The Key to Theosophy, by H.P. Blavatsky

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

The Key to Theosophy, by H.P. Blavatsky

Postby admin » Sun Mar 15, 2020 1:19 am

The Key to Theosophy: Being a Clear Exposition, in the Form of Question and Answer, of the ETHICS, SCIENCE, AND PHILOSOPHY for the Study of which The Theosophical Society has been Founded
by H.P. Blavatsky
1889

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Dedicated by "H. P. B." To all her Pupils that They may Learn and Teach in their turn.

Contents:

• Preface
• Section 1: Theosophy and the Theosophical Society
o The Meaning of the Name
o The Policy of the Theosophical Society
o The Wisdom-Religion Esoteric in all Ages
o Theosophy is not Buddhism
• Section 2: Exoteric and Esoteric Theosophy
o What the Modern Theosophical Society is not
o Theosophists and Members of the "T. S."
o The Difference between Theosophy and Occultism
o The Difference between Theosophy and Spiritualism
o Why is Theosophy accepted?
• Section 3: The Working System of the T. S.
o The Objects of the Society
o The Common Origin of Man
o Our other Objects
o On the Sacredness of the Pledge
• Section 4: The Relations of the Theosophical Society to Theosophy
o On Self-Improvement
o The Abstract and the Concrete
• Section 5: The Fundamental Teachings of Theosophy
o On God and Prayer
o Is it Necessary to Pray?
o Prayer Kills Self-Reliance
o On the Source of the Human Soul
o The Buddhist Teachings on the above
• Section 6: Theosophical Teachings as to Nature and Man
o The Unity of All in All
o Evolution and Illusion
o On the Septenary Constitution of our Planet
o The Septenary Nature of Man
o The Distinction between Soul and Spirit
o The Greek Teachings
• Section 7: On the Various Post-Mortem States
o The Physical and the Spiritual Man
o Our Eternal Reward and Punishment; and on Nirvana
o On the Various "Principles" in Man
• Section 8: On Re-Incarnation or Re-Birth
o What is Memory according to Theosophical Teaching?
o Why do we not Remember our Past Lives?
o On Individuality and Personality
o On the Reward and Punishment of the Ego
• Section 9: On the Kama-Loka and Devachan
o On the Fate of the Lower "Principles"
o Why Theosophists do not believe in the Return of Pure "Spirits"
o A few Words about the Skandhas
o On Post-mortem and Post-natal Consciousness
o What is really meant by Annihilation
o Definite Words for Definite Things
• Section 10: On the Nature of Our Thinking Principle
o The Mystery of the Ego
o The Complex Nature of Manas
o The Doctrine is Taught in St. John's Gospel
• Section 11: On the Mysteries of Re-Incarnation
o Periodical Re-births
o What is Karma?
o Who are Those who Know?
o The Difference between Faith and Knowledge; or, Blind and Reasoned Faith
o Has God the Right to Forgive?
• Section 12: What Is Practical Theosophy?
o Duty
o The Relations of the T. S. to Political Reforms
o On Self-Sacrifice
o On Charity
o Theosophy for the Masses
o How Members can Help the Society
o What a Theosophist ought not to do
• Section 13: On the Misconceptions about the Theosophical Society
o Theosophy and Asceticism
o Theosophy and Marriage
o Theosophy and Education
o Why, then, is there so much Prejudice against the T. S.?
o Is the Theosophical Society a Money-making Concern?
o The Working Staff of the T. S.
• Section 14: The "Theosophical Mahatmas"
o Are They "Spirits of Light" or "Goblins Damn'd"?
o The Abuse of Sacred Names and Terms
• Conclusion: The Future of the Theosophical Society
• Glossary
o A-D
o E-M
o N-Z
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Re: The Key to Theosophy, by H.P. Blavatsky

Postby admin » Sun Mar 15, 2020 1:20 am

Preface

The purpose of this book is exactly expressed in its title, "THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY," and needs but few words of explanation. It is not a complete or exhaustive text-book of Theosophy, but only a key to unlock the door that leads to the deeper study. It traces the broad outlines of the Wisdom Religion, and explains its fundamental principles; meeting, at the same time, the various objections raised by the average Western enquirer, and endeavouring to present unfamiliar concepts in a form as simple and in language as clear as possible. That it should succeed in making Theosophy intelligible without mental effort on the part of the reader, would be too much to expect; but it is hoped that the obscurity still left is of the thought not of the language, is due to depth not to confusion. To the mentally lazy or obtuse, Theosophy must remain a riddle; for in the world mental as in the world spiritual each man must progress by his own efforts. The writer cannot do the reader's thinking for him, nor would the latter be any the better off if such vicarious thought were possible. The need for such an exposition as the present has long been felt among those interested in the Theosophical Society and its work, and it is hoped that it will supply information, as free as possible from technicalities, to many whose attention has been awakened, but who, as yet, are merely puzzled and not convinced.

Some care has been taken in disentangling some part of what is true from what is false in Spiritualistic teachings as to the post-mortem life, and to showing the true nature of Spiritualistic phenomena. Previous explanations of a similar kind have drawn much wrath upon the writer's devoted head; the Spiritualists, like too many others, preferring to believe what is pleasant rather than what is true, and becoming very angry with anyone who destroys an agreeable delusion. For the past year Theosophy has been the target for every poisoned arrow of Spiritualism, as though the possessors of a half truth felt more antagonism to the possessors of the whole truth than those who had no share to boast of.

Very hearty thanks are due from the author to many Theosophists who have sent suggestions and questions, or have otherwise contributed help during the writing of this book. The work will be the more useful for their aid, and that will be their best reward. — H. P. B.
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Re: The Key to Theosophy, by H.P. Blavatsky

Postby admin » Sun Mar 15, 2020 1:21 am

Section 1: Theosophy and the Theosophical Society

THE MEANING OF THE NAME


Enquirer. Theosophy and its doctrines are often referred to as a new-fangled religion. Is it a religion?

Theosophist. It is not. Theosophy is Divine Knowledge or Science.

Enq. What is the real meaning of the term?

Theo. "Divine Wisdom," (Theosophia) or Wisdom of the gods, as (theogonia), genealogy of the gods. The word theos means a god in Greek, one of the divine beings, certainly not "God" in the sense attached in our day to the term. Therefore, it is not "Wisdom of God," as translated by some, but Divine Wisdom such as that possessed by the gods. The term is many thousand years old.

Enq. What is the origin of the name?

Theo. It comes to us from the Alexandrian philosophers, called lovers of truth, Philaletheians, from phil "loving," and aletheia "truth." The name Theosophy dates from the third century of our era, and began with Ammonius Saccas and his disciples (1), who started the Eclectic Theosophical system.

Enq. What was the object of this system?

Theo. First of all to inculcate certain great moral truths upon its disciples, and all those who were "lovers of the truth." Hence the motto adopted by the Theosophical Society: "There is no religion higher than truth." (2) The chief aim of the Founders of the Eclectic Theosophical School was one of the three objects of its modern successor, the Theosophical Society, namely, to reconcile all religions, sects and nations under a common system of ethics, based on eternal verities.

Enq. What have you to show that this is not an impossible dream; and that all the world's religions are based on the one and the same truth?

Theo. Their comparative study and analysis. The "Wisdom-religion" was one in antiquity; and the sameness of primitive religious philosophy is proven to us by the identical doctrines taught to the Initiates during the MYSTERIES, an institution once universally diffused. "All the old worships indicate the existence of a single Theosophy anterior to them. The key that is to open one must open all; otherwise it cannot be the right key." (Eclect. Philo.)

THE POLICY OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY

Enq. In the days of Ammonius there were several ancient great religions, and numerous were the sects in Egypt and Palestine alone. How could he reconcile them?

Theo. By doing that which we again try to do now. The Neo-Platonists were a large body, and belonged to various religious philosophies (3); so do our Theosophists. In those days, the Jew Aristobulus affirmed that the ethics of Aristotle represented the esoteric teachings of the Law of Moses; Philo Judaeus endeavoured to reconcile the Pentateuch with the Pythagorean and Platonic philosophy; and Josephus proved that the Essenes of Carmel were simply the copyists and followers of the Egyptian Therapeutae (the healers). So it is in our day. We can show the line of descent of every Christian religion, as of every, even the smallest, sect. The latter are the minor twigs or shoots grown on the larger branches; but shoots and branches spring from the same trunk — the WISDOM-RELIGION. To prove this was the aim of Ammonius, who endeavoured to induce Gentiles and Christians, Jews and Idolaters, to lay aside their contentions and strifes, remembering only that they were all in possession of the same truth under various vestments, and were all the children of a common mother.(4) This is the aim of Theosophy likewise.

Enq. What are your authorities for saying this of the ancient Theosophists of Alexandria?

Theo. An almost countless number of well-known writers. Mosheim, one of them, says that: —

"Ammonius taught that the religion of the multitude went hand-in-hand with philosophy, and with her had shared the fate of being by degrees corrupted and obscured with mere human conceits, superstitions, and lies; that it ought, therefore, to be brought back to its original purity by purging it of this dross and expounding it upon philosophical principles; and the whole Christ had in view was to reinstate and restore to its primitive integrity the wisdom of the ancients; to reduce within bounds the universally-prevailing dominion of superstition; and in part to correct, and in part to exterminate the various errors that had found their way into the different popular religions."


This, again, is precisely what the modern Theosophists say. Only while the great Philaletheian was supported and helped in the policy he pursued by two Church Fathers, Clement and Athenagoras, by all the learned Rabbis of the Synagogue, the Academy and the Groves, and while he taught a common doctrine for all, we, his followers on the same line, receive no recognition, but, on the contrary, are abused and persecuted. People 1,500 years ago are thus shown to have been more tolerant than they are in this enlightened century.

Enq. Was he encouraged and supported by the Church because, notwithstanding his heresies, Ammonius taught Christianity and was a Christian?

Theo. Not at all. He was born a Christian, but never accepted Church Christianity. As said of him by the same writer:

"He had but to propound his instructions according to the ancient pillars of Hermes, which Plato and Pythagoras knew before, and from them constituted their philosophy. Finding the same in the prologue of the Gospel according to St. John, he very properly supposed that the purpose of Jesus was to restore the great doctrine of wisdom in its primitive integrity. The narratives of the Bible and the stories of the gods he considered to be allegories illustrative of the truth, or else fables to be rejected." Moreover, as says the Edinburgh Encyclopoedia, "he acknowledged that Jesus Christ was an excellent man and the 'friend of God,' but alleged that it was not his design entirely to abolish the worship of demons (gods), and that his only intention was to purify the ancient religion."


THE WISDOM-RELIGION ESOTERIC IN ALL AGES

Enq. Since Ammonius never committed anything to writing, how can one feel sure that such were his teachings?

Theo. Neither did Buddha, Pythagoras, Confucius, Orpheus, Socrates, or even Jesus, leave behind them any writings. Yet most of these are historical personages, and their teachings have all survived. The disciples of Ammonius (among whom Origen and Herennius) wrote treatises and explained his ethics. Certainly the latter are as historical, if not more so, than the Apostolic writings. Moreover, his pupils — Origen, Plotinus, and Longinus (counsellor of the famous Queen Zenobia) — have all left voluminous records of the Philaletheian System — so far, at all events, as their public profession of faith was known, for the school was divided into exoteric and esoteric teachings.

Enq. How have the latter tenets reached our day, since you hold that what is properly called the WISDOM-RELIGION was esoteric?

Theo. The WISDOM-RELIGION was ever one, and being the last word of possible human knowledge, was, therefore, carefully preserved. It preceded by long ages the Alexandrian Theosophists, reached the modern, and will survive every other religion and philosophy.

Enq. Where and by whom was it so preserved?

Theo. Among Initiates of every country; among profound seekers after truth — their disciples; and in those parts of the world where such topics have always been most valued and pursued: in India, Central Asia, and Persia.

Enq. Can you give me some proofs of its esotericism?

Theo. The best proof you can have of the fact is that every ancient religious, or rather philosophical, cult consisted of an esoteric or secret teaching, and an exoteric (outward public) worship. Furthermore, it is a well-known fact that the MYSTERIES of the ancients comprised with every nation the "greater" (secret) and "Lesser" (public) MYSTERIES — e.g. in the celebrated solemnities called the Eleusinia, in Greece. From the Hierophants of Samothrace, Egypt, and the initiated Brahmins of the India of old, down to the later Hebrew Rabbis, all preserved, for fear of profanation, their real bona fide beliefs secret. The Jewish Rabbis called their secular religious series the Mercavah (the exterior body), "the vehicle," or, the covering which contains the hidden soul. — i.e., their highest secret knowledge. Not one of the ancient nations ever imparted through its priests its real philosophical secrets to the masses, but allotted to the latter only the husks. Northern Buddhism has its "greater" and its "lesser" vehicle, known as the Mahayana, the esoteric, and the Hinayana, the exoteric, Schools. Nor can you blame them for such secrecy; for surely you would not think of feeding your flock of sheep on learned dissertations on botany instead of on grass? Pythagoras called his Gnosis "the knowledge of things that are," or e gnosis ton onton, and preserved that knowledge for his pledged disciples only: for those who could digest such mental food and feel satisfied; and he pledged them to silence and secrecy. Occult alphabets and secret ciphers are the development of the old Egyptian hieratic writings, the secret of which was, in the days of old, in the possession only of the Hierogrammatists, or initiated Egyptian priests. Ammonius Saccas, as his biographers tell us, bound his pupils by oath not to divulge his higher doctrines except to those who had already been instructed in preliminary knowledge, and who were also bound by a pledge. Finally, do we not find the same even in early Christianity, among the Gnostics, and even in the teachings of Christ? Did he not speak to the multitudes in parables which had a two-fold meaning, and explain his reasons only to his disciples? "To you," he says, "it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables" (Mark iv. 11). "The Essenes of Judea and Carmel made similar distinctions, dividing their adherents into neophytes, brethren, and the perfect, or those initiated" (Eclec. Phil.). Examples might be brought from every country to this effect.

Enq. Can you attain the "Secret Wisdom" simply by study? Encyclopaedias define Theosophy pretty much as Webster's Dictionary does, i. e., as "supposed intercourse with God and superior spirits, and consequent attainment of superhuman knowledge by physical means and chemical processes." Is this so?

Theo. I think not. Nor is there any lexicographer capable of explaining, whether to himself or others, how superhuman knowledge can be attained by physical or chemical processes. Had Webster said "by metaphysical and alchemical processes," the definition would be approximately correct: as it is, it is absurd. Ancient Theosophists claimed, and so do the modern, that the infinite cannot be known by the finite — i.e., sensed by the finite Self — but that the divine essence could be communicated to the higher Spiritual Self in a state of ecstasy. This condition can hardly be attained, like hypnotism, by "physical and chemical means."

Enq. What is your explanation of it?

Theo. Real ecstasy was defined by Plotinus as "the liberation of the mind from its finite consciousness, becoming one and identified with the infinite." This is the highest condition, says Prof. Wilder, but not one of permanent duration, and it is reached only by the very very few. It is, indeed, identical with that state which is known in India as Samadhi. The latter is practised by the Yogis, who facilitate it physically by the greatest abstinence in food and drink, and mentally by an incessant endeavour to purify and elevate the mind. Meditation is silent and unuttered prayer, or, as Plato expressed it, "the ardent turning of the soul toward the divine; not to ask any particular good (as in the common meaning of prayer), but for good itself — for the universal Supreme Good" of which we are a part on earth, and out of the essence of which we have all emerged. Therefore, adds Plato, "remain silent in the presence of the divine ones, till they remove the clouds from thy eyes and enable thee to see by the light which issues from themselves, not what appears as good to thee, but what is intrinsically good." (5)

Enq. Theosophy, then, is not, as held by some, a newly devised scheme?

Theo. Only ignorant people can thus refer to it. It is as old as the world, in its teachings and ethics, if not in name, as it is also the broadest and most catholic system among all.

Enq. How comes it, then, that Theosophy has remained so unknown to the nations of the Western Hemisphere? Why should it have been a sealed book to races confessedly the most cultured and advanced?

Theo. We believe there were nations as cultured in days of old and certainly more spiritually "advanced" than we are. But there are several reasons for this willing ignorance. One of them was given by St. Paul to the cultured Athenians — a loss, for long centuries, of real spiritual insight, and even interest, owing to their too great devotion to things of sense and their long slavery to the dead letter of dogma and ritualism. But the strongest reason for it lies in the fact that real Theosophy has ever been kept secret.

Enq. You have brought forward proofs that such secrecy has existed; but what was the real cause for it?

Theo. The causes for it were: Firstly, the perversity of average human nature and its selfishness, always tending to the gratification of personal desires to the detriment of neighbours and next of kin. Such people could never be entrusted with divine secrets. Secondly, their unreliability to keep the sacred and divine knowledge from desecration. It is the latter that led to the perversion of the most sublime truths and symbols, and to the gradual transformation of things spiritual into anthropomorphic, concrete, and gross imagery — in other words, to the dwarfing of the god-idea and to idolatry.

THEOSOPHY IS NOT BUDDHISM

Enq. You are often spoken of as "Esoteric Buddhists." Are you then all followers of Gautama Buddha?

Theo. No more than musicians are all followers of Wagner. Some of us are Buddhists by religion; yet there are far more Hindus and Brahmins than Buddhists among us, and more Christian-born Europeans and Americans than converted Buddhists. The mistake has arisen from a misunderstanding of the real meaning of the title of Mr. Sinnett's excellent work, "Esoteric Buddhism," which last word ought to have been spelt with one, instead of two, d's, as then Budhism would have meant what it was intended for, merely "Wisdomism" (Bodha, bodhi, "intelligence," "wisdom") instead of Buddhism, Gautama's religious philosophy. Theosophy, as already said, is the WISDOM-RELIGION.

Enq. What is the difference between Buddhism, the religion founded by the Prince of Kapilavastu, and Budhism, the "Wisdomism" which you say is synonymous with Theosophy?

Theo. Just the same difference as there is between the secret teachings of Christ, which are called "the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven," and the later ritualism and dogmatic theology of the Churches and Sects. Buddha means the "Enlightened" by Bodha, or understanding, Wisdom. This has passed root and branch into the esoteric teachings that Gautama imparted to his chosen Arhats only.

Enq. But some Orientalists deny that Buddha ever taught any esoteric doctrine at all?

Theo. They may as well deny that Nature has any hidden secrets for the men of science. Further on I will prove it by Buddha's conversation with his disciple Ananda. His esoteric teachings were simply the Gupta Vidya (secret knowledge) of the ancient Brahmins, the key to which their modern successors have, with few exceptions, completely lost. And this Vidya has passed into what is now known as the inner teachings of the Mahayana school of Northern Buddhism. Those who deny it are simply ignorant pretenders to Orientalism. I advise you to read the Rev. Mr. Edkins' Chinese Buddhism — especially the chapters on the Exoteric and Esoteric schools and teachings — and then compare the testimony of the whole ancient world upon the subject.

Enq. But are not the ethics of Theosophy identical with those taught by Buddha?

Theo. Certainly, because these ethics are the soul of the Wisdom-Religion, and were once the common property of the initiates of all nations. But Buddha was the first to embody these lofty ethics in his public teachings, and to make them the foundation and the very essence of his public system. It is herein that lies the immense difference between exoteric Buddhism and every other religion. For while in other religions ritualism and dogma hold the first and most important place, in Buddhism it is the ethics which have always been the most insisted upon. This accounts for the resemblance, amounting almost to identity, between the ethics of Theosophy and those of the religion of Buddha.

Enq. Are there any great points of difference?

Theo. One great distinction between Theosophy and exoteric Buddhism is that the latter, represented by the Southern Church, entirely denies (a) the existence of any Deity, and (b) any conscious post-mortem life, or even any self-conscious surviving individuality in man. Such at least is the teaching of the Siamese sect, now considered as the purest form of exoteric Buddhism. And it is so, if we refer only to Buddha's public teachings; the reason for such reticence on his part I will give further on. But the schools of the Northern Buddhist Church, established in those countries to which his initiated Arhats retired after the Master's death, teach all that is now called Theosophical doctrines, because they form part of the knowledge of the initiates — thus proving how the truth has been sacrificed to the dead-letter by the too-zealous orthodoxy of Southern Buddhism. But how much grander and more noble, more philosophical and scientific, even in its dead-letter, is this teaching than that of any other Church or religion. Yet Theosophy is not Buddhism.

_______________

Notes:

1. Also called Analogeticists. As explained by Prof. Alex. Wilder, F. T. S., in his "Eclectic Philosophy," they were called so because of their practice of interpreting all sacred legends and narratives, myths and mysteries, by a rule or principle of analogy and correspondence: so that events which were related as having occurred in the external world were regarded as expressing operations and experiences of the human soul. They were also denominated Neo-Platonists. Though Theosophy, or the Eclectic Theosophical system, is generally attributed to the third century, yet, if Diogenes Laertius is to be credited, its origin is much earlier, as he attributed the system to an Egyptian priest, Pot-Amun, who lived in the early days of the Ptolemaic dynasty. The same author tells us that the name is Coptic, and signifies one consecrated to Amun, the God of Wisdom. Theosophy is the equivalent of Brahm-Vidya, divine knowledge.

2. Eclectic Theosophy was divided under three heads: (1) Belief in one absolute, incomprehensible and supreme Deity, or infinite essence, which is the root of all nature, and of all that is, visible and invisible. (2) Belief in man's eternal immortal nature, because, being a radiation of the Universal Soul, it is of an identical essence with it. (3) Theurgy, or "divine work," or producing a work of gods; from theoi, "gods," and ergein, "to work." The term is very old, but, as it belongs to the vocabulary of the MYSTERIES, was not in popular use. It was a mystic belief — practically proven by initiated adepts and priests — that, by making oneself as pure as the incorporeal beings — i.e., by returning to one's pristine purity of nature — man could move the gods to impart to him Divine mysteries, and even cause them to become occasionally visible, either subjectively or objectively. It was the transcendental aspect of what is now called Spiritualism; but having been abused and misconceived by the populace, it had come to be regarded by some as necromancy, and was generally forbidden. A travestied practice of the theurgy of Iamblichus lingers still in the ceremonial magic of some modern Kabalists. Modern Theosophy avoids and rejects both these kinds of magic and "necromancy" as being very dangerous. Real divine theurgy requires an almost superhuman purity and holiness of life; otherwise it degenerates into mediumship or black magic. The immediate disciples of Ammonius Saccas, who was called Theodidaktos, "god-taught" — such as Plotinus and his follower Porphyry — rejected theurgy at first, but were finally reconciled to it through Iamblichus, who wrote a work to that effect entitled "De Mysteriis," under the name of his own master, a famous Egyptian priest called Abammon. Ammonius Saccas was the son of Christian parents, and, having been repelled by dogmatic spiritualistic Christianity from his childhood, became a Neo-Platonist, and like J. Boehme and other great seers and mystics, is said to have had divine wisdom revealed to him in dreams and visions. Hence his name of Theodidaktos. He resolved to reconcile every system of religion, and by demonstrating their identical origin to establish one universal creed based on ethics. His life was so blameless and pure, his learning so profound and vast, that several Church Fathers were his secret disciples. Clemens Alexandrinus speaks very highly of him. Plotinus, the "St. John" of Ammonius, was also a man universally respected and esteemed, and of the most profound learning and integrity. When thirty-nine years of age he accompanied the Roman Emperor Gordian and his army to the East, to be instructed by the sages of Bactria and India. He had a School of Philosophy in Rome. Porphyry, his disciple, whose real name was Malek (a Hellenized Jew), collected all the writings of his master. Porphyry was himself a great author, and gave an allegorical interpretation to some parts of Homer's writings. The system of meditation the Philaletheians resorted to was ecstacy, a system akin to Indian Yoga practice. What is known of the Eclectic School is due to Origen, Longinus, and Plotinus, the immediate disciples of Ammonius — (Vide Eclectic Philos., by A. Wilder.)

