Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. --TENNYSON
The goal of yesterday will be the starting-point of to-morrow. --CARLYLE
THE great mystic of the eighteenth century, the ardent disciple of Jacob Boehme--Louis Claude de Saint Martin--used to say in the last years of his life: "I would have loved to meet more with those who guess at truths, for such alone are living men."
This remark implies that, outside the limited circle of mystics which has existed in every age, people endowed with correct psychic intuition were still fewer at the end of the last century than they are now. These were, indeed, years of complete soul-blindness and spiritual drought. It is during that century that the chaotic darkness and Babylonish confusion with regard to spiritual things, which have ever reigned in brains too crammed with mere scientific learning, had fully asserted their sway over the masses. The lack of soul perception was not confined to the "Forty Immortals" of the French Academy, nor to their less pretentious colleagues of Europe in general, but had infected almost all the classes of Society, settling down as a chronic disease called Scepticism and the denial of all but matter.
The messengers sent out periodically in the last quarter of every century westward--ever since the mysteries which alone had the key to the secrets of nature had been crushed out of existence in Europe by heathen and Christian conquerors--had appeared that time in vain. St. Germain and Cagliostro are credited with real phenomenal powers only in fashionable novels, to remain inscribed in encyclopedias--to purblind the better, we suppose, the minds of forthcoming generations--as merely clever charlatans. The only man whose powers and knowledge could have been easily tested by exact science, thus forming a firm link between physics and metaphysics--Friedrich Anton Mesmer--had been hooted from the scientific arena by the greatest "scholar-ignoramuses" in things spiritual, of Europe. For almost a century, namely from 1770 down to 1870, a heavy spiritual darkness descending on the Western hemisphere, settled, as if it meant to stay, among cultured societies.
But an under-current appeared about the middle of our century in America, crossing the Atlantic between 1850 and 1860. Then came in its trail the marvelous medium for physical manifestations, D. D. Home. After he had taken by storm the Tuileries and the Winter Palace, light was no longer allowed to shine under a bushel. Already, some years before his advent, "a change" had come "o'er the spirit of the dream" of almost every civilized community in the two worlds, and a great reactive force was now at work.
What was it? Simply this. Amidst the greatest glow of the self-sufficiency of exact science, and the reckless triumphant crowing of victory over the ruins of the very foundations--as some Darwinists had fondly hoped--of old superstitions and creeds; in the midst of the deadliest calm of wholesale negations, there arose a breeze from a wholly unexpected quarter. At first the significant afflatus was like a hardly perceptible stir, puffs of wind in the rigging of a proud vessel--the ship called "Materialism," whose crew was merrily leading its passengers toward the Maelstrom of annihilation. But very soon the breeze freshened and finally blew a gale. It fell with every hour more ominously on the ears of the iconoclasts, and ended by raging loud enough to be heard by everyone who had ears to hear, eyes to see, and an intellect to discern. It was the inner voice of the masses, their spiritual intuition--that traditional enemy of cold intellectual reasoning, the legitimate progenitor of Materialism--that had awakened from its long cataleptic sleep. And, as a result, all those ideals of the human soul which had been so long trampled under the feet of the would-be conquerors of the world-superstitions, the self-constituted guides of a new humanity--appeared suddenly in the midst of all these raging elements of human thought, and, like Lazarus rising out of his tomb, lifted their voice and loudly demanded recognition.
This was brought on by the invasion of "Spirit" manifestations, when mediumistic phenomena had broken out like an influenza all over Europe. However unsatisfactory their philosophical interpretation, these phenomena being genuine and true as truth itself in their being and their reality, they were undeniable; and being in their very nature beyond denial, they came to be regarded as evident proofs of a life beyond--opening, moreover, a wide range for the admission of every metaphysical possibility. This once the efforts of materialistic science to disprove them availed it nothing. Beliefs such as man's survival after death, and the immortality of Spirit, were no longer pooh-poohed as figments of imagination; for, prove once the genuineness of such transcendental phenomena to be beyond the realm of matter, and beyond investigation by means of physical science, and--whether these phenomena contain per se or not the proof of immortality, demonstrating as they do the existence of invisible and spiritual regions where other forces than those known to exact science are at work--they are shown to lie beyond the realm of materialism. Cross, by one step only, the line of matter and the area of Spirit becomes infinite. Therefore, believers in them were no longer to be brow-beaten by threats of social contumacy and ostracism; this, also, for the simple reason that in the beginning of these manifestations almost the whole of the European higher classes became ardent "Spiritualists." To oppose the strong tidal wave of the cycle there remained at one time but a handful, in comparison with the number of believers, of grumbling and all-denying fogeys.
Thus was once more demonstrated that human life, devoid of all its world-ideals and beliefs--in which the whole of philosophical and cultured antiquity, headed in historical times by Socrates and Plato, by Pythagoras and the Alexandrian Neo-Platonists, believed--becomes deprived of its higher sense and meaning. The world-ideals can never completely die out. Exiled by the fathers, they will be received with opened arms by the children.
Let us recall to mind how all this came to pass.
It was, as said, between the third and fourth quarters of the present century that reaction set in in Europe--as still earlier in the United States. The days of a determined psychic rebellion against the cold dogmatism of science and the still more chilling teachings of the schools of Büchner and Darwin, had come in their pre-ordained and pre-appointed time of cyclic law. Our older readers may easily recollect the suggestive march of events. Let them remember how the wave of mysticism, arrested in its free course during its first twelve or fifteen years in America by public, and especially by religious, prejudices, finally broke through every artificial dam and over-flooded Europe, beginning with France and Russia and ending with England--the slowest of all countries to accept new ideas, though these may bring us truths as old as the world.
Nevertheless, and notwithstanding every opposition, "Spiritualism," as it was soon called, got its rights of citizenship in Great Britain. For several years it reigned undivided. Yet in truth, its phenomena, its psychic and mesmeric manifestations, were but the cyclic pioneers of the revival of prehistoric Theosophy, and the occult Gnosticism of the antediluvian mysteries. These are facts which no intelligent Spiritualist will deny; as, in truth, modern Spiritualism is but an earlier revival of crude Theosophy, and modern Theosophy a renaissance of ancient Spiritualism.
Thus, the waters of the great "Spiritual" flood were neither primordial nor pure. When, owing to cyclic law, they had first appeared, manifesting at Rochester, they were left to the mercies and mischievous devices of two little girls to give them a name and an interpretation. Therefore when, breaking the dam, these waters penetrated into Europe, they bore with them scum and dross, flotsam and jetsam, from the old wrecks of hypotheses and hazily outlined aspirations, based upon the dicta of the said little girls. Yet the eagerness with which "Spiritualism" and its twin-sister Spiritism were received, all their inanities notwithstanding, by almost all the cultured people of Europe, contains a splendid lesson.
In this passionate aspiration of the human Soul--this irrepressible flight of the higher elements in man toward their forgotten Gods and the God within him--one heard the voice of the public conscience. It was an undeniable and not to be misunderstood answer of the inner nature of man to the then revelling, gloating Materialism of the age, as an escape from which there was but another form of evil--adherence to the dogmatic, ecclesiastical conventionalism of State religions. It was a loud, passionate protest against both, a drifting towards a middle way between the two extremes--namely, between the enforcement for long centuries of a personal God of infinite love and mercy by the diabolical means of sword, fire, and inquisitional tortures; and, on the other hand, the reign, as a natural reaction, of complete denial of such a God, and along with him of an infinite Spirit, a Universal Principle manifesting as immutable LAW.
True science had wisely endeavored to make away, along with the mental slavery of mankind, with its orthodox, paradoxical God; pseudo-science had devised by means of sophistry to do away with every belief save in matter. The haters of the Spirit of the world, denying God in Nature as much as an extra-cosmic Deity, had been preparing for long years to create an artificial, soulless humanity; and it was only just that their Karma should send a host of pseudo-"Spirits" or Souls to thwart their efforts. Shall anyone deny that the highest and the best among the representatives of Materialistic science have succumbed to the fascination of the will-o'-the-wisps which looked at first sight as the most palpable proof of an immortal Soul in man1--i.e., the alleged communion between the dead and the living?2 Yet, such as they were, these abnormal manifestations, being in their bulk genuine and spontaneous, carried away and won all those who had in their souls the sacred spark of intuition. Some clung to them because, owing to the death of ideals, of the crumbling of the Gods and faith in every civilized centre, they were dying themselves of spiritual starvation; others because, living amidst sophistical perversion of every noble truth, they preferred even a feeble approximation to truth to no truth whatever.
But, whether they placed belief in and followed "Spiritualism" or not, many were those on whom the spiritual and psychic evolution of the cycle wrought an indelible impression; and such ex-materialists could never return again to their iconoclastic ideas. The enormous and ever-growing numbers of mystics at the present time show better than anything else the undeniably occult working of the cycle. Thousands of men and women who belong to no church, sect, or society, who are neither Theosophists nor Spiritualists, are yet virtually members of that Silent Brotherhood the units of which often do not know each other, belonging as they do to nations far and wide apart, yet each of whom carries on his brow the mark of the mysterious Karmic seal--the seal that makes of him or her a member of the Brotherhood of the Elect of Thought. Having failed to satisfy their aspirations in their respective orthodox faiths, they have severed themselves from their Churches in soul when not in body, and are devoting the rest of their lives to the worship of loftier and purer ideals than any intellectual speculation can give them. How few, in comparison to their numbers, and how rarely one meets with such, and yet their name is legion, if they only chose to reveal themselves.
Under the influence of that same passionate search of "life in spirit" and "life in truth," which compels every earnest Theosophist onward through years of moral obloquy and public ostracism; moved by the same dissatisfaction with the principles of pure conventionality of modern society, and scorn for the still triumphant, fashionable thought, which, appropriating to itself unblushingly the honoured epithets of "scientific" and "foremost," of "pioneer" and "liberal," uses these prerogatives but to domineer over the fainthearted and selfish--these earnest men and women prefer to tread alone and unaided the narrow and thorny path that lies before him who will neither recognize authorities nor bow before cant. They may leave "Sir Oracles" of modern thought, as well as the Peck-sniffs of time-dishonoured and dogma-soiled lay-figures of Church-conventionality, without protest; yet, carrying in the silent shrine of their soul the same grand ideals as all mystics do, they are in truth Theosophists de facto if not de jure. We meet such in every circle of society, in every class of life. They are found among artists and novelists, in the aristocracy and commerce, among the highest and the richest, as among the lowest and the poorest. Among the most prominent in this century is Count L. Tolstoi, a living example, and one of the signs of the times in this period, of the occult working of the ever moving cycle. Listen to a few lines of the history of the psycho-spiritual evolution of this aristocrat, the greatest writer of modern Russia, by one of the best feuilletonistes in St. Petersburg.
. . . The most famous of our Russian authors, the "word-painter," a writer of Shakespearean realism, a heathen poet, one who in a certain sense worshipped in his literary productions life for the sake of life, an sich und fur sich--as the Hegelians used to say--collapses suddenly over his fairy palette, lost in tormenting thought; and forthwith he commences to offer to himself and the world the most abstruse and insoluble problems.... The author of the 'Cossacks' and 'Family Happiness,' clad in peasant's garb and bast shoes, starts as a pilgrim on foot in search of divine truth. He goes to the solitary forest skits3 of the Raskolnikyi,4 visits the monks of the Desert of Optino, passes his time in fasting and prayer. For his belles lettres and philosophy he substitutes the Bible and the writings of the Church Fathers; and, as a sequel to 'Anna Karenina' he creates his 'Confessions' and 'Explanations of the New Testament.'
The fact that Count Tolstoi, all his passionate earnestness notwithstanding, did not become an orthodox Christian, nor has succumbed to the wiles of Spiritualism (as his latest satire on mediums and "spirits" proves), prevents him in no way from being a full-fledged mystic. What is the mysterious influence which has suddenly forced him into that weird current almost without any transition period? What unexpected idea or vision led him into that new groove of thought? Who knoweth save himself, or those real "Spirits," who are not likely to gossip it out in a modern seance-room?
And yet Count Tolstoi is by no means a solitary example of the work of that mysterious cycle of psychic and spiritual evolution now in its full activity--a work which, silently and unperceived, will grind to dust the most grand and magnificent structures of materialistic speculations, and reduce to nought in a few days the intellectual work of years. What is that moral and invisible Force? Eastern philosophy alone can explain.
In 1875 the Theosophical Society came into existence. It was ushered into the world with the distinct intention of becoming an ally to, a supplement and a helper of, the Spiritualistic movement --of course, in its higher and more philosophical aspect. It succeeded, however, only in making of the Spiritualists its bitterest enemies, its most untiring persecutors and denunciators. Perchance the chief reason for it may be found in the fact that many of the best and most intellectual of their representatives passed body and soul into the Theosophical Society. Theosophy was, indeed, the only system that gave a philosophical rationale of mediumistic phenomena, a logical raison d'etre for them. Incomplete and unsatisfactory some of its teachings certainly are, which is only owing to the imperfections of the human nature of its exponents, not to any fault in the system itself or its teachings. Based as these are upon philosophies hoary with age, the experience of men and races nearer than we are to the source of things, and the records of sages who have questioned successively and for numberless generations the Sphinx of Nature, who now holds her lips sealed as to the secrets of life and death--these teachings have to be held certainly as a little more reliable than the dicta of certain "intelligences."
Whether the intellect and consciousness of the latter be induced and artificial--as we hold--or emanate from a personal source and entity, it matters not. Even the exoteric philosophies of the Eastern sages--systems of thought whose grandeur and logic few will deny--agree in every fundamental doctrine with our Theosophical teachings. As to those creatures which are called and accepted as "Spirits of the Dead"--because, forsooth, they themselves say so--their true nature is as unknown to the Spiritualists as to their mediums. With the most intellectual of the former the question remains to this day sub judice. Nor is it the Theosophists who would differ from them in their higher view of Spirits.
As it is not the object of this article, however, to contrast the two most significant movements of our century, nor to discuss their relative merits or superiority, we say at once that our only aim in bringing them forward is to draw attention to the wonderful progress of late of this occult cycle. While the enormous numbers of adherents to both Theosophy and Spiritualism, within or outside of our respective societies, show that both movements were but the necessary and, so to say, Karmically pre-ordained work of the age, and that each of them was born at its proper hour and fulfilled its proper mission at the right time, there are other and still more significant signs of the times.
A few years ago we predicted in print that after a short cycle of abuse and persecution, many of our enemies would come round, while others would, en désespoir de cause follow our example and found mystic Societies. As Egypt in the prophecy of Hermes, Theosophy was accused by "impious foreigners" (in our case, those outside its fold) of adoring monsters and chimaeras, and teaching "enigmas incredible to posterity." If our "sacred scribes and hierophants" are not wanderers upon the face of the earth, it was through no fault of good Christian priests and clergymen; and no less than the Egyptians in the early centuries of the new faith and era, had we, from fear of a still worse profanation of sacred things and names, to bury deeper than ever the little of the esoteric knowledge that had been permitted to be given out to the world.
