|81||The Lady of Light||Gerald Massey (1828-1907)|
|82||Note on 'The Lady of Light”||(HPB)|
|83||The Signs of the Times||anon (HPB)|
|89||Self-Knowledge||(HP Blavatsky) (BDZ uncertain)|
|90||Comments on Light on the Path||Mabel Collins|
|96||Will & Desire||(HP Blavatsky)|
|97||A Law of Life: Karma (2)||Archibald Keightley|
|101||Quotations - Jasper Niemand||(Julia WL Keightley)|
|102||A Ghost's Revenge (2)||Tighe Hopkins|
|109||The Origin of Evil||H.P. Blavatsky|
|120||The Great Paradox||“Faust” (H.P.Blavatsky)|
|123||The Blossom & The Fruit: The True Story of a Magician (2)||Mabel Collins = Mrs Kenningale Cook|
|133||Desire Made Pure||H.P. Blavatsky|
|134||Thoughts on Theosophy||Anon|
|135||correspondence - Are the Teachings Ascribed to Jesus Contradictory?||Gerald Massey|
|138||To the author of Light on the Path||Interrogator|
|139||Reply to “Interrogator”||(Mabel Collins)|
|140||(In the interesting & lucid article on “Karma” in ...)||Interrogator|
|140||Reply to Interrogator||Ed.|
|141||review - The Kabbalah Unveiled tr by SL MacGregor Mathers||William Wynn Westcott (1848-1925)|
|145||review - An Adventure Among the Rosicrucians by a Student of Occultism (? F Hartmann)||anon (HPB)|
|149||review - Tabula Bembina Sive Mensa Isiaca - the Isiac Tablet of Cardinal Bembo by W Wynn Westcott||anon|
|151||review - Earth's Earliest Ages & their connection with Modern Spiritualism & Theosophy by CH Pember||BK (? Bertram Keightley)|
|154||review - Isaure & other poems by W Stewart Ross||anon|
|156||Theosophical & Mystic Publications - various||anon (H.P. Blavatsky)|
|158||correspondence - Astrological Notes (II)||Nemo|
|159||correspondence||Robert H Fryar|
|160||From the Note-Book of an Unpopular Philosopher||anon (H.P.Blavatsky)|
by Gerald Massey (1828-1907)
(Written for Lucifer)
STAR of the Day and the Night !
Star of the Dark that is dying;
Star of the Dawn that is nighing,
Lucifer, Lady of Light !
Still with the purest in white,
Still art thou Queen of the Seven;
Thou hast not fallen from Heaven
Lucifer, Lady of Light !
How large in thy lustre, how bright
The beauty of promise thou wearest !
The message of Morning thou bearest,
Lucifer, Lady of Light !
Aid us in putting to flight.
The Shadows that darken about us,
Illumine within, as without, us,
Lucifer, Lady of Light ! [Page 82]
Shine through the thick of our fight;
Open the eyes of the sleeping;
Dry up the tears of the weeping,
Lucifer, Lady of Light!
Purge with thy pureness our sight,
Thou light of the lost ones who love us,
Thou lamp of the Leader above us,
Lucifer, Lady of Light!
Shine with transfiguring might,
Till earth shall reflect back as human
Thy Likeness, Celestial Woman,
Lucifer, Lady of Light!
With the flame of thy radiance smite
The clouds that are veiling the vision
Of Woman's millennial mission,
Lucifer, Lady of Light!
Shine in the Depth and the Height,
And show us the treasuries olden
Of wisdom, the hidden, the golden,
Lucifer, Lady of Light!
The reader well
versed in symbology and theogony is, of course, aware that every god and
goddess of the ancient pantheons is androgynous in his or her genealogy.
Thus our Lucifer, the “Morning
Star”, being identical
with Venus, is, therefore, the same as the Chaldean Istar, or the Jewish Astoreth,
to whom the Hebrews offered cakes and buns, addressing her as the Lady of Light
and the Queen of Heaven. She is the “great star”, Wormwood, whom
the misanthropical St. John sees falling down to the earth in Revelation (Chapter
viii.), as her great rival is Aima, the fruitful mother, or the
third Sephiroth Binah (IHVH ALHIM, or the female Jah-hovah), the “woman with child”,
in Chapter xii. of the same. [Page
THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES
It is intensely interesting to follow season after season the rapid evolution
and change of public thought in the direction of the mystical. The educated
mind is most undeniably attempting to free itself from the heavy fetters of
materialism. The ugly caterpillar is writhing in the agonies of death, under
the powerful efforts of the psychic butterfly to escape from its science-built
prison, and every day brings some new glad tidings of one or more such mental
births to light.
As the New York Path truly remarks in its September issue [p. 186], when “Theosophical and kindred topics” are “made the texts for novels”, and, we may add, scientific essays and brochures, “the implication is that interest in them has become diffused through social ranks.” That kind of literature is “paradoxically proof that Occultism has passed beyond the region of careless amusement and entered that of serious inquiry.” The reader has but to throw a retrospective glance at the publications of the last few years to find that such topics as Mysticism, Magic, Sorcery, Spiritualism, Theosophy, Mesmerism, or, as it is now called, Hypnotism, all the various branches in short of the Occult side of nature, are becoming predominant in every kind of literature. They visibly increase in proportion to the efforts made to discredit the movements in the cause of truth, and strangle enquiry — whether on the field of theosophy or spiritualism — by trying to besmear their most prominent heralds, pioneers and defenders, with tar and feathers.
The key-note for mystic and theosophic literature was F. Marion Crawford’s “Mr. Isaacs”. It was followed by his “Zoroaster”. Then followed “The Romance of Two Worlds”, by Marie Corelli; R. Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”; “A Fallen Idol”, by F. Anstey; “King Solomon’s Mines” and the thrice famous “She” by Henry Rider Haggard; “Affinities” and “The Brother of the Shadow”, by Mrs. Campbell-Praed; Edmund Downey’s “House of Tears”, and many others less noticeable. And now there comes a fresh outburst in Florence Marryat’s “A Daughter of the Tropics”, and F. C. Philips’ “The Strange Adventures of Lucy Smith”. It is unnecessary to mention in detail the literature produced by avowed theosophists and occultists, some of whose works are very remarkable, while others are positively scientific, such as S. L. MacGregor Mathers’ “The Kabbalah Unveiled”, and Dr. F. Hartmann’s “Paracelsus”; Magic, White and Black, etc.. We have also to note the fact that theosophy has now crossed the Channel, and is making its way into French literature. “La France” publishes a strange [Page 84] romance by Ch. Chincholle, pregnant with theosophy, occultism and mesmerism, and called “La Grande Prêtresse,” while “La Revue politique et littéraire” (19 Feb., 1887, et seq.) contained over the signature of Th. Bentzon, a novel called “Émancipée,” wherein esoteric doctrines and adepts are mentioned in conjunction with the names of well-known theosophists. A sign of the times!
Literature — especially in countries free from government censorship — is the public heart and pulse. Besides the glaring fact that were there no demand, there would be no supply, current literature is produced only to please, and is therefore evidently the mirror which faithfully reflects the state of the public mind. True, Conservative editors, and their submissive correspondents and reporters, still go on slashing occasionally in print the fair faces of mystic spiritualism and theosophy, and some of them are still found, from time to time, indulging in a brutal personal attack. But they do no harm on the whole, except perhaps to their own editorial reputations, as such editors can never be suspected of an exuberance of culture and good taste after certain ungentlemanly personal attacks. They do good on the contrary. For, while the theosophists and spiritualists so attacked, may view the Billingsgate poured upon them in a true Socratean spirit, and console themselves with the knowledge that none of the epithets used can possibly apply to them, on the other hand, too much abuse and vilification generally ends by awakening the public sympathy for the victim, in the right-minded and the impartial, at any rate.
In England people seem to like fair play on the whole. It is not bashiboozook like actions, the doughty deeds of those who delight in mutilating the slain and the wounded, that can find sympathy for any great length of time with the public. If — as maintained by our lay enemies and repeated by some naïf and too sanguine missionary organs — Spiritualism and Theosophy are “dead as a door nail” ( sic, vide American Christian periodicals), — aye, “dead and buried”, why, in such case, good Christian fathers, not leave the dead at rest till “Judgment Day” ? And if they are not, then editors — the profane as well as the clerical — why should you still fear? Do not show yourselves such cowards if you have the truth on your side. Magna est veritas et prevalebit, and “murder will out”, as it always has, sooner or later. Open your columns to free and fearless discussion, and do as the theosophical periodicals have ever done, and as LUCIFER is now preparing to do. The “bright Son of the morning” fears no light. He courts it, and is prepared to publish any inimical contributions (couched, of course, in decent language), however much at variance with his theosophical views. He is determined to give a fair hearing in any and every case, to both contending parties and allow things and thoughts to be judged on their respective merits. For why, or what should one dread when fact and truth are one’s only aim? Du choc des opinions jaillit la vérité was said by a French philosopher. If Theosophy and [Page 85] Spiritualism are no better than “gigantic frauds and will-o’-the-wisps of the age” why such expensive crusades against both? And if they are not, why should Agnostics and searchers after truth in general, help bigoted and narrow-minded materialists, sectarians and dogmatists to hide our light under a bushel by mere brutal force and usurped authority? It is easy to surprise the good faith of the fair-minded. Still easier to discredit that, which by its intrinsic strangeness, is already unpopular and could hardly be credited in its palmiest days. “We welcome no supposition so eagerly as one which accords with and intensifies our own prejudices” says, in “Don Gesualdo”, a popular author. Therefore, facts become often cunningly concocted “frauds,” and self-evident, glaring lies are accepted as gospel truths at the first breeze of Don Basilio’s Calumnia, by those to whose hard-crusted preconceptions such slander is like heavenly dew.
But, beloved enemies, “the light of Lucifer” may, after all, dispel some of the surrounding darkness. The mighty roaring voice of denunciation, so welcome to those whose little spites and hates and mental stagnation in the grasp of the social respectability it panders to, may yet be silenced by the voice of truth — “the still small voice” — whose destiny it ever was to first preach in the desert. That cold and artificial light which still seems to shine so dazzlingly over the alleged iniquities of professional mediums and the supposed sins of commission and omission of non-professional experimentalists, of free and independent theosophists, may yet be extinguished at the height of all its glory. For it is not quite the perpetual lamp of the alchemist philosopher. Still less is it that “light which never shone on sea or land”, that ray of divine intuition, the spark which glimmers latent in the spiritual, never-erring perceptions of man and woman, and which is now awakening — for its time is at hand. A few years more, and the Aladdin’s lamp, which called forth the ministering genius thereof, who, making three salutes to the public, proceeded forthwith to devour mediums and theosophists, like a juggler who swallows swords at a village fair, will get out of order. Its light, over which the anti-theosophists are crowing victory to this day, shall get dim. And then, perhaps, it will be discovered that what was claimed as a direct ray from the source of eternal truth was no better than a penny rush-light, in whose deceitful smoke and soot people got hypnotized, and saw everything upside down. It will be found that the hideous monsters of fraud and imposture had no existence outside the murky and dizzied brains of the Aladdins on their journey of discovery. And that, finally, the good people who listened to them, had been all the time seeing sights and hearing things under unconscious and mutual suggestion.
This is a scientific explanation, and requires no black magicians or dugpas at work; for “suggestion” as now practised by the sorcerers of science is — dugpaship itself, pur sang. No Eastern “adept of the left hand” can do more mischief by his infernal art than a grave hypnotiser [Page 86] of the Faculty of Medicine, a disciple of Charcot, or of any other scientific light of the first magnitude. In Paris, as in St. Petersburg, crimes have been committed under “suggestion”. Divorces have occurred, and husbands have nearly killed their wives and their supposed correspondents, owing to tricks played on innocent and respectable women, who have thus had their fair name and all their future life blasted for ever. A son, under such influence, broke open the desk of an avaricious father, who caught him in the act, and nearly shot him in a fit of rage. One of the keys of Occultism is in the hands of science — cold, heartless, materialistic, and crassly ignorant of the other truly psychic side of the phenomenon: hence, powerless to draw a line of demarcation between the physiological and the purely spiritual effects of the disease inoculated, and unable to prevent future results and consequences of which it has no knowledge, and over which it has, therefore, no control.
We find in “Le Lotus” of September, 1887, the following:
A French paper, the Paris, for August 12th, contains a long and excellent article by G. Montorgueil, entitled, “The Accursed Sciences”, from which we extract the following passage, since we are, unfortunately, unable to quote the whole: —
“Some months ago, already, in I forget what case, the question of ‘suggestion’ was raised and taken account of by the judges. We shall certainly see people in the dock accused of occult malpractices. But how will the prosecution go to work? What arguments wilt it bring to bear? The crime by ‘suggestion’ is the ideal of a crime without proof. In such a case the gravest charges will never be more than presumptions, and fugitive presumptions. On what fragile scaffolding of suspicions will the charge rest? No examination, but a moral one, will be possible. We shall have to resign ourselves to hearing the Solicitor-general say to the accused: ’Accused, it appears from a perquisition made into your brain, etc.’
Ah, the poor jurymen! it is they who are to be pitied. Taking their task to heart, they already have the greatest difficulty in separating the true from the false, even in rough and ready cases, the facts of which are obvious, all the details of which are tangible and the responsibilities clear. And we are going to ask them on their soul and conscience to decide questions of black magic! Verily their reason will not hold out through the fortnight; it will give way before that and sink into thaumaturgy.
We move fast. The strange trials for sorcery will blossom anew; somnambules who were merely grotesque will appear in a tragic light; the coffee grounds, which so far only risked the police court, will hear their sentence at the assizes. The evil eye will figure among criminal offences. These last years of the XIXth century will have seen us step from progress to progress, till we reach at last this judicial enormity: a second Laubardemont prosecuting another Urbain Grandier.”
Serious, scientific, and political
papers are full of earnest discussions on the subject. A St. Petersburg “Daily” has
a long feuilleton on the “Bearing of Hypnotic
Suggestions upon Criminal Law”. “Cases
of Hypnotism with criminal motives have of late begun to increase in an ever
progressing ratio”, it tells its readers. And it is not the only newspaper,
nor is Russia the only country where the same tale is told. Careful investigations
and researches have been made by distinguished lawyers and medical authorities.
Data have been assiduously collected [Page
87] and have revealed that the curious
phenomenon — which
sceptics have hitherto derided, and young people have included among their
evening petits jeux innocents — is a new and terrible danger
to state and society.
Two facts have now become patent to law and science:
(I.) That, in the perceptions of the hypnotised subject, the visionary representations called forth by “suggestion”, become real existing actualities, and the subject being, for the moment, the automatic executor of the will of the hypnotiser; and —
(II.) That the great majority of persons experimented upon, is subject to hypnotic suggestion.
Authorship somewhat uncertain, but presumably
by H. P. Blavatsky
The first necessity for obtaining self-knowledge is to become profoundly conscious of ignorance; to feel with every fibre of the heart that one is ceaselessly self-deceived.
The second requisite is the still deeper conviction that such knowledge — such intuitive and certain knowledge — can be obtained by effort.
The third and most important is an indomitable determination to obtain and face that knowledge.
Self-knowledge of this kind is unattainable by what men usually call “self-analysis”. It is not reached by reasoning or any brain process; for it is the awakening to consciousness of the Divine nature of man.
To obtain this knowledge is a greater achievement than to command the elements or to know the future. [Page 90]
The first four rules of “Light on the Path” are, undoubtedly, curious though the statement may seem, the most important in the whole book, save one only. Why they are so important is that they contain the vital law, the very creative essence of the astral man. And it is only in the astral (or self-illuminated) consciousness that the rules which follow them have any living meaning. Once attain to the use of the astral senses and it becomes a matter of course that one commences to use them; and the later rules are but guidance in their use. When I speak like this I mean, naturally, that the first four rules are the ones which are of importance and interest to those who read them in print upon a page. When they are engraved on the man's heart and on his life, unmistakably then the other rules become not merely interesting, or extraordinary metaphysical statements, but actual facts in life which have to be grasped and experienced.
The four rules stand written in the great chamber of every actual lodge of a living Brotherhood. Whether the man is about to sell his soul to the devil, like Faust; whether he is to be worsted in the battle, like Hamlet; or whether he is to pass on within the precincts; in any case these words are for him. The man can choose between virtue and vice, but not until he is a man; a babe or a wild animal cannot so choose. Thus with the disciple, he must first become a disciple before he can even see the paths to choose between. This effort of creating himself as a disciple, the rebirth, he must do for himself without any teacher. Until the four rules are learned no teacher can be of any use to him; and that is why “the Masters” are referred to in the way they are. No real Masters, whether Adepts in power, in love, or in blackness, can affect a man till these four rules are passed.
Tears as I have said, may be called the moisture of life. The soul must have laid aside the emotions of humanity, must have secured a balance which cannot be shaken by misfortune, before its eyes can open the superhuman world.
The voice of the Masters is always in the world; but only those hear it whose ears are no longer receptive of the sounds which affect the personal life. Laughter no longer lightens the heart, anger may no longer enrage it, tender words bring it no balm. For that within, to which the ears are as an outer gateway, is an unshaken place of peace in itself which no person can disturb. [Page 91]
As the eyes are the windows of the soul, so are the ears its gateways or doors. Through them comes knowledge of the confusion of the world. The great ones who have conquered life, who have become more than disciples, stand at peace and undisturbed amid the vibration and kaleidoscopic movement of humanity. They hold within themselves a certain knowledge, as well as a perfect peace; and thus they are not roused or existed by the partial and erroneous fragments of information which brought to their ears by the changing voices of those around them. When I speak of knowledge, I mean intuitive knowledge. This certain information can never be obtained by hard work, or by experiment; for these methods are only applicable to matter, and matter is in itself a perfectly uncertain substance, continually affected by change. The most absolute and universal laws of natural and physical life, as understood by the scientist, will pass away when the life of this universe has passed away, and only its soul is left in the silence. What then will be the value of the knowledge of its laws acquired by industry and observation? I pray that no reader or critic will imagine that by what I have said I intend to depreciate or disparage acquired knowledge, or the work of scientists. On the contrary, I hold that scientific men are the pioneers of modern thought. The days of literature and of art, when poets and sculptors saw the divine light, and put it into their own great language — these days lie buried in the long past with the ante-Phidian sculptors and the pre-Homeric poets. The Mysteries no longer rule the world of thought and beauty; human life is the governing power, not that which lies beyond it. But the scientific workers are progressing, not so much by their own will as by sheer force of circumstances, towards the far line which divides things interpretable from things uninterpretable. Every fresh discovery drives them a step onward. Therefore do I very highly esteem the knowledge obtained by work and experiment.
But intuitive knowledge is an entirely different thing. It is not acquired in any way, but is, so to speak, a faculty of the soul; not the animal soul, that which becomes a ghost after death, when lust or liking or the memory of ill-deeds holds it to the neighbourhood of human beings, but the divine soul which animates all the external forms of the individualized being.
This is, of course, a faculty which indwells in that soul, which is inherent. The would-be disciple has to arouse himself to the consciousness of it by a fierce and resolute and indomitable effort of will. I use the word indomitable for a special reason. Only he who is untameable, who cannot be dominated, who knows he has to play the lord over men, over facts, over all things save his own divinity, can arouse this faculty. “With faith all things are possible”. The sceptical laugh at faith and pride themselves on its absence from their own minds. The truth is that faith is a great engine, an enormous power which, in fact can accomplish all [Page 92] things. For it is the covenant or engagement between man's divine part and his lesser self.
The use of this engine is quite necessary in order to obtain intuitive knowledge; for unless a man believes such knowledge exists within himself how can he claim and use it?
Without it he is more helpless than any driftwood or wreckage on the great tides of the ocean. They are cast hither and thither indeed; so may a man be by the chances of fortune. But such adventures are purely external and of very small account. A slave may be dragged through the streets in chains, and yet retain the quiet soul of a philosopher, as was well seen in the person of Epictetus. A man may have every worldly prize in his possession, and stand absolute master of his personal fate, to all appearance, and yet he knows no peace, no certainty, because he is shaken within himself by every tide of thought that he touches on. And these changing tides do not merely sweep the man bodily hither and thither like driftwood on the water; that would be nothing. They enter into the gateways of his soul, and wash over that soul, and make it blind and blank and void of all permanent intelligence, so that passing impressions affect it.
To make my meaning
plainer I will use an illustration. Take an author at his writing, a painter
at his canvas, a composer listening to the melodies that dawn upon his
glad imagination; let any one of these workers pass his daily hours by
a wide window looking on a busy street. The power of the animating life
blinds sight and hearing alike, and the great traffic of the city goes
by like nothing but a passing pageant. But a man whose mind is empty, whose
day is objectless, sitting at that same window, notes the passers-by and
remembers the faces that chance to please or interest him. So it is with
the mind in its relation to eternal truth. If it no longer transmits its
fluctuations, its partial knowledge, its unreliable information to the
soul, then in the inner place of peace already found when the first rule
has been learned — in that inner place there leaps into flame the
light of actual knowledge. Then the ears begin to hear. Very dimly,
very faintly at first. And, indeed, so faint and tender are these first
indications of the commencement of true actual life, that they are sometimes
pushed aside as mere fancies, mere imaginings.
But before these are capable of becoming more than mere imaginings, the abyss of nothingness has to be faced in another form. The utter silence which can only come by closing the ears to all transitory sounds comes as a more appealing horror than even the formless emptiness of space. Our only mental conception of blank space is, I think, when reduced to its barest element of thought, that of black darkness. This is a great physical terror to most persons, and when regarded as an eternal and unchangeable fact, must mean to the mind the idea of annihilation rather than anything else. But it is the obliteration of one sense only; [Page 93] and the sound of a voice may come and bring comfort even in the profoundest darkness. The disciple, having found his way into this blackness, which is the fearful abyss, must then so shut the gates of his soul that no comforter can enter there nor any enemy. And it is in making this second effort that the fact of pain and pleasure being but one sensation becomes recognizable by those who have before been unable to perceive it. For when the solitude of silence is reached the soul hungers so fiercely and passionately for some sensation on which to rest, that a painful one would be as keenly welcomed as a pleasant one. When this consciousness is reached the courageous man by seizing and retaining it, may destroy the “sensitiveness” at once. When the ear no longer discriminates between that which is pleasant or that which is painful, it will no longer be affected by the voices of others. And then it is safe and possible to open the doors of the soul.
“Sight” is the first effort, and the easiest, because it is accomplished partly by an intellectual effort. The intellect can conquer the heart, as is well known in ordinary life. Therefore, this preliminary step still lies within the dominion of matter. But the second step allows of no such assistance, nor of any material aid whatever. Of course, I mean by material aid the action of the brain, or emotion, or human soul. In compelling the ears to listen only to the eternal silence, the being we call man becomes something which is no longer man. A very superficial survey of the thousand and one influences which are brought to bear on us by others will show that this must be so. A disciple will fulfil all the duties of his manhood; but he will fulfil them according to his sense of right, and not according to that of any person or body of persons. This is a very evident result of following the creed of knowledge instead of any of the blind creeds.
