WHY I DO NOT RETURN TO INDIA
From H.P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. I
Articles by HPB
TO MY BROTHERS OF ARYAVARTA,
Great kindness has been shown to me by many of my Hindu brethren at various times since I left; especially this year (1890), when, ill almost to death, I have received from several Indian Branches letters of sympathy, and assurances that they had not forgotten her to whom India and the Hindus have been most of her life far dearer than her own Country.
It is, therefore, my duty to explain why I do not return to India and my attitude with regard to the new leaf turned in the history of the T.S. by my being formally placed at the head of the Theosophical Movement in Europe. For it is not solely on account of bad health that I do not return to India. Those who have saved me from death at Adyar, and twice since then, could easily keep me alive there as They do me here. There is a far more serious reason. A line of conduct has been traced for me here, and I have found among the English and Americans what I have so far vainly sought for in India.
In India, on the other hand, ever since my departure, the true spirit of devotion to the Masters and the courage to avow it has steadily dwindled away. At Adyar itself, increasing strife and conflict has raged between personalities; uncalled for and utterly undeserved animosity--almost hatred--has been shown towards me by several members of the staff. There seems to have been something strange and uncanny going on at Adyar, during these last years. No sooner does a European, most Theosophically inclined, most devoted to the Cause, and the personal friend of myself or the President, set his foot in Headquarters, than he becomes forthwith a personal enemy to one or other of us, and what is worse, ends by injuring and deserting the Cause.
Let it be understood at once that I accuse no one. Knowing what I do of the activity of the forces of Kali Yuga, at work to impede and ruin the Theosophical Movement, I do not regard those who have become, one after the other, my enemies--and that without any fault of my own--as I might regard them, were it otherwise.
One of the chief factors in the reawakening of Aryavarta which has been part of the work of the Theosophical Society, was the ideal of the Masters. But owing to want of judgment, discretion, and discrimination, and the liberties taken with Their names and Personalities, great misconception arose concerning Them. I was under the most solemn oath and pledge never to reveal the whole truth to anyone, excepting to those who, like Damodar, had been finally selected and called by Them. All that I was then permitted to reveal was, that there existed somewhere such great men; that some of Them were Hindus; that They were learned as none others in all the ancient wisdom of Gupta Vidya, and had acquired all the Siddhis; not as these are represented in tradition and the "blinds" of ancient writings, but as they are in fact and nature; and also that I was a Chela of one of Them. However, in the fancy of some Hindus, the most wild and ridiculous fancies soon grew up concerning Them. They were referred to as "Mahatmas" and still some too enthusiastic friends belittled Them with their strange fancy-pictures; our opponents, describing a Mahatma as a full Jivanmukta, urged that, as such, He was debarred from holding any communication whatsoever with persons living in the world. They also maintained that as this is the Kali Yuga, it was impossible that there could be any Mahatmas at all in our age.
These early misconceptions notwithstanding, the idea of the Masters, and belief in Them, has already brought its good fruit in India. Their chief desire was to preserve the true religious and philosophical spirit of ancient India; to defend the Ancient Wisdom contained in its Darshanas and Upanishads against the systematic assaults of the missionaries; and finally to reawaken the dormant ethical and patriotic spirit in those youths in whom it had almost disappeared owing to college education. Much of this has been achieved by and through the Theosophical Society, in spite of all its mistakes and imperfections.
Had it not been for Theosophy, would India have had her Tukaram Tatya doing now the priceless work he does, and which no one in India ever thought of doing before him? Without the Theosophical Society, would India have ever thought of wrenching from the hands of learned but unspiritual Orientalists the duty of reviving, translating and editing the Sacred Books of the East, of popularizing and selling them at a far cheaper rate, and at the same time in a far more correct form than had ever been done at Oxford? Would our respected and devoted brother Tukaram Tatya himself have ever thought of doing so, had he not joined the Theosophical Society? Would your political Congress itself have even been a possibility, without the Theosophical Society? Most important of all, one at least among you has fully benefited by it; and if the Society had never given to India but that one future Adept (Damodar) who has now the prospect of becoming one day a Mahatma, Kali Yuga notwithstanding, that alone would be proof that it was not founded at New York and transplanted to India in vain. Finally, if any one among the three hundred millions of India can demonstrate, proof in hand, that Theosophy, the T.S., or even my humble self, have been the means of doing the slightest harm, either to the country or any Hindu, that the Founders have been guilty of teaching pernicious doctrines, or offering bad advice--then and then only, can it be imputed to me as a crime that I have brought forward the ideal of the Masters and founded the Theosophical Society.
Aye, my good and never-to-be-forgotten Hindu Brothers, the name alone of the holy Masters, which was at one time invoked with prayers for Their blessings, from one end of India to the other--Their name alone has wrought a mighty change for the better in your land. It is not to Colonel Olcott or to myself that you owe anything, but verily to these names, which, but a few years ago, had become a household word in your mouths.
Thus it was that, so long as I remained at Adyar, things went on smoothly enough, because one or other of the Masters was almost constantly present among us, and their spirit ever protected the Theosophical Society from real harm. But in 1884, Colonel Olcott and myself left for a visit to Europe, and while we were away the Padri-Coulomb "thunderbolt" descended. I returned in November, and was taken most dangerously ill. It was during that time and Colonel Olcott's absence in Burma, that the seeds of all future strifes, and--let me say at once--disintegration of the Theosophical Society, were planted by our enemies. What with the Patterson-Coulomb-Hodgson conspiracy, and the faint-heartedness of the chief Theosophists, that the Society did not then and there collapse should be sufficient proof of how it was protected. Shaken in their belief, the faint-hearted began to ask: "Why, if the Masters are genuine Mahatmas, have They allowed such things to take place, or why have They not used Their powers to destroy this plot or that conspiracy, or even this or that man and woman?" Yet it had been explained numberless times that no Adept of the Right Path will interfere with the just workings of Karma. Not even the greatest of Yogis can divert the progress of Karma, or arrest the natural results of actions for more than a short period, and even in that case, these results will only reassert themselves later with even tenfold force, for such is the occult law of Karma and the Nidanas.
Nor again will even the greatest of phenomena aid real spiritual progress. We have each of us to win our Moksha or Nirvana by our own merit, not because a Guru or Deva will help to conceal our shortcomings. There is no merit in having been created an immaculate Deva or in being God; but there is the eternal bliss of Moksha looming forth for the man who becomes as a God and Deity by his own personal exertions. It is the mission of Karma to punish the guilty and not the duty of any Master. But those who act up to Their teaching and live the life of which They are the best exemplars, will never be abandoned by Them, and will always find Their beneficent help whenever needed, whether obviously or invisibly. This is of course addressed to those who have not yet quite lost their faith in Masters; those who have never believed, or have ceased to believe in Them, are welcome to their own opinions. No one, except themselves perhaps some day, will be the losers thereby.
As for myself, who can charge me with having acted like an imposter? with having, for instance, taken one single pie* from any living soul? [*Footnote:* Pie, i.e., "penny." A pie is the smallest Anglo-Indian coin. -Eds. ] with having ever asked for money, or with having accepted it, notwithstanding that I was repeatedly offered large sums? Those who, in spite of this, have chosen to think otherwise, will have to explain what even my traducers of the Padri class and Psychical Research Society have been unable to explain to this day, viz., the motive for such fraud. They will have to explain why, instead of taking and making money, I gave away to the Society every penny I earned by writing for the papers; why at the same time I nearly killed myself with overwork and incessant labour year after year, until my health gave way, so that but for my Master's repeated help, I should have died long ago from the effects of such voluntary hard labour.
For the absurd Russian spy theory, if it still finds credit in some idiotic heads, has long ago disappeared, at any rate from the official brains of the Anglo-Indians.