But, during the last three years all this has rapidly changed, and the demand for mystic information became so great, that the Theosophical Publishing Society could not find workers enough to supply the demand. Even the "Secret Doctrine," the most abstruse of our publications--notwithstanding its forbidding price, the conspiracy of silence, and the nasty, contemptuous flings at it by some daily papers--has proved financially a success. See the change. That which Theosophists hardly dared speak about with bated breath for fear of being called lunatics but a few years ago, is now being given out by lecturers, publicly advocated by mystical clergymen. While the orthodox hasten to make away with the old hell and sapphire-paved New Jerusalem, the more liberal accept now under Christian veils and biblical nomenclature our Doctrine of Karma, Reincarnation, and God as an abstract Principle.
Thus the Church is slowly drifting into philosophy and pantheism. Daily, we recognize some of our teachings creeping out as speculations--religious, poetical and even scientific: and these noticed with respect by the same papers which will neither admit their theosophical origin nor abstain from vilipending the very granary of such mystic ideas--the Theosophical Society. About a year ago a wise criticaster exclaimed in a paper we need not advertise:--
To show the utterly unscientific ideas with which the work (the Secret Doctrine ) is crammed, it may be sufficient to point out that its author refuses belief in the existence of inorganic matter and endows atoms with intelligence.
And to-day we find Edison's conception of matter quoted with approval and sympathy by London magazines from Harper's, in which we read:
I do not believe that matter is inert, acted upon by an outside force. To me it seems that every atom is possessed by a certain amount of primitive intelligence: look at the thousand ways in which atoms of hydrogen combine with those of other elements. . . . Do you mean to say they do this without intelligence? . . .
Mr. Edison is a Theosophist, though not a very active one. Still the very fact of his holding a diploma seems to inspire him with Theosophical truths.
"Theosophists believe in reincarnation!" say contemptuously our Christian enemies. "We do not find one word ever said by our Saviour that could be interpreted against the modern belief in reincarnation. . . ." preaches the Rev. Mr. Bullard, thus half opening, and very wisely too, a back door for the day when this Buddhistical and Brahminical "inane belief" will have become general.
Theosophists believe that the earliest races of men were as ethereal as are now their astral doubles, and call them chhayas (shadows). And now hear the English poet-laureate singing in his last book, "Demeter, and other Poems"--
The ghost in man, the ghost that once was man,
But cannot wholly free itself from men,
Are calling to each other through a Dawn,
Stronger than earth has ever seen; the veil
Is rending, and the voices of the day
Are heard across the voices of the Dark.
No sudden heaven, nor sudden hell for man,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Æonian evolution, swift or slow,
Through all the spheres--an ever opening height,
An ever lessening earth. . . .5
This looks as if Lord Tennyson had read Theosophical books, or is inspired by the same grand truths as we are.
"Oh!" we hear some sceptics exclaiming, "but there are poetical licenses. The writer does not believe a word of it." How do you know this? But even if it were so, here is one more proof of the cyclic evolution of our Theosophical ideas, which, I hope, will not be dubbed, to match, as "clerical licenses." One of the most esteemed and sympathetic of London clergymen, the Rev. G. W. Allen, has just stepped into our Theosophical shoes and followed our good example by founding a "Christo-Theosophical Society." As its double title shows, its platform and programme have to be necessarily more restricted and limited than our own, for in the words of its circular "it is (only) intended to cover ground which that (the original or 'Parent') Society at present does not cover." However much our esteemed friend and co-worker in Theosophy may be mistaken in believing that the teachings of the Theosophical Society do not cover esoteric Christianity as they do the esoteric aspect of all other world-religions, yet his new Society is sure to do good work. For, if the name chosen means anything at all, it means that the work and study of the members must of necessity be Theosophical. The above is again proven by what the circular of the "Christo-Theosophical Society" states in the following words:--
It is believed that at the present day there are many persons who are dissatisfied with the crude and unphilosophic enunciation of Christianity put forward so often in sermons and theological writings Some of these persons are impelled to give up all faith in Christianity, but many of them do this reluctantly, and would gladly welcome a presentation of the old truths which should show them to be in harmony with the conclusions of reason and the testimony of undeniable intuition. There are many others, also, whose only feeling is that the truths of their religion mean so very little to them practically, and have such very little power to influence and ennoble their daily life and character. To such persons the Christo-Theosophical Society makes its appeal, inviting them to join together in a common effort to discover that apprehension of Christian Truth, and to attain that Power, which must be able to satisfy the deep yearnings of the human heart, and give strength for self-mastery and a life lived for others.
This is admirable, and shows plainly its purpose of countering the very pernicious influences of exoteric and dogmatic theology, and it is just what we have been trying to do all along. All simililarity, however, stops here, as it has nothing to do, as it appears, with universal but only sectarian Theosophy. We fear greatly that the "C.T.S."--by inviting
to its membership those persons who, while desirous of apprehending ever more and more clearly the mysteries of Divine Truth, yet wish to retain as the foundation of their philosophy the Christian doctrines of God as the Father of all men, and Christ as His revelation of Himself to mankind
--limits thereby "the Mysteries of the Divine Truth" to one single and the youngest of all religions, and avatars to but one man. We hope sincerely that the members of the Christo-Theosophical Society may be able to avoid this Charybdis without falling into Scylla.
There is one more difficulty in our way, and we would humbly ask to have it explained to us. "The Society," states the circular, "is not made up of Teachers and Learners. We are all learners." This, with the hope distinctly expressed a few lines higher, that the members will "gladly welcome a presentation of the old truths . . . in harmony with the conclusions of reason," etc., leads to a natural query: Which of the "learners" is to present the said truths to the other learners? Then comes the unavoidable reasoning that whosoever the "learner" may be, no sooner he will begin his "presentation" than he will become nolens volens a "teacher."
But this is, after all, a trifle. We feel too proud and too satisfied with the homage thus paid to Theosophy, and with the sight of a representative of the Anglican clergy following in our track, to find fault with details, or wish anything but good luck to the Christo-Theosophical Association.
H. P. Blavatsky
Lucifer, March, 1890
1 Let our readers recall the names of the several most eminent men in literature and science who had become openly Spiritualists. We have but to name Professor Hare, Epes Sarjeant, Robert Dale Owen, Judge Edmonds, etc., in America; Professors Butlerof, Wagner, and, greater than they, the late Dr. Pirogoff (see his posthumous "Memoirs," published in Rooskaya Starina, 1884-1886), in Russia; Zöllner, in Germany; M. Camille Flammarion, the Astronomer, in France; and last but not least, Messrs. A. Russell Wallace, W. Crookes, Balfour Stewart, etc., in England, followed by a number of scientific stars of the second magnitude.
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2 We hope that the few friends we have left in the ranks of the Spiritualists may not misunderstand us. We denounce the bogus "spirits" of seances held by professional mediums, and deny the possibility of such manifestations of spirits on the physical plane. But we believe thoroughly in Spiritualistic phenomena, and in the intercourse between Spirits of Egos--of embodied and disembodied entities; only adding that, since the latter cannot manifest on our plane, it is the Ego of the living man which meets the Ego of the dead personality, by ascending to the Devachanic plane, which may be accomplished in trance. during sleep in dreams, and by other subjective means.
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3 Skit is a religious hermitage.
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4 Raskolnik, a Dissenter; hitherto persecuted and forbidden sects in Russia.
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5 The italics are ours.
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AT or near the beginning of the present century all the books called Hermetic were loudly proclaimed and set down as simply a collection of tales, of fraudulent pretences and most absurd claims, being, in the opinion of the average man of science, unworthy of serious attention. They "never existed before the Christian era," it was said; "they were all written with the triple object of speculation, deceit and pious fraud"; they were all, the best of them, silly apocrypha. In this respect, the nineteenth century proved a most worthy progeny of the eighteenth. For in the age of Voltaire, as well as in this, everything that did not emanate direct from the Royal Academy was false, superstitious and foolish, and belief in the wisdom of the Ancients was laughed to scorn, perhaps more even than it is now. The very thought of accepting as authentic the works and vagaries of false Hermes, a false Orpheus, a false Zoroaster, of false Oracles, false Sibyls, and a thrice false Mesmer and his absurd "fluids," was tabooed all along the line. Thus all that had its genesis outside the learned and dogmatic precincts of Oxford and Cambridge,l or the Academy of France, was denounced in those days as "unscientific" and "ridiculously absurd." This tendency has survived to the present day.
One feels dwarfed and humbled in reading what the great modern "Destroyer" of every religious belief, past, present and future--M. Renan--has to say of poor humanity and its powers of discernment. "Mankind," he believes, "has but a very narrow mind; and the number of men capable of seizing acutely (finement)the true analogy of things is quite imperceptible" (Études Religieuses). Upon comparing, however, this statement with another opinion expressed by the same author, namely, that "the mind of the true critic should yield, hands and feet bound, to facts, to be dragged by them wherever they may lead him" (Études Historiques),2 one feels relieved. When, moreover, these two philosophical statements are strengthened by that third enunciation of the famous Academician, who declares that "tout parti pris à priori doit etre banni de la science," there remains little to fear. Unfortunately M. Renan is the first to break the golden rule.
The evidence of Herodotus, called, sarcastically no doubt, "the father of history," since in every question upon which modern thought disagrees with him his testimony goes for nought; the sober and earnest assurances in the philosophical narratives of Plato and Thucydides, Polybius and Plutarch, and even certain statements of Aristotle himself; all these are invariably laid aside whenever they are involved with what modern criticism is pleased to regard as a myth. It is some time since Strauss proclaimed that "the presence of a supernatural element or miracle in a narrative is an infallible sign of the presence in it of a myth," and such is the criterium adopted tacitly by every modern critic. But what is a myth-- --to begin with? Are we not told distinctly by the ancient classics that mythus is equivalent to the word tradition? Was not its Latin equivalent the term fabula, a fable, a synonym with the Romans of that which was told, as having happened in prehistoric time, and not necessarily an invention? Yet with such autocrats of criticism and despotic rulers as M. Renan in France, and most of the English and German Orientalists, there may be no end of surprises in store for us in the century to come--historical, geographical, ethnological and philological surprises--travesties in philosophy having become so common of late that we can be startled by nothing in that direction. We have already been told by one learned speculator that Homer was simply a mythical personification of the Epopee,3 by another that Hippocrates, son of Esculapius "could only be a chimera," that the Asclepiadæ--their seven hundred years of duration notwithstanding--might after all prove simply a fiction; that the city of Troy--Dr. Schliemann notwithstanding--"existed only on the maps," etc., etc. Why should we not be invited after this to regard every hitherto historical character in days of old as a myth? Were not Alexander the Great needed by philology as a sledge-hammer to break the heads of Brâhmanical chronological pretensions, he would have become long ago simply a symbol for annexation, or a genius of Conquest, as De Mirville neatly put it.
Blank denial is the only means left, the most secure refuge and asylum, to shelter for some little time to come the last of the sceptics. When one denies unconditionally it becomes unnecessary to go to the trouble of arguing, and, what is worse, of having to yield occasionally a point or two before the irrefutable arguments and facts of one's opponent. Creuzer, greatest of the symbologists of his time, the most learned among the masses of erudite German mythologists, must have envied the placid self-confidence of certain sceptics, when he found himself forced in a moment of desperate perplexity to admit, "Decidedly and first of all we are compelled to return to the theories of trolls and genii, as they were understood by the ancients, a doctrine without which it is absolutely impossible to explain to oneself anything with regard to the mysteries."4
Occultism, all over the globe, is intimately connected with Chaldean Wisdom, and its records show the forefathers of the Aryan Brâhmans in the sacred offices of the Chaldees--an Adept caste (different from the Babylonian Chaldeans and Caldees)--at the head of the arts and sciences, of astronomers and seers, confabulating with the "stars," and "receiving instructions from the brilliant sons of Ilu" (the concealed deity). Their sanctity of life and great learning--the latter passing to posterity--made the name for long ages a synonym of Science. Yes; they were indeed mediators between the people and the appointed messengers of heaven, whose bodies shine in the starry heavens, and they were the interpreters of their wills. But is this Astrolatry or Sabeanism? Have they worshipped the stars we see, or is it the modern (following in this the mediæval) Roman Catholics, who, guilty of the same worship to the letter, and having borrowed it from the later Chaldees, the Lebanon Nabatheans and the baptized Sabeans (not from the learned Astronomers and Initiates of the days of old), would now veil it by anathematizing the source whence it same? Theology and Churchianism would fain trouble the clear spring that fed them from the first, to prevent posterity from looking into it and thus seeing their reflection. The Occultists, however, believe the time has come to give every one his due. As to our other opponents--the modern sceptic and the epicurean, the cynic and the Sadducee--they may find our answer to their denials in our earlier writings (see Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, p. 535). We say now what we said then, in reply to the many unjust aspersions thrown on the ancient doctrines: "The thought of the present day commentator and critic as to the ancient learning is limited to and runs round the exotericism of the temples; his insight is either unwilling or unable to penetrate into the solemn adyta of old, where the hierophant instructed the neophyte to regard the public worship in its true light. No ancient sage would have taught that man is the king of creation, and that the starry heaven and our mother earth were created for his sake."
When we find such works as the Rivers of Life and Phallicism appearing in our day in print, under the auspices of Materialism, it is easy to see that the day for concealment and travesty has passed away. Science in philology, symbolism, and comparative religions has progressed too far to deny any longer, and the Church is too wise and cautious not to be now making the best of the situation. Meanwhile, the "rhombs of Hecate" and the "wheels of Lucifer,"5 daily exhumed on the site of Babylon, can no longer be used as a clear evidence of Satan-worship, since the same symbols are shown in the ritual of the Latin Church. The latter is too learned to be ignorant of the fact that even the later Chaldees, who had gradually fallen into dualism, reducing all things to two primal principles, had no more worshipped Satan or idols than have the Zoroastrians, who are now accused of the same, but that their religion was as highly philosophical as any; their dual and exoteric Theosophy became the heirloom of the Jews, who, in their turn, were forced to share it with the Christians. Parsis are charged to this day with heliolatry, and yet in the Chaldean Oracles, under the "Magical and Philosophical Precepts" of Zoroaster, the following is found:
Direct not thy mind to the vast measures of the earth;
For the plant of truth is not upon ground.
Nor measure the measures of the sun, collecting rules,
For he is carried by the eternal will of the Father, not for your sake.
Dismiss the impetuous course of the moon;
For she runs always by the work of necessity.
The progression of the stars was not generated for your sake.6
There is a vast difference between the true worship taught to those who showed themselves worthy, and the state religions. The Magians are accused of all kinds of superstition, but the Chaldean Oracle proceeds:
The wide aërial flight of birds is not true,
Nor the dissections of the entrails of victims; they are all mere toys.
If you would open the sacred paradise of piety,
Where virtue, wisdom, and equity are assembled.
