WHAT SHALL WE DO FOR OUR FELLOW-MEN?
From H.P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. I.
Articles by HPB
You have obliged my friends and myself by answering or annotating my letter to you in your number of July I5th. Will you allow us to continue this discussion? Several letters which I have received in consequence of this correspondence not only from Germany, but also from England,1. [Footnote: 1. Perchance also, from Madras? - Ed. ] make it appear likely that your readers on the other side of the Channel also take an interest in this all-important question. As the purport of my former communication has been misunderstood, I have now made this question the title of my present letter, in order to emphasize the point. My friends and I did not ask: Shall we do anything for our fellow-men or nothing? but: What shall we do for them?
You agree with us--as your note 4 to my last letter (pg. 431) [This refers to her article "Le Phare De L'Inconnu" or The Beacon-Light of the Unknown -BNet] unmistakably shows--that the ultimate Goal which the mystic or the occultist have to strive for, is not perfection IN existence (the "world") but absolute being: that is, we have to strive for deliverance FROM all existence in any of the three worlds or planes of existence. The difference of opinions, however, is this: Shall we now, nevertheless, assist all our fellow-men indiscriminately in their worldly affairs; shall we occupy ourselves with their national and individual Karma, in order to help them to improve the "world" and to live happily in it; shall we strive with them to realize socialistic problems, to further science, arts and industries, to teach them cosmology, the evolution of man and of the universe, etc., etc.,--or on the other hand, shall we only do the best we can to show our fellow-men the road of wisdom that will lead them out of the world and as straight as possible towards their acknowledged goal of absolute existence (Para-Nirvana, Moksha, Atma) [beyond the blissful state - to set free, to release - pure conscious self-BNet]? Shall we consequently only work for those who are willing to get rid of all individual existence and yearning to be delivered from all selfishness, from all strivings, who are longing only for eternal peace?
Answer. As the undersigned accepts for her views and walk in life no authority dead or living, no system of philosophy or religion but one--namely, the esoteric teachings of ethics and philosophy of those she calls "MASTERS"--answers have, therefore, to be given strictly in accordance with these teachings. My first reply then is: Nothing of that which is conducive to help man, collectively or individually, to live--not "happily"--but less unhappily in this world, ought to be indifferent to the Theosophist-Occultist. It is no concern of his whether his help benefits a man in his worldly or spiritual progress; his first duty is to be ever ready to help if he can, without stopping to philosophize. It is because our clerical and lay Pharisees too often offer a Christian dogmatic tract, instead of the simple bread of life to the wretches they meet--whether these are starving physically or morally--that pessimism, materialism and despair win with every day more ground in our age. Weal and woe, or happiness and misery, are relative terms. Each of us finds them according to his or her predilections; one in worldly, the other in intellectual pursuits, and no one system will ever satisfy all. Hence, while one finds his pleasure and rest in family joys, another in "Socialism" and the third in a "longing only for eternal peace," there may be those who are starving for truth, in every department of the science of nature, and who consequently are yearning to learn the esoteric views about "cosmology, the evolution of man and of the Universe."--H.P.B.
According to our opinion the latter course is the right one for a mystic; the former one we take to be a statement of our views. Your notes to my former letter are quite consistent with this view, for in your note 3 you say: "Paranirvana [Beyond the blissful state -BNet] is reached only when the Manvantara [lit. translation between two men- meaning between two life cycles of the entire universe -BNet] has closed and during the 'night' of the universe or Pralaya." If the final aim of paranirvana cannot be attained individually, but only solidarily by the whole of the present humanity, it stands to reason, that in order to arrive at our consummation we have not only to do the best we can for the suppression of our own self, but that we have to work first for the world-process to hurry all the worldly interests of Hottentots, and the European vivisectors, having sufficiently advanced to see their final goal of salvation, are ready to join us in striving towards that deliverance.
