A YEAR OF THEOSOPHY
From A Modern Panarion and H.P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. I.
Articles by HPB
THE dial of Time marks off another of the world's Hours. . . . And, as the Old Year passes into Eternity, like a rain-drop falling into the ocean, its vacant place on the calendar is occupied by a successor which--if one may credit the ancient prophetic warnings of Mother Shipton and other seers--is to bring woe and disaster to some portions of the world. Let it go, with its joys and triumphs, its badness and bitterness, if it but leave behind for our instruction the memory of our experience and the lesson of our mistakes. Wise is he who lets "the dead Past bury its dead," and turns with courage to meet the fresher duties of the New Year; only the weak and foolish bemoan the irrevocable. It will be well to take a brief retrospect of those incidents of the year 1880 (A.D.) which possess an interest for members of the Theosophical Society. The more so since, in consequence of the absence from Bombay of the President and Corresponding Secretary, the anniversary day of the Society was not publicly celebrated.
It will not be necessary to enter minutely into those details of administration which, however important in themselves as links, weak or strong, in the general chain of progress, and however they may have taxed the patience, nerve, or other resources of the chief officers. do not at all interest the public. It is not so much explanation as results that are demanded, and these, in our case, abound. Even our worst enemy would be forced to admit, were he to look closely into our transactions, that the Society is immeasurably stronger morally, numerically, and as regards a capacity for future usefulness, than it was a year ago. Its name has become most widely known; its fellowship has been enriched by the accession of some very distinguished men; it has planted new branch societies in India, Ceylon and elsewhere; applications are now pending for the organization of still other branches, in New South Wales, Sydney, California. India, Australia; its magazine has successfully entered the second volume; its local issues with the government of India have been finally and creditably settled; a mischievous attempt by a handful of malcontents at Bombay to disrupt it has miserably failed.1 [Footnote: 1. Secret letters by former members denouncing its Founders, sent to Paris and other Theosophists and pretending that the Bombay Society was virtually extinct (its best members having resigned), were sent back to us with new protestations of friendship and loyalty and expressio of scorn for the conspirators. -Editors, Theosophist] It has made official alliances with the Sanskrit Samaj of Benares, that is to say, with the most distinguished body of orthodox Sanskrit pandits in the world, with the other Sabha of which Pandit Rama Misra Shastri is Manager, and with the Hindu Sabha, of Cochin State; while, at the same time, strengthening its fraternal relations with the Arya Samajas of the Punjab and North-Western Provinces. Besides all this, we can point with joy and pride to the results of the late mission to Ceylon, where, within the space of fifty-seven days, seven branch societies of Buddhist laymen, one Ecclesiastical Council of Buddhist priests, and one scientific society were organized, and some hundreds of new fellows were added to our list.
All this work could not be accomplished without great labour, mental anxiety and physical discomfort. If to this be added the burden of a correspondence with many different countries, and the time required for making two journeys to Northern India and one to Ceylon, our friends at a distance will see that whatever other blame may properly attach to the Founders, who have never claimed infallibility of any sort, that of laziness is assuredly not to be cast in their teeth. Nor, when they learn that the work done since leaving America, the travelling expenses and the fitting and maintenance of the Headquarters establishment has cost some twenty thousand rupees, while the cash receipts of the Treasurer (exclusive of those from Ceylon, Rs. 2,440, which sum is set aside as a special fund to be used in the interest of Buddhism) have been only one thousand two hundred and forty rupees, all told, including one donation of two hundred rupees from the universally respected Maharanee Surnomoyee, and another of twenty rupees from a well-wisher in Bengal, will those who direct the Society's affairs be regarded by them as making money out of their offices. And these figures, which may most readily be verified, are our only answer to the calumnies which have been maliciously circulated by some who did not, and others who did, know the truth.
The trip to Ceylon occupied seventy-seven days in all, the second one to Northern India one hundred and twenty-five days. Thus the Founders have been absent from Bombay on duty twenty-nine weeks out of the fifty-two; their travels extending through twenty-five degrees of latitude, from Lahore at the extreme north of India, to Matara, the southernmost point of ancient Lanka. Each of the Indian Presidencies has contributed a quota of new members; and at the former capital of the late lion-hearted Runjeet Singh, a branch was recently organized by Sikhs and Punjabis, under the title of the "Punjab Theosophical Society." During the twelvemonth, President Olcott delivered seventy-nine lectures and addresses, a majority of which were interpreted in the Hindi, Urdu, Guzerati and Sinhalese languages.
Many misconceptions prevail as to the nature and objects of the Theosophical Society. Some--Sir Richard Temple in the number--fancy it is a religious sect; many believe it is composed of atheists; a third party are convinced that its sole object is the study of occult science and the initiation of green hands into the Sacred Mysteries. If we have had one we certainly have had a hundred intimations from strangers that they were ready to join at once if they could be sure that they would shortly be endowed with siddhis, or the power to work occult phenomena. The beginning of a new year is a suitable time to make one more attempt--we wish it could be the last--to set these errors right. So then, let us say again: (1) The Theosophical Society teaches no new religion, aims to destroy no old one, promulgates no creed of its own, follows no religious leader, and, distinctly and emphatically, is not a sect, nor ever was one. It admits worthy people of any religion to membership, on the condition of mutual tolerance and mutual help to discover truth. The Founders have never consented to be taken as religious leaders, they repudiate any such idea, and they have not taken and will not take disciples. (2) The Society is not composed of atheists, nor is it any more conducted in the interest of atheism than in that of deism or polytheism. It has members of almost every religion, and is on equally fraternal terms with each and all. (3) Not a majority, nor even a respectable minority, numerically speaking, of its fellows are students of occult science or ever expect to become adepts. All who cared for the information have been told what sacrifices are necessary in order to gain the higher knowledge, and few are in a position to make one tenth of them. He who joins our Society gains no siddhis by that act, nor is there any certainty that he will even see the phenomena, let alone meet with an adept. Some have enjoyed both these opportunities, and so the possibility of the phenomena and the existence of "Siddhas" do not rest upon our unverified assertions. Those who have seen things have perhaps been allowed to do so on account of some personal merit detected by those who showed them the siddhis, or for other reasons known to themselves and over which we have no control.
For thousands of years these things have, whether rightly or wrongly, been guarded as sacred mysteries, and Asiatics at least need not be reminded that often even after months or years of the most faithful and assiduous personal service, the disciples of a Yogi have not been shown "miracles" or endowed with powers. What folly, therefore, to imagine that by entering any society one might make a short cut to adeptship! The weary traveller along a strange road is grateful even to find a guide-post that shows him his way to his place of destination. Our Society, if it does naught else, performs this kindly office for the searcher after truth. And it is much.
