By William Kingsland
little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in
Religions and Religion
The Concept of a Personal God
Superstition and Supernaturalism
A Survey of the Past
The God of Christendom
The Constitution of Matter
The Age of the Earth
The Evolution of Man
The Fall of Man
The Ancient Gnosis
(Page VII) I do but echo in this little work the views of thousands of well-informed thinkers in the Western World at the present time.
On the other hand, the beliefs which are here perhaps somewhat strongly represented as being primitive and obsolete, are still those of many millions; and I recognise that they must remain so for many a long day yet to come. They are still the authoritative teachings of the Roman and Anglican Churches, as well as the faith of that wonderful organisation, the Salvation Army, for whose work I have a profound admiration. They are also more or less the tenets of innumerable other Christian sects.
As for the Eastern World, it is scarcely necessary to say that Christianity has hardly touched the religious beliefs of India, China, or Japan, not to mention other lesser countries. The total adherents of the Eastern religions far exceeds that of the whole population of the nations which are supposed to be Christian, but not one-tenth of whose inhabitants can really be designated as such.
(Page VIII) Those who know anything at all of these Eastern religions can hardly be surprised that Christianity should have made so little headway in the East; not merely because of the inherent merits of these religions, and their greater adaptation to the mentality of the Eastern peoples, but perhaps even more so because of the discrepancy between Christian doctrines and their exemplification in the Christian nations.
When all is said and done, formal religions are the outcome of the mentality of the race, the community, and the age in which they arise. We must always make allowances for this, and not expect any one form to be universally acceptable, or even understandable.
For the purpose of this work I am defining Religion as the effort of the individual to realise his innate spiritual nature and powers .This is what I understand Religion to be at root. It applies to Mankind as a whole, to the Race as well as to the Individual. Anything that ministers to this must be considered to be an accessory to Religion, though not Religion itself. The one is only too often mistaken for the other.
We may note, however, that the effort may (Page IX) be, in the first instance, a blind unconscious feeling after God; indeed, it would appear that such must necessarily have been the commencement of religion with primitive races. It implies a relation to some Deity, and hence the innumerable gods and conceptions of God invented by man. But in the higher stages the universal testimony of the mystics is to the experience of unification. Moreover, the history of religious experience shows us many strange expressions of this inner impulse [See in particular The Varieties of Religious Experience, by Wm. James]
I have an equal love and admiration for the devotee of each and every religion who endeavours to practise what he professes to believe, and to live the life indicated by the original founder or founders of that particular religion. In respect of ethics, however, there is little room for choice. All religions worthy of the name must necessarily teach the fundamental principles of right conduct; but ethics alone is not religion.
As for beliefs and creeds, these are merely the outer garments in which the religionist dresses up according to the conventions of his time and his community. A good Christian (Page X ) would have made an equally good Buddhist if he had happened to have been born in a Buddhist community. The mischief is that these garments are not merely commonly assumed to be the real thing, but are largely worn for mere convention and respectability; and only too often, indeed, to mask insincerity and hypocrisy, and as a cloak for unrighteousness.
I hold that whilst not judging the individual for his beliefs, or even for his actions, we have every right and might, indeed, consider it to be our bounden duty to denounce and oppose with all our might both beliefs and actions which are intrinsically evil, or which give rise to evil in the form of superstitious practices and bigoted intolerance and persecution. We have every right to denounce both beliefs and systems which have been, and are, a fruitful cause of these. We have in this respect quite clearly the example of the founder of Christianity.
What I have here endeavoured to do, merely in outline, is to show that certain modern beliefs, dogmas, and creeds, which have been carried over and have survived from a far less enlightened age or period, can no longer be valid in the light of our modern (Page XI) knowledge. There is, of course, nothing new in this, many writers are doing it today.
But, further than that, I shall hope to indicate that even in the remotest past there was already a deeper knowledge, a real Gnosis which we are in fact only now beginning to recover. 1
It is that ancient Gnosis which must be the Religion of the Future; for, as I shall hope to show to some extent, all our scientific discoveries and our modern philosophical thinking tends to confirmation and restatement of it.
Ryde. I.W. W.K.
In this work I do not use the term Gnosis with any special reference to the Hellenistic Gnosticism, but simply as indicating a supreme degree of knowledge, and more particularly in mystical religion.
CHRISTOS: THE RELIGION OF THE FUTURE
RELIGIONS AND RELIGION
(Page 1) Will there be any religions at all in the future?
Note that I say religions, not Religion.
But, in the first place, shall we speak of the more immediate future say one hundred, or perhaps one thousand years hence or shall we speak of, say, one million years?
I will leave it to my readers to decide as I proceed which of these periods is the most applicable to the principles I shall endeavour to elucidate.
We may note here, however, that one million years is not much more than a day possibly not even that in the whole history of the Race, (See Page 35, The Age of the Earth) and there is every indication that Humanity as a whole is still very young. Certainly in the matter of religion the great majority have not as yet developed any real appreciation of their spiritual nature and (Page.2) faculties, nor have they even attained to the mental capacity of which man is clearly capable, as seen by the attainments of a few. Were it otherwise, the world would be a very different place from what it is today. In matters of religion the great majority still speak as a child, feel as a child, and think as a child.
Mankind as a whole has been in the past, and is today, superstitious rather than religious. Or perhaps we had better say that though religion itself, as an effort of the individual to realise his relation to the super-physical or spiritual world, is both Mans highest effort and most deeply rooted instinct, yet it has hitherto, in his profound ignorance of the laws and nature of the physical world let alone the superphysical taken the form of superstition and supernaturalism rather than a clear realisation of his own inherent spiritual nature and powers.
Yet over and over again these have been presented to him, back from the remotest time of which we have any literary records; but always and ever the great majority have materialised and debased the pure teachings.
Religion, as the effort of Man to realise his spiritual nature and faculties, lies in the (Page 3) natural line of his evolution as a further stage beyond the development of his mind or intellect. He has struggled from the merely animal not to go any further back to what we at present call the human; though precisely when he first became homo sapiens it is impossible to say. He is still an animal physiologically, and indeed even very much so mentally, though his great distinction from the animal is in the evolution of Mind.
But, at all events for some millenniums, he has reached forward to something still higher. The best and the wisest and the noblest of the Race have done so in no uncertain manner from the earliest times of which we have any knowledge in script or monument, and undoubtedly also ages before that. But the great bulk of the Race lag behind these exemplars; indeed they tail off, even today, to something little better than a somewhat more intelligent animal. Thus we have in the line of Mans ascent or evolution not descent first the physical, then the mental, then the spiritual. But, as I shall show later on, this ascent is simply his return to his Source; the completion of the great cycle of Cosmic Man in his outgoing or fall into physical life and his return or redemption : his (Page 4) resurrection from his present loss of consciousness of his spiritual nature; represented in the New Testament as sleep and death, We are able to trace in biology and history the stages of Mans ascent, but we know little or nothing of the stages of the descent, save as these are given to us in allegory and in parable, as for example in Genesis and in the parable of the prodigal son.
Man becomes at first vaguely conscious of a soul, of a part of his being which is related to a, or The, great underlying Power which is the Universe in which he lives and moves and has his being. This reaching out to an underlying unseen REALITY is Religion whether as science, as philosophy, or as what more generally goes by the name of religion in its institutional forms.
Religion, however, is not a mere matter of individual salvation. The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. It is a cosmic process, from which the individual can in no wise separate himself. It is the great effort of all creation to return to its Source after the outgoing cycle. I will arise and go to my Father. And he who does not recognise the stages by which in the vast cycle of evolution he has reached his (Page 5) present development with the rest of humanity, and who has no response in his heart for the worlds great pain not for his fellow man only, but for all the lower Kingdoms also has still much to learn and far to go.
Answering then our first question with a seeming paradox, we might say that though possibly there may be no institutional religions in the future such as we have with us today, yet Man will be incomparably more religious then than now.
Religions, in so far as they are institutional with a definite set of beliefs, creeds, dogmas, and ritual are not Religion, though they are what is commonly understood by the term. They are, indeed, mostly departures from Religion: perversions of originally pure spiritual teachings. They quickly abandon the simplicity and intention of their founders, and become involved in endless doctrinal disputes. They quickly lose their spiritual character, and become hardened, materialised, literalised and secularized. They become worldly institutions, with exclusive, individualistic, and proselytizing aims. They become the slayers of truth rather than its exponents and exemplars.
For the very reason that religion is Mans (Page 6) highest effort and deepest instinct, it is potent for the greatest evils as well as for the highest good. It is the origin and nourisher of the grossest superstitions and the most cruel practices, as well as of the sublimest ideals and the most saintly lives. It has drenched the world in blood, and claimed a holocaust of tortured victims. Fire and sword and persecution, the rack and the stake, are associated even with what claims to be the supreme religion of Love and Peace. In its institutional and hierarchical forms it has fostered the continuance of superstition and ignorance for the benefit of shameless priestcraft; and has served as cloak, and even as an excuse, for the grossest sensualism. Even stranger still, perhaps, thousands of devotees have tortured themselves for the sake of their religious convictions. Whether Indian fakir or Christian ascetic, whether the idea centres on the conception of the will of an Idol or that of the Christian God, the motive and the psychology is the same. At root the individual is trying to find his own soul; to realise himself.
All these things have been, and are today, associated with the name of religion; but are they in any sense the legitimate products of (Page 7) Religion itself? They are certainly the products of institutional religion, of formulated creeds; and we might well decide that institutional religion as the formulator of creeds has ever been the perverter of religion rather than its exponent, its exemplar, and its preserver.
Our question is, then, not as to whether religion as such will survive. There can be no question as to that, for the instinct in Man to reach out to the Root and Source of his being must necessarily grow stronger with every increase in his knowledge and capacity for fathoming the depths of the Universe around him, and the latent powers in his own nature which he feels himself capable of developing in ever greater and greater degrees. Therefore would I account all genuine scientific investigation as a necessary part of religion. The distinction between the religious and the secular which has hitherto been made has been for the most part purely artificial. Religions have made themselves the great exception, even from reason itself. A supposed revelation, and dogmas associated therewith, have endeavoured to take the place of rational beliefs. Yet clearly any revelation can only be as is the capacity to receive; and (Page 8 ) when the individual is capable of receiving, is capable of mental perception, the supposed secret is as open to him as is the physical object when the eye is adapted to see it.
Mans consciousness will inevitably expand. New faculties or rather faculties now latent, but the possibilities of which are in evidence in abnormal individuals will come into play, and ever and always his evolution must bring him nearer and nearer to a realisation of his own inherent spiritual nature and powers.
Religion thus viewed is simply the natural process of Mans evolution, and not any supernatural ordinance of the God or Gods he has himself invented in his childish days.
Our question is as to whether institutional religion, based for the most part on primitive conceptions of a supernatural character, can survive the progress of our scientific knowledge, and the readjustment of our views as to the nature of the universe and of Man himself which must inevitably result therefrom and be common property through the facilities for the spread of knowledge which our modern civilisation provides.
Already we hear on every side of the waning influence of institutional Christianity. If that finally decays as indeed would appear (Page 9) to be inevitable in the course of time what will replace it? Will some new religion take its place, or will it reform itself out of all recognition of its present characteristics?
There are two courses open to it; either to strip itself of its pagan accretions and get back to the simple religion of Jesus, or to recognise the allegorical nature of its present literalised Scriptures, and understand and teach the real and original Gnosis from which these sprang: the real inner spiritual meaning as known to the Initiates who formulated them. I shall endeavour later on to show to some extent how these allegories can be brought into line with our knowledge in other departments of our human experience.
But it will be harder for the Church thus to abandon its present ground than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven; for the reformers will have to reckon not merely with a deeply rooted popular tradition, but also with a great institutional hierarchy, loath to depart from the sumptuous edifice which shelters and enriches it.
The Church of England would disestablish itself tomorrow were it not for the dread word disendowment. Has it then not faith enough to believe that if it seeks first the (Page 10) Kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these things will be added to it?
With the passing of superstition and supernaturalism, will religion once and for all throw off its evil association perhaps a necessary evil in the meanwhile with a priestly hierarchy of which these are the main support?
Our question may even take the form as to whether any concept of a personal God can survive. The question of Deity is a fundamental one, and we must examine it somewhat more in detail.
(Page 11) The concept of a personal Deity has already gone with all philosophical thinkers in the West; indeed, as the Upanishads and other Eastern literature shows us, it had gone ages ago with the deepest thinkers in the East. Its place is taken today in philosophy by the concept of the Absolute, or Reality a fundamental Reality which IS the Universe. This one fundamental eternal Reality can be described as a PRINCIPLE, but never as a Person.
It may seem strange to many minds to have religion without a personal God; but that already obtains in the Eastern religious philosophies, more particularly in the Vedanta and in Buddhism, and it is these impersonal religions which are the most free from the rancours, strifes, and persecutions which accompany more or less all religions in proportion as they degenerate into dogmas and formulas. It would appear, indeed, in the general history of religion, that in proportion as the personality of the Deity is accentuated, so are the evils of the institutional forms. (Page 12) And in proportion as the impersonal nature of THAT which IS the Universe is recognised, so do these evils vanish, and freedom of thought and toleration take their place.
All theological propositions about God are found on analysis to be self-contradictory, but it is essential to remember that every teacher has to adapt his teaching to the understanding of his hearers, and the general notions of the time and the community to which he belongs. The teachings of Jesus had to be adapted to the crude Jewish conceptions of a personal God, who required above all things to be propitiated and worshipped; and it would appear that his presentation of a heavenly Father was the most reformative one that his hearers were capable of understanding. Gautama Buddha, on the other hand, had to deal with minds of quite another order, and accordingly we find that he refused to personify or in any way define the Absolute. When questioned as to the nature of this Absolute Principle he was silent. So also the Upanishads. Neti, neti, not this, not that, is the answer to all attempts to give attributes to THAT. But this negation is really the explicit of a much larger affirmation. Let us understand clearly that the primitive (Page 13) mind requires a Gospel (lit. Good News): something which, adapted to the mental capacity of the hearers, would appear to console for the evils and trials of life. Yet what may be a Gospel for one man, or one community, is very far from being so for others. Whatever it may have been for the ignorance of that part of that world in which the Christian theology was formulated, the statement that one had risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept, could be no Gospel to those in possession of the ancient Wisdom Religion of the East: of India, Chaldea, Egypt, or the Gnostics and Initiates of Greece.