To obtain the pure silence necessary for the disciple, the heart and emotions, the brain and its intellectualisms, have to be put aside. Both are but mechanisms, which will perish with the span of man's life. It is the essence beyond, that which is the motive power, and makes man live, that is now compelled to rouse itself and act. Now is the greatest hour of danger. In the first trial men go mad with fear; of this first trial Bulwer Lytton wrote. No novelist has followed to the second trial, though some of the poets have. Its subtlety and great danger lies in the fact that in the measure of a man's strength is the measure of his chance of passing beyond it or coping with it at all. If he has power enough to awaken that unaccustomed part of himself, the supreme essence, then has he power to lift the gates of gold, then is he the true alchemist, in possession of the elixir of life.
It is at this point of experience that the occultist becomes separated from all other men and enters on to a life which is his own; on to the path of individual accomplishment instead of mere obedience to the genii which rule our earth. This raising of himself into an individual [Page 94] power does in reality identify him with the nobler forces of life and make him one with them. For they stand beyond the powers of this earth and the laws of this universe. Here lies man's only hope of success in the great effort; to leap right away from his present standpoint to his next, and at once become an intrinsic part of the divine power as he has been an intrinsic part of the intellectual power, of the great nature to which he belongs. He stands always in advance of himself, if such a contradiction can be understood. It is the men who adhere to this position, who believe in their innate power of progress, and that of the whole race, who are the elders brothers, the pioneers. Each man has to accomplish the great leap for himself and without aid; yet it is something of a staff to lean on to know that others have gone on that road. It is possible that they have been lost in the abyss; no matter, they have had the courage to enter it. Why I say that it is possible they have been lost in the abyss is because of this fact, that one who has passed through is unrecognizable until the other and altogether new condition is attained by both. It is unnecessary to enter upon the subject of what that condition is at present. I only say this, that in the early state in which man is entering upon the silence, he loses knowledge of his friends, of his lovers, of all who have been near and dear to him; and also loses sight of his teachers and of those who have preceded him on his way. I explain this because scarce one passes through without bitter complaint. Could but the mind grasp beforehand that the silence must be complete, surely this complaint need not arise as a hindrance on the path. Your teacher, or your predecessor may hold your hand in his, and give you the utmost sympathy the human heart is capable of. But when the silence and the darkness comes, you lose all knowledge of him; you are alone and he cannot help you, not because his power is gone, but because you have invoked your great enemy.
By your great enemy, I mean yourself. If you have the power to face your own soul in the darkness and silence, you will have conquered the physical or animal self which dwells in sensation only.
This statement, I fear, will appear involved; but in reality it is quite simple. Man, when he has reached his fruition, and civilization is at its height, stands between two fires. Could he but claim his great inheritance, the encumbrance of the mere animal life would fall away from him without difficulty. But he does not do this, and so the races of men flower and then droop, and die and decay off the face of the earth, however splendid the bloom may have been. And it is left to the individual to make this great effort; to refuse to be terrified by his greater nature, to refuse to be drawn back by his lesser or more material self. Every individual who accomplishes this is a redeemer of the race. He may not blazon forth his deeds, he may dwell in secret and silence; but it is a fact that he forms a link between man and his divine part; between the known and the unknown; between the stir of the marketplace [Page 95] and the stillness of the snow-capped Himalayas. He has not to go about among men in order to form this link; in the astral he is that link, and this fact makes him a being of another order from the rest of mankind. Even so early on the road towards knowledge, when he has but taken the second step, he finds his footing more certain, and becomes conscious that he is a recognized part of the whole.
This is one of the contradictions in life which occur so constantly that they afford fuel to the fiction writer. The occultist finds them become much more marked as he endeavours to live the life he has chosen. As he retreats within himself and becomes self-dependent, he finds himself more definitely becoming part of a great tide of definite thought and feeling. When he has learned the first lesson, conquered the hunger of the heart, and refused to live on the love of others, he finds himself more capable of inspiring love. As he flings life away it comes to him in a new form and with a new meaning. The world has always been a place with many contradictions in it, to the man; when he becomes a disciple he finds life is describable as a series of paradoxes. This is a fact in Nature, and the reasons for it is intelligible enough. Man's soul “dwells like a star apart”, even that of the vilest among us; while his consciousness is under the law of vibratory and sensuous life. This alone is enough to cause those complications of character which are the material for the novelist; every man is a mystery, to friend and enemy alike, and to himself. His motives are often undiscoverable, and he cannot probe to them or know why he does this or that. The disciple's effort is that of awaking consciousness in this starry part of himself, where his power and divinity lie sleeping. As this consciousness becomes awakened, the contradictions in the man himself become more marked than ever; and so do the paradoxes which he lives through. For, of course man creates his own life; and “adventures are to the adventurous” is one of those wise proverbs which are drawn from actual fact, and cover the whole area of human experience.
Pressure on the divine part of man reacts upon the animal part. As the silent soul awakes it makes the ordinary life of the man more purposeful, more vital, more real and responsible. To keep to the two instances already mentioned, the Occultist who has withdrawn into his own citadel has found his strength; immediately he becomes aware of the demands of duty upon him. He does not obtain his strength by his own right, but because he is a part of the whole; and as soon as he is safe from the vibration of life and can stand unshaken, the outer world cries out to him to come and labour in it. So with the heart. When it no longer wishes to take, it is called upon to give abundantly.
“Light on the Path” has been called a book of paradoxes, and very justly; what else could it be, when it deals with the actual personal experience of the disciple?
To have acquired the astral senses of sight and hearing; or, in other [Page 96] words to have attained perception and opened the doors of the soul, are gigantic tasks, and may take the sacrifice of many successive incarnations. And yet, when the will has reached its strength, the whole miracle may be worked in a second of time. Then is the disciple the servant of Time no longer.
These two first steps are negative; that is to say they imply retreat from a present condition of things rather than advance towards another. The two next are active, implying the advance into another state of being. [The correspondence with references to these “Comments” will be found in the Correspondence columns.]
To be continued.
Will is the exclusive possession of man on this our plane of consciousness. It divides him from the brute in whom instinctive desire only is active.
DESIRE, in its widest application, is the one creative force in the Universe. In this sense it is indistinguishable from Will; but we men never know desire under this form while we remain only men. Therefore Will and Desire are here considered as opposed.
Thus Will is the offspring of the Divine, the God in man; Desire the motive power of the animal life.
Most of men live in and by desire, mistaking it for will. But he who would achieve must separate will from desire, and make his will the ruler; for desire is unstable and ever changing, while will is steady and constant.
Both will and desire are absolute creators, forming the man himself and his surroundings. But will creates intelligently — desire blindly and unconsciously. The man, therefore, makes himself in the image of his desires, unless he creates himself in the likeness of the Divine, through his will, the child of the light.
His task is twofold: to awaken the will, to strengthen it by use and conquest,
to make it absolute ruler within his body; and, parallel with this, to purify
Knowledge and will are the tools for the accomplishment of this purification. [Page 97]
IN illustration of the Mahatmic condition, it may be well to quote some extracts from “Five Years of Theosophy”, on pp. 215, et seq. “The principal object of the Yogi is to realise the oneness of existence, and the practice of morality is the most powerful means to that end. The principal obstacle to this realization is the inborn habit of man of always placing himself at the centre of the Universe. Whatever a man might act, think, or feel, the irrepressible personality is sure to be the central figure. This, as will appear on reflection, is that which prevents every individual from filling his proper sphere in existence, where he only is in place, and no other individual is. The realization of this harmony is the practical objective aspect of the ' Grand Problem.' .... It availeth nothing to intellectually grasp the notion of your being everything . . . . if it is not realized in daily life. To confuse ' meum and tuum ' in the vulgar sense is but to destroy the harmony of existence by a false assertion of ' I', and is as foolish as the attempt to nourish the legs at the expense of the arms. You cannot be one with Nature, unless all your acts, thoughts, and feelings, synchronize with the onward march of Nature. What is meant by a Brahmajnani being beyond the reach of Karma, can be realised only by a man who has found out his exact position in harmony with the one Life in Nature; that man can see how a Brahmajnani can act only in unison with Nature, and never in discord with it”.
“To use the phraseology of old occult writers, the Brahmajnani is a real co-worker with Nature. . . . Many have fallen into the error of supposing that a human being can escape the operation of the law of Karma by adopting a condition of masterly inactivity, entirely losing sight of the fact that even a rigid abstinence from physical acts does not produce inactivity on the higher astral and spiritual planes. . . . Such a supposition is nothing short of a delusion. . . . There is a tendency in every department of Nature for an act to repeat itself. The Karma acquired in the last preceding birth is always trying to forge fresh links in the chain, and thereby lead to continued material existence. This tendency can only be counteracted by unselfishly performing all the duties pertaining to the sphere in which a person is born. Such a course can alone produce purification of the mind, without which the capacity of perceiving spiritual truths can never be acquired”.
Such a moral standard as this may be considered as the main working factor in the existence of a Mahatma. He exists by, through, and in harmony, and, as Mahatma, is harmony itself. It is impossible to carry these speculations further, for beyond the fact that these considerations [Page 98] are in analogy with the great law of nature, ordinary human intelligence can gain nothing from them. The Mahatma is a Mahatma, and only those who have reached that supreme condition can describe it, and even then it is doubtful whether words would express it. The word Mahatma has been used with some hesitation, as it might possibly require an article of great length to give the least idea of what it means. But some idea of the true position of these exalted beings (known in India and Tibet by this name) may be gathered from the foregoing pages if any conception of the connection of humanity with the law of Karma, and also of liberated humanity with the law of harmony, can be obtained.
In the preceding pages especial reference has been made to the fact that the Mahatma, as such, has no Karma, but it is by no means intended to convey the idea that all who enter Occultism, and even those who have progressed a very long way on the Path of Life, are Mahatmas. Nay, more ! There are many of them who are very holy, and even exalted, beings, but who are still subject to the law of Karma, as applied to ordinary humanity. But they have acquired self-mastery to an extraordinary degree, and their whole attention is “fixed on the eternal”. Thus, so far as they are concerned, they generate no new Karma in the restricted sense, but only progress towards Universal Harmony.
To put it shortly, they exhaust their old Karma of past lives, and devote themselves to the production of Harmony.
It is important to bear this in mind when the attention is turned to the Karmic condition of ordinary humanity. For we are at once brought face to face with the old and much disputed question between free-will and predestination.
At this point, therefore, it will be necessary to enter, at some length, on this question, because it has been supposed that the idea of Karma is identical, or nearly so, with that of predestination. Consequently, it will be necessary to attempt a definition of what Free-will and Will are. Will, to the ordinary man, is known according to his experience as the power to do or not to do an action. So far, he is perfectly right, but, as usual, man limits the action of his will to the physical plane, and takes no account of even the mental plane. Even if he does not commit an action, he cannot help thinking about it, because he has desired to do it — even if he has repressed that desire. Nothing is more common than to hear anyone say, “ I can't help my likes and dislikes”, or, in other words, their attractions and repulsions, desires and the reverse. Consequently, until a man can control his desires, those desires control his will, and, consequently, predestination appears to rule the day. Thus we find that it is desire which impels man onward on his course, and governs that course to a very large extent, and this is the principle which is at its highest development in mankind as a rule. Now if it be granted that human personalitv — a transient thing — has been constituted by [Page 99] man's vanity as the centre of the Universe, it is plain that the combination of this principle of desire with the pronounced personality, will only serve to intensify this personality and bind man fast to it. Man thus constituted is a prisoner, and, more often than not, is so attached to his prison that he prefers to flutter his wings against the bars of his cage, instead of endeavouring to escape. But are there any means of escape — it may be asked ? Desire binds man fast to his personality, and intensifies one personality against another. Hence it is productive of strife and discord, and militates strongly against the law of universal harmony, or Karma, in this aspect. Thus desire and Karma would seem to be in complete opposition, and desire cannot be said to be a consequence of Karma. But really this is a confusion of terms, for all this only exists in the world of effects and not in that of causes. Desire is an effect of the accentuated personality, and in its turn produces that personality. This constitutes the prison, and the only means of escape from this prison of discord is the endeavour to produce harmony in its place. Thus, therefore, we have a definition of will as being not only that which represses a desire, but also an emanation of the one divine principle, and proceeding from the divine in man. In one sense, this will, this harmonizer of the discord, is identical with Karma. As a consequence, we can see that Karma produces punishment. That punishment arises from the fact that the assertion of both desire and will in any man makes him the battle-field of two opposing forces — the desire to do anything, and thus gratify the desire, and the will to repress it. Thus man must be a co-worker with nature and the law of harmony. He has to repress the Typhonic principle of desire and dissipate its energy. If he does not, it will bind him more firmly to his “personal centre”, accentuate his punishment, and hang like a millstone round his neck in the shape of Karmic effects, which generate fresh tendencies and desires.
The real function of will is to promote harmony between man and the great law by repressing desire. Liberation from the effects of Karma will come to the man who grasps his whole individuality firmly (not merely his personality), and, by the force of his awakened spiritual will, recognises this individuality as not himself, but as a thing to use in passing beyond the life of the individuality.
Thus the direction of will should be towards realizing one's aspirations, and so give man “a glimpse into the eternal”; the lower consciousness will mirror these aspirations, even unconsciously to itself, and then itself aspires and is elevated if all is in accord.
But this is not free-will in the ordinary sense of the term; and it does not seem possible that such should exist in view of the ideas of Karmic effects and of reincarnation. It is in these two that lie all the objections to free-will, because too short a view has been taken of human life. In the dim vistas of time, and the countless incarnations which have taken place in them, it will at once be seen that the individual [Page 100] being has generated innumerable causes, the effects of which are still to be experienced. Thus it is free-will that man has, but not in the ordinary sense; it is free-will limited by countless other free-wills around him — limited too and circumscribed by his own acts. Man makes himself a prisoner, and believes himself free. He is right in his belief in a measure, for in virtue of the will he is free — to aspire and soar into the sublime heights of his own higher nature. He is a prisoner and predestined when he confines himself to his personality. Karma is at once his gaoler and his liberator, and the decision lies in the intensity of his aspirations, and is therefore in his own hands. Thus from the personal view predestination is true, but not from that of the spirit, which is free. From the latter view, and to a reasoning mind, the Calvinistic doctrine sounds little short of blasphemy. It is most certainly a contradiction in terms to speak of God as an all-wise, all-powerful and entirely just God, and then to speak of predestination as one of his laws, a law which, in face of the above qualities, and with that of mercy in addition, dooms countless millions to an eternity of pain and suffering as punishment, and that too before they are even born. When the apparent injustice of the lives of men is viewed and argued, it is because men forget what they have done in previous lives, in which they have violated the law in a very material direction, which leads them into these positions and from which they have to escape.
Thus the aspirations of man constitute that which sets man free, and which therefore represent his free-will. It is then well to endeavour to trace these aspirations in man with regard to Karma. The second section of the third part of “Light on the Path”, speaks on this point with no uncertain voice. The Occultist must pluck and eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and step on either the good or the evil path. And to do this knowingly produces great Karmic results. The mass of men walk waveringly, uncertain as to their goal, their standard of life is indefinite; the Occultist cannot be half-hearted, nor can he return when he has passed the threshold. “The individuality has approached the state of responsibility by reason of growth; it cannot recede from it”. The one means of escape from Karma is for the Occultist to live in the Eternal. But below this — the threshold — many men aspire. On this point, we may quote, “Five Years of Theosophy”, p. 226.
“The unintelligent aspiration towards goodness propagates itself and leads to good lives in the future; the intelligent aspiration propagates itself in the same way, plus the propagation of intelligence; and this distinction shows the gulf of difference which may exist between the growth of a human soul, which merely drifts along the stream of time, and that of one which is consciously steered by an intelligent purpose throughout. The human Ego, which acquires the habit of seeking for knowledge, becomes invested, life after life, with the [Page 101] qualifications which ensure the success of such a search, until the final success, achieved at some critical period of its existence, carries it right up into the company of those perfected Egos, which are the fully developed flowers only expected from a few of the thousand seeds”.
“Now it is clear that a slight impulse in a given direction, even on the physical plane, does not produce the same effect as a stronger one; so exactly in this matter of engendering habits which are required to persist in their operation through a succession of lives it is quite obvious that the strong impulse of a very ardent aspiration towards knowledge will be more likely than a weaker one to triumph over the so-called accidents of nature”.
These considerations bring us to the question of those habits of life which are more immediately associated with the pursuit of occult science. It will be quite plain that the generation within his own nature of affinities in the direction of spiritual progress is a matter which has very little to do with the outer circumstances of a man's daily life. It cannot be dissociated from what may be called the outer circumstances of his moral life, for an occult student, whose moral nature is consciously ignoble, and who combines the pursuit of knowledge with the practice of wrong, becomes by that condition of things a student of sorcery rather than of true Occultism.
Thus so far traced Karma in one of its aspects is, “the ethical law of causation”. This law descends in its action below the moral plane, and is observed as the law of compensation on the physical plane. Thus the physical, intellectual and emotional planes, are all affected by Karma. The key to the situation is the mind; and, as we have seen, the liberation of the mind must be the most difficult task. If the powers of the mind are concentrated on the attainment of the highest ideal, Karma has no basis in which to inhere and consequently the tendency to commit actions from lower motives is annihilated. Even repentance, from this point of view, is a mistake, as it necessarily draws the mind back to the actions and motives repented of. Consequently by the exertion of free will, in the aspiration to realize the ideal, man becomes his own Saviour; and the true way to do this is to look neither for reward nor punishment; to detach the mind from all considerations below that of the spiritual life, and to live only in the Eternal.
“The great watch-word of the True is this : — in last analysis
all things are divine”. —
(Jasper Niemand in the “Path”) [Julia W L Keightley] [Page 102]
GASTON paused at the entrance to the chamber, and even detected himself in taking an involuntary step backwards, for the singular illusion was heightened by the circumstance that many of the figures which were suspended perpendicularly from the walls, and had fallen a little forward, looked as though they were trying to let themselves down. But the monk, nothing concerned, went stolidly on down the long narrow chamber, which had other chambers, or corridors, leading out of it in several directions. To speak more correctly, there was a series of vaults, branching several ways, some of which were shut off from the rest by open-work screens or gates of wool.
The walls on either side were piled high with coffins, the greater number of which had one of their sides of glass, exposing to view the hideous shrouded tenants. By whatever art it had been sought to preserve these bodies from decay, Nature had declared in every instance that it should not be, and no ghastlier assemblage of mummified and mouldering corpses could have mocked the grief of the relatives who should have given their dead to the grave. On the blackened and distorted faces of some, it was not difficult to read a look of supplication which the parted and fleshless lips seemed striving to translate in this way: “Take us away from this dreadful place and hide us in the decent earth”.
“They lay there, all of them, in their coffins, in wrappings of linen, silk, and velvet; men, and women, and children, and little infants; priests, nobles, merchants — a world of dead ones; hundreds and thousands of them.
Upon the faces of some, decay seemed working with a kind of fantastic cruelty: punching a hole in the cheek or forehead; pushing one eye from its socket, and leaving the other; stripping the skin from one side of the face, and leaving it like a bit of wrinkled parchment on the other.
Some were made to laugh from ear
to ear; some had the corners of the mouth drawn down and the features twisted,
as though pain haunted them in death; others looked defiant, derisive, amazed,
indignant. The majesty of death had fled from all of them, mockery and shame
had come to take its place. The worms were being avenged on these who should
have gone to feed them. Silent and rotting, they had no part in either world;
and shrinking continually within their coffins, they cried mutely on decay
to hasten his work, and give them the boon of nothingness. [Page
Above the line of coffins, on both sides of the chamber, hundreds of clothed and hooded creatures — skeletons in all except the face, which for the most part retained its covering of dried and tarnished skin — were suspended from the walls. Each had a ticket pinned to its dress, bearing the name and the date of death.
It was these figures on the walls which gave the chamber its most dreadful aspect. Some were suspended by the neck, like suicides left there for an example. Others in various gruesome fashions parodied the attitudes of life. There was a grotesque group composed of three figures which had tumbled together in such a manner that the two on either side appeared to whisper into the ears of the third. Some had the neck awry, the. head on one side, in a listening or questioning attitude; of others the head had sunk forward on the narrow breast. The jaw of some had dropped, and protruded a row of teeth, with a savage or jeering air.
Every variety of grimace and grin was shown on those appalling faces; and as Gaston passed down the chamber fingers poked at him from gaping sleeves; he was laughed at, mocked at, scowled at; and when he looked behind him, all these skeletons were laughing, mocking, and scowling at one another. Many of the faces were little else but grinning mouths, and to those whose mouths stood wide open his imagination gave voices, so that the vaults seemed filled with the cries and laughter of the dead.
The monk went steadily on in front of him, waving his candle to and fro; and as the smell was nauseate and oppressed the nostrils, he spat occasionally upon the floor.
His bit of candle burnt itself out before he had taken Gaston completely round, and he returned to fetch another, leaving Gaston in a corner of the vault where the light was a mere glimmer. Right opposite to him in this place was a massive coffin with rich chasings, whose grisly inmate was wrapped from head to foot in a mantle of black velvet. Every particle of flesh had melted from the face, the hair had fallen from the head, the eyeless sockets stared from the depths of the velvet hood. The skeleton was richly dight and finely housed; it was Death himself lying in state.
The monk came up with a fresh candle, and Gaston stooped down and peered into the coffin. Above the figure's head was affixed a miniature on ivory, which represented a young man in the first prime of life, of a refined and beautiful countenance. In the folds of the mantle a card had tumbled, and stooping lower, Gaston read on it the name of Udalrico Verga. There was a small round hole in the skull, just over the left temple.
“Ucciso, signor ! ” (Murdered !) said the monk, behind him.
The Italian word sounded softly in the lips of the monk; but there was the
tell-tale hole in the forehead. [Page
This then was the hero and the victim of that old tragedy; this was the end of him! But for his punctured skull, he might have changed places with any of the least repulsive of his skeleton companions. But his little bullet-hole marked him out from all of them. Curiously, the hood had slipped off from the left side of the skull, and as this was the side next to the spectator, the bullet-hole compelled attention to itself at once.
The story of the murder which the baron had told to Gaston, and with which his thoughts had many times been occupied in the Villa Torcello, came before him again; and looking at the stark remains, of the victim of that forgotten crime, he felt a sudden and irresistible longing to know its secret. If he could win it from the coffin there! But the grim rest within would be disturbed no more. And the young man pictured there beside the skeleton ? Murder had no meaning for him; he had not come to know it when he was pictured thus. The face impressed Gaston strangely. He looked at it long, till he began to fancy that behind its delicate beauty he saw the tokens of a latent sensuality. But it was a face of singular sweetness, and if any evil were there, it existed only in the colourless form of a suggestion.
And the priest, who had died a suspect? Was he here, and did death whisper anything against him ? No, the monk said; the priest was a native of Syracuse, and after his death his body had been carried there.