Answer. According to our opinion as there is no essential difference between a "mystic" and a "Theosophist-Esotericist" or Eastern Occultist, the above cited course is not "the right one for a mystic." One, who while "yearning to be delivered from all selfishness" directs at the same time all his energies only to that portion of humanity which is of his own way of thinking, shows himself not only very selfish but is guilty of prejudice and partiality. When saying that Para,or Parinirvana rather, is reached only at the Manvantaric close, I never meant to imply the "planetary" but the whole Cosmic Manvantara, i.e.,at the end of "an age" of Brahmâ, not one "Day." For this is the only time when during the universal Pralaya mankind (i.e., not only the terrestrial mankind but that of every "man" or "manu-bearing" globe, star, sun or planet) will reach "solidarily" Parinirvana, and even then it will not be the whole mankind, but only those portions of the mankind which will have made themselves ready for it. Our correspondent's remark about the "Hottentots" and "European vivisectors" seems to indicate to my surprise that my learned Brother has in his mind only our little unprogressed Terrene mankind? --H.P.B.
You have the great advantage over us, that you speak with absolute certainty on all these points, in saying: "this is the esoteric doctrine," and "such is the teaching of my masters." We do not think that we have any such certain warrant for our belief; on the contrary, we want to learn, and are ready to receive, wisdom, wherever it may offer itself to us. We know of no authority or divine revelation; for, as far as we accept Vedantic or Buddhistic doctrines, we only do so because we have been convinced by the reasons given; or, where the reasons prove to be beyond our comprehension, but where our intuition tells us: this, nevertheless, is likely to be true, we try our best to make our understanding follow our intuition.
Answer. I speak "with absolute certainty" only so far as my own personal belief is concerned. Those who have not the same warrant for their belief as I have, would be very credulous and foolish to accept it on blind faith. Nor does the writer believe any more than her correspondent and his friends in any "authority" let alone "divine revelation"! Luckier in this than they are, I need not even rely in this as they do on my intuition,as there is no infallible intuition. But what I do believe in is (1), the unbroken oral teachings revealed by living divine men during the infancy of mankind to the elect among men; (2),that it has reached us unaltered; and (3) that the MASTERS are thoroughly versed in the science based on such uninterrupted teaching.--H.P.B.
In reference, therefore, to your note 5, it was not, nor is it, our intention "to inflict any criticism on you"; on the contrary we should never waste time with opposing anything we think wrong; we leave that to its own fate; but we try rather to get at positive information or arguments, wherever we think they may offer themselves. Moreover, we have never denied, nor shall we ever forget, that we owe you great and many thanks for your having originated the present movement and for having made popular many striking ideas hitherto foreign to European civilization. We should now feel further obliged to you, if you (or your masters) will give us some reasons, which could make it appear likely to us, why paranirvana could not be attained by any jiva at any time (a), and why the final goal can only be reached solidarily
Answer (a). There is some confusion here. I never said that no jiva could attain Parinirvana, nor meant to infer that "the final goal can only be reached solidarily" by our present humanity. This is to attribute to me an ignorance to which I am not prepared to plead guilty, and in his turn my correspondent has misunderstood me. But as every system in India teaches several kinds of pralayas as also of Nirvanic or "Moksha" states, Dr. Hübbe-Schleiden has evidently confused the Prakrita with the Naimittika Pralaya, of the Visishtadwaita Vedantins. I even suspect that my esteemed correspondent has imbibed more of the teachings of this particular sect of the three Vedantic schools than he had bargained for; that his "Brahmin Guru" in short, of whom there are various legends coming to us from Germany, has coloured his pupil far more with the philosophy of Sri Ramanujacharya, than with that of Sri Sankarachârya. But this is a trifle connected with circumstances beyond his control and of a Karmic character. His aversion to "Cosmology" and other sciences including theogony, and as contrasted with "Ethics" pure and simple, dates also from the period he was taken in hand by the said learned guru. The latter expressed it personally to us, after his sudden salto mortali from esotericism--too difficult to comprehend and therefore to teach,--to ethics which any one who knows a Southern language or two of India, can impart by simply translating his texts from philosophical works with which the country abounds. The result of this is, that my esteemed friend and correspondent talks Visishtadwaitism as unconsciously as M. Jourdain talked "prose," while believing he argues from the Mahayâna and Vedantic standpoint--pure and simple. If otherwise, I place myself under correction. But how can a Vedantin speak of Jivas as though these were separate entities and independent of JIVATMA the one universal soul! This is a purely Visishtadwaita doctrine which asserts that Jivatma is different in each individual from that in another individual? He asks "why parinirvana could not be attained by any jiva at any time." We answer that if by "jiva" he means the "Higher Self" or the divine ego of man, only--then we say it may reach Nirvana, not Parinirvana, but even this, only when one becomes Jivanmukta,which does not mean "at any time." But if he understands by "Jiva" simply the one life which, the Visishtadwaitas say is contained in every particle of matter, separating it from the sarira or body that contains it, then, we do not understand at all what he means. For, we do not agree that Parabrahm only pervades every Jiva, as well as each particle of matter, but say that Parabrahm is inseparable from every Jiva, as from every particle of matter since it is the absolute, and that IT is in truth that Jivatma itself crystallized--for want of a better word. Before I answer his questions, therefore, I must know whether he means by Parinirvana, the same as I do, and of which of the Pralayas he is talking. Is it of the Prakrita Maha Pralaya, which takes place every 311,040,000,000,000 years; or of the Naimittika Pralaya occurring after each Brahma Kalpa equal to 1,000 Maha Yugas, or which? Convincing reasons can be given then only when two disputants understand each other. I speak from the esoteric standpoint almost identical with the Adwaita interpretation; Dr. Hübbe Schleiden argues from that of--let him say what system, for, lacking omniscience, I cannot tell.--H.P.B.
