|161||“Let Every Man Prove His Own Work”||anon (H.P. Blavatsky)|
Demand of the Neophyte
[continuation of Comments on Light on the Path
|173||The Esoteric Character of the Gospels [Part 1]||H.P.Blavatsky|
|181||The “Square” in the Hand||Anna Bonus Kingsford (1846-1888)|
|186||The Invisible World||Alfred Percy Sinnett (1840-1921)|
|192||The Mystic Thought||PH Dalbiac|
|193||The Blossom & The Fruit: The True Story of a Magician (Part 3)||Mabel Collins|
|203||The Science of Life - of a lecture by Leo Tolstoy + HPB Notes||Leo Tolstoy & H.P.Blavatsky|
|211||Sin Against Life||Blavatsky, H.P.|
|215||Pythagoric Sentences of Demophilus||Demophilus|
|216||review - The Blood-Covenanting, A Primitive Rite, & its Bearings on Scripture by H Clay Trumbull + some notes by H.P.Blavatsky||Gerald Massey|
|226||correspondence - addressed to the author of Light on the Path||Mabel Collins|
|229||Questions on “Esoteric Buddhism”||ND|
|230||reply to ND||H.P.Blavatsky|
|231||correspondence+ reply to Questioner||Madame la Marechale Canrobert|
|231||review - The Real History of the Rosicrucians by AE Waite||H.P.blavatsky|
|236||review - Nineteenth Century Sense: The Paradox of Spiritualism by John Darby||Anon|
|238||From the Note-Book of an Unpopular Philosopher||H.P.Blavatsky|
[Page 161] SUCH
is the title of a letter received by the Editors of LUCIFER. It is of so
serious a nature that it seems well to make it the subject of this month’s
editorial. Considering the truths uttered in its few lines, its importance
and the bearing it has upon the much obscured subject of Theosophy, and its
visible agent or vehicle — the Society of that name — the letter
is certainly worthy of the most considerate answer.
“Fiat justitia, ruat coelum!”
Justice will be done to both sides in the dispute namely; Theosophists and the members of the Theosophical Society on the one hand, and the followers of the Divine Word (or Christos), and the so-called Christians, on the other.
* Not all the members of the Theosophical Society are Theosophists; nor are the members of the so-called Christian Churches all Christians, by any means. True Theosophists, as true Christians are very, very few; and there are practical Theosophists in the fold of Christianity, as there are practical Christians in the Theosophical Society, outside all ritualistic Christianity. “Not every one that saith unto me, “Lord, Lord”, shall enter the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew, vii, 21.) “Believe not in ME, but in the truths I utter.” (Buddha’s Aphorisms)
We reproduce the letter:
To the Editors of Lucifer.
“What a grand chance is now open in this country, to the exponents of a noble and advanced religion (if such this Theosophy be [“This” Theosophy is not a religion, but rather the RELIGION — if one. So far, we prefer to call it a philosophy; one, moreover, which contains every religion, as it is the essence and the foundation of all. Rule III of the Theosophical Body says: “The Society represents no particular religious creed, is entirely unsectarian, and includes professors of all faiths”. ] for proving its strength, righteousness and verity to the Western world, by [Page 162] throwing a penetrating and illuminating ray of its declared light upon the terribly harrowing and perplexing practical problems of our age.
“Surely one of the purest and least self-incrusted duties of man, is to alleviate the sufferings of his fellow man?
“From what I read, and from what I daily come into immediate contact with, I can hardly think it would be possible to over-rate in contemplation, the intense privation and agonizing suffering that is — aye, say it — at this moment being endured by a vast proportion of our brothers and sisters, arising in a large measure from their not absolutely having the means for procuring the bare necessaries of existence?
“Surely a high and Heaven-born religion — a religion professing to receive its advanced knowledge and Light from “those more learned in the Science of Life”, should be able to tell us something of how to deal with such life, in its primitive condition of helpless submission to the surrounding circumstances of —civilization!
“If one of our main duties is that of exercising disinterested love towards the Brotherhood, surely “those more learned” ones, whether in the flesh, or out of it, can and will, if appealed to by their votaries, aid them in discovering ways and means for such an end, and in organising some great fraternal scheme for dealing rightly with questions which are so appalling in their complexity, and which must and do press with such irresistible force upon all those who are earnest in their endeavours to carry out the will of Christ in a Christian Land?
L. F. FF
October 25, 1887.
This honest-spoken and sincere
letter contains two statements; an implied accusation against “Theosophy” (i.e.,
the Society of that name), and a virtual admission that Christianity — or,
again, rather its ritualistic and dogmatic religions — deserve the
same and even a sterner rebuke. For if “Theosophy”, represented
by its professors, merits on external appearance the reproach that so far
it has failed to transfer divine wisdom from the region of the metaphysical
into that of practical work, “Christianity”, that is, merely
professing Christians, churchmen and laymen lie under a like accusation,
evidently. “Theosophy” has, certainly, failed to discover infallible ways
and means of` bringing all its votaries to exercise “disinterested
love” in their Brotherhood; it has not yet been able to relieve suffering
in mankind at large; but neither has Christianity. And not even the writer
of the above letter, nor any one else, can show sufficient excuse for the
Christians in this respect. Thus the admission that “those who are
earnest in their endeavours to carry out the will of Christ in a Christian
Land” need the help of “ ' those more learned’ ones,
whether [pagan adepts] in the flesh, or [spirits?] out of it”, is very
suggestive, for it contains the defence and the raison d’être of`
the Theosophical Society. Tacit though it is, once that it comes from [Page
163] the pen of a sincere Christian, one who longs to learn some
practical means to relieve the sufferings of the starving multitudes — this
admission becomes the greatest and most complete justification for the existence
of the Theosophical Brotherhood; a full confession of the absolute necessity
for such a body independent of, and untrammelled by, any enchaining dogmas,
and it points out at the same time the signal failure of Christianity to
accomplish the desired results.
Truly said Coleridge that “good works may exist without saving (?) principles, therefore cannot contain in themselves the principles of salvation; but saving principles never did, never can exist without good works”. Theosophists admit the definition, and disagree with the Christians only as to the nature of these “saving principles”. The Church (or churches) maintain that the only saving principle is belief in Jesus, or the carnalized Christ of the soul-killing dogma; theosophy, undogmatic and unsectarian, answers, it is not so. The only saving principle dwells in man himself, and has never dwelt outside of his immortal divine self; i.e., it is the true Christos, as it is the true Buddha, the divine inward light which proceeds from the eternal unmanifesting unknown ALL. And this light can only be made known by its works — faith in it having to remain ever blind in all, save in the man himself who feels that light within his soul.
Therefore, the tacit admission of the author of the above letter covers another point of great importance. The writer seems to have felt that which many, among those who strive to help the suffering, have felt and expressed. The creeds of the churches fail to supply the intellectual light, and the true wisdom which are needed to make the practical philanthropy carried out, by the true and earnest followers of Christ, a reality. The “practical” people either go on “doing good” unintelligently, and thus often do harm instead; or, appalled by the awful problem before them, and failing to find in their “churches” any clue, or a hope of solution, they retire from the battlefield and let themselves be drifted blindly by the current in which they happen to be born.
Of late it has become the fashion for friends, as well as for foes, to reproach the Theosophical Society with doing no practical work, but losing itself in the clouds of metaphysics. Metaphysicians, we are told, by those who like to repeat stale arguments, have been learning their lesson for the last few thousand years; and it is now high time that they should begin to do some practical work. Agreed; but considering that the Christian churches count nearly nineteen centuries of existence, and that the Theosophical Society and Brotherhood is a body hardly twelve years old; considering again that the Christian churches roll in fabulous wealth, and number their adherents by hundreds of millions, whereas the Theosophical Brotherhood is but a few thousand strong, and that it has no fund, or funds, at its disposal, but that 98 per cent of its members are as poor and as uninfluential as the aristocracy [Page 164] of the Christian church is rich and powerful; taking all this into consideration, there would be much to say if the theosophists would only choose to press the matter upon the public notice. Meanwhile, as the bitterest critics of the “leaders” of the Theosophical Society are by no means only outsiders, but as there are members of that society who always find a pretext to be dissatisfied, we ask: Can works of charity that will be known among men be accomplished without money? Certainly not. And yet, notwithstanding all this, none of its (European) members, except a few devoted officers in charge of societies, will do practical work; but some of them, those especially who have never lifted a finger to relieve suffering, and help their outside, poorer brothers, are those who talk the most loudly, and are the bitterest in their denunciations of the unspirituality and the unfitness of the “leaders of theosophy.” By this they remove themselves into the outer ring of critics, like those spectators at the play who laugh at an actor passably representing Hamlet, while they themselves could not walk on to the stage with a letter on a salver. While in India, comparatively poor theosophists have opened gratuitous dispensaries for the sick, hospitals, schools, and everything they could think of, asking no returns from the poor, as the missionaries do, no abandonment of one’s forefathers’ religion, as a heavy price for favours received, have the English theosophists, as a rule, done a single thing for those suffering multitudes, whose pitiful cry rings throughout the whole Heavens as a protest against the actual state of things in Christendom ?
We take this opportunity of saying, in reply to others as much as to our correspondent, that, up till now, the energies of the Society have been chiefly occupied in organizing, extending, and solidifying the Society itself, which work has taxed its time, energies, and resources to such an extent as to leave it far less powerful for practical charity than we would have wished. But, even so, compared with the influence and the funds at the disposal of the Society, its work in practical charity, if less widely known, will certainly bear favourable comparison with that of professing Christians, with their enormous resources in money, workers, and opportunities of all kinds. It must not be forgotten that practical charity is not one of the declared objects of the Society. It goes without saying, and needs no “declaration”, that every member of the Society must be practically philanthropic if he be a theosophist at all; and our declared work is, in reality, more important and more efficacious than work in the every-day plane which bears more evident and immediate fruit, for the direct effect of an appreciation of theosophy is to make those charitable who were not so before. Theosophy creates the charity which afterwards, and of its own accord, makes itself manifest in works.
Theosophy is correctly — though in this particular case, it is rather ironically — termed “a High and Heaven-born religion”. It is argued that [Page 165] since it professes “to receive its advanced knowledge and Light from ‘those more learned in the Science of Life”’, the latter ought and must, if appealed to by their votaries [the theosophists], aid them in discovering ways and means, in organizing some great fraternal scheme”, etc..
The scheme was planned, and the rules and laws to guide such a practical brotherhood, have been given by “those more learned in the Science of [practical, daily, altruistic] life”, aye, verily “more learned” in it than any other men since the days of Gautama Buddha and the Gnostic Essenes. The “scheme” dates back to the year when the Theosophical Society was founded. Let anyone read its wise and noble laws embodied to this day in the Statutes of the Fraternity, and judge for himself whether, if carried out rigorously and applied to practical life, the “scheme” would not have proved the most beneficent to mankind in general, and especially to our poorer brethren, of “the starving multitudes.” Theosophy teaches the spirit of “non-separateness”, the evanescence and illusion of human creeds and dogma, hence, inculcates universal love and charity for all mankind “without distinction of race, colour, caste or creed ”. is it not therefore the fittest to alleviate the sufferings of mankind? No true theosophist would refuse admission into a hospital, or any charitable establishment, to any man, woman or child, under the pretext that he is not a theosophist, as a Roman Catholic would when dealing with a Protestant, and vice versa. No true theosophist of the original rules would fail to put into practice the parable of the “Good Samaritan” or proffer help only to entice the unwary who, he hopes, will become a pervert from his god and the gods of his forefathers. None would slander his brother, none let a needy man go unhelped, none offer fine talk instead of practical love and charity.
Is it then the fault of Theosophy, any more than it is the fault of the Christ-teachings, if the majority of the members of the Theosophical Society, often changing their philosophical and religious views upon entering our Body, have yet remained practically the same as they were when professing lip Christianity? Our laws and rules are the same as given to us from the beginning; it is the general members of the Society who have allowed them to become virtually obsolete. Those few who are ever ready to sacrifice their time and labour to work for the poor, and who do, unrecognized and unthanked for it, good work wherever they can, are often too poor themselves to put their larger schemes of charity into objective practical form, however willing they may be.
“The fault I find with the Theosophical Society”, said one of the most eminent surgeons in London to one of the editors, quite recently, “is that I cannot discover that any of its members really lead the Christ-life”. This seemed a very serious accusation from a man who is not only in the front rank of his profession, and valued for his kindly nature, by his patients, and by society, and well known as a quiet doer of many good deeds. The only possible answer to be made was that the [Page 166] Christ-life is undeniably the ideal of every one worthy in any sense of the name of a Theosophist, and that if it is not lived it is because there are none strong enough to carry it out. Only a few days later the same complaint was put in a more graphic form by a celebrated lady-artist.
“You Theosophists don’t do enough good for me,” she said pithily. And in her case also there is the right to speak, given by the fact that she leads two lives — one a butterfly existence in society, and the other a serious one, which makes little noise, but has much purpose. Those who regard life as a great vocation, like the two critics of the Theosophical movement whom we have just quoted, have a right to demand of such a movement more than mere words. They themselves endeavour very quietly to lead the “Christ-life”, and they cannot understand a number of people uniting in the effort towards this life without practical results being apparent. Another critic of the same character who has the best possible right to criticise, being a thoroughly practical philanthropist and charitable to the last degree, has said of the Theosophists that their much talking and writing seems to resolve itself into mere intellectual luxury, productive of no direct good to the world.
The point of difference between the Theosophists (when we use this term we mean, not members of the Society, but people who are really using the organization as a method of learning more of the true wisdom-religion which exists as a vital and eternal fact behind all such efforts) and the practical philanthropists, religious or secular, is a very serious one, and the answer, that probably none of them are strong enough yet to lead the “Christ-life”, is only a portion of the truth. The situation can be put very plainly, in so many words. The religious philanthropist holds a position of his own, which cannot in any way concern or affect the Theosophist. He does not do good merely for the sake of doing good, but also as a means towards his own salvation. This is the outcome of the selfish and personal side of man’s nature, which has so coloured and affected a grand religion that its devotees are little better than the idol-worshippers who ask their deity of clay to bring them luck in business, and the payment of debts. The religious philanthropist who hopes to gain salvation by good works has simply, to quote a well-worn yet ever fresh witticism, exchanged worldliness for other-worldliness.
The secular philanthropist is really at heart a socialist, and nothing else; he hopes to make men happy and good by bettering their physical position. No serious student of human nature can believe in this theory for a moment. There is no doubt that it is a very agreeable one, because if it is accepted there is immediate, straightforward work to undertake. “The poor ye have always with you”. The causation which produced human nature itself produced poverty, misery, pain, degradation, at the same time that it produced wealth, and comfort, and joy and glory. Lifelong philanthropists, who have started on the work with a joyous [Page 167] youthful conviction that it is possible to “do good”, have, though never relaxing the habit of charity, confessed to the present writer that, as a matter of fact, misery cannot be relieved. It is a vital element in human nature, and is as necessary to some lives as pleasure is to others.
It is a strange thing to observe how practical philanthropists will eventually, after long and bitter experience, arrive at a conclusion which, to an occultist, is from the first a working hypothesis. This is, that misery is not only endurable, but agreeable to many who endure it. A noble woman, whose life has been given to the rescue of the lowest class of wretched girls, those who seem to be driven to vice by want, said, only a few days since, that with many of these outcasts it is not possible to raise them to any apparently happier lot. And this she distinctly stated (and she can speak with authority, having spent her life literally among them, and studied them thoroughly), is not so much from any love of vice, but from love of that very state which the wealthy classes call misery. They prefer the savage life of a bare-foot, half-clad creature, with no roof at night and no food by day, to any comforts which can be offered them. By comforts, we do not mean the workhouse or the reformatory, but the comforts of a quiet home; and we can give chapter and verse, so to speak, to show that this is the case, not merely with the children of outcasts, who might be supposed to have a savage heredity, but with the children of gentle, cultivated, and Christian people.
Our great towns hide in their slums thousands of beings whose history would form an inexplicable enigma, a perfectly baffling moral picture, could they be written out clearly, so as to be intelligible. But they are only known to the devoted workers among the outcast classes, to whom they become a sad and terrible puzzle, not to be solved, and therefore, better not discussed. Those who have no clue to the science of life are compelled to dismiss such difficulties in this manner, otherwise they would fall, crushed beneath the thought of them. The social question as it is called, the great deep waters of misery, the deadly apathy of those who have power and possessions — these things are hard]y to be faced by a generous soul who has not reached to the great idea of evolution, and who has not guessed at the marvellous mystery of human development.
The Theosophist is placed in a different position from any of these persons, because he has heard of the vast scope of life with which all mystic and occult writers and teachers deal, and he has been brought very near to the great mystery. Indeed, none, though they may have enrolled themselves as Fellows of the Society, can be called in any serious sense Theosophists, until they have begun to consciously taste in their own persons, this same mystery; which is, indeed, a law inexorable, by which man lifts himself by degrees from the state of a beast to the glory of a God. The rapidity with which this is done is different with every living soul; and the wretches who hug the primitive [Page 168] task-master, misery, choose to go slowly through a tread-mill course which may give them innumerable lives of physical sensation — whether pleasant or painful, well-beloved because tangible to the very lowest senses. The Theosophist who desires to enter upon occultism takes some of Nature’s privileges into his own hands by that very wish, and soon discovers that experiences come to him with double-quick rapidity. His business is then to recognise that he is under a — to him — new and swifter law of` development, and to snatch at the lessons that come to him.
But, in recognising this, he also makes another discovery. He sees that it takes a very wise man to do good works without danger of doing incalculable harm. A highly developed adept in life may grasp the nettle, and by his great intuitive powers, know whom to relieve from pain and whom to leave in the mire that is their best teacher. The poor and wretched themselves will tell anyone who is able to win their confidence that disastrous mistakes are made by those who come from a different class and endeavour to help them. Kindness and gentle treatment will sometimes bring out the worst qualities of a man or woman who has led a fairly presentable life when kept down by pain and despair. May the Master of Mercy forgive us for saying such words of any human creatures, all of whom are a part of ourselves, according to the law of human brotherhood which no disowning of it can destroy. But the words are true. None of us know the darkness which lurks in the depths of our own natures until some strange and unfamiliar experience rouses the whole being into action So with these others who seem more miserable than ourselves.
As soon as he begins to understand what a friend and teacher pain can be, the Theosophist stands appalled before the mysterious problem of human life, and though he may long to do good works, equally dreads to do them wrongly until he has himself acquired greater power and knowledge. The ignorant doing of good works may be vitally injurious, as all but those who are blind in their love of benevolence are compelled to acknowledge. In this sense the answer made as to lack of Christ-like lives among Theosophists, that there are probably none strong enough to live such, is perfectly correct and covers the whole question. For it is not the spirit of self-sacrifice, or of devotion, or of desire to help that is lacking, but the strength to acquire knowledge and power and intuition, so that the deeds done shall really be worthy of the “Buddha-Christ” spirit. Therefore it is that Theosophists cannot pose as a body of philanthropists, though secretly they may adventure on the path of good works. They profess to be a body of learners merely, pledged to help each other and all the rest of humanity, so far as in them lies, to a better understanding of the mystery of life, and to a better knowledge of the peace which lies beyond it.
But as it is an inexorable law, that the ground must be tilled if the harvest is to be reaped, so Theosophists are obliged to work in the world [Page 169] unceasingly, and very often in doing this to make serious mistakes, as do all workers who are not embodied Redeemers. Their efforts may not come under the title of good works, and they may be condemned as a school of idle talkers, yet they are an outcome and fruition of this particular moment of time, when the ideas which they hold are greeted by the crowd with interest; and therefore their work is good, as the lotus-flower is good when it opens in the midday sun.
None know more keenly and definitely than they that good works are necessary; only these cannot be rightly accomplished without knowledge. Schemes for Universal Brotherhood, and the redemption of mankind, might be given out plentifully by the great adepts of life, and would be mere dead-letter utterances while individuals remain ignorant, and unable to grasp the great meaning of their teachers. To Theosophists we say, let us carry out the rules given us for our society before we ask for any further schemes or laws. To the public and our critics we say, try to understand the value of good works before you demand them of others, or enter upon them rashly yourselves. Yet it is an absolute fact that without good works the spirit of brotherhood would die in the world; and this can never be. Therefore is the double activity of learning and doing most necessary; we have to do good, and we have to do it rightly, with knowledge.
It is well known that the first rule of the society is to carry out the object of forming the nucleus of a universal brotherhood. The practical working of this rule was explained by those who laid it down, to the following effect: —
“HE WHO DOES NOT PRACTISE ALTRUISM; HE WHO IS NOT PREPARED TO SHARE HIS LAST MORSEL WITH A WEAKER OR POORER THAN HIMSELF; HE WHO NEGLECTS TO HELP HIS BROTHER MAN, OF WHATEVER RACE, NATION, OR CREED, WHENEVER AND WHEREVER HE MEETS SUFFERING, AND WHO TURNS A DEAF EAR TO THE CRY OF HUMAN MISERY; HE WHO HEARS AN INNOCENT PERSON SLANDERED, WHETHER A BROTHER THEOSOPHIST OR NOT, AND DOES NOT UNDERTAKE HIS DEFENCE AS HE WOULD UNDERTAKE HIS OWN — IS NO THEOSOPHIST”.
Speech is the power of communication; the moment of entrance into active life is marked by its attainment.
And now, before I go any further, let me explain a little the way in which the rules written down in “Light on the Path” are arranged. The first seven of those which are numbered are subdivisions of the two first unnumbered rules, those with which I have dealt in the two preceding papers. The numbered rules were simply an effort of mine to make the unnumbered ones more intelligible. “Eight” to “fifteen” of these numbered rules belong this unnumbered rule which is now my text.
As I have said, these rules are written for all disciples, but for none else; they are not of interest to any other persons. Therefore I trust no one else will trouble to read these papers any further. The first two rules, which include the whole of that part of the effort which necessitates the use of the surgeon's knife, I will enlarge upon further if I am asked to do so.. But the disciple is expected to deal with the snake, his lower self, unaided; to suppress his human passions and emotions by the force of his own will. He can only demand assistance of a Master when this is accomplished, or at all events, partially so. Otherwise the gates and windows of his soul are blurred, and blinded, and darkened, and no knowledge can come to him. I am not, in these pages, purposing to tell a man how to deal with his own soul; I am simply giving, to the disciple, knowledge. That I am not writing, even now, so that all who run may read, is owing to the fact that supernature prevents this by its own immutable laws.
