice and egoism. It tends toward the unification of religions, which it considers as identical in their philosophical origin; but it recognizes the supremacy of truth only. . . .
With these principles, and in the time in which we live, the society could hardly impose on itself more trying conditions of existence. Still it has grown with astonishing rapidity. . . .
Having summarized the history of the development of the T.S. and the growth of its organization, the writer asks: "What is the spirit which animates it?" To this he replies by quoting the three objects of the Society, remarking in reference to the second and third of these (the study of literatures, religions and sciences of the Aryan nations and the investigation of latent psychic faculties, &c), that, although these might seem to give the Society a sort of academic colouring, remote from the affairs of actual life, yet in reality this is not the case; and he quotes the following passage from the close of the Editorial in LUCIFER for November, 1887:
He who does not practice altruism; he who is not prepared to share his last morsel with a weaker or a poorer than himself; he who neglects to help his brother man, of whatever race, nation, or creed, whenever and wherever he meets suffering, and who turns a deaf ear to the cry of human misery; he who hears an innocent person slandered, whether a brother Theosophist or not, and does not undertake his defense as he would undertake his own--is no Theosophist.--(LUCIFER No. 3.)
This declaration [continues M. Burnouf] is not Christian because it takes no account of belief, because it does not proselytise for any communion, and because, in fact, the Christians have usually made use of calumny against their adversaries, for example, the Manicheans, Protestants and Jews. 3 [Footnote 3. And-the author forgets to add -"The Theosophists." No Society as ever been more ferociously clumniated and persecuted by the odium theologicum since the Christian churches are reduced to use their tongues as their sole weapon-than the Theosophical Association and its Founders. -ED. ] It is even less Mussulman or Brahminical. It is purely Buddhistic: the practical publications of the Society are either translations of Buddhist books, or original works inspired by the teaching of Buddha. Therefore the Society has a Buddhist character.
Against this it protests a little, fearing to take on an exclusive and sectarian character. It is mistaken: the true and original Buddhism is not a sect, it is hardly a religion. It is rather a moral and intellectual reform, which excludes no belief, but adopts none. This is what is done by the Theosophical Society.
We have given our reasons for protesting. We are pinned to no faith.
In stating that the T.S. is "Buddhist," M. Burnouf is quite right, however, from one point of view. It has a Buddhist colouring simply because that religion, or rather philosophy, approaches more nearly to the TRUTH (the secret wisdom) than does any other exoteric form of belief. Hence the close connexion between the two. But on the other hand the T.S. is perfectly right in protesting against being mistaken for a merely Buddhist propaganda, for the reasons given by us at the beginning of the present article, and by our critic himself. For although in complete agreement with him as to the true nature and character of primitive Buddhism, yet the Buddhism of today is none the less a rather dogmatic religion, split into many and heterogeneous sects. We follow the Buddha alone. Therefore, once it becomes necessary to go behind the actually existing form, and who will deny this necessity in respect to Buddhism?--once this is done, is it not infinitely better to go back to the pure and unadulterated source of Buddhism itself, rather than halt at an intermediate stage? Such a half and half reform was tried when Protestantism broke away from the elder Church, and are the results satisfactory?
Such then is the simple and very natural reason why the T.S. does not raise the standard of exoteric Buddhism and proclaim itself a follower of the Church of the Lord Buddha. It desires too sincerely to remain with that unadulterated "light" to allow itself to be absorbed by its distorted shadow. This is well understood by M. Burnouf, since he expresses as much in the following passage:
From the doctrinal point of creed, Buddhism has no mysteries; Buddha preached in parables; but a parable is a developed simile, and has nothing symbolical in it. The Theosophists have seen very clearly that, in religions, there have always been two teachings; the one very simple in appearance and full of images or fables which are put forward as realities; this is the public teaching, called exoteric. The other, esoteric or inner, reserved for the more educated and discreet adepts, the initiates of the second degree. There is, finally, a sort of science, which may formerly have been cultivated in the secrecy of the sanctuaries, a science called hermetism, which gives the final explanation of the symbols. When this science is applied to various religions, we see that their symbolisms, though in appearance different, yet rest upon the same rock of ideas, and are traceable to one single manner of interpreting nature.