What sort of Gospel could it have been to Plato or Socrates, not to mention Confucius, Lao Tsze, Guatama Buddha, Shankara Acharya, or innumerable others who lived and wrote centuries B.C.? What sort of a Gospel can it be to us if taken in its crude materialised form? The dead do not sleep, awaiting the resurrection of their physical bodies. The resurrection of the physical body of Jesus cannot be accepted as a historical fact; or even if it is, it has by no means the significance attached to it as the first-fruits of them that slept. We might indeed (Page 14) say that Christian theology, far from being a Gospel, has done more than anything else to put the fear of death and Hell into the hearts of untold millions. Some of the early Church Fathers knew better, but their teaching has been ignored. How, for example, could this Gospel apply to the teaching of Origen contained in the following passage.
The present inequalities of circumstances and character are thus not wholly explicable within the sphere of the present life. But this world is not the only world. Every soul has existed from the beginning; it has therefore passed through some worlds already, and will pass through others before it reaches the final consummation. It comes into this world strengthened by the victories or weakened by the defeats of its previous life. Its place in this world as a vessel appointed to honour or dishonour is determined by its previous merits or demerits. Its work in this world determines its place in the world which is to follow this.
But when we understand the spiritual meaning of resurrection from the dead; when we understand that it is not physical death that is referred to at all, but the deadness of Mans spiritual nature until his Christ Principle has risen again in him it having been dead and buried by his descent into (Page 15) matter; whereby hangs also the meaning of the Fall we are no longer in conflict with a wider and deeper knowledge. There are a great many references in the New Testament to the resurrection from the dead which have this spiritual meaning, though they are commonly taken as if they referred to a physical death and resurrection. Both sleep and death are associated with the spiritual condition of the living in many passages which might be called to mind.
Now it is high time for you to awaken out of sleep (Rom. XV 11).
If by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead (Phil.III, 11).
We are far from despising the simple childlike faith in a heavenly Father who sees and knows every thought and action of every single individual, and who personally adjusts the daily supply and the daily tasks and trials to the needs of the individual at least for those who pray to him for help and guidance. Even as in the time of Jesus and Paul, there are still primitive minds in these matters who can only be fed with milk, not with strong meat, with parables, not with (Page 16) metaphysics. It is really astonishing, however, and even pathetic, how many intelligent people today are as yet merely primitive children in matter of religion. The psychology of religious beliefs is no different from the psychology of other beliefs; and all beliefs are largely a matter of psychology and not of reason. We meet every day with innumerable cases of autosuggestion of the most absurd character. By autosuggestion, continual meditation on the Passion of the Cross, St. John of the Cross and other Christian mystics produced actual stigmata marks on their hands. That proved nothing beyond the power of autosuggestion. The effect would have been the same even were the Crucifixion only an allegory and not an historical event, but of course the belief in historicity must be there. The sectarian religionist moves within the narrow circle of his own mind and that of the community to which he belongs. He has neither the will nor the capacity to inquire into other modes of thought, or other religions. Believing that he already has the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth and indeed that it would be a sin to question the basis of his beliefs he goes on his way rejoicing, and (Page17) perhaps pitying, even if not looking askance at those who differ from him.
The close and intimate experience of divine guidance and communion which is so real to many devotees, saints, and mystics, comes from the depths of ones own being, which is, and never can be other than one with the absolute, the ONE LIFE, however much the outer man, the conventional self, the ever-changing phenomenal personality, may appear to be separated therefrom, and therefore refers this experience to an external personal God.
Man creates his own Gods and his own Devils; but we clearly see that in all ages there have been those who have transcended the crude popular notions which attach to these, and which for the most part are based on a simple realism which takes the objective world to be exactly what it seems.
But religious beliefs based on crude realism cannot possibly survive the present spread of knowledge. That is not to say that Religion itself will be destroyed. Something much more real, much more fundamental will certainly take the place of the present crudities. In so far as every advance of knowledge brings us nearer to Reality nearer in our (Page 18) concepts, that is to say it brings us nearer to a clear apprehension of the real nature of the problems of our life and consciousness; and the more it does that, the more we apprehend that the appearance of things as also our consciousness of time and space are veils which hide from us rather than disclose the One Eternal Reality. They can only be disclosures of Reality in proportion as we penetrate beneath their appearances as time and space phenomena, and learn to recognise that underlying REALITY which endures.
If I am asked to define Reality, I shall say that Reality is that which endures. It is that which changes not amidst all change; and it must be not merely the unchanging Reality underlying the objective world but the subjective also. To find it, the man must penetrate to the depths of his own being. He must find that in himself which endures; that which is independent of the phenomenal world; that deeper Self which has never not been, nor can ever cease to be. He must find his true Self, and can only do so as he lets go of the phenomenal changing personality to which at present he clings so desperately, and is even much afraid lest it should not be (Page 19) saved. And therein lies the paradox that whosoever would save his life must lose it. The finding of the true Self is a continual negation, a perpetual loss of the phenomenal self.
So long as the individual thinks himself separate from the underlying Reality which he must always do so long as he conceives of it as a personal God he must remain in the outer courts of the Temple, and worship afar off. But when he has realised his oneness with the One Imperishable REALITY there is no longer room for the personal Gods which he formerly worshipped.
(Page 20) I have several times used the words superstition and supernaturalism. They are so closely associated with the subject of religion, and are so often used in a loose manner, that it will be necessary at this point to examine their meaning and implications more definitely.
The two terms are clearly allied, for superstition implies the supernatural. A Dictionary definition of superstition is as follows:
Belief or a specific form of belief in which ignorant and abnormal religious feeling is shown, as by venerating things that deserve no veneration, or by attaching undue importance to forms and observances in themselves; also any practice founded on such beliefs.
A secondary meaning is given as : Credulity regarding the supernatural.1 (1 Standard Dictionary)
The first of these definitions is exceedingly unsatisfactory, since it leaves the question (Page 21) quite open as to what things are or are not deserving of veneration. To the Protestant the Mass and the veneration of the Virgin are superstitions, but they are not so for the Roman Catholic.
The second definition immediately raises the question as to what is the supernatural. Where does Nature end and the supernatural begin? Apart from this question, the word carries its own meaning, however, attached to the term which recognises that God the Creator is beyond Nature and that therefore any direct action attributed to Him is a supernatural act.
Now as regards the term Nature, there is no doubt that in the old sense of the word it simply meant the physical world of matter and force; or more broadly it meant everything that could be seen and accounted for within the limits of what was known as natural law. Hence the unseen and the apparently unaccountable was relegated to the field of operation of the supernatural. It was peopled with beings or with a Being: the theological God who could interfere with the course of Nature, and so produce a miracle. (Page 22) But nothing can be more evident than that the supposed boundary line between the natural and the supernatural is a purely artificial one, dependent merely on our knowledge for the time being or perhaps we should rather say our ignorance of the laws of Nature. In bygone times there was no difficulty in conceiving of the supernatural as being just beyond the limits of the seen and known world. It was entered at death. It was the spirit world, and is so today with very large numbers of people. But our modern scientific knowledge has not merely disposed of innumerable superstitions which formerly attached to this superphysical region but it has also raised the much larger question as to whether there is any line of demarcation whatsoever between the natural and the supernatural; whether in fact the whole universe, seen or unseen, is not one great natural Whole, governed by law and order from centre to circumference or rather from the innermost to the outermost, though these terms also are merely arbitrary ones of our normal perceptions. Perhaps it would be better to say that all is natural from Matter to Spirit, and to conceive of these as the two contrasted poles of one unitary Reality. The (Page 23) polarity is due to the limitations of the mind or intellect, and not to anything intrinsic in the nature of the Reality itself as, indeed, modern philosophers are now beginning clearly to understand.
Last century the reaction from the supernaturalism and superstition of the previous centuries, brought about by our brilliant scientific discoveries, led to the other extreme, and materialism became associated with the concepts of a great many scientific men. Mind and consciousness were considered to be simply the products or epiphenomena of matter and force.
But there were deeper thinkers even among the scientists, who saw that such a generalization was very far from being legitimate. Thomas Henry Huxley, though he has commonly been accounted a materialist, protested most strongly against the materialistic doctrine. In Evolution and Ethics he writes as follows:
It seems to me pretty plain that there is a third thing in the universe, to wit, consciousness, which, in the hardness of my heart or head, I cannot see to be matter, or force, or any conceivable modification of either, however intimately the manifestations of the phenomena of consciousness may be connected (Page 24) with the phenomena known as matter and force Take the simplest possible example, the feeling of redness. Physical science tells us that it commonly arises as a consequence of molecular changes propagated from the eye to a certain part of the substance of the brain, when vibrations of the luminiferous ether of a certain character fall upon the retina. Let us suppose the process of physical analysis pushed so far that one could view the last link of this chain of molecules, watch their movements as if they were billiard balls, weigh them, measure them, and know all that is physically knowable about them. Well, even in that case, we should be just as far from being able to include the resulting phenomenon of consciousness, the feeling of redness, within the bounds of physical science, as we are at present. It would remain as unlike the phenomena we know under the names of matter and motion as it is now. If there is any plain truth upon which I have made it my business to insist over and over again it is this.And now we have Professor Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World) coming forward and reinforcing this view with all the weight of our most recent science based on the principles of relativity and the quantum. Physical science is shown to be a closed region of pointer readings namely, the numerical indications of our physical instruments of measurement which can be dealt (Page 25) with mathematically, but which cannot possibly enter the superphysical region of mind and consciousness. These latter are direct knowledge, whereas the very existence of matter is only an inference. Instead of Huxleys billiard-ball atoms ( The common conception of an atom during the last century was that of an elastic particle, like a billiard-ball only more so.) we are now presented with electrons and protons. Somewhere and somehow in the physical brain the vibrations of these become translated into sensations which are totally unlike anything that science can formulate about them as for example, the sensation of colour. At this point, in fact, we cannot say whether it is an external world in which matter has a reality of its own, or whether that world is not a construct of mind itself.
The wider and deeper scientific knowledge which this present century has brought us, and more particularly the discovery of the break-up and constitution of physical matter, at the same time that it has vastly deepened our concepts of Nature, has entirely disposed of the nineteenth-century materialism.
But there is another aspect of this question which we must not overlook. Without referring back to any supernatural beings or (Page 26) Being, we see clearly that we ourselves exercise supernatural powers in so far as we are able to direct and control the laws which we recognize as conditioning the external world of what we call Nature. I must surely be super i.e., Above, over, beyond anything that I can control. I can set one law against the other. I can inhibit a phenomenon which would otherwise take place naturally by bringing into operation a counter law. We can do things today by our knowledge of natural law which our forefathers would have roundly declared to be impossible save by a miracle. Who shall say what we may or may not be able to do tomorrow? Today, in ignorance of the deeper laws of nature, more particularly of the action of mind upon matter, a great many superstitious religionists still regard certain things as miracles, and attribute them to the direct action of a personal God and in some cases to a personal Devil.
Mind, in so far as it can control the external laws of matter and force, and direct them for its own purposes, is clearly superior to them; but at the same time we cannot doubt that there are laws which determine the action of mind upon matter. If we knew more about (Page27) these laws, we should doubtless consider it to be quite natural that, for example, prayer is answered just in the measure and degree of its faith. Much also that now goes under the label of spiritual healing would fall into its natural place as a power of the mind.
Apart from physical science there has sprung up within the present century a science of Mind, Psychology, which has already disclosed to us hitherto unsuspected depths and actions of the human mind. There are doubtless many discoveries to be made in this direction which will tend still further to remove elements of superstition and supernaturalism which still cling to the obscure actions of the mind upon matter. The existence and action of the subconscious is, in this direction, as great a discovery and a revolution of ideas as is the discovery of the inner constitution of the atom of physical matter. Professor Eddington in his work just referred to says:
Consciousness is not sharply defined, but fades into subconsciousness; and beyond that we must postulate something indefinite but yet continuous with our mental nature. This I take to be the world-stuff. We liken it to our conscious feelings because, now that we are convinced of the formal (Page 28) and symbolic character of the entities of physics, there is nothing else to liken it to . It is difficult for the matter-of-fact physicist to accept the view that the substratum of everything is of mental character. But no one can deny that mind is the first and most direct thing in our experience, and all else is remote inference (pp.280,281).
This is indeed a jump from physics to the metaphysics so much despised last century by the matter-of-fact physicist, who did not know that even then he was an unconscious metaphysician. But now it would appear that the new physics leads directly to metaphysical conclusions which are as old as any philosophy of which we have any records. Thus in the Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad (1, 5, 3) we read:
It is with the mind, truly, that one sees. It is with the mind that one hears. Desire, imagination, doubt, faith, lack of faith, steadfastness, lack of steadfastness, shame, meditation, fear all this is truly mind. Therefore even if one is touched on his back, he discerns it with the mind.
The direct action of mind on mind, as in hypnotism and telepathy, is also giving us a deeper insight into the superphysical previously designated the supernatural.
(Page 29 ) We might, as a preliminary classification, grade the stuff though substance, i.e., that which sub-stands, would appear to be a better word as follows: physical matter, ether, mind-stuff, Spirit.