The four rules which I have written down for those in the West who wish to study them, are as I have said, written in the antechamber of every living Brotherhood; I may add more, in the ante-chamber of every living or dead Brotherhood, or Order yet to be formed. When I speak of a Brotherhood or an Order, I do not mean an arbitrary constitution made by scholiasts and intellectualists; I mean an actual fact in supernature, a stage of development towards the absolute God or Good. During this development the disciple encounters harmony, pure knowledge, pure truth, in different degrees and, as he enters these degrees, he finds himself becoming part of what might be roughly described as a layer of human consciousness. He encounters his equals, men of his own selfless character, and with them his association becomes permanent and indissoluble, because founded on a vital likeness of nature. To them he becomes [Page 171] pledged by such vows as need no utterance or framework in ordinary words. This is one aspect of what I mean by a Brotherhood.
If the first rules are conquered the disciple finds himself standing at the threshold. Then if his will is sufficiently resolute his power of speech comes; a twofold power. For, as he advances now, he finds himself entering into a state of blossoming, where every bud that opens throws out its several rays or petals. If he is to exercise his new gift, he must use it in its twofold character. He finds in himself the power to speak in the presence of the Masters; in other words, he has the right to demand contact with the divinest element of that state of consciousness into which he has entered. But he finds himself compelled, by the nature of his position, to act in two ways at the same time. He cannot send his voice up to the heights where sit the gods till he has penetrated to the deep places where their light shines not at all. He has come within the grip of an iron law. If he demands to become a neophyte, he at once becomes a servant. Yet his service is sublime, if only from the character of those who share it. For the masters are also servants; they serve and claim their reward afterwards. Part of their service is to let their knowledge touch him; his first act of service is to give some of that knowledge to those who are not yet fit to stand where he stands. This is no arbitrary decision, made by any master or teacher or any such person, however divine. It is a law of that life which the disciple has entered upon.
Therefore was it written in the inner doorway of the lodges of the old Egyptian Brotherhood, “The labourer is worthy of his hire”.
“Ask and ye shall have”, sounds like something too easy and simple to be credible. But the disciple cannot “ask” in the mystic sense in which the word is used in this scripture, until he has attained the power of helping others.
Why is this? Has the statement too dogmatic a sound?
Is it too dogmatic to say that a man must have foothold before he can spring? The position is the same. If help is given, if work is done, then there is an actual claim — not what we call a personal claim of payment, but the claim of co-nature. The divine give, they demand that you also shall give before you can be of their kin.
This law is discovered as soon as the disciple endeavours to speak. For speech is a gift which comes only to the disciple of power and knowledge. The spiritualist enters the psychic-astral world, but he does not find there any certain speech, unless he at once claims it and continues to do so. If he is interested in “phenomena”, or the mere circumstance and accident of astral life, then he enters no direct ray of thought or purpose, he merely exists and amuses himself in the astral life as he has existed and amused himself in the physical life. Certainly [Page 172] there are one or two simple lessons which the psychic-astral can teach him, just as there are simple lessons which material and intellectual life teach him. And these lessons have to be learned; the man who proposes to enter upon the life of the disciple without having learned the early and simple lessons must always suffer from his ignorance. They are vital, and have to be studied in a vital manner; experienced through and through, over and over again, so that each part of the nature has been penetrated by them.
To return. In claiming the power of speech, as it is called, the Neophyte cries out to the Great One who stands foremost in the ray of knowledge on which he has entered, to give him guidance. When he does this, his voice is hurled back by the power he has approached, and echoes down to the deep recesses of human ignorance. In some confused and blurred manner the news that there is knowledge and a beneficent power which teaches, is carried to as many men as will listen to it. No disciple can cross the threshold without communicating this news, and placing it on record in some fashion or other.
He stands horror-struck at the imperfect and unprepared manner in which he has done this, and then comes the desire to do it well, and with the desire thus to help others comes the power. For it is a pure desire, this which comes upon him; he can gain no credit, no glory, no personal reward by fulfilling it. And therefore he obtains the power to fulfil it.
The history of the whole past, so far as we can trace it, shows very plainly that there is neither credit, glory, nor reward to be gained by this first task which is given to the Neophyte. Mystics have always been sneered at, and seers disbelieved; those who have had the added power of intellect have left for posterity their written record, which to most men appears unmeaning and visionary, even when the authors have the advantage of speaking from a far-off past. The disciple who undertakes the task, secretly hoping for fame or success, to appear as a teacher and apostle before the world, fails even before his task is attempted, and his hidden hypocrisy poisons his own soul, and the souls of those he touches. He is secretly worshiping himself, and this idolatrous practice must bring its own reward.
The disciple who has the power of entrance, and is strong enough to pass each barrier, will, when the divine message comes to his spirit, forget himself utterly in the new consciousness which falls on him. If this lofty contact can really rouse him, he becomes as one of the Divine in his desire to give rather than to take, in his wish to help rather than be helped, in his resolution to feed the hungry rather than take manna from Heaven himself. His nature is transformed, and the selfishness which prompts men's actions in ordinary life suddenly deserts him.
[To be continued] [Page 173]
“. . . . . Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy presence, and of the consummation of the age?” [St. Matthew, xxiv, 3, et seq. The sentences italicised are those which stand corrected in the New Testament after the recent revision in 1881 of the version of 1611; which version is full of errors, voluntary and involuntary. The word “presence”, for “coming”, and “the consummation of the age”, now standing for “the end of the world”, have altered, of late, the whole meaning, even for the most sincere Christians, if we exempt the Adventists. ] asked the Disciples of the MASTER, on the Mount of Olives.
Take heed that no man lead you astray. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am the Christ; and shall lead many astray. And ye shall hear of wars . . . . but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines and earthquakes in divers places. But all these things are the beginning of travail . . . . . And many false prophets shall arise, and shall lead many astray . . . then shall the end come . . . . when ye see the abomination of desolation which was spoken through Daniel . . . Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ, or there; believe him not . . . . If they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the wilderness, go not forth: behold, he is in the inner chambers, believe them not. For as the lightning cometh forth from the East, and is seen even unto the West: so shall be the presence of the Son of man”, etc., etc.Two things become evident to all in the above passages, now that their false rendering is corrected in the revision text: (a) “the coming of Christ”, means the presence of CHRISTOS in a regenerated world, and not at all the actual coming in body of “Christ” Jesus; (b) this Christ is to be sought neither in the wilderness nor “in the inner chambers”, nor in the sanctuary of any temple or church built by man; for Christ — the true esoteric SAVIOUR — is no man, but the DIVINE PRINCIPLE in every human being. He who strives to resurrect the Spirit crucified in him by his own terrestrial passions, and buried deep in the “sepulchre” of his sinful flesh; he who has the strength to roll back the stone of matter from the door of his own inner sanctuary, he has the risen Christ in him. [“For ye are the temple [“sanctuary” in the revised N.T.] of the living God.” (II Cor., vi, 16.) ] The “Son of Man” is no child of the bond-woman — flesh, but verily of the free-woman — [Page 174] Spirit, [Spirit, or the Holy Ghost, was feminine with the Jews, as with most ancient peoples, and it was so with the early Christians. Sophia of the Gnostics, and the third Sephiroth Binah (the female Jehovah of the Kabalists), are feminine principles — “Divine Spirit”, or Ruach. “Achat Ruach Elohim Chaiim.” “One is She, the Spirit of the Elohim of Life”, is said in Sepher Yetzirah. [chap. i, sect. 9.] ] the child of man's own deeds, and the fruit of his own spiritual labour.
The worship of the dead-letter in the Bible is but one more form of idolatry, nothing
better. A fundamental dogma of faith cannot exist under a double-faced Janus
form. “Justification” by Christ cannot be achieved at
choice and fancy, either by “faith” or by “works” and
James (ii, 25), therefore, contradicting Paul (Heb., xi, 31), and vice
versa, [ It is but fair to St. Paul to remark that this contradiction
is surely due to later tampering with his Epistles. Paul was a Gnostic himself, i.e.,
a “Son of Wisdom”, and an Initiate into the true mysteries
of Christos, though he may have thundered (or was made to appear to do
so) against some Gnostic sects, of which, in his day, there were many. But
his Christos was not Jesus of Nazareth, nor any living man, as shown so ably
in Mr. Gerald Massey’s lecture, “Paul,
the Gnostic Opponent of Peter”. He was an Initiate, a true “Master-Builder” or
adept, as described in Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, pp. 90-91. ] one of
them must be wrong. Hence, the Bible is not the “Word of God”,
but contains at best the words of fallible men and imperfect teachers. Yet
read esoterically, it does contain, if not the whole truth,
but the truth,” under whatever allegorical garb. Only: Quot homines
tot sententiae. [Page
The “Christ principle”, the awakened and glorified Spirit of Truth, being universal and eternal, the true Christos cannot be monopolized by any one person, even though that person has chosen to arrogate to himself the title of the “Vicar of Christ”, or of the “Head” of that or another State-religion. The spirits of “Chrést” and “Christ” cannot be confined to any creed or sect, only because that sect chooses to exalt itself above the heads of all other religions or sects. The name has been used in a manner so intolerant and dogmatic, especially in our day, that Christianity is now the religion of arrogance par excellence, a stepping-stone for ambition, a sinecure for wealth, sham and power; a convenient screen for hypocrisy. The noble epithet of old, the one that made Justin Martyr say that “from the mere name, which is imputed to us as a crime, we are the most excellent”, [ ὀσοντε ὲκ τὃν κατηγορονρέον ήμὢν ὀνομάτος χρησὁτατοι ὐπάρχομεν (First Apology, iv).3 ] is now degraded. The missionary prides himself with the so-called conversion of a heathen, who makes of Christianity ever a profession, but rarely a religion, a source of income from the missionary fund, and a pretext, since the blood of Jesus has washed them all by anticipation, for every petty crime, from drunkenness and lying up to theft. That same missionary, however, would not hesitate to publicly condemn the greatest saint to eternal perdition and hell fires if that holy man has only neglected to pass through the fruitless and meaningless form of baptism by water with accompaniment of lip prayers and vain ritualism.
We say “lip prayer” and “vain ritualism” knowingly. Few Christians among the laymen are aware even of the true meaning of the word Christ; and those of the clergy who happen to know it (for they are brought up in the idea that to study such subjects is sinful) keep the information secret from their parishioners. They demand blind, implicit faith, and forbid inquiry as the one unpardonable sin, though nothing of that which leads to the knowledge of the truth can be aught else than holy. For what is “Divine Wisdom”, or Gnosis, but the essential reality behind the evanescent appearances of objects in nature — the very soul of the manifested LOGOS? Why should men who strive to accomplish union with the one eternal and absolute Deity shudder at the idea of prying into its mysteries — however awful? Why, above all, should they use names and words the very meaning of which is a sealed mystery to them — a mere sound? Is it because an unscrupulous, power-seeking Establishment called a Church has cried “wolf” at every such attempt, and, denouncing it as “blasphemous”, has ever tried to kill the spirit of inquiry? But Theosophy, the “Divine Wisdom,’’ has never heeded that cry, and has the courage of its opinions. The world of sceptics and fanatics may call it, one — an empty “ism” — the other “Satanism”: they can never crush it. Theosophists have been called Atheists, haters of Christianity, the enemies of God and the gods. They are none of these. Therefore, they have agreed this day to publish a clear statement of their [Page 177] ideas, and a profession of their faith — with regard to monotheism and Christianity, at any rate — and to place it before the impartial reader to judge them and their detractors on the merits of their respective faiths. No truth-loving mind would object to such honest and sincere dealing, nor will it be dazzled by any amount of new light thrown upon the subject, howsoever much startled otherwise. On the contrary, such minds will thank Lucifer, perhaps, while those of whom it was said “qui vult decipi decipiatur” — let them be deceived by all means!
The editors of this magazine propose to give a series of essays upon the hidden meaning or esotericism of the “New Testament”. No more than any other scripture of the great world-religions can the Bible be excluded from that class of allegorical and symbolical writings which have been, from the prehistoric ages, the receptacle of the secret teachings of the Mysteries of Initiation, under a more or less veiled form. The primitive writers of the Logia (now the Gospels) knew certainly the truth, and the whole truth; but their successors had, as certainly, only dogma and form, which lead to hierarchical power at heart, rather than the spirit of the so-called Christ’s teachings. Hence the gradual perversion. As Higgins truly said, in the Christologia of St. Paul and Justin Martyr, we have the esoteric religion of the Vatican, a refined Gnosticism for the cardinals, a more gross one for the people. It is the latter, only still more materialized and disfigured, which has reached us in our age.
The idea of writing this series was suggested to us by a certain letter published in our October issue, under the heading of “Are the Teachings Ascribed to Jesus Contradictory?” Nevertheless, this is no attempt to contradict or weaken, in any one instance, that which is said by Mr. Gerald Massey in his criticism. The contradictions pointed out by the learned lecturer and author are too patent to be explained away by any “Preacher” or Bible champion; for what he has said — only in more terse and vigorous language — is what was said of the descendant of Joseph Pandira (or Panthera) in Isis Unveiled (Vol. II, p. 201), from the Talmudic Sepher Toldoth Jeshu. His belief with regard to the spurious character of Bible and New Testament, as now edited, is therefore, also the belief of the present writer. In view of the recent revision of the Bible, and its many thousands of mistakes, mistranslations, and interpolations (some confessed to, and others withheld), it would ill become an opponent to take any one to task for refusing to believe in the authorised texts.
But the editors would object to one short sentence in the criticism under notice. Mr. Gerald Massey writes:
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?
it is not a symbologist of Mr. G. Massey’s powers and learning
who would call the “Book of the Dead”, or the Vedas, or any other [Page
178] ancient Scripture, “a
magazine of falsehoods”. [The extraordinary amount of information
collated by that able Egyptologist shows that he has thoroughly mastered the
secret of the production of the New Testament. Mr. Massey knows
the difference between the spiritual, divine and purely metaphysical Christos,
and the made-up “lay
figure” of the carnalized Jesus. He knows also that the Christian canon,
especially the Gospels, Acts and Epistles,
are made up of fragments of Gnostic wisdom, the groundwork of which is pre-Christian and
built on the MYSTERIES of Initiation. It is the mode of theological presentation
and the interpolated passages — such as in Mark, xvi, from verse 9 to
the end — which make
of the Gospels a “magazine of (wicked) falsehoods”, and throw
a slur on CHRISTOS. But the Occultist who discerns between the two currents
(the true gnostic and the pseudo-Christian) knows that the passages free from
theological tampering belong to archaic wisdom, and so does Mr. Gerald Massey,
though his views differ from ours. ] Why not regard in the same
light as all the others, the Old, and, in a still greater measure, the New
All of these are “magazines of falsehoods”, if accepted in the exoteric dead-letter interpretations of their ancient, and especially their modern, theological glossarists. Each of these records has served in its turn as a means for securing power and of supporting the ambitious policy of an unscrupulous priesthood. All have promoted superstition, all made of their gods blood-thirsty and ever-damning Molochs and fiends, as all have made nations to serve the latter more than the God of Truth. But while cunningly-devised dogmas and intentional misinterpretations by scholiasts are beyond any doubt, “falsehoods already exploded”, the texts themselves are mines of universal truths. But for the world of the profane and sinners, at any rate — they were and still are like the mysterious characters traced by “the fingers of a man’s hand” on the wall of the Palace of Belshazzar: they need Daniel to read and understand them.
Nevertheless, TRUTH has not allowed herself to remain without witnesses. There are, besides great Initiates into scriptural symbology, a number of quiet students of the mysteries of archaic esotericism, of scholars proficient in Hebrew and other dead tongues, who have devoted their lives to unriddle the speeches of the Sphinx of the world-religions. And these students, though none of them has yet mastered all the “seven keys” that open the great problem, have discovered enough to be able to say: There was a universal mystery-language, in which all the World Scriptures were written, from Vedas to Revelation, from the “Book of the Dead” to the Acts. One of the keys, at any rate, the numerical and geometrical key [“The key to the recovery of the language so far as the writer’s efforts have been concerned was found in the use, strange to say, of the discovered integral ratio in numbers of diameter to circumference of a circle”, by a geometrician. This ratio is 6561 for diameter and 20612 for circumference”. (Cabalistic MSS.) In one of the future numbers of Lucifer more details will be given, with the permission of the discoverer.— Editor ] to the Mystery Speech is now rescued; an ancient language, truly, which up to this time remained hidden, but the evidences of which abundantly exist, as may be proven by undeniable mathematical demonstrations. If, indeed, the Bible is forced on the acceptance of the world in its dead-letter meaning, in the [Page 179] face of the modern discoveries by Orientalists and the efforts of independent students and kabalists, it is easy to prophesy that even the present new generations of Europe and America will repudiate it, as all the materialists and logicians have done. For, the more one studies ancient religious texts, the more one finds that the ground-work of the New Testament is the same as the ground-work of the Vedas, of the Egyptian theogony, and the Mazdean allegories. The atonements by blood — blood-covenants and blood-transferences from gods to men, and by men, as sacrifices to the gods — are the first key-note struck in every cosmogony and theogony; soul, life and blood were synonymous words in every language, pre-eminently with the Jews; and that blood-giving was life-giving. Many a legend among (geographically) alien nations ascribes soul and consciousness in newly-created mankind to the blood of the god-creators. Berosus records a Chaldean legend ascribing the creation of a new race of mankind to the admixture of dust with the blood that flowed from the severed head of the god Belus. “On this account it is that men are rational, and partake of divine knowledge”, explains Berosus. [Cory’s Ancient Fragments, p. 59. So do Sanchoniathon and Hesiod, who both ascribe the vivifying of mankind to the spilt blood of the Gods. But blood and soul are one (nephesh), and the blood of the gods means here the informing soul ] And Lenormant has shown (The Beginnings of History, etc., p. 52, footnote) that “the Orphics . . . said that the immaterial part of man, his soul [his life], sprang from the blood of Dionysos Zagreus, whom these Titans had torn to pieces. . . .” Blood “revivifies the dead” — i.e., interpreted metaphysically, it gives conscious life and a soul to the man of matter or clay — such as the modern materialist is now. The mystic meaning of the injunction, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves....” [John, vi, 53], can never be understood or appreciated at its true occult value, except by those who hold some of the seven keys, and yet care little for St. Peter. [The existence of these seven keys is virtually admitted, owing to deep research in the Egyptological lore, by Mr. G. Massey again. While opposing the teachings of “Esoteric Buddhism” — unfortunately misunderstood by him in almost every respect — in his Lecture on “The Seven Souls of Man and their Culmination in Christ”, he writes (p. 21):—
“. . . this system of thought, this mode of representation, this septenary
of powers, in various aspects, had been established in Egypt at least seven
thousand years ago, as we learn from certain allusions to Atum [the god ‘in
whom the fatherhood was individualised as the begetter of an eternal soul’,
the seventh principle of the Theosophists found in the inscriptions lately
discovered at Sakkarah. I say in various aspects because the Gnosis of the
Mysteries was at least sevenfold in its nature — it was Elemental,
Biological, Elementary (human), Stellar, Lunar, Solar, and Spiritual — and
nothing short of a grasp of the whole system can possibly enable us to discriminate
the various parts, distinguish one from the other, and determine the which
and the what, as we try to follow the symbolical Seven through their several
phases of character”.] These words, whether said by Jesus
of Nazareth, or Jeshua Ben-Panthera, are the words of an INITIATE. They have
to be interpreted with the help of three keys — one
opening the psychic door, the second that of physiology, and the third that
which unlocks the mystery of terrestrial being, by unveiling [Page
inseparable blending of theogony with anthropology. It is for revealing a few
of these truths, with the sole view of saving intellectual mankind from
the insanities of materialism and pessimism, that mystics have often been denounced
as the servants of Antichrist, even by those Christians who are most worthy,
sincerely pious and respectable men.
The first key that one has to use to unravel the dark secrets involved in the mystic name of Christ, is the key which unlocked the door to the ancient mysteries of the primitive Aryans, Sabeans and Egyptians. The Gnosis supplanted by the Christian scheme was universal. It was the echo of the primordial wisdom-religion which had once been the heirloom of the whole of mankind; and, therefore, one may truly say that, in its purely metaphysical aspect, the Spirit of Christ (the divine logos) was present in humanity from the beginning of it. The author of the Clementine Homilies is right; the mystery of Christos — now supposed to have been taught by Jesus of Nazareth — “was identical” with that which from the first had been communicated “to those who were worthy”, as quoted in another lecture. [ “Gnostic and Historic Christianity.” ] We may learn from the Gospel according to Luke, that the “worthy” were those who had been initiated into the mysteries of the Gnosis, and who were “accounted worthy” to attain that “resurrection from the dead” in this life . . . . “those who knew that they could die no more, being equal to the angels as sons of God and sons of the Resurrection”. In other words, they were the great adepts of whatever religion; and the words apply to all those who, without being Initiates, strive and succeed, through personal efforts to live the life and to attain the naturally ensuing spiritual illumination in blending their personality — the “Son” — with the “Father”, their individual divine Spirit, the God within them. This “resurrection” can never be monopolized by the Christians, but is the spiritual birth-right of every human being endowed with soul and spirit, whatever his religion may be. Such individual is a Christ-man. On the other hand, those who choose to ignore the Christ (principle) within themselves, must die unregenerate heathens — baptism, sacraments, lip-prayers, and belief in dogmas notwithstanding.
In order to follow this explanation, the reader must bear in mind the real archaic meaning of the paronomasia involved in the two terms Chréstos and Christos. The former means certainly more than merely “a good”, an “excellent man”, while the latter was never applied to any one living man, but to every Initiate at the moment of his second birth and resurrection. [“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John, iii, 5). Here the birth from above, the spiritual birth, is meant, achieved at the supreme and last initiation. ] He who finds Christos within himself and recognises the latter as his only “way”, becomes a follower and an Apostle of Christ, though he may have never been baptised, nor even have met a “Christian”, still less call himself one. [Page 181]
I AM unable to say where or when
the events related in the following pages took place. Neither can I give
any details concerning the personal circumstances of the narrator. All I
know is that she was a young woman of French nationality, and that the “uncle” of
whom she speaks — her senior
by some thirty years — was more distinguished as a philosopher than as
an enthusiast. Whether the conspiracy against the reigning authorities in which
our heroine and her friends were implicated, happened to be of any historical
importance or not, is also more than I can say. As my object in reproducing
the narrative is merely to illustrate the curious operation through natural
channels of laws, which are usually regarded as “occult”, and the
activity of which on the material plane has given rise to the common notion
of “miracle”, I
do not propose to trouble the reader or myself with any preamble of merely
local interest. So, without more introduction, I leave the diary of the writer
to recount the adventure set down therein by her own hand.
“ I was concerned in a very
prominent way in a political struggle for liberty and the people's rights.
My part in this struggle was, indeed, the leading one, but my uncle had been
drawn into it at my instance, and was implicated in a secondary manner only.
The government sought our arrest, and, for a time, we evaded all attempts
to take us, but at last we were surprised and driven under escort in a private
carriage to a military station, where we were to be detained for examination.