by the whole of the humanity living at present. In order to further this discussion, I will state here some of the reasons which appear to speak against this view, and I will try to further elucidate some of the consequences of acting in accordance with each of these two views:
1. The unselfishness of the Altruist has a very different character according to which of the two views he takes. To begin with our view, the true Mystic who believes that he can attain deliverance from the world and from his individuality independent of the Karma of any other entities, or of the whole humanity, is an Altruist, because and so far as he is a monist, that is to say, on account of the tat twam asi ["That Thou Art" -BNet]. Not the form or the individuality, but the being of all entities is the same and is his own; in proportion as he feels his own avidya, agnana or unwisdom, so does he feel that of other entities, and has compassion with them on that
Answer: (b). To feel "compassion" without an adequate practical result ensuing from it is not to show oneself an "Altruist" but the reverse. Real self-development on the esoteric lines is action. "Inaction in a deed of mercy becomes an action in a deadly sin." (Vide The Two Paths in the "Voice of the Silence," p. 31.)--H.P.B.
account. (b) To take now the other view: Is not the altruism of an occultist who sees himself tied to the Karma of all his fellowmen, and who, on that account, labours for and with them, rather an egotistical one? For is not at the bottom of his "unselfishness" the knowledge that he cannot work out his own salvation at any lesser price? The escape from selfishness for such a man is self-sacrifice for the "world"; for the mystic, however, it is self-sacrifice to the eternal, to absolute being. Altruism is certainly considered one of the first requirements of any German Theosopher--we can or will not speak for others--but we are rather inclined to think that altruism had never been demanded in this country in the former sense (of self-sacrifice for the "world"), but only in the latter sense of self-sacrifice to the eternal.(c)
Answer: (c). An Occultist does not feel "himself tied to the Karma of all his fellow men," no more than one man feels his legs motionless because of the paralysis of another man's legs. But this does not prevent the fact that the legs of both are evolved from, and contain the same ultimate essence of the ONE LIFE. Therefore, there can be no egotistical feeling in his labours for the less favoured brother. Esoterically, there is no other way, means or method of sacrificing oneself "to the eternal" than by working and sacrificing oneself for the collective spirit of Life, embodied in, and (for us) represented in its highest divine aspect by Humanity alone. Witness the Nirmanakâya,--the sublime doctrine which no Orientalist understands to this day but which Dr. Hübbe Schleiden can find in the IInd and IIIrd Treatises in the "Voice of the Silence. "Naught else shows forth the eternal; and in no other way than this can any mystic or occultist truly reach the eternal, whatever the Orientalists and the vocabularies of Buddhist terms may say, for the real meaning of the Trikâya, the triple power of Buddha's embodiment, and of Nirvana in its triple negative and positive definitions has ever escaped them.
If our correspondent believes that by calling himself "theosopher" in preference to "theosophist" he escapes thereby any idea of sophistry connected with his views, then he is mistaken. I say it in all sincerity, the opinions he expresses in his letters are in my humble judgment the very fruit of sophistry. If I have misunderstood him, I stand under correction.--H.P.B.
