ALAS, whether we turn East, West, North or South, it is but a contrast of externals; whether one observes life among Christians or Pagans, worldly or religious men, everywhere one finds oneself dealing with man, masked man--only MAN. Though centuries lapse and decades of ages drop out of the lap of time, great reforms take place, empires rise and fall and rise again, and even whole races disappear before the triumphant march of civilization, in his terrific selfishness the "man" that was is the "man" that is--judged by its representative element the public, and especially society. But have we the right to judge man by the utterly artificial standard of the latter? A century ago we would have answered in the negative. Today, owing to the rapid strides of mankind toward civilization, generating selfishness and making it (mankind) keep pace with it, we answer decidedly, yes. Today everyone, especially in England and America, is that public and that society, and exceptions but prove and reinforce the rule. The progress of mankind cannot be summed up by counting units especially on the basis of internal and not external growth. Therefore, we have the right to judge of that progress by the public standard of morality in the majority; leaving the minority to bewail the fall of its ideals. And what do we find? First of all Society--Church, State and Law--in conventional conspiracy, leagued against the public exposure of the results of the application of such a test. They wish the said minority to take Society and the rest en bloc, in its fine clothes, and not pry into the social rottenness beneath. By common consent they pretend to worship an IDEAL, one at any rate, the Founder of their State Christianity; but they also combine to put down and martyrise any unit belonging to the minority who has the audacity, in this time of social abasement and corruption, to live up to it.
* * * *
Do we not all know such self-devoting men and women in our midst? Have we not all of us followed the career of certain individuals, Christ-like in aspirations and practical charity, though, perhaps, Christ-denying and Church-defying in intellect and words, who were tabooed for years by bigoted society, insolent clergy, and persecuted by both to the last limits of law? How many of such victims have found justice and the recognition they merit? After doing the noblest work among the poor for years, embellishing our cold and conventional age by their altruistic charity, making themselves blessed by old and young, beloved by all who suffer, the reward they found was to hear themselves traduced and denounced, slandered and secretly defamed by those unworthy to unloosen the latchets of their shoes--the Church-going hypocrites and Pharisees, the Sanhedrim of the World of Cant! . . .
Thus, out of the many noble ideals trampled practically in the mud by modern society, the one held by the Western World as the highest and grandest of all, is, after all, the most ill-treated. The life preached in the Sermon on the Mount, and the commandments left to the Church by her MASTER, are precisely those ideals that have fallen the lowest in our day. All these are trampled under the heel of the caitiffs of the canting caste de facto--though sub rosa of course, cant preventing that they should do so de jure--and shams are substituted in their place. . . .
The great scandal of modern religion as a rule of life is, that taking modern Society all around in a broad way, it does not command any attention at all. It has failed not so much to show what ought to be done and left undone--for of course even the maxims of the church as far as words go, cover a great deal of ground--as it has failed to show with any adequate force why this or that should be a guiding principle. The modern church, in fact, has broken down as a practical agency governing the acts of its followers--i.e., of the millions who are content to be called its followers, but who never dream of listening to a word it says.
Fully conscious that a great deal it says is very good, its exponents (blandly ignorant how bad is a great deal of the rest) think it is owing to the perversity of mankind that people at large are not better than they are. They never realize that they themselves--the Dry Monopole of social wines--are primarily to blame for having divorced the good codes of morals bequeathed to them from the religions of all time, from the fundamental sanctions which a correct appreciation of true spiritual science would attach to them. They have converted the divine teaching which is the Theosophy of all ages into a barbarous caricature, and they expect to find their parrot echoes of preposterous creeds a cry that will draw the worldlings to their fold, an appeal which will stir them up to the sublime task of spiritualizing their own natures. They fail to see that the command to love one another must be ineffective in the case of people whose whole conceptions of futurity turn upon their chances of drawing a lucky number in the lottery of the elect, or of dodging the punishment that would naturally be their due, at a happy moment when the divine mind may be thrown off its balance by reflecting on the beauty of the Christian sacrifice. The teachers of modern religion, in fact, have lost touch with the wisdom underlying their own perverted doctrines, and the blind followers of these blind leaders have lost touch even with the elementary principles of physical morality which the churches still continue to repeat, without understanding their purpose, and from mere force of habit. The ministers of religion, in short, of the Nineteenth Century, have eaten the sour grapes of ignorance, and the teeth of their unfortunate children are set on edge. . . .
Of all the beautiful ideals of the Past, the true religious feeling that manifests in the worship of the spiritually beautiful alone, and the love of plain truth, are those that have been the most roughly handled in this age of obligatory dissembling. We are surrounded on all sides by Hypocrisy, and those of its followers of whom Pollock has said that they were men:
Who stole the livery of the court of heaven,
To serve the devil in.
Oh, the unspeakable hypocrisy of our age! The age when everything under the Sun and Moon is for sale and bought. The age when all that is honest, just, noble-minded, is held up to the derision of the public, sneered at, and deprecated; when every truth-loving and fearlessly truth-speaking man is hooted out of polite Society, as a transgressor of cultured traditions which demand that every member of it should accept that in which he does not believe, say what he does not think, and lie to his own soul! The age, when the open pursuit of any of the grand ideals of the Past is treated as almost insane eccentricity or fraud; and the rejection of empty form--the dead letter that killeth--and preference for the Spirit "that giveth life"--is called infidelity, and forthwith the cry is started, "Stone him to death!" No sooner is the sacrifice of empty conventionalities, that yield reward and benefit but to self, made for the sake of practically working out some grand humanitarian idea that will help the masses, than a howl of indignation and pious horror is raised: the doors of fashionable Society are shut on the transgressor, and the mouths of slanderous gossips opened to dishonour his very name.
Yet, we are daily served with sanctimonious discourses upon the blessings conferred by Christian civilization and the advantages offered by both, as contrasted with the curses of "heathenism" and the superstitions and horrors of say--the Middle Ages. The Inquisition with its burning of heretics and witches, its tortures at the stake and on the rack, is contrasted with the great freedom of modern thought, on one hand, and the security of human life and property now, as compared with their insecurity in days of old. "Is it not civilization that abolished the Inquisition and now affords the beggar the same protection of law as the wealthy duke?" we are asked. "We do not know," we say. History would make us rather think that it was Napoleon the First, the Attila whose iniquitous wars stripped France and Europe of their lustiest manhood, who abolished the Inquisition, and this not at all for the sake of civilization, but rather because he was not prepared to allow the Church to burn and torture those who could serve him as chair à canon. As to the second proposition with regard to the beggar and the duke, we have to qualify it before accepting it as true. The beggar, however right, will hardly find as full justice as the duke will; and if he happens to be unpopular, or an heretic, ten to one he will find the reverse of justice. And this proves that if Church and State were un-christian then, they are still un-christian, if not more so now.
True Christianity and true civilization both ought to be opposed to murder, however legal. And yet we find, in the last half of our departing century more human lives sacrificed--because of the improved system and weapons of warfare, thanks to the progress of science and civilization--than there were in its first half. "Christian civilization," indeed! Civilization, perhaps; but why "Christian"? Did Pope Leo XIII personify it when in an agony of despair he shut himself up on the day when Bruno's monument was unveiled, and marked it as a dies iræ in Church History? But may we not turn to civilization, pure and simple? "Our manners, our civilization," says Burke, "and all the good things connected with manners . . . have in this European world of ours, depended for ages upon two principles. . . . I mean the spirit of a gentleman and the spirit of religion." We are quite willing to test the character of the age by these ideals. Only, it has always been hard to say just what definition to give to the term "gentleman"; while as to religion, ninety-nine out of every hundred people one meets would, if asked, reply in such a fashion as to make it plain that they had confounded religion with theology.
* * * *
But perhaps we have to look for true Christianity and true civilization and culture in the modern higher courts of Law? Alas, there are modern judges of whom their Lord (our Karma) would say, "Hear what the unjust judge sayeth." For, in our day, the decree of justice is sometimes uttered in the voice of the bigots who sit in Solomon's seat and judge as the Inquisitors of old did. In our century of Christian civilization, judges emulating their predecessors of the tribunal of the sons of Loyola, employ the more exquisite instruments of moral torture, to insult and goad to desperation a helpless plaintiff or defendant. In this they are aided by advocates, often the type of the ancient headsman, who, metaphorically, break the bones of the wretch seeking justice; or worse yet, defile his good name and stab him to the heart with the vilest innuendoes, false suppositions concocted for the occasion but which the victim knows will henceforth become actual truths in the mouth of foul gossip and slander. Between the defunct brutal tortures of the unchristian Inquisition of old, and the more refined mental tortures of its as unchristian but more civilized copy--our Court and truculent cross-examiners, the palm of "gentleness" and charity might almost be given to the former.
Thus we find every ideal of old, moral and spiritual, abased to correspond with the present low moral and unspiritual conceptions of the public. Brutalized by a psychical famine which has lasted through generations, they are ready to give every ideal spiritual Regenerator as food for the dogs, while like their debauched prototypes, the Roman populace under Nero, Caligula, and Heliogabalus, they crowd to see bull-fights in Paris, where the wretched horses drag their bleeding bowels around the arena, imported Almehs dancing their loathsome danse du ventre, black and white pugilists bruising each other's features into bloody pulp, and "raise the roof" with their cheers when the Samsons and Sandows burst chains and snap wires by expanding their preter-natural muscles. Why keep up the old farce any longer? Why not change the Christmas carol thus:
Gladiator natus hodie.