With us was arrested a man popularly known as 'Fou,' a poor weakling whom
I much pitied. When we arrived at the station which was our destination,
' Fou' gave some trouble to the officials. I think he fainted, but at all
events his conveyance from the carriage to the caserne needed
the conjoined efforts of our escort, and some commotion was caused by his
appearance among the crowd assembled to see us. Clearly the crowd was sympathetic
with us and hostile to the military. I particularly noticed one woman who
pressed forward as 'Fou' was being carried into the station, and who loudly
called on all present to note his feeble condition and the barbarity of arresting
a witless creature such as he. At that moment my uncle laid his hand on my
arm and whispered: 'Now is our time; the guards are all occupied with “Fou”;
we are left alone for a minute; let us jump out of the carriage and run !'
As he said this he opened the carriage door on the side opposite to the caserne
and alighted in the street. I instantly followed, and the people [Page
182] favouring us, we pressed through them and fled at the
top of our speed down the road. As we ran I espied a pathway winding up a hill-side
away from the town, and cried: 'Let us go up there; let us get away from
the streets !' My uncle answered: 'No, no; they would see us there immediately
at that height, the path is too conspicuous. Our best safety is to lose ourselves
in the town. We may throw them off our track by winding in and out of the streets'.
Just then a little child, playing in the road, got in our way, and nearly threw
us down as we ran. We had to pause a moment to recover ourselves. 'That child
may have cost us our lives', whispered my uncle breathlessly. A second afterwards
we reached the bottom of the street which branched off right and left. I hesitated
a moment; then we both turned to the right. As we did so — in the twinkling
of an eye — we found ourselves in the midst of a group of soldiers coming
round the corner. I ran straight into the arms of one of them, who the same
instant knew me and seized me by throat and waist with a grip of iron. This
was a horrible moment! The iron grasp was sudden and solid as the grip of a
vice; the man's arm held my waist like a bar of steel. ' I arrest you !' he
cried, and the soldiers immediately closed round us. At once I realised the
hopelessness of the situation; the utter futility of resistance .'Vous n’avez
pas besoin de me tenir ainsi', I said to the officer; 'J'irai tranquillement?
He loosened his hold and we were then marched off to another military station,
in a different part of the town from that whence we had escaped. The man who
had arrested me was a sergeant or some officer in petty command. He took me
alone with him into the guardroom, and placed before me on a wooden table some
papers which he told me to fill in and sign. Then he sat down opposite to me
and I looked through the papers. They were forms, with blanks left for descriptions
specifying the name, occupation, age, address and so forth of arrested persons.
I signed these, and pushing them across the table to the man, asked him what
was to be done with us. “You will be shot”, he replied, quickly
and decisively. ' Both of us ? ' I asked. ' Both', he replied. 'But', said
I, 'my companion has done nothing to deserve death. He was drawn into this
struggle entirely by me. Consider, too, his advanced age. His hair is white;
he stoops, and, had it not been for the difficulty with which he moves his
limbs, both of us would probably be at this moment in a place of safety. What
can you gain by shooting an old man such as he ?' The officer was silent.
He neither favoured nor discouraged me by his manner. While I sat awaiting
his reply, I glanced at the hand with which I had just signed the papers, and
a sudden idea flashed into my mind. ' At least', I said, ' grant me one request.
If my uncle must die, let me die first' Now I made this request
for the following reason. In my right hand, the line of life broke abruptly
halfway in its length; indicating a sudden and violent death. But the point
at which it broke was terminated by a [Page 183] perfectly marked square, extraordinarily clear-cut ,and
distinct. Such a square, occurring at the end of a broken line means rescue,
I had long been aware of this strange figuration in my hand, and had often
wondered what it presaged. But now, as once more I looked at it, it came upon
me with sudden conviction that in some way I was destined to be delivered from
death at the last moment, and I thought that if this be so it would be horrible
should my uncle have been killed first. If I were to be
saved I should certainly save him also, for my pardon would involve the pardon
of both, or my rescue the rescue of both. Therefore it was important to provide
for his safety until after my fate was decided. The officer seemed to take
this last request into more serious consideration than the first. He said shortly:
' I may be able to manage that for you,' and then at once rose and took up
the papers I had signed. ' When are we to be shot ?' I asked him, ' Tomorrow
morning', he replied, as promptly as before. Then he went out, turning the
key of the guard-room upon me.
“The dawn of the next day broke darkly. It was a terribly stormy day; great black lurid thunderclouds lay piled along the horizon, and came up slowly and awfully against the wind. I looked upon them with terror; they seemed so near the earth, and so like living, watching things. They hung out of the sky, extending long ghostly arms downwards, and their gloom and density seemed supernatural. The soldiers took us out, our hands bound behind us, into a quadrangle at the back of their barracks. The scene is sharply impressed on my mind. A palisade of two sides of a square, made of wooden planks, ran round the quadrangle. Behind this palisade, and pressed up close against it was a mob of men and women — the people of the town — come to see the execution. But their faces were sympathetic; an unmistakable look of mingled grief and rage, not unmixed with desperation — for they were a down-trodden folk — shone in the hundreds of eyes turned towards us. I was the only woman among the condemned. My uncle was there, and poor 'Fou', looking bewildered, and one or two other prisoners. On the third and fourth sides of the quadrangle was a high wall, and in a certain place was a niche partly enclosing the trunk of a tree, cut off at the top. An iron ring was driven into the trunk midway, evidently for the purpose of securing condemned persons for execution. I guessed it would be used for that now. In the centre of the square piece of ground stood a file of soldiers, armed with carbines, and an officer with a drawn saber. The palisade was guarded by a row of soldiers somewhat sparsely distributed, certainly not more than a dozen in all. A Catholic priest in black cassock walked beside me, and as we were conducted into the enclosure, he turned to me and offered religious consolation. I declined his ministrations, but asked him anxiously if he knew which of us was to die first. 'You ' he replied; 'the officer in [Page 184] charge of you said you wished it, and he has been able to accede to your request'. Even then I felt a singular joy at hearing this, though I had no longer any expectation of release. Death was, I thought, far too near at hand for that. Just then a soldier approached us, and led me, bare-headed, to the tree trunk, where he placed me with my back against it, and made fast my hands behind me with a rope to the iron ring. No bandage was put over my eyes. I stood thus, facing the file of soldiers in the middle of the quadrangle, and noticed that the officer with the drawn saber placed himself at the extremity of the line, composed of six men. In that supreme moment I also noticed that their uniform was bright with steel accoutrements. Their helmets were of steel and their carbines, as they raised them and pointed them at me, ready cocked, glittered in a fitful gleam of sunlight with the same burnished metal. There was an instant's stillness and hush while the men took aim; then I saw the officer raise his bared saber as the signal to fire. It flashed in the air; then, with a suddenness impossible to convey, the whole quadrangle blazed with an awful light — a light so vivid, so intense, so blinding, so indescribable that everything was blotted out and devoured by it. It crossed my brain with instantaneous conviction that this amazing glare was the physical effect of being shot, and that the bullets had pierced my brain or heart, and caused this frightful sense of all-pervading flame. Vaguely I remembered having read or having been told that such was the result produced on the nervous system of a victim to death from firearms. ' It is over', I said, 'that was the bullets'. But presently there forced itself on my dazed senses a sound — a confusion of sounds — darkness succeeding the white flash — then steadying itself into gloomy daylight; a tumult; a heap of stricken, tumbled men lying stone-still before me; a fearful horror upon every living face; and then .... it all burst on me with distinct conviction. The storm which had been gathering all the morning had culminated in its blackest and most electric point immediately over-head. The file of soldiers appointed to shoot me stood exactly under it. Sparkling with bright steel on head and breast and carbines, they stood shoulder to shoulder, a complete lightning conductor, and at the end of the chain they formed, their officer, at the critical moment, raised his shining, naked blade towards the sky. Instantaneously heaven opened, and the lightning fell, attracted by the burnished steel. From blade to carbine, from helmet to breastplate it ran, smiting every man dead as he stood. They fell like a row of ninepins, blackened in face and hand in an instant — in the twinkling of an eye. Dead, The electric flame licked the life out of seven men in that second; not one moved a muscle or a finger again. Then followed a wild scene. The crowd, stupefied for a minute by the thunderbolt and the horror of the devastation it had wrought, recovered sense, and with a mighty shout hurled itself against the palisade, burst it, leapt over it [Page 185] and swarmed into the quadrangle, easily overpowering the unnerved guards. I was surrounded, eager hands unbound mine, arms were thrown about me; the people roared, and wept, and triumphed, and fell about me on their knees praising Heaven. I think rain fell, my face was wet with drops, and my hair — but I knew no more, for I swooned and lay unconscious in the arms of the crowd. My rescue had indeed come, and from the very Heavens ! ”
by P H Dalbiac
KNOW, striving soul, on truth intent,
That not with words by mortal sent —
Faint shimmerings of earthly light —
Shall ever-living truth be taught,
Or light to gild the path be bought,
That leads us upward from the night.
But govern mind with ordered will,
Subduing this with knowledge still,
Fanning the spark within that glows,
The essence of that power divine,
The pledge to man from mystic time,
The light from thrones above that flows.
Then may the spirit, bathed in light,
Soar upward from the realms of night,
No more a fettered earth-bound thing,
But freed from clay, and doubt, and slime,
Triumphant over death and time !
To the eternal ever cling ! [Page 186]
THE INVISIBLE WORLD
by Alfred Percy Sinnett (1840-1921)
IN many of the tasks of life the first step costs the great effort, and the investigation of truth in the higher regions of Nature justifies the familiar maxim. The first step for the modern inquirer is that which carries his consciousness across the threshold of matter into the invisible world. Never mind for the moment whether occult progress be attempted by a direct onslaught on the defences of the invisible world, or by purely internal combats with the desires of the lower self. The unseen must first become a reality for anyone who seriously desires to enter into relations with it, whether he sets his will to work to vanquish his own frailties, or the forces of Nature on the astral plane. An internal struggle with material desire undertaken for a spiritual purpose, just as much as the other kind of contest, is a recognition of the superior realm; and it is not a struggle of the kind we are contemplating at all, if it is merely undertaken for a worldly purpose, as thrifty habits may be cultivated, for instance, at the bidding of the grossest material selfishness. But though a recognition of the invisible world must in this way have been forced, at an early stage of his inquiry, on the mind of everyone who becomes an earnest explorer of Nature's higher laws, its invisibility is a terrible barrier in the way of the progress that would otherwise be made by the throngs of intelligent materialists who people civilised countries at this epoch of our history. From the point of view of conventional thinkers — of those alike who sacrifice their Sunday mornings to provide for the contingency that there may be something in religion after all, and of those who are frankly incredulous of any Nature lying beyond the reach of instrumental research — a tremendous revolution in all their views of life is accomplished if they are somehow brought face to face with the reality of super-material phenomena, if they ever discover the invisible world and come to know it, or any part of it, as an unequivocal fact.
Long experienced explorers of the unseen often forget how profoundly clouded the whole region seems from the shore of materialistic thought. Indeed, from the shore of other systems where habits of metaphysical speculation would lead men to repudiate the charge of materialism, the unseen appears to be equally impenetrable to all human faculties. It is as though we lived beside an ocean always shrouded from view by a belt of mist. A few persons are in the constant habit of pushing out beyond in boats, but these, when they come back, are told, “ Nonsense! ; there is no ocean; you have been dreaming !” For the vast majority, the mist is an infinite void. Only by a minority have the few who have passed through it, been even [Page 187] encountered. Will anyone who knows his generation pretend to say that even among ordinary religious people the next world is a certain fact in Nature, like the next street? How many are there who do more than rest on the hypothesis that there may be somewhere a heaven to “go to” when the dreadful moment comes at which mortal man must perforce bid adieu to the warm precincts of the cheerful day. “God forbid !” a bishop is said to have piously remarked when warned, during danger at sea, that he would be in Heaven that night. The next world of commonplace orthodoxy is but too often regarded as a desperate resource for ruined men, whose fortune of life has been wrung from them to the last drop. For those who are bankrupt of breath, “ let us trust” (as a frequent phrase expresses the idea) that some compensation may be provided by Providence hereafter, though it does all remain so hopelessly obscure.
“Ah, if you could only show me that there really is a life beyond this — a perpetuation of this real individual Me after I am what my friends will call dead — you would be giving me a blessing that no words could over-estimate”. That is a passionate cry from many hearts to those who talk of other lives for the soul — of spiritual rewards, or the fruit of Karma in future states of existence.
It is a cry which few people indeed, even among those who have been in contact with the invisible world, are in a position to satisfy. Most of us are obliged to reply: “This satisfaction can only be acquired by a resolute effort; it is impossible for us to bring you proof of what we know, to save you trouble. If you would know whether Africa exists, we cannot bring you Africa to prove it; we can only give you directions how to get there if you are willing to undertake the journey”. “But why”, we might ask, “cannot you believe the testimony of those who have had proof of the sort you require”. The answer always is in effect: “C'est le premier pas qui coute. It would be worth worlds to know, but to believe without personal knowledge — that would be an act of faith. I might as easily believe at once in the Roman Catholic Church”.
There is a great difference, really, between the surrender of that reason claimed by ecclesiastical tyranny and the faith required to enable a seeker after truth to gain personal cognisance of the invisible world. The priest and the occultist both claim faith from the neophyte; but the first bids him develop this by strangling his reason, the second by satisfying it. Sensible faith is that which recognises the logic of facts appealing to human intelligence. It is stupid to believe that which you have no reason for believing; it is no less stupid to disbelieve that which there is reason to believe. The majority of modern men and women, indeed — fed exclusively on the husks of knowledge — are too profoundly ignorant of the records accumulated by those who have penetrated the unseen to be called stupid for undervaluing them. But on one or the other horn of the dilemma they must take their place. They are unconscious of the existence of the records left, or of the work done by students of [Page 188] occultism in its various phases; or they must be held responsible for defects of understanding. Does anyone say: “What are the records you refer to ?” The answer would be analogous to one that might be given to a person brought up in American backwoods, on modern practicalities exclusively, and who in mature life should hear someone refer to classical literature as important. “What book do you want me to read ? ” he might ask. What would an accomplished University devotee of Greek poetry think in reply, even if he tried to disguise his answer in polite terms ?
Any fairly considerable acquaintance with the literature of occult research — including in that broad designation records of any super-material phenomena — will put any man in a position in which he must either believe in the existence of the invisible world, or discover that he is an irrational being, whose “convictions” are merely acts of submission to the decrees of the multitude. And then, for most of those who perceive that they must believe, or who find that they cannot continue to disbelieve, some personal contact with some phases of the invisible world will probably follow in the sequence of events; because, once believing — once saturated with a complete conviction that there are other planes of Nature — these will present themselves to the mind as so interesting; that it becomes worth while to take trouble in order to get the gratification of beholding their phenomena in some way or other; and then success will sooner or later be attained. While people merely think “ there may be an invisible world, let us try if we can find it out”, they are easily baffled by failure. They draw one or two covers “blank” and retire from the effort declaring “there is nothing to be discovered; it is all a delusion”. The man who has read and assimilated what he has read is, as we have said above, saturated with a conviction on the subject. His state of mind remains unaffected by personal failure; and still impelled by the fascination of the idea, he will try again and again till he succeeds. When anyone says, “ I wish I could see something out of the common way, but I never have any luck in such things”, the answer is: “Then you certainly do not wish much” . Probably such people do not wish enough to take the trouble merely to study. What they wish is that conclusive phenomena demonstrating the existence of the invisible world should always be on view at some London theatre, where inquirers might go without liability to disappointment, when other engagements permitted.
And yet, though it is so easy to blame and ridicule that attitude of mind, no one who has the influence of the higher occultism in his heart, and at the same time a capacity for sympathising with the best attributes of modern culture, can be otherwise than indefatigably anxious to waken up the present generation more fully to an appreciation of the sublime knowledge accessible to those who get across the outer barriers and come to realise the existence of the world beyond, once for all. [Page 189] Occultists will often fail to understand the situation aright. There are some who would do nothing but draw from their own knowledge of the invisible world a store of moral maxims, and serve these out to their brethren, fearing to suggest further inquiries lest danger should be incurred, for, of course, people are put in danger the higher they climb, falls being then more disastrous. But maxims to have any value must be in circuit with knowledge. “Be good !” is a sound maxim. “Be good children !” is often an efficient exhortation, but it will not survive, the period when the persons addressed say “Why ?” And all the educated world is saying “Why ?” now in regard to injunctions which rest upon incredible assertions. Why is Society so tolerant of some misdoing which the Church has always specially condemned, though it lies outside the catalogue of offences like robbery and murder, proscribed by common convenience ? Because maxims which merely rest upon religion have no longer any binding force; in other words, because religion is the science, or the sum total of the sciences of the invisible world, and men now claim to have cut and dried maxims overhauled on principles to which this age of science has accustomed them. It is quite possible to get this done. The fact that this is a scientific age is a declaration, in other words, that a time has come for putting a scientific complexion on religious thought; in other words again, for beginning to lead the public, in flocks, where hitherto rare pioneers only have penetrated in secret — across the threshold unto the limitless realms of the invisible world. By flocks we need not be supposed to mean crude masses of humanity selected on no system, but large numbers compared to the rare explorers of former times, considerable groups of the most intelligent and advanced minds of the age. A man of the present day, who has obtained the beautiful culture of modern civilisation, who may be an accomplished classic, a finely-trained man of science, a poet, an artist, and yet a person so ignorant or stupid (as to certain facets of his mind) as not to know anything about the invisible world, is a creature who provokes in the more enlightened observer a feeling analogous to that with which one might look at a lady of fashion, beautiful in the face, but whose winning draperies you know to hide ugly deformities or repulsive disease. Or treating the subject more abstractedly, this lovely culture of modern civilisation is like the soulless statue — the Galatea without life. Surely it is time that the gods informed the marble with the breath of the spirit; and have they not shown themselves ready to do this if the sculptor does but appeal to them ?
The man who penetrates, or gets into relations of some sort or other with the invisible world, will not necessarily be illuminated at once with a flood of exhilarating knowledge. The new realm may open out before the explorer in many different ways; and there is much going astray amidst its innumerable mazes for new comers, as a rule. But to discuss these perils in detail would be to attempt an essay on all branches [Page 190] of occultism. For the present we are arguing merely that to make no journeys there at all is to give up progress, to move no longer with the onward stream of evolution, to fall out of the line of march.
It is deplorable that men of intelligence, in the present day, should neglect to pick up the threads which might guide them to some knowledge of the invisible world, for two reasons, or rather, the reasons why this is deplorable may be divided into two great classes, those which have reference to knowledge, as such, and those which have reference to the spiritual interests of mankind. To people who appreciate spiritual interests, nothing else is relatively worth a thought; but for men of modern civilisation at large knowledge is worth everything for its own sake; it is the end they are pursuing, and this being so, it is astounding that they neglect the most subtle, fascinating and intricate phenomena of all nature, those which have to do with super-material planes of existence and natural force. And from that point of view, any passage across the threshold of the invisible world will do as well as any other. The tables that move without hands, the pencils that write without fingers, are surely linked with mysteries of Nature not yet understood, and, therefore, worth examination. Investigations concerning them bring one face to face with the forces of the invisible world.
Are we told that science cannot grasp these phenomena to investigate them ? The statement is not true. They cannot be grasped at any time by anybody, but no more can the depths of stellar space be fathomed by whoever chooses whenever it suits his leisure. Great telescopes are scarce; nights perfectly fitted for observation must be waited for with patience. But when they come, the men who have got the telescopes take observations and make reports, and their records are studied by other astronomers, and used as the foundation of theories, as the raw material of current knowledge. If similar methods were adopted with even the crudest spiritualistic, not to speak of scientific, research in occult mystery, the world at large would not be blundering about as it is, with absurd denials of facts known to thousands. Clairvoyance again, by flights of perception through the invisible world, bridges gulfs that are materially impassable. But what does modern culture know of it? As a scientific fact, it is enormously more certain than the existence, for example, of the satellites of Mars; but who disputes the latter fact ? They have been seen, those satellites, if they are not seen easily or often, and therefore their existence has been established. But five newspapers out of six in the present day — barometers of prevailing belief — would profess to disbelieve in clairvoyance if the subject had to be mentioned; to disbelieve in that which is an elementary truth having to do with the most easily accessible region of supermaterial knowledge !
To gain touch with this is not to be put at once in possession of that [Page 191] certainty concerning the survival after death of the real “Me” in each case, which is the great point to be established for most European doubters, but it is the first step. Students of the laws which govern existence in the higher realms of Nature can gain no hearing from those to whom that great point remains unsatisfied. Once the higher realm is felt to be a reality, the possibility of gaining a knowledge of the laws which prevail there presents itself to the mind with an altogether new significance. And finally, closer attention shows that this knowledge certainly has been gained; that the path leading to spiritual wisdom is defined; that with some of the powers which reign in the invisible world we may enter into more or less definite relations beforehand here; that of all practical pursuits which men of clear heads and resolute purpose can set themselves to, during the space of incarnate earthly life, immeasurably the most practical, in so far as it has to do with objects which dwarf all others in their importance, are those which have to do with the culture and development of that Higher Self within them which has its natural home in the invisible world, and is but a passing guest in the midst of material occupations. To use and apply the knowledge of supermaterial laws which occult studies disclose is a life's task, but of that for the moment we need not speak. It is with the heedless and frivolous generation at large that we are concerned in this appeal — with those who waste great gifts of intelligence and splendid energies and courage and indomitable industry on transitory pursuits, on money-making (in excess), on discovery and research that merely subserve passing material wants, on the struggle for flattering distinctions which cast a meteoric gleam on the brief journey to personal oblivion, on the “solid realities” of the visible world, which, like the ice drops of a hailstorm, are as hard as bullets one minute and dissolved in new forms the next. It is all for want of taking the first step that they are squandering their lives. Their immediate predecessors knew no more than they perhaps of the hidden mysteries, but they were less critical of the distorted shape in which pious tradition told them of the future and of the powers above. The heirs of modern thought have grown in knowledge of molecules and of the transmutation of energy but as they look back upon the beliefs which contented their forefathers, they perceive that their fuller science of the physical plane has entirely shut out the wide, vague prospect that used to gleam on the earlier horizon.
Rational human creatures cannot afford to leave that prospect in a permanent eclipse. The neglect of all facts concerned with the durabilities of existence; the concentration of effort and interest on the hastily dissolving view of its physically manifested phases, is the crying folly of the period. To spring at once into complete conscious spiritual relationship with the higher planes of Nature is not an easy achievement. The great Realities lie within a domain which makes no direct appeal to the five senses of the earthly body, and the only way of approaching their comprehension [Page 192] is to press on through the darkness, beyond which other men before us declare that they have reached illuminated altitudes.
