|Vol. 3||No. 17|
|353||The Year is Dead, Long Live the Year - December, 1888 & January, 1889||(HPB & MC)|
|360||The Slain Dove [poem]||Evelyn Pyne|
|365||The Talking Image of Urur (2)||Franz Hartmann|
|372||The Mahatmas Through the Ages||Amaravella (EJ Coulomb)|
|373||The Genesis of Evil in Human Life||I.|
|379||The Elixir of the Devil (2)||ETA Hoffmann|
|388||Graphology||FLG (? Frederic Leighton Gardner)|
|392||From the East of Time (3)||Charles Hannan|
|399||Irish Fairies, Ghosts, Witches, etc.||William Butler Yeats (1865 - )|
|405||A Vision Produced by Music||AJC|
|407||Dialogue on the Mysteries of the After Life [Part 2]||X & M (by HPB, acc G: see Corbett ExtVah)|
|417||My Thrush [poem]||Mary R Shippey|
|419||Another Automatic Writing||(a great materialist)|
|420||Occult Axioms & their Symbols (I)||Amaravella|
|429||Theosophical Activities - Letter - What Theosophy & its Society should Be||Camille Lemaitre|
|436||correspondence - "The Empty Vessel makes the Greatest Sound"||Susie C Clark|
|436||Answer||(HPB & MC)|
|437||Lodges of Magic (3)||AE|
|438||reply to AE||HP Blavatsky|
|439||Letter - The Life of Jehoshua||Franz Hartmann|
|440||Supermundane Metaphysics||James A. Campbell|
LUCIFER sends the best compliments of the season to his friends and subscribers, and wishes them a happy New Year and many returns of the same. In the January issue of 1888, Lucifer said: “let no one imagine that it is a mere fancy, the attaching of importance to the birth of the year. The astral life of the earth is young and strong between Christmas and Easter. Those who form their wishes now will have added strength to fulfil them consistently”. He now repeats what was said and adds: Let no one mistake the importance and potency of numbers — as symbols. Everything in the Universe was framed according to the eternal proportions and combinations of numbers. “God geometrizes”, and numbers and numerals are the fundamental basis of all systems of mysticism, philosophy, and religion. The respective festivals of the year and their dates were all fixed according to the Sun — the “father of all calendars” and of the Zodiac, or the Sun-god and the twelve great, but still minor gods; and they became subsequently sacred in the cycle of national and tribal religions.
A year ago, it was stated by the editors that 1888 was a dark combination of numbers: it has proved so since. Earthquakes and terrible volcanic eruptions, tidal waves and landslips, cyclones and fires, railway and maritime disasters followed each other in quick succession. Even in point of weather the whole of the past year was an insane year, an unhealthy and uncanny year, which shifted its seasons, played ducks and drakes with the calendar and laughed at the wiseacres who preside over the meteorological stations of the globe. Almost every nation was visited by some dire calamity. Prominent among other countries was Germany. It was in 1888 that the Empire reached, virtually, the 18th year of its unification. It was during the fatal combination of the four numbers 8 that it lost two of its Emperors, and planted the seeds of many dire Karmic results. [Page 354]
What has the year 1889 in store for nations, men and theosophy, and what for Lucifer? But it may be wiser to forbear looking into Futurity; still better to pray to the now ruling Hosts of Numbers on high, asking them to be lenient to us, poor terrene ciphers. Which shall we choose? With the Jews and the Christian Kabalists, the number of their deity — the God of Abraham and Jacob — is 10, the number of perfection, the ONE in space, or the Sun, astronomically, and the ten Sephiroth, Kabalistically. But the Gods are many; and every December, according to the Japanese, is the month of the arrival, or descent of the Gods; therefore there must be a considerable number of deities lurking around us mortals in astral space. The 3rd of January, a day which was, before the time of Clovis, consecrated to the worship of Isis — the goddess-patroness of Paris who has now changed her name and become Ste-Geneviève, “she who generates life” — was also set apart as the day on which the deities of Olympus visited their worshippers. The third day of every month was sacred to Pallas Athene, the goddess of Wisdom; and January the 4th is the day of Mercury (Hermes, Budha), who is credited with adding brains to the heads of those who are civil to him. December and January are the two months most connected with gods and numbers. Which shall we choose? — we ask again. “This is the question”.
We are in the Winter Solstice, the period at which the Sun entering the sign of Capricornus has already, since December 21st, ceased to advance in the Southern Hemisphere, and, cancer or crablike, begins to move back. It is at this particular time that, every year, he is born, and December 25th was the day of the birth of the Sun for those who inhabited the Northern Hemisphere. It is also on December the 25th, Christmas, the day with the Christians on which the “Saviour of the World” was born, that were born, ages before him, the Persian Mithra, the Egyptian Osiris, the Greek Bacchus, the Phoenician Adonis, the Phrygian Attis. And, while at Memphis the people were shown the image of the god Day, taken out of his cradle, the Romans marked December 25th in their calendar as the day natalis solis invicti.
Sad derision of human destiny. So many Saviours of the world born unto it, so much and so often propitiated, and yet the world is as miserable — nay, far more wretched now than ever before — as though none of these had ever been born!
January — the Januarius dedicated to Janus the God of Time, the ever revolving cycle, the double-faced God — has one face turned to the East, the other to the West; the Past and the Future! Shall we propitiate and pray to him? Why not? His statue had 12 altars at its feet, symbolising the twelve signs of the Zodiac, the twelve great gods, the twelve months of the solar year and — the twelve Apostles of the Sun-Christ. Dominus was the title given to the Sun by the ancients; whence dies domini, dies solis, the “Sun-days”. Puer nobis nascitur [Page 355] dominus dominorum, sing the Roman Catholics on Christmas day. The statue of Janus-January carried engraved on his right hand the number 300, and on his left, 65, the number of the days in the Solar year; in one hand a sceptre, in the other a key, whence his name Janitor, the door-keeper of the Heavens, who opened the gates of the year at its beginning. Old Roman coins represent Janus bifrons on one side, and a ship on the other.
Have we not the right to see in him the prototype of Peter, the fisherman of the celestial ship, the Janitor of Paradise, to the gates of which he alone holds the keys? Janus presided over the four seasons. Peter presides over the four Evangelists. In Occultism the potency and significance of Numbers and Numerals lie in their right application and permutation. If we have to propitiate any mysterious number at all, we have most decidedly to address Janus-Peter, in his relation to the ONE — the Sun. Now what would be the best thing for Lucifer and his staff to ask from the latter for 1889? Our joint wishes are many, for our course as that of true love, does not run altogether smooth.
Thus addressing the bright luminary in perpetual abscondito beyond the eternal fogs of the great city, we might ask him for a little more light and warmth in the coming year than he gave us in the year 1888. We might entreat him at the same time to pour a little light into the no less befogged heads of those who insist on boycotting Lucifer under the extraordinary notion that he and Satan are one. Shine more on us, O, Helios, Son of Hyperion! Those on whom thou beamest thy greatest radiance must be, as in the legend of Apollo, good and kind men. Alas, for us. The British Isle will never be transformed, in this our cycle, into the isle of Aea, the habitat of Helios, as of the children of that God and the Oceanide Perseis. Is this the occult reason why our hearts become, with every year, colder and more indifferent to the woes of mankind, and that the very souls of the multitudes seem turning into icicles? We ask thee to shed thy radiance on these poor shivering souls.
Such is Lucifer’s, our Light-bearer’s fervently expressed desire. What may be that of the Theosophical Society in general, and its working members in particular? We would suggest a supplication. Let us ask, Brethren, the Lord on High, the One and the SOLE (or Sol), that he should save us from the impudent distortion of our theosophical teachings. That he should deliver us in 1889 from his pretended priests, the “Solar Adepts” as they dub themselves, and their sun-struck followers, as he delivered us once before; for verily “man is born unto trouble”, and our patience is well-nigh exhausted!
But, “wrath killeth the foolish man”; and as we know that “envy slayeth the silly one”, for years no attention was paid to our ever increasing parodists. They plagiarized from our books, set up sham schools of magic waylaid seekers after truth by deceiving them with [Page 356] holy names, misused and desecrated the sacred science by using it to get money by various means, such as selling as “magic mirrors” for £15, articles made by common cabinet makers for £1 at most. With them, as with all charlatans, fortune-tellers, and self-styled “Adepts”, the sacred science of Theosophia had become when kabalistically read — Dollar-Sophia. To crown all, they ended by offering, in a most generous manner, to furnish all those “awakened” who were “disappointed in Theosophical Mahatmas” with the genuine article in the matter of adeptship. Unfortunately the said article was traced in its turn to a poor, irresponsible medium, and something worse; and so that branch of the brood finally disappeared. It vanished one fine morning into thin air leaving its disconsolate disciples thoroughly “awakened” this time, and fully alive to the sad fact, that if they had acquired less than no occult wisdom, their pockets, on the other hand, had been considerably relieved of their weight in pounds and shillings. After their Exodus came a short lull. But now the same is repeated elsewhere.
The long metaphysical articles borrowed from Isis Unveiled, and The Theosophist ceased suddenly to appear in certain Scotch papers. But if they disappeared from Europe, they reappeared in America. In August 1887 the New York Path laid its hand heavily on “The Hidden Way Across the Threshold” printed in Boston,and proceded to speedily squelch it, as “stolen goods”. As that Journal expresses itself about this pretentious volume, copied, not written by its authors — “whatever in it is new, is not true, and whatever is true, is not new; scattered through its six hundred pages, are wholesale thefts from “ Paracelsus”, “Isis Unveiled”, “The Path”, etc., etc.”. This unceremonious appropriation of long paragraphs and entire pages “either verbatim or with unimportant changes”, — from various, mostly theosophical authors — a list of which is given in The Path (Vide August 1887, pp. 159-160), might be left to its fate, but for the usual trick of our wretched imitators. In the words of the same editor of The Path: [The author’s name is J. C. Street, A. B. N.; the book was published by Lee & Shepard, Boston, 1887 ] the claim is made that it (the book) is inspired by great adepts both living and dead, who have condescended to relent and give out these 600 hundred pages, with certain restrictions which prevent their going into any detail or explanation beyond those given by the unfortunate or unprogressed (theosophical) authors from whose writings they [the adepts] have either allowed or directed their humble disciple, Mr. Street, to steal.
Before the appearance of modern Theosophical literature it was “Spirits” and “Controls” that were ever in the mouths of these folk; now the living “adepts” are served up with every sauce. It is ever and always Adepts here, Hierophants there. And this only since the revival of Theosophy and its spread in America in 1884, note well; after the great soap-bubble conspiracy between Madras and Cambridge against the Theosophical Society had given a new impetus to the movement. Up to that year, Spiritualists, and professional mediums especially, with their “controls” and “guides”, could hardly find words [Page 357] of vituperation strong enough to brand the “adepts” and deride their “supposed powers”. But since the Herodic “slaughter of the Innocents”, when the S.P.R. turned from the Theosophical to the Spiritualistic phenomena, most of the “dear departed” ones took to their heels. The angels from the “Summer Land” are going out of fashion just now, for Spiritualists begin to know better and to discriminate. But because the “adept” idea, or rather their philosophy, begins to gain ground, this is no reason why pretenders of every description should travesty in their ungrammatical productions the teachings, phraseology, and Sanskrit terms out of theosophical books; or why, again, they should turn round and make people believe that these were given them by other “Hierophants,” in their opinion, far higher, nobler and grander than our teachers.
The great evil of the whole thing is, not that the truths of Theosophy are adopted by these blind teachers, for we should gladly welcome any spread, by whatever means, of ideals so powerful to wean the world from its dire materialism — but that they are so interwoven with misstatements and absurdities that the wheat cannot be winnowed from the chaff, and ridicule, if not worse, is brought to bear upon a movement which is beginning to exercise an influence, incalculable in its promise of good, upon the tendency of modern thought. How shall men discern good from evil, when they find it in its close embrace? The very words, “Arhat”, “Karma”, “Maya”, “Nirvana”, must turn enquirers from our threshold when they have been taught to associate them with such a teeming mass of ignorance and presumption. But a few years ago, all these Sanskrit terms were unknown to them, and even now they repeat them phonetically, parrot-like, and without any understanding. And yet they will cram them into their silly books and pamphlets, and fill these with denunciations against great men, the soles of whose feet they are unworthy to gaze upon!