The characteristic feature of Buddhism is precisely the absence of this hermetism, the exiguity of its symbolism, and the fact that it presents to men, in their ordinary language, the truth without a veil. This it is which the Theosophical Society is repeating. . . .
And no better model could the Society follow: but this is not all. It is true that no mysteries or esotericism exists in the two chief Buddhist Churches, the Southern and the Northern. Buddhists may well be content with the dead letter of Siddârtha Buddha's teachings, as fortunately no higher or nobler ones in their effects upon the ethics of the masses exist, to this day. But herein lies the great mistake of all the Orientalists. There is an esoteric doctrine, a soul-ennobling philosophy, behind the outward body of ecclesiastical Buddhism. The latter, pure, chaste and immaculate as the virgin snow on the ice-capped crests of the Himalayan ranges, is, however, as cold and desolate as they with regard to the post-mortem condition of man. This secret system was taught to the Arhats alone, generally in the Saptaparna (Mahavansa's Sattapani) cave, known to Ta-hian as the Chetu cave near the Mount Baibhar (in Pali Webhara), in Rajagriha, the ancient capital of Maghada, by the Lord Buddha himself, between the hours of Dhyana (or mystic contemplation). It is from this cave--called in the days of Sakyamuni, Saraswati or "Bamboo-cave"--that the Arhats initiated into the Secret Wisdom carried away their learning and knowledge beyond the Himalayan range, wherein the Secret Doctrine is taught to this day. Had not the South Indian invaders of Ceylon "heaped into piles as high as the top of the cocoanut trees" the ollas of the Buddhists, and burnt them, as the Christian conquerors burnt all the secret records of the Gnostics and the Initiates, Orientalists would have the proof of it, and there would have been no need of asserting now this well-known fact.
Having fallen into the common error, M. Burnouf continues:
Many will say: It is a chimerical enterprise; it has no more a future before it than has the New Jerusalem of the Rue Thouin, and no more raison d'etre than the Salvation Army. This may be so; it is to be observed, however, that these two groups of people are Biblical Societies, retaining all the paraphernalia of the expiring religions. The Theosophical Society is the direct opposite; it does away with figures, it neglects or relegates them to the background, putting in the foreground Science, as we understand it today, and the moral reformation, of which our old world stands in such need. What, then, are today the social elements which may be for or against it? I shall state them in all frankness.
In brief, M. Burnouf sees in the public indifference the first obstacle in the Society's way. "Indifference born from weariness; weariness of the inability of religions to improve social life, and the ceaseless spectacle of rites and ceremonies which the priest never explains." Men demand today "scientific formulæ stating laws of nature, whether physical or moral. . . ." And this indifference the Society must encounter; "its name, also, adding to its difficulties: for the word Theosophy has no meaning for the people, and, at best, a very vague one for the learned." "It seems to imply a personal god," M. Burnouf thinks, adding: "Whoever says personal god, says creation and miracle," and he concludes that "the Society would do better to become frankly Buddhist or to cease to exist."
With this advice of our friendly critic it is rather difficult to agree. He has evidently grasped the lofty ideal of primitive Buddhism, and rightly sees that this ideal is identical with that of the T.S. But he has not yet learned the lesson of its history, nor perceived that to graft a young and healthy shoot on to a branch which has lost--less than any other, yet much of--its inner vitality, could not but be fatal to the new growth. The very essence of the position taken up by the T.S. is that it asserts and maintains the truth common to all religions; the truth which is true and undefiled by the concretions of ages of human passions and needs. But though Theosophy means Divine Wisdom, it implies nothing resembling belief in a personal god. It is not "the wisdom of God," but divine wisdom. The Theosophists of the Alexandrian Neo-Platonic school believed in "gods" and "demons" and in one impersonal ABSOLUTE DEITY. To continue:
Our contemporary habits of life [says M. Burnouf] are not severe; they tend year by year to grow more gentle, but also more boneless. The moral stamina of the men of today is very feeble; the ideas of good and evil are not, perhaps, obscured, but the will to act rightly lacks energy. What men seek above all is pleasure and that somnolent state of existence called comfort. Try to preach the sacrifice of one's possessions and of oneself to men who have entered on this path of selfishness! You will not convert many. Do we not see the doctrine of the "struggle for life" applied to every function of human life? This formula has become for our contemporaries a sort of revelation, whose pontiffs they blindly follow and glorify. One may say to them, but in vain, that one must share one's last morsel of bread with the hungry; they will smile and reply by the formula: "the struggle for life." They will go further: they will say that in advancing a contrary theory, you are yourself struggling for your existence and are not disinterested. How can one escape from this sophism, of which all men are full today? . . .