Or change the well-known anthem after this fashion:
"GLORY TO GOLD IN THE HIGHEST
AND ON EARTH STRIFE, ILL-WILL TOWARD MEN".
* * * *
In a world of illusion in which the law of evolution operates, nothing could be more natural than that the ideals of MAN--as a unit of total, or mankind--should be forever shifting. A part of the Nature around him, that Protean, ever-changing Nature, every particle of which is incessantly transformed, while the harmonious body remains as a whole ever the same, like these particles man is continually changing, physically, intellectually, morally, spiritually. At one time he is at the topmost point of the circle of development; at another, at the lowest. And, as he thus alternately rises and sinks, and his moral nature responsively expands or contracts, so will his moral code at one time embody the noblest altruistic and aspirational ideals, while at the other, the ruling conscience will be but the reflection of selfishness, brutality and faithlessness. But this, however, is so only on the external, illusionary plane. In their internal, or rather essential constitution, both nature and man are at one, as their essence is identical. All grows and develops and strives toward perfection on the former planes of externality or, as well said by a philosopher, is--"ever becoming"; but on the ultimate plane of the spiritual essence all Is, and remains therefore immutable. It is toward this eternal Esse that every thing, as every being, is gravitating, gradually, almost imperceptibly, but as surely as the Universe of stars and worlds moves towards a mysterious point known to, yet still unnamed by, astronomy, and called by the Occultists--the central Spiritual Sun.
Hitherto, it was remarked in almost every historical age that a wide interval, almost a chasm, lay between practical and ideal perfection. Yet, as from time to time certain great characters appeared on earth who taught mankind to look beyond the veil of illusion, man learnt that the gulf was not an impassable one; that it is the province of mankind through its higher and more spiritual races to fill the great gap more and more with every coming cycle; for every man, as a unit, has it in his power to add his mite toward filling it. Yes; there are still men, who, notwithstanding the present chaotic condition of the moral world, and the sorry débris of the best human ideals, still persist in believing and teaching that the now ideal human perfection is no dream, but a law of divine nature; and that, had Mankind to wait even millions of years, still it must some day reach it and rebecome a race of gods.
Meanwhile, the periodical rise and fall of human character on the external planes takes place now, as it did before, and the ordinary average perception of man is too weak to see that both processes occur each time on a higher plane than the preceding. But as such changes are not always the work of centuries, for often extreme changes are wrought by swift acting forces--e.g. by wars, speculations, epidemics, the devastation of famines or religious fanaticism--therefore, do the blind masses imagine that man was, is, and will be the same. To the eyes of us, moles, mankind is like our globe-- seemingly stationary. And yet, both move in space and time with an equal velocity, around themselves and--onward.
Moreover, at whatever end of his evolution, from the birth of his consciousness, in fact, man was, and still is, the vehicle of a dual spirit in him--good and evil. Like the twin sisters of Victor Hugo's grand, posthumous poem "Satan"--the progeny issued respectively from Light and Darkness--the angel "Liberty" and the angel "Isis-Lilith" have chosen man as their dwelling on earth, and these are at eternal strife in him.
The Churches tell the world that "man is born in sin," and John (1st Epist.iii.,8) adds that "He that committeth sin is of the devil, for the devil sinneth from the beginning." Those who still believe in the rib-and-apple fable and in the rebellious angel "Satan," believe, as a matter of course, in a personal Devil--as a contrast in a dualistic religion--to a personal God. We, Theosophists of the Eastern school, believe in neither. Yet we go, perhaps, further still than the Biblical dead letter. For we say that while as extra-cosmic Entities there is neither god nor devil, that both exist, nevertheless. And we add that both dwell on earth in man, being, in truth, the very man himself, who is, as a physical being, the devil, the true vehicle of evil, and as a spiritual entity--god, or good. Hence, to say to mankind, "thou hast the devil," is to utter as metaphysical a truth as when saying to all its men, "Know ye not that god dwelleth in you?" Both statements are true. But, we are at the turning point of the great social cycle, and it is the former fact which has the upper hand at present. Yet, as--to paraphrase a Pauline text--"there be devils many . . . yet there is but one Satan," so while we have a great variety of devils constituting collectively mankind, of such grandiose Satanic characters as are painted by Milton, Byron and recently by Victor Hugo, there are few, if any. Hence, owing to such mediocrity, are the human ideals falling, to remain unreplaced; a prose-life as spiritually dead as the London November fog, and as alive with brutal materialism and vices, the seven capital sins forming but a portion of these, as that fog is with deadly microbes. Now we rarely find aspirations toward the eternal ideal in the human heart, but instead of it every thought tending toward the one central idea of our century, the great "I," self being for each the one mighty center around which the whole Universe is made to revolve and turn.
When the Emperor Julian--called the Apostate because, believing in the grand ideals of his forefathers, the Initiates, he would not accept the human anthropomorphic form thereof--saw for the last time his beloved gods appear to him, he wept. Alas, they were no longer the bright spiritual beings he had worshipped, but only the decrepit, pale and worn out shades of the gods he had so loved. Perchance they were the prophetic vision of the departing ideals of his age, as also of our own cycle. These "gods" are now regarded by the Church as demons and called so; while he who has preserved a poetical, lingering love for them, is forthwith branded as an Anti-Christ and a modern Satan.
Well, Satan is an elastic term, and no one has yet ever given even an approximately logical definition of the symbolical meaning of the name. The first to anthropomorphize it was John Milton; he is his true putative intellectual father, as it is widely conceded that the theological Satan of the Fall is the "mind-born Son" of the blind poet. Bereft of his theological and dogmatic attributes Satan is simply an adversary,--not necessarily an "arch fiend" or a "persecutor of men," but possibly also a foe of evil. He may thus become a Saviour of the oppressed, a champion of the weak and poor, crushed by the minor devils (men), the demons of avarice, selfishness and hypocrisy. Michelet calls him the "great Disinherited" and takes him to his heart. The giant Satan of poetical concept is, in reality, but the compound of all the dissatisfied and noble intellectuality of the age. But Victor Hugo was the first to intuitively grasp the occult truth. Satan, in his poem of that time, is a truly grandiose Entity, with enough human in him to bring it within the grasp of average intellects. To realize the Satans of Milton and of Byron is like trying to grasp a handful of the morning mist: there is nothing human in them. Milton's Satan wars with angels who are a sort of flying puppets, without spontaneity, pulled into the stage of being and of action by the invisible string of theological predestination; Hugo's Lucifer fights a fearful battle with his own terrible passions and again becomes an Archangel of Light, after the awfulest agonies ever conceived by mortal mind and recorded by human pen.
All other Satanic ideals pale before his splendour. The Mephisto of Goethe is a true devil of theology; the Ahriman of Byron's "Manfred"--a too supernatural character, and even Manfred has little akin to the human element, great as was the genius of his creator. All these images pale before Hugo's SATAN, who loves as strongly as he hates. Manfred and Cain are the incarnate Protests of downtrodden, wronged and persecuted individuality against the "World" and "Society"--those giant fiends and savage monsters of collective injustice. Manfred is the type of an indomitable will, proud, yielding to no influence earthly or divine, valuing his full absolute freedom of action above any personal feeling or social consideration, higher than Nature and all in it. But, with Manfred as with Cain, the Se]f, the "I" is ever foremost; and there is not a spark of the all-redeeming love in them, no more than of fear. Manfred will not submit even to the universal Spirit of Evil; alone, face to face with the dark opponent of Ahura-Mazda--Universal Light--Ahriman and his countless hosts of Darkness, he still holds his own. These types arouse in one intense wonder, awe-struck amazement by their all-defiant daring, but arouse no human feeling: they are too supernatural ideals. Byron never thought of vivifying his Archangel with that undying spark of love which forms--nay, must form the essence of the "First-Born" out of the homogeneous essence of eternal Harmony and Light, and is the element of forgiving reconciliation, even in its (according to our philosophy) last terrestrial offspring--Humanity. Discord is the concomitant of differentiation, and Satan being an evolution, must in that sense, be an adversary, a contrast, being a type of Chaotic matter. The loving essence cannot be extinguished but only perverted. Without this saving redemptive power, embodied in Satan, he simply appears the nonsensical failure of omnipotent and omniscient imbecility which the opponents of theological Christianity sneeringly and very justly make him: with it he becomes a thinkable Entity, the Asuras of the Puranic myths, the first breaths of Brahma, who, after fighting the gods and defeating them are finally themselves defeated and then hurled on to the earth where they incarnate in Humanity. Thus Satanic Humanity becomes comprehensible. After moving around his cycle of obstacles he may, with accumulated experiences, after all the throes of Humanity, emerge again into the light--as Eastern philosophy teaches.