Gaston had seen enough; the chamber and its horrid tenants had given him a sense of physical sickness; and, above all, some curious malign influence seemed to issue from the coffin of Udalrico Verga, which was working its way into his brain.
The words of the Baron came into his mind: “They say the spirit haunts the place, seeking some one to avenge the murder”.
Placing a five-franc note in the hand of the monk, he left the chamber and the monastery at once; and entering the carriage, he was driven home.
By morning he had shaken off the morbid effects of his visit to the Capucins'; but his imagination had become the seat of a vague and indefinable oppression. This, at length, when analysed, resolved itself into a certain feeling of injury on account of Udalrico Verga. The wonderful amiableness, joined to an almost womanly beauty, of the face he had seen imaged in the coffin, had touched his sympathies; and now the memory of it began to lay hold on his affections. For what cause, and by whose hand, had the young Udalrico died so brutally?
The tale of the murder stuck in his mind; it possessed him; it would not be dislodged. And the tale, though begun a whole generation since, was still unfinished. It told that Verga had been murdered; but who had murdered him ?
This question uttered itself again and again; it grew importunate One evening in particular it became a kind of clamour in his ears; [Page 105] when, walking by moonlight in the garden of the villa, he was suddenly conscious that a presence other than his own was with him. Turning about, he beheld vividly, at a distance from him of twelve or fifteen paces, the figure of a young and elegant man. The view of this figure which his eyes took in, and the impression which it made upon his mind, were so distinct, that, but for a single circumstance, he would have suspected nothing abnormal in the appearance. The features were those of Udalrico Verga.
His reason still urging him to reject the testimony of his sight, Gaston advanced nearer to the figure. It remained motionless, outlined distinctly in the moonlight, on the path bordered by a row of pepper trees where the body of Verga had been found. Again Gaston went forward; he could now by stretching out his hand almost have touched the figure; his eyes looked straight into the eyes of the man whom he knew to have lain for thirty years in his coffin. While gazing fixedly and with fascination upon this creature from the grave, which, though he knew it to be bodiless, seemed full real to him, Gaston felt his senses being subdued; and, before he could exert will enough to repel an influence which flowed in upon him as it were waves of blinding light, he was rapt out of himself, and held for the space of a minute or so in what is best described as a magnetic sleep or trance. He remained upright and rigid; his brain a whirl of excitement, with an accompanying painful consciousness; the body of the emotion being a confused and very indefinite feeling of fear — whether for himself or for some other person, he did not know. This feeling becoming slightly more definite, he knew that the fear he felt was not for himself, but for another; yet who that other was, he could not tell. It was the same when a voice said plainly in his ear, that what had been begun must be finished; the voice was piercing in its clearness, and he knew that it was the voice of one dear to him; but whose, he could not divine.
This curious sleep lasted, as I have said, for about a minute; and when Gaston awoke he was standing precisely as he had been when seized in the trance. He looked for the apparition; it was not there. He moved to the path, placed himself on the very spot where, but a minute before, the form in the likeness of Udalrico Verga had stood. There was nothing. He looked round him; from this path he could see over the whole garden; it slept motionless in the moonlight, and his was the only figure in it. Gaston returned to the house in a condition of extreme nervous excitement.
In this condition, and almost before he had reached the room in which he usually sat, the story of the murder was flashed in upon his, mind; he read it as plainly as if it were traced in English characters on the wall before him. Fancying himself still under some abnormous influence, which when it passed away would carry the story with it, he at once sat down and committed an abstract of it to paper. [Page 106]
All that night, the story swam in his brain, and rising early next morning, he resolved — or rather was impelled — to commence writing it immediately. He did so, and in the full light of day the wraith of Udalrico Verga stood beside him, and he plainly saw it, during the whole time his pen was at work. But the vision had no longer any weakening or retarding effect upon his brain; rather its effects were quickening and coercive; and these effects increased, till it became a certainty to him that from the visible presence of the spirit of Verga he drew the main strength of his inspiration. The story grew under his pen to an elaborate romance, upon which, sustained throughout by an elation of mind that allowed little respose to the body, he was at work during many weeks.
In all this time, he never passed beyond the grounds of the villa, and when, by-and-bye, his face began to show marks of the mental and bodily stress to which his talk subjected him, the peasant people of the town, who saw him walking in the garden sometimes of an evening, used to say:
“There is the English signor who went to live in the Villa Torcello eleven weeks ago; he used to go out every day, but it is nine weeks since he passed the gate. He cannot get out any more. He has seen the ghost of the Signor Verga, and it keeps him there. He grows like a ghost himself.
But the story was finished at length, and Gaston sent the manuscript to his
publishers in London. The ghost of Verga, which had remained visibly before
him during the whole period of composition, vanished on the day the work was
ended, and was never seen by him again. He went out every day as he had done
formerly, and exercise brought back the colour to his face, and restored the
tone of his mind. At this time he thought no more about the story than that
it was a strange one, which has come to him in a strange manner, and that it
ought to bring him the fame in fiction which he coveted.
A letter from Sir Selwyn, in which he said that he was on the point of starting for home, determined Gaston to return thither at once, that he might have everything in readiness for his father’s coming.
On the evening before his departure, while sorting a bundle of papers, he came upon a portion of manuscript of his story which he remembered having set aside as needing to be re-cast. He took it up and began to read it.
The tragedy which formed the climax of the romance had this feature, that
the man who was murdered had (unconsciously, and by a singular operation of
fate) planned his own death in planning that of the friend whom he falsely
believed to have betrayed him in love. The chapter upon which Gaston had lighted,
was devoted to a minute analysis of the character of the man whom blind force
of circumstance had driven to an act of murder which his affection for its
victim had rendered abhorrent in the highest degree. [Page 107]
So remote from the ordinary had been the conditions under which the story was composed, and so small (it had seemed to Gaston) was the share of its inspiration which his own brain could claim, that now, within a few weeks of its composition, he read it almost as the work of another.
This exotic notion, that his own was not his own, deepened as he read further into the chapter, for something was there which disquieted him. Some shadowy unembodied likeness, and yet no likeness, but a faint whispering of resemblance; some voiceless hint that was but the failure of an echo. He turned back, and read again. It was not there, he had deceived himself. He shut the page, his mind at ease.
In a week from this time, he was home again, awaiting the coming of his father. Sir Selwyn landed in England a month later and Gaston, who received him at the vessel's side, was shocked at his appearance. Sir Selwyn's handsome face seemed not so much to have aged as to have withered; the body, too, was shrunken, and desiccated, as though the vital fluids were exhausted. The nervous irritation of manner which had characterised an earlier stage of the disease, had given way to a species of torpor, in which even speech seemed an effort. It was the mental and bodily paralysis of melancholia in its acutest form.
The journey home was a sad one. What little Sir Selwyn said, told the story of the renewal of his sufferings, which dated from the day that he had written to Gaston of his intention to return to England. “But I am persuaded”, he said in conclusion, “that it draws near the end”.
Strangely enough, however, as Gaston thought, and quite contrary to his expectations, the sight of his beautiful home revived Sir Selwyn's spirits. They dined together, and the baronet showed a brighter face over his wine. He sent for his bailiff, and spent an hour or more discussing the affairs of his estate. Afterwards, he walked with Gaston through the gardens and park, and began, for the first time, to talk of his travels. Then he questioned Gaston about his Italian tour, and said:
“What did you do with yourself all those weeks in Palermo ? You mentioned no writing; but I am sure your pen was not idle so long”.
“No”, said Gaston. “ I wrote a famous story there. I did not mean to tell you of it until it was published. It was to be a surprise, for this is 'the book that is to make me famous”.
“Come, that sounds well!” said Sir Selwyn. “But you are beginning to be famous already. What could have been better than the reviews of your last book which you sent me?”
“Oh, but this one will do twice as much for me !” laughed Gaston.
“I am glad you feel that. No one could be more delighted than I am to hear it. Have you dedicated it to me, Gaston ?”
“Otherwise, my dear father, it would be no book of mine”. [Page 108]
“Thank you, Gaston. You know how dear your fame is to me”.
In another month, during which Sir Selwyn's health, with some fluctuations, had shown, on the whole, a disposition towards improvement, Gaston's romance was published.
On the day on which some copies were forwarded to him from the publishers, he had gone on business to the neighbouring town, and did not return until late in the evening.
Sir Selwyn's valet, an old and devoted servant who had been with his master for many years, met him at the door, pale, and terrified.
“Sir Selwyn has been taken strangely ill, sir”, he said. “We can none of us tell what is the matter with him. He rang his bell an hour ago, and when I went upstairs he was looking like a ghost, sitting up quite stiff in his arm-chair, with one of your new books in his hand. It seemed like a dead man speaking when he asked how soon you could return, and said that no doctor was to be sent for. He would not let me stay with him either, and, indeed, though I've known Sir Selwyn these forty years, I believe I should have been almost afraid to do so sir, he looked so terrible. I remained close outside; but there's not been a sound in his room ever since, sir”.
Fears which, even in thought, he dared not shape, came like a wave upon Gaston, as he hurried to his father's room.
Death, or his image, sat there, in Sir Selwyn's chair; or rather, the baronet's aspect, as Gaston beheld him, grey and rigid, was like the phantom Life-in-Death; as though a corpse had been galvanised for a moment into a ghastly appearance of life. The jaw had begun to fall and the eyes were large and glassy; but the regular rising and falling of the breast showed that mechanical life was not yet extinct. Open on the ground beside Sir Selwyn lay Gaston's new romance.
The spirit had all but taken its departure; but when Gaston bent over his father and pleaded for recognition, there was a faint twitching of the brow, and a half-convulsive movement of the whole body, as though the spirit were trying to force an entrance again; and Sir Selwyn, by an effort, fixed his eyes on his son's face. His voice struggled in his throat, and he said, with a pause between every word:
“When I knelt beside him — for I still loved him — he said: 'You have killed me, but I will never leave you, and one day I will come back from the grave and kill you’ He has kept his word. This is not your book, Gaston, it-is-Udalrico's. This is my —”
The voice stopped. Sir Selwyn was dead. The Ghost of Udalrico Verga was avenged. [Page 109]
The problem of the origin of evil
can be philosophically approached only if the archaic Indian formula is taken
as the basis of the argument. Ancient wisdom alone solves the presence of
the universal fiend in a satisfactory way. It attributes the birth of Kosmos
and the evolution of life to the breaking asunder of primordial, manifested
UNITY, into plurality, or the great illusion of form. HOMOGENEITY having
transformed itself into Heterogeneity, contrasts have naturally been created:
hence sprang what we call EVIL, which thenceforward reigned supreme in this “Vale
Materialistic Western philosophy (so mis-named) has not failed to profit by this grand metaphysical tenet Even physical Science, with Chemistry at its head, has turned its attention of late to the first proposition, and directs its efforts toward proving on irrefutable data the homogeneity of primordial matter. But now steps in materialistic Pessimism, a teaching which is neither philosophy nor science, but only a deluge of meaningless words. Pessimism, in its latest development, having ceased to be pantheistic, and having wedded itself to materialism, prepares to make capital out of the old Indian formula. But the atheistic pessimist soars no higher than the terrestrial homogeneous plasm of the Darwinists. For him the ultima thule is earth and matter, and he sees, beyond the prima materia, only an ugly void, an empty nothingness. Some of the pessimists attempt to poetize their idea after the manner of the whited sepulchres, or the Mexican corpses, whose ghastly cheeks and lips are thickly covered with rouge. The decay of matter pierces through the mask of seeming life, all efforts to the contrary notwithstanding.
Materialism patronises Indian metaphors and imagery now. In a new work upon the subject by Dr. Mainlander, Pessimism and Progress, one learns that Indian Pantheism and German Pessimism are identical; and that it is the breaking up of homogeneous matter into heterogeneous material, the transition from uniformity to multiformity, which resulted in so unhappy a universe. Saith Pessimism: —
This (transition) is precisely the original mistake, the primordial sin, which the whole creation has now to expiate by heavy suffering; it is just that sin, which, having launched into existence all that lives, plunged it thereby into the abysmal depths of evil and misery, to escape from which there is but one means possible, i.e., by putting an end to being itself.
This interpretation of the Eastern
formula, attributing to it the first idea of escaping the misery of life
by “putting an end to being” — whether
that being is viewed as applicable to the whole Kosmos, or only to individual
life — is a gross misconception. The Eastern pantheist, whose [Page
110] philosophy teaches him to discriminate between Being or ESSE
and conditioned existence, would hardly indulge in so absurd an idea as the
postulation of such an alternative. He knows he can put an end to form alone,
not to being — and
that only on this plane of terrestrial illusion. True, he knows that by killing
out in himself Tanha (the unsatisfied desire for existence, or
the “will to
live”) — he will thus gradually escape the curse of re-birth
and conditioned existence. But he knows also that he cannot kill or “put
an end”, even
to his own little life except as a personality, which after all is but a change
of dress. And believing but in One Reality, which is eternal Be-ness,
the “causeless CAUSE” from which he has exiled himself
unto a world of forms, he regards the temporary and progressing manifestations
of it in the state of Maya (change or illusion), as the greatest
evil, truly; but at the same time as a process in nature, as unavoidable as
are the pangs of birth. It is the only means by which he can pass from limited
and conditioned lives of sorrow into eternal life, or into that absolute “Be-ness”,
which is so graphically expressed in the Sanskrit word sat.
The “Pessimism” of the Hindu or Buddhist Pantheist is metaphysical, abstruse, and philosophical. The idea that matter and its Protean manifestations are the source and origin of universal evil and sorrow is a very old one, though Gautama Buddha was the first to give to it its definite expression. But the great Indian Reformer assuredly never meant to make of it a handle for the modern pessimist to get hold of, or a peg for the materialist to hang his distorted and pernicious tenets upon! The Sage and Philosopher, who sacrificed himself for Humanity by living for it, in order to save it, by teaching men to see in the sensuous existence of matter misery alone, had never in his deep philosophical mind any idea of offering a premium for suicide; his efforts were to release mankind from too strong an attachment to life, which is the chief cause of Selfishness — whence the creator of mutual pain and suffering. In his personal case, Buddha left us an example of fortitude to follow: in living, not in running away from life. His doctrine shows evil immanent, not in matter which is eternal, but in the illusions created by it: through the changes and transformations of matter generating life — because these changes are conditioned and such life is ephemeral. At the same time those evils are shown to be not only unavoidable, but necessary. For if we would discern good from evil, light from darkness, and appreciate the former, we can do so only through the contrasts between the two While Buddha’s philosophy points, in its dead-letter meaning, only to the dark side of things on this illusive plane; its esotericism, the hidden soul of it, draws the veil aside and reveals to the Arhat all the glories of LIFE ETERNAL in all the Homogeneousness of Consciousness and Being. Another absurdity, no doubt, in the eyes of materialistic science and even modern Idealism, yet a fact to the Sage and esoteric Pantheist. [Page 111]
Nevertheless, the root idea that evil is born and generated by the ever increasing complications of the homogeneous material, which enters into form and differentiates more and more as that form becomes physically more perfect, has an esoteric side to it which seems to have never occurred to the modern pessimist. Its dead-letter aspect, however, became the subject of speculation with every ancient thinking nation. Even in India the primitive thought, underlying the formula already cited, has been disfigured by Sectarianism, and has led to the ritualistic, purely dogmatic observances of the Hatha Yogis, in contradistinction to the philosophical Vedantic Raja Yoga. Pagan and Christian exoteric speculation, and even mediaeval monastic asceticism, have extracted all they could from the originally noble idea, and made it subservient to their narrow-minded sectarian views. Their false conceptions of matter have led the Christians from the earliest day to identify woman with Evil and matter — notwithstanding the worship paid by the Roman Catholic Church to the Virgin.
But the latest application of the misunderstood Indian formula by the Pessimists in Germany is quite original, and rather unexpected, as we shall see. To draw any analogy between a highly metaphysical teaching, and Darwin’s theory of physical evolution would, in itself, seem rather a hopeless task. The more so as the theory of natural selection does not preach any conceivable extermination of being, but, on the contrary, a continuous and ever increasing development of life. Nevertheless, German ingenuity has contrived, by means of scientific paradoxes and much sophistry, to give it a semblance of philosophical truth. The old Indian tenet itself has not escaped litigation at the hands of modern pessimism. The happy discoverer of the theory, that the origin of evil dates from the protoplasmic Amoeba, which divided itself for procreation, and thus lost its immaculate homogeneity, has laid claim to the Aryan archaic formula in his new volume. While extolling its philosophy and the depth of ancient conceptions, he declares that it ought to be viewed “as the most profound truth precogitated and robbed by the ancient sages from modern thought”!!
It thus follows that the deeply religious Pantheism of the Hindu and Buddhist philosopher, and the occasional vagaries of the pessimistic materialist, are placed on the same level and identified by “modern thought”. The impassable chasm between the two is ignored. It matters little, it seems, that the Pantheist, recognising no reality in the manifested Kosmos, and regarding it as a simple illusion of his senses, has to view his own existence also as only a bundle of illusions. When, therefore, he speaks of the means of escaping from the sufferings of objective life, his view of those sufferings, and his motive for putting an end to existence are entirely different from those of the pessimistic materialist. For him, pain as well as sorrow are illusions, due to attachment to this life, and ignorance. Therefore he strives after eternal, changeless life, and absolute [Page 112] consciousness in the state of Nirvana; whereas the European pessimist, taking the “evils” of life as realities, aspires when he has the time to aspire after anything except those said mundane realities, to annihilation of “being”, as he expresses it. For the philosopher there is but one real life, Nirvanic bliss, which is a state differing in kind, not in degree only, from that of any of the planes of consciousness in the manifested universe. The Pessimist calls “Nirvana” superstition, and explains it as “cessation of life”, life for him beginning and ending on earth. The former ignores in his spiritual aspirations even the integral homogeneous unit, of which the German Pessimist now makes such capital. He knows of, and believes in, only the direct cause of that unit, eternal and ever living, because the ONE uncreated, or rather not evoluted. Hence all his efforts are directed toward the speediest reunion possible with, and return to his pre-primordial condition, after his pilgrimage through this illusive series of visionary lives, with their unreal phantasmagoria of sensuous perceptions.
Such pantheism can be qualified as “pessimistic” only by a believer in a personal Providence; by one who contrasts its negation of the reality of anything “created” — i.e., conditioned and limited — with his own blind and unphilosophical faith. The Oriental mind does not busy itself with extracting evil from every radical law and manifestation of life, and multiplying every phenomenal quantity by the units of very often imaginary evils: the Eastern Pantheist simply submits to the inevitable, and tries to blot out from his path in life as many “descents into rebirth” as he can, by avoiding the creation of new Karmic causes. The Buddhist philosopher knows that the duration of the series of lives of every human being — unless he reaches Nirvana “artificially” (“takes the kingdom of God by violence”, in Kabalistic parlance), is given, allegorically, in the forty-nine days passed by Gautama the Buddha under the Bo-tree. And the Hindu sage is aware, in his turn, that he has to light the first, and extinguish the forty-ninth fire [This is an esoteric tenet, and the general reader will not make much out of it. But the Theosophist who has read Esoteric Buddhism may compute the 7 by 7 of the forty-nine “days”, and the forty-nine “fires”, and understand that the allegory refers esoterically to the seven human consecutive root-races with their seven subdivisions. Every monad is born in the first and obtains deliverance in the last seventh race. Only a “Buddha” is shown reaching it during the course of one life ] before he reaches his final deliverance. Knowing this, both sage and philosopher wait patiently for the natural hour of deliverance; whereas their unlucky copyist, the European Pessimist, is ever ready to commit, as to preach, suicide. Ignorant of the numberless heads of the hydra of existences he is incapable of feeling the same philosophical scorn for life as he does for death, and of, thereby, following the wise example given him by his Oriental brother.
Thus, philosophical pantheism is very different from modern [Page 113] pessimism. The first is based upon the correct understanding of the mysteries of being; the latter is in reality only one more system of evil added by unhealthy fancy to the already large sum of real social evils. In sober truth it is no philosophy, but simply a systematic slander of life and being; the bilious utterances of a dyspeptic or an incurable hypochondriac. No parallel can ever be attempted between the two systems of thought.
The seeds of evil and sorrow were indeed the earliest result and consequence of the heterogeneity of the manifested universe. Still they are but an illusion produced by the law of contrasts, which, as described, is a fundamental law in nature. Neither good nor evil would exist were it not for the light they mutually throw on each other. Being, under whatever form, having been observed from the World’s creation to offer these contrasts, and evil predominating in the universe owing to Ego-ship or selfishness, the rich Oriental metaphor has pointed to existence as expiating the mistake of nature; and the human soul (psüche), was henceforth regarded as the scapegoat and victim of unconscious OVER-SOUL. But it is not to Pessimism, but to Wisdom that it gave birth. Ignorance alone is the willing martyr, but knowledge is the master of natural Pessimism. Gradually, and by the process of heredity or atavism, the latter became innate in man. It is always present in us, howsoever latent and silent its voice in the beginning. Amid the early joys of existence, when we are still full of the vital energies of youth, we are yet apt, each of us, at the first pang of sorrow, after a failure, or at the sudden appearance of a black cloud, to accuse life of it; to feel life a burden, and often to curse our being. This shows pessimism in our blood, but at the same time the presence of the fruits of ignorance. As mankind multiplies, and with it suffering — which is the natural result of an increasing number of units that generate it — sorrow and pain are intensified. We live in an atmosphere of gloom and despair, but this is because our eyes are downcast and rivetted to the earth, with all its physical and grossly material manifestations. If, instead of that, man proceeding on his life-journey looked — not heavenward, which is but a figure of speech — but within himself and centred his point of observation on the inner man, he would soon escape from the coils of the great serpent of illusion. From the cradle to the grave, his life would then become supportable and worth living, even in its worst phases.
Pessimism — that chronic suspicion of lurking evil everywhere — is thus of a two-fold nature, and brings fruits of two kinds. It is a natural characteristic in physical man, and becomes a curse only to the ignorant. It is a boon to the spiritual; inasmuch as it makes the latter turn into the right path, and brings him to the discovery of another as fundamental a truth; namely, that all in this world is only preparatory because transitory. It is like a chink in the dark prison walls of earth-life, through which breaks in a ray of light from the eternal home, which, illuminating [Page 114] the inner senses, whispers to the prisoner in his shell of clay of the origin and the dual mystery of our being. At the same time, it is a tacit proof of the presence in man of that which knows, without being told, viz.: — that there is another and a better life, once that the curse of earth-lives is lived through.
This explanation of the problem and origin of evil being, as already said, of an entirely metaphysical character, has nothing to do with physical laws. Belonging as it does altogether to the spiritual part of man, to dabble with it superficially is, therefore, far more dangerous than to remain ignorant of it. For, as it lies at the very root of Gautama Buddha’s ethics, and since it has now fallen into the hands of the modern Philistines of materialism, to confuse the two systems of “pessimistic” thought can lead but to mental suicide, if it does not lead to worse.