Surely it is not those who warn people against "mercenary fraud" who can be accused of it; as said elsewhere: "If they accomplished acts which seem miraculous, who can with fairness presume to deny that it was done merely because they possessed a knowledge of natural philosophy and psychological science to a degree unknown to our schools." The above-quoted stanzas form a rather strange teaching to come from those who are universally believed to have worshipped the sun, and moon, and the starry host, as Gods. The sublime profundity of the Magian precepts being beyond the reach of modern materialistic thought, the Chaldean philosophers are accused, together with the ignorant masses, of Sabeanism and sun-worship, cults which were simply those of the uneducated masses.
Things of late have changed, true enough; the field of investigation has widened; old religions are a little better understood; and, since that memorable day when the Committee of the French Academy, headed by Benjamin Franklin, investigated Mesmerss phenomena but to proclaim them charlatanry and clever knavery, both "heathen philosophy" and mesmerism have acquired certain rights and privileges, and are now viewed from quite a different standpoint. Is full justice rendered them withal, and are they appreciated any better? We are afraid not. Human nature is the same now, as when Pope said of the force of prejudice, that:
The difference is as great between
The optics seeing, as the objects seen.
All manners take a tincture from our own,
Or some discolour'd through our passion shown,
Or fancy's beam enlarges, multiplies,
Contracts, inverts, and gives ten thousand dyes.
Thus, in the first decades of our century, Hermetic Philosophy was regarded by both Churchmen and men of science from two quite opposite points of view. The former called it sinful and devilish, the latter denied point-blank its authenticity, notwithstanding the evidence brought forward by the most erudite men of every age, including our own. The learned Father Kircher, for one, was not even noticed; and his assertion, that all the fragments known under the titles of works by Mercury Trismegistus, Berosus, Pherecydes of Syros, etc., were rolls escaped from the fire that devoured one hundred thousand volumes of the great Alexandrian Library, was simply laughed at. Nevertheless, the educated classes of Europe knew then, as they do now, that the famous Alexandrian Library--"the marvel of the ages"--was founded by Ptolemy Philadelphus; and that most of its MSS. were carefully copied from hieratic texts and the oldest parchments, Chaldean, Phoenician, Persian, etc., these transliterations and copies amounting in their turn to another hundred thousand, as Josephus and Strabo assert.
Moreover, there is the additional evidence of Clemens Alexandrinus, that ought to be credited to some extent,7 and he testifies to the existence of thirty thousand additional volumes of the Books of Thoth, placed in the library of the tomb of Osyman-diasus, over the entrance of which were inscribed the words, "A Cure for the Soul."
Since then, as everyone knows, entire texts out of the "apocryphal" works of the "false" Pymander, and the no less "false" Asclepiades, were found by Champollion inscribed within the most ancient monuments of Egypt. After having devoted their whole lives to the study of the records of the old Egyptian wisdom, both Champollion-Figeac and Champollion Junior, publicly declared, notwithstanding many biassed judgments, hazarded by certain hasty and unwise critics, that the Books of Hermes:
Truly contain a mass of Egyptian traditions which are constantly corroborated by the most authentic records and monuments of the Egypt of the hoariest antiquity, and are only the faithful copies of what is found in those books.
None will question the merit of Champollion as an Egyptologist, and if he declares that everything demonstrates the accuracy of the writings of the mysterious Hermes Trismegistus, that their antiquity runs back into the night of time, and that they are corroborated in their minutest details, then indeed criticism ought to' be fully satisfied. "These inscriptions," says Champollion, "are only the faithful echo and expression of the most ancient verities."8
Since this was written by him some of the apocryphal verses by the mythical Orpheus have also been found copied word for word in certain inscriptions of the Fourth Dynasty in hieroglyphics, addressed to various deities.
Finally, Creuzer discovered and pointed out the numerous passages borrowed from Orphic hymns by Hesiod and Homer; and Christians appealed, in their turn, to the testimony of Æschylus, as showing "prescience in at least one of the Sibyls of old," says De Mirville.9
Thus gradually the ancient claims came to be vindicated, and modern criticism had to submit to evidence. Many are now the writers who confess that such kind of literature as the Hermetic works of Egypt can never be dated too far back into the prehistoric ages. It was also found that the texts of many of those ancient works--Enoch included--deemed and so loudly proclaimed apocryphal just at the beginning of this century, are now discovered and recognized in the most secret and sacred sanctuaries of . Chaldea, India, Phœnicia, Egypt and Central Asia.
But even such proofs have failed to convince Materialism. The reason for it is very simple and self-evident. Those texts, studied and held in universal veneration at one time, copied and transcribed by every philosopher, and found in every temple; often mastered, whole lives of incessant mental labour having been devoted to them, by the greatest sages living, by statesmen and classic writers, kings and renowned Adepts--what were they? Treatises on Magic and Occultism, pure and simple; the now tabooed and derided Theosophy and Occult Sciences, laughed to scorn by modern Materialism. Were the people so simple and credulous in the days of Plato and Pythagoras? Were the millions of Babylonia and Egypt, of India and Greece, during the periods of learning and civilization that preceded the year One of our era (giving birth but to the intellectual darkness of the fanaticism of the Middle Ages), so simple and credulous that so many, otherwise great, men should have devoted their lives to an illusion, a mere hallucination? It would seem so, had we to be content with the word and conclusions of our modern philosophers.
However, every art and science, whatever its intrinsic merit, must have had a discoverer, and subsequently proficients in it to teach it to others. What is the origin of Occultism? Who are its most renowned professors? and what is known of these, whether in history or legend? We find Clemens Alexandrinus, one of the most learned and intelligent of the early Church Fathers, putting these same questions and answering them. "If," correctly argues that ex-pupil of the Neo-Platonic school and its philosophers,"if there is a science, there must necessarily be a professor of it." And he goes on to say that Cleanthes had Zeno to teach him; Theophrastus, Aristotle; Metrodorus, Epicurus; Plato, Socrates, etc.; and that when he looked further back to Pythagoras, Pherecydes and Thales, he had still to search and enquire who were their master and masters. The same for the Egyptians, the Indians, the Babylonians, and the Magi themselves. He would not cease questioning, he says, in order to learn who it was they all had for their masters. And when he should have forcibly brought down the enquiry to the very cradle of mankind, to the birth of the first man, he would reiterate once more his questioning, and ask him(Adam, no doubt) "who had been his professor?" Surely, argues Clemens, "his master would turn out no man this once," and even when we should have reached as high as the angels, the same query would have to be offered to them: "who were their [meaning the divine and the fallen angels] masters and doctors of Sciences?''l0
The aim of the good Father's long argument is of course to discover two distinct Masters, one the preceptor of Biblical Patriarchs, the other, the teacher of the Gentiles. But the Secret Doctrine need go to no such trouble. Her professors are well aware who were the Masters of their predecessors in Occult Sciences and Wisdom.
The two Professors are finally traced out by Clement, and they are, as might be expected, God, and His eternal and everlasting enemy and opponent, the Devil; the subject of Clement's enquiry relating to the dual aspect of the Hermetic Philosophy as cause and effect. Admitting the moral beauty and virtues preached in every Occult work he was acquainted with, Clement wants to know the cause of the apparent contradiction between doctrine and practice, good and bad Magic, and he comes to the conclusion that Magic has two origins--divine and diabolical. He perceives its bifurcation into two channels; hence his inference and deduction.
We perceive it too, without necessarily designating this bifurcation the "left Path"; we judge it as it issued from the hands of its founder. Otherwise, judging also by the effects of Clemens' own religion, and the walk in life of certain of its professors since the death of their Master, the Occultists would have a right to come to about the same conclusion, and say that while Christ, the Master of all true Christians, was in every way godly, those who resorted to the horrors of the Inquisition, to the extermination and torture of heretics, Jews, and Alchemists, the Protestant Calvin who burned Servetus, and the Catholic and Protestant persecuting successors, down to the whippers and burners of witches in America, must have had for their Master the Devil. But Occultists, not believing in the Devil, are precluded from retaliating in this way. Clemens' testimony, however, is valuable in so far as it shows (1) the enormous number of works on Occult Sciences extant in his day; and (2) the extraordinary powers acquired through those sciences by certain men.
He devotes the whole of his sixth volume of the Stromateis to this research of the first two "Masters" of the true and the false philosophies respectively, both preserved in the sanctuaries of Egypt. And thereupon he apostrophizes the Greeks, asking why they should not believe in the miracles of Moses when their own philosophers claim the same privileges. "It is Æacus," he says, "obtaining through his powers a marvellous rain; it is Aristæus who causes the winds to blow, Empedocles quieting the gale, and forcing it to cease,"l1 etc., etc.
The books of Mercurius Trismegistus attracted his attention the most. Their extreme wisdom, he remarks, ought always to be in everyone's mouth.l2 He is loud in his praise of Hystaspes (or Gushtasp), and of the Sibylline Books and even of astrology.
There have been use and abuse of Magic in all ages, as there are use and abuse of Mesmerism or Hypnotism in our own. The ancient world had its Apolloniuses and its Pherecydes, and intellectual people could discriminate between them, as they can now. While not one classic or pagan writer has ever found one word of blame for Apollonius of Tyana, for instance, it is not so with regard to Pherecydes. Hesychius of Miletus, Philo of Byblos and Eustathius charge him with having built his philosophy and science on demoniacal traditions. Cicero declares that Pherecydes is, potius divinus quam medicus, "rather a soothsayer than a physician"; and Diogenes Laërtius gives a vast number of stories relating to his predictions. One day Pherecydes of Syros prophesies the shipwreck of a vessel hundreds of miles away from him; another time he predicts the capture of the Lacedæmonians by the Arcadians; finally, he foresees his own wretched end.l3
Such imputations as these prove very little, except, perhaps, the presence of clairvoyance and prevision in every age. Had it not been for the evidence brought forward by his own co-religionists, that Pherecydes abused his powers, there would have been no proof at all against him, either of sorcery or of any other malpractice. Such evidence as is given by Christian writers is of no value. Baronius, for instance, and De Mirville find an unanswerable proof of demonology in the belief of a philosopher in the coëternity of matter with spirit. Says De Mirville:
Pherecydes, postulating in principle the primordiality of Zeus or Ether, and then admitting on the same plane another principle, coëternal and co-working with the first one, which he calls the fifth element, or Ôgenos--thus confesses that he gets his powers from Satan . . . for Ôgenos is Hades, and Hades is--our Christian Hell.
The first statement is "known to every school-boy" without De Mirville going to the trouble of explaining it; as to the deduction, every Occultist will deny it point-blank, and only smile at the folly. But now we come to the conclusion.
The résumé of the views of the Latin Church--as given by various authors of the same type as the Marquis--is that the Hermetic Books--their wisdom notwithstanding, and this wisdom is fully admitted in Rome--are "the heirloom left by Cain, the accursed, to mankind." It is "absolutely proven," says a modern memorialist of "Satan in History," "that immediately after the flood, Ham and his descendants had propagated anew the ancient teachings of the accursed Cainites and of the submerged Race." This proves, at any rate, that Magic, or Sorcery as he calls it, an Antediluvian Art, and thus one point is gained. For, as he says, "the evidence of Berosus is there" (Antiq. i. 3), and he shows Ham to be identical with the first Zoroaster(!), the famous founder of Bactria (!!), and the first author of all the Magic Arts of Babylonia. Zoroaster, on the same authority, is the Chemesenua or Ham (Cham),l4 the infamous,l5 who left the faithful and loyal Noachians, the blessed, and he is the object of the adoration of the Egyptians, who after receiving from him their country's name Chemia (chemistry?), built in his honour a town called Chemmis, or the "city of fire."l6 Ham adored fire, it is said, whence the name Chammaim, given to the pyramids; which, in their turn, having become vulgarized, passed on their name to our modern "chimney" (cheminée).l7
This statement is entirely wrong. Egypt was the cradle of chemistry and its birthplace--this is pretty well known by this time. Kenrick and others show the root of the word to be chemi or chem, which is not Cham or Ham, but Khem, the Egyptian Phallic God of the Mysteries.
But this is not all. De Mirville is bent upon finding a Satanic origin even for the now innocent Tarot.
As to the means for the propagation of this Magic--the bad, diabolical Magic--tradition points it out to us in certain Runic characters traced on metallic plates [or leaves, des lames], which escaped destruction in the deluge.l8 This might have been regarded as legendary had not subsequent discoveries shown it far from being so. Plates were found with other such Runic and Satanic characters traced upon them, and these being exhumed, were recognized [?]. They were covered with queer signs, utterly indecipherable and of undeniable antiquity, to which the Hamites [Sorcerers--with the author] attribute marvellous and terrible powers.l9
We may leave the pious Marquis to his own orthodox beliefs, as he, at any rate, seems quite sincere in his views; nevertheless, his able arguments will have to be sapped at their foundation, for it must be shown on mathematical grounds who, or rather what, Cain and Ham really were. De Mirville is only the faithful son of his Church, interested in keeping Cain in his anthropomorphic character and present place in Holy Writ. The student of Occultism, on the other hand, is solely interested in the truth. But the age has to follow the natural course of its evolution. As I said in Isis:
We are at the bottom of a cycle and evidently in a transitory state. Plato divides the intellectual progress of the universe during every cycle into fertile and barren periods. In the sublunary regions, the spheres of the various elements remain eternally in perfect harmony with the divine nature, he says; "but their parts," owing to a too close proximity to earth, and their commingling with the earthly (which is matter, and therefore the realm of evil), "are sometimes according, and sometimes contrary to (divine) nature." When those circulations--which Eliphas Lévi calls "currents of the astral light"--in the universal ether which contains in itself every element, take place in harmony with the divine spirit, our earth and everything pertaining to it enjoys a fertile period. The occult powers of plants, animals, and minerals magically sympathize with the "superior natures," and the divine soul of man is in perfect intelligence with these "inferior" ones. But during the barren periods, the latter lose their magic sympathy, and the spiritual sight of the majority of mankind is so blinded as to lose every notion of the superior powers of its own divine spirit. We are in a barren period: the eighteenth century, during which the malignant fever of scepticism broke out so irrepressibly, has entailed unbelief as an hereditary disease upon the nineteenth. The divine intellect is veiled in man; his animal brain alone philosophizes.
H. P. Blavatsky
Lucifer, June, 1892
1 We think we see the sidereal phantom of the old philosopher and mystic, Henry More, once of Cambridge University, moving about in the astral mist, over the old moss-covered roofs of the ancient town from which he wrote his famous letter to Glanvil about "witches." The soul seems restless and indignant, as on that day, May the 5th, 1678, when the Doctor complained so bitterly to the author of Sadducismus Triumphatus of Scot, Adie and Webster. "Our new inspired saints," the soul is heard to mutter, "sworn advocates of the witches, who . . . against all sense and reason . . . will have even no Samuel in the scene but a confederate knave . . . these inblown buffoons, puffed up with . . . ignorance, vanity and stupid infidelity." (See Letters to Glanvil, quoted in Isis Unveiled I, p. 206.)
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2 Mèmoire read at the Académie des Inscriptions et des Belles Lettres, 1859.
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3 See Alfred Maury's Grèce, Vol. I. p. 248. and the speculations of Holymann.
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4 Creuzer's Introduction des Mystères, Vol. III, p. 456.
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5 De Mirville's Pneumatologie, "Religion des Demons."