If Hugo had lived to complete his poem, possibly with strengthened insight, he would have blended his Satanic concept with that of the Aryan races which makes all minor powers, good or evil, born at the beginning and dying at the close of each "Divine Age." As human nature is ever the same, and sociological, spiritual and intellectual evolution is a question of step by step, it is quite possible that instead of catching one half of the Satanic ideal as Hugo did, the next great poet may get it wholly: thus voicing for his generation the eternal idea of Cosmic equilibrium so nobly emphasized in the Aryan mythology. The first half of that ideal approaches sufficiently to the human ideal to make the moral tortures of Hugo's Satan entirely comprehensible to the Eastern Theosophist. What is the chief torment of this great Cosmic Anarchist? It is the moral agony caused by such a duality of nature--the tearing asunder of the Spirit of Evil and Opposition from the undying element of primeval love in the Archangel. That spark of divine love for Light and Harmony, that no HATE can wholly smother, causes him a torture far more unbearable than his Fall and exile for protest and Rebellion. This bright, heavenly spark, shining from Satan in the black darkness of his kingdom of moral night, makes him visible to the intuitive reader. It made Victor Hugo see him sobbing in superhuman despair, each mighty sob shaking the earth from pole to pole; sobs first of baffled rage that he cannot extirpate love for divine Goodness (God) from his nature; then changing into a wail of despair at being cut off from that divine love he so much yearns for. All this is intensely human. This abyss of despair is Satan's salvation. In his Fall, a feather drops from his white and once immaculate wing, is lighted up by a ray of divine radiance and forth with transformed into a bright Being, the Angel LIBERTY. Thus, she is Satan's daughter, the child jointly of God and the Fallen Archangel, the progeny of Good and Evil, of Light and Darkness, and God acknowledges this common and "sublime paternity" that unites them. It is Satan's daughter who saves him. At the acme of despair at feeling himself hated by LIGHT, Satan hears the divine words "No; I hate thee not." Saith the Voice, "An angel is between us, and her deeds go to thy credit. Man, bound by thee, by her is now delivered."
O Satan, tu peux dire á present: je vivrai!
Viens; l'Ange Liberté c'est ta fille et la mienne
Cette paternité sublime nous unit! . . .
The whole conception is an efflorescence of metaphysical ideality. This white lotus of thought springs now, as in former ages, from the rottenness of the world of matter, generating Protest and LIBERTY. It is springing in our very midst and under our very eyes, from the mire of modern civilization, fecund bed of contrasting virtues. In this foul soil sprouted the germs which ultimately developed into All-denying protestators, Atheists, Nihilists, and Anarchists, men of the Terror. Bad, violent, criminal some of them may be, yet no one of them could stand as the copy of Satan; but taking this heart-broken, hopeless, embittered portion of humanity in their collectivity, they are just Satan himself; for he is the ideal synthesis of all discordant forces and each separate human vice or passion is but an atom of his totality. In the very depths of the heart of this HUMAN Satanic totality burns the divine spark, all negations notwithstanding. It is called LOVE FOR HUMANITY, an ardent aspiration for a universal reign of Justice--hence a latent desire for light, harmony and goodness. Where do we find such a divine spark among the proud and the wealthy? In respectable Society and the correct orthodox, so-called religious portion of the public, one finds but a predominating feeling of selfishness and a desire for wealth at the expense of the weak and the destitute, hence as a parallel, indifference to injustice and evil. Before Satan, the incarnate PROTEST, repents and reunites with his fellow men in one common Brotherhood, all cause for protest must have disappeared from earth. And that can come to pass only when Greed, Bias, and Prejudice shall have disappeared before the elements of Altruism and Justice to all. Freedom, or Liberty, is but a vain word just now all over the civilized globe; freedom is but a cunning synonym for oppression of the people in the name of the people, and it exists for castes, never for units. To bring about the reign of Freedom as contemplated by Hugo's Satan, the "Angel Liberty" has to be born simultaneously and by common love and consent of the "higher" wealthy caste, and the "lower" classes--the poor; in other words, to become the progeny of "God" and "Satan," thereby reconciling the two.
But this is a Utopia--for the present. It cannot take place before the castes of the modern Levites and their theology--the Dead-sea fruit of Spirituality--shall have disappeared; and the priests of the Future have declared before the whole World in the words of their "God"--
Et j'éfface la nuit sinistre, et rien n'en reste,
Satan est mort, renais
O LUCIFER CELESTE!
Lucifer, December, 1889
FROM the first month of my arrival in America I began, for reasons mysterious, but perhaps intelligible, to provoke hatred among those who pretended to be on good terms with me, if not the best of friends. Slanderous reports, vile insinuations and innuendoes have rained about me. For more than two years I have kept silent, although the least of the offences attributed to me were calculated to excite the loathing of a person of my disposition. I have rid myself of a number of these retailers of slander, but finding that I was actually suffering in the estimation of friends whose good opinion I valued, I adopted a policy of seclusion. For two years my world has been in my apartments, and for an average of at least seventeen hours a day I have sat at my desk, with my books and manuscripts as my companions. During this time many highly-valued acquaintanceships have been formed with ladies and gentlemen who have sought me out, without expecting me to return their visits.
I am an old woman, and I feel the need of fresh air as much as any one, but my disgust for the lying, slanderous world that one finds outside of "heathen" uncivilized countries has been such that in seven months I believe I have been out but three times. But no retreat is secure against the anonymous slanderer, who uses the United States mail. Letters have been received by my trusted friends containing the foulest aspersions upon myself. At various times I have been charged with: (I) drunkenness; (2) forgery; (3) being a Russian spy; (4) with being an anti-Russian spy; (5) with being no Russian at all, but a French adventuress; (6) with having been in jail for theft; (7) with being the mistress of a Polish count in Union Square; (8) with murdering seven husbands; (9) with bigamy; (10) with being the mistress of Col. Olcott, (11) also of an acrobat. Other things might be mentioned, but decency forbids.
Since the arrival of Wong Chin Foo the game has recommenced with double activity. We have received anonymous letters and others, and newspaper slips, telling infamous stories about him. On his part, he has received communications about us, one of which I beg you to insert.
Does the disciple of Buddha know the character of the people with whom he is at present residing? The surroundings of a teacher of morality and religion should be moral. Are his so? On the contrary, they are people of very doubtful reputation, as he can ascertain by applying at the nearest police-station.
Of Wong Chiu Foo's merits or shortcomings I know nothing, except that since his arrival his conversation and behaviour have impressed me very favourably. He appears to be a very earnest and enthusiastic student. However, he is a man, and is able to take care of himself, although, like me, a foreigner. But I wish to say for myself just this: that I defy any person in America to come forward and prove a single charge against my honour. I invite everyone possessed of such proof as will vindicate them in a court of justice to publish it over their own signatures in the newspapers. I will furnish to anyone a list of my several residences, and contribute towards paying detectives to trace my every step. But I hereby give notice that if any more unverifiable slanders can be traced to responsible sources, I will invoke the protection of the law, which, it is the theory of your national Constitution, was made for heathen as well as Christian denizens.
H. P. Blavatsky
New York, May 5th, 1877.
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.
IT is, indeed, shorter and easier to proceed from ignorance to knowledge than from error," says Jerdan.
But who in our age of religions gnashing their teeth at one another, of sects innumerable, of "isms" and "ists" performing a wild fandango on the top of each other's heads to the rhythmical accompaniment of tongues, instead of castanets, clappering invectives--who will confess to his error? Nevertheless, all cannot be true. Nor can it be made clear by any method of reasoning, why men should on the one hand hold so tenaciously to opinions which most of them have adopted, not begotten, while they feel so savagely inimical to other sets of opinions, generated by somebody else!
Of this truth the past history of Theosophy and the Theosophical Society is a striking illustration. It is not that men do not desire novelty, or that progress and growth of thought are not welcomed. Our age is as greedy to set up new idols as it is to overthrow the old gods; as ready to give lavish hospitality to new ideas, as to kick out most unceremoniously theories that now seem to them effete. These new ideas may be as stupid as green cucumbers in a hot milk soup, as unwelcome to the majority as a fly in communion wine. Suffice it, however, that they emanate from a scientific brain, a recognized "authority," for them to be welcomed with open arms by the fanatics of science. In this our century, as all know, every one in society, whether intellectual or scientific, dull or ignorant, is ceaselessly running after some new thing. More so even, in truth, than the Athenian of Paul's day. Unfortunately, the new crazes men run after, now as then, are not truths--much as modern Society prides itself on living in an age of facts--but simply corroborations of men's hobbies, whether religious or scientific. Facts, indeed, are eagerly sought after, by all--from the solemn conclaves of Science who seem to hang the destinies of the human race on the correct definition of the anatomy of a mosquito's proboscis, down to half-starved penny-a-liner on the war-path after sensational news. But, it is only such facts as serve to pander to one or another of the prejudices and preconceptions, which are the ruling forces in the modern mind that are sure of their welcome.
Anything outside of such facts: any new or old idea unpopular and distasteful, for some mysterious reason or other, to the prevailing ismical authorities, will very soon be made to feel its unpopularity. Regarded askance, at first, with uplifted eyebrows and in wonderment, it will begin by being solemnly and almost à priori tabooed and thence refused per secula seculorum even a dispassionate hearing. People will begin to comment upon it--each faction in the light of its own prejudice and special craze. Then, each will proceed to distort it--the mutually inimical factions even clubbing their inventions, so as to slay the intruder with the more certainty, until each and all will be running amuck at it.
Thus act all the religious isms, even so all the independent Societies, whether scientific, free-thinking, Agnostic or Secularistic. Not one of these has the faintest correct conception about Theosophy or the Society of this name; none of them has ever gone to the trouble of even enquiring about either--yet, one and all will sit in Solomon's seat and judge the hateful (perhaps, because dangerous?) intruder, in the light of their respective misconceptions. We are not likely to stop to argue Theosophy with religious fanatics. Such remarks are beneath contempt, as those in "Word and Work" which, speaking of "the prevalence of Spiritualism and its advance under the new form of Theosophy"(?), strikes both with a sledge-hammer tempered in holy water, by first accusing both Spiritualism and Theosophy of "imposture," and then of having the devil.1--But when in addition to sectarian fanatics, missionaries and foggy retrogrades, in general, we find such clearheaded, cool, intellectual giants as Mr. Bradlaugh falling into the common errors and prejudice--the thing becomes more serious.
