THEOSOPHY, Vol. 18, No. 9, July, 1930
(Pages 406-410; Size: 16K)
(Number 9 of a 12-part series)
[Compiler's Note: This series is entirely
"Collated from the writings of H.P.B."]
JESUS: INITIATE AND TEACHER
UNLUCKILY for those who would have been glad to render justice to the ancient and modern religious philosophies of the Orient, a fair opportunity has hardly ever been given to them. Of late there has been a touching accord between philologists holding high official positions, and missionaries from heathen lands. Prudence before truth when the latter endangers our sinecures! Besides, how easy to compromise with conscience. A State religion is a prop of government; all State religions are "exploded humbugs"; therefore, since one is as good, or rather as bad, as another, the State religion may as well be supported. Such is the diplomacy of official science.
Grote in his History of Greece, assimilates the Pythagoreans to the Jesuits, and sees in their Brotherhood but an ably-disguised object to acquire political ascendancy. On the loose testimony of Herakleitus and some other writers, who accused Pythagoras of craft, and described him as a man "of extensive research ... but artful for mischief and destitute of sound judgment," some historical biographers hastened to present him to posterity in such a character.
How then if they must accept the Pythagoras painted by the satirical Timon: "a juggler of solemn speech engaged in fishing for men," can they avoid judging of Jesus from the sketch that Celsus has embalmed in his satire? Historical impartiality has nought to do with creeds and personal beliefs, and exacts as much of posterity for one as for the other. The life and doings of Jesus are far less attested than those of Pythagoras, if, indeed, we can say that they are attested at all by any historical proof. For assuredly no one will gainsay that as a real personage Celsus has the advantage as regards the credibility of his testimony over Matthew, or Mark, or Luke, or John, who never wrote a line of the Gospels attributed to them respectively. Withal Celsus is at least as good a witness as Herakleitus. He was known as a scholar and a Neo-platonist to some of the Fathers; whereas the very existence of the four Apostles must be taken on blind faith. If Timon regarded the sublime Samian as "a juggler," so did Celsus hold Jesus, or rather those who made all the pretenses for him. In his famous work, addressing the Nazarene, he says: "Let us grant that the wonders were performed by you ... but are they not common with those who have been taught by the Egyptians to perform in the middle of the forum for a few oboli." And we know, on the authority of the Gospel according to Matthew, that the Galilean prophet was also a man of solemn speech, and that he called himself and offered to make his disciples "fishers of men."
Let it not be imagined that we bring this reproach to any who revere Jesus as God. Whatever the faith, if the worshipper be but sincere, it should be respected in his presence. If we do not accept Jesus as God, we revere him as a man. Such a feeling honors him more than if we were to attribute to him the powers and personality of the Supreme, and credit him at the same time with having played a useless comedy with mankind, as, after all, his mission proves scarcely less than a complete failure; 2,000 years have passed, and Christians do not reckon one-fifth part of the population of the globe, nor is Christianity likely to progress any better in the future. No, we aim but at strict justice, leaving all personality aside. We question those who, adoring neither Jesus, Pythagoras, nor Apollonius, yet recite the idle gossip of their contemporaries; those who in their books either maintain a prudent silence, or speak of "our Saviour" and "our Lord," as though they believed any more in the made-up theological Christ, than in the fabulous Fo of China.
There were no atheists in those days of old; no disbelievers or materialists, in the modern sense of the word, as there were no bigoted detractors. He who judges the ancient philosophies by their external phraseology, and quotes from ancient writings sentences seemingly atheistical, is unfit to be trusted as a critic, for he is unable to penetrate into the inner sense of their metaphysics.
Avatars or incarnations were common to the old religions. India had them reduced to a system. The Persians expected Sosiosh, and the Jewish writers looked for a deliverer. Tacitus and Suetonius relate that the East was full of expectation of the Great Personage about the time of Octavius. "Thus doctrines obvious to Christians were the highest arcana of Paganism." (W. Williams: "Primitive History;" Dunlap: "Spirit History of Man.") The Maneros of Plutarch was a child of Palestine; (Plutarch: "Isis and Osiris," p. 17) his mediator Mithras, the Saviour Osiris is the Messiah. In our present "Canonical Scriptures" are to be traced the vestigia of the ancient worships; and in the rites and ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church we find the forms of the Buddhistical worship, its ceremonies and hierarchy. The first Gospels, once as canonical as any of the present four, contain pages taken almost entirely from Buddhistical narratives, as we are prepared to show. After the evidence furnished by Burnouf, Asoma, Korosi, Beal, Hardy, Schmidt, and translations from the Tripitaka, it is impossible to doubt that the whole Christian scheme emanated from the other. The "Miraculous Conception" miracles and other incidents are found in full in Hardy's Manual of Buddhism. We can readily realize why the Roman Catholic Church is anxious to keep the common people in utter ignorance of the Hebrew Bible and the Greek literature. Philology and comparative Theology are her deadliest enemies. The deliberate falsifications of Nenæns, Epiphanius, Eusebius and Tertullian had become a necessity.
The Sibylline Books at that period seem to have been regarded with extraordinary favor. One can easily see that they were inspired from the same source as those of the Gentile nations.
Here is a leaf from Gallæus:"New Light has arisen:This looks at first sight like a prophecy of Jesus. But could it not mean as well some other creative God? We have like utterances concerning Bacchus and Mithras.
Coming from Heaven, it assumed a mortal form....
------Virgin, receive God in thy pure bosom--
And the Word flew into her womb;
Becoming incarnate in Time, and animated by her body,
It was found in a mortal image, and a Boy was created
By a Virgin.... The new God-sent Star was adored by the Magi,
The infant swathed was shown in a manger....