But meanwhile, the torpor of the educated world at large in regard to the promptings which ought now to stir its activity in this direction is little less than idiotic. Idiotic relatively, that is to say, to spiritual culture. There are men of illustrious fame in the various provinces of intellectual culture, who are behaving relatively to their own higher potentialities, as the luckless victim of a shallow skull may behave towards the teachings of science and art. But there is always one thing to be remembered about them; they are curable. Their cure can be undertaken with sure certainty of success at any moment, but for each sufferer from that inner cataract which shuts out from his consciousness the prospect of the invisible world, there is only one surgeon who can successfully perform the necessary operation — the man himself. What we can do who have accomplished the feat for ourselves, is to encourage others — not to go, but to come and do likewise.
THE MYSTIC THOUGHT
by P.H. Dalbiac
WHEN will come rest ? Is it alone the silent grave
That can bring true peace to the restless soul
That striving, yearns to reach some distant goal,
Toss'd like a boat on the crest of a mighty wave ?
Is there oblivion in the cold, dark tomb
To dull the heart and kill the abject fear
Which loads the sense, when unknown dangers loom
From regions that our sense perceives not here ?
When from the soul goes forth the mystic thought
That we have higher purpose than we know,
And each must reap the fruit he cares to sow,
Or learn the duties he himself has taught
Can this be killed ? — no, surely ! — but that lamp can save
That burns within us here—and burns beyond the grave. [Page 193]
ADVENTURE is said to be sweet to the young; if it was so to Hilary, he must soon have found abundant pleasure in the possession of enough sweets. For the next few days scarcely an hour passed without an event large enough in his eyes to be an adventure.
He was ready at the hour Fleta had named; and had provided against all probable contingencies by taking with him the smallest possible amount of luggage. For aught he knew they might have to climb mountains in the course of this journey. And moreover he knew Fleta's un-princess-like distaste for superfluities; he would not have been surprised to see her start in her riding habit and take no luggage at all. The difficulty he dreaded was his mother's surprise at this scant provision of his. But good luck — or was it something else ? — took her away. She was summoned to visit a sick friend at a little distance out of the city, and said good-bye to Hilary before her departure. So Hilary made his preparations without being troubled by criticism.
At noon a lad presented himself at the door of the Estanol's house, with a note which he said he was to give into Hilary's own hand. Hilary immediately went to him and took it, as he guessed it was from Fleta. A single line ! — and no signature ! —
“ I am waiting for you outside the north gate”.
Hilary took his valise in his hand, afraid to hire a carriage lest it should not please her that he brought any eyes to note their meeting. He walked out of the city by the quietest side streets he could select, hoping not to meet any of his friends. He met no one he knew, and with a sigh of relief passed out through the gate and walked on to the broad country road beyond it. Drawn up under some trees was a handsome travelling carriage, with four horses and postilions. Hilary was surprised. He had not expected so much luxury. When he reached the carriage he was even more surprised. Fleta was hardly dressed as for a journey; she wore a much richer robe than usual, and [Page 194] her head and shoulders were covered with beautiful black lace. She leaned back in a corner of the roomy carriage, with a voluptuous dreamy expression on her face which was new to Hilary. Opposite her sat Father Amyot. Hilary could not but regard the priest with amazement. Was the town to lose its favourite confessor? How then could all the gossips in it be prevented from hearing of the Princess Fleta's journey ? But Hilary resolved not to harass himself with conjecture. He entered the carriage and Fleta motioned to him to seat himself at her side.
At her side ! Yes, that was his place. And Father Amyot, the father confessor, beloved and almost worshipped by the people, in whose breast reposed the secrets and the sorrows of the city; Father Amyot, who was the model of piety to all who knew him, sat opposite in the carriage. Did he watch the lovers? Seemingly not. His eyes were lowered and his gaze was apparently fixed on his clasped hands. He sat there like a statue. Once or twice when Hilary glanced at his face, he fancied he must be there unwillingly. Was it so ? Was he Fleta's tool and servant held by her domineering temper to do her bidding ? Surely not. Father Amyot was too well known as a man of power for the idea to be credible. Hilary checked himself for the hundredth time in these hopeless speculations and determined to enjoy the moment he was in possession of and not trouble about the next one till it came; nor yet endeavour to read others' hearts. And so this young philosopher went open eyed, as he believed, to his destruction.
The carriage rolled away at a great speed; it was drawn by four beautiful Russian horses, and the postilions were Fleta's own, and accustomed to her likings. She was a most daring and intrepid rider and nothing pleased her in the way of motion except great speed. She was a lover of animals and her horses were the finest kept in the city. It was strange to Hilary to try and realise her singular independence of position, as today he felt impelled to. For himself he was still to a great extent in leading strings; he had made no position for himself, nor even planned any career; he was dependent on his mother's fortune, and consequently, to a certain extent, could act only according to her approval. He was still so young that all this seemed natural enough. But Fleta was younger than himself, though it was difficult always to remember it, so dominant was her temper. A glance at her fresh face still so soft in its outlines as to have something childish about it when her expression permitted; at her figure,so slender in spite of its stateliness, recalled the fact that the Princess was indeed only a girl. Did the man who was about to marry her suppose that his young Queen was a creature unformed, fresh from the schoolroom, altogether malleable to his hand ?
During the whole of the afternoon they drove on with scarcely a pause, and with very little conversation to pass the time. Yet for Hilary it flew with swift wings. The mere sensation of his novel [Page 195] position was enough for him as yet. To be beside Fleta and to watch her mysterious face for so long together satisfied for the moment his longing soul. Fleta herself seemed buried in profound thought. She sat silent, her eyes on the country they passed through, but her mind, as far as Hilary could judge, wandering in some remote region. As for Father Amyot, his regard remained fixed upon a small crucifix which he held hidden within his clasped hands, and now and then his lips moved in prayer, while, on that austere face, no expression seemed to have room but that of adoration or contemplation of the divine.
At sundown they stopped at a very small way-side inn. Hilary could not believe they were going to stay here, for it looked little more than a place where men drink and horses are fed. Yet so it was. The carriage was driven round to the side of the small house, the horses taken out of it, and Flea led the way in at a side door, followed by her two companions.
Within they found a motherly, plain and kindly woman, who evidently knew Fleta well; Hilary learned afterwards that this landlady had been a kitchen maid in the royal household. And now he saw strange things indeed. For this inn was in reality nothing but a drinking shop for the drivers who passed along the road. It had no parlour, nor any accommodation for travellers of a better sort. And Fleta knew this, as was evident at once. She drew a hard chair forward, close to the great fire which flamed up the wide open chimney, and sat down seemingly quite at her ease.
“We must have some supper”, she said to the landlady. “Get us what you can. Can you find room for these gentlemen tonight ? ”
The landlady came near to Fleta and spoke in a low voice; the Princess laughed.
“There are no bedrooms in this house, it seems”,
she said, aloud, “ in
fact, it is not an hotel. Shall we drive on or shall we sit here through the
“The horses are tired”, said Father Amyot, speaking for the first time since they had left the city.
“True”, said Fleta, absently — for already she appeared to be thinking of something else. “ I suppose, then we must stay here”.
Hilary had never passed, nor ever contemplated passing, a night in such rough
fashion. He was fond of comfort, or rather of luxury. But what could he do
when his Princess, the greatest lady in the land, set him the example. Any
protest would have appeared effeminate, and his pride held him silent. Still,
when after a very indifferent supper, they all returned to the hard wooden
chairs beside the fire, Hilary for the moment very sincerely wished himself
at home in his own comfortable rooms. As he wished this, suddenly he became
aware that Fleta's dark eyes had turned upon him, and he would not look up,
for he believed she had read his thought. He wished he could have hidden it
from her, for he had no mind to be held as more effeminate than herself. [Page
There was a sort of second kitchen even rougher and more cheerless than the one in which they sat; and there the postilions and other men, the ordinary customers of the house, were crowded together, drinking and talking and singing. Their presence was horrid to Hilary, who was conscious of refined susceptibilities, but Fleta seemed quite indifferent to the noise they made and the odour of their coarse tobacco; or rather it might be that she was unaware of anything outside her own thoughts. She sat, her chin on her hand, looking into the fire; and so graceful and perfect was her attitude that she had the air of being a masterpiece of art placed amid the commonest surroundings. She looked more lovely than ever from the contrast, but yet the incongruity was painful to Hilary.
The silence in the room in which they sat became the more marked from contrast with the increasing noise in the crowded room without. At last, however, the hour came for the house to be closed and the landlady politely showed her customers the door; all except those who were travellers on the road. These, including the postilions, gathered into the chimney corner and became quiet, at last falling sound asleep. To Hilary it seemed now that he was living through a painful dream, and he longed for the awakening — willing to awake, even if that meant that he would be at home and away from Fleta.
At last sleep came to him, and his head drooped forward; he sat there, upright in the wooden chair, fast asleep. When he awoke it was with a sense of pain in every limb, from the posture which he had maintained; and he could scarcely refrain from crying out when he attempted to move. But he instantly remembered that if the others were sleeping he must not wake them. Then he quickly looked round. Father Amyot sat near, looking just as he had looked since they entered the house; he might have been a statue. Fleta's chair was empty.
Hilary roused himself, sat up and stared at her empty place; then looked all round the kitchen. An idea occurred to him; possibly the landlady had found some resting place for the young Princess. A sense of oppression came over him; the kitchen seemed stifling. He rose with difficulty and stretched himself, then found his way out into the air. It was a glorious morning; the sun had just risen, the world seemed like a beautiful woman seen in her sleep. How sharp the sweet fresh air was ! Hilary drew a deep breath of it. The country in which this lonely little inn stood was exceedingly lovely, and at this moment it wore its most fascinating appearance. A sense of great delight came upon Hilary; the uneasiness of the past night was at an end, and he was glad now and full of youth and strength. He turned and walked away from the house, soon leaving the road and plunging into the dewy grass. There was a stream in the valley, and here he determined to bathe. He soon reached it, and in another moment had hastily undressed, and was plunged in the ice-cold water. An intoxicating sense of vigour came over him as he [Page 197] experienced the keen contact. Never had he felt so full of life as now ! It was not possible to remain long in the water, it was so intensely cold; he sprang out again and stood for a moment on the bank in the brilliant morning sunshine, looking like a magnificent figure carved by the god of the day, his flesh gleaming in the light. Slowly he began at last to put on his dress, feeling as if in some way this meant a partial return and submission to civilization. Something of the savage which lay deep hidden in him had been roused and touched. A fire burned that hitherto he had never felt, and which made him long for pure freedom and un-criticised life. And this was Hilary Estanol! It seemed incredible that a draught of fresh morning air, a plunge into ice-cold water beneath the open sky, should have been enough to unloose the savage in him, which was held fast beneath his conventional and languid self, as it is in all of us, and all those whom we meet in ordinary life. He moved hastily, striding on as though he were hurrying to some end, but it was merely a new pleasure in motion. There was a grove of old yew trees near the stream; a grove which with the superstitious was held to be sacred. That it should be revered was no wonder, so stately were the ancient trees, so deep the shadow they cast. Hilary went towards this grove, attracted by its splendid appearance; as he approached its margin a dim sense of familiarity came over him. Never had he left the city by this road, yet it seemed to him that he had entered the grove of yews by the early morning light already many a time. We are all accustomed to meet with this curious sensation; Hilary laughed at it and put it away. What if he had visited this spot in a dream ? Now it was broad daylight, and he felt himself young and a giant. He plunged into the deep shadow, pleased by the contrast it made to the brilliant light without.
Suddenly his heart leaped within him and his brain reeled. For there before him, stood Fleta; and the brilliant Princess looked like a spirit of the night, so pale and grave and proud was her face and so much a part did she seem of the deep shadow of the wood.
“Is it you ? ” she said with a smile, a smile of mystery and deep unfathomable knowledge.
“Yes it is ! ” he answered, and felt, as he spoke, that he said something in those words which he did not himself understand. They stood side by side for a moment in silence; and then Hilary remembered himself to be alone with this woman, alone with her in the midst of the world. They were separated by the hour from other men and women, for the world still lay asleep; they were separated by the deep shadow of the wood from all moving life that answered to the sun. They were alone — and overwhelmed by this sudden sense of solitude Hilary spoke out his soul.
“Princess”, he said, “ I am ready to be your blind servant, your dumb slave, speaking and seeing only when you tell me. You know well why I am willing to be the tool in your hands. It is because I love you. But [Page 198] you must pay a price for your tool if you would have it! I cannot only worship at your feet. Fleta, you must give yourself to me, absolutely, utterly. Marry that man to whom you are betrothed if you desire to be a queen, but to me you must give your love, yourself. Ah ! Fleta, you cannot refuse me ! ”
Flea stood still a long moment, her eyes upon his face.
“No”, she said, “ I cannot refuse you”.
And to Hilary, for an instant of horror, it seemed to him that in her eyes was a glance of ineffable scorn. Yet there was love in the smile on her lips and in the touch of her hand as she laid it in his.
“The bond is made”, she said, “all that you can take of me is yours. And I will pay you for your love with my love. Only do not forget that you and I are different — that we are after all, two persons — that we cannot love in exactly the same way. Do not forget this !”
Hilary knew not what to answer. As she spoke the last words he recognised his princess, he saw the queen before him. What did she mean ?, Well, he was so unhappy that his love had gone from him to a lady of royal birth. It could not be undone, this folly. He must be content to take that part which a subject may take in the life of a queen, even though he be her lover. The thought brought a pang, a swift stab to his heart and a sigh burst from his lips. Fleta put her hand on his arm.
“Do not be sad so soon”, she said, “ let us wait for trouble. Come let us go out into the sunshine”.
They went out, hand in hand; they wandered down beside the stream and looked into the gleaming waters.
THAT day the journey began early,
and was very protracted. Twice during it they halted at little inns to rest
the horses and to obtain what food they could. By the evening they had entered
upon the most deserted region of the great forest which was one of the prides
of the country. The King's hunting seat, where he now was, stood in a part
of this forest, but in quite another region, a long distance from this wild
place where Hilary and his companions now were. Hilary had never been within
the forest, as few from the city ever penetrated it except as part of the
King's retinue, and then they only saw such tracts of it as were preserved
and in order. Of this wilder region practically little was known, and the
spirit of adventure within Hilary made him rejoice to find that their journey
led them through this unpopulated district. His curiosity as to their destination
was not now very acute, for the experiences of the passing moments were all
sufficient. It is true that he was conscious of the great gulf fixed between
himself and Fleta. He knew her to be his superior in every respect. He knew
not only that he must always be separated from her by their difference in
station but that he was more vitally separated from her by their difference
199] thought — and that even now. But
he was made happy by a look of love that plunged deep from her eyes into his
own now and again, and he was thrilled to the heart when her hand touched his
with a light and delicate pressure that he alone could understand. Ah! that
secret understanding which separates lovers from all the rest of the world.
How sweet it is ! How strange it is, too, for they are overpowered by a mutual
sense of sympathy which appears to be a supreme intelligence, giving each the
power to look into the other's heart. Dear moments are they when this is realised,
when all life outside the sacred circle in which the two dwell is obscure and
dim, while that within is rich, and strong, and sweet. Hilary lived supremely
content only in the consciousness of being near this woman whom he loved;
for now that he had actually asked her love, and been granted it, nothing else
existed for him save that sweet fact. He was indifferent to the hardships,
and, indeed, probable dangers, of the journey they were upon, which might have
made a more intrepid spirit uneasy; for now he was content to suffer, or even
to die, if all conditions were shared with Fleta. All her life could not be
shared with him, but all his could be shared with her. When a man reaches this
point, and is content to face such a state of things between himself and the
woman he loves, he may be reckoned as being in love indeed.
Quite late at night it was when this day's journey ended, and the splendid horses were really tired out. But a certain point evidently had to be reached, and the postilions pushed on. Fleta at last seemed to grow a little anxious, and several times rose in the carriage to look on ahead; once or twice she inquired of the postilions if they were certain of their way. They answered yes; though how that could be was to Hilary a mystery, for they had been for a long while travelling over mere grass tracts, of which there were many, to his eyes undistinguishable one from the other. But the postilions either had landmarks which he could not detect, or else knew their way very well. At last they stopped; and in the dim light Hilary saw that there was a gate at the side of the track, a gate wide enough to drive through, but of the very simplest construction. It might have defended merely a spot where young trees were planted, or some kind of preserving done; and it was set in a fence of the same character, almost entirely hidden by thick growth of wild shrubs. The Princess Fleta produced from her dress a whistle on which she sounded a clear ringing note, and then everybody sat still and waited. It seemed to Hilary that it was quite a long while that they waited; perhaps it was not really long, but the night was so still, the silence so profound, the feeling of expectancy so strong. He was, for the first time since they started, really very curious as to what would happen next. What did happen at last was this. There was a sound of laughter and footsteps, and presently two figures appeared at the gate; one that of a tall man, the other that of a young, slight girl. The gate was unlocked and thrown [Page 200] wide open, and a moment later the young girl was in the carriage, embracing Flea with the greatest enthusiasm and delight. Hilary hardly knew how everything happened, but presently the whole party was standing together inside the gate, the carriage had driven in and was out of sight. Then, the tall man shut and locked the gate, after which he turned back, and walked on ahead with the young girl at his side, while Hilary followed with Fleta. The moon had risen now, and Hilary could see her beautiful face plainly, wearing on it an unusually gay and happy expression; her lips seemed to smile at her own thoughts. The sweet gladness in her face made Hilary's heart spring with joy. It could not be rejoining her friends that made her so glad, for they had gone on and left her alone with him.
“Fleta — my princess — no, my Fleta”, he said, “ are you happy to be with me ? I think you are ! ”
“ Yes, I am happy to be with you — but I am not Fleta”.
“ Not Fleta ! ” echoed Hilary, in utter incredulity.
He stopped, and catching his companion's hand, looked into her face. She glanced up, and her eyes were full of shy coquetry and ready gaiety.
“ I might be her twin sister, might I not, if I am not Fleta herself ? Ah ! no, Fleta's fate is to live in a court — mine to live in a forest. Live ! — no, it is not life ! ”
What was it in that voice that made his heart grow hot with passion ? Fiercely he exclaimed to himself that it was, it must, be Fleta's voice. No other woman could speak in such tones — no other woman's words give him such a sense of maddening joy.
“Oh ! yes”, he said, “ it
is life — when
one loves, one lives anywhere”.
“ Yes, perhaps, when one loves ! ” was the answer.
“ You told me this morning that you loved me, Fleta!” cried Hilary in despair.
“ Ah! but I am not Fleta”, was the mocking answer. It sounded like mockery indeed as she spoke. And yet the voice was Fleta's. There was no doubt of that. He looked, he listened, he watched. The voice, the face, the glorious eyes, were Fleta's. It was Fleta who was beside him, say she what she might.
They had been following the others all this while, and had now reached a clearing in the wood, where was a garden full of sweet flowers, as Hilary could tell at once by the rich scents that came to him on the night air.
“ I am glad we have reached the house”, said his companion, “for I am very tired and hungry. Are not you ? I wonder what we shall have for supper. You know this is an enchanted place which we call the palace of surprises. We never know what will happen next. That is why one can enjoy a holiday here as one can enjoy it no where else. At home there is a frightful monotony about the eating and drinking [Page 201] Everything is perfect, of course, but it is always the same. Now here one is fed like a Russian one day, and a Hungarian the next. There is a perpetual novelty about the menus, and yet they are always good. Is not that extraordinary. And oh ! the wines, great heavens ! what a cellar our sainted father keeps. I can only bless, with all my heart, the long dead founders of his order, who instituted such a system”.
Hilary had regarded his companion with increasing amazement during this speech. Certainly it was unlike Fleta. Was she acting for his benefit ? But at the words “sainted father” another idea thrust that one out of his head. What had become of Father Amyot ? He had not seen him leave the carriage, or approach the house.
“Oh, your holy companion has gone to his brethren”, said the girl, with a laugh. “They have a place of their own where they torture themselves and mortify the flesh. But they entertain us well, and that is what I care for. We will have a dance tonight. Oh ! Hilary, the music here ! It is better than that of any band in the world ! ”
“If you are not, Fleta, how do you know my name ? ”
“Simple creature ! What a question ! Why, Fleta has told me all about you. Did you never hear that the princess had a foster-sister, and that none could ever tell which was which, so like were we — and are we ! Did you never hear that Fleta's mother was blonde, and dull, and plain, and that Fleta is like none of her own family ? Oh, Hilary, you, fresh from the city, you know nothing!”
A sudden remembrance crossed Hilary's mind.
“ I have heard”, he said, “ that no one could tell where Fleta
had drawn her beauty from. But I believe you draw it from you own beautiful
soul! ” .
“ Ah, you still think me Fleta ? I have had some happy hours in the city before now when Fleta has let me play at being a princess. Ah, but the men all thought the princess in a strange, charming, delightful humour on these days. And when next they saw her, that humour was gone, and they were afraid to speak to her. Come in. I am starving !”
They had entered a wide, low doorway, and stood now within the great hall. What a strange hall it was ! The floor was covered with the skins of animals, many of them very handsome skins; and great jars held flowering plants, the scent from which made the air rich and heavy. A wood fire burned on the wide hearth, and before it, still in the dress she had travelled in, stood — Fleta.
The girl who stood at Hilary's side laughed and clapped her hands as he uttered a cry of amazement, even of horror.
“This is some of your magic, Fleta ! ” he exclaimed involuntarily.
The Princess turned at his words. She was looking singularly grave and stern; her glance gave Hilary a sense of almost fear.
“No”, she answered in a low, quiet voice that had a tone, as Hilary [Page 202] fancied, of pain, “ it is not magic. It is all very natural. This is Adine, my little sister; so like me that I do not know her from myself”.
She drew Adine to her with a gesture which had a protecting tenderness in it. This was the Princess who spoke, queen-like in her kindness. Hilary Stood, unable to speak, unable to think, unable to understand. Before him stood two girls — each Fleta. Only by the difference of expression could he detect any difference between them. One threw him back the most coquettish and charming glance, as she went towards her grave sister. He could feel keenly how vitally different the two were. Yet they stood side by side, and though Fleta said “my little sister” there was no outward difference between them. Adine was as tall, as beautiful — and the same in everything !
“Do not be startled”, said Fleta quietly, “you will soon grow used to the likeness”.
“Though I doubt”, added Adine, with a wicked glance from her brilliant eyes, “whether you will ever tell us apart except, when we are not together”.
“Come”, said Fleta, “ let us go and wash the travel stains off. It is just supper time”.
Flea talked of travel stains, but as Hilary looked at her queenly beauty, he thought she seemed as fresh as though she had but from this moment come from the hands of her maid. However, the two went away arm in arm, Adine turning at the door to have one last glance of amusement at Hilary's utterly perplexed face. He was left alone, and he remained standing where he was, without power of thought or motion.