It is so serious, indeed, that we do not hesitate to enter respectful yet firm protest in the pages of our journal--the only organ that is likely to publish all that we have to say. The task is an easy one. Mr. Bradlaugh has just published his views upon Theosophy in half a column of his National Reformer (June30th) in which article--"Some Words of Explanation"--we find some half-a-dozen of the most regrettable misconceptions about the supposed beliefs of Theosophists. We publish it in extenso as it speaks for itself and shows the reason of his displeasure. Passages that we mean to controvert are underlined.
SOME WORDS OF EXPLANATION
The review of Madame Blavatsky's book in the last National Reformer and an announcement in the Sun have brought me several letters on the subject of Theosophy. I am asked for explanation as to what Theosophy is, and as to my opinions on Theosophy. The word "theosoph" is old, and was used among the Neoplatonists. From the dictionary, its new meaning appears to be, "one who claims to have a knowledge of God, or of the laws of nature by means of internal illumination." An Atheist certainly cannot be a Theosophist. A Deist might be a Theosophist. A Monist could not be a Theosophist. Theosophy must at least involve Dualism. Modern Theosophy, according to Madame Blavatsky, as set out in last week's issue, asserts much that I do not believe, and alleges some things which to me are certainly not true. I have not had the opportunity of reading Madame Blavatsky's two volumes, but I have read during the past ten years many publications from the pen of herself, Colonel Olcott, and other Theosophists. They appear to me to have sought to rehabilitate a kind of Spiritualism in Eastern phraseology. I think many of their allegations utterly erroneous, and their reasonings wholly unsound. I very deeply indeed regret that my colleague and co-worker has, with somewhat of suddenness, and without any interchange of ideas with myself, adopted as facts, matters which seem to me as unreal as it is possible for any fiction to be. My regret is greater as I know Mrs. Besant's devotion to any course she believes to be true. I know that she will always be earnest in the advocacy of any views she undertakes to defend, and I look to possible developments of her Theosophic opinions with the very gravest misgiving. The editorial policy of this paper is unchanged, and is directly antagonistic to all forms of Theosophy. I would have preferred on this subject to have held my peace, for the publicly disagreeing with Mrs. Besant on her adoption of Socialism has caused pain to both; but on reading her article and taking the public announcement made of her having joined the Theosophical organisation, I owe it to those who look to me for guidance to say this with clearness.
It is of course useless to go out of our way to try and convert Mr. Bradlaugh from his views as a thorough Materialist and Atheist to our Pantheism (for real Theosophy is that), nor have we ever sought by word or deed to convert Mrs. Besant. She has joined us entirely of her own free will and accord, though the fact gave all earnest Theosophists unbounded satisfaction, and to us personally more pleasure than we have felt for a long time. But we will simply appeal to Mr. Bradlaugh's well-known sense of justice and fairness, and prove to him that he is mistaken--at any rate, as to the views of Colonel Olcott and the present writer, and also in the interpretation he gives to the term "Theosophy."
It will be sufficient to say that if Mr. Bradlaugh knew anything of the Rules of our Society he would know that if even he, the Head of Secularism, were to become today a member of the Theosophical Society, such an action would not necessitate his giving up one iota of his Secularistic ideas. We have greater atheists in the T.S. than he ever was or can be, namely, Hindus belonging to certain all-denying sects. Mr. Bradlaugh believes in mesmerism, at all events he has great curative powers himself, and therefore could not well deny the presence in some persons of such mysterious faculties; whereas, if you attempted to speak of mesmerism or even of hypnotism to the said Hindus, they would only shrug their shoulders at you, and laugh. Membership in the Theosophical Society does not expose the "Fellows" to any interference with their religious, irreligious, political, philosophical or scientific views. The Society is not a sectarian nor is it a religious body, but simply a nucleus of men devoted to the search after truth, whencesoever it may come. Mrs. Annie Besant was right when stating, in the same issue of the National Reformer, that the three objects of the Theosophical Society are:
to found a Universal Brotherhood without distinction of race or creed; to forward the study of Aryan literature and philosophy; to investigate unexplained laws of nature and the psychical powers latent in man. On matters of religious opinion, the members are absolutely free. The founders of the society deny a personal God, and a somewhat subtle form of Pantheism is taught as the Theosophic view of the Universe, though even this is not forced on members of the Society.
To this Mrs. Besant adds, over her own signature, that though she cannot, in the National Reformer, state fully her reasons for joining the T. S., yet she has
no desire to hide the fact that this form of Pantheism appears to promise solution of some problems, especially problems in psychology, which Atheism leaves untouched.
We seriously hope that she will not be disappointed.
The second object of the T. S., i.e. the Eastern philosophy interpreted esoterically, has never yet failed to solve many a problem for those who study the subject seriously. It is only those others who, without being natural mystics, rush heedlessly into the mysteries of the unexplained psychic powers latent in every man (in Mr. Bradlaugh himself, as well as in any other) from ambition, curiosity or simple vanity--that generally come to grief and make the T. S. responsible for their own failure.
Now what is there that could prevent even Mr. Bradlaugh from joining the T. S.? We will take up the argument point by point.
Is it because Mr. Bradlaugh is an Individualist, an English Radical of the old school, that he cannot sympathize with such a lofty idea as the Universal Brotherhood of Man? His well-known kindness of heart, his proven philanthropy, his life-long efforts in the cause of the suffering and the oppressed, would seem to prove the contrary in his practice, whatever his theoretical views on the subject may be. But, if perchance he clings to his theories in the face of his practice, then let us leave aside this, the first object of the T.S. Some members of our Society, unfortunately, sympathize as little as he might with this noble, but perchance (to Mr. Bradlaugh) somewhat Utopian ideal. No member is obliged to feel in full sympathy with all three objects; suffice that he should be in sympathy with one of the three, and be willing not to oppose the two others, to render him eligible to membership in the T. S.
Is it because he is an Atheist? To begin with, we dispute "the new meaning" he quotes from the dictionary that "a Theosophist is one who claims to have a knowledge of God." No one can claim a knowledge of "God." the absolute and unknowable universal Principle; and in a personal god Eastern Theosophists (therefore Olcott and Blavatsky) do not believe. But if Mr. Bradlaugh contends that in that case the name is a misnomer, we shall reply: theosophia properly means not a knowledge of "God" but of gods, i.e., divine, that is superhuman knowledge. Surely Mr. Bradlaugh will not assert that human knowledge exhausts the universe and that no wisdom is possible outside the consciousness of man?
And why cannot a Monist be a Theosophist? And why must Theosophy at least involve dualism? Theosophy teaches a far stricter and more far-reaching Monism than does Secularism. The Monism of the latter may be described as materialistic and summed up in the words, "Blind Force and Blind Matter ultimating in Thought." But this--begging Mr. Bradlaugh's pardon--is bastard Monism. The Monism of Theosophy is truly philosophical. We conceive of the universe as one in essence and origin. And though we speak of Spirit and Matter as its two poles, yet we state emphatically that they can only be considered as distinct from the standpoint of human, mayavic (i.e., illusionary) consciousness.
We therefore conceive of spirit and matter as one in essence and not as separate and distinct antitheses.
What then are the "matters" that seem to Mr. Bradlaugh "as unreal as it is possible for any fiction to be"? We hope he is not referring to those physical phenomena, which most unfortunately have been confused in the Western mind with philosophical Theosophy? Real as these manifestations are--inasmuch as they were not produced by "conjuring tricks" of any kind--still the best of them are, ever were and ever will be, no better than psychological illusions, as the writer herself always called them to the disgust of many of her phenomenally inclined friends. These "unrealities" were all very well as toys, during the infancy of Theosophy; but we can assure Mr. Bradlaugh that all his Secularists might join the T. S. without ever being expected to believe in them--even though he himself produces the same "unreal" but beneficent "illusions" in his mesmeric cures, of many of which we heard long ago. And surely the editor of the National Reformer will not call "unreal" the ethical and ennobling aspects of Theosophy, the undeniable effects of which are so apparent among the bulk of Theosophists--notwithstanding a back-biting and quarrelling minority? Surely again he will not deny the elevating and strengthening influence of such beliefs as those in Reincarnation and Karma, doctrines which solve undeniably many a social problem that seeks elsewhere in vain for a solution?
The Secularists are fond of speaking of Science as "the Saviour of Man," and should, therefore, be ready to welcome new facts and listen to new theories. But are they prepared to listen to theories and accept facts that come to them from races which, in their insular pride, they term effete? For not only do the latter lack the sanction of orthodox Western Science, but they are stated in an unfamiliar form and are supported by reasoning not cast in the mould of the inductive system, which has usurped a spurious place in the eyes of Western thinkers.
The Secularists, if they wish to remain consistent materialists, will have perforce to shut out more than half the universe from the range of their explanations: that part namely, which includes mental phenomena, especially those of a comparatively rare and exceptional nature. Or do they imagine, perhaps, that in psychology--the youngest of the Sciences--everything is already known? Witness the Psychic Research Society with its Cambridge luminaries--sorry descendants of Henry More!--how vain and frantic its efforts, efforts that have so far resulted only in making confusion worse confounded. And why? Because they have foolishly endeavoured to test and to explain psychic phenomena on a physical basis. No Western psychologist has, so far, been able to give any adequate explanation even of the simplest phenomenon of consciousness--sense perception.
