THEOSOPHY, Vol. 5, No. 6, April, 1917
(Pages 241-245; Size: 15K)
(Number 2 of a 10-part series)
STUDIES IN ISIS UNVEILED
ADEPTS AND THE SECRET DOCTRINEThe accompanying article is made up of textual extracts from Isis Unveiled, topically and sequentially arranged. The page references from which the statements are taken, are given at the conclusion of the article --EDITORS.FROM the first ages of man the fundamental truths of all that we are permitted to know on earth was in the safe keeping of the adepts of the sanctuaries. These guardians of the primitive divine revelation were bound together by a universal freemasonry of science and philosophy, which formed one unbroken chain around the globe.
The difference in creeds and religious practice was only external. Too many of our thinkers do not consider that the numerous changes in language, the allegorical phraseology and evident secretiveness of the old Mystical writers, who were generally under an obligation never to divulge the solemn secrets of the sanctuary, might have sadly misled translators and commentators. The phrases of the mediaeval alchemist they read literally; and even the veiled symbology of Plato is commonly misunderstood by the modern scholar.
Almost without exception ancient and mediaeval scholars believed in the arcane doctrines of wisdom. These included Alchemy, the Chaldeo-Jewish Kabala, the esoteric systems of Pythagoras and the old Magi, and those of the later Platonic philosophers and theurgists, the Indian Gymnosophists and the Chaldean astrologers.
Formerly, magic was a universal science, entirely in the hands of the sacerdotal savant. Though the focus was jealously guarded in the sanctuaries, its rays illuminated the whole of mankind. Otherwise, how are we to account for the extraordinary identity of "superstitions," customs, traditions, and even sentences, repeated in popular proverbs scattered from one pole to the other?
The fables of the mythopoeic ages will be found to have but allegorized the greatest truths of geology and anthropology. It is in these ridiculously expressed fables that science will have to look for her "missing links."
Otherwise, whence such strange "coincidences" in the respective histories of nations and peoples so widely thrown apart? Whence that identity of primitive conceptions which fables and legends though they are termed now, contain in them nevertheless the kernel of historical facts, of a truth thickly overgrown with the husks of popular embellishment, but still a truth?
Even the so-called fabulous narratives of certain Buddhistical books, when stripped of their allegorical meanings, are found to be the secret doctrines taught by Pythagoras. What Buddha taught in the sixth century, B.C., in India, Pythagoras taught in the fifth, in Greece and Italy.
There are, scattered throughout the world, a handful of thoughtful and solitary students, who pass their lives in obscurity, far from the rumors of the world, studying the great problem of the physical and spiritual universes. They have their secret records in which are preserved the fruits of the scholastic labors of the long line of recluses whose successors they are. The knowledge of their early ancestors, the sages of India, Babylonia, Nineveh, and the imperial Thebes; the legends and traditions commented upon by the masters of Solon, Pythagoras, and Plato, in the marble halls of Heliopolis and Sais; traditions which, in their days, already seemed to hardly glimmer from behind the foggy curtains of the past; -- all this, and much more, is recorded on indestructible parchment, and passed with jealous care from one adept to another. We must bear in mind that authentic treatises upon ancient magic of the Chaldean and Egyptian lore are not scattered about in public libraries, and at auction sales. That such exist is nevertheless a fact.
The keys to the Biblical miracles of old, and to the phenomena of modern days; the problems of psychology, physiology, and the many "missing links" which have so perplexed scientists, are all in the hands of secret fraternities.
No wonder that the Northern seer, Swedenborg, advises people to search for the LOST WORD among the hierophants of Tartary, China, and Thibet; for it is there, and only there now, although we find it inscribed on the monuments of the oldest Egyptian dynasties.
The grandiose poetry of the four Vedas; the Books of Hermes; the Chaldean Book of Numbers; the Nazarene Codex; the Kabala of the Tanaim; the Sepher Jezira; the Book of Wisdom of Schlomah (Solomon); the secret treatise on Muhta and Badha, attributed by the Buddhist kabalists to Kapila, the founder of the Sankhya system; the Brahmanas; the Stan-Gyour of the Thibetans; all these volumes have the same ground-work. Varying but in allegories they teach the same secret doctrine which, when once thoroughly eliminated, will prove to be the Ultima Thule of true philosophy, and disclose what is this LOST WORD. Our scientists do not -- nay, cannot understand correctly the old Hindu literature. They have a perfect right to the just consciousness of their great learning, but none at all to lead the world into their own error, by making it believe that they have solved the last problem of ancient thought in literature, whether Sanscrit or any other; that there lies not behind the external "twaddle" far more than was ever dreamed of by our modern exact philosophy; or that above and beyond the correct rendering of Sanscrit words and sentences there is no deeper thought, intelligible to some of the descendants of those who veiled it in the morning hours of earth's day, if they are not to the profane reader. No people in the world have ever attained to such grandeur of thought in ideal conceptions of the Deity and its offspring, MAN, as the Sanscrit metaphysicians and theologians.
Verily the Christs of the pre-Christian ages were many. But they died unknown to the world, and disappeared silently and mysteriously. There never was nor ever will be a truly philosophical mind, whether of Pagan, heathen, Jew, or Christian, but has followed the same path of thought.