Presently some one came and touched him on the shoulder; this was necessary
in order to attract his attention. It was the tall man who had come to the
gate to meet them. He was very handsome, and with the most cheerful and good-natured
expression; his blue eyes were full of laughter.
“Come”, he said, “come and see your room. I am master of the ceremonies here; apply to me for anything you want — even information ! I may, or may not give it, according to the decision of the powers that be. Call me Mark. I have a much longer name, in fact, half-a-dozen much longer ones, and a few titles to boot; but they would not interest you, and in the midst of a forest where nobody has any dignity, a name of one syllable is by far the best”. While he talked on like this, apparently indifferent as to whether Hilary listened or no, he led the way out of the hall and down a wide, carpeted corridor. He opened the last door in this, and ushered Hilary in.
(To be continued.)
What is Life? Hundreds of the most philosophical minds, scores of` learned
well-skilled physicians, have asked themselves the question, but to little
purpose. The veil thrown over primordial Kosmos and the mysterious beginnings
of life upon it, has never been withdrawn to the satisfaction of earnest, honest
science. The more the men of official learning try to penetrate through its
dark folds, the more intense becomes that darkness, and the less they see,
for they are like the treasure-hunter, who went across the wide seas to look
for that which lay buried in his own garden.
What is then this Science? Is it biology, or the study of life in its general aspect? No. Is it physiology, or the science of organic function? Neither; for the former leaves the problem as much the riddle of the Sphinx as ever; and the latter is the science of death far more than that of life. Physiology is based upon the study of the different organic functions and the organs necessary to the manifestations of life, but that which science calls living matter, is, in sober truth, dead matter. Every molecule of the living organs contains the germ of death in itself, and begins dying as soon as born, in order that its successor-molecule should live only to die in its turn. An organ, a natural part of every living being, is but the medium for some special function in life, and is a combination of such molecules. The vital organ, the whole, puts the mask of life on, and thus conceals the constant decay and death of its parts. Thus, neither biology nor physiology are the science, nor even branches of the Science of Life, but only that of` the appearances of life. While true philosophy stands Oedipus-like before the Sphinx of life, hardly daring to utter the paradox contained in the answer to the riddle propounded, materialistic science, as arrogant as ever, never doubting its own wisdom for one moment, biologises itself and many others into the belief that it has solved the awful problem of existence. In truth, however, has it even so much as approached its threshold? It is not, surely, by attempting to deceive itself and the unwary in saying that life is but the result of molecular complexity, that it can ever hope to promote the truth. Is vital force, indeed, only a “phantom,” as Du Bois-Reymond calls it? For his taunt that “life”, as something independent, is but the asylum ignorantiae of those who seek refuge in abstractions, when direct explanation is impossible, applies with far more force and justice to those materialists who would blind people to the reality of facts, by substituting bombast and jaw-breaking words in their place. Have any of the five divisions of the functions of life, so pretentiously [Page 204] named — Archebiosis, Biocrosis, Biodiaeresis, Biocaenosis and Bioparodosis, [Or Life-origination, Life-fusion, Life-division, Life-renewal and Life-transmission ] ever helped a Huxley or a Haeckel to probe more fully the mystery of the generations of the humblest ant — let alone of man? Most certainly not. For life, and everything pertaining to it, belongs to the lawful domain of the metaphysician and psychologist, and physical science has no claim upon it. “That which hath been, is that which shall be; and that which hath been is named already — and it is known that it is MAN” — is the answer to the riddle of the Sphinx. But “man” here, does not refer to physical man — not in its esoteric meaning, at any rate. Scalpels and microscopes may solve the mystery of the material parts of the shell of man: they can never cut a window into his soul to open the smallest vista on any of the wider horizons of being.
It is those thinkers alone, who, following the Delphic injunction, have cognized life in their inner selves, those who have studied it thoroughly in themselves, before attempting to trace and analyze its reflection in their outer shells, who are the only ones rewarded with some measure of success. Like the fire-philosophers of the Middle Ages, they have skipped over the appearances of light and fire in the world of effects, and centred their whole attention upon the producing arcane agencies. Thence, tracing these to the one abstract cause, they have attempted to fathom the MYSTERY, each as far as his intellectual capacities permitted him. Thus they have ascertained that (1) the seemingly living mechanism called physical man, is but the fuel, the material, upon which life feeds, in order to manifest itself; and (2) that thereby the inner man receives as his wage and reward the possibility of accumulating additional experiences of the terrestrial illusions called lives.
One of such philosophers is now undeniably the great Russian novelist and reformer, Count Leo N. Tolstoi. How near his views are to the esoteric and philosophical teachings of higher Theosophy, will be found on the perusal of a few fragments from a lecture delivered by him at Moscow before the local Psychological Society.
Discussing the problem of life, the Count asks his audience to admit, for the sake of argument, an impossibility. Says the lecturer: —
Let us grant for a moment that all that which modern science longs to learn of life, it has learnt, and now knows; that the problem has become as clear as day; that it is clear how organic matter has, by simple adaptation, come to be originated from inorganic material; that it is as clear how natural forces may be transformed into feelings, will, thought, and that finally, all this is known, not only to the city student, but to every village schoolboy, as well.
I am aware, then, that such and such thoughts and feelings originate from such and such motions. Well, and what then? Can I, or cannot I, produce and guide such motions, in order to excite within my brain corresponding thoughts? The question — what are the thoughts and [Page 205] feelings I ought to generate in myself and others, remains still, not only unsolved, but even untouched.
Yet it is precisely this question which is the one fundamental question of the central idea of life.
Science has chosen as its object a few manifestations that accompany life; and mistaking [“Mistaking” is an erroneous term to use. The men of science know but too well that what they teach concerning life is a materialistic fiction contradicted at every step by logic and fact. In this particular question science is abused, and made to serve personal hobbies and a determined policy of crushing in humanity every spiritual aspiration and thought. “Pretending to mistake” would be more correct. — H. P. B. ] the part for the whole, called these manifestations the integral total of life. . . .
The question inseparable from the idea of life is not whence life, but how one should live that life: and it is only by first starting with this question that one can hope to approach some solution in the problem of existence.
The answer to the query “How are we to live?” appears so simple to man that he esteems it hardly worth his while to touch upon it.
. . . . One must live the best way he can — that’s all. This seems at first sight very simple and well known to all, but it is by far neither as simple nor as well known as one may imagine. . . .
The idea of life appears to man in the beginning as a most simple and self-evident business. First of all, it seems to him that life is in himself, in his own body. No sooner, however, does one commence his search after that life, in any one given spot of the said body, than one meets with difficulties. Life is not in the hair, nor in the nails; neither is it in the foot nor the arm, which may both be amputated; it is not in the blood, it is not in the heart, and it is not in the brain. It is everywhere and it is nowhere. It comes to this: life cannot be found in any of its dwelling-places. Then man begins to look for life in Time; and that, too, appears at first a very easy matter. . . . Yet again, no sooner has he started on his chase than he perceives that here also the business is more complicated than he had thought. Now, I have lived fifty-eight years, so says my baptismal church record. But I know that out of these fifty-eight years I slept over twenty. How then? Have I lived all these years, or have I not ? Deduct the months of my gestation, and those I passed in the arms of my nurse, and shall we call this life, also? Again, out of the remaining thirty-eight years, I know that a good half of that time I slept while moving about; and thus, I could no more say in this case, whether I lived during that time or not. I may have lived a little, and vegetated a little. Here again, one finds that in time, as in the body, life is everywhere, yet nowhere. And now the question naturally arises, whence, then, that life which I can trace to nowhere? Now — will I learn.... But it so happens that in this direction also, what seemed to me so easy at first, now seems impossible. I must have been searching for [Page 206] something else, not for my life, assuredly. Therefore, once we have to go in search of the whereabouts of life — if search we have to — then it should be neither in space nor in time, neither as cause nor effect, but as a something which I cognize within myself as quite independent from Space, time and causality.
That which remains to do now is to study self. But how do I cognize life in
This is how I cognize it. I know, to begin with, that I live; and that I live wishing for myself everything that is good, wishing this since I can remember myself, to this day, and from morn till night. All that lives outside of myself is important in my eyes but only in so far as it co-operates with the creation of that which is productive of my welfare. The Universe is important in my sight only because it can give me, pleasure
Meanwhile, something else is bound
up with this knowledge in me of my existence. Inseparable from the life I
feel, is another cognition allied to it; namely, that besides myself, I am
surrounded with a whole world of living creatures, possessed, as I am myself,
of the same instinctive realization of their exclusive lives; that all these
creatures live for their own objects, which objects are foreign to me; that
those creatures do not know, nor do they care to know, anything of my pretensions
to an exclusive life, and that all these creatures, in order to achieve success
in their objects are ready to annihilate me at any moment. But this is not
all. While watching the destruction of creatures similar in all to myself,
I also know that for me too, for that precious ME in whom alone is represented,
a very speedy and inevitable destruction is lying in wait.
It is as if there were two “I’s” in man; it is as if they could never live in peace together; it is as if they were eternally struggling, and ever trying to expel each other
One “I” says, “I alone am living as one should live, all the rest only seems to live. Therefore, the whole raison d’être for the universe is in that I may be made comfortable”.
The other “I” replies, “The universe is not for thee at all, but for its own aims and purposes, and it cares little to know whether thou art happy or unhappy”.
Life becomes a dreadful thing after this!
One “I” says, “I only want the gratification of all my wants and desires, and that is why I need the universe”.
The other “I” replies, “All animal life lives only for the gratification of its wants and desires. It is the wants and desires of animals alone that are gratified at the expense and detriment of other animals; hence the ceaseless struggle between the animal species. Thou art an animal, and therefore thou hast to struggle Yet, however successful in thy struggle, the rest of the struggling creatures must sooner or later crush thee”. [Page 207]
Still worse! life becomes still more dreadful. . . .
But the most terrible of all, that which includes in itself the whole of the foregoing, is that
One “I” says, “I want to live, to live for ever”.
And that the other “I” replies, “Thou shalt surely, perhaps in a few minutes, die; as also shall die all those thou lovest, for thou and they are destroying with every motion your lives, and thus approaching ever nearer suffering, death, all that which thou so hatest, and which thou fearest above anything else”.
This is the worst of all. . . .
To change this condition is impossible. . . . One can avoid moving, sleeping, eating, even breathing, but one cannot escape from thinking. One thinks, and that thought, my thought, is poisoning every step in my life, as a personality.
No sooner has man commenced a conscious life than that consciousness repeats to him incessantly without respite, over and over the same thing again “To live such life as you feel and see in your past, the life lived by animals and many men too, lived in that way, which made you become what you are now — is no longer possible Were you to attempt doing so, you could never escape thereby the struggle with all the world of creatures which live as you do — for their personal objects; and then those creatures will inevitably destroy you.” . . .
To change this situation is impossible. There remains but one thing to do, and that is always done by him who, beginning to live, transfers his objects in life outside of himself, and aims to reach them. . . . But, however far he places them outside his personality, as his mind gets clearer, none of these objects will satisfy him.
Bismarck, having united Germany, and now ruling Europe — if his reason has only thrown any light upon the results of his activity — must perceive, as much as his own cook does who prepares a dinner that will be devoured in an hour’s time, the same unsolved contradiction between the vanity and foolishness of all he has done, and the eternity and reasonableness of that which exists for ever. If they only think of it, each will see as clearly as the other; firstly, that the preservation of the integrity of Prince Bismarck’s dinner, as well as that of powerful Germany is solely due the preservation of the former — to the police, and the preservation of the latter — to the army; and that, so long only as both keep a good watch. Because there are famished people who would willingly eat the dinner, and nations which would fain be as powerful as Germany. Secondly, that neither Prince Bismarck’s dinner, nor the might of the German Empire, coincide with the aims and purposes of universal life, but that they are in flagrant contradiction with them. And thirdly, that as he who cooked the dinner, so also the might of Germany, will both very soon die, and that so shall perish, and as soon, both the dinner and Germany. That which shall survive alone is [Page 208] the Universe, which will never give one thought to either dinner or Germany, least of all to those who have cooked them.
As the intellectual condition of man increases, he comes to the idea that no happiness connected with his personality is an achievement, but only a necessity. Personality is only that incipient state from which begins life, and the ultimate limit of life. . . .
Where, then, does life begin, and where does it end, I may be asked? Where ends the night, and where does day commence? Where, on the shore, ends the domain of the sea, and where does the domain of land begin?
There is day and there is night; there is land and there is sea; there is life and there is no life.
Our life, ever since we became conscious of it, is a pendulum-like motion between the two limits.
One limit is, an absolute unconcern for the life of the infinite Universe, an energy directed only toward the gratification of one’s own personality.
The other limit is a complete renunciation of that personality, the greatest concern with the life of the infinite Universe, in full accord with it, the transfer of all our desires and good will from one’s self, to that infinite Universe and all the creatures outside of us. [This is what the Theosophists call “living the life” — in a nut-shell. — H. P. B. ]
The nearer to the first limit, the less life and bliss, the closer to the second, the more life and bliss. Therefore, man is ever moving from one end to the other; i.e., he lives. THIS MOTION IS LIFE ITSELF.
And when I speak of life, know that the idea of it is indissolubly connected in my conceptions with that of conscious life. No other life is known to me except conscious life, nor can it be known to anyone else.
We call life, the life of animals, organic life. But this is no life at all,
only a certain state or condition of life manifesting to us.
But what is this consciousness or mind, the exigencies of which exclude personality and transfer the energy of man outside of him and into that state which is conceived by us as the blissful state of love?
What is conscious mind? Whatsoever we may be defining, we have to define it with our conscious mind. Therefore, with what shall we define mind? . . .
If we have to define all with our mind, it follows that conscious mind cannot be defined. Yet all of us, we not only know it, but it is the only thing which is given to us to know undeniably. . . .
It is the same law as the law of life, of everything organic, animal or vegetable, with that one difference that we see the consummation of an intelligent law in the life of a plant. But the law of conscious mind, to which we are subjected as the tree is subjected to its law, we see it not, but fulfil it. . . . [Page 209]
We have settled that life is that which is not our life. It is herein that lies hidden the root of error. Instead of studying that life of which we are conscious within ourselves, absolutely and exclusively — since we can know of nothing else — in order to study it, we observe that which is devoid of the most important factor and faculty of our life, namely, intelligent consciousness. By so doing, we act as a man who attempts to study an object by its shadow or reflection does.
If we know that substantial particles are subjected during their transformations to the activity of the organism; we know it not because we have observed or studied it, but simply because we possess a certain familiar organism united to us, namely the organism of our animal, which is but too well known to us as the material of our life; i.e., that upon which we are called to work and to rule by subjecting it to the law of reason. . . . No sooner has man lost faith in life, no sooner has he transferred that life into that which is no life, than he becomes wretched, and sees death. . . . A man who conceives life such as he finds it in his consciousness, knows neither misery, nor death: for all the good in life for him is in the subjection of his animal to the law of reason, to do which is not only in his power, but takes place unavoidably in him. The death of particles in the animal being, we know. The death of animals and of man, as an animal, we know; but we know nought about the death of conscious mind, nor can we know anything of it, just because that conscious mind is the very life itself: And Life can never be Death. . . .
The animal lives an existence of bliss, neither seeing nor knowing death, and dies without cognizing it. Why then should man have received the gift of seeing and knowing it, and why should death be so terrible to him that it actually tortures his soul, often forcing him to kill himself out of sheer fear of death? Why should it be so? Because the man who sees death is a sick man, one who has broken the law of his life, and lives no longer a conscious existence. He has become an animal himself, an animal which also has broken the law of life.
The life of man is an aspiration to bliss, and that which he aspires to is given to him. The light lit in the soul of man is bliss and life, and that light can never he darkness, as there exists — verily there exists for man — on]y this solitary light which burns within his soul.
We have translated this rather lengthy
fragment from the Report of Count Tolstoi’s
superb lecture, because it reads like the echo of the finest teachings of the
universal ethics of true theosophy. His definition of life in its abstract
sense, and of the life every earnest theosophist ought to follow, each according
to, and in the measure of, his natural capacities — is the
summary and the Alpha and the Omega of practical psychic, if not spiritual
life. There are sentences in the lecture which, [Page
210] to the average theosophist will seem too hazy, and perhaps
incomplete. Not one will he find, however, which could be objected to by the
most exacting, practical occultist. It may be called a treatise on the Alchemy
of Soul. For that “solitary” light
in man, which burns for ever, and can never be darkness in its intrinsic nature,
though the “animal” outside us may remain blind to it — is
that “Light” upon which the Neo-Platonists of the Alexandrian school,
and after them the Rosecroix and especially the Alchemists, have written volumes,
though to the present day their true meaning is a dark mystery to most men
True, Count Tolstoi is neither an Alexandrian nor a modern theosophist; still less is he a Rosecroix or an Alchemist. But that which the latter have concealed under the peculiar phraseology of the Fire-philosophers, purposely confusing cosmic transmutations with Spiritual Alchemy, all that is transferred by the great Russian thinker from the realm of the metaphysical unto the field of practical life. That which Schelling would define as a realisation of` the identity of subject and object in the man’s inner Ego, that which unites and blends the latter with the universal Soul — which is but the identity of subject and object on a higher plane, or the unknown Deity — all that Count Tolstoi has blended together without quitting the terrestrial plane. He is one of those few elect who begin with intuition and end with quasi-omniscience. It is the transmutations of the baser metals — the animal mass — into gold and silver, or the philosopher’s stone, the development and manifestation of man’s higher SELF, which the Count has achieved. The alcahest of the inferior Alchemist is the All-geist, the all-pervading Divine Spirit of the higher Initiate; for Alchemy was, and is, as very few know to this day, as much a spiritual philosophy as it is a physical science. He who knows nought of one, will never know much of` the other. Aristotle told it in so many words to his pupil, Alexander: “It is not a stone,” he said, of the philosopher’s stone. “It is in every man and in every place, and at all seasons, and is called the end of all philosophers,” as the Vedanta is the end of all philosophies.
To wind up this essay on the Science of Life, a few words may be said of the eternal riddle propounded to mortals by the Sphinx. To fail to solve the problem contained in it, was to be doomed to sure death, as the Sphinx of life devoured the unintuitional, who would live only in their “animal”. He who lives for Self, and only for Self, will surely die, as the higher “I” tells the lower “animal” in the Lecture. The riddle has seven keys to it, and the Count opens the mystery with one of the highest. For, as the author of “Alchemy or the Hermetic Philosophy” beautifully expressed it: “The real mystery most familiar and, at the same time, most unfamiliar to every man, into which he must be initiated or perish as an atheist, is himself. For him is the elixir of life, to quaff which, before the discovery of the philosopher’s stone, is to drink the [Page 211] beverage of death, while it confers on the adept and the epopt, the true immortality. He may know truth as it really is — Aletheia, the breath of God, or Life, the conscious mind in man”.
This is “the Alcahest which dissolves all things”, and Count Tolstoi as well understood the riddle.
SIN AGAINST LIFE
A newspaper paragraph lately declared that a certain American lady of great wealth, residing in London, had conceived the strange desire to possess a cloak made of the soft warm down on the breasts of birds of Paradise. Five hundred breasts, it was said, were required for this purpose, and two skilful marksmen, the story went on to aver, had been sent to New Guinea to shoot the poor little victims whose wholesale slaughter must be accomplished to gratify this savage whim. We rejoice to observe that the whole statement has been flatly contradicted by the World, apparently on the best possible authority; but, however little the lady concerned may deserve the reproach which the authors of the calumny endeavoured to evoke against her, the feeling it may have excited is worth analysis in a world where, if bird of Paradise cloaks are rare, most women who dress luxuriously adorn themselves in one way or another at the expense of the feathered kingdom. The principle involved in a bonnet which is decorated with the plumage of a single bird, slaughtered for its sake, is the same as that which would be more grotesquely manifest in a garment that would require the slaughter of five hundred. Too many rich people in this greedy age forget that the grandest privilege of those who possess the means is that they have the power of alleviating suffering. Too many, again, forget that the sympathies of those who rule the animate world should extend beyond the limits of their own kind; and thus we have the painful spectacle of human “sport” associated in civilised countries still, with pursuits which should no longer afford pleasure to men who have emerged from the primitive life of hunters and fishers. But how is it possible, let us consider, to stoop lowest from the proud estate of humanity in search of ignoble gratification? It is bad to kill any sentient creature for the sake of the savage pleasures of the chase. It is bad, perhaps worse, to cause their destruction for the sake of coldly profiting by their slaughter, and it is bad to squander money in this hard world of want and wide-spread privation on costly personal indulgence. But the acme of all that is reprehensible in these various departments of ill-doing is surely reached when women — who should, by virtue of their sex, be helping to soften the ferocities of life — contrive to collect the cream of evil from each of these varieties, and to sin against a whole catalogue of human duties by cruel acquiescence in an unworthy fashion. [Page 212]
THE Theosophical Society has always placed in the forefront of its programme, as its first and most important object, the formation of the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood, without distinction of race, creed, caste or sex. It would doubtless be incorrect to say that this object of the Society has been entirely overlooked in the West, but it is to be feared that not a few members of the Society have accepted it as an amiable formula, to which no objection could be raised, and have turned their attention almost exclusively to the two remaining objects. And yet, without some attempt to understand the true meaning of this Universal Brotherhood, it is idle to expect that any great services can be rendered to the cause of Theosophy. It may be useful to see whether any explanation can be given of the reason for the neglect of this first object, and whether such light may be thrown on its meaning, as may render the idea a living reality to many who now but faintly grasp its significance.
In the first place it may be said, that in many enlightened Western minds, there was already a familiarity with the idea thus enunciated. Christianity has always taught the “theoretical” equality in the sight of God, of all true believers, and politically the dogma of “equal rights” is practically beyond the reach of attack. The abolition of slavery, the extension of representative government, the spread of education, and perhaps also, in some degree, the influence of the scientific as opposed to the religious theories of the origin and destiny of man, have all combined to render this idea by no means difficult of apprehension, at least intellectually. Further its acceptance in this sense has not necessarily entailed any different view of the duties and responsibilities of life. In the East it cannot be said that this is the case. In India, the stringency of caste regulations causes class distinctions to assume a very definite form, while religious hatreds, if not more bitter than with us, enter more directly into the life of the people, and interpose stronger barriers between man and man than in Europe or America. Hence an Indian theosophist must, before he can accept the first object, even in its outward form, modify to some extent his intellectual conception of the relations in which he stands to the rest of mankind, and he will in his life give practical proof of the change. In his case the acceptance of the outward form can only follow on the appreciation of the inner meaning; that which results is that his theosophy is firmly founded on the principle of the Universal Brotherhood.