Before closing, one word must be said in correction of an unfortunate impression that has got abroad. Because our pamphlet of Rules mentions a relationship between our Society and certain proficients in Occult Science, or "Mahatmas " many persons fancy that these great men are personally engaged in the practical direction of its affairs; and that, in such a case, being primarily responsible for the several mistakes that have occurred in the admission of unworthy members and in other matters, they can neither be so wise, so prudent, or so far-seeing as is claimed for them. It is also imagined that the President and Corresponding Secretary (especially the latter) are, if not actually Yogis and Mahatmas themselves, at least persons of ascetic habits, who assume superior moral excellence. Neither of these suppositions is correct, and both are positively absurd. The administration of the Society is, unless in exceptionally important crises, left to the recognized officials, and they are wholly responsible for all the errors that are made. Many may doubtless have been made, and our management may be very faulty, but the wonder is that no more have occurred, if the multiplicity of duties necessarily imposed upon the two chief officers and the world-wide range of activity be taken into account. Colonel Olcott and Madame Blavatsky do not pretend to ascetism, nor would it be possible for them to practise it while in the thick of the struggle to win a permanent foothold for the Society in the face of every possible obstacle that a selfish, sensuality-loving world puts in the way. What either of them has heretofore been, or either or both may in the future become, is quite a different affair. At present they only claim to be trying honestly and earnestly, so far as their natural infirmities of character permit, to enforce by example and precept the ideas which are embodied in the platform and Rules of the Theosophical Society. Once or twice ill-wishers have publicly taunted us with not having given practical proofs of our alleged affection for India. Our final vindication must be left to posterity, which always renders that justice that the present too often denies. But even now--if we may judge by the tone of our correspondence, as well as by the enthusiasm which has everywhere greeted us in the course of our journeyings--a palpably good effect has been produced by our appeals to the educated Indian public. The moral regeneration of India and the revival of her ancient spiritual glories must exclusively be the work of her own sons. All we can do is to apply the match to the train, to fan the smouldering embers into a genial warmth. And this we are trying to do. One step in the right direction, it will doubtless be conceded, is the alliance effected with the Benares pandits and attested in the subjoined document:
[Here are printed the Articles of the Union formed by the T. S. and the Sanskrit Sabha of Benares, agreeing to cooperation and brotherly union between the two societies, in the interests of the promotion of Sanskrit Literature and Vedic Philosophy and Science; the agreement being signed by the officers and members of the Benares Samaj, and by Col. Olcott as President of the Theosophical Society. H.P.B.'s concluding comment follows:]
These custodians of Sanskrit learning have promised to put in writing the precious treasures of Aryan philosophy, and to cooperate with us to give the facts a worldwide circulation.
The London Spiritualist remarked, the other day, that we were doing much for Spiritualism in India. It might rather be said we are doing much to make known the importance of mesmeric science, for wherever we have been we have spared no pains to show the close and intimate relationship that exists between our modern discoveries in mesmerism, psychometry, and odic force, and the ancient Indian science of Yoga Vidya. We look forward with confidence to a day when the thorough demonstration of this connection will give to both Asia and Europe the basis for a perfect, because experimentally demonstrable, science of Psychology.
H. P. Blavatsky
THE YOGA PHILOSOPHY*
From A Modern Panarion
[Vol. II. Nos. 2, 4 and 7, November, 1880, and January and April, 1881.]
Articles by HPB
[Footnote* YOGA, or human hibernation, being only prolonged sleep, it is interesting to notice that there are instances on record of individuals sleeping for weeks, months, nay, even for years. ]
WE have ourself known a Russian lady—Mme. Kashereninoff—whose sister, then an unmarried lady about twenty-seven, slept regularly for six weeks at a time. After that period she would awake, weak but not very exhausted, and ask for some milk, her habitual food. At the end of a fortnight, sometimes three weeks, she would begin to show unmistakable signs of somnolence, and at the end of a month fall into her trance again. Thus it lasted for seven years, she being considered by the populace a great saint. It was in 1841. What became of her after that we are unable to say.
[Yoga has been differently defined by different authorities. Some have defined it as mental abstraction; some have defined it as silent prayer; some have defined it as the union of the inspired to the expired air; some have defined it as the union of mind to soul. But by Yoga, I understand the art of suspending the respiration and circulation. Yoga is chiefly divided into Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga.]
Here the author falls into an unmistakable error. He confounds the Râja with the Hatha Yogins, whereas the former have nothing to do with the physical training of the Hatha nor with any other of the innumerable sects who have now adopted the name and emblems of Yogins. Wilson, in his Essays on the Religions of the Hindus, falls into the same confusion, and knows very little, if anything at all of the true Râja Yogins, who have no more to do with Shiva than with Vishnu, or any other deity. Alone, the most learned among the Shankara’s Dandins of Northern India, especially those who are settled in Râjputâna, would be able—if they were willing—to give some correct notions about the Râja Yogins; for these men, who have adopted the philosophical tenets of Shankara’s Vedânta are, moreover, profoundly versed in the doctrines of the Tantras—termed devilish by those who either do not understand them or reject their tenets with some preconceived object. If in speaking of the Dandins we have used above the phrase beginning with the conjunction "if," it is because we happen to know how carefully the secrets of the real Yogins—nay even their existence itself—are denied within this fraternity. It is comparatively but lately that the usual excuse adopted by them, in support of which they bring their strongest authorities, who affirm that the Yoga state is unattainable in the present or Kali age, has been set afloat by them. "From the unsteadiness of the senses, the prevalence of sin in the Kali, and the shortness of life, how can exaltation by Yoga be obtained?" enquires Kâshîkhanda. But this declaration can be refuted in two words and with their own weapons. The duration of the present Kali Yuga is 432,000 years, of which 4,979 have already expired. It is at the very beginning of Kali Yuga that Krishna and Arjuna were born. It is since Vishnu’s eighth incarnation that the country had all its historical Yogins, for as to the prehistoric ones, or those claimed as such, we do not find ourselves entitled to force them upon public notice. Are we then to understand that none of these numerous saints, philosophers and ascetics from Krishna down to the late Vishnu Brahmachâri Bawa of Bombay had ever reached the "exaltation by Yoga"? To repeat this assertion is simply suicidal to their own interests.
It is not that among the Hatha Yogins—men who at times had reached through a physical and well-organized system of training the highest powers as "wonder workers"—there has never been a man worthy of being considered as a true Yogin. What we say is simply this: the Râja Yogin trains but his mental and intellectual powers, leaving the physical alone and making but little of the exercise of phenomena simply of a physical character. Hence it is the rarest thing in the world to find a real Yogin boasting of being one, or willing to exhibit such powers—though he does acquire them as well as the one practising Hatha Yoga but through another and far more intellectual system. Generally they deny these powers point-blank, for reasons but too well grounded. The former need not even belong to any apparent order of ascetics, and are oftener known as private individuals than members of a religious fraternity, nor need they necessarily be Hindus. Kabir, who was one of them, fulminates against most of the later sects of mendicants who occasionally become warriors when not simply brigands, and sketches them with a masterly hand:
I never beheld such a Yogin, O brother! who, forgetting his doctrine, roves about in negligence. He follows professedly the faith of Mahâdeva and calls himself an eminent teacher: the scene of his abstraction is the fair or the market. Mâyâ is the mistress of the false saint. When did Dattatraya demolish a dwelling? When did Sukhadeva collect an armed host? When did Nârada mount a matchlock? When did Vyâsadeva blow a trumpet? etc.
Therefore, whenever the author—Dr. Paul—speaks of Râja Yoga, the Hatha simply is to be understood.
[Minute directions then follow for the practising of postures, the repetition of Mantras; and Yâmyâsana and Prânâyâma, or the inspiration and suspension of the breath.]
All the above are, as we said before, the practices of Hatha Yoga, and conducive but to the production of physical phenomena affording very rarely flashes of real clairvoyance, unless it be a kind of feverish state of artificial ecstasy. If we publish them, it is merely for the great value we set upon this information as liable to afford a glimpse of truth to sceptics, by showing them that even in the case of the Hatha Yogins, the cause for the production of the phenomena as well as the results obtained can be all explained scientifically; and that therefore there is no need to either reject the phenomena à priori and without investigation or to attribute them to any but natural, though occult powers, more or less latent in every man and woman.
[Dr. Paul next describes the eight varieties. Kumbhaka, which Yogins practise with a view to study the nature of the Soul. Khecharî Mudrâ is the lengthening the tongue by splitting and then "milking" it until it is long enough to be turned back into the gullet, and, with its point, to press the epiglottis and so close the rima glottidis, which confines the inspired air within the system, the lungs and intestines being completely filled. By this practice he becomes insensible to everything that is external. "Without it," says Dr. Paul, "he can never be absorbed into God."]
As the science and study of Yoga Philosophy pertains to Buddhist, Lamaic and other religions supposed to be atheistical, i. e., rejecting belief in a personal deity, and as a Vedântin would by no means use such an expression, we must understand the term "absorption into God" in the sense of union with the Universal Soul, or Parama-Purusha—the primal or One Spirit.