If, I say, at that critical moment, the members of the Society, and especially its leaders at Adyar, Hindu and European, had stood together as one man, firm in their conviction of the reality and power of the Masters, Theosophy would have come out more triumphantly than ever, and none of their fears would have ever been realized, however cunning the legal traps set for me, and whatever mistakes and errors of judgment I, their humble representative, might have made in the executive conduct of the matter.
But the loyalty and courage of the Adyar Authorities, and of the few Europeans who had trusted in the Masters, were not equal to the trial when it came. In spite of my protests, I was hurried away from Headquarters. Ill as I was, almost dying in truth, as the physicians said, yet I protested, and would have battled for Theosophy in India to my last breath, had I found loyal support. But some feared legal entanglements, some the Government, while my best friends believed in the doctors' threats that I must die if I remained in India. So I was sent to Europe to regain my strength, with a promise of speedy return to my beloved Aryavarta.
Well, I left, and immediately intrigues and rumours began. Even at Naples already, I learnt that I was reported to be meditating to start in Europe "a rival Society" and "burst up Adyar" (!!) . At this I laughed. Then it was rumoured that I had been abandoned by the Masters, been disloyal to Them, done this or the other. None of it had the slightest truth or foundation in fact. Then I was accused of being, at best, a hallucinated medium, who had mistaken "spooks" for living Masters; while others declared that the real H. P. Blavatsky was dead--had died through the injudicious use of Kundalini--and that the form had been forthwith seized upon by a Dugpa Chela, who was the present H.P.B. Some again held me to be a witch, a sorceress, who for purposes of her own played the part of a philanthropist and lover of India, while in reality bent upon the destruction of all those who had the misfortune to be psychologised by me. In fact, the powers of psychology attributed to me by my enemies, whenever a fact or a "phenomenon" could not be explained away, are so great that they alone would have made of me a most remarkable Adept--independently of any Masters or Mahatmas. In short, up to 1886, when the S.P.R. Report was published and this soap-bubble burst over our heads, it was one long series of false charges, every mail bringing something new. I will name no one; or does it matter who said a thing and who repeated it. One thing is certain; with the exception of Colonel Olcott, everyone seemed to banish the Masters from their thoughts and Their spirit from Adyar. Every imaginable incongruity was connected with these holy names, and I alone was held responsible for every disagreeable event that took place, every mistake made. In a letter received from Damodar in 1886, he notified me that the Masters' influence was becoming with every day weaker at Adyar; that They were daily represented as less than "second-rate Yogis," totally denied by some, while even those who believed in, and had remained loyal to Them, feared even to pronounce Their names. Finally, he urged me very strongly to return, saying that of course the Masters would see that my health should not suffer from it. I wrote to that effect to Colonel Olcott, imploring him to let me return, and promising that I would live at Pondicherry, if needed, should my presence not be desirable at Adyar. To this I received the ridiculous answer that no sooner should I return, than I should be sent to the Andaman Islands as a Russian spy, which of course Colonel Olcott subsequently found out to be absolutely untrue. The readiness with which such a futile pretext for keeping me from Adyar was seized upon, shows in clear colours the ingratitude of those to whom I had given my life and health. Nay more, urged on, as I understood, by the Executive Council, under the entirely absurd pretext that, in case of my death, my heirs might claim a share in the Adyar property, the President sent me a legal paper to sign, by which I formally renounced any right to the Headquarters or even to live there without the Council's permission. This, although I had spent several thousand rupees of my own private money, and had devoted my share of the profits of The Theosophist to the purchase of the house and its furniture. Nevertheless I signed the renunciation without one word of protest. I saw I was not wanted, and remained in Europe in spite of my ardent desire to return to India. How could I do otherwise than feel that all my labours had been rewarded with ingratitude, when my most urgent wishes to return were met with flimsy excuses and answers inspired by those who were hostile to me?
The result of this is too apparent. You know too well the state of affairs in India for me to dwell longer upon details. In a word, since my departure, not only has the activity of the movement there gradually slackened, but those for whom I had the deepest affections, regarding them as a mother would her own sons, have turned against me. While in the West, no sooner had I accepted the invitation to come to London, than I found people--the S.P.R. Report and wild suspicions and hypotheses rampant in every direction notwithstanding--to believe in the truth of the great Cause I have struggled for, and in my own bona fides.
Acting under the Master's orders I began a new movement in the West on the original lines; I founded Lucifer, and the Lodge which bears my name. Recognizing the splendid work done at Adyar by Colonel Olcott and others to carry out the second of the three objects of the T.S., viz., to promote the study of Oriental Literature, I was determined to carry out here the two others. All know with what success this had been attended. Twice Colonel Olcott was asked to come over, and then I learned that I was once more wanted in India --at any rate by some. But the invitation came too late; neither would my doctor permit it, nor can I, if I would be true to my life-pledge and vows, now live at the Headquarters from which the Masters and Their spirit are virtually banished. The presence of Their portraits will not help; They are a dead letter. The truth is that I can never return to India in any other capacity than as Their faithful agent. And as, unless They appear among the Council in propria persona (which They will certainly never do now), no advice of mine on occult lines seems likely to be accepted, as the fact of my relations with the Masters is doubted, even totally denied by some; and I myself having no right to the Headquarters, what reason is there, therefore, for me to live at Adyar?
The fact is this: In my position, half-measures are worse than none. People have either to believe entirely in me, or to honestly disbelieve. No one, no Theosophist, is compelled to believe, but it is worse than useless for people to ask me to help them, if they do not believe in me. Here in Europe and America are many who have never flinched in their devotion to Theosophy; consequently the spread of Theosophy and of the T.S., in the West, during the last three years, has been extraordinary. The chief reason for this is that I was enabled and encouraged by the devotion of an ever-increasing number of members to the Cause and to Those who guide it, to establish an Esoteric Section, in which I can teach something of what I have learned to those who have confidence in me, and who prove this confidence by their disinterested work for Theosophy and the T.S. For the future, then, it is my intention to devote my life and energy to the E.S., and to the teaching of those whose confidence I retain. It is useless that I should use the little time I have before me to justify myself before those who do not feel sure about the real existence of the Masters, only because, misunderstanding me, it therefore suits them to suspect me.
And let me say at once, to avoid misconception, that my only reason for accepting the exoteric direction of European affairs, was to save those who really have Theosophy at heart and work for it and the Society, from being hampered by those who not only do not care for Theosophy, as laid out by the Masters, but are entirely working against both, endeavouring to undermine and counteract the influence of the good work done, both by open denial of the existence of the Masters, by declared and bitter hostility to myself, and also by joining forces with the most desperate enemies of our Society.
Half-measures, I repeat, are no longer possible. Either I have stated the truth as I know it about the Masters, and teach what I have been taught by them, or I have invented both Them and the Esoteric Philosophy. There are those among the Esotericists of the inner group who say that if I have done the latter, then I must myself be a "Master." However it may be, there is no alternative to this dilemma.
The only claim, therefore, which India could ever have upon me would be strong only in proportion to the activity of the Fellows there for Theosophy and their loyalty to the Masters. You should not need my presence among you to convince you of the truth of Theosophy, any more than your American brothers need it. A conviction that wanes when any particular personality is absent is no conviction at all. Know, moreover, that any further proof and teaching I can give only to the Esoteric Section, and this for the following reason: its members are the only ones whom I have the right to expel for open disloyalty to their pledge (not to me, H.P.B., but to their Higher Self and the Mahatmic aspect of the Masters), a privilege 1 cannot exercise with F.T.S.'s at large, yet one which is the only means of cutting off a diseased limb from the healthy body of the Tree, and thus save it from infection. I can care only for those who cannot be swayed by every breath of calumny, and every sneer, suspicion, or criticism, whoever it may emanate from.
Thenceforth let it be clearly understood that the rest of my life is devoted only to those who believe in the Masters, and are willing to work for Theosophy as They understand it, and for the T.S. on the lines upon which They originally established it.