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6 Psellus. 4. See Cory's Ancient Fragments, p. 269, 2nd. Ed
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7 The forty-two Sacred Books of the Egyptians, mentioned by Clement of Alexandria, as having existed in his time. were but a portion of the Books of Hermes. Iamblichus, on the authority of the Egyptian priest Abammon. attributes twelve hundred, and Manetho thirty-six thousand, of such Books to Hermes. But the testimony of Iamblichus as a Neo-Platonist and theurgist, is of course rejected by modern critics. Manetho, who is held by Bunsen in the highest consideration as a "purely historical personage," with whom "none of the later native historians can be compared" (see Egypte, i. p. 97), suddenly became a Pseudo-Manetho, as soon as the ideas propounded by him clashed with the scientific prejudices against Magic and the Occult knowledge claimed by the ancient priests. However, none of the archæologists doubt for a moment the almost incredible antiquity of the Hermetic books. Champollion shows the greatest regard for their authenticity and truthfulness, corroborated as they are by many of the oldest monuments. And Bunsen brings irrefutable proofs of their age. From his researches, for instance, we learn that there was a line of sixty-one kings before the days of Moses, who preceded the Mosaic period by a clearly-traceable civilization of several thousand years. Thus we are warranted in believing that the works of Hermes Trismegistus were extant many ages before the birth of the Jewish: law-giver. "Styli and inkstands were found on monuments of the Fourth Dynasty, the oldest in the world," says Bunsen. If the eminent Egyptologist rejects the period of 48,863 years before Alexander, to which Diogenes Laërtius carries back the records of the priests, he is evidently more embarrassed with the ten thousand of astronomical observations, and remarks that "if they were actual observations, they must have extended over 10,000 years" (p. 14). "We learn, however," he adds, "from one of their own old chronological works . . . that the genuine Egyptian traditions concerning the mythological period, treated of myriads of years" (Egypte, i. p. 15).
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8 Egypte, 143.
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9 Pneumatologie, vi. Section 2, "Prometheus."
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10 Strom., i, vi.
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11 Therefore Empedocles is called --"the dominator of the wind."--Diogenes, L. 8. 60.
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12 See Stroma., I, vi. ch. iv.
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13 Diogenes, 1.. i. I § 146.
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14 The English-speaking people who spell the name of Noah's disrespectful son "Ham," have to be reminded that the right spelling is Kham, or Cham.
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15 Black Magic, or Sorcery, is the evil result obtained in any shape or way through the practice of Occult Arts; hence it has to be judged only by its effects. The name of Ham or Cain, when pronounced, has never killed anyone; whereas, if we are to believe that same Clemens Alexandrinus, who traces the professor of every Occultist, outside Christianity, to the Devil, the name of Jehovah (pronounced Jevo and in a peculiar way) had the effect of killing any man at a distance. The mysterious Schemhamphorasch were not always used for holy purposes by the Kabalists, especially on the Sabbath or Saturday, sacred to Saturn or the evil Shani.
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16Chemmis, the prehistoric city, may or may not have been built by Noah's son, but it was not his name that was given to the town, but that of the mystery goddess Khœmnu or Chœmnis (Greek form), the deity that was created by the ardent fancy of the neophyte, who was thus tantalized during his "twelve labours" of probation before his final initiation. Her male counterpart is Khem; Chemmis or Khemmis (to-day Akhmim) was the chief seat of the god Khem. The Greeks, identifying Khem with Pan, called this city Panopolis.
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17 Pneumatologie, Vol. II, p. 210. This looks more like pious vengeance than philology. The picture, however, is incomplete, as the author ought to have added to the "chimney" a witch flying out of it on a broomstick.
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18 How could they escape from the deluge--unless God so willed it?
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19 There is a curious work in Russia, written in the Slavonian Sacerdotal language. by the famous Archbishop Peter, on Mogela (the tomb). It is a book of Exorcisms (and, at the same time, Evocations) against the dark powers that trouble the monks and nuns in preference to all. Some who had the good fortune to get it--for its sale is strictly forbidden and kept secret--tried to read it aloud for the purposes of exorcising these powers. Some became lunatics; others died at the sight of what took place. A lady got it by paying two thousand roubles for an incomplete copy. She used it once and then threw it into the fire the same day, thereafter becoming deadly pale whenever the book was mentioned.
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"That the world is in such bad condition morally, is conclusive evidence that none of its religions and philosophies, those of the civilized races less than any other, have ever possessed the truth. The right and logical explanation of the subject, of the problems of the great dual principles--right and wrong, good and evil, liberty and despotism, pain and pleasure, egotism and altruism--are as impossible to them now as they were 1881 years ago: they are as far from the solution as they ever were. . . ."
(From an Unpublished Letter, well known to Theosophists.)
ONE need not belong to the Theosophical Society to be forcibly struck with the correctness of the above remarks. The accepted creeds of the civilized nations have lost their restraining influence on almost every class of society; nor have they per had any other restraint save that of physical fear: the dread of theocratic thumb-screws, and hell-tortures. The noble love of virtue, for virtue's own sake, of which some ancient Pagan nations were such prominent exemplars has never blossomed in the Christian heart at large, nor have any of the numerous post-christian philosophies answered the needs of humanity, except in isolated instances. Hence, the moral condition of the civilized portions of mankind has never been worse than it is now--not even, we believe, during the period of Roman decadence. Indeed, if our greatest masters in human nature and the best writers of Europe, such acute psychologists--true vivisectors of moral man--as Count Tolstoi in Russia, Zola in France, and as Thackery and Dickens in England before them, have not exaggerated facts--and against such optimistic view we have the records of the criminal and divorce courts in addition to Mrs. Grundy's private sessions "with closed doors"--then the inner rottenness of our Western morality surpasses anything the old Pagans have ever been accused of. Search carefully, search far and wide throughout the ancient classics, and even in the writings of the Church Fathers breathing such hatred to Pagans--and every vice and crime fathered upon the latter will find its modern imitator in the archives of the European tribunals. Yea, "gentle reader," we Europeans have servilely imitated every iniquity of the Pagan world, while stubbornly refusing to accept and follow any one of its grand virtues.
Withal, we moderns have undeniably surpassed the ancients in one thing--namely, in the art of whitewashing our moral sepulchres; of strewing with fresh and blooming roses the outside walls of our dwellings, to hide the better the contents thereof, the dead men's bones and all uncleanness, and making them, "indeed, appear beautiful without." What matters it that the "cup and platter" of our heart remain unclean if they "outwardly appear righteous unto men"? To achieve this object, we have become past-masters in the art of blowing trumpets before us, that we "may have glory of men." The fact, in truth, that we deceive thereby, neither neighbor nor kinsman, is a matter of small concern to our present generations of hypocrites, who live and breathe on mere appearances, caring only for outward propriety and prestige. These will moralize to their neighbors, but have not themselves even the moral courage of that cynical but frank preacher who kept saying to his congregation: "Do as I bid you, but do not do as I do."
Cant, cant, and always cant; in politics and religion, in Society, commerce, and even literature. A tree is known by its fruits; an Age has to be judged by its most prominent authors. The intrinsic moral value of every particular period of history has generally to be inferred from what its best and most observant writers had to say of the habits, customs, and ethics of their contemporaries and the classes of Society they have observed or been living in. And what now do these writers say of our Age, and how are they themselves treated?
Zola's works are finally exiled in their English translations; and though we have not much to say against the ostracism to which his Nana and La Terre have been subjected, his last--La Bête Humaine--might have been read in English with some profit. With "Jack the Ripper" in the near past, and the hypnotic rage in the present, this fine psychological study of the modern male neurotic and "hysteric," might have done good work by way of suggestion. It appears, however, that prudish England is determined to ignore the truth and will never allow a diagnosis of the true state of its diseased morals to be made--not by a foreign writer at all events. First, then, have departed Zola's works, forcibly exiled. At this many applauded, as such fictions, though vividly pointing out some of the most hidden ulcers in social life, were told really too cynically and too indecently to do much good. But now comes the turn of Count Lev Tolstoi. His last work, if not yet exiled from the bookstalls, is being rabidly denounced by the English and American press. In the words of "Kate Field's Washington" why? Does "The Kreutzer Sonata" defy Christianity? No. Does it advocate lax morals? No. Does it make the reader in love with that "intelligent beast" Pozdnisheff? On the contrary. . . . Why then is the Kreutzer Sonata so abused? The answer comes: "because Tolstoi has told the truth," not as averred "very brutally," but very frankly, and" about a very brutal condition of things" certainly; and we, of the19th century, have always preferred to keep our social skeletons securely locked in our closets and hidden far away from sight. We dare not deny the terribly realistic truths vomited upon the immorality of the day and modern society of Pozdnisheff; but--we may call the creator of Pozdnisheff names. Did he not indeed dare to present a mirror to modern Society in which it sees its own ugly face? Withal, he offers no possible cure for our social sores. Hence, with eyes lifted heavenward and foaming mouths, his critics maintain that, all its characteristic realism notwithstanding, the "Kreutzer Sonata is a prurient book, like to effect more harm than good, portraying vividly the great immorality of life, and offering no possible remedy for it" (Vanity Fair). Worse still. "It is simply repulsive. It is daring beyond measure and without excuse; . . . the work of a mind . . . not only morbid, but . . . far gone in disease through unwholesome reflection" (New York Herald).
Thus the author of "Anna Karenina" and of the "Death of Ivan Ilyitch," the greatest psychologist of this century, stands accused of ignoring "human nature" by one critic, of being "the most conspicuous case out of Bedlam," and by another (Scot's Observer) called "the ex-great artist." "He tilts," we are told, "against the strongest human instincts" because forsooth, the author--an orthodox Russian born--tells us that far better no marriage at all than such a desecration of what his church regards as one of the holy Sacraments. But in the opinion of the Protestant Vanity Fair, Tolstoi is "an extremist," because "with all its evils, the present marriage system, taken even as the vile thing for which he gives it us (italics are ours) is a surely less evil than the monasticism--with its effects--which he preaches." This shows the ideas of the reviewer on morality!
Tolstoi, however, "preaches" nothing of the sort; nor does his Pozdnisheff say so, though the critics misunderstand him from A to Z, as they do also the wise statement that "not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth" or a vile man's heart and imagination. It is not "monasticism" but the law of continence as taught by Jesus (and Occultism) in its esoteric meaning--which most Christians are unable to perceive--that he preaches. Nothing can be more moral or more conducive to human happiness and perfectibility than the application of this law. It is one ordained by Nature herself. Animals follow it instinctively, as do also the savage tribes. Once pregnant, to the last day of the nursing of her babe, i.e., for eighteen or twenty months, the savage squaw is sacred to her husband; the civilised and semi-civilised man alone breaking this beneficent law Therefore speaking of the immorality of marriage relations as at present practised, and of unions performed on commercial bases, or, what is worse, on mere sensual love, Pozdnisheff elaborates the idea by uttering the greatest and the holiest truths, namely, that:"
For morality to exist between men and women in their daily life, they must make perfect chastity their law.1 In progressing towards this end, man subdues himself. When he has arrived at the last degree of subjection we shall have moral marriages. But if a man as in our Society advances only towards physical love, even though he surrounds it with deception and with the shallow formality of marriage, he obtains nothing but licensed vice.
A good proof that it is not "monasticism" and utter celibacy which are preached, but only continence, is found on page 84 where the fellow-traveller of Pozdnisheff is made to remark that the result of the theory of the latter would be "that a man would have to keep away from his wife except once every year or two." Then again there is this sentence:--
"I did not at that time understand that the words of the Gospel as to looking upon a woman with the eyes of desire did not refer only to the wives of others, but especially and above all to one's own wife."
"Monastics" have no wives, nor do they get married if they would remain chaste on the physical plane. Tolstoi, however, seems to have answered in anticipation of British criticism and objections on these lines, by making the hero of his "grimy and revolting book" (Scot's Observer) say:--
"Think what a perversity of ideas there must be, when the happiest, the freest condition of the human being, that of (mental) chastity, is looked upon as something miserable and ridiculous. The highest ideal, the most perfect condition to be attained by woman, that of a pure being, a vestal, a virgin, provokes, in our society, fear and laughter."
Tolstoi might have added--and when moral continence and chastity, mistaken for "monasticism," are pronounced far more evil than "the marriage system taken even as the vile thing for which he (Tolstoi) gives it us." Has the virtuous critic of Vanity Fair or the Scot's Observer never met with a woman who, although the mother of a numerous family, had withal remained all her life mentally and morally a pure virgin, or with a vestal (in vulgar talk, a spinster) who although physically undefiled, yet surpassed in mental, unnatural depravity the lowest of the fallen women? If he has not--we have.
We maintain that to call "Kreutzer Sonata" pointless, and "a vain book," is to miss most egregiously the noblest as well as the most important points in it. It is nothing less than wilful blindness, or what is still worse--that moral cowardice which will sanction every growing immorality rather than allow its mention, let alone its discussion, in public. It is on such fruitful soil that our moral leprosy thrives and prospers instead of being checked by timely palliatives. It is blindness to one of her greatest social evils of this kind that led France to issue her unrighteous law, prohibiting the so-called "search of paternity." And is it not again the ferocious selfishness of the male, in which species legislators are of course included, which is responsible for the many iniquitous laws with which the country of old disgraced itself? e.g., the right of every brute of a husband to sell his wife in a market-place with a rope around her neck; the right of every beggar-husband over his rich wife's fortune, rights now happily abrogated. But does not law protect man to this day, granting him means for legal impunity in almost all his dealings with woman?
Has it never occurred to any grave judge or critic either--any more than to Pozdnisheff--"that immorality does not consist in physical acts alone but on the contrary, in liberating one's self from all moral obligations, which such acts impose"? (Kreutzer Sonata, p. 32.) And as a direct result of such legal "liberation from any moral obligations," we have the present marriage system in every civilized nation, viz., men "steeped in corruption" seeking "at the same time for a virgin whose purity might be worthy" of them (p. 39); men, out of a thousand of whom "hardly one could be found who has not been married before at least a dozen times" (p. 41)!
Aye, gentlemen of the press, and humble slaves to public opinion, too many terrible, vital truths, to be sure, are uttered by Pozdnisheff to make the "Kreutzer Sonata" ever palatable to you. The male portion of mankind--book reviewers as others--does not like to have a too faithful mirror presented to it. It does not like to see itself as it is, but only as it would like to make itself appear. Had the book been directed against your slave and creature--woman, Tolstoi's popularity would have, no doubt, increased proportionately. But for almost the first time in literature, a work shows male kind collectively in all the artificial ugliness of the final fruits of civilization, which make every vicious man believe himself, like Pozdnisheff, "a thoroughly moral man." And it points out as plainly that female dissimulation, worldliness and vice, are but the handiwork of generations of men, whose brutal sensuality and selfishness have led woman to seek reprisals. Hear the fine and truthful description of most Society men:--
"Women know well enough that the most noble, the most poetic love is inspired, not by moral qualities, but by physical intimacy. . . . Ask an experienced coquette . . . which she would prefer, to be convicted in the presence of the man she wishes to subjugate, of falsehood, perversity, and cruelty, or to appear before him in a dress ill-made. . . . She would choose the first alternative. She knows very well that we only lie when we speak of our lofty sentiments; that what we are seeking is the woman herself, and that for that we are ready to forgive all her ignominies, while we would not forgive her a costume badly cut. . . . Hence those abominable jerseys, those artificial protrusions behind, those naked arms, shoulders and bosoms."