[Directions are then given for the practice of Mûlabandha, a process by which youth is said to be restored to an old man.]
This posture will hardly have the desired effect unless its philosophy is well understood and it is practised from youth. The appearance of old age, when the skin has wrinkled and the tissues have relaxed, can be restored but temporarily, and with the help of Mâyâ. The Mûlabandha is simply a process to throw oneself into sleep (thus gaining the regular hours of sleep).
[Ujjayi Kumbhaka. Assume the posture called Sukhâsana, render the two nostrils free by the first Kumbhaka, inspire through both nostrils, fill the stomach and throat with the inspired air, and then expire slowly through the left nostril. He that practises this Kumbhaka cures all diseases dependent upon deficient inhalation of oxygen.]
And if anyone feels inclined to sneer at the novel remedy employed by the Yogins to cure "coryza," "worms" and other diseases—which is only a certain mode of inhalation—his attention is invited to the fact that these illiterate and superstitious ascetics seem to have only anticipated the discoveries of modern science. One of the latest is reported in the last number of the New York Medical Record (Sept., 1888), under the title of "A New and Curious Plan for Deadening Pain." The experiments were made by Dr. Bonwill, a well-known physician of Philadelphia, in 1872, and have been since successfully applied as an anæsthetic. We quote it from the Dubuque Daily Telegraph:
In 1875 Dr. A. Hewson made a favourable report of his experience with it to the International Medical Congress, and at a recent meeting of the Philadelphia County Medical Society several papers were read on the subject, and much discussion followed. In using the method, the operator merely requests the patient to breathe rapidly making about one hundred respirations per minute, ending in rapid puffing expirations. At the end of from two to five minutes an entire or partial absence of pain results for half a minute or more, and during that time teeth may be drawn or incisions made. The patient may be in any position, but that recommended is lying on the side, and it is generally best to throw a handkerchief over the face to prevent distraction of the patient’s attention. When the rapid breathing is first begun the patient may feel some exhilaration, following this comes a sensation of fulness in the head or dizziness. The face is at first flushed and afterwards pale or even bluish, the heart beats rather feebly and fast, but the sense of touch is not affected, nor is consciousness lost. The effect is produced more readily in females than in males, and in middle-aged more easily than in the old; children can hardly be made to breathe properly. It is denied that there is any possible danger. Several minor operations, other than dental ones, have been successfully made by this method, and it is claimed that in dentistry, surgery and obstetrics it may supplant the common anæsthetics. Dr. Hewson’s explanation is that rapid breathing diminishes the oxygenation of the blood, and that the resultant excess of carbonic acid temporarily poisons the nerve centres. Dr. Bonwill gives several explanations, one being the specific effect of carbonic acid, another the diversion of will-force produced by rapid voluntary muscular action, and, third, the damming up of the blood in the brain, due to the excessive amount of air passing into the lungs. The Record is not satisfied with the theories, but considers it well proved that pain may be deadened by the method, which it commends to the profession for the experimental determination of its precise value.
And if it be well proved that about one hundred respirations per minute ending in rapid puffing expirations can successfully deaden pain, then why should not a varied mode of inhaling oxygen be productive of other and still more extraordinary results, yet unknown to Science, but awaiting her future discoveries?
[After speaking at some length concerning Samâdhi and of the various branches of Râja Yoga, Dr. Paul’s remarks call forth the following note.]
This system, evolved by long ages of practice until it was brought to bear the above-described results, was not practised in India alone in the days of antiquity The greatest philosophers of all countries sought to acquire these powers, and, certainly, behind the external ridiculous postures of the Yogins of to-day, lies concealed the profound wisdom of the archaic ages, one that included among other things a perfect knowledge of what are now termed physiology and psychology. Ammonius Saccas, Porphyry, Proclus and others practised it in Egypt; and Greece and Rome did not hesitate at all in their time of philosophical glory to follow suit. Pythagoras speaks of the celestial music of the spheres that one hears in hours of ecstasy, Zeno finds a wise man who, having conquered all passions, feels happiness and emotion but in the midst of torture. Plato advocates the man of meditation and likens his powers to those of the divinity, and we see the Christian ascetics themselves through a mere life of contemplation and self-torture acquire powers of levitation or æthrobacy, which, though attributed to the miraculous intervention of a personal God, are nevertheless real and the result of physiological changes in the human body. Says Patanjali:
The Yogin will hear celestial sounds, the songs and conversations of celestial choirs. He will have the perception of their touch in their passage through the air,
which, translated into more sober language, means that the ascetic is enabled to see with the spiritual eye in the Astral Light, hear with the spiritual ear subjective sounds inaudible to others, and live and feel, so to say, in the Unseen Universe.
The Yogin is able to enter a dead or a living body by the path of the senses, and in this body to act as though it were his own.
The "path of the senses"; our physical senses, supposed to originate in the astral body, the ethereal counterpart of man, or the jîvâtma, which dies with the body; the senses are here meant in their spiritual sense—volition of the higher principle in man. The true Râja Yogin is a stoic; and Kapila, who deals but with the latter—utterly rejecting the claim of the Hatha Yogins to converse during Samâdhi with the Infinite Îshvara—describes their state in the following words:
To a Yogin in whose mind all things are identified as spirit, what is infatuation? What is grief? He sees all things as one; he is destitute of affections; he neither rejoices in good nor is offended with evil. . . . A wise man sees so many falsethings in those which are called true, so much misery in what is called happiness, that he turns away with disgust. . . . He who in the body has obtained liberation (from the tyranny of the senses) is of no caste, of no sect, of no order, attends to no duties, adheres to no shastras, to no formulas, to no works of merit; he is beyond the reach of speech; he remains at a distance from all secular concerns; he has renounced the love and the knowledge of all sensible objects; he flatters none, he honours none, he is not worshipped, he worships none; whether he practises and follows the customs of his fellow-men or not this is his character.
And a selfish and a disgustingly misanthropical one this character would be were it that for which the True Adept was striving. But it must not be understood literally, and we shall have something more to say upon the subject in the following article, which will conclude Dr. Paul’s essay on Yoga Philosophy.
[One of the practices followed by the Hatha Yogin is called Dhauti. This is the act of swallowing a bandage of linen moistened with water, measuring three inches in breadth and fifteen cubits in length. This is rather a difficult process. But very few fakirs can practise it.]
And a happy thing it is that the process is so difficult, as we do not know of anything half so disgusting. No true Râja Yogin will ever condescend to practise it. Besides, as every physician can easily tell, the process, if repeated, becomes a very dangerous one for the experimenter. There are other "processes" still more hideous, and as useless for psychological purposes.
[Nor does his hair grow during the time he remains buried.]
In reference to the arrest of the growth of the hair, some adepts in the secret science claim to know more than this. They prove their ability to completely suspend the functions of life each night during the hours intended for sleep. Life then is, so to say, held in total abeyance. The wear and tear of the inner as well as the outer organism being thus artificially arrested, and there being no possibility of waste, these men accumulate as much vital energy for use in their waking state as they would have lost in sleep, during which state, if natural, the process of energy and expense of force is still mechanically going on in the human body. In the induced state described, as in that of a deep swoon, the brain no more dreams than if it were dead. One century, if passed, would appear no longer than one second, for all perception of time is lost for him who is subjected to it. Nor do the hairs or nails grow under such circumstances, though they do for a certain time in a body actually dead, which proves, if anything can, that the atoms and tissues of the physical body are held under conditions quite different from those of the state we call death. For, to use a physiological paradox, life in a dead animal organism is even more intensely active than it ever is in a living one, which, as we see, does not hold good in the case under notice. Though the average sceptic may regard this statement as sheer nonsense those who have experienced this in themselves know it as an undoubted fact.