We may conceive of these as being at root of all one Substance, but we must not conceive of that Substance as being in any way analogous to physical matter as being substantial. What it may be in its own nature as Spirit is utterly incomprehensible. Philosophically it is the Absolute; theologically it is God or perhaps this would be repudiated by the theologian as being pantheism. Yet if God is all and in all, what else can it be?
In this high consideration it is found that all is through and from God himself, and that it is his own substance, which is himself, and he hath created it out of himself; and that the evil belongeth to the forming and mobility; and the good to the love (Jacob Bohme, The Three Principles, Preface).
In any case we recognize that the difference between physical matter as such, and the Ether which is the more immediate substance of which it is composed, is so great that any attempt to define what Mind is as one further or deeper remove from the Ether, is seen to (Page 30) be quite beyond our powers. Yet we are compelled to conceive of Cosmic Mind as being at least as substantial as the Ether. We are compelled to conceive of it as a force, for it produces, at least in our own bodies and most probably through the intermediary of the Ether action on physical matter. Moreover we are compelled to conceive of telepathy as being in some sense analogous to wireless waves. Some medium transmits the thought vibration, which, as a vibration, or any other form of motion in the root substance, must certainly, be as definite a thing on its own plane as are the wireless waves in the Ether.
Even thus will the supernatural, and the superstitions attached to it, be pushed further and further back. And if the theologian tells us that God is in substance and essence above and beyond our deepest conceptions of any ultimate Substance of the manifested or phenomenal world, we shall reply that at least in all His operations in that world. He must act only by and through natural law; and that in fact what we call natural law must in this regard be the law of His own Nature and Substance from which He will be indistinguishable. If He must be regarded as a (Page 31) personal Being, acting very much as we ourselves act, only with infinitely more knowledge and power: we are at least told that in Him there is no variableness neither shadow of turning, and that is precisely what we recognise in the operation of natural law.
Thus we see HIS or ITS very Substance and Being as the Substance of the outer world of phenomena; and we partake of it in our own bodies, whether physical, etherical, mental, or spiritual. Moreover, to the extent that we de-individualize our consciousness and allow it to expand into Cosmic Consciousness, so do we reach in still fuller and fuller degree that ONE which is the Root of the subjective eternal Self as well as the objective temporal personality.
Thus we are told in the old Hermetic Script:
If, then, thou dost not make thyself like unto God, thou canst not know Him. For like is knowable to like alone. Make, then, thyself to grow to the same stature as the Greatness which transcends all measure; leap forth from every body; transcend all Time; become Eternity; and thus shalt thou know God.
And who among our theologians who discourse so learnedly of God as being this, that, (Page 32) and the other, can claim to have done this? Paraphrasing the saying of the old Chinese philosopher, Lao Tsze, and also the Upanishads, verily we may say: He who knows God tells it not; he who tells it knows Him not.
Let us now take a brief survey of the past in order the better to understand the present and to forecast the future.
(Page 33) We pass back over the pages of history and we see the first beginnings, the growth, maturity, and final decay of innumerable systems of religious beliefs and ritual practices, from the crude animistic fetish of the primitive savage to the elaborate and ornate ritual of the Romish Church today: borrowed without acknowledgement from the earlier symbolism and practices of the Pagan mythology of Egypt, Greece, Rome, and even of India. One might almost say that whatever is connected historically with Christian theology and ritual is entirely derived from pagan sources, and has no connection whatsoever with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. (For a fuller statement and summary of our present knowledge in this connection readers may be referred to the work of Arthur Weigall, The Paganism of our Christianity.)
In vast waste places of the Globe once the scene of activity of mighty nations, but now overgrown by the primeval forest, or buried under the sandy billows of the desert, or still standing in magnificent ruins we see the remains of altars and shrines and stately temples dedicated, in the not very remote (Page 34) past as we now understand the age of mankind to the worship of this, that, or the other God; Sun Gods, Moon Gods, Serpent Gods, Fire Gods, Gods and Goddesses; Gods who must be worshipped and propitiated; Gods satisfied with nothing less than a sacrificial victim animal or human, but always with the shedding of blood culminating sometimes in the idea of the God himself being slain and resurrected as for example Mithras, Krishna, Osiris, Horus, and many others before the time of the deified Christian Saviour.
Gods, Gods, ever more Gods innumerable; their names would fill a volume; names which for the most part mean nothing to anyone nowadays, but which once represented the beliefs of untold millions, and the dominance of priesthoods holding unlimited power and wealth through the fostered superstitions of ignorant multitudes.
Is it any different today? No and Yes.
Let not anyone think that our present temples and canes, or the beliefs which they represent, are any more permanent than these ancient ruins. A million years hence and what is a million years in the whole history of Man? where will all these be? (Page 35) Yet even so, in the eyes of the seer and the mystic that seemingly distant period is here and now; it is already discounted in his estimate of Reality. It has not yet taken form and objectivity in the normal consciousness of Humanity; it has not yet come into view in the series of moving pictures which pass across the screen of time and space: the event being no more than the momentary picture flashed on the screen, only to disappear as instantaneously as it has appeared.
Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your tears wash out a Word of it.
And even so, apprehending this deeper truth, we give heed to present forms and formulas only in so far as they can serve their time and generation in the minds of those whose vision extends no farther; those to whom it is not yet given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven mysteries which are quite outside the relations of time and space, or the forms and doctrines of any religion whatsoever.
Through all this welter of Gods in the past, (Page 36) and the modern conflict and strife of creeds and dogmas, there is one thing that stands out very clearly. Each and every formulated conception of the unseen Power or Powers of the Universe, whether monotheistic or polytheistic, has hitherto been purely anthropomorphic. Always and ever man has created his God or Gods in his own likeness, and has ascribed to them like consciousness, like passions, like motives to those which he himself possesses.
It is true that higher and more philosophical concepts have never been absent in the teachings of saints and sages and philosophers and mystics in all ages; but these have never found their way into institutional religion, or have only done so in a grossly perverted form.
I will deal with these higher concepts presently; in the meanwhile let us consider the traditional Christian theology, since it is that which we are the most concerned in this Western part of the Globe.
(Page 37) Nothing is clearer in connection with Christian theology than that it was formulated by those whose outlook on the universe, or Nature, was vastly different from ours of today. It was in fact made by those whose knowledge and concepts were of the most rudimentary character; when this world was considered by them to be the one and only place with which God was concerned; when the Earth was commonly believed to be flat; when the Sun and the Moon and the Stars were all supposed to rotate round it, and to have been created for the special benefit of Man; when no idea existed as to the distances or sizes of these heavenly bodies: the stars being merely so many points of light, more or less bright.
It is commonly supposed that up to the time of Copernicus (1473-1543) nothing had been known about the rotundity of the Earth or its revolution round the Sun. But Aristarchus, 260 B.C., had taught this, and the rotundity of the Earth was well known to many Greek writers. The fact was that the (Page 38) makers of the Christian dogmas put the Scripture narrative before everything else. Thus St. Augustine naively remarks that: It is impossible that there should be inhabitants on the opposite side of the Earth, since no such race is recorded by Scripture among the descendents of Adam.
The theology was formulated when the Old Testament was accepted as the personally inspired word of the Jewish God Jehovah, and the account of creation in Genesis was held to be literally true hence the doctrine of the Fall of Man, of original sin, and of the necessity carried over from pagan sources of a propitiatory offering. The only begotten Son of God had to atone for the sins of the world by incarnating and shedding his blood on the Cross, as so many previous Saviours are reputed to have done.
In the person of Jesus of Nazareth these allegories were literalised by the Christian theology makers, and finally, at the various Ecumenical Councils, were hardened into their traditional form as they have been handed down to us.
If we take the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles to be mainly historical which is very doubtful we see that the immediate (Page 39) followers of Jesus utterly misunderstood and materialised his teachings and his mission. They looked for an immediate Second Coming, for the last day when the Earth and the Sea would yield up the physical bodies of all humanity from the time of Adam: when the personal Devil would be finally overcome and cast into Hell with all the heathen and the unbelievers, whilst the saints would share in the glories of the new Heaven and the new Earth.
Strange to say this naļve belief survives even today; nor has there been any century of the Christian era in which the Second Coming has not been expected, and even prophesied for a certain date, which numberless credulous believers have confidently accepted.
As regards the teaching of Jesus, which was essentially that of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, the Christian nations have always treated the heathen, the coloured races in particular, as if they were of no account in the sight of God witness, for example, the conflict over the emancipation of the slaves. The original incentive to missionary effort whatever it may be now was based on the idea that the benighted heathen had to be saved in the orthodox (Page 40) Christian manner, otherwise he was irretrievably doomed to Hell. Indeed it was not the heathen only, but even a Church member could not be certain that his fellow member was one of the elect. Of course he could be quite sure about himself generally. But this same doctrine of election, even now held by some, has sent thousands into our lunatic asylums.
The Roman Catholic Church still claims to hold the keys of Heaven, and regards the members of all other Christian Churches as being excluded therefrom.
Now it is not to the point that hundreds of thousands still accept this original crude theology. It is not to the tail that we must look for the religion of the future. The old orthodoxy is very much in the melting-pot today. It is hardly a question even as to whether it will survive another century. The question is as to what will take its place. What concept of Deity, what concepts of the Universe or Nature will result from our enlarged modern knowledge? What concepts of himself will the enlightened member of the Race formulate out of the extraordinary advancement of knowledge which is now resulting from scientific discoveries and modern scholarship?
(Page 41) The established hierarchy of traditional theology has always fought and will doubtless continue to fight against the rising tide of knowledge. History shows us that even the most primitive ideas when supported by a powerful and wealthy priesthood are exceedingly difficult to uproot; and nothing in the average mind dies harder than religious superstition and traditional belief. The Church of Rome will have nothing to do with Modernism, and its adherents are forbidden free investigation in certain directions, or to read books which have been placed on the Index.
Three hundred years ago it was astronomy which threatened to overthrow the teachings of the Church, and Bruno was burnt at the stake for teaching what is now common knowledge. Galileo only escaped the same fate by recanting what he knew to be true. One hundred years ago it was geology which challenged the Scripture record and the cherished belief in the Genesis narrative. The Devil was said to have put the fossils there to deceive mankind. There are still a few good people who profess to believe that. Since the time of Darwin and Huxley it has been biology to which the conflict has been (Page 42) transferred, and evolution is now the word which is anathema. And so the story goes on.
We can have no quarrel with the sincere believer who finds his spiritual sustenance in the old doctrine of Mans Fall and Redemption, and consoles himself with the thought that one brief life well spent or even badly spent if he can obtain priestly absolution before he dies will ensure for him an endless life in Paradise. Yet this is a soul-killing doctrine.
We have nothing to say either against those who find inspiration in an elaborate ritual vestments, and masses, music and incense, et hoc genus omne and may even think that these are the principal elements of religion, and that God himself takes a delight in them. But why associate these with the simple teachings of Jesus of Nazareth? Who can imagine Jesus, or Paul, or Peter in a cope, or a mitre, or a chasuble? The hour cometh when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem shall ye worship the Father. Ye worship that which ye know not. The very idea that God requires to be worshipped and propitiated is a survival of primitive anthropomorphism.
All these institutional practices may be Christianity as it has come to be known (Page43) historically; but they certainly do not belong to the religion of Jesus Christ, nor even to that of Paul the great Apostle to the Gentiles whose fundamental teaching was Christ in you. Paul might have been expected to quote Jesus continually as his authority, but, strange to say, he never quotes him, with the single exception of Acts xx, 35: It is more blessed to give than to receive a saying which is not found in the Gospels.
It is food for thought also that Philo, who was contemporary with Jesus, never mentions him, though he used the term Logos and also only begotten Son. Both these terms are pre-Christian, as is also the doctrine of the Trinity. They are pre-Christian philosophical concepts, and were not divinely revealed by the coming of Christ. They were appropriated by the Church, like so many other things, from pagan sources.
And so we may leave the orthodox theology with those to whose mental limitations it is best suited, and proceed to note the groundwork for our conception of Man and the Universe which our modern science and our modern scholarship and philosophy provides, and which must inevitably influence and determine the religion of the future.
(Page 44) Let us commence with astronomy, since it was the first real science to threaten the traditional theology by enlarging mans knowledge of the extent and nature of the universe in which he finds himself.
Can we with our modern knowledge conceive in the remotest degree what a monstrous thing it was in the year 1600, when Bruno was burnt at the stake, for anyone to assert that the Earth was round, not flat, and that the Sun and all the heavenly bodies did not revolve round the earth for its own special benefit but the Earth round the Sun? Such assertions were not merely contrary to common sense, to what everyone could see for themselves, but worse still, they were contrary to Holy Scripture. They appeared to cut away the very foundations of Christian belief. When the Inquisitors were invited by Galileo to look through his telescope and see for themselves the Satellites of Jupiter revolving round the Planet, they refused to do so. The thing was impossible, for it was not in Holy Scripture; and moreover, we had no (Page 45) right to pry into what was not there revealed to us.
What does our astronomical knowledge disclose to us today? What are our present conceptions of the nature and extent of the visible universe?
The number of stars which could be seen with the great 100-inch reflecting telescope at Mount Wilson in California, is estimated to be about fifteen-hundred million a few million more or less dont matter. But that is by no means the end of the story. The new relativity theory gives us a universe which is finite but unbounded( This phase finite and unbounded represents what is supposed to be an absolutely new conception resulting form the four-dimensional mathematics of the Relativity Theory. In Isis Unveiled, however, the work of that marvellously informed woman. Mme H.P.Blavatsky, and published in 1877, we find the following sentence. But notwithstanding that the world of matter is boundless for us, it still is finite Vol. 1, page 7 ) Space as disclosed by the material world (the reservation is important) is supposed to be curved, so that if one were able to set out on a journey into space, apparently in a straight course, and were to travel with the speed of light namely, 186,000 miles per second, or nearly 6,ooo,ooo,ooo,ooo miles per annum, one would find oneself possibly at the end of something like 100,000,000,000 years according to (Page 46) present calculations back on the same spot from which we started. As the schoolboy said when he was asked to define a circle: it is in a line which meets its other end without ending.
