From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. II.l
Articles by HPB
THE outward form of idolatry is but a veil, concealing the one Truth like the veil of the Saitic Goddess, Only that truth, being for the few, escapes the majority. To the pious profane, the veil recovers a celestial locality thickly peopled with divine beings, dwarfs and giants, good and wicked powers, all of whom are no better than human caricatures. Yet, wile for the great majority the space behind the veil is really impenetrable--if it would but confess the real state of its mind--those, endowed with the "third eye" (the eye of Shiva), discern in the Cimmerian darkness and chaos a light in whose intense radiance all shape born of human conception disappears, leaving the all-informing divine PRESENCE, to be felt--not seen; sensed--never expressed.
A charming allegory translated from an old Sanskrit manuscript illustrates this idea admirably:
Toward the close of the Pralaya (the intermediate period between two "creations" or evolutions of our phenomenal universe), the great IT, the One that rests in infinity and ever is, dropped its reflection, which expanded in limitless Space, and felt a desire to make itself cognizable by the creatures evolved from its shadow. The reflection assumed the shape of a Mahârâja (great King). Devising means for mankind to learn of his existence, the Mahârâja built out of the qualities inherent in him a palace, in which he concealed himself, satisfied that people should perceive the outward form of his dwelling. But when they looked up to the place where stood the palace, whose one corner stretched into the right, and the other into the left infinitude--the little men saw nothing; the palace was mistaken by them for empty space, and being so vast remained invisible to their eyes. Then the Mahârâja resorted to another expedient. He determined to manifest himself to the little creatures whom he pitied--not as a whole but only in his parts. He destroyed the palace built by him from his manifesting qualities, brick by brick, and began throwing the bricks down upon the earth one after the other. Each brick was transformed into an idol, the red ones becoming Gods and the grey ones Goddesses; into these the Devatâs and Devatîs--the qualities and the attributes of the Unseen--entered and animated them.
This allegory shows polytheism in its true light and that it rests on the One Unity, as does all the rest. Between the Dii majores and the Dii minores there is in reality no difference. The former are the direct, the latter the broken or refracted, rays of one and the same Luminary. What are Brahmâ, Vishnu and Shiva, but the triple Ray that emanates directly from the Light of the World? The three Gods with their Goddesses are the three dual representations of Purusha the Spirit, and Prakriti--matter; the six are synthesized by Svâyambhuva the self-existent, unmanifested Deity. They are only the symbols personifying the Unseen Presence in every phenomenon of nature.
"The seven [regions]1 [Footnote: 1. In every ancient cosmography the universe and the earth are divided into seven parts or regions.] of Bhûmi, hang by golden threads [beams or rays] from the Spiritual central Sun [or 'God']. Higher than all, a watcher for each [region]. The Suras come down this [beam]. They cross the six and reach the Seventh [our earth]. They are our mother earth's [Bhûmi] supporters [or guardians]. The eighth watches over the [seven] watchers."
Suras are in the Vedas deities, or beings, connected with the Sun; in their occult meaning they are the seven chief watchers or guardians of our planetary system. They are positively identical with the "Seven Spirits of the Stars." The Suras are connected in practical Occultism with the Seven Yogic powers. One of these, Laghima(n) or "the faculty of assuming levity," is illustrated in a Purâna as rising and descending along a sunbeam to the solar orb with its mysteries; e.g., Khatvânga, in Vishnu Purâna (BookIV). "It must be equally easy to the Adept to travel a ray downwards," remarks Fitzedward Hall (p. 311). And why not, if the action is understood in its right and correct sense?
Eight great Gods are often reckoned, as there are eight points of the compass, four cardinal and four intermediate points over which preside also inferior Lokapâlas or the "doubles" of the greater Gods. Yet, in many instances where the number eight is given it is only a kind of exoteric shell. Every globe, however, is divided into seven regions, as 7X7=49 is the mystic number par excellence.
To make it clearer: in each of the seven Root Races, and in every one of the seven regions into which the Occult Doctrine divides our globe, there appears from the dawn of Humanity the "Watcher" assigned to it in the eternity of the Æon. He comes first in his own "form," then each time as an Avatâra.
In a secret work upon the Mysteries and the rites of Initiation, in which very rough but correct prints are given of the sacramental postures, and of the trials to which the postulant was subjected, the following details are found:
(1) The neophyte--representing the Sun, as "Sahasrakirana" he of the thousand rays"--is shown kneeling before the "Hierophant." The latter is in the act of cutting off seven locks of the neophyte's long hair,2 [Footnote: 2. See Judges xvi, again, where Samson, the symbolical personification of the Sun, the Jewish Hercules, speaks of his seven locks which, when cut off, will deprive him of his (physical) strength, i.e., kill the material man, leaving only the spiritual. But the Bible fails to explain, or rather, conceals purposely, the esoteric truth, that the seven locks symbolize the septenary physical or terrestrial man, thus cut off and separated from the spiritual. To this day the High Lamas cut off during public consecrations a lock of the hair of the candidates for the religious life, repeating a formula to the effect that the six others will follow, when the "upâsaka" IS READY. The lock of hair or tonsure of the Roman Catholic priests is a relic of the same mystery-idea. ] and in the following--(2)--illustration, the postulant's bright crown of golden beams is thrown off, and replaced by a wreath of sharp ligneous spines, symbolizing the loss.3 [Footnote: 3. No need of explaining that Sanjnâ--pure spiritual conscience--is the inner perception of the neophyte (or chelâ) and Initiate; the scorching of it by the too ardent beams of the Sun being symbolical of the terrestrial passions. Hence the seven locks are symbolical of the seven cardinal sins, and as to the seven cardinal virtues--to be gained by the Sakridâgâmin (the candidate "for new birth"), they could be attained by him only through severe trial and suffering.] This was enacted in India. In trans-Himâlayan regions it was the same.
In order to become a "Perfect One," the Sakridâgâmin ("he who will receive new birth," lit.) had, among other trials, to descend into Pâtâla, the "nether world," after which process only he could hope to become an "Anâgâmin"--"one who will be reborn no more." The full Initiate had the option of either entering this second Path by appearing at will in the world of men under a human form, or he could choose to first rest in the world of Gods (the Devachan of the Initiates), and then only be reborn on this our earth. Thus, the next stage shows the postulant preparing for this journey.
(3) Every kind of temptation--we have no right to enumerate these or speak of them--was being placed on his way. If he came out victorious over these, then the further Initiation was proceeded with; if he fell--it was delayed, often entirely lost for him.
These rites lasted seven days.
ON CYCLES AND MODERN FALLACIES
The Hermetic axiom has been made good by astronomy and geology. Science has become convinced now that the milliards of the heavenly hosts--suns, stars, planets, the systems in and beyond the Milky Way--have all had a common origin, our earth included. Nevertheless that a regular evolution, incessant and daily, is still going on. That "cosmic life-times have begun at different epochs and proceed at different rates of change. Some began so far back in eternity or have proceeded at so rapid a rate, that their careers are brought to a conclusion in the passing age. Some are even now awaking into existence; and it is probable that worlds are beginning and ending continually. Hence cosmic existence, like the kingdoms of organic life, presents a simultaneous panorama of a completed cycle of being. A taxonomic arrangement of the various grades of animal existence presents a succession of forms which we find repeated in the embryonic history of a single individual, and again in the succession of geological types; so the taxonomy of the heavens is both a cosmic embryology and a cosmic palæontology." (World Life, p. 539.)
So much for cycles again in modern orthodox science. It was the knowledge of all these truths--scientifically demonstrated and made public now, but in those days of antiquity occult and known to Initiates alone--that led to the formation of various cycles into a regular system. The grand Manvantaric system was divided into other great cycles; and these in their turn into smaller cycles, regular wheels of time, in Eternity. Yet no one outside of the sacred precincts ever had the key to the correct reading and interpretation of cyclic notation, and therefore even the ancient classics disagreed on many points. Thus, Orpheus is said to have ascribed to the "Great" Cycle 120,000 years' duration, and Cassandrus 136,000, according to Censorinus (De Natal Die, Chron. and Astron. Fragments). Analogy is the law, and is the surest guide in occult sciences, as it ought to be in the natural philosophy made public. It is perhaps mere vanity that prevents modern science from accepting the enormous periods of time insisted upon by the ancients, as elapsed since the first civilizations. The miserable little fragment torn out from the Book of the Universal History of Mankind, now called so proudly "Our History," forces historians to dwarf every period in order to wedge it in within the narrow limits primarily constructed by theology. Hence the most liberal among them hesitate to accept the figures given by ancient historians. Bunsen, the eminent Egyptologist, rejects the period of 48,863 years before Alexander, to which Diogenes Laertius carries back the records of the priests, but he is evidently more embarrassed with the ten thousand of astronomical observations, and remarks that "if they were actual observations, they must have extended over 10,000 years" (p. 14. "We learn, however," he adds, "from one of their own old chronological works . . . that the genuine Egyptian traditions concerning the mythological period, treated of myriads of years." (Egypte, i. p. 15.)
We must notice and try to explain some of these great and smaller cycles and their symbols. Let us begin with the cycle of Mahâyuga, personified by Shesha--the great serpent called "the couch of Vishnu." because that God is Time and Duration personified in the most philosophical and often poetical way.
It is said that Vishnu appears on it at the beginning of every Manvantara as "the Lord of Creation." Shesha is the great Serpent-Cycle, represented as swallowing its own tail--thence the emblem of Time within Eternity. Time. says Locke (On the Human Understanding)--Time is "duration set forth by measures," and Shesha sets forth evolution by symbolizing its periodical stages. On him Vishnu sleeps during the intervals of rest (pralayas) between "creations"; the blue God--blue because he is space and the depth of infinity--awakens only when Shesha bends his thousand heads, preparing to again bear up the Universe which is supported on them. The Vishnu Purâna describes him thus: "Below the seven Pâtâlas is the form of Vishnu, proceeding from the quality of darkness, which is Shesha, the excellences of which neither Daityas nor Dânavas can fully enumerate. This being is called Ananta [the infinite] by the spirits of Siddha (Yoga Wisdom, sons of Dharma, or true religion), and is worshipped by sages and by gods. He has a thousand heads, which are embellished with the pure and visible mystic sign [Syastika]; and the thousand jewels in his crests (phana) give light to all the regions.... In one hand he holds a plough 4 [Footnote: 4. An emblem referring to the "ploughing" and sowing the renewed earth (in its new Round) with fresh seeds of life. ] and in the other a pestle.... From his mouths, at the end of the Kalpa, proceeds the venomed fire that, impersonated as Rudra [Shiva, the 'destroyer'] . . . devours the three worlds." (ii. 211.)