Two certain fakirs from Nepaul once agreed to try the experiment. One of them, previous to attempting the hibernation, underwent all the ceremonies of preparation as described by Dr. Paul, and took all the necessary precautions; the other simply threw himself by a process known to himself and others into that temporary state of complete paralysis which imposes no limits of time, may last months as well as hours, and which is known in certain Tibetan lamaseries as . . . . The result was that while the hair, beard and nails of the former had grown at the end of six weeks, though feebly yet perceptibly, the cells of the latter had remained as closed and inactive as if he had been transformed for that lapse of time into a marble statue. Not having personally seen either of these men, or the experiment, we can vouch only in a general way for the possibility of the phenomenon, not for the details of this peculiar case, though we would as soon doubt our existence as the truthfulness of those from whom we have the story. We only hope that among the sceptical and materialistic who may scoff, we may not find either people who nevertheless accept with a firm and pious conviction the story of the resurrection of the half-decayed Lazarus and other like miracles, or yet those who while ready to crush a Theosophist for his beliefs, would never dare to scoff at those of a Christian.
[A Yogin acquires an increase of specific gravity by swallowing great draughts of the air, and compressing the same within the system.]
This is what, three years ago, in describing the phenomenon in Isis Unveiled, we called "interpolarization." (See vol. i. op. cit.,pp. 23and 24.)
[On the powers resulting from Prâpti, it is said . . .]
As a deaf and dumb person learns to understand the exact meaning of what is said simply from the motion of the lips and face of the speaker, and without understanding any language phonetically, other and extra senses can be developed in the soul as well as in the physical mind of a mute, a sixth and equally phenomenal sense is developed as the result of practice, which supplies for him the lack of the other two.
Magnetic and mesmeric aura, or "fluid," can be generated and intensified in every man to an almost miraculous extent, unless he be by nature utterly passive.
We have known of such a faculty (divining the thoughts of others) to exist in individuals who were far from being adepts or Yogins, and had never heard of the latter. It can be easily developed by intense will, perseverance and practice, especially in persons who are born with natural analytical powers, intuitive perception, and a certain aptness for observation and penetration. These may, if they only preserve perfect purity, develop the faculty of divining people’s thoughts to a degree which seems almost supernatural. Some very clever but quite uneducated detectives in London and Paris, develop it in themselves to an almost faultless perfection. It can also be helped by mathematical study and practice. If then such is found to be the case with simple individuals, why not in men who have devoted to it a whole life, helped on by a study of the accumulated experience of many a generation of mystics and under the tuition of real adepts?
The dual soul is no fancy and may be one day explained in scientific language, when the psycho-physiological faculties of man shall be better studied, when the possibility of many a now-doubted phenomenon is discovered, and when truth will no longer be sacrificed to conceit, vanity and routine. Our physical senses have nothing to do with the spiritual or psychological faculties. The latter begin their action where the former stop, owing to that Chinese wall about the soul empire, called matter.
[Concerning the power called Vashitva, it is observed . . .]
Perhaps the Hobilgans and the Shaberons of Tibet might have something to tell us if they chose. The great secret which enwraps the mystery of the reïncarnations of their great Dalay-Lamas, their supreme Hobilgans, and others who as well as the former are supposed, a few days after their enlightened souls have laid aside their mortal clothing, to reincarnate themselves in young, and, previously to that, very weak bodies of children, has never yet been told. These children, who are invariably on the point of death when designated to have their bodies become the tabernacles of the souls of deceased Buddhas, recover immediately after the ceremony, and, barring accident, live long years, exhibiting trait for trait the same peculiarities of temper, characteristics and predilections as the dead man’s. Vashitva is also said to be the power of taming living creatures and of making them obedient to one’s own wishes and orders.
[Pythagoras, who visited India, is said to have tamed by the influence of his will or word a furious bear, prevented an ox from eating beans, and stopped an eagle in its flight.]
These are mesmeric feats and it is only by (in)exact scientists that mesmerism is denied in our days. It is largely treated of in Isis, and the power of Pythagoras is explained in vol. i. p. 283, et seq.
[Îshatwa, or divine power. When the passions are restrained from their desires, the mind becomes tranquil and the soul is awakened.]
In which case it means that the soul, being liberated from the yoke of the body through certain practices, discipline and purity of life, during the lifetime of the latter, acquires powers identical with its primitive element, the universal soul. It has overpowered its material custodian; the terrestrial gross appetites and passions of the latter, from being its despotic masters, have become its slaves, hence the soul has become free henceforth to exercise its transcendental powers, untrammelled by any fetters.
[With regard to restoring the dead to life.]
Life once extinct can never be recalled, but another life and another soul can sometimes reanimate the abandoned frame, if we may believe learned men who were never known to utter an untruth.
Wherever the word "soul" has occurred in the course of the above comments, the reader must bear in mind that we do not use it in the sense of an immortal principle in man, but in that of the group of personal qualities which are but a congeries of material particles whose term of survival beyond the physical, or material, personality is for a longer or shorter period, proportionately with the grossness or refinement of the individual. Various correspondents have asked whether the Siddhis of Yoga can only be acquired by the rude training of Hatha Yoga; and The Journal of Science (London) assuming that they cannot, launched out in the violent expressions which were recently quoted in these pages. But the fact is that there is another, an unobjectionable and rational process, the particulars of which cannot be given to the idle enquirer, and which must not even be touched upon at the latter end of a commentary like the present one. The subject may be reverted to at a more favourable time.
H. P. BLAVATSKY
WHAT SHALL WE DO FOR OUR FELLOW-MEN?
From H.P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. I.
Articles by HPB
You have obliged my friends and myself by answering or annotating my letter to you in your number of July I5th. Will you allow us to continue this discussion? Several letters which I have received in consequence of this correspondence not only from Germany, but also from England,1. [Footnote: 1. Perchance also, from Madras? - Ed. ] make it appear likely that your readers on the other side of the Channel also take an interest in this all-important question. As the purport of my former communication has been misunderstood, I have now made this question the title of my present letter, in order to emphasize the point. My friends and I did not ask: Shall we do anything for our fellow-men or nothing? but: What shall we do for them?
You agree with us--as your note 4 to my last letter (pg. 431) [This refers to her article "Le Phare De L'Inconnu" or The Beacon-Light of the Unknown -BNet] unmistakably shows--that the ultimate Goal which the mystic or the occultist have to strive for, is not perfection IN existence (the "world") but absolute being: that is, we have to strive for deliverance FROM all existence in any of the three worlds or planes of existence. The difference of opinions, however, is this: Shall we now, nevertheless, assist all our fellow-men indiscriminately in their worldly affairs; shall we occupy ourselves with their national and individual Karma, in order to help them to improve the "world" and to live happily in it; shall we strive with them to realize socialistic problems, to further science, arts and industries, to teach them cosmology, the evolution of man and of the universe, etc., etc.,--or on the other hand, shall we only do the best we can to show our fellow-men the road of wisdom that will lead them out of the world and as straight as possible towards their acknowledged goal of absolute existence (Para-Nirvana, Moksha, Atma) [beyond the blissful state - to set free, to release - pure conscious self-BNet]? Shall we consequently only work for those who are willing to get rid of all individual existence and yearning to be delivered from all selfishness, from all strivings, who are longing only for eternal peace?
Answer. As the undersigned accepts for her views and walk in life no authority dead or living, no system of philosophy or religion but one--namely, the esoteric teachings of ethics and philosophy of those she calls "MASTERS"--answers have, therefore, to be given strictly in accordance with these teachings. My first reply then is: Nothing of that which is conducive to help man, collectively or individually, to live--not "happily"--but less unhappily in this world, ought to be indifferent to the Theosophist-Occultist. It is no concern of his whether his help benefits a man in his worldly or spiritual progress; his first duty is to be ever ready to help if he can, without stopping to philosophize. It is because our clerical and lay Pharisees too often offer a Christian dogmatic tract, instead of the simple bread of life to the wretches they meet--whether these are starving physically or morally--that pessimism, materialism and despair win with every day more ground in our age. Weal and woe, or happiness and misery, are relative terms. Each of us finds them according to his or her predilections; one in worldly, the other in intellectual pursuits, and no one system will ever satisfy all. Hence, while one finds his pleasure and rest in family joys, another in "Socialism" and the third in a "longing only for eternal peace," there may be those who are starving for truth, in every department of the science of nature, and who consequently are yearning to learn the esoteric views about "cosmology, the evolution of man and of the Universe."--H.P.B.