Though false coin is the best proof of the existence of genuine gold, yet, the false deceives the unwary. Were the “pretensions” of the T.S. in this direction founded on mere hypothesis and sentimental gush, like the identification of many a materialized spirit, the theosophical “Mahatmas” and their society would have dissolved long ago like smoke in space under the desperate attacks of the holy alliance of Missionaries and pseudo-Scientists, helped by the half-hearted and misinformed public. That the Society has not only survived but become thrice stronger in numbers and power, is a good proof again of its own intrinsic merit. Moreover, it has gained also in wisdom; that practical, matter-of-fact wisdom which teaches, through the mouth of the great Christian “Mahatma”, not to scatter pearls before swine, nor to attempt to put new wine into old bottles.
Therefore, let us, in our turn, recite a heartfelt conjuration (the ancient name for prayer), and invoke the help of the powers that be, to deliver [Page 358] us from the painful necessity of exposing those sorry “make-believes” in Lucifer once again. Let us ring the theosophical Angelus thrice for the convocation of our theosophical friends and readers. If we would draw on us the attention of Sol on High, we must repeat that which the ancients did and which was the origin of the R.C. Angelus. The first stroke of the bell announced the coming of Day; the appearance of Gabriel, the morning messenger with the early Christians, of Lucifer, the morning star, with their predecessors. The second bell, at noon, saluted the glory and exalted position of the Sun, King of Heavens; and the third bell announced the approach of Night, the Mother of Day, the Virgin, Isis-Mary, or the Moon. Having accomplished the prescribed duty, we pour our complaint and say: —
Turn thy flaming eye, O SOL, thou, golden-haired God, on certain trans-atlantic mediums, who play at being thine Hierophants! Behold, they whose brain is not fit to drink of the cup of wisdom, but who, mounting the quack’s platform, and offering for sale bottled-up wisdom, and the homunculi of Paracelsus, assure those of the gaping mouths that it is the true Elixir of Amrita, the water of immortal life! Oh, bright Lord, is not thine eye upon those barefaced robbers and iconoclasts of the systems of the land whence thou risest? Hear their proud boasting: “We teach men the science to make man”(!). The lucrative trade of vendors of Japanese amulets and Taro cards, with indecent double bottoms, having been cut off in its full blossom in Europe, the Eastern Wisdom of the Ages is now abandoned. According to their declarations, China, Japan, old India and even the Swedenborgian “land of the Lost Word” have suddenly become barren; they yield no more their crop of true adepts; it is America, they say, the land of the Almighty Dollar, which has suddenly opened her bowels and given birth to full-blown Hierophants, who now beckon to the “Awakened”. Mirabile dictu! But if so, why should thy self-styled priests, O great SUN, still offer as a bait a mysterious Dwija, a “twice born”, who can only be the product of the land of Manu? And why should those pretended and bumptious servants of thine, oh Sûrya-Vikartana, whose rich crop of national adepts, if “home-made”, must rejoice as a natural rule in purely Anglo-Saxon and Celto-German names, still change their Irish patronymics for those of a country which, they say, is effete and sterile, and whose nations are “dying out”? Has another Hindu name and names been discovered in the Great Hub, as a peg and pegs whereon to hang the modest pretensions of the Solar Magi? Yea, they belie truth, O Lord, and they bend their tongues like quill pens for lies. But —“the false prophets shall become wind, for the word is not in them”.
TO DARE, TO WILL, TO ACHIEVE AND KEEP SILENT is the motto of the true Occultist, from the first adept of our fifth Race down to the last Rosecroix. True Occultism, i.e., genuine Raj-Yoga powers, are not pompously boasted of, and advertised in “Dailies” and monthlies, like [Page 359] Beecham’s pills or Pears’ soap. “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes; for the wise man feareth and keeps silent but the fool layeth open his folly”.
Let us close by expressing a hope that our Theosophist brothers and sisters in America will pause and think before they risk going into a “Solar” fire. Above all, let them bear in mind that true occult knowledge can never be bought. He who has anything to teach, unless like Peter to Simon he says to him who offers him money for his knowledge — “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of ( our inner ) God may be purchased with money” — is either a black magician or an IMPOSTOR. Such is the first lesson taught by Lucifer to his readers in 1889.
Kindly condescending to notice, and even to review (!!) our December number of Lucifer, the Saturday Review, in its issue of December 22nd, 1888, writes as follows in reference to a story called “Accursed”, translated from the Russian: — “. . . . there came a thunderstorm and the cross was knocked off by lightning. . . . That same flash knocked off all the letters (of the deceased woman’s name) except the first two of Acsenia, the first two and the fourth of Cuprianovna, and the first three of Sedminska, which spell ‘Accursed’. ‘This coincidence’, observes Vera Jelihovsky, the author, ‘was stranger than all!’” “But it was stranger still”, remarks the sagacious critic in the Saturday Review. . . . “that the lightning should have spoken English when the defunct sinner was some kind of Pole.”
And this remark, we may say, in our turn, is stranger still. Had the story been originally written in English, it might have necessitated some explanation with regard to such linguistic capacity on the part of the lightning. As the story, however, first appeared in Russian, in the St. Petersburg “Grajdanine”, whence it was translated by us with the author’s permission, it does not require an excessive amount of very ordinary penetration to guess that the name had to be changed in order to be adapted to the English word “accursed”. Had we written the word “proklyata”, the Russian for “accursed,” the “coincidence” would have had no meaning. The story is half fiction, both in the original and in the translation; but it is based on a true and historical fact, as explained at its close. But since the real names had to be withheld, any names would do in order to set forth the strange and to this day inexplicable fact, which has become since its occurrence one of the prominent legends of the country where it happened. [Page 360]
TALL was she as the aspen, tall and slender,
With small sweet head set flower-wise above
A white throat carved divinely, firm yet tender;
The very eyes, the very mouth of love
Had she – the very hair with its gold dimness –
Oh, God! were it today before mine eyes,
To veil the bold light with its scathing grimness
That sears my soul, like fiend in angel's guise !
Her voice that fell so softly, clarion-fashion
Rang out resistless were there wrong to fight;
Yea, her sweet eyes grew dark with mighty passion,
And like a goddess gleamed she from that height
Some God had given for her human dower ,
That she might shame all lesser souls that be,
And bloom above her sisters a sunflower
That smiles down to the daisies radiantly.
Alas! ye cannot see, my words but hide her,
The fairest soul, the sweetest heart, sweet Love
E'er fashioned for his glory! All beside her
Seemed merely phantoms; yea, as some lost glove
Recalls the hand that wore it, so each maiden
Ye hold the fairest shadows her. Alas !
Ye clasp that glove no answering hand hath laden;
Heart-pierced I gaze; the shadows coldly pass.
I can but weep. ...my weak words break and falter;
One bitter cry is all my wan lips know.
Yet is fate strong — death anguish shall not alter
What fate hath willed; gods blindly come and go
Beneath her cold eyes that unshrinking scan them,
Note passing worship and swift following scorn;
And tho' men wildly love, or fiercely ban them
Fate recketh not, she may not joy or mourn: [Page 361]
Serene, while stars flame high in sudden madness,
Or comets blaze to scatter pestilence;
Serene, tho' worlds laugh loud, or sob for sadness,
Unmoved, all-moving, freezing soul and sense —
So seems she to our wild hearts brimmed with passion;
Her fierce invisible eye hath maniac might,
Yet could we gaze in antique Vedic fashion,
Fate is that crowned one who upholds the right,
And yields sour fruitage for an evil seeding.
And boughs all barren, bare and blossomless,
To lips that lacked not wine for others' needing,
To mouths that cursed whom they were bid to bless !
Too late I know it. ...all too late have learned it,
When naught it helpeth, naught availeth me. ...
Would that fate's hand in my young soul had burned it,
Then had I known. ...then were I dead. ...and she
Were lying on my heart, and we together
Slept in that darkness that shall know no morn,
Nor any rain, or sun, or wind, or weather,
Nor any loveless love false lips have sworn....
We twain were children in that small sea-village,
And happy as the daisies that upspring
Sweet-hearted with no care or toil of tillage,
Life seemed a song we two were born to sing.
I clomb tall trees and reft bird's eggs enwroughten
With quaint fair runes to hang about her neck,
And she would crown me with fair flowers soughten
In unknown woods, and little did we reck
Aught save ourselves, when she would tell me smiling
Strange smile that reached the borderland of tears)
Sweet tales of bird or insect, thus beguiling
My life to thoughts beyond its span of years:
And she would mark the pine trees laughing lightly
What time the west wind shook their shadowy hair
Across the flower faces turned up brightly
To catch the fragrant gold-dust raining there. [Page 362]
She loved th' unnoticed splendour, wondrous, golden,
Of dandelions rayed innumerous,
And often bore one on her bosom folden
With flame of grass; nor would her light foot crush
The wee hepatica that redly flushes
For love of Balder when the spring hath come.
She learned rare legends from the cool green rushes
Where the moon's laughing river had its home. ...
So every bird, yea, every tiniest creature
Grew dear and precious for her precious sake;
She knew them all and loved them, my girl teacher,
And love was all the lore her soft voice spake.
And love was all the lore her spirit heeded
Till one dark day. ..ah! how the memory clings!
Perchance the bitter rede to sweetness seeded
In coming years, as from the woven strings
Of major and of minor closelier clinging
In passion and in yearning nigh despair;
Above the sobs a triumph march seems springing,
When life, the master, sets his strong hand there.
The doves in the green woodland loved my Mary
(Where dwelt the life that loved her not ?), and oft
A little fluttering thing, so shy and wary,
Would perch on her gold hair, and cooing soft
Would nestle in her bosom with caresses
Of downy head and small persistent beak,
That plucked her rose-sweet hand for tendernesses,
Or sought the flower of her peach-soft cheek.
And she, with glimpses of life's possible glory,
Perchance with prophecy of life's sharp pain
Within her soul, whose yet unwritten story
The wild wings shadowed, felt her sweet heart fain
Of love and longing, and a rapture threaded
With swift flame-feet her slumbrous lilied dream,
And present peace and future strife grew wedded,
Till to death's ocean danced life's singing stream. [Page 363]
Not that, indeed, her childish mind knew clearly
What I, in these dark days, can scarce express;
She only felt she loved the grey bird dearly,
She only recked she longed to save and bless:
And so she clasped the tender cooing creature
Close to her breast, closer and closer still,
With mighty hunger. ..did the bird-heart reach her,
And melt into her own by stress of will ?
Its voice grew silent, but she marked not, holden
By that strange rapture, while the west wind ran
From out the wood, across the winged broom golden,
And back into the lindens whence it sprang,
And wooed their leaves to pictures, whose weird sweetness
(Laid on that amethyst men call the sky)
Words may not say, nor song, in full completeness...
She loved it with a poet's ecstacy!
And “Oh, my dove, fly thou with twilight pinion
Sun-kist to snow and silver, fly thou fast,
Speed thro' the blueness, thine own fair dominion...”
Soft shade the lindens o'er her rapt face cast
As up she gazed, and sea and sky were meeting
In that deep smile her grey eyes held serene;
And “Oh, my dove”, with red lips still repeating,
“Fly fast” , she sang,“fly fast 'twixt blue and green! ”
Unclasped she swift her fingers that had holden
Heart-close the dove. ..It fluttered to her feet. ..
Alas! beyond green earth, beyond the golden
Barred gate of sunset, heart may stilled heart meet,
But never 'neath the lindens: death had stridden
Between the dove and maiden, darkener
Of all sweet things, unknown, unsought, unbidden,
To slay the sunshine had he come to her !
One instant gazed she with wild eyes, ungrasping
The scathing story fiery hearts know well,
That Love with passion of his closeliest clasping
But slays the soul and casts it into hell ! [Page 364]
Then fell her first tears, bitter, unchecked, burning
Like sparks that seared her white face, and she cast
Herself down on the daisies, coldly turning
Her sad eyes from the sunlight, “And thou wast,
“Oh dove, my dove, slain by my close caresses,
By very love was life pressed out of thee. ...
Alas, my dove, thro' what strange wildernesses
Hath life to stray ere it find sanctuary ?
“Perchance, oh bird, thy stilled heart, fain of flying,
Will curse my cruel hand; perchance somewhere
Thou hast not any strength, save strength of sighing
For sunny earth 'mid Hades darkened air.. . .
“Perchance in the green woodland, 'mid the whisper
Of leaves wind-smitten, thou hadst thy small nest,
And now, even now, each tiny grey dove-lisper
Is cooing for the shelter of thy breast:
“Perchance those amber mouths are open, crying ,
For thee, food-bringer, to fill full, and lo,
The small sweet lives are stricken, starving, dying. ...