If, then, my Hindu brothers really and earnestly desire to bring about the regeneration of India, if they wish to ever bring back the days when the Masters, in the ages of India's ancient glory, came freely among them, guiding and teaching the people; then let them cast aside all fear and hesitation, and turn a new leaf in the history of the Theosophical Movement. Let them bravely rally around the President-Founder, whether I am in India or not, as around those few true Theosophists who have remained loyal throughout, and bid defiance to all calumniators and ambitious malcontents--both without and within the Theosophical Society.
H. P. BLAVATSKY
(written April, 1890)
WHY THE "VAHAN"?
From H.P. Blvatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol I.
Articles by HPB
BECAUSE, the word means a Vehicle. In Theosophical metaphysics this term denotes a basis, something, as a bearer, more substantial than that which it bears; e.g., Buddhi, the spiritual Soul, is the Vahan of Atmâ --the purely immaterial "principle." Or again, as in physiology, our brain is the supposed physical vehicle or Vahan of superphysical thought.
Thus, this little fortnightly paper is destined to serve as the bearer of Theosophical thought, and the recorder of all Theosophical activities.
The enterprise is no financial speculation, but most decidedly an additional expense which our meagre funds can ill afford, but which our duty urges us to undertake. The journal is to go free of charge to our British Branches and "unattached" Fellows. It is also meant for those who are unable to subscribe to our regular magazines, but the wealthier will profit along with the poorer, for the following reasons. The Karma of those who could, but will not subscribe for the organs of their Society, whether from indifference or any other cause, is their own; but the duty of keeping all the Fellows in touch with us, and au courant with Theosophical events--is ours. For, many of those who being virtually cut off from almost everything that goes on in the Theosophical centres, lose very soon their interest in the movement and continue henceforward "Fellows" but in name.
It has been always held that a true Theosophist must have no personal ends to serve, no favourite hobby to propagate, no special doctrine to enforce or to defend. For, to merit the honourable title of Theosophist one must be an altruist, above all; one ever ready to help equally foe or friend; to act, rather than to speak; and urge others to action, while never losing an opportunity to work himself. But, if no true Theosophist will ever dictate to his fellow, brother or neighbor, what this one should believe or disbelieve in, nor force him to act on lines which may be distasteful to him, however proper they may appear to himself, there are other duties which he has to attend to: (a) to warn his brother of any danger the latter may fail to see; and (b) to share his knowledge--if he has acquired such with those who have been less fortunate than himself in opportunities for acquiring it.
Now, though we are painfully aware that a good number of members have joined the T.S. out of simple curiosity, while others, remaining for some time out of touch with the movement, have lost their interest in it, we must never lose the hope of reviving that interest. Many are the Fellows who, having failed at first to help on the cause, have now become earnest "working members," as they are called. Therefore, we say to-day to all: "If you would really help the noble cause--you must do so now; for, a few years more and your, as well as our efforts, will be in vain." The world moves in cycles, which proceed under the impetus of two mutually antagonistic and destroying Forces, the one striving to move Humanity onward, toward Spirit, the other forcing Mankind to gravitate downward, into the very abysses of matter. It remains with men to help either the one or the other. Thus, also, it is our present task, as Theosophists, to help in one or the other direction. We are in the very midst of the Egyptian darkness of Kali-yuga, the "Black Age," the first 5,000 years of which, its dreary first cycle, is preparing to close on the world between 1897 and 1898. Unless we succeed in placing the T.S. before this date on the safe side of the spiritual current, it will be swept away irretrievably into the Deep called "Failure," and the cold waves of oblivion will close over its doomed head. Thus will have ingloriously perished the only association whose aims, rules and original purposes answer in every particular and detail--if strictly carried out--to the innermost, fundamental thought of every great Adept Reformer, the beautiful dream of a UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD OF MAN.
Verily, of philanthropical, political, and religious bodies we have many. Clubs, congresses, associations, unions, refuges, societies, each of them a social protector of special men and nations, special arts and sciences, or a bulwark against this or that evil, spring up daily, each of these moved by its own party or sectarian spirit. But which of them is strictly universal, good for all and prejudicial to none? Which of them answers fully to the noble injunction of the Buddhist Arhats and also of King Asoka? "When thou plantest trees along the roads, allow their shade to protect the wicked as the good. When thou buildest a Rest-House, let its doors be thrown open to men of all religions, to the opponents of thine own creed, and to thy personal enemies as well as to thy friends." None, we say, none save our own Society, a purely unsectarian, unselfish body; the only one which has no party object in view, which is open to an men, the good and the bad, the lowly and the high, the foolish and the wise--and which calls them all "Brothers," regardless of their religion, race, colour, or station in life.
To all these we now say: As "there is no religion higher than Truth," no deity greater than the latter, no duty nobler than self-sacrifice, and that the time for action is so short-shall not each of you put his shoulder to the wheel of the heavy car of our Society and help us to land it safely across the abyss of matter, on to the safe side?
Vahan, December, 1890
WORLD-IMPROVEMENT OR WORLD-DELIVERANCE
From H.P. Blavatsky Theosopical Articles, Vol. I.
Articles by HPB
You yourself must make an effort. The Tathâgatas are only preachers.--If a man find no prudent companion, let him walk alone like a king who has left his conquered country behind. It is better to live alone; there is no companionship with the fools. Let a man walk alone; let him commit no sin, with few wishes--like an elephant in the forest.
To the Editor of LUCIFER
A VERY important paragraph which you wrote in No. 3 of your "Revue Theosophique," published in Paris, May 21st, 1889 (pp. 6 and 7), has caused very serious doubts in the minds of some of your readers in Germany--doubts, probably caused by our misunderstanding you or by your shortness of expression. Will you permit me to state our view of the case, and will you have the kindness to give us on this basis your opinion of it publicly, perhaps in LUCIFER?
You were speaking of Indian "yogis" and European "saints" and said:
La sagesse orientale1 nous apprend que le yogi Indou qui s'isole dans un forêt impénétrable, ainsi que l'hermite chrétien qui se retire, comme aux temps jadis le désert, ne sont tous deux que des égoïstes accomplis. L'un, agit dans l'unique but de trouver dans l'essence une et nirvanique refuge contre la réincarnation; l'autre, dans le but de sauver son âme,--tous les deux ne pensent qu'à eux-mêmes. Leur motif est tout personnel; car, en admettant qu'ils atteignent le but, ne sont-ils pas comme le soldat poltron, qui déserte l'armée au moment de l'action, pour se préserver des balles? En s'isolant ainsi, ni le yogi, ni le "saint," n'aident personne autre qu'eux-mêmes; ils se montrent, par contre, profondément indifférents au sort de l'humanité qu'ils fuient et désertent.
[Translation to the above: The Eastern Wisdom1 teaches us that the Indian yogi who retires to the jungle, as well as the Christian hermit who used to repair to the desert are, both of them, simply perfect egotists. The one is moved solely by the hope of finding in the Nirvanic state an escape from reincarnation; the other acts but to save his own soul--neither of them has a thought but for himself. The motive is purely personal, for, even admitting that they achieve their object, are they not the same as the cowardly soldier who deserts the army at the moment of battle in order to save himself from shot and shell? In thus isolating themselves, neither yogi nor "saint" benefits anyone but himself; on the contrary, they show themselves to be utterly indifferent to the fate of the humanity they avoid and desert.]
HPB's replies with numbered footnotes:
1. The editor of Lucier and the Revue Théosophique, pleads guilty to an omission. She ought to have qualified, "la sagesse Orientale" by adding the adjective 'ésoterique.'