According to our opinion the latter course is the right one for a mystic; the former one we take to be a statement of our views. Your notes to my former letter are quite consistent with this view, for in your note 3 you say: "Paranirvana [Beyond the blissful state -BNet] is reached only when the Manvantara [lit. translation between two men- meaning between two life cycles of the entire universe -BNet] has closed and during the 'night' of the universe or Pralaya." If the final aim of paranirvana cannot be attained individually, but only solidarily by the whole of the present humanity, it stands to reason, that in order to arrive at our consummation we have not only to do the best we can for the suppression of our own self, but that we have to work first for the world-process to hurry all the worldly interests of Hottentots, and the European vivisectors, having sufficiently advanced to see their final goal of salvation, are ready to join us in striving towards that deliverance.
Answer. According to our opinion as there is no essential difference between a "mystic" and a "Theosophist-Esotericist" or Eastern Occultist, the above cited course is not "the right one for a mystic." One, who while "yearning to be delivered from all selfishness" directs at the same time all his energies only to that portion of humanity which is of his own way of thinking, shows himself not only very selfish but is guilty of prejudice and partiality. When saying that Para,or Parinirvana rather, is reached only at the Manvantaric close, I never meant to imply the "planetary" but the whole Cosmic Manvantara, i.e.,at the end of "an age" of Brahmâ, not one "Day." For this is the only time when during the universal Pralaya mankind (i.e., not only the terrestrial mankind but that of every "man" or "manu-bearing" globe, star, sun or planet) will reach "solidarily" Parinirvana, and even then it will not be the whole mankind, but only those portions of the mankind which will have made themselves ready for it. Our correspondent's remark about the "Hottentots" and "European vivisectors" seems to indicate to my surprise that my learned Brother has in his mind only our little unprogressed Terrene mankind? --H.P.B.
You have the great advantage over us, that you speak with absolute certainty on all these points, in saying: "this is the esoteric doctrine," and "such is the teaching of my masters." We do not think that we have any such certain warrant for our belief; on the contrary, we want to learn, and are ready to receive, wisdom, wherever it may offer itself to us. We know of no authority or divine revelation; for, as far as we accept Vedantic or Buddhistic doctrines, we only do so because we have been convinced by the reasons given; or, where the reasons prove to be beyond our comprehension, but where our intuition tells us: this, nevertheless, is likely to be true, we try our best to make our understanding follow our intuition.
Answer. I speak "with absolute certainty" only so far as my own personal belief is concerned. Those who have not the same warrant for their belief as I have, would be very credulous and foolish to accept it on blind faith. Nor does the writer believe any more than her correspondent and his friends in any "authority" let alone "divine revelation"! Luckier in this than they are, I need not even rely in this as they do on my intuition,as there is no infallible intuition. But what I do believe in is (1), the unbroken oral teachings revealed by living divine men during the infancy of mankind to the elect among men; (2),that it has reached us unaltered; and (3) that the MASTERS are thoroughly versed in the science based on such uninterrupted teaching.--H.P.B.
In reference, therefore, to your note 5, it was not, nor is it, our intention "to inflict any criticism on you"; on the contrary we should never waste time with opposing anything we think wrong; we leave that to its own fate; but we try rather to get at positive information or arguments, wherever we think they may offer themselves. Moreover, we have never denied, nor shall we ever forget, that we owe you great and many thanks for your having originated the present movement and for having made popular many striking ideas hitherto foreign to European civilization. We should now feel further obliged to you, if you (or your masters) will give us some reasons, which could make it appear likely to us, why paranirvana could not be attained by any jiva at any time (a), and why the final goal can only be reached solidarily
Answer (a). There is some confusion here. I never said that no jiva could attain Parinirvana, nor meant to infer that "the final goal can only be reached solidarily" by our present humanity. This is to attribute to me an ignorance to which I am not prepared to plead guilty, and in his turn my correspondent has misunderstood me. But as every system in India teaches several kinds of pralayas as also of Nirvanic or "Moksha" states, Dr. Hübbe-Schleiden has evidently confused the Prakrita with the Naimittika Pralaya, of the Visishtadwaita Vedantins. I even suspect that my esteemed correspondent has imbibed more of the teachings of this particular sect of the three Vedantic schools than he had bargained for; that his "Brahmin Guru" in short, of whom there are various legends coming to us from Germany, has coloured his pupil far more with the philosophy of Sri Ramanujacharya, than with that of Sri Sankarachârya. But this is a trifle connected with circumstances beyond his control and of a Karmic character. His aversion to "Cosmology" and other sciences including theogony, and as contrasted with "Ethics" pure and simple, dates also from the period he was taken in hand by the said learned guru. The latter expressed it personally to us, after his sudden salto mortali from esotericism--too difficult to comprehend and therefore to teach,--to ethics which any one who knows a Southern language or two of India, can impart by simply translating his texts from philosophical works with which the country abounds. The result of this is, that my esteemed friend and correspondent talks Visishtadwaitism as unconsciously as M. Jourdain talked "prose," while believing he argues from the Mahayâna and Vedantic standpoint--pure and simple. If otherwise, I place myself under correction. But how can a Vedantin speak of Jivas as though these were separate entities and independent of JIVATMA the one universal soul! This is a purely Visishtadwaita doctrine which asserts that Jivatma is different in each individual from that in another individual? He asks "why parinirvana could not be attained by any jiva at any time." We answer that if by "jiva" he means the "Higher Self" or the divine ego of man, only--then we say it may reach Nirvana, not Parinirvana, but even this, only when one becomes Jivanmukta,which does not mean "at any time." But if he understands by "Jiva" simply the one life which, the Visishtadwaitas say is contained in every particle of matter, separating it from the sarira or body that contains it, then, we do not understand at all what he means. For, we do not agree that Parabrahm only pervades every Jiva, as well as each particle of matter, but say that Parabrahm is inseparable from every Jiva, as from every particle of matter since it is the absolute, and that IT is in truth that Jivatma itself crystallized--for want of a better word. Before I answer his questions, therefore, I must know whether he means by Parinirvana, the same as I do, and of which of the Pralayas he is talking. Is it of the Prakrita Maha Pralaya, which takes place every 311,040,000,000,000 years; or of the Naimittika Pralaya occurring after each Brahma Kalpa equal to 1,000 Maha Yugas, or which? Convincing reasons can be given then only when two disputants understand each other. I speak from the esoteric standpoint almost identical with the Adwaita interpretation; Dr. Hübbe Schleiden argues from that of--let him say what system, for, lacking omniscience, I cannot tell.--H.P.B.
by the whole of the humanity living at present. In order to further this discussion, I will state here some of the reasons which appear to speak against this view, and I will try to further elucidate some of the consequences of acting in accordance with each of these two views:
1. The unselfishness of the Altruist has a very different character according to which of the two views he takes. To begin with our view, the true Mystic who believes that he can attain deliverance from the world and from his individuality independent of the Karma of any other entities, or of the whole humanity, is an Altruist, because and so far as he is a monist, that is to say, on account of the tat twam asi ["That Thou Art" -BNet]. Not the form or the individuality, but the being of all entities is the same and is his own; in proportion as he feels his own avidya, agnana or unwisdom, so does he feel that of other entities, and has compassion with them on that
Answer: (b). To feel "compassion" without an adequate practical result ensuing from it is not to show oneself an "Altruist" but the reverse. Real self-development on the esoteric lines is action. "Inaction in a deed of mercy becomes an action in a deadly sin." (Vide The Two Paths in the "Voice of the Silence," p. 31.)--H.P.B.