They curse me with their helplessness. ...Ah, woe !
“Ah, bitter woe of life! Ah, cruel birth gift !
That I, poor fool, in my child's loving heart
Thought grace and crown that might from lowly earth lift
My soul to bliss. ...let the vain dream depart !
“Let me awaken. ..dove, my dove, I lay thee
Down 'mid the daisies with a long last kiss;
My love hath slain, yet shall my life repay thee
That silent gift. Ye gods, take heed of this! ”
And turning slowly, passed she from me, musing
On her strange words and stranger looks; ah me !
Why fell my soul back ever, shrinking, losing
The mystic time-flash fate yields charily.
Had I but grasped her fingers, had I striven
For words to tell my heart throbs, had I known
What silent strength by clasping hand is given,
We twain were in the darkness, not alone.
My heart's heart, and my soul's soul, while I falter,
And curse the sunshine, and abhor the day,
And weakly sigh yet win no might to alter,
And so life passes, as she passed away. [Page 365]
by FRANZ HARTMANN
THE two lovers, after leaving the old cathedral, continued their way, and soon entered the Chinese quarter of the city. The shops were lighted with gas, and crowds of people thronged the streets, while in the by-ways and alleys, females of doubtful character, looking hungry, defiant and greedy, were lurking. The great majority of the
people were Chinese; from the well-to-do merchant in a silk robe down to the pale and ragged wretches that live in underground holes and subterranean passages, in continual warfare with the police. The nauseous odour of fish and garlic that pervaded the streets was by no means inviting, and our hero and heroine quickened their step to escape to the purer regions, higher up on the hill-side. Soon they reached a part of the city where the streets became more quiet, and at last they stopped in front of a gate leading into a small garden, in the midst of which, surrounded by bushes of jessamine and oleander, stood a small one-storey cottage.
Pancho pushed the gate open. In doing so he found it obstructed by something which proved to be the carcase of a dog, lying stiff and with its head thrown backwards, as if it had died of tetanus.
“This is Mrs. Wells' pet poodle”, cried Conchita. “It seems as though it had been poisoned”.
They rang the bell and, the door being soon opened, Mrs. Wells appeared upon the threshold. She was a woman of about sixty years, in a white frilled cap. The lamp she carried was held up high to enable her to scrutinize the new-comers. Her face brightened up when she recognized Conchita.
“Bless me! ” she exclaimed. “What good luck brings my darling here tonight ? Please walk in”.
They entered, and Pancho was introduced to Mrs. Wells. The latter expressed herself delighted, and declared that this was indeed a fortunate ending to a most unfortunate day.
“How so?” asked Conchita. “Has anything disagreeable happened to you today ? ”
“Lots of disagreeable things have happened” , replied Mrs. Wells. “Mr. Hagard the landlord had long ago promised to have these rooms newly papered, but as he never did it, and the hangings were falling down from the walls, I could stand it no longer. So I took a few dollars which I had saved up, bought some paper myself, and hired a paper — [Page 366] hanger. But when the landlord heard that the rooms had been repaired, he came in and said, that the house was now worth a great deal more rent, and that he supposed I could now afford to pay him twenty dollars a month instead of eighteen as heretofore. I argued with him and told him that God would surely punish him for his avarice; but he said that he would not compel me to pay more, and if I did not wish to do so, I was at liberty to move out, if I liked. What shall I do now ? I am a poor woman, and Mr. Hagard is a wealthy man. He owns two blocks of houses and has millions of money; yet he will not live in a decent room himself, but sleeps in the loft over one of his stables, and climbs into it at night by means of a ladder”.
“He is very much to be pitied”, remarked Conchita, “but has any other misfortune happened?”
“Nothing worth mentioning”, answered Mrs. Wells. “Only Juana has been very wicked. She played with Tommy and let him smell a bone, and when the dog snapped at it, she pulled it away. At last Tommy got hold of the bone, and then she snatched it away from him and he grew excited and bit her. This made her so furious, that I had to let the dog out, for Juana would surely have torn him to pieces !
“The bite does not seem to have agreed with the dog anyhow”, put in Pancho, who thereupon informed Mrs. Wells of having seen the poodle lying dead at the gate. They both went out and brought the body of the dog into the cottage. Mrs. Wells, who was very much grieved at the death of her favourite, said she was certain this was Juana's doing.
“Where did she get the poison ? ” asked Pancho.
“That girl requires no poison”, answered the aggrieved woman. “She is poison enough herself. I shall be glad when she gets out of this house. She wishes to go back to Central America, and the sooner we send her back the better it will be for all of us. She will never be fit to live in a civilized country”.
Entering the kitchen, adjoining which was the chamber of Juana, our friends found a dark-coloured Indian girl with sharply defined features not altogether devoid of beauty. Her long black hair hung in disorder over her narrow forehead and her shoulders, as she sat in front of the grate, looking at the glimmering ashes, while a malicious smile played around her lips. It would have been somewhat difficult to estimate her age, which might have been fourteen or twenty-four; but it seemed as though her young body was inhabited by an aged soul. She was partly undressed, wearing a dark-blue shirt and a chequered shawl that but half concealed her form.
At the time when Juana was picked up from the battle field, she was already old enough to be impressed with its horrors. A company of government soldiers had killed nearly all of the tribe to which she belonged; but the officer in command had spared her life and taken her home to his family. Soon after that the officer was himself killed [Page 367] and she was taken in charge by a sea captain who employed her as a servant and brought her with him to the United States, where she was found by Conchita, and ultimately placed with Mrs. Wells. Juana had never forgotten the injury inflicted upon her people by the white race, and her heart was full of revenge. She seemed to hate everybody without discrimination, Conchita perhaps excepted; for the latter had been very kind to her and could converse with her in her Indian dialect. Moreover Conchita had promised to send her back to her own country, and she was very anxious to return, dreaming perchance of future greatness and even of becoming the queen of her tribe.
If she had any magic powers, it had never been ascertained how she acquired them. It is therefore, not unreasonable to suppose that she learned their use intuitively, having perhaps practised them in some previous incarnation; for it is said that though the details of some such previous existence may be entirely forgotten, the instincts and talents developed will remain unchanged by death and be ready to manifest themselves in constant increase in each successive existence.
Conchita explained to Juana the object of her visit, and asked her to show Pancho some proof of her art. After a long discussion Juana finally consented. Looking at Pancho's hand, she said: “This man can see himself, he does not need my eyes”.
She then took a goblet and, filling it with water, uttered some words in a foreign tongue; at last she breathed upon it and bade Pancho to look, who did as directed. The surface of the water appeared at first as clear as a crystal, but gradually it seemed to become covered with a film. An image formed itself upon the film as on a mirror and became more and more distinct, until finally Pancho beheld in it a life-like representation of an event that had taken place in his earlier life. It represented the dying scene of a friend who had many years ago committed suicide
on account of some disappointment. All the persons who were then present, Pancho included, were represented in every detail with the greatest exactness. Pancho had never spoken to anyone of this affair; in fact he had tried to erase it from his own memory. But there was another remarkable feature about that picture; for besides the persons standing around the bed of the dying man there were other beings which seemed invisible to the former; grinning Elementals of ludicrous and yet horrible shapes, awaiting apparently the parting of the soul and body. The dying man alone seemed to see them, although he could not speak. It was this that gave to his face that expression of horror which Pancho remembered only too well.
“Well done, my little devil!” exclaimed Pancho. “The image of the past has been correctly recorded. Now let us look at the future”.
Juana grinned and nodded assent. Pancho looked again, and now the face of a saint appeared upon the surface. It was a face bearing an expression of dignity, sanctity, and superhuman intelligence. But [Page 368] gradually the features underwent a change; they became distorted, and after a while there stood in the place of the saint the image of a clown, staring at Pancho. It slowly faded away.
“What does this mean ? ” asked Pancho.
“I do not know”, was Juana's answer.
Further attempts to obtain any phenomena proved useless; but Pancho was so much pleased with what he had seen, that he proposed to have arrangements made immediately for Juana to come and live at his house. Conchita was evidently none too pleased with this idea; but being accustomed to agree with all her husband's wishes, and perhaps also desiring to relieve Mrs. Wells of the troublesome Indian girl, she gave her consent. As to Juana, she seemed absolutely indifferent as to whether she was to go or to remain. So it was agreed that a room should be prepared for her the next day at their residence.
While Conchita and Mrs. Wells were talking over the subject, Pancho happened to look toward the kitchen window, and saw plainly the face of a man peering through one of the panes. It was an ugly face, with a brutal expression on it, the face of a man of about fifty years of age. This was all that Pancho could see, for the figure disappeared the moment its eyes caught his glance; and when he went to the window, he could see nothing but the darkness beyond. He thought that it might have been a phantom produced by his own imagination, and then concluded to say nothing of it, thinking it useless to alarm Mrs. Wells.
The husband and wife took their leave, and as they walked homeward an interior feeling told Pancho that he had acted inconsiderately in proposing to take care of Juana. He asked Conchita what she thought in regard to this matter.
“Juana is a malicious creature”, answered Conchita, “but I do not believe she will attempt to do any harm, for I have always been very friendly to her”.
“I expect great scientific results from our experiments with that girl”, continued Pancho. “Science has now arrived at the utmost limits of all that can possibly be known in regard to physical forces, and if we wish to know anything more, we must enter the field of Magic and Sorcery. The mediums of the Spiritualists are almost useless for our investigations; they do not know the cause of the phenomena which take place through their instrumentality. But those rare and exceptional individuals who understand the nature of these mysterious powers, and can produce phenomena at will, ought to be regarded as the greatest treasures of science. In the past such science used to slay its possessors. The science of the future, recognizing their value, will build them palaces and surround them with every comfort. Then, and only then, will it be possible to study those higher sciences which deal with the living forces of nature. Persons possessing such powers ought to be treated like the vestal priestesses of the ancient oracles. They ought to be kept [Page 369] away from contact with the vulgar and the ignorant, and not be exposed to any deleterious mental influences. They ought to be surrounded with the most favourable conditions to develop their powers and to use them for the benefit of humanity. Thus we might establish schools of Occultism all over the country, and come again into possession of the science which belonged to the ancient Rosicrucians and which has been lost on account of the ignorance of those who were in power during the Dark Ages. Thus shall we gain the power to chain the Elemental spirits of Nature to the car of science. We shall engage them to carry our letters in the twinkling of an eye from one part of the globe to another, and to give us correct information of what takes place in the bowels of the earth, and the highest regions of the sky. We shall rediscover the art of making gold and silver, pearls and precious stones, by artificial means; of rendering ourselves invisible, and of prolonging our lives to an indefinite period until at last we grow tired of walking the earth like the Wandering Jew and voluntarily retire for a period of repose”.
“Do you believe that there ever were any persons who possessed such powers?” quietly asked Conchita.
“Do I believe it ? ” exclaimed Pancho. “I am just as certain of it as I am of my own existence. The historical accounts of the wonders performed by the Rosicrucians and Alchemists cannot be mere lies and inventions; and we read in the works of Theophrastus Paracelsus that even an ordinary occultist must be able to take down the moon from the sky and to put it into a bath of water; a feat only paralleled by that of Joshua, mentioned in the Bible. Do you not believe, yourself, that during the mass an ordinary wafer is transformed into the flesh and blood of Christ ? Why then should it be impossible to make gold out of mercury ? But we will not enter into these subjects; they are too new and strange to be believed by anyone who is an entire stranger to occult science. If you doubt them, please remember that Moses made water run out of a rock by touching it with a stick, and that he was able to transform his staff into a snake”.
“I do not doubt that such things can be done”, answered Conchita. “I have seen Kellar perform just such wonderful things. I saw him make real hot coffee out of shavings and milk out of sawdust, while he transformed cotton into pieces of sugar. You remember also that he made a rosebush grow from a piece of wood; and its roses were no hallucination, for he gave me a rose and I took it home with me”.
“Yes, I know”, answered Pancho. “He is a very clever performer; but these things are all done by tricks. What I want to know is how to perform the genuine thing”.
“Oh, that would be charming! ” exclaimed Conchita. “Please learn all about it, and then we can give an evening entertainment. How surprised Mrs. Wells would be if we could make her poodle come back [Page 370] to life; and then if we could make gold we could buy that little cottage from Mr. Hagard and give it to her, so that she would not have to worry about the rent, poor soul !”