Create no demand and there will be no supply. But such demand being established by men, it....
"Explains this extraordinary phenomenon: that on the one hand woman is reduced to the lowest degree of humiliation, while on the other she reigns above everything. . . . 'Ah, you wish us to be merely objects of pleasure? Very well, by that very means we will bend you beneath our yoke,' say the women" who "like absolute queens, keep as prisoners of war and at hard labor nine-tenths of the human race; and all because they have been humiliated, because they have been deprived of the rights enjoyed by man. They avenge themselves on our voluptuousness, they catch us in their nets" . . . Why? Because" the great majority look upon the journey to the church as a necessary condition for the possession of a certain woman. So you may say what you will, we live in such an abyss of falsehood, that unless some event comes down upon our head . . . we cannot wake up to the truth" . . .
The most terrible accusation, however, is an implied parallel between two classes of women. Pozdnisheff denies that the ladies in good society live with any other aims than those of fallen women, and reasons in this wise:
"If human beings differ from one another by their internal life, that ought to show itself externally; and externally, also, they will be different. Now compare women of the most unhappy, the most despised class, with women of the highest society; you see the same dresses, the same manners, the same perfumes, the same passion for jewelry, for brilliant and costly objects; the same amusements, the same dances, music, and songs. The former attract by all possible means; the latter do the same. There is no difference, none whatever."
And would you know why? It is an old truism, a fact pointed out by Ouida, as by twenty other novelists. Because the husbands of the "ladies in good Society"--we speak only of the fashionable majority, of course--would most likely gradually desert their legitimate wives were these to offer them too strong a contrast with the demi-mondaines whom they all adore. For certain men who for long years have constantly enjoyed the intoxicating atmosphere of certain places of amusement, the late suppers in cabinets particuliers in the company of enamelled females artificial from top to foot, the correct demeanor of a lady, presiding over their dinner table with her cheeks paintless, her hair, complexion and eyes as nature made them--becomes very soon a bore. A legitimate wife who imitates in dress, and mimicks the desinvolture of her husband's mistress has perhaps been driven at the beginning to effect such a change out of sheer despair, as the only means of preserving some of her husband's affection, once she is unable to have it undivided. Here, again, the abnormal fact of enamelled, straw-haired, painted and almost undressed wives and girls in good Society, are the handiwork of men--of fathers, husbands, brothers. Had the animal demands of the latter never created that class which Baudelaire calls so poetically les fleurs du mal, and who end by destroying every household and family whose male members have once fallen a victim to their hypnotism--no wife and mother, still less a daughter or a sister, would have ever thought of emulating the modern hetaira. But now they have. The act of despair of the first wife abandoned for a demi-mondaine has borne its fruit. Other wives have followed suit, then the transformation has gradually become a fashion, a necessity. How true then these remarks:
"The absence of women's rights does not consist in being deprived of the right of voting, or of administering law; but in the fact that with regard to matters of affection she is not the equal of man, that she has not the right to choose instead of being chosen. That would be quite abnormal, you think. Then let men also be without their rights. . . . At bottom her slavery lies in the fact of her being regarded as a source of enjoyment. You excite her, you give her all kinds of rights equal to those of man:2 but she is still looked upon as an instrument of pleasure, and she is brought up in that character from her childhood. . . . She is always the slave, humiliated and corrupted, and man remains still her pleasure-seeking master. Yes, to abolish slavery, it is first of all necessary that public opinion should admit that it is shameful to profit by the labor of one's neighbor; and to emancipate woman it is necessary that public opinion should admit that it is shameful to regard her as an instrument of pleasure."
Such is man, who is shewn in all the hideous nakedness of his selfish nature, almost beneath the "animals" which "would seem to know that their descendants continue the species, and they accordingly follow a certain law." But "man alone does not, and will not know. . . . The lord of creation--man; who, in the name of his love, kills one half of the human race! Of woman, who ought to behis helpmate in the movement of Humanity towards freedom, he makes, for the sake of his pleasures, not a helpmate but an enemy." . . . .
And now it is made abundantly clear, why the author of the Kreutzer Sonata has suddenly become in the eyes of all men--"the most conspicuous case out of Bedlam." Count Tolstoi who alone has dared to speak the truth in proclaiming the whole relation of the sexes to each other as at present, "a gross and vile abomination," and who thus interferes with "man's pleasures"--must, of course, expect to be proclaimed a madman. He preaches "Christian virtue," and what men want now is vice, such as the old Romans themselves have never dreamed of. "Stone him to death"--gentlemen of the press. What you would like, no doubt, to see practically elaborated and preached from every house-top, is such articles as Mr. Grant Allen's "The Girl of the Future." Fortunately, for that author's admirers, the editor of the Universal Review has laid for once aside "that exquisite tact and that rare refinement of feeling which distinguishes him from all his fellows" (if we have to believe the editor of the Scot's Observer). Otherwise he would have never published such an uncalled-for insult to every woman, whether wife or mother. Having done with Tolstoi's diagnosis we may now turn to Grant Allen's palliative.
But even Mr. Quilter hastens while publishing this scientific effusion, to avoid identifying himself with the opinions expressed in it. So much more the pity, that it has seen the light of publicity at all. Such as it is, however, it is an essay on the "problem of Paternity and Maternity" rather than that of sex; a highly philanthropic paper which substitutes "the vastly more important and essential point of view of the soundness and efficiency of the children to be begotten" to that "of the personal convenience of two adults involved" in the question of marriage. To call this problem of the age the "Sex Problem" is one error; the "Marriage Problem," another, though "most people call it so with illogical glibness." Therefore to avoid the latter Mr. Grant Allen . . . . "would call it rather the Child Problem, or if we want to be very Greek, out of respect to Girton, the Problem of Pædopoetics."
After this fling at Girton, he has one at Lord Campbell's Act, prohibiting certain too décolleté questions from being discussed in public: after which the author has a third one, at women in general. In fact his opinion of the weaker sex is far worse than that of Pozdnisheff in the Kreutzer Sonata, as he denies them even the average intellect of man. For what he wants is "the opinions of men who have thought much upon these subjects and the opinions of women (if any) who have thought a little." The author's chief concern being "the moulding of the future British nationality," and his chief quarrel with the higher education of women, ' the broken-down product of the Oxford local examination system, he has a fourth and fifth fling, as vicious as the rest, at "Mr. Pod snap and Mrs. Grundy" for their pruderie, and at the "university" ladies. What, then, he queries:. . .
. . ."Rather than run the risk of suffusing for one moment the sensitive cheek of the young person, we must allow the process of peopling the world hap-hazard with hereditary idiots, hereditary drunkards, hereditary consumptives, hereditary madmen, hereditary weaklings, hereditary paupers to go on unchecked, in its existing casual and uncriticized fashion, for ever and ever. Let cancer beget cancer, and crime beget crime: but never for one moment suggest to the pure mind of our blushing English maiden that she has any duty at all to perform in life in her capacity as a woman, save that of gratifying a romantic and sentimental attachment to the first black moustache or the first Vandyke beard she may happen to fall in with.". . .
Such weakness for one "black moustache" will never do. The author has a "nobler," a "higher" calling for the "blushing English maiden," to wit, to keep herself in readiness to become a happy and proud mother for the good of the State, by several "black" and fair moustaches, in sequence, as we shall see, if only handsome and healthy. Thence his quarrel with the "higher education" which debilitates woman. For--
. . . "the question is, will our existing system provide us with mothers capable of producing sound and healthy children, in mind and body, or will it not? If it doesn't, then inevitably and infallibly it will go to the wall. Not all the Mona Cairds and Olive Schreiners that ever lisped Greek can fight against the force of natural selection. Survival of the fittest is stronger than Miss Buss, and Miss Pipe, and Miss Helen Gladstone, and the staff of the Girls' Public Day School Company, Limited, all put together. The race that lets its women fail in their maternal functions will sink to the nethermost abyss of limbo, though all its girls rejoice in logarithms, smoke Russian cigarettes, and act Æschylean tragedies in most æsthetic and archaic chitons. The race that keeps up the efficiency of its nursing mothers will win in the long run, though none of its girls can read a line of Lucian or boast anything better than equally-developed and well-balanced minds and bodies.
"Having done with his entrée en matière, he shows us forthwith whither he is driving, though he pretends to be able to say very little in that article; only "to approach by a lateral avenue one of the minor outworks of the fortress to be stormed." What this "fortress" is, we will now see and by the "lateral" small "avenue" judge of the magnitude of the whole. Mr. G. Allen, having diagnosed that which for him is the greatest evil of the day, now answers his own question. This is what he proposes for producing sound children out of sound--because unmarried--mothers, whom he urges to select for every new babe a fresh and well-chosen father. It is, you see--
. . . "what Mr. Galton aptly terms 'eugenics'--that is to say a systematic endeavor towards the betterment of the race by the deliberate selection of the best possible sires, and their union for reproductive purposes with the best possible mothers." The other "leaves the breeding of the human race entirely to chance, and it results too often in the perpetuation of disease, insanity, hysteria, folly, and every other conceivable form of weakness or vice in mind and body. Indeed, to see how foolish is our practice in the reproduction of the human race, we have only to contrast it with the method we pursue in the reproduction of those other animals, whose purity of blood, strength, and excellence has become of importance to us."
"We have a fine sire of its kind, be it stallion, bull, or bloodhound, and we wish to perpetuate his best and most useful qualities in appropriate offspring. What do we do with him? Do we tie him up for life with a single dam, and rest content with such foals, or calves, or puppies as chance may send us? Not a bit of it. We are not so silly. We try him freely all round a whole large field of choice, and endeavor by crossing his own good qualities with the good qualities of various accredited mares or heifers to produce strains of diverse and well-mixed value, some of which will prove in the end more important than others. In this way we get the advantage of different mixtures of blood, and don't throw away all the fine characteristics of our sire upon a single set of characteristics in a single dam. which ma or ma not prove in the end the best and fullest complement of his particular nature."
Is the learned theorist talking here of men and women, or discussing the brute creation, or are the human and animal kinds so inseparably linked in his scientific imagination as to disable him from drawing a line of demarcation between the two? It would seem so, from the cool and easy way in which he mixes up the animal sires and dams with men and women, places them on the same level, and suggests "different mixtures of blood." We abandon him willingly his "sires," as, in anticipation of this scientific offer, men have already made animals of themselves ever since the dawn of civilization. They have even succeeded, while tying up their "dam" to a single "sire" under the threat of law and social ostracism, to secure for themselves full privileges from that law and Mrs. Grundy and have as great a choice of "dams" for each single "sire," as their means would permit them. But we protest against the same offer to women to become nolens volens "accredited mares and heifers." Nor are we prepared to say that even our modern loose morals would publicly approve of or grant Mr. Allen the "freedom" he longs for, "for such variety of experimentation," without which, he says it is quite "impossible to turn out the best results in the end for humanity." Animal humanity would be more correct, though he explains that it is "not merely a question of prize sheep and fat oxen, but a question of begetting the highest, finest, purest, strongest, sanest, healthiest, handsomest and morally noblest citizens." We wonder the author does not add to these laudatory epithets, two more, viz., "the most respectful sons," and men "proudest of their virtuous mothers." The latter are not qualified by Mr. Grant Allen, because, perchance, he was anticipated on this point by the "Lord God" of Hosea (i. 2) who specializes the class from which the prophet is commanded to take a wife unto himself.
In a magazine whose editor has just been upholding the sacredness of marriage before the face of the author of the Kreutzer Sonata, by preceding the "Confession" of Count Tolstoi with an eulogy on Miss Tennant, "the Bride of the Season"--the insertion of "The Girl of the Future" is a direct slap in the face of that marriage. Moreover, Mr. G. Allen's idea is not new. It is as old as Plato, and as modern as Auguste Comte and the "Oneida Community" in the United States of America. And, as neither the Greek philosopher nor the French Positivist have approached the author in his unblushing and cynical naturalism--neither in the Vth Book of the Republic, nor "the Woman of the Future" in the Catechism of the Religion of Positivism--we come to the following conclusion. As the name of Comte's "Woman of the Future" is the prototype of Mr. G. Allen's "Girl of the Future," so the daily rites of the "mystic coupling" performed in the Oneida, must have been copied by our author and published, with only an additional peppering of still crasser materialism and naturalism. Plato suggests no more than a method for improving the human race by the careful elimination of unhealthy and deformed children, and by coupling the better specimens of both sexes; he contents himself with the "fine characteristics" of a "single sire" and "a single dam," and would have turned away in horror at the idea of "the advantage of different mixtures of blood." On the other hand the high-priest of Positivism, suggesting that the woman of the future "should cease to be the female of the man," and "submitting to artificial fecundation," thus be come "the Virgin Mother without a husband," preaches only a kind of insane mysticism. Not so with Mr. Grant Allen. His noble ideal for woman is to make of her a regular brood-mare. He prompts her to follow out
. . . "the divine impulse of the moment, which is the voice of Nature within us, prompting us there and then (but not for a lifetime) to union with a predestined and appropriate complement of our being," and adds: "If there is anything sacred and divine in man surely it is the internal impetus which tells him at once, among a thousand of his kind, that this particular woman, and no other, is now and here the one best fitted to become with him the parent of a suitable off spring. If sexual selection among us (men only, if you please), is more discriminative, more specialized, more capricious, and more dainty than in any other species, is not that the very mark of our higher development, and does it not suggest to us that Nature herself, on these special occasions, is choosing for us anatomically the help most meet for us in our reproductive functions?'
But why "divine"? And if so, why only in man when the stallion, the hog and the dog all share this "divine impulse" with him? In the author's view "such an occasional variation modifying and heightening the general moral standard" is ennobling; in our theosophical opinion, such casual union on momentary impulse is essentially bestial. It is no longer love but lust, leaving out of account every higher feeling and quality. By the way, how would Mr. Grant Allen like such a "divine impulse" in his mother, wife, sister or daughter? Finally, his arguments about "sexual selection" being "more capricious and dainty in man than in any other species of animal," are pitiable. Instead of proving this "selection" "sacred and divine" he simply shows that civilized man has descended lower than any brute after all these long generations of unbridled immorality. The next thing we may be told is, that epicureanism and gluttony are "divine impulses," and we shall be invited to see in Messalina the highest exemplar of a virtuous Roman matron.