Thence Shesha is the cycle of the great Manvantara, and also the spirit of vitality as of destruction, since Vishnu, as the preserving or conservative force, and Shiva as the destroying potency, are both aspects of Brahma. Shesha is said to have taught the sage Garga--one of the oldest astronomers in India, whom, nevertheless, Bentley places only 548 B.C.--the secret sciences, the mysteries of the heavenly bodies, of astrology, astronomy and various omens. Shesha is so great and mighty, that it is more than likely he will some day, in far off future ages, render the same service to our modern astronomers. Nothing like "Time" and cyclic changes to cure sceptics of their blindness.
But Occult truths have to contend with a far more blind foe than science can ever be to them, namely, the Christian theologians and bigots. These claim unblushingly the number of years lived by their Patriarchs some four thousand years ago, and pretend to prove that they have interpreted "the symbolic predictions of scripture" and have "traced the historic fulfilment of two of the most important of them"--handling Biblical chronology as reverently as though it had never been a rehash of Chaldæan records and cyclic figures, to hide the true meaning under exoteric fables! They speak of "that history that unrolls before our eyes a record extending over six thousand years" from the moment of creation; and maintain that there are "very few of the prophetic periods whose fulfilment cannot be traced in some parts of the scrolls." (The Approaching End of the Age.)
Moreover they have two methods and two chronologies to show those events verified--the Roman Catholic and the Protestant. The first relies on the calculations of Kepler and Dr. Sepp; the latter on Clinton, who gives the year of the Nativity as A.M. 4138; the former holds to the old calculation of 4320 by lunar, and 4004 by solar years.
H. P. Blavatsky
A FRENCH VIEW OF WOMEN'S RIGHTS
From A Modern Panarion
Articles by HPB
|[Probably from the Allahabad Pioneer.]
WITH a little book entitled Les Femmes qui Tuent et les Femmes qui Votent [Translation: The Women who Kill and the Women who Vote. -BNet Eds. ], Alexandre Dumas, fils, has just entered the arena of social and political reform. The novelist, who began by picking up his Beatrices and Lauras in the social gutter, the author of La Dame aux Camélias and La Dame aux Perles, is regarded in France as the finest known analyst of the female heart. He now comes out in a new light; as a defender of Woman's Rights in general, and of those women especially whom English people generally talk about as little as possible. If this gifted son of a still more gifted father never sank before to the miry depths of that modern French realistic school now in such vogue, the school headed by the author of L'Assommoir and Nana, and so fitly nicknamed L'Ecole Ordurialiste, it is because he is a born poet, and follows the paths traced out for him by the Marquis de Sade, rather than those of Zola. He is too refined to be the rival of writers like those who call themselves auteurs-naturalistes and romanciers-expérimentalistes, who use their pen as the student in surgery his scalpel, plunging it into the depths of all the social cancers they can find.
Until now he idealized and beautified vice. In the work under review, he defends not only its right to exist under certain conditions, but claims for it a recognized place in the broad sunlight of social and political life.
His brochure of 216 pages, which has lately been published in the shape of a letter to J. Clarétie, is now having an immense success. By the end of September, hardly a week after its appearance, it had already reached its sixth edition. It treats of two great social difficulties—the question of divorce, and the right of women to participate in elections. Dumas begins by assuming the defence of the several women who have recently played an important part in murder cases, in which their victims were their husbands and lovers.
All these women, he says, are the embodiment of the idea which for some time past has been fermenting in the world. It is that of the entire disenthralment of the woman from her old condition of slavery, created for her by the Bible, and enforced by tyrannical society. All these murders and this public vice, as we as the increasing mental labour of women, M. Dumas takes to be so many signs of one and the same aspiration—that of mastering man, getting the best of him, and competing with him in everything. What men will not give them willingly, women of a certain class endeavour to obtain by cunning. As a result of such a policy, he says, we see "those young ladies" acquiring an enormous influence over men in all social affairs and even in politics. Having amassed large fortunes, when older they appear as lady-patronesses of girls' schools and of charitable institutions, and take a part in provincial administration. Their past is lost sight of; they succeed in establishing, so to say, an imperium in imperio, where they enforce their own laws, and manage to have them respected. This state of things is attributed by Dumas directly to the restriction of Woman's Rights, to the state of legal slavery women have been subjected to for centuries, and especially to the marriage and anti-divorce laws. Answering the favourite objection of those who oppose divorce on the ground that its establishment would promote too much freedom in love, the author of Le Demi-Monde bravely pushes forward his last batteries and throws off the mask.
Why not promote such freedom? What appears a danger to some, a dishonour and shame to others,
Will become an independent and recognized profession in life—une carrière à part—a fact, a world of its own, with which all the other corporations and classes of society will have to reckon. It will not be long before everyone will have ceased to protest against its right to an independent and legal existence. Very shortly it will form itself into an integral, compact body; and the time will come when, between this world and the others, relations will be established as friendly as between two equally powerful and recognized empires.
With every year women free themselves more and more from empty formalism, and M. Dumas hopes there will never again be a reäction. If a woman is unable to give up the idea of love altogether, let her prefer unions binding neither party to anything, and let her be guided in this only by her own free will and honesty. Of course it is rather to review an important current of feeling in an important community than to discuss au fond the delicate questions with which M. Dumas deals, that we are taking notice of his book. We may thus leave the reader to his own reflections on this proposed reform, as also in reference to most of the points raised.
A certain Hubertine Auclaire, in France, has lately refused to pay her taxes on the plea that political rights belonging to man are denied to her as a woman; and Dumas, with this incident as a text, devotes the last part of this brochure to a defence of Woman's Rights, as eloquent, impressive and original as other portions which will less bear discussion . He writes:
In 1847 political reformers thought it necessary to lower the electoral franchise and distribute the right of vote according to capacity.
That is, to limit it to intelligent men. The government refused, and this led to the Revolution of 1848. Scared, it gave the people the right of universal suffrage, extending the right to all, whether capable or incapable, provided the voters were only men. At present this right holds good, and nothing can abolish it. But women come, in their turn, and ask: "How about us? We claim the same privileges."
What [asks Dumas] can be more natural, reasonable and just? There is no reason why woman should not have equal rights with man. What difference do you find between the two which warrants your refusing her such a privilege? None at all. Sex? Her sex has no more to do with it than the sex of man. As to all other dissimilarities between us, they go far more to her credit than to ours. If one argues that woman is by nature a weaker creature than man, and that it is his duty to take care of and defend her, we will answer that hitherto we have, it seems, so badly defended her that she had to pick up a revolver and take that defence into her own hands; and to remain consequent with ourselves we have to enter the verdict of "Not guilty" whenever she is caught in that act of self-defence.
To the plea that woman is intellectually weaker than man, and is shown to be so by sacred writings, the author sets off against the biblical Adam and Eve, Jacolliot's translation of the Hindû legend in his Bible dans l'Inde, and contends that it was man, not woman, who became the first sinner and was turned out of Paradise. If man is endowed with stronger muscles, woman's nerves surpass his in capacity for endurance. The biggest brain ever found—in weight and size—is now proved to have belonged to a woman. It weighed 2,200 grammes—400 more than that of Cuvier. But brain has nothing to do with the electoral question. To drop a ballot into the urn no one is required to have invented powder, or to be able to lift 500 kilogrammes.
Dumas has an answer for every objection. Are illustrious women exceptions? He cites a brilliant array of great female names, and contends that the sex in which such exceptions are to be met has acquired a legal right to take part in the nomination of the village maires and municipal officers. The sex which claims a Blanche de Castille, an Elizabeth of England, another of Hungary, a Catherine II and a Maria Theresa, has won every right.
If so many women were found good enough to reign and govern nations, they surely must have been fit to vote. To the remark that women can neither go to war nor defend their country, the reader is reminded of such names as Joan of Arc, and the three other Joans, of Flanders, of Blois, and Joan Hachette. It was in memory of the brilliant defence and salvation of her native town, Beauvais, by the latter Joan, at the head of all the women of that city, besieged by Charles le Téméraire, that Louis XI decreed that henceforth and for ever the place of honour in all the national and public processions should belong to women. Had woman no other rights in France, the fact alone that she was called upon to sacrifice 1,800,000 of her sons to Napoleon the Great, ought to ensure to her every right. The example of Hubertine Auclaire will be soon followed by every woman in France. Law was ever unjust to woman; and instead of protecting her, it seeks but to strengthen her chains. In case of crimes committed, does law ever think of bringing forward as an extenuating circumstance, her weakness? On the contrary, it always takes advantage of it. The illegitimate child is given by it the right to find out who its mother was, but not its father. The husband can go anywhere, do whatever he pleases, abandon his family, change his citizenship, and even emigrate, without the consent or even knowledge of his wife.
She can do nothing of the kind. In case of a suspicion of her faith, he can deprive her of her marriage portion; and in case of guilt may even kill her. It is his right. Debarred from the benefits of a divorce, she has to suffer all, and finds no redress. She is fined, judged, sentenced, imprisoned, put to death, and suffers all the penalties of law just as much and under the same circumstances as he does, but no magistrate has ever thought of saying yet:
"Poor weak little creature! . . . Let us forgive her, for she is irresponsible, and so much lower than man!"
The whole eloquent, if sometimes rhapsodical plea in favour of women's suffrage is concluded with the following suggestions:
First, the situation will appear absurd; but gradually people will become accustomed to the idea, and soon every protest will die out. No doubt at first the idea of woman in this new rôle will have to become the subject of bitter criticism and satire. Ladies will be accused of ordering their hats à l'urne, their bodices au suffrage universel, and their skirts au scrutin secret. But what then? After having served for a time as an object of amazement, then become a fashion and habit, the new system will be finally looked upon as a duty. At all events it has now become a claimed right. A few grandes dames in cities, some wealthy female landowners in provincial districts, and leaseholders in villages, will set the example, and it will be soon followed by the rest of the female population.