2. It is a misunderstanding, if you think in your note 5, that we are advocating entire "withdrawal or isolation from the world." We do so as little as yourself, but only recommend an "ascetic life," as far as it is necessary to prepare anyone for those tasks imposed upon him by following the road to final deliverance from the world. But the consequence of your view seems to lead to joining the world in a worldly life, and until good enough reasons are given for it, we do not approve of this conduct. That we should have to join our fellow men in all their worldly interests and pursuits, in order to assist them and hasten them on to the solidary and common goal, is contrary to our intuition.(a) To
Answer. (a) It is difficult to find out how the view expressed in my last answer can lead to such an inference, or where have I advised my brother Theosophists to join men "in all their worldly interests and pursuits!" Useless to quote here again that which is said in note 1, for every one can turn to the passage and see that I have said nothing of the kind. For one precept I can give a dozen. "Not nakedness, not plaited hair, not dirt, not fasting or lying on the earth . . . not sitting motionless, can purify one who has not overcome desires," says Dhammapada (chap. I, 141). "Neither abstinence from fish or flesh, nor going naked, nor the shaving of the head, nor matted hair, etc., etc., will cleanse a man not free from delusions" Amagandha Sutta (7, 11). This is what I meant. Between salvation through dirt and stench, like St. Labro and some Fakirs, and worldly life with an eye to every interest, there is a long way. Strict asceticism in the midst of the world, is more meritorious than avoiding those who do not think as we do, and thus losing an opportunity of showing them the truth.--H.P.B.
strive for the deliverance from the world by furthering and favouring the world-process seems rather a round-about method. Our inclination leads us to retire from all worldly life, and to work apart--from a monastery or otherwise--together with and for all those fellow-men who are striving for the same goal of deliverance, and who are willing to rid themselves of all karma, their own as well as that of others. We would assist also all those who have to remain in worldly life, but who are already looking forward to the same goal of release, and who join us in doing their best to attain this end. We make no secret of our aims or our striving; we lay our views and our reasons before anyone who will hear them, and we are ready to receive amongst us anyone who will honestly join us.(b) Above all, however, we are doing
Answer: (b).So do we. And if, not all of us live up to our highest ideal of wisdom, it is only because we are men not gods, after all. But there is one thing, however, we never do (those in the esoteric circle, at any rate): we set ourselves as examples to no men, for we remember well that precept in Amagandha Sutta that says: "Self-praise, disparaging others, conceit, evil communications (denunciations), these constitute (moral) uncleanness"; and again, as in the Dhammapada, "The fault of others is easily perceived, but that of oneself is difficult to perceive; the faults of others one lays open as much as possible, but one's own fault one hides, as a cheat hides the bad die from the gambler."--H.P.B.
our best to live up to our highest ideal of wisdom; and perhaps the good example may prove to be more useful to our fellow-men than any organized propaganda of teaching.
By the bye, in your note you couple together Schopenhauer and Eduard von Hartmann. In this question, however, both are of opposite opinions. Schopenhauer, like most German mystics and theosophers, represents the views of Vedanta and (exoteric) Buddhism, that final salvation can, and can only, be individually attained independent of time and the karma of others. Hartmann, however, verges much more towards your opinion, for he does not believe in individual consummation and deliverance from the world; he thinks all mysticism and particularly that which is now known as Indian philosophy, an error, and demands of everyone as an altruistic duty to give himself up to the world-process, and to do his best in order to hasten its end. (He is the "clever modern philosopher" whom I have mentioned on page 435).(c)
Answer: (c). As I have never read von Hartmann, and know very little of Schopenhauer, nor do they interest me, I have permitted myself only to bring them forward as examples of the worst kind of pessimism; and you corroborate what I said, by what you state of Hartmann. If, however, as you say, Hartmann thinks "Indian philosophy an error," then he cannot be said to verge toward my opinion, as I hold quite a contrary view. India might return the compliment with interest.--H.P.B.