3.It was under Philadelphus that Judaism established itself in Alexandria, and forthwith the Hellenic teachers became the dangerous rivals of the College of Rabbis of Babylon. As the author of "Eclectic Philosophy" very pertinently remarks: "The Buddhistic, Vedantic, and Magian systems were expounded along with the philosophies of Greece at that period. It was not wonderful that thoughtful men supposed that the strife of words ought to cease, and considered it possible to extract one harmonious system from these various teachings. . . . Panaenus, Athenagoras, and Clement were thoroughly instructed in Platonic philosophy, and comprehended its essential unity with the Oriental systems."

4.Says Mosheim of Ammonius: "Conceiving that not only the philosophers of Greece, but also all those of the different barbarian nations, were perfectly in unison with each other with regard to every essential point, he made it his business so to expound the thousand tenets of all these various sects as to show they had all originated from one and the same source, and tended all to one and the same end." If the writer on Ammonius in the Edinburgh Encyclopoedia knows what he is talking about, then he describes the modern Theosophists, their beliefs, and their work, for he says, speaking of the Theodidaktos: "He adopted the doctrines which were received in Egypt (the esoteric were those of India) concerning the Universe and the Deity, considered as constituting one great whole; concerning the eternity of the world . . . and established a system of moral discipline which allowed the people in general to live according to the laws of their country and the dictates of nature, but required the wise to exalt their mind by contemplation."

5. This is what the scholarly author of "The Eclectic Philosophy," Prof. A. Wilder, F. T. S., describes as "spiritual photography": "The soul is the camera in which facts and events, future, past, and present, are alike fixed; and the mind becomes conscious of them. Beyond our every-day world of limits all is one day or state — the past and future comprised in the present." . . . Death is the last ecstasis on earth. Then the soul is freed from the constraint of the body, and its nobler part is united to higher nature and becomes partaker in the wisdom and foreknowledge of the higher beings." Real Theosophy is, for the mystics, that state which Apollonius of Tyana was made to describe thus: "I can see the present and the future as in a clear mirror. The sage need not wait for the vapours of the earth and the corruption of the air to foresee events. . . . The theoi, or gods, see the future; common men the present; sages that which is about to take place." "The Theosophy of the Sages" he speaks of is well expressed in the assertion, "The Kingdom of God is within us."
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Re: The Key to Theosophy, by H.P. Blavatsky

Postby admin » Sun Mar 15, 2020 1:24 am

Section 2: Exoteric and Esoteric Theosophy

WHAT THE MODERN THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY IS NOT


Enq. Your doctrines, then, are not a revival of Buddhism, nor are they entirely copied from the Neo-Platonic Theosophy?

Theo. They are not. But to these questions I cannot give you a better answer than by quoting from a paper read on "Theosophy" by Dr. J. D. Buck, F.T.S., before the last Theosophical Convention, at Chicago, America (April, 1889). No living theosophist has better expressed and understood the real essence of Theosophy than our honoured friend Dr. Buck: —

"The Theosophical Society was organized for the purpose of promulgating the Theosophical doctrines, and for the promotion of the Theosophic life. The present Theosophical Society is not the first of its kind. I have a volume entitled: 'Theosophical Transactions of the Philadelphian Society,' published in London in 1697; and another with the following title: 'Introduction to Theosophy, or the Science of the Mystery of Christ; that is, of Deity, Nature, and Creature, embracing the philosophy of all the working powers of life, magical and spiritual, and forming a practical guide to the sublimest purity, sanctity, and evangelical perfection; also to the attainment of divine vision, and the holy angelic arts, potencies, and other prerogatives of the regeneration,' published in London in 1855. The following is the dedication of this volume: —

"'To the students of Universities, Colleges, and schools of Christendom: To Professors of Metaphysical, Mechanical, and Natural Science in all its forms: To men and women of Education generally, of fundamental orthodox faith: To Deists, Arians, Unitarians, Swedenborgians, and other defective and ungrounded creeds, rationalists, and sceptics of every kind: To just-minded and enlightened Mohammedans, Jews, and oriental Patriarch-religionists: but especially to the gospel minister and missionary, whether to the barbaric or intellectual peoples, this introduction to Theosophy, or the science of the ground and mystery of all things, is most humbly and affectionately dedicated.'

"In the following year (1856) another volume was issued, royal octavo, of 600 pages, diamond type, of 'Theosophical Miscellanies.' Of the last-named work 500 copies only were issued, for gratuitous distribution to Libraries and Universities. These earlier movements, of which there were many, originated within the Church, with persons of great piety and earnestness, and of unblemished character; and all of these writings were in orthodox form, using the Christian expressions, and, like the writings of the eminent Churchman William Law, would only be distinguished by the ordinary reader for their great earnestness and piety. These were one and all but attempts to derive and explain the deeper meanings and original import of the Christian Scriptures, and to illustrate and unfold the Theosophic life. These works were soon forgotten, and are now generally unknown. They sought to reform the clergy and revive genuine piety, and were never welcomed. That one word, "Heresy," was sufficient to bury them in the limbo of all such Utopias. At the time of the Reformation John Reuchlin made a similar attempt with the same result, though he was the intimate and trusted friend of Luther. Orthodoxy never desired to be informed and enlightened. These reformers were informed, as was Paul by Festus, that too much learning had made them mad, and that it would be dangerous to go farther. Passing by the verbiage, which was partly a matter of habit and education with these writers, and partly due to religious restraint through secular power, and coming to the core of the matter, these writings were Theosophical in the strictest sense, and pertain solely to man's knowledge of his own nature and the higher life of the soul. The present Theosophical movement has sometimes been declared to be an attempt to convert Christendom to Buddhism, which means simply that the word 'Heresy' has lost its terrors and relinquished its power. Individuals in every age have more or less clearly apprehended the Theosophical doctrines and wrought them into the fabric of their lives. These doctrines belong exclusively to no religion, and are confined to no society or time. They are the birthright of every human soul. Such a thing as orthodoxy must be wrought out by each individual according to his nature and his needs, and according to his varying experience. This may explain why those who have imagined Theosophy to be a new religion have hunted in vain for its creed and its ritual. Its creed is Loyalty to Truth, and its ritual 'To honour every truth by use.'

"How little this principle of Universal Brotherhood is understood by the masses of mankind, how seldom its transcendent importance is recognised, may be seen in the diversity of opinion and fictitious interpretations regarding the Theosophical Society. This Society was organized on this one principle, the essential Brotherhood of Man, as herein briefly outlined and imperfectly set forth. It has been assailed as Buddhistic and anti-Christian, as though it could be both these together, when both Buddhism and Christianity, as set forth by their inspired founders, make brotherhood the one essential of doctrine and of life. Theosophy has been also regarded as something new under the sun, or at best as old mysticism masquerading under a new name. While it is true that many Societies founded upon, and united to support, the principles of altruism, or essential brotherhood, have borne various names, it is also true that many have also been called Theosophic, and with principles and aims as the present society bearing that name. With these societies, one and all, the essential doctrine has been the same, and all else has been incidental, though this does not obviate the fact that many persons are attracted to the incidentals who overlook or ignore the essentials."


No better or more explicit answer — by a man who is one of our most esteemed and earnest Theosophists — could be given to your questions.

Enq. Which system do you prefer or follow, in that case, besides Buddhistic ethics?

Theo. None, and all. We hold to no religion, as to no philosophy in particular: we cull the good we find in each. But here, again, it must be stated that, like all other ancient systems, Theosophy is divided into Exoteric and Esoteric Sections.

Enq. What is the difference?

Theo. The members of the Theosophical Society at large are free to profess whatever religion or philosophy they like, or none if they so prefer, provided they are in sympathy with, and ready to carry out one or more of the three objects of the Association. The Society is a philanthropic and scientific body for the propagation of the idea of brotherhood on practical instead of theoretical lines. The Fellows may be Christians or Mussulmen, Jews or Parsees, Buddhists or Brahmins, Spiritualists or Materialists, it does not matter; but every member must be either a philanthropist, or a scholar, a searcher into Aryan and other old literature, or a psychic student. In short, he has to help, if he can, in the carrying out of at least one of the objects of the programme. Otherwise he has no reason for becoming a "Fellow." Such are the majority of the exoteric Society, composed of "attached" and "unattached" members. [An "attached member" means one who has joined some particular branch of the T. S. An "unattached," one who belongs to the Society at large, has his diploma, from the Headquarters (Adyar, Madras), but is connected with no branch or lodge.] These may, or may not, become Theosophists de facto. Members they are, by virtue of their having joined the Society; but the latter cannot make a Theosophist of one who has no sense for the divine fitness of things, or of him who understands Theosophy in his own — if the expression may be used — sectarian and egotistic way. "Handsome is, as handsome does" could be paraphrased in this case and be made to run: "Theosophist is, who Theosophy does."

THEOSOPHISTS AND MEMBERS OF THE "T. S."

Enq. This applies to lay members, as I understand. And what of those who pursue the esoteric study of Theosophy; are they the real Theosophists?

Theo. Not necessarily, until they have proven themselves to be such. They have entered the inner group and pledged themselves to carry out, as strictly as they can, the rules of the occult body. This is a difficult undertaking, as the foremost rule of all is the entire renunciation of one's personality — i. e., a pledged member has to become a thorough altruist, never to think of himself, and to forget his own vanity and pride in the thought of the good of his fellow-creatures, besides that of his fellow-brothers in the esoteric circle. He has to live, if the esoteric instructions shall profit him, a life of abstinence in everything, of self-denial and strict morality, doing his duty by all men. The few real Theosophists in the T. S. are among these members. This does not imply that outside of the T. S. and the inner circle, there are no Theosophists; for there are, and more than people know of; certainly far more than are found among the lay members of the T. S.

Enq. Then what is the good of joining the so-called Theosophical Society in that case? Where is the incentive?

Theo. None, except the advantage of getting esoteric instructions, the genuine doctrines of the "Wisdom-Religion," and if the real programme is carried out, deriving much help from mutual aid and sympathy. Union is strength and harmony, and well-regulated simultaneous efforts produce wonders. This has been the secret of all associations and communities since mankind existed.

Enq. But why could not a man of well-balanced mind and singleness of purpose, one, say, of indomitable energy and perseverance, become an Occultist and even an Adept if he works alone?

Theo. He may; but there are ten thousand chances against one that he will fail. For one reason out of many others, no books on Occultism or Theurgy exist in our day which give out the secrets of alchemy or mediaeval Theosophy in plain language. All are symbolical or in parables; and as the key to these has been lost for ages in the West, how can a man learn the correct meaning of what he is reading and studying? Therein lies the greatest danger, one that leads to unconscious black magic or the most helpless mediumship. He who has not an Initiate for a master had better leave the dangerous study alone. Look around you and observe. While two-thirds of civilized society ridicule the mere notion that there is anything in Theosophy, Occultism, Spiritualism, or in the Kabala, the other third is composed of the most heterogeneous and opposite elements. Some believe in the mystical, and even in the supernatural (!), but each believes in his own way. Others will rush single-handed into the study of the Kabala, Psychism, Mesmerism, Spiritualism, or some form or another of Mysticism. Result: no two men think alike, no two are agreed upon any fundamental occult principles, though many are those who claim for themselves the ultima thule of knowledge, and would make outsiders believe that they are full-blown adepts. Not only is there no scientific and accurate knowledge of Occultism accessible in the West — not even of true astrology, the only branch of Occultism which, in its exoteric teachings, has definite laws and a definite system — but no one has any idea of what real Occultism means. Some limit ancient wisdom to the Kabala and the Jewish Zohar, which each interprets in his own way according to the dead-letter of the Rabbinical methods. Others regard Swedenborg or Boehme as the ultimate expression of the highest wisdom; while others again see in mesmerism the great secret of ancient magic. One and all of those who put their theory into practice are rapidly drifting, through ignorance, into black magic. Happy are those who escape from it, as they have neither test nor criterion by which they can distinguish between the true and the false.

Enq. Are we to understand that the inner group of the T. S. claims to learn what it does from real initiates or masters of esoteric wisdom?

Theo. Not directly. The personal presence of such masters is not required. Suffice it if they give instructions to some of those who have studied under their guidance for years, and devoted their whole lives to their service. Then, in turn, these can give out the knowledge so imparted to others, who had no such opportunity. A portion of the true sciences is better than a mass of undigested and misunderstood learning. An ounce of gold is worth a ton of dust.

Enq. But how is one to know whether the ounce is real gold or only a counterfeit?

Theo. A tree is known by its fruit, a system by its results. When our opponents are able to prove to us that any solitary student of Occultism throughout the ages has become a saintly adept like Ammonius Saccas, or even a Plotinus, or a Theurgist like Iamblichus, or achieved feats such as are claimed to have been done by St. Germain, without any master to guide him, and all this without being a medium, a self-deluded psychic, or a charlatan — then shall we confess ourselves mistaken. But till then, Theosophists prefer to follow the proven natural law of the tradition of the Sacred Science. There are mystics who have made great discoveries in chemistry and physical sciences, almost bordering on alchemy and Occultism; others who, by the sole aid of their genius, have rediscovered portions, if not the whole, of the lost alphabets of the "Mystery language," and are, therefore, able to read correctly Hebrew scrolls; others still, who, being seers, have caught wonderful glimpses of the hidden secrets of Nature. But all these are specialists. One is a theoretical inventor, another a Hebrew, i. e., a Sectarian Kabalist, a third a Swedenborg of modern times, denying all and everything outside of his own particular science or religion. Not one of them can boast of having produced a universal or even a national benefit thereby, not even to himself. With the exception of a few healers — of that class which the Royal College of Physicians or Surgeons would call quacks — none have helped with their science Humanity, nor even a number of men of the same community. Where are the Chaldees of old, those who wrought marvellous cures, "not by charms but by simples"? Where is an Apollonius of Tyana, who healed the sick and raised the dead under any climate and circumstances? We know some specialists of the former class in Europe, but none of the latter — except in Asia, where the secret of the Yogi, "to live in death," is still preserved.

Enq. Is the production of such healing adepts the aim of Theosophy?

Theo. Its aims are several; but the most important of all are those which are likely to lead to the relief of human suffering under any or every form, moral as well as physical. And we believe the former to be far more important than the latter. Theosophy has to inculcate ethics; it has to purify the soul, if it would relieve the physical body, whose ailments, save cases of accidents, are all hereditary. It is not by studying Occultism for selfish ends, for the gratification of one's personal ambition, pride, or vanity, that one can ever reach the true goal: that of helping suffering mankind. Nor is it by studying one single branch of the esoteric philosophy that a man becomes an Occultist, but by studying, if not mastering, them all.

Enq. Is help, then, to reach this most important aim, given only to those who study the esoteric sciences?

Theo. Not at all. Every lay member is entitled to general instruction if he only wants it; but few are willing to become what is called "working members," and most prefer to remain the drones of Theosophy. Let it be understood that private research is encouraged in the T. S., provided it does not infringe the limit which separates the exoteric from the esoteric, the blind from the conscious magic.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEOSOPHY AND OCCULTISM

Enq. You speak of Theosophy and Occultism; are they identical?

Theo. By no means. A man may be a very good Theosophist indeed, whether in or outside of the Society, without being in any way an Occultist. But no one can be a true Occultist without being a real Theosophist; otherwise he is simply a black magician, whether conscious or unconscious.

Enq. What do you mean?

Theo. I have said already that a true Theosophist must put in practice the loftiest moral ideal, must strive to realize his unity with the whole of humanity, and work ceaselessly for others. Now, if an Occultist does not do all this, he must act selfishly for his own personal benefit; and if he has acquired more practical power than other ordinary men, he becomes forthwith a far more dangerous enemy to the world and those around him than the average mortal. This is clear.

Enq. Then is an Occultist simply a man who possesses more power than other people?

Theo. Far more — if he is a practical and really learned Occultist, and not one only in name. Occult sciences are not, as described in Encyclopaedias, "those imaginary sciences of the Middle Ages which related to the supposed action or influence of Occult qualities or supernatural powers, as alchemy, magic, necromancy, and astrology," for they are real, actual, and very dangerous sciences. They teach the secret potency of things in Nature, developing and cultivating the hidden powers "latent in man," thus giving him tremendous advantages over more ignorant mortals. Hypnotism, now become so common and a subject of serious scientific inquiry, is a good instance in point. Hypnotic power has been discovered almost by accident, the way to it having been prepared by mesmerism; and now an able hypnotizer can do almost anything with it, from forcing a man, unconsciously to himself, to play the fool, to making him commit a crime — often by proxy for the hypnotizer, and for the benefit of the latter. Is not this a terrible power if left in the hands of unscrupulous persons? And please to remember that this is only one of the minor branches of Occultism.

Enq. But are not all these Occult sciences, magic, and sorcery, considered by the most cultured and learned people as relics of ancient ignorance and superstition?

Theo. Let me remind you that this remark of yours cuts both ways. The "most cultured and learned" among you regard also Christianity and every other religion as a relic of ignorance and superstition. People begin to believe now, at any rate, in hypnotism, and some — even of the most cultured — in Theosophy and phenomena. But who among them, except preachers and blind fanatics, will confess to a belief in Biblical miracles? And this is where the point of difference comes in. There are very good and pure Theosophists who may believe in the supernatural, divine miracles included, but no Occultist will do so. For an Occultist practises scientific Theosophy, based on accurate knowledge of Nature's secret workings; but a Theosophist, practising the powers called abnormal, minus the light of Occultism, will simply tend toward a dangerous form of mediumship, because, although holding to Theosophy and its highest conceivable code of ethics, he practises it in the dark, on sincere but blind faith. Anyone, Theosophist or Spiritualist, who attempts to cultivate one of the branches of Occult science — e.g., Hypnotism, Mesmerism, or even the secrets of producing physical phenomena, etc. — without the knowledge of the philosophic rationale of those powers, is like a rudderless boat launched on a stormy ocean.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEOSOPHY AND SPIRITUALISM

Enq. But do you not believe in Spiritualism?

Theo. If by "Spiritualism" you mean the explanation which Spiritualists give of some abnormal phenomena, then decidedly we do not. They maintain that these manifestations are all produced by the "spirits" of departed mortals, generally their relatives, who return to earth, they say, to communicate with those they have loved or to whom they are attached. We deny this point blank. We assert that the spirits of the dead cannot return to earth — save in rare and exceptional cases, of which I may speak later; nor do they communicate with men except by entirely subjective means. That which does appear objectively, is only the phantom of the ex-physical man. But in psychic, and so to say, "Spiritual" Spiritualism, we do believe, most decidedly.

Enq. Do you reject the phenomena also?

Theo. Assuredly not — save cases of conscious fraud.

Enq. How do you account for them, then?

Theo. In many ways. The causes of such manifestations are by no means so simple as the Spiritualists would like to believe. Foremost of all, the deus ex machina of the so-called "materializations" is usually the astral body or "double" of the medium or of some one present. This astral body is also the producer or operating force in the manifestations of slate-writing, "Davenport"-like manifestations, and so on.

Enq. You say "usually"; then what is it that produces the rest?

Theo. That depends on the nature of the manifestations. Sometimes the astral remains, the Kamalokic "shells" of the vanished personalities that were; at other times, Elementals. "Spirit" is a word of manifold and wide significance. I really do not know what Spiritualists mean by the term; but what we understand them to claim is that the physical phenomena are produced by the reincarnating Ego, the Spiritual and immortal "individuality." And this hypothesis we entirely reject. The Conscious Individuality of the disembodied cannot materialize, nor can it return from its own mental Devachanic sphere to the plane of terrestrial objectivity.

Enq. But many of the communications received from the "spirits" show not only intelligence, but a knowledge of facts not known to the medium, and sometimes even not consciously present to the mind of the investigator, or any of those who compose the audience.

Theo. This does not necessarily prove that the intelligence and knowledge you speak of belong to spirits, or emanate from disembodied souls. Somnambulists have been known to compose music and poetry and to solve mathematical problems while in their trance state, without having ever learnt music or mathematics. Others, answered intelligently to questions put to them, and even, in several cases, spoke languages, such as Hebrew and Latin, of which they were entirely ignorant when awake — all this in a state of profound sleep. Will you, then, maintain that this was caused by "spirits"?

Enq. But how would you explain it?

Theo. We assert that the divine spark in man being one and identical in its essence with the Universal Spirit, our "spiritual Self" is practically omniscient, but that it cannot manifest its knowledge owing to the impediments of matter. Now the more these impediments are removed, in other words, the more the physical body is paralyzed, as to its own independent activity and consciousness, as in deep sleep or deep trance, or, again, in illness, the more fully can the inner Self manifest on this plane. This is our explanation of those truly wonderful phenomena of a higher order, in which undeniable intelligence and knowledge are exhibited. As to the lower order of manifestations, such as physical phenomena and the platitudes and common talk of the general "spirit," to explain even the most important of the teachings we hold upon the subject would take up more space and time than can be allotted to it at present. We have no desire to interfere with the belief of the Spiritualists any more than with any other belief. The onus probandi must fall on the believers in "spirits." And at the present moment, while still convinced that the higher sort of manifestations occur through the disembodied souls, their leaders and the most learned and intelligent among the Spiritualists are the first to confess that not all the phenomena are produced by spirits. Gradually they will come to recognise the whole truth; but meanwhile we have no right nor desire to proselytize them to our views. The less so, as in the cases of purely psychic and spiritual manifestations we believe in the intercommunication of the spirit of the living man with that of disembodied personalities.*

*We say that in such cases it is not the spirits of the dead who descend on earth, but the spirits of the living that ascend to the pure Spiritual Souls. In truth there is neither ascending nor descending, but a change of state or condition for the medium. The body of the latter becoming paralyzed, or "entranced," the spiritual Ego is free from its trammels, and finds itself on the same plane of consciousness with the disembodied spirits. Hence, if there is any spiritual attraction between the two they can communicate, as often occurs in dreams. The difference between a mediumistic and a non-sensitive nature is this: the liberated spirit of a medium has the opportunity and facility of influencing the passive organs of its entranced physical body, to make them act, speak, and write at its will. The Ego can make it repeat, echo-like, and in the human language, the thoughts and ideas of the disembodied entity, as well as its own. But the non-receptive or non-sensitive organism of one who is very positive cannot be so influenced. Hence, although there is hardly a human being whose Ego does not hold free intercourse, during the sleep of his body, with those whom it loved and lost, yet, on account of the positiveness and non-receptivity of its physical envelope and brain, no recollection, or a very dim, dream-like remembrance, lingers in the memory of the person once awake.


Enq. This means that you reject the philosophy of Spiritualism in toto?

Theo. If by "philosophy" you mean their crude theories, we do. But they have no philosophy, in truth. Their best, their most intellectual and earnest defenders say so. Their fundamental and only unimpeachable truth, namely, that phenomena occur through mediums controlled by invisible forces and intelligences — no one, except a blind materialist of the "Huxley big toe" school, will or can deny. With regard to their philosophy, however, let me read to you what the able editor of Light, than whom the Spiritualists will find no wiser nor more devoted champion, says of them and their philosophy. This is what "M. A. Oxon," one of the very few philosophical Spiritualists, writes, with respect to their lack of organization and blind bigotry: —

It is worth while to look steadily at this point, for it is of vital moment. We have an experience and a knowledge beside which all other knowledge is comparatively insignificant. The ordinary Spiritualist waxes wroth if anyone ventures to impugn his assured knowledge of the future and his absolute certainty of the life to come. Where other men have stretched forth feeble hands groping into the dark future, he walks boldly as one who has a chart and knows his way. Where other men have stopped short at a pious aspiration or have been content with a hereditary faith, it is his boast that he knows what they only believe, and that out of his rich stores he can supplement the fading faiths built only upon hope. He is magnificent in his dealings with man's most cherished expectations. "You hope," he seems to say, "for that which I can demonstrate. You have accepted a traditional belief in what I can experimentally prove according to the strictest scientific method. The old beliefs are fading; come out from them and be separate. They contain as much falsehood as truth. Only by building on a sure foundation of demonstrated fact can your superstructure be stable. All round you old faiths are toppling. Avoid the crash and get you out.