Who, of those who ever studied the ancient philosophies, who understand intuitionally the grandeur of their conceptions, the boundless sublimity of their views of the Unknown Deity, can hesitate for a moment to give the preference to their doctrines over the incomprehensible dogmatic and contradictory theology of the hundreds of Christian sects? Who that has ever read Plato and fathomed his To On, "whom no person has seen except the son," can doubt that Jesus was a disciple of the same secret doctrine which had instructed the great philosopher? For Plato never claimed to be the inventor of all that he wrote, but gave credit for it to Pythagoras, who, in his turn, pointed to the remote East as the source whence he derived his information and his philosophy.
The mass of cumulative evidence has been reinforced to an extent which leaves little, if any, room for further controversy. A conclusive opinion is furnished by too many scholars to doubt the fact that India was the Alma-Mater, not only of the civilization, arts, and sciences, but also of all the great religions of antiquity; Judaism, and hence Christianity, included.
And when we say, indiscriminately, "India," we do not mean the India of our modern days, but that of the archaic period. In those ancient times, countries which are now known to us by other names were all called India. There was an Upper, a Lower, and a Western India, the latter of which is now Persia-Iran. The countries now named Thibet, Mongolia, and Great Tartary, were also considered by the ancient writers as India.
And now we will try to give a clear insight into one of the chief objects of this work. What we desire to prove is, that underlying every ancient popular religion was the same ancient wisdom-doctrine, one and identical, professed and practiced by the initiates of every country, who alone were aware of its existence and importance. The proofs of this identity of fundamental doctrine in the old religions are found in the prevalence of a system of initiation; in the secret sacerdotal castes who had the guardianship of mystical words of power, and a public display of a phenomenal control over natural forces, indicating association with preterhuman beings. Every approach to the Mysteries of all these nations was guarded with the same jealous care, and in all, the penalty of death was inflicted upon initiates of any degree who divulged the secrets entrusted to them. There was an identity of vows, formulas, rites, and doctrines, between the ancient faiths. Not only is their memory still preserved in India, but also the Secret Association is still alive and as active as ever. The chief pontiff and hierophant, the Brahmatma, is still accessible to those "who know," though perhaps recognized by another name; and the ramifications of his influence extend throughout the world.
The secret doctrines of the Magi, of the pre-Vedic Buddhists, of the hierophants of the Egyptian Thoth or Hermes, and of the adepts of whatever age and nationality, including the Chaldean Kabalists and the Jewish nazars, were identical from the beginning. When we use the term Buddhists we do not mean to imply by it either the exoteric Buddhism instituted by the followers of Gautama-Buddha, nor the modern Buddhistic religion, but the secret philosophy of Sakyamuni, which in its essence is certainly identical with the ancient wisdom-religion of the sanctuary, the pre-Vedic Brahmanism. By Buddhism, therefore, we mean that religion signifying literally the doctrine of wisdom, and which by many ages antedates the metaphysical philosophy of Siddartha Sakyamuni. The building of the Temple of Solomon is the symbolical representation of the gradual acquirement of the secret wisdom, or magic; this is the "Temple" which can be reared without the sound of the hammer, or any tool of iron being heard in the house while it is "in building."
In the East, this science is called, in some places, the "seven-storied," in others, the "nine-storied" Temple; every story answers allegorically to a degree of knowledge acquired. Throughout the countries of the Orient, wherever magic and the wisdom-religion are studied, its practitioners and students are known among their craft as Builders -- for they build the temple of knowledge, of secret science.
The "wisdom" of the archaic ages did not die out, and the Gnosis still lingers on earth, and its votaries are many, albeit unknown. Such secret brotherhoods have been mentioned by more than one great author. If they have been regarded as mere fictions of the novelist, that fact has only helped the "brother-adepts" to keep their incognito the more easily.
But there are numbers of these mystic brotherhoods which have naught to do with "civilized" communities. Many are the candidates at the doors of those who are supposed to know the path that leads to the secret brotherhoods. The great majority are refused admittance, and these turn away interpreting the refusal as an evidence of the non-existence of any such secret society. Thus these societies will go on and hear themselves denied without uttering a word until the day shall come for them to throw off their reserve and show how completely they are masters of the situation. The present writer states a few facts concerning them, by the special permission of one who has a right to give it. The work now submitted to public judgment is the fruit of a somewhat intimate acquaintance with Eastern adepts and study of their science.
Our work, then, is a plea for the recognition of the Hermetic Philosophy, the anciently universal Wisdom-Religion, as the only possible key to the Absolute in science and theology. The religion of the ancients is the religion of the future. A few centuries more, and there will linger no sectarian beliefs in either of the great religions of humanity. Brahmanism and Buddhism, Christianity and Mahometanism will all disappear before the mighty rush of facts. No other claim is advanced for a hearing of the opinion contained in the present work than that they are based upon many years' study of both ancient magic and its modern form, Spiritualism.NOTE.--The volume and page references to Isis Unveiled, from which the foregoing article is compiled, are, in the order of the excerpts, as follows: I, 37-8; I, 205; I, 247; I, 122; I, 291; I, 347; I, 557; I, 558; I, 559; I, 573; I, 580; I, 581; I, 583; II, 43; II, 84; II, 38; II, 39; II, 30; I, 589; II, 98-9; II, 100; II, 142; II, 143; II, 391-2; II, 402-3-4; II, 307; I, v; I, vii; I, 613; I, 42.
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