The nearest star to our Earth, a Centauri, is 41/2 light years distant. Sirius, the brightest star in the heavens, 26 times as bright as the Sun, is 8.7 light years away. The Pleiades some 325 light years. But these are comparatively near neighbours. The great star cluster in the constellation of Hercules, which contains fully 35.000 stars as bright as our Sun, and some more than a thousand times brighter, is about 36,000 light years away. The whole of our system of stars, known as the Galactic system, approximates to the form of a flattened disc, with a thickness about one-eighth of a diameter; our Sun being a very considerable distance from the centre. The diameter of this disc is estimated to be somewhere in the order of 300,000 light years, and the thickness about 37,500 light years.
But in addition to our Galactic system it is estimated that there are something like two million extra-galactic nebulae visible with the 100-inch telescope. Each of these is either a system of stars a universe in itself (Page 47) or one in the making. Some of these nebulae have been estimated to be as much as 140 million light years away. Taking the Einstein theory as a basis, it is estimated that the whole universe is about one-thousand-million times as big as the part of space visible with the 100-inch telescope.
In this vast universe, our own Solar System taking the orbit of Neptune as its limit is but an insignificant atom. Sir J.H. Jeans, in his little work Eos, or the Wider Aspects of Cosmogony, estimates that if the whole number of stars in the universe were represented by grains of sand spread over England, they would make a layer many hundreds of yards in depth; and that our Earth would be only one-millionth part of one such grain.
What concern, then, are our little worldly affairs to any supposed Cosmic Deity, whether inside or outside of this vast universe; whether it was all created by the world of His mouth in six days, or in six hundred thousand million years? What concern can even the existence of our little speck of matter be to such an inconceivable Being let alone the idea that we may pray to Him for rain or for fine weather, (Page 48) and ask Him to bless our crops and our battleships? These figures utterly transcend the power of our minds to grasp; how then can we possibly conceive of a Being who made all this by a simple fiat, and who is supposed to be omnipresent and omniscient in this vast universe, let alone the idea that He required to be worshipped by the microbes on this little microscopic object which we call our Earth. Conceivably millions of such little specks of matter as our Globe could come into and go out of existence in the equally ungraspable extension of Time without even touching the consciousness of such a Being; just as millions of microscopic lives come into and go out of existence in our own bodies every minute without our being in the least aware of them.
No: the moment we begin to think in any sense cosmically instead of parochially, the postulating of a personal God who is this, that, and the other not to speak of His opponent the personal Devil appears as the mere childish beginnings of Mans effort to understand his existence and his place in the Cosmos, and his own larger spiritual nature.
But let it not be thought that this is either pessimism or atheism. There is another aspect of this question. How is it that we, (Page 49) mere microbes crawling on the surface of this million-millionth speck of matter, can thus discern, and measure, and weigh and analyse the incalculable millions of Suns and Universes scattered through space? Must there not be something infinitely great in Man, greater than any of these physical dimensions, that he is able to do this something that is only shadowed in these achievements?
I am somehow receptive of the great soul, and thereby I do overlook the sun and the stars, and feel them to be but the fair accidents and effects which change and pass (Emerson, The Oversoul)
Must not Mind, which can thus compass the universe of matter, be infinitely greater than that which it thus compasses? Must we not postulate also a Cosmic Mind which brings all this forth in its own imaging or imagination? This Cosmic Mind was conceived of in Greek philosophy as the Logos about which we shall say more presently.
Nothing is more certain than that the individual can only exercise a faculty which is derived from something cosmic in the first instance. Like the atom of physical matter which is simply a limited and individual (Page 50) aspect of a potency residing in the cosmic Ether: the mind of the individual man can only be a limited and partial aspect of the potency of Cosmic Mind. All our modern psychology and philosophy tends to show that even the individual mind is to a large extent in its own sphere, the creator of the objective world, and of time and space. Intellectuality and materiality, Bergson tells us, have been constituted by reciprocal adaptation. Both are derived from a wider and higher form of existence. (Creative Evolution, p.127)
But we must enquire presently whether even intellect is Mans highest faculty; whether, indeed, it is in any way fitted to grasp Reality. Are the physical dimensions and measurements which the mind cannot overpass in any formulated concept, of any real value as criteria of Mans nature and status in the Universe? Does not their very excess destroy their value?
Let us turn for a moment from these outward dimensions of space and look inwards. If the macrocosm discloses these immensities, what of the microcosm?
(Page 51) About the year 1704 Sir Isaac Newton wrote:
It seems probable to me that God in the beginning formed matter in solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, movable particles, of such sizes and figures, and with such other properties, and in such proportion to space as most to conduce to the end for which He formed them; and that these primitive particles, being solids, are incomparably harder than any porous body compounded of them; even so very hard as never to wear or break to pieces; no ordinary power being able to divide what God Himself made one in the first creation.
Great as was Sir Isaac Newtons intellect, we now know that this conception of the atom of matter was wrong in every respect. The atom is not a solid body; it is mainly composed of space, just as the Solar System as a whole may be said to be. It is neither hard nor impenetrable, and it does wear and break to pieces. As for the theological idea which he introduces, we need hardly say that no physicist nowadays would consider that (Page 52) to be relevant to his conceptions as to the nature of matter.
The atom or molecule of physical matter was known last century before the possibility of its break-up or the nature of its constituents was even guessed at to be exceedingly minute. It was estimated that it would take something like 250,000,000 placed close together to cover the length of one inch. One pint of water contains a far greater number of atoms than there are pints in all the oceans of the world. One cubic centimetre of air less than the top of ones little finger is estimated to contain about 28 million million million molecules. An ordinary electric light vacuum bulb encloses a space of about 150 cubic centimetres; and if a minute hole were made in it so that one million molecules could enter per second, a simple calculation will show that it would take rather more than 133 million years to fill the bulb.
But it is now known that the atom is composed of a number of electrical particles called electrons and protons, and that these are inconceivably smaller than the atom itself; so much so that they are comparable, as regards their relative size and the distances (Page 53) between them, to the sizes and distances of the Sun and Planets of the Solar System. The atom is in fact conceived to be a Solar System in miniature, with the proton, or positive electrical particle as a central nucleus round which the electrons, or negative particles, revolve in orbits. This present theory, however, fascinating and simple as it appears to be, is even now in question. We may, however, work on it in the meanwhile as not merely being explanatory of certain facts, but also as giving us some sort of a mental picture corresponding to those facts.
The present data show the electron to be something like 100,000 times smaller than the atom; so that in comparison with the whole space occupied by the atom it is
only about --------------------of that space.
The electrons have been compared to a few gnats flying about in a space as great as a cathedral. If the electron were magnified to the size of a halfpenny, its relative distance from the proton round which we suppose it to revolve, and which is about the same size, would be one mile.
Conceive of one halfpenny revolving round another one mile distant, and you have a (Page 54) picture of the hydrogen bomb. We may compare this with the Solar System in the following manner. If we had to make a model of the System to a scale in which the size of the Earth was represented by a halfpenny, the Sun would be 326 yards away, whilst Neptune, the outermost planet, would be rather more than five and a half miles distant. As regards the atom, however, we must bear in mind that the electrons are revolving in their orbits with enormous velocities, so that the halfpenny electron might go round its central nucleus something like twenty or thirty thousand times in one second. It is thus practically an impenetrable ring, just as when we revolve a ball at the end of a string very rapidly in a circle, we see it as a ring. Matter is only solid because of its intense atomic motion
Such are the refinements of our modern scientific instruments and processes that we can now photograph the tracks of atoms and electrons.
The various chemical atoms have different numbers of electrons which determine the characteristics of their chemical properties. Thus the hydrogen atom has only electron; the oxygen has eight; and at the (Page 55) other end of the scale the uranium atom has ninety-two. Thus we see that matter is mainly composed of space. How very different in the light of this knowledge do we find the reality of the material world to be from its appearance.
These figures, like the complementary astronomical figures, altogether dwarf our imagination. But even so, we have by no means got to the end of the matter literally matter. The electrons themselves are doubtless compound bodies. Sir J.J. Thomson has put forward the view that:
If we compare the atom with its electrons to a solar system, we may compare an electron or a positive particle to the centre of a nebula, and regard the electron as surrounded by an atmosphere of small particles . These considerations suggest that just as matter is made up of molecules, and molecules are made up of electrons and positive particles, this is not the end of the story, there are still worlds to conquer, the worlds which build up the electrons and positive particles.
Where, then, can there be an end in this inner direction of space? Any space, however minute, is conceivably divisible, and re-divisible, ad infinitum.
(Page 56) What a mighty thing, therefore, is our present physical body when measured by the standard of these microcosmic dimensions. Shall we not set them off against the macrocosmic dimensions of astronomy, and say that the one cancels out the other, and that perhaps at root extension in space has no reality at all; that our consciousness makes it, and can transcend it?
Professor Eddington tells us that:-
If we eliminated all the unfilled space in a mans body and collected his protons and electrons into one mass, the man would be reduced to a speck just visible with a magnifying glass. (See The Nature of the Physical World, p.1).
According to these present conceptions the whole universe might very well be the physical body of some great Cosmic Being, and all the suns and worlds mere atoms in that body. But that is no new idea. Swedenborg taught that the universe was in the form of a man: though perhaps he did not quite mean it in that sense. But the conception of the Archetypal Man as containing the whole universe within himself is one of the oldest concepts of the more occult philosophy. We (Page 57) find it clearly stated by Jacob Bohme, that unrivalled spiritual seer. Thus he says:
And we declare unto you that the eternal Being, and also this world, is like man: The eternity generateth nothing but that which is like itself; for there is nothing in it but is like it, and it is unchangeable, or else it would pass away, or it would come to be some other thing, and that cannot be. And as you find man to be, just so is the eternity. All is in man, both heaven and earth, stars, and elements (The Threefold Life of Man, VI, 46, 47).
As for the space within the atom, we read in the Yoga Vasishtha of Indian literature that:
There are vast worlds all placed away within the hollows of each atom, multifarious as the motes in sunbeams.
Modern astronomy may be said to have become atomic, and modern conceptions of the atom astronomical.
(Page 58) We may now turn from the consideration of spatial quantities to that time. How old is the Solar System, and more particularly our little speck of matter?
We have two means of estimating the age of the Earth: the data derived from astronomy and that derived from geology.
The discovery by modern science of the constitution of physical matter, of the break up of the atom and the consequent liberation of enormous stores of energy in the form of radiation, has placed a powerful method of calculation in the hands of both the astronomer and the geologist. Whereas it was previously thought that the energy radiated from the Sun must in some way be accounted for by combustion, and calculations on that basis could only give it a life of some ten or fifteen million years, the knowledge of the energy stored up in the atom now enables us to reckon by millions of millions of years.
Radiation means loss of mass; annihilation of the atom. The atomic annihilation of one pound of coal per week would give us as much (Page 59) energy as is now available from the combustion of the five millions of tons of coal which are mined every week in the British Isles. A single drop of oil would take the largest liner across the Atlantic.
We know the mass of the Sun, and we can also calculate the amount of energy which is radiated from its surface. It is therefore easy to calculate the equivalent loss of mass. This loss is at the rate of 250 million tons per minute; yet at this enormous rate the Sun would last for another fifteen million million years, while its present age is probably between five and eight million million years.
It is perhaps easier to calculate the approximate age of the Sun or even of distant stars, from the given data, than to calculate the age of the Earth. It is generally conceded that the Earth and the other Planets have been, in some unknown manner, thrown off from the Sun. The theory which appears to be most in favour today with astronomers being that the near approach of a passing star caused a large arm or streamer of matter to be drawn out of the Sun by gravitational action: the Sun being at that time a gaseous nebula. This protuberance subsequently condensed and detached itself (Page 60 ) as a planet. A similar action is supposed to happen to the Planets, whereby their satellites are formed. All this, however, is pure speculation, and by no means satisfactory even at that. Occult science has quite a different teaching, which however would be out of place here. Moreover there is nothing to show us how many million million years ago it was since this may have happened. We must turn to geology for more direct evidence of the age of the Earth.
The data from which geologists can draw their conclusions are very varied. Calculations have been made from the accumulation of salt in the oceans; from the thickness of the sedimentary and other formations, but more recently, and perhaps more reliably, from an analysis of the radioactive contents of some of the rocks of the earths crust.
The uranium and thorium ores, which are radioactive, go through a series of slow transformations, the end products of which are helium and lead. The rate of transformation is fairly well known, so that these radioactive materials act as a kind of timekeeper for the earth. The conclusions arrived at by this method point to a period which is somewhere between 1,600 million years as (Page 61) a minimum and 3,000 million years as a maximum. Other geological evidence is more or less in accord with these figures; but once we have passed, say 1,000 million years in our estimate, a few millions, or even a few hundred millions, matter very little. In any case we must reckon by hundreds of millions, and Bishop Ushers 6,000 years is no when.
(Page 62) To suppose that Man came into existence on this Earth full-grown, and at the word of a personal Creator, is another of those primitive ideas which can find no support or corroboration in our actual knowledge of the processes of Nature and of biological evolution, though it still survives in the minds of millions who profess the Christian faith, and it is the authoritative teaching of both the Roman and Anglican Churches.
But with biology, as it has already been with astronomy and geology, it can only be a question of time for the known facts to be universally recognised by everyone but the extremely ignorant or the extremely bigoted. As regards the Genesis narrative there will then be two alternatives: its total rejection, or its allegorical interpretation. The theology which still clings to that narrative in its literal acceptation is in fact already a lost cause.