And Bethlehem was called "God-called country of the Word."
(Plutarch: "Isis and Osiris," p. 17).
"I, son of Deus, am come to the land of the Thebans -- Bacchus, whom formerly Semelé (the virgin), the daughter of Kadmus (the man from the East) brings forth -- being delivered by the lightning-bearing flame; and having taken a mortal form instead of God's, I have arrived." ("Sibylline Oracles," 760-788.)
The Dionysiacs, written in the fifth century, serve to render this matter very clear, and even to show its close connection with the Christian legend of the birth of Jesus:"Korè-Persephoneia(1) ... you were wived as the Dragon's spouse,Here we have the secret of the Ophite worship, and the origin of the Christian later-revised fable of the immaculate conception. The Gnostics were the earliest Christians with anything like a regular theological system, and it is only too evident that it was Jesus who was made to fit their theology as Christos, and not their theology that was developed out of his sayings and doings. Their ancestors had maintained, before the Christian era, that the Great Serpent -- Jupiter, the Dragon of Life, the Father and "Good Divinity," had glided into the couch of Semelé, and now, the post-Christian Gnostics, with a very trifling change, applied the same fable to the man Jesus, and asserted that the same "Good Divinity," Saturn (Ilda-Baoth), had, in the shape of the Dragon of Life, glided over the cradle of the infant Mary. In their eyes the Serpent was the Logos -- Christos, the incarnation of Divine Wisdom, through his Father Ennoia and Mother Sophia.
When Zeus, very coiled, his form and countenance changed,
A Dragon-Bridegroom, coiled in love-inspiring fold ...
Glided to dark Korè's maiden couch ...
Thus, by the alliance with the Dragon of Æther,
The womb of Persephonè became alive with fruit,
Bearing Zagreus, the Horned Child."
Take Paul, read the little of original that is left of him in the writings attributed to this brave, honest, sincere man, and see whether any one can find a word therein to show that Paul meant by the word Christ anything more than the abstract ideal of the personal divinity indwelling in man. For Paul, Christ is not a person, but an embodied idea. "If any man is in Christ he is a new creation," he is reborn, as after initiation, for the Lord is spirit -- the spirit of man. Paul was the only one of the apostles who had understood the secret ideas underlying the teachings of Jesus, although he had never met him. But Paul had been initiated himself; and, bent upon inaugurating a new and broad reform, one embracing the whole of humanity, he sincerely set his own doctrines far above the wisdom of the ages, above the ancient Mysteries and final revelation to the epoptæ. As Professor A. Wilder well proves in a series of able articles, it was not Jesus, but Paul who was the real founder of Christianity. "The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch," say the Acts of the Apostles. "Such men as Irenæus, Epiphanius, and Eusebius have transmitted to posterity a reputation for untruth and dishonest practices; and the heart sickens at the story of the crimes of that period," writes this author, in a recent article. ("Evolution," art. Paul, the Founder of Christianity.) "It will be remembered," he adds, "that when the Moslems overran Syria and Asia Minor for the first time, they were welcomed by the Christians of those regions as deliverers from the intolerable oppression of the ruling authorities of the Church."
To maintain their ground Irenæus and his school had to fight hard with the Gnostics. Such, also, was the lot of Eusebius, who found himself hopelessly perplexed to know how the Essenes should be disposed of. The ways and customs of Jesus and his apostles exhibited too close a resemblance to this sect to allow the fact to pass unexplained. Eusebius tried to make people believe that the Essenes were the first Christians. His efforts were thwarted by Philo Judæus, who wrote his historical account of the Essenes and described them with the minutest care, long before there had appeared a single Christian in Palestine. But, if there were no Christians, there were Chrestians long before the era of Christianity; and the Essenes belonged to the latter as well as to all other initiated brotherhoods, without even mentioning the Christnites of India.
As a last word, the Christian Gnostics sprang into existence toward the beginning of the second century, and just at the time when the Essenes most mysteriously faded away, which indicated that they were the identical Essenes, and moreover pure Christists, viz.: they believed and were those who best understood what one of their own brethren had preached. In insisting that the letter Iota, mentioned by Jesus in Matthew (v. 18), indicated a secret doctrine in relation to the ten æons, it is sufficient to demonstrate to a kabalist that Jesus belonged to the Freemasonry of those days; for I, which is Iota in Greek, has other names in other languages; and is, as it was among the Gnostics of those days, a pass-word, meaning the SCEPTRE of the FATHER, in Eastern brotherhoods which exist to this very day.
(Collated from the writings of H.P.B.)
(To be continued)
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
ORIGIN OF RELIGIONS
The origin of all religions -- Judaeo-Christianity included -- is to be found in a few primeval truths, not one of which can be explained apart from all the others, as each is a complement of the rest in some one detail. And they are all, more or less, broken rays of the same Sun of truth, and their beginnings have to be sought in the archaic records of the Wisdom-religion. Without the light of the latter, the greatest scholars can see but the skeletons thereof covered with masks of fancy, and based mostly on personified Zodiacal signs. --H.P.B.
JESUS: INITIATE AND TEACHER
(Part 10 of a 12-part series)
Back to the
"JESUS: INITIATE AND TEACHER"
series complete list of articles.
Back to the full listing containing all of the
"Additional Categories of Articles".
ONE (1) FOOTNOTE LISTED BELOW:
(1) Pococke considers Zeus a grand lama, or chief Jaina, and Korè-Persephone, or Kuru-Parasu-pani. Zagreus, is Chakras, the wheel, or circle, the earth, the ruler of the world. He was killed by the Titans, or Teith-ans (Daityas). The Horns or crescent was a badge of Lamaic sovereignty.
Back to text.