This doctrine is certainly the worst adversary of Theosophy, for it is the most perfect formula of egoism. It seems to be based on scientific observation, and it sums up the moral tendencies of our day. . . . Those who accept it and invoke justice are in contradiction with themselves, those who practice it and who put God on their side are blasphemers. But those who disregard it and preach charity are considered wanting in intelligence, their kindness of heart leading them into folly. If the T.S. succeeds in refuting this pretended law of the "struggle for life" and in extirpating it from men's minds, it will have done in our day a miracle greater than those of Sakyamuni and of Jesus.
And this miracle the Theosophical Society will perform. It will do this, not by disproving the relative existence of the law in question, but by assigning to it its due place in the harmonious order of the universe; by unveiling its true meaning and nature and by showing that this pseudo law is a "pretended" law indeed, as far as the human family is concerned, and a fiction of the most dangerous kind. "Self-preservation," on these lines, is indeed and in truth a sure, if a slow, suicide, for it is a policy of mutual homicide, because men by descending to its practical application among themselves, merge more and more by a retrograde reinvolution into the animal kingdom. This is what the "struggle of life" is in reality, even on the purely materialistic lines of political economy. Once that this axiomatic truth is proved to all men; the same instinct of self-preservation only directed into its true channel will make them turn to altruism--as their surest policy of salvation.
It is just because the real founders of the Society have ever recognized the wisdom of truth embodied in one of the concluding paragraphs of M. Burnouf's excellent article, that they have provided against that terrible emergency in their fundamental teachings. The "struggle for existence" applies only to the physical, never to the moral plane of being. Therefore when the author warns us in these awfully truthful words: "Universal charity will appear out of date; the rich will keep their wealth and will go on accumulating more; the poor will become impoverished in proportion, until the day when, propelled by hunger, they will demand bread, not of theosophy but of revolution. Theosophy shall be swept away by the hurricane. . . ."
The Theosophical Society replies: "It surely will, were we to follow out his well-meaning advice, yet one which is concerned but with the lower plane." It is not the policy of self-preservation, not the welfare of one or another personality in its finite and physical form that will or can ever secure the desired object and screen the Society from the effects of the social "hurricane" to come; but only the weakening of the feeling of separateness in the units which compose its chief element. And such a weakening can only be achieved by a process of inner enlightenment. It is not violence that can ever insure bread and comfort for all; nor is the kingdom of peace and love, of mutual help and charity and "food for all," to be conquered by a cold, reasoning, diplomatic policy. It is only by the close brotherly union of men's inner SELVES, of soul-solidarity, of the growth and development of that feeling which makes one suffer when one thinks of the suffering of others, that the reign of Justice and equality for all can ever be inaugurated. This is the first of the three fundamental objects for which the Theosophical Society was established, and called the "Universal Brotherhood of Man," without distinction of race, colour or creed.
When men will begin to realize that it is precisely that ferocious personal selfishness, the chief motor in the "struggle for life," that lies at the very bottom and is the one sole cause of human starvation; that it is that other--national egoism and vanity which stirs up the States and rich individuals to bury enormous capitals in the unproductive erecting of gorgeous churches and temples and the support of a swarm of social drones called Cardinals and Bishops, the true parasites on the bodies of their subordinates and their flocks--that they will try to remedy this universal evil by a healthy change of policy. And this salutary revolution can be peacefully accomplished only by the Theosophical Society and its teachings.