A very mild attempt to recognize the allegorical nature of the narrative is already in evidence with apologists in certain quarters. It is said that the days of creation do not mean actual days of the week, but periods (Page 63) of time which may possibly extend over thousands or even millions of years. So far so good; but there is a great deal more to be said in the matter.
I will attempt a brief outline of this immediately; but first of all let us look at the biological facts.
There was undoubtedly a time in the early formation of this Globe when no organic forms whatsoever could possibly have existed. Whatever theory we may accept as to the probable or possible origin of the Globe as a throw-off from the Sun or otherwise, we may say that literally it was, in the beginning, and for millions of years, waste and void, and that there went up a great mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
Now there appears to be very little doubt that the first organic forms of life, the primitive protoplasm and the unicellular protozoa, arose in the slime of the warm tropical oceans. From these primitive cells the whole of our flora and fauna have evolved during the course of incalculable ages. No one at all acquainted with the facts of the case is inclined to dispute this today. We have not merely the indelible records of the geological (Page 64) strata and the fossils to show us the gradual evolution of more and more complex organisms in ever increasing variety, but each individual human being today commences his existence as a primitive cell, and recapitulates during his nine months gestation the whole biological evolutionary process.
The various stages of that evolution may be represented broadly in the following diagram. They are the stages for the Race as well as for the individual embryo.
(Page 65) We may put x, y, z as three stages of as yet unknown development: for the process still goes on. Also we may enclose the whole in an egg to signify that Man in so far as he is physical, and limited in his consciousness to the physical world is as yet only in the gestation stage as regards his future development as a cosmic being, with cosmic consciousness. He has still to come out of the shell of matter with which he has encased himself during his fall. He is still a crustacean clinging to a rock, and not a free-swimming creature in the larger world of the cosmic Ether.
Man having thus evolved his physical body through all the lower organic kingdoms and perchance even through the mineral -
died from the mineral and became a plant;
I died from the plant and reappeared as an animal;
I died from the animal and became a man;
Wherefore then should I fear? When did I grow less by dying?
and being now the highest representative of the organic process, we may consider that he was as much in view from the beginning as a full-grown product as is the oak from the acorn, or the full-grown individual man from the germ-cell.
But was, or is, the ultimate end merely the (Page 66) evolution of a physical body for Man? Assuredly not at all events from the point of view of religion. We are necessarily taking that point of view in this work, and religion necessarily implies not merely that man survives his physical body but also that he has a spiritual nature. What this implies I will deal with more in detail immediately; but meanwhile we may note that we do not know why in once case an oak should result, and in the other case a human being. Nevertheless we are compelled to postulate an inner active principle moulding the dead chemical matter into these innumerable other forms which we recognise as being living. That inner principle in fact we term Life.
So far as the biological process on this Earth is concerned, as soon as the matter of the Globe has reached a certain state or stage of chemical organisation, Life begins to manifest itself in organisms scarcely distinguishable from complex chemical molecules, but yet distinct in this one respect, that they have the power of self-initiated movement. We distinguish them as living organisms or sometimes simply as living matter because they are the most primitive or simplest form of organised matter more complex than the (Page 67) chemical atom or molecule in which we can recognise this self-initiated movement. What we commonly call dead matter is, in its aggregated forms, only moved by external impacts. What we call living matter moves itself by internal impulse.
That is the bare definition of Life so far as its connection with physical matter is concerned. But Life as we know it in ourselves is something which exhibits infinitely more than the power to move or mould matter. It includes consciousness, mind, will, emotion; and, as we have seen from the quotation I have already given from Huxley (p.14) there is no conceivable connection between these and the mere mechanical properties of so-called dead matter. Thus the first expression of Life recognisable by us is movement. We might perhaps say that the highest expression is Love.
The term origin of life which is so commonly used in scientific works is quite misleading. What should be spoken of is the origin of organic forms of life. Organic forms manifest the informing life, but they do not originate it. How can they? If we postulate that it is matter itself which moves itself, then matter itself is life, and we can (Page 68) never speak of dead matter. These terms of course came into use when matter was considered to be nothing more than Newtons solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, movable particles. Our present knowledge that matter is derived from and composed of a more universal Substance which may even be mind-stuff itself, not to speak of Spirit puts a totally different complexion on the question. The ultimate Cosmic Substance may be living substance may be Life itself.
If I make a vortex-ring in water, the ring is distinguishable qua ring, that is to say as a form, from the substance of the water. It is true that I cannot distinguish the form by physical sight unless I introduce a little colouring matter into the water. How then does it come about that I can distinguish physical matter from the Ether of which the electrons and protons are composed: very possibly being something analogous to vortex-rings therein? My physical body is built up of these, which, from the analogy of the vortex-rings in water, should be indistinguishable from the substance of which they are composed. I, then, as being the living cognizing subject, and either distinct from both physical matter and the substance out (Page 69) of which it is formed, or else that substance is at root myself.
Matter in its atomic constitution is an organised form of the substance of the Ether just as much as are the more complex organic forms which are organised out of the simpler atoms and molecules. They are all one Substance: how then shall we say that some of the forms are organised by Life whilst others are not? If we postulate that Life is something quite distinct from Substance then we must say that Life as it were comes in only so soon as a certain complexity of physical matter has been reached. But the real fact is that it is only when a certain degree of organisation of matter has been reached that we are able to recognize the self-initiated action of Life. If we conceive of the Ether as being a dead substance, how could it possibly organise, or be organised into form, unless Life acted upon it? The alternative is that Life is intrinsic in the nature of the Ether, or in something much deeper or more cosmic than the Ether.
The new physics has already entirely de-materialised our concepts of matter; and we see clearly that we have two things to deal with: a Root Substance which science at (Page 70) present calls the Ether of space and an active Principle which we call Life. We are here in fact face to face with the choice between the duality of Life and Substance, or the monistic view that they are at root, and in a last analysis, one and the same. In any case it is not physical matter as such which contains the potentiality of evoking into the forms of living organisms.
Are we then compelled to make a choice between Monism or Dualism? I think not; but at the same time how are we possibly to distinguish in any final analysis between Life and living Substance? It is simpler to speak of the Life as if it were an attribute of the Substance; or conversely of Substance as an attribute of Life. Indeed, if we call the Life God, we are compelled to postulate that God and Substance are not two things, otherwise God is not all and in all. The same applies if we simply call it the Absolute. The universe in its totality, visible and invisible, is one Substance and one Life, infinite, uncreated and eternal, whatever name we may give to it in its unitary nature.
Returning for a moment to the origin of physical forms of life on this Globe, we cannot say at what exact period how many (Page 71) hundreds of millions of years ago life began to mould the first organic forms; nor can we say at what point in the process Man came to be distinguished from the mere animal whether ape or otherwise as homo sapiens. There was no such precise point. Man is distinguished from the animal by his superior mentality, and to a certain extent by his nascent spirituality. But the incoming of Mind the manifestation through the organism of that particular attribute of the Cosmic Life, already existing in that Life in a supreme degree has been a gradual process, and is in fact as yet by no means complete; whilst the real spiritual nature of Man also already existing in a supreme degree in the One Life is hardly as yet in evidence at all in humanity as a whole.
We have records of primitive man which appear to go back several millions of years; but there is no authentic certainty in the matter, for we do not know the age of the geological strata in which these are found; as for example those of the Neanderthal man.
In what respects is the highest type of man today distinguished from primitive man of the flint or stone age? In what respects does (Page 72) he manifest more fully the attributes of the One Cosmic Life?
Undoubtedly in the first instance he manifests an amazing increase in the powers of mind or intellect; the power to formulate ideas, both abstract and concrete, the power to analyse and the power to synthesise not merely the phenomena of the objective world of Nature, but also the subjective world of his own mind and emotions. He formulates science and philosophy, and an enquiry into the limitations of his own knowledge. He is infinitely more self-conscious.
But that is by no means all. He has discovered that he has feelings and emotions which are something much more than, and essentially different from, mental concepts. The emotions of love and hatred are not intellectual; neither is his sense of esthetic values. The whole colouring which he gives to his mental concepts as well as to his external precepts, belongs to a region of his nature which transcends mind. In short he has discovered that he has a soul; or, as it is sometimes termed, a spiritual nature.
But it is not he who evolves that nature; it is that nature which evolves him in so far (Page 73) as he is represented by a succession of individual forms.
It is just here that we must break away from conventional ideas of Man; and more particularly from conventional religious ideas and dogmas. The new physics and the new biology, of which I have given such a brief sketch, are here, if rightly understood and applied, of immense service to shall we say the new religion. Just as the concepts of the new physics dematerialize matter, so also must we dematerialize Man; and just as they de-individualize the physical atom, and refer it back to a Cosmic Substance, so also must we de-individualize our concepts of Man, of ourselves, and refer the individual back to a Cosmic Life.
Let us now turn our attention to this larger aspect of Mans origin and nature.
What is Spirit?
(Page 74) Spirit is only another name for the one Infinite, Eternal, Uncreated Root and Source of all that ever was, is, or can be. It is the ONE LIFE and the ONE SUBSTANCE.
the Spirit was born; the Spirit shall cease to be never;
Never was time it was not; End and Beginning are dreams!
Birthless and deathless and changeless remaineth the Spirit for ever;
Death hath not touched it at all, dead though the house of it seems!
( From: The Song Celestial (Bhagavad Gita), Sir Edwin Arnold.) PAGE 74 MISSING
We distinguish arbitrarily between Spirit and Matter; but is there any distinction at root? That which is transitory, that which does change, that which belongs to time, is simply the forms which arise and disappear in this world as matter; forms which range from Solar Systems and Universes to electrons and atoms in the physical world, and who knows what else in the superphysical? (Page 75)
How, then, about those forms which we know as mankind ourselves?
When we are told that God created man in his own image, we can accept the statement as literally true of Mans source and origin. But we can only do this if we dematerialize man, and regard him as a Cosmic Being, wholly and completely a spiritual Being in the first instance, and before his fall into matter. The statement is obviously and palpably untrue as regards physical man, or rather our consciousness of man in the limitations of his physical nature. We have seen that physical man was made of the dust of the ground, that his body evolved from what we commonly call dead matter. What possible likeness to God can we find in physical man at any of the stages of his physical evolution? There was no individual physical man in the beginning of the Earth, of whom it could be said that he was made in the image of God; neither did any such man dwell in a geographical Garden of Eden. All that has been talked about the locality of that Garden is pure nonsense. The four rivers and all the rest of the description are simply allegory.
We need not dwell here on the misrepresentations (Page 76) of the original meanings of the Hebrew words translated God and Lord God, or of the perverted rendering of the sentences we have quoted. We may, for our present purpose, accept them as they stand.
For more complete information on this question the reader may be referred to the work by Fabre dOlivet, La Langue Hebraique Rectitué, Paris, 1815. An English translation was published in 1921 by Putman, New York. (Page 77)
Man, as a spiritual or cosmic Being if distinguishable as such from the Root Principle, or Principle-Substance would at least be only one remove as it were from the Universal, and therefore quite clearly made in the image of God in so far as the word made can be said to be applicable at all.
Cosmic Man, like everything else in the universe that exists (ex, out, and sisto, to stand), must necessarily in a final analysis be identified with the One Root Principle, here called God. But in so far as Man can be said to be distinguishable from the Universal for example, just as physical matter is distinguishable as such from the Ether, though of the same substance we can hardly conceive otherwise than that in the beginning he was so nearly akin to his Root and Source that the expression made in the image of God is quite a natural one.
But we have this even more clearly set forth at the commencement of the Gnostic Gospel of St. John.
In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
As an alternative reading we have:
All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made. That which hath been made was life in him; and the life was the light of men.
this Logos with the archetypal Cosmic Man of Genesis, and the whole matter becomes
as clear as day. Free it from all the obscurantism of theological dogma which
identifies the Logos with the personality of Jesus of Nazareth, and at once
we come into line with both science and philosophy
term Logos is pre-Christian. It stands for the concept of the divine thought
or will uttering itself in objective form. Professor Max Muller in his work
Theosophy, or Psychological Religion, tells us that, Logos is a Greek word
embodying a Greek thought, a thought which has its antecedents in Aristotle,
in Plato; nay, the deepest roots of which have been traced back as far as the
ancient philosophies of Anaxogoras and Heraclities (p.380). It is also embodied
in the Sanskrit term Vach, speech, word in a mystical sense as the concrete
expression of ideation. (Page 78)
How much the Gospels, and even St. Pauls Epistles, have been overwritten to make them appear to support an already formulated theology we do not as yet know. Further scholarly researches, or the discovery of documents may bring this more clearly into view. But the deeper interpretation which we are here putting forward is by no means new or unfamiliar to students; and it may clearly be seen in the authorised version as it now stands.
Paul taught the doctrine of a Cosmic Christ Principle, which had to be brought to birth in each individual, even as it was manifested in the personality of Jesus of Nazareth.
But that Cosmic Christ, or Christ-Principle, we must identify with the Logos of St. Johns Gospel; and the Logos of St. Johns Gospel we must identify with the spiritual Cosmic Man of Genesis, made in the image of God. But this Cosmic Man we must further identify with ourselves when we have succeeded in de-individualizing ourselves.
All things (in this world of Man) were made by him. Of course. Man makes his own world. Man is the Creator of that world. It is all his own image-making (Page 79 ) (imagination), the forms in his mind-stuff. And by what is Man enlightened save by his own inner spiritual nature, the divine Cosmic Man, the Christos, the Anointed, made in the image of God, and, as such, still eternal in the heavens.
In God, be sure, the soul in its highest prototype has never known creature, nor has she ever therein possessed time or space. For in this image (of God in the soul) everything is God: sour and sweet, good and bad, small and great, all are one in this image. This image is no more changed by anything in time than the divine nature is changed by anything that is creature: for it apprehends and uses all things according to the law of godhood (Meister Eckhart).