"When one comes to deal with this magnificent person in a practical way, what is the result? Very curious and very disappointing. He is so sure of his ground that he takes no trouble to ascertain the interpretation which others put upon his facts. The wisdom of the ages has concerned itself with the explanation of what he rightly regards as proven; but he does not turn a passing glance on its researches. He does not even agree altogether with his brother Spiritualist. It is the story over again of the old Scotch body who, together with her husband, formed a "kirk." They had exclusive keys to Heaven, or, rather, she had, for she was "na certain aboot Jamie." So the infinitely divided and subdivided and re-subdivided sects of Spiritualists shake their heads, and are "na certain aboot" one another. Again, the collective experience of mankind is solid and unvarying on this point that union is strength, and disunion a source of weakness and failure. Shoulder to shoulder, drilled and disciplined, a rabble becomes an army, each man a match for a hundred of the untrained men that may be brought against it. Organization in every department of man's work means success, saving of time and labour, profit and development. Want of method, want of plan, haphazard work, fitful energy, undisciplined effort — these mean bungling failure. The voice of humanity attests the truth. Does the Spiritualist accept the verdict and act on the conclusion? Verily, no. He refuses to organize. He is a law unto himself, and a thorn in the side of his neighbours." — Light, June 22, 1889.


Enq. I was told that the Theosophical Society was originally founded to crush Spiritualism and belief in the survival of the individuality in man?

Theo. You are misinformed. Our beliefs are all founded on that immortal individuality. But then, like so many others, you confuse personality with individuality. Your Western psychologists do not seem to have established any clear distinction between the two. Yet it is precisely that difference which gives the key-note to the understanding of Eastern philosophy, and which lies at the root of the divergence between the Theosophical and Spiritualistic teachings. And though it may draw upon us still more the hostility of some Spiritualists, yet I must state here that it is Theosophy which is the true and unalloyed Spiritualism, while the modern scheme of that name is, as now practised by the masses, simply transcendental materialism.

Enq. Please explain your idea more clearly.

Theo. What I mean is that though our teachings insist upon the identity of spirit and matter, and though we say that spirit is potential matter, and matter simply crystallized spirit (e.g., as ice is solidified steam), yet since the original and eternal condition of all is not spirit but meta-spirit, so to speak, (visible and solid matter being simply its periodical manifestation,) we maintain that the term spirit can only be applied to the true individuality.

Enq. But what is the distinction between this "true individuality" and the "I" or "Ego" of which we are all conscious?

Theo. Before I can answer you, we must argue upon what you mean by "I" or "Ego." We distinguish between the simple fact of self-consciousness, the simple feeling that "I am I," and the complex thought that "I am Mr. Smith" or "Mrs. Brown." Believing as we do in a series of births for the same Ego, or re-incarnation, this distinction is the fundamental pivot of the whole idea. You see "Mr. Smith" really means a long series of daily experiences strung together by the thread of memory, and forming what Mr. Smith calls "himself." But none of these "experiences" are really the "I" or the Ego, nor do they give "Mr. Smith" the feeling that he is himself, for he forgets the greater part of his daily experiences, and they produce the feeling of Egoity in him only while they last. We Theosophists, therefore, distinguish between this bundle of "experiences," which we call the false (because so finite and evanescent) personality, and that element in man to which the feeling of "I am I" is due. It is this "I am I" which we call the true individuality; and we say that this "Ego" or individuality plays, like an actor, many parts on the stage of life. (Vide infra, "On Individuality and Personality.") Let us call every new life on earth of the same Ego a night on the stage of a theatre. One night the actor, or "Ego," appears as "Macbeth," the next as "Shylock," the third as "Romeo," the fourth as "Hamlet" or "King Lear," and so on, until he has run through the whole cycle of incarnations. The Ego begins his life-pilgrimage as a sprite, an "Ariel," or a "Puck"; he plays the part of a super, is a soldier, a servant, one of the chorus; rises then to "speaking parts," plays leading roles, interspersed with insignificant parts, till he finally retires from the stage as "Prospero," the magician.

Enq. I understand. You say, then, that this true Ego cannot return to earth after death. But surely the actor is at liberty, if he has preserved the sense of his individuality, to return if he likes to the scene of his former actions?

Theo. We say not, simply because such a return to earth would be incompatible with any state of unalloyed bliss after death, as I am prepared to prove. We say that man suffers so much unmerited misery during his life, through the fault of others with whom he is associated, or because of his environment, that he is surely entitled to perfect rest and quiet, if not bliss, before taking up again the burden of life. However, we can discuss this in detail later.

WHY IS THEOSOPHY ACCEPTED?

Enq. I understand to a certain extent; but I see that your teachings are far more complicated and metaphysical than either Spiritualism or current religious thought. Can you tell me, then, what has caused this system of Theosophy which you support to arouse so much interest and so much animosity at the same time?

Theo. There are several reasons for it, I believe; among other causes that may be mentioned is, firstly, the great reaction from the crassly materialistic theories now prevalent among scientific teachers. Secondly, general dissatisfaction with the artificial theology of the various Christian Churches, and the number of daily increasing and conflicting sects. Thirdly, an ever-growing perception of the fact that the creeds which are so obviously self — and mutually — contradictory cannot be true, and that claims which are unverified cannot be real. This natural distrust of conventional religions is only strengthened by their complete failure to preserve morals and to purify society and the masses. Fourthly, a conviction on the part of many, and knowledge by a few, that there must be somewhere a philosophical and religious system which shall be scientific and not merely speculative. Finally, a belief, perhaps, that such a system must be sought for in teachings far antedating any modern faith.

Enq. But how did this system come to be put forward just now?

Theo. Just because the time was found to be ripe, which fact is shown by the determined effort of so many earnest students to reach the truth, at whatever cost and wherever it may be concealed. Seeing this, its custodians permitted that some portions at least of that truth should be proclaimed. Had the formation of the Theosophical Society been postponed a few years longer, one half of the civilized nations would have become by this time rank materialists, and the other half anthropomorphists and phenomenalists.

Enq. Are we to regard Theosophy in any way as a revelation?

Theo. In no way whatever — not even in the sense of a new and direct disclosure from some higher, supernatural, or, at least, superhuman beings; but only in the sense of an "unveiling" of old, very old, truths to minds hitherto ignorant of them, ignorant even of the existence and preservation of any such archaic knowledge.*

*It has become "fashionable," — especially of late, to deride the notion that there ever was, in the mysteries of great and civilized peoples, such as the Egyptians, Greeks, or Romans, anything but priestly imposture. Even the Rosicrucians were no better than half lunatics, half knaves. Numerous books have been written on them; and tyros, who had hardly heard the name a few years before, sallied out as profound critics and Gnostics on the subject of alchemy, the fire-philosophers, and mysticism in general. Yet a long series of the Hierophants of Egypt, India, Chaldea, and Arabia are known, along with the greatest philosophers and sages of Greece and the West, to have included under the designation of wisdom and divine science all knowledge, for they considered the base and origin of every art and science as essentially divine. Plato regarded the mysteries as most sacred, and Clemens Alexandrinus, who had been himself initiated into the Eleusinian mysteries, has declared "that the doctrines taught therein contained in them the end of all human knowledge." Were Plato and Clemens two knaves or two fools, we wonder, or — both?


Enq. You spoke of "Persecution." If truth is as represented by Theosophy, why has it met with such opposition, and with no general acceptance?

Theo. For many and various reasons again, one of which is the hatred felt by men for "innovations," as they call them. Selfishness is essentially conservative, and hates being disturbed. It prefers an easy-going, unexacting lie to the greatest truth, if the latter requires the sacrifice of one's smallest comfort. The power of mental inertia is great in anything that does not promise immediate benefit and reward. Our age is pre-eminently unspiritual and matter of fact. Moreover, there is the unfamiliar character of Theosophic teachings; the highly abstruse nature of the doctrines, some of which contradict flatly many of the human vagaries cherished by sectarians, which have eaten into the very core of popular beliefs. If we add to this the personal efforts and great purity of life exacted of those who would become the disciples of the inner circle, and the very limited class to which an entirely unselfish code appeals, it will be easy to perceive the reason why Theosophy is doomed to such slow, up-hill work. It is essentially the philosophy of those who suffer, and have lost all hope of being helped out of the mire of life by any other means. Moreover, the history of any system of belief or morals, newly introduced into a foreign soil, shows that its beginnings were impeded by every obstacle that obscurantism and selfishness could suggest. "The crown of the innovator is a crown of thorns" indeed! No pulling down of old, worm-eaten buildings can be accomplished without some danger.

Enq. All this refers rather to the ethics and philosophy of the T. S. Can you give me a general idea of the Society itself, its objects and statutes?

Theo. This was never made secret. Ask, and you shall receive accurate answers.

Enq. But I heard that you were bound by pledges?

Theo. Only in the Arcane or "Esoteric" Section.

Enq. And also, that some members after leaving did not regard themselves bound by them. Are they right?

Theo. This shows that their idea of honour is an imperfect one. How can they be right? As well said in the Path, our theosophical organ at New York, treating of such a case: "Suppose that a soldier is tried for infringement of oath and discipline, and is dismissed from the service. In his rage at the justice he has called down, and of whose penalties he was distinctly forewarned, the soldier turns to the enemy with false information, — a spy and traitor — as a revenge upon his former Chief, and claims that his punishment has released him from his oath of loyalty to a cause." Is he justified, think you? Don't you think he deserves being called a dishonourable man, a coward?

Enq. I believe so; but some think otherwise.

Theo. So much the worse for them. But we will talk on this subject later, if you please.
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Re: The Key to Theosophy, by H.P. Blavatsky

Postby admin » Sun Mar 15, 2020 1:26 am

Section 3: The Working System of the T. S.
(Nota bene, "T. S." is an abbreviation for "Theosophical Society.")

THE OBJECTS OF THE SOCIETY


Enq. What are the objects of the "Theosophical Society"?

Theo. They are three, and have been so from the beginning. (1.) To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity without distinction of race, colour, or creed. (2.) To promote the study of Aryan and other Scriptures, of the World's religion and sciences, and to vindicate the importance of old Asiatic literature, namely, of the Brahmanical, Buddhist, and Zoroastrian philosophies. (3.) To investigate the hidden mysteries of Nature under every aspect possible, and the psychic and spiritual powers latent in man especially. These are, broadly stated, the three chief objects of the Theosophical Society.

Enq. Can you give me some more detailed information upon these?

Theo. We may divide each of the three objects into as many explanatory clauses as may be found necessary.

Enq. Then let us begin with the first. What means would you resort to, in order to promote such a feeling of brotherhood among races that are known to be of the most diversified religions, customs, beliefs, and modes of thought?

Theo. Allow me to add that which you seem unwilling to express. Of course we know that with the exception of two remnants of races — the Parsees and the Jews — every nation is divided, not merely against all other nations, but even against itself. This is found most prominently among the so-called civilized Christian nations. Hence your wonder, and the reason why our first object appears to you a Utopia. Is it not so?

Enq. Well, yes; but what have you to say against it?

Theo. Nothing against the fact; but much about the necessity of removing the causes which make Universal Brotherhood a Utopia at present.

Enq. What are, in your view, these causes?

Theo. First and foremost, the natural selfishness of human nature. This selfishness, instead of being eradicated, is daily strengthened and stimulated into a ferocious and irresistible feeling by the present religious education, which tends not only to encourage, but positively to justify it. People's ideas about right and wrong have been entirely perverted by the literal acceptance of the Jewish Bible. All the unselfishness of the altruistic teachings of Jesus has become merely a theoretical subject for pulpit oratory; while the precepts of practical selfishness taught in the Mosaic Bible, against which Christ so vainly preached, have become ingrained into the innermost life of the Western nations. "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" has come to be the first maxim of your law. Now, I state openly and fearlessly, that the perversity of this doctrine and of so many others Theosophy alone can eradicate.

THE COMMON ORIGIN OF MAN

Enq. How?

Theo. Simply by demonstrating on logical, philosophical, metaphysical, and even scientific grounds that: — (a) All men have spiritually and physically the same origin, which is the fundamental teaching of Theosophy. (b) As mankind is essentially of one and the same essence, and that essence is one — infinite, uncreate, and eternal, whether we call it God or Nature — nothing, therefore, can affect one nation or one man without affecting all other nations and all other men. This is as certain and as obvious as that a stone thrown into a pond will, sooner or later, set in motion every single drop of water therein.

Enq. But this is not the teaching of Christ, but rather a pantheistic notion.

Theo. That is where your mistake lies. It is purely Christian, although not Judaic, and therefore, perhaps, your Biblical nations prefer to ignore it.

Enq. This is a wholesale and unjust accusation. Where are your proofs for such a statement?

Theo. They are ready at hand. Christ is alleged to have said: "Love each other" and "Love your enemies"; for "if ye love them (only) which love you, what reward (or merit) have ye? Do not even the publicans (1) the same? And if you salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even publicans so?" These are Christ's words. But Genesis ix. 25, says "Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren." And, therefore, Christian but Biblical people prefer the law of Moses to Christ's law of love. They base upon the Old Testament, which panders to all their passions, their laws of conquest, annexation, and tyranny over races which they call inferior. What crimes have been committed on the strength of this infernal (if taken in its dead letter) passage in Genesis, history alone gives us an idea, however inadequate. (2)

Enq. I have heard you say that the identity of our physical origin is proved by science, that of our spiritual origin by the Wisdom-Religion. Yet we do not find Darwinists exhibiting great fraternal affection.

Theo. Just so. This is what shows the deficiency of the materialistic systems, and proves that we Theosophists are in the right. The identity of our physical origin makes no appeal to our higher and deeper feelings. Matter, deprived of its soul and spirit, or its divine essence, cannot speak to the human heart. But the identity of the soul and spirit, of real, immortal man, as Theosophy teaches us, once proven and deep-rooted in our hearts, would lead us far on the road of real charity and brotherly goodwill.

Enq. But how does Theosophy explain the common origin of man?

Theo. By teaching that the root of all nature, objective and subjective, and everything else in the universe, visible and invisible, is, was, and ever will be one absolute essence, from which all starts, and into which everything returns. This is Aryan philosophy, fully represented only by the Vedantins, and the Buddhist system. With this object in view, it is the duty of all Theosophists to promote in every practical way, and in all countries, the spread of non-sectarian education.

Enq. What do the written statutes of your Society advise its members to do besides this? On the physical plane, I mean?

Theo. In order to awaken brotherly feeling among nations we have to assist in the international exchange of useful arts and products, by advice, information, and co-operation with all worthy individuals and associations (provided, however, add the statutes, "that no benefit or percentage shall be taken by the Society or the 'Fellows' for its or their corporate services"). For instance, to take a practical illustration. The organization of Society, depicted by Edward Bellamy, in his magnificent work "Looking Backwards," admirably represents the Theosophical idea of what should be the first great step towards the full realization of universal brotherhood. The state of things he depicts falls short of perfection, because selfishness still exists and operates in the hearts of men. But in the main, selfishness and individualism have been overcome by the feeling of solidarity and mutual brotherhood; and the scheme of life there described reduces the causes tending to create and foster selfishness to a minimum.

Enq. Then as a Theosophist you will take part in an effort to realize such an ideal?

Theo. Certainly; and we have proved it by action. Have not you heard of the Nationalist clubs and party which have sprung up in America since the publication of Bellamy's book? They are now coming prominently to the front, and will do so more and more as time goes on. Well, these clubs and this party were started in the first instance by Theosophists. One of the first, the Nationalist Club of Boston, Mass., has Theosophists for President and Secretary, and the majority of its executive belong to the T. S. In the constitution of all their clubs, and of the party they are forming, the influence of Theosophy and of the Society is plain, for they all take as their basis, their first and fundamental principle, the Brotherhood of Humanity as taught by Theosophy. In their declaration of Principles they state: — "The principle of the Brotherhood of Humanity is one of the eternal truths that govern the world's progress on lines which distinguish human nature from brute nature." What can be more Theosophical than this? But it is not enough. What is also needed is to impress men with the idea that, if the root of mankind is one, then there must also be one truth which finds expression in all the various religions — except in the Jewish, as you do not find it expressed even in the Kabala.

Enq. This refers to the common origin of religions, and you may be right there. But how does it apply to practical brotherhood on the physical plane?

Theo. First, because that which is true on the metaphysical plane must be also true on the physical. Secondly, because there is no more fertile source of hatred and strife than religious differences. When one party or another thinks himself the sole possessor of absolute truth, it becomes only natural that he should think his neighbor absolutely in the clutches of Error or the Devil. But once get a man to see that none of them has the whole truth, but that they are mutually complementary, that the complete truth can be found only in the combined views of all, after that which is false in each of them has been sifted out — then true brotherhood in religion will be established. The same applies in the physical world.

Enq. Please explain further.

Theo. Take an instance. A plant consists of a root, a stem, and many shoots and leaves. As humanity, as a whole, is the stem which grows from the spiritual root, so is the stem the unity of the plant. Hurt the stem and it is obvious that every shoot and leaf will suffer. So it is with mankind.

Enq. Yes, but if you injure a leaf or a shoot, you do not injure the whole plant.

Theo. And therefore you think that by injuring one man you do not injure humanity? But how do you know? Are you aware that even materialistic science teaches that any injury, however slight, to a plant will affect the whole course of its future growth and development? Therefore, you are mistaken, and the analogy is perfect. If, however, you overlook the fact that a cut in the finger may often make the whole body suffer, and react on the whole nervous system, I must all the more remind you that there may well be other spiritual laws, operating on plants and animals as well as on mankind, although, as you do not recognise their action on plants and animals, you may deny their existence.

Enq. What laws do you mean?

Theo. We call them Karmic laws; but you will not understand the full meaning of the term unless you study Occultism. However, my argument did not rest on the assumption of these laws, but really on the analogy of the plant. Expand the idea, carry it out to a universal application, and you will soon find that in true philosophy every physical action has its moral and everlasting effect. Hurt a man by doing him bodily harm; you may think that his pain and suffering cannot spread by any means to his neighbors, least of all to men of other nations. We affirm that it will, in good time. Therefore, we say, that unless every man is brought to understand and accept as an axiomatic truth that by wronging one man we wrong not only ourselves but the whole of humanity in the long run, no brotherly feelings such as preached by all the great Reformers, pre-eminently by Buddha and Jesus, are possible on earth.

OUR OTHER OBJECTS

Enq. Will you now explain the methods by which you propose to carry out the second object?

Theo. To collect for the library at our head quarters of Adyar, Madras, (and by the Fellows of their Branches for their local libraries,) all the good works upon the world's religions that we can. To put into written form correct information upon the various ancient philosophies, traditions, and legends, and disseminate the same in such practicable ways as the translation and publication of original works of value, and extracts from and commentaries upon the same, or the oral instructions of persons learned in their respective departments.

Enq. And what about the third object, to develop in man his latent spiritual or psychic powers?

Theo. This has to be achieved also by means of publications, in those places where no lectures and personal teachings are possible. Our duty is to keep alive in man his spiritual intuitions. To oppose and counteract — after due investigation and proof of its irrational nature — bigotry in every form, religious, scientific, or social, and cant above all, whether as religious sectarianism or as belief in miracles or anything supernatural. What we have to do is to seek to obtain knowledge of all the laws of nature, and to diffuse it. To encourage the study of those laws least understood by modern people, the so-called Occult Sciences, based on the true knowledge of nature, instead of, as at present, on superstitious beliefs based on blind faith and authority. Popular folk-lore and traditions, however fanciful at times, when sifted may lead to the discovery of long-lost, but important, secrets of nature. The Society, therefore, aims at pursuing this line of inquiry, in the hope of widening the field of scientific and philosophical observation.

ON THE SACREDNESS OF THE PLEDGE

Enq. Have you any ethical system that you carry out in the Society?

Theo. The ethics are there, ready and clear enough for whomsoever would follow them. They are the essence and cream of the world's ethics, gathered from the teachings of all the world's great reformers. Therefore, you will find represented therein Confucius and Zoroaster, Laotze and the Bhagavat-Gita, the precepts of Gautama Buddha and Jesus of Nazareth, of Hillel and his school, as of Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, and their schools.

Enq. Do the members of your Society carry out these precepts? I have heard of great dissensions and quarrels among them.

Theo. Very naturally, since although the reform (in its present shape) may be called new, the men and women to be reformed are the same human, sinning natures as of old. As already said, the earnest working members are few; but many are the sincere and well-disposed persons, who try their best to live up to the Society's and their own ideals. Our duty is to encourage and assist individual fellows in self-improvement, intellectual, moral, and spiritual; not to blame or condemn those who fail. We have, strictly speaking, no right to refuse admission to anyone — especially in the Esoteric Section of the Society, wherein "he who enters is as one newly born." But if any member, his sacred pledges on his word of honour and immortal Self notwithstanding, chooses to continue, after that "new birth," with the new man, the vices or defects of his old life, and to indulge in them still in the Society, then, of course, he is more than likely to be asked to resign and withdraw; or, in case of his refusal, to be expelled. We have the strictest rules for such emergencies.

Enq. Can some of them be mentioned?

Theo. They can. To begin with, no Fellow in the Society, whether exoteric or esoteric, has a right to force his personal opinions upon another Fellow. "It is not lawful for any officer of the Parent Society to express in public, by word or act, any hostility to, or preference for, any one section (3), religious or philosophical, more than another. All have an equal right to have the essential features of their religious belief laid before the tribunal of an impartial world. And no officer of the Society, in his capacity as an officer, has the right to preach his own sectarian views and beliefs to members assembled, except when the meeting consists of his co-religionists. After due warning, violation of this rule shall be punished by suspension or expulsion." This is one of the offences in the Society at large. As regards the inner section, now called the Esoteric, the following rules have been laid down and adopted, so far back as 1880. "No Fellow shall put to his selfish use any knowledge communicated to him by any member of the first section (now a higher 'degree'); violation of the rule being punished by expulsion." Now, however, before any such knowledge can be imparted, the applicant has to bind himself by a solemn oath not to use it for selfish purposes, nor to reveal anything said except by permission.

Enq. But is a man expelled, or resigning, from the section free to reveal anything he may have learned, or to break any clause of the pledge he has taken?

Theo. Certainly not. His expulsion or resignation only relieves him from the obligation of obedience to the teacher, and from that of taking an active part in the work of the Society, but surely not from the sacred pledge of secrecy.

Enq. But is this reasonable and just?

Theo. Most assuredly. To any man or woman with the slightest honourable feeling a pledge of secrecy taken even on one's word of honour, much more to one's Higher Self — the God within — is binding till death. And though he may leave the Section and the Society, no man or woman of honour will think of attacking or injuring a body to which he or she has been so pledged.

Enq. But is not this going rather far?

Theo. Perhaps so, according to the low standard of the present time and morality. But if it does not bind as far as this, what use is a pledge at all? How can anyone expect to be taught secret knowledge, if he is to be at liberty to free himself from all the obligations he had taken, whenever he pleases? What security, confidence, or trust would ever exist among men, if pledges such as this were to have no really binding force at all? Believe me, the law of retribution (Karma) would very soon overtake one who so broke his pledge, and perhaps as soon as the contempt of every honourable man would, even on this physical plane. As well expressed in the N. Y. "Path" just cited on this subject, "A pledge once taken, is for ever binding in both the moral and the occult worlds. If we break it once and are punished, that does not justify us in breaking it again, and so long as we do, so long will the mighty lever of the Law (of Karma) react upon us." (The Path, July, 1889.)