The book winds up with this question and answer:
I may, perhaps, be asked by some pious and disciplined lady, some fervent believer in the idea that humanity can only be rescued from perdition by codes and gospels, by the Roman law and Roman Church: "Pray, tell me, sir, where are we driving to with all these ideas?" "Hé, madame! . . . we go where we were going to from the first, to that which must be, that is, the inevitable. We move slowly onward, because we can spare time, having some millions of years yet before us, and because we have to leave some work to do for those who are following us. For the present we are occupied in enfranchising women; when this is done we will try to enfranchise God. And as soon as full harmony will have been established between these three eternal principles—God, man and woman—our way will appear to us less dark before us, and we will journey on the quicker."
Certainly the advocates of Woman's Rights in England have never yet approached their subject from this point of view. Is the new method of attack likely to prove more effective than the familiar declamation of the British platform, or the earnest prosing of our own great woman's champion, John Stuart Mill? This remains to be seen; but certainly for the most part the English ladies who fight this battle will be puzzled how to accept an ally whose sympathy is due to principles so frightfully indecorous as those of our present author.
H. P. BLAVATSKY.
THE GRAND INQUISITOR
From A Modern Panarion
Articles by HPB
[Vol. III. Nos. 2 and 3, November and December, 1881.]
[Dedicated by the Translator to those sceptics who clamour so loudly, both in print and private letters—"Show us the wonder-working 'Brothers,' let them come out publicly and—we will believe in them!"]
[THE following is an extract from M. Dostoevsky's celebrated novel, The Brothers Karamazof, the last publication from the pen of the great Russian novelist, who died a few months ago, just as the concluding chapters appeared in print. Dostoevsky is beginning to be recognized as one of the ablest and profoundest among Russian writers. His characters are invariably typical portraits drawn from various classes of Russian society, strikingly life-like and realistic to the highest degree. The following extract is a cutting satire on modern theology generally and the Roman Catholic religion in particular. The idea is that Christ revisits earth, coming to Spain at the period of the Inquisition, and is at once arrested as a heretic by the Grand Inquisitor. One of the three brothers of the story, Ivan, a rank materialist and an atheist of the new school, is supposed to throw this conception into the form of a poem, which he describes to Alyosha—the youngest of the brothers a young Christian mystic brought Up by a "saint" in a monastery—as follows:]
"Quite impossible, as you see, to start without an introduction," laughed Ivan. "Well, then, I mean to place the event described in the poem in the sixteenth century, an age—as you must have been told at school—when it was the great fashion among poets to make the denizens and powers of higher worlds descend on earth and mix freely with mortals. . . . In France all the notaries' clerks, and the monks in their cloisters as well, used to give grand performances, dramatic plays in which long scenes were enacted by the Madonna, the angels, the saints, Christ, and even by God Himself. In those days, everything was very artless and primitive. An instance of it may be found in Victor Hugo's drama, Notre Dame de Paris, where, at the Municipal Hall, a play called Le Bon Jugement de la Très-sainte et Gracieuse Vierge Marie, is enacted in honour of Louis XI, in which the Virgin appears personally to pronounce her 'good judgment.' In Moscow, during the prepetrean period, performances of nearly the same character, chosen especially from the Old Testament, were also in great favour. Apart from such plays, the world was overflooded with mystical writings, 'verses'—the heroes of which were always selected from the ranks of angels, saints and other heavenly citizens answering to the devotional purposes of the age. The recluses of our monasteries, like the Roman Catholic monks, passed their time in translating, copying, and even producing original compositions upon such subjects, and that, remember, during the Tartar period! . . . In this connection, I am reminded of a poem compiled in a convent—a translation from the Greek, of course—called 'The Travels of the Mother of God among the Damned,' with fitting illustrations and a boldness of conception inferior nowise to that of Dante. The 'Mother of God' visits hell, in company with the Archangel Michael as her cicerone to guide her through the legions of the 'damned.' She sees them all, and is witness to their multifarious tortures. Among the many other exceedingly remarkable varieties of torments—every category of sinners having its own—there is one especially worthy of notice, namely, a class of the 'damned' sentenced to gradually sink in a burning lake of brimstone and fire. Those whose sins cause them to sink so low that they no longer can rise to the surface are for ever forgotten by God, i.e., they fade out from the omniscient memory, says the poem—an expression, by the way, of an extraordinary profundity of thought, when closely analyzed. The Virgin is terribly shocked, and falling down upon her knees in tears before the throne of God, begs that all she has seen in hell—all, all without exception, should have their sentences remitted to them. Her dialogue with God is colossally interesting. She supplicates, she will not leave Him. And when God, pointing to the pierced hands and feet of her Son, cries, 'How can I forgive His executioners?' she then commands that all the saints, martyrs, angels and archangels, should prostrate themselves with her before the Immutable and the Changeless One and implore Him to change His wrath into mercy and—forgive them all. The poem closes upon her obtaining from God a compromise, a kind of yearly respite of tortures between Good Friday and Trinity, a chorus of the 'damned' singing loud praises to God from their 'bottomless pit,' thanking and telling Him:
Thou art right, O Lord, very right,
"My poem is of the same character.
"In it, it is Christ who appears on the scene. True, He says nothing, but only appears and passes out of sight. Fifteen centuries have elapsed since He left the world with the distinct promise to return 'with power and great glory'; fifteen long centuries since His prophet cried, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord!' since He Himself had foretold, while yet on earth, 'Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven but my Father only.' But Christendom expects Him still. . . .
"It waits for Him with the same old faith and the same emotion; aye, with a far greater faith, for fifteen centuries have rolled away since the last sign from heaven was sent to man,
And blind faith remained alone
"True, again, we have all heard of miracles being wrought ever since the 'age of miracles' passed away to return no more. We had, and still have, our saints credited with performing the most miraculous cures; and, if we can believe their biographers, there have been those among them who have been personally visited by the Queen of Heaven. But Satan sleepeth not, and the first germs of doubt, an ever-increasing unbelief in such wonders, already had begun to sprout in Christendom as early as the sixteenth century. It was just at that time that a new and terrible heresy first made its appearance in the north of Germany.* [Footnote: *. Luther's reform. ] A great star 'shining as it were a lamp . . . fell upon the fountains of waters' . . . and 'they were made bitter.' This 'heresy' blasphemously denied 'miracles.' But those who had remained faithful believed all the more ardently. The tears of mankind ascended to Him as heretofore, and the Christian world was expecting Him as confidently as ever; they loved Him and hoped in Him, thirsted and hungered to suffer and die for Him just as many of them had done before. . . . So many centuries had weak, trusting humanity implored Him, crying with ardent faith and fervour: 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not come!' So many long centuries hath it vainly appealed to Him, that at last, in His inexhaustible compassion, He consenteth to answer the prayer. . . . He decideth that once more, if it were but for one short hour, the people—His long-suffering, tortured, fatally sinful, yet loving and child-like, trusting people—shall behold Him again. The scene of action is placed by me in Spain, at Seville, during that terrible period of the Inquisition, when, for the greater glory of God, stakes were flaming all over the country,
Burning wicked heretics,
"This particular visit has, of course, nothing to do with the promised Advent, when, according to the programme, 'after the tribulation of those days,' He will appear 'coming in the clouds of heaven.' For, that 'coming of the Son of Man,' as we are informed, will take place as suddenly 'as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west.' No; this once, He desired to come unknown, and appear among His children, just when the bones of the heretics, sentenced to be burnt alive, had commenced crackling at the flaming stakes. Owing to His limitless mercy, He mixes once more with mortals and in the same form in which He was wont to appear fifteen centuries ago. He descends, just at the very moment when before king, courtiers, knights, cardinals, and the fairest dames of court, before the whole population of Seville, upwards of a hundred wicked heretics are being roasted, in a magnificent auto-da-fé ad majorem Dei gloriam, by the order of the powerful Cardinal Grand Inquisitor. . . . He comes silently and unannounced; yet all—how strange—yea, all recognize Him, at once! The population rushes towards Him as if propelled by some irresistible force; it surrounds, throngs, and presses around, it follows Him. . . . Silently, and with a smile of boundless compassion upon His lips, He crosses the dense crowd, and moves softly on. The Sun of Love burns in His heart, and warm rays of Light, Wisdom and Power beam forth from His eyes, and pour down their waves upon the swarming multitudes of the rabble assembled around, making their hearts vibrate with returning love. He extends His hands over their heads, blesses them, and from mere contact with Him, aye, even with His garments, a healing power goes forth. An old man, blind from his birth, cries, 'Lord, heal me, that I may see Thee!' and the scales falling off the closed eyes, the blind man beholds Him. . . . The crowd weeps for joy, and kisses the ground upon which He treads. Children strew flowers along His path and sing to Him, 'Hosanna!' It is He, it is Himself, they say to each other, it must be He, it can be none other but He! He pauses at the portal of the old cathedral, just as a wee white coffin is carried in, with tears and great lamentations. The lid is off, and in the coffin lies the body of a fair girl-child, seven years old, the only child of an eminent citizen of the city. The little corpse lies buried in flowers. 'He will raise thy child to life!' confidently shouts the crowd to the weeping mother. The officiating priest who had come to meet the funeral procession, looks perplexed, and frowns. A loud cry is suddenly heard, and the bereaved mother prostrates herself at His feet. 'If it be Thou, then bring back my child to life!' she cries beseechingly. The procession halts, and the little coffin is gently lowered at His feet. Divine compassion beams forth from His eyes, and as He looks at the child, His lips are heard to whisper once more, 'Talitha Cumi'—and 'straightway the damsel arose.' The child rises in her coffin. Her little hands still hold the nosegay of white roses which after death was placed in them, and, looking round with large astonished eyes she smiles sweetly. . . . The crowd is violently excited. A terrible commotion rages among them, the populace shouts and loudly weeps, when suddenly, before the cathedral door, appears the Cardinal Grand Inquisitor himself. . . . He is a tall, gaunt-looking old man of nearly fourscore years and ten, with a stern, withered face, and deeply sunken eyes, from the cavity of which glitter two fiery sparks. He has laid aside his gorgeous cardinal's robes in which he had appeared before the people at the auto-da-fé of the enemies of the Romish Church, and is now clad in his old, rough, monkish cassock. His sullen assistants and slaves of the 'holy guard' are following at a distance. He pauses before the crowd and observes. He has seen all. He has witnessed the placing of the little coffin at His feet, the calling back to life. And now, his dark, grim face has grown still darker; his bushy grey eyebrows nearly meet, and his sunken eye flashes with sinister light. Slowly raising his finger, he commands his minions to arrest Him. . . .