Being thus in his original and prototypal aspect the Archetypal Divine Man, he is also the Saviour of the individual fallen man in whom he has to be brought to birth. But this bringing to birth of the Christ in you is the realisation by the individual of his inherent spiritual nature which is precisely the definition of Religion which I have given as the basis of this work. The real man is the spiritual man; and the realisation of this in the full consciousness of the Christos in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the (Page 80 ) Godhead bodily, is the goal of his evolution.
Just as the divine Man, the Christos, is one with the Father as his Root and Source, so is the individual man one with Christ as the divine Archetypal Man.
I am the vine, ye are the branches. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in me (John XV 4,5).
How clear this becomes when we transfer the conception from a personal historical Jesus, or Saviour, to that of the Cosmic Christ who is our own inner divine spiritual principle; our real immortal Self, which knows neither birth nor death, and into the consciousness of which we must be regenerated literally reborn if we are to attain to eternal life.
For how can these words apply in any sense to an individual personal historical Saviour? They are literally true when we understand that our life, in all its aspects, even the life of each cell in our physical bodies, is hid with Christ in God (Col.III,3).
Life, the ONE LIFE, is eternal in its own nature, but not in the forms in which it (Page 81 ) manifests in time and space. These obviously all perish as such; therefore it is only as we learn to know ourselves apart from the temporary form, only as we learn to know ourselves as the Archetypal Man, made in the image of God, that we can attain to that continuity of consciousness which alone can be spoken of as life eternal. For verily we fall asleep out of that life when we incarnate; losing thereby all recollection of our previous existence and our eternal spiritual nature. Nor must we expect to do otherwise than incarnate again and again until this cycle of birth and death has been conquered through the attainment of a real spiritual consciousness which transcends these alternate periods of sleeping and waking. The last enemy that shall be abolished is death.
The true doctrine of immortality, of eternal life, is not a doctrine of survival, or even of salvation, but of the immortal nature of the Spiritual Ego in its own right and nature. It implies pre-existence as well as post-existence, for Spirit is the one eternal Root and Source of ALL.
This true doctrine was well understood in (Page 82) the early centuries of the Christian era, and it was only in the sixth century, at the Second Council of Constantinople, A.D.553, that the doctrine of reincarnation was made a heresy.
Whosoever shall support the mythical doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul and the consequent and the consequent wonderful opinion of its return, let him be anathema.
Can any rational person, with anything beyond the most limited parochial outlook on the Cosmic Process, conceive that Humanity as a whole has to pass through such a vast cycle of evolution, but that the individual only shares in that Process for the one brief flicker which is all that a single life-time represents in the millions of millions of years which comprise the whole Cycle?
The evolution of the individual must necessarily be commensurate with that of the Race: for how else does the Race progress save by the progression of the individual members thereof? What I may do in any one life-time not merely helps or hinders my own evolution, it helps or hinders also the evolution of the Race. The world of today is what the individuals of the past have made it; the world of tomorrow will be what the individuals of today are making (Page 83) it. That is denied by none. It is to be supposed, then, that each generation as it springs up consists of souls who come from nowhere, who have had no past , but have to reap what previous generations have sown, and will have no share in reaping what they themselves are now sowing? Shall the law what a man sows that shall he also reap have no application here?
Nothing could be more irrational than to conceive that the individual begins when he is physically born with more or less already developed faculties according to his fortunate, or unfortunate, parentage and then forsooth goes on for ever and ever, with no further share in the great evolutionary process. Nor is the matter improved by making a personal God responsible for every soul that is born one a savage, another a philosopher, a third a child of the slums, and yet a fourth a pampered child of fortune. There is either a great and inflexible law of justice (Karma) underlying all the varied attainments and circumstances of the individual, or else it is all the veriest chaos and caprice.
There is no space here, however, for a complete exposition of the teachings respecting reincarnation and karma; nor is the (Page 84) whole truth concerning these by any means available. It is both true and not true that I reincarnate. What must be realised in the first instance is the distinction between the real immortal Self and the temporary conventional I; between the self may be found. That higher Self is the Christos, the Christ in you.
The whole Cosmic Process is a perpetual reincarnation, and cycle within cycle the same principle obtains. The form perishes, but the Life is reborn in new forms. All flesh all that pertains to the lower personal self is as grass, and, slightly paraphrasing, we may say: The grass withereth, and the flower falleth; but the Self abideth for ever.
The immortality or salvation of the lower personal self is entirely dependent on its aspiration and union or At-one-ment with the higher spiritual Self, the Christos.
In the Genesis allegory, Adam is said to have fallen into a deep sleep, whereby the physical separation of the sexes was brought about to his still further fall or undoing and loss of his spiritual nature, and even any recollection of it. And in this deep sleep (Page 85) the great majority of the Race exist to the present day. But as in Adam all die, even so in Christos shall all be made alive again.
We must now examine the nature of this Fall somewhat more closely.
(Page 86) Although in view of what has just been said, the salvation, or redemption, or regeneration of the individual man, as well as of the whole Race, through a realisation of the original Divine Nature of Man, is perfectly clear and understandable, yet there is certainly an apparent difficulty here as regards the Fall.
We have seen that we cannot accept the Fall as being something which happened to our first parents considered as a single pair of physical individuals residing in a mythical Garden. What, then, does the allegory in Genesis mean; or rather, in what sense has Man fallen?
In the first place, and since the Archetypal Man is a Cosmic Being, the Fall must certainly be a Cosmic Process. We must regard it as the outgoing of the unitary Cosmic Life, the ONE LIFE, into differentiation, or multiplicity of form or manifestation. We have a physical analogy in the formation out of the Cosmic Ether of the forms we know as physical matter; and we may very well (Page 87) conceive that the Cosmic Ether is still several removes from the One Root Principle.
The Fall, therefore, in the beginning, is the outgoing from the ONE of some individualized Cosmic Life or Lives. In many ancient systems these were postulated to be the Creative Gods: many different names being given to them, such as the Prajapatis in the Eastern philosophy, or the Sephiroth of the Kabbala. In the New Testament we have seen it to be the Logos, and in Genesis it is Adam, the Archetypal Man made in the image of God.
This first differentiation or outgoing is the commencement of the Cosmic Cyclic Process, or World-Process of evolution and involution; the evolution being the process of differentiation into more and more complex forms, the involution being the return to the Source or unity of the ONE, though this latter half of the cycle is usually termed evolution in so far as it relates to mans progress.
This return process is hardly as yet recognized in modern philosophy, though it is well recognised in the Eastern Scriptures, and is in fact, so far as the individual is concerned, the fundamental experience in all Mysticism, to whatever religion the mystic may belong. (Page 88) In Eastern philosophy it is known as the outbreathing and inbreathing of Brahma; or sometimes as the Days and Nights of Brahma: the Days being the period of the whole cycle of objectivity, and the Nights the equally long period of subjectivity. Another term for these is Manvantara and Pralaya, and these major periods have minor periods or cycles of lesser duration, cycle within cycle.
Thus for the individual man the coming into incarnation is equivalent to a minor Manvantara, or outgoing, and the time between any two incarnations is the equivalent pralaya or indrawing. A still lesser cycle is that of physical waking and sleeping.
So far as the great Cosmic Process as a whole is concerned the why and wherefore of it is inscrutable. It has been the great problem ever since man began to think philosophically. Thus in the ancient Rig Veda we find the question asked:PAGE 89 MISSING
knows the secret? Who proclaimed it here?
Whence, whence this manifold creation sprang?
The Gods themselves came later into being
Who knows from whence this great creation sprang?
whence all this great creation came,
Whether Its will created or was mute,
The Most High Seer that is in highest heaven,
He knows it or perchance even He knows not. (Colebrooks translation) (Page 89)
In the fourteenth-century mystical Treatise, the Theologia Germanica, we find the question somewhat quaintly answered in this manner:
If there ought not to be, and were not this and that works, and a world full of real things, and the like what were God Himself, and what had He to do, and whose God would He be?
But looking at the question from this cosmic point of view, the term Fall is clearly inapplicable. We cannot say that God fell when he willed to evolve the universe out of his own Substance if indeed we can say that he willed at all.
In this high consideration it is found that all is through and from God himself, and that it is his own substance, which is himself, and which he hath created out of himself(Jacob Bohme, The Three Principles of the Divine Essence,Preface).
And if we cannot say that God fell, neither can we say that the Logos, the Archetypal Man, fell when he, in his turn, had to (Page 90) repeat the act of creation, and evolve this world of his own.
The fact is that the term Fall is only applicable when we regard the process from below, from the point of view of Humanity collectively and also individually in our already fallen condition as physical human beings. Then indeed we can say, Oh, what a fall was (is) there!
And yet in some sense the Fall must be necessary; a part of a divinely perfect WHOLE.
The Fall and Return are represented in the New Testament in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The point is that in religion it is the Return which is the practical matter. Jacob Bohme postulates the Return as a universal law. All things enter again into that whence they proceeded. (De Signatura Rerum, XV,42)
Even physical science may be said to have recognised this to a certain extent in what is known as the law of entropy. Herbert Spencer, however, has stated it more clearly as follows:
Apparently, the universally coexistent forces of attraction and repulsion, which, as we have seen, necessitate rhythm in all minor changes throughout (Page 91 ) the universe also necessitate rhythm in the totality of its changes produce now an immeasurable period during which the attracting forces predominating, cause universal concentration, and then an immeasurable period during which the repulsive forces predominating, cause universal diffusion alternate eras of evolution and dissolution.
As regards the Logos, we have this principle stated by St. Paul in 1 Cor. XV, 28, as follows:
When all things have been subjected unto him, then shall the son also himself be subjected to him that did subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all.
In other words, when the present cyclic process has run its course, so far as the Logos is concerned, then shall the Logos also be indrawn again into the One.
But this also is a concept which antedates St.Paul by many ages. In the Eastern Scriptures it is taught not merely that the Gods themselves came later into being, but also that at the end of the Manvantara they and all else disappear to reappear in the next Manvantara.
A free translation from the Ordinances of Manu might be given as follows:
(Page 92) When the dissolution Pralaya had arrived at its term, The great Being Param-Atma or Para-Purusha the Lord existing through himself, out of whom and through whom all things were, and are and will be resolved to emanate from his own substance the various creatures (Manava-Dharma-Sastra, Book 1, Slokas 6, 7).
It is thus that, by an alternative waking and rest, the Immutable Beginning causes to revive and die eternally all the existing creatures, active and inert (Manu, Book I, Sloka 50).
Now just as the ONE, or God, necessarily remains in his own nature and substance notwithstanding the creation, or emanation, or evolution of the Universe, so also does the Logos. The Logos creates his own particular world but yet remains. Here again we may take the analogy of Ether and physical matter. Physical matter is formed of the substance of the Ether, but yet the Ether remains. In the Bhagavad Gita we have Krishna, the Logos, saying: I establish this whole world with a single portion of myself, and remain separate.
Man in respect of his external comprehensible or finite body standeth only in a fitting figurative shadow or resemblance; and with his spiritual body he is the true essential Word of the divine property, in which God speaketh and begetteth His Word (Jacob Bohme, Epistles. VI, 41).
(Page 93 ) So far as the individual man is concerned, his higher spiritual nature has often been referred to as the divine spark. It is what Browning calls the inmost centre in us all where truth abides in fullness. But, wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in.
In the New Testament, as we have already seen, it is the Christ in you, which must be brought to birth. Man does not originate or grow that divine spark out of his physical nature in any sense whatsoever, biological or otherwise. On the contrary, it is that divine spark which grows him. It comes more and more into evidence as his evolution proceeds, and his physical organism is adapted to manifest it. The spark at present burns dim in the great majority of the Race; and indeed, quite possibly, it may be quenched altogether in the individual. Then for that individual consciousness there is no salvation, no possibility of reuniting with his higher Self. The man has a name that he lives, but is already spiritually dead, and for that personality, the lower self- which is merely a string of memories there is nothing left but to fade out, even as a dream does. The spark has already been withdrawn, and (Page 94 ) there is no path by which the personal consciousness can follow.
This is quite clearly stated by Jesus in the Parable of the Vine.
If a man abide not in me [the Christos], he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned (John XV, 6)
This is certainly the fate of millions of the Race so far as the personality is concerned. As regards the divine spark, that of course is immortal. It is not born when it incarnates, neither does it die when the body or the person dies. It must seek another embodiment. I need hardly add that the fire referred to in the text has nothing to do with the orthodox hell fire; though we cannot but believe that for the wicked man the process of annihilation of the personality after death is a long and desperate one. It is the second death referred to in Revelation.
But dimly as the spark burns in the great majority of the Race at the present stage of evolution, yet we have innumerable historical examples in which we see that it has been fanned into such a flame of divine Love that (Page 95 ) we cannot but regard these individuals as the highest and noblest of the Race. Moreover we are compelled to recognise that this quality of Life which we term Love must be in a transcendental degree the very essence and substance of the ONE LIFE in the fullness of its ineffable nature.
Pure and measureless love awakens joy within us; but love is a fathomless and soundless abyss; abyss calls to abyss it is the Abyss of God calling the men of God. And this supreme invocation, this call out of the depths of the Abyss, which bids us come, appears to us as a shining dawn of essential light. It encompasses us and draws us, and we pass into the darkness, into the infinite darkness of God (Ruysbroeck).
But though we cannot regard the Logos, the Christos, the Divine Man as having in any sense fallen, there is another aspect of the matter which is presented to us more specifically in the New Testament. It is the allegory of the Crucifixion. The Cross the most ancient symbol in the world signifies matter, the material universe. The Cosmic Process, the descent of Spirit into Matter, is the crucifixion of the Divine Man in so far as that all the life and consciousness of every (Page 96 ) individual being we might say of every individual atom is part of his consciousness. It is all his body. It is all one Vine, even as the branches are part of the Vine so long as they are not withered and cast off. Yet even then there is a utility for the withered branches in Nature or the Cosmic Process. And herein lies the transcendental mystery of the sufferings of the Christ on the Cross for the sins of the world. The sufferings of fallen man, the sufferings of the world, humanitys great pain, are the sufferings of the Divine Man.