This new "Catechism of Sexual Ethics"--shall we call it.?--ends with the following eloquent appeal to the "Girl of the Future" to become the brood mares of cultured society stallions:--
"This ideal of motherhood, I believe, under such conditions would soon crystallize into a religious duty. The free and educated woman, herself most often sound, sane, and handsome, would feel it incumbent upon her, if she brought forth children for the State at all, to bring them forth in her own image, and by union with a sympathetic and appropriate father. Instead of yielding up her freedom irrevocably to any one man, she would jealously guard it as in trust for the community, and would use her maternity as a precious gift to be sparingly employed for public purposes, though always in accordance with instinctive promptings, to the best advantage of the future offspring. . . . If conscious of possessing valuable and desirable maternal qualities, she would employ them to the best advantage for the State and for her own offspring, by freely commingling them in various directions with the noblest paternal qualities of the men who most attracted her higher nature. And surely a woman who had reached such an elevated ideal of the duties of sex as that would feel she was acting far more right in becoming the mother of a child by this splendid athlete, by that profound thinker, by that nobly-moulded Adonis, by that high-souled poet, than in tying herself down for life to this rich old dotard, to that feeble young lord, to this gouty invalid, to that wretched drunkard, to become the mother of a long family of scrofulous idiots."
And now gentlemen of the Press, severe critics of Tolstoi's "immoral" Sonata,stern moralists who shudder at Zola's "filthy realism," what say you to this production of one of your own national prophets, who has evidently found honor in his own country? Such naturalistic articles as "The Girls of the Future," published in the hugest and reddest Review on the globe, are, methinks, more dangerous for the public morals than all the Tolstoi-Zola fictions put together. In it we see the outcome of materialistic science, which looking on man only as a more highly developed animal, treats therefore its female portion on its own animalistic principles. Steeped over the ears in dense matter and in the full conviction that mankind, along with its first cousins the monkeys, is directly descended of an ape father, and a baboon mother of a now extinct species, Mr. Grant Allen must, of course, fail to see the fallacy of his own reasoning. E.g., if it is an "honor for any woman to have been loved by Shelley. . . . and to have brought into the world a son by a Newton," and another "by a Goethe," why should not the young ladies who resort to Regent Street at the small hours of night and who are soaked through and through with such "honors," why should not they, we ask, receive public recognition and a vote of thanks from the Nation? City squares ought to be adorned with their statues, and Phryne set up hereafter as an illustrious example to Hypatia.
No more cutting insult could be offered to the decent women and respectable girls of England. We wonder how the ladies interested in the Social problems of the day will like Mr. Grant Allen's
Lucifer, July, 1890
1 All the italics throughout the article are ours.
back to text 2 This, only in "semi" civilised Russia, if you please. In England she has not even the privilege of voting yet.
back to text
Hail, holy light, offspring of Heaven first-born.
Or of the Eternal co-eternal beam.
. . . Since God is light
Bright effluence of bright essence increate.
. . . Satan
Puts on swift wings, and towards the gates of hell
Explores his solitary flight.
NO more philosophically profound, nor grander or more graphic and suggestive type exists among the allegories of the World-religions than that of the two Brother-Powers of the Mazdean religion, called Ahura Mazda an Angra Mainyu, better known in their modernized form of Ormuzd and Ahriman. Of these two emanations, "Sons of Boundless Time"--Zeruana Akarana--itself issued from the Supreme and Unknowable Principle,l the one is the embodiment of "Good Thought" (Vohu Manô), the other of "Evil Thought" (Akô Manô). The "King of Light" or Ahura Mazda, emanates from Primordial Light2 and forms or creates by means of the "Word," Honover (Ahuna Vairya), a pure and holy world. But Angra Mainyu, though born as pure as his elder brother, becomes jealous of him, and mars everything in the Universe, as on the earth, creating Sin and Evil wherever he goes.
The two Powers are inseparable on our present plane and at this stage of evolution, and would be meaningless, one without the other. They are, therefore, the two opposite poles of the One Manifested Creative Power, whether the latter is viewed as Universal Cosmic Force which builds worlds, or under its anthropomorphic aspect, when its vehicle is thinking man. For Ormuzd and Ahriman are the respective representatives of Good and Evil, of Light and Darkness, of the spiritual and the material elements in man. and also in the Universe and everything contained in it. Hence the world and man are called the Macrocosm and the Microcosm, the great and the small universe, the latter being th reflection of the former. Even exoterically, the God of Light and the God of Darkness are, both spiritually and physically, the two ever-contending Forces, whether in Heaven or on Earth.3 The Parsis may have lost most of the keys that unlock the true interpretations of their sacred and poetical allegories, but the symbolism of Ormuzd and Ahriman is so self-evident, that even the Orientalists have ended by interpreting it, in its broad features, almost correctly. As the translator4 of the Vendidad writes, "Long before the Parsis had heard of Europe and Christianity, commentators, explaining the myth of Tahmurath, who rode for thirty years on Ahriman as a horse, interpreted the feat of the old legendary king as the curbing of evil passions and restraining Ahriman in the heart of man." The same writer broadly sums up Magism in this wise:--
The world, such as it is now, is twofold, being the work of two hostile beings, Ahura Mazda, the good principle, and Angra Mainyu the evil principle; all that is good in the world comes from the former, all that is bad in it comes from the latter. The history of the world is the history of their conflict, how Angra Mainyu invaded the world of Ahura Mazda and marred it, and how he shall be expelled from it at last. Man is active in the conflict, his duty in it being laid before him in the law revealed by Ahura Mazda to Zarathustra. When the appointed time is come a son of the lawgiver. still unborn, named Saoshyant (Sosiosh) will appear, Angra Mainyu and hell will be destroyed, men will rise from the dead, and everlasting happiness will reign over all the world.
Attention is drawn to the sentences italicised by the writer, as they are esoteric. For the Sacred Books of the Mazdeans, as all the other sacred Scriptures of the East (the Bible included), have to be read esoterically. The Mazdeans had practically two religions, as almost all the other ancient nations--one for the people and the other for the initiated priests. Esoterically, then, the underlined sentences have a special significance, the whole meaning of which can be obtained only by the study of occult philosophy. Thus, Angra Mainyu, being confessedly, in one of its aspects, the embodiment of man's lowest nature, with its fierce passions and unholy desires, "his hell" must be sought for and located on earth. In occult philosophy there is no other hell--nor can any state be comparable to that of a specially unhappy human wretch. No "asbestos" soul, inextinguishable fires, or "worm that never dies," can be worse than a life of hopeless misery upon this earth. But it must, as it has once had a beginning, have also an end. Ahura Mazda alone,5 being the divine, and therefore the immortal and eternal symbol of "Boundless Time," is the secure refuge, the spiritual haven of man. And as Time is twofold, there being a measured and finite time within the Boundless, Angra Mainyu is only a periodical and temporary Evil. He is Heterogeneity as developed from Homogeneity. Descending along the scale of differentiating nature on the cosmic planes, both Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu become, at the appointed time, the representatives and the dual type of man, the inner or divine INDIVIDUALITY, and the outer personality, a compound of visible and invisible elements and principles. As in heaven, so on earth; as above, so below. If the divine light in man, the Higher Spirit-Soul, forms, including itself, the seven Ameshâspends (of which Ormuzd is the seventh, or the synthesis), Ahriman, the thinking personality, the animal soul, has in its turn its seven Archidevs opposed to the seven Ameshâspends.
During our life cycle, the good Yazatas, the 99,999 Fravashi (or Ferouers) and even the "Holy Seven," the Ameshâspends themselves,6 are almost powerless against the Host of wicked Devs--the symbols of cosmic opposing powers and of human passions and sins.7 Fiends of evil, their presence radiates and fills the world with moral and physical ills: with disease, poverty, envy and pride, with despair, drunkenness, treachery, injustice, and cruelty, with anger and bloody-handed murder. Under the advice of Ahriman, man from the first made his fellow-man to weep and suffer. This state of things will cease only on the day when Ahura Mazda, the sevenfold deity, assumes his seventh name8 or aspect. Then, will he send his "Holy Word" Mathra Spenta (or the "Soul of Ahura") to incarnate in Saoshyant (Sosiosh), and the latter will conquer Angra Mainyu. Sosiosh is the prototype of "the faithful and the true" of the Revelation, and the same as Vishnu in the Kalki-avatar. Both are expected to appear as the Saviour of the World, seated on a white horse and followed by a host of spirits or genii, mounted likewise on milk-white steeds.9 And then, men will arise from the dead and immortality come.l0
Now the latter is of course purely allegorical. It stands in the occult sense, that materialism and sin being called death, the materialist, or the unbeliever, is "a dead man"--spiritually. Occultism has never regarded the physical personality as the man; nor has Paul, if his Epistle to the Romans (vi-vii), is correctly understood. Thus mankind, arrived "at the appointed time" (the end of our present Round), at the end of the cycle of gross material flesh, will, with certain bodily changes, have come to a clearer spiritual perception of the truth. Redemption from flesh means a proportionate redemption from sin. Many are those who seeing will believe, and, in consequence, rise "from the dead." By the middle of the Seventh Race, says an occult prophecy, the struggle of the two conflicting Powers (Buddhi and Kama Manas) will have almost died out. Everything that is irredeemably sinful and wicked, cruel and destructive, will have been eliminated, and that which is found to survive will be swept away from being, owing, so to speak, to a Karmic tidal-wave in the shape of scavenger-plagues, geological convulsions and other means of destruction. The Fifth Round will bring forth a higher kind of Humanity; and, as intelligent Nature always proceeds Gradually, the last Race of this Round must necessarily develop the needed materials thereof. Meanwhile, we are still in the Fifth Race of the Fourth Round only, and in the Kaliyuga, into the bargain. The deadly strife between spirit and matter, between Light and Goodness and Darkness and Evil, began on our globe with the first appearance of contrasts and opposites in vegetable and animal nature, and continued more fiercely than ever after man had become the selfish and personal being he now is. Nor is there any chance of its coming to an end before falsehood is replaced by truth, selfishness by altruism, and supreme justice reigns in the heart of man. Till then, the noisy battle will rage unabated. It is selfishness, especially; the love of Self above all things in heaven and earth, helped by human vanity, which is the begetter of the seven mortal sins. No; Ashmogh, the cruel "biped serpent," is not so easily reduced. Before the poor creature now in the clutches of Darkness is liberated through Light, it has to know itself. Man, following the Delphic injunction, has to become acquainted with, and gain the mastery over, every nook and corner of his heterogeneous nature, before he can learn to discriminate between HIMSELF and his personality. To accomplish this difficult task, two conditions are absolutely requisite: one must have thoroughly realised in practice the noble Zoroastrian precept: "Good thoughts, good words, good deeds," and must have impressed them indelibly on his soul and heart, not merely as a lip-utterance and form-observance. Above all, one has to crush personal vanity beyond resurrection.
Here is a suggestive fable and a charming allegory from the old Zoroastrian works. From the first incipient stage of Angra Mainyu's power, he and his wicked army of fiends opposed the army of Light in everything it did. The demons of lust and pride, of corruption and impiety, systematically destroyed the work of the Holy Ones. It is they who made beautiful blossoms poisonous; graceful snakes, deadly; bright fires, the symbol of deity, full of stench and smoke; and who introduced death into the world. To light, purity, truth, goodness and knowledge, they opposed darkness, filth, falsehood, cruelty and ignorance. As a contrast to the useful and clean animals created by Ahura Mazda, Angra Mainyu created wild beasts and bloodthirsty fowls of the air. He also added insult to injury and deprecated and laughed at the peaceful and inoffensive creations of his elder brother. "It is thine envy," said the holy Yazatas one day to the unholy fiend, the evil-hearted, "Thou art incapable of producing a beautiful and harmless being, O cruel Angra Mainyu" . . .
The arch-fiend laughed and said that he could. Forthwith he created the loveliest bird the world had ever seen. It was a majestic peacock, the emblem of vanity and selfishness, which is self-adulation in deeds.
"Let it be the King of Birds," quoth the Dark One, "and let man worship him and act after his fashion."
From that day "Melek Taus" (the Angel Peacock) became the special creation of Angra Mainyu, and the messenger through which the arch-fiend is invoked by somel1 and propitiated by all men.
How often does one see strong-hearted men and determined women moved by a strong aspiration towards an ideal they know to be the true one, battling successfully, to all appearance, with Ahriman and conquering him. Their external Selves have been the battle-ground of a most terrible, deadly strife between the two opposing Principles; but they have stood firmly--and won. The dark enemy seems conquered; it is crushed in fact, so far as the animal instincts are concerned. Personal selfishness, that greed for self, and self only, the begetter of most of the evils--has vanished; and every lower instinct, melting like soiled icicles under the beneficient ray of Ahura Mazda, the radiant EGO-SUN, has disappeared, making room for better and holier aspirations. Yet, there lurks in them their old but partially destroyed vanity, that spark of personal pride which is the last to die in man. Dormant it is, latent and invisible to all, including their own consciousness; but there it is still. Let it awake but for an instant, and the seemingly crushed-out personality comes back to life at the sound of its voice, arising from its grave like an unclean ghoul at the command of the midnight incantator. Five hours--nay, five minutes even--of life under its fatal sway, may destroy the work of years of self-control and training, and of laborious work in the service of Ahura Mazda, to open wide the door anew to Angra Mainyu. Such is the result of the silent and unspoken but ever-present worship of the only beautiful creation of the Spirit of Selfishness and Darkness.
Look around you and judge of the deadly havoc made by this last and most cunning of Ahriman's productions, notwithstanding its external beauty and harmlessness. Century after century, year after year, all is changing; everything is progressing in this world; one thing only changeth not--human nature. Man accumulates knowledge, invents religions and philosophies, but himself remains still the same. In his ceaseless chase after wealth and honours and the will o' the wisps of novelty, enjoyment and ambition, he is ever moved by one chief motor--vain selfishness. In these days of so-called progress and civilization, when the light of knowledge claims to have replaced almost everywhere the darkness of ignorance, how many more volunteers do we see added to the army of Ahura Mazda, the Principle of Good and Divine Light? Alas, the recruits of Angra Mainyu, the Mazdean Satan, outnumber these, daily more and more. They have overrun the world, these worshippers of Melek Taus, and the more they are enlightened the easier they succumb. This is only natural. Like Time, both the boundless and the finite, Light is also twofold; the divine and the eternal, and the artificial light, which paradoxically but correctly defined, is the darkness of Ahriman. Behold on what objects the best energies of knowledge, the strongest human activity, and the inventive powers of man are wasted at the present hour: on the creation) amelioration and perfection of war-engines of destruction, on guns and smokeless powders, and weapons for the mutual murder and decimation of men. Great Christian nations seek to outvie each other in the discovery of better means for destroying human life, and for the subjecting by the strongest and the craftiest of the weakest and the simplest, for no better reason than to feed their peacock-vanity and self-adulation; and Christian men eagerly follow the good example. Whereon is spent the enormous wealth accumulated through private enterprize by the more enlightened through the ruin of the less intelligent? Is it to relieve human suffering in every form, that riches are so greedily pursued? Not at all. For now, just as 1.900 years ago, while the beggar Lazarus is glad to feed on the crumbs that fall from the rich man's table, no means are neglected by Dives to hedge himself off from the poor. The minority that gives and takes care that its left hand remains ignorant of what its right hand bestows, is quite insignificant when compared with the enormous majority who are lavish in their charity--only because they are eager to see their names heralded by the press to the world.