This is little understood by M. Burnouf, it seems, since while striking the true key-note of the situation elsewhere he ends by saying:
The Society will find allies, if it knows how to take its place in the civilized world today. Since it will have against it all the positive cults, with the exception perhaps of a few dissenters and bold priests, the only other course open to it is to place itself in accord with the men of science. If its dogma of charity is a complementary doctrine which it furnishes to science, the society will be obliged to establish it on scientific data, under pain of remaining in the regions of sentimentality. The oft-repeated formula of the struggle for life is true, but not universal; it is true for the plants; it is less true for the animals in proportion as we climb the steps of the ladder, for the law of sacrifice is seen to appear and to grow in importance; in man, these two laws counter-balance one another, and the law of sacrifice, which is that of charity, tends to assume the upper hand, through the empire of the reason. It is reason which, in our societies, is the source of right, of justice, and of charity; through it we escape the inevitableness of the struggle for life, moral slavery, egoism and barbarism, in one word, that we escape from what Sakyamuni poetically called the power and the army of Mâra.
And yet our critic does not seem satisfied with this state of things but advises us by adding as follows:
If the Theosophical Society [he says] enters into this order of ideas and knows how to make them its fulcrum, it will quit the limbus of inchoate thought and will find its place in the modern world; remaining none the less faithful to its Indian origin and to its principles. It may find allies; for if men are weary of the symbolical cults, unintelligible to their own teachers, yet men of heart (and they are many) are weary also and terrified at the egoism and the corruption, which tend to engulf our civilization and to replace it by a learned barbarism. Pure Buddhism possesses all the breadth that can be claimed from a doctrine at once religious and scientific. Its tolerance is the cause why it can excite the jealousy of none. At bottom, it is but the proclamation of the supremacy of reason and of its empire over the animal instincts, of which it is the regulator and the restrainer. Finally it has itself summed up its character in two words which admirably formulate the law of humanity, science and virtue.
And this formula the society has expanded by adopting that still more admirable axiom: "There is no religion higher than truth."
At this juncture we shall take leave of our learned, and perhaps, too kind critic, to address a few words to Theosophists in general.
Has our Society, as a whole, deserved the flattering words and notice bestowed upon it by M. Burnouf? How many of its individual members, how many of its branches, have carried out the precepts contained in the noble words of a Master of Wisdom, as quoted by our author from No. 3 of LUCIFER? "He who does not practice" this and the other "is no Theosophist," says the quotation. Nevertheless, those who have never shared even their superfluous-- let alone their last morsel--with the poor; those who continue to make a difference in their hearts between a coloured and a white brother; as all those to whom malicious remarks against their neighbours, uncharitable gossip and even slander under the slightest provocation, are like heavenly dew on their parched lips--call and regard themselves as Theosophists!
It is certainly not the fault of the minority of true Theosophists, who do try to follow the path and who make desperate efforts to reach it, if the majority of their fellow members do not. It is not to them therefore that this is addressed, but to those who, in their fierce love of Self and their vanity, instead of trying to carry out the original programme to the best of their ability, sow broadcast among the members the seeds of dissension; to those whose personal vanity, discontentment and love of power, often ending in ostentation, give the lie to the original programme and to the Society's motto.
Indeed, these original aims of the FIRST SECTION of the Theosophical Society under whose advice and guidance the second and third merged into one were first founded, can never be too often recalled to the minds of our members. 4 [Footnote 4. Vide Rules in the 1st vol. of the "Theosophists," pp. 179 and 180. ] The Spirit of these aims is clearly embodied in a letter from one of the Masters quoted in the "Occult World," on pages 71 and 73. Those Theosophists then,--who in the course of time and events would, or have, departed from those original aims, and instead of complying with them have suggested new policies of administration from the depths of their inner consciousness, are not true to their pledges.
"But we have always worked on the lines originally traced to us"--some of them proudly assert.
"You have not" comes the reply from those who know more of the true Founders of the T.S. behind the scenes than they do--or ever will if they go on working in this mood of Self-illusion and self-sufficiency.
What are the lines traced by the "Masters"? Listen to the authentic words written by one of them in 1880 to the author of the "Occult World": ". . . To our minds these motives sincere and worthy of every serious consideration from the worldly standpoint, appear selfish. . . . They are selfish, because you must be aware that the chief object of the Theosophical Society is not so much to gratify individual aspirations as to serve our fellow men . . . and in our view the highest aspirations for the welfare of humanity become tainted with selfishness, if, in the mind of the philanthropist, there lurks the shadow of a desire for self-benefit, or a tendency to do injustice even there where these exist unconsciously to himself. Yet, you have ever discussed, but to put down, the idea of a Universal Brotherhood, questioned its usefulness, and advised to remodel the Theosophical Society on the principle of a college for the special study of occultism. . . ."--(Occult World, p. 72.)