“These are mere trifles”, answered Pancho. “If I knew how to employ the elemental powers of nature, I would do far more important things. It is said that if we had faith only as a mustard-seed, we should be able to remove mountains. I want to find out what is meant by that expression, 'faith'. I have reason to suppose that it refers to some talisman, and if I can get possession of it I will make short work with the canal of Panama. I will level the Rocky Mountains and transform Nebraska into a paradise”.
Conchita looked surprised. It seemed as if she began to doubt the sanity of her husband.
“You need not be surprised”, continued Pancho. “Such things are not impossible, and I have the key to it already in my possession, Schopenhauer says: 'The world is the product of my imagination'. If I can change my imagination, then I can change the world”.
“The best thing”, said Conchita, “would be to see Mr. Schopenhauer and ask him to change his imagination a little; for it seems necessary that some changes should be made. Where does he live ? ”
“Mr. Schopenhauer is dead”, answered Pancho; “but I see that you do not understand these things. I will explain them to you by-and-bye”.
During these discourses our friends reached their home, and we will now return to Mrs. Wells and see what Juana is doing. We find her still sitting in front of the grate, and upon the mantel-piece there burns a piece of a candle. She looks at the light and, in a subdued voice, sings a song in her native language, and while she sings the flame rises several inches in the air and sinks down again, its motions keeping beat with the melody. Presently a rap is heard and Juana rises. She blows out the light and opens the window.
When Pancho thought that the face which he saw peering through the window-pane was an apparition attracted by influences that surrounded Juana, he was not far from the truth; for the face belonged to Hagard, the miserly landlord, who for some time past had been in the habit of paying nightly visits to the Indian girl. He had come on his visit to Juana, but ran away when he saw himself observed by Pancho. Now the coast was clear and he returned.
“Who are those people that were here tonight ? ” he asked.
“Wouldn't you like to know?” tauntingly answered Juana. “Has the lady with the black eyes found favour with you? Well ! Such fish are not for you to catch. You are too ugly for her. It would take stronger powers than mine to make her fall in love with such an ape as you”.
“But who is she?” asked Hagard.
“I will not tell you”, answered Juana.
“Suppose I pay you for telling me?” asked Hagard, drawing a [Page 371] gold piece out of his pocket.
“Refuse to tell me, I will ask Mrs. Wells”.
“Let me see”, said Juana, taking the gold piece, which she smelt and then hid away. “The lady is from my own country, and I am going to live with her. This is your last visit. You will see me no more”.
“Can you not find means to make me acquainted with her?”.
“It would not be advisable for you to exhibit your carcase at her house as long as her husband is there”, sneered Juana.
“Can you not get the puppy out of the way?” asked Mr. Hagard.
“That would not improve your bad looks”, answered the girl.
“Don't talk to me in that way, I know well that you are a witch. You can do anything, if you only use your powers”.
“If I should ever use them again for you, it would cost you more money than you are willing to pay”, answered Juana. “You are always so poor! You cannot afford to pay anything”.
“And you are always so greedy”, said the man. “Why don't you get some of your devils to discover a hidden treasure or a good mine? I am willing to pay the expenses and to share the profits with you”.
“If I were to get the devil to do such a thing”, answered Juana, “there would be the devil to pay, and you cannot be trusted, for you are sly enough to cheat even the devil out of his dues”.
“Now, do talk sense”, replied the man, “I want you to assist me in this affair. That woman with the black eyes is just the kind of fish that suits my fancy, and I must have her, even if I had to strangle that knave of a husband and marry her. As to the financial part of the business, I will arrange that with you in a satisfactory manner”.
“I am not used to live on promises”, answered Juana. “Before I do anything for you, I must have the cash in my pocket. It may be that I can put my will into her and make her like you in spite of your looks; but then you will not have her own self: you will only have a part of me in her body”.
“If I only get her”, he muttered, “it will make little difference to me whose will is inside her. I shall find means to make her do my own will”.
“But it will make a great deal of difference to her”, replied Juana. “You know what were the consequences to the man who shot President Garfield, of letting the will of other people control his mind? ”.
“I don't care. You do the job and I will pay the money. I will take charge of the consequences”.
“I will think the matter over, and let you know if there is any chance. But now I want you to leave. I am tired and sleepy”.
“You are a queer girl”, he said, hesitatingly; “but all right. Good-bye!” So saying, Mr. Hagard departed and Juana retired to bed. [Page 372]
( To be continued. )
ALTHOUGH belief in the existence of “Masters of Wisdom” is a matter of personal conviction, reasoning, and experience, it is easy enough to collect historical proofs that such a belief has existed in all ages and nearly in all countries. Not only is the tradition living to this day in India, but the oldest legends in the world, those of the Chinese, and the works of the Taoist Mystics, nearly all revolve around this particular belief.
It is in the “Kwen-Lun” mountains ( Karokorum), in Eastern Thibet, that the Chinese locate the source of their great mystic and alchemical learning. The “Kwen-Lun” was, like the Indian Meru, the central point whence sprang the “Four great rivers”, exoterically as well as esoterically. It was the sojourn of the “Tsien” or Immortals, who cultivated upon its slopes the Sesamum and Coriander, the grains which conferred longevity on those who fed upon them. There also flowed the inexhaustible “Fount of Youth”, while the most precious stones strewed the walks in the luxurious gardens of the “Happy Land”. The “Tsien”, like the Lha of Tibet, were not, as generally supposed, merely ethereal Beings or spirits, although some of them were certainly immaterial. There were two classes of terrestrial “Tsien”, the “Jin-Tsien”, or disembodied human genii (Nirmanakayas), and the “Ti-Tsien” or embodied Immortals ( Mahatmas).The Taoists revere amongst their Saints seven patriarchs and two female adepts, who deserved, after having spent their lives in teaching Humanity, to join the ranks of the Tsien. The great “Lao-Tseu” also, the Founder of Taoism, after having written his “Tao-TE-King”, retired to the “Kwen-Lun” mountains, and was never heard of more. One of his followers, “Lieh-Tseu”, author of a very deep metaphysical system and of the “Tchoung-Hui-King”, went to question the keeper of the pass through which “Lao-Tseu” had disappeared. With much reticence and hesitations, “Yin-He” told him marvellous things about the Tsien who dwelt beyond. “A Tsien is a man who had a former existence in the world of spirits, is born into the world either on account of some indiscretion or for some benevolent purpose, usually in some lowly situation. He early begins to show a predilection for things mysterious, to receive visitors from the unseen world, to practise Alchemy and the healing art, to prepare and use certain drugs and charms of which no one knows the use or the virtue but himself, and the more advanced Genii from whom he gets from time to time instruction and assistance. After this he gives up human food and all ordinary human occupation” (See Denys' “Folklore in China”). ..He even gives up breathing, and thus acquires extraordinary powers, such as passing freely through the air and fire, plunging into the earth or ocean, and commanding the most powerful demons. After a life of many hundred years, he ascends to heaven on the back of a dragon. The allegory is transparent: he ascends to bliss owing to the acquirement of Wisdom, symbolized by the dragon; Yin-He adding that those acquisitions were only possible to those whose Soul had become perfectly pure.
At the head of the Tsien reigned “Muh-Kung”, the first creative principle evolved from Chaos, and his wife “Si-Wang-Mu”, the first created principle, whose orders were transmitted all over the Earth by azure-winged birds. Azure was the colour of Astral Light, “Hiouan-Pin”, the blue mother.
In the “Chinese Readers' Manual”, by W. F. Mayers, many interesting legends are found, showing that the powers which Theosophy attributes to Adepts, such as separation of the Mayavi-Rupa, Psychic Telegraphy, and voluntary reincarnation in chosen bodies, as well as Mediumship, Clairvoyance, Mesmerism and Geomancy (See Doolittle, Eitel, etc. ), were well known in China thousands of years ago. There was a province peopled with Magicians born, the “Maa-Shan “or Giants. Another legend, perhaps a remembrance of Atlantis, peopled with Genii the “San-Sen-Shan” or Fortunate Islands of the Eastern Sea. [Page 373]
EVIL is a mysterious subject, and of universal interest; it is continually presenting itself for discussion, and men exercise their minds very greatly upon it. It affects man deeply in his thoughts and speculations, because it is so large a factor in his life, and the cause of so much sorrow and suffering.
It is also an element which, though permeating his present existence as a canker, and paralysing and marring his happiness and the realisation of his ideals, man recognises must be eliminated from his life to the greatest possible extent, and especially in certain of its forms, in preparation for existence in a spiritual sphere. This recognition is one of the chief factors in the domain of personal religion, and the special aspect in which it is viewed determines the true or false conception of the means of salvation from evil.
The false conception of the means of salvation from evil rests upon the assumption that a vicarious atonement is essential; hence the religion of many is based, primarily, upon faith in the crucifixion of another being — an objective Christ — and only secondarily, and very indifferently, upon actual personal effort and suffering.
The true conception of salvation is based upon the literal acceptance of the exhortation of St. Paul: “Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling”, [ Philippians ii.,12]
Instead of resting complacently upon the sufferings of another, nailed upon a material cross by the hands of violent, unspiritually-minded men, its gaze is turned inwards, the arena of crucifixion is seen to be there, and the pain-giving nails and piercing spear are to pass through the sensitive forms of cherished personal desires, appetites, and subtler indulgences, not of the flesh only, but also of the mind and heart, extending and fixing them as to a cross until they expire.
But whence comes this canker, this cause of discord, confusion and paralysis, which we term evil ? How has it arisen in the sphere of human existence?
In viewing the unlimited potentialities in man, in their number and extent, and in observing the boundless resources by which he is surrounded in his various domains of external activity, of thought, of emotion, and of personal cultivation, we can readily perceive that, were the discord of evil absent, his life would be bright, happy and full of intelligent purpose.
So it is continually asked what it is that has produced a world of activity and of feeling so inharmonious in its movements, so disjointed in its mutual inner relations, and so accompanied by sadness and fruitlessness? And the wise go further and ask, as the most pertinent and [Page 374] momentous of life-questions, how can the discords be resolved, the canker of disunion eliminated, and the vitalizing elements of true wisdom and purpose introduced ?
At the outset of any enquiry respecting evil it is essential to recognise that it is not itself a thing, but is the form which a certain thing, i.e., man's behaviour, individually and collectively, has taken. Apart from that behaviour it does not exist; let the form of that behaviour be changed, so that it becomes an expression of the Supreme Law of Life, reflecting the beauty and harmonious operation of that Law, and Evil will no longer exist. Whence has this form arisen, and what has attached it to the area of human existence?
And further, why is the inner life of each individual man the arena of a continual struggle? How is it that there is within him an incessant conflict as to which form, the good or the evil, shall characterise the weaving fabric of his permanent individuality? Why is there not smoothness of movement, concord and peace in the world of thought, feeling and action, of which man is the centre and the creator?
On considering the nature and ways of man's life, we find that he shares with the lower animals those principles of existence and motives of action which minister to self-preservation — provision of the necessaries of existence, protection from danger, and continuation of the species. In the brutes these principles and motives act without disorder. The animals obey their instincts, or inherent impulses, for the purposes of preservation, protection and continuation, but they obey their instincts within a well-defined limit, laid down by the exigencies and impulses of the moment.
No consciousness of the future plays any part in the action of animals, leading them to lay up store for the future or modifying in any marked manner other uses of their instincts; while their intercourse with each other is simple and obedient to certain natural impulses.
Man possesses these same impulses and instincts; but, in addition, he has been endowed with another group of qualities of greater range and force: memory, realistic perception of objects and of acts, prevision, and an infinite power of adaptation.
These make him master of countless resources, and give him conscious command over the past for the purposes of the present and the future.
But the animal nature in him retains its strength and is still an essential part of his being, connecting him with the objective world and prompting him to acts necessary to his existence.
So strong is this original nature that it tends to assert supremacy over the faculties of greater range and power, pressing them into its service and subordinating them to the ministration of its demands and needs. And the whole principle of the animal nature is self; this is the beginning, middle and end of animal existence. In the arena of animal life, whatever conflicts with Self, or opposes obstacles to its desires, is [Page 375] treated as antagonistic: if the opponent be weak or the obstacle slight, it is crushed; if the opposite, it is fled from or avoided.
In all such conditions, however, there is but the one feeling of antagonism, which, if opposition be continued, passes at once into the ultimate stage of either fear or anger. The realm of the animal world, where Self is the natural ruler, is thus one of very simple arrangement and of few governing principles. In it right and wrong do not exist, but in their place, as sole arbiters of action, we find Necessity where self-preservation and propagation of the species are concerned, and where individual relations are involved we find Expediency.