The phenomena of thought-transference, hypnotism, suggestion, and many other mental and psychic manifestations, formerly regarded as supernatural or the work of the devil, are now recognized as purely natural phenomena. And yet it is in truth the same powers, only intensified tenfold, that are those "unrealities" Mr. Bradlaugh speaks about. Manipulated by those who have inherited the tradition of thousands of years of study and observation of such forces, their laws and modes of operations--what wonder that they should result in effects, unknown to science, but super-natural only in the eyes of ignorance.
Eastern Mystics and Theosophists do not believe in miracles, any more than do the Secularists; what then is there superstitious in such studies?
Why should discoveries so arrived at, and laws formulated in accordance with strict and cautious investigation be regarded as "rehabilitated Spiritualism"?
It is a historically recognized fact that Europe owes the revival of its civilization and culture, after the destruction of the Roman Empire, to Eastern influence. The Arabs in Spain and the Greeks of Constantinople brought with them only that which they had acquired from nations lying still further Eastward. Even the glories of the classical age owed their beginnings to the germs received by the Greeks from Egypt and Phœnicia. The far remote, so-called antediluvian, ancestors of Egypt and those of the Brahmin Aryans sprang once upon a time from the same stock. However much scientific opinions may vary as to the genealogical and ethnological sequence of events, yet the fact remains undeniable that every germ of civilization which the West has cultivated and developed has been received from the East. Why then should the English Secularists and Freethinkers in general, who certainly do not pride themselves on their imaginary descent from the lost ten tribes, why should they be so reluctant to accept the possibility of further enlightenment coming to them from that East, which was the cradle of their race? And why should they, who above all, ought to be free from prejudice, fanaticism, and narrow-mindedness, the exclusive prerogatives of religious bodies, why, we ask, should they who lay claim to free thought, and have suffered so much themselves from fanatical persecution, why, in the name of wonder, should they so readily allow themselves to be blinded by the very prejudices which they condemn?
This and many other similar instances bring out with the utmost clearness the right of the Theosophical Society to fair and impartial hearing; as also the fact that of all the now existing "isms" and "ists," our organization is the only body entirely and absolutely free from all intolerance, dogmatism, and prejudice.
The Theosophical Society, indeed, as a body, is the only one which opens its arms to all, imposing on none its own special beliefs, strictly limited to the small inner group within it, called Esoteric Section. It is truly Universal in spirit and constitution. It recognises and fosters no exclusiveness, no preconceptions. In the T. S. alone do men meet in the common search for truth, on a platform from which all dogmatism, all sectarianism, all mutual party hatred and condemnation are excluded; for, accepting every grain of truth wherever it is found, it waits in patience till the chaff that accompanies it falls off by itself. It recognizes and knows of, and therefore avoids its representatives in its ranks--but one enemy--an enemy common to all, namely, Roman Catholicism, and that only because of its auricular confession. But even this exception exists only so far as regards its inner group, for reasons too apparent to need explanation.
Theosophy is monistic through and through. It seeks the one Truth in all religions, in all science, in all experience, as in every system of thought. What aim can be nobler, more universal, more . all-embracing?
But evidently the world has not yet learned to regard Theosophy in this light, and the necessity of disabusing at least some of the best minds in the English-speaking countries, of the prejudices springing from the tares sown in them by our unscrupulous enemies is felt more than ever at this juncture. It is with the hope of weeding these minds from all such misconceptions, and of making the position of Theosophy plainer and clearer, that the present writer has prepared a small volume, called "The Key to Theosophy," now in the press, and to be published very shortly. Therein are gathered in the shape of dialogùe all the principal errors about, and objections to, Theosophy and its teachings, and more detailed and fuller arguments in proof of the assertions made in this article will be found in that work. The writer will make it her duty to send an early copy--not to the editor of the National Reformer--but to Mr. Bradlaugh personally. Knowing him by reputation for long years, it is impossible for us to believe that our critic would ever condescend to follow the example of most of the editors, lay or clerical, and condemn a work on faith even before he had cut open its pages, merely because of the unpopularity of its author and the subject treated.
In that volume it will be found that the chief concern of Theosophists is Search after Truth, and the investigation of such problems in Nature and Man which are mysteries today, but may become secrets, open to science, tomorrow. Is this a course which Mr. Bradlaugh would oppose? Does his judgment belong to the category of those that can never be open to revision? "This shall be your creed and belief, and therefore, all investigation is useless," is a dictum of the Roman Catholic Church. It cannot be that of the Secularists--if they would remain true to their colours.
H. P. Blavatsky
Lucifer, July, 1889
1 "Many, however," it adds, "who have had fuller knowledge of spiritualistic pretensions than we have, are convinced that, in some cases, there are real communications from the spirit world. If such there be, we have no doubt whence they come. They are certainly from beneath, not from above." O Sancta Simplicitas, which still believes in the devil--by perceiving its own face in the mirror, no doubt?
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IN an article, in the Tatwa Bodhini Patríka "The Essential Religion Babu Rajnarain Bose, the well known Brahmo, prefacing it with a quotation from Ramohun Roy's Trust Deed of the Adi Brahmo Somaj, "which is an injunction, with regard to Strengthening the bonds of union between men of all religious persuasions, and creeds"--makes the following wise remarks.
We should regulate our conduct by keeping a constant eye upon the essentials of religion. We are apt to lose sight of them in the mists of sectarian prejudice, partiality and passion. We are apt to forget them in the heat of religious discussion, in the distraction of philosophical speculation, in the excitement of religious delight and in the engrossment of ceremonial observances. . . . We are so bent upon thrusting our own particular opinions on non-essential points of religion on others that we consider them to be essentially necessary for salvation. We are apt to forget that we ourselves are not infallible, that our own opinions on all subjects of human interest were not exactly the same twenty years ago as they are now, nor will they be exactly the same twenty years afterwards as they are now. We are apt to forget that all the members of our own sect or party, if they frankly reveal their whole minds, de not hold exactly the same opinions on all subjects concerning religion as we do. We are apt to forget that the religious opinions of man are subject to progress and they will not be the same a century afterwards as they are now. We, Theists, have as much right to say that men of other religions, less advanced in religious knowledge than we are, will not be saved, as Theists who will live centuries hence will have of saying that we, the present Theists, will not have been saved on account of our errors. Fallible man cannot with good grace be a dogmatist. We should be more mindful of performing our religious and moral duties and drawing men's attention to those duties than dogmatically thrusting our particular opinions on particular points of religious doctrine upon others.
Learned dissertations on theology and controversies on the subject of religion are useful in their own way, but true religion before the Lord does not consist in them. It consists in a man's "Visiting the fatherless and the widow in their affliction and keeping himself unspotted from the world," that is, from vice. . . . Some people consider processions, festivals and religious music as the be-all and end-all of religion. They are no doubt useful in their own way, but they are not the be-all and end-all of religion. Life is the be-all and end-all of religion. . . .
We should not only regulate our own conduct by an eye to the essentials of religion, but, while propagating the religion we profess, we should draw men's attention more to love of God and love of man than doctrinal points. We are morally culpable before God if we lay greater stress on the husk instead of the kernel of religion.
The Essential Religion does not admit of church organization. There can be no such sect as the Essential Religionists. The Essential Religion is not the exclusive property of any particular sect or church. It is the common property of all sects and churches. The members of all sects and churches should regulate their conduct according to its dictates. . . . Besides, a number of men, banded together and calling themselves Essential Religionists, must have particular conception of the Deity and future state and follow a particular mode of worship. This particular conception and particular mode of worship would at once determine them as a sect. These particular conceptions of God and future state and modes of worship give rise to religious sects among mankind. Every individual man cannot avoid joining a sect according to his own particular convictions.
Differences of religion must always exist in the world.1 To quote Parker. . . . "As many men so many theologies." As it is impossible to obliterate differences of face and make all faces exactly resemble each other, so it is difficult to obliterate distinctions of religion. Differences of religion have always existed in the world and will exist as long as it lasts. It is impossible to bring over men to one and the same religion. A certain king remarked: "It is impossible to make all watches go exactly alike. How is it possible to bring over all men to my own opinion?" Various flowers would always exist in the garden of religion, each having a peculiar fragrance of its own, Theism being the most fragrant of them all. Bearing this in mind, we should tolerate all religions, though at the same time propagating the religion which we consider to be truth by means of argument and gentle persuasion. We should tolerate even such agnostical religions as Vedantism and Buddhism as they inculcate the doctrine of the existence of God, though the followers of those religions believe Him to be impersonal, the doctrine of Yoga or communion with Him to which men must be impelled by love of God, and the doctrine of love of man or morality. Some people speak of Buddhism as an atheistical religion. Even if it were true that Buddhism is a system of pure atheism, which it is not, the phrase "atheistical religion" is a contradiction in terms. There can be no religion if divorced from God. Later researches have proved that Buddhism is not without the idea of a God as was formerly supposed.2 We should tolerate all religions. We should look upon all religions, every one of which contains greater or less truth, as God himself looks upon them, rejoicing in the truth which each contains and attributing its errors to human imperfection. . . .
These are as noble and as conciliating words as were ever pronounced among the Brahmos of India. They would be calculated to do a world of good, but for the common doom of words of wisdom to become the "voice crying in the desert." Yet even in these kindly uttered sentences, so full of benevolence and good; will to all men, we cannot help discerning (we fervently hope, that Babu Rajnarain Bose will pardon our honest sincerity) a ring of a certain sectarian, hence selfish feeling, one against which our Society is forced to fight so desperately.