You do not plainly say what you expect a true sage to do; but further on you refer to our Lord, the Buddha, and to what He did. We readily accept His example as well as His teachings for our ideal rule; but from those stanzas I have quoted above, it appears, that what he expected his disciples to do, does not quite agree with what you seem to expect from them. 2
2. The Western disciples and followers of the Lord Buddha's ethilay very little stress on the dead letter (and often fanciful) translations of Buddhist Sutras by European Orientalists. From such scholars as Messrs. Max Müller and Weber, down to the last amateur Orientalist who dabbles in Buddhism disfigured by translation and proudly boasts of his knowledge, no Sanskrit or Pali scholar has so far understood correctly that which is taught; witness Monier Williams' fallacious assumption that Buddha never taught anything esoteric! Therefore neither the Dhammapada nor the Sutta Nipata are an exception, nor a proof to us in their now mutilated and misunderstood text. Nagarjuna laid it down, as a rule that "every Buddha has both a revealed an a mystic doctrine." The "exoteric is for the multitudes and new disciples," to whom our correspondent evidently belongs. This plain truth was unerstood even by such a prejudiced scholar as the Rev. J. Edkins, who passe almost all of his life in China studying Buddhism, and who says in his "Chinese Buddhism":
(Ch. iii.) "The esoteric was for the Bodhisattvas and advanced pupils, such as Kashiapa. It is not communicated in the form of definite language, and could not, therefore, be transmitted by Anandas as definite doctrine among the Suttras. Yet, it is virtually contained in the Sutras. For example the "Sutra of the Lotus of the good Law," which is regarded as containing the cream of the revealed doctrine, is to be viewed as a sort of original document of the esoteric teaching, while it is in form exoteric." [Italics are ours]
Moreover we perceive that our learned correspondent has entirely misunderstood the fundamental idea in what we wrote in our May editorial, "Le Phare de l'Inconnu" in the Revue Théosophique. We protest against such an intepretation and will prove that it errs in the course of this article.
He taught that all the world, or the three worlds, in fact, every existence, is pain, or leading to pain and grief. World and existence is pain and evil per se. It is a mistake (avidya) to believe that desire can be satisfied. All worldly desires lead in the end to dissatisfaction, and the desire (the thirst) to live is the cause of all evil. Only those who are striving to deliver (to save or to redeem) themselves from all existence (from their thirst for existence); leading the "happy life" of a perfect bhikshu, only those are sages; only those attain nirvana and, when they die, paranirvana, which is absolute and changeless being. 3.
3. An exoteric and frequent mistake, Nirvana may be reached during man's life, and after his death in the Manvantara or life-kalpa he belongs to. Paranirvana ("beyond" Nirvana is reached only when the Manvantara has closed and during the "night" of the Universe or Pralaya. Such is the esoteric teaching.
No doubt some sort of development or so-called improvement, evolution and involution, is going on in the world; but just for this reason the Buddha taught (like Krishna before him), that the world is, "unreality, maya, avidya." Every actual form of existence has become, has grown to be what it is; it will continue changing and will have an end, like it had a beginning as a form. Absolute being without "form" and "name," this alone is true reality, and is worth-striving at for a real sage.4
4. Just so; and this is the theosophical teaching.
Now what did our Lord, the Buddha, do and how did He live? He did not in any way try to improve the world; he did not strive to realise socialistic problems, to solve the labour question or to better the worldly affairs of the poor, nor the rich either; he did not meddle with science, he did not teach cosmology and such like;* [* Malunka Sutta in Spence Hardy, "Manual of Buddism," p. 375. Saymuttaka Nikaya at the end of the work. (Vol iii. of "Phayre MS"; also Cullavagga, ix, 1,4.)] quite on the contrary; he lived in the most unworldly manner, he begged for his food and taught his disciples to do the same; he left, and taught his disciples to leave, all worldly life and affairs, to give up their families and to remain homeless, like he did and like he lived himself.5
5. Quite right again. But to live like he lived himself" one has to remain as an ascetic among the multitues, or the world, for 45 years. This argument therefore, goes directly against our correspondent's main idea. That against which we protested in the criticized article was not the ascetic life, i.e., the life of one entirely divorced, morally and mentally from the world, the ever-changing maya, with its false deceptive pleasures, but the life of a hermit, useless to all and as useless to himself, in the long run; at any rate entirely selfish. We believe we rightly understand our learned critic in saying that the point of his letter lies in the appeal to the teaching and practice of Lord Gautama Buddha in support of withdrawal and isolation from the world, as contrasted with an opposite course of conduct. And here it is where his mistake lies and he opens himself to a severer and more just criticism than that he would inflict on us.
The Lord Gautama was never a hermit, save durng the first six years of is ascetic life, the time it took him to enter fully "on the Path." In the "Supplementary account of the three religions" (San-Kiea-y-su) it is stated that in the seventh year of his exercises of abstinence and solitary meditation, Buddha thought, "I had better eat, lest the heretics should say that Nirvana is attained by famishing the body." Then he ate, sat for his transformation for six more days and on the seventh day of the second month obtained his first Samadhi. Then, having "attaied the perfect view of the highest truth," he arose and went to Benares where he delivered his first discourses. From that time forward for nearly half a century, he remained in the world, teaching the world salvation. His first disciples were nearly all Upasakas (lay brothers), the neophytes being permitted to continue in their positions in social life and not even required to join the monastic community. And those who did, were generally sent by the Master, to travel and proselytize, instructing in the doctrine of the four miseries all those whom they met.
Against this cannot be brought forward, that these are only the teachings of the Hinayana system and that perhaps the Mahayana of the Northern Buddhists is the only right one; for this latter lays even more stress than the former on the self-improvement and continued retirement from the world of the bhikshu, until he has reached the perfection of a Buddha. True, the Mahayana system says, that not every Arahat has already attained highest perfection; it distinguishes Cravanas, Pratyekabuddhas and Bodhisattvas, of whom the latter only are considered the true spiritual sons of the Buddha, who are to be Buddhas themselves in their final future life and who have already realised the highest state of ecstasy, the Bodhi state, which is next to Nirvana.
Until a bhikshu or arhat has sufficiently progressed in perfection and wisdom, "playing at" Buddha and fixing himself up as an example or as a teacher to the world, is likely not only to throw him entirely off his path, but also to cause annoyance to those who are truly qualified for such work and who are fit to serve as ideal examples for others. None of us is a Buddha, and I do not know which of us might be a Bodhisattva; not everyone can be one, and not everyone was by the Buddha himself expected to become one, as is clearly and repeatedly expressed in the Saddharma Pundarika, the principal Mahayana work.6.
6. Our correspondent is too well read in Buddhist Sutras not to be aware of the existence of the esoteric system taught precisely in the Yogacharya or the contemplative Mahayana schools. And in that system the hermit or yogi life, except for a few years of preliminary teaching, is strongly objected to and called SELFISHNESS. Witness Buddha in those superb pages of Light of Asia (Book the Fifth) when arguing with and reprimanding the self-torturing Yogis, whom, "sadly eyeing," the Lord asks:
When told in answer that they stake brief agonies to gain the larger joys of Nirvana, what does He say? This:
Yet, if they last
"Only great Brahm endures: the Gods but live."
Now if our correspondent understood as he should, these lines rendered in blank verse, yet word for word as in the Sutras, he would have a better idea of the esoteric teaching than he now has; and, having understood it, he would not oppose what we said; for not only was self-torture, selfish solicitude, and life in the jungle simply for one's own salvation condemned in the Mahayana (in the real esoteric system, not the mutilated translations he reads) but even renunciation of Nirvana for the sake of mankind is preached therein. One of its fundamental laws is, that ordinary morality is insufficient to deliver one from rebirth; one has to practise the six Paramitas or cardinal vitures for it: I. Charity, 2. Chastity, 3. Patience, 4. Industry, 5. Meditation 6. Ingenuousness (or openness of heart, sincerity). And how can a hermit practise charity or industry if he runs away from man? Bodhisattvas, who, having fulfilled all the conditions of Buddhaship, have the right to forthwith enter Nirvana, prefer instead, out ot unlimited pity for the suffering ignorant world, to renounce this state of bliss and become Nirmanakayas. They don the Sambhogakaya (the invisible body) in order to save mankind, i.e., to live a sentient life after death and suffer immensely at the sight of human miseries (most of which, being Karmic, they are not at liberty to relieve) for the sake of having a chance of inspiring a few with the desire of learning the truth and thus saving themselves. (By the by all that Schlagintweit and other have written about te Nirmanakaya body is erroneus.) Such is the true meaning of the Mahayana teaching. "I believe that not all the Buddhas enter Nirvana," says, among other things, the disciples of the Mahayana school in is address to "the Buddhas (or Budhisattvas) of confession" -referring to this secret teaching.
