THEOSOPHY, Vol. 16, No. 6, April, 1928
(Pages 242-247; Size: 19K)
MIRACLES are the professed basis of all popular religions, and of all their sects. None of them claims authority by virtue of consonance with the order of nature, but always by assuming to be able to violate nature's processes. But the miracle idea in fact runs far deeper and wider than this. It permeates popular faith in every direction. The great statesman, the great general, the great leaders and authorities in every walk of life, in every field of human relations and interest, are so esteemed because they are believed to have wrought and to be able to produce miracles. Slogans and shibboleths of one kind or another rule the popular mind. Traced home they one and all have their sanction in a claim on the one hand and belief on the other that they afford a "short cut" to something desired or desirable.
Next to the family priest who prescribes for the Soul is the family physician who prescribes for the Body. Medicine in actual practice, no less than religion, rests upon the miracle idea. There are as many and as contradictory schools, sects, theologies, in science as in religion, and in no so-called science does dogma, creed, or hard and fast allegiance to the miracle idea reign more supreme than in the medical art. And since in the human being Soul and Body are conjoined, always the two functions of the Healer have overlapped. Both the medical and the priestly professions have in all time endeavored to rule rather than to educate the mind of the laity, so of necessity they have often called into alliance the third member of the hierarchy, statecraft, to compel when faith no longer yields a voluntary obedient swallowing of the prescriptions compounded.
What does the priest demand? Obedience. And what the physician of the body? Obedience. And the Government? Obedience. They all rely upon Authority -- obedience without understanding and without question. Back of each stands the sinister specter of Force, of the use of power to enforce obedience in case of recalcitrancy. No actual progress has ever yet been achieved in religion, in government, in science, except by rebels against the established sovereignty. The Christ, the Washington, the Socrates, the Paracelsus, the Darwin, the Blavatsky, have all been Pioneers, but they have always been treated as rebels by those who rule the popular mind and by that popular mind itself till long afterwards, when they were either forgotten or deified by both the priest and the populace. Crucifixion and deification is the summary and final disposition of the life and works of every Reformer, by the public and by its authorities, because both alike are victims of the miracle idea.
A thief or other law-breaker will do anything he has the power to do whether by stealth or by violence, in obedience to his own desires, and not till he is faced with consequences beyond his power to control or evade will he seek immunity for himself. Then he will seek nothing else, and he will seek it in obedience to the same inner promptings which led him in the first instance to become a law-breaker. Neither his thefts nor his frantic efforts to obtain immunity are other than effects. The root difficulty for the thief and for the community is the miracle idea. One believes he can violate natural law and get what he wants without adequate recompense on his own part. The community believes it can cure the trouble by violence or restraint exercised on the law-breaker; by some species of enforced purgation. That we are all law-breakers is self-evident, for all suffer from physical, mental and moral diseases; are all punishing and being punished without being healed of our various distempers; all are endlessly seeking some kind of a short cut, if not by an universal panacea for all the ills of all humanity, at least by a cure-all for our own ailments. Have we found them? Has humanity ever yet found what it is as vainly seeking now as ages ago? Then of what enduring value our boasted progress in religion, science, democracy? Do they not all rest on misconception of the Tree of Life? On the miracle idea, as a finality?
Now Theosophy is a system of education into the -- to us -- mysteries of nature's order. The mission of H. P. Blavatsky is no other and no different than the mission of Jesus, Buddha, or any other great or humble Pioneer and Teacher. Its fundamental assumption is Law, not miracle. This is but to say that every effect perceived, good or bad, has a cause; that the cause is adequate to the effect, the effect commensurate with the cause. Whatever words be employed the whole order of life evidences that whenever and wherever there is disturbance, pain, dis-ease, there is a law-breaker and a violation of nature's order. This is generally admitted, yet science and religion represent men's attempts to restore harmony, health, balance by inadequate counter-action. The very core of the miracle idea is the delusion that order can be restored by substituting one effect for another; in short, that the knowledge, the experience, the virtue of one being or thing can be substituted for the ignorance, the misconception, the wrong-doing of another. All this is but one or another form of vicarious atonement, the concrete attempt to realize the miracle idea.