"We should tolerate all religions, though at the same time, propagating the religion which we consider to be true"--we are, told. It is our painful duty to analyze these words, and we begin by asking why should we? Where is the necessity for imposing our own personal views, our beliefs pro tem, if we may use the expression, upon other persons who, each and all must be allowed to possess--until the contrary is shown--as good a faculty of discrimination and judgment as we believe ourselves to be endowed with? We say belief pro tem basing the expression upon the writer's own confession. "We are apt to forget," he tells his readers "that we ourselves are not infallible, that our opinions . . . were not exactly the same twenty years ago as they are now, nor will they be exactly the same twenty years hence," and "that an the members of our own sect or party. . . . do not hold exactly the same opinions on all subjects concerning religion as we do." Precisely. Then why not leave the mind of our brothers of other religions and creeds to pursue its own natural course instead of forcibly diverting it--however gentle the persuasion--into a groove we may ourselves abandon twenty years hence? But, we may be perhaps reminded by the esteemed writer that in penning those sentences which we have underlined, he referred but to the "non-essential points"--or sectarian dogmas, and not to what he is pleased to call the "essential" points of religion, viz.,--belief in God or theism. We answer by enquiring again, whether the latter tenet--a tenet being something which has to rest upon its own intrinsic value and undeniable evidence--whether notwithstanding, until very lately its quasi-universal acceptation,--this tenet is any better proven, or rests upon any firmer foundation than any of the existing dogmas which are admitted by none but those who accept the authority they proceed from? Are not in this case, both tenet and dogmas, the "essentials" as the "non-essentials," simply the respective conclusions and outcome of "fallible minds"? And can it be maintained that theism itself with its present crude ideas about an intelligent personal deity a little better than a superhumanly conscious big man--will not 20 years hence have reached not only a broader and more noble aspect, but even a decided turning point which will lead humanity to a far higher ideal in consequence of the scientific truths it acquires daily and almost hourly? It is from a strictly agnostic platform that we are now arguing, basing what we say merely upon the writer's own words. And we maintain that the major premiss of his general proposition which may be thus formulated--"a personal God is,--while dogmas may or may not be true"--being simply admitted, never proven, since the existence of God in general was, is, and ever will remain an unprovable proposition, his conclusions however correctly derived from the minor or second premiss do not cover the whole ground. The syllogism is regular and the reasoning valid--only in the opinion of the theists. The atheist as the agnostic will protest, having logic as well as reason on his side. He will say: Why not accord to others that which you claim for yourselves? However weighty our arguments and gentle our persuasion, no theist would fail to feel hurt were we to try our hand in persuading him to throw away his theism and accept the religion or philosophy "which we consider to be true"--namely, "godless" Buddhism, or highly philosophical and logical agnosticism. As our esteemed contemporary puts it,--"it is impossible to obliterate differences of face and make all faces exactly resemble each other." Has the idea ever struck him that it is as difficult to entirely obliterate innate differences of mental perceptions and faculties, let alone to reconcile by bringing them under one standard the endless varieties of human nature and thought? The latter may be forced from its natural into an artificial channel. But like a mask however securely stuck on one's face, and which is liable to be torn off by the first strong gush of wind that blows under, the convictions thus artificially inoculated are liable at any day to resume their natural course--the new cloth put upon the old garment torn out, and--"the rent made worse." We are with those who think that as nature has never intended the process known in horticulture as engrafting, so she has never meant that the ideas of one man should be inoculated with those of any other man, since were it so she would have--if really guided by intelligence--created all the faculties of human mind, as all plants, homogeneous, which is not the case. Hence, as no kind of plant can be induced to grow and thrive artificially upon another plant which does not belong to the same natural order, so no attempt toward engrafting our views and beliefs on individuals whose mental and intellectual capacities differ from ours as one variety or species of plants differs from another variety--will ever be successful. The missionary efforts directed for several hundred years toward christianizing the natives of India, is a good instance in hand and illustrates the inevitable failure following every such fallacious attempt. Very few among those natives upon whom the process of engrafting succeeded, have any real merit; while the tendency of the great majority is to return to its original specific type, that of a true-born pantheistic Hindu, clinging to his forefather's caste and gods as a plant clings to its original genera. "Love of God and love of man is the essence of religion," says Babu Rajnarain Bose elsewhere, inviting men to withdraw their attention from the husk of religion--"the non-essentials" and concentrate it upon the kernel--its essentials. We doubt whether we will ever prove our love to man by depriving him of a fundamental and essential prerogative, that of an untrammelled and entire liberty of his thoughts and conscience. Moreover in saying, as the author does further on--
Nothing has done so much mischief to the world as religious bigotry and dogmatism on non-essential points of religion; nothing has led so much to bloody wars and fiery persecutions as the same. . . .
--he turns the weapon of logic and fact against his own argument. What religion, for instance, ever claimed more than Christianity "love of God and love of man"--aye, "love of all men as our brothers"; and yet where is that creed that has ever surpassed it in blood-thirstiness and cruelty, in intolerance to the damnation of all other religions! "What crimes has it (Religion in general) not committed?" exclaims Prof. Huxley quoting from Lucretius, and "what cruelties," he adds, referring to Christianity--"have been perpetrated in the name of Him who said 'Love your enemies; blessed are the peacemakers,' and so many other noble things." Truly this religion of Love and Charity is now built upon the most gigantic holocaust of victims, the fruits of the unlawful, sinful desire to bring over all men to one mode of thinking, at any rate to one "essential" point in their religion--belief in Christ. We admit and recognize fully that it is the duty of every honest man to try to bring round by "argument and gentle persuasion" every man who errs with respect to the "essentials" of Universal ethics, and the usually recognized standard of morality. But the latter is the common property of all religions, as of all the honest men, irrespective of their beliefs. The principles of the true moral code, tried by the standard of right and justice, are recognized as fully, and followed just as much by the honest atheist as by the honest theist, religion and piety having, as can be proved by statistics, very little to do with the repression of vice and crime. A broad line has to be drawn between the external practice of one's moral and social duties, and that of the real intrinsic virtue practised but for its own sake. Genuine morality does not rest with the profession of any particular creed or faith, least of all with belief in gods or a God; but it rather depends upon the degree of our own individual perceptions of its direct bearing upon human happiness in general, hence--upon our own personal weal. But even this is surely not all. "So long as man is taught and allowed to believe that he must be just, that the strong hand of law may not punish him, or his neighbour taking his revenge"; that he must be enduring because complaint is useless and weakness can only bring contempt; that he must be temperate, that his health may keep good and all his appetites retain their acuteness; and, he is told that, if he serves his friends, his friends may serve him, if he defends his country, he defends himself, and that by serving his God he prepares for himself an eternal life of happiness hereafter--so long, we say, as he acts on such principles, virtue is no virtue, but verily the culmination of SELFISHNESS. However sincere and ardent the faith of a theist, unless, while conforming his life to what he pleases to term divine laws, he gives precedence in his thoughts first to the benefit that accrues from such a moral course of actions to his brother, and then only thinks of himself--he will remain at best--a pious egotist; and we do claim that belief in, and fear of God in man, is chiefly based upon, develops and grows in exact proportion to his selfishness, his fear of punishment ant bad results only for himself, without the least concern for his brother. We see daily that the theist, although defining morality as the conformity of human actions to divine laws, is not a tittle more moral than the average atheist or infidel who regards a moral life simply the duty of every honest right-thinking man without giving a thought to any reward for it in afterlife. The apparently discrepant fact that one who disbelieves in his survival after death should, nevertheless, frame in most cases his life in accordance with the highest rules of morality, is not as abnormal as it seems at first. The atheist, knowing of but one existence, is anxious to leave the memory of his life as unsullied as possible in the after-remembrances of his family and posterity, and in honour even with those yet unborn. In the words of the Greek Stoic--"though all our fellow-men were swept away, and not a mortal nor immortal eye were left to approve or condemn, should we not here, within our breast, have a judge to dread, and a friend to conciliate?" No more than theism is atheism congenite with man. Both grow and develope in him together with his reasoning powers, and become either fortified or weakened by reflection and deduction of evidence from facts. In short, both are entirely due to the degree of his emotional nature, and man is no more responsible for being an atheist than he is for becoming a theist. Both terms are entirely misunderstood. Many are called impious not for having a worse but a different religion, from their neighbours, says Epicurus. Mahomedans are stronger theists than the Christians, yet they are called "infidels" by the latter, and many are the theosophists regarded as atheists, not for the denying of the Deity but for thinking somewhat peculiarly concerning this ever-to-be unknown Principle. As a living contrast to the atheist, stands the theist believing in other lives or a life to come. Taught by his creed that prayer, repentance and offerings are capable of obliterating sin in the sight of the "all-forgiving, loving and merciful Father in Heaven," he is given every hope the strength of which grows in proportion to the sincerity of his faith--that his sins will be remitted to him. Thus, the moral obstacle between the believer and sin is very weak, if we view it from the standpoint of human nature. The more a child feels sure of his parents' love for him, the easier he feels it to break his father's commands. Who will dare to deny that the chief, if not the only cause of half the misery 'with which Christendom is afflicted--especially in Europe, the stronghold of sin and crime--lies not so much with human depravity as with its belief in the goodness and infinite mercy of "our Father in Heaven," and especially in the vicarious atonement? Why should not men imagine that they can drink of the cup of vice with impunity--at any rate, in its results in the hereafter-- when one half of the population is offered to purchase absolution for its sins for a certain paltry sum of money, and the other has but to have faith in, and place reliance upon, Christ to secure a place in paradise--though he be a murderer, starting for it right from the gallows! The public sale of indulgences for the perpetration of crime on the one hand, and the assurance made by the ministers of God that the consequences of the worst of sins may be obliterated by God at his will and pleasure, on the other, are quite sufficient, we believe, to keep crime and sin at the highest figure. He, who loves not virtue and good for their own sake and shuns not vice as vice, is sure to court the latter as a direct result of his pernicious belief. One ought to despise that virtue which prudence and fear alone direct.