Great is the power of Ahriman! Time rolls on, leaving with every day the ages of ignorance and superstition further behind, but bringing us in their stead only centuries of ever-increasing selfishness and pride. Mankind grows and multiplies, waxes in strength and (book-)wisdom; it claims to have penetrated into the deepest mysteries of physical nature; it builds railroads and honeycombs the globe with tunnels; it erects gigantic towers and bridges, minimizes distances, unites the oceans and divides whole continents. Cables and telephones, canals and railways more and more with every hour unite mankind into one "happy" family, but only to furnish the selfish and the wily with every means of stealing a better march on the less selfish and improvident. Truly, the "upper ten" of science and wealth have subjected to their sweet will and pleasure, the Air and the Earth, the Ocean and the Fire. This, our age, is one of progress, indeed, an era of the most triumphant display of human genius. But what good has all this great civilization and progress done to the millions in the European slums, to the armies of the "great unwashed"? Have any of these displays of genius added one comfort more to the lives of the poor and the needy? Is it not true to say that distress and starvation are a hundred times greater now than they were in the days of the Druids or of Zoroaster? And is it to help the hungry multitudes that all this is invented, or again, only to sweep off the couch of the rich the last-forgotten rose-leaves that may uncomfortably tickle their well-fed bodies? Do electric wonders give one additional crust of bread to the starving? Do the towers and the bridges, and the forests of factories and manufactures, bring any mortal good to the sons of men, save giving an additional opportunity to the wealthy to vampirize or "sweat" their poorer brother? When, I ask again, at what time of the history of mankind, during its darkest days of ignorance, when was there known such ghastly starvation as we see now? When has the poor man wept and suffered, as he weeps and suffers in the present day--say, in London, where for every club-visitor who dines and wines himself daily, at a price that would feed twenty-five families for a whole day, one may count hundreds and thousands of starving wretches. Under the very windows of the fashionable City restaurants, radiant with warmth and electric lights, old trembling women and little children may be seen daily, shivering and fastening their hungry eyes on the food they smell each time the entrance door is opened. Then they "move on"--by order, to disappear in the dark gloom, to starve and shiver and finally to die in the frozen mud of some gutter. . . .
The "pagan" Parsis know not, nor would their community tolerate, any beggars in its midst, least of all--STARVATION!!
Selfishness is the chief prompter of our age; Chacun pour soi, Dieu pour tout le monde, its watchword. Where then is the truth, and what practical good has done that light brought to mankind by the "Light of the World," as claimed by every Christian? Of the "Lights of Asia" Europe speaks with scorn, nor would it recognise in Ahura Mazda a divine light. And yet even a minor light (if such) when practically applied for the good of suffering mankind, is a thousand times more beneficent than even infinite Light, when confined to the realm of abstract theories. In our days the latter Light has only succeeded in raising the pride of Christian nations to its acme, in developing their self-adulation, and fostering hard-heartedness under the name of all-binding law. The "personality" of both nation and individual has thrown deep roots into the soil of selfish motives; and of all the flowers of modern culture those that blossom the most luxuriously are the flowers of polite Falsehood, Vanity, and Self-exaltation.
Few are those who would confess or even deign to see, that beneath the brilliant surface of our civilization and culture lurks, refusing to be dislodged, all the inner filth of the evils created by Ahriman; and indeed, the truest symbol, the very picture of that civilization is the last creation of the Arch-fiend--the beautiful Peacock. Truly saith Theosophy unto you--it is the Devil's Own.
H. P. Blavatsky
Lucifer, March, 1891
1 Though this deity is the "First-born," yet metaphysically and logically Ormuzd comes in order as a fourth emanation (compare with Parabrahm-Mulaprakriti and the three Logoi, in the Secret Doctrine). He is the Deity of the manifested plane. In the esoteric interpretation of the Avestian sacred allegories, AHURA or ASURA is a generic name for the sevenfold Deity, the Ruler of the Seven Worlds; and Hvaniratha (our earth) is the fourth, in plane and number. We have to distinguish between such names as Ahura Mazdâo, Varana, the "Supreme" deity and the synthesis of the Ameshâspends, etc. The real order would be: the Supreme or the One Light, called the Eternal; then Zeruana Akarana (compare Vishnu in his abstract sense as the Boundless pervading All and Kâla, Time), the Fravashi or the Ferouer of Ormuzd (that eternal Double or Image which precedes and survives every god, man and animal), and finally Ahura Mazda Himself.
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2 Zeruana Akarana means, at the same time, Infinite Light, Boundless Time, Infinite Space and Fate (Karma). See Vendidad, Farg. xix. 9.
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3 The Parsis, the last relic of the ancient Magi, or Fire-worshippers of the noble Zoroastrian system, do not degrade their Deity by making him the creator of the evil spirits as well as of the pure angels. They do not believe in Satan or the Devil, and therefore, their religious system cannot in truth be termed dualistic. A good proof of this was afforded about half a century ago, at Bombay, when the Rev. Dr. Wilson, the Orientalist, debated the subject with the Parsi high-priests, the Dasturs. The latter very philosophically denied his imputation, and demonstrated to him that far from accepting the texts of their Sacred Books literally, they regarded them as allegorical as far as Ahriman was concerned. For them he is a symbolical representation of the disturbing elements in Kosmos and of the evil passions and animal instincts in man (Vendidad).
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4 Vendidad, trans. by J. Darmsteter, "Introductlon" p. lvi.
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5 Ahura Mazda stands here no longer as the supreme One God of eternal Good and Light but as its own Ray, the divine EGO which informs man--under whatever name.
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6 The gods of light, the "immortal seven," of whom Ahura Mazda is the seventh. They are deified abstractions.
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7 Or devils.
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8 In verse 16th of Yast XIX, we read: "I invoke the glory of the Ameshâspends, who all seven, have one and the same thinking, one and the same speaking, one and the same doing, one and the same lord, Ahura Mazda." As an occult teaching says: During each of the seven periods (Races) the chief ruling Light is given a new name; i.e., one of the seven hidden names, the initials of which compose the mystery name of the Septenary Host, viewed as one.
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9 Nork ii. 176. Compare Rev. xix,, 11-14, "I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and he that sat upon him . . . and the armies followed him upon white horses."
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10 Yast XIX. 89 et seq.
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11 The Yezidis, or "Devil Worshippers," some of whom inhabit the plains of ancient Babylonia, to this day worship Melek Taus, the peacock, as the messenger of Satan and the mediator between the Arch-fiend and men.
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M. Of course it is most difficult, and, as you say, "puzzling" to understand correctly and distinguish between the various aspects, called by us the "principles" of the real EGO. It is the more so as there exists a notable difference in the numbering of those principles by various Eastern schools, though at the bottom there is the same identical substratum of teaching in all of them.
X. Are you thinking of the Vedantins. They divide our seven "principles" into five only, I believe?
M. They do; but though I would not presume to dispute the point with a learned Vedantin, I may yet state as my private opinion that they have an obvious reason for it. With them it is only that compound spiritual aggregate which consists of various mental aspects that is called Man at all, the physical body being in their view something beneath contempt, and merely an illusion. Nor is the Vedanta the only philosophy to reckon in this manner. Lao-Tze in his Tao-te-King, mentions only five principles, because he, like the Vedantins, omits to include two principles, namely, the spirit (Atma) and the physical body, the latter of which, moreover, he calls "the cadaver." Then there is the Taraka Rajà Yogà School. Its teaching recognizes only three "principles" in fact; but then, in reality, their Sthulopadhi, or the physical body in its jagrata or waking conscious state, their Sukshmopadhi, the same body in svapna or the dreaming state, and their Karanopadhi or "causal body," or that which passes from one incarnation to another, are all dual in their aspects, and thus make six. Add to this Atma, the impersonal divine principle or the immortal element in Man, undistinguished from the Universal Spirit, and you have the same seven, again, as in the esoteric division.l
X. Then it seems almost the same as the division made by mystic Christians: body, soul and spirit?
M. Just the same. We could easily make of the body the vehicle of the "vital Double"; of the latter the vehicle of Life or Prana; of Kamarupa or (animal) soul, the vehicle of the higher and the lower mind, and make of this six principles, crowning the whole with the one immortal spirit. In Occultism, every qualificative change in the state of our consciousness goes to man a new aspect, and if it prevails and becomes part of the living and acting EGO, it must be (and is) given a special name, to distinguish the man in that particular state from the man he is when he places himself in another state.
X. It is just that which is so difficult to understand.
M. It seems to me very easy, on the contrary, once that you have seized the main idea, i.e., that man acts on this, or another plane of consciousness, in strict accordance with his mental and spiritual condition. But such is the materialism of the age that the more we explain, the less people seem capable of understanding what we say. Divide the terrestrial being called man into three chief aspects, if you like; but, unless you make of him a pure animal, you cannot do less. Take his objective body; the feeling principle in him--which is only a little higher than the instinctual element in the animal--or the vital elementary soul; and that which places him so immeasurably beyond and higher than the animal--i.e., his reasoning soul or "spirit." Well, if we take these three groups or representative entities, and subdivide them, according to the occult teaching, what do we get?
First of all Spirit (in the sense of the Absolute, and therefore indivisible ALL) or Atma. As this can neither be located nor conditioned in philosophy, being simply that which IS, in Eternity, and as the ALL cannot be absent from even the tiniest geometrical or mathematical point of the universe of matter or substance, it ought not to be called, in truth, a "human" principle at all. Rather, and at best, it is that point in metaphysical Space which the human Monad and its vehicle man, occupy for the period of every life. Now that point is as imaginary as man himself, and in reality is an illusion, a maya; but then for ourselves as for other personal Egos, we are a reality during that fit of illusion called life, and we have to take ourselves into account--in our own fancy at any rate if no one else does. To make it more conceivable to the human intellect, when first attempting the study of Occultism, and to solve the ABC of the mystery of man, Occultism calls it the seventh principle, the synthesis of the six, and gives it for vehicle the Spiritual Soul, Buddhi. Now the latter conceals a mystery, which is never given to anyone with the exception of irrevocably pledged chelas, those at any rate, who can be safely trusted. Of course there would be less confusion, could it only be told; but, as this is directly concerned with the power of projecting one's double consciously and at will, and as this gift like the "ring of Gyges" might prove very fatal to men at large and to the possessor of that faculty in particular, it is carefully guarded. Alone the adepts, who have been tried and can never be found wanting, have the key of the mystery fully divulged to them . . . Let us avoid side issues, however, and hold to the "principles." This divine soul or Buddhi, then, is the Vehicle of the Spirit. In conjunction, these two are one, impersonal, and without any attributes (on this plane, of course), and make two spiritual "principles." If we pass on to the Human Soul (manas, the mens) everyone will agree that the intelligence of man is dual to say the least: e.g., the high-minded man can hardly become low-minded; the very intellectual and spiritual-minded man is separated by an abyss from the obtuse, dull and material, if not animal-minded man. Why then should not these men be represented by two "principles" or two aspects rather? Every man has these two principles in him, one more active than the other, and in rare cases, one of these is entirely stunted in its growth; so to say paralysed by the strength and predominance of the other aspect, during the life of man. These, then, are what we call the two principles or aspects of Manas, the higher and the lower; the former, the higher Manas, or the thinking, conscious EGO gravitating toward the Spiritual Soul (Buddhi); and the latter, or its instinctual principle attracted to Kama, the seat of animal desires and passions in man. Thus, we have four "principles" justified; the last three being (1) the "Double" which we have agreed to call Protean, or Plastic Soul; the vehicle of (2) the life principle; and (3) the physical body. Of course no Physiologist or Biologist will accept these principles, nor can he make head or tail of them. And this is why, perhaps, none of them understand to this day either the functions of the spleen, the physical vehicle of the Protean Double, or those of a certain organ on the right side of man, the seat of the above mentioned desires, nor yet does he know anything of the pineal gland, which he describes as a horny gland with a little sand in it, and which is the very key to the highest and divinest consciousness in man--his omniscient, spiritual and all embracing mind. This seemingly useless appendage is the pendulum which, once the clock-work of the inner man is wound up, carries the spiritual vision of the EGO to the highest planes of perception, where the horizon open before it becomes almost infinite. . . .
X. But the scientific materialists assert that after the death of man nothing remains; that the human body simply disintegrates into its component elements, and that what we call soul is merely a temporary self-consciousness produced as a by-product of organic action, which will evaporate like steam. Is not theirs a strange state of mind?
M. Not strange at all, that I see. If they say that self-consciousness ceases with the body, then in their case they simply utter an unconscious prophecy. For once that they are firmly convinced of what they assert, no conscious after-life is possible for them.
X. But if human self-consciousness survives death as a rule, why should there be exceptions?
M. In the fundamental laws of the spiritual world which are immutable, no exception is possible. But there are rules for those who see, and rules for those who prefer to remain blind.
X. Quite so, I understand. It is an aberration of a blind man, who denies the existence of the sun because he does not see it. But after death his spiritual eyes will certainly compel him to see?
M. They will not compel him, nor will he see anything. Having persistently denied an after-life during this life, he will be unable to sense it. His spiritual senses having been stunted, they cannot develop after death, and he will remain blind. By insisting that he must see it, you evidently mean one thing and I another. You speak of the spirit from the Spirit, or the flame from the Flame--of Atma in short--and you confuse it with the human soul--Manas. . . . You do not understand me, let me try to make it clear. The whole gist of your question is to know whether, in the case of a downright materialist, the complete loss of self-consciousness and self-perception after death is possible? Isn't it so? I say: It is possible. Because, believing firmly in our Esoteric Doctrine, which refers to the Post-mortem period, or the interval between two lives or births as merely a transitory state, I say:--Whether that interval between two acts of the illusionary drama of life lasts one year or a million, that post-mortem state may, without any breach of the fundamental law, prove to be just the same state as that of a man who is in a dead swoon.
X. But since you have just said that the fundamental laws of the after-death state admit of no exceptions, how can this be?
M. Nor do I say now that they admit of exceptions. But the spiritual law of continuity applies only to things which are truly real. To one who has read and understood Mundakya Upanishad and Vedanta-Sara all this becomes very clear. I will say more: it is sufficient to understand what we mean by Buddhi and the duality of Manas to have a very clear perception why the materialist may not have a self-conscious survival after death: because Manas, in its lower aspect, is the seat of the terrestrial mind, and, therefore, can give only that perception of the Universe which is based on the evidence of that mind, and not on our spiritual vision. It is said in our Esoteric school that between Buddhi and Manas, or Iswara and Pragna,2 there is in reality no more difference than between a forest and its trees, a lake and its waters, just as Mundakya teaches. One or hundreds of trees dead from loss of vitality, or uprooted, are yet incapable of preventing the forest from being still a forest. The destruction or post-mortem death of one personality dropped out of the long series, will not cause the smallest change in the Spiritual divine Ego, and it will ever remain the same EGO. Only, instead of experiencing Devachan it will have to immediately reincarnate.
X. But as I understand it, Ego-Buddhi represents in this simile the forest and the personal minds the trees. And if Buddhi is immortal, how can that which is similar to it, i.e., Manas-taijasi,3 lose entirely its consciousness till the day of its new incarnation? I cannot understand it.
