It has been quite a while since I have written a post, but my intuition is telling me that I should get this one out A.S.A.P. In light of all the events that have been happening this year I found it necessary to share a possible connection that made a lot of sense to me. As we know there have been two blood moons so far: one back in April and another one this month. Now stay with me because it’s about to get a bit surreal. After the first blood moon, a lot of fear hype was being peddled about ISIS. Then after the second blood moon this month, another hype was being pushed to the masses. This one being the Ebola scare. So you may be thinking what is my point. I may be wrong but it sure seems like these blood moons are starting a pattern for the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Bear with me for a second. ISIS sparked a fear about possible war coming. War is one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Then if that wasn’t enough, after the arrival of the second blood moon, the masses get oversaturated with ebola fear propaganda. If I’m right, the next two blood moons (One in April 2015 and the other on September 2015) will represent the remaining two horsemen of famine and death. My whole reason for even writing this post was certainly not to impress anyone, but to raise enough awareness to inspire people to take action. This is not the time to sit and wait for a savior or to power in fear. Action must be taken.
THE UNITY OF ALL IN ALL
ENQUIRER. 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?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. Can you elaborate the subject?
THEOSOPHIST. 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
ENQUIRER. But who is it that creates each time the Universe?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. At that rate, you and I are also illusions.
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. 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.
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. What do you mean by sui generis?
THEOSOPHIST. 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!
ENQUIRER. But what are your data for this assertion?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. And therefore you have implicit faith in them?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. Is it on such data that you came to accept the strange theories we find in Esoteric Buddhism?
THEOSOPHIST. 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
ENQUIRER. I understand that you describe our earth as forming part of a chain of earths?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. Is that on account of the great distance?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. 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?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. You do not accept, then, the well-known explanations of biology and physiology to account for the dream state?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. How do you explain these?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. Is it what we call Spirit and Soul, and the man of flesh?
THEOSOPHIST. 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]
(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
ENQUIRER. Do you really teach, as you are accused of doing by some Spiritualists and French Spiritists, the annihilation of every personality?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. 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?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. Then you also reject resurrection in the flesh?
THEOSOPHIST. 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?
ENQUIRER. 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!
THEOSOPHIST. 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?
ENQUIRER. 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.
THEOSOPHIST. 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
ENQUIRER. 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?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. But what is Devachan?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ON THE SOURCE OF THE HUMAN SOUL
ENQUIRER. How, then, do you account for man being endowed with a Spirit and Soul? Whence these?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. So you reject the teaching that Soul is given, or breathed into man, by God?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. Well, let us put it otherwise: is it God who endows man with a human rational Soul and immortal Spirit?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. What do you mean? What difficulties?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. I should be glad to learn in what way.
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. You forget that all such inexplicable cases are mysteries, and that we are forbidden by our religion to pry into the mysteries of God.
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. What does Buddhism teach with regard to the Soul?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. Is not something like this spoken of in Esoteric Buddhism?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. But we are distinctly told that most of the Buddhists do not believe in the Soul’s immortality?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. Do you mean to suggest that neither the teachings of Buddha nor those of Christ have been heretofore rightly understood?
THEOSOPHIST. 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!
ENQUIRER. But surely Buddha must have repudiated the soul’s immortality, if all the Orientalists and his own Priests say so!
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. But why, in that case, do Buddhism and Christianity represent the two opposite poles of such belief?
THEOSOPHIST. 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)
ENQUIRER. This refers to Gautama, but in what way does it touch the Gospels?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ON GOD AND PRAYER
ENQUIRER. Do you believe in God?
THEOSOPHIST. That depends what you mean by the term.
ENQUIRER. I mean the God of the Christians, the Father of Jesus, and the Creator: the Biblical God of Moses, in short.
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. State your reasons, if you please.
THEOSOPHIST. 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?
ENQUIRER. I believe he is.
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. How about those Kabalists, who, while being such, still believe in Jehovah, or the Tetragrammaton?
THEOSOPHIST. 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?
ENQUIRER. Then you are Atheists?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. 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.
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. What is, then, your definition of it?
THEOSOPHIST. Let me ask you a question in my turn. What do you understand by Pan, or Nature?
ENQUIRER. 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.