3. There is, and can be, no doubt that Vedanta and (exoteric) Buddhism do not hold your view, but ours. Moreover, one could scarcely dispute that Lord Buddha--whatever esoteric doctrine he may have taught--founded monasteries, or that he favoured and assisted in doing so. Whether he expected all his disciples to become Bodhisattvas may be doubtful, but he certainly pointed out the "happy life" of a Bhikshu as the road to salvation; he expressly abstained from teaching cosmology or any worldly science; he never meddled with the worldly affairs of men, but every assistance he rendered them was entirely restricted to showing them the road to deliverance from existence. And just the same with Vedanta. It prohibits any attachment to worldly views and interests, or enquiries after cosmology or evolution a fortiori socialism and any other world-improvement. All this Vedanta calls Agnana (Buddhism: Avidya), while Gnana or wisdom--the only aim of a sage (Gnani)--is but the striving for the realization of the eternal (true reality, Atma).(a)
Answer (a). It depends on what you call Vedanta--whether the Dwaita, the Adwaita, or the Visishtadwaita. That we differ from all these, is no news, and I have spoken of it repeatedly. Yet in the esotericism of the Upanishads,when correctly understood, and our esotericism, there will not be found much difference. Nor have I ever disputed any of the facts about Buddha as now brought forward; although these are facts from only his exoteric biography. Nor has he invented or drawn from his inner consciousness the philosophy he taught, but only the method of his rendering it. Buddhism being simply esoteric Bodhism taught before him secretly in the arcana of the Brahminical temples, contains, of course, more than one doctrine of which the Lord Buddha never spoke of in public. But this shows in no way that he did not teach them to his Arhats. Again, between "attachment to worldly views or interests" and the study of Cosmology, which is not "a worldly science" however, there is an abyss. One pertains to religious and philosophical asceticism, the other is necessary for the study of Occultism--which is not Buddhistic, but universal. Without the study of cosmogony and theogony which teach the hidden value of every force in Nature and their direct correspondence to, and relation with, the forces in man (or the principles) no occult psychophysics or knowledge of man as he truly is, is possible. No one is forced to study esoteric philosophy unless he likes it, nor has anyone ever confused Occultism with Buddhism or Vedantism.--H.P.B.
Agnani (misprinted in the July number page 436: agnam) signified just the same as what is rendered by "fool" in the English translations of the Dhammapada and the Suttas. It is never understood "intellectually" and certainly does not mean an ignoramus, on the contrary, the scientists are rather more likely to be agnanis than any "uneducated" mystic. Agnani expresses always a relative notion. Gnani is anyone who is striving for the self-realization of the eternal; a perfect gnani is only the jivanmukta,but anyone who is on the road of development to this end may be (relatively) called gnani,while anyone who is less advanced is comparatively an agnani. As, however, every gnani sees the ultimate goal above himself, he will call himself an agnani, until he has attained jivanmukta; moreover, no true mystic will ever call any fellow-man a "fool" in the intellectual sense of the word, for he lays very little stress on intellectuality. To him anyone is a "fool" only in so far as he cares for (worldly) existence and strives for anything else than wisdom, deliverance, paranirvana. And this turn of mind is entirely a question of the "will" of the individuality. The "will" of the agnani is carrying him from spirit into matter (descending arch of the cycle), while the "will" of the gnani disentangles him from matter and makes him soar up towards "spirit" and out of all existence. This question of overcoming the "dead point" in the circle is by no means one of intellectuality; it is quite likely that a sister of mercy or a common labourer may have turned the corner while the Bacons, Goethes, Humboldts, &c., may yet linger on the descending side of existence tied down to it by their individual wants and desires.(b)
Answer: (b). Agnam, instead of agnani was of course a printer's mistake. With such every Journal and Magazine abounds, in Germany, I suppose, as much as in England, and from which LUCIFER is no more free than the Sphinx. It is the printer's and the proof-reader's Karma. But it is a worse mistake, however, to translate Agnani by "fool," all the Beals, Oldenbergs, Webers, and Hardys, to the contrary. Gnana (or, Jnâna, rather) is Wisdom certainly, but even more, for it is the spiritual knowledge of things divine, unknown to all but those who attain it--and which saves the Jivanmuktas who have mastered both Karmayoga and Jnânayoga. Hence, if all those who have not jnâna (or gnana) at their fingers' end, are to be considered "fools" this would mean that the whole world save a few Yogis is composed of fools, which would be out-carlyleing Carlyle in his opinion of his countrymen. Ajnâna, in truth, means simply "ignorance of the true Wisdom," or literally, "Wisdomless" and not at all "fool." To explain that the word "fool" is "never understood intellectually" is to say nothing, or worse, an Irish bull, as, according to every etymological definition and dictionary, a fool is one who is "deficient in intellect"and "destitute of reason." Therefore, while thanking the kind doctor for the trouble he has taken to explain so minutely the vexed Sanskrit term, I can do so only in the name of LUCIFER'S readers, not for myself, as I knew all he says, minus his risky new definition of "fool" and plus something else, probably as early as on the day when he made his first appearance into this world of Maya. No doubt, neither Bacon, Humboldt, nor even the great Hæckel himself, the "light of Germany," could ever be regarded as "gnanis"; but no more could any European I know of, however much he may have rid himself of all "individual wants and desires."--H.P.B.