Nevertheless, admitting for argument's sake, that we were somehow fit to serve as specimen sages for "the world" and to improve "humanity"--now what can and what ought we to do then?
We certainly can have nothing to do with humanity in the sense of the "world," nothing with worldly affairs and their improvement. What else should we do, than to be "profondément indifferents" to them, to "fuir et déserter" them? Is not this "army" which we are deserting, just that "humanity" which the Dhammapada rightly terms "the fools"; and is it not just that "worldly life" which our Lord taught us to quit? What else should we strive at then but to take "refuge against re-incarnation," refuge with the Buddha, his dharma and his sangha!7
7.The quotation with which our correpondent heads his letter does not bear the interpretation he puts upon it. No one aquainted with the spirit of the metaphors used in Buddhst philosophy would read it as Mr. Hübbe Schleiden does. The man advised to wal "like a king who has left his conquered country behind," implies that he who has conquered is passions and for whom worldly maya exists no longer, need not lose his time in trying to convert those who will not believe in him, but had better leave them along to their Karma; but it certainly does not mean that they are fools intellectually. Nor does it imply that the disciples sould leave the world: "Our Lord" taught us as much as "the Lord Jesus" did, the "Lord Krishna" and other "Lords" all "Sons of God" - to quit the "worldly" life, not men, least of all suffering, ignorant Humanity. But surely neither, the Lord Gautama Buddha less than any one of the above enumerated, would have taught us the monstrous and selfish doctrine of remaining "profondement indifferents" to the woes and miseries of mankind, or to desert those who cry daily and hourly for help to us, more favoured than they. This is an outrageously selfish and cruel system of life, by whomsoever adopted! It is neither Buddhistic, nor Christian, nor theosophical, but the nightmare of a doctrine of the worst schools of Pessimism, such as would be probably discountennaced by Schopenhauer and Von Hartmann themselves!
Our critic sees in the "army" of Humanity -those "fools" that the Dhammapada alludes to. We are sorry to find him calling himself names, as we suppose he still belongs to Humanity, whether he likes it or not. And if he tells us in the exuberance of his modesty that he is quite prepared to fall under the flattering category, then we answer that no Buddhis ought, agreeably to the Dhammapaic injunctions, to accept "companionship" with him. This does not promise him a very brilliant future with "the Buddha, his dharma and his Sangha." To call the whole of Humanity "fools" is a risky thing, anyhow; to treat as such that portion of mankind which groans and suffers under the burden of its national and individual Karma, and refuse it, under this pretext, help and sympathy - is positively revolting. He who does not say with the Master: "Mercy along opens the gate to save the whole race of mankind" is unworthy of that Master.
But we further think, that the Buddha--as in every other respect--was quite right also on this point, even if one considers it as a scientist, as an historian or as a psychologist, not as a bhikshu. What real and essential improvement of the "world" can be made? Perhaps in carrying out socialistic problems a state might be arrived at, where every human individual would be sufficiently cared for, so that he could addict more spare time to his spiritual self-improvement if he wished to do so; but if he does not wish to improve himself, the best social organization will not make or help him do so. On the contrary, my own experience, at least, is just the reverse. The spiritually or rather mystically highest developed living human individual I know is a poor common weaver and moreover consumptive, who was until lately in such a position employed in a cotton-mill, that he was as much treated as a dog, like most labourers are, by their joint-stock employers. Still this man is in his inner life quite independent of his worldly misery; his heavenly or rather divine peace and satisfaction is at any time his refuge, and no one can rob him of that. He fears no death, no hunger, no pain, no want, no injustice, no cruelty!8
8. And yet this man lives in, and with the world, which fact does not prevent his inner "Buddhaship"; nor shall he ever be called a "deserter" and a coward, epithets which he would richly deserve had he abandoned his wife and family, instead of working for them, not for is own "dear" self.
You will concede, I suppose, that Karma is not originated by external causes, but only by each individual for himself. Anyone who has made himself fit for and worthy of a good opportunity, will surely find it; and if you put another unworthy one into the very best of circumstances, he will not avail himself of them properly; they will rather serve him to draw him down into the mire which is his delight.
But perhaps you reply: it is, nevertheless, our duty to create as many good opportunities as we can, for humanity in general, that all those who are worthy of them, might find them all the sooner. Quite right! we fully agree and we are certainly doing our best in this respect. But will this improve the spiritual welfare of "humanity"? Never, not by an atom, we think. Humanity, as a whole, will always remain comparatively the same "fools," which they have always been. Suppose we had succeeded in establishing an ideal organization of mankind, do you think these "fools" would be any the wiser by it, or any the more satisfied and happy?9
9. This is no business of ours, but that of their respective Karma. On this principle we should have to deny to every starving wretch a piece of bread, because, forsooth, he will be just as hungry tomorrow?
Certainly not, they would always invent new wants, new pretensions, new claims; the "world" will for ever go on striving for "worldly perfection" only. Our present social organization is greatly improved on the system of the middle-ages: still, is our present time any the happier, any the more satisfied than our ancestors have been at the time of the Niebelunge or of King Arthur? I think, if there has been any change in satisfaction, it was for the worse; our present time is more greedy and less content than any former age. Whoever expects his self-improvement by means of any world-improvement or any external means and causes, has yet to be sorely undeceived; and happy for him if this experience will come to him before the end of his present life!
A very clever modern philosopher has invented the theory that the best plan to get rid of this misery of the "world," would be our giving ourselves up to it the best we could, in order to hasten this evil process to its early end.--Vain hope! Avidya is as endless as it is beginningless. A universe has a beginning and has an end, but others will begin and end after it, just like one day follows the other; and as there has been an endless series of worlds before, thus will there be an endless series afterwards. Causality can never have had a beginning nor can it have an end. And every "world," that will ever be, will always be "world," that is pain and "evil."10
10. And therefore, Sauve qui peut, [Save himself who can], is our correspondent's motto? Had the -
All Honoured, Wisest, Best, most Pitiful,
taught the heartless principle Ápres moi le deluge, I do not think that the learned editor of the Sphinx would have had much of a chance of being converted to Buddhism as he is now. Very true his Buddhism seems to be no better than the exoteric dry and half-broken rind of European fabrication, of that grand fruit of altruistic mercy, and pity for all that lives -real Eastern Buddhism and expecially its esoteric doctrines.
Therefore, like Karma, also deliverance, redemption or salvation (from the world) can never be any otherwise than "personal," or let us rather say "individual." The world, of course, can never be delivered from itself, from the "world," from pain and evil. And no one can be delivered therefrom by anyone else.--You certainly do not teach vicarious atonement! Or, can anyone save his neighbour? Can one apple make ripe another apple hanging next to it?11
11. No; but the apple can either screen its neighbour from the sun, and, depriving it of its share of light and heat, prevent its ripening, or sharing with it the dangers from worms and the urchin's hands, thus diminish that danger by one half. As to Karma this is again a misconception. There is such a thing as a national, besides a personal or individual Karma in this world. But our correspondent seems to have either never heard of it, or misunderstood once more, in his own way.