_______________

Notes:

1. Publicans — regarded as so many thieves and pickpockets in these days. Among the Jews the name and profession of a publican was the most odious thing in the world. They were not allowed to enter the Temple, and Matthew (xviii. 17) speaks of a heathen and a publican as identical. Yet they were only Roman tax-gatherers occupying the same position as the British officials in India and other conquered countries.

2. "At the close of the Middle Ages slavery, under the power of moral forces, had mainly disappeared from Europe; but two momentous events occurred which overbore the moral power working in European society and let loose a swarm of curses upon the earth such as mankind had scarcely ever known. One of these events was the first voyaging to a populated and barbarous coast where human beings were a familiar article of traffic; and the other the discovery of a new world, where mines of glittering wealth were open, provided labour could be imported to work them. For four hundred years men and women and children were torn from all whom they knew and loved, and were sold on the coast of Africa to foreign traders; they were chained below decks — the dead often with the living — during the horrible 'middle passage,' and, according to Bancroft, an impartial historian, two hundred and fifty thousand out of three and a quarter millions were thrown into the sea on that fatal passage, while the remainder were consigned to nameless misery in the mines, or under the lash in the cane and rice fields. The guilt of this great crime rests on the Christian Church. 'In the name of the most Holy Trinity' the Spanish Government (Roman Catholic) concluded more than ten treaties authorising the sale of five hundred thousand human beings; in 1562 Sir John Hawkins sailed on his diabolical errand of buying slaves in Africa and selling them in the West Indies in a ship which bore the sacred name of Jesus; while Elizabeth, the Protestant Queen, rewarded him for his success in this first adventure of Englishmen in that inhuman traffic by allowing him to wear as his crest 'a demi-Moor in his proper colour, bound with a cord, or, in other words, a manacled negro slave.' — Conquests of the Cross (quoted from the Agnostic Journal).

3. A "branch," or lodge, composed solely of co-religionists, or a branch in partibus, as they are now somewhat bombastically called.
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Re: The Key to Theosophy, by H.P. Blavatsky

Postby admin » Sun Mar 15, 2020 1:26 am

Section 4: The Relations of the Theosophical Society to Theosophy

ON SELF-IMPROVEMENT


Enq. Is moral elevation, then, the principal thing insisted upon in your Society?

Theo. Undoubtedly! He who would be a true Theosophist must bring himself to live as one.

Enq. If so, then, as I remarked before, the behaviour of some members strangely belies this fundamental rule.

Theo. Indeed it does. But this cannot be helped among us, any more than amongst those who call themselves Christians and act like fiends. This is no fault of our statutes and rules, but that of human nature. Even in some exoteric public branches, the members pledge themselves on their "Higher Self" to live the life prescribed by Theosophy. They have to bring their Divine Self to guide their every thought and action, every day and at every moment of their lives. A true Theosophist ought "to deal justly and walk humbly."

Enq. What do you mean by this?

Theo. Simply this: the one self has to forget itself for the many selves. Let me answer you in the words of a true Philaletheian, an F. T. S., who has beautifully expressed it in the Theosophist: "What every man needs first is to find himself, and then take an honest inventory of his subjective possessions, and, bad or bankrupt as it may be, it is not beyond redemption if we set about it in earnest." But how many do? All are willing to work for their own development and progress; very few for those of others. To quote the same writer again: "Men have been deceived and deluded long enough; they must break their idols, put away their shams, and go to work for themselves — nay, there is one little word too much or too many, for he who works for himself had better not work at all; rather let him work himself for others, for all. For every flower of love and charity he plants in his neighbour's garden, a loathsome weed will disappear from his own, and so this garden of the gods — Humanity — shall blossom as a rose. In all Bibles, all religions, this is plainly set forth — but designing men have at first misinterpreted and finally emasculated, materialised, besotted them. It does not require a new revelation. Let every man be a revelation unto himself. Let once man's immortal spirit take possession of the temple of his body, drive out the money-changers and every unclean thing, and his own divine humanity will redeem him, for when he is thus at one with himself he will know the 'builder of the Temple.'"

ENQUIRER. This is pure Altruism, I confess.

THEOSOPHIST. It is. And if only one Fellow of the T. S. out of ten would practise it ours would be a body of elect indeed. But there are those among the outsiders who will always refuse to see the essential difference between Theosophy and the Theosophical Society, the idea and its imperfect embodiment. Such would visit every sin and shortcoming of the vehicle, the human body, on the pure spirit which sheds thereon its divine light. Is this just to either? They throw stones at an association that tries to work up to, and for the propagation of, its ideal with most tremendous odds against it. Some vilify the Theosophical Society only because it presumes to attempt to do that in which other systems — Church and State Christianity pre-eminently — have failed most egregiously; others because they would fain preserve the existing state of things: Pharisees and Sadducees in the seat of Moses, and publicans and sinners revelling in high places, as under the Roman Empire during its decadence. Fair-minded people, at any rate, ought to remember that the man who does all he can, does as much as he who has achieved the most, in this world of relative possibilities. This is a simple truism, an axiom supported for believers in the Gospels by the parable of the talents given by their Master: the servant who doubled his two talents was rewarded as much as that other fellow-servant who had received five. To every man it is given "according to his several ability."

ENQUIRER. Yet it is rather difficult to draw the line of demarcation between the abstract and the concrete in this case, as we have only the latter to form our judgment by.

THEOSOPHIST. Then why make an exception for the T. S.? Justice, like charity, ought to begin at home. Will you revile and scoff at the "Sermon on the Mount" because your social, political and even religious laws have, so far, not only failed to carry out its precepts in their spirit, but even in their dead letter? Abolish the oath in Courts, Parliament, Army and everywhere, and do as the Quakers do, if you will call yourselves Christians. Abolish the Courts themselves, for if you would follow the Commandments of Christ, you have to give away your coat to him who deprives you of your cloak, and turn your left cheek to the bully who smites you on the right. "Resist not evil, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you," for "whosoever shall break one of the least of these Commandments and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven," and "whosoever shall say 'Thou fool' shall be in danger of hell fire." And why should you judge, if you would not be judged in your turn? Insist that between Theosophy and the Theosophical Society there is no difference, and forthwith you lay the system of Christianity and its very essence open to the same charges, only in a more serious form.

ENQUIRER. Why more serious?

THEOSOPHIST. Because, while the leaders of the Theosophical movement, recognising fully their shortcomings, try all they can do to amend their ways and uproot the evil existing in the Society; and while their rules and bye-laws are framed in the spirit of Theosophy, the Legislators and the Churches of nations and countries which call themselves Christian do the reverse. Our members, even the worst among them, are no worse than the average Christian. Moreover, if the Western Theosophists experience so much difficulty in leading the true Theosophical life, it is because they are all the children of their generation. Every one of them was a Christian, bred and brought up in the sophistry of his Church, his social customs, and even his paradoxical laws. He was this before he became a Theosophist, or rather, a member of the Society of that name, as it cannot be too often repeated that between the abstract ideal and its vehicle there is a most important difference.

THE ABSTRACT AND THE CONCRETE.

ENQUIRER. Please elucidate this difference a little more.

THEOSOPHIST. The Society is a great body of men and women, composed of the most heterogeneous elements. Theosophy, in its abstract meaning, is Divine Wisdom, or the aggregate of the knowledge and wisdom that underlie the Universe — the homogeneity of eternal GOOD; and in its concrete sense it is the sum total of the same as allotted to man by nature, on this earth, and no more. Some members earnestly endeavour to realize and, so to speak, to objectivize Theosophy in their lives; while others desire only to know of, not to practise it; and others still may have joined the Society merely out of curiosity, or a passing interest, or perhaps, again, because some of their friends belong to it. How, then, can the system be judged by the standard of those who would assume the name without any right to it? Is poetry or its muse to be measured only by those would-be poets who afflict our ears? The Society can be regarded as the embodiment of Theosophy only in its abstract motives; it can never presume to call itself its concrete vehicle so long as human imperfections and weaknesses are all represented in its body; otherwise the Society would be only repeating the great error and the outflowing sacrileges of the so-called Churches of Christ. If Eastern comparisons may be permitted, Theosophy is the shoreless ocean of universal truth, love, and wisdom, reflecting its radiance on the earth, while the Theosophical Society is only a visible bubble on that reflection. Theosophy is divine nature, visible and invisible, and its Society human nature trying to ascend to its divine parent. Theosophy, finally, is the fixed eternal sun, and its Society the evanescent comet trying to settle in an orbit to become a planet, ever revolving within the attraction of the sun of truth. It was formed to assist in showing to men that such a thing as Theosophy exists, and to help them to ascend towards it by studying and assimilating its eternal verities.

ENQUIRER. I thought you said you had no tenets or doctrines of your own?

THEOSOPHIST. No more we have. The Society has no wisdom of its own to support or teach. It is simply the storehouse of all the truths uttered by the great seers, initiates, and prophets of historic and even pre-historic ages; at least, as many as it can get. Therefore, it is merely the channel through which more or less of truth, found in the accumulated utterances of humanity's great teachers, is poured out into the world.

ENQUIRER. But is such truth unreachable outside of the society? Does not every Church claim the same?

THEOSOPHIST. Not at all. The undeniable existence of great initiates — true "Sons of God" — shows that such wisdom was often reached by isolated individuals, never, however, without the guidance of a master at first. But most of the followers of such, when they became masters in their turn, have dwarfed the catholicism of these teachings into the narrow groove of their own sectarian dogmas. The commandments of a chosen master alone were then adopted and followed, to the exclusion of all others — if followed at all, note well, as in the case of the Sermon on the Mount. Each religion is thus a bit of the divine truth, made to focus a vast panorama of human fancy which claimed to represent and replace that truth.

ENQUIRER. But Theosophy, you say, is not a religion?

THEOSOPHIST. Most assuredly it is not, since it is the essence of all religion and of absolute truth, a drop of which only underlies every creed. To resort once more to metaphor. Theosophy, on earth, is like the white ray of the spectrum, and every religion only one of the seven prismatic colours. Ignoring all the others, and cursing them as false, every special coloured ray claims not only priority, but to be that white ray itself, and anathematizes even its own tints from light to dark, as heresies. Yet, as the sun of truth rises higher and higher on the horizon of man's perception, and each coloured ray gradually fades out until it is finally re-absorbed in its turn, humanity will at last be cursed no longer with artificial polarizations, but will find itself bathing in the pure colourless sunlight of eternal truth. And this will be Theosophia.

ENQUIRER. Your claim is, then, that all the great religions are derived from Theosophy, and that it is by assimilating it that the world will be finally saved from the curse of its great illusions and errors?

THEOSOPHIST. Precisely so. And we add that our Theosophical Society is the humble seed which, if watered and left to live, will finally produce the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil which is grafted on the Tree of Life Eternal. For it is only by studying the various great religions and philosophies of humanity, by comparing them dispassionately and with an unbiased mind, that men can hope to arrive at the truth. It is especially by finding out and noting their various points of agreement that we may achieve this result. For no sooner do we arrive — either by study, or by being taught by someone who knows — at their inner meaning, than we find, almost in every case, that it expresses some great truth in Nature.

ENQUIRER. We have heard of a Golden Age that was, and what you describe would be a Golden Age to be realised at some future day. When shall it be?

THEOSOPHIST. Not before humanity, as a whole, feels the need of it. A maxim in the Persian "Javidan Khirad" says: "Truth is of two kinds — one manifest and self-evident; the other demanding incessantly new demonstrations and proofs." It is only when this latter kind of truth becomes as universally obvious as it is now dim, and therefore liable to be distorted by sophistry and casuistry; it is only when the two kinds will have become once more one, that all people will be brought to see alike.

ENQUIRER. But surely those few who have felt the need of such truths must have made up their minds to believe in something definite? You tell me that, the Society having no doctrines of its own, every member may believe as he chooses and accept what he pleases. This looks as if the Theosophical Society was bent upon reviving the confusion of languages and beliefs of the Tower of Babel of old. Have you no beliefs in common?

THEOSOPHIST. What is meant by the Society having no tenets or doctrines of its own is, that no special doctrines or beliefs are obligatory on its members; but, of course, this applies only to the body as a whole. The Society, as you were told, is divided into an outer and an inner body. Those who belong to the latter have, of course, a philosophy, or — if you so prefer it — a religious system of their own.

ENQUIRER. May we be told what it is?

THEOSOPHIST. We make no secret of it. It was outlined a few years ago in the Theosophist and "Esoteric Buddhism," and may be found still more elaborated in the "Secret Doctrine." It is based on the oldest philosophy of the world, called the Wisdom-Religion or the Archaic Doctrine. If you like, you may ask questions and have them explained.
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Re: The Key to Theosophy, by H.P. Blavatsky

Postby admin » Sun Mar 15, 2020 1:28 am

Section 5: The Fundamental Teachings of Theosophy

ON GOD AND PRAYER


Enq. Do you believe in God?

Theo. That depends what you mean by the term.

Enq. I mean the God of the Christians, the Father of Jesus, and the Creator: the Biblical God of Moses, in short.

Theo. In such a God we do not believe. We reject the idea of a personal, or an extra-cosmic and anthropomorphic God, who is but the gigantic shadow of man, and not of man at his best, either. The God of theology, we say — and prove it — is a bundle of contradictions and a logical impossibility. Therefore, we will have nothing to do with him.

Enq. State your reasons, if you please.

Theo. They are many, and cannot all receive attention. But here are a few. This God is called by his devotees infinite and absolute, is he not?

Enq. I believe he is.

Theo. Then, if infinite — i. e., limitless — and especially if absolute, how can he have a form, and be a creator of anything? Form implies limitation, and a beginning as well as an end; and, in order to create, a Being must think and plan. How can the ABSOLUTE be supposed to think — i. e., to have any relation whatever to that which is limited, finite, and conditioned? This is a philosophical, and a logical absurdity. Even the Hebrew Kabala rejects such an idea, and therefore, makes of the one and the Absolute Deific Principle an infinite Unity called Ain-Soph. (1) In order to create, the Creator has to become active; and as this is impossible for ABSOLUTENESS, the infinite principle had to be shown becoming the cause of evolution (not creation) in an indirect way — i.e., through the emanation from itself (another absurdity, due this time to the translators of the Kabala) (2) of the Sephiroth.

Enq. How about those Kabalists, who, while being such, still believe in Jehovah, or the Tetragrammaton?

Theo. They are at liberty to believe in what they please, as their belief or disbelief can hardly affect a self-evident fact. The Jesuits tell us that two and two are not always four to a certainty, since it depends on the will of God to make 2 X 2 = 5. Shall we accept their sophistry for all that?

Enq. Then you are Atheists?

Theo. Not that we know of, and not unless the epithet of "Atheist" is to be applied to those who disbelieve in an anthropomorphic God. We believe in a Universal Divine Principle, the root of ALL, from which all proceeds, and within which all shall be absorbed at the end of the great cycle of Being.

Enq. This is the old, old claim of Pantheism. If you are Pantheists, you cannot be Deists; and if you are not Deists, then you have to answer to the name of Atheists.

Theo. Not necessarily so. The term "Pantheism" is again one of the many abused terms, whose real and primitive meaning has been distorted by blind prejudice and a one-sided view of it. If you accept the Christian etymology of this compound word, and form it of pan, "all," and theos, "god," and then imagine and teach that this means that every stone and every tree in Nature is a God or the ONE God, then, of course, you will be right, and make of Pantheists fetish-worshippers, in addition to their legitimate name. But you will hardly be as successful if you etymologise the word Pantheism esoterically, and as we do.

Enq. What is, then, your definition of it?

Theo. Let me ask you a question in my turn. What do you understand by Pan, or Nature?

Enq. Nature is, I suppose, the sum total of things existing around us; the aggregate of causes and effects in the world of matter, the creation or universe.

Theo. Hence the personified sum and order of known causes and effects; the total of all finite agencies and forces, as utterly disconnected from an intelligent Creator or Creators, and perhaps "conceived of as a single and separate force" — as in your cyclopaedias?

Enq. Yes, I believe so.

Theo. Well, we neither take into consideration this objective and material nature, which we call an evanescent illusion, nor do we mean by pan Nature, in the sense of its accepted derivation from the Latin Natura (becoming, from nasci, to be born). When we speak of the Deity and make it identical, hence coeval, with Nature, the eternal and uncreate nature is meant, and not your aggregate of flitting shadows and finite unrealities. We leave it to the hymn-makers to call the visible sky or heaven, God's Throne, and our earth of mud His footstool. Our DEITY is neither in a paradise, nor in a particular tree, building, or mountain: it is everywhere, in every atom of the visible as of the invisible Cosmos, in, over, and around every invisible atom and divisible molecule; for IT is the mysterious power of evolution and involution, the omnipresent, omnipotent, and even omniscient creative potentiality.

Enq. Stop! Omniscience is the prerogative of something that thinks, and you deny to your Absoluteness the power of thought.

Theo. We deny it to the ABSOLUTE, since thought is something limited and conditioned. But you evidently forget that in philosophy absolute unconsciousness is also absolute consciousness, as otherwise it would not be absolute.

Enq. Then your Absolute thinks?

Theo. No, IT does not; for the simple reason that it is Absolute Thought itself. Nor does it exist, for the same reason, as it is absolute existence, and Be-ness, not a Being. Read the superb Kabalistic poem by Solomon Ben Jehudah Gabirol, in the Kether-Malchut, and you will understand: — "Thou art one, the root of all numbers, but not as an element of numeration; for unity admits not of multiplication, change, or form. Thou art one, and in the secret of thy unity the wisest of men are lost, because they know it not. Thou art one, and Thy unity is never diminished, never extended, and cannot be changed. Thou art one, and no thought of mine can fix for Thee a limit, or define Thee. Thou ART, but not as one existent, for the understanding and vision of mortals cannot attain to Thy existence, nor determine for Thee the where, the how and the why," etc., etc. In short, our Deity is the eternal, incessantly evolving, not creating, builder of the universe; that universe itself unfolding out of its own essence, not being made. It is a sphere, without circumference, in its symbolism, which has but one ever-acting attribute embracing all other existing or thinkable attributes — ITSELF. It is the one law, giving the impulse to manifested, eternal, and immutable laws, within that never-manifesting, because absolute LAW, which in its manifesting periods is The ever-Becoming.

Enq. I once heard one of your members remarking that Universal Deity, being everywhere, was in vessels of dishonour, as in those of honour, and, therefore, was present in every atom of my cigar ash! Is this not rank blasphemy?

Theo. I do not think so, as simple logic can hardly be regarded as blasphemy. Were we to exclude the Omnipresent Principle from one single mathematical point of the universe, or from a particle of matter occupying any conceivable space, could we still regard it as infinite?

IS IT NECESSARY TO PRAY?

Enq. Do you believe in prayer, and do you ever pray?

Theo. We do not. We act, instead of talking.

Enq. You do not offer prayers even to the Absolute Principle?

Theo. Why should we? Being well-occupied people, we can hardly afford to lose time in addressing verbal prayers to a pure abstraction. The Unknowable is capable of relations only in its parts to each other, but is non-existent as regards any finite relations. The visible universe depends for its existence and phenomena on its mutually acting forms and their laws, not on prayer or prayers.

Enq. Do you not believe at all in the efficacy of prayer?

Theo. Not in prayer taught in so many words and repeated externally, if by prayer you mean the outward petition to an unknown God as the addressee, which was inaugurated by the Jews and popularised by the Pharisees.

Enq. Is there any other kind of prayer?

Theo. Most decidedly; we call it WILL-PRAYER, and it is rather an internal command than a petition.

Enq. To whom, then, do you pray when you do so?

Theo. To "our Father in heaven" — in its esoteric meaning.

Enq. Is that different from the one given to it in theology?

Theo. Entirely so. An Occultist or a Theosophist addresses his prayer to his Father which is in secret (read, and try to understand, ch. vi. v. 6, Matthew), not to an extra-cosmic and therefore finite God; and that "Father" is in man himself.

Enq. Then you make of man a God?

Theo. Please say "God" and not a God. In our sense, the inner man is the only God we can have cognizance of. And how can this be otherwise? Grant us our postulate that God is a universally diffused, infinite principle, and how can man alone escape from being soaked through by, and in, the Deity? We call our "Father in heaven" that deific essence of which we are cognizant within us, in our heart and spiritual consciousness, and which has nothing to do with the anthropomorphic conception we may form of it in our physical brain or its fancy: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of (the absolute) God dwelleth in you?" (3) Yet, let no man anthropomorphise that essence in us. Let no Theosophist, if he would hold to divine, not human truth, say that this "God in secret" listens to, or is distinct from, either finite man or the infinite essence — for all are one. Nor, as just remarked, that a prayer is a petition. It is a mystery rather; an occult process by which finite and conditioned thoughts and desires, unable to be assimilated by the absolute spirit which is unconditioned, are translated into spiritual wills and the will; such process being called "spiritual transmutation." The intensity of our ardent aspirations changes prayer into the "philosopher's stone," or that which transmutes lead into pure gold. The only homogeneous essence, our "will-prayer" becomes the active or creative force, producing effects according to our desire.

Enq. Do you mean to say that prayer is an occult process bringing about physical results?

Theo. I do. Will-Power becomes a living power. But woe unto those Occultists and Theosophists, who, instead of crushing out the desires of the lower personal ego or physical man, and saying, addressing their Higher Spiritual EGO immersed in Atma-Buddhic light, "Thy will be done, not mine," etc., send up waves of will-power for selfish or unholy purposes! For this is black magic, abomination, and spiritual sorcery. Unfortunately, all this is the favourite occupation of our Christian statesmen and generals, especially when the latter are sending two armies to murder each other. Both indulge before action in a bit of such sorcery, by offering respectively prayers to the same God of Hosts, each entreating his help to cut its enemies' throats.

Enq. David prayed to the Lord of Hosts to help him smite the Philistines and slay the Syrians and the Moabites, and "the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went." In that we only follow what we find in the Bible.

Theo. Of course you do. But since you delight in calling yourselves Christians, not Israelites or Jews, as far as we know, why do you not rather follow that which Christ says? And he distinctly commands you not to follow "them of old times," or the Mosaic law, but bids you do as he tells you, and warns those who would kill by the sword, that they, too, will perish by the sword. Christ has given you one prayer of which you have made a lip prayer and a boast, and which none but the true Occultist understands, In it you say, in your dead-sense meaning: "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors," which you never do. Again, he told you to love your enemies and do good to them that hate you. It is surely not the "meek prophet of Nazareth" who taught you to pray to your "Father" to slay, and give you victory over your enemies! This is why we reject what you call "prayers."

Enq. But how do you explain the universal fact that all nations and peoples have prayed to, and worshipped a God or Gods? Some have adored and propitiated devils and harmful spirits, but this only proves the universality of the belief in the efficacy of prayer.

Theo. It is explained by that other fact that prayer has several other meanings besides that given it by the Christians. It means not only a pleading or petition, but meant, in days of old, far more an invocation and incantation. The mantra, or the rhythmically chanted prayer of the Hindus, has precisely such a meaning, as the Brahmins hold themselves higher than the common devas or "Gods." A prayer may be an appeal or an incantation for malediction, and a curse (as in the case of two armies praying simultaneously for mutual destruction) as much as for blessing. And as the great majority of people are intensely selfish, and pray only for themselves, asking to be given their "daily bread" instead of working for it, and begging God not to lead them "into temptation" but to deliver them (the memorialists only) from evil, the result is, that prayer, as now understood, is doubly pernicious: (a) It kills in man self-reliance; (b) It develops in him a still more ferocious selfishness and egotism than he is already endowed with by nature. I repeat, that we believe in "communion" and simultaneous action in unison with our "Father in secret"; and in rare moments of ecstatic bliss, in the mingling of our higher soul with the universal essence, attracted as it is towards its origin and centre, a state, called during life Samadhi, and after death, Nirvana. We refuse to pray to created finite beings — i. e., gods, saints, angels, etc., because we regard it as idolatry. We cannot pray to the ABSOLUTE for reasons explained before; therefore, we try to replace fruitless and useless prayer by meritorious and good-producing actions.