Eastern wisdom teaches that spirit has to pass through the ordeal of incarnation and life, and be baptised with matter before it can reach experience and knowledge. After which only it receives the baptism of soul, or self-consciousness, and may return to its original condition of a god, plus experience, ending with omniscience. In other words, it can return to the original state of homogeneity of primordial essence only through the addition of the fruitage of Karma, which alone is able to create an absolute conscious deity, removed but one degree from the absolute ALL.
Even according to the letter of the Bible, evil must have existed before Adam and Eve, who, therefore, are innocent of the slander of the original sin. For, had there been no evil or sin before them, there could exist neither tempting Serpent nor a Tree of Knowledge of good and evil in Eden. The characteristics of that apple-tree are shown in the verse when the couple had tasted of its fruit: “The eyes of them both were opened, and they knew” many things besides knowing they were naked. Too much knowledge about things of matter is thus rightly shown an evil.
But so it is, and it is our duty to examine and combat the new pernicious theory. Hitherto, pessimism was kept in the regions of philosophy and metaphysics, and showed no pretensions to intrude into the domain of purely physical science, such as Darwinism. The theory of evolution has become almost universal now, and there is no school (save the Sunday and missionary schools) where it is not taught, with more or less modifications from the original programme. On the other hand, there is no other teaching more abused and taken advantage of than evolution, especially by the application of its fundamental laws to the solution of the most compound and abstract problems of man’s many-sided existence. There, where psychology and even philosophy “fear to tread”, materialistic biology applies its sledge-hammer of superficial analogies, and prejudged conclusions. Worse than all, claiming man to be only a higher animal, it maintains this right as undeniably pertaining to [Page 115] the domain of the science of evolution. Paradoxes in those “domains” do not rain now, they pour. As “man is the measure of all things”, therefore is man measured and analyzed by the animal. One German materialist claims spiritual and psychic evolution as the lawful property of physiology and biology; the mysteries of embryology and zoology alone, it is said, being capable of solving those of consciousness in man and the origin of his soul. [ Haeckel ] Another finds justification for suicide in the example of animals, who, when tired of living, put an end to existence by starvation. [ Leo Bach ]
Hitherto pessimism, notwithstanding the abundance and brilliancy of its paradoxes, had a weak point — namely, the absence of any real and evident basis for it to rest upon. Its followers had no living, guiding thought to serve them as a beacon and help them to steer clear of the sandbanks of life — real and imaginary — so profusely sown by themselves in the shape of denunciations against life and being. All they could do was to rely upon their representatives, who occupied their time very ingeniously if not profitably, in tacking the many and various evils of life to the metaphysical propositions of great German thinkers, like Schopenhauer and Hartmann, as small boys tack coloured tails to the kites of their elders and rejoice at seeing them launched in the air. But now the programme will be changed. The Pessimists have found something more solid and authoritative, if less philosophical, to tack their jeremiads and dirges to, than the metaphysical kites of Schopenhauer. The day when they agreed with the views of this philosopher, which pointed at the Universal WILL as the perpetrator of all the World-evil, is gone to return no more. Nor will they be any better satisfied with the hazy “Unconscious” of von Hartmann. They have been seeking diligently for a more congenial and less metaphysical soil to build their pessimistic philosophy upon, and they have been rewarded with success, now that the cause of Universal Suffering has been discovered by them in the fundamental laws of physical development. Evil will no longer be allied with the misty and uncertain Phantom called “WILL”, but with an actual and obvious fact: the Pessimists will henceforth be towed by the Evolutionists.
The basic argument of their representative has been given in the opening sentence of this article. The Universe and all on it appeared in consequence of the “breaking asunder of UNITY into Plurality”. This rather dim rendering of the Indian formula is not made to refer, as I have shown, in the mind of the Pessimist, to the one Unity, to the Vedantin abstraction — Parabrahm: otherwise, I should not certainly have used the words “breaking up”. Nor does it concern itself much with Mulaprakriti, or the “Veil” of Parabrahm; nor even with the first manifested primordial matter, except inferentially, as follows from Dr. Mainlander’s exposition, but chiefly with terrestrial protoplasm. Spirit [Page 116] of deity is entirely ignored in this case; evidently because of the necessity for showing the whole as “the lawful domain of physical Science”.
In short, the time-honoured formula is claimed to have its basis and to find its justification in the theory that from “a few, perhaps one, single form of the very simplest nature” (Darwin), “all the different animals and plants living today, and all the organisms that have ever lived on the earth”, have gradually developed. It is this axiom of Science, we are told, which justifies and demonstrates the Hindu philosophical tenet. What is this axiom? Why, it is this: Science teaches that the series of transformations through which the seed is made to pass — the seed that grows into a tree, or becomes an ovum, or that which develops into an animal — consists in every case in nothing but the passage of the fabric of that seed, from the homogeneous into the heterogeneous or compound form. This is then the scientific verity which checks the Indian formula by that of the Evolutionists, identifies both, and thus exalts ancient wisdom by recognizing it worthy of modern materialistic thought.
This philosophical formula is not simply corroborated by the individual growth and development of isolated species, explains our Pessimist; but it is demonstrated in general as in detail. It is shown justified in the evolution and growth of the Universe as well as in that of our planet. In short, the birth, growth and development of the whole organic world in its integral totality, are there to demonstrate ancient wisdom. From the universals down to the particulars, the organic world is discovered to be subject to the same law of ever increasing elaboration, of the transition from unity to plurality as “the fundamental formula of the evolution of life”. Even the growth of nations, of social life, public institutions, the development of the languages, arts and sciences, all this follows inevitably and fatally the all-embracing law of “the breaking asunder of unity into plurality, and the passage of the homogeneous into multiformity”.
But while following Indian wisdom, our author exaggerates this fundamental law in his own way, and distorts it. He brings this law to bear even on the historical destinies of mankind. He makes these destinies subservient to, and a proof of, the correctness of the Indian conception. He maintains that humanity as an integral whole, in proportion as it develops and progresses in its evolution, and separates in its parts — each becoming a distinct and independent branch of the unit — drifts more and more away from its original healthy, harmonious unity. The complications of social establishment, social relations, as those of individuality, all lead to the weakening of the vital power, the relaxation of the energy of feeling, and to the destruction of that integral unity, without which no inner harmony is possible. The absence of that harmony generates an inner discord which becomes the cause of the greatest mental misery. Evil has its roots in the very nature of the evolution of life and its complications. Every one of its steps forward is at the same time a step taken toward the dissolution of its energy, and [Page 117] leads to passive apathy. Such is the inevitable result, he says, of every progressive complication of life; because evolution or development is a transition from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, a scattering of the whole into the many, etc., etc.. This terrible law is universal and applies to all creation, from the infinitesimally small up to man for, as he says, it is a fundamental law of nature.
Now, it is just in this one-sided view of physical nature, which the German author accepts without one single thought as to its spiritual and psychic aspect, that his school is doomed to certain failure. It is not a question whether the said law of differentiation and its fatal consequences may or may not apply, in certain cases, to the growth and development of the animal species, and even of man; but simply, since it is the basis and main support of the whole new theory of the Pessimistic school, whether it is really a universal and fundamental law? We want to know whether this basic formula of evolution embraces the whole process of development and growth in its entirety; and whether, indeed, it is within the domain of physical science or not. If it is “nothing else than the transition from the homogeneous state to the heterogeneous”, as says Mainländer, then it remains to be proved that the given process “produces that complicated combination of tissues and organs which forms and completes the perfect animal and plant”.
As remarked already by some critics on “Pessimism and Progress”, the German Pessimist does not doubt it for one moment. His supposed discovery and teaching “rest wholly on his certitude that development and the fundamental law of the complicated process of organization represent but one thing: the transformation of unity into plurality”. Hence the identification of the process with dissolution and decay, and the weakening of all the forces and energies. Mainländer would be right in his analogies were this law of the differentiation of the homogeneous into the heterogeneous to really represent the fundamental law of the evolution of life. But the idea is quite erroneous — metaphysically as well as physically. Evolution does not proceed in a straight line; no more than any other process in nature, but journeys on cyclically, as does all the rest. The cyclic serpents swallow their tails like the Serpent of Eternity. And it is in this that the Indian formula, which is a Secret Doctrine teaching, is indeed corroborated by the natural Sciences, and especially by biology.
This is what we read in the “Scientific Letters” by an anonymous Russian author and critic.
In the evolution of isolated individuals, in the evolution of the organic world, in that of the Universe, as in the growth and development of our planet — in short wherever any of the processes of progressive complexity take place, there we find, apart from the transition from unity to plurality, and homogeneity to heterogeneity a converse transformation — the transition from plurality to unity, from the heterogeneous to the homogeneous. . . . Minute observation of the given process of progressive complexity has shown, that what takes place in it is not alone the separation of parts, but also their mutual absorption. . . . . While one portion of the cells merge into each [Page 118] other and unite into one uniform whole, forming muscular fibres, muscular tissue, others are absorbed in the bone and nerve tissues, etc., etc. The same takes place in the formation of plants. . . . .
In this case material nature repeats
the law that acts in the evolution of the psychic and the spiritual: both
descend but to re-ascend and merge at the starting-point.
The homogeneous formative
mass or element differentiated in its parts, is gradually transformed into
the heterogeneous; then, merging those parts into a harmonious whole, it
recommences a converse process, or reinvolution, and returns as gradually
into its primitive or primordial state.
Nor does Pessimism find any better support in pure Materialism, as hitherto the latter has been tinged with a decidedly optimistic bias. Its leading advocates have, indeed, never hesitated to sneer at the theological adoration of the “glory of God and all his works”. Büchner flings a taunt at the pantheist who sees in so “mad and bad” a world the manifestation of the Absolute. But, on the whole, the materialists admit a balance of good over evil, perhaps as a buffer against any “superstitious” tendency to look out and hope for a better one. Narrow as is their outlook, and limited as is their spiritual horizon, they yet see no cause to despair of the drift of things in general. The pantheistic pessimists, however, have never ceased to urge that a despair of conscious being is the only legitimate outcome of atheistic negation. This opinion is, of course, axiomatic, or ought to be so. If “in this life only is there hope”, the tragedy of life is absolutely without any raison d’être and a perpetuation of the drama is as foolish as it is futile.
The fact that the conclusions of pessimism have been at last assimilated by a certain class of atheistic writers, is a striking feature of the day, and another sign of the times. It illustrates the truism that the void created by modern scientific negation cannot and can never be filled by the cold prospects offered as a solatium to optimists. The Comtean “enthusiasm of Humanity” is a poor thing enough with annihilation of the Race to ensue “as the solar fires die slowly out” — if, indeed, they do die at all — to please physical science at the computed time. If all present sorrow and suffering, the fierce struggle for existence and all its attendant horrors, go for nothing in the long run, if MAN is a mere ephemeron, the sport of blind forces, why assist in the perpetuation of the farce? The “ceaseless grind of matter, force and law”, will but hurry the swarming human millions into eternal oblivion, and ultimately leave no trace or memory of the past, when things return to the nebulosity of the fire-mist, whence they emerged. Terrestrial life is no object in itself. It is overcast with gloom and misery. It does not seem strange, then, that the Soul-blind negationist should prefer the pessimism of Schopenhauer to the baseless optimism of Strauss and his followers, which, in the face of their teachings, reminds one of the animal spirits of a young donkey, after a good meal of thistles. [Page 119]
One thing is, however, clear: the absolute necessity for some solution, which embraces the facts of existence on an optimistic basis. Modern Society is permeated with an increasing cynicism and honeycombed with disgust of life. This is the result of an utter ignorance of the operations of Karma and the nature of Soul-evolution. It is from a mistaken allegiance to the dogmas of a mechanical and largely spurious theory of Evolution, that Pessimism has risen to such undue importance. Once the basis of the Great Law is grasped — and what philosophy can furnish better means for such a grasp and final solution, than the esoteric doctrine of the great Indian Sages — there remains no possible locus standi for the recent amendments to the Schopenhauerian system of thought or the metaphysical subtleties, woven by the “philosopher of the Unconscious”. The reasonableness of Conscious Existence can be proved only by the study of the primeval — now esoteric — philosophy. And it says “there is neither death nor life, for both are illusions; being (or be-ness) is the only reality”. This paradox was repeated thousands of ages later by one of the greatest physiologists that ever lived. “Life is Death” said Claude Bernard. The organism lives because its parts are ever dying. The survival of the fittest is surely based on this truism. The life of the superior whole requires the death of the inferior, the death of the parts depending on and being subservient to it. And, as life is death, so death is life, and the whole great cycle of lives forms but ONE EXISTENCE — the worst day of which is on our planet.
He who KNOWS will make the best of it. For there is a dawn for every being, when once freed from illusion and ignorance by Knowledge; and he will at last proclaim in truth and all Consciousness to Mahamaya:
“BROKEN THY HOUSE IS, AND THE RIDGE-POLE SPLIT!
DELUSION FASHIONED IT!
SAFE PASS I THENCE — DELIVERANCE TO OBTAIN.”
[Sir Edwin Arnold, The Light of Asia, end of Book VI.]
“Man will regain his lost Eden on that day when he can look at every desire in the broad, quiet light of this question: — How can I give desire such vent as shall conduce to the benefit of other men?”
[From Jasper Niemand in the “Path”] [Page 120]
[The authorship of this article is somewhat uncertain. Some of its sentences and expressions do not seem to be in H. P. B.’s style, yet the “atmosphere” is her own. Bertram Keightley, closely associated with her on the Editorial work connected with Lucifer, definitely states in his Reminiscenses of H. P. Blavatsky (Adyar: Theos. Publ. House, 1931) that besides writing her own Editorials, H. P. B. also wrote “many other articles under more than one nom de plume,” and the one of “Faust”, may have been one of them. — Boris de Zirkoff Compiler of Collected Writings of H.P.B..]
PARADOX would seem to be the natural language of occultism. Nay more,
it would seem to penetrate deep into the heart of things, and thus to be inseparable
from any attempt to put into words the truth, the reality which underlies the
outward shows of life.
And the paradox is one not in words only, but in action, in the very conduct of life. The paradoxes of occultism must be lived, not uttered only. Herein lies a great danger, for it is only too easy to become lost in the intellectual contemplation of the path, and so to forget that the road can only be known by treading it.
One startling paradox meets the student at the very outset, and confronts him in ever new and strange shapes at each turn of the road. Such an one, perchance, has sought the path desiring a guide, a rule of right for the conduct of his life. He learns that the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end of life is selflessness; and he feels the truth of the saying that only in the profound unconsciousness of self-forgetfulness can the truth and reality of being reveal itself to his eager heart.
The student learns that this is the one law of occultism, at once the science and the art of living, the guide to the goal he desires to attain. He is fired with enthusiasm and enters bravely on the mountain track. He then finds that his teachers do not encourage his ardent flights of sentiment; his all-forgetting yearning for the Infinite — on the outer plane of his actual life and consciousness. At least, if they do not actually damp his enthusiasm, they set him, as the first and indispensable task, to conquer and control his body. The student finds that far from being encouraged to live in the soaring thoughts of his brain, and to fancy he has reached that ether where is true freedom — to the forgetting of his body, and his external actions and personality — he is set down to tasks much nearer earth. All his attention and watchfulness are required on the outer plane; he must never forget himself, never lose hold over his body, his mind, his brain. He must even learn to control the expression of every feature, to check the action of each muscle, to be master of every slightest involuntary movement. The daily life around and within him is pointed out as the object of his study and observation. Instead of forgetting what are usually called the petty trifles, the little forgetfulness, the accidental slips of tongue or memory, he is forced to become each day more conscious of these lapses, till at last they seem to poison the air he breathes and stifle him, till he seems to lose sight and touch of the great world of freedom towards [Page 121] which he is struggling, till every hour of every day seems full of the bitter taste of self, and his heart grows sick with pain and the struggle of despair. And the darkness is rendered yet deeper by the voice within him, crying ceaselessly, “forget thyself. Beware, lest thou becomest self-concentrated — and the giant weed of spiritual selfishness take firm root in thy heart; beware, beware, beware!”
The voice stirs his heart to its depths, for he feels that the words are true. His daily and hourly battle is teaching him that self-centredness is the root of misery, the cause of pain, and his soul is full of longing to be free.
Thus the disciple is torn by doubt. He trusts his teachers, for he knows that through them speaks the same voice he hears in the silence of his own heart. But now they utter contradictory words; the one, the inner voice, bidding him forget himself utterly in the service of humanity; the other, the spoken word of those from whom he seeks guidance in his service, bidding him first to conquer his body, his outer self. And he knows better with every hour how badly he acquits himself in that battle with the Hydra, and he sees seven heads grow afresh in place of each one that he has lopped off.
At first he oscillates between the two, now obeying the one, now the other. But soon he learns that this is fruitless. For the sense of freedom and lightness, which comes at first when he leaves his outer self unwatched, that he may seek the inner air, soon loses its keenness, and some sudden shock reveals to him that he has slipped and fallen on the uphill path. Then, in desperation, he flings himself upon the treacherous snake of self, and strives to choke it into death; but its ever-moving coils elude his grasp, the insidious temptations of its glittering scales blind his vision, and again he becomes involved in the turmoil of the battle, which gains on him from day to day, and which at last seems to fill the whole world, and blot out all else beside from his consciousness. He is face to face with a crushing paradox, the solution of which must be lived before it can be really understood.
In his hours of silent meditation the student will find that there is one space of silence within him where he can find refuge from thoughts and desires, from the turmoil of the senses and the delusions of the mind. By sinking his consciousness deep into his heart he can reach this place — at first only when he is alone in silence and darkness. But when the need for the silence has grown great enough, he will turn to seek it even in the midst of the struggle with self, and he will find it. Only he must not let go of his outer self, or his body; he must learn to retire into this citadel when the battle grows fierce, but to do so without losing sight of the battle; without allowing himself to fancy that by so doing he has won the victory. That victory is won only when all is silence without as within the inner citadel. Fighting thus, from within that silence, the student will find that he has solved the first great paradox. [Page 122]
But paradox still follows him. When first he thus succeeds in thus retreating into himself, he seeks there only for refuge from the storm in his heart. And as he struggles to control the gusts of passion and desire, he realises more fully what mighty powers he has vowed himself to conquer. He still feels himself, apart from the silence, nearer akin to the forces of the storm. How can his puny strength cope with these tyrants of animal nature?
This question is hard to answer in direct words; if, indeed, such an answer can be given. But analogy may point the way where the solution may be sought.
In breathing we take a certain quantity of air into the lungs, and with this we can imitate in miniature the mighty wind of heaven. We can produce a feeble semblance of nature: a tempest in a tea-cup, a gale to blow and even swamp a paper boat. And we can say: “I do this; it is my breath”. But we cannot blow our breath against a hurricane, still less hold the trade winds in our lungs. Yet the powers of heaven are within us; the nature of the intelligences which guide the world-force is blended with our own, and could we realise this and forget our outer selves, the very winds would be our instruments.
So it is in life. While a man clings to his outer self — aye, and even to any one of the forms he assumes when this “mortal coil” is cast aside — so long is he trying to blow aside a hurricane with the breath of his lungs It is useless and idle such an endeavour; for the great winds of life must, sooner or later, sweep him away. But if he changes his altitude in himself, if he acts on the faith that his body, his desires, his passions, his brain, are not himself, though he has charge of them, and is responsible for them; if he tries to deal with them as parts of nature, then he may hope to become one with the great tides of being, and reach the peaceful place of safe self-forgetfulness at last.
the slave of pain and Rebellion her captive;
Endurance her free companion and Patience her master.
And the husband of Pain is Rapture.
But the souls are few in whom that marriage is consummated. (L.S.C.) [Page 123]
[ The sub-title, “a tale of love and magic,” having
used by myself, Mr. Joseph Hutton, and another author,
I think it best to change mine for one certainly less pretty, but equally descriptive.
Is not this simultaneous use also a “sign of the times”?]
by Mabel Collins
Author of “The Prettiest Woman in Warsaw”, etc., etc.
And Scribe of “The Idyll of the White Lotus,” and “Through the Gates of Gold”.
IN a chapel of the great Cathedral in the city there was at certain hours always a priest who held there his confessional.
To him went Hilary some days later. In the interim he had not seen the Princess. His soul had been torn hither and thither, to and fro. His passion for the beautiful girl held him fast, while his horror of the magician repelled him from her. He went to the Cathedral in the afternoon determined that he would reveal all his distress to the priest. Father Amyot was in his confessional, but some one was with him, for the curtain was drawn. Hilary knelt down at the small altar of the chapel there to wait. Presently there was a slight sound; he turned his head to see if the confessional was now free. The Princess Fleta stood beside him, her eyes fixed on him; it was she who at this instant only had risen from her knees in the confessional. Hilary, amazed and dumb with wonder, could only gaze upon her. She kept her strange and fascinating eyes fixed on his for a moment and then turned and with swift, soft steps left the chapel. Hilary remained kneeling motionless before the altar, his mind absorbed in what was hardly so much thought as amazement. Fleta was not then what he thought her. If she were sensitive to religious impressions she could not be the cold magician which she had appeared to him to be when he recollected the last scene in the laboratory. Perhaps after all she used her power generously and for good. He began to see her in another light. He began to worship her for her goodness as well as for her strong attractions. His heart leaped with joy at the thought that her soul was as beautiful as her body. He rose from his knees and turned instinctively and without thought to follow her. As he did so he passed Father Amyot, who seeing that no one else came immediately to the confessional, had left it and flung himself at full [Page 124] length upon the ground before the altar. He wore a long robe of coarse white cloth, tied at the waist with a black cord; a hood of the same cloth covered his shaven head. He was like a skeleton, perfectly fleshless and emaciated. His face lay sideways on the stone; he seemed unconscious so profound was his abstraction. The eyes were open but had no sight in them. They were large grey blue eyes, full of a profound melancholy which gave them an appearance as if tears stood in them. This melancholy affected Hilary strangely; it touched his heart, made thrill and vibrate some deeply sensitive cord in his nature. He stood gazing a moment at the prostrate figure, and then with a profound obeisance left the chapel.
The Princess Fleta had her horse waiting for her. She was a constant and daring rider, and seldom entered the city except on horseback, to the amazement of the court ladies, who in the city rode in carriages that they might dress beautifully. But Fleta had no vanity of this kind. Probably no other girl of her age would have willingly adopted the hideous dress of the witch and worn it before so many curious eyes. Her own beauty and her own appearance was a subject of but the slightest thought to her. She would walk down the fashionable promenade in her riding habit among the magnificent toilettes of the Court ladies. This she was doing now while a servant led her horse up and down. Hilary watched her from a distance, unable to summon courage to approach her in the midst of such a throng of personages. But presently Fleta saw him and came with her swift light step towards him. “ Will you walk with me ? ” she asked. “There is no one here to be my companion but you”.
“And why is that? ” asked Hilary, as with flushed face and eager steps he accompanied her.
“Because there are none that sympathise with me. You alone have entered my laboratory”.
“But would not any of these
be glad to come if you would admit them ? ”
“Not one would have the courage, except perhaps some few wild spirits who would dare anything for mere excitement. And they would not please me”.
