THEOSOPHY, Vol. 20, No. 1, November, 1931
(Pages 28-32; Size: 15K)
(Number 34 of a 103-part series)
SCIENCE AND THE SECRET DOCTRINE
XXXIThe oldest religions of the world -- exoterically, for the esoteric root or foundation is one -- are the Indian, the Mazdean, and the Egyptian. Then comes the Chaldean, the outcome of these -- entirely lost to the world now, except in its disfigured Sabeanism as at present rendered by the archæologists; then, passing over a number of religions that will be mentioned later, comes the Jewish, esoterically, as in the Kabala, following in the line of Babylonian Magism; exoterically, as in Genesis and the Pentateuch, a collection of allegorical legends. Read by the light of the Zohar, the initial four chapters of Genesis are the fragment of a highly philosophical page in the World's Cosmogony. (S.D. I, 10-11).PERHAPS one of the most surprising as well as hopeful scientific articles which has fallen under the Theosophic eye for some time is Ideas of Origin Among Ancient Egyptians and Babylonians,(1) by Dr. George J. Dudycha, of Ripon College, who is a scientist of parts and gets himself listened to by his colleagues. And the surprise consists in that he makes a clear break with the scientific tradition decreeing that the theogonies and cosmologies of the ancients must be declared, in defense of modern learning, the crude, anthropomorphic lispings of "infant humanity."
He makes a good beginning by questioning the convention that we must revere the Greeks as the originators of all thought worth while.... We turn to Thales as though he were the Adam of all thought and neglect the equally profound ideas of the more ancient peoples of Egypt, India, China and Babylonia.He then speaks of the difficulties encountered in untangling the traditions with which he is dealing, due to unsigned tablets, fragmentary preservation, corrupt texts, variant versions, interpolations of legends, oral transmission, and the like. However, says he, well-preserved records dating to the early Egyptian dynasties and the pre-Semitic Sumerians of Babylonia, have been segregated. It is these he reports.
The first is the "Legend of the Creation," thought to date to several millenniums B.C. in oral form, discovered in a royal hiding-place at Der-al-Bahari about 1860, first published in 1912. The god Neb-er-tcher speaks:"I am he who came into being in the form of the god Khepera, and I am the creator of that which came into being, that is to say, I am the creator of everything which came into being; now the things which I created, and which came forth out of my mouth after that I had come into being myself were exceedingly many. The sky (or heaven) had not come into being, the earth did not exist, and the children of the earth and the creeping things had not been made at that time. I myself raised them up from out of Nu, from a state of helpless inertness. I found no place whereon I could stand. I worked a charm upon my own heart (or will), I laid the foundation (of things) by Maat, and I made everything which had form ... I laid the foundations (of things) in my own heart, and there came into being multitudes of created things, which came into being from the created things which were born from the created things which arose from what they brought forth ...This word Maat! Is it not a clear, very clear permutation of the Hindu Mahat -- especially when the function of that Power is considered, and that Egypt and India must have been in communication long before the dawn of history. A still further connection is seen in the story of Neb-er-tcher taking his shadow to wife to procreate the universe. This type of symbology marches through the Hindu cosmogonies from end to end, as in the case of Brahmâ -- who is precisely Neb-er-tcher -- separating his body into male and female for the same reason. (S.D. I, 9). Unfortunately the "Legend of the Creation" is marred by some brutal symbolism more reminiscent of the Old Testament than of Egypt.
Says Dr. Dudycha:We are not told in this account of the creation where and how Neb-er-tcher came into being; but, as Budge says, "It seems as if he was believed to have been an almighty and invisible power which filled all space." This immediately suggests Anaximander's idea of "the boundless" as the source of all things. Although the Egyptians labeled this source-of-all-things and called it a god, their fundamental idea, that there is an indefinable boundless something from which all things issue, is certainly much like that of Anaximander. Another idea which we find expressed here and which was emphasized by the early Greeks is that of the unity of the primal principle. Neb-er-tcher, who took on the form of Khepera, the creator god of the Egyptians, was the sole primal source of all creation.The statement that "I, myself, raised them up from out of Nu, from a state of helpless inertness," and which echoes the Gita's "By the power of my own Maya I emanate all these creatures without their will," next leads Dr. Dudycha to note the universality of the idea of water as the primeval substance. Here he misses his cue -- but it is pardonable. Water in the old cosmogonies was a symbol for something else; something with which a puzzled science is now dealing in its entangled efforts to explicate the atom. But he connects Augustine with the ancients. "For Augustine all things were potential in an original germ or seed from which all things came. It is this potentiality of forms in the primordial mass which seems to be common to both precepts."In a cosmogonic fragment from the "Book of the Dead," we find another reference to Nu:Every word of this is clear to Theosophists -- or ought to be. The goddess Maat, remarks Dudycha, is usually regarded as the goddess of law, order, and truth. The authority Budge, he says, regards her as playing here the part of Wisdom. This seems to clinch the identity above suggested.Furthermore I shall ruin all that I have made.Here another aspect of Nu is emphasized. Not only is Nu the source of all things, but the end as well -- that from which all things come and that to which all things return. Here, again, is Anaximander's idea.
This earth will appear (?) as an abyss,
In (or as) a flood as in its primeval condition.
I am the one remaining from it together with Osiris.
My forming is (then) made to me among other (?) serpents
Which men never knew,
Which the gods never saw.