"Such is his power over the well-disciplined, submissive and now trembling people, that the thick crowds immediately give way, and scattering before the guard, amid dead silence and without one breath of protest, allow them to lay their sacrilegious hands upon the stranger and lead Him away. . . . That same populace, like one man, now bows its head to the ground before the old Inquisitor, who blesses it and slowly moves onward. The guards conduct their prisoner to the ancient building of the Holy Tribunal; pushing Him into a narrow, gloomy, vaulted prison-cell, they lock Him in and retire.
"The day wanes, and night—a dark, hot, breathless Spanish night—creeps on and settles upon the city of Seville. The air smells of laurels and orange blossoms. In the Cimmerian darkness of the old Tribunal Hall the iron door of the cell is suddenly thrown open, and the Grand Inquisitor, holding a dark lantern, slowly stalks into the dungeon. He is alone, and, as the heavy door closes behind him, he pauses at the threshold, and, for a minute or two, silently and gloomily scrutinizes the Face before him. At last, approaching with measured steps, he sets his lantern down upon the table and addresses Him in these words:
" 'It is Thou! . . . Thou!' . . . Receiving no reply, he rapidly continues: 'Nay, answer not; be silent! . . . And what couldst Thou say? . . . I know but too well Thy answer. . . . Besides, Thou hast no right to add one syllable to that which was already uttered by Thee before. . . . Why shouldst Thou now return, to impede us in our work? For Thou hast come but for that only, and Thou knowest it well. But art Thou as well aware of what awaits Thee in the morning? I do not know, nor do I care to know who Thou mayest be: be it Thou or only Thine image, to-morrow I will condemn and burn Thee on the stake, as the most wicked of all the heretics; and that same people, who to-day were kissing Thy feet, tomorrow at one bend of my finger, will rush to add fuel to Thy funeral pile. . . Wert Thou aware of this?' he adds, speaking as if in solemn thought, and never for one instant taking his piercing glance off the meek Face before him."
"I can hardly realize the situation described—what is all this, Ivan?" suddenly interrupted Alyosha, who had remained silently listening to his brother. "Is this an extravagant fancy, or some mistake of the old man, an impossible quid pro quo?"
"Let it be the latter, if you like," laughed Ivan, "since modern realism has so perverted your taste that you feel unable to realize anything from the world of fancy. . . . Let it be a quid pro quo. if you so choose it. Again, the Inquisitor is ninety years old, and he might have easily gone mad with his one idée fixe of power; or, it might have as well been a delirious vision, called forth by dying fancy, overheated by the auto-da-fé of the hundred heretics in that forenoon. . . . But what matters for the poem, whether it was a quid pro quo or an uncontrollable fancy? The question is, that the old man has to open his heart; that he must give out his thought at last; and that the hour has come when he does speak it out, and says loudly that which for ninety years he has kept secret within his own breast."
"And his prisoner, does He never reply? Does He keep silent, looking at him, without saying a word?"
"Of course; and it could not well be otherwise," again retorted Ivan. "The Grand Inquisitor begins from his very first words by telling Him that He has no right to add one syllable to that which He had said before. To make the situation clear at once, the above preliminary monologue is intended to convey to the reader the very fundamental idea which underlies Roman Catholicism—as well as I can convey it, his words mean, in short: 'Everything was given over by Thee to the Pope, and everything now rests with him alone; Thou hast no business to return and thus hinder us in our work.' In this sense the Jesuits not only talk but write likewise.
"Hast thou the right to divulge to us a single one of the mysteries of that world whence Thou comest?' enquires of Him my old Inquisitor, and forthwith answers for Him, 'Nay, Thou hast no such right. For, that would be adding to that which was already said by Thee before; hence depriving people of that freedom for which Thou hast so stoutly stood up while yet on earth. . . Anything new that Thou wouldst now proclaim would have to be regarded as an attempt to interfere with that freedom of choice, as it would come as a new and a miraculous revelation superseding the old revelation of fifteen hundred years ago, when Thou didst so repeatedly tell the people: "The truth shall make you free." Behold then, Thy "free" people now!' adds the old man with sombre irony. 'Yea! . . . it has cost us dearly,' he continues, sternly looking at his victim. 'But we have at last accomplished our task, and—in Thy name. . . . For fifteen long centuries we had to toil and suffer owing to that "freedom"; but now we have prevailed and our work is done, and well and strongly it is done. . . . Believest not Thou it is so very strong? . . . And why shouldst Thou look at me so meekly as if I were not worthy even of Thy indignation?. . . Know then, that now, and only now, Thy people feel fully sure and satisfied of their freedom; and that only since they have themselves and of their own free will delivered that freedom unto our hands by placing it submissively at our feet. But then, that is what we have done. Is it that which Thou hast striven for? Is this the kind of "freedom" Thou hast promised them?'". . .
"Now again, I do not understand," interrupted Alyosha. "Does the old man mock and laugh?"
"Not in the least. He seriously regards it as a great service done by himself, his brother monks and Jesuits, to humanity, to have conquered and subjected unto their authority that freedom, and boasts that it was done but for the good of the world. 'For only now,' he says (speaking of the Inquisition) 'has it become possible to us, for the first time, to give a serious thought to human happiness. Man is born a rebel, and can rebels be ever happy? . . . Thou hast been fairly warned of it, but evidently to no use, since Thou hast rejected the only means which could make mankind happy; fortunately at Thy departure Thou hast delivered the task to us. . . . Thou hast promised, ratifying the pledge by Thy own words, in words giving us the right to bind and unbind . . . and surely, Thou couldst not think of depriving us of it now!"'
"But what can he mean by the words, ' Thou hast been fairly warned'?" asked Alexis.
"These words give the key to what the old man has to say for his justification. . . But listen—"'The terrible and wise spirit, the spirit of self-annihilation and non-being,' goes on the Inquisitor, 'the great spirit of negation conversed with Thee in the wilderness, and we are told that he "tempted" Thee. . . Was it so? And if it were so, then it is impossible to utter anything more truthful that what is contained in his three offers, which Thou didst reject, and which are usually called "temptations." Yea; if ever there was on earth a genuine, striking wonder produced, it was on that day of Thy three temptations, and it is precisely in these three short sentences that the marvellous miracle is contained. If it were possible that they should vanish and disappear for ever, without leaving any trace, from the record and from the memory of man, and that it should become necessary again to devise, invent, and make them re appear in Thy history once more, thinkest Thou that all the world's sages, all the legislators, initiates, philosophers and thinkers, if called upon to frame three questions which should, like these, besides answering the magnitude of the event, express in three short sentences the whole future history of this our world and of mankind—dost Thou believe, I ask Thee, that all their combined efforts could ever create anything equal in power and depth of thought to the three propositions offered Thee by the powerful and all-wise spirit in the wilderness? Judging of them by their marvellous aptness alone, one can at once perceive that they emanated not from a finite, terrestrial intellect, but indeed, from the Eternal and the Absolute. In these three offers we find, blended into one and foretold to us, the complete subsequent history of man; we are shown three images, so to say, uniting in them all the future axiomatic, insoluble problems and contradictions of human nature, the world over. In those days, the wondrous wisdom contained in them was not made so apparent as it is now, for futurity remained still veiled; but now, when fifteen centuries have elapsed, we see that everything in these three questions is so marvellously foreseen and foretold, that to add to, or to take away from, the prophecy one jot, would be absolutely impossible!
"Decide then Thyself,' sternly proceeded the Inquisitor, 'which of ye twain was right: Thou who didst reject, or he who offered ? Remember the subtle meaning of question the first, which runs thus: Wouldst Thou go into the world empty-handed? Wouldst Thou venture thither with Thy vague and undefined promise of freedom, which men, dull and unruly as they are by nature, are unable so much as to understand, which they avoid and fear?—for never was there anything more unbearable to the human race than personal freedom! Dost Thou see these stones in the desolate and glaring wilderness? Command that these stones be made bread—and mankind will run after Thee, obedient and grateful like a herd of cattle. But even then it will be ever diffident and trembling, lest Thou shouldst take away Thy hand, and they lose thereby their bread! Thou didst refuse to accept the offer for fear of depriving men of their free choice; for where is there freedom of choice where men are bribed with bread? Man shall not live by bread alone—was Thine answer. Thou knewest not, it seems, that it was precisely in the name of that earthly bread that the terrestrial spirit would one day rise against, struggle with, and finally conquer Thee, followed by the hungry multitudes shouting: "Who is like unto that Beast, who maketh fire come down from heaven upon the earth!" Knowest Thou not that, but a few centuries hence, and the whole of mankind will have proclaimed in its wisdom and through its mouthpiece, Science, that there is no more crime, hence no more sin on earth, but only hungry people? "Feed us first and then command us to be virtuous!" will be the words written upon the banner lifted against Thee—a banner which shall destroy Thy Church to its very foundations, and in the place of Thy Temple shall raise once more the terrible Tower of Babel; and though its building be left unfinished, as was that of the first one, yet the fact will remain recorded that Thou couldst, but wouldst not, prevent the attempt to build that new tower by accepting the offer, and thus saving mankind a millennium of useless suffering on earth. And it is to us that the people will return again. They will search for us everywhere; and they will find us under ground in the catacombs, as we shall once more be persecuted and martyred—and they will begin crying unto us: "Feed us, for they who promised us the fire from heaven have deceived us! " It is then that we will finish building their tower for them. For they alone who feed them shall finish it, and we shall feed them in Thy name, and lying to them that it is in that name. Oh, never, never, will they learn to feed themselves without our help! No science will ever give them bread so long as they remain free, so long as they refuse to lay that freedom at our feet, and say. "Enslave, but feed us!" That day must come when men will understand that freedom and daily bread enough to satisfy all are unthinkable and can never be had together, as men will never be able to fairly divide the two among themselves. And they will also learn that they can never be free, for they are weak, vicious, miserable nonentities born wicked and rebellious. Thou hast promised to them the bread of life, the bread of heaven; but I ask Thee again, can that bread ever equal in the sight of the weak and the vicious, the ever-ungrateful human race, their daily bread on earth? And even supposing that thousands and tens of thousands follow Thee in the name of, and for the sake of, Thy heavenly bread, what will become of the millions and hundreds of millions of human beings too weak to scorn the earthly for the sake of Thy heavenly bread? Or is it but those tens of thousands chosen among the great and the mighty, that are so dear to Thee, while the remaining millions, innumerable as the grains of sand in the seas, the weak and the loving, have to be used as material for the former? No, no! In our sight and for our purpose the weak and the lowly are the more dear to us. True, they are vicious and rebellious, but we will force them into obedience, and it is they who will admire us the most. They will regard us as gods, and feel grateful to those who have consented to lead the masses and bear their burden of freedom by ruling over them—so terrible will that freedom at last appear to men! Then we will tell them that it is in obedience to Thy will and in Thy name that we rule over them. We will deceive them once more and lie to them once again—for never, never more will we allow Thee to come among us. In this deception we will find our suffering, for we must needs lie eternally, and never cease to lie!