Hilary was silent. Her words showed him very plainly that he pleased her. But there was a chill in his nature which now asserted itself. Here in the midst of so many people her hold on him was lessened, and he doubted her more than ever. Was she merely playing with him for her own amusement? Her high position gave her this power and he could not resent it, for even to be her favourite for a day would be accounted by any man an honour and a thing to boast of. And Hilary was being signalled, out for public honour. He felt the envious glances of the men whom he met, and immediately a cold veil fell on his heart. He desired no such envy. To his mind love was a sacred. His scorn of life and doubt of human nature awakened [Page 125] at this moment of triumph. He did not speak, but the Princess answered his thought.
“We will go away from here”, she said. “In the country you are a creature of passion. Here you become a cynic”.
“How do you know my heart ? ” he
“We were born under the same star”, she answered quietly.
“That is no sufficient answer”, he replied. “It conveys no meaning to me, for I know nothing of the mysterious sciences you study”.
“Come then with me”, she answered, “and I will teach you”.
She signed to her servant, who brought her horse; she mounted and rode away with merely a smile to Hilary. She knew that in spite of the chill that was on him he would hunger for her in her absence and soon follow. And so he did. The pavements appeared empty though crowds moved over them; the city seemed lifeless and dull, though it was one of the gayest in the world. He turned from the streets, and walking into the country, found himself very soon at the narrow wicket gate of the Princess Fleta's Garden House.
She was wandering up and down the avenue between the trees. Her dress was white now, and very long and soft, falling in great folds from her shoulders. As she moved slowly to and fro, the dancing sunlight playing on her splendid form, it seemed to Hilary that he saw before him not a mere woman, but a priestess. Her late visit to the Cathedral recurred to him; if the religious soul was in her, might she not, indeed, spite of her strange acts, be no magician, but a priestess ? He returned to his former humour and was ready to worship at her feet. She greeted him with a smile that thrilled him; her eyes read his very soul, and her smile brought to it an unutterable joy. She turned and led the way to the house and Hilary followed her.
She opened her laboratory door, and immediately Hilary became aware of the strong odour of some powerful incense. The dim smoke was still in the room but the flame had all died away in the vessel. By the side of the vessel lay a prostrate figure. Hilary uttered a cry of amazement and of horror as he recognised Father Amyot He turned such a look of dismay upon the Princess that she answered his thought in a haughty tone which she had never before used in addressing him.
“It is not time yet to ask me the meaning of what you may see here. Some day, perhaps, when you know more, you may have the right to question me: but not now. See, I can change this appearance that distresses you, in a moment”.
She raised the prostrate figure, and flung off from it the white robe that resembled Father Amyot's. Beneath, it was clothed in a dull red garment such as Hilary had first seen it in. With a few swift touches of her hand the Princess changed the expression of the face. Father Amyot was gone, and Hilary saw sitting in the chair before him that unindividualised form and face which at his visit to the laboratory had [Page 126] affected him with so much horror. The Princess saw the repugnance still in his face, and with a laugh opened the screen with which she had hidden the figure before.
“Now”, she said, “come and sit beside me on this couch”.
But before she left the great vessel she threw in more incense and lit it. Already Hilary was aware that the fumes of that which had been already burned had affected his brain. The red figures moved upon the black wall, and he watched them with fascinated eyes.
They shaped themselves together not, this time, into words, but into forms. And the wall instead of black became bright and luminous. It was as though Hilary and Fleta sat alone before an immense stage. They heard the spoken words and saw the gestures and the movements of these phantasmal actors as clearly and with as much reality as though they were creatures of flesh and blood before them. It was a drama of the passions; the chief actors were Hilary and Fleta themselves. Hilary almost forgot that the real Fleta was at his side, so absorbed was he in the action of the phantasmal Fleta.
He was bewildered, and he could not understand the meaning of what he saw, clearly though the drama was enacted in front of him. He saw the orchard full of blossoming trees; he saw the splendid savage woman. He knew that he himself and this Fleta at his side, were in some strange way playing a part under this savage guise; but how or what it was he could not tell. Fleta laughed as she watched his face. “You do not know who you are”, .she cried. “That is a great loss and makes life much more difficult. But you will know by and bye if you are willing to learn. Come, let us look at another and a very different page of life”.
The stage grew dark and moving shadows passed to and fro upon it, great shadows that filled Hilary's soul with dread. At last they drew back and left a luminous space where Fleta herself was visible. Fleta, in this same human shape that she wore now, yet strangely changed. She was much older and yet more beautiful; there was a wonderful fire in her brilliant eyes. On her head was a crown, and Hilary saw that she had great powers to use or abuse — it was written on her face. Then something drew his eyes down and he saw a figure lying helpless at her feet — why was it so still ? — it was alive ! — yes, but it was bound and fettered, bound hand and foot.
“Are you afraid ? ” broke out Fleta's voice with a ring of mocking laughter in it. “Surely you are not afraid — why should I not reign ? why should you not suffer ? You are a cynic; is there anything good to be expected ? ”
“Perhaps not”, said Hilary. “It may be that you are heartless
and false. And yet, as I stand here now, I feel that though you may betray
me by and bye, and take my life and liberty from me, yet I love your very treachery”. [Page 127]
Fleta laughed aloud, and Hilary stood silent, confused by the words he had spoken hastily without pausing to think whether they were fit to speak or not. Well, it was done now. He had spoken of his love. She could refuse ever to see him again and he would go into the outer darkness.
“No”, she said, “ I shall not send you away. Do you not know, Hilary Estanol, that you are my chosen companion ? Otherwise would you be here with me now ? The word love does not alarm me; I have heard it too often. Only I think it very meaningless. Let us put it aside for the present If you let yourself love me you must suffer; and I do not want you to suffer yet. When pain comes to you the youth will go from your face; you do not know how to preserve it, and I like your youth”.
Hilary made no answer. It was not easy to answer such a speech, and Hilary was not in the humour for accomplishing anything difficult. His brain was confused by the fumes of the incense and by the strange scenes so mysteriously enacted before his eyes. He scarcely knew what Fleta this was that stood beside him. And yet he knew he loved her though he distrusted her ! With each moment that he passed by her side he worshipped her more completely, and the disbelief interfered less and less with his proud joy in being admitted to her intimacy.
“Now”, said Fleta, “I want you to do a new thing. I want you to exercise your will and compel my servants who have been pleasing us with phantasies, to show us a phantasy of your own creation. You can do this very well, if you will. It only needs that you shall not doubt you can do it. Ah! how quickly does the act follow the thought! ” She uttered the last words with a little cry of amused pleasure. For the dim shadows had rapidly masked the stage and then again withdrawn, leaving the figure of Fleta very clearly visible, beautiful and passionate, her face alight with love, held clasped in Hilary's arms, her lips pressed close to his.
The real Fleta who sat beside him rose now with a shake of her head, and a
laugh which was not all gay. The shadows closed instantly over the stage, and
a moment later the illusion was all destroyed and the solid wall was there
before Hilary's eyes. He had become so accustomed to witness the marvellous
inside this room that he did not pause to wonder; he followed Fleta as she
crossed to the door, and tried to attract her attention.
“Forgive me, my Princess”, he murmured over and over again.
“Oh, you are forgiven”, she said at last lightly. “You have not offended, so it is easy for me to forgive. I do not think a man can help what is in his heart; at all events, no ordinary man can. And you, Hilary, have consented to be like the rest. Are you content ? ”
“No !” he answered, instantly. And as he spoke he understood for the first time the fever that had stirred him all through his short bright [Page 128] life. “ Content! How should I be ? Moreover, is not our star the star of restlessness and action ? ”
For the first time, Fleta turned on him a glance of real tenderness and emotion. When he said the words “our star”, it seemed as if he had touched her heart.
“Ah ! ” she said, “How
sorely I long for a companion ! ”
Then she turned from him very abruptly, and almost before he knew she had moved she had opened the door, and was standing outside waiting for him. “Come !” she said impatiently. He followed her immediately, for he had no choice but to do so; yet he was disappointed. He was more deeply disappointed when he found that she led the way with swift steps into the room where her aunt sat. Arrived there, Fleta threw herself into a chair, took up a great golden fan and began to fan herself, while she talked about the gossip of the Court. The change was so sudden that for some moments Hilary could not follow her. He stood bewildered, till the aunt pushed a low chair towards him; and he felt then that the old lady was not surprised at his manner, but only sorry for him. And then suddenly the cynic re-asserted itself in his heart. A thought that bit like flame suddenly started into life. Had the bewildered emotion that had been, as he knew, visible on his face, been seen on others before; was Fleta not only playing with him, but playing with him as she had played with many another lover ? The thought was more hateful than any he had ever suffered from; it wounded his vanity, which was more tender and delicate than his heart.
Fleta gave him no opportunity of anything but talk such as seemed in her stately presence too trivial to be endured, and so at last he rose and went his way. Fleta did not accompany him to the gate this time. She left him to go alone, and he felt as if she had withdrawn her favour in some degree; and yet perhaps that was foolish, he told himself, for after all, both he and she had said too much today.
Fleta was betrothed. She had been betrothed at her christening. Before long her marriage would take place; and then that crown seen in the vision would be placed on her head. Had it needed the vision to bring that fact to his mind, asked Hilary of himself? If so, 'twas time, he bitterly added, for Fleta was not a woman who was likely to give up a crown for the sake of love ! His heart rose fiercely within him as he thought of all this. Why had she tempted him to speak of love ? For surely he never would have dared to so address her had she not tempted him; so he thought.
If he could have seen Fleta now! As soon as he left the room she had risen and slowly moved back to her laboratory. Entered there, she drew away a curtain which concealed a large mirror let deep into the wall. She did this resolutely, yet as if reluctantly. Immediately her gaze became fixed on the glass. She saw Hilary's figure within it moving on his way towards the city. She read his thoughts and his heart. At [Page 129] last she dropped the curtain with a heavy sigh, and let her arms fall at her side with a gesture that seemed to mean despair; certainly it meant deep dejection. And presently some great tears dropped upon the floor at her feet.
None, since Fleta was born, had seen her shed tears.
FATHER AMYOT on the next morning sent a message to Hilary praying him to come and see him. This Hilary did at once, and in much perplexity as to what the reason of such a summons could be. He went straight to the Cathedral, for there he knew the ascetic priest passed all his time. He found him, as he expected, prostrate before the altar, and almost in the same attitude he had seen him in yesterday. Horribly too it reminded him of the attitude of that figure lying on the floor of Fleta's laboratory when he had entered it. He had to touch Father Amyot to attract his attention; then at once the priest rose and led the way out of the Cathedral into the cloisters, which joined it to the monastery close at hand. He went on, without speaking, his head drooped. Hilary could but follow. At last they reached a bare cell in which was no furniture but a crucifix and a perpetual lamp burning before it, and against the wall a bench.
Here Father Amyot sat down, and he motioned with his hand to Hilary to sit beside him.
Then he fell into a profound reverie; and Hilary watching him, wondered much what was in his mind. Was Fleta even now working her spells upon him and moulding his thoughts according to her will ?
It almost seemed like it for her name was the first word he uttered “The Princess Fleta”, he commenced, “is about to go upon a long and dangerous journey”.
Hilary started and turned his face away, for he knew that he had turned pale.
Was she really going to leave the city! How unexpected ! how terrible!
“In a very short time”, went on Father Amyot, “the Princess will be married and she has a mission which she desires to accomplish before her wedding, and she says that you can assist her in this. It is for the fulfilment of this mission that she is undertaking the journey I speak of; supposing you should agree to help her you would have to accompany her”.
Hilary made no answer. He had no answer ready. His breath was taken away and he could not recover it all in an instant. The whole thing seemed incredible; he felt it to be impossible; and yet a conviction was already falling on him that it would take place.
“Of course”, resumed Father Amyot, seeing that Hilary was not disposed to speak, “you will want to know your errand, you will want to [Page 130] know why you are going on this journey. This it will be impossible for you to know. The Princess, does not choose to inform any one of what her errand is”.
“Not even the person whom she says can help her ?” exclaimed Hilary in amazement.
“Not even you”.
“Well”, said Hilary rising with a gesture of indignation, “let her find some one else to go blindly in her wake. I am not the man”.
So saying he walked across the cell to the doorway, forgetting even to say good-bye to Father Amyot.
But the priest's voice arrested him
“You would travel alone, save for one attendant”.
Hilary turned and faced the priest in amazement.
“Oh, impossible ! ” he exclaimed, “ — yet it is true”.
To Hilary the cynic, the thing suddenly assumed an intelligible form. Fleta wanted to take a journey in which she would prefer a companion because of its danger; yet she could not give her confidence to any one. She proposed to herself to use his love for her; she offered him her society as a bribe to take care of her, to ask no questions and tell no tales. The idea did not please him.
“I have heard of princesses risking anything, relying on the power of their position; I have heard that the royal caprice is not to be measured by the reason of other men and women. Perhaps it is so. But Fleta ! I thought her different even from her own family”.
These were the first thoughts that came into his mind. His ready conclusion was that Fleta was willing that he should be her lover if he would be her servant also. But immediately afterwards came the fair vision of Fleta herself in her white robes, and with the face of a priestess. Her purpose was inscrutable, like herself. He confessed this as he stood there, surging doubts in his mind. And then suddenly a fragrance came across his sense — a-strong perfume, that he associated with Fleta's dress — and next a breath of incense. His brain grew dizzy; he staggered back and leaned against the wall. He no longer appeared to himself to be in Father Amyot's cell — he was in Fleta's laboratory, and her hand touched his face, her breath was on his brow. Ah, what madness of joy to be with her ! To travel with her, to be her associate and companion to pass all the hours of the day by her side. Suddenly he roused himself, and, starting forward, approached Father Amyot.
“ I will go”, he said.
“It will cost you dear”, said the priest. “Think again before
“It is useless to think”, cried Hilary. “Why should I think ? I feel — and to feel is to live”.
Father Amyot seemed not to hear his words. He was apparently already buried in prayer. Evidently he had said all that he intended to [Page 131] say; and Hilary, after a glance at him, turned and left the cell. He knew the priest's moods too well to speak again, when once that deep cloud of profound abstraction had descended on his face.
He went away, passing back as he had come, through the Cathedral. At the high altar he paused an instant, and then knelt and murmured a prayer. It was one he had learned, and he scarce attached any meaning to the familiar words. But it comforted him to feel that he had prayed, be it never so meaningless a prayer. For Hilary had been reared in all the habits of the devout Catholic.
Then he went out and took his way towards the Garden House, walking with long strides. He was determined to know the truth, and that at once. Amid all the brilliant men who crowded her father's Court was he indeed the only one who could touch her heart ? An hour ago he would have laughed at any one who had told him he had touched it; yet now he believed he had. And what intoxication that belief was ! For the first time he began to feel the absolute infatuation of love. And looking back it seemed to him that an hour ago he had not loved Fleta — that he had never loved her till this minute.
He found her standing at the gate, among the flowers. She was dressed in white, and some crimson roses were fastened at her neck. Her face was like a child's, full of gaiety and gladness. Hilary's heart bounded with the delight it gave him to see her like this. She opened the gate for him and together they walked towards the house.
“I have been to see Father Amyot”, said Hilary. “He sent for me this morning”.
“Yes”, answered Fleta, quietly. “He had a message to you from me. Are you willing to undertake a tiresome task for one you know so little ? ”
“My Princess”, murmured Hilary, bending his head as he spoke.
“But not your Queen”, said Fleta, with a laugh full of the glorious insolence only possible to one who had the royal blood in her veins, and knew that a crown was waiting for her.
“Yes, my Queen”, said
“If you call me that”, said Fleta, quickly, and in a different tone, “you recognise a royalty not recognised by courtiers”.
“Yes”, replied Hilary
“The royalty of power”, added Fleta, significantly, and with a penetrating look into his eyes.
“Call it what you will”, answered Hilary, “you are my Queen. From this hour I give allegiance”.
“Be it so”, said Fleta, with a light girlish laugh, “Be ready then, tomorrow at noon. I will tell you where to meet me. I will send a message in the morning”.
Suddenly a recollection crossed
Hilary's mind which had hitherto been blotted out from it. “My mother”,
he said. [Page 132]
“Oh”, said Fleta, “ I have been to see Madame Estanol. My father goes into the country today and she believes you go with him. She is glad you should join the Court”.
“Strange”, said Hilary, unthinkingly, “for she has always
set her face against it”. Then the smile on Fleta's face made him think
his words foolish.
“It is as my Queen orders. Seemingly, men and women obey her even in their inmost hearts”.
“No”, said Fleta, with a sigh, “that is just what they do not! It is that power which I have yet to obtain. They obey me, yes, but against the dictates of their inmost hearts. If you really loved me, we could obtain that power; but you are like the others. You do not love me with your inmost heart! ”
“ I do not! ” exclaimed Hilary, in amazement, stunned by her words.
“No”, she answered, mournfully, “you do not. If you really loved me you would not calculate chances and risks, you would not consider whether I am profligate or virtuous, whether I am my father's daughter or a child of the stars ! I tell you, Hilary Estanol, if you were capable of loving me truly, you might find your way to the gods with me and even sit among them. But it is not so with you. You vacillate even in your love. You cannot give yourself utterly. That means grief to you, for you cannot find perfect pleasure in a thing which you take doubtingly and give but by halves. Still you shall travel with me; and you shall be my companion and friend. There is none other to whom I would give this chance. How do you think you will reward me? Oh, I know too well. Go now, but be ready when I send for you”.
So saying she turned and went into the house, leaving him in the garden. For a few moments he stood there embarrassed, not knowing which way to turn or what to do. But he was not annoyed or disturbed, as his vanity might have led him to be at another time, by such cavalier treatment He was aghast, horrified. Was this the girl he loved ! this tyrant, this proud spirit, this strange woman, who before he had wooed her reproached him with not loving her enough! Within him lurked a conventional spirit, strong under all circumstances, even those of the most profound emotion, and Fleta's whole conduct shocked and distressed that spirit so that it groaned, and more, upbraided him with his mad love. But the fierce growth of that love could not be checked. He might suffer because it lived, but he was not strong enough to kill it.
He turned and walked away from the house and slowly returned to the city. He was ashamed and disheartened. His love seemed to disgrace him. He had entertained lofty ideas which now were discarded for ever. For he knew that tomorrow he would start upon a long journey, the end of which was to him unknown, by the side of a girl whom [Page 133] he could never marry, yet of whom he was the avowed lover. Well, be it so. Hilary began to look at these things from a fatalistic point of view; his weakness led him to shrug his shoulders and say that his fate was stronger than himself. So he went home gloomily yet with a burning and feverish heart. He immediately set to work making ready for his departure for an indefinite period. His mother he found was prepared for this, as Fleta had told him; and more — seemed to regard Fleta as a kind of gentle goddess who had brought good fortune into his path.
“I have always resisted the idea of your hanging about the Court”, she said, “but it is different if indeed the King wishes to have you with him. That must lead to your obtaining some honourable post. What I dreaded was your becoming a mere useless idler. And I am glad you are going into the country, dear,.for you are looking very pale and quite ill”.
Hilary assented tacitly and without comment to the deceit with which Fleta
had paved the way for him.
(To be continued.)
“Spirituality is not what we understand by the words ‘virtue’ or ‘goodness’.
It is the power of perceiving formless, spiritual essences.”
Jasper Niemand in the “Path”.
“The discovery and right use of the true essence of Being — this
is the whole secret of life.”
Jasper Niemand in the “Path.”
DESIRE MADE PURE
When desire is for the purely abstract — when it has lost all trace
or tinge of “self” — then it has become pure.
The first step towards this purity is to kill out the desire for the things of matter, since these can only be enjoyed by the separated personality.
The second is to cease from desiring for oneself even such abstractions as power, knowledge, love, happiness, or fame; for they are but selfishness after all.
Life itself teaches these lessons; for all such objects of desire are found Dead Sea fruit in the moment of attainment. This much we learn from experience. Intuitive perception seizes on the positive truth that satisfaction is attainable only in the infinite; the will makes that conviction an actual fact of consciousness, till at last all desire is centred on the Eternal. [Page 134]
THOUGHTS ON THEOSOPHY
“THE letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life”, this is the keynote of all true reform. Theosophy is the vehicle of the spirit that gives life, consequently nothing dogmatic can be truly theosophical.
It is incorrect, therefore, to describe a mere unearthing of dead letter dogmas as “Theosophic work”.
When a word, phrase, or symbol, having been once used for the purpose of suggesting an idea new to the mind or minds being operated on, is. insisted upon irrespective of the said idea, it becomes a dead letter dogma and loses its vitalising power, and serves rather as an obstruction to, than as vehicle of the spirit; but, alas, this insistance upon the letter is too often carried on under the honoured name of “Theosophy”.
A man cannot acquire an idea new to him unless it grows in his mind.
The mere familiarity with the sound of a word, or a phrase, or the mere familiarity with the appearance of a symbol, does not, of necessity, involve the possession of the idea properly associated with the said word, phrase or symbol. To insist, therefore, on the contrary cannot be theosophical; but would be better described as un-theosophical.
It would certainly be theosophical work to point out kindly and temperately how certain words, phrases and symbols appear to have been misunderstood or misapplied, how various claims and professions may be excessive or confused as a consequence of ignorance or vanity, or both. But it is quite another thing to condemn a man or a body of men outright, for certain errors in judgment or action; even though they were the result of vanity, greed or hypocrisy; indeed such wholesale condemnation would, on the contrary, be untheosophical.
The one eternal, immutable law of life alone can judge and condemn a man absolutely. “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord”.
Were I asked how I would dare attempt “to dethrone the gods, overthrow the temple, destroy the law which feeds the priests and props the realm; I should answer as the Buddha is made to answer in the Light of Asia: 'What thou bidst me keep is form which passes while the free truth stands; get thee to thy darkness”.
“What good gift hath my brother but it comes from search and strife (inward) and loving sacrifice”. [Page 135]
THERE are none so blind as those who won't see, excepting those who can't!
In Light, for September 10th , there is a letter from Dr. Wyld, who writes as follows: “In the last number of Light there is a quotation from the Spiritual Reformer in which the writer shows the absurdity of the idea that Jesus was not an historic being. But while thanking the writer for this contribution, I would take the strongest objection to his assertion that many of Christ's teachings are contradictory and mistaken. This is an assertion occasionally made by Spiritualists, arid whenever I have met with it I have asked for evidence of the assertion, but hitherto I have received none”.
But that might surely have been easily supplied. Here, for example, are a few very direct contradictions in the speaker's own words. Every one knows how secret were the teachings in their nature; how secretly they were conveyed in private places apart, how secretly his secrets were to be kept; and yet in “presence of the High Priest Jesus makes the astounding declaration: “ I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues; and in secret spake I nothing”. —John xviii. 20.