THEOSOPHIST. 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?
ENQUIRER. Yes, I believe so.
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. Stop! Omniscience is the prerogative of something that thinks, and you deny to your Absoluteness the power of thought.
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. Then your Absolute thinks?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. 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?
THEOSOPHIST. 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?
ENQUIRER. Do you believe in prayer, and do you ever pray?
THEOSOPHIST. We do not. We act, instead of talking.
ENQUIRER. You do not offer prayers even to the Absolute Principle?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. Do you not believe at all in the efficacy of prayer?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. Is there any other kind of prayer?
THEOSOPHIST. Most decidedly; we call it WILL-PRAYER, and it is rather an internal command than a petition.
ENQUIRER. To whom, then, do you pray when you do so?
THEOSOPHIST. To “our Father in heaven” — in its esoteric meaning.
ENQUIRER. Is that different from the one given to it in theology?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. Then you make of man a God?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. Do you mean to say that prayer is an occult process bringing about physical results?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. 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.
THEOSOPHIST. 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.”
ENQUIRER. 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.
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. Christians would call it pride and blasphemy. Are they wrong?
THEOSOPHIST. 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
ENQUIRER. But did not Christ himself pray and recommend prayer?
THEOSOPHIST. 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!
ENQUIRER. 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.”
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. 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.
THEOSOPHIST. 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?
ENQUIRER. 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?
THEOSOPHIST. 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?”
ENQUIRER. Then they are truly Atheists.
THEOSOPHIST. 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.
ENQUIRER. Does not the Buddhist priesthood do the same?
THEOSOPHIST. 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.”
The most common fallacy is to put one’s logic (conclusions) before grammar (research). We can see this in many people who have opinions about topics they haven’t sincerely researched first, make hasty conclusions, cherry pick, skim through books/articles but don’t read the entire work and references, resulting in distortions and throwing out the baby with the bathwater…or mistake the bathwater for the baby. Since nothing is black and white, discernment is key while watching our conditioned biases that filter/distort information unconsciously. There are numerous logical fallacies all of us can fall into if we don’t understand them, like strawman arguments, ad hominem, tu quoque/you too fallacy, bandwagon, appeal to authority, appeal to emotions,the texas sharpshooter, middle ground etc. A good website that summarizes the most common ones is https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/
Learning, understanding and applying the Trivium can help to not waste time and energy in unproductive discussions about a topic (especially on facebook) and it also provides a systematic framework to research any given subject as it helps us to think clearer. It’s the foundation of critical thinking.
Grammar asks the questions of the Who, What, Where, and the When of a subject, discovering, researching, and ordering facts of reality. It comprises basic – systematic Knowledge. Logic answers the Why of a subject, the conclusions based on grammar/research leading to Understanding. Rhetoric provides the How of a subject, applying Knowledge (grammar) and Understanding (logic) expressively leading to Wisdom, or, in other words, useable knowledge and understanding.
However, besides learning how to think critically we also need to engage in sincere self-work to calibrate our “reading instrument” (the self) and perceptions. We all have subjective blind spots and biases based on upbringing and cultural/social conditioning, also shadow projections based on childhood wounds, trauma and personality disorders.
Anyone who seeks truth needs to always keep their own biases in mind and make efforts to calibrate their perceptions accordingly. Dislodging these programs and unconscious tendencies to lies to ourselves and others takes tremendous work and effort. This also includes emotional cleansing because we can’t trust our feelings and emotions 100% all the times. Much of what we feel in immediate reaction to certain information can be conditioned responses that have nothing to do with the information or situation at hand but simply challenge our beliefs, identity and self-image, also known as cognitive dissonance.
This work never stops and we need to adjust our view of reality as new information comes in. Seeking truth doesn’t result in an end of “knowing it all”. It’s a continues process that expands and changes. It is tightly connected to the inner work we are engaging in, helping us to sharpen intuition as well. So the work is two fold, on an emotional level and intellectual level. Body-awareness is key in that regard. Hence I strongly recommend to have a consistent body-mind practice as well, such as yoga, Qi Gong, meditation or getting bodywork on a regular basis. Also, diet affects the way we feel and think. Wheat, gluten, sugar and grains have detrimental effects on our brain, physical and emotional body. There is much research out there these days which has proven that.