Enq. Christians would call it pride and blasphemy. Are they wrong?

Theo. Entirely so. It is they, on the contrary, who show Satanic pride in their belief that the Absolute or the Infinite, even if there was such a thing as the possibility of any relation between the unconditioned and the conditioned — will stoop to listen to every foolish or egotistical prayer. And it is they again, who virtually blaspheme, in teaching that an Omniscient and Omnipotent God needs uttered prayers to know what he has to do! This — understood esoterically — is corroborated by both Buddha and Jesus. The one says "seek nought from the helpless Gods — pray not! but rather act; for darkness will not brighten. Ask nought from silence, for it can neither speak nor hear." And the other — Jesus — recommends: "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name (that of Christos) that will I do." Of course, this quotation, if taken in its literal sense, goes against our argument. But if we accept it esoterically, with the full knowledge of the meaning of the term, "Christos," which to us represents Atma-Buddhi-Manas, the "SELF," it comes to this: the only God we must recognise and pray to, or rather act in unison with, is that spirit of God of which our body is the temple, and in which it dwelleth.

PRAYER KILLS SELF-RELIANCE

Enq. But did not Christ himself pray and recommend prayer?

Theo. It is so recorded, but those "prayers" are precisely of that kind of communion just mentioned with one's "Father in secret." Otherwise, and if we identify Jesus with the universal deity, there would be something too absurdly illogical in the inevitable conclusion that he, the "very God himself" prayed to himself, and separated the will of that God from his own!

Enq. One argument more; an argument, moreover, much used by some Christians. They say, "I feel that I am not able to conquer any passions and weaknesses in my own strength. But when I pray to Jesus Christ I feel that he gives me strength and that in His power I am able to conquer."

Theo. No wonder. If "Christ Jesus" is God, and one independent and separate from him who prays, of course everything is, and must be possible to "a mighty God." But, then, where's the merit, or justice either, of such a conquest? Why should the pseudo-conqueror be rewarded for something done which has cost him only prayers? Would you, even a simple mortal man, pay your labourer a full day's wage if you did most of his work for him, he sitting under an apple tree, and praying to you to do so, all the while? This idea of passing one's whole life in moral idleness, and having one's hardest work and duty done by another — whether God or man — is most revolting to us, as it is most degrading to human dignity.

Enq. Perhaps so, yet it is the idea of trusting in a personal Saviour to help and strengthen in the battle of life, which is the fundamental idea of modern Christianity. And there is no doubt that, subjectively, such belief is efficacious; i. e., that those who believe do feel themselves helped and strengthened.

Theo. Nor is there any more doubt, that some patients of "Christian" and "Mental Scientists" — the great "Deniers" (4) — are also sometimes cured; nor that hypnotism, and suggestion, psychology, and even mediumship, will produce such results, as often, if not oftener. You take into consideration, and string on the thread of your argument, successes alone. And how about ten times the number of failures? Surely you will not presume to say that failure is unknown even with a sufficiency of blind faith, among fanatical Christians?

Enq. But how can you explain those cases which are followed by full success? Where does a Theosophist look to for power to subdue his passions and selfishness?

Theo. To his Higher Self, the divine spirit, or the God in him, and to his Karma. How long shall we have to repeat over and over again that the tree is known by its fruit, the nature of the cause by its effects? You speak of subduing passions, and becoming good through and with the help of God or Christ. We ask, where do you find more virtuous, guiltless people, abstaining from sin and crime, in Christendom or Buddhism — in Christian countries or in heathen lands? Statistics are there to give the answer and corroborate our claims. According to the last census in Ceylon and India, in the comparative table of crimes committed by Christians, Mussulmen, Hindoos, Eurasians, Buddhists, etc., etc., on two millions of population taken at random from each, and covering the misdemeanours of several years, the proportion of crimes committed by the Christian stands as 15 to 4 as against those committed by the Buddhist population. (Vide Lucifer for April, 1888, p. 147, Art. Christian lecturers on Buddhism.) No Orientalist, no historian of any note, or traveller in Buddhist lands, from Bishop Bigandet and Abbe Huc, to Sir William Hunter and every fair-minded official, will fail to give the palm of virtue to Buddhists before Christians. Yet the former (not the true Buddhist Siamese sect, at all events) do not believe in either God or a future reward, outside of this earth. They do not pray, neither priests nor laymen. "Pray!" they would exclaim in wonder, "to whom, or what?"

Enq. Then they are truly Atheists.

Theo. Most undeniably, but they are also the most virtue-loving and virtue-keeping men in the whole world. Buddhism says: Respect the religions of other men and remain true to your own; but Church Christianity, denouncing all the gods of other nations as devils, would doom every non-Christian to eternal perdition.

Enq. Does not the Buddhist priesthood do the same?

Theo. Never. They hold too much to the wise precept found in the DAMMAPADA to do so, for they know that, "If any man, whether he be learned or not, consider himself so great as to despise other men, he is like a blind man holding a candle — blind himself, he illumines others."

ON THE SOURCE OF THE HUMAN SOUL

Enq. How, then, do you account for man being endowed with a Spirit and Soul? Whence these?

Theo. From the Universal Soul. Certainly not bestowed by a personal God. Whence the moist element in the jelly-fish? From the Ocean which surrounds it, in which it lives and breathes and has its being, and whither it returns when dissolved.

Enq. So you reject the teaching that Soul is given, or breathed into man, by God?

Theo. We are obliged to. The "Soul" spoken of in ch. ii. of Genesis (v. 7) is, as therein stated, the "living Soul" or Nephesh (the vital, animal soul) with which God (we say "nature" and immutable law)endows man like every animal. Is not at all the thinking soul or mind; least of all is it the immortal Spirit.

Enq. Well, let us put it otherwise: is it God who endows man with a human rational Soul and immortal Spirit?

Theo. Again, in the way you put the question, we must object to it. Since we believe in no personal God, how can we believe that he endows man with anything? But granting, for the sake of argument, a God who takes upon himself the risk of creating a new Soul for every new-born baby, all that can be said is that such a God can hardly be regarded as himself endowed with any wisdom or prevision. Certain other difficulties and the impossibility of reconciling this with the claims made for the mercy, justice, equity and omniscience of that God, are so many deadly reefs on which this theological dogma is daily and hourly broken.

Enq. What do you mean? What difficulties?

Theo. I am thinking of an unanswerable argument offered once in my presence by a Cingalese Buddhist priest, a famous preacher, to a Christian missionary — one in no way ignorant or unprepared for the public discussion during which it was advanced. It was near Colombo, and the Missionary had challenged the priest Megattivati to give his reasons why the Christian God should not be accepted by the "heathen." Well, the Missionary came out of that for ever memorable discussion second best, as usual.

Enq. I should be glad to learn in what way.

Theo. Simply this: the Buddhist priest premised by asking the padri whether his God had given commandments to Moses only for men to keep, but to be broken by God himself. The missionary denied the supposition indignantly. Well, said his opponent, "you tell us that God makes no exceptions to this rule, and that no Soul can be born without his will. Now God forbids adultery, among other things, and yet you say in the same breath that it is he who creates every baby born, and he who endows it with a Soul. Are we then to understand that the millions of children born in crime and adultery are your God's work? That your God forbids and punishes the breaking of his laws; and that, nevertheless, he creates daily and hourly souls for just such children? According to the simplest logic, your God is an accomplice in the crime; since, but for his help and interference, no such children of lust could be born. Where is the justice of punishing not only the guilty parents but even the innocent babe for that which is done by that very God, whom yet you exonerate from any guilt himself?" The missionary looked at his watch and suddenly found it was getting too late for further discussion.

Enq. You forget that all such inexplicable cases are mysteries, and that we are forbidden by our religion to pry into the mysteries of God.

Theo. No, we do not forget, but simply reject such impossibilities. Nor do we want you to believe as we do. We only answer the questions you ask. We have, however, another name for your "mysteries."

THE BUDDHIST TEACHINGS ON THE ABOVE

Enq. What does Buddhism teach with regard to the Soul?

Theo. It depends whether you mean exoteric, popular Buddhism, or its esoteric teachings. The former explains itself in the Buddhist Catechism in this wise: "Soul it considers a word used by the ignorant to express a false idea. If everything is subject to change, then man is included, and every material part of him must change. That which is subject to change is not permanent, so there can be no immortal survival of a changeful thing." This seems plain and definite. But when we come to the question that the new personality in each succeeding re-birth is the aggregate of "Skandhas," or the attributes, of the old personality, and ask whether this new aggregation of Skandhas is a new being likewise, in which nothing has remained of the last, we read that: "In one sense it is a new being, in another it is not. During this life the Skandhas are continually changing, while the man A. B. of forty is identical as regards personality with the youth A. B. of eighteen, yet by the continual waste and reparation of his body and change of mind and character, he is a different being. Nevertheless, the man in his old age justly reaps the reward or suffering consequent upon his thoughts and actions at every previous stage of his life. So the new being of the re-birth, being the same individuality as before (but not the same personality), with but a changed form, or new aggregation of Skandhas, justly reaps the consequences of his actions and thoughts in the previous existence." This is abstruse metaphysics, and plainly does not express disbelief in Soul by any means.

Enq. Is not something like this spoken of in Esoteric Buddhism?

Theo. It is, for this teaching belongs both to Esoteric Budhism or Secret Wisdom, and to the exoteric Buddhism, or the religious philosophy of Gautama Buddha.

Enq. But we are distinctly told that most of the Buddhists do not believe in the Soul's immortality?

Theo. No more do we, if you mean by Soul the personal Ego, or life-Soul — Nephesh. But every learned Buddhist believes in the individual or divine Ego. Those who do not, err in their judgment. They are as mistaken on this point, as those Christians who mistake the theological interpolations of the later editors of the Gospels about damnation and hell-fire, for verbatim utterances of Jesus. Neither Buddha nor "Christ" ever wrote anything themselves, but both spoke in allegories and used "dark sayings," as all true Initiates did, and will do for a long time yet to come. Both Scriptures treat of all such metaphysical questions very cautiously, and both, Buddhist and Christian records, sin by that excess of exotericism; the dead letter meaning far overshooting the mark in both cases.

Enq. Do you mean to suggest that neither the teachings of Buddha nor those of Christ have been heretofore rightly understood?

Theo. What I mean is just as you say. Both Gospels, the Buddhist and the Christian, were preached with the same object in view. Both reformers were ardent philanthropists and practical altruists — preaching most unmistakably Socialism of the noblest and highest type, self-sacrifice to the bitter end. "Let the sins of the whole world fall upon me that I may relieve man's misery and suffering!" cries Buddha; . . . "I would not let one cry whom I could save!" exclaims the Prince-beggar, clad in the refuse rags of the burial-grounds. "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest," is the appeal to the poor and the disinherited made by the "Man of Sorrows," who hath not where to lay his head. The teachings of both are boundless love for humanity, charity, forgiveness of injury, forgetfulness of self, and pity for the deluded masses; both show the same contempt for riches, and make no difference between meum and tuum. Their desire was, without revealing to all the sacred mysteries of initiation, to give the ignorant and the misled, whose burden in life was too heavy for them, hope enough and an inkling into the truth sufficient to support them in their heaviest hours. But the object of both Reformers was frustrated, owing to excess of zeal of their later followers. The words of the Masters having been misunderstood and misinterpreted, behold the consequences!

Enq. But surely Buddha must have repudiated the soul's immortality, if all the Orientalists and his own Priests say so!

Theo. The Arhats began by following the policy of their Master and the majority of the subsequent priests were not initiated, just as in Christianity; and so, little by little, the great esoteric truths became almost lost. A proof in point is, that, out of the two existing sects in Ceylon, the Siamese believes death to be the absolute annihilation of individuality and personality, and the other explains Nirvana, as we theosophists do.

Enq. But why, in that case, do Buddhism and Christianity represent the two opposite poles of such belief?

Theo. Because the conditions under which they were preached were not the same. In India the Brahmins, jealous of their superior knowledge, and excluding from it every caste save their own, had driven millions of men into idolatry and almost fetishism. Buddha had to give the death-blow to an exuberance of unhealthy fancy and fanatical superstition resulting from ignorance, such as has rarely been known before or after. Better a philosophical atheism than such ignorant worship for those —

"Who cry upon their gods and are not heard,
Or are not heeded —"


and who live and die in mental despair. He had to arrest first of all this muddy torrent of superstition, to uproot errors before he gave out the truth. And as he could not give out all for the same good reason as Jesus, who reminds his disciples that the Mysteries of Heaven are not for the unintelligent masses, but for the elect alone, and therefore "spake he to them in parables" (Matt. xiii. 11) — so his caution led Buddha to conceal too much. He even refused to say to the monk Vacchagotta whether there was, or was not an Ego in man. When pressed to answer, "the Exalted one maintained silence." (5)

Enq. This refers to Gautama, but in what way does it touch the Gospels?

Theo. Read history and think over it. At the time the events narrated in the Gospels are alleged to have happened, there was a similar intellectual fermentation taking place in the whole civilized world, only with opposite results in the East and the West. The old gods were dying out. While the civilized classes drifted in the train of the unbelieving Sadducees into materialistic negations and mere dead-letter Mosaic form in Palestine, and into moral dissolution in Rome, the lowest and poorer classes ran after sorcery and strange gods, or became hypocrites and Pharisees. Once more the time for a spiritual reform had arrived. The cruel, anthropomorphic and jealous God of the Jews, with his sanguinary laws of "an eye for eye and tooth for tooth," of the shedding of blood and animal sacrifice, had to be relegated to a secondary place and replaced by the merciful "Father in Secret." The latter had to be shown, not as an extra-Cosmic God, but as a divine Saviour of the man of flesh, enshrined in his own heart and soul, in the poor as in the rich. No more here than in India, could the secrets of initiation be divulged, lest by giving that which is holy to the dogs, and casting pearls before swine, both the Revealer and the things revealed should be trodden under foot. Thus, the reticence of both Buddha and Jesus — whether the latter lived out the historic period allotted to him or not, and who equally abstained from revealing plainly the Mysteries of Life and Death — led in the one case to the blank negations of Southern Buddhism, and in the other, to the three clashing forms of the Christian Church and the 300 sects in Protestant England alone.

_______________

Notes:

1. Ain-Soph, Hebrew 'eyn-sof = Greek to pan = Greek apeiros, the endless, or boundless, in and with Nature, the non-existent which IS, but is not a Being.

2. How can the non-active eternal principle emanate or emit? The Parabrahm of the Vedantins does nothing of the kind; nor does the Ain-Soph of the Chaldean Kabala. It is an eternal and periodical law which causes an active and creative force (the logos) to emanate from the ever-concealed and incomprehensible one principle at the beginning of every maha-manvantara, or new cycle of life.

3. One often finds in Theosophical writings conflicting statements about the Christos principle in man. Some call it the sixth principle (Buddhi), others the seventh (Atman). If Christian Theosophists wish to make use of such expressions, let them be made philosophically correct by following the analogy of the old Wisdom-religion symbols. We say that Christos is not only one of the three higher principles, but all the three regarded as a Trinity. This Trinity represents the Holy Ghost, the Father, and the Son, as it answers to abstract spirit, differentiated spirit, and embodied spirit. Krishna and Christ are philosophically the same principle under its triple aspect of manifestation. In the Bhagavatgita we find Krishna calling himself indifferently Atman, the abstract Spirit, Kshetragna, the Higher or reincarnating Ego, and the Universal SELF, all names which, when transferred from the Universe to man, answer to Atma, Buddhi and Manas. The Anugita is full of the same doctrine.

4. The new sect of healers, who, by disavowing the existence of anything but spirit, which spirit can neither suffer nor be ill, claim to cure all and every disease, provided the patient has faith that what he denies can have no existence. A new form of self-hypnotism.

5. Buddha gives to Ananda, his initiated disciple, who enquires for the reason of this silence, a plain and unequivocal answer in the dialogue translated by Oldenburg from the Samyuttaka Nikaya: — "If I, Ananda, when the wandering monk Vacchagotta asked me: 'Is there the Ego?' had answered 'The Ego is,' then that, Ananda, would have confirmed the doctrine of the Samanas and Brahmanas, who believed in permanence. If I, Ananda, when the wandering monk Vacchagotta asked me, 'Is there not the Ego?' had answered, 'The Ego is not,' then that, Ananda, would have confirmed the doctrine of those who believed in annihilation. If I, Ananda, when the wandering monk Vacchagotta asked me, 'Is there the Ego?' had answered, 'The Ego is,' would that have served my end, Ananda, by producing in him the knowledge: all existences (dhamma) are non-ego? But if I, Ananda, had answered, 'The Ego is not,' then that, Ananda, would only have caused the wandering monk Vacchagotta to be thrown from one bewilderment to another: 'My Ego, did it not exist before? But now it exists no longer!"' This shows, better than anything, that Gautama Buddha withheld such difficult metaphysical doctrines from the masses in order not to perplex them more. What he meant was the difference between the personal temporary Ego and the Higher Self, which sheds its light on the imperishable Ego, the spiritual "I" of man.
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Re: The Key to Theosophy, by H.P. Blavatsky

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Section 6: Theosophical Teachings as to Nature and Man

THE UNITY OF ALL IN ALL


Enq. Having told me what God, the Soul and Man are not, in your views, can you inform me what they are, according to your teachings?

Theo. In their origin and in eternity the three, like the universe and all therein, are one with the absolute Unity, the unknowable deific essence I spoke about some time back. We believe in no creation, but in the periodical and consecutive appearances of the universe from the subjective on to the objective plane of being, at regular intervals of time, covering periods of immense duration.

Enq. Can you elaborate the subject?

Theo. Take as a first comparison and a help towards a more correct conception, the solar year, and as a second, the two halves of that year, producing each a day and a night of six months' duration at the North Pole. Now imagine, if you can, instead of a Solar year of 365 days, ETERNITY. Let the sun represent the universe, and the polar days and nights of 6 months each — days and nights lasting each 182 trillions and quadrillions of years, instead of 182 days each. As the sun arises every morning on our objective horizon out of its (to us) subjective and antipodal space, so does the Universe emerge periodically on the plane of objectivity, issuing from that of subjectivity — the antipodes of the former. This is the "Cycle of Life." And as the sun disappears from our horizon, so does the Universe disappear at regular periods, when the "Universal night" sets in. The Hindoos call such alternations the "Days and Nights of Brahma," or the time of Manvantara and that of Pralaya (dissolution). The Westerns may call them Universal Days and Nights if they prefer. During the latter (the nights) All is in All; every atom is resolved into one Homogeneity.

EVOLUTION AND ILLUSION

Enq. But who is it that creates each time the Universe?

Theo. No one creates it. Science would call the process evolution; the pre-Christian philosophers and the Orientalists called it emanation: we, Occultists and Theosophists, see in it the only universal and eternal reality casting a periodical reflection of itself on the infinite Spatial depths. This reflection, which you regard as the objective material universe, we consider as a temporary illusion and nothing else. That alone which is eternal is real.

Enq. At that rate, you and I are also illusions.

Theo. As flitting personalities, to-day one person, to-morrow another — we are. Would you call the sudden flashes of the Aurora borealis, the Northern lights, a "reality," though it is as real as can be while you look at it? Certainly not; it is the cause that produces it, if permanent and eternal, which is the only reality, while the other is but a passing, illusion.

Enq. All this does not explain to me how this illusion called the universe originates; how the conscious to be, proceeds to manifest itself from the unconsciousness that is.

Theo. It is unconsciousness only to our finite consciousness. Verily may we paraphrase verse v, in the 1st chapter of St. John, and say "and (Absolute) light (which is darkness) shineth in darkness (which is illusionary material light); and the darkness comprehendeth it not." This absolute light is also absolute and immutable law. Whether by radiation or emanation — we need not quarrel over terms — the universe passes out of its homogeneous subjectivity on to the first plane of manifestation, of which planes there are seven, we are taught. With each plane it becomes more dense and material until it reaches this, our plane, on which the only world approximately known and understood in its physical composition by Science, is the planetary or Solar system — one sui generis, we are told.

Enq. What do you mean by sui generis?

Theo. I mean that, though the fundamental law and the universal working of laws of Nature are uniform, still our Solar system (like every other such system in the millions of others in Cosmos) and even our Earth, has its own programme of manifestations differing from the respective programmes of all others. We speak of the inhabitants of other planets and imagine that if they are men, i. e., thinking entities, they must be as we are. The fancy of poets and painters and sculptors never fails to represent even the angels as a beautiful copy of man — plus wings. We say that all this is an error and a delusion; because, if on this little earth alone one finds such a diversity in its flora, fauna and mankind — from the sea-weed to the cedar of Lebanon, from the jelly-fish to the elephant, from the Bushman and negro to the Apollo Belvedere — alter the conditions cosmic and planetary, and there must be as a result quite a different flora, fauna and mankind. The same laws will fashion quite a different set of things and beings even on this our plane, including in it all our planets. How much more different then must be external nature in other Solar systems, and how foolish is it to judge of other stars and worlds and human beings by our own, as physical science does!

Enq. But what are your data for this assertion?

Theo. What science in general will never accept as proof — the cumulative testimony of an endless series of Seers who have testified to this fact. Their spiritual visions, real explorations by, and through, physical and spiritual senses untrammelled by blind flesh, were systematically checked and compared one with the other, and their nature sifted. All that was not corroborated by unanimous and collective experience was rejected, while that only was recorded as established truth which, in various ages, under different climes, and throughout an untold series of incessant observations, was found to agree and receive constantly further corroboration. The methods used by our scholars and students of the psycho-spiritual sciences do not differ from those of students of the natural and physical sciences, as you may see. Only our fields of research are on two different planes, and our instruments are made by no human hands, for which reason perchance they are only the more reliable. The retorts, accumulators, and microscopes of the chemist and naturalist may get out of order; the telescope and the astronomer's horological instruments may get spoiled; our recording instruments are beyond the influence of weather or the elements.

Enq. And therefore you have implicit faith in them?

Theo. Faith is a word not to be found in theosophical dictionaries: we say knowledge based, on observation and experience. There is this difference, however, that while the observation and experience of physical science lead the Scientists to about as many "working" hypotheses as there are minds to evolve them, our knowledge consents to add to its lore only those facts which have become undeniable, and which are fully and absolutely demonstrated. We have no two beliefs or hypotheses on the same subject.

Enq. Is it on such data that you came to accept the strange theories we find in Esoteric Buddhism?

Theo. Just so. These theories may be slightly incorrect in their minor details, and even faulty in their exposition by lay students; they are facts in nature, nevertheless, and come nearer the truth than any scientific hypothesis.

ON THE SEPTENARY CONSTITUTION OF OUR PLANET

Enq. I understand that you describe our earth as forming part of a chain of earths?

Theo. We do. But the other six "earths" or globes, are not on the same plane of objectivity as our earth is; therefore we cannot see them.

Enq. Is that on account of the great distance?

Theo. Not at all, for we see with our naked eye planets and even stars at immeasurably greater distances; but it is owing to those six globes being outside our physical means of perception, or plane of being. It is not only that their material density, weight, or fabric are entirely different from those of our earth and the other known planets; but they are (to us) on an entirely different layer of space, so to speak; a layer not to be perceived or felt by our physical senses. And when I say "layer," please do not allow your fancy to suggest to you layers like strata or beds laid one over the other, for this would only lead to another absurd misconception. What I mean by "layer" is that plane of infinite space which by its nature cannot fall under our ordinary waking perceptions, whether mental or physical; but which exists in nature outside of our normal mentality or consciousness, outside of our three dimensional space, and outside of our division of time. Each of the seven fundamental planes (or layers) in space — of course as a whole, as the pure space of Locke's definition, not as our finite space — has its own objectivity and subjectivity, its own space and time, its own consciousness and set of senses. But all this will be hardly comprehensible to one trained in the modern ways of thought.