We firmly believe in the actuality and the philosophical necessity of "Karma," i.e., in that law of unavoidable retribution, the not-to-be diverted effect of every cause produced by us, reward as punishment in strict conformity with our actions; and we maintain that since no one can be made responsible for another man's religious beliefs with whom, and with which, he is not in the least concerned--that perpetual craving for the conversion of all men we meet to our own modes of thinking and respective creeds becomes a highly reprehensible action. With the exception of those above-mentioned cases of the universally recognized code of morality, the furtherance or neglect of which has a direct bearing upon human weal or woe, we have no right to be influencing our neighbours' opinions upon purely transcendental and unprovable questions, the speculations of our emotional nature. Not because any of these respective beliefs are in any way injurious or bad per se; on the contrary, for every ideal that serves us as a point of departure and a guiding star in the path of goodness and purity, is to be eagerly sought for, and as unswervingly followed; but precisely on account of those differences and endless variety of human temperaments, so ably pointed out to us by the respected Brahmo gentleman in the lines as above quoted. For if, as he; truly points out--none of us is infallible, and that "the religious opinions of men are subject to progress" (and change, as he adds), that progress being endless and quite likely to upset on any day our strongest convictions of the day previous; and that as historically and daily proved "nothing has done so much mischief" as the great variety of conflicting creeds and sects which have led but to bloody wars and persecutions, and the slaughter of one portion of mankind by the other, it becomes an evident and an undeniable fact that, by adding converts to those sects, we add but so many antagonists to fight and tear themselves to pieces, if not now, then at no distant future. And in this case we do become responsible for their actions. Propagandism and conversion are the fruitful seeds sown for the perpetration of future crimes, the odium theologicum stirring up religious hatreds--which relate as much to the "Essentials" as to the non-essentials of any religion--being the most fruitful as the most dangerous for the peace of mankind. In Christendom, where at each street-corner starvation cries for help: where pauperism, and its direct result, vice and crime, fill the land with desolation--millions upon millions are annually spent upon this unprofitable and sinful work of proselytism. With that charming inconsistency which was ever the characteristic of the Christian churches, the same Bishops who have opposed but a few decades back the building of railways, on the ground that it was an act of rebellion against God who willed that man should not go quite as quick as the wind; and had opposed the introduction of the telegraphy, saying that it was a tempting of Providence; and even the application of anaesthetics in obstetrical cases, "under the pretence," Prof. Draper tells us, "that it was an impious attempt to escape from the curse denounced against all women in Genesis iii, 16," those same Bishops do not hesitate to meddle a with the work of Providence when the "heathen" are concerned. Surely if Providence hath so decreed that women should be left to suffer for the sin of Eve, then it must have also willed that a man born a heathen should be left one as--pre-ordained. Are the missionaries wiser, they think, than their God, that they should try to correct his mistakes; and do they not also rebel against Providence, and its mysterious ways? But leaving aside things as dark to them as they are to us, and viewing "conversion" so called, but from its practical aspect, we say that he, who under the dubious pretext that because something is truth to him it must be truth also for everyone else, labours at the conversion of his neighbours, is simply engaged in the unholy work of breeding and raising future Cains.
Indeed, our "love of man" ought to be strong enough and sufficiently intuitional to stifle in us that spark of selfishness which is the chief motor in our desire to force upon our brother and neighbour our own religious opinions and views which we may "consider (for the time being) to be true." It is a grand thing to have a worthy Ideal, but a still greater one to live up to it; and where is that wise and infallible man who can show without fear of being mistaken to another man what or who should be his ideal? If, as the theist assures us--"God is all in all"--then must he be in every ideal--whatever its nature, if it neither clashes with recognized morality, nor can it be shown productive of bad results. Thus, whether this Ideal be God, the pursuit of Truth, humanity collectively, or, as John Stuart Mill has so eloquently proved, simply our own country; and that in the name of that ideal man not only works for it, but becomes better himself, creating thereby an example of morality and goodness for others to follow, what matters it to his neighbour whether this ideal be a chimerical utopia, an abstraction, or even an inanimate object in the shape of an idol, or a piece of clay?
Let us not meddle with the natural bent of man's religious or irreligious thought, any more than we should think of meddling with his private thoughts, lest by so doing we should create more mischief than benefit, and deserve thereby his curses. Were religions as harmless and as innocent as the flowers with which the author compares them, we would not have one word to say against them. Let every "gardener" attend but his own plants without forcing unasked his own variety upon those of other people, and all will remain satisfied. As popularly understood, Theism has, doubtless, its own peculiar beauty, and may well seem "the most fragrant of flowers in the garden of religions"--to the ardent theist. To the atheist. however. it may possibly appear no better than a prickly thistle; and the theist has no more right to take him to task for his opinion, than the atheist has to blame him for his horror of atheism. For all its beauty it is an ungrateful task to seek to engraft the rose upon the thistle, since in nine cases out of ten the rose will lose its fragrance, and both plants their shapes to become a monstrous hybrid. In the economy of nature everything is in its right place, has its special purpose, and the same potentiality for good as for evil in various degrees--if we will but leave it to its natural course. The most fragrant rose has often the sharpest thorns; and it is the flowers of the thistle when pounded and made up into an ointment that will cure the wounds made by her cruel thorns the best.
In our humble opinion, the only "Essentials" in the Religion of Humanity are--virtue, morality, brotherly love, and kind sympathy with every living creature, whether human or animal. This is the common platform that our Society offers to all to stand upon; the most fundamental differences between religions and sects sinking into insignificance before the mighty problem of reconciling humanity, of gathering all the various races into one family, and of bringing them all to a conviction of the utmost necessity in this world of sorrow to cultivate feelings of brotherly sympathy and tolerance, if not actually of love. Having taken for our motto--"In these Fundamentals--unity; in non-essentials--full liberty; in all things--charity," we say to all collectively and to every one individually--"keep to your forefather's religion, whatever it may be--if you feel attached to it, Brother; think with your own brains--if you have any; be by all means yourself--whatever you are, unless you are really a bad man. And remember above all, that a wolf in his own skin is immeasurably more honest than the same animal--under a sheep's clothing."
H. P. Blavatsky
Theosophist, June, 1883
1 We beg to differ from this opinion of our kind friend.--Ed.
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2 We believe it's a great mistake due to the one-sided inferences and precipitate conclusions of some Orientalists like Mr. Lillie, the author of "Buddha and Early Buddhism." An eternal, all-pervading principle is not what is vulgarly called "God." --ED. Theos.
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THE outward form of idolatry is but a veil, concealing the one Truth like the veil of the Saitic Goddess, Only that truth, being for the few, escapes the majority. To the pious profane, the veil recovers a celestial locality thickly peopled with divine beings, dwarfs and giants, good and wicked powers, all of whom are no better than human caricatures. Yet, wile for the great majority the space behind the veil is really impenetrable--if it would but confess the real state of its mind--those, endowed with the "third eye" (the eye of Shiva), discern in the Cimmerian darkness and chaos a light in whose intense radiance all shape born of human conception disappears, leaving the all-informing divine PRESENCE, to be felt--not seen; sensed--never expressed.
A charming allegory translated from an old Sanskrit manuscript illustrates this idea admirably:
Toward the close of the Pralaya (the intermediate period between two "creations" or evolutions of our phenomenal universe), the great IT, the One that rests in infinity and ever is, dropped its reflection, which expanded in limitless Space, and felt a desire to make itself cognizable by the creatures evolved from its shadow. The reflection assumed the shape of a Mahârâja (great King). Devising means for mankind to learn of his existence, the Mahârâja built out of the qualities inherent in him a palace, in which he concealed himself, satisfied that people should perceive the outward form of his dwelling. But when they looked up to the place where stood the palace, whose one corner stretched into the right, and the other into the left infinitude--the little men saw nothing; the palace was mistaken by them for empty space, and being so vast remained invisible to their eyes. Then the Mahârâja resorted to another expedient. He determined to manifest himself to the little creatures whom he pitied--not as a whole but only in his parts. He destroyed the palace built by him from his manifesting qualities, brick by brick, and began throwing the bricks down upon the earth one after the other. Each brick was transformed into an idol, the red ones becoming Gods and the grey ones Goddesses; into these the Devatâs and Devatîs--the qualities and the attributes of the Unseen--entered and animated them.
This allegory shows polytheism in its true light and that it rests on the One Unity, as does all the rest. Between the Dii majores and the Dii minores there is in reality no difference. The former are the direct, the latter the broken or refracted, rays of one and the same Luminary. What are Brahmâ, Vishnu and Shiva, but the triple Ray that emanates directly from the Light of the World? The three Gods with their Goddesses are the three dual representations of Purusha the Spirit, and Prakriti--matter; the six are synthesized by Svâyambhuva the self-existent, unmanifested Deity. They are only the symbols personifying the Unseen Presence in every phenomenon of nature.