We know that as the spark of divine Love becomes more and more in evidence in the individual, he feels more and more acutely the sufferings of his fellow creatures. This is because he becomes more and more identified with his own divine principle, the Christos, and suffers as represented in the Gospels and the allegory of the Crucifixion for the sins of the world. For verily the Divine Man is crucified in each one of us and in the whole Race. It is a present suffering, not a past historical event.
It is in each one of us also that Christ must rise again from the dead. The Fall, the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the (Page 97) Resurrection, are for the popular but ignorant Christianity of the Churches definite historical events; but for the mystic and the initiate they are perpetual cosmic and personal processes.
To what extent the personal Jesus of Nazareth accomplished these processes in his particular personality may best be left for each individual to decide for himself. At all events the historical Jesus as presented to us in the Gospels is almost universally recognised as the highest type of spiritual, or anointed, i.e. Regenerated man, fully conscious of his divine nature and sonship.
As for the allegory of the resurrection, we see from this that it has no reference whatever to a physical resurrection from an earthy tomb. It is the final victory of the individual over the deadness of his nature to spiritual realities. It is applicable either to the individual or to the Race as a whole. Thus we have the ringing cry of St. Paul: Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee (Eph.V,14).
The whole context of this verse shows that this applies to the living, not to the dead in their graves. It is the meaning which attaches to death all through the New (Page 98 ) Testament, though it is so often made to appear as if it referred to physical death. And who so fearful of physical death as the orthodox Christian? It is this materialised Christianity more than anything else that has put the fear of death into the minds of so many millions and then taught that they could be saved by priestly intervention or profession of faith in man-made doctrines.
The fear of death does not manifest itself or develop in the great religions until the latter begin to be corrupted for the benefit of priests and kings. The intuition and intelligence of mankind have never again reached the height which they attained when they conceived the ideal of divinity of which we find the most authentic traces in the Vedic traditions. One might say that, in those days man disclosed, at the topmost height of his stature, and thus established, once for all, that conception of the divine which he subsequently forgot and frequently degraded; but despite oblivion and ephemeral perversion, its light was never lost ( Maurice Maeterlinck, The Great Secret, page 135).
This is but a brief outline of the great history of Man in his Cosmic as well as his individual aspects; mainly as presented in the Scripture of the West.
(Page 99) So-called Christianity has arrogated to itself a superiority over all preceding teachings, and has claimed for itself a revelation in the person of Jesus of Nazareth of facts as to Mans spiritual condition and nature which were previously unknown.
This claim cannot be sustained in the light of our modern knowledge of ancient teachings and ancient Scriptures. The real fact is that every one of its teachings is derived from earlier sources, and the allegories and myths which appear in the Jewish Scriptures and in the New Testament were current ages before these were written. But these teachings have to be repeated over and over again, now in one form, now in another; for the fate of all such mystical teachings, of truths which can only be presented in the form of allegory or myth, is always and ever to be materialised and literalised. Such, indeed, has been the fate of the teachings represented once more by certain Initiates in the Christian Scriptures. Many writers have tried, and are trying today, to bring the inner spiritual meaning to the understanding of the more intelligent minds of the community; but the Church with its orthodoxy still stands in the way. It must, in fact stultify its whole history and (Page 100) teaching if it now abandons the literal interpretation of the Scriptures on which it has built its theology and claims. Still, in the end, the Truth must prevail.
So soon as we have recognised that the Christos is a universal cosmic principle the light which lighteth every man coming into the world quite distinct from any particular historical character in whom this principle may have been manifested in a supreme degree: it matters not whether we call it Christos, or Krishna, or Horus, or Osiris, or by the name of any other heathen god, the traditional events in whose life have been reproduced more or less closely in the Gospel narratives for example, virgin birth, crucifixion, resurrection, etc. ( Cf. Doanes Bible Myths.) Each and every religion may then find this principle as the true inner spiritual basis of its scriptures and traditions, subsequently materialised, literalised, and in general secularised for the benefit of a priestly castle.
We may conclude by examining very briefly some aspects of the ancient Gnosis teachings as to Mans individual nature and Cosmic relations and origin.
(Page 101) We have already shown by a few quotations from ancient sources how the very deepest spiritual truths have been apprehended and stated from the remotest times. In some cases they have been stated quite plainly; in others they have been embodied in allegory and myth. There is every evidence to show that there has always existed a real Gnosis concerning the deeper aspects of the universe and of Mans nature: a Gnosis which has always had its Initiates, Masters, Adepts, and Hierophants. It was they who framed the allegories and symbols, who wrote the Scriptures of the world, who built the Great Pyramid, and in other ways made manifest this Ancient Wisdom.
To suppose that all the pre-Christian nations were without any real spiritual knowledge or truth, or only had a dim light to guide them, is one of these conceits of Christianity which appears so detestable to the well informed today. It might perhaps have been excused some fifty or sixty years ago when practically nothing was known of (Page 102) Eastern religions and philosophy; it cannot be held today for one moment by anyone who has made any study at all of comparative religion and philosophy.
In the far back ages, millenniums before the Christian era how many we do not know the ancient Seers and Initiates had already arrived at the conception of One Eternal Immutable PRINCIPLE which IS the Universe in its wholeness. And they had already arrived at the conception that the individuality of the individual was a mere appearance; that in reality there was nothing separate from the ONE; and they had expressed this in the now well-known aphorism of the Upanishads,THAT ART THOU.
What that subtle Being is, of which this whole Universe is composed, that is the Real, that is the Soul, That art thou, O Svetaketa (Chandogya Upanishad, VI, 14, 3).
he who has seen, heard, comprehended and known the Self, by him is this entire
(Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad, II, 4, 5 ).
the flowing rivers in the ocean
Disappear, quitting name and form,
So the knower, being liberated from name and form,
Goes unto the heavenly Person, higher than the high.
Mundaka Upanishad, III, 2, 8.
(Page 103) The following extracts from Professor Max Mullers work, Theosophy or Psychological Religion, are a commentary on these quotations.
We must remember that the fundamental principle of the Vedenta-philosophy was not Thou are He, but Thou art That, and it was not Thou wilt be, but Thou art. This Thou art expresses something that is, that has been, and always will be, not something that has still to be achieved, or is to follow, for instance, after death . By true knowledge the individual soul does not become Brahman, but is Brahman, as soon as it knows what it really is, and always has been. (Page 284).
This is the gist of what I call Psychological Religion, or Theosophy, the highest summit of thought which the human mind has reached, which has found different expressions in different religions and philosophies, but nowhere such a clear and powerful realisation as in the ancient Upanishads of India. (Page 105)
So also the old Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzue:
He who knows what God is, and who knows what Man is, has attained. Knowing what God is, he knows that he himself proceeded therefrom.
(Page 104) Today the Western world is attaining to a knowledge of this deeper Gnosis from many different directions: through archaeological discoveries, through scholarly researches, through the revival of Theosophy in the Theosophical Movement initiated in 1875 by Mme. H.P. Blavatsky, and through the writings of our modern mystics, seers, and transcendentalists.
The following quotation from The Great Secret, by M. Maeterlinck, may be given as representative of the views of many writers and thinkers today. It is worth quoting in view of what we have already put forward as regards biological evolution, and the present subject of the ancient Gnosis.
When this world had emerged from darkness, says the Bhagavata Purana, which according to the Hindus is contemporary with the Veda, the subtle elementary principle produced the vegetable seed which first of all gave life to the plants. From the plants life passed into the fantastic creatures which were born of the slime in the waters; then, through a series of different shapes and animals, it came to man. They passed in succession by way of the plants, the worms, the insects, the serpents, the tortoises, cattle and the wild animals such is the lower stage, says Manu again, who adds: Creatures acquired the qualities of those that preceded them, (Page 105 ) so that the farther down its position in the series, the greater its qualities.
Have we not here the whole of the Darwinian evolution confirmed by geology and foreseen at least six thousand years ago? One might give an infinite number of these disquieting examples. Whence did our prehistoric ancestors, in their supposed terrible state of ignorance and abandonment, derive those extraordinary intuitions, that knowledge and assurance which we ourselves are scarcely reconquering? And if their ideas were correct upon certain points which we are able by chance to verify, have we not reason to ask ourselves whether they may not have seen matters more correctly and further ahead than we did in respect of many other problems, as to which they are equally definite in their assertions but which have hitherto been beyond our verification? One thing is certain, that to reach the stage at which they then stood they must have had behind them a treasury of traditions, observations, and experiences in a world, of wisdom of which we find it difficult to form any conception; but in which, while waiting for something better, we ought to place rather more confidence than we have done, and by which we might well benefit, assuaging our fears and learning to understand and reassure ourselves in respect of our future beyond the tomb, and guiding our lives. (p.43)
Thus Christianity in its traditional-form has not merely nothing new to tell us, but is a sad (Page 106 ) materialisation and limitation of the ancient Gnosis of which it should have been a restatement. Even the Christian mystics are only repeating the experiences of the mystics and seers of all time. How could it be otherwise? Their experiences, where valid, and not mere self-induced visions, must necessarily correspond, and they one and all testify to the one fundamental fact, the oneness of the individual and the Universal.
Let us examine a few rather more modern statements,
I not with Gods Godhead essentially one?
How else is He my Father? how else am I His Son.
from the Fire! Drop from the Sea!
O man, what art thou then Unless to thine Eternal Source Thou dost return again?
When the will is so united that it becometh a One in oneness, then doth the Heavenly Father produce his only-begotten Son in Himself and in me. Wherefore in Himself and in me? I am one with Him He cannot exclude me. In the selfsame operation doth the Holy Ghost receive his existence, and proceeds from me as from God. Wherefore? (Page 107) I am in God, and if the Holy Ghost deriveth not his being from me, He deriveth it not from God. I am in nowise excluded.
God in himself was not God in the creature only hath He become God. I ask to be rid of God that is, that God, by his grace, would bring me into the Essence that Essence which is above God and above distinction. I would enter into that eternal Unity which as mine before all time, when I was what I would, and would what I was:- into a state above all addition or diminution; - into the Immobility whereby all is moved (Meister Eckhart).
St. John says: All things were made by Him, that means one life in Him. That which man was in himself when created, that he was eternally in God. As long as a man does not attain to the purity with which he came forth, when first created out of nothing, he will never truly come to God. (John Tauler)
All whatsoever it is that liveth and moveth is in God, and God himself is all, and whatsoever is formed or framed, is formed out of Him, be it either out of love or out of wrath (Jacob Bohme)
God giveth power to every day life, be it good or bad, unto each thing, according to its desire, for He Himself is All; and yet He is not called God according to every being, but according to the light wherewith He dwelleth in Himself, and shineth with His power through all His beings. He giveth in His power to all His beings and works, and each (Page 108 ) thing receiveth His power according to its property; one taketh darkness, the other light; each hunger desireth its property, and yet the whole essence or being is all Gods, be it evil or good, for from Him and through Him are all things; what is not His love, that is His anger. (Jacob Bohme).
Men possess virtues and the Divine likeness in differing measure; in greater or lesser degree have they found their essence in the depths of themselves, according to their dignity. But God fulfils all; and each, clearer or fainter, according to the measure, of his love, possesses the sense of Gods presence in the depths of his own being. (Ruysbroeck).
(Page 109) Our conclusion, then, is simply this: The Religion of the Future will be no new thing; it will be a clear understanding and appreciation of what has been taught by Mystics, Seers, and Initiates in all ages of which we have any literary records and probably ages before that. Its fundamental principle has never been better realised or stated than in the ancient Upanishads: more particularly in that single aphorism, THAT ART THOU.
At every point of his nature and existence whether as a physical being, or in the powers of his mind, or, deeper still, in the innermost root and source of his life and consciousness the individual touches the universal, and derives all his substance and his powers therefrom. The more he de-individualises himself, the more will his consciousness expand towards the universal. Hence it is precisely his present sense of separateness which is the great illusion, the great heresy, the great Fall: and so the cause of all that we call Evil. Man has not merely separated himself in consciousness from God, but even from any sense of unity with his fellow man let (Page 110) alone the lower orders of creation with whom he is physically akin. It is nothing but this individualism and self-seeking which is the cause of all the bitter strife and conflict in the world; from that of one religion with another to the sordid struggle for existence in our so-called civilized communities.
Religion in its proper understanding is the return of Man to consciousness of his divine or spiritual nature and powers.
As in Adam all die (to the consciousness of their spiritual nature) even so in Christ (the divine spark within) shall all be made alive again (to that consciousness).
Thus Religion is a quality of life ,not a mere belief or profession of faith. Religion in its exoteric or doctrinal form must first of all bring this fundamental principle to the intellectual apprehension of mankind in general. Instead of setting one religion against another, and endeavouring simply to proselytise, it must endeavour to find the points of contact and similarity. Individual religion merely ministers to and aggravates the evils of separateness of which we have no better example than in the history of ecclesiastical Christianity.
(Page 111) How far the religion of the future can be institutional and yet avoid the fearful evils which have so far attached to institutional religions, is a problem which can only be worked out gradually; but it is the clearest of the clear that there can be no possible intermediary between the individual and his own inner divine Self. Each individual must work out his own salvation in his own inner experience. No one can possibly do that for him. The deep quality of faith in his own inner nature and powers will supply the right motive and the right will to press forward to an ever-increasing realisation. The life of the spirit that is lived that is the only true religion, let the individual profess what doctrines he may. But the life is above all doctrines.
We apprehend, therefore, that so far as religion in the future may be institutional it will have no resemblance to the present methods and claims of any priestly hierarchy. It may be instructional yes; but the instructors will be those who know, not an ignorant priesthood who may even be weak-minded and depraved in habits, (See Catholicism, by the Rev. M.C. DArcy, S.J., p.31) and yet not merely supposed to be capable of instructing the people but also of administering a sacred office.