On the other hand, in the West, a familiarity with the external side [Page 213] seems, in many cases, to have prevented any attempt to go below the surface, and to have caused men to be satisfied with vague philanthropic sentimentality, effecting nothing, and leading nowhere.
What then is this Universal Brotherhood, which is the main spring of Theosophy ? and what are its results ?
Socialism as preached in this 19th century it certainly is not. Indeed, there would be little difficulty in showing that modern materialistic Socialism is directly at variance with all the teachings of theosophy. Socialism advocates a direct interference with the results of the law of Karma, and would attempt to alter the dénouement of the parable of the talents, by giving to the man who hid his talent in a napkin, a portion of the ten talents acquired by the labour of his more industrious fellow.
Neither is it true that in practical benevolence is the whole idea of universal brotherhood exemplified, though doubtless that unselfish and unceasing work for the good of mankind, which is true philanthropy, must of necessity be one result of it. The philanthropist may be, and no doubt often is, a true theosophist in all but name, though there is still much of what may be called unintelligent benevolence, the result of a mere emotional impulse; and again there is much that is the result of very decided and very narrow sectarian views, to which it would be absolutely impossible to apply the epithet universal. The devotion and self-sacrifice shown in many individual instances by Christian missionaries of various denominations, may be taken as fairly exemplifying philanthropy both of the unintelligent and the narrow type. They are prepared to make any sacrifice for what they believe to be the ultimate good of humanity, and in that sense are practising what some others only preach, namely true unselfishness, but they are often hampered by an intellectual inability to view both sides of the question, and fail thereby to acquire that understanding of, and sympathy with the difficulties and the wants of those whom they are endeavouring to aid, which are necessary preliminaries to any work of lasting usefulness. In a word, they too often fail to realise that unity in mankind which truly underlies all individualism. But having said so much, it must be added that an understanding of the real meaning of “Brotherhood” must entail active benevolence, that is to say work for others in some form or other, upon every one who does not wilfully thrust aside the obligation.
Where then are we to look for the explanation, and how are we to understand the spirit which must animate all true theosophists, if they are to realise and follow out the first rule of the Society ? Not surely on the physical plane. Not by an attempt to force on the intellect as a fact to be accepted, or more truly a pill to be swallowed, a belief in similarities, equalities or identities, which have no existence. Only a realisation of what truly constitutes man can help us to form a conception of what brotherhood means.
Man is a complex organism as he exists on our earth today. He is [Page 214] partly transitory, partly eternal; in one sense the creature of circumstances, in another the creator of his own environment. But the true man, the underlying individuality is a reflection of the Divine. We are able to discern physical beauty, even when clad in rags. Is it impossible that we should also recognise the beauty of the soul, though it be for a time veiled beneath a gross material body ? The physical body is indeed nothing but the garment of the ego, the true man; that momentarily suited to his needs and his deserts, the livery of his servitude, which must be worn, in ever changing forms, till the moment of his final emancipation. It is then beyond the physical, beyond the intellectual man, that we must look for that fraternity, arising out of unity and equality, which cannot be found on the purely material plane of existence. The divine soul of man, in which is posited his true individuality, is the real man, the immortal ego, which, through the accumulated experience of many earth lives is marching onward through the ages to its goal, reunion with the Infinite. What matters then the outward semblance, which our senses know as man ? Our aesthetic perception may shrink from the rags, the dirt, the ugliness which belong to the physical environment. Our moral nature may revolt at association with vice, with low selfish courses of life, but within and behind all this we must endeavour to realise the continual presence of the immortal ego, one with us, as with all humanity, as sharing the divine nature, and ever struggling, as we are struggling, on the upward path that leads to the realisation of the Absolute. As Carlyle says in Sartor Resartus.“Mystical, more than magical, is that communing of Soul with Soul, both looking heavenward; here properly Soul first speaks with Soul; for only in looking heavenward, take it in what sense you may, not in looking earthward does what we can call Union, Mutual Love, Society, begin to be possible”.
It may be objected that in some cases it is impossible to recognise even the glimmerings of those higher aspirations, which are the tokens of the presence of the soul, the immortal ego. Such cases, however, must be comparatively rare. Still there are beings — it is almost impossible to call them human — who have so persistently concentrated all their efforts on the gratification of their lower consciousness, as to sever the frail link which binds them to their higher selves. Then the true man is no longer present in the human form, and brotherhood becomes an impossibility. But we may in truth almost ignore the existence of this type of mankind, for even when an intellectual materialism seems to be the sole ruling principle, we dare not deny the presence of that capacity for higher things which must exist in all who can still truly be called men.
Surely then it is in this view of our relations to our fellow men, that we shall find that guiding influence which may enable us to rise above the sordid considerations of our ordinary earthly existence. It is no [Page 215] sectarian belief that is here advanced; it is the essence of the teaching of Jesus, as it was of Gautama; nor is it a mere formula, to be accepted as an article of faith, and then laid on the shelf. Once understood, it must influence all who have sufficient strength of purpose to fight their own lower selfish personalities, and must lead them to the practical realisation of their aspirations towards true unselfishness and active benevolence.
But there lurks a danger even in the use of the word unselfishness. It has been the text of sermons from every pulpit in Christendom for centuries, and with what small results ? No doubt the duty nearest at hand must not be neglected, and it is the duty of every one to do what he can to render those about him happier. But many stop there and consider that all their work consists in the practice of self-abnegation in their own small circle. Does not the broader view of human life here set forth suggest a new sphere of usefulness, and therefore of duty ? It is for every man to determine what he can do for the good of humanity; all are not equally gifted, but all can do something. Some theosophists appear to be satisfied with intellectual study, or the development of their own spiritual nature, and neither of these two courses is to be neglected; but something more must be done. “It is more blessed to give than to receive”, and the acquirement of knowledge brings with it the obligation of spreading it. This is work from which none need shrink, and all who truly desire to work for Theosophy, which is in the highest sense “the religion of humanity”, will find the work ready to their hand, and be able to assist in bringing the Light “to them that sit in darkness”.
ESTEEM that to be eminently good, which, when communicated to another, will be increased to yourself.
Be persuaded that those things are not your riches which you do not possess in the penetralia of the reasoning power.
As many passions of the soul, so many fierce and savage despots.
No one is free who has not obtained the empire of himself. [Page 216]
The Blood-Covenant, a Primitive Rite, and its Bearings on Scripture
by H Clay Trumbull
Reviewed by Gerald Massey
PARTICULAR attention has been recently directed to this subject of Blood-Covenant by the experiences of explorers in Africa, who appear to have discovered in that Dark Land some of the primitive facts the gory ghost of which has long haunted our European mind in the Eschatological phase.
Stanley, an especial sufferer from the practice, denounces the blood-brotherhood as a beastly cannibalistic ceremony. “For the fiftieth time my poor arm was scarified and my blood shed for the cause of civilization”. As the writer of this book observes: “The blood of a fair proportion of all the first families of equatorial Africa now courses in Stanley's veins; and if ever there was an American citizen who could pre-eminently appropriate to himself the national motto 'E pluribus unum', Stanley is the man”.
In his book, Dr. Trumbull has collected a mass of data from a wide range of sources to illustrate what he terms the “Primitive rite of covenanting by the inter-transfusion of blood ”.
Dr. Trumbull is anxious to make the efficacy of the rite depend upon the recognition of a vivifying virtue in the blood itself, as the essence of life. But such recognition appears to have been remote enough from the Primitive thought. The Aborigines were not Jews or Christians. They gave of their life without always thinking of the exact equivalent or superior value received. They gave it as the witness to the troth they plighted and the covenant which they intended to keep. His theory of interpretation is that there was a dominating and universal conviction that the “blood is the life; that blood-transfer is soul-transfer, and that blood-sharing, human or divine-human, secures an inter-union of natures; and that a union of the human nature with the divine is the highest ultimate attainment reached out after by the most primitive, as well as the most enlightened, mind of humanity”.
His collection of facts may serve a most useful purpose as eye-openers to other people (and for other facts to follow), just as they appear to have been to himself. The book is interesting, if not profound; and nothing that follows in this article is intended to decry it, or to prevent the readers of LUCIFER from looking into It if they do not feel too great a “scunner” at sight of the gilded-gory illustration on the cover. But the work is written by one who talks to us out of a window of Noah's Ark, and who still seems to think the Hebrew Bible Is the rim of the universe. [Page 217]
We value and recommend the book solely for its facts, not for its theories, nor for its bibliolatry.
In all studies of this kind which make use of the word “Primitive”, it is the fundamental facts that we first need; and next a first-hand acquaintanceship with all the facts, so that we may do our own thinking for ourselves and strike our light within by which we can read the facts without, as the primary and essential procedure in the endeavour to attain the truth.
Also the facts may be genuine and honestly presented, yet the interpretation may be according to an inadequate or a “bogus” theory. The truth is that no bibliolater can be trusted to interpret the past of our race now being unveiled by evolution. He is born and begotten with the blinkers on. His mode of interpretation is to get behind us, to lay the hands upon our eyes in front, and ask us to listen whilst he gives us his views of the past! But the non-evolutionist cannot interpret the past from lack of a true standpoint with regard to the beginnings or rather the processes of becoming. He can begin anywhere and at any time short of the starting-point. There is nothing for it but to break away, and turn round to see for ourselves whether the traditionary vision of the Blinkerists be true or false. The facts alone are the final determinatives of the Truth. But we must have the whole of them and not a few, whether judiciously or Jesuitically selected to support a Christian theory. Whereas, the object and aim of this work the bias of the writer, and the trend of his arguments, are all on the line of showing or suggesting that the blood-covenant was the result of some innate instinct or divine revelation which prefigured and foreshadowed, and may be taken to indicate and authorize, the Christian scheme of atonement, and the remission of sin by the shedding of innocent blood. The writer asserts that this primitive symbolism was “ made a reality in Jesus Christ” in whom “God was to give of his blood in the blood of his Son for the revivifying of the sons of Abraham in the Blood of the Eternal Covenant”. But it can be demonstrated that the covenant by blood did not commence where Dr. Trumbull begins — with a religious yearning God-ward for the establishing of a brotherhood between the human nature and the Divine. The root-idea was not that of an “inter-union of the spiritual natures by the inter-commingling of blood for the sake of an inter-communion with deity”. That, at least, was by no means the “ primitive rite”, which the blood-covenant is here called. The many forms of the blood-covenant can only be unified at the root, i.e., in the beginning, not at the end. They are not to be understood apart from the primitive language of signs, as in Tattoo, the very primitive biology of the early observers, and the most primitive sociology of the Totemic times.
Time was, and may be still, when the blood-covenant would often serve as the one protection against being killed and eaten. Even the [Page 218] cannibals will not partake of their own Totemic brothers. Also the covenant was extended to certain animals which were made of kin and held to be sacred as brothers of the blood.
The Blood-covenant takes many forms besides that of the blood-brotherhood, which are not to be explained by this writer's theory of exchange.
When the blood of an African woman accidentally spurted into the eye of Dr. Livingstone, she claimed him for her blood relation, without there being any exchange of blood for blood.
Dr. Trumbull claims the Egyptians as witnesses to the truth of his interpretation. But so far from their highest conception of “a union with the Divine nature” being an inter-flowing and interfusion of blood, the soul of blood was the very lowest, that is the first, in a series of seven souls !
Their highest type of the soul was the sun that vivified for ever called Atmu, the Father Soul [ The Theosophists are reminded that the “seven souls” are what we call the “seven principles” in man. “Blood” is the principle of the Body, the lowest in our septenary, as the highest is “Atma” which may well be symbolized by the Sun; Atma being the light and life in man, as the physical sun is the light and life of our solar system. — H.P.Blavatsky, Editor ] The bases of natural fact which lie at the foundation of the Blood-covenant, preceded any and all such ideas as those postulated by the writer as being extant from the first, such as “a longing for oneness of life with God' ; an “out-reaching after inter-union and inter-communion with God”. There was no conception of a one God extant in the category of human consciousness when the rites of a blood-covenant were first founded. There could be no atonement where there was no sense of sin or a breaking of the law. All through, the writer is apt to confuse the past with the present, and eager to read the present into the past. [The arcane doctrine teaches that the “blood” rites are as old as the Third-Root race, being established in their final form by the Fourth Parent race in commemoration of the separation of androgynous mankind, their forefathers, into males and females, Mr. G. Massey is a strict scholar, who holds only to that which is made evident to him, and ignores the Occultistic division of mankind into Races, and the fact that we are in our Fifth-Root race, and would, of course, refuse to carry mankind back into pre-Tertiary times. Yet his researches and the fruit of his life-labour, corroborate, by their numberless new facts revealed by him, most wonderfully, the teachings of the “Secret Doctrines”. H.P.Blavatsky, Editor ]
The real roots of matters like these are to be found only in certain facts of nature which were self-revealing, and not in the sphere of concepts and causation ! And it is only when we can reach the natural genesis of primitive customs and fetishtic beliefs, and trace their lines of descent, that we can understand and interpret their meaning in the latest symbolical and superstitious phase of religious rites. Nothing can be more fatally false than to interpret the physics of the past by means of modern [Page 219] metaphysic, with the view of proving that certain extant doctrines of delusion are the lineal descendants of an original Divine revelation, which has been bound up in two Testaments for the favoured few.
The blood-covenant is undoubtedly a primitive rite; but the author of this work does not penetrate to its most primitive or significant phases. These are not to be read by the light of Hebrew revelation, but by the light of nature if at all. Many primitive customs and rites survived amongst the Semites, but they themselves were not amongst the aboriginal races of the world. We have to get far beyond their stage to understand the meaning of the myths, legends, rites, and customs, that were preserved by them as sacred survivals from the remoter past. The symbolical and superstitious phases of custom cannot be directly explained on the spot where we may first meet with them in going back. In becoming symbolical they had already passed out of their primary phase, and only indirectly represent the natural genesis of the truly primitive rite. I have spent the best part of my life in tracking these rites and customs to their natural origin, and in expounding the typology and symbols by which the earliest meaning was expressed.
What then was the root-origin of a blood-covenant ? The primary perceptions of primitive or archaic men included the observation that they came from the mother, and first found themselves at her breast.
Next they saw that the child was fleshed by the mother, and formed from her blood, the flow of which was arrested to be solidified, and take form in their own persons. Thus the red amulet which was worn by the Egyptian dead, was representative of the blood of Isis, who came from herself, and made her own child without the fatherhood, when men could only derive their blood and descent from the “mother”. This amulet was put on by her, says Plutarch, when she found herself enceinte with Horus, her child, who was derived from the mother alone, or was traced solely to the blood of Isis. Primitive men could perceive that the children of one mother were of the same blood. This, the first form of a blood-brotherhood, was the first to be recognised as the natural fact. Uterine brothers were blood-brothers. The next stage of the brotherhood was Totemic; and the mode of extending the brotherhood to the children of several mothers implies, as it necessitated, some form of symbolic rite which represented them as brothers, or as typically becoming of the one blood. Here we can track the very first step in sociology which was made when the typical blood-brotherhood of the Totem was formed in imitation of the natural brotherhood of the mother-blood. The modes and forms of the Covenant can be identified by the Totemic mysteries, some of which yet survive in the crudest condition. The brotherhood was entered at the time of puberty; that is, at the time of re-birth, when the boy was re-born as a man, and the child of the mother attained the soul of the fatherhood, and was permitted [Page 220] to join the ranks of the begetters. The mystery is one with that of Horus, child of the mother alone, who comes to receive the soul of the father in Tattu, the region of establishing the son as the father, which is still extant in the mysteries, and the symbolism of Tattoo.
This re-birth was enacted in various ways by typically re-entering the womb. One of these was by burial in the earth, the tomb or place of re-birth being the image of the maternal birth-place all the world over. Thus when the Norsemen or other races prepared a hole under the turf, and buried their cut and bleeding arms to let the blood flow, and commingle in one as the token of a covenant, they were returning typically to the condition of uterine twins, and the act of burial for the purpose of a re-birth was a symbolical mode of establishing the social brotherhood upon the original grounds of the natural brotherhood of blood. Thus the blood-covenant did not originate in the set transfusion or inter-fusion of blood. In the Totemic mysteries the pubescent lad was admitted by the shedding of his blood, with or without any interchange. The blood itself was the symbol of brotherhood, and the shedding of it was the seal of a covenant.
Nor was this merely because flesh was formed of blood, or the first men were made of the mystical red soil, as with the aarea of the Tahitians, or the red earth of the Adamic man. Most of these primitive rites, the Blood-Covenant included, had their starting-point from the period of puberty. It was at this time the lads who were not brothers uterine were made brothers of the Totem at what was termed the festival of young-man-making. The proper period for circumcision, or cutting and sealing, as still practised by the oldest aborigines, is the time of puberty, the natural coming of age. It is then they enter the Totemic Brotherhood. Now in Egyptian, the word khet or khut = cut, means to cut and to seal. Khetem is to enclose, bind, seal, and is applied to sealing. The same root passes into Assyrian and Hebrew as Khatan, Katam or Chatan, with the same meaning. In Arabic, Khatana is to circumcise. Cutting and sealing are identical as the mode of entering into a Blood-Covenant. Circumcision was one form of the sealing, but there were various kinds of cuts employed, and different parts of the body were scarified and tattooed. In the primary phase, then, the blood-brotherhood was established by the shedding of blood; the register was written in blood, and instead of the covenant being witnessed by the seal of red wax, it was stamped in blood.
The reason for phallic localization is to be sought in the fact that the young men not only entered the Brotherhood by the baptism of blood, they were also received into the higher ranks of the fathers, and sworn in to live an orderly, legal and cleanly life, henceforth, as the pro-creators and loyal preservers of the race.
But this was not the only clue directly derived from nature. There is another reason why blood should have become the sacred sign of a [Page 221] covenant. Amongst many primitive races blood, or the colour red, is the symbol of Tapu, the sign of sanctity. The bones of the dead were covered with red ochre as a means of protection by the most widely scattered races in the world. The stamp of a red hand on the building, or a crimson daub upon the gravestone will render them sacred. The Kaffirs will wash their bodies with blood as a protection against being wounded in battle. The colour of robin-redbreast still renders him tapu or sacred to English children.
Blood having become a sign of that which is true and sacred, on account of the Covenant, it is then made the symbol of all that is sacred. It can be used for the purpose of anointing the living or the dead, can be the seal of the marriage or other ceremonies and rites of covenanting. It is the primaeval token of tapu.
As I have elsewhere shown, blood was sworn by as the type of that which was true, the primary one of the typical Two Truths of Egypt. It was so in all the mysteries, and is so today, including the mysteries of Masonry. I have suggested the derivation of the masonic name from the Egyptian Sen = son, for blood and brotherhood. The working Mason in Egyptian is the makh (makht) by name. Makh means to work, inlay by rule and measure. We see that makh modifies into mâ for measure, and for that which is just and true.
Mâ-sen= Mason, would denote the true brotherhood; and as sen is also blood, the true brotherhood as the blood-brotherhood would be the masons in the mystical or occult sense. Red is the colour of Mâ or Truth personified, and sen is blood. Blood is sworn by because it is the colour of truth, or the true colour. Now in old English the word seng means both “blood” and “true”. Here, then, we find the origin of the oath, which constitutes the supreme expression in the vocabulary of our English roughs, when they use the oath of the blood-covenant, and swear by the word “bloody!” When they wax emphatic, everything they say becomes“bloody true”. This is the exact equivalent of “seng it is” for “it is true”. According to the primitive mysteries, this mode of swearing, or establishing the covenant, was sacred whilst kept piously secret, and it becomes impious when made public or profane. Such mysteries were very simply natural at first, and it was this primitive simplicity and nearness to nature which demanded the veil to protect them from the gaze of the later consciousness. Time was when the English felon would carry a red handkerchief with him to the scaffold, and hold it in his hand as a signal that he had betrayed no secrets, but died “bloody true”, or true blood.
These customs were symbolical, but
there is a hint of the blood-covenant beyond them — a hint received
direct from Nature herself — call it revelation
if you please. In the first rude ethics we find that the time for the sexes
to come together was recognised by the intimation of nature, made in her own
sign-language at the period of feminine [Page
222] pubescence. Nature gave
the hint, and a covenant was established. Henceforth, the child that could
not enter that covenant would be protected from brutal assault, and was allowed,
or rather compelled, to run about unclothed in token of her exemption. It is
here in the swearing-in and covenanting of the sexes at the time of pubescence
that we discover another real and most secret, i.e., sacred root of the rite.
The self-revelation made by nature to primitive man was very primitive in its kind. She not only demonstrated that the blood was the life, or that the life passed away with the letting out of the blood, but in another domain, which our author has not entered, she showed that blood was, and how it was, the future life. Blood was the primary witness to the future life which the child received from the mother. It was the token of the time when the female could become the bearer of that future life which took flesh and form in her blood.
The blood-covenanting of the primitive races is still a part of the most elaborate system of making presents, which are the express witnesses of proffered troth and intended fealty. The most precious or sacred things are parted from in proof. The best is given on either side. And in the offering of blood, they were giving their very life, that in which the best attains supremacy. But these primitive rites can never be truly read except by those who are deeply grounded in the fact, and well acquainted with the evidence, that sign-language was primordial, that gestures preceded verbal speech, and acting was an earlier mode of representing than talking. Primitive men could only do that which we can say. In Egyptian that which is said is done. And in these primitive customs and religious rites we see the early races of men performing in pantomime the early drama of dumb or inarticulate humanity. And it seems as if this primitive language could produce an impression and reach a reality that are unapproachable by means of words. The significance of the teaching went all the deeper when it was incised in the flesh and branded into the blood. For example, what a terrific glimpse of reality is revealed by the fact that the Malagasy make their sign of a blood-covenant by an incision in the skin that covers the bosom, and this opening with its utterance of blood is called ambavfo, the “mouth of the heart”. Thus the covenant is made in the blood, which is the very life, uttering itself with the mouth of the heart. In Egyptian the covenant, the oath, and the life, have the same name of Ankku; and the greatest oath was to swear by the life or the blood of the Pharaoh. The primitive mode was to slash the flesh and let the hot blood spout and speak for itself with the “mouth of the heart”, the utterance of the living letter and red seal of the wound, as true witness.
No verbal covenant or written record
of the modern races has ever had the full force and effect of these modes
of covenanting amongst the primitive people of the past. The moderns do not
keep their word [Page
223] with anything like
the inviolable sanctity of the aborigines; when once they are sworn to fealty,
the covenant is almost never broken. Few things in poetry are more pathetic
than the story related of Tolo, a chief of the Shastika Indians on the Pacific
Coast. In the year 1852 he entered into a tribal treaty with Colonel McKee
and was desirous of making a covenant for life in some way that could not possibly
be violated. Instead of exchanging blood he proposed a transfer of their own
two personal names. Henceforth he was to be known as McKee, and the Colonel
as Tolo. But the treaty was discarded, the covenant was not kept by the American
Government. In reply, the Indian cast off the title of McKee and refused to
resume his own tarnished and degraded name of Tolo ! He considered that his
very identity was lost by this mode of losing his good name ! I doubt whether
1,800 years of Christianity have evolved in the later races of men a consciousness
of truth, probity, and loyalty, so quick and profound as that!