account. (b) To take now the other view: Is not the altruism of an occultist who sees himself tied to the Karma of all his fellowmen, and who, on that account, labours for and with them, rather an egotistical one? For is not at the bottom of his "unselfishness" the knowledge that he cannot work out his own salvation at any lesser price? The escape from selfishness for such a man is self-sacrifice for the "world"; for the mystic, however, it is self-sacrifice to the eternal, to absolute being. Altruism is certainly considered one of the first requirements of any German Theosopher--we can or will not speak for others--but we are rather inclined to think that altruism had never been demanded in this country in the former sense (of self-sacrifice for the "world"), but only in the latter sense of self-sacrifice to the eternal.(c)
Answer: (c). An Occultist does not feel "himself tied to the Karma of all his fellow men," no more than one man feels his legs motionless because of the paralysis of another man's legs. But this does not prevent the fact that the legs of both are evolved from, and contain the same ultimate essence of the ONE LIFE. Therefore, there can be no egotistical feeling in his labours for the less favoured brother. Esoterically, there is no other way, means or method of sacrificing oneself "to the eternal" than by working and sacrificing oneself for the collective spirit of Life, embodied in, and (for us) represented in its highest divine aspect by Humanity alone. Witness the Nirmanakâya,--the sublime doctrine which no Orientalist understands to this day but which Dr. Hübbe Schleiden can find in the IInd and IIIrd Treatises in the "Voice of the Silence. "Naught else shows forth the eternal; and in no other way than this can any mystic or occultist truly reach the eternal, whatever the Orientalists and the vocabularies of Buddhist terms may say, for the real meaning of the Trikâya, the triple power of Buddha's embodiment, and of Nirvana in its triple negative and positive definitions has ever escaped them.
If our correspondent believes that by calling himself "theosopher" in preference to "theosophist" he escapes thereby any idea of sophistry connected with his views, then he is mistaken. I say it in all sincerity, the opinions he expresses in his letters are in my humble judgment the very fruit of sophistry. If I have misunderstood him, I stand under correction.--H.P.B.
2. It is a misunderstanding, if you think in your note 5, that we are advocating entire "withdrawal or isolation from the world." We do so as little as yourself, but only recommend an "ascetic life," as far as it is necessary to prepare anyone for those tasks imposed upon him by following the road to final deliverance from the world. But the consequence of your view seems to lead to joining the world in a worldly life, and until good enough reasons are given for it, we do not approve of this conduct. That we should have to join our fellow men in all their worldly interests and pursuits, in order to assist them and hasten them on to the solidary and common goal, is contrary to our intuition.(a) To
Answer. (a) It is difficult to find out how the view expressed in my last answer can lead to such an inference, or where have I advised my brother Theosophists to join men "in all their worldly interests and pursuits!" Useless to quote here again that which is said in note 1, for every one can turn to the passage and see that I have said nothing of the kind. For one precept I can give a dozen. "Not nakedness, not plaited hair, not dirt, not fasting or lying on the earth . . . not sitting motionless, can purify one who has not overcome desires," says Dhammapada (chap. I, 141). "Neither abstinence from fish or flesh, nor going naked, nor the shaving of the head, nor matted hair, etc., etc., will cleanse a man not free from delusions" Amagandha Sutta (7, 11). This is what I meant. Between salvation through dirt and stench, like St. Labro and some Fakirs, and worldly life with an eye to every interest, there is a long way. Strict asceticism in the midst of the world, is more meritorious than avoiding those who do not think as we do, and thus losing an opportunity of showing them the truth.--H.P.B.
strive for the deliverance from the world by furthering and favouring the world-process seems rather a round-about method. Our inclination leads us to retire from all worldly life, and to work apart--from a monastery or otherwise--together with and for all those fellow-men who are striving for the same goal of deliverance, and who are willing to rid themselves of all karma, their own as well as that of others. We would assist also all those who have to remain in worldly life, but who are already looking forward to the same goal of release, and who join us in doing their best to attain this end. We make no secret of our aims or our striving; we lay our views and our reasons before anyone who will hear them, and we are ready to receive amongst us anyone who will honestly join us.(b) Above all, however, we are doing
Answer: (b).So do we. And if, not all of us live up to our highest ideal of wisdom, it is only because we are men not gods, after all. But there is one thing, however, we never do (those in the esoteric circle, at any rate): we set ourselves as examples to no men, for we remember well that precept in Amagandha Sutta that says: "Self-praise, disparaging others, conceit, evil communications (denunciations), these constitute (moral) uncleanness"; and again, as in the Dhammapada, "The fault of others is easily perceived, but that of oneself is difficult to perceive; the faults of others one lays open as much as possible, but one's own fault one hides, as a cheat hides the bad die from the gambler."--H.P.B.
our best to live up to our highest ideal of wisdom; and perhaps the good example may prove to be more useful to our fellow-men than any organized propaganda of teaching.
By the bye, in your note you couple together Schopenhauer and Eduard von Hartmann. In this question, however, both are of opposite opinions. Schopenhauer, like most German mystics and theosophers, represents the views of Vedanta and (exoteric) Buddhism, that final salvation can, and can only, be individually attained independent of time and the karma of others. Hartmann, however, verges much more towards your opinion, for he does not believe in individual consummation and deliverance from the world; he thinks all mysticism and particularly that which is now known as Indian philosophy, an error, and demands of everyone as an altruistic duty to give himself up to the world-process, and to do his best in order to hasten its end. (He is the "clever modern philosopher" whom I have mentioned on page 435).(c)
Answer: (c). As I have never read von Hartmann, and know very little of Schopenhauer, nor do they interest me, I have permitted myself only to bring them forward as examples of the worst kind of pessimism; and you corroborate what I said, by what you state of Hartmann. If, however, as you say, Hartmann thinks "Indian philosophy an error," then he cannot be said to verge toward my opinion, as I hold quite a contrary view. India might return the compliment with interest.--H.P.B.
3. There is, and can be, no doubt that Vedanta and (exoteric) Buddhism do not hold your view, but ours. Moreover, one could scarcely dispute that Lord Buddha--whatever esoteric doctrine he may have taught--founded monasteries, or that he favoured and assisted in doing so. Whether he expected all his disciples to become Bodhisattvas may be doubtful, but he certainly pointed out the "happy life" of a Bhikshu as the road to salvation; he expressly abstained from teaching cosmology or any worldly science; he never meddled with the worldly affairs of men, but every assistance he rendered them was entirely restricted to showing them the road to deliverance from existence. And just the same with Vedanta. It prohibits any attachment to worldly views and interests, or enquiries after cosmology or evolution a fortiori socialism and any other world-improvement. All this Vedanta calls Agnana (Buddhism: Avidya), while Gnana or wisdom--the only aim of a sage (Gnani)--is but the striving for the realization of the eternal (true reality, Atma).(a)
Answer (a). It depends on what you call Vedanta--whether the Dwaita, the Adwaita, or the Visishtadwaita. That we differ from all these, is no news, and I have spoken of it repeatedly. Yet in the esotericism of the Upanishads,when correctly understood, and our esotericism, there will not be found much difference. Nor have I ever disputed any of the facts about Buddha as now brought forward; although these are facts from only his exoteric biography. Nor has he invented or drawn from his inner consciousness the philosophy he taught, but only the method of his rendering it. Buddhism being simply esoteric Bodhism taught before him secretly in the arcana of the Brahminical temples, contains, of course, more than one doctrine of which the Lord Buddha never spoke of in public. But this shows in no way that he did not teach them to his Arhats. Again, between "attachment to worldly views or interests" and the study of Cosmology, which is not "a worldly science" however, there is an abyss. One pertains to religious and philosophical asceticism, the other is necessary for the study of Occultism--which is not Buddhistic, but universal. Without the study of cosmogony and theogony which teach the hidden value of every force in Nature and their direct correspondence to, and relation with, the forces in man (or the principles) no occult psychophysics or knowledge of man as he truly is, is possible. No one is forced to study esoteric philosophy unless he likes it, nor has anyone ever confused Occultism with Buddhism or Vedantism.--H.P.B.