Ignorance whether in religion or science, in priest or laymen, in good man or bad, will inevitably lead to erroneous conduct. Nature, which is neither religious nor irreligious, neither scientific nor unscientific, but flawless Law, upsets both our revelations and our theories. That there is in "nature" and back of "law" but "one indivisible and absolute Omniscience and Intelligence" which "thrills throughout every atom and infinitesimal point" -- is conclusively demonstrated to man by his very ideas of nature and of law, and by the instant witness in him that where he knows there never is nor can be any derangement or disturbance. It is where we do not know but think we know -- believe we know -- that we upset most severely and dangerously that very nature and law of which our religions and our sciences profess to treat for us.
It is certain that forced openings in the body which is nature's laboratory are as much a violation of nature's provision, as forced injections through those openings are a violation of nature's provisioning. Every wound inflicted is such an opening, every substance entering that artificial channel is such a foreign provisioning. Most of our medicines are of the nature of policemen and soldiers -- armed and accepted intruders made necessary by law-breaking, but no more a cure for the evils in the one case than the other. Troops and police are themselves symptoms of disorder. Our whole machinery of justice is a standing proof of the continuous presence of injustice. Our priests and our physicians are the symptoms of our irreligion and our lack of science. Our multitudes of dispensaries, of hospitals, of drug stores and doctors show the ever-increasing presence and pressure of disease, not health. "Dirt," says Emerson, "is matter out of place." Every diseased particle, whatever we name it, is substance living like a thief or other law-breaker at the expense of the particles or organism in which it has found lodgment or into which it has been injected by ignorance posing as knowledge -- its own or its owner's.
Vivisection, an alarming percentage of human surgery, anti-toxins, serums, vaccines, and all their collateral consanguinities, represent attempted short-cuts, attempted substitutions, attempted immunizations from law-breaking. The man who has Wisdom knows that his wisdom is but an indivisible portion of the Omniscient Intelligence, and acts on the same Wisdom in every atom of every substance, not on its ignorance. Every time there is an outbreak of smallpox, a horde of practitioners and a host of the public cry "vaccinate," believing that compulsory vaccination will remove the cause of smallpox, which is "dirt." When the curse of liquor-using for indulgence's sake becomes a menace we have lobbied prohibition inflicted as a removal of the cause of drunkenness. When the vices of peace-time become insupportable we have war as a cure of those vices. And so on endlessly. This is not education: it is the miracle idea -- seeking immunization by substituting effects.
Just now the great State of New York is engaged in an immense campaign to bring about "immunization from diphtheria." For a year and a half every familiar agency has been brought to bear ostensibly to "educate the popular mind" -- to what? To sanitation, moral and mental as well as physical? No; to obedience to a lobbied law, to submission to a lobbied propagandum whereby children from babies to adolescents shall be subjected to a "system of treatment" which will, acclaimedly, render them immune to diphtheria.
Temperance is to be compulsory; vaccination is to be compulsory; "immunizations" of this, that, and the other kind are to be made compulsory -- if the lobbyists, the theorists, the dogmatists and the doctrinaires are to have their way of saving mankind physically. In principle and in practice the method and the basis are the same as in priestcraft and politics -- the ruling class will preserve its prerogatives, peaceably if it can, forcibly if it must; in either case at the expense of the populace it professes to serve. The sole redeeming feature of all these laws and all this propagandum to pass and enforce them is that they betoken an ever-increasing public questioning and opposition. In other words, the great humdrum mass no longer has implicit faith in its Doctors of Philosophy, its Doctors of Divinity, its Doctors of Law, and its Doctors of Medicine. The greatest general of them all, the General Public, is running after quacks. The charlatan in religion, in science, in sociology, in medicine -- in everything under the sun -- is having his day in court, the Court of Public Opinion. Whatever the fate of those who turn to the unlicensed in place of the licensed practitioners, it can be no worse than that suffered by those who still hold fast to the ancient regimens. Both are victims of the miracle idea, but in a time of general discontent and questioning there is always the opportunity to promulgate the Wisdom of seeking out the laws of health, of studying and applying them. Theosophy is the one school of education in natural law, and those who study and practice it are on the right road physically as well as in all other departments of their being. These do not seek "immunization" from anything, but they know that obedience to the laws of health must render them free from new causation of disease, must enable them to find and give proper alleviation in all cases of karmic ill effects of old causes set up.