In the obtaining of food, or in the assertion of possession or of supremacy, no law but that of the stronger or more cunning is recognised. Only the impulse to obtain that which is desired is obeyed, except when an instinct of weakness or of inferiority causes fear and either paralyses or instigates to flight.
When, therefore, the animal nature found itself in alliance with the higher attributes of intelligence, memory, foresight and resource, with which man is endowed, the strength of its emotions and the acuteness of its sensuous experiences, would become accentuated; and these, intensified by reflection from the more widely extended consciousness, would lead it to assert supremacy over the forces of higher range, in order that its several individual instincts might be the more effectually ministered to and gratified.
Memory and intelligence would enhance the pleasure found in gratifying desire, by seeking and providing those elements and conditions in which the pleasure was consciously found to exist, and by repetition of indulgence merely for the sake of individual enjoyment and advantage. Thus, the faculty of prevision and more acutely conscious participation in definite acts, could of themselves, in union with the original animal nature, only accentuate and enlarge the principle and power of Self and aid in developing that course of life which tended to exalt and strengthen it.
Had the evolution of man ever presented a stage of this nature, he would have been nothing more than an animal of exaggerated selfish desires gratified without restraint.
It is true that Modern Education, in its systems, methods and appliances, treats man as if he were a being actually in such a stage of development, practically ignoring, in its bearing upon him, his possession of any further endowments beyond these; but unhappily, Modern Education, being chiefly controlled by amateur educationists and self-appointed directors, is quite unrelated to its subjects — and treats it unworthily and ignorantly.
But with the endowments of which we have spoken and which alone would have made him an animal of more definite consciousness merely, a higher principle was also bestowed which carried with it a Law of [Page 376] Existence the very antithesis of the animal principle or Principle of Self. This higher principle, like Light in the physical world, appears as a simple essence in its complete form, but may, like Light, be dispersed into many beautiful and energizing rays by refraction through suitable media. In its simple form, as a unit of force, this principle is Spiritual Wisdom. [“The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and of good work”. – James iii, 17] It illumines life fully and truly, and beneath its brilliant rays the true character of the individual and of the world in which he moves — its objects, paths, movements and destiny, arrange themselves before the inner vision in their real nature and relationship.
This Spiritual Principle, embracing as one of its rays the transforming force of Universal Love, the charity of St. Paul, is, as already noted, the direct opposite of the Principle of Self.
Yet the two principles are found to exist side by side in the constitution of man; the one essentially of the flesh and the world and adapted only for a sensuous physical existence, the other infinite both in capacity and in duration, and allying him with the ever-unfolding world of beauty, wisdom and power.
But they cannot thus exist within the same territory and remain passive in attitude towards each other; nor can they compromise their antagonistic claims and assert rule over departments of being entirely detached from each other. The rule they both strive to assert is over that which is the very man himself; each of them claims the Ego, the enduring essence within the visible and transient personality; that which, according to its own absolute choice and decision, will suffer or enjoy, decay or grow, drift at the mercy of every idle wind or steadily ascend the Mount of God.
The one or the other of these forces struggling within the breast of man must become supreme in ultimate rule. By one he is drawn towards this mode of life, by the other to a mode of life diametrically opposite. [The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh”. — Gal. v. 18]
The higher principle with which he is endowed strives to reveal to his understanding that another destiny is intended for him than that of living the mere animal life of Self; and at times glimpses come to him of a world totally different in nature from that with which his external senses connect him. By degrees he learns that the Life of Self is
destructive of all that is true and enduring, that it is false and delusive, and that it prevents the resolution of the discords of life into a full and complete harmony.
He recognises, also, that to yield to this disintegrating force, to that which produces chaos and decay instead of vitality, must be contrary to the law of his being, and will ever hinder the fulfilment of his destiny, the union of his will and his intelligence with the Fount of Wisdom, Beauty and Power. [Page 377]
The antagonism and energy of the contending forces become accentuated from the discovery of these truths, and confusion and unrest are generated within the arena of the struggle. The conscious object of this conflict cannot escape from the discomfort, perplexity and sadness it engenders, and he realizes, sooner or later, that his decision must needs be made, and his Will definitely and permanently allied with the One Principle, or surrendered with unstable weakness to the other.
And here we may note that not only do the merely intellectual endowments furnish the nature below them with fuller means of gratification, but they even add special areas of personal life in which self-glorification may run riot. One of these is the area of self-seeking emulation, which in these days is crowded with vulgar activity, and which has been criminally [ We have used the word criminally advisedly. The term is a just one, because of the disintegrating and deteriorating effect of the system alluded to upon mankind, individually and in its social groups. The system has not been imposed and maintained in ignorance. It was commenced and is maintained in defiance of the emphatic teachings of the New Testament, an embodiment of precepts asserted by those “who profess and call themselves Christians”, to be based upon the highest authority and to have been taught by One for whom they profess the highest reverence. (See Matthew xx., 20-28; xxiii., 12; Luke xii., 34; xiv., 7-12; xvi., 15; John xiv., 15; Philippians ii.. 3; James iii., 14-16, etc., etc.)
The spirit as well as the letter of those precepts is entirely against personal emulation and the struggle for notoriety, while the teachings which accompany them are, in many instances, illustrations of the moral and spiritual disasters which result from their infringement, and of the condemnation which eventually awaits him who transgresses. In spite of this clear and definite teaching, personal emulation is made a chief factor in a normal, universal experience of mankind, and at a period when virtues and vices, habits and impulses, receive their form and strength, and give the bias of the motives which will eventually rule the whole earth-Iife, and probably also the life beyond. We ask: Are the plants of a well-cultivated garden ruled by this plan, and stimulated to grow each better than its neighbour, or is each trained and fostered to its own best possible development ?] — extended, by the gratuitous appropriation of prizes and examinations, into the period of life nature demands for the normal training of every unit of the human race.
In another of these areas arise conditions which instigate to the display of imagined personal superiority and the enjoyment of meretricious and disintegrating social distinctions, manifested not only in the craving for titles and other individualising terms, but even in the active search for them, and in the pleasure derived from their use, exhibited in all the middle and upper grades of social, political and professional life. However plausible, however universal, this action of the lower mental endowments of man may be, it is a surrender to the Principle of Self, and one of the forms in which it is worshipped.
On this plane also arises the common display of personal arrogance and self consequence, which, through tyrannical and arbitrary acts, creates new forms of conflict in the arena of human thought and feeling, sets in motion ever-widening circles of mischief, calls into play the forces of “spiritual wickedness in high places”, and leaves the actor himself at still greater variance with the supreme Law of Life. [The act of a late bishop of the English Church may serve as an illustration of what is here meant. He disinherited his only daughter, “to mark”, as he said in his will, “ his sense of her conduct”. This daughter, in the exercise of her personal inherent rights and responsibilities, which no parental assumption can abrogate or remove, had married the man whom she loved, and her father had, from that time, refused all intercourse with her. She appealed to him in vain. Acts of this imperious and arrogant nature are, in varying degree, only too common. They set in motion currents of evil and misery of which no one can foresee the end or the consequences. It is the forces underlying such acts which originate dogmatism, persecution, priestly assumption, and all forms of inquisition into personal life and personal convictions. Have these not wrought sorrow, pain, social chaos, and national anarchy? Are they not still in operation around us ? What said Jesus about personal arrogance and Phariseeism ?] This is the [Page 378] emphasised, more spiritual form of self-worship — the most deadly enemy of the soul of man, and the greatest obstacle to its attainment of true blessedness.
An honest and thorough investigation of the truths and facts now set forth, both as regards the individual centres of life and of force with which man is endowed, and the relation of his Ego towards them and its use of them, leaves us in no doubt as to the origin of Evil, its true nature, and the logical character of its consequences. There is that within man, or overshadowing him, which presses towards rendering him, master of himself and of life, by, making him a true servant of the Deity; for only when he is the servant of the Most High will man cease to be the servant of the blind, self-centreing forces which operate within him. “Ye cannot serve God and Mammon”.
And man is conscious of this overshadowing by the Supreme Principle of the Universe – Divine Knowledge and Divine Motive — “the Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world”. He would receive it, [ The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do”. “I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members”. — Romans vii., 19, 23-4. The force of the lower nature becomes the law of sin, of which St. Paul speaks, by surrender of the individual life of thought, feeling and motive to its control.] he even dallies with it, but alas! the lower forces are more present with him; he yields to them and assents to life on their plane; he yields to the motives which they create, though, while yielding, he knows that he is destroying the rule of God and is helping to flood the world with disease, darkness and death.
Thus, voluntarily choosing, or allowing himself to be led into, that which opposes his union with the Supreme Principle of Life – the Absolute in Wisdom, Knowledge and Power, he determines for himself and his race the resulting future; sowing persistently false seeds of life out of his own tainted heart, [ For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts”, etc.— Matt. xv., 19] is it strange that he should reap their natural fruit in sadness and dismay ? [ “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting”. – Ephesians vi. 7-8 ]
“Sow an act, and you reap a habit,
Sow a habit, and you reap a character,
Sow a character and you reap a destiny”. [Page 379]
I WAS sixteen years of age when the parish priest informed me that I was sufficiently prepared to begin the higher course of theological studies in the Seminary of the neighbouring city. I had decided for an ecclesiastical calling, and this filled my mother with inner joy for she saw herein the explanation and fulfilment of the mysterious expressions of the pilgrim, which seemed to coincide, to some extent, with the remarkable vision of my father, as yet unknown to me. She believed that at last, by my decision, the soul of my father was atoned and saved from the torments of eternal damnation. The Princess also, whom I now saw only in the parlour, favoured strongly my intention, and renewed her promise to assist me in all needful ways to the attainment of ecclesiastical dignity.
Although the city lay so near that one could see its towers from the cloister, and some few more active pedestrians chose to make the pleasant purlieus of the cloister their favourite promenade, yet was the parting from my good mother, from the noble lady whom I revered from the depth of my heart, and from my teacher, a bitter one. For it is sure that every step beyond the immediate circle of our loved ones gives us a pang that seems as great as that of the widest separation! The Princess was moved to a marked degree, her voice quivered with sorrow as she spoke some heartfelt words of counsel. She presented me with a costly rosary and a little prayer-book with delicately illuminated pictures; finally she gave me a letter of recommendation to the Prior of the Capucin cloister in the city, whom she bade me to seek out at once, since in all things he would zealously support me, by word and deed.
It would not be easy to find a more delightful country than that in which lies the Capucin cloister, close beside the city. The stately cloister-garden, with its outlook to the mountains, seemed to me to gain fresh beauties each time I wandered in its alleys and rested a moment now by this and now by that group of trees. It was in this garden that I met the Prior Leonardus when I visited the cloister for the first time, in order to present my credentials from the Abbess. The native kindliness of the Prior was even heightened when he read the letter, and he [Page 380] spoke in such warm terms of the noble lady, whom he had first learnt to know in Rome in earlier years, that from the very first moment my heart went out to him. He was surrounded by the Brothers and one could soon perceive the whole relationship that existed between the Prior and the monks; the monastic tendency and manner of life, the repose and brightness of spirit which spoke so clearly, even from the exterior of the Prior, spread their influence over the whole brotherhood.One nowhere saw a trace of discontent or brooding, hostile reserve which is seen so often on the monkish countenance. Beyond the fixed rules of the order, devotional exercises were, in the eyes of the Prior Leonardus, rather the necessary aids of a soul turned heavenwards than ascetic penance for the sin that cleaves to human nature, and he knew so well how to kindle this spirit of devotion in the Brothers that in all which they must do in compliance with the rules a cheerfulness and contentment were manifest, that showed, indeed, a higher path even within the confines of this earthly life.