It’s important to observe the internal process and how deeply programmed we are, the friction that occurs inside when presented with information that contradicts our long held beliefs. That’s when many people stop and deny, engaging in black and white thinking, because piercing through that conditioning can be very painful and vulnerable. It’s always been for me. It’s part of “the work” so humility is needed, admitting to ourselves that we have been wrong about some things we thought to be true. Avoiding this vulnerability results actually in logical fallacies and rationalizations and projecting them on others. It also relates to anger which is a huge buffer to avoid deeper feelings of vulnerability. Even humor can in many cases be an unconscious buffer to avoid confronting our own unacknowledged wounds.
But once you let the internal programs break down under the light/sword of truth and new data and work through the discomfort of accepting information that contradicts what you have believed most of your life or what most of the world believes (not mistaking that for blind belief of anything that comes down the pipe line, and also not being overly skeptical and judging without sincerely researching), then you truly raise your consciousness/awareness. Hence separating “the work” to seek truth from our professional ambitions, self-image/public image is key, so it doesn’t get polluted by internal considering or the the need to be “accepted”. Considering other factors from an esoteric perspective, like the “General Law” and forces working through people in order to vector us away from this path adds even more complexity but is crucial to understand as well. As Humberto Braga said so eloquently:
“When breaking beyond conventional limitations, people will always try to mock, guilt, and shame you for being the bearer of new knowledge and uncomfortable realizations. They will distort your expanded perception through their tiny lens. They will try to make it seem as though you are wrong for being who you are and they’ll try to make you feel small. Your playing small does not serve your greater purpose. There is nothing enlightened about limiting your path in life to comfort the illusions of others. Those who seek Objective Truth are bringers of light in to a very uncomfortable darkness, and it will seek to stop you in any way it can. We must not give in to the darkness that tells us to dim ourselves. Every courageous step toward Objective Truth is what liberates others to do the very same. This is the battle to awaken and we must not lose sight of this objective.”
“A man must first of all understand certain things. He has thousands of false ideas and false conceptions, chiefly about himself, and he must get rid of some of them before beginning to acquire anything new. Otherwise the new will be built on a wrong foundation and the result will be worse than before. To speak the truth is the most difficult thing in the world; one must study a great deal and for a long time in order to speak the truth. The wish alone is not enough. To speak the truth one must know what the truth is and what a lie is, and first of all in oneself. And this nobody wants to know.”-
THEOSOPHIST. To the Doctrine of Atonement; I allude to that dangerous dogma in which you believe, and which teaches us that no matter how enormous our crimes against the laws of God and of man, we have but to believe in the self-sacrifice of Jesus for the salvation of mankind, and his blood will wash out every stain. It is twenty years that I preach against it, and I may now draw your attention to a paragraph from Isis Unveiled, written in 1875. This is what Christianity teaches, and what we combat: —
“God’s mercy is boundless and unfathomable. It is impossible to conceive of a human sin so damnable that the price paid in advance for the redemption of the sinner would not wipe it out if a thousandfold worse. And furthermore, it is never too late to repent. Though the offender wait until the last minute of the last hour of the last day of his mortal life, before his blanched lips utter the confession of faith, he may go to Paradise; the dying thief did it, and so may all others as vile. These are the assumptions of the Church, and of the Clergy; assumptions banged at the heads of your countrymen by England’s favourite preachers, right in the ‘light of the XIXth century,'” this most paradoxical age of all. Now to what does it lead?
ENQUIRER. Does it not make the Christian happier than the Buddhist or Brahmin?