4. As we agree, that all existence, in fact, the whole world and the whole of its evolutionary process, its joys and evils, its gods and its devils, are Maya (illusion) or erroneous conception of the true reality: how can it appear to us worth while to assist and to promote this process of misconception?(a)
Answer (a). Precisely, because the term maya, just like that of "agnana" in your own words--expresses only a relative notion. The world . . . "its joys and evils, its gods and devils," and men to boot, are undeniably, when compared with that awful reality everlasting eternity, no better than the productions and tricks of maya, illusion. But there the line of demarcation is drawn. So long as we are incapable of forming even an approximately correct conception of this inconceivable eternity, for us, who are just as much an illusion as anything else outside of that eternity, the sorrows and misery of that greatest of all illusions--human life in the universal mahamaya-- for us, I say, such sorrows and miseries are a vivid and a very sad reality. A shadow from your body, dancing on the white wall, is a reality so long as it is there, for yourself and all who can see it; because a reality is just as relative as an illusion. And if one "illusion" does not help another "illusion" of the same kind to study and recognise the true nature of Self, then, I fear, very few of us will ever get out from the clutches of maya.--H.P.B.
5. Like all world-existence, time and causality also are only Maya or--as Kant and Schopenhauer have proved beyond contradiction--are only our conditioned notions, forms of our intellection. Why then should any moment of time, or one of our own unreal forms of thought, be more favourable to the attainment of paranirvana than any other? To this paranirvana, Atma, or true reality, any manvantara is just as unreal as any pralaya. And this is the same with regard to causality,as with respect to time,from whichever point of view you look at it. If from that of absolute reality, all causality and karma are unreal, and to realize this unreality is the secret of deliverance from it. But even if you look at it from the agnana-view, that is to say, taking existence for a reality, there can never (in "time") be an end--nor can there have been a beginning--of causality. It makes, therefore, no difference whether any world is in pralaya or not; also Vedanta rightly says that during any pralaya the karana sharira (causal body, agnana) of Ishvara and of all jivas, in fact, of all existence, is continuing.(b) And how could this be other
Answer: (b). This is again a Visishtadwaita interpretation, which we do not accept in the esoteric school. We cannot say, as they do that while the gross bodies alone perish, the sukshma particles, which they consider uncreated and indestructible and the only real things, alone remain. Nor do we believe any Vedantin of the Sankarachârya school would agree in uttering such a heresy. For this amounts to saying that Manomaya Kosha, which corresponds to what we call Manas, mind, with its volitious feelings and even Kamarupa the vehicle of the lower manas, also survives during pralaya. See page 185 in Five Years of Theosophy and ponder over the three classifications of the human principles. Thence it follows that the Karana Sarira (which means simply the human Monad collectively or the reincarnating ego), the "causal body" cannot continue; especially if, as you say, it is agnana, ignorance or the wisdomless principle, and even agreeably with your definition "a fool." The idea alone of this "fool" surviving during any pralaya, is enough to make the hair of any Vedanta philosopher and even of a full blown Jivanmukta, turn grey, and thrust him right back into an "agnani" again. Surely as you formulate it, this must be a lapsus calami? And why should the Karana Sarira of Iswara let alone that of "all Jivas (!) be necessary during pralaya for the evolution of another universe? Iswara, whether as a personal god, or an intelligent independent principle, per se, every Buddhist whether esoteric or exoteric and orthodox, will reject; while some Vedantins would define him as Parabrahm plus MAYA (only, i.e., a conception valid enough during the reign of maya, but not otherwise. That which remains during pralaya is the eternal potentiality of every condition of Pragna (consciousness) contained in that plane or field of consciousness, which the Adwaita calls Chidakasan and Chinmatra (abstract consciousness), which, being absolute, is therefore perfect unconsciousness--as a true Vedantin would say.--H.P.B.
wise? After the destruction of any universe in pralaya, must not another appear? Before our present universe must there not have been an infinite number of other universes? How could this be, if the cause of existence did not last through any pralaya as well as through any kalpa? And if so, why should any pralaya be a more favourable moment for the attainment of paranirvana than any manvantara?