"'Such is the secret meaning of "temptation" the first, and that is what Thou didst reject in the wilderness for the sake of that freedom which Thou didst prize above all. Meanwhile Thy tempter's offer contained another great world-mystery. By accepting the "bread," Thou wouldst have satisfied and answered a universal craving, a ceaseless longing alive in the heart of every individual human being, lurking in the breast of collective mankind, that most perplexing problem—"whom or what shall we worship?" There exists no greater or more painful anxiety for a man who has freed himself from all religious bias, than how he shall soonest find a new object or idea to worship. But man seeks to bow before that only which is recognized by the greater majority, if not by all his fellow-men, as having a right to be worshipped; whose rights are so unquestionable that men agree unanimously to bow down to it. For the chief concern of these miserable creatures is not to find and worship the idol of their own choice, but to discover that which all others will believe in, and consent to bow down to in a mass. It is that instinctive need of having a worship in common that is the chief suffering of every man, the chief concern of mankind from the beginning of times. It is for that universality of religious worship that people destroyed each other by sword. Creating gods unto themselves, they forthwith began appealing to each other: "Abandon your deities, come and bow down to ours, or death to ye and your idols!" And so will they do till the end of this world; they will do so even then, when all the gods themselves have disappeared, for then men will prostrate themselves before and worship some idea. Thou didst know, Thou couldst not be ignorant of, that mysterious fundamental principle in human nature, and still Thou hast rejected the only absolute banner offered Thee, to which all the nations would remain true, and before which all would have bowed—the banner of earthly bread, rejected in the name of freedom and of "bread in the kingdom of God"! Behold, then, what Thou hast done furthermore for that "freedom's" sake! I repeat to Thee, man has no greater anxiety in life than to find some one to whom he can make over that gift of freedom with which the unfortunate creature is born. But he alone will prove capable of silencing and quieting their consciences, that shall succeed in possessing himself of the freedom of men. With "daily bread" an irresistible power was offered Thee: show a man "bread" and he will follow Thee, for what can he resist less than the attraction of bread? but if, at the same time, another succeed in possessing himself of his conscience—oh! then even Thy bread will be forgotten, and man will follow him who seduced his conscience. So far Thou wert right. For the mystery of human being does not solely rest in the desire to live, but in the problem—for what should one live at all? Without a clear perception of his reasons for living, man will never consent to live, and will rather destroy himself than tarry on earth, though he be surrounded with bread. This is the truth. But what has happened? Instead of getting hold of man's freedom, Thou hast enlarged it still more! Hast Thou again forgotten that to man rest and even death are preferable to a free choice between the knowledge of Good and Evil? Nothing seems more seductive in his eyes than freedom of conscience, and nothing proves more painful. And behold! instead of laying a firm foundation whereon to rest once for all man's conscience, Thou hast chosen to stir up in him all that is abnormal, mysterious, and indefinite, all that is beyond human strength, and hast acted as if Thou never hadst any love for him, and yet Thou wert He who came to "lay down His life for His friends"! Thou hast burdened man's soul with anxieties hitherto unknown to him. Thirsting for human love freely given, seeking to enable man, seduced and charmed by Thee, to follow Thy path of his own free-will, instead of the old and wise law which held him in subjection, Thou hast given him the right henceforth to choose and freely decide what is good and bad for him, guided but by Thine image in his heart. But hast Thou never dreamt of the probability, nay, of the certainty, of that same man one day rejecting finally, and controverting even Thine image and Thy truth, once he would find himself laden with such a terrible burden as freedom of choice? That a time would surely come when men would exclaim that Truth and Light cannot be in Thee, for no one could have left them in a greater perplexity and mental suffering than Thou hast done, lading them with so many cares and insoluble problems. Thus, it is Thyself who hast laid the foundation for the destruction of Thine own kingdom and no one but Thou is to be blamed for it.
"'Meantime, every chance of success was offered Thee. There are three Powers, three unique Forces upon earth, capable of conquering for ever by charming the conscience of these weak rebels—men—for their own good; and these Forces are: Miracle, Mystery and Authority. Thou hast rejected all the three, and thus wert the first to set them an example. When the terrible and all-wise spirit placed Thee on a pinnacle of the temple and said unto Thee, "If Thou be the son of God, cast Thyself down, for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone!"—for thus Thy faith in Thy father should have been made evident, Thou didst refuse to accept his suggestion and didst not follow it. Oh, undoubtedly, Thou didst act in this with all the magnificent pride of a god, but then men—that weak and rebel race—are they also gods, to understand Thy refusal? Of course, Thou didst well know that by taking one single step forward, by making the slightest motion to throw Thyself down, Thou wouldst have tempted "the Lord Thy God," lost suddenly all faith in Him, and dashed Thyself to atoms against that same earth which Thou camest to save, and thus wouldst have allowed the wise spirit which tempted Thee to triumph and rejoice. But, then, how many such as Thee are to be found on this globe, I ask Thee? Couldst Thou ever for a moment imagine that men would have the same strength to resist such a temptation? Is human nature calculated to reject miracle, and trust, during the most terrible moments in life, when the most momentous, painful and perplexing problems struggle within man's soul, to the free decisions of his heart for the true solution? Oh, Thou knewest well that that action of Thine would remain recorded in books for ages to come, reaching to the confines of the globe, and Thy hope was, that following Thy example, man would remain true to his God, without needing any miracle to keep his faith alive! But Thou knewest not, it seems, that no sooner would man reject miracle than he would reject God likewise, for he seeketh less God than "a sign" from Him. And thus, as it is beyond the power of man to remain without miracles, so, rather than live without, he will create for himself new wonders of his own making; and he will bow to and worship the soothsayer's miracles, the old witch's sorcery, were he a rebel, a heretic, and an atheist a hundred times over. Thy refusal to come down from the cross when people, mocking and wagging their heads were saying to Thee—"Save Thyself if Thou be the son of God, and we will believe in Thee," was due to the same determination—not to enslave man through miracle, but to obtain faith in Thee freely and apart from any miraculous influence. Thou thirstest for free and uninfluenced love, and refusest the passionate adoration of the slave before a Potency which would have subjected his will once for ever. Thou judgest of men too highly here, again, for, though rebels they be, they are born slaves and nothing. more. Behold, and judge of them once more, now that fifteen centuries have elapsed since that moment. Look at them, whom Thou didst try to elevate unto Thee! I swear man is weaker and lower than Thou hast ever imagined him to be! Can he ever do that which Thou art said to have accomplished? By valuing him so highly Thou hast acted as if there were no love for him in Thine heart, for Thou hast demanded of him more than he could ever give—Thou, who lovest him more than Thyself! Hadst Thou esteemed him less, less wouldst Thou have demanded of him, and that would have been more like love, for his burden would have been made thereby lighter. Man is weak and cowardly. What matters it, if he now riots and rebels throughout the world against our will and power, and prides himself upon that rebellion ? It is but the petty pride and vanity of a school-boy. It is the rioting of little children, getting up a mutiny in the class-room and driving their schoolmaster out of it. But it will not last long, and when the day of their triumph is over, they will have to pay dearly for it. They will destroy the temples and raze them to the ground, flooding the earth with blood. But the foolish children will have to learn some day that, rebels though they be and riotous from nature, they are too weak to maintain the spirit of mutiny for any length of time. Suffused with idiotic tears, they will confess that He who created them rebellious undoubtedly did so but to mock them. They will pronounce these words in despair, and such blasphemous utterances will but add to their misery—for human nature cannot endure blasphemy, and takes her own revenge in the end.
"'And thus, after all Thou hast suffered for mankind and its freedom, the present fate of men may be summed up in three words: Unrest, Confusion, Misery! Thy great prophet John records in his vision, that he saw, during the first resurrection of the chosen servants of "God—"the number of them which were sealed" in their foreheads, "twelve thousand" of every tribe. But were they, indeed, as many? Then they must have been gods, not men. They had shared Thy Cross for long years, suffered scores of years' hunger and thirst in dreary wildernesses and deserts, feeding upon locusts and roots—and of these children of free love for Thee, and self-sacrifice in Thy name, Thou mayest well feel proud. But remember that these are but a few thousands—of gods, not men; and how about all others? And why should the weakest be held guilty for not being able to endure what the strongest have endured? Why should a soul incapable of containing such terrible gifts be punished for its weakness? Didst Thou really come to, and for, the "elect" alone? If so, then the mystery will remain for ever mysterious to our finite minds. And if a mystery, then were we right to proclaim it as one, and preach it, teaching them that neither their freely given love to Thee nor freedom of conscience were essential, but only that incomprehensible mystery which they must blindly obey even against the dictates of their conscience. Thus did we. We corrected and improved Thy teaching and based it upon "Miracle, Mystery, and Authority." And men rejoiced at finding themselves led once more like a herd of cattle, and at finding their hearts at last delivered of the terrible burden laid upon them by Thee, which caused them so much suffering. Tell me, were we right in doing as we did? Did not we show our great love for humanity, by realizing in such a humble spirit its helplessness, by so mercifully lightening its great burden, and by permitting and remitting for its weak nature every sin, provided it be committed with our authorization? For what, then, hast Thou come again to trouble us in our work? And why lookest Thou at me so penetratingly with Thy meek eyes, and in such a silence? Rather shouldst Thou feel wroth, for I need not Thy love, I reject it, and love Thee not, myself. Why should I conceal the truth from Thee? I know but too well with whom I am now talking! What I had to say was known to Thee before, I read it in Thine eye. How should I conceal from Thee our secret? If perchance Thou wouldst hear it from my own lips, then listen: We are not with Thee, but with him, and that is our secret! For centuries have we abandoned Thee to follow him, yes—eight centuries. Eight hundred years now since we accepted from him the gift rejected by Thee with indignation; that last gift which he offered Thee from the high mountain when, showing all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, he saith unto Thee: "All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me!" We took Rome from him and the glaive of Cæsar, and declared ourselves alone the kings of this earth, its sole kings, though our work is not yet fully accomplished. But who is to blame for it? Our work is but in its incipient stage, but it is nevertheless started. We may have long to wait until its culmination, and mankind have to suffer much, but we shall reach the goal some day, and become sole Cæsars, and then will be the time to think of universal happiness for men.