Now what else can we do but live the "happy life" of bhikshus without wants, without pretensions, without desires? And if your good example calls or draws to us others who seek for the same happiness, then we try to teach them the best we can. But this is another rather doubtful question to us! Not only are we not properly fit to teach, but if we were, we require proper persons to be taught, persons who are not only willing, but who are also fit to listen to us.12
12. Fais que dois, advienne que pourra (One should do what is to be done, happen what may). When did the Lord Buddha make a preliminary selection in his audiences? Did he not, agreeably to allegory and History, preach and convert demons and gods, bad and good men? Dr. Hubbe Schleiden seems more Catholic than the Pope, more prim than an old-fashioned English house-wife, and certainly more squeamish than Lord Buddha ever was. "Teach vicarious atonement?" certainly we do not. But it is safer (and more modest at any rate) to make too much of one's neighbours and fellow-men than to look at every one as on so much dirt under one's feet. If I am a fool, it is no reason why I should see a fool in everyone else. We leave to our critic the difficult task of discerning who is, and who is not fit to listen to us, and, in the absence of positive proof, prefer postulating that every man has a responsive chord in his nature that will vibrate and respond to words of kindness and of truth.
In spite of all these difficulties and quite conscious of our own incompetency, we nevertheless venture now to publish books and journals, in which we try to explain Indian religio-philosophy to the best of our understanding. Thus every one who has eyes may read it, and who has ears may hear it--if his good Karma is ripening! What else do you expect us agnams to do?13.
13. We expect you not to regard everyone as an "agnam" - if by this word an ignoramus is meant. To help deliver the world from the curse of Avidya (ignorance) we have only to learn from those who know more that we do, and teach teach those who know less. This is just the object we have in view in spreading theosophical literature and trying to explain "Indian religio-philosophy."
Are we not rather to be blamed already, that we undertake such work, for which we--not being Buddhas, nor even Bodhisattvas--are as badly qualified as a recruit is fit to serve as general field-marshal. And if you cannot find fault with us, can you say that those "yogis" or "saints" whom you seem to blame in your above passage, were in a better position and could have done more? If, however, they were, what ought they to have done?
We are fully aware that a true Buddhist and a sage, or--if you like--theosophist, must always be every inch an altruist. And when we are acting altruistically, it is perhaps no bad sign in regard to what we some day might become; but every thing at its proper time: where competency does not keep pace with altruism in development and in display, it might do more harm than good. Thus we feel even not quite sure whether our conscience ought not to blame us for our well-intended, but pert work; .and the only excuse we can find for our thus giving way to the promptings of our heart is, that those persons who really might be properly qualified, do not come forward, do not help us, do not do this evidently necessary work! 14.
14. An apolytic utterance this. I think, however, that I dimly understand. Those who are "properly qualified, do not come forward, do not help us, do not do this evidently necessary work." Don't THEY? How does our pessimistic correspondent know? I "guess" and "surmise" that they do, and very much so. For had the T.S. and its members been left to their own fate and Karma, there would not be much of it today, under the relentless persecutions, slander, scandals, purposely set on foot, and the malicious atred of our enemies - open and secret.
"A WORD WITH OUR FRIENDS"
From A Modern Panarion
Articles by HPB
[Vol. II. No. 4 (Supplement), January, 1881.]
THAT cause must be weak and desperate, indeed, that has to resort to the arts of the slanderer to prop it up and injure its victims. And it is truly lamentable to see people adopting these tactics against the Theosophical Society and its founders. Soon after we reached India we were obliged to begin legal proceedings against a missionary organ, to compel its editor to apologize for some base slanders he had indulged in; and readers of The Theosophist are aware of the conduct of the Christian party in Ceylon, and their utter discomfiture at Panadure. However great our efforts to avoid any conflict with them, some strange fatality seems to be for ever urging these good people to adopt questionable measures to hasten their own ultimate ruin. Our Society has been their favourite mark. The most recent shot was fired at Benares by a well-known convert to the Christian faith, who, unable to lay hold upon anything disreputable in our Indian career, did his best to injure us in a certain important direction by sneeringly suggesting to a very high personage that Colonel Olcott was a man of no position in his own country, and had doubtless come to India as an adventurer, to make money out of the people. Happily his venom was poured into unsympathetic ears. Yet, as he is a man of a certain influence, and others of our friends have also been similarly approached by him and other enemies of ours, such calumnies as these cannot be well overlooked. We are quite aware that a document of such a nature as the present, if launched on the public without a word of explanation, would give rise to criticism, and perhaps be thought in bad taste, unless very serious and important reasons can be shown for its appearance. Such reasons unquestionably exist, even were no account to be taken of the malicious plot of our Benares opponent. When, in addition to this, we reflect that ever since we landed in this country, impelled by motives, sincere and honest—though, perhaps, as we now find it ourselves, too enthusiastic, too unusual in foreigners to be readily believed in by natives without some more substantial proof than our simple word—we have been surrounded by more enemies and opponents than by friends and sympathizers; and that we two are strangers to rulers as well as the ruled, we believe that no available proof should be withheld that will show that, at least, we are honest and peaceful people, if not actually that which we know ourselves to be—most sincere friends of India and her sons. Our personal honour, as well as the honour of the whole Society, is at stake at the present moment. "Tell me what your friends are and I will tell you what you are," is a wise saying. A man at Colonel Olcott's time of life is not likely to so change in character as to abandon his country, where he has such an honourable past and where his income was so large as it was, to come to India and turn "adventurer." Therefore, we have concluded, with Colonel Olcott's permission, to give the following details. They are but a few out of many now lying before us, that show his honourable, efficient and faithful career, both as a member of the Bar, a private gentleman, and a public official, from the year 1853 down to the very moment of his departure from the United States for India. As Colonel Olcott is not a man to sound his own praises, the writer, his colleague, may state that his name has been widely known in America for nearly thirty years as a promoter of various public reforms. It was he who founded (in 1856) the first scientific agricultural school there upon the Swiss model; it was he again who aided in introducing a new crop now universally cultivated; addressed three state legislatures upon the subject by invitation; wrote three works upon agriculture, of which one passed through seven editions, and was introduced into the school libraries; was offered by Government a botanical mission to Caffraria, and, later, the Chief Commissionership of Agriculture, and was offered by M. Evangelides, of Greece, the Professorship of Agriculture in the University of Athens. He was at one time Agricultural Editor of Horace Greeley's great journal, The Tribune, and also American Correspondent of The Mark Lane Express. For his public services in connection with agricultural reform he was voted two medals of honour by the National (U.S.) Agricultural Society, and a silver goblet by the American Institute.
The breaking out of the fearful civil war in America called every man to serve his country. Colonel Olcott after passing through four battles and one siege (the capture of Fort Macon), and after recovering from a severe illness contracted in the field, was offered by the late Secretary of War the highly honourable and responsible appointment of Special Commissioner of the War Department; and two years later, was, at the request of the late Secretary of the Navy, ordered on special duty in connection with that branch of the service, additional to his regular duties in the War Department. His services were most conspicuous, as his papers—which include a complimentary report to the U.S. Senate, by the Secretary of the Navy—prove.
At the close of the war the national army of one million men was quietly disbanded, and was reäbsorbed back into the nation as though nothing had happened. Colonel Olcott resumed his profession, and was shortly invited to take the secretaryship and practical direction of the National Insurance Convention—a conference or league of the officials of the various state governments for the purpose of codifying and simplifying the laws affecting insurance companies. Accepting, he was thus for two years or more in the closest contact with, and the trusted adviser of, some of the leading state public functionaries of the Union; and a statute drafted by him, in connection with another well-known legal gentleman (Mr. Abbott) was passed by ten state legislatures and became law. What his public services were in this connection, and how he was thanked and honoured for them, may readily be seen by consulting the two large volumes of the Convention's "Transactions," which are in the Library of the Theosophical Society, at Bombay.