"The seven [regions]1 of Bhûmi, hang by golden threads [beams or rays] from the Spiritual central Sun [or 'God']. Higher than all, a watcher for each [region]. The Suras come down this [beam]. They cross the six and reach the Seventh [our earth]. They are our mother earth's [Bhûmi] supporters [or guardians]. The eighth watches over the [seven] watchers."
Suras are in the Vedas deities, or beings, connected with the Sun; in their occult meaning they are the seven chief watchers or guardians of our planetary system. They are positively identical with the "Seven Spirits of the Stars." The Suras are connected in practical Occultism with the Seven Yogic powers. One of these, Laghima(n) or "the faculty of assuming levity," is illustrated in a Purâna as rising and descending along a sunbeam to the solar orb with its mysteries; e.g., Khatvânga, in Vishnu Purâna (BookIV). "It must be equally easy to the Adept to travel a ray downwards," remarks Fitzedward Hall (p. 311). And why not, if the action is understood in its right and correct sense?
Eight great Gods are often reckoned, as there are eight points of the compass, four cardinal and four intermediate points over which preside also inferior Lokapâlas or the "doubles" of the greater Gods. Yet, in many instances where the number eight is given it is only a kind of exoteric shell. Every globe, however, is divided into seven regions, as 7X7=49 is the mystic number par excellence.
To make it clearer: in each of the seven Root Races, and in every one of the seven regions into which the Occult Doctrine divides our globe, there appears from the dawn of Humanity the "Watcher" assigned to it in the eternity of the Æon. He comes first in his own "form," then each time as an Avatâra.
In a secret work upon the Mysteries and the rites of Initiation, in which very rough but correct prints are given of the sacramental postures, and of the trials to which the postulant was subjected, the following details are found:
(1) The neophyte--representing the Sun, as "Sahasrakirana" he of the thousand rays"--is shown kneeling before the "Hierophant." The latter is in the act of cutting off seven locks of the neophyte's long hair,2 and in the following--(2)--illustration, the postulant's bright crown of golden beams is thrown off, and replaced by a wreath of sharp ligneous spines, symbolizing the loss.3 This was enacted in India. In trans-Himâlayan regions it was the same.
In order to become a "Perfect One," the Sakridâgâmin ("he who will receive new birth," lit.) had, among other trials, to descend into Pâtâla, the "nether world," after which process only he could hope to become an "Anâgâmin"--"one who will be reborn no more." The full Initiate had the option of either entering this second Path by appearing at will in the world of men under a human form, or he could choose to first rest in the world of Gods (the Devachan of the Initiates), and then only be reborn on this our earth. Thus, the next stage shows the postulant preparing for this journey.
(3) Every kind of temptation--we have no right to enumerate these or speak of them--was being placed on his way. If he came out victorious over these, then the further Initiation was proceeded with; if he fell--it was delayed, often entirely lost for him.
These rites lasted seven days.
The Hermetic axiom has been made good by astronomy and geology. Science has become convinced now that the milliards of the heavenly hosts--suns, stars, planets, the systems in and beyond the Milky Way--have all had a common origin, our earth included. Nevertheless that a regular evolution, incessant and daily, is still going on. That "cosmic life-times have begun at different epochs and proceed at different rates of change. Some began so far back in eternity or have proceeded at so rapid a rate, that their careers are brought to a conclusion in the passing age. Some are even now awaking into existence; and it is probable that worlds are beginning and ending continually. Hence cosmic existence, like the kingdoms of organic life, presents a simultaneous panorama of a completed cycle of being. A taxonomic arrangement of the various grades of animal existence presents a succession of forms which we find repeated in the embryonic history of a single individual, and again in the succession of geological types; so the taxonomy of the heavens is both a cosmic embryology and a cosmic palæontology." (World Life, p. 539.)
So much for cycles again in modern orthodox science. It was the knowledge of all these truths--scientifically demonstrated and made public now, but in those days of antiquity occult and known to Initiates alone--that led to the formation of various cycles into a regular system. The grand Manvantaric system was divided into other great cycles; and these in their turn into smaller cycles, regular wheels of time, in Eternity. Yet no one outside of the sacred precincts ever had the key to the correct reading and interpretation of cyclic notation, and therefore even the ancient classics disagreed on many points. Thus, Orpheus is said to have ascribed to the "Great" Cycle 120,000 years' duration, and Cassandrus 136,000, according to Censorinus (De Natal Die, Chron. and Astron. Fragments). Analogy is the law, and is the surest guide in occult sciences, as it ought to be in the natural philosophy made public. It is perhaps mere vanity that prevents modern science from accepting the enormous periods of time insisted upon by the ancients, as elapsed since the first civilizations. The miserable little fragment torn out from the Book of the Universal History of Mankind, now called so proudly "Our History," forces historians to dwarf every period in order to wedge it in within the narrow limits primarily constructed by theology. Hence the most liberal among them hesitate to accept the figures given by ancient historians. Bunsen, the eminent Egyptologist, rejects the period of 48,863 years before Alexander, to which Diogenes Laertius carries back the records of the priests, but 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.)
We must notice and try to explain some of these great and smaller cycles and their symbols. Let us begin with the cycle of Mahâyuga, personified by Shesha--the great serpent called "the couch of Vishnu." because that God is Time and Duration personified in the most philosophical and often poetical way.
It is said that Vishnu appears on it at the beginning of every Manvantara as "the Lord of Creation." Shesha is the great Serpent-Cycle, represented as swallowing its own tail--thence the emblem of Time within Eternity. Time. says Locke (On the Human Understanding)--Time is "duration set forth by measures," and Shesha sets forth evolution by symbolizing its periodical stages. On him Vishnu sleeps during the intervals of rest (pralayas) between "creations"; the blue God--blue because he is space and the depth of infinity--awakens only when Shesha bends his thousand heads, preparing to again bear up the Universe which is supported on them. The Vishnu Purâna describes him thus: "Below the seven Pâtâlas is the form of Vishnu, proceeding from the quality of darkness, which is Shesha, the excellences of which neither Daityas nor Dânavas can fully enumerate. This being is called Ananta [the infinite] by the spirits of Siddha (Yoga Wisdom, sons of Dharma, or true religion), and is worshipped by sages and by gods. He has a thousand heads, which are embellished with the pure and visible mystic sign [Syastika]; and the thousand jewels in his crests (phana) give light to all the regions.... In one hand he holds a plough4 and in the other a pestle.... From his mouths, at the end of the Kalpa, proceeds the venomed fire that, impersonated as Rudra [Shiva, the 'destroyer'] . . . devours the three worlds." (ii. 211.)
Thence Shesha is the cycle of the great Manvantara, and also the spirit of vitality as of destruction, since Vishnu, as the preserving or conservative force, and Shiva as the destroying potency, are both aspects of Brahma. Shesha is said to have taught the sage Garga--one of the oldest astronomers in India, whom, nevertheless, Bentley places only 548 B.C.--the secret sciences, the mysteries of the heavenly bodies, of astrology, astronomy and various omens. Shesha is so great and mighty, that it is more than likely he will some day, in far off future ages, render the same service to our modern astronomers. Nothing like "Time" and cyclic changes to cure sceptics of their blindness.
But Occult truths have to contend with a far more blind foe than science can ever be to them, namely, the Christian theologians and bigots. These claim unblushingly the number of years lived by their Patriarchs some four thousand years ago, and pretend to prove that they have interpreted "the symbolic predictions of scripture" and have "traced the historic fulfilment of two of the most important of them"--handling Biblical chronology as reverently as though it had never been a rehash of Chaldæan records and cyclic figures, to hide the true meaning under exoteric fables! They speak of "that history that unrolls before our eyes a record extending over six thousand years" from the moment of creation; and maintain that there are "very few of the prophetic periods whose fulfilment cannot be traced in some parts of the scrolls." (The Approaching End of the Age.)
Moreover they have two methods and two chronologies to show those events verified--the Roman Catholic and the Protestant. The first relies on the calculations of Kepler and Dr. Sepp; the latter on Clinton, who gives the year of the Nativity as A.M. 4138; the former holds to the old calculation of 4320 by lunar, and 4004 by solar years.
H. P. Blavatsky
l In every ancient cosmography the universe and the earth are divided into seven parts or regions.
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2 See Judges xvi, again, where Samson, the symbolical personification of the Sun, the Jewish Hercules, speaks of his seven locks which, when cut off, will deprive him of his (physical) strength, i.e., kill the material man, leaving only the spiritual. But the Bible fails to explain, or rather, conceals purposely, the esoteric truth, that the seven locks symbolize the septenary physical or terrestrial man, thus cut off and separated from the spiritual. To this day the High Lamas cut off during public consecrations a lock of the hair of the candidates for the religious life, repeating a formula to the effect that the six others will follow, when the "upâsaka" IS READY. The lock of hair or tonsure of the Roman Catholic priests is a relic of the same mystery-idea.
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3 No need of explaining that Sanjnâ--pure spiritual conscience--is the inner perception of the neophyte (or chelâ) and Initiate; the scorching of it by the too ardent beams of the Sun being symbolical of the terrestrial passions. Hence the seven locks are symbolical of the seven cardinal sins, and as to the seven cardinal virtues--to be gained by the Sakridâgâmin (the candidate "for new birth"), they could be attained by him only through severe trial and suffering.
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4 An emblem referring to the "ploughing" and sowing the renewed earth (in its new Round) with fresh seeds of life.
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