Prior Leonardus was able even to compass a measure of communion with the outside world, a communion that could not be otherwise than healthy for the Brothers. Rich gifts, brought from all sides to the honoured cloister, made it possible, on certain days, to entertain the friends and protectors of the cloister, in the refectory. In the middle of the dining-hall a table was set forth at whose upper end the Prior sat with the guests. The Brothers remained at their usual smaller table that skirted the wall of the hall, and used the simple vessels of the order while the guest-table was adorned with delicate glass and costly porcelain. The monastery cook was cunning in the preparation of dainty Lenten dishes which the guests evidently relished; while the latter looked after the wine. Thus these repasts in the Capucins' monastery were a friendly, agreeable intermingling of the laity and church, which in the mutual interaction, could not but be of service to the lives of each. For, as those buried in the affairs of the world came forth from it and entered within the walls where everything proclaimed a spiritual life directly opposite to their own, they must perforce admit that peace and happiness were attainable by other ways beside those which they themselves pursued, and that perhaps the spirit that raises itself above the earthly may prepare a higher existence for men even here below. On the other hand the monks gained a wider view of life, for the news they thus received of the stress and strain of the motley world outside their walls awoke many a train of thought within them; without lending a spurious worth to earthly things, they must needs recognize in the varied pursuits dictated to man by his inner impulse the necessary diffraction of the rays of the spiritual principle, without which no colour and no brilliance were possible.
A head and shoulders above them all, in respect of his spiritual and intellectual development, stood the Prior Leonardus. Not only had he [Page 381] so widespread a reputation for his profound theological learning, and the depth and ease of his grasp or the most abstruse problems, that the professors of the Seminary often came to him for counsel and instruction, but he had more knowledge or the world than is generally looked for in a dweller in monasteries. He spoke French and Italian with ease and elegance, and because of his proficiency in languages he had been employed in earlier times on weighty missions. When I first knew him he was already advanced in years, yet, while the whiteness of his locks proclaimed his age, the fire of youth shot from his eyes, and the genial smile which wreathed his lip but heightened the expression of inward kindliness and serenity of mind. The same grace which adorned his speech ruled his every movement, and even the cumbrous robes of the order set off in majestic lines his well-knit frame.
There was not one of the Brothers who had not entered the monastery of his own free will and to fulfil the need that arose from his own inward, spiritual desire; yet Leonardus would soon have found means to comfort even the unhappy wretch who might seek in the cloister a refuge from self-destruction; his repentance would be but the short passage to repose, and at peace with the world, whose tempting glitter he had abjured, while living upon earth he would soon have raised his soul above it.
Leonardus had learnt this unaccustomed view of the cloister life in Italy, where worship, and the whole aspect of religious life, is brighter and more cheerful than in Catholic Germany. Just as in the structure of the churches the antique forms still rule, so a ray from out the bright, living time of antiquity seems to have pierced the mystic gloom of Christianity and to have lit it with the radiance that once illuminated gods and heroes.
Prior Leonardus was most gracious toward me, and taught me the French and Italian tongues; but it was the well-chosen books that he placed within my hands, and his own conversation that lent most to the development of my mind. I spent almost the whole time that I could spare from my seminary studies in the Capucins' cloister, and I soon perceived that my bent lay more and more towards taking the monastic vow. I declared my wish to the Prior. Without attempting to alter my decision, he advised me to wait at least the space or two years, and meanwhile to go more into the world than my wont had been. Little though I missed, during this period, the many opportunities of making fresh acquaintances, which my friendship with my musical teacher, the episcopal Concert-meister, offered me, yet I felt ill at ease in company, especially when women were present; this, and my marked leaning to a contemplative life appeared to me to fix my calling for the cloister.
Once the Prior had discoursed with me in a remarkable manner about profane life; he had touched upon the most equivocal matters, which his customary ease and grace of expression dealt with in such a [Page 382] manner that, avoiding the least offensive phrase, yet went straight to the mark. At last he took my hand, gazed straight into my eyes, and asked whether I still was innocent. I felt a glow of shame upon me, for, as Leonardus questioned me so pointedly, a scene that I had long forgotten sprang forth in liveliest colours. The Concert-meister had a sister, who, though one could not rightly call her beautiful, was yet a charming maiden in the full flush of youth. Her form was symmetry itself; the loveliest arm, the fairest bust in shape and colour that man could see. One morning when I went to the Concert-meister for my lesson, I surprised his sister in light morning deshabille, her breast almost uncovered. Quickly she threw her kerchief round her, but already my greedy eyes had seen too much; I could not utter a word; unknown emotions stormed within me, and forced the glowing blood along my veins so that I could hear my pulses beat. My breast was seized with a cramping constraint, and would have burst asunder had not a broken sigh relieved at last my agony. The maiden came to me, quite unconcerned, and took me by the hand, and thus my pain gained fresh access, till good fortune brought the Concert-meister to the room, and eased my torment. Never did I strike such discords, and never sing so out of tune as on this occasion. I was pious enough to consider later the whole incident as a base assault of the Devil, and soon flattered myself that I had beaten the foul fiend from the field by the ascetic practices which I had set myself.
But now, on the searching question of the Prior, saw once more the Concert-meister's sister standing before me with half uncovered bosom, I felt the warmth of her breath, the pressure of her hand — my inward anguish grew more keen each instant. The Prior looked at me, with somewhat of irony in his smile, and said
“I see, my son, that you have grasped my meaning, and that it is still well with you. May the Lord preserve you from the temptations of the world; the pleasures that it offers you are fleeting, and one may well say that a curse is on them, for in the unspeakable disgust, the complete enervation, and the blunting of the senses to all higher things, that they produce, the better, spiritual principle of man is ship-wrecked”.
Much as I tried to forget the question of the Prior, and the picture which it had called up, my efforts met with no success; and though I had preserved ere this an unconcerned appearance in the presence of the maiden, I now avoided her gaze more than ever. Even the thought of her aroused in me an anxiety and an inner unrest that seemed all the more perilous to me, seeing that I experienced at the same moment a vague and inexpressible longing and delight that might well prove sinful.
One evening this state of hesitation resolved itself. The Concert-meister, as on many former occasions, had invited me to a musical [Page 383] entertainment, to meet some of his friends. Besides his sister there were many ladies present, and this added to the uneasiness which, even in the presence of his sister alone, half stifled me. She was charmingly attired and seemed fairer than ever. It was as though an invisible, irresistible power drew me toward her, and thus, without my knowing how, it happened that I constantly found myself by her side, devouring her every look, her every word, and that I pressed so near to her that at least her dress must touch me in passing, affording me a secret pleasure. She appeared to notice this and to be well satisfied. At whiles I felt that I must rush and clasp her too me in the mad fervency of love!
She had sat long beside the harpsichord and, on rising, left one of her gloves upon the seat; I seized it and pressed it in mad extravagance to my lips! This attracted the notice of one of the other ladies, who went to her and whispered something in her ear; they each now looked at me and tittered and laughed in mockery!
I was as though annihilated; an ice-stream flowed through my veins —out of my senses, I rushed out of the room to the college, to my own cubicle. I threw myself in insane despair upon the floor — hot tears flowed from my eyes — I cursed the maiden and myself — then prayed and laughed by turns, like any madman! On all sides I heard voices that scoffed and scorned me. I attempted to cast myself through the window, but luckily the iron bars prevented me. My condition was in very truth terrible!
Only when the morning broke did I find some little rest; but I had decided; never again would I see her, and I would forsake the world. Clearer than ever sounded in my soul the call to the secluded life of the cloister, from which no temptation should henceforth lead astray my steps.
As soon as I could leave the lessons of the day I hurried to the Prior, and declared to him that I was now determined to commence my noviciate, and that I had already informed my mother and the Princess of my decision.
Leonardus seemed astonished at my sudden eagerness; without pressing me too closely, he sought to discover what it was that could have brought me to so hasty a resolve to take the monastic vow; for he guessed rightly that some special occurrence must have given me the impulse.
An inner shame that I could not overcome, restrained me from telling him the truth; in its place I related to him, in all the heat of exaltation still burning in me, the circumstances of my childhood, which all pointed to my destination for the cloister-life.
Leonardus listened quietly to me, and without exactly throwing doubt upon my visions he seemed to set no great store by them; he remarked, moreover, that all this was little evidence of the genuineness of [Page 384] my call, for there might be an illusion even here. In general Leonardus would not willingly speak of the visions of the Saints, nor even of the miracles of the founders of Christianity, and at times I was tempted to regard him as a secret sceptic. Once, in order to force from him some definite declaration, I presumed to speak of the despisers of the Catholic belief, and specially to gird at those who, in childish arrogance, brand all super-sensual things with the stigma of heresy. Leonardus answered with a gentle smile: “My son, Unbelief is the worst form of Misbelief”, and commenced a conversation on some other, indifferent topic. It was only later that I was allowed to know his noble thoughts on the mystic side of our religion, that side which teaches the union of our spiritual principle with higher beings; then I could not but admit that Leonardus was right to reserve his inmost thoughts on the sublimest mysteries for the highest initiation of his pupils.
My mother wrote to me that she had long foreseen that the position of a lay-brother would not satisfy me, but I should choose a monastic life; and that on St. Medardus' day the old pilgrim from the holy Linden had appeared to her, and had led me to her, dressed in the robes of a Capucin monk. The Princess also cordially concurred in my resolve. I saw them both before my ordination, which followed shortly, as, in accordance with my pressing wish, I was released from half of the noviciate.
In consequence of the vision of my mother I took the name, on the cloister-roll, of Medardus. The relation of the Brothers to one another, the ordering of their devotional exercises, and the whole manner of life in the cloister, proved to be exactly what I had judged from my first glimpse. The contented repose that ruled in all shed the same heavenly peace upon my soul that surrounded me in the cloister of the holy Linden, and seemed like a blissful dream of the years of earliest childhood.
During the ceremony of my ordination I perceived among the spectators the Concert-meister's sister. She looked oppressed with grief, and I fancied that I saw tears in her eyes; but the time of my temptation was past, and perhaps it was the sinful triumph of the light-won fight that forced from me a smile which Brother Cyrillus remarked as he walked beside me.
“Why art thou so overjoyed, my brother?” asked Cyrillus.
“Should I not then rejoice that I renounce the vile world and its empty show?” answered I.
Yet I cannot deny that, while I spoke these words, a secret feeling that convulsed my heart, chastised me for the lie. But this was the last paroxysm of earthly self-seeking; henceforth my spirit was at peace. Would that, that peace had never forsaken me; but the power of the Adversary is great! Who may trust to the strength of his weapons, who may rely on his own watchfulness, when the infernal powers lurk in ambush ! [Page 385]
I HAD been five years in the monastery, when, by order of the Prior, Brother Cyrillus, who had grown old and feeble, gave over to me the custody of the relic-chamber. In it there lay countless bones of Saints, splinters from the Saviour's cross, and other sacred treasures, preserved in costly shrines of glass, and shown on certain days to the populace, for its edification.
Brother Cyrillus made me acquainted with each object, and with the documents that testified to their genuineness and to their miraculous properties. He ranked beside the Prior for spiritual enlightenment, and therefore I felt the less compunction in expressing to him what rose so irresistibly in my mind.
“Dear Brother Cyrillus”, said I. “Can all these things be really and truly that which they are declared to be? May not, even here, the trickery of greed have foisted on us many a fraud that passes for a genuine relic of this Saint or the other? For instance, many a cloister possesses the entire cross of the Saviour, and yet we are everywhere shown so many of its splinters that, as one of our own number has said — truly in wicked jest — our monastery might be heated for a whole year therewith”.
“It becomes us not”, replied Brother Cyrillus, “to submit these objects to such an enquiry. To tell you my own conviction, however, I am of opinion that, despite these documents, but few of these things can be that which they are assumed to be. Only it seems to me that, that is not the point. Mark well, dear Brother Medardus, how our Prior and I regard them, and thou wilt behold a new glory in our religion. Is it not noble, my dear brother, that our Church should strive to grasp those secret threads that knit the physical with the super-physical, and so to incite our organism, grown rank in earthly life and being, that its origin from a Higher Spiritual principle, and even its inner kinship with the wondrous beings whose force pervades the whole of nature with its glowing breath, shall appear in all clearness — and the foreknowledge of a higher life whose seed we bear within us shall lift us up on seraph's wings? What is that piece of wood, this bone, that rag? Men say it is chipped from the cross of Christ, or taken from the body or garment of a Saint. Yet the believer who, without cavilling, sets his whole soul upon it, feels soon that unearthly inspiration which opens to him the realm of bliss, which he had only dreamed of here below. Thus is awakened the influence of the Saints whose relics, even though supposititious, gave the impulse, and man is able to receive strength and power in Belief from the higher Spirit to which he had called from his inmost soul for help and comfort. Yea, this higher, spiritual force aroused in him will even overcome the body's ills; and thus it comes to pass that these relics work those miracles which, since they happen so often before the eyes of a whole concourse of people, cannot be denied”. [Page 386]
I remembered at once certain hints of the Prior which harmonized exactly with the words of Brother Cyrillus, and regarded now the relics, which had appeared to me before as the playthings of religion, with true reverence and devotion. This effect of his discourse Brother Cyrillus was not slow to perceive and he proceeded eagerly and with deep inner meaning to explain the collection piece by piece.