Jesus, in keeping with the mythical character, is made to claim equality and identity with the Father. He says (John x. 30), “I and my Father are one”; but in the same book (John xiv. 28), he says, “The Father is greater than I” — (Cf. Matthew xxiv. 36.) Again, he claims superiority over his Father. “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son. As I hear I judge” (John v. 22, 30). And then in the same gospel he says, “I judge no man” (John viii. 15.) “ If any man hear my words and believe not, I judge him not; for I came not to judge the world” (John xii. 47). Again, “ I am one that bear witness of myself. Though I bear witness of myself, yet my record is true”, (John viii. 14, 18); which is contradicted by (John v. 31) “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true”. He says (John v. 33, 34) that ''John bare witness unto the truth, but I receive not testimony from man”, and then tells the disciples, who are supposed to have been men, that “they also shall bear witness” to or of him (John xv. 27). Again he says, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works” (Matthew v. 16). But “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them”. (Matthew vi. i).
“Resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek,
turn to him the other also” (Matthew v. 39); for “all that take
the sword, shall perish with the sword” (Matthew xxvi. 52). Nevertheless, “He
that hath no sword let him sell his garment and buy one”, (Luke xxii.
36). “ I came not to send Peace but a Sword” (Matthew x. 34), “Be
not afraid of them that kill the body” (Luke xii. 4). Nevertheless “Jesus
would not walk in Jewry because the Jews sought to kill him” (John vii.
i). [Page 136]
I merely ask, for the sake of information, are these statements contradictory or are they not ?
I will but offer one or two specimens of the more serious and fundamental contradictions in the olla podrida of teaching assigned to Jesus. The teaching of the alleged founder of Christianity in the Gospel according to Matthew (ch. xix. 12), is that of the Saboi, the self-mutilators, who are still extant as the Russian Skoptsi [Of whom there are large colonies along the Black Sea and the coast of Imeretia and Poti.] and who emasculate themselves to save their spermatic souls, as Origen is reputed to have done. Jesus is made to say, “There are Eunuchs which made themselves Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heavens sake”. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it”. And then in the opening verses of the very next chapter, the same teacher says, “Suffer little children and forbid them not, to come unto me; for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven”. But those who became Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake could not be suffering the little children to come unto him or to them. They would be forbidding them to come at all. If the Kingdom of Heaven be such as the children of Eunuchs it must be non-extant. As Hood's deaf shopman said of the crackers going off, there were so many reports he did not know which to believe.
And where is the sense of talking so much nonsense about the “Golden Rule” or the Divine humanity on behalf of one who carried on the blindest warfare against human nature itself? Who declared that “ If any man come to me and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke xiv. 26). And who promised that every follower of his who “left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the Kingdom of God's sake should receive manifold more in the present and in the world to come life everlasting”. Well may the grateful Musselman cry in his adorations, “Thank God OUR Father has no Son!”
But, I do not charge these contradictory sayings and teachings to any personal character. The collectors are but making use of the Kurios, the Lord of the pre-Christian Mythos, the mystical Christ of the Gnostics, as a puppet to represent them and their divers doctrines. They make the human, image of a God of Love to be the preacher of everlasting punishment, and the bearer of a fan with which he fans the fires of hell; a false foreteller of that which never came to pass, and the forerunner of a fulfilment which did not follow. In short, they make this Marionette Messiah dance to any particular tune they play.
Jesus is posed as the original revealer of a father in Heaven, whereas the doctrine of the Divine Fatherhood was taught in three different Egyptian Cults during some four thousand years previously.
Dr. Wyld implies that I deny the existence of a personal Jesus. That is the misrepresentation of ignorance. But the sole historical Jesus acknowledged by me is the only one who was ever known to the Jews, to Celsus, to Epiphanius, as the descendant of JOSEPH Pandira, he, who according to Ireneus, lived to be over fifty years of age.
This, I admit, was not the kind of Jesus whom the Christians find in the Gospels and honour as a God.
The Gospel histories do not contain the biography of Ben-Pandira, the son [Page 137] of Joseph. Nor was it intended that they should. Their Jesus is the mythical Christ, the Horus of 12 years, and the adult Horus of 30 years; the Lord of the age, Aeon or Cycle, who came and went, and was to come again for those who possessed the Gnosis.
Another writer in Light, a week earlier, could not understand how any one can deny the personal existence of the “Historical Christ!”
The Historical Christ! You might as well demand our belief in the historical Chronos — Time, in person —or the historical Ghost, in man or out of him. If the writer knew anything of the pre-Christian Spiritualism —anything of the true nature or even the meaning of the name — he would perceive the Historic Impossibility of the personal Christ. An “Historical Christ” is as much a nonentity as the historical Mrs. Harris. But, cui bono ? I have no hope in these matters of any orthodox Christian Spiritualists. They have to learn the primary lesson, at last, that Historic Christianity was not founded on our facts until it had buried them ! That it was the negation of Gnosticism, the antithesis of phenomenal Spiritualism. That it substituted faith for facts; a physical resurrection for a spiritual continuity, and a corporeal Christ-for the trans-corporeal man.
The Christian Revelation leaves no room for modern Spiritualism, and they are logically, truly Christians who reject it ! It recognises no other rising again except at the last day, and then only for the few who believed in Jesus (John vi. 40). The Christians have no other world but one at the end of this; no other spirits extant excepting their physical Christ and the devil.
People who will see nothing contradictory in direct opposites, no difference betwixt black and white, but rather the necessary duality of antiphonal truth, who can accept a misinterpretation of mythology for the Word of God, are of little account as witnesses for Spiritualism. They who tell a story about the whale swallowing Jonah are not likely to be credited when they come with another that looks very like Jonah swallowing the whale. Professed believers in the literal truth of the Gospel fables are of necessity “Suspects” as witnesses for abnormal and extraordinary facts.
Pointing to his antagonist on the platform, O'Connel once enquired of his audience, “Can ye believe a single word that a gentleman says who wears a waistcoat of that colour ? ” It was yellow, and they couldn't.
What is the use of taking your “Bible oath” that this thing is true, if the Book you are sworn upon is a magazine of falsehoods already exploded or just going off?
Moreover, the Christian Priesthood has been preaching through all these centuries that the dead do not return; and the living have believed them.
Dr. Sprenger has calculated that nine million persons have been put to death as Witches, Wizards, or Mediums, since 1484, when Pope Innocent VIII. issued his Bull against Spiritualism and all its practices, which were considered to be the works of the devil.
Besides, if the Christian scheme of damnation be true, as assigned to the teaching of Jesus, no humane person should want to know that there is any hereafter.
Spiritualism can make no headway
where it has to draw after it this dead weight of a tail.
Christian Spiritualism also ostentatiously proclaims that it has nothing in the world to do with “Woman's Rights”, “Vaccination”, or any such merely human interests. It would seek to create an [interest in another life, whilst ignoring the vital interests of this. But that is to sign its own death-warrant and to seal its own speedy doom. This is to repeat the mistake and follow the failure of the Christian system of saving souls for another life whilst allowing them to be damned in this. At the same time, it would drag Spiritualism into the bankrupt business of Historic Christianity and bind up a third testament to save the other two, as a sort of Trinity in Unity. But as a system of thought, of religion, or morals and a mode of interpreting nature, Historic Christianity is moribund and cannot be saved, or resuscitated by transfusion of new blood into it; not if you bled Spiritualism to death in trying to give it a little new life. They try in vain to make our phenomena guarantee the miracles of mythology as spiritual realities. They try in vain to tether the other world in this and make it draw for the fraudulent old faith. They keep on jumping up and down to persuade themselves and others that they are free. But it is only a question of length of chain, for those who are still fettered fast at foot upon the ancient standing-ground.
I have not answered the writer in the paper quoted by Light, and approved by Dr. Wyld, for the reason that his acquaintance with my data was too limited to make discussion profitable or useful. Those data are already presented in accessible books and pamphlets, and there is no need for me to repeat them in reply to him. Those who undertake to write on so perplexing a subject ought to be able to illuminate it and enlighten their opponents. The problems are not to be solved by any amount of personal simplicity. I am always ready to meet any competent and well-informed defender of the faith upon the platform or in the press. I should prefer it to be a bishop, who is also an Egyptologist. But beggars are not allowed to be choosers. I am prepared at any time to demonstrate the entirely mythical and mystical origin of the Christ, and the non-spiritual, non-historical beginnings of the vast complex called Christianity.
[Any “Bishop Egyptologist”, or even Assyriologist, of whom we have heard there are not a few in England, is cordially invited to defend his position in the pages of LUCIFER. The “Son of the Morning” is the Light-Bearer, and welcomes light from every quarter of the globe. — H.P.Blavatsky, Editor]
[NOTE. —As LUCIFER cannot concur in the exclusively exoteric view, taken by Mr. Massey, of this allegorical, though none the less philosophical, scripture, the next number will contain an article dealing with the esoteric meaning of the New Testament. — H.P.Blavatsky, Editor]
TO THE AUTHOR OF “LIGHT ON THE PATH” — Interrogator
THERE is a sentence in your “Comments” which has haunted me with a sense of irritation: “To obtain knowledge by experiment is too tedious a method for those who aspire to do real work”, etc.. Have we any knowledge, of whatever sort, that has been of use in the world, which has been obtained otherwise than experimentally ? By patient and persistent toil of sifting and testing, we have obtained the little knowledge that is of service to us. Is there such a [Page 139] thing as “certain intuition” ? Has intuitive knowledge, if such there be, been accepted as positive knowledge until it has been submitted to the test of experiment ? Would it be right that it should be ? Your illustration of the “determined workman” brings the question down (as I think the question should be brought) to the plane of practice. Is there any workman who can know his tools until he has tried them ? Is not the history of knowledge the history of intuitions put to the test of practice ? Intuitions, or what we call such, seem to me quite as apt and likely to deceive us as anything in the world; we only know them for good when we have tried them.
REPLY TO INTERROGATOR - Editor
It seems to me there is some confusion in this letter between obtaining knowledge by experiment, and testing it by experiment. Edison knew that his discoveries were only things to look for, and he tested his knowledge by experiment. The actual work of great inventors is the bringing of intuitive knowledge on to the plane of practice by applying the test of experiment. But all inventors are seers; and some of them having died without being able to put into practice the powers which they knew existed in Nature were considered madmen. Later on, other men are more fortunate, and rediscover the laughed-at knowledge. This is an old and familiar story, but we need constantly to be reminded of it. How often have great musicians or great artists been regarded as “infant prodigies” in their childhood ? They have intuitive knowledge of that power of which they are chosen interpreters, and experiment is only necessary in order to find out how to give that which they know to others.
Intuitive knowledge in reference to the subjects with which I have been dealing must indeed be tested by experiment; and it is the whole purpose of “ Light on the Path ” itself, and the “Comments” to urge men to test their knowledge in this way. But the vital difference between this and material forms of knowledge is that for all occult purposes a man must obtain his own knowledge before he can use it. There are many subjects of time content to linger on through aeons of slow development, and pass the threshold of eternity at last by sheer force of the great wheel of life with which they move; possibly during their interminable noviciate, they may obtain knowledge by experiment and with well-tested tools. Not so the pioneer, the one who claims his divine inheritance now. He must work as the great artists, the great inventors have done; obtain knowledge by intuition, and have such sublime faith in his own knowledge that his life is readily devoted to testing it.
But for this purpose the testing has to be actually done in the astral life. In a new world, where the use of the senses is a pain, how can the workman stay to test his tools ? The old proverb about the good workman who never quarrels with them, however bad they are, though of course had he the choice he would use the best, applies here.
As to whether intuitive knowledge exists or noT, I can only ask how came philosophies, metaphysics, mathematics into existence ? All these represent a portion of abstract truth.
Before I received this letter the “Comments” for this month were written, in which, as it happens, I have spoken a great deal about intuitive knowledge. [Page 140] Therefore, I will now only quote the definition of a philosopher from Plato, which is given near the end of Book V., —
“ I mean by philosopher, the man who is devoted to the acquisition of knowledge, real knowledge, and not merely inquisitive. The more our citizens approach this temperament, the better the state will be. True knowledge in its perfection and its entirety, man cannot attain. But he can attain to a kind of knowledge of realities, if he has any knowledge at all, because he cannot know nonentities. Hence his knowledge is half-way between real knowledge and ignorance, and we must call it opinion”.
NOTE. — Several questions which have been received are held over to be answered next month.
To the Editors of LUCIFER — Interrogator
IN the interesting and lucid article on “Karma” in your number of September 15th, everything seems to hinge on the theory of re-incarnation. “Very well”, says the author of that paper, “let us take the principle of re-incarnation for granted”. But is not this a rather unphilosophical way of handling a subject of such gravity ? Take this or that principle for granted, and you may go about to prove anything under the sun. It is the old weakness of begging the question. Is it not this taking for granted what cannot be proved, and is not attempted to be proved, that has led astray speculators — both scientific and religious — everywhere and in every age, and is it not upon similar assumptions that the whole monstrous fabric of theology rests ? Of course, in every kind of speculation one is compelled to set out with an assumption of some sort; but then the first thing the reader demands is, that the grounds shall be shown upon which the assumption rests; the assumption, whatever it be, must be made good before one can be asked to accept that which is to be raised upon it. And here comes in my question: What is the warrant or sanction for the principle of re-incarnation ? What is the principle grounded upon ? Do we undergo re-incarnation, and how do you know it ?
Having set out with the assumption,
the author does not return to it again, and at the end of the article I am
as uninstructed as at the outset respecting the pivotal principle upon which
all that follows seems to turn.
Reply to Interrogator - by Editor
The author of “Karma” will go into this question fully in a paper devoted entirely to the subject of re-incarnation. The two subjects are inextricably interwoven, but it was decided that to treat the two at the same time would produce too great a confusion, and offer too wide an area of speculation for the mind to grapple with. Therefore this course was adopted of taking the principle of re-incarnation for granted. It is possible that the second paper should have come first, but the two theories stand side by side, not one before the other, so that the question of precedence was a difficult one. But it is necessary, in view of this blending of the ideas, that the reader shall have the complete presentation of both before him, and then draw his conclusions. Therefore indulgence is asked until the papers dealing with each subject are completed. As many readers may have felt the same difficulty as our correspondent, we are glad to insert this letter and reply. [Page 141]
THE KABBALAH UNVEILED
S. L. MACGREGOR MATHERS
[Published by George Redway, 15 York Street, Convent Garden.]
Reviewed by William Wynn Westcott
THE author of this welcome volume has supplied the present generation of students of theosophy and occultism with a text-book which has been long wanted and waited for. The “Zohar” is the great storehouse of the ancient Hebrew theosophy, supplemented by the philosophical doctrines of the mediaeval Jewish Rabbis. It consists of several distinct yet allied tracts, each discussing some special branch of the subject; each tract again consists of several portions, a kernel of most ancient dogma, to which are added comments and explanations, in some cases by several hands and at very different epochs. There is sufficient proof that these kernels of dogma are remnants of one of the oldest systems of philosophy that have come down to us, and they show also intrinsic evidence that they are associated at least with the return from the Babylonish captivity. On the other hand, it is pretty certain that the Zohar, in its present form, was put together and first printed about 1558, at Mantua, and a little later in other editions at Cremona and Lublin. This Mantuan edition was a revision of the collection of tracts collected and edited in MS. form by Moses de Leon, of Guadalaxara, in Spain, about 1300; even the most hostile views of the antiquity of the Zohar grant this much, and although direct historical evidence is not forthcoming of the several steps in the course of transmission of these doctrines from ante-Roman times, yet, as aforesaid, the internal evidence is ample to show the essential origination of the specially Hebrew ideas found in the Zohar from Rabbis, more or less tinged with a Babylonish cast, who must have flourished antecedent to the building of the second Temple. The tradition of the mediaeval Rabbis definitely assigned the authorship to Rabbi Schimeon ben Jochai, who lived in the reign of the Roman Emperor Titus, A.D. 70-80; and it is the claim of authorship made on his behalf that the modern critic is so fond of contesting.
The “Zohar” or “Splendour”, or “Book of Illumination”, and the “Sepher Yetzirah” are almost the only extant books of the Kabbalah, Qbalah or Cabbala. The “Kabbalah Denudata” of Knorr von Rosenroth, is a Latin version of the former, with commentaries by himself and by certain learned Rabbis. No French and no German translation of the Zohar has ever been published, nor until the present time has any English version been printed. Eliphaz Levi has, however, paraphrased a few chapters of the “Book of Concealed Mystery”, and these have been printed in The Theosophist.
Some parts of the Zohar are written in pure Hebrew, but a large portion is
in Aramaic Chaldee, and there are passages in other dialects; this variation
of language adds immensely to the difficulties of an accurate translation.
Knorr von Rosenroth was a most able and compendious Hebrew savant, and [Page 142] his translation of much of the Zohar into Latin is a work of established reputation, and has been, indeed, almost the only means by which the students of our era have been able to consult Hebraic philosophy. The present revival of theosophical studies by the English speaking races has created a demand for the Kabbalah in an English dress, and hence the appearance of the present work is well timed, and will form an epoch in the history of occultism; and much good fruit will no doubt be borne by a more intimate acquaintance with Jewish lore, which will tinge the present tendency to supremacy of the Sanscrit and Hermetic forms of mysticism. There is much reason to suppose that an attentive study of each of these forms of knowledge may lead one to the Hidden Wisdom; but a skilful analogy, and an investigation into the three forms of dogma on parallel lines will give a breadth of grasp and a cosmopolitan view of the matter which should lead to a happy solution of the great problems of life in a speedy and satisfactory manner. The Kabbalah may, in concise terms, be said to teach the ancient Rabbinical doctrines of the nature and attributes of the Divinity, the cosmogony of our universe, the creation of angels and the human soul, the destiny of angels and men, the dogma of equilibrium, and the transcendental symbolism of the Hebrew letters and numerals.
Mr. Mathers, who is a most patient and persevering student, if not professor, of mystic lore, is at the same time a first-rate classical scholar, and a skilful interpreter of the Hebrew tongue, and his translation from the Latin, varied and improved by his own study of the original Chaldee, has produced an English version of the Kabbalah Denudata which is eloquent in its construction, true to its text, and lucid in its abstruseness. For the matter is abstruse, much of it, and some is practically incomprehensible to the beginner, to the world in general for certain, and perhaps to every one at the first glance. But it will be certainly perceived that those very portions which seem most extravagant at a first reading are just the passages from which later a light will arise and lead one on to a firm grasp of the subject. To take up this volume and read at odd moments is a useless and hopeless task; no progress will be made, at any rate at first, except by thoroughly abstracting one's individuality from the things of common life; disappointment can only accompany superficial reading.
Great credit is due to the enterprise of Mr. Redway in publishing this volume, for which no very extensive sale could have been anticipated; that he has already distributed a considerable number is matter for congratulation to himself and to the public. It is hoped that his success will induce him to publish other volumes of antique lore, of which many yet remain more or less completely ignored by the present generation.
The “Siphra Dtzenioutha”, the “ Idra Rabba”, and the “Idra
Zuta”, included in this volume are doubtless three of the most valuable
of the tracts of the Zohar, yet there are others of equal interest. The “Book
of the Revolutions of Souls” is a most curious and mysterious work, and
the “Asch Metzareph” is a treatise on the relations between Theosophy
and the oldest alchemical ideas which are known to exist; it is a work on the
Asiatic plane, on the lowest of the four kabbalistic worlds of Emanation. [Page
Beyond the limits of the Zohar proper, the “Sepher Yetzirah”, is a treatise which for interest and instruction cannot be surpassed.
Mr. Mathers supplies us with an introduction to the Qabalah, which stamps him as a master of the science, and although he refers us on some pages to Ginsburg (a recognised authority), yet his remarks and explanation are more deep and thorough than those published in Ginsburg's little English pamphlet, and are more discursive and complete. My remarks on the difficulty of our subject hardly render it necessary for me to insist on the absolute necessity of a painstaking study of this introduction, which will supply in a great measure the want of a de novo education in Hebrew, and Hebrew modes of thought and expression.
Mr. Mathers justly insists on the
literal rendering of the Hebrew title by the spelling Qabalah, which is no
doubt correct, but lays him open to a charge of pedantry, which perhaps does
not much affect him, since it would only come from superficial and possibly
scoffing critics. The use of the letter Q without its usual English companion
the “u” is sanctioned and advised, in this connection, by the
learned Max Müller and other Orientalists of repute. To avoid the
printing of Hebrew letters, the publisher has adopted a scheme of printing
Hebrew words in English capital letters (in addition to the mode of pronunciation),
after a method given by the author in tabular form. To the Hebrew scholar this
gives an idea of barbarism, which is painful to the eye and sadly mars the
volume, whilst it only saves the student the task of learning an alphabet
of 22 letters. I differ from the author in representing the Hebrew Teth by
T, while depicting the Tau by TH., the reverse would have been a closer imitation
of the sounds. The Introduction includes a learned excursus upon the idea of “Negative
Existence”, in which considerable light is thrown on that difficult subject;
skilful definitions are added concerning the AIN, the AIN SOPH, and AIN SOPH
AUR, answering in English to Negativity, The Limitless, and Limitless Light,
the first essences of Deity. Several pages are devoted to a clear description
of the Ten Sephiroth, the Numerical Conceptions of Godhead, and their explanatory
titles; the Four Worlds of Emanation, and the component elements of a Human
Soul; the Mysteries of the Hexagram as a type of Macroprosopus, the Most Holy
Ancient One, or God the Father — and the succeeding mystery of Microprosopus,
the Lesser Countenance, typified in the Pentagram and corresponding to the
Christian Personality of the “Son of God”, are all explained at
length. The series of references to the IHVH the Tetragrammaton, the Concealed
Name of unknown pronunciation, form a valuable dissertation. The book is supplied
with nine well executed diagrams, explanatory of the Sephiroth. the sacred
names, essences of the soul, and a very perfect and complete scheme of the
Sephiroth in the four worlds of emanation associated with the Vision of Ezekiel.
Mr. Mathers desires to call special attention to the differentiation of the
Deity in the Emanations, into the female type in addition to masculine characteristics:
note the idealism of the Superior HE, Binah, the Mother, and the Inferior HE,
Malkuth, the Bride of Microprosopus, the Kingdom of God (the Son of God and
his Bride the Church), note that Genesis i. 26, says “let Us make man
in our image”, “male and female created he them”; the “us” is “Elohim”,
a noun in the plural. [Page 144]
The “Siphra Dtzenioutha”, or “Book of Concealed Mystery”, is the most difficult of comprehension. Mr. Mathers adds a running commentary of his own, which proves to be very valuable. It consists of five chapters; in the first are found references to the Mystical Equilibrium, the worlds of unbalanced force characterised as the Edomite kings, the Vast Countenance, Theli the Dragon, the powers of IHVH, and the essence of the female power — the Mother. The second chapter mentions the Beard of Truth, and passes on to define Micropofosopus. The third chapter treats of the Beard of Microprosopus in an allegorical manner, and of the formation of the Supernal Man. An annotation follows concerning Prayer, and a curious note on the word AMEN ! as composed of IHVH, and ADNI Adonai or Lord. Chapter IV. treats of the male and female essences, and has a curious note on the Hebrew letter He', speaking of it as female, and composed of D, Daleth, and I, Jod — a great mystery worthy of study. Chapter V. speaks of the Supernal Eden, the Heavens, the Earth, the Waters, the Giants-Nephilim in the earth, wars of the kings, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the serpent, and the houses of judgment; so that this treatise is no less discursive than abstruse.