(Page 112) There will be no places of worship; for these belong to the primitive ideas of Deity, the anthropomorphic conception of a personal God who requires acknowledgement of his sovereign power; who requires adoration, subserviency, honour, ritual, court, etiquette, and what not, exactly as earthly Potentates used to do only more so. In actual practice the honours appear to have gone rather to the Hierarchy than to the Deity.
What will the individual, what will the Race become, when the earth shall be full of (this) knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea? (Isaiah XI, 9).
Such a man, as Adam was before his Eve (before he fell into generation) shall arise and again enter into, and eternally possess Paradise. (Jacob Bohme, Mysterium Magnum, XVIII, 3)
That is the necessary and inevitable end of Mans great Pilgrimage. The return is as certain as the Fall; but the why and wherefore of the Pilgrimage we have yet to learn.
The Most High Seer that is in highest heaven,
He knows it or perchance even he knows not.
But the great and practical point now is, (Page 113) that the individual need not wait for the slow progress of the Race. There are today, as of old, Initiates, Adepts, Masters of the Divine Science of the Soul, waiting to take the individual in hand as soon as he is ready to take the next forward step. And so surely as the individual seeks to do this, so surely shall he find; and it is only those who do seek who find exactly what they seek and in the form in which they seek it. The mind moulds its own forms. Seek therefore only that which is formless.
The supreme Truth is formless or rather it is embodied in all forms. But this can only be apprehended as the individual frees himself from form.
Even so must the religion of the future be free from forms and formulas, and yet make use of these for precisely what they can serve towards an appreciation of the one central Truth.
When we have apprehended that Central Truth we are above the innumerable forms of religion in which the Race at various times has endeavoured to grope after this truth, and at other times has perverted it. Then we can speak to the Christian as a Christian, and to the Buddhist as a Buddhist, and to (Page 114 ) each every one in his own language, and in the measure of his capacity to understand.
What the great Neoplatonist and Hermetic philosopher, Jamblichus, wrote, about the year A.D. 300, will serve to show once more that there were in those times those who knew; nor can we suppose that this knowledge has ever been lost to the world. It was only lost through the dark ages of the dominance of the Christian Hierarchy. With this Hierarchy the Gnosis became a heresy, and the seekers after the deeper knowledge were burnt at the stake, whilst the masses became sunk in ignorant superstitions. But there always remained a Hierarchy of Initiates, withdrawn from the world, who, as Philo tells us:
Such men, though few in number, keep alive the covered spark of Wisdom secretly, throughout the cities (of the world), in order that virtue may not be absolutely quenched and vanish from our human kind.
Here then is what Jamblichus tells us:
But there is another principle of the soul, which is superior to all nature and generation, and through which we are capable of being united to the Gods, of transcending the mundane order, and of participating eternal life, and the energy of the super-celestial Gods. Through this principle, therefore, (Page 115) we are able to liberate ourselves from fate. For when the more exalted parts of us energize, and the soul is elevated to natures better than itself, then it is entirely separated from things which detain it in generation, departs from subordinate natures, exchanges the present for another life, and gives itself to another order of things, entirely abandoning the former order with which it was connected.
Also Plotinus :
This, therefore, is the life of the Gods, and of divine and happy men, a liberation from all terrene concerns, a life unaccompanied with human pleasures and a flight of the alone to the alone. (Enn.VI, 9,11).
Is this in any way different from the Gospel of St. Paul?
But we all, with unveiled face (or rather mind) reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord (the Spirit), are transformed into the same image from glory to glory (2 Cor.III, 18).
And from a priceless little modern mystical treatise, Light on the Path:
Seek the way by making the profound obeisance of the soul to the dim star that burns within. Steadily, as you watch and worship, its light will grow stronger. Then you may know that you have found the beginning of the way. And when you have found the end its light will suddenly become the infinite light.
(Page 116 ) When all men, all the Race of Mankind every individual now struggling on the upward path, the return journey, through incarnation after incarnation shall thus have realised, individually and collectively, their divine spiritual nature: then, and then only, shall be fulfilled the prophecy of the second coming:
The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ: and he shall reign unto the ages of the ages (Rev. XI , 15).
But in the meanwhile the second coming is also an individual achievement. It is achieved in each individual who has reached the end of his great pilgrimage, and for whom the divine spark, the Christ in you, has become the infinite light.
And the teaching is the same whether we take it in terms of Buddhism or of the Christian Scriptures. (I cannot say Christianity, because Ecclesiastical Christianity does not teach this, nor does it recognise that the fundamental truths of Buddhism are the same as those of the Christian Scriptures.)
The goal, the consummation is the same whether we speak of the individual as having achieved Nirvana, or as having been made alive again in Christ
(Page 117 )
As one who stands on yonder snowy horn
Having nought oer him but the boundless blue,
So, these sins being slain, the man is come
Nirvanas verge unto.
Him the Gods envy from their lower seats;
Him the Three Worlds in ruin should not shake;
All life is lived for him, all deaths are dead;
Karma will no more make New Houses.
Seeking nothing, he gains all;
Foregoing self, the Universe grows I.
Light of Asia.
Or, again, in the words of the Christian Scriptures:
He that overcometh, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out thence (into incarnation) no more. (Rev.III. 12).
temple is Man himself Cosmic Man, eternal in the heavens. Know ye not
that ye are the temple of God.
(I Cor. III. 16).
This fundamental fact of the divine nature of Man as the Christos is what I apprehend must be taught as The Religion of the Future.
Through the long, long evolutionary Cosmic Process the divine spark or Monad passes through the lower kingdoms of Nature until (Page 118) it reaches the animal and the human, where it begins to appear as a self-conscious activity.
Through the long, long evolutionary history of the Race the self-conscious individual gradually, and by many a bitter experience, learns to transcend his animal nature: in the first place by the cultivation of intellect or the higher power of Mind, but ultimately by bringing to birth the powers of Spirit. Hence arise, from feeble beginnings the innumerable forms of religion.
But let it not be thought that any mere conformity to a particular religion, or belief in any specific doctrines, is the end of the struggle, the attainment of the goal. Much less can it be thought that it is a mere question of being saved in the sense of going to heaven for ever and ever. The individual who has really attained, who has become Christos, who has reached the goal of the present evolutionary cycle of Humanity, possesses a Cosmic Consciousness and Cosmic Powers the very possibility of which would be commonly denied by the great majority. Nor would it be fitting that the world at large should realise the possibility of the possession of these powers by each individual; for until the quality of divine compassion has been (Page 119 ) correspondingly developed, they may be used for selfish ends with dire disaster both for the individual and the Race. Hence the possessors of these powers must remain unknown to the world in general, though not so to those whose qualifications entitle them to recognition and instruction by them.
The last enemy that shall be abolished is death.
The individual who has really attained has conquered this last enemy, both in the physical and in the spiritual sense.
In the spiritual sense we have already seen that death means deadness to our own inherent spiritual nature. In the physical sense its conquest means the end of the great cycle of physical births and deaths, or reincarnations or, as it is called in the Eastern Scriptured, sangsara, the continual round of births and deaths.
Karma will no more make new houses.
And so the individual who has attained takes a physical body or not of his own will and design for the helping of Humanity, out of his sensitiveness to humanitys great pain, and not because Karma forces (Page 120 ) him to do so. The Eastern Scriptures and the Western Scriptures teach fundamentally the same truths as to mans nature and destiny.
What else the man who has attained, who is Christos, is and does, cannot be set down here; nor can any but his fellow initiates know or even conceive of that divine glory which yet is everyones birthright.
He standeth now like a white pillar to the west, upon whose face the rising Sun of thought eternal poureth forth its first most glorious waves. His mind, like a becalmed and boundless ocean, spreadeth out in shoreless space. He holdeth life and death in his strong hand.
Yea, He is mighty. The living power made free in him, that power which is HIMSELF, can raise the tabernacle of illusion high above the gods, above great Brahm and Indra.
Hark! from the deep unfathomable vortex of that golden light in which the Victor bathes, ALL NATURES wordless voice in thousand tones ariseth to proclaim:
UNTO YE, O MEN.
A PILGRIM HATH RETURNED BACK FROM THE OTHER SHORE.
A NEW ARHAN IS BORN."
the Voice of the Silence by H.P.Blavatsky)
Even so may all who read this be born again into the golden light of the Divine Christos.
|Absolute, The||11, 12, 29, 70|
|Adam||84, 87, 112|
|Bergson, Henri, quoted||50|
|Bhagavad Gita, quoted,||74, 92|
|Blavatsky, H.P.B.||104, 45|
|Boehme, Jacob, quoted|
|Brahma, Days and Nights of,||88|
|Browning, Robert, quoted||93|
|Buddha, Gautama||12, 13|
|Christ Principle, Christos||14, 79, 84, 95, 117, 118, 120|
|Christ in You||14, 79, 84, 93, 116|
|Christ- The Cosmic||78, 80|
|Christianity,||VII, 8, 42, 98, 99, 105, 110|
|Christianity and Paganism||33, 43|
|Chuang Tzu, quoted||103|
|Church, The||5, 9, 97, 99|
|Church, The Anglican||VII, 9, 92|
|Church, Roman||VII, 21, 33, 40, 41, 62|
|Cross, The||38, 96|
|Crucifixion, The||16, 95, 96|
|Cyclic Process, The||87, 88|
|Crucifixion, The||16, 95, 96|
|Death,||14, 81, 97, 119|
|Death and Sleep||4, 15, 81|
|Death - the Second||94|
|Devil, The||26, 39, 41, 48|
|Earth, Age of the||58|
|Eckart, Meister, quote,||79, 106|
|Eddington, Professor, quoted||24, 27, 56|
|Eden, Garden of,||75, 86|
|Ether,||29, 30, 50, 68 , 76, 86, 92|
|Evolution||42, 82, 118|
|Fall of Man||3, 15, 38, 42, 86, 89, 96, 109|
|Genesis||4, 41, 62, 84, 86, 87|
|Gnosis||XI, 9, 100, 101, 105, 114|
|God||IX, 12, 21, 29, 42, 75, 76, 89, 92, 103|
|God- Personal||10, 11, 17, 19, 26, 31, 48, 83, 112|
|God- Theological||21, 30|
|Gods||IX, 17, 34, 87|
|Gospel and Gospels||13, 14, 38|
|Gospel- St. John's|
|Hell||14, 40, 94|
|Hermetic Script, quoted||31|
|Huxley, T.H., quoted||23|
|Initiates, Adepts, Masters, etc.,||99, 101, 102, 113|
|Jalalu'd-Din Rumi, quoted||65|
|Jeans, Sir. J.H.||47|
|Jesus||9, 12, 13, 23, 38, 42, 43, 77, 80, 94, 97, 99|
|Lao Tsze||13, 32|
|Life,The One||17, 71, 74, 80, 86, 95, 102|
|Life and Substance||70, 74|
|Life, Nature of...||66|
|Light of Asia, quoted||117|
|Light on the Path, quoted||115,|
|Logos, The||43, 49, 77, 87, 89, 91, 92, 95|
|Maeterlinck, M. quoted||98, 104|
|Man, Archetypal||56, 77, 80, 81, 86, 87|
|Man- Comisc Origin of||75, 76, 78, 106, 117|
|Man-Divine Nature of||117|
|Man- Evolution of||3, 8, 62, 71, 93|
|Man- Fall of,||3, 15, 38, 42, 86, 109|
|Man- Greatness of||49, 73|
|Manu, Ordinances of, - quoted||92|
|Matter||51 , 74|
|Max Muller, quoted||77, 103|
|Mind||23, 26, 29, 49, 50, 72, 118|
|Mystical experience||IX, 87, 97, 106|
|Natural Law||22, 30|
|Nature||21 , 25, 26, 72|
|New Testament, quoted||15, 80, 91, 94, 97, 110,115, 116, 117, 119|
|Newton, Sir Isaac, quoted||51|
|Omar Khayyam, quoted||35|
|Physics, The New||28, 69, 73|
|Psychology- of Religoin||6, 16|
|Reality||4, 11, 17, 18, 19, 22, 35, 50|
|Reality and Appearance||18|
|Reincarnaion||81, 82, 116|
|Relativity, Theory of:||45|
|Religion||1, 2, 4, 6, 17|
|Religion- definition of:||VIII, 4, 79, 110|
|Religion- History of||33|
|Religion- Institutional||5, 7, 8, 11, 36, 111|
|Religion- and Mentality||VIII|
|Religoin-of the Future||XI, 1, 40, 109, 111, 117|
|Religion- Psychology, of:||6, 16|
|Resurrection||13, 14, 96, 97|
|Rig Veda, quoted||88|
|Ruysbroeck, quoted||95, 108|
|St.John of the Cross||16|
|St.Paul||43, 78, 91, 97, 115|
|Salvation||81, 84, 93|
|Saviour and Saviours||38, 79, 80|
|Second Coming||39, 116|
|Self, the real||18, 31, 84|
|Self- the phenomenal||19, 84|
|Sleep and Death||4, 15, 81|
|Spencer, Herbert, quoted||90|
|Spirit||12, 29, 74, 81, 118|
|Stars, Distances of the||46|
|Substance||29, 30, 68, 70, 73, 74|
|Supernaturalis||8, 20 , 26, 28, 30|
|Superstition||2, 6, 20|
|Theologia Germanica, quoted||89|
|Theology||12, 13, 14, 37, 38, 41, 62, 100|
|Thomson, Sir. J.J., quoted||55|
|Universe, The||11, 12, 47|
|Upanishads, The||11, 12, 28, 102, 109|
|Voice of the Silence, quoted||120|
|Yoga Vasishtha, quoted||57|
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