6. But if then one moment of time and one phase of causality were more favourable for this than any other: why should it just be any pralaya after a manvantara, not the end of the maha-kalpa or at least that of a kalpa. In any kalpa (of 4,320 millions of earthly years) there are 14 manvantaras and pralayas and in each maha-kalpa (of 311,040 milliards of earthly years) there are (36,000 X I4) 504,000 manvantaras and pralayas. Why is this opportunity of paranirvana offered just so often and not oftener, or not once only at the end of each universe. In other words, why can paranirvana only be obtained by spurts and in batches; why, if it cannot be attained by any individuality at its own time, why must one wait only for the whole of one's present fellow-humanity; why not also for all the animals, plants, amœbas and protoplasms, perhaps also for the minerals of our planet--and why not also for the entities on all the other stars of the universe?(a)
Answer (a). As Dr. Hübbe Schleiden objects in the form of questions to statements and arguments that have never been formulated by me, I have nothing to say to this.--H.P.B.
7. But, it appears, the difficulty lies somewhat deeper still. That which has to be overcome, in order to attain paranirvana, is the erroneous conception of separateness, the selfishness of individuality, the "thirst for existence" (trishna, tanha). It stands to reason, that this sense of individuality can only be overcome individually: How can this process be dependent on other individualities or anything else at all? Selfishness in the abstract which is the cause of all existence, in fact, Agnana and Maya, can never be all together removed and extinguished. Agnana is as endless as it is beginningless, and the number of jivas (atoms?) is absolutely infinite; if the jivas of a whole universe were to be extinguished in paranirvana, jivaship and agnana would not be lessened by one atom. In fact, both are mere unreality and misconception. Now, why should just one batch of humanity have to unite, in order to get rid each of his own misconception of reality?(b)
Answer: (b) . Here again the only "unreality and misconception" I can perceive are his own. I am glad to find my correspondent so learned, and having made such wonderful progress since I saw him last some three years ago, when still in the fulness of his agnana; but I really cannot see what all his arguments refer to?.--H.P.B.
Summing up, I will now give three instances of the difference in which, I think a Mystic or (exoteric) Buddhist, Bhikshu or Arhat, on the one side, and an occultist or theosophist on the other, would act, if both are fully consistent with their views and principles. Both will certainly use any opportunity which offers itself to do good to their fellow-men; but the good which they will try to do, will be of a different kind.
Supposing they meet a poor, starving wretch, with whom they share their only morsel of bread: the mystic will try to make the man understand that the body is only to be kept up, because that entity which lives in it has a certain spiritual destination, and that this destination is nothing less than getting rid of all existence, and, at the same time, of all wants and desires; that having to beg for one's food is no real hardship, but might give a happier life than that of rich people with all their imaginary worries and pretensions, that, in fact, the life of a destitute who is nothing and who has nothing in the world, is the "happy life"--as Buddha and Jesus have shown--when it is coupled with the right aspiration to the eternal, the only true and unchangeable reality, the divine peace. If the mystic finds that the man's heart is incapable of responding to any keynote of such true religiousness, he will leave him alone, hoping that, at some future time, he too will find out that all his worldly wants and desires are insatiable and unsatisfying, and that after all true and final happiness can only be found in striving for the eternal.--Not so the occultist. He will know that he himself cannot finally realise the eternal, until every other human individuality has likewise gone through all the worldly aspirations and has been weaned from them. He will, therefore, try to assist this poor wretch first in his worldly affairs; he will perhaps teach him some trade or handicraft by which he can earn his daily bread, or he will plan with him some socialistic scheme for bettering the worldly position of the poor.
Answer. Here the "Mystic" acts precisely as a "Theosophist or Occultist" of the Eastern school would. It is extremely interesting to learn where Dr. Hübbe Schleiden has studied "Occultists" of the type he is describing? If it is in Germany, then pitying the Occultist who knows "that he himself cannot realize the eternal" until every human soul has been weaned from "worldly aspirations" I would invite him to come to London where other Occultists who reside therein would teach him better. But then why not qualify the "Occultist" in such case and thus show his nationality? Our correspondent mentions with evident scorn, "Socialism" in this letter, as often as he does "Cosmology"? We have but two English Socialists, so far, in the T.S. of which two every Theosophist ought to be proud and accept them as his exemplar in practical Buddha- and Christ-like charity and virtues. Such socialists--two active altruists full of unselfish love and charity and ready to work for all that suffers and needs help--are decidedly worth ten thousand Mystics and other Theosophers, whether German or English, who talk instead of acting and sermonize instead of teaching. But let us take note of our correspondent's second instance.--H.P.B.