Enq. What do you mean by a different set of senses? Is there anything on our human plane that you could bring as an illustration of what you say, just to give a clearer idea of what you may mean by this variety of senses, spaces, and respective perceptions?

Theo. None; except, perhaps, that which for Science would be rather a handy peg on which to hang a counter-argument. We have a different set of senses in dream-life, have we not? We feel, talk, hear, see, taste and function in general on a different plane; the change of state of our consciousness being evidenced by the fact that a series of acts and events embracing years, as we think, pass ideally through our mind in one instant. Well, that extreme rapidity of our mental operations in dreams, and the perfect naturalness, for the time being, of all the other functions, show us that we are on quite another plane. Our philosophy teaches us that, as there are seven fundamental forces in nature, and seven planes of being, so there are seven states of consciousness in which man can live, think, remember and have his being. To enumerate these here is impossible, and for this one has to turn to the study of Eastern metaphysics. But in these two states — the waking and the dreaming — every ordinary mortal, from a learned philosopher down to a poor untutored savage, has a good proof that such states differ.

Enq. You do not accept, then, the well-known explanations of biology and physiology to account for the dream state?

Theo. We do not. We reject even the hypotheses of your psychologists, preferring the teachings of Eastern Wisdom. Believing in seven planes of Kosmic being and states of Consciousness, with regard to the Universe or the Macrocosm, we stop at the fourth plane, finding it impossible to go with any degree of certainty beyond. But with respect to the Microcosm, or man, we speculate freely on his seven states and principles.

Enq. How do you explain these?

Theo. We find, first of all, two distinct beings in man; the spiritual and the physical, the man who thinks, and the man who records as much of these thoughts as he is able to assimilate. Therefore we divide him into two distinct natures; the upper or the spiritual being, composed of three "principles" or aspects; and the lower or the physical quaternary, composed of four — in all seven.

THE SEPTENARY NATURE OF MAN

Enq. Is it what we call Spirit and Soul, and the man of flesh?

Theo. It is not. That is the old Platonic division. Plato was an Initiate, and therefore could not go into forbidden details; but he who is acquainted with the archaic doctrine finds the seven in Plato's various combinations of Soul and Spirit. He regarded man as constituted of two parts — one eternal, formed of the same essence as the Absoluteness, the other mortal and corruptible, deriving its constituent parts from the minor "created" Gods. Man is composed, he shows, of (1) A mortal body, (2) An immortal principle, and (3) A "separate mortal kind of Soul." It is that which we respectively call the physical man, the Spiritual Soul or Spirit, and the animal Soul (the Nous andpsuche). This is the division adopted by Paul, another Initiate, who maintains that there is a psychical body which is sown in the corruptible (astral soul or body), and a spiritual body that is raised in incorruptible substance. Even James (iii. 15) corroborates the same by saying that the "wisdom" (of our lower soul) descendeth not from the above, but is terrestrial ("psychical," "demoniacal," vide Greek text); while the other is heavenly wisdom. Now so plain is it that Plato and even Pythagoras, while speaking but of three "principles," give them seven separate functions, in their various combinations, that if we contrast our teachings this will become quite plain. Let us take a cursory view of these seven aspects by drawing two tables.

THEOSOPHICAL DIVISION [SANSCRIT TERMS // EXOTERIC MEANING // EXPLANATORY]

LOWER QUATERNARY

(a) Rupa, or Sthula-Sarira // Physical body // Is the vehicle of all the other "principles" during life.

(b) Prana // Life, or Vital principle // Necessary only to a, c, d, and the functions of the lower Manas, which embrace all those limited to the (physical) brain.

(c) Linga Sharira // Astral body // The Double, the phantom body.

(d) Kama rupa // The seat of animal desires and passions // This is the centre of the animal man, where lies the line of demarcation which separates the mortal man from the immortal entity.

THE UPPER IMPERISHABLE TRIAD.

(e) Manas — a dual principle in its functions // Mind, Intelligence: which is the higher human mind, whose light, or radiation links the MONAD, for the lifetime, to the mortal man // The future state and the Karmic destiny of man depend on whether Manas gravitates more downward to Kama rupa, the seat of the animal passions, or upwards to Buddhi, the Spiritual Ego. In the latter case, the higher consciousness of the individual Spiritual aspirations of mind (Manas), assimilating Buddhi, are absorbed by it and form the Ego, which goes into Devachanic bliss.*

(f) Buddhi // The Spiritual Soul // The vehicle of pure universal spirit.

(g) Atma // Spirit // One with the Absolute, as its radiation.

*In Mr. Sinnett's "Esoteric Buddhism" d, e, and f, are respectively called the Animal, the Human, and the Spiritual Souls, which answers as well. Though the principles in Esoteric Buddhism are numbered, this is, strictly speaking, useless. The dual Monad alone (Atma-Buddhi) is susceptible of being thought of as the two highest numbers (the 6th and 7th). As to all others, since that "principle" only which is predominant in man has to be considered as the first and foremost, no numeration is possible as a general rule. In some men it is the higher Intelligence (Manas or the 5th) which dominates the rest; in others the Animal Soul (Kama-rupa) that reigns supreme, exhibiting the most bestial instincts, etc.


Now what does Plato teach? He speaks of the interior man as constituted of two parts — one immutable and always the same, formed of the same substance as Deity, and the other mortal and corruptible. These "two parts" are found in our upper Triad, and the lower Quaternary (vide Table). He explains that when the Soul, psuche, "allies herself to the Nous (divine spirit or substance) (1), she does everything aright and felicitously"; but the case is otherwise when she attaches herself to Anoia, (folly, or the irrational animal Soul). Here, then, we have Manas (or the Soul in general) in its two aspects: when attaching itself to Anoia (our Kama rupa, or the "Animal Soul" in "Esoteric Buddhism,") it runs towards entire annihilation, as far as the personal Ego is concerned; when allying itself to the Nous (Atma-Buddhi) it merges into the immortal, imperishable Ego, and then its spiritual consciousness of the personal that was, becomes immortal.

THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN SOUL AND SPIRIT

Enq. Do you really teach, as you are accused of doing by some Spiritualists and French Spiritists, the annihilation of every personality?

Theo. We do not. But as this question of the duality — the individuality of the Divine Ego, and the personality of the human animal — involves that of the possibility of the real immortal Ego appearing in Seance rooms as a "materialised spirit," which we deny as already explained, our opponents have started the nonsensical charge.

Enq. You have just spoken of psuche running towards its entire annihilation if it attaches itself to Anoia. What did Plato, and do you mean by this?

Theo. The entire annihilation of the personal consciousness, as an exceptional and rare case, I think. The general and almost invariable rule is the merging of the personal into the individual or immortal consciousness of the Ego, a transformation or a divine transfiguration, and the entire annihilation only of the lower quaternary . Would you expect the man of flesh, or the temporary personality, his shadow, the "astral," his animal instincts and even physical life, to survive with the "spiritual EGO" and become sempiternal? Naturally all this ceases to exist, either at, or soon after corporeal death. It becomes in time entirely disintegrated and disappears from view, being annihilated as a whole.

Enq. Then you also reject resurrection in the flesh?

Theo. Most decidedly we do! Why should we, who believe in the archaic esoteric philosophy of the Ancients, accept the unphilosophical speculations of the later Christian theology, borrowed from the Egyptian and Greek exoteric Systems of the Gnostics?

Enq. The Egyptians revered Nature-Spirits, and deified even onions: your Hindus are idolaters, to this day; the Zoroastrians worshipped, and do still worship, the Sun; and the best Greek philosophers were either dreamers or materialists — witness Plato and Democritus. How can you compare!

Theo. It may be so in your modern Christian and even Scientific catechism; it is not so for unbiassed minds. The Egyptians revered the "One-Only-One," as Nout; and it is from this word that Anaxagoras got his denomination Nous, or as he calls it, Nous autokrates, "the Mind or Spirit Self-potent," the archetes kinedeos, the leading motor, or primum-mobile of all. With him the Nous was God, and the logos was man, his emanation. The Nous is the spirit (whether in Kosmos or in man), and the logos, whether Universe or astral body, the emanation of the former, the physical body being merely the animal. Our external powers perceive phenomena; our Nous alone is able to recognise their noumena. It is the logos alone, or the noumenon, that survives, because it is immortal in its very nature and essence, and the logos in man is the Eternal Ego, that which reincarnates and lasts for ever. But how can the evanescent or external shadow, the temporary clothing of that divine Emanation which returns to the source whence it proceeded, be that which is raised in incorruptibility?

Enq. Still you can hardly escape the charge of having invented a new division of man's spiritual and psychic constituents; for no philosopher speaks of them, though you believe that Plato does.

Theo. And I support the view. Besides Plato, there is Pythagoras, who also followed the same idea. (2) He described the Soul as a self-moving Unit (monad) composed of three elements, the Nous (Spirit), the phren (mind), and the thumos (life, breath or the Nephesh of the Kabalists) which three correspond to our "Atma-Buddhi," (higher Spirit-Soul), to Manas (the EGO), and to Kama-rupa in conjunction with the lower reflection of Manas. That which the Ancient Greek philosophers termed Soul, in general, we call Spirit, or Spiritual Soul, Buddhi, as the vehicle of Atma (the Agathon, or Plato's Supreme Deity). The fact that Pythagoras and others state that phren and thumos are shared by us with the brutes, proves that in this case the lower Manasic reflection (instinct) and Kama-rupa (animal living passions) are meant. And as Socrates and Plato accepted the clue and followed it, if to these five, namely, Agathon (Deity or Atma), Psuche (Soul in its collective sense), Nous (Spirit or Mind), Phren (physical mind), and Thumos (Kama-rupa or passions) we add the eidolon of the Mysteries, the shadowy form or the human double, and the physical body, it will be easy to demonstrate that the ideas of both Pythagoras and Plato were identical with ours. Even the Egyptians held to the Septenary division. In its exit, they taught, the Soul (EGO) had to pass through its seven chambers, or principles, those it left behind, and those it took along with itself. The only difference is that, ever bearing in mind the penalty of revealing Mystery-doctrines, which was death, they gave out the teaching in a broad outline, while we elaborate it and explain it in its details. But though we do give out to the world as much as is lawful, even in our doctrine more than one important detail is withheld, which those who study the esoteric philosophy and are pledged to silence, are alone entitled to know.

THE GREEK TEACHINGS

Enq. We have magnificent Greek and Latin, Sanskrit and Hebrew scholars. How is it that we find nothing in their translations that would afford us a clue to what you say?

Theo. Because your translators, their great learning notwithstanding, have made of the philosophers, the Greeks especially, misty instead of mystic writers. Take as an instance Plutarch, and read what he says of "the principles" of man. That which he describes was accepted literally and attributed to metaphysical superstition and ignorance. Let me give you an illustration in point: "Man," says Plutarch, "is compound; and they are mistaken who think him to be compounded of two parts only. For they imagine that the understanding (brain intellect) is a part of the soul (the upper Triad), but they err in this no less than those who make the soul to be a part of the body, i.e. those who make of the Triad part of the corruptible mortal quaternary. For the understanding (nous) as far exceeds the soul, as the soul is better and diviner than the body. Now this composition of the soul (psuche) with the understanding (nous) makes reason; and with the body (or thumos, the animal soul) passion; of which the one is the beginning or principle of pleasure and pain, and the other of virtue and vice. Of these three parts conjoined and compacted together, the earth has given the body, the moon the soul, and the sun the understanding to the generation of man."

This last sentence is purely allegorical, and will be comprehended only by those who are versed in the esoteric science of correspondences and know which planet is related to every principle. Plutarch divides the latter into three groups, and makes of the body a compound of physical frame, astral shadow, and breath, or the triple lower part, which "from earth was taken and to earth returns"; of the middle principle and the instinctual soul, the second part, derived from and through and ever influenced by the moon (3); and only of the higher part or the Spiritual Soul, with the Atmic and Manasic elements in it does he make a direct emanation of the Sun, who stands here for Agathon the Supreme Deity. This is proven by what he says further as follows:

"Now of the deaths we die, the one makes man two of three and the other one of (out of) two. The former is in the region and jurisdiction of Demeter, whence the name given to the Mysteries,telein, resembled that given to death, teleutan. The Athenians also heretofore called the deceased sacred to Demeter. As for the other death, it is in the moon or region of Persephone."


Here you have our doctrine, which shows man a septenary during life; a quintile just after death, in Kamaloka; and a threefold Ego, Spirit-Soul, and consciousness in Devachan. This separation, first in "the Meadows of Hades," as Plutarch calls the Kama-loka, then in Devachan, was part and parcel of the performances during the sacred Mysteries, when the candidates for initiation enacted the whole drama of death, and the resurrection as a glorified spirit, by which name we mean Consciousness. This is what Plutarch means when he says: —

"And as with the one, the terrestrial, so with the other celestial Hermes doth dwell. This suddenly and with violence plucks the soul from the body; but Proserpina mildly and in a long time disjoins the understanding from the soul. (4) For this reason she is called Monogenes, only begotten, or rather begetting one alone; for the better part of man becomes alone when it is separated by her. Now both the one and the other happens thus according to nature. It is ordained by Fate (Fatum or Karma) that every soul, whether with or without understanding (mind), when gone out of the body, should wander for a time, though not all for the same, in the region lying between the earth and moon (Kamaloka). (5) For those that have been unjust and dissolute suffer then the punishment due to their offences; but the good and virtuous are there detained till they are purified, and have, by expiation, purged out of them all the infections they might have contracted from the contagion of the body, as if from foul health, living in the mildest part of the air, called the Meadows of Hades, where they must remain for a certain prefixed and appointed time. And then, as if they were returning from a wandering pilgrimage or long exile into their country, they have a taste of joy, such as they principally receive who are initiated into Sacred Mysteries, mixed with trouble, admiration, and each one's proper and peculiar hope."


This is Nirvanic bliss, and no Theosophist could describe in plainer though esoteric language the mental joys of Devachan, where every man has his paradise around him, erected by his consciousness. But you must beware of the general error into which too many even of our Theosophists fall. Do not imagine that because man is called septenary, then quintuple and a triad, he is a compound of seven, five, or three entities; or, as well expressed by a Theosophical writer, of skins to be peeled off like the skins of an onion. The "principles," as already said, save the body, the life, and the astral eidolon, all of which disperse at death, are simply aspects and states of consciousness. There is but one real man, enduring through the cycle of life and immortal in essence, if not in form, and this is Manas, the Mind-man or embodied Consciousness. The objection made by the materialists, who deny the possibility of mind and consciousness acting without matter is worthless in our case. We do not deny the soundness of their argument; but we simply ask our opponents, "Are you acquainted with all the states of matter, you who knew hitherto but of three? And how do you know whether that which we refer to as ABSOLUTE CONSCIOUSNESS or Deity for ever invisible and unknowable, be not that which, though it eludes for ever our human finite conception, is still universal Spirit-matter or matter-Spirit in its absolute infinitude" It is then one of the lowest, and in its manvantaric manifestations fractioned-aspects of this Spirit-matter, which is the conscious Ego that creates its own paradise, a fool's paradise, it may be, still a state of bliss.

Enq. But what is Devachan?

Theo. The "land of gods" literally; a condition, a state of mental bliss. Philosophically a mental condition analogous to, but far more vivid and real than, the most vivid dream. It is the state after death of most mortals.

_______________

Notes:

1. Paul calls Plato's Nous "Spirit"; but as this spirit is "substance," then, of course, Buddhi and not Atma is meant, as the latter cannot philosophically be called "substance" under any circumstance. We include Atma among the human "principles" in order not to create additional confusion. In reality it is no "human" but the universal absolute principle of which Buddhi, the Soul-Spirit, is the carrier.

2. "Plato and Pythagoras," says Plutarch, "distribute the soul into two parts, the rational (noetic) and irrational (agnoia); that that part of the soul of man which is rational is eternal; for though it be not God, yet it is the product of an eternal deity, but that part of the soul which is divested of reason (agnoia) dies." The modern term Agnostic comes from Agnosis, a cognate word. We wonder why Mr. Huxley, the author of the word, should have connected his great intellect with "the soul divested of reason" which dies? Is it the exaggerated humility of the modern materialist?

3. The Kabalists who know the relation of Jehovah, the life and children-giver, to the Moon, and the influence of the latter on generation, will again see the point as much as some astrologers will.

4. Proserpina, or Persephone, stands here for post mortem Karma, which is said to regulate the separation of the lower from the higher "principles": the Soul, as Nephesh, the breath of animal life, which remains for a time in Kama-loka, from the higher compound Ego, which goes into the state of Devachan, or bliss.

5. Until the separation of the higher, spiritual "principle" takes place from the lower ones, which remain in the Kama-loka until disintegrated.
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Re: The Key to Theosophy, by H.P. Blavatsky

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Section 7: On the Various Post Mortem States

THE PHYSICAL AND THE SPIRITUAL MA
N

Enq. I am glad to hear you believe in the immortality of the Soul.

Theo. Not of "the Soul," but of the divine Spirit; or rather in the immortality of the re-incarnating Ego.

Enq. What is the difference?

Theo. A very great one in our philosophy, but this is too abstruse and difficult a question to touch lightly upon. We shall have to analyse them separately, and then in conjunction. We may begin with Spirit.

We say that the Spirit (the "Father in secret" of Jesus), or Atman, is no individual property of any man, but is the Divine essence which has no body, no form, which is imponderable, invisible and indivisible, that which does not exist and yet is, as the Buddhists say of Nirvana. It only overshadows the mortal; that which enters into him and pervades the whole body being only its omnipresent rays, or light, radiated through Buddhi, its vehicle and direct emanation. This is the secret meaning of the assertions of almost all the ancient philosophers, when they said that "the rational part of man's soul"* never entered wholly into the man, but only overshadowed him more or less through the irrational spiritual Soul or Buddhi.**

*In its generic sense, the word "rational" meaning something emanating from the Eternal Wisdom.

**Irrational in the sense that as a pure emanation of the Universal mind it can have no individual reason of its own on this plane of matter, but like the Moon, who borrows her light from the Sun and her life from the Earth, so Buddhi, receiving its light of Wisdom from Atma, gets its rational qualities from Manas. Per se, as something homogeneous, it is devoid of attributes.

Enq. I laboured under the impression that the "Animal Soul" alone was irrational, not the Divine.

Theo. You have to learn the difference between that which is negatively, or passively "irrational," because undifferentiated, and that which is irrational because too active and positive. Man is a correlation of spiritual powers, as well as a correlation of chemical and physical forces, brought into function by what we call "principles."

Enq. I have read a good deal upon the subject, and it seems to me that the notions of the older philosophers differed a great deal from those of the mediaeval Kabalists, though they do agree in some particulars.

Theo. The most substantial difference between them and us is this. While we believe with the Neo-Platonists and the Eastern teachings that the spirit (Atma) never descends hypostatically into the living man, but only showers more or less its radiance on the inner man (the psychic and spiritual compound of the astral) principles, the Kabalists maintain that the human Spirit, detaching itself from the ocean of light and Universal Spirit, enters man's Soul, where it remains throughout life imprisoned in the astral capsule. All Christian Kabalists still maintain the same, as they are unable to break quite loose from their anthropomorphic and Biblical doctrines.

Enq. And what do you say?

Theo. We say that we only allow the presence of the radiation of Spirit (or Atma) in the astral capsule, and so far only as that spiritual radiancy is concerned. We say that man and Soul have to conquer their immortality by ascending towards the unity with which, if successful, they will be finally linked and into which they are finally, so to speak, absorbed. The individualization of man after death depends on the spirit, not on his soul and body. Although the word "personality," in the sense in which it is usually understood, is an absurdity if applied literally to our immortal essence, still the latter is, as our individual Ego, a distinct entity, immortal and eternal, per se. It is only in the case of black magicians or of criminals beyond redemption, criminals who have been such during a long series of lives — that the shining thread, which links the spirit to the personal soul from the moment of the birth of the child, is violently snapped, and the disembodied entity becomes divorced from the personal soul, the latter being annihilated without leaving the smallest impression of itself on the former. If that union between the lower, or personal Manas, and the individual reincarnating Ego, has not been effected during life, then the former is left to share the fate of the lower animals, to gradually dissolve into ether, and have its personality annihilated. But even then the Ego remains a distinct being. It (the spiritual Ego) only loses one Devachanic state — after that special, and in that case indeed useless, life — as that idealized Personality, and is reincarnated, after enjoying for a short time its freedom as a planetary spirit almost immediately.

Enq. It is stated in Isis Unveiled that such planetary Spirits or Angels, "the gods of the Pagans or the Archangels of the Christians," will never be men on our planet.

Theo. Quite right. Not "such," butsome classes of higher Planetary Spirits. They will never be men on this planet, because they are liberated Spirits from a previous, earlier world, and as such they cannot re-become men on this one. Yet all these will live again in the next and far higher Mahamanvantara, after this "great Age," and "Brahma pralaya," (a little period of 16 figures or so) is over. For you must have heard, of course, that Eastern philosophy teaches us that mankind consists of such "Spirits" imprisoned in human bodies? The difference between animals and men is this: the former are ensouled by the "principles" potentially, the latter actually. (Vide "Secret Doctrine," Vol. II., stanzas.) Do you understand now the difference?

Enq. Yes; but this specialisation has been in all ages the stumbling-block of metaphysicians.

Theo. It was. The whole esotericism of the Buddhistic philosophy is based on this mysterious teaching, understood by so few persons, and so totally misrepresented by many of the most learned modern scholars. Even metaphysicians are too inclined to confound the effect with the cause. An Ego who has won his immortal life as spirit will remain the same inner self throughout all his rebirths on earth; but this does not imply necessarily that he must either remain the Mr. Smith or Mr. Brown he was on earth, or lose his individuality. Therefore, the astral soul and the terrestrial body of man may, in the dark hereafter, be absorbed into the cosmical ocean of sublimated elements, and cease to feel his last personal Ego (if it did not deserve to soar higher), and the divine Ego still remain the same unchanged entity, though this terrestrial experience of his emanation may be totally obliterated at the instant of separation from the unworthy vehicle.

Enq. If the "Spirit," or the divine portion of the soul, is pre-existent as a distinct being from all eternity, as Origen, Synesius, and other semi-Christians and semi-Platonic philosophers taught, and if it is the same, and nothing more than the metaphysically-objective soul, how can it be otherwise than eternal? And what matters it in such a case, whether man leads a pure life or an animal, if, do what he may, he can never lose his individuality?

Theo. This doctrine, as you have stated it, is just as pernicious in its consequences as that of vicarious atonement. Had the latter dogma, in company with the false idea that we are all immortal, been demonstrated to the world in its true light, humanity would have been bettered by its propagation.

Let me repeat to you again. Pythagoras, Plato, Timaeus of Locris, and the old Alexandrian School, derived the Soul of man (or his higher "principles" and attributes) from the Universal World Soul, the latter being, according to their teachings, Aether (Pater-Zeus). Therefore, neither of these "principles" can be unalloyed essence of the Pythagorean Monas, or our Atma-Buddhi, because the Anima Mundi is but the effect, the subjective emanation or rather radiation of the former. Both the human Spirit (or the individuality), the re-incarnating Spiritual Ego, and Buddhi, the Spiritual soul, are pre-existent. But, while the former exists as a distinct entity, an individualization, the soul exists as pre-existing breath, an unscient portion of an intelligent whole. Both were originally formed from the Eternal Ocean of light; but as the Fire-Philosophers, the mediaeval Theosophists, expressed it, there is a visible as well as invisible spirit in fire. They made a difference between the anima bruta and the anima divina. Empedocles firmly believed all men and animals to possess two souls; and in Aristotle we find that he calls one the reasoning soul, nous, and the other, the animal soul, psuche. According to these philosophers, the reasoning soul comes from within the universal soul, and the other from without.