Agnani (misprinted in the July number page 436: agnam) signified just the same as what is rendered by "fool" in the English translations of the Dhammapada and the Suttas. It is never understood "intellectually" and certainly does not mean an ignoramus, on the contrary, the scientists are rather more likely to be agnanis than any "uneducated" mystic. Agnani expresses always a relative notion. Gnani is anyone who is striving for the self-realization of the eternal; a perfect gnani is only the jivanmukta,but anyone who is on the road of development to this end may be (relatively) called gnani,while anyone who is less advanced is comparatively an agnani. As, however, every gnani sees the ultimate goal above himself, he will call himself an agnani, until he has attained jivanmukta; moreover, no true mystic will ever call any fellow-man a "fool" in the intellectual sense of the word, for he lays very little stress on intellectuality. To him anyone is a "fool" only in so far as he cares for (worldly) existence and strives for anything else than wisdom, deliverance, paranirvana. And this turn of mind is entirely a question of the "will" of the individuality. The "will" of the agnani is carrying him from spirit into matter (descending arch of the cycle), while the "will" of the gnani disentangles him from matter and makes him soar up towards "spirit" and out of all existence. This question of overcoming the "dead point" in the circle is by no means one of intellectuality; it is quite likely that a sister of mercy or a common labourer may have turned the corner while the Bacons, Goethes, Humboldts, &c., may yet linger on the descending side of existence tied down to it by their individual wants and desires.(b)
Answer: (b). Agnam, instead of agnani was of course a printer's mistake. With such every Journal and Magazine abounds, in Germany, I suppose, as much as in England, and from which LUCIFER is no more free than the Sphinx. It is the printer's and the proof-reader's Karma. But it is a worse mistake, however, to translate Agnani by "fool," all the Beals, Oldenbergs, Webers, and Hardys, to the contrary. Gnana (or, Jnâna, rather) is Wisdom certainly, but even more, for it is the spiritual knowledge of things divine, unknown to all but those who attain it--and which saves the Jivanmuktas who have mastered both Karmayoga and Jnânayoga. Hence, if all those who have not jnâna (or gnana) at their fingers' end, are to be considered "fools" this would mean that the whole world save a few Yogis is composed of fools, which would be out-carlyleing Carlyle in his opinion of his countrymen. Ajnâna, in truth, means simply "ignorance of the true Wisdom," or literally, "Wisdomless" and not at all "fool." To explain that the word "fool" is "never understood intellectually" is to say nothing, or worse, an Irish bull, as, according to every etymological definition and dictionary, a fool is one who is "deficient in intellect"and "destitute of reason." Therefore, while thanking the kind doctor for the trouble he has taken to explain so minutely the vexed Sanskrit term, I can do so only in the name of LUCIFER'S readers, not for myself, as I knew all he says, minus his risky new definition of "fool" and plus something else, probably as early as on the day when he made his first appearance into this world of Maya. No doubt, neither Bacon, Humboldt, nor even the great Hæckel himself, the "light of Germany," could ever be regarded as "gnanis"; but no more could any European I know of, however much he may have rid himself of all "individual wants and desires."--H.P.B.
4. As we agree, that all existence, in fact, the whole world and the whole of its evolutionary process, its joys and evils, its gods and its devils, are Maya (illusion) or erroneous conception of the true reality: how can it appear to us worth while to assist and to promote this process of misconception?(a)
Answer (a). Precisely, because the term maya, just like that of "agnana" in your own words--expresses only a relative notion. The world . . . "its joys and evils, its gods and devils," and men to boot, are undeniably, when compared with that awful reality everlasting eternity, no better than the productions and tricks of maya, illusion. But there the line of demarcation is drawn. So long as we are incapable of forming even an approximately correct conception of this inconceivable eternity, for us, who are just as much an illusion as anything else outside of that eternity, the sorrows and misery of that greatest of all illusions--human life in the universal mahamaya-- for us, I say, such sorrows and miseries are a vivid and a very sad reality. A shadow from your body, dancing on the white wall, is a reality so long as it is there, for yourself and all who can see it; because a reality is just as relative as an illusion. And if one "illusion" does not help another "illusion" of the same kind to study and recognise the true nature of Self, then, I fear, very few of us will ever get out from the clutches of maya.--H.P.B.
5. Like all world-existence, time and causality also are only Maya or--as Kant and Schopenhauer have proved beyond contradiction--are only our conditioned notions, forms of our intellection. Why then should any moment of time, or one of our own unreal forms of thought, be more favourable to the attainment of paranirvana than any other? To this paranirvana, Atma, or true reality, any manvantara is just as unreal as any pralaya. And this is the same with regard to causality,as with respect to time,from whichever point of view you look at it. If from that of absolute reality, all causality and karma are unreal, and to realize this unreality is the secret of deliverance from it. But even if you look at it from the agnana-view, that is to say, taking existence for a reality, there can never (in "time") be an end--nor can there have been a beginning--of causality. It makes, therefore, no difference whether any world is in pralaya or not; also Vedanta rightly says that during any pralaya the karana sharira (causal body, agnana) of Ishvara and of all jivas, in fact, of all existence, is continuing.(b) And how could this be other
Answer: (b). This is again a Visishtadwaita interpretation, which we do not accept in the esoteric school. We cannot say, as they do that while the gross bodies alone perish, the sukshma particles, which they consider uncreated and indestructible and the only real things, alone remain. Nor do we believe any Vedantin of the Sankarachârya school would agree in uttering such a heresy. For this amounts to saying that Manomaya Kosha, which corresponds to what we call Manas, mind, with its volitious feelings and even Kamarupa the vehicle of the lower manas, also survives during pralaya. See page 185 in Five Years of Theosophy and ponder over the three classifications of the human principles. Thence it follows that the Karana Sarira (which means simply the human Monad collectively or the reincarnating ego), the "causal body" cannot continue; especially if, as you say, it is agnana, ignorance or the wisdomless principle, and even agreeably with your definition "a fool." The idea alone of this "fool" surviving during any pralaya, is enough to make the hair of any Vedanta philosopher and even of a full blown Jivanmukta, turn grey, and thrust him right back into an "agnani" again. Surely as you formulate it, this must be a lapsus calami? And why should the Karana Sarira of Iswara let alone that of "all Jivas (!) be necessary during pralaya for the evolution of another universe? Iswara, whether as a personal god, or an intelligent independent principle, per se, every Buddhist whether esoteric or exoteric and orthodox, will reject; while some Vedantins would define him as Parabrahm plus MAYA (only, i.e., a conception valid enough during the reign of maya, but not otherwise. That which remains during pralaya is the eternal potentiality of every condition of Pragna (consciousness) contained in that plane or field of consciousness, which the Adwaita calls Chidakasan and Chinmatra (abstract consciousness), which, being absolute, is therefore perfect unconsciousness--as a true Vedantin would say.--H.P.B.
wise? After the destruction of any universe in pralaya, must not another appear? Before our present universe must there not have been an infinite number of other universes? How could this be, if the cause of existence did not last through any pralaya as well as through any kalpa? And if so, why should any pralaya be a more favourable moment for the attainment of paranirvana than any manvantara?
6. But if then one moment of time and one phase of causality were more favourable for this than any other: why should it just be any pralaya after a manvantara, not the end of the maha-kalpa or at least that of a kalpa. In any kalpa (of 4,320 millions of earthly years) there are 14 manvantaras and pralayas and in each maha-kalpa (of 311,040 milliards of earthly years) there are (36,000 X I4) 504,000 manvantaras and pralayas. Why is this opportunity of paranirvana offered just so often and not oftener, or not once only at the end of each universe. In other words, why can paranirvana only be obtained by spurts and in batches; why, if it cannot be attained by any individuality at its own time, why must one wait only for the whole of one's present fellow-humanity; why not also for all the animals, plants, amœbas and protoplasms, perhaps also for the minerals of our planet--and why not also for the entities on all the other stars of the universe?(a)
Answer (a). As Dr. Hübbe Schleiden objects in the form of questions to statements and arguments that have never been formulated by me, I have nothing to say to this.--H.P.B.