This brings us down to the year 1872. In 1876 he was deputed by His Honour the Mayor of New York City to collect a public subscription in aid of a charitable object. In 1877 he was one of an International Committee chosen by the Italian residents of New York to erect a monument to Mazzini, in Central Park. The same year he was Honorary Secretary of a National Committee—one member of which was the just elected President of the United States, General Garfield—formed to secure a worthy representation of American arts and industries at the Paris "Exposition Universelle," of 1878. In the following year he left New York for India, and just before sailing received from the President and Secretary of State a diplomatic passport, such as is only issued to the most eminent American citizens, and circular autograph letters recommending him to the particular favour of all U.S. Ministers and Consuls, as a gentleman who had been requested to promote in every practicable and proper way the mutual commercial relations of the United States and India. And now if the enemies of the Theosophical Society can produce an "adventurer" with such a record and such testimonials of integrity and capacity, by all means let them name their man.
(Signed) H. P. BLAVATSKY.
THE YEAR IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE YEAR!
From H.P.Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. I.
DECEMBER, 1888, AND JANUARY, 1889
Articles by HPB
LUCIFER sends the best compliments of the season to his friends and subscribers, and wishes them a happy New Year and many returns of the same. In the January issue of 1888, LUCIFER said: "Let no one imagine that it is a mere fancy, the attaching of importance to the birth of the year. The astral life of the earth is young and strong between Christmas and Easter. Those who form their wishes now, will have added strength to fulfill them consistently." He now repeats what was said and adds: Let no one mistake the importance and potency of numbers--as symbols. Everything in the Universe was framed according to the eternal proportions and combinations of numbers. "God geometrizes," and numbers and numerals are the fundamental basis of all systems of mysticism, philosophy, and religion. The respective festivals of the year and their dates were all fixed according to the Sun--the "father of all calendars" and of the Zodiac, or the Sun-god and the twelve great, but still minor gods; and they became subsequently sacred in the cycle of national and tribal religions.
A year ago, it was stated by the editors that 1888 was a dark combination of numbers: it has proved so since. Earthquakes and terrible volcanic irruptions, tidal waves and landslips, cyclones and fires, railway and maritime disasters followed each other in quick succession. Even in point of weather the whole of the past year was an insane year, an unhealthy and uncanny year, which shifted its seasons, played ducks and drakes with the calendar and laughed at the wiseacres who preside over the meteorological stations of the globe. Almost every nation was visited by some dire calamity. Prominent among other countries was Germany. It was in 1888 that the Empire reached, virtually, the 18th year of its unification. It was during the fatal combination of the four numbers 8 that it lost two of its Emperors, and planted the seeds of many dire Karmic results.
What has the year 1889 in store for nations, men and theosophy, and what for LUCIFER? But it may be wiser to forbear looking into Futurity; still better to pray to the now ruling Hosts of Numbers on high, asking them to be lenient to us, poor terrene ciphers. Which shall we choose? With the Jews and the Christian Kabalists, the number of their deity--the God of Abraham and Jacob--is 10, the number of perfection, the ONE in space, or the Sun, astronomically, and the ten Sephiroth, Kabalistically. But the Gods are many; and every December, according to the Japanese, is the month of the arrival, or descent of the Gods; therefore there must be a considerable number of deities lurking around us mortals in astral space. The 3rd of January, a day which was, before the time of Clovis, consecrated to the worship of Isis--the goddess-patroness of Paris who has now changed her name and become St. Geneviève, "she who generates life"--was also set apart as the day on which the deities of Olympus visited their worshippers. The third day of every month was sacred to Pallas Athene, the goddess of Wisdom; and January the 4th is the day of Mercury (Hermes, Budha), who is credited with adding brains to the heads of those who are civil to him. December and January are the two months most connected with gods and numbers. Which shall we choose?--we ask again. "This is the question."
We are in the Winter Solstice, the period at which the Sun entering the sign of Capricornus has already, since December 21st, ceased to advance in the Southern Hemisphere, and, cancer or crab-like, begins to move back. It is at this particular time that, every year, he is born, and December 25th was the day of the birth of the Sun for those who inhabited the Northern Hemisphere. It is also on December the 25th, Christmas, the day with the Christians on which the "Saviour of the World" was born, that were born, ages before him, the Persian Mithra, the Egyptian Osiris, the Greek Bacchus, the Phœnician Adonis, the Phrygian Athis. And, while at Memphis the people were shown the image of the god Day, taken out of his cradle, the Romans marked December 25th in their calendar as the day natalis solis invicti.
Sad derision of human destiny. So many Saviours of the world born unto it, so much and so often propitiated, and yet the world is as miserable--nay, far more wretched now than ever before as though none of these had ever been born!
January--the Januarius dedicated to Janus the God of Time, the ever revolving cycle, the double-faced God--has one face turned to the East, the other to the West; the Past and the Future! Shall we propitiate and pray to him? Why not? His statue had 12 altars at its feet, symbolizing the twelve signs of the Zodiac, the twelve great gods, the twelve months of the solar year and--the twelve Apostles of the Sun-Christ. Dominus was the title given to the Sun by the ancients; whence dies domini, dies solis, the "Sun-days." Puer nobis nascitur dominus dominorum, sing the Roman Catholics on Christmas day. The statue of Janus-January carried engraved on his right hand the number 300, and on his left, 65, the number of the days in the Solar year; in one hand a sceptre, in the other a key, whence his name Janitor, the door-keeper of the Heavens, who opened the gates of the year at its beginning. Old Roman coins represent Janus bifrons on one side, and a ship on the other.
Have we not the right to see in him the protoype of Peter, the fisherman of the celestial ship, the Janitor of Paradise, to the gates of which he alone holds the keys? Janus presided over the four seasons. Peter presides over the four Evangelists. In Occultism the potency and significance of Numbers and Numerals lie in their right application and permutation. If we have to propitiate any mysterious number at all, we have most decidedly to address Janus-Peter, in his relation to the ONE--the Sun. Now what would be the best thing for LUCIFER and his staff to ask from the latter for 1889? Our joint wishes are many, for our course as that of true love, does not run altogether smooth.
Thus addressing the bright luminary in perpetual abscondito beyond the eternal fogs of the great city, we might ask him for a little more light and warmth in the coming year than he gave us in the year 1888. We might entreat him at the same time to pour a little light into the no less befogged heads of those who insist on boycotting LUCIFER under the extraordinary notion that he and Satan are one. Shine more on us, O, Helios Son of Hyperion! Those on whom thou beamest thy greatest radiance must be, as in the legend of Apollo, good and kind men. Alas, for us. The British isle will never be transformed, in this our cycle, into the isle of Æa, the habitat of Helios, as of the children of that god and the Oceanide Perseis. Is this the occult reason why our hearts become, with every year, colder and more indifferent to the woes of mankind, and that the very souls of the multitudes seem turning into icicles? We ask thee to shed thy radiance on these poor shivering souls.
Such is LUCIFER'S, our Light-bearer's fervently expressed desire. What may be that of the Theosophical Society in general, and its working members in particular? We would suggest a supplication. Let us ask, Brethren, the Lord on High, the One and the SOLE (or Sol), that he should save us from the impudent distortion of our theosophical teachings. That he should deliver us in 1889 from his pretended priests, the "Solar Adepts" as they dub themselves, and their sun-struck followers, as he delivered us once before; for verily "man is born unto trouble," and our patience is well-nigh exhausted!
But, "wrath killeth the foolish man"; and as we know that "envy slayeth the silly one," for years no attention was paid to our ever increasing parodists. They plagiarized from our books, set up sham schools of magic, waylaid seekers after truth by deceiving them with holy names, misused and desecrated the sacred science by using it to get money by various means, such as selling as "magic mirrors" for £15, articles made by common cabinet makers for £1 at most. With them, as with all charlatans, fortune-tellers, and self-styled "Adepts," the sacred science of Theosophia had become when kabalistically read--Dollar-Sophia. To crown all, they ended by offering, in a most generous manner, to furnish all those "awakened" who were "disappointed in Theosophical Mahatmas," with the genuine article in the matter of adeptship. Unfortunately the said article was traced in its turn to a poor, irresponsible medium, and something worse; and so that branch of the brood finally disappeared. It vanished one fine morning into thin air leaving its disconsolate disciples thoroughly "awakened" this time, and fully alive to the sad fact, that if they had acquired less than no occult wisdom, their pockets, on the other hand, had been considerably relieved of their weight in pounds and shillings. After their Exodus came a short lull. But now the same is repeated elsewhere.