Enq. Would you call the Soul, i. e., the human thinking Soul, or what you call the Ego — matter?

Theo. Not matter, but substance assuredly; nor would the word "matter," if prefixed with the adjective, primordial, be a word to avoid. That matter, we say, is co-eternal with Spirit, and is not our visible, tangible, and divisible matter, but its extreme sublimation. Pure Spirit is but one remove from the no-Spirit, or the absolute all. Unless you admit that man was evolved out of this primordial Spirit-matter, and represents a regular progressive scale of "principles" from meta-Spirit down to the grossest matter, how can we ever come to regard the inner man as immortal, and at the same time as a spiritual Entity and a mortal man?

Enq. Then why should you not believe in God as such an Entity?

Theo. Because that which is infinite and unconditioned can have no form, and cannot be a being, not in any Eastern philosophy worthy of the name, at any rate. An "entity" is immortal, but is so only in its ultimate essence, not in its individual form. When at the last point of its cycle, it is absorbed into its primordial nature; and it becomes spirit, when it loses its name of Entity.

Its immortality as a form is limited only to its life-cycle or the Mahamanvantara; after which it is one and identical with the Universal Spirit, and no longer a separate Entity. As to the personal Soul — by which we mean the spark of consciousness that preserves in the Spiritual Ego the idea of the personal "I" of the last incarnation — this lasts, as a separate distinct recollection, only throughout the Devachanic period; after which time it is added to the series of other innumerable incarnations of the Ego, like the remembrance in our memory of one of a series of days, at the end of a year. Will you bind the infinitude you claim for your God to finite conditions? That alone which is indissolubly cemented by Atma (i.e., Buddhi-Manas) is immortal. The soul of man (i.e., of the personality) per se is neither immortal, eternal nor divine. Says the Zohar (vol. iii., p.616), "the soul, when sent to this earth, puts on an earthly garment, to preserve herself here, so she receives above a shining garment, in order to be able to look without injury into the mirror, whose light proceeds from the Lord of Light." Moreover, the Zohar teaches that the soul cannot reach the abode of bliss, unless she has received the "holy kiss," or the reunion of the soul with the substance from which she emanated — spirit. All souls are dual, and, while the latter is a feminine principle, the spirit is masculine. While imprisoned in body, man is a trinity, unless his pollution is such as to have caused his divorce from the spirit. "Woe to the soul which prefers to her divine husband (spirit) the earthly wedlock with her terrestrial body," records a text of the Book of the Keys, a Hermetic work. Woe indeed, for nothing will remain of that personality to be recorded on the imperishable tablets of the Ego's memory.

Enq. How can that which, if not breathed by God into man, yet is on your own confession of an identical substance with the divine, fail to be immortal?

Theo. Every atom and speck of matter, not of substance only, is imperishable in its essence, but not in its individual consciousness. Immortality is but one's unbroken consciousness; and the personal consciousness can hardly last longer than the personality itself, can it? And such consciousness, as I already told you, survives only throughout Devachan, after which it is reabsorbed, first, in the individual, and then in the universal consciousness. Better enquire of your theologians how it is that they have so sorely jumbled up the Jewish Scriptures. Read the Bible, if you would have a good proof that the writers of the Pentateuch, and Genesis especially, never regarded nephesh, that which God breathes into Adam (Gen. ch. ii.), as the immortal soul. Here are some instances: — "And God created . . . . everynephesh (life) that moveth" (Gen. i. 21), meaning animals; and (Gen. ii. 7) it is said: "And man became a nephesh"(living soul), which shows that the word nephesh was indifferently applied to immortal man and to mortal beast. "And surely your blood of your nepheshim (lives) will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man" (Gen. ix. 5), "Escape for nephesh" (escape for thy life, it is translated), (Gen. xix. 17). "Let us not kill him," reads the English version (Gen. xxxvii. 21.) "Let us not kill his nephesh," is the Hebrew text. "Nephesh for nephesh," says Leviticus (xvii. 8). "He that killeth any man shall surely be put to death," literally "He that smiteth the nephesh of a man" (Lev. xxiv. 17); and from verse 18 and following it reads: "And he that killeth a beast (nephesh) shall make it good. . . . Beast for beast," whereas the original text has it "nephesh for nephesh." How could man kill that which is immortal? And this explains also why the Sadducees denied the immortality of the soul, as it also affords another proof that very probably the Mosaic Jews — the uninitiated at any rate — never believed in the soul's survival at all.

ON ETERNAL REWARD AND PUNISHMENT; AND ON NIRVANA

Enq. It is hardly necessary, I suppose, to ask you whether you believe in the Christian dogmas of Paradise and Hell, or in future rewards and punishments as taught by the Orthodox churches?

Theo. As described in your catechisms, we reject them absolutely; least of all would we accept their eternity. But we believe firmly in what we call the Law of Retribution, and in the absolute justice and wisdom guiding this Law, or Karma. Hence we positively refuse to accept the cruel and unphilosophical belief in eternal reward or eternal punishment. We say with Horace: —

"Let rules be fixed that may our rage contain,
And punish faults with a proportion'd pain;
But do not flay him who deserves alone
A whipping for the fault that he has done."


This is a rule for all men, and a just one. Have we to believe that God, of whom you make the embodiment of wisdom, love and mercy, is less entitled to these attributes than mortal man?

Enq. Have you any other reasons for rejecting this dogma?

Theo. Our chief reason for it lies in the fact of re-incarnation. As already stated, we reject the idea of a new soul created for every newly-born babe. We believe that every human being is the bearer, or Vehicle, of an Ego coeval with every other Ego; because all Egos are of the same essence and belong to the primeval emanation from one universal infinite Ego. Plato calls the latter the logos (or the second manifested God); and we, the manifested divine principle, which is one with the universal mind or soul, not the anthropomorphic, extra-cosmic and personal God in which so many Theists believe. Pray do not confuse.

Enq. But where is the difficulty, once you accept a manifested principle, in believing that the soul of every new mortal is created by that Principle, as all the Souls before it have been so created?

Theo. Because that which is impersonal can hardly create, plan and think, at its own sweet will and pleasure. Being a universal Law, immutable in its periodical manifestations, those of radiating and manifesting its own essence at the beginning of every new cycle of life, IT is not supposed to create men, only to repent a few years later of having created them. If we have to believe in a divine principle at all, it must be in one which is as absolute harmony, logic, and justice, as it is absolute love, wisdom, and impartiality; and a God who would create every soul for the space of one brief span of life, regardless of the fact whether it has to animate the body of a wealthy, happy man, or that of a poor suffering wretch, hapless from birth to death though he has done nothing to deserve his cruel fate — would be rather a senseless fiend than a God. (Vide infra, "On the Punishment of the Ego.") Why, even the Jewish philosophers, believers in the Mosaic Bible (esoterically, of course), have never entertained such an idea; and, moreover, they believed in re-incarnation, as we do.

Enq. Can you give me some instances as a proof of this?

Theo. Most decidedly I can. Philo Judaeus says (in "De Somniis," p. 455): "The air is full of them (of souls); those which are nearest the earth, descending to be tied to mortal bodies, palindromousi authis, return to other bodies, being desirous to live in them." In the Zohar, the soul is made to plead her freedom before God: "Lord of the Universe! I am happy in this world, and do not wish to go into another world, where I shall be a handmaid, and be exposed to all kinds of pollutions." ("Zohar,"Vol. 11., p. 96.) The doctrine of fatal necessity, the everlasting immutable law, is asserted in the answer of the Deity: "Against thy will thou becomest an embryo, and against thy will thou art born." ("Mishna," "Aboth," Vol. IV., p. 29.) Light would be incomprehensible without darkness to make it manifest by contrast; good would be no longer good without evil to show the priceless nature of the boon; and so personal virtue could claim no merit, unless it had passed through the furnace of temptation. Nothing is eternal and unchangeable, save the concealed Deity. Nothing that is finite — whether because it had a beginning, or must have an end — can remain stationary. It must either progress or recede; and a soul which thirsts after a reunion with its spirit, which alone confers upon it immortality, must purify itself through cyclic transmigrations onward toward the only land of bliss and eternal rest, called in the Zohar, "The Palace of Love," in the Hindu religion, "Moksha"; among the Gnostics, "The Pleroma of Eternal Light"; and by the Buddhists, "Nirvana." And all these states are temporary, not eternal.

Enq. Yet there is no re-incarnation spoken of in all this.

Theo. A soul which pleads to be allowed to remain where she is, must be pre-existent, and not have been created for the occasion. In the Zohar (vol. iii., p. 61), however, there is a still better proof. Speaking of the re-incarnating Egos (the rational souls), those whose last personality has to fade out entirely, it is said: "All souls which have alienated themselves in heaven from the Holy One — blessed be His Name — have thrown themselves into an abyss at their very existence, and have anticipated the time when they are to descend once more on earth." "The Holy One" means here, esoterically, the Atman, or Atma-Buddhi.

Enq. Moreover, it is very strange to find Nirvana spoken of as something synonymous with the Kingdom of Heaven, or the Paradise, since according to every Orientalist of note Nirvana is a synonym of annihilation!

Theo. Taken literally, with regard to the personality and differentiated matter, not otherwise. These ideas on re-incarnation and the trinity of man were held by many of the early Christian Fathers. It is the jumble made by the translators of the New Testament and ancient philosophical treatises between soul and spirit, that has occasioned the many misunderstandings. It is also one of the many reasons why Buddha, Plotinus, and so many other Initiates are now accused of having longed for the total extinction of their souls — "absorption unto the Deity," or "reunion with the universal soul," meaning, according to modern ideas, annihilation. The personal soul must, of course, be disintegrated into its particles, before it is able to link its purer essence for ever with the immortal spirit. But the translators of both the Acts and the Epistles, who laid the foundation of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the modern commentators on the Buddhist Sutra of the Foundation of the Kingdom of Righteousness, have muddled the sense of the great apostle of Christianity as of the great reformer of India. The former have smothered the word psychikos, so that no reader imagines it to have any relation with soul; and with this confusion of soul and spirit together,Bible readers get only a perverted sense of anything on the subject. On the other hand, the interpreters of Buddha have failed to understand the meaning and object of the Buddhist four degrees of Dhyana. Ask the Pythagoreans, "Can that spirit, which gives life and motion and partakes of the nature of light, be reduced to nonentity?" "Can even that sensitive spirit in brutes which exercises memory, one of the rational faculties, die and become nothing?" observe the Occultists. In Buddhistic philosophy annihilation means only a dispersion of matter, in whatever form or semblance of form it may be, for everything that has form is temporary, and is, therefore, really an illusion. For in eternity the longest periods of time are as a wink of the eye. So with form. Before we have time to realize that we have seen it, it is gone like an instantaneous flash of lightning, and passed for ever. When the Spiritual entity breaks loose for ever from every particle of matter, substance, or form, and re-becomes a Spiritual breath: then only does it enter upon the eternal and unchangeable Nirvana, lasting as long as the cycle of life has lasted — an eternity, truly. And then that Breath, existing in Spirit, is nothing because it is all; as a form, a semblance, a shape, it is completely annihilated; as absolute Spirit it still is, for it has become Be-ness itself. The very word used, "absorbed in the universal essence," when spoken of the "Soul" as Spirit, means "union with."It can never mean annihilation, as that would mean eternal separation.

Enq. Do you not lay yourself open to the accusation of preaching annihilation by the language you yourself use? You have just spoken of the Soul of man returning to its primordial elements.

Theo. But you forget that I have given you the differences between the various meanings of the word "Soul," and shown the loose way in which the term "Spirit" has been hitherto translated. We speak of an animal, a human, and a spiritual, Soul, and distinguish between them. Plato, for instance, calls "rational SOUL" that which we call Buddhi, adding to it the adjective of "spiritual," however; but that which we call the reincarnating Ego, Manas, he calls Spirit, Nous, etc., whereas we apply the term Spirit, when standing alone and without any qualification, to Atma alone. Pythagoras repeats our archaic doctrine when stating that the Ego (Nous)is eternal with Deity; that the soul only passed through various stages to arrive at divine excellence; while thumos returned to the earth, and even the phren, the lower Manas, was eliminated. Again, Plato defines Soul (Buddhi) as "the motion that is able to move itself." "Soul," he adds (Laws X.), "is the most ancient of all things, and the commencement of motion," thus calling Atma-Buddhi "Soul," and Manas "Spirit," which we do not.

"Soul was generated prior to body, and body is posterior and secondary, as being according to nature, ruled over by the ruling soul." "The soul which administers all things that are moved in every way, administers likewise the heavens."

"Soul then leads everything in heaven, and on earth, and in the sea, by its movements — the names of which are, to will, to consider, to take care of, to consult, to form opinions true and false, to be in a state of joy, sorrow, confidence, fear, hate, love, together with all such primary movements as are allied to these. . . . Being a goddess herself, she ever takes as an ally Nous, a god, and disciplines all things correctly and happily; but when with Annoia — not nous — it works out everything the contrary."


In this language, as in the Buddhist texts, the negative is treated as essential existence. Annihilation comes under a similar exegesis. The positive state is essential being, but no manifestation as such. When the spirit, in Buddhistic parlance, enters Nirvana, it loses objective existence, but retains subjective being. To objective minds this is becoming absolute "nothing"; to subjective, NO-THING, nothing to be displayed to sense. Thus, their Nirvana means the certitude of individual immortality in Spirit, not in Soul, which, though "the most ancient of all things," is still — along with all the other Gods — a finite emanation, in forms and individuality, if not in substance.

Enq. I do not quite seize the idea yet, and would be thankful to have you explain this to me by some illustrations.

Theo. No doubt it is very difficult to understand, especially to one brought up in the regular orthodox ideas of the Christian Church. Moreover, I must tell you one thing; and this is that unless you have studied thoroughly well the separate functions assigned to all the human "principles" and the state of all these after death, you will hardly realize our Eastern philosophy.

ON THE VARIOUS "PRINCIPLES" IN MAN

Enq. I have heard a good deal about this constitution of the "inner man" as you call it, but could never make "head or tail on't" as Gabalis expresses it.

Theo. Of course, it is most difficult, and, as you say, "puzzling" to understand correctly and distinguish between the various aspects, called by us the "principles" of the real EGO. It is the more so as there exists a notable difference in the numbering of those principles by various Eastern schools, though at the bottom there is the same identical substratum of teaching.

Enq. Do you mean the Vedantins, as an instance? Don't they divide your seven "principles" into five only?

Theo. They do; but though I would not presume to dispute the point with a learned Vedantin, I may yet state as my private opinion that they have an obvious reason for it. With them it is only that compound spiritual aggregate which consists of various mental aspects that is called Man at all, the physical body being in their view something beneath contempt, and merely an illusion. Nor is the Vedanta the only philosophy to reckon in this manner. Lao-Tze, in his Tao-te-King, mentions only five principles, because he, like the Vedantins, omits to include two principles, namely, the spirit (Atma) and the physical body, the latter of which, moreover, he calls "the cadaver." Then there is the Taraka Raja Yoga School. Its teaching recognises only three "principles" in fact; but then, in reality, their Sthulopadi, or the physical body, in its waking conscious state, their Sukshmopadhi, the same body in Svapna, or the dreaming state, and their Karanopadhi or "causal body," or that which passes from one incarnation to another, are all dual in their aspects, and thus make six. Add to this Atma, the impersonal divine principle or the immortal element in Man, undistinguished from the Universal Spirit, and you have the same seven again. (See "Secret Doctrine" for a clearer explanation. Vol. I., p. 157.) They are welcome to hold to their division; we hold to ours.

Enq. Then it seems almost the same as the division made by the mystic Christians: body, soul and spirit?

Theo. Just the same. We could easily make of the body the vehicle of the "vital Double"; of the latter the vehicle of Life or Prana; of Kamarupa, or (animal) soul, the vehicle of the higher and the lower mind, and make of this six principles, crowning the whole with the one immortal spirit. In Occultism every qualificative change in the state of our consciousness gives to man a new aspect, and if it prevails and becomes part of the living and acting Ego, it must be (and is) given a special name, to distinguish the man in that particular state from the man he is when he places himself in another state.

Enq. It is just that which it is so difficult to understand.

Theo. It seems to me very easy, on the contrary, once that you have seized the main idea, i.e., that man acts on this or another plane of consciousness, in strict accordance with his mental and spiritual condition. But such is the materialism of the age that the more we explain the less people seem capable of understanding what we say. Divide the terrestrial being called man into three chief aspects, if you like, and unless you make of him a pure animal you cannot do less. Take his objective body; the thinking principle in him — which is only a little higher than the instinctual element in the animal — or the vital conscious soul; and that which places him so immeasurably beyond and higher than the animal — i.e., his reasoning soul or "spirit." Well, if we take these three groups or representative entities, and subdivide them, according to the occult teaching, what do we get?

First of all, Spirit (in the sense of the Absolute, and therefore, indivisible ALL), or Atma. As this can neither be located nor limited in philosophy, being simply that which is in Eternity, and which cannot be absent from even the tiniest geometrical or mathematical point of the universe of matter or substance, it ought not to be called, in truth, a "human" principle at all. Rather, and at best, it is in Metaphysics, that point in space which the human Monad and its vehicle man occupy for the period of every life. Now that point is as imaginary as man himself, and in reality is an illusion, a maya; but then for ourselves, as for other personal Egos, we are a reality during that fit of illusion called life, and we have to take ourselves into account, in our own fancy at any rate, if no one else does. To make it more conceivable to the human intellect, when first attempting the study of Occultism, and to solve the A B C of the mystery of man, Occultism calls this seventh principle the synthesis of the sixth, and gives it for vehicle the Spiritual Soul, Buddhi. Now the latter conceals a mystery, which is never given to any one, with the exception of irrevocably pledged chelas, or those, at any rate, who can be safely trusted. Of course, there would be less confusion, could it only be told; but, as this is directly concerned with the power of projecting one's double consciously and at will, and as this gift, like the "ring of Gyges," would prove very fatal to man at large and to the possessor of that faculty in particular, it is carefully guarded. But let us proceed with the "principles." This divine soul, or Buddhi, then, is the vehicle of the Spirit. In conjunction, these two are one, impersonal and without any attributes (on this plane, of course), and make two spiritual "principles." If we pass on to the Human Soul, Manas or mens, every one will agree that the intelligence of man is dual to say the least: e.g., the high-minded man can hardly become low-minded; the very intellectual and spiritual-minded man is separated by an abyss from the obtuse, dull, and material, if not animal-minded man.

Enq. But why should not man be represented by two "principles" or two aspects, rather?

Theo. Every man has these two principles in him, one more active than the other, and in rare cases, one of these is entirely stunted in its growth, so to say, or paralysed by the strength and predominance of the other aspect, in whatever direction. These, then, are what we call the two principles or aspects of Manas, the higher and the lower; the former, the higher Manas, or the thinking, conscious EGO gravitating toward the spiritual Soul (Buddhi); and the latter, or its instinctual principle, attracted to Kama, the seat of animal desires and passions in man. Thus, we have four "principles" justified; the last three being (1) the "Double," which we have agreed to call Protean, or Plastic Soul; the vehicle of (2) the life principle; and (3) the physical body. Of course no physiologist or biologist will accept these principles, nor can he make head or tail of them. And this is why, perhaps, none of them understand to this day either the functions of the spleen, the physical vehicle of the Protean Double, or those of a certain organ on the right side of man, the seat of the above-mentioned desires, nor yet does he know anything of the pineal gland, which he describes as a horny gland with a little sand in it, which gland is in truth the very seat of the highest and divinest consciousness in man, his omniscient, spiritual and all-embracing mind. And this shows to you still more plainly that we have neither invented these seven principles, nor are they new in the world of philosophy, as we can easily prove.

Enq. But what is it that reincarnates, in your belief?

Theo. The Spiritual thinking Ego, the permanent principle in man, or that which is the seat of Manas. It is not Atma, or even Atma-Buddhi, regarded as the dual Monad, which is the individual, or divine man, but Manas; for Atman is the Universal ALL, and becomes the HIGHER-SELF of man only in conjunction with Buddhi, its vehicle, which links IT to the individuality (or divine man). For it is the Buddhi-Manas which is called the Causal body, (the United 5th and 6th Principles) and which is Consciousness, that connects it with every personality it inhabits on earth. Therefore, Soul being a generic term, there are in men three aspects of Soul — the terrestrial, or animal; the Human Soul; and the Spiritual Soul; these, strictly speaking, are one Soul in its three aspects. Now of the first aspect, nothing remains after death; of the second (nous or Manas) only its divine essence if left unsoiled survives, while the third in addition to being immortal becomes consciously divine, by the assimilation of the higher Manas. But to make it clear, we have to say a few words first of all about Re-incarnation.

Enq. You will do well, as it is against this doctrine that your enemies fight the most ferociously.

Theo. You mean the Spiritualists? I know; and many are the absurd objections laboriously spun by them over the pages of Light. So obtuse and malicious are some of them, that they will stop at nothing. One of them found recently a contradiction, which he gravely discusses in a letter to that journal, in two statements picked out of Mr. Sinnett's lectures. He discovers that grave contradiction in these two sentences: "Premature returns to earth-life in the cases when they occur may be due to Karmic complication . . ."; and "there is no accident in the supreme act of divine justice guiding evolution." So profound a thinker would surely see a contradiction of the law of gravitation if a man stretched out his hand to stop a falling stone from crushing the head of a child!
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Re: The Key to Theosophy, by H.P. Blavatsky

Postby admin » Sun Mar 15, 2020 2:00 am

Section 8: On Re-Incarnation or Re-Birth

WHAT IS MEMORY ACCORDING TO THEOSOPHICAL TEACHING?


Enq. The most difficult thing for you to do, will be to explain and give reasonable grounds for such a belief. No Theosophist has ever yet succeeded in bringing forward a single valid proof to shake my scepticism. First of all, you have against this theory of re-incarnation, the fact that no single man has yet been found to remember that he has lived, least of all who he was, during his previous life.

Theo. Your argument, I see, tends to the same old objection; the loss of memory in each of us of our previous incarnation. You think it invalidates our doctrine? My answer is that it does not, and that at any rate such an objection cannot be final.

Enq. I would like to hear your arguments.

Theo. They are short and few. Yet when you take into consideration (a) the utter inability of the best modern psychologists to explain to the world the nature of mind; and (b) their complete ignorance of its potentialities, and higher states, you have to admit that this objection is based on an a priori conclusion drawn from prima facie and circumstantial evidence more than anything else. Now what is "memory" in your conception, pray?

Enq. That which is generally accepted: the faculty in our mind of remembering and of retaining the knowledge of previous thoughts, deeds and events.

Theo. Please add to it that there is a great difference between the three accepted forms of memory. Besides memory in general you have Remembrance, Recollection and Reminiscence, have you not? Have you ever thought over the difference? Memory, remember, is a generic name.

Enq. Yet, all these are only synonyms.

Theo. Indeed, they are not — not in philosophy, at all events. Memory is simply an innate power in thinking beings, and even in animals, of reproducing past impressions by an association of ideas principally suggested by objective things or by some action on our external sensory organs. Memory is a faculty depending entirely on the more or less healthy and normal functioning of our physical brain; and remembrance and recollection are the attributes and handmaidens of that memory. But reminiscence is an entirely different thing. "Reminiscence" is defined by the modern psychologist as something intermediate between remembrance and recollection, or "a conscious process of recalling past occurrences, but without that full and varied reference to particular things which characterises recollection." Locke, speaking of recollection and remembrance, says: "When an idea again recurs without the operation of the like object on the external sensory, it is remembrance; if it be sought after by the mind, and with pain and endeavour found and brought again into view, it is recollection." But even Locke leaves reminiscence without any clear definition, because it is no faculty or attribute of our physical memory, but an intuitional perception apart from and outside our physical brain; a perception which, covering as it does (being called into action by the ever-present knowledge of our spiritual Ego) all those visions in man which are regarded as abnormal — from the pictures suggested by genius to the ravings of fever and even madness — are classed by science as having no existence outside of our fancy. Occultism and Theosophy, however, regard reminiscence in an entirely different light. For us, while memory is physical and evanescent and depends on the physiological conditions of the brain — a fundamental proposition with all teachers of mnemonics, who have the researches of modern scientific psychologists to back them — we call reminiscence the memory of the soul. And it is this memory which gives the assurance to almost every human being, whether he understands it or not, of his having lived before and having to live again. Indeed, as Wordsworth has it:

"Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting,
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
Hath elsewhere had its setting,
And cometh from afar."