7. But, it appears, the difficulty lies somewhat deeper still. That which has to be overcome, in order to attain paranirvana, is the erroneous conception of separateness, the selfishness of individuality, the "thirst for existence" (trishna, tanha). It stands to reason, that this sense of individuality can only be overcome individually: How can this process be dependent on other individualities or anything else at all? Selfishness in the abstract which is the cause of all existence, in fact, Agnana and Maya, can never be all together removed and extinguished. Agnana is as endless as it is beginningless, and the number of jivas (atoms?) is absolutely infinite; if the jivas of a whole universe were to be extinguished in paranirvana, jivaship and agnana would not be lessened by one atom. In fact, both are mere unreality and misconception. Now, why should just one batch of humanity have to unite, in order to get rid each of his own misconception of reality?(b)
Answer: (b) . Here again the only "unreality and misconception" I can perceive are his own. I am glad to find my correspondent so learned, and having made such wonderful progress since I saw him last some three years ago, when still in the fulness of his agnana; but I really cannot see what all his arguments refer to?.--H.P.B.
Summing up, I will now give three instances of the difference in which, I think a Mystic or (exoteric) Buddhist, Bhikshu or Arhat, on the one side, and an occultist or theosophist on the other, would act, if both are fully consistent with their views and principles. Both will certainly use any opportunity which offers itself to do good to their fellow-men; but the good which they will try to do, will be of a different kind.
Supposing they meet a poor, starving wretch, with whom they share their only morsel of bread: the mystic will try to make the man understand that the body is only to be kept up, because that entity which lives in it has a certain spiritual destination, and that this destination is nothing less than getting rid of all existence, and, at the same time, of all wants and desires; that having to beg for one's food is no real hardship, but might give a happier life than that of rich people with all their imaginary worries and pretensions, that, in fact, the life of a destitute who is nothing and who has nothing in the world, is the "happy life"--as Buddha and Jesus have shown--when it is coupled with the right aspiration to the eternal, the only true and unchangeable reality, the divine peace. If the mystic finds that the man's heart is incapable of responding to any keynote of such true religiousness, he will leave him alone, hoping that, at some future time, he too will find out that all his worldly wants and desires are insatiable and unsatisfying, and that after all true and final happiness can only be found in striving for the eternal.--Not so the occultist. He will know that he himself cannot finally realise the eternal, until every other human individuality has likewise gone through all the worldly aspirations and has been weaned from them. He will, therefore, try to assist this poor wretch first in his worldly affairs; he will perhaps teach him some trade or handicraft by which he can earn his daily bread, or he will plan with him some socialistic scheme for bettering the worldly position of the poor.
Answer. Here the "Mystic" acts precisely as a "Theosophist or Occultist" of the Eastern school would. It is extremely interesting to learn where Dr. Hübbe Schleiden has studied "Occultists" of the type he is describing? If it is in Germany, then pitying the Occultist who knows "that he himself cannot realize the eternal" until every human soul has been weaned from "worldly aspirations" I would invite him to come to London where other Occultists who reside therein would teach him better. But then why not qualify the "Occultist" in such case and thus show his nationality? Our correspondent mentions with evident scorn, "Socialism" in this letter, as often as he does "Cosmology"? We have but two English Socialists, so far, in the T.S. of which two every Theosophist ought to be proud and accept them as his exemplar in practical Buddha- and Christ-like charity and virtues. Such socialists--two active altruists full of unselfish love and charity and ready to work for all that suffers and needs help--are decidedly worth ten thousand Mystics and other Theosophers, whether German or English, who talk instead of acting and sermonize instead of teaching. But let us take note of our correspondent's second instance.--H.P.B.
Secondly, supposing further the mystic and the occultist meet two women, the one of the "Martha" sort, the other of the "Mary" character. The mystic will first remind both that every one has, in the first instance, to do his or her duty conscientiously, be it a compulsory or a self-imposed duty. Whatever one has once undertaken and wherever he or she has contracted any obligation towards a fellow-being, this has to be fulfilled "up to the uttermost farthing." But, on the other hand, the mystic will, just for this very reason, warn them against creating for themselves new attachments to the world and worldly affairs more than they find absolutely unavoidable. He will again try to direct the whole of their attention to their final goal and kindle in them every spark of high and genuine aspiration to the eternal.--Not so the occultist. He may also say all that the mystic has said and which fully satisfies "Mary"; as "Martha," however, is not content with this and thinks the subject rather tedious and wearisome, he will have compassion with her worldliness and teach her some esoteric cosmology or speak to her of the possibilities of developing psychic powers and so on.
Answer. Is the cat out of the bag at last? I am asked to "oblige" our correspondent by answering questions, and instead of clear statements, I find no better than transparent hints against the working methods of the T.S.! Those who go against "esoteric cosmology" and the development of psychic powers are not forced to study either. But I have heard these objections four years ago, and they too, were started by a certain "Guru" we are both acquainted with, when that learned "Mystic" had had enough of Chelaship and suddenly developed the ambition of becoming a Teacher. They are stale.--H.P.B.
Thirdly, supposing our mystic and our occultist meet a sick man who applies to them for help. Both will certainly try to cure him the best they can. At the same time, both will use this opportunity to turn their patient's mind to the eternal if they can; they will try to make him see that everything in the world is only the just effect of some cause, and that, as he is consciously suffering from his present illness, he himself must somewhere have consciously given the corresponding and adequate cause for his illness, either in his present or in any former life; that the only way of getting finally rid of all ills and evils is, not to create any more causes, but rather to abstain from all doing, to rid oneself of every avoidable want and desire, and in this way to lift oneself above all causality (karma). This, however, can only be achieved by putting good objects of aspiration into the place of the bad, the better object into that of the good, and the best into that of the better; directing, however, one's whole attention to our highest goal of consummation and living in the eternal as much as we can, this is the only mode of thought that will finally deliver us from the imperfections of existence.
If the patient cannot see the force of this train of argument or does not like it, the mystic will leave him to his own further development, and to some future opportunity which might bring the same man near him again, but in a more favourable state of mind.
Not so the occultist. He will consider it his duty to stick to this man to whose Karma, as to that of everyone else, he is irremediably and unavoidably bound; he will not abandon him until he has helped him on to such an advanced state of true spiritual development that he begins to see his final goal and to aspire to it "with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might." In the meantime, however, the occultist will try to prepare him for that by helping him to arrange his worldly life in a manner as favourable to such an aspiration as possible. He will make him see that vegetarian or rather fruit-diet is the only food fully in accordance with human nature; he will teach him the fundamental rules of esoteric hygienics; he will show him how to make the right use of vitality (mesmerism), and as he does not feel any aspiration for the nameless and formless eternal, he will meanwhile make him aspire for esoteric knowledge and for occult powers.
Now, will you do us the great favour to show us reasons why the mystic is wrong and the occultist right, or why paranirvana should not be attained by any individuality and at any time, when its own karma has been burnt by gnana in samadhi,and independent of the karma of any other individual or that of humanity.
Neuhaugen bei München,September, 1889
Answer. As no Occultist of my acquaintance would act in this supposed fashion no answer is possible. We theosophists, and especially your humble servant, are too occupied with our work to lose time at answering supposititious cases and fictions. When our prolific correspondent tells us whom he means under the name of the "Occultist" and when or where the latter has acted in that way, I will be at his service. Perhaps he means some Theosophist or rather member of the T.S. under this term? For I, at any rate, never met yet an "Occultist" of that description. As to the closing question I believe it was sufficiently answered in the earlier explanations of this reply.
Yours, as sincerely,