The writer of this book remains stone-blind to its own teachings with regard to the doctrine of survivals, and of the past persisting as a pattern for the present.
To quote his own words, he rejoices in the “blessed benefits of the covenant of blood” and is still a fervent supporter of the great delusion inculcated by the gospel of ruddy gore.
The doctrine is fundamentally the same whether the Greek murderer was cleansed from his guilt by the filthy purification of pig's blood or the modern sinner is supposed to be washed white in the Blood of the Lamb.
As I had already written in my “Natural Genesis”, “the religious ritual of the moderns is crowded like a kitchen-midden with the refuse relics of customs that were natural once, and are now clung to as if they were supernatural in their efficacy because their origin has been unknown. Indeed, the current masquerade in these appurtenances of the past is as sorry a sight to the archaic student as are the straw crowns and faded finery of the kings and queens whose domain is limited to the lunatic asylum”. Dr. Trumbull endorses the doctrine that “Mortals gave the blood of their first-born sons in sacrifice to the Supreme Being, then the Supreme Being gave the blood of his first-born male in sacrifice” for men; and there you have the covenant of blood in its final form !
It is true that first-born children were offered in sacrifice just as the first take of fish was returned to the waters with a lively sense of future favours from the Typhonian power thus propitiated, but where is the sense of talking about the thought of an intercommunion with the divine nature through a blood-union with God as a concept in the mind of primitive man ? It is true the recognized nature-powers, or devils of physical force, were invoked with blood, but what was the status of these powers when the beasts of blood were their representatives on earth, and the blood, which is the life, was given to the Serpent, for instance, as the [Page 224] likeness of life itself because it sloughed its own skin and manifested the enviable power of self-renewal ? The profounder and more fundamental our researches, the more clearly does it become apparent that we have been victimised by the unsuspected survival of the past in the present, and that the veriest leavings of primitive man have been palmed off upon us by the ignorant as sacred mysteries and revelations guaranteed to be original and divine. Continually we find that our errors of belief are based upon very simple truths that have been misunderstood through a misinterpretation of primitive matters and modes of representation by means of modern ignorance. The blood-covenant of the aboriginal races has undoubtedly survived and culminated as Christian in the frightful formula, “ Without blood there is no remission of sin”. Not merely the blood of beasts or human creatures this time, but the ruddy life and ichor of a supposed Divine Being, who was made flesh on purpose to pour out the blood for Almighty vengeance to lap in the person of a gory ghost of God. One of the seven primal powers in Egypt was represented by the hawk, because it drank blood. One of the Seven in Akkad was the vampire. And this type of blood-drinking has been divinised at last as the Christian God.
Pindar says: “It is impossible for me to call one of the blessed gods a cannibal”. But the Christian scheme makes the Only God a cannibal, who offers the flesh and blood of his own Son and Very Self as sacrificial food made sacred for his followers. Such a god is, in two senses, chimerical. How natural an accompaniment is the picture of the Crucified Christ to the Zuni saying, “My Father, this day shalt thou refresh thyself with blood !” Such a doctrine is but an awful shadow of the primitive past — the shadow, so to say, of our old earth in the very far-off past — that remains to eclipse the light of Heaven today, and darken the souls of men in the present through the survival of savage spiritualism in its final Christian phase, where the extant doctrines are little more than an ignorant perversion of the most primitive knowledge.
It is in this final and not in the primitive phase that we shall identify the irrationalty, the impiety, the disgusting grossness of Mythology under the surface of theological varnish and veneer. The only senselessness is in the survival of Myths without their sense.
Lastly, it is observable that in the genuine rite the covenant-makers always bled directly and suffered each for themselves. Later on we find that other victims were substituted by purchase, by fraud, or by force; hence the blood-covenant by proxy. Now the Christian scheme is that which culminated in the blood-covenant and atonement by proxy. “ His offspring for his life he gave”, is said of an Akkadian ruler who sacrificed his own son as an expiatory offering to save himself from the consequences of his own sin. And this doctrine of the despicable, this type of the fatherhood, is elevated to the status of divinity by Dr. Trumbull. To quote his own words, the inspired author of the narrative [Page 225] found in the Hebrew Genesis shows “Abel lovingly and trustfully reaching out toward God with substitute blood ! ”
And there began for the Historic Christians that vast perversion of a primitive custom which culminated at last in the Christian doctrine of vicarious sacrifice, based upon the mythology of the Old Testament being literalized in the New. Now we have the ludicrous spectacle of salvation by means of a rite which has lost all the manhood, all the morality, all the meaning, that was put into it by the despised races of uncivilized men.
The eucharistic rite is incredibly primitive when really understood. The bread and wine of the Christian sacrament still represent the male spirit and the female source of life. The “Blood of Jesus”, which was to be “drink indeed”, is identical with the “Blood of Bacchus”, which preceded historic Christianity, and has been substituted for the human or animal blood of the earlier mysteries. Imbibing the blood of the Christ did not originate in any historic or personal transaction. Also the blood of Christ, or Mithras, or Horus, employed in drinking the covenant, was preceded by the blood of Charis. In some of the Gnostic mysteries we have the proof that the first form of the saving blood was feminine, not masculine at all. Irenaeus presents us with a picture of profound interest from the anthropological point of view.
He tells us how Marcus performed the eucharistic rite with the blood of Charis, instead of the blood of Christ. He handed cups to the women and bade them consecrate these in his presence. Then, by the use of magical incantation, “Charis was thought to drop her own blood into the cup” thus consecrated. (B. I. 13,2.)
There is but one known fact in natural phenomena which will fitly account as Vera Causa for a monthly Sacrament, celebrated every twenty-eight days, or thirteen times to the year; which fact was commemorated by the Blood-Covenant of Charis ( Vide “Natural Genesis”, V. ii. section 12, for proofs). This kind of blood-covenant can be paralleled in the Yain or Yonian mysteries of India.
When rightly understood, the eucharist is a survival of the “beastly cannibalistic ceremony”, whether considered as the blood of Charis or the blood of Christ, or partaken of as the red Tent wine or the “bloody wafer” of Rome.
We welcome Dr. Trumbull's contribution on the subject, although he has but “breathed a vein” of it, because these rites and customs have to be unveiled, and when they are at last exposed in all the simplicity of naked nature the erroneous ideas read into them, the delusive inferences drawn from them, the false illusions painted upon the veil that concealed the truth about them, will be doomed to pass away. To explain the true is the only effectual mode of exploding the false. [Page 226]
WHAT are the senses called astral,
in reality? Are they not really spiritual, seizing on the inner essence of
things and interpreting it. The ordinary psychic or clairvoyant surely does
not use the astral senses ? Yet he sees things which we do not see. It would
be well to explain this”.
Answer] . The senses called astral in the comments on “Light on the Path” are the senses which perceive the inner essence, certainly; which are cognisant of the life underlying every form of matter. The ordinary psychic or clairvoyant only perceives other forms of matter than those we ordinarily see, and perceives them as a child perceives the forms in this world at first, without understanding their meaning. The astral senses carry beyond matter, and enlighten man with regard to any form of life which especially interests him. They show the poet painter, and composer the things they express to other men, who regard these great ones as beings of another order — beings with the gift of genius. So they are, and the vigour of that genius carries them on into the inner life where meaning, and harmony, and the indefinable all-desired are to be perceived. Wordsworth saw it in nature, he recognised the “spirit in the woods” — not the wood-nymphs but the divine spirit of peace which teaches a lesson in life. Richard Jeffries saw it in nature, too, as perhaps no other man ever has seen it; through the finite visible world he perceived the infinite invisible one, and before he died he had begun to know that the visible world does not exist. Turner, perhaps, is the only parallel. By the invisible world I must repeat again that I do not mean what the spiritualists call by that name — a new world of other forms. I mean the formless world. It is the farthest limit man's consciousness can reach to; and only the pure and star-like soul can become even aware of its existence. It is not man's divine nature, but the man who enters it with any reverence for the great miracle of life can only do so by the aid of his divine nature, whether as a poet, a painter, or an occultist. The soul which enters it without reverence is unable to endure its extreme rarity of atmosphere and turns to the psychic-astral in which to live; such men become madmen and suicides, more or less pronounced, as men do who refuse to dwell in any form of physical life but the grossest and simplest. There is some law of life which impels men onward — call it evolution or developement or what you will; and a man can no more go downwards without suffering than a tree can be placed with its branches in the ground, instead of its roots, without discomfort, and in the end, death.
I propose to use two phrases which have been suggested to me; the physchic-astral and the divine-astral. This seems the only way to make my meaning clear, [Page 227] for the word astral has two meanings, its own proper derivative one, from the Sanskrit stri to strew light, and that given it by the use of all occultists. Paracelsus appropriated the word for all things sidereal, subject to the moon and stars, part and parcel of this material universe, even though formed as Dryden says of “purest atoms of the air”. In this sense the spiritualists and psychics have the right of custom to use it as they do, to describe their world of finer forms. In this meaning an astral shape is the form of the human soul, still in possession of the passions which make it human; and the astral senses perceive not the subtle and supreme glory which Shelley seized on in Prometheus, but a region full of shapes and forms differing but little from those we now wear, and still distinctly material.
The “astral man” in the “Comments on Light on the Path” should have been written the divine-astral man, according to this evident difference of meaning between the present writer and all other writers on occultism.
- II -
“Are not the astral senses
used by every great poet or inventor though he does not see clairvoyantly
at all ? i.e. does not see elementals, astral pictures, forms, etc.”.
The answer to the former question seems to contain the answer to this, which is clearly prompted by a conception of the word “astral” in its divine sense.
- III -
1. “There is a law of nature
which insists that a man shall read these mysteries for himself. Will all
men seeking the occult path read these mysteries alike, or will each man
find the interpretation peculiarly adapted to his own phase of development.
No two men read the mysteries contained in the Bhagavat Gita quite alike,
each gains the glimpses of light which he is able to assimilate and no more”.
Answer] . This seems to be rather a statement of a truth than a question which can be answered in any way other than putting it into different words, perhaps not so good.
2. “ Is the outer world the reflection of the world within ? like a shadowed reproduction in clumsy form, the inner being reality ? ”
Answer] . This is what should be. But materialists have brought their sense of reality into the shadowed life.
3. “How is the intuition to be developed which enables one to grasp swift knowledge ?”
Answer]. To me no way is known but that of living the life of a disciple.
4. “Can the laws in super-nature only act on their own plane, or can their reflection be brought down intact in their own purity to govern physical life”.
Answer] Surely this must be so;
yet rarely, for when it is accomplished the man would be divine, a Buddha
5. “To be incapable of tears” — does not that mean that the physical emotions, being merged into the inner physical, that tears are impossible as being an outward phase of the physical nature — whereas the psychical emotions, to use a physical term are vibratory.
Answer] . “The whole of ' Light on the Path', is written in an astral cipher” is stated [Page 228] at the outset of the “comments” the word “fears” does not refer to physical tears in any way.
It is the only word which will convey any idea whatever of the moisture of life, that which bursts from the human soul in its experience of sensation and emotion, and in the passion of its hunger for them.
6. “How is one to take the
snake of self in a steady grasp and conquer it?” /
Answer] This is the great mystery which each man must solve for himself.
- IV -
Wallasey, Oct 1st
Referring to the comments on “Light on the Path”, in the first number of LUCIFER, may I ask whether the full paradox “Before the eyes can see they must be incapable of tears, and yet no eyes incapable of tears can see”, i.e. see good or God, is not truer and stronger than its part?
Therefore the soul of the occultist must become stronger than joy and greater than sorrow” I presume means that he must not seek joy or fear sorrow, not that he may not enjoy nor sorrow?
The phrase by itself may read “Before the eyes can see they must be
incapable of tears”, tearless, dry, in fact dead! which is obviously
not the author’s intention in “Light on the Path”.
Yours truly, A.E.I.
Answer] . Once more I must refer to the preliminary statement in the comments that “Light on the Path”, is written in an astral cipher, and that tears do not mean the tears of the physical body, but the rain drops that come from the passion-life of the human soul. These being stayed for ever, the astral sight is no longer blinded or blurred. Divine love and charity then find room, when personal desire is gone. Joy and sorrow, for one self, then drop naturally into another place than that which they filled before.
- V -
(1) I desire very strongly to obtain
conquest over “self”; would
my using the occult means for so doing, which apparently to me lie without
the ordinary experience of Christians, necessitate my sacrificing any iota
of my belief in the power of Christ?.
(2) If I submit myself to the occult conditions under which the four first rules in “Light on the Path” may be “engraved on my heart and life”; will these conditions permit me to pray throughout for the Divine help and strength of the Eternal Christ, who has passed the portal, opened the “way” and whom I believe to be the “Master of Masters”, the “Lord of Angels”?
(3) Do the words — “the disciple” .... “must then so shut the gates of his soul that no comforter can enter there nor any enemy” — mean, that we are wilfully to exclude ourselves from any desire for the sympathy, strength, and support of the spirit of One who said “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me”, and who drank the cup of agony to the very dregs for love of the Brotherhood? [Page 229]
Answer] (1.) Not any iota of your
belief in the power of the Christ-spirit would or should be sacrificed; it
would rather increase, for that spirit is the same Divine overshadowing which
has inspired every Redeemer.
(2.) It matters very little by what name you call the Master of Masters, so that you do appeal to “Its” power throughout.
(3.) Man can find no comforter save in the Divine Spirit within himself. Does not the tale of the life of Jesus illustrate this, looking at it from one point of view ? In what dread isolation he lived and died; His disciples, even those who were most beloved by Him, could not reach His spirit in its sublime moments, or in the hours of its keenest suffering. So with every one who raises himself by effort above the common life of man, in however small a degree. Solitude becomes a familiar state, for nothing personal, not even a personal God, can comfort or cheer any longer.
- VI -
“ Is there any chance of self-deception
? May one enter the path so gradually as to be conscious of no radical change,
representing a change of life or stage of progression ? How is it with one
who has never experienced a great and lasting sorrow, or an all-absorbing
joy, but who in the midst of both joy and sorrow strives to remember others,
and to feel that he hardly deserves the joy, and that his sorrow is meager
in the presence of the great all-pain ? How is such a one to enter through
the gates ? By what sign shall he know them ?”
Answer] . It is difficult for such a one to know anything of what lies beneath the surface of his nature until it has been probed by the fiercer experiences of life. But, of course, the theory of re-incarnation makes it possible that such experiences are left behind in the past. The entrance to the gates is marked by one immutable sign; the sense that personal joy or sorrow no longer exist. The disciple lives for humanity, not for himself; works for all creatures that suffer instead of knowing that he himself has pain.
QUESTIONS ON “ESOTERIC BUDDHISM”
As the Editors of Lucifer kindly invite questions concerning Theosophy and kindred subjects, an honest enquirer into these matters would welcome an answer to the following difficulty:
In his book on 'Esoteric Buddhism', Mr. Sinnett states that souls or spirits pass the long interval between the one incarnation and another in a sort of quiescent, and at least half-unconscious, state, losing enough of their identity to preclude their carrying any-recollection of one incarnation on to the next. In his novel, “Karma”, Mr. Sinnett represents one character, Mrs. Lakesby, gifted with more than usual powers, as being very fond, when she has the chance, of allowing her spirit to escape from the trammels of the body and [Page 230] meeting the spirits of departed — that is, dead friends — “and others” on the Astral plane where she holds agreeable converse with them.
How are these two statements reconcilable?
October 22nd, 1887.
Mr. Sinnett would
probably reply that the answer could only be given fully by reprinting all
that he has written in various published works, on the conditions of existence
in Kama-Loka, and Devachan, and on the higher and lower aspects of Self. The
normal course of events will conduct a human being who quits the material
body through Kama-Loka to the Devachanic state, in which Mrs. Lakesby would
not be able to interview him. But while in Kama-Loka she might at least imagine
she did this, and, perhaps not too wisely, indulge in the practice of so
doing. If we remember rightly, the Baron in “Karma”, who is
represented as knowing a good deal more than Mrs. Lakesby, gifted as she
is, throws some discredit upon her view concerning the Astral plane and its
inhabitants. At the best when a clairvoyant can gain touch with a soul in
Kama-Loka, it is the lower self` remaining there, though it has left the
body, that she deals with. And though that lower self may be very recognizable
for people who have known it in the earthly manifestation, it will be lower than the
lower self of earth and not higher because ethereal. That is to say on earth
the living man is more or less under the guidance of his higher sell` But
the higher has no longer any business to transact with the lower self of
Kama-Loka, and does not manifest there at all.
Finally it must always be remembered that a romance, even though written by an Occultist, is a romance still, designed to suggest broad conceptions rather than to expound scientific and doctrinal details.
“Being courteously invited to address
any questions bearing on the matter contained in LUCIFER to the Editors,
Madame la Marechale Canrobert would gladly know: — First, What is the
distinction made (page 11) between the
soul and the starry spirit? Is it that soul which is again alluded to (page
91) as the animal soul, in opposition to the Divine soul? Second, What are
the external forms of the individualised being spoken of also on page 91?”
Answer] The human soul, that which is subject to human passions, but which can also yearn towards the nobility of the Divine soul, is that which is spoken of on page 11. The starry spirit is the Divine-astral. The animal soul is that which animates the mere physical life, the unintelligent existence of the body. The “extern forms” referred to on page 91 are the successive human shapes which the starry spirit inspires during its long pilgrimage.
THE REAL HISTORY OF THE ROSICRUCIANS
Founded on their own Manifestoes, and on Facts and Documents
collected from the Writings of Initiated Brethren.
London: George Redway, 1887. viii, pp. 446
by Arthur Edward Waite
Reviewed by H.P.Blavatsky
Mr. Waite’s new book will
be welcomed by that large class of readers who regard occultism, alchemy,
and all like studies with antagonism and suspicion. Secret societies supposed
to deal with such subjects are, from their point of view, better exposed
and ridiculed than treated with respect or taken seriously. The author of
the present volume does not, however, cast disrespect on occult science,
nor does he discuss the Rosicrucians in a spirit of levity or disdain. He
recognises that there may be, and probably is, a grand spiritual and moral
in the higher aspects of true alchemy, but in these pages he treats the subject
of the society from the historical, and not at all from the mystical side,
and confines himself to tracing its recorded history, its rise, fall, and raison
d’être. The conscientious study of these records
relating to the Brotherhood has brought Mr. Waite to the conclusion that
they do not support the traditions which up to the present have surrounded
the society with a veil of unknown antiquity and have endowed its members
with a halo of marvellous wisdom. It is these conclusions that will charm
the incredulous, and may probably blind them to the indications of an undercurrent
of belief in the reality of occult science, per se, which the author
has evidently not desired to suppress. To investigate and disentangle the
network of facts, theories, and traditions which must necessarily envelop
a society that up to the commencement of the seventeenth century had not
been heard of by the general public is no easy task, and Mr. Waite may be
congratulated upon the calm and judicial spirit with which he has treated
his subject, as well as upon the moderation with which he advances his own
views. To be able to gather from these open records how far the members of
such a society may have held in their keeping some of` the inner secrets
of Nature is of course impossible to ordinary humanity. The real character
and aims of such an association can be known only to passed Initiates. In
his preface [p. 4] Mr. Waite says: “I
claim that I have performed my task in a sympathetic but impartial manner,
purged from the bias of any particular theory, and above all uncontaminated
by the pretension to superior knowledge, which claimants have never been
able to substantiate”. This statement is fully justified in the pages
of the book under review. Its value does not lie so much in any new presentation
of the facts or theories pertaining to the Rosicrucians, and which are so
frequently distorted by ignorant commentators, as in the compact and systematic
arrangement of some of the principal writings available. He has brought together
not only the leading works of the various writers known, or supposed to be
Rosicrucians, but he has also collected
the criticisms and conjectures on these current at the time of their [Page
232] appearance in Germany, together with others of a much more
recent date. Consequently the reader has before him almost all the information
of this description he could require, and which he could not obtain for himself
except by the expenditure of time and trouble that very few are either able
or willing to give.
It is not surprising that Mr. Waite should have satisfied himself that the Rosicrucians have no sort of claim to the reverence and admiration in which scholars and mystics have held them up to the present time. But these conclusions will form only one more of other proofs to students of esotericism, that the task of writing a true and real history of a secret occult society from its records, where such exist, is an impossibility. For even when such societies left reliable information of their pursuits, aspirations, and beliefs, the language employed has always been of such a character as to baffle entirely the ordinary exoteric reader, whether he were historian, literateur, or scientist. Such literature can be interesting only to the student on the track of esoteric knowledge, or to one who has in a great measure acquired the meaning conveyed for himself in other ways. This method of giving to the world, as it were, the proceeds, of life-long research in the realms of unseen Nature, has been adopted by alchemists, magicians, priests, and hierophants from all ages. None but those who were sufficiently steadfast in the cause of truth could read and understand what was thus written. The numerous and minute directions for the working of spells and cures, etc., left by Paracelsus, and which are apparently as straightforward and practicable as the receipts in a modern cookery book, would turn out probably much less successful in the hands of an amateur, no matter how highly educated on the physical plane, than the more delicate dishes taken from such receipts manipulated by an entirely inexperienced servant. For these elaborate instructions are given in terms that appeal simply to the material senses of those who are in search of power rather than wisdom, whereas the real effort to produce the result has to take place on the Astral plane of nature. The spiritual or soul side of man, must be awakened and utilised, before the Philosopher’s stone, or the elixir of life, can be discovered.