Secondly, supposing further the mystic and the occultist meet two women, the one of the "Martha" sort, the other of the "Mary" character. The mystic will first remind both that every one has, in the first instance, to do his or her duty conscientiously, be it a compulsory or a self-imposed duty. Whatever one has once undertaken and wherever he or she has contracted any obligation towards a fellow-being, this has to be fulfilled "up to the uttermost farthing." But, on the other hand, the mystic will, just for this very reason, warn them against creating for themselves new attachments to the world and worldly affairs more than they find absolutely unavoidable. He will again try to direct the whole of their attention to their final goal and kindle in them every spark of high and genuine aspiration to the eternal.--Not so the occultist. He may also say all that the mystic has said and which fully satisfies "Mary"; as "Martha," however, is not content with this and thinks the subject rather tedious and wearisome, he will have compassion with her worldliness and teach her some esoteric cosmology or speak to her of the possibilities of developing psychic powers and so on.
Answer. Is the cat out of the bag at last? I am asked to "oblige" our correspondent by answering questions, and instead of clear statements, I find no better than transparent hints against the working methods of the T.S.! Those who go against "esoteric cosmology" and the development of psychic powers are not forced to study either. But I have heard these objections four years ago, and they too, were started by a certain "Guru" we are both acquainted with, when that learned "Mystic" had had enough of Chelaship and suddenly developed the ambition of becoming a Teacher. They are stale.--H.P.B.
Thirdly, supposing our mystic and our occultist meet a sick man who applies to them for help. Both will certainly try to cure him the best they can. At the same time, both will use this opportunity to turn their patient's mind to the eternal if they can; they will try to make him see that everything in the world is only the just effect of some cause, and that, as he is consciously suffering from his present illness, he himself must somewhere have consciously given the corresponding and adequate cause for his illness, either in his present or in any former life; that the only way of getting finally rid of all ills and evils is, not to create any more causes, but rather to abstain from all doing, to rid oneself of every avoidable want and desire, and in this way to lift oneself above all causality (karma). This, however, can only be achieved by putting good objects of aspiration into the place of the bad, the better object into that of the good, and the best into that of the better; directing, however, one's whole attention to our highest goal of consummation and living in the eternal as much as we can, this is the only mode of thought that will finally deliver us from the imperfections of existence.
If the patient cannot see the force of this train of argument or does not like it, the mystic will leave him to his own further development, and to some future opportunity which might bring the same man near him again, but in a more favourable state of mind.
Not so the occultist. He will consider it his duty to stick to this man to whose Karma, as to that of everyone else, he is irremediably and unavoidably bound; he will not abandon him until he has helped him on to such an advanced state of true spiritual development that he begins to see his final goal and to aspire to it "with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might." In the meantime, however, the occultist will try to prepare him for that by helping him to arrange his worldly life in a manner as favourable to such an aspiration as possible. He will make him see that vegetarian or rather fruit-diet is the only food fully in accordance with human nature; he will teach him the fundamental rules of esoteric hygienics; he will show him how to make the right use of vitality (mesmerism), and as he does not feel any aspiration for the nameless and formless eternal, he will meanwhile make him aspire for esoteric knowledge and for occult powers.
Now, will you do us the great favour to show us reasons why the mystic is wrong and the occultist right, or why paranirvana should not be attained by any individuality and at any time, when its own karma has been burnt by gnana in samadhi,and independent of the karma of any other individual or that of humanity.
Neuhaugen bei München,September, 1889
Answer. As no Occultist of my acquaintance would act in this supposed fashion no answer is possible. We theosophists, and especially your humble servant, are too occupied with our work to lose time at answering supposititious cases and fictions. When our prolific correspondent tells us whom he means under the name of the "Occultist" and when or where the latter has acted in that way, I will be at his service. Perhaps he means some Theosophist or rather member of the T.S. under this term? For I, at any rate, never met yet an "Occultist" of that description. As to the closing question I believe it was sufficiently answered in the earlier explanations of this reply.
Yours, as sincerely,