The “ Idra Rabba”, or “Greater Holy Assembly”, consisted of ten Rabbis, of whom Rabbi Schimeon was chief, and the book contains their several speeches and comments upon the doctrines laid down by Rabbi Schimeon, on a similar plan to the conversations narrated in the Book of Job. Twenty-five chapters are occupied 'with an allegory of the several parts of Macroprosopus, the type of God the Father; the twenty-sixth concerns the Edomite kings, the vanished creations; Chapters XXVII. to XLII. are an allegorical description of Microprosopus, the Son Deity, the V or Vau of the Tetragrammaton; Chapter XLIII. concerns the Judgments; XLIV., the Supernal Man; and XLV. is a Conclusion, in narrative form, of the passing away of three of the ten Rabbis, and the acknowledgment of R. Schimeon as chief of them all.
Very much of this descriptive volume referring to Deity is not only abstruse, but is, to the modern European, verbiage run wild; yet in this characteristic it is truly Oriental and Hebrew; some passages remind me very much of' the “Song of Solomon”, there are the same exuberant and flowery outbursts of poetic imagery.
The “Idra Zuta”, or “Lesser Holy Assembly”, is a similar treatise, explanatory of the Holy powers of the Deity, ascribing honour and power to Macroprosopus, Microprosopus, AIMA the God Mother, and the Bride of God; with instructive allusions to the Prior Worlds of the so-called Edomite Kings, and the sexual aspects of Godhead. The work concludes with a narrative of the death of R. Schimeon and his burial, the whole “Idra” being his last dying declaration of doctrine.
It is noteworthy that the words of the “Smaragdime Tablet, of Hermes” — “that which is below is like that which is above” occur in paragraph 388 of the Idra Rabba, and are thus introduced, “We have learned through Barietha, the tradition given forth without the Holy City”. I note also that the Mischna is mentioned in the Idra Zuta. Want of space compels me to omit all extracts from this volume, which is a matter of regret, as many passages are very eloquently written. [Page 145]
A flaw in this book is the construction of the Index, which should have contained sub-headings, as well as main headings. Of what value is the entry “Microprosopus”, followed by eleven lines each of fourteen page-numbers ? A score of references, sub-divided between his characteristics, his relationships, and his titles would have been of more practical use. With this exception, and when the abomination of Hebrew in English letters has been tolerated, we must acknowledge the production of a most valuable theosophical and philosophical storehouse of ancient Hebrew doctrine, on which Mr. MacGregor Mathers may be heartily congratulated.
AN ADVENTURE AMONG THE ROSICRUCIANS
A STUDENT OF OCCULTISM
[Dr. Franz Hartmann (1838-1912)]
Reviewed by H.P.Blavatsky, Editor
A strange and original little story,
charmingly fantastic, but full of poetic feeling and, what is more, of deep
philosophical and occult truths, for those who can perceive the ground-work
it is built upon. A fresh Eclogue of Virgil in its first part, descriptive
of Alpine scenery in the Tyrol, where the author “dreamt” his
adventure, with “shining glaciers glistening like vast mirrors in the
light of the rising sun”, deep ravines with rushing streams dancing between
the cliffs, blue lakes slumbering among the meadows, and daisy-sprinkled valleys
resting in the shadow of old pine forests.
Gradually as the hero of the “Adventure” ascended higher and higher, he began losing the sense of the world of the real, to pass unconsciously into the land of waking dreams.
In these solitudes there is nothing to remind one of the existence of man, except occasionally the sawed-off trunk of a tree, showing the destructive influence of human activity. In some old, rotten, and hollow trunks rain-water has collected, sparkling in the sun like little mirrors, such as may be used by water-nymphs, and around their edges mushrooms are growing, which our imagination transforms into chairs, tables, and baldachinos for elves and fairies. . . . . . . . . . No sound could now be heard, except occasionally the note of a titmouse and the cry of a hawk who rose in long-drawn spiral motion high up into the air. . . . . . . .
Throwing himself upon the moss, he begins watching the play of the water until it becomes “alive with forms of the most singular shape,” with super-mundane beings dancing in the spray, “shaking their heads in the sunshine and throwing off showers of liquid silver from their waving locks”. . . .
“Their laughter sounded like that of the Falls of Minnehaha, and from the crevices of the rocks peeped the ugly faces of gnomes and kobolds, watching slyly the fairies”.
Then the dreamer asks himself a variety of questions of the most perplexing
nature, except, perhaps, to the materialist, who cuts every psychological problem
as Alexander cleft the Gordian knot. . . .
“What is the reason that we imagine such things?” he inquires.
Why do we endow “dead” things with human consciousness and with sensation? . . . . . . . . Is our consciousness merely a product of the organic activity of our physical body, or is it a function [Page 146] of the universal life . . . . . within the body? Is our personal consciousness dependent for its existence on the existence of the physical body, and does it die with it; or is there a spiritual consciousness, belonging to a higher, immortal, and invisible self of man, temporarily connected with the organism, but which may exist independently of the latter? If such is the case, if our physical organism is merely an instrument through which our consciousness acts, then this instrument is not our real self. If this is true, then our real self is there where our consciousness exists, and may exist independently of the latter. . . . . . . Can there be any dead matter in the Universe? Is not even a stone held together by the “cohesion” of its particles, and attracted to the earth by “gravitation”? But what else is this “cohesion” and “gravitation” but energy, and what is “energy” but the soul, an anterior principle called force, which produces an outward manifestation called matter? . . . . . . . All things possess life, all things possess soul, and there may be soul-beings . . . . . . . invisible to our physical senses, but which may be perceived by our soul. [p.19.]
The arch-druid of modern Hylo-Idealism,
Dr. Lewins, failing to appear to rudely shake our philosopher out of his
unscientific thoughts, a dwarf appears in his stead. The creature, however,
does not warn the dreamer, as that too-learned Idealist would.
He does not tell him that he transcends “the limits of
the anatomy of his conscious Ego,” since “ psychosis is
now diagnosed by medico-psychological symptomatology as vesiculo-neurosis
in activity”, [What is Religion? A Vindication of Free Thought.
By C. N., [Constance Naden], annotated by Robert Lewins, M. D. See his Appendices,
p. 35, et
seq. ] and — as quoth
the raven — “merely this, and nothing more”. But being a cretin,
he laughingly invites him to his “Master”.
The hero follows, and finds he is brought to a “theosophical monastery,” in a hidden valley of the most gorgeous description. Therein he meets, to his surprise, with adepts of both sexes; for, as he learns later: —
“What has intelligence to do with the sex of the body? Where the sexual instincts end, there ends the influence of the sex”.
Meanwhile, he is brought into the presence of a male adept of majestic appearance, who welcomes and informs him that he is among “The Brothers of the Golden and Rosy Cross”. He is invited to remain with them for some time, and see how they live. His permanent residence with them is, however, objected to. The reasons given for it are as follows: —
“There are still too many of the lower and animal elements adhering to your constitution. . . . . . . They could not resist long the destructive influence of the pure and spiritual air of this place; and, as you have not yet a sufficient amount of truly spiritual elements in your organism to render it firm and strong, you would, by remaining here, soon become weak and waste away, like a person in consumption; you would become miserable instead of being happy, and you would die”.
Then follows a philosophical conversation
on WILL, in which the latter, in individual man, is said to become the stronger
if it only uses the universal Will-Power in Nature, itself remaining passive in the LAW. This sentence
has to be well understood, lest it should lead the reader into the error of
accepting pure mediumistic passivity as the best thing for spiritual
and occult development. A phenomenon is produced on a passing cloud, into which
apparent life is infused by the Master’s hand, stretched towards it;
this is again explained by showing that LIFE is universal and identical with
WILL. Other phenomena
still more wonderful follow; and they are all explained as being produced through
natural laws, in which science will not believe. The thoughts of the student
are read and answered as though his mind were an opened book. A lovely garden,
full of exotic plants and luxurious palm-trees, into which he is taken, striking
him as something unnatural in the Tyrolean Alps; so much [Page
moreover, seeming to him to disagree with the ascetic views just expressed
by the adept, he is told forthwith, in answer to his unexpressed thoughts,
that the garden had been erected to make his visit an agreeable one; and that
it was an illusion. “All
these trees and plants . . . . require no gardeners, . . . . . . they cost
us nothing but an effort of our imagination” — he learns.
“Surely”, he said, “this rose cannot be an illusion . . . . or an effect of my imagination?”
“No”, answered the adept . . . .“ but it is a product of the imagination of Nature, whose processes can be guided by the will of the adept. The whole world . . . . is nothing else but a world of the imagination of the Universal Mind, which is the Creator of forms. . . . . ”
To exemplify the teaching, a Magnolia Tree in full blossom sixty feet high, standing at a distance, is made to look less and less dense. The green foliage fades into gray, becomes “more and more shadowy and transparent,” until “it seemed to be merely the ghost of a tree, and finally disappeared entirely from view.”
“Thus” continued the adept “you see that tree stood in the sphere of my mind as it stood in yours. We are all living within the sphere of each other’s mind. . . . . . . . The Adept creates his own images; the ordinary mortal lives in the products of the imagination of others, or the imagination of nature. We live in the paradise of our own soul but the spheres of our souls are not narrow. They have expanded far beyond the limits of the visible bodies, and will continue to expand until they become one with the universal Soul. . . .. . ”
“The power of the imagination is yet too little known to mankind, else they would better beware of what they think. If a man thinks a good or an evil thought, that thought calls into existence a corresponding form or power which may assume density and become living . . . . . . and live long after the physical body of the man who created it has died. It will accompany his soul after death, because the creations are attracted to their creator”. [p. 83.]
Scattered hither and thither, through this little volume are pearls of wisdom.
For that which is rendered in the shape of dialogue and monologue is the fruit
gathered by the author during a long research in old forgotten and mouldy MSS.
of the Rosicrucians, or mediaeval alchemists, and in the worm-eaten infoglios of unrecognized, yet great adepts of every age.
Thus when the author approaches the subject of theosophical retreats or communities — a dream cherished by many a theosophist — he is answered by the “Adept” that “the true ascetic is he who lives in the world, surrounded by its temptations; he in whose soul the animal elements are still active, craving for the gratification of their desires and possessing the means for such gratification, but who by the superior power of his will conquers his animal self. Having attained that state he may retire from the world. . . . He expects no future reward in heaven; for what could heaven offer him except happiness which he already possesses? He desires no other good, but to create good for the world.” . . . . Saith the Adept.
“If you could establish theosophical monasteries, where intellectual and spiritual development would go hand-in-hand, where a new science could be taught, based upon a true knowledge of the fundamental laws of the universe, and when at the same time man would be taught how to obtain a mastery over himself, you would confer the greatest possible benefit upon the world. Such a convent would afford immense advantage for the advancement of intellectual research. . . . . . . . These convents would become centres of intelligence. . . . . . . ” [Page 148]
Then, reading the student’s thoughts:
“You mistake” he added, “it is not the want of money which prevents us to execute the idea. It is the impossibility to find the proper kind of people to inhabit the convent after it is established. Indeed, we would be poor Alchemists if we could not produce gold in any desirable quantity . . . . . . but gold is a curse to mankind, and we do not wish to increase the curse. . . . . . . . . Distribute gold among men, and you will only create craving for more; give them gold, and you will transform them into devils. No, it is not gold that we need; it is men who thirst after wisdom. There are thousands who desire knowledge, but few who desire wisdom. . . . . Even many of your would-be Occultists . . . . . . . have taken up their investigations merely for the purpose of gratifying idle curiosity, while others desire to pry into the secrets of nature, to obtain knowledge which they desire to employ for the attainment of selfish ends. Give us men or women who desire nothing else but the truth, and we will take care of their needs. . . . . .”
And then having given a startlingly
true picture of modern civilisation, and explained the occult side of certain
things pertaining to knowledge, the Adept led on the student to his laboratory,
where he left him for a few minutes alone. Then another adept, looking like
a monk, joined him, and drew his attention to some powders, by the fumigations
of which the Elementals, or “Spirits
of Nature” could be made to appear. This provoked the student’s
curiosity. Sure of his invulnerability in the matter of tests and temptations,
he begged to be allowed to see these creatures. . . .
Suddenly the room looked dim, and the walls of the laboratory disappeared. He felt he was in the water, light as a feather, dancing on the waves, with the full moon pouring torrents of light upon the ocean, and the beautiful Isle of Ceylon appearing in the distance. The melodious sound of female voices made him espy near to where he was three beautiful female beings. The Queen of the Undines, the most lovely of the three — for these were the longed-for Elementals — entices the unwary student to her submarine palace. He follows her, and, forgetting theosophical convents, Adepts and Occultism, succumbs to the temptation. . . .
Was it but a dream? It would so
appear. For he awakes on the mossy plot where he had lain to rest in the
morning, and from whence he had followed the dwarf. But how comes it that
he finds in his button-hole the exotic lily given to him by the adept lady,
and in his pocket the piece of gold transmuted in his presence by the “Master”?
He rushes home, and finds on the table of his hotel-room a promised work
on “The Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians”, and on its fly-leaf
a few words in pencil. They ran thus: —
“Friend, I regret . . . I cannot invite you to visit us again for the present. He who desires to remain in the peaceful valley must know how to resist all sensual attractions, even those of the Water Queen. Study . . . bring the circle into the square, mortify the metals.... When you have succeeded we shall meet again . . . . I shall be with you when you need me.”The work ends with the quotation from Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians, where the man caught up into Paradise (whether in the body or out of the body . . . God knoweth) “heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”
BEMBINA SIVE MENSA ISIACA
THE ISIAC TABLET OF CARDINAL BEMBO:
ITS HISTORY AND OCCULT SIGNIFICANCE.
by W. WYNN WESTCOTT, M.B. BATH. R. H. FRYAR, 1887.
Review by Anon
THIS work is a monograph of 20 foolscap folio pages, on the celebrated Isiac Tablet. It is well and clearly printed in good-sized type on good paper, and has for frontispiece a well-executed photogravure of the Tablet itself, from a drawing made by the author some years previously. It is written in the clear style which distinguishes Dr. Westcott's writings, and in all quotations chapter and verse are scrupulously given. Three centuries ago this Tablet greatly exercised the minds of the learned, and continued to do so till the researches of modern Egyptologists began to throw some doubt upon its authenticity as a reliable specimen of ancient Egyptian art; since which time the interest in it has gradually declined. Undoubtedly occult, as its meaning and symbolism alike are, we feel that this monograph will be of service to all lovers and students of the mystical ideas of ancient Egypt. The first thing which strikes the eye of even the most careless observer is the careful and systematic arrangement of the figures and emblems in triads, or groups of three, which system of classification prevailed in the religious symbolism of the Egyptians. The Tablet, again, is divided by transverse horizontal lines into three principal portions, Upper, Lower, and Middle, the latter being sub-divided by vertical lines into three parts, the centre of which is occupied by a throned female figure, flanked on each side by a triad, of which the central figure in each instance is seated. Thus the Upper and Lower portions of the Tablet give each a Dodecad sub-divided into Triads, while the central portion forms a Heptad. This at once corresponds to the symbolism of the הד׳צ׳ דפם, Sepher Yetzirah, Chapter VI., § 3. “The Triad, the Unity which standeth one and alone, the Heptad divided into Three as opposed to Three and the Centre Mediating between them, the Twelve which stand in war .... the Unity above the Triad, the Triad above the Heptad, the Heptad above the Dodecad and they are all bound together each with each”.
Commencing with a description of the Tablet, Dr. Westcott gives as much as is known of its history, quoting from Kircher, Keysler, Murray, and others. It appears that it was first discovered in Rome, at a spot where a Temple of Isis had once stood. After the sack of Rome by the Constable De Bourbon, it fell into the hands of a smith, who sold it to Cardinal Bembo for a large sum. At his death it came into the possession of the Dukes of Mantua, at the taking of which city in 1630, it passed into the hands of Cardinal Pava. It is now in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities at Turin. The dimensions are 4 ft. 2 in., by 2 ft. 5½ in. Thus its experiences during the last few centuries have been rather storm.
After mentioning Aeneas De Vico and Pignorius, Dr. Westcott gives us an extensive digest of the views of Athanasius Kircher, from whose plate in the [Page 150] “Oedipus Aegyptiacus” the photogravure at the commencement is taken. Kircher undoubtedly more nearly grasped the esoteric design of the tablet than any one except Eliphas Levi, and his attempted explanation marks him alike as a profound scholar and an advanced mystic, notwithstanding the great disadvantages with which he had to contend in the utter ignorance of Egyptology as it is now understood, which prevailed at the date at which he wrote.
Quotations and notes from Montfauçon, Shuckford, Warburton, Jablonski, Caylus, Banier, Mackenzie, Kenealy, and Winckelman follow the excerpts from Kircher, and we then come to the views of modern Egyptologists on the subject, notably those of Professor Le Page Renouf as expressed to Dr Westcott in person. The reasons they assign for doubting the authenticity of the Tablet are briefly these: — that they consider the execution of the work stamps it as a Roman production; that the hieroglyphics will not read so as to make sense that the running pattern with the masks would never have been employed by an Egyptian; and that some of the best known Egyptian deities are conspicuous by their absence. In answer to these attacks Dr. Westcott wisely remarks that “it is a gross absurdity to suppose that any man capable of designing such a tablet, over which immense energy, research, and knowledge must have been expended, to say nothing of the skill displayed in its execution, should have wasted his abilities in perpetrating a gigantic hoax; for that is, I suppose, what some modern writers mean who call it a 'forgery'; but a forgery is a deceitful imitation. How it can be called an imitation considering that its special character is that of being different to any other Stelé or Tablet known is not clear; and how it can be a deceit is also incomprehensible, since it bears no name or date purporting to refer it to a definite author or period”.
On page 16 Dr. Westcott observes that the Four Genii of the Dead are conspicuous by their absence, but he seems to overlook their representation in figure 41 of the Limbus, where the sepulchral vases beneath the couch have, as usual, the heads of the Genii of the Dead.
A quotation, together with a plate
from Levi's “Histoire de la Magie”, follows
this, together with a disquisition on the Taro, which has so much exercised
occult students of late. Altogether the book is an extremely interesting production,
and Dr. Westcott puts forward his own views on the subject with much clearness. [Page
EARTH'S EARLIEST AGES:
AND THEIR CONNECTION
WITH MODERN SPIRITUALISM AND THEOSOPHY
by C H Pember
Review by B.K.(?Bertram Keightley)
To meet with a book like this in the last quarter of the nineteenth century is like meeting a Pterodactyl strolling along the Row in the height of the season. But more careful perusal, while augmenting the reader's wonder, mingles with it a certain respect for the writer's courage and unflinching logic.
Granting his fundamental premiss — the verbal inspiration of the Bible — and accepting his first principle of interpretation, his argument is at least consistent, and is weakened by no half-hearted pandering to the facts of experience or the discoveries of science.
To quote Mr. Pember's primary canon, he assumes —
I. “ That the first chapter of Genesis, equally with those which follow it, is, in its primary meaning, neither vision nor allegory, but plain history, and must, therefore, be accepted as a literal statement of facts”.
On this basis he gives an interpretation of Genesis, the main idea of which is the interposition of “The Interval” between the creation and the “Six Days” described in the text. During this period the earth was wholly given over to Satan and his host, and the “Six Days” creation was, according to Mr. Pember, the restoration and reformation of the world from this chaos of confusion.
But space forbids to follow the author into details, since one-half of his volume is devoted to the subject indicated in its sub-title, and this portion is of greater interest to readers of LUCIFER.
As an accurate and thorough student of the work of those he condemns, Mr. Pember stands unrivalled. He has both read and understood a very large part of the literature of Theosophy and Spiritualism. His quotations are fair and well chosen, his comments strictly moderate in tone and entirely free from any personal animus. And these traits are the more surprising since the author has certainly got the “Powers of the Air” very much on the brain. It is hardly even a rhetorical expression to say that it is his firm and unshakeable conviction, that all persons who do not hold the same views of Biblical criticism and Scriptural exegesis as Mr. Pember, are, to the extent of their difference from him, serving the Powers of Evil, the Personal Devil, the Antichrist, whose coming he expects in the very near future.
On this point only Mr. Pember does not seem to have the courage of his opinions; perhaps he does not see, or seeing does not realise, the inevitable conclusion to which his arguments point. But then he may, after all, take refuge in the famous credo quia absurdum.
The author, moreover, is sure to meet with scant sympathy even from the materialists to whom he is most nearly allied in thought. For he accepts, en bloc, the phenomena and wonders of spiritualism as of occultism, and never attempts even to question their reality. Meanwhile, he believes in the [Page 152] resurrection of the physical body after death, in a physical kingdom of Christ upon earth, and so on. Indeed, his views are the most remarkable compound of pure materialism and, wholesale acceptance of the psychic and so-called supernatural that have ever appeared in print.
To sum up, a few passages may be quoted to give an idea of the spirit of Mr. Pember's treatment of this part of the subject, which at the same time will be the most telling criticism of his book to the minds of those who have grasped the ideas of which he speaks.
“... the existence, in all times of the world's history, of persons with abnormal faculties, initiates of the great mysteries and depositors of the secrets of antiquity, has been affirmed by a testimony far too universal and persistent to admit of denial. . . . He who would be an adept must conform to the teaching of those demons, predicted leaders of the last apostasy, who forbid to marry, and command to abstain from meat”.
'' We have never met with a single reported instance of a spirit entering the lower spheres with the glad tidings, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved”. On the contrary, among Spiritualists, as with Theosophists and Buddhists, sin can be expiated only by personal suffering. . . . “Sin”, shrieks the familiar of “ M. A. Oxon”, “is remediable by repentance and atonement and reparation personally wrought out in pain and shame, not by coward cries for mercy, and by feigned assent to statements which ought to create a shudder”.
Mr. Pember, therefore, believes
in vicarious atonement in its crudest form ? He teaches that “repentance and faith” save
man from the consequences of his actions !
After describing the “Perfect Way” as “an ecclesiastical compound of Heathenism” ( with a capital H) the author proceeds to expound the doctrine of reincarnation as therein set forth. Nothing can be fairer or more correct than this exposition, at the conclusion of which we read:
“Jews, Christians, Buddhists and Mahommedans . . . will become able to unite in a universal belief that sin is expiated by transmigrations and in the worship of the Great Goddess. The conception of a second league of Babel has been formed in the minds of Theosophists.
And even then, would not such a league be better than the sectarian wars, the religious persecutions, the tests and disabilities which still disfigure Christendom in the name of religion?
Further on the author refers to the occult axiom that “whereas God is I AM, or positive being, the Devil is NOT, and remarks:
“There is little doubt that the culminations of the Mysteries was the worship of Satan himself. . . It would appear, then, that from remote ages, probably from the time when the Nephilim [the fallen angels of Satan's Host] were upon earth, there has existed a league with the Prince of Darkness, a Society of men consciously on the side of Satan, and against the Most High.