But another letter was written, also in 1880, which is not only a direct reproof to the Theosophists who neglect the main idea of Brotherhood, but also an anticipated answer to M. Emile Burnouf's chief argument. Here are a few extracts from it. It was addressed again to those who sought to make away with the "sentimental title," and make of the Society but an arena for "cup-growing and astral bell-ringing":
". . . In view of the ever-increasing triumph and, at the same time, misuse of free thought and liberty, how is the combative natural instinct of man to be restrained from inflicting hitherto unheard-of cruelties, enormities, tyranny, injustice, if not through the soothing influence of a Brotherhood, and of the practical application of Buddha's esoteric doctrines? . . . Buddhism is the surest path to lead men towards the one esoteric truth. As we find the world now, whether Christian, Mussulman, or Pagan, justice is disregarded and honour and mercy both flung to the winds. In a word, how, since that the main objects of the Theosophical Society are misinterpreted by those who are most willing to serve us personally, are we to deal with the rest of mankind, with that curse known as 'the struggle for life,' which is the real and most prolific parent of most woes and sorrows, and all crimes? Why has that struggle become the almost universal scheme of the universe? We answer: because no religion, with the exception of Buddhism, has hitherto taught a practical contempt for this earthly life, while each of them, always with that one solitary exception, has through its hells and damnations inculcated the greatest dread of death. Therefore do we find that 'struggle for life' raging most fiercely in Christian countries, most prevalent in Europe and America. It weakens in pagan lands, and is nearly unknown among Buddhist populations. . . . Teach the people to see that life on this earth, even the happiest, is but a burden and an illusion, that it is but our own Karma, the cause producing the effect, that is our own judge, our saviour in future lives--and the great struggle for life will soon lose its intensity. . . . The world in general and Christendom especially left for two thousand years to the regime of a personal God, as well as its political and social systems based on that idea, has now proved a failure. If Theosophists say: 'We have nothing to do with all this, the lower classes and inferior races [those of India for instance, in the conception of the British] cannot concern us and must manage as they can,' what becomes of our fine professions of benevolence, reform, etc.? Are these professions a mockery? and, if a mockery, can ours be the true path? . . . Should we devote ourselves to teaching a few Europeans, fed on the fat of the land, many of them loaded with the gifts of blind fortune, the rationale of bell-ringing, cup-growing, spiritual telephone, etc., etc., and leave the teeming millions of the ignorant, of the poor and the despised, the lowly and the oppressed, to take care of themselves, and of their hereafter, the best they know how? Never! Perish rather the Theosophical Society . . . than that we should permit it to become no better than an academy of magic and a hall of Occultism. That we, the devoted followers of the spirit incarnate of absolute self-sacrifice, of philanthropy and divine kindness as of all the highest virtues attainable on this earth of sorrow, the man of men, Gautama Buddha, should ever allow the Theosophical Society to represent the embodiment of selfishness, to become the refuge of the few with no thought in them for the many, is a strange idea. . . . And it is we, the humble disciples of the perfect Lamas, who are expected to permit the Theosophical Society to drop its noblest title, that of the Brotherhood of Humanity, to become a simple school of Psychology. No! No! our brothers, you have been labouring under the mistake too long already. Let us understand each other. He who does not feel competent enough to grasp the noble idea sufficiently to work for it, need not undertake a task too heavy for him. . . .
"To be true, religion and philosophy must offer the solution of every problem. That the world is in such a bad condition morally is a conclusive evidence that none of its religions and philosophies--those of the civilized races less than any other--have ever possessed the TRUTH. The right and logical explanations on the subject of the problems of the great dual principles, right and wrong, good and evil, liberty and despotism, pain and pleasure, egotism and altruism, are as impossible to them now as they were 1880 years ago. They are as far from the solution as they ever were, but. . . .
"To these there must be somewhere a consistent solution, and if our doctrines will show their competence to offer it, then the world will be the first one to confess, that ours must be the true philosophy, the true religion, the true light, which gives truth and nothing but the TRUTH. . . ."
And this TRUTH is not Buddhism, but esoteric BUDHISM. "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. . . ."
H. P. Blavatsky
Lucifer, August, 1888