"'Thou couldst accept the glaive of Cæsar Thyself; why didst Thou reject the offer? By accepting from the powerful spirit his third offer Thou wouldst have realized every aspiration man seeketh for himself on earth; man would have found a constant object for worship; one to deliver his conscience up to, and one that should unite all together into one common and harmonious ant-hill; for an innate necessity for universal union constitutes the third and final affliction of mankind. Humanity as a whole has ever aspired to unite itself universally. Many were the great nations with great histories, but the greater they were, the more unhappy they felt, as they felt the stronger necessity of a universal union among men. Great conquerors, like Timoor and Tchengis-Khan, passed like a cyclone upon the face of the earth in their efforts to conquer the universe, but even they, albeit unconsciously, expressed the same aspiration towards universal and common union. In accepting the kingdom of the world and Cæsar's purple, one would found a universal kingdom and secure to mankind eternal peace. And who can rule mankind better than those who have possessed themselves of man's conscience, and hold in their hand man's daily bread? Having accepted Cæsar's glaive and purple, we had, of course, but to deny Thee, to henceforth follow him alone. Oh, centuries of intellectual riot and rebellious free-thought are yet before us, and their science will end by anthropophagy, for having begun to build their Babylonian tower without our help they will have to end by anthropophagy. But it is precisely at that time that the Beast will crawl up to us in full submission, and lick the soles of our feet, and sprinkle them with tears of blood. And we shall sit upon the scarlet-coloured Beast, and lifting up high the golden cup "full of abomination and filthiness," shall show written upon it the word "Mystery"! But it is only then that men will see the beginning of a kingdom of peace and happiness. Thou art proud of Thine own elect, but Thou hast none other but these elect, and we—we will give rest to all. But that is not the end. Many are those among Thine elect and the labourers of Thy vineyard, who, tired of waiting for Thy coming, already have carried and will yet carry, the great fervour of their hearts and their spiritual strength into another field, and will end by lifting up against Thee Thine own banner of freedom. But it is Thyself Thou hast to thank. Under our rule and sway all will be happy, and will neither rebel nor destroy each other as they did while under Thy free banner. Oh, we will take good care to prove to them that they will become absolutely free only when they have abjured their freedom in our favour and submit to us absolutely. Thinkest Thou we shall be right or still lying? They will convince themselves of our rightness, for they will see what a depth of degrading slavery and strife that liberty of Thine has led them into. Liberty, Freedom of Thought and Conscience, and Science will lead them into such impassable chasms, place them face to face before such wonders and insoluble mysteries, that some of them—more rebellious and ferocious than the rest—will destroy themselves; others—rebellious but weak—will destroy each other; while the remainder, weak, helpless and miserable, will crawl back to our feet and cry: "Yes; right were ye, oh Fathers of Jesus; ye alone are in possession of His mystery, and we return to you, praying that ye save us from ourselves!" Receiving their bread from us, they will clearly see that we take the bread from them, the bread made by their own. hands, but to give it back to them in equal shares and that without any miracle; and having ascertained that, though we have not changed stones into bread, yet bread they have, while every other bread turned verily in their own hands into stones, they will be only too glad to have it so Until that day, they will never be happy. And who is it that helped the most to blind them, tell me? Who separated the flock and scattered it over ways unknown if it be not Thee? But we will gather the sheep once more and subject them to our will for ever. We will prove to them their own weakness and make them humble again, whilst with Thee they have learnt but pride, for Thou hast made more of them than they ever were worth. We will give them that quiet, humble happiness, which alone benefits such weak, foolish creatures as they are, and having once had proved to them their weakness, they will become timid and obedient, and gather around us as chickens around their hen. They will wonder at and feel a superstitious admiration for us, and feel proud to be led by men so powerful and wise that a handful of them can subject a flock a thousand millions strong. Gradually men will begin to fear us. They will nervously dread our slightest anger, their intellects will weaken, their eyes become as easily accessible to tears as those of children and women; but we will teach them an easy transition from grief and tears to laughter, childish joy and mirthful song. Yes; we will make them work like slaves, but during their recreation hours they shall have an innocent child-like life, full of play and merry laughter. We will even permit them sin, for, weak and helpless, they will feel the more love for us for permitting them to indulge in it. We will tell them that every kind of sin will be remitted to them, so long as it is done with our permission; that we take all these sins upon ourselves, for we so love the world, that we are even willing to sacrifice our souls for its satisfaction. And, appearing before them in the light of their scapegoats and redeemers, we shall be adored the more for it. They will have no secrets from us. It will rest with us to permit them to live with their wives and concubines, or to forbid them, to have children or remain childless, either way depending on the degree of their obedience to us; and they will submit most joyfully to us. The most agonizing secrets of their souls—all, all will they lay down at our feet, and we will authorize and remit them all in Thy name, and they will believe us and accept our mediation with rapture, as it will deliver them from their greatest anxiety and torture—that of having to decide freely for themselves. And all will be happy, all except the one or two hundred thousands of their rulers. For it is but we, we the keepers of the great Mystery who will be miserable. There will be thousands of millions of happy infants, and one hundred thousand martyrs who have taken upon themselves the curse of knowledge of good and evil. Peaceable will be their end, and peacefully will they die, in Thy name, to find behind the portals of the grave—but death. But we will keep the secret inviolate, and deceive them for their own good with the mirage of life eternal in Thy kingdom. For, were there really anything like life beyond the grave, surely it would never fall to the lot of such as they! People tell us and prophesy of Thy coming and triumphing once more on earth; of Thy appearing with the army of Thy elect, with Thy proud and mighty ones; but we will answer Thee that they have saved but themselves while we have saved all. We are also threatened with the great disgrace which awaits the whore, "Babylon the great, the mother of harlots"—who sits upon the Beast, holding in her hands the Mystery, the word written upon her forehead; and we are told that the weak ones, the lambs shall rebel against her and shall make her desolate and naked. But then will I arise, and point out to Thee the thousands of millions of happy infants free from any sin. And we who have taken their sins upon us, for their own good, shall stand before Thee and say: "Judge us if Thou canst and darest!" Know then that I fear Thee not. Know that I too have lived in the dreary wilderness, where I fed upon locusts and roots, that I too have blessed the freedom with which Thou hast blessed men, and that I too have once prepared to join the ranks of Thy elect, the proud and the mighty. But I awoke from my delusion and refused since then to serve insanity. I returned to join the legion of those who corrected Thy mistakes. I left the proud and returned to the really humble, and for their own happiness. What I now tell Thee will come to pass, and our kingdom shall be built, I tell Thee, not later than to-morrow. Thou shalt see that obedient flock which at one simple motion of my hand will rush to add burning coals to Thy stake, on which I will burn Thee for having dared to come and trouble us in our work. For, if there ever was one who deserved more than any of the others our inquisitorial fires—it is Thee! Tomorrow I will burn Thee. Dixi."'
Ivan paused. He had entered into the situation and had spoken with great animation, but now he suddenly burst out laughing.
"But all that is absurd!" suddenly exclaimed Alyosha, who had hitherto listened perplexed and agitated but in profound silence. "Your poem is a glorification of Christ, not an accusation, as you, perhaps, meant it to be. And who will believe you when you speak of 'freedom'? Is it thus that we Christians must understand it? It is Rome (not all Rome, for that would be unjust), but the worst of the Roman Catholics, the Inquisitors and the Jesuits, that you have been exposing' Your Inquisitor is an impossible character. What are these sins they are taking upon themselves? Who are those keepers of mystery who took upon themselves a curse for the good of mankind? Who ever met them? We all know the Jesuits, and no one has a good word to say in their favour; but when were they as you depict them? Never, never! The Jesuits are merely a Romish army making ready for their future temporal kingdom, with a mitred emperor—a Roman high priest at their head. That is their ideal and object, without any mystery or elevated suffering. The most prosaic thirsting for power, for the sake of the mean and earthly pleasures of life, a desire to enslave their fellow-men, something like our late system of serfs, with themselves at the head as landed proprietors—that is all that they can be accused of. They may not believe in God, that is also possible, but your suffering Inquisitor is simply—a fancy!"
"Hold, hold!" interrupted Ivan, smiling. "Do not be so excited. A fancy, you say; be it so! Of course, it is a fancy. But stop. Do you really imagine that all this Catholic movement during the last centuries is naught but a desire for power for the mere purpose of 'mean pleasures'? Is this what your Father Païssiy taught you?"
"No, no, quite the reverse, for Father Païssiy once told me something very similar to what you yourself say, though, of course, not that. Something quite different," suddenly added Alexis, blushing.