At last he took a casket from out of a fast-closed coffer and said:
“In this, dear Brother Medardus, there lies the most mysterious and wonderful relic that our monastery possesses. As long as I have been in this cloister, no one has handled this casket save the Prior and myself; in fact, not even the other Brothers, and much less strangers, know aught of the existence of this relic. I cannot touch the casket without an inner shudder; it is as though an evil charm were concealed within it, which, if it once broke the ban that hems it in and makes it powerless, would bring destruction and hopeless ruin to him it overtook. That which is contained herein comes direct from the Adversary himself, from the days when he still had power to fight in visible shape against the souls of men”.
I looked at Brother Cyrillus in profound astonishment.
Without giving me time to reply, he continued: “I will not presume, dear Brother Medardus, to hazard any opinion as to this most mysterious object, or to dress up for thee this or that hypothesis that may have passed through my mind, but will rather tell thee truly what the accompanying documents relate about the relic. Thou wilst find these documents in the coffer and canst confirm my tale by reading them .
“The life of Saint Anthony is well-known to thee, and thou knowest, therefore, that, in order to give his soul entirely to divine contemplation, he withdrew into the wilderness and there devoted his life to the severest penance and religious exercises. The Adversary pursued him, and often set himself bodily in his way, so as to disturb him in his pious meditation. It thus happened that once the Saint perceived, in the gloom of evening, a dark figure that strode towards him. When it was near, St. Anthony beheld, to his astonishment, that from the rents in the ragged mantle which cloaked the figure, there protruded necks of bottles. It was the Adversary who appeared to him in this guise and, smiling contemptuously, asked him if he did not desire to taste of the ELIXIR which he carried in these bottles. Saint Anthony — whom this invitation could not possibly molest, since the Adversary, reduced to impotence, was no longer in a situation to engage in any open warfare and was forced to confine himself to mocking speech — asked him why he carried with him so many flasks and in so peculiar a fashion.
“The Adversary replied, Lo! when a man falls in with me, he looks at me in wonder and cannot resist asking me about my liquors, and tasting them greedily. Among so many elixirs he is sure to find one [Page 387] to his palate; he swallows down the whole contents of the flask and, intoxicated, he renders himself to me and my dominion'.
“Thus far the story is the same in all the legends; but, according to the unique document that we possess, and that deals with this vision of the holy Anthony, when the Adversary departed he left some of his flasks upon the sward, and St. Anthony took them quickly into his cave and buried them, for fright lest, even in the desert, some wanderer, perhaps one of his own pupils, should taste of the terrible drink and fall into eternal damnation. By chance, so says the document, St. Anthony once opened one of these bottles, and there proceeded from it the most extraordinary, stupifying vapour, and multitudes of wild hellish shapes floated around the Saint, seeking to tempt him with their seductive antics, until, by severe fastings and continuous prayer, he exorcised them.
“In this casket is contained one of these flasks with the Devil's Elixir; the documents are so authentic and exact that there can scarcely be a doubt that the flask was found among the possessions left behind by Saint Anthony at his death. Moreover, I can testify, dear brother, that as often as I disturb the flask, and even the casket in which it lies enclosed, an inexplicable inner terror seizes me, and, in fact, I fancy that I detect something of the nature of a peculiar vapour that stupifies me and arouses an unrest in my mind that distracts me even at my devotions. However, I overcome by steadfast prayer this evil feeling, which certainly springs from the influence of some hostile power, even should I not believe in the immediate intervention of the Adversary. Thou, dear brother Medardus, who art still so young, who beholdest in more brilliant and more lively colours all that a hostile power may call forth in thy fancy, thou who still, like a bold but inexperienced soldier, doughty in fight but perhaps too daring, trustest too much to thy own strength in impossible adventure — counsel thee never, or at least not for many a year, to open this casket, and, that thy curiosity may not lead thee into temptation, to place it far away where thine eye shall not light on it!”
Brother Cyrillus replaced the mysterious casket in the coffer from which he had taken it, and handed me the bunch of keys on which there hung the key of this chest, among the rest. The whole narration had made a remarkable impression upon me; but the more I felt an inner longing springing up to see the wonderful relic, the more pains did I take to make its satisfaction difficult, mindful of the warning of Brother Cyrillus. When he had left me, I took stock once more of the sacred objects entrusted to my care, and finally removed from the bunch the little key that locked the perilous chest and hid it in my desk beneath my Scriptures. [Page 388]
(To be continued.)
EVERY physical action of the human body is the outcome of the hidden, mysterious working of the Divine Light shining within us, the embodied soul which animates this little personality of ours; alas! too often exalted by us, and fondly cherished and imagined to be the “summum bonum” of all that Is, Was and Is to be. If we could only realise how small and insignificant we are when compared to the seething mass of humanity by which we are surrounded, we should think a little less of ourselves, and probably also of our capabilities, than too many of us are apt to do at present.
The correspondences of Nature are perfect in every detail, and its book is an open page to those who choose to elevate their understandings and cultivate their higher intuitions, to place themselves in sympathy and accord with its apparently confused and undecipherable workings. If people would only try and cultivate their highest possibilities, they would be surprised at the results that would ensue — life would become easier, and the load of trouble, suffering, trial and pain be alleviated and lessened. It is wonderful how much can be done if we only make an effort, and energetically put the shoulder to the wheel. The machinery of our daily lives would run easier and become more endurable.
People display their characters by gestures, actions and speech, but how much of it ? A dissimulative hypocrite may skilfully conceal the inner workings of his subtle nature, and effectually hide his real intentions from the ordinary observer as easily as possible, because his deceptiveness and cunning have probably become a second Nature to him — his stock-in-trade, in fact, which enables him to cast a glamour, a false appearance or maya over his victims, and by his apparent frankness ingratiate himself into their confidence and thus attain his unworthy ends whenever he chooses. Such a case as this could never occur to one who had learnt to read and study Nature by diving beneath its surface. Those who have devoted their energies and aims to learning to read a person's character by means of his handwriting have gone very far below the surface; they have discovered the way to reading nuances and shades of character, wholly unexpected by even, possibly, the person himself — things entirely unknown to, and wholly undreamt of by him: for who is there who really and thoroughly understands his own character? Who can say, I know my weak spot in my physical or moral armour, and also my strong points. You may fancy you do — but wait until you are put to the test. Gold, in order to be purified, has to pass through the fire; and so it is with the human soul — it must pass through the fiery furnace of worldly desires and passions before it can be said [Page 389] to be purified. Until this has taken place it does not know its strength nor its capabilities — its character must be formed and moulded, and this is the way it is done, by trial, temptation and intense mental suffering. Whilst undergoing this process the character is moulded, shaped and fashioned; and as Nature is true to herself, down to the smallest detail, she naturally displays, or causes the Embodied Personality to display, its real characteristics in its Handwriting, even as it correspondentially exhibits itself outwardly in action, manner and speech: with this distinction only, that he who sends a written message to a friend or enemy discovers himself entirely; he has entered the enemy's camp, and is fast bound a prisoner. Outwardly he may pose before the world as a pious Christian and charitable man; one whose heart bleeds for the suffering, the down-trodden and the oppressed, and yet the keynote to the personality is possibly — what ? Why, his intense ambition and conceit; his wish to hear himself well spoken of and exalted to the skies by his sycophants and parasitic loafers. His supreme selfishness is only the deeper intensified, and all his outward show, pomp and vanity are merely a cloak to hide his baser passions and licentious desires — merely so much dust to throw in the eyes of the world — a character, I may say, immortalised by Dickens in that worthy man “Mr. Pecksniff”.
To those who are incredulous about the attributes of Graphology, I have to say that, judging from an exoteric point of view, facts are against them; as at the present moment I know of three, if not more, newspapers which give readings of characters gratis, and plenty of amateurs in the art, who advertise their ability and willingness to do so for a small remuneration; and, by-the-bye, I may say in passing that the power is not given to everyone to do this. As “nothing succeeds like success”, and “Imitation is the sincerest flattery”, so no sooner was this Art made public, a short time ago, in one of the weekly papers, than it speedily found a host of imitators, all more or less worthy and truthful, according to their inner lights, who all made use of the divine gift. For I regard it as a gift, bestowed upon certain ones, even as certain others have gifts and lights in other directions. We cannot all of us be butchers and bakers, and it is not given to everyone to become a leading light, whether in the political or literary, or any other world.
Certain well-defined rules and signs are given as being significative of certain traits of character; but it seems to me that, study it as you may, if you do not feel that inner conviction spring up within you when judging a character — as to what the persons really mean, what they really are living this life for — you will fail to grasp the key-note upon which all the other vibrations hang, and consequently fail in the main characteristics.You may study, compare, and read any amount of books and writings, and be just as wise, or very little nearer your object, as when you first started, if you do not have the divine possibility of sensing another by the touch-stone of your own soul, by your own inner consciousness. [Page 390] I know I may be running counter to a fellow student's ideas in making this statement — to one who occupies a very high position in the Graphological and Chiromantic world; but I make it with all due forethought and deliberation; and say most emphatically, unless you are illuminated by the Divine Light, and your motives are worthy ones, you will fail in reading, at all events thoroughly, this page that Nature opens to those who seek to unravel her mysteries.
Once that you are started in the right path and having a tendency this way, all becomes clear to you, and each personality becomes as open as daylight, with all its varying emotions, hopes, joys and disappointments. The character changes with the physical growth, with the trials in life it undergoes, and it affords a very interesting study to watch the boyish scrawl, when at school, develop later into the writing of the young man. Then the effects of his first contact with the world — he so full of ardour, enthusiasm, and sometimes generosity and hopefulness, all of which become toned down by time and disappear, to give place possibly, in the full-grown man, to ambition, passion, a love of the world with its sensuous desires and luxurious living. Economy descends at times to meanness and parsimony; and then comes old age. Let us trust it will be full of gentle tolerance for the opinions of others, and a disposition to be amiable and to retain intellectual fire and vigour to the last.
It is a singular statement to make, but its strangeness disappears on a little later reflection, when we say that writing has no sex as judged from a higher standpoint. The soul now descends into a masculine envelope, and then into a feminine. And how often do we not find in a man that exquisite tenderness, gentleness, and sweet sympathy, essentially the birthright of the woman; and again, do we not view the spectacle of a woman endowed with the masculine activity of the sterner sex, with its accompanying love of all outdoor sports and activities — one whose whole soul seems to be bent on horses and field sports, and who would indignantly deny the assertion, were one to make it, that she was in reality a man in a woman's body. It is, after all, only the spectacle of Nature seeking to effect the equilibrium of her Forces. Doubtless the Soul has had too great a predilection in former incarnations for the masculine suits of clothes, as Carlyle puts it, and it now feels the return curve of its orbit in seeking to adjust itself in the female embodiment; and vice versa, with a woman who, probably having developed sufficiently the concrete side of her nature, has now to experience the return curve which brings the abstract mode of thinking to the front, and finds its harmony of expression in a male body. It is even thus that Nature works and seeks the adjustment of its forces on this material plane of existence.
You will find that as it is with nations so it is with the individual units who help to form the nation. Look at the French, for instance. What do we find, as a general rule ? Frivolity, carelessness, grace, refinement, [Page 391] vanity, and bombastic love of show, accompanied with the desire to do as little as possible, and to do that little as slowly and with as small a minimum of exertion as they are capable of. The Italians are somewhat similar — the Spanish also; the former nation is further marked by a deeper love of ease, laziness, and a more cultivated taste for the arts of music and singing. The Germans again are noted for being a steady-going, practical, hard, and disputative nation, all of which is shown in the average German writing, its difference to that of the French being an absence of the excessive flourish and superfluous lines to the capital letters visible in the average Frenchman's writing, whereas the German delights more in a somewhat cramped, hard, upright, and twisted hand — indicative of his love of argument and discourse.
Before drawing my article to a close, I may illustrate the utility of the art by an incident that came within my knowledge the other day.A short time ago, an advertisement appeared in a daily paper for a lady help. There were over two hundred applicants, many of whom doubtless esteemed themselves worthy and capable of undertaking the duties in their own estimation, and I may say, for a certainty, a very fair proportion were received from actual servants who had undertaken domestic service, but were ambitious to obtain arise in life. However, the services of one were enlisted after sifting out of many one that might be suitable; and we are happy to say that up to the present the choice has been a most felicitous one. Little did those who replied to that advertisement dream of the process their writings would be subjected to, as the graphologist had only to sort them out, like so many cards, to tell which were suitable and which had to be rejected.