M. You cannot, because you will mix up an abstract representation of the whole with its casual changes of form; and because you confuse Manas-taijasi, the Buddhi-lit human soul, with the latter, animalized. Remember that if it can be said of Buddhi that it is unconditionally immortal, the same cannot be said of Manas, still less of taijasi, which is an attribute. No post-mortem consciousness or Manas-Taijasi, can exist apart from Buddhi, the divine soul, because the first (Manas) is, in its lower aspect, a qualificative attribute of the terrestrial personality, and the second (taijasi) is identical with the first, and that it is the same Manas only with the light of Buddhi reflected on it. In its turn, Buddhi would remain only an impersonal spirit without this element which it borrows from the human soul, which conditions and makes of it, in this illusive Universe, as it were something separate from the universal soul for the whole period of the cycle of incarnation. Say rather that Buddhi-Manas can neither die nor lose its compound self-consciousness in Eternity, nor the recollection of its previous incarnations in which the two--i.e., the spiritual and the human soul, had been closely linked together. But it is not so in the case of a materialist, whose human soul not only receives nothing from the divine soul, but even refuses to recognize its existence. You can hardly apply this axiom to the attributes and qualifications of the human soul, for it would be like saying that because your divine soul is immortal, therefore the bloom on your cheek must also be immortal; whereas this bloom, like taijasi, or spiritual radiance, is simply a transitory phenomenon.
X. Do I understand you to say that we must not mix in our minds the noumenon with the phenomenon, the cause with its effect?
M. I do say so, and repeat that, limited to Manas or the human soul alone, the radiance of Taijasi itself becomes a mere question of time; because both immortality and consciousness after death become for the terrestrial personality of man simply conditioned attributes, as they depend entirely on conditions and beliefs created by the human soul itself during the life of its body. Karma acts incessantly; we reap in our after-life only the fruit of that which we have ourselves sown, or rather created, in our terrestrial existence.
X. But if my Ego can, after the destruction of my body, become plunged in a state of entire unconsciousness, then where can be the punishment for the sins of my past life?
M. Our philosophy teaches that Karmic punishment reaches the Ego only in the next incarnation. After death it receives only the reward for the unmerited sufferings endured during its just past existence.4 The whole punishment after death, even for the materialist, consists therefore in the absence of any reward and the utter loss of the consciousness of one's bliss and rest. Karma--is the child of the terrestrial Ego, the fruit of the actions of the tree which is the objective personality visible to all, as much as the fruit of all the thoughts and even motives of the spiritual "I"; but Karma is also the tender mother, who heals the wounds inflicted by her during the preceding life, before she will begin to torture this Ego by inflicting upon him new ones. If it may be said that there is not a mental or physical suffering in the life of a mortal, which is not the fruit and consequence of some sin in this, or a preceding existence, on the other hand, since he does not preserve the slightest recollection of it in his actual life, and feels himself not deserving of such punishment, but believes sincerely he suffers for no guilt of his own, this alone is quite sufficient to entitle the human soul to the fullest consolation, rest and bliss in his post-mortem existence. Death comes to our spiritual selves ever as a deliverer and friend. For the materialist, who, notwithstanding his materialism, was not a bad man, the interval between the two lives will be like the unbroken and placid sleep of a child; either entirely dreamless, or with pictures of which he will have no definite perception. For the believer it will be a dream as vivid as life and full of realistic bliss and visions. As for the bad and cruel man, whether materialist or otherwise, he will be immediately reborn and suffer his hell on earth. To enter Avitchi is an exceptional and rare occurrence.
X. As far as I remember, the periodical incarnations of Sutratma5 are likened in some Upanishad to the life of a mortal which oscillates periodically between sleep and waking. This does not seem to me very clear, and I will tell you why. For the man who awakes, another day commences, but that man is the same in soul and body as he was the day before; whereas at every new incarnation a full change takes place not only in his external envelope, sex and personality, but even in his mental and psychic capacities. Thus the simile does not seem to me quite correct. The man who arises from sleep remembers quite clearly what he has done yesterday, the day before, and even months and years ago. But none of us has the slightest recollection of a preceding life or any fact or event concerning it. . . . I may forget in the morning what I have dreamed during the night, still I know that I have slept and have the certainty that I lived during sleep; but what recollection have I of my past incarnation? How do you reconcile this?
M. Yet some people do recollect their past incarnations. This is what the Arhats call Samma-Sambuddha--or the knowledge of the whole series of one's past incarnations.
X. But we ordinary mortals who have not reached Samma-Sambuddha, how can we be expected to realize this simile?
M. By studying it and trying to understand more correctly the characteristics of the three states of sleep. Sleep is a general and immutable law for man as for beast, but there are different kinds of sleep and still more different dreams and visions.
X. Just so. But this takes us from our subject. Let us return to the materialist who, while not denying dreams, which he could hardly do, yet denies immortality in general and the survival of his own individuality especially.
M. And the materialist is right for once, at least; since for one who has no inner perception and faith, there is no immortality possible. In order to live in the world to come a conscious life, one has to believe first of all in that life during one's terrestrial existence. On these two aphorisms of the Secret Science all the philosophy about the post-mortem consciousness and the immortality of the soul is built. The Ego receives always according to its deserts. After the dissolution of the body, there commences for it either a period of full clear consciousness, a state of chaotic dreams, or an utterly dreamless sleep indistinguishable from annihilation; and these are the three states of consciousness. Our physiologists find the cause of dreams and visions in an unconscious preparation for them during the waking hours; why cannot the same be admitted for the post-mortem dreams? I repeat it, death is sleep. After death begins, before the spiritual eyes of the soul, a performance according to a programme learnt and very often composed unconsciously by ourselves; the practical carrying out of correct beliefs or of illusions which have been created by ourselves. A Methodist, will be Methodist, a Mussulman, a Mussulman, of course, just for a time--in a perfect fool's paradise of each man's creation and making These are the post-mortem fruits of the tree of life. Naturally, our belief or unbelief in the fact of conscious immortality is unable to influence the unconditioned reality of the fact itself, once that it exists; but the belief or unbelief in that immortality, as the continuation or annihilation of separate entities, cannot fail to give colour to that fact in its application to each of these entities. Now do you begin to understand it?
X. I think I do. The materialist, disbelieving in everything that cannot be proven to him by his five senses or by scientific reasoning, and rejecting every spiritual manifestation, accepts life as the only conscious existence. Therefore, according to their beliefs so will it be unto them. They will lose their personal Ego, and will plunge into a dreamless sleep until a new awakening. Is it so?
M. Almost so. Remember the universal esoteric teaching of the two kinds of conscious existence: the terrestrial and the spiritual. The latter must be considered real from the very fact that it is the region of the eternal, changeless, immortal cause of all; whereas the incarnating Ego dresses itself up in new garments entirely different from those of its previous incarnations, and in which all except its spiritual prototype is doomed to a change so radical as to leave no trace behind.
X. Stop! . . . Can the consciousness of my terrestrial Egos perish not only for a time, like the consciousness of the materialist, but in any case so entirely as to leave no trace behind?
M. According to the teaching, it must so perish and in its fulness, all except that principle which, having united itself with the Monad, has thereby become a purely spiritual and indestructible essence, one with it in the Eternity. But in the case of an out and out materialist, in whose personal "I" no Buddhi has ever reflected itself, how can the latter carry away into the infinitudes one particle of that terrestrial personality? Your spiritual "I" is immortal; but from your present Self it can carry away into after life but that which has become worthy of immortality, namely, the aroma alone of the flower that has been mown by death.
X. Well, and the flower, the terrestrial "I"?
M. The flower, as all past and future flowers which blossomed and died, and will blossom again on the mother bough, the Sutratma, all children of one root of Buddhi, will return to dust. Your present "I," as you yourself know, is not the body now sitting before me, nor yet is it what I would call Manas-Sutratma--but Sutratma Buddhi.
X. But this does not explain to me at all, why you call life after death immortal, infinite, and real, and the terrestrial life a simple phantom or illusion; since even that post-mortem life has limits, however much wider they may be than those of terrestrial life.
M. No doubt. The spiritual Ego of man moves in Eternity like a pendulum between the hours of life and death. But if these hours marking the periods of terrestrial and spiritual life are limited in their duration, and if the very number of such stages in Eternity between sleep and awakening, illusion and reality, has its beginning and its end, on the other hand the spiritual "Pilgrim" is eternal. Therefore are the hours of his post-mortem life--when, disembodied he stands face to face with truth and not the mirages of his transitory earthly existences during the period of that pilgrimage which we call "the cycle of rebirths"--the only reality in our conception. Such intervals, their limitation not withstanding, do not prevent the Ego, while ever perfecting itself, to be following undeviatingly, though gradually and slowly, the path to its last transformation, when that Ego having reached its goal becomes the divine ALL. These intervals and stages help towards this final result instead of hindering it; and without such limited intervals the divine Ego could never reach its ultimate goal. This Ego is the actor, and its numerous and various incarnations the parts it plays. Shall you call these parts with their costumes the individuality of the actor himself? Like that actor, the Ego is forced to play during the Cycle of Necessity up to the very threshold of Para-nirvana, many parts such as may be unpleasant to it. But as the bee collects its honey from every flower, leaving the rest as food for the earthly worms, so does our spiritual individuality, whether we call it Sutratma or Ego. It collects from every terrestrial personality into which Karma forces it to incarnate, the nectar alone of the spiritual qualities and self-consciousness, and uniting all these into one whole it emerges from its chrysalis as the glorified Dhyan Chohan. So much the worse for those terrestrial personalities from which it could collect nothing. Such personalities cannot assuredly outlive consciously their terrestrial existence.
X. Thus then it seems, that for the terrestrial personality, immortality is still conditional. Is then immortality itself not unconditional?
M. Not at all. But it cannot touch the non-existent. For all that which exists as SAT, ever aspiring to SAT, immortality and Eternity are absolute. Matter is the opposite pole of spirit and yet the two are one. The essence of all this, i.e., Spirit, Force and Matter, or the three in one, is as endless as it is beginningless; but the form acquired by this triple unity during its incarnations, the externality, is certainly only the illusion of our personal conceptions. Therefore do we call the after-life alone a reality, while relegating the terrestrial life, its terrestrial personality included, to the phantom realm of illusion.
X. But why in such a case not call sleep the reality, and waking the illusion, instead of the reverse?
M. Because we use an expression made to facilitate the grasping of the subject, and from the standpoint of terrestrial conceptions it is a very correct one.
X. Nevertheless, I cannot understand. If the life to come is based on justice and the merited retribution for all our terrestrial suffering, how, in the case of materialists many of whom are ideally honest and charitable men, should there remain of their personality nothing but the refuse of a faded flower!
M. No one ever said such a thing. No materialist, if a good man, however unbelieving, can die forever in the fulness of his spiritual individuality. What was said is, that the consciousness of one life can disappear either fully or partially; in the case of a thorough materialist, no vestige of that personality which disbelieved remains in the series of lives.
X. But is this not annihilation to the Ego?
M. Certainly not. One can sleep a dead sleep during a long railway journey, miss one or several stations without the slightest recollection or consciousness of it, awake at another station and continue the journey recollecting other halting places, till the end of that journey, when the goal is reached. Three kinds of sleep were mentioned to you: the dreamless, the chaotic, and the one so real, that to the sleeping man his dreams become full realities. If you believe in the latter why can't you believe in the former? According to what one has believed in and expected after death, such is the state one will have. He who expected no life to come will have an absolute blank amounting to annihilation in the interval between the two rebirths. This is just the carrying out of the programme we spoke of, and which is created by the materialist himself. But there are various kinds of materialists, as you say. A selfish wicked Egoist, one who never shed a tear for anyone but himself, thus adding entire indifference the whole world to his unbelief, must drop at the threshold of death his personality forever. This personality having no tendrils of sympathy for the world around, and hence nothing to hook on to the string of the Sutratma, every connection between the two is broken with last breath. There being no Devachan for such a materialists, the Sutratma will re-incarnate almost immediately. But those materialists who erred in nothing but their disbelief, will oversleep but one station. Moreover, the time will come when the ex-material perceive himself in the Eternity and perhaps repent that he lost even one day, or station, from the life eternal.
X. Still would it not be more correct to say that death is birth new Life or a return once more to the threshold of eternity?
M. You may if you like. Only remember that births differ, and that there are births of "still-born" beings, which are failures. More-over with your fixed Western ideas about material life, the words "living" and "being" are quite inapplicable to the pure subjective post-mortem existence. It is just because of such ideas--a few philosophers who are not read by the many and who lives are too confused to present a distinct picture of it--that all your conceptions of life and death have finally become so narrow. On the one hand, they have led to crass materialism, and on the to the still more material conception of the other life which ritualists have formulated in their Summer-land. There the souls of men eat, drink and marry, and live in a Paradise quite as sensual as that of Mohammed, but even less philosophical. Nor are average conceptions of the uneducated Christians any better, e still more material, if possible. What between truncated Angels, brass trumpets, golden harps, streets in paradisiacal cities with jewels, and hell-fires, it seems like a scene at a Christmas pantomime. It is because of these narrow conceptions that you such difficulty in understanding. And, it is also just because the life of the disembodied soul, while possessing all the vividness of reality, as in certain dreams, is devoid of every grossly objective form of terrestrial life, that the Eastern philosophers have compared it with visions during sleep.
H. P. Blavatsky
Lucifer, January, 1889
1 See "Secret Doctrine" for a clearer explanation.
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2 Iswara is the collective consciousness of the manifested deity, Brahmâ, i.e., the collective consciousness of the Host of Dhyan Chohans; and Pragna is their individual wisdom.
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3 Taijasi means the radiant in consequence of the union with Buddhi of Manas, the human, illuminated by the radiance of the divine soul. Therefore Manas-taijasi may be described as radiant mind; the human reason lit by the light of the spirit; and Buddhi-Manas is the representation of the divine plus the human intellect and self-consciousness.
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4 Some Theosophists have taken exception to this phrase, but the words are those of the Masters, and the meaning attached to the word "unmerited" is that given above. In the T.P.S. pamphlet No. 6, a phrase, criticised subsequently in Lucifer was used, which was intended to convey the same idea. In form however it was awkward and open to the criticism directed against it; but the essential idea was that men often suffer from the effects of the actions done by others, effects which thus do not strictly belong to their own Karma, but to that of other people--and for these sufferings they of course deserve compensation. If it is true to say that nothing that happens to us can be anything else than Karma--or the direct or indirect effect of a cause--it would be a great error to think that every evil or good which befalls us is due only to our personal Karma. (Vide further on.)
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5 Our immortal and reincarnating principle in conjunction with the Manasic recollections of the preceding lives is called Sutratma, which means literally the Thread-Soul; because like the pearls on a thread so is the long series of human lives strung together on that one thread. Manas must become taijasi, the radiant, before it can hang on the Sutratma as a pearl on its thread, and so have full and absolute perception of itself in the Eternity. As said before, too close association with the terrestrial mind of the human soul alone causes this radiance to be entirely lost.
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