Next Dr. Dudycha introduces us to our old friend -- Hermes Trismegistus. Hermes, playing Arjuna to Osiris' Krishna, requests to "behold the source of beings."Thou wilt now learn. Thou hast just seen what exists from all eternity. The light thou didst first see is the divine intelligence which contains all things in potentiality, enclosing the models of all beings. The darkness in which thou afterwards plunged is the material world on which the men of earth live. But the fire thou didst behold shooting forth from the depths, is the divine Word.The italics are very significant of Dr. Dudycha's own insight.
Hermes, desiring to see the "path of souls," finds himself in the center of seven spheres, like seven concentric transparent globes. Says Osiris:Look, listen, and understand. Thou seest the seven spheres of all life. Through them is accomplished the fall and ascent of souls. The seven genii are the seven rays of the world-light. Each of them commands one sphere of the spirit, one phase of the life of souls ....Here indeed is a summary, in archaic phraseology, of the whole Anthropogenesis of the Secret Doctrine. Continues Dr. Dudycha:
Dost thou see ... a luminous seed fall from the regions of the milky way into the seventh sphere? These are germs of souls. They live like faint vapors in the region of Saturn, gay and free from care, knowing not their own happiness. On falling from sphere to sphere, however, they put on increasingly heavier envelopes. In each incarnation they acquire a new corporeal sense, in harmony with the surroundings in which they are living. Their vital energy increases, but in proportion as they enter into denser bodies they lose the memory of their celestial origin. Thus is effected the fall of souls which come from the divine ether. Ever more and more captivated by matter and intoxicated by life, they fling themselves like a rain of fire, with quiverings of voluptuous delight, through the regions of grief, love, and death, right into their earthly prison where thou thyself lamentest, held down by the fiery center of the earth, and an empty dream ... Do you see this swarm of souls trying to mount once more to the lunar regions? Some are beaten back to earth like eddies of birds beneath the might of the tempest. The rest with mighty wings reach the upper sphere, which draws them with it as it rotates. Once they have come to this sphere, they recover their vision of divine things. This time, however, they are not content to reflect them in the dream of a powerless happiness; they become impregnated thereby with the lucidity of a grief-enlightened consciousness, the energy of a will acquired through struggle and strife. They become luminous, for they possess the divine in themselves and radiate it in their acts.In "The Vision of Hermes" there are at least two thoughts which we must note, first, the potentiality of all things in divine intelligence, and second, the descent of the souls through seven stages. Here we note, then, an evolutionary -- unfolding -- process. The two processes, however, are not incompatible, for the souls, although passing through an epigenetic process towards materiality, are the unfoldment of that which is in divine intelligence. "One only soul, the great soul of the All, by dividing itself out, has given birth to all the souls that struggle throughout the universe." Thus, here again, we have the ideas of unity of origin and process of development expressed.From the ancient Sumerians he gives extracts which ring like echoes of the opening Stanzas of Dzyan:Dr. Dudycha hits upon, without quite comprehending, the inevitable degeneration of cosmic ideas. Semitic-Babylonian creation, he says, was the result of the personal triumph of a creator. This dualism "does not seem to be present in the more primitive Sumerian ideas." He could not be expected to guess that the creeping dry-rot of anthropomorphism thus momentarily glimpsed by him ultimately involved the destruction of those great civilizations -- as it does everywhere that it is allowed to live.When the height heaven was not named,
And the earth beneath did not bear a name,
And the primaeval Apsû who begat them,
And Mummu, and Tiamat who bore them all--
Their waters were mingled together.
* * * *
Then were created the gods in the midst of
Lakhmu and Lakhamu were called into being ....
No city had been created, no creature had been made,
Nippur had not been created, Ekur had not been built,
Erech had not been created, Eanna had not been built,
Apsû had not been created, Eridu had not been built,
Of the holy house, the house of the gods, the
habitation had not been created.
All lands were sea.
Dr. Dudycha, in closing, sums up the parallelisms between Egyptian, Greek, Augustinian, Sumitic and Semitic thought; and concludes:Thus in closing we must reiterate. The Greeks were not the first to speculate concerning the origin of things, for we find among the Egyptians and Babylonians cosmogonic ideas of far more ancient origin, which, when divested of their theological implications and deity names, are not so far different in nature and significance from those of more recent and of Western thought. (Italics ours).Shall we cap off with another passage from the Secret Doctrine of H. P. Blavatsky?...we write for the future. Discoveries in this direction will vindicate the claims of the Asiatic philosophers, who maintain that Sciences -- Geology, Ethnology, and History included -- were pursued by the Antediluvian nations who lived an untold number of ages ago.... (II, 334).
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:
Nothing in the material world endures absolutely unchanged in itself or its conditions, even for the smallest conceivable portion of time. All that is, is forever in process of becoming something else. This is not mere transcendentalism, but is an old established doctrine called, in the East, "the doctrine of the constant, eternal change of atoms from one state into another." --W.Q.J.
SCIENCE AND THE SECRET DOCTRINE
(Part 35 of a 103-part series)
Back to the
"Science and The Secret Doctrine"
series complete list of articles.
Back to the full listing containing all of the
"Additional Categories of Articles".
ONE (1) FOOTNOTE LISTED BELOW:
(1) Scientific Monthly, March, 1931.
Back to text.