The long metaphysical articles borrowed from "Isis Unveiled," and the Theosophist ceased suddenly to appear in certain Scotch papers. But if they disappeared from Europe, they reappeared in America. In August 1887 the New York PATH laid its hand heavily on "The Hidden Way Across the Threshold" printed in Boston, and proceeded to speedily squelch it, as "stolen goods." As that Journal expresses itself about this pretentious volume, copied not written by its authors--"whatever in it is new is not true, and whatever true, is not new; scattered through its 600 pages, are wholesale thefts from 'Paracelsus,' 'Isis Unveiled,' the Path etc. etc." This unceremonious appropriation of long paragraphs and entire pages "either verbatim or with unimportant changes,"--from various, mostly theosophical authors--a list of which is given in the PATH (Vide August 1887, P. 159-160), might be left to its fate, but for the usual trick of our wretched imitators. In the words of the same editor, of the PATH: "the claim is made that it (the book) is inspired by great adepts both living and dead, who have condescended to relent and give out these 600 pages, with certain restrictions which prevent their going into any detail or explanation beyond those given by the unfortunate or unprogressed (theosophical) authors from whose writings they (the adepts) have either allowed or directed their humble disciple . . . to steal."
Before the appearance of modern Theosophical literature it was "Spirits" and "Controls" that were ever in the mouths of these folk; now the living "adepts" are served up with every sauce. It is ever and always Adepts here, Hierophants there. And this only since the revival of Theosophy and its spread in America in 1884, note well; after the great soap-bubble conspiracy between Madras and Cambridge against the Theosophical Society, had given a new impetus to the movement. Up to that year, Spiritualists, and professional mediums especially, with their "controls" and "guides," could hardly find words of vituperation strong enough to brand the "adepts" and deride their "supposed powers." But since the Herodic "slaughter of the Innocents," when the S.P.R. turned from the Theosophical to the Spirtualistic phenomena, most of the "dear departed" ones took to their heels. The angels from the "Summer Land" are going out of fashion just now, for Spiritualists begin to know better and to discriminate. But because the "adept" idea, or rather their philosophy, begins to gain ground, this is no reason why pretenders of every description should travesty in their ungrammatical productions the teachings, phraseology, and Sanskrit terms out of theosophical books; or why, again, they should turn round and make people believe that these were given them by other "Hierophants," in their opinion, far higher, nobler and grander than our teachers.
The great evil of the whole thing is, not that the truths of Theosophy are adopted by these blind teachers, for we should gladly welcome any spread, by whatever means, of ideals so powerful to wean the world from its dire materialism--but that they are so interwoven with mis-statements and absurdities that the wheat cannot be winnowed from the chaff, and ridicule, if not worse, is brought to bear upon a movement which is beginning to exercise an influence, incalculable in its promise of good, upon the tendency of modern thought. How shall men discern good from evil, when they find it in its close embrace? The very words, "Arhat," "Karma," "Maya," "Nirvana," must turn enquirers from our threshold when they have been taught to associate them with such a teeming mass of ignorance and presumption. But a few years ago, all these Sanskrit terms were unknown to them, and even now they repeat them phonetically, parrot-like, and without any understanding. And yet they will cram them into their silly books and pamphlets, and fill these with denunciations against great men, the soles of whose feet they are unworthy to gaze upon!
Though false coin is the best proof of the existence of genuine gold, yet, the false deceives the unwary. Were the "pretentions" of the T.S. in this direction founded on mere hypothesis and sentimental gush, like the identification of many a materialized spirit, the theosophical "Mahatmas" and their society would have dissolved long ago like smoke in space under the desperate attacks of the holy alliance of Missionaries and pseudo-Scientists, helped by the half-hearted and misinformed public. That the Society has not only survived but become thrice stronger in numbers and power, is a good proof again of its own intrinsic merit. Moreover, it has gained also in wisdom; that practical, matter-of-fact wisdom which teaches, through the mouth of the great Christian "Mahatma," not to scatter pearls before swine, nor to attempt to put new wine into old bottles.
Therefore, let us, in our turn, recite a heartfelt conjuration (the ancient name for prayer), and invoke the help of the powers that be, to deliver us from the painful necessity of exposing these sorry "make-believes" in LUCIFER once again. Let us ring the theosophical Angelus thrice for the convocation of our theosophical friends and readers. If we would draw on us the attention of Sol on High, we must repeat that which the ancients did and which was the origin of the R.C. Angelus. The first stroke of the bell announced the coming of Day; the appearance of Gabriel, the morning messenger with the early Christians, of Lucifer, the morning star, with their predecessors. The second bell, at noon, saluted the glory and exalted position of the Sun, King of Heavens; and the third bell announced the approach of Night, the Mother of Day the Virgin, Isis-Mary, or the Moon. Having accomplished the prescribed duty, we pour our complaint and say:
Turn thy flaming eye, O SOL, thou, golden-haired God, on certain trans-atlantic mediums, who play at being thine Hierophants! Behold, they whose brain is not fit to drink of the cup of wisdom, but who, mounting the quack's platform, and offering for sale bottled-up wisdom, and the homunculi of Paracelsus, assure those of the gaping mouths that it is the true Elixir of Amrita, the water of immortal life! Oh, bright Lord, is not thine eye upon those barefaced robbers and iconoclasts of the systems of the land whence thou risest? Hear their proud boasting: "We teach men the science to make man"(!). The lucrative trade of vendors of Japanese amulets and Taro cards, with indecent double bottoms, having been cut off in its full blossom in Europe, the Eastern Wisdom of the Ages is now abandoned. According to their declarations, China, Japan, old India and even the Swedenborgian "land of the Lost Word" have suddenly become barren; they yield no more their crop of true adepts; it is America, they say, the land of the Almighty Dollar, which has suddenly opened her bowels and given birth to full-blown Hierophants, who now beckon to the "Awakened." Mirabile dictu! But if so, why should thy self-styled priests, O great SUN, still offer as a bait a mysterious Dwija, a "twice born," who can only be the product of the land of Manu? And why should those pretended and bumptious servants of thine, oh Sûrya-Vikarthana, whose rich crop of national adepts, if "home-made," must rejoice as a natural rule in purely Anglo-Saxon and Celto-German names, still change their Irish patronymics for those of a country which, they say, is effete and sterile, and whose nations are "dying out"? Has another Hindu name and names been discovered in the Great Hub, as a peg and pegs whereon to hang the modest pretensions of the Solar Magi? Yea, they belie truth, O Lord, and they bend their tongues like quill pens for lies. But--"the false prophets shall become wind for the word is not in them."
TO DARE, TO WILL, TO ACHIEVE AND KEEP SILENT is the motto of the true Occultist, from the first adept of our fifth Race down to the last Rosecroix. True Occultism, i.e., genuine Raj-Yoga powers, are not pompously boasted of, and advertised in "Dailies" and monthlies, like Beecham's pills or Pears' soap. "Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes; for the wise man feareth and keeps silent, but the fool layeth open his folly."
Let us close by expressing a hope that our Theosophist brothers and sisters in America will pause and think before they risk going into a "Solar" fire. Above all, let them bear in mind that true occult knowledge can never be bought. He who has anything to teach, unless like Peter to Simon he says to him who offers him money for his knowledge--"Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of (our inner) God may be purchased with money"--is either a black magician or an IMPOSTOR. Such is the first lesson taught by LUCIFER to his readers in 1889.
H. P. Blavatsky
Lucifer, January, 1889