THEOSOPHIST. No; not the educated man, at any rate, since the majority of these have long since virtually lost all belief in this cruel dogma. But it leads those who still believe in it more easily to the threshold of every conceivable crime, than any other I know of. Let me quote to you from Isis once more (vide Vol. II. pp. 542 and 543) —
“If we step outside the little circle of creed and consider the universe as a whole balanced by the exquisite adjustment of parts, how all sound logic, how the faintest glimmering sense of justice, revolts against this Vicarious Atonement! If the criminal sinned only against himself, and wronged no one but himself; if by sincere repentance he could cause the obliteration of past events, not only from the memory of man, but also from that imperishable record, which no deity — not even the Supremest of the Supreme — can cause to disappear, then this dogma might not be incomprehensible. But to maintain that one may wrong his fellow-man, kill, disturb the equilibrium of society and the natural order of things, and then — through cowardice, hope, or compulsion, it matters not — be forgiven by believing that the spilling of one blood washes out the other blood spilt — this is preposterous! Can the results of a crime be obliterated even though the crime itself should be pardoned? The effects of a cause are never limited to the boundaries of the cause, nor can the results of crime be confined to the offender and his victim. Every good as well as evil action has its effects, as palpably as the stone flung into calm water. The simile is trite, but it is the best ever conceived, so let us use it. The eddying circles are greater and swifter as the disturbing object is greater or smaller, but the smallest pebble, nay, the tiniest speck, makes its ripples. And this disturbance is not alone visible and on the surface. Below, unseen, in every direction — outward and downward — drop pushes drop until the sides and bottom are touched by the force. More, the air above the water is agitated, and this disturbance passes, as the physicists tell us, from stratum to stratum out into space forever and ever; an impulse has been given to matter, and that is never lost, can never be recalled! . . .
“So with crime, and so with its opposite. The action may be instantaneous, the effects are eternal. When, after the stone is once flung into the pond, we can recall it to the hand, roll back the ripples, obliterate the force expended, restore the etheric waves to their previous state of non-being, and wipe out every trace of the act of throwing the missile, so that Time’s record shall not show that it ever happened, then, then we may patiently hear Christians argue for the efficacy of this Atonement,”
and — cease to believe in Karmic Law. As it now stands, we call upon the whole world to decide, which of our two doctrines is the most appreciative of deific justice, and which is more reasonable, even on simple human evidence and logic.
ENQUIRER. Yet millions believe in the Christian dogma and are happy.
THEOSOPHIST. Pure sentimentalism overpowering their thinking faculties, which no true philanthropist or Altruist will ever accept. It is not even a dream of selfishness, but a nightmare of the human intellect. Look where it leads to, and tell me the name of that pagan country where crimes are more easily committed or more numerous than in Christian lands. Look at the long and ghastly annual records of crimes committed in European countries; and behold Protestant and Biblical America. There, conversions effected in prisons are more numerous than those made by public revivals and preaching. See how the ledger-balance of Christian justice (!) stands: Red-handed murderers, urged on by the demons of lust, revenge, cupidity, fanaticism, or mere brutal thirst for blood, who kill their victims, in most cases, without giving them time to repent or call on Jesus. These, perhaps, died sinful, and, of course — consistently with theological logic — met the reward of their greater or lesser offences. But the murderer, overtaken by human justice, is imprisoned, wept over by sentimentalists, prayed with and at, pronounces the charmed words of conversion, and goes to the scaffold a redeemed child of Jesus! Except for the murder, he would not have been prayed with, redeemed, pardoned. Clearly this man did well to murder, for thus he gained eternal happiness! And how about the victim, and his, or her family, relatives, dependents, social relations; has justice no recompense for them? Must they suffer in this world and the next, while he who wronged them sits beside the “holy thief” of Calvary, and is for ever blessed? On this question the clergy keep a prudent silence. (Isis Unveiled.) And now you know why Theosophists — whose fundamental belief and hope is justice for all, in Heaven as on earth, and in Karma — reject this dogma.
ENQUIRER. The ultimate destiny of man, then, is not a Heaven presided over by God, but the gradual transformation of matter into its primordial element, Spirit?
THEOSOPHIST. It is to that final goal to which all tends in nature.
ENQUIRER. Do not some of you regard this association or “fall of spirit into matter” as evil, and re-birth as a sorrow?
THEOSOPHIST. Some do, and therefore strive to shorten their period of probation on earth. It is not an unmixed evil, however, since it ensures the experience upon which we mount to knowledge and wisdom. I mean that experience which teaches that the needs of our spiritual nature can never be met by other than spiritual happiness. As long as we are in the body, we are subjected to pain, suffering and all the disappointing incidents occurring during life. Therefore, and to palliate this, we finally acquire knowledge which alone can afford us relief and hope of a better future.