"A precious piece of information, notwithstanding your 'not that.' I ask you, why should the Inquisitors and the Jesuits of your imagination live but for the attainment of 'mean material pleasures'? Why should there not be found among them one single genuine martyr, suffering under a great and holy idea and loving humanity with all his heart? Now let us suppose that among all these Jesuits thirsting and hungering but after 'mean material pleasures' there may be one, just one like my old Inquisitor, who had himself fed upon roots in the wilderness, suffered the tortures of damnation while trying to conquer flesh, in order to become free and perfect, but who had never ceased to love humanity, and who one day prophetically beheld the truth; who saw as plain as he could see that the bulk of humanity could never be happy under the old system, that it was not for them that the great Idealist had come and died and dreamt of His Universal Harmony. Having realized that truth, he returned into the world and joined—intelligent and practical people. Is this so impossible?"
"Joined whom? What intelligent and practical people?" exclaimed Alyosha quite excited. "Why should they be more intelligent than other men, and what secrets and mysteries can they have? They have neither. Atheism and infidelity is all the secret they have. Your Inquisitor does not believe in God, and that is all the Mystery there is in it!"
"It may be so. You have guessed rightly there. And it is so, and that is his whole secret; but is this not the acutest of sufferings for such a man as he, who killed all his young life in asceticism in the desert, and yet could not cure himself of his love toward his fellow-men? Toward the end of his life he becomes convinced that it is only by following the advice of the great and terrible spirit that the fate of these millions of weak rebels, these 'half-finished samples of humanity created in mockery' can be made tolerable. And once convinced of it, he sees as clearly that to achieve that object, one must follow blindly the guidance of the wise spirit, the fearful spirit of death and destruction, hence accept a system of lies and deception and lead humanity consciously this time toward death and destruction, and moreover, be deceiving them all the while in order to prevent them from realizing where they are being led, and so force the miserable blind men to feel happy, at least while here on earth. And note this: a wholesale deception in the name of Him, in whose ideal the old man had so passionately, so fervently, believed during nearly his whole life! Is this no suffering? And were such a solitary exception found amidst, and at the head of, that army 'that thirsts for power but for the sake of the mean pleasures of life,' think you one such man would not suffice to bring on a tragedy? Moreover, one single man like my Inquisitor as a principal leader, would prove sufficient to discover the real guiding idea of the Romish system with all its armies of Jesuits, the greatest and chiefest agents of that system. And I tell you that it is my firm conviction that the solitary type described in my poem has at no time ever disappeared from among the chief leaders of that movement. Who knows but that terrible old man, loving humanity so stubbornly and in such an original way, exists even in our days in the shape of a whole host of such solitary exceptions, whose existence is not due to mere chance, but to a well-defined association born of mutual consent, to a secret league, organized several centuries back, in order to guard the Mystery from the indiscreet eyes of the miserable and weak people, and only in view of their own happiness? And so it is; it cannot be otherwise. I suspect that even Masons have some such Mystery underlying the basis of their organization, and that it is just the reason why the Roman Catholic clergy hate them so, dreading to find in them rivals, competition, the dismemberment of the unity of the idea, for the realization of which one flock and one Shepherd are needed. However, in defending my idea, I look like an author whose production is unable to stand criticism. Enough of this."
"You are, perhaps, a Mason yourself!" exclaimed Alyosha. "You do not believe in God," he added, with a note of profound sadness in his voice. But suddenly remarking that his brother was looking at him with mockery, "How do you mean then to bring your poem to a close?" he unexpectedly enquired, casting his eyes downward, "or does it break off here?"
"My intention is to end it with the following scene: Having disburdened his heart, the Inquisitor waits for some time to hear his prisoner speak in His turn. His silence weighs upon him. He has seen that his captive has been attentively listening to him all the time, with His eyes fixed penetratingly and softly on the face of his jailer, and evidently bent upon not replying to him. The old man longs to hear His voice, to hear Him reply; better words of bitterness and scorn than His silence. Suddenly He rises; slowly and silently approaching the Inquisitor, He bends towards him and softly kisses the bloodless, four-score-and-ten-year-old lips. That is all the answer. The Grand Inquisitor shudders. There is a convulsive twitch at the corner of his mouth. He goes to the door, opens it, and addressing Him, 'Go,' he says, 'go, and return no more . . . do not come again . . . never, never!' and—lets Him out into the dark night. The prisoner vanishes."
"And the old man?"
"The kiss burns his heart, but the old man remains firm in his own ideas and unbelief."
"And you, together with him? You fool" despairingly exclaimed Alyosha, while Ivan burst into a still louder fit of laughter.
From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. II.
Articles by HPB
Genius! thou gift of Heaven, thou light divine!
AMONG many problems hitherto unsolved in the Mystery of Mind, stands prominent the question of Genius. Whence, and what is genius, its raison d'être, the causes of its excessive rarity? Is it indeed "a gift of Heaven"? And if so, why such gifts to one, and dullness of intellect, or even idiocy, the doom of another? To regard the appearance of men and women of genius as a mere accident, a prize of blind chance, or, as dependent on physical causes alone, is only thinkable to a materialist. As an author truly says, there remains then, only this alternative: to agree with the believer in a personal god "to refer the appearance of every single individual to a special act of divine will and creative energy," or "to recognize, in the whole succession of such individuals, one great act of some will, expressed in an eternal inviolable law."Genius, as Coleridge defined it, is certainly--to every outward appearance, at least--"the faculty of growth"; yet to the inward intuition of man, it is a question whether it is genius--an abnormal aptitude of mind--that develops and grows, or the physical brain, its vehicle, which becomes through some mysterious process fitter to receive and manifest from within outwardly the innate and divine nature of man's over-soul. Perchance, in their unsophisticated wisdom, the philosophers of old were nearer truth than are our modern wiseacres, when they endowed man with a tutelar deity, a Spirit whom they called genius. The substance of this entity, to say nothing of its essence--observe the distinction, reader,--and the presence of both, manifests itself according to the organism of the person it informs. As Shakespeare says of the genius of great men--what we perceive of his substance "is not here"--
For what you see is but the smallest part. . . .
This is precisely what the Esoteric philosophy teaches. The flame of genius is lit by no anthropomorphic hand, save that of one's own Spirit. It is the very nature of the Spiritual Entity itself, of our Ego, which keeps on weaving new life-woofs into the web of reincarnation on the loom of time, from the beginnings to the ends of the great Life-Cycle.1 [Footnote: 1. The period of one full Manvantara composed of Seven Rounds. ] This it is that asserts itself stronger than in the average man, through its personality; so that what we call "the manifestations of genius" in a person, are only the more or less successful efforts of that EGO to assert itself on the outward plane of its objective form--the man of clay--in the matter-of-fact, daily life of the latter. The EGOS of a Newton, an Æschylus, or a Shakespeare, are of the same essence and substance as the Egos of a yokel, an ignoramus, a fool, or even an idiot; and the self-assertion of their informing genii depends on the physiological and material construction of the physical man. No Ego differs from another Ego, in its primordial or original essence and nature. That which makes one mortal a great man and of another a vulgar, silly person is, as said, the quality and make-up of the physical shell or casing, and the adequacy or inadequacy of brain and body to transmit and give expression to the light of the real, Inner man; and this aptness or in aptness is, in its turn, the result of Karma. Or, to use another simile, physical man is the musical instrument, and the Ego, the performing artist. The potentiality of perfect melody of sound, is in the former--the instrument--and no skill of the latter can awaken a faultless harmony out of a broken or badly made instrument. This harmony depends on the fidelity of transmission, by word or act, to the objective plane, of the unspoken divine thought in the very depths of man's subjective or inner nature. Physical man may--to follow our simile--be a priceless Stradivarius or a cheap and cracked fiddle, or again a mediocrity between the two, in the hands of the Paganini who ensouls him.
All ancient nations knew this. But though all had their Mysteries and their Hierophants, not all could be equally taught the great metaphysical doctrine; and while a few elect received such truths at their initiation, the masses were allowed to approach them with the greatest caution and only within the farthest limits of fact. "From the DIVINE ALL proceeded Amun, the Divine Wisdom . . . give it not to the unworthy," says a Book of Hermes. Paul, the "wise Master-Builder,"2 [Footnote 2. A term absolutely theurgic, masonic and occult. Paul, by using it, declares himself an Initiate having the right to initiate others. ] (I Cor. III, 10) but echoes Thoth-Hermes when telling the Corinthians "We speak Wisdom among them that are perfect (the initiated) . . . divine Wisdom in a MYSTERY, even the hidden Wisdom." (Ibid. II, 7.)
Yet, to this day the Ancients are accused of blasphemy and fetishism for their "hero worship." But have the modern historians ever fathomed the cause of such "worship"! We believe not. Otherwise they would be the first to become aware that that which was "worshipped," or rather that to which honours were rendered was neither the man of clay, nor the personality--the Hero or Saint So-and-So, which still prevails on the Roman Church, a church which beatifies the body rather than the soul--but the divine imprisoned Spirit, the exiled "god" within that personality. Who, in the profane world, is aware that even the majority of the magistrates (the Archons of Athens, mistranslated in the Bible as "Princes")--whose official duty it was to prepare the city for such processions, were ignorant of the true significance of the alleged "worship"?
Verily was Paul right in declaring that "we speak wisdom . . . not the wisdom of this world . . . which none of the Archons of this (profane) world knew," but the hidden wisdom of the MYSTERIES. For, as again the Epistle of the apostle implies, the language of the Initiates and their secrets no profane, not even an "Archon" or ruler outside the fane of the sacred Mysteries, knoweth; none "save the Spirit of man (the Ego) which is in him." (Ib. v, II.)
Were Chapters II and III of I Corinthians ever translated in the Spirit in which they were written--even their dead letter is now disfigured--the world might receive strange revelations. Among other things it would have a key to many hitherto unexplained rites of ancient Paganism, one of which is the mystery of this same Hero-worship. And it would learn that if the streets of the city that honoured one such man were strewn with roses for the passage of the Hero of the day, if every citizen was called to bow in reverence to him who was so feasted, and if both priest and poet vied in their zeal to immortalize the hero's name after his death--occult philosophy tells us the reason why this was done.
"Behold," it saith, "in every manifestation of genius--when combined with virtue--in the warrior or the Bard, the great painter, artist, statesman or man of Science, who soars high above the heads of the vulgar herd, the undeniable presence of the celestial exile, the divine Ego whose jailor thou art, Oh man of matter!" Thus, that which we call deification applied to the immortal God within, not to the dead walls of the human tabernacle that contained him. And this was done in tacit and silent recognition of the efforts made by the divine captive who, under the most adverse circumstances of incarnation, still succeeded in manifesting himself.