The comprehension of the potentialities of the human body, their nurture and eventual utilisation for purely unselfish ends and spiritual, i.e., real wisdom, is, or ought to be, the work of all secret occult societies. But to return to Mr. Waite’s book. The popular notion that this Brotherhood is of great, almost incredible antiquity, is utterly condemned by him. He fails to find any documentary evidence to show that it existed before the early part of the seventeenth century, and argues that the well-known antiquity of` the Rose and Cross in symbolism is no proof of the antiquity of a society using them “ at a period subsequent to the Renaissance” [p. 210]. Granting that the device of` the Rose and Cross, as emblems of a particular order or brotherhood, does not guarantee its equal antiquity with them, still it must be admitted that these symbols bearing as they do a profoundly esoteric interpretation, and being adopted by a society of a distinctly occult character, is an argument in support of the theory that the founder or originator of this order had some reason other than fancy for thus labeling his fraternity. Elsewhere he says, “I have shown indisputably that there was no novelty in the Rosicrucian pretensions, and no originality in their views. They appear before us as Lutheran disciples of Paracelsus”. [Page 233]
The author here seems to be not entirely logical in his deductions. When he states that he has not met in his search with either letters, records, or papers that mention or suggest the existence of such a society before the seventeenth century, he is of course, as a historian, safely ensconced from attack. In this capacity as an impartial seeker after facts, it is outside the area of his work in the absence of data to theorise on probabilities. When, however, in dealing with the manifestoes of the seventeenth century, he finds therein evidence that shows him the Brotherhood has no back history or ancestry, his conclusions are open to criticism. The very fact of the want of originality and novelty in the views, aims and aspirations set forth in the “Fama”, and “Confessio” surely gives strength to the theory that holds to the antiquity of the society, rather than to its being the outcome of a spontaneous effort. All true students of mysticism have good reason to believe, even when they do not absolutely know, that the various schools of occultism considered from their highest or most spiritual and abstract teaching, lead to the same goal. They may be called by different names, and their methods in minor details may not be the same, but the wisdom au fond is identical. Therefore when Mr. Waite casts discredit upon the Rosicrucians for not advertising novelties in their manifesto, in the mystical line of thought, he reminds us of a man who in making up his mind on the value of a violin, decides that it cannot be of great age, because it emits only the same set of sounds that such musical instruments have been accustomed to give forth from time immemorial.
As far as can be ascertained by studying the state of thought and society
at the period when the Rosicrucians were first heard of in Europe, this particular
order manifested itself as an antidote to the general tendency towards the
material side of alchemy, which honey-combed the educated classes of Germany.
Wonder-seekers then, as now, did not apprehend that ethics, both social and
spiritual, are the fundamental basis of real wisdom, consequently the great
cry was for power, no matter of what description, for the accumulation of
wealth. The craving for arcane knowledge, so widely diffused, and which alchemists
were truly known to possess, had gradually degenerated into a purely selfish
desire for the secret of transmuting metals. To supply this eager demand,
charlatans of every description rushed to the front professing to teach all
who joined their standards, i.e., who could pay the necessary fee,
how to turn common metal into pure gold. The craze for this power was so
universal, the motive of it so unspiritual, that in order to stem the tide
of the folly, and to checkmate the impostors who were bringing discredit
on the Sacred Art, the “Fama” was issued by a body of
people who took as their symbols the Rose and Cross. From this point of view
the Rosicrucians historically come before the world in the light of a group
Different people interpret in different ways the two manifestoes — the “Fama” and “Confessio”. Mr. Waite appears to place great importance on the adherence to Christian dogmas observable in the wording of these papers. But in taking the documents literally, he seems to overlook the necessity that all writers were under, in those troubled times, of pandering to the narrow and prejudiced minds of the leaders of the so-called Christian Church, by apparently adhering to the Ritual. Naturally, the author of the “Fama” worded it in such a manner as to avoid persecution or suspicion of heresy. Those to whom it [Page 234] was really addressed would not be misled by its tone of orthodoxy, and the general public and the church would pass it by as harmless. Moreover, as Mr. Waite remarks further on [pp. 200-01], “the philosophical and scientific opinions and pretensions of the Rosicrucian Society have more claim on our notice” than their theology. Speaking again of the school of thought current at the time this organisation was floated, and which he tells us the Rosicrucians followed, he says [p. 201]: “Mystics in an age of scientific and religious materialism, they were connected by an unbroken chain with the theurgists of the first Christian centuries; they were alchemists in the spiritual sense and the professors of a divine magic Their disciples, the Rosicrucians, followed closely in their footsteps, and the claims of the “Fama” and “Confessio” must be reviewed in the light of the great elder claims of alchemy and magic”. In spite of this, Mr. Waite judges the Society, it would appear, by what he admits to be the minor and less important side of its object, for he speaks of it eventually, as a body of “pre-eminently learned men and a Christian Sect” [p. 216]. We will not stop to consider the probability or possibility of a body of “pre-eminently learned men”, being at the same time a “Christian Sect”.
Having thus deprived the Rosicrucians of the dignity, reverence and romance, that cling round great antiquity; having saddled them with the tenets and dogmas of conventional mediaeval Christianity, Mr. Waite next proceeds to demolish their emblems, or at all events, to deny that they attached any esoteric interpretation to them. He says: “. . . “The whole question of the significance of the Crucified Rose, in its connection with the society, is one of pure conjecture, that no Rosicrucian manifestoes, and no acknowledged Brother have ever given any explanation concerning it, and that no presumption is afforded by the fact of its adoption for the antiquity of the society or for its connection with universal symbolism” .[p. 24]. Allowing for the necessity in writing a history of a mystical society of taking the documents as they stand, Mr. Waite rather ignores the fact that the evidence for the statement above is of a negative character. That in their manifestoes and records there appears no explanation of their emblems, hardly justifies the conclusion that they were incapable of giving any. It would indeed have been a new departure in the annals of Secret Societies if the founders of this particular order had left behind the explanation of their signs and symbols. The study and interpretation of symbology forms a most important element in the education of occult disciples, and therefore to assume that the projectors of this organisation should be unaware of the mystic reading of` the Rose and Cross, is a hypothesis that no student of mysticism could accept.
It is, on the whole, generally assumed by those who have taken any pains to investigate the evidence, that Johann Valentin Andreas was the author of the “Fama”, the Confessio Fraternitatis, and also of the “Chymical Marriage” of Christian Rosencreutz, and to that extent he must be looked upon exoterically as the founder of the Rosicrucian Society, as first known to history. He was deeply versed in mystic studies and alchemy, and had besides a widespread reputation as a scholar and learned man. His “Chymical Marriage”, to anyone with even a slight acquaintance with alchemical literature, reveals him as one who had penetrated deeply into some of the mysteries of nature. Consequently, he must have been well aware that the Rose and Cross bore a profoundly occult [Page 235] signification. Considering the man himself, the character of his studies, and his well-known devotion to alchemy and mysticism, it is certainly more reasonable to suppose that he took those emblems (presuming he had any choice in the matter) for his society, not as some suggest, because they happened to form a part of his own armorial bearings, or that the Rose and Cross on a Heart was used by Martin Luther, but because he recognized their full value and importance as symbols of cosmic evolution.
Mr. Waite seems, on the whole, to agree with the idea that Andreas was the author of the “Fama” and “Confessio”, and regards the “Chymical Marriage” as undoubtedly his production. He also allows that the latter pamphlet can only have been the work of a man deeply imbued with alchemical speculations, a mystic and follower of Paracelsus. How then can he ask us to believe that the Society formed under such auspices was au fond, nothing but a Christian sect based on the teachings of Martin Luther! To the public at large these theories may perhaps appear sufficiently plausible in face of the wording of those parts of the manifestoes that touch on theology. To students of esotericism, however, such conclusions will be absolutely unacceptable, and we cannot allow to pass without comment Mr. Waite’s hypothesis that the Rosicrucian Society, as it first came before the world, was simply a society for the propagation of the deteriorated Christianity of the middle ages. No mystic, whether calling himself Rosicrucian, Cabbalist, Theosophist, Christian, or Buddhist, would either intellectually or spiritually accept the narrow dogmas and intolerant views of the Christian church, even when to some extent cleansed of many of its grosser abuses by the energy of Martin Luther’s Reform.
The two lines of thought are essentially different. In the case of the Christian, no matter of what denomination, his thoughts are bound down and paralysed within the rigid circle drawn by the materialistic reading of Christ’s birth, life, and death. The true occultist takes those episodes spiritually or allegorically, finding their correspondences within himself as well as in the universe. To say that a human being can at one and the same time be an occultist, and a sectarian Christian, is as impossible as to speak of a Christian Jew. A true Christian, i.e., one who understood and followed absolutely the teachings of Jesus, would be also a true Rosicrucian. Membership of particular churches or societies does not unfortunately endow the individual immediately with the virtue, knowledge or power, that is the theoretical goal of his initial action. Such membership is, or may be, a step in the direction of Divine Wisdom, but one step does not carry him to the summit of the path. Men do not become either Rosicrucians, Christians, or Theosophists merely by joining the Societies working under those particular names. But certain tendencies in their temperaments urge them into the special Society where the mode of thought seems best fitted to help them, to realise the magnitude and glory of the possibilities inherent in their own souls.
Between the humanity of today, and the development of a sixth sense, which will enable it to perceive what now is imperceptible, there is but a thin veil of obstructing matter, metaphorically speaking. This veil is even now being continually pierced by psychics, first in one direction, then in another, letting in through these tiny openings glimpses of the invisible world around. In a little while the veil will be worn away entirely, and the humanity of that future time [Page 236] will doubtless wonder how the humanity of this age, which we find so enlightened, could have been so unintuitive and blind to the most important side of their natures. Until the race however has by soul evolution attained to this sixth sense, real histories of Mystical Societies can hardly be hoped for. Members of such Societies, who by study and training have attained some degree of knowledge may not disclose the secrets, non-members cannot get at them. The reading-classes of today may, after reading Mr. Waite’s book, think they have learnt something of the body of people called Rosicrucians, and until now supposed to have some claim to arcane knowledge. The students of occultism will know that the vital part of the subject is and must remain ever impregnable, excepting from its esoteric side.
[Interesting information concerning the early Rosicrucian movement may be found in the following two essays: “The Rosicrucians,” by Karl Kisewetter, The Theosophist, Vol. VII, April, 1886, pp. 451-61; and “Christian Rosencreutz and the Rosicrucians,” by W. Wynn Westcott, The Theosophist, Vol. XV, March, 1894, pp. 365-77]
SENSE ! What is “sense ” ? A word meaning either little or much; simple and clear to the understanding, or various and carrying with it many connotations. It is one or other according as we measure the depth, the thoroughness, or the reality of the knowledge acquired. From a purely physical “sensation” we may trace the word through endless shades of signification; through “good” sense,“ sound” sense, through the artistic and finer sensibilities, the “moral” sense, till it loses itself in the vague hint of a dim, unformed consciousness, pointing the way to the new world of the “inner senses”.
All these meanings and more are connoted by the phrase “Nineteenth Century Sense”; for, by a daring metaphor, the tools which modern science places at our disposal are considered as “senses”, and even the faculty and power of analysis is sometimes included under the word.
Beginning with the simplest, the reader is led on to the most astounding phenomena of modern spiritualism in the first thirty-seven pages of this strange work. The author depicts in vivid language his own experiences, and the triumphs of phenomena produced by one of his personal friends, in a style which is often quaint and striking, though at times the writer's disregard of many of the accepted rules of composition becomes — to say the least — irritating. But the matter of his book earns forgiveness for the manner in which it is formulated.
After carrying his reader to a pitch of interest and expectation as to the phenomena he describes, Mr. Darby suddenly plunges him into the frozen sea of scepticism by stating that all the phenomena produced under what seemed the strictest test conditions, were produced by conjuring and legerdemain, and by explaining the physical causes of some .of the visions he has so graphically described. It will suffice to cite a single instance in illustration. “The President of the American Branch of the Indian Society of Theosophists (Professor Coues) . . . spent an evening with me some time back in conversation on the subject of psychical phenomena. We parted at midnight. [Page 237] At seven o'clock the next morning I suddenly awoke, beholding the astral of the professor standing at my bed-side”.
This vision Mr. Darby explains by reference to the fact of the persistence of retinal images and the super-excitability of the nerves and brain. “Astral projections”, he concludes, “ are of precisely similar significance”. We would feel obliged to the eminent American professor of physiology referred to if he would give his written opinion on the question thus raised. For Theosophists have heard of persons whose brains were in complete repose and fully occupied otherwise who have also seen the astral form of Professor Coues. How's this?
He concludes, nevertheless, that materialistic agnosticism is the only “creed”? Far from it. This .portion of the book is purely introductory; it forms the five door-steps leading to the Spiritus Sanctus — the laboratory of the Divine Spirit.
From this black depth of doubt and confusion, the reader is lifted suddenly into the clear ether, and his feet are placed on the “Rosicrucian Way”.
Whether called “Rosicrucian”, or by whatever other name, the “Way” is the “Way of Life”, the path which leads to freedom, to wisdom, to true living. Whole pages might well be quoted; a few aphorisms must suffice.
“A thing is to the sense that uses it what to the sense
It seems to be; it is never anything else”.
Many passages recall “Light on the Path”, though Mr. Darby probably never saw that book; but life is one, and true occultism is one.
Speaking of mankind as divided into two classes, men in whom is the Holy Ghost, the Divine Spirit or the Logos, he says:
“With people self-wise or over-sufficient, with the proud and the uncharitable, with all who are without understanding as to the common good being the only good, with him who fails to see that gifts are in men as almoners only — with all these the Holy Ghost is absent, otherwise so lacking in measure as to be incapable of making itself felt”.
The italicised passages give the key-note of the true science and art of living. To quote again:
'' Settled into tranquillity by entirely satisfactory recognition of noumenon through phenomenon an end is reached where instrument is prepared and ready for use. Analysis has shown the Rosicrucian what he is; more than this —what he can become as to his Ego. If out of his understanding, he puts office [ the service of others. — Editor.] before self, he learns directly of the God, as the God comes to live in and to make use of him”.
“Proving to one's self that one's self is God ”; and again, “God . . . the One is in all; the All is in one”.
The next chapter contrasts strangely
with the one just quoted from — strangely,
that is, to the outer sense. The one full of deep philosophy, of questionings
of God, the Self, the World, clothed in the profound and significant paradoxes
in which wisdom finds expression; the other an idyll, a sketch of nature, deeply
coloured by the influence of Walt Whitman, whose style, perhaps, has had too
great an influence on Mr. Darby, who has caught its jerky and unpleasant strings
of detached sentences.
This is Chapter V; Chapter VI. deals with Matter in its relation to the Ego, the spirit of the treatment being indicated by the following conclusion:
“That there shows itself, out of a process of exclusion, conducted even only so far as the analysis of matter, a something which is not matter. The analysis demonstrates the something to be of individual signification; further, that it is to it what a flute or other instrument is to harmony”.
The final words express a purely occult doctrine, which is worked out at length in the succeeding chapter on the Ego.
This is the fundamental thought of the book, the last fifty pages of which describe the author's individual experiences in nascent psychic development.
They are not of a very striking character, but exhibit with sufficient clearness the early forms of this new growth. Unfortunately, the author seems to have lacked the desire to pursue the road thus opened to him, and the final pages of his work are but a lame and halting conclusion to a remarkable production.
The book is well adapted for those who stand halting on the verge of mysticism, while for the student who has advanced further, its pages may serve as a means for helping others.
The Editors of LUCIFER beg to acknowledge
the following books, which will be noticed in future numbers : —
From Messrs. Ward and Downey: “A Modern Magician”, by Fitzgerald Molloy. “Twin Souls”.
From Messrs. David Nutt & Co. : “ The Gnostics and their Remains”, by C. H. King.
From the Authors:
“Natural Genesis”, by Gerald Massey.
“Sepher Yezirah”, by Dr. Wynn Westcott.
“Palingenesia”,“ by Theosopho and Ellora”.
“Mohammed Benani”, by Ion Perdicaris.
“Lays of Romance”, by W. Stewart Ross.
From George Redway — the publisher: “ Posthumous Humanity”, translated by Col. H. S. Olcott.
▼The Editors regret that the pressure on their space prevents their noticing in detail the various Theosophical Magazines: — THE THEOSOPHIST, THE PATH, LE LOTUS, and L'AURORE. A full summary of their contents for November and December will appear next month. The same remark applies to a letter on “Karma”, received from Mr. Beatty, which will be published and fully answered next month. [Page 239]
FROM THE NOTE BOOK OF AN UNPOPULAR PHILOSOPHER
I am STERNLY REBUKED for
some remarks made in the last number. My reflections with regard to the respective
value of Mussulman and Christian pledges exchanged, as also on the doubtful
propriety of zoological symbolism in the Churches — are
pronounced wantonly wicked and
calculated to hurt the tender feelings of Christian readers — if any.
Protestant England — it is solemnly urged — is full of truly good
men and women, of sincere churchgoers, who “walk in the ways of the Lord”.
No doubt there are such, and no doubt they do, or try to, which is a step in
advance of those who do not. But then none of the “righteous” need
recognize their faces in the mirror presented by the “Unpopular Philosopher” only
to the unrighteous. And again —
“THE WAYS OF THE LORD . . . .” The ways of which Lord? Is the jealous Lord of Moses meant, the God who thundered amidst the lightnings of Sinai, or the meek “Lord” of the Mount of Olives and Calvary? Is it the stern God that saith “vengeance is mine”, and who must be “worshipped in fear”, or the “man-God” who commanded to love one’s neighbours as oneself, to forgive one’s enemies and bless those who revile us? For the ways of the two Lords are wide apart, and can never meet.
No one who has studied the Bible can deny for one single moment that a large proportion (if happily not all) of modern Christians walk indeed “in the ways of the Lord” — Number I. This one is the “Lord” who had respect unto Abel, because the meat of his sacrifice smelt sweet in his nostrils; the “Lord” who commanded the Israelites to spoil the Egyptians of their jewels of silver and gold; [And no doubt also the Anglo-Indians to spoil the King of Burmah of his? ] also to “kill every male among the little ones”, as “every woman . . . . but all the women children [virgins] to keep alive for yourselves” (Numb., xxxi, 17, et seq.); and to commit other actions too coarse to be repeated in any respectable publication.
Hence the modern warriors who achieve such feats (with the modern improvement occasionally, of shooting their enemies out of` the mouths of big guns) walk, most undeniably, “in the ways” of the Lord of the Jews, but never in the ways of Christ. So does the modern trader who keeps the Sabbath most rigorously, attending Divine Service thrice on that day, after treating during the whole week his hired clerks as the brood of Ham “who shall be their (Shem and Japhet’s) servants”.
So does, likewise, he who helps himself, David-like, to a Bath-Sheba, the wife of Uriah, without the least concern whether he simply robs or kills the Hittite husband. For he has every right to take for his sampler “a friend of God” — the God of the old covenant.
But will either of these pretend they walk in the ways of their Lord of the new Dispensation? Yet, he who raises his voice in a protest against the “ways” of the Mosaic God, therefore, in favour of those preached by the very antithesis of Jehovah — the meek and gentle “Man of Sorrow” — he is forthwith set up on the pillory and denounced to public opprobrium as an anti-Christian and an Atheist! This, in the face of the words: “ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven. . . . And every one that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand and . . . . great was the fall thereof”! [Matt., vii, 21, 26-27.]
THE “WILL OF MY FATHER”? Is this “Father” identical with the God of Mount Sinai and of the Commandments? Then what is the meaning of the whole Chapter V of Matthew, of the Sermon on the Mount, in which every one of these Commandments is virtually criticised and destroyed by the new amendments?
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
“But I say unto you that ye resist not evil”, etc. [Matt., v. 38-39.] [Page 240]
Glance at the big centres of our Christian civilizations. Look at the jails, the court and the prison-house, the tribunals, and the police; see the distress, with starvation and prostitution as its results. Look at the host of the men of law and of judges; and then see how far the words of Christ, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, Judge not that ye be not judged”, apply to the whole structure of our modern civilised life, and how far we may be called Christians.
How well the commandment — “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her ” [John, viii, 7] — is now obeyed, may be seen by following day after day, the law reports for slander, calumny and defamation. Obedience to the injunction, and warning against the sin of` offending children, “these little ones”, of whom is the Kingdom of Heaven, is found in the brutal treatment of fatherless children on the streets by the Christian police, of other children by their parents, and finally, in the merciless flogging of wee bits of culprits driven to crime by their own parents and starvation. And is it those who denounce such an anti-Christian spirit in legislation, the Pharisaical church and society, who shall be branded for speaking the truth? The magistrate, who has sworn on the Bible — contrary to Christ’s express injunction — to administer justice; the pious defaulter, who swears falsely on it, but cannot be convicted; the sanctimonious millionaire who fattens on the blood and sweat of the poor; and the aristocratic “Jezebel” who casts mud from her carriage wheels on her “fallen” sister, on the street, a victim perchance, of one of the men of her own high caste — all these call themselves Christians. The anti-Christians are those who dare to look behind that veil of respectability .
The best answer to such paradoxical denunciation may be found in one of “Saladin’s” admirable editorials. The reader must turn to The Secular Review for October 22nd, 1887, and read some pertinent reflections on “The Bitter Cry of Outcast London,” and the “Child-thieves” flogging. Well may a “heathen Chinee” or a “mild Hindu” shudder in horror at the picture in it of that “drawing of` blood” out of the baby-bodies of infant thieves. The process is executed by a Christian policeman acting under the orders and in the presence of a righteous Christian magistrate. Has either of the two ever given a thought during the “child-torture” to the words of their Christ: “ And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believes in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea ”? [Mark, ix, 42.]
Yes, they are walking “in the ways of the God of Israel”! For, as “it repenteth the Lord that he had made man so wicked and so imperfect, that “Lord” drowned and destroyed him “from the face of the earth”, without more ado. Verily so, “ both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air ” [Gen., vi, 7], though the latter had neither sinned, nor were they “wicked.” And why shouldn’t the righteous men on Earth do likewise? It repents the Christian citizens of pious LUGDUNUM perchance also, that they create the starving little wretches, the foundlings abandoned to vice from the day of their birth? And the truly good Christian men, who would believe themselves damned to hell-fire were they to miss their Sabbath Service, forbidden by law to drown their creatures, resort to the next best thing they can; they “draw blood” from those little ones whom their “Saviour” and Master took under his special protection.
May the shadow of “Saladin” never grow less, for the fearless honest words of truth he writes: —
And whose blood was in the veins
of these two boys? Whose blood reddened the twigs of the birch? Peradventure
that of the magistrate himself, or of the chaplain of the prison. For mystical
are the grinding of the wheels of the mill of misery. And God looks on and
tolerates. And I am accounted a heretic, and my anti-Christian writings are
produced against me in a Court of Justice to prevent my getting justice,
because I fail to see in all this how Christianity “elevates” woman
and casts a “halo of sacred innocence round the tender years of the child” So
be it. I have flung down my gauge of battle, and the force of bigotry may break
me to death, but it shall never bend me to submission. Unsalaried and ill-supported,
I fight as stubbornly as if the world flung at my feet its gold and laurels
and huzzas; for the weak need a champion and the wronged an avenger. It is
necessary that Sham find an opponent and Hypocrisy a foe: these they will find
in me, be the consequences what they may.
This is the epitomized history of the “Unpopular Philosopher”; aye, the story of all those who, in the words of “Lara”, know that “Christianity will never save humanity, but humanity may save Christianity”, i. e, the ideal spirit of the Christos-Buddha — of THEOSOPHY.
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