Enq. If it is on this kind of memory — poetry and abnormal fancies, on your own confession — that you base your doctrine, then you will convince very few, I am afraid.

Theo. I did not "confess" it was a fancy. I simply said that physiologists and scientists in general regard such reminiscences as hallucinations and fancy, to which learned conclusion they are welcome. We do not deny that such visions of the past and glimpses far back into the corridors of time, are not abnormal, as contrasted with our normal daily life experience and physical memory. But we do maintain with Professor W. Knight, that "the absence of memory of any action done in a previous state cannot be a conclusive argument against our having lived through it." And every fair-minded opponent must agree with what is said in Butler's Lectures on Platonic Philosophy — "that the feeling of extravagance with which it (pre-existence) affects us has its secret source in materialistic or semi-materialistic prejudices." Besides which we maintain that memory, as Olympiodorus called it, is simply phantasy, and the most unreliable thing in us. (1) Ammonius Saccas asserted that the only faculty in man directly opposed to prognostication, or looking into futurity, is memory. Furthermore, remember that memory is one thing and mind or thought is another; one is a recording machine, a register which very easily gets out of order; the other (thoughts) are eternal and imperishable. Would you refuse to believe in the existence of certain things or men only because your physical eyes have not seen them? Would not the collective testimony of past generations who have seen him be a sufficient guarantee that Julius Caesar once lived? Why should not the same testimony of the psychic senses of the masses be taken into consideration?

Enq. But don't you think that these are too fine distinctions to be accepted by the majority of mortals?

Theo. Say rather by the majority of materialists. And to them we say, behold: even in the short span of ordinary existence, memory is too weak to register all the events of a lifetime. How frequently do even most important events lie dormant in our memory until awakened by some association of ideas, or aroused to function and activity by some other link. This is especially the case with people of advanced age, who are always found suffering from feebleness of recollection. When, therefore, we remember that which we know about the physical and the spiritual principles in man, it is not the fact that our memory has failed to record our precedent life and lives that ought to surprise us, but the contrary, were it to happen.

WHY DO WE NOT REMEMBER OUR PAST LIVES?

Enq. You have given me a bird's eye view of the seven principles; now how do they account for our complete loss of any recollection of having lived before?

Theo. Very easily. Since those "principles" which we call physical, and none of which is denied by science, though it calls them by other names, (2) are disintegrated after death with their constituent elements, memory along with its brain, this vanished memory of a vanished personality, can neither remember nor record anything in the subsequent reincarnation of the EGO. Reincarnation means that this Ego will be furnished with a new body, a new brain, and a new memory. Therefore it would be as absurd to expect this memory to remember that which it has never recorded as it would be idle to examine under a microscope a shirt never worn by a murderer, and seek on it for the stains of blood which are to be found only on the clothes he wore. It is not the clean shirt that we have to question, but the clothes worn during the perpetration of the crime; and if these are burnt and destroyed, how can you get at them?

Enq. Aye! how can you get at the certainty that the crime was ever committed at all, or that the "man in the clean shirt" ever lived before?

Theo. Not by physical processes, most assuredly; nor by relying on the testimony of that which exists no longer. But there is such a thing as circumstantial evidence, since our wise laws accept it, more, perhaps, even than they should. To get convinced of the fact of re-incarnation and past lives, one must put oneself in rapport with one's real permanent Ego, not one's evanescent memory.

Enq. But how can people believe in that which they do not know, nor have ever seen, far less put themselves in rapport with it?

Theo. If people, and the most learned, will believe in the Gravity, Ether, Force, and what not of Science, abstractions "and working hypotheses," which they have neither seen, touched, smelt, heard, nor tasted — why should not other people believe, on the same principle, in one's permanent Ego, a far more logical and important "working hypothesis" than any other?

Enq. What is, finally, this mysterious eternal principle? Can you explain its nature so as to make it comprehensible to all?

Theo. The EGO which re-incarnates, the individual and immortal — not personal — "I"; the vehicle, in short, of the Atma-Buddhic MONAD, that which is rewarded in Devachan and punished on earth, and that, finally, to which the reflection only of the Skandhas, or attributes, of every incarnation attaches itself. (3)

Enq. What do you mean by Skandhas?

Theo. Just what I said: "attributes," among which is memory, all of which perish like a flower, leaving behind them only a feeble perfume. Here is another paragraph from H. S. Olcott's "Buddhist Catechism" (4) which bears directly upon the subject. It deals with the question as follows: — "The aged man remembers the incidents of his youth, despite his being physically and mentally changed. Why, then, is not the recollection of past lives brought over by us from our last birth into the present birth? Because memory is included within the Skandhas, and the Skandhas having changed with the new existence, a memory, the record of that particular existence, develops. Yet the record or reflection of all the past lives must survive, for when Prince Siddhartha became Buddha, the full sequence of His previous births were seen by Him. . . . and any one who attains to the state of Jhana can thus retrospectively trace the line of his lives." This proves to you that while the undying qualities of the personality — such as love, goodness, charity, etc. — attach themselves to the immortal Ego, photographing on it, so to speak, a permanent image of the divine aspect of the man who was, his material Skandhas (those which generate the most marked Karmic effects) are as evanescent as a flash of lightning, and cannot impress the new brain of the new personality; yet their failing to do so impairs in no way the identity of the re-incarnating Ego.

Enq. Do you mean to infer that that which survives is only the Soul-memory, as you call it, that Soul or Ego being one and the same, while nothing of the personality remains?

Theo. Not quite; something of each personality, unless the latter was an absolute materialist with not even a chink in his nature for a spiritual ray to pass through, must survive, as it leaves its eternal impress on the incarnating permanent Self or Spiritual Ego. (5) (See On post mortem and post natal Consciousness.) The personality with its Skandhas is ever changing with every new birth. It is, as said before, only the part played by the actor (the true Ego) for one night. This is why we preserve no memory on the physical plane of our past lives, though the real "Ego" has lived them over and knows them all.

Enq. Then how does it happen that the real or Spiritual man does not impress his new personal "I" with this knowledge?

Theo. How is it that the servant-girls in a poor farm-house could speak Hebrew and play the violin in their trance or somnambulic state, and knew neither when in their normal condition? Because, as every genuine psychologist of the old, not your modern, school, will tell you, the Spiritual Ego can act only when the personal Ego is paralysed. The Spiritual "I" in man is omniscient and has every knowledge innate in it; while the personal self is the creature of its environment and the slave of the physical memory. Could the former manifest itself uninterruptedly, and without impediment, there would be no longer men on earth, but we should all be gods.

Enq. Still there ought to be exceptions, and some ought to remember.

Theo. And so there are. But who believes in their report? Such sensitives are generally regarded as hallucinated hysteriacs, as crack-brained enthusiasts, or humbugs, by modern materialism. Let them read, however, works on this subject, pre-eminently "Reincarnation, a Study of Forgotten Truth" by E. D. Walker, F. T. S., and see in it the mass of proofs which the able author brings to bear on this vexed question. One speaks to people of soul, and some ask "What is Soul?" "Have you ever proved its existence?" Of course it is useless to argue with those who are materialists. But even to them I would put the question: "Can you remember what you were or did when a baby? Have you preserved the smallest recollection of your life, thoughts, or deeds, or that you lived at all during the first eighteen months or two years of your existence? Then why not deny that you have ever lived as a babe, on the same principle?" When to all this we add that the reincarnating Ego, or individuality, retains during the Devachanic period merely the essence of the experience of its past earth-life or personality, the whole physical experience involving into a state of in potentia, or being, so to speak, translated into spiritual formulae; when we remember further that the term between two rebirths is said to extend from ten to fifteen centuries, during which time the physical consciousness is totally and absolutely inactive, having no organs to act through, and therefore no existence, the reason for the absence of all remembrance in the purely physical memory is apparent.

Enq. You just said that the SPIRITUAL EGO was omniscient. Where, then, is that vaunted omniscience during his Devachanic life, as you call it?

Theo. During that time it is latent and potential, because, first of all, the Spiritual Ego (the compound of Buddhi-Manas) is not the HIGHER SELF, which being one with the Universal Soul or Mind is alone omniscient; and, secondly, because Devachan is the idealized continuation of the terrestrial life just left behind, a period of retributive adjustment, and a reward for unmerited wrongs and sufferings undergone in that special life. It is omniscient only potentially in Devachan, and de facto exclusively in Nirvana, when the Ego is merged in the Universal Mind-Soul. Yet it rebecomes quasi omniscient during those hours on earth when certain abnormal conditions and physiological changes in the body make the Ego free from the trammels of matter. Thus the examples cited above of somnambulists, a poor servant speaking Hebrew, and another playing the violin, give you an illustration of the case in point. This does not mean that the explanations of these two facts offered us by medical science have no truth in them, for one girl had, years before, heard her master, a clergyman, read Hebrew works aloud, and the other had heard an artist playing a violin at their farm. But neither could have done so as perfectly as they did had they not been ensouled by THAT which, owing to the sameness of its nature with the Universal Mind, is omniscient. Here the higher principle acted on the Skandhas and moved them; in the other, the personality being paralysed, the individuality manifested itself. Pray do not confuse the two.

ON INDIVIDUALITY AND PERSONALITY. (6)

Enq. But what is the difference between the two? I confess that I am still in the dark. Indeed it is just that difference, then, that you cannot impress too much on our minds.

Theo. I try to; but alas, it is harder with some than to make them feel a reverence for childish impossibilities, only because they are orthodox, and because orthodoxy is respectable. To understand the idea well, you have to first study the dual sets of "principles": the spiritual, or those which belong to the imperishable Ego; and the material, or those principles which make up the ever-changing bodies or the series of personalities of that Ego. Let us fix permanent names to these, and say that: —

1. Atma, the "Higher Self," is neither your Spirit nor mine, but like sunlight shines on all. It is the universally diffused "divine principle," and is inseparable from its one and absolute Meta-Spirit, as the sunbeam is inseparable from sunlight.

2. Buddhi (the spiritual soul) is only its vehicle. Neither each separately, nor the two collectively, are of any more use to the body of man, than sunlight and its beams are for a mass of granite buried in the earth, unless the divine Duad is assimilated by, and reflected in, some consciousness. Neither Atma nor Buddhi are ever reached by Karma, because the former is the highest aspect of Karma, its working agent of ITSELF in one aspect, and the other is unconscious on this plane. This consciousness or mind is,

3. Manas, (7) the derivation or product in a reflected form of Ahamkara, "the conception of I," or EGO-SHIP. It is, therefore, when inseparably united to the first two, called the SPIRITUAL EGO, and Taijasi (the radiant). This is the real Individuality, or the divine man. It is this Ego which — having originally incarnated in the senseless human form animated by, but unconscious (since it had no consciousness) of, the presence in itself of the dual monad — made of that human-like form a real man. It is that Ego, that "Causal Body," which overshadows every personality Karma forces it to incarnate into; and this Ego which is held responsible for all the sins committed through, and in, every new body or personality — the evanescent masks which hide the true Individual through the long series of rebirths.

Enq. But is this just? Why should this Ego receive punishment as the result of deeds which it has forgotten?

Theo. It has not forgotten them; it knows and remembers its misdeeds as well as you remember what you have done yesterday. Is it because the memory of that bundle of physical compounds called "body" does not recollect what its predecessor (the personality that was) did, that you imagine that the real Ego has forgotten them? As well say it is unjust that the new boots on the feet of a boy, who is flogged for stealing apples, should be punished for that which they know nothing of.

Enq. But are there no modes of communication between the Spiritual and human consciousness or memory?

Theo. Of course there are; but they have never been recognised by your scientific modern psychologists. To what do you attribute intuition, the "voice of the conscience," premonitions, vague undefined reminiscences, etc., etc., if not to such communications? Would that the majority of educated men, at least, had the fine spiritual perceptions of Coleridge, who shows how intuitional he is in some of his comments. Hear what he says with respect to the probability that "all thoughts are in themselves imperishable." "If the intelligent faculty (sudden 'revivals' of memory) should be rendered more comprehensive, it would require only a different and appropriate organization, the body celestial instead of the body terrestrial, to bring before every human soul the collective experience of its whole past existence (existences, rather)." And this body celestial is our Manasic EGO.

ON THE REWARD AND PUNISHMENT OF THE EGO

Enq. I have heard you say that the Ego, whatever the life of the person he incarnated in may have been on Earth, is never visited with post-mortem punishment.

Theo. Never, save in very exceptional and rare cases of which we will not speak here, as the nature of the "punishment" in no way approaches any of your theological conceptions of damnation.

Enq. But if it is punished in this life for the misdeeds committed in a previous one, then it is this Ego that ought to be rewarded also, whether here, or when disincarnated.

Theo. And so it is. If we do not admit of any punishment outside of this earth, it is because the only state the Spiritual Self knows of, hereafter, is that of unalloyed bliss.

Enq. What do you mean?

Theo. Simply this: crimes and sins committed on a plane of objectivity and in a world of matter, cannot receive punishment in a world of pure subjectivity. We believe in no hell or paradise as localities; in no objective hell-fires and worms that never die, nor in any Jerusalems with streets paved with sapphires and diamonds. What we believe in is a post-mortem state or mental condition, such as we are in during a vivid dream. We believe in an immutable law of absolute Love, Justice, and Mercy. And believing in it, we say: "Whatever the sin and dire results of the original Karmic transgression of the now incarnated Egos (8) no man (or the outer material and periodical form of the Spiritual Entity) can be held, with any degree of justice, responsible for the consequences of his birth. He does not ask to be born, nor can he choose the parents that will give him life. In every respect he is a victim to his environment, the child of circumstances over which he has no control; and if each of his transgressions were impartially investigated, there would be found nine out of every ten cases when he was the one sinned against, rather than the sinner. Life is at best a heartless play, a stormy sea to cross, and a heavy burden often too difficult to bear. The greatest philosophers have tried in vain to fathom and find out its raison d'etre, and have all failed except those who had the key to it, namely, the Eastern sages. Life is, as Shakespeare describes it: —

". . . . but a walking shadow — a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. . . . ."


Nothing in its separate parts, yet of the greatest importance in its collectivity or series of lives. At any rate, almost every individual life is, in its full development, a sorrow. And are we to believe that poor, helpless man, after being tossed about like a piece of rotten timber on the angry billows of life, is, if he proves too weak to resist them, to be punished by a sempiternity of damnation, or even a temporary punishment? Never! Whether a great or an average sinner, good or bad, guilty or innocent, once delivered of the burden of physical life, the tired and worn-out Manu ("thinking Ego") has won the right to a period of absolute rest and bliss. The same unerringly wise and just rather than merciful Law, which inflicts upon the incarnated Ego the Karmic punishment for every sin committed during the preceding life on Earth, provided for the now disembodied Entity a long lease of mental rest, i.e., the entire oblivion of every sad event, aye, to the smallest painful thought, that took place in its last life as a personality, leaving in the soul-memory but the reminiscence of that which was bliss, or led to happiness. Plotinus, who said that our body was the true river of Lethe, for "souls plunged into it forget all," meant more than he said. For, as our terrestrial body is like Lethe, so is our celestial body in Devachan, and much more.

Enq. Then am I to understand that the murderer, the transgressor of law divine and human in every shape, is allowed to go unpunished?

Theo. Who ever said that? Our philosophy has a doctrine of punishment as stern as that of the most rigid Calvinist, only far more philosophical and consistent with absolute justice. No deed, not even a sinful thought, will go unpunished; the latter more severely even than the former, as a thought is far more potential in creating evil results than even a deed. (9) We believe in an unerring law of Retribution, called KARMA, which asserts itself in a natural concatenation of causes and their unavoidable results.

Enq. And how, or where, does it act?

Theo. Every labourer is worthy of his hire, saith Wisdom in the Gospel; every action, good or bad, is a prolific parent, saith the Wisdom of the Ages. Put the two together, and you will find the "why." After allowing the Soul, escaped from the pangs of personal life, a sufficient, aye, a hundredfold compensation, Karma, with its army of Skandhas, waits at the threshold of Devachan, whence the Ego re-emerges to assume a new incarnation. It is at this moment that the future destiny of the now-rested Ego trembles in the scales of just Retribution, as it now falls once again under the sway of active Karmic law. It is in this rebirth which is ready for it, a rebirth selected and prepared by this mysterious, inexorable, but in the equity and wisdom of its decrees infallible LAW, that the sins of the previous life of the Ego are punished. Only it is into no imaginary Hell, with theatrical flames and ridiculous tailed and horned devils, that the Ego is cast, but verily on to this earth, the plane and region of his sins, where he will have to atone for every bad thought and deed. As he has sown, so will he reap. Reincarnation will gather around him all those other Egos who have suffered, whether directly or indirectly, at the hands, or even through the unconscious instrumentality, of the past personality. They will be thrown by Nemesis in the way of the new man, concealing the old, the eternal EGO, and . . . .

Enq. But where is the equity you speak of, since these new "personalities" are not aware of having sinned or been sinned against?

Theo. Has the coat torn to shreds from the back of the man who stole it, by another man who was robbed of it and recognises his property, to be regarded as fairly dealt with? The new "personality" is no better than a fresh suit of clothes with its specific characteristics, colour, form and qualities; but the real man who wears it is the same culprit as of old. It is the individuality who suffers through his "personality." And it is this, and this alone, that can account for the terrible, still only apparent, injustice in the distribution of lots in life to man. When your modern philosophers will have succeeded in showing to us a good reason, why so many apparently innocent and good men are born only to suffer during a whole life-time; why so many are born poor unto starvation in the slums of great cities, abandoned by fate and men; why, while these are born in the gutter, others open their eyes to light in palaces; while a noble birth and fortune seem often given to the worst of men and only rarely to the worthy; while there are beggars whose inner selves are peers to the highest and noblest of men; when this, and much more, is satisfactorily explained by either your philosophers or theologians, then only, but not till then, you will have the right to reject the theory of reincarnation. The highest and grandest of poets have dimly perceived this truth of truths. Shelley believed in it, Shakespeare must have thought of it when writing on the worthlessness of Birth. Remember his words:

"Why should my birth keep down my mounting spirit?
Are not all creatures subject unto time?
There's legions now of beggars on the earth,
That their original did spring from Kings,
And many monarchs now, whose fathers were
The riff-raff of their age . . . . . . ."


Alter the word "fathers" into "Egos" — and you will have the truth.

_______________

Notes:

1. "The phantasy," says Olympiodorus (in Platonis Phaed.), "is an impediment to our intellectual conceptions; and hence, when we are agitated by the inspiring influence of the Divinity, if the phantasy intervenes, the enthusiastic energy ceases: for enthusiasm and the ecstasy are contrary to each other. Should it be asked whether the soul is able to energise without the phantasy, we reply, that its perception of universals proves that it is able. It has perceptions, therefore, independent of the phantasy; at the same time, however, the phantasy attends in its energies, just as a storm pursues him who sails on the sea."

2. Namely, the body, life, passional and animal instincts, and the astral eidolon of every man (whether perceived in thought or our mind's eye, or objectively and separate from the physical body), which principles we call Sthula sarira, Prana, Kama rupa, and Linga sarira (vide supra).

3. There are five Skandhas or attributes in the Buddhist teachings: "Rupa (form or body), material qualities; Vedana, sensation; Sanna, abstract ideas; Samkhara, tendencies of mind; Vinnana, mental powers. Of these we are formed; by them we are conscious of existence; and through them communicate with the world about us."

4. By H. S. Olcott, President and Founder of the Theosophical Society. The accuracy of the teaching is sanctioned by the Rev. H. Sumangala, High Priest of the Sripada and Galle, and Principal of the Widyodaya Parivena (College) at Colombo, as being in agreement with the Canon of the Southern Buddhist Church.

5. Or the Spiritual, in contradistinction to the personal Self. The student must not confuse this Spiritual Ego with the "HIGHER SELF" which is Atma, the God within us, and inseparable from the Universal Spirit.

6. Even in his Buddhist Catechism, Col. Olcott, forced to it by the logic of Esoteric philosophy, found himself obliged to correct the mistakes of previous Orientalists who made no such distinction, and gives the reader his reasons for it. Thus he says: "The successive appearances upon the earth, or 'descents into generation,' of the tanhaically coherent parts (Skandhas) of a certain being, are a succession of personalities. In each birth the PERSONALITY differs from that of a previous or next succeeding birth. Karma, the DEUS EX MACHINA, masks (or shall we say reflects?) itself now in the personality of a sage, again as an artisan, and so on throughout the string of births. But though personalities ever shift, the one line of life along which they are strung, like beads, runs unbroken; it is ever that particular line, never any other. It is therefore individual, an individual vital undulation, which began in Nirvana, or the subjective side of nature, as the light or heat undulation through aether began at its dynamic source; is careering through the objective side of nature under the impulse of Karma and the creative direction of Tanha (the unsatisfied desire for existence); and leads through many cyclic changes back to Nirvana. Mr. Rhys-Davids calls that which passes from personality to personality along the individual chain 'character,' or 'doing.' Since 'character' is not a mere metaphysical abstraction, but the sum of one's mental qualities and moral propensities, would it not help to dispel what Mr. Rhys-Davids calls 'the desperate expedient of a mystery' (Buddhism, p. 101) if we regarded the life-undulation as individuality, and each of its series of natal manifestations as a separate personality? The perfect individual, Buddhistically speaking, is a Buddha, I should say; for Buddha is but the rare flower of humanity, without the least supernatural admixture. And as countless generations ('four asankheyyas and a hundred thousand cycles,' Fausboll and Rhys-Davids' BUDDHIST BIRTH STORIES, p. 13) are required to develop a man into a Buddha, and the iron will to become one runs throughout all the successive births, what shall we call that which thus wills and perseveres? Character? One's individuality: an individuality but partly manifested in any one birth, but built up of fragments from all the births?" (Bud. Cat., Appendix A. 137.)

7. MAHAT or the "Universal Mind" is the source of Manas. The latter is Mahat, i.e., mind, in man. Manas is also called Kshetrajna, "embodied Spirit," because it is, according to our philosophy, the Manasa-putras, or "Sons of the Universal Mind," who created, or rather produced, the thinking man, "manu," by incarnating in the third Race mankind in our Round. It is Manas, therefore, which is the real incarnating and permanent Spiritual Ego, the INDIVIDUALITY, and our various and numberless personalities only its external masks.

8. It is on this transgression that the cruel and illogical dogma of the Fallen Angels has been built. It is explained in Vol. II. of the Secret Doctrine. All our "Egos" are thinking and rational entities (Manasa-putras)who had lived, whether under human or other forms, in the precedent life-cycle (Manvantara), and whose Karma it was to incarnate in the man of this one. It was taught in the MYSTERIES that, having delayed to comply with this law (or having "refused to create" as Hinduism says of the Kumaras and Christian legend of the Archangel Michael), i. e., having failed to incarnate in due time, the bodies predestined for them got defiled (Vide Stanzas VIII. and IX. in the "Slokas of Dzyan," Vol. II. Secret Doctrine, pp. 19 and 20), hence the original sin of the senseless forms and the punishment of the Egos. That which is meant by the rebellious angels being hurled down into Hell is simply explained by these pure Spirits or Egos being imprisoned in bodies of unclean matter, flesh.

9. "Verily, I say unto you, that whosoever looketh at a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matt. v., 28.)
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