Occultism, therefore, teaches nothing new in asserting the above philosophical axiom. Enlarging upon the broad metaphysical truism, it only gives it a finishing touch by explaining certain details. It teaches, for instance, that the presence in man of various creative powers--called genius in their collection--is due to no blind chance, to no innate qualities through hereditary tendencies--though that which is known as atavism may often intensify these faculties --but to an accumulation of individual antecedent experiences of the Ego in its preceding life, and lives. For, though omniscient in its essence and nature, it still requires experience through its personalities of the things of earth, earthy on the objective plane, in order to apply the fruition of that abstract omniscience to them. And, adds our philosophy--the cultivation of certain aptitudes throughout a long series of past incarnations must finally culminate in some one life, in a blooming forth as genius, in one or another direction.
Great Genius, therefore, if true and innate, and not merely an abnormal expansion of our human intellect--can never copy or condescend to imitate, but will ever be original, sui generis in its creative impulses and realizations. Like those gigantic Indian lilies that shoot out from the clefts and fissures of the cloud-nursing, and bare rocks on the highest plateaux of the Nilgiri Hills, true Genius needs but an opportunity to spring forth into existence and blossom in the sight of all in the most arid soil, for its stamp is always unmistakable. To use a popular saying, innate genius, like murder, will out sooner or later, and the more it will have been suppressed and hidden, the greater will be the flood of light thrown by the sudden eruption. On the other hand artificial genius, so often confused with the former, and which, in truth, is but the outcome of long studies and training, will never be more than, so to say, the flame of a lamp burning outside the portal of the pane; it may throw a long trail of light across road, but it leaves the inside of the building in darkness. And, as every faculty and property in Nature is dual--i.e., each may be made to serve two ends, evil as well as good--so will artificial genius betray itself. Born out of the chaos of terrestrial sensations, of perceptive and retentive faculties, yet of finite memory, it will ever remain the slave of its body; and that body, owing to its unreliability and the natural tendency of matter to confusion, will not fail to lead even the greatest genius, so called, back into its own primordial element, which is chaos again, or evil, or earth.
Thus between the true and the artificial genius, one born from the light of the immortal Ego, the other from the evanescent will-o'-the-wisp of the terrestrial or purely human intellect and the animal soul, there is a chasm, to be spanned only by him who aspires ever onward; who never loses sight, even when in the depths of matter, of that guiding star the Divine Soul and mind, or what we call Buddhi-Manas. The latter does not require, as does the former, cultivation. The words of the poet who asserts that the lamp of genius--
If not protected, pruned, and fed with care,
--can apply only to artificial genius, the outcome of cultural and of purely intellectual acuteness. It is not the direct light of the Manasa putra, the "Sons of Wisdom," for true genius lit at the flame of our higher nature, or the EGO, cannot die. This is why it is so very rare. Lavater calculated that "the proportion of genius (in general) to the vulgar, is like one to a million; but genius without tyranny, without pretension, that judges the weak with equity, the superior with humanity, and equals with justice, is like one in ten millions." This is indeed interesting, though not too complimentary to human nature, if, by "genius," Lavater had in mind only the higher sort of human intellect, unfolded by cultivation, "protected, pruned, and fed," and not the genius we speak of. Moreover such genius is always apt to lead to the extremes of weal or woe him through whom this artificial light of the terrestrial mind manifests. Like the good and bad genii of old with whom human genius is made so appropriately to share the name, it takes its helpless possessor by the hand and leads him, one day to the pinnacles of fame, fortune, and glory, but to plunge him on the following day into an abyss of shame, despair, often of crime.
But as, according to the great Physiognomist, there is more of the former than of the latter kind of genius in this our world, because, as Occultism teaches us, it is easier for the personality with its acute physical senses and tatwas [Translation: the five modifications of the Great Breath. -BNet Eds. ] to gravitate toward the lower quaternary than to soar to its triad--modern philosophy, though quite proficient in treating this lower place of genius, knows nothing of its higher spiritual form--the "one in ten millions." Thus it is only natural that confusing one with the other, the best modern writers should have failed to define true genius. As a consequence, we continually hear and read a good deal of that which to the Occultist seems quite paradoxical. "Genius requires cultivation," says one; "Genius is vain and self-sufficient" declares another; while a third will go on defining the divine light but to dwarf it on the Procrustean bed of his own intellectual narrow-mindedness. He will talk of the great eccentricity of genius, and allying it as a general rule with an "inflammable constitution," will even show it "a prey to every passion but seldom delicacy of taste!" (Lord Kaimes.) It is useless to argue with such, or tel1 them that, original, and great genius puts out the most dazzling rays of human intellectuality, as the sun quenches the flame-light of a fire in an open field; that it is never eccentric, though always sui generis; and that no man endowed with true genius can ever give way to his physical animal passions. In the view of an humble Occultist, only such a grand altruistic character as that of Buddha or Jesus, and of their few close imitators, can be regarded, in our historical cycle, as fully developed GENIUS.
Hence, true genius has small chance indeed of receiving its due in our age of conventionalities, hypocrisy and time-serving. As the world grows in civilization, it expands in fierce selfishness, and stones its true prophets and geniuses for the benefit of its aping shadows. Alone the surging masses of the ignorant millions, the great people's heart, arc capable of sensing intuitionally a true "great soul" full of divine love for mankind, of god-like compassion for suffering man. Hence the populace alone is still capable of recognizing a genius, as without such qualities no man has a right to the name. No genius can be now found in Church or State, and this is proven on their own admission. It seems a long time since in the XIII century the "Angelic Doctor" snubbed Pope Innocent IV who, boasting of the millions got by him from the sale of absolutions and indulgences, remarked to Aquinas that "the age of the Church is past in which she said 'Silver and gold have I none'!" "True," was the ready reply; "but the age is also past when she could say to a paralytic, 'Rise up and walk'." And yet from that time, and far, far earlier, to our own day the hourly crucifixion of their ideal Master both by Church and State has never ceased. While every Christian State breaks with its laws and customs, with every commandment given in the Sermon on the Mount, the Christian Church justifies and approves of this through her own Bishops who despairingly proclaim "A Christian State impossible on Christian Principles." Hence--no Christ-like (or "Buddha-like") way of life is possible in civilized States.
The occultist then, to whom "true genius is a synonym of self-existent and infinite mind," mirrored more or less faithfully by man, fails to find in the modern definitions of the term anything approaching correctness. In its turn the esoteric interpretation of Theosophy is sure to be received with derision. The very idea that every man with a "soul" in him is the vehicle of (a) genius will appear supremely absurd, even to believers, while the materialist will fall foul of it as a "crass superstition." As to the popular feeling--the only approximately correct one because purely intuitional, it will not be even taken into account. The same elastic and convenient epithet "superstition" will, once more, be made to explain why there never was yet a universally recognised genius--whether of one or the other kind--without a certain amount of weird, fantastic and often uncanny, tales and legends attaching themselves to so unique a character, dogging and even surviving him. Yet it is the unsophisticated alone, and therefore only the so-called uneducated masses, just because of that lack of sophistically reasoning in them, who feel, whenever coming in contact with an abnormal, out-of-the-way character, that there is in him something more than the mercy mortal man of flesh and intellectual attributes. And feeling themselves in the presence of that which in the enormous majority is ever hidden, of something incomprehensible to their matter-or-fact minds, they experience the same awe that popular masses felt in days of old when their fancy, often more unerring than cultured reason, created of their heroes gods, teaching:
. . . . The weak to bent, the proud to pray
This is now called SUPERSTITION . . .
But what is Superstition? True, we dread that which we cannot clearly explain to ourselves. Like children in the dark we are all of us apt, the educated equally with the ignorant. to people that darkness with phantoms of our own creation; but these "phantoms" prove in no wise that that "darkness"--which is only another term for the invisible and the unseen--is really empty of any Presence save our own. So that if in its exaggerated form, "superstition" is a weird incubus, as a belief in things above and beyond our physical senses, yet it is also a modest acknowledgement that there are things in the universe, and around us, of which we know nothing. In this sense "superstition" becomes not an unreasonable feeling of half wonder and half dread, mixed with admiration and reverence, or with fear, according to the dictates of our intuition. And this is far more reasonable than to repeat with the too-learned wiseacres that there is nothing "nothing whatever, in that darkness"; nor can there be anything since they, the wiseacres, have failed to discern it.
E pur se muove! Where there is smoke there must be fire; where there is a steamy vapour there must be water. Our claim rests but upon one eternal axiomatic truth: nihil sine causa [Translation. nothing is without cause. -BNet Eds.] Genius and undeserved suffering, prove an immortal Ego and Reincarnation in our world. As for the rest, i.e., the obloquy and derision with which such theosophical doctrines are met, Fielding--a sort of Genius in his way, too--has covered our answer over a century ago. Never did he utter a greater truth than on the day he wrote that "If superstition makes a man a fool, SKEPTICISM MAKES HIM MAD."
H. P. Blavatsky
Lucifer, November, 1889
"H. M." AND THE TODAS
From A Modern Panarion
Articles by HPB
[From the London Spiritualist.]
I HAVE read the communication of "H. M." in your paper of the 8th inst. I would not have mentioned the "Todas" at all in my book, if I had not read a very elaborate octavo work in 271 pp., by William S. Marshall, Lieut.-Col. of Her Majesty's Bengal Staff Corps, entitled: A Phrenologist among the Todas, copiously illustrated with photographs of the squalid and filthy beings to whom "H. M." refers. Though written by a staff officer, assisted "by the Rev. Friedrich Metz, of the Basle Missionary Society, who had spent upwards of twenty years of labour" among them, "the only European able to speak the obscure Toda tongue," the book is so full of misrepresentations—though both writers appear to be sincere—that I wrote what I did.
What I said I knew to be true, and I do not retract a single word. If neither "H. M." nor Lieut.-Col. Marshall, nor the Rev. Mr. Metz have penetrated the secret that lies behind the dirty huts of the aborigines they have seen, that is their misfortune, not my fault.
H. P. BLAVATSKY.