Multitudes of priests, of physicians, of lawmakers, and other would-be healers of mankind are moved by the best of intentions. The most dangerous man in the world is the ignorant philanthropist who mistakes his good intentions for Wisdom. He will breed a world of parasites to the degree of his efforts, because he believes with all his heart in the miracle idea -- that he can localize, immunize, prevent, cure, the world evils by short-cuts and substitutions. From philanthropy of this kind to fanaticism, to compulsory attempts to reform mankind by law instead of by education, is but a step -- a step that the professional and the laity have ever found it fatally easy to take because of their rooted conviction that miracles are the road to salvation. The world has always suffered because it has never been educated to the meaning of Karma -- to work with Nature, instead of against her decrees which we call law and order.
Theosophists of all men are the ones to spread far and wide true teachings as to the Law of Health -- of the body as of the soul. They can render no greater service to humanity than by pointing out the futility, the folly, and the positive injury of all efforts to reform, to alleviate, to heal from outside, and more especially by compulsion. Promulgation of the teachings of Karma and Reincarnation should be accompanied by their direct application to existing evils sanctified by and having their source in the miracle-idea. The field is world-wide, the opportunities on every hand, and there is no Theosophist so limited in sphere of understanding or relation who cannot be a benefactor of the race, first, by himself applying his own share of Wisdom in using lawful means to help down and out of his own system whatever "dirt" is in him; second, by active and intelligent efforts to promote the public welfare through dissemination of the knowledge of the Laws of Health; third, by opposing and protesting all attempts at coercive legislation on the subjects of religion, science, or ethics, no matter in what guise proffered, by whom sponsored, or with what boons promised. They issue in every case from ignorant philanthropy or from calculated self-interest. They trace back to the miracle-idea both in the would-be-savior and the would-be-saved.
Theosophists and other mystically-minded people have in all too many cases merely transferred the miracle-idea from things physical to things metaphysical. They are avid to heal and be healed by abstention from one kind of food or drug and the use of another; especially are they addicted to practices of specified kinds whereby pranic, astral, and psychic currents thus aroused, or imagined to be aroused, are to work miracles of healing. Whoever we are, if in distress over our own ailments, our concentration is on disease not on the Laws of health. If philanthropic our concentration is on the ailments of others. Metaphysical as well as physical healers almost universally treat diseases, not the patients -- and all alike go about it backwards Why? Because the patient desires, and the physician must profess to afford "immunization." This simply means that all alike still believe in miracles, and therefore desire means by which they can insure themselves in advance against penalty for intended violation of Nature's harmony, can buy back for a currency price lost purity of body and of mind and of soul.
There are no miracles, divine or diabolic. Immunity can be had. Lost Edens of health and happiness can be regained. But assuredly neither by the principles nor practices of drugs and druggings, whether in the name of religion or of science, for these are based upon the idea that Nature, i.e., Law and Order, can be forced, compelled, to act according to the desires of the Law-breaker.
Every one knows what simple cleanliness is, whether of body or mind. In so far as our religion or our science studies, promotes, applies, cleanliness, it is working toward providing immunization, but that immunity results from the sanitary provisions made and taken, not from the formulas by which they are sanctified. Mental, moral, social, and physical diseases all ensue from unclean living.
Well, then, the question is asked, "Since we are all sick and diseased, what shall we do to make ourselves clean again, to purge ourselves of our dirt? Is there no short cut, or must we wait nature's processes, ourselves doing nothing at all but bearing our discomforts with what fortitude we may while we wait for the 'Good Law' to restore us?"
These questions but give the miracle-idea a new guise. Karma is not a God to perform miracles. Disease means either too much or too little in some department of our being primarily -- over-eating or under-nourishment of some of our principles. Unbalanced diet for an ascetic will be as deadly as gluttony or epicureanism for the gross or gourmand. Every man is his own physician in the last resort -- and his own assassin and undertaker! Physician, heal thyself. Diet, fasting, purgation, repose, exercise. The virtues are medicines, self-sacrifice is a purgation, calmness a prescription, patience a sovereign remedy, altruism the Great Physician. The mind and moral nature thus fed and exercised, natural physical means, which will duly present themselves in the course of Karma, will restore the body. Let a man read the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of the Bhagavad-Gita -- and use his common-sense. Much of the knowledge gained in modern medical study and practice is valuable and available to every one, but if discrimination (common-sense) is not employed the miracle-idea will govern the Theosophist as it governs other men.
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