“The spells by which spirits may be summoned from the unseen are now known to all; and those unearthly forms which in past times were projected from the void only in the labyrinths, caverns, and subterranean chambers of the initiated, are now manifesting themselves in many a private drawing-room and parlour. Men have become enamoured of demons, and ere long will receive the Prince of the Demons as their God”.
Theosophy, says Mr. Pember, will become the creed of the intellectual and the educated, while Spiritualism influences the masses of mankind. And he traces the influences of Theosophy and Buddhism in “Broad-Churchism. Universalism, Comtism, Secularism, and Quietism” . Nay, even under the Temperance movement he spies the lurking serpent of esoteric teaching and guidance, and he cites letters from Christian friends complaining that these and other [Page 153] philanthropic movements are being swamped, and their periodicals occupied by Theosophists, who work on Buddhist principles.
In his concluding chapter, the author sums up a truly formidable array of evidences to prove that “the advocates of modern thought array themselves against every principle of the early revelations of the Divine Will”, apparently since they deny and repudiate the following “cosmic or universal laws” : —
I. The law of the Sabbath.
II. The headship of the man over the woman.
III. The institution of marriage i,e., they practise celibacy].
IV. The law of substitution, that life must atone for life, and that without shedding of blood there is no remission, as taught in type by animal sacrifices. Latter-day philosophers affect the utmost horror of such a salvation, and will have none of Christ.
V. The command to use the flesh of animals as food.
VI. The decree that “whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed”.
VII. The direction to multiply and replenish the earth.
The charge of disobedience to such laws as these every mystic will joyfully admit, with the cry, “Happy will it be for all things living when such laws shall no longer be obeyed by any living creature”.
These laws, the disobedience to which Mr. Pember so much regrets in the later schools, date from the dark past when man had to form his physical existence and root it upon the earth. If they are some of the early revelations of the “Divine Will”, that is no reason why they should rule mankind when its condition is changed and it is emerging from the darkness of Materialism, and losing, from its natural growth towards that Divine will, the desire for physical existence. The Mosaic laws were made by the Jehovah, the God of anger and cruelty. In spite of the strange inconsistency by which the followers of Jesus Christ, the teacher of a gentle and sublime faith, read in their churches these Mosaic laws, yet they are empty words from a past of bloodshed to the humane or religious man. The occultist professes even more than religion — he dares to avow himself a follower of the light, an aspirant towards knowledge, and one who is determined to live the noblest life knowledge can indicate. What to him are the laws of murder, of the shedding of blood, of marriage and giving in marriage ? It is not his aim to help people the earth, for he desires to lift himself and others above the craving for earth-life. He commits no murder, for all men are his brethren, and he no longer recognises the brutal law of the criminal, by which, when blood is shed, blood must be again shed to wash it away. He can have no interest either in the straightforward laws of the past, or the complicated modern law of the present — which permits of many things the Jews would have been ashamed of. The only law he recognises is that of charity and justice.
There is a charming page in the Introduction, a ring of genuine sorrow for the failure of certain missionaries in their cowardly attack upon the theosophical leaders, as refreshing as it is ludicrous. The Jeremiad runs in this wise: —
“It would seem that the attack of the Madras Christian College upon Madame Blavatsky has by no means checked the movement in which she has been so conspicuous an actor, and, apparently, the failure is nowhere more manifest than in Madras itself. It was confidently predicted that the High Priestess of Theosophy and Buddhism would not dare to show her face again in that city. Nevertheless she did so, and . . . received a warm welcome, not merely from the members of the Theosophical societies, but also from the members of the various colleges and from many other [Page 154] persons. She was conducted in procession from the shore to the Pancheappa Hall, and was there presented by the students with an address of sympathy and admiration, to which, among other signatures, were appended those of more than three hundred members of the very Christian College whose professors had assailed her'.'
And he adds, “Satan is now setting in motion intellectual forces which will be more than a match for the missionaries, if they persist in carrying on the warfare in the old way”.
Too much praise cannot be rendered to Mr. Pember for his fairness and impersonality.
He writes as becomes a scholar and a gentleman, and though one may smile at
his intellectual blindness and stand amazed at the mental capacity which can
digest the views which he maintains, one cannot but respect his earnestness,
his thoroughness, and his mastery of the subject.
ISAURE AND OTHER POEMS
by W. Steward Ross
Review by Anon
THE poem which gives its name to this volume of ringing verse is, as may easily be conjectured, the lament of a poet over his love torn from him by inexorable death.
A true instinct has taught the author that it is such hours of agony as this, such piercing of the heart, such fierce and burning torture, which reveal to the noble soul capable of intense suffering the inner truths and realities of life. To quote:
“ I stand on the cis-mortal,
And I gaze with 'wildered eye,
To the mists of the trans-mortal,
And the signs called Live and Die.
Let me dream in this cis-mortal,
And the noblest dream I can.
Let me dream far from the formulae,
And I may dream more nigh
To the sable shore of mystery,
And the signs of Live and Die.”
Some passages in this opening poem are instinct with the breath of mysticism, and rouse a keen desire that Mr. Stewart Ross had become acquainted, in that period of his life when this book was written, with the wider and grander view of life as a whole, of its purpose and meaning, of its laws and its realities, which occultism affords to a mind capable of grasping them.
Surely the man who could write:
“For death and life are really one”.
“For the mystic Part is gathered
Unto the mystic Whole.
And the vague lines of non-Being
Are scribbled o'er thy soul.” [Page 155]
must have the power to sense the keener air of the subtle life and grasp its glorious promise.
What pilgrim of the path has not felt:
“Hard-paced the iron years have gone
Over my head since then;
I've haunted in a waking dream
The paths of living men;
But of this world my kingdom's not,
Like him of Galilee,
For I grasp hands they cannot feel,
See forms they cannot see.”
In “Leonore: A Lay of Dipsomania”, one of the most terrible sides of human life is depicted with a vividness which tortures the reader, and flings a gloom on the inexorable sweep of life, fitly in keeping with the vision pictured in “A Nightmare”. A mystic, struggling with the negations of modern science, battling to assert the intuitive knowledge of his true self against its captious intellectualisms, speaks through this picture of desolation and decay, protesting against the disappearance of all that is great and valuable in life under the waves of oblivion.
But no man in whom the spark of true poetic inspiration burns can ever in the depths of his own heart accept the lifeless, empty, unreal phantom which materialism offers as the aim, the purpose, the fulfilment of life. We hope, therefore, that Mr. Stewart Ross will some day give us a volume of poetry in which his true power and insight will find expression, and which will enroll his name on the list of those who have given new life to men.
One cannot fill a vacuum from within itself. — L.S.C.
Many a man will follow a misleader. — L.S.C.
It is not necessary for truth to put on boxing-gloves.— L.S.C.
You cannot build a temple of truth by hammering dead stones. Its foundations must precipitate themselves like crystals from the solution of life. — L.S.C.
When a certain point is reached pain becomes its own anodyne. — L.S.C.
Some pluck the fruits of the tree
(of knowledge) to crown themselves therewith, instead of plucking them to
eat. — L.S.C. [Page 156]
THEOSOPHICAL AND MYSTIC PUBLICATIONS
prepared by H.P.Blavatsky
THE THEOSOPHIST: a
magazine of Oriental Philosophy, Art, Literature, and Occultism, conducted
by H. P. Blavatsky, and H. S. Olcott, Permanent President of the T. S. Vol.
VIII, 1887, Madras, India. In London, George Redway, 15, York Street, Covent
The September number contains several articles of great interest. For lovers of the wonderful, as for the more scientifically inclined students of the laws of psychophysics, the account given by Sreenath Chatterjee, of a self-levitating lama who stayed for some days in his house, is both interesting and instructive. It is endorsed by Colonel Olcott and another independent witness, and bears evident marks of genuine and careful observation. Curious and wonderful as such feats are, however, they have little to do with Theosophy.
To many readers such articles as Mr. Khandalavala’s “The Bhagavad-Gita and the Microcosmic Principles” will be far more attractive. The questions propounded in this paper have a very important bearing upon a question which has recently been a good deal under discussion, and it is to be hoped that it will elicit from Mr. Subba Row the further explanation of his views which is so much needed.
Visconde Figanière continues his “Esoteric Studies” with some abstruse but very interesting calculations as to the composition of the alchemical elements during various cycles. A page of moral maxims from the Mahabharata and a thoughtful paper on the “Kabbalah and the Microcosm” contribute to make this number full of valuable matter.
THE PATH: “ A magazine devoted
to the Brotherhood of Humanity, Theosophy in America, and the Study of Occult
Science, Philosophy, and Aryan Literature”.
Edited by W.Q.Judge, New York, P.O.Box 2659, and in London from George Redway.
In the September issue, the opening pager is the fourth of “Jasper Niemand's” admirable “Letters on the True”. Its subject is the “Mind” (Manas) or Heart in its relation to the Soul. Both analysis and synthesis are employed by the writer, with the intuition of a true mystic, and many suggestive gleams of light are thrown on an exceedingly difficult subject in the course of a few page.
The idea of re-incarnation is traced by Mr. Walker in the writings of various poets: Mr. Johnston contributes an interesting paper on “Gospels and Upanishads”, and “Rameses” gives us a charming allegory under the archaic title of “Papyrus”, and the number concludes with “Tea-Table Talk”, which is, as usual, quaint, yet instructive. Finally, thanks are due to Mr. Judge for the kind and cordial welcome he has extended to LUCIFER; the first number of which has, it is to be hoped, fulfilled the flattering expectations he expresses.
LE LOTUS: “Revue des Hautes Études Théosophiques. Tendant à favoriser le rapprochement entre l'Orient et l'Occident”. Sous l'inspiration de H.P.BlavAtsky (nominally, but edited in reAlity, by our able brother, F.K. Gaboriau, F.T.S.) Georges Carré, 112 Boulevard St.Germain, Paris.
This journal - the French Theosophist - contains in its September number an article by Madame Blavatsky on “Misconceptions”, in which various doctrines and ideas erroneously connected with Theosophy are dealt with. M. Barlet continues his series of articles on “Initiation”, and the reprint of the Abbé de Villars' clever and humorous “Comte de Gabalis”, is continued. Some verses by Amaravella, and several pages of sparking “Notes”, conclude the table of contents.
LUCIFER owes thanks also to the Lotus for inserting an admirably translated extract from its prospectus.
L'AURORE: Revue mensuelle sous la
direction de Lady Caithness, Duchesse de Pomar. Georges Carré, 112
Boulevard St.Germain, Paris. [Page 157]
The articles in the September number are neither so numerous nor so varied as those of the other Theosophical periodicals already referred to. Lady Caithness advocates, in the current issue, the theory that the English nation is descended from the lost ten tribes of Israel.As the very existence of these ten tribes is more than questionable, students must judge for themselves of the weight of the arguments advanced; the subject being too extensive even for comment here.
THE SPHINX: “A monthly journal devoted to proving historically and experimentally the supersensuous conception of the world on a monistic basis”. Edited by Hübbe Schleiden. Dr. J.U. Th. Griebens Verlag, Leipzig.
The October number is a full and highly instructive one. Dr. Carl du Prel's handling of the “Demon of Socrates” contrasts brilliantly with the lame and obscure treatment which the same subject received a while ago at the hands of a body, which progresses to investigate matters pertaining to the soul and its activity. Herr Niemann's proof of the existence of an esoteric or secret teaching in the Platonic dialogues is able and convincing; Mr. Finch contributes a most intesting article on his observations among the “Faith-Healers” in America, and Herr Carl zu Leiningen pursues his able exposition of the Kabbalistic doctrine of Souls
Three new works on mystic subjects are shortly to appear from the pen of Dr. Franz Hartmann, whose valuable book on Paracelsus is certainly in the hands of many of our readers.
Of these, the first, and probably the most important, is entitled: “THE SECRET SYMBOL OF THE ROSICRUCIANS”, and is to be published in Boston, U.S.A., by the Occult Publishing Company. It will contain numerous plates coloured by hand, giving accurate transcriptions of symbols and figures which have hitherto lain buried in rare, and in some cases, unattainable manuscripts. The value of the work as a text-book for students will be much enhanced by the copious vocabulary which Dr. Hartmann promises shall accompany it.
The othe two will probably be issued by Mr. Redway; the one being called: “IN THE PRONAOS OF THE TEMPLE OF THE R.C.” and the other: “THE LIFE OF JEHOSHUA, THE ADEPT OF NAZARETH: AN OCCULT STUDY”.
This is an attempt to dispel the mists which for many centuries have been gathering around the person of the supposed founder of Christianity, and which have prevented mankind form obtaining a clear view of the “Redeemer”. It claims to give an approximately correCt account of his life, his initiation into the Egyptian mysteries and of his ignominious death caused by an infuriate mob, excited by the Parisees of the temple, who were bound to destroy his mortal form, because he had taught the religion of universal fraternal love and freedom of thought in opposition to priestcraft and superstition.
While the book deals to a certain extent with the external life of Jehoshua, as far as its details have become known by historical researches into sources not generally known, it especially deals with his inner life — i.e. his mehod of thought.
The author says: “If we wish to give a correct picture of the character of a person, we must try to describe his thoughts as well as his acts, for the thought-life of a man constitutes his real life, while his outward life is merely a pictorial representation, a shadown of the actions that are taking place upon the interior stage of his mind”.
“To describe this inner life, a dramatical representation of the processes going on in the soul of man will be better adapted to bring it to our understanding, than a merely verbal description of character. This maxim seems to have influenced those who wrote the accounts contained in the bible, and who describe interior processes in allegorical pictures of events, which may or may not have taken place on the outward plane. I have adhered to this plan in describinG the thought-life of Jehoshua Ben-Pandira, but I hav attempted to shape the allegories contained in this book in such a manner that the intelligent reader may easily perceive their true meaning, for I have made the forms sufficiently transparent, so that the truths which they are intended to represent may be easily seen through the external shell”.
“Nevertheless, these descriptions are not mere fancies, but they are based upon historical facts, and upon information received from sources whose nature will be plain to every occultist. The events described have all actually taken place; but whether they have wholly or in part taken place on the external or internal plane, each intelligent reader is left to decide for himself”. [Page 158]
INTERESTING TO ASTROLOGERS
ASTROLOGICAL NOTES — No. 2.
To the Editor of LUCIFER.
THE ancients assigned to the planets certain signs and degrees, in which they were essentially dignified, being there more powerful for good, and less powerful for evil; these were called their House, Exaltation, Triplicity, Term, and Face. Opposite to the first two were the places where they were essentially debilitated, being there less powerful for good and more powerful for evil; these were called their Detriment and Fall. Whether the latter three dignities have three corresponding debilities has not been stated.
To the seven known planets, the ancients apportioned the twelve zodiacal signs as their respective houses or chief dignity, thus: ☉ ruled ♌ and ☽ruled ♋, both by day and night; while the remaining ten signs were divided between the remaining five planets, each planet ruling two signs, one by day and the other by night. But when ♅ and ♆ were discovered, the question arose where to place them.
A. J. Pearce, the present editor of Zadkiel’s Almanac, has suggested that, as they were more remote from ☉ than was ♄ , they should have the same houses and exaltations as ♄ . Raphael dethrones ♄ from ♒ and proclaims that ♅. reigns in his stead. Both these suggestions involve serious difficulties, nor do they settle the question once and for all with regard to any planets which may yet be discovered. It seems unlikely that planets of such diverse natures as ♄, ♅, and ♆ (not to mention any still more distant planets) should all bear equal rule in the same two signs, and to depose ♄ from his throne, pre-supposes a grave error on the part of the ancients, whose teaching on this point has been handed down with complete unanimity from the dim past; necessitating, also, a further process of dethronement, and a further ignoring of the teachings of antiquity, as further planetary discoveries are made.
The first Raphael (the late R. C. Smith) rejected the ancient nocturnal and diurnal division of the Houses and Triplicities, in which he is followed by his successor. It appears to me that it is here that the error, with its consequent difficulties, first arose; and that by observing this distinction, ♅ and ♆ easily find their homes, with room to spare for their yet undiscovered brethren.
It is obvious that Astrology can never become an even approximately perfect science, unless we are able in our calculations to take fully into account the influence of ♅ and ♆. With this end in view, I have been endeavouring, in my leisure moments, to solve the problem. To a certain extent I have been successful; and though I have not yet been able to substantiate all my conclusions as fully as I could wish, yet I deem it is the best interests of the Science to make them now public, that their truth or falsity may be as speedily as possible established by the investigations of astrologers generally.
My conclusions are the following: that the ancient Diurnal and Nocturnal divisions are quite correct, so that if a figure is drawn for any time between sunrise and sunset, the planets which rule by day the signs on the cusps of the houses of the significators must be chiefly, and sometimes exclusively, considered; and vice versa.
The Houses of the new planets are, I believe, these:
♒, which is the day-house of ♄, is the night-house of ♅.
♊, which is the day-house of ☿ , is the night-house of ♆.
♍, which is the night-house of ☿ , is the dayhouse of ♅.
♓, which is the night-house of ♃, is the dayhouse of ♆.
The first two I have verified by horary figures drawn for the time of an event; the latter two I consider as highly probable, but have not yet been able to thoroughly substantiate them. [Page 159]
There is an old tradition ( Esoteric Science in Human History, p. 180) that there are 12 principal planets in our solar system; this leaves 4 more to be discovered. It will be seen at a glance that these 4 will fill up the vacant signs, two planets ruling each sign, one by night and the other by day. The only alteration which will then have to be made will be to consider ☉ to rule ♌, by day only, and ☽ to rule ♋ by night only; this, however, will be only in accordance with nature: moreover, the fact that the ancients assigned only one house each to ☉ and ☽, and two to each of the other planets, denotes some essential astrological difference between them.
With regard to the other essential dignities, Raphael considers ♍,to be the exaltation of ♅; I am inclined to believe ♒ to be the exaltation of ♆. In the Triplicities there is a curious want of harmony; each, according to the ancients, being ruled by two planets, one by day and the other by night, except the watery triplicity, which is ruled by ♂ only. There seems to be no reason for this discrepancy, except the all-powerful one that there was no other known planet to share his dominion. I have ascertained that ♆ has strong dignity in ♍ and conclude that he rules the watery triplicity, probably by night. Furthermore, I believe ♅ rules the airy triplicity. As for the Terms and Faces of the planets, they also, like the Planetary Hours, require re-arrangement so as to bring in ♅ and ♆, but in what way this is to be done, I have not yet been able to discover.
I will take this opportunity of
saying, in reply to inquiries, that the best books for beginners are Raphael's Horary
Astrology for that branch of the Science;
A. J. Pearce's Science of the Stars for Mundane and Atmospheric
Astrology; A. J. Pearce's Text Book of Astrology for Nativities,
to be worked out by Primary Directions; and Raphael's Guide to Astrology for
the same, worked out by Secondary Directions excited by Transits. Raphael's
works are published by Foulsham and Co., 4, Pilgrim Street, E.C.; and Pearce's
works may be procured from the author, 54, East Hill, Wandsworth, S.W.
To the Editors of Lucifer
For the purpose of correcting any
prejudicial suspicion or erroneous misrepresentation of myself, arising from
the insertion of the note at the end of the “Bath
Occult Reprint Edition” of the “Divine Pymander” or as associated
with the Society of the “H. B. of L.,” known to me only through
the names of Peter Davidson and T. H. Burgoyne, alias D'Alton, Dalton, etc.,
and whose secretary is announced to be “ A
convicted felon, and the supposed adept to be a Hindu of questionable antecedents”,
I wish it to be understood I have now no confidence, sympathy, or connection
therewith, direct or indirect, since or even prior to the date hereof, viz.,
ROBT. H. FRYAR.
8, Northumberland Place, Bath. [Page 160]
FROM THE NOTE BOOK OF AN UNPOPULAR PHILOSOPHER
THE ESOTERIC VALUE OF CERTAIN WORDS AND DEEDS IN SOCIAL LIFE.
To Show Anger. — No “Cultured” man
or woman will ever show anger in Society. To check and restrain every sign
of annoyance shows good manners, certainly, but also considerable achievement
in hypocrisy and dissimulation. There is an occult side to this rule of good
breeding expressed in an Eastern proverb: “Trust not the face which
never shows signs of anger, nor the dog that never barks.” Cold-blooded
animals are the most venomous.
Non-resistance to Evil. — To brag of it is to invite all evil-doers to sit upon you. To practise it openly is to lead people into the temptation of regarding you as a coward. Not to resist the evil you have never created nor merited, to eschew it yourself, and help others quietly to get out of its way, is the only wise course open to the lover of wisdom.
“Love Thy Neighbour”. — When a parson has preached upon this subject, his pious congregation accepts it as tacit permission to slander and vilify their friends and acquaintances in neighbouring pews.
International Brotherhood. — When a Mussulman and a Christian swear mutual friendship, and pledge themselves to be brothers, their two formulas differ somewhat The Moslem says: “Thy mother shall be my mother, my father thy father, my sister thy hand maid, and thou shalt be my brother”. To which the Christian answers: “Thy mother and sister shall be my hand-maidens, thy wife shall be my wife, and my wife shall be thy dear sister” — Amen.
Brave as a Lion.—The highest compliment — in appearance — paid to one’s courage; a comparison with a bad-smelling wild-beast — in reality. The recognition, also, of the superiority of animal over human bravery, considered as a virtue.
A Sheep.—A weak, silly fellow, figuratively, an insulting, contemptuous epithet among laymen; but one quite flattering among churchmen, who apply it to “the people of God” and the members of their congregations, comparing them to sheep under the guidance of the lamb.
The Code of Honour. — In France — to seduce a wife and kill her husband. There, offended honour can feel satisfied only with blood; here a wound inflicted upon the offender’s pocket suffices.
The Duel as a Point of Honour. —The duel being an institution of Christendom and civilization, neither the old Spartans, nor yet the Greeks or Romans knew of it, as they were only uncivilized heathens. — (See Schopenhauer.)
Forgive and Forget. —“We should freely forgive, but forget rarely”, says Colton. “I will not be revenged, and this I owe to my enemy; but I will remember, and this I owe to myself”. This is real practical wisdom. It stands between the ferocious “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth” of the Mosaic Law, and the command to turn the left cheek to the enemy when he has smitten you on the right. Is not the latter a direct encouraging of sin?
Practical Wisdom. — On the tree of silence hangs the fruit of peace. The secret thou wouldst not tell to thine enemy, tell it not to thy friend. — (Arabic.)
Civilized Life. — Crowded, noisy and full of vital power, is modern Society to the eye of matter; but there is no more still and silent, empty and dreary desert than that same Society to the spiritual eye of the Seer. Its right hand freely and lavishly bestows ephemeral but costly pleasures, while the left grasps greedily the leavings and often grudges the necessities of show. All our social life is the result and consequence of that unseen, yet ever present autocrat and despot, called Selfishness and Egotism. The strongest will becomes impotent before the voice and authority of Self.
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