Reader, study graphology. Purify your thoughts from selfishness, and learn to estimate the world, and its standard of right and wrong, at its own worth; or rather estimate it by the effect of its action on your own inner divine consciousness. Strive to develop all that is noble and high within you, and your soul will grow and ever be a shining light, full of purity and charity; its radiance will spread around you and your circle, and prove a real beacon light to all who seek you in trouble and distress. May you ever have the power to alleviate their sufferings, and may they not seek your aid in vain. [Page 392]
IT is strange that I cannot sleep.
I have lain for hours upon my bed in a species of stupor which has been my only rest. A new day is born, and I cannot sleep. Recollection forces itself upon me, and I can only forget with my pen in hand.
Forget! I do not wish to forget — what do I say ? If memory's power were taken from me what should I become? In recollection lies my safeguard, for I shudder to dwell upon the future, lest in an evil moment, when weakness overcomes me, the Spirit within me conquer, so that we together pass into the East of Time.
I have conquered once. He was unable to return because I fought against him then and I shall never yield. To yield – has he then discovered already that the youth which he sought to share was but a poor thing for me, and has become devastated by his entry into my soul?
To yield, Onora! To leave thee and to fly into future time. Accursed spirit! You are here now; here with me; and you cannot escape, for you cannot remember the East of Time.
And still I fear by reason of the struggle which wore my heart away, lest his spirit attack mine some day when I am powerless to resist.
I rave — it cannot be. I live in the present, not in the future, which has not yet been and which yet is; and this spirit which has penetrated the past shall never, whilst I live, return to the East, lest I go with it as a part of it, even as it has come back to be a part of me.
You who are in the East of Time are mesmerised now – not l – and I pray, as you prayed, “that the awakening may not be too soon” — nay, more, I pray with all my strength that it may never come.
I laid down upon my bed to rest once more – to court the sleep which will not come.
Can it be that I shall never sleep again?
There is still a weary time before me. I must tell you of Onora Mayne. Though I have known her so short a time it seems to me as though we had been dearest friends for many years.
She is the daughter of my uncle's dearest friend, and she is here upon a visit of some length. [Page 393]
To me every day seems as one nearer to the end — that end when she may be taken from me once more.
The house, the fields, the summer air, everything has been brightened by her coming. Did they never think that she and I might fall in love?
I, a penniless dependant upon my uncle's bounty — for the rest a feeble writer and a weaker poet — she the daughter of a wealthy merchant of Brazil, a man whose pride is the truest pride in that he is self-made — did they never think we two might fall in love?
It was unlikely perhaps that she, my queen, should turn her eyes on me. Unlikely that I, lonely as I am, and a poor thing, should dream of loving her.
In four short months her father is expected to return — she spends these months in this house — that of my uncle, his dearest friend.
In four months Onora will have left us and I may never look upon her face again !
I do not know why love should bring hopelessness ever in its train!
Shall I see her again today as yesterday upon the lawn, or has something in my manner frightened her so that she will avoid that meeting in the early morning?
The country is new to my love — the dear English country that is the dearer to me because I have grown acquainted with its every mood — and she spends the day, from her first waking well-nigh to the setting of the sun, out of doors.
Why is it that I am afraid that something that I have done — what can it be? — will keep her from the morning stroll in which I have been her companion for three days. Bah! it is nonsense. I shall see her as I dream I see her now – as she met me yesterday — moving towards me with a quiet smile, whilst the daisies seem to raise their heads to worship her as she treads them softly underfoot.
And I can feel the friendly pressure of the palm that frankly meets my own — the hand of a true girl — the hand of Onora Mayne.
How I love the name — how I love to hear it reverberate within me now, and yet I feared to hear it so but a day ago!
Let me forget that the echoes are not my own — are not my own!
The darkness came upon me, but I fought against it and it is gone.
Can you bring before you this scene? Stand near me by the window.
You are looking southwards from an ivy-covered mansion of Elizabethan age. Dear trees — dear because hallowed by the past — half hide the avenue from view. On the right the smooth lawn is bounded by a wall of green, and the carefully trained branches form bowers that lead into the garden beyond.
Then, straight in front, the undulating English park, with an old elm here and there casting its broad shadows on the ground, slopes downward to bathe in the stillness of the distant lake. And beyond, the land [Page 394] rises again gently amidst trees and green meadows to meet the clear blue of the sky.
Ah! I cannot paint my uncle's home, for the things which are nearest to our hearts are the most difficult to describe.
One thing is wanting to complete the beauty of all that is before me — my love, Onora Mayne !
At last she is upon the lawn. My fears were groundless. Today shall be as yesterday.
See how she moves instinct with harmony and grace! Ah, my queen! the morning sun seems to light with a fairy touch upon your bare head and your pure young face, and I grow jealous of every ray that falls in kiss upon your golden hair.
I have spent a most unhappy day.
How is it that now, though the roses bloom their fairest, and cast their sweetness in superabundance upon the honeyed air, I see no beauty, but only gloom?
Must love bring naught save endless jealousy and pain? Jealousy? What do I say? There is none to her — none save I.
I met her in the early morning today as yesterday. She gave me her hand, and yet its pressure seemed to me less strong. Has she guessed — can she have guessed — that the man she looks upon as a friend may love? And if she guesses this, how does the thought find answer in her heart, for or against, yes or no?
And then I received this cursed letter that tears my heart. Why is he to arrive so soon? What is in me that I think thus of the return of my dearest friend? Has my love in its selfish passion swamped my manhood and rendered me a cur ? A month ago my pulse would have quickened with joy at the thought of his return, at the thought of meeting him after so long a time, and now — now I am all evil, and shades of ill crush around me and blight what may have known truth before.
Frank – returns! Why do I not rejoice; what evil thought has weighed upon me through the weary day? It is easy to blame the accursed thing from future time; it is easy to cast on thee all that is wicked and all that blurs my soul, and still how do I know that the wrong is thine — not mine?
Which part of my inmost heart conceived that hideous longing — that Frank may not return — anything that I may never meet with him again. To whom belongs that shrinking fear that speaks of ill to come; to whom do I myself belong, ye spirit from the East of Time ? Who is it would cry aloud in agony “Let him die so he come not here”? Who is it, thou or I?
Onora must have noticed my strange and hideous thoughts ! [Page 395]
Onora seems to read my soul; I cannot bear to stand in presence of her purity. What has come upon me? Help me! help me, God !
Three days have passed since last my pen touched the paper that may bear my own sad history beyond the grave. Three days, and I have sought to write other things, and to regain mastery of myself, and I am still possessed.
That which has come from the East cannot pass from me, for we two are become as one. Little can you dream of the mortal agony which is mine.
Man! man! What are you, reader of these lines? What am I who am even as you ? How can you penetrate the depths of the Hell that burns within me? How can you understand the curse which has fallen upon my head? For what? Why am I accursed? Why is it not you in place of me?
I stray from my path of sorrows into the unknown, and it is useless to question there!
I have sought to write of other things, to complete my book, in vain — in vain. I can think only of two things — of Onora, and of the strange life which has entered into mine, to become mine, and to obscure the light of day.
More than this; I have sought to sleep. Nightly have I courted that divine power; nightly have I laid upon my couch waiting, with a patience which vainly wore itself away, for that which cannot come.
I shall never sleep again!
Not to sleep! Can you conceive the fulness of what these words convey ? — not to sleep! — never to pass away from the empty vaunting of the hideous day, never to taste oblivion, never to know of rest ! Were it not for her, sooner would I die than bear it, sooner have my life crushed from me by a leap forth from the casement out into the air, than live without sleep. I have faced for days past all the terror that wells within me when I recognise that it must be ever so.
How could it be that I should sleep? I, whose brain is ever linked with that other brain. I, whose soul is not my own. I, whose existence is in part from future time, how could I sleep whilst the spirit is with me from the East ?
Sleep has passed from me for evermore.
And through the hideousness of all that is, and of all that dwells in me, and around me, in a never-ending misery, I see one star — Onora Mayne — and out of my love for her I shall not wish to die.
My uncle has fallen ill. Today Onora and I have been in solitude, and today I almost told her of my love. We wandered through the woods till we came to a shaded seat: that circles rudely an ivy-grown oak. Onora wished to paint, and I wished nothing save to lie upon the [Page 396] soft moss and gaze upon her face; and in a little: “Why do you look at me so?” she asked with a troubled air. It was then I nearly spoke — something kept me still.
“I was thinking”, I replied, “that I shall weave that hair of yours through the life of one of my heroes”.
Onora laughed — a bright, happy laugh, a laugh like her dear self — young and fair .
“Do you never grow tired of your fiction friends? ”
There was a short pause whilst she mixed some colour with her brush.
“But it must make you very sad at times if you live with them and share their sorrow, for your writings are all touched with sorrow”.
I did not answer her, for it is true, and yet I seem to worship sorrow though I know it is not good.
Rather I turned into a lighter strain; and then in a little read to her those boyish lines:
Lilies cluster round
Something of my own deep passion may have shaken my voice, for when I ended and looked up, a startled expression as of the fawn that trembles before a danger which it cannot see, was upon her face.
Onora ! how I loved you then! ! even whilst I sought to still the fear that rose within me.
“It is late”, she said. “I think we must go”, and we strolled back together to the Hall as we had come, yet not as we had come, for some restraint seemed to have fallen between us, and I knew that Onora read my heart.
How little can I write! My pen is numbed as it seems for ever, and my language stilled and strange, yet this thing that I write now — always — always of myself, I shall continue intermittently as I have done, that when I pass away she, Onora, may know the vale of tears through which my soul doth pass.
Then I expect to die? God knows! How can I live if I cannot sleep?
That letter —Frank's return — what does it portend? In a week he may be with me here. Onora, I must speak to you before he comes. I fear his handsome face. There is more than fear within me, there is an accursed thing ever torturing my soul with its cry of “Hate him ! Hate him !”
Yes, I fear — ay, hate too. I do not know what evil surges within me. Misery has dwelt with me since that hour when you, Onora, looked down upon me as I read my verses to you in the wood. Why should you not [Page 397] love me? Mine is a double soul; has that part from the East of Time brought with it no knowledge, nothing that can aid itself and me to obtain thy love? To think of life without you – it could never be! Alone! My heart bursts into tears, and sadness fills me with its poesy.
She has left me,
And around me,
Lies a hideous, arid waste,
For my destiny is barren,
And its glory is defaced.
Ah, the waning !
Ah, the waning !
Of my young life's saddened day.
Come, ye Angels, nearer – nearer ,
And weep as ye hear me pray.
Stretch your pinions,
Spread your pinions,
Hide my broken, tortured soul.
Conceal from the world the waters
That gush from the shattered bowl.
For the even,
Yes, the even,
Has followed the sunlight fast,
And clouds have come with the darkness
And the sky is overcast.
Ah, the beauty!
Of the day for ever gone,
When never a zephyr wafted
A shade to obscure the sun.
Now is darkness,
And the star is lost on high;
Would to God the light had never
Held place in the changeful sky.
She has left me,
And around me,
Drips the fountain of despair,
That taunts as it seems to shadow
Her face and her golden hair. [Page 398]
I am wearied with my heart's imagining of its own excess.
A complete revulsion of feeling has taken place within me. It was as though my own self were, for a little, summoned by my sorrow to resume its place unchallenged by the spirit from the East of Time. And now all is gone, and darkness has fallen upon me with a prompting of evil which I cannot understand.
Onora, you do not love me — but you shall love me, I swear it! You shall yield your heart to my love. My love? nay; not to that alone, but to the love that belongs to the man who lives five hundred years in future age, you shall yield to him and to me who am his vassal, to me who love you with a dual soul and with a passion terrible in its intensity and awful in its strength.
I call upon you, you spirit alighted from the future, aid me now, in a desire made hellish by your means — aid me now and draw towards me Onora Mayne, with that subtle power which you cast upon me from the distant East. I call upon you — fulfil that longing which is yours as much as, nay more, than mine — take that which you desire — through evil if it must be so. Only bring to me this offering – the heart of Onora Mayne.
Do I call in vain? Who knows? You — Spirit from the East — have lighted upon me, expiate that sin in part by the fulfilment of your own love. If it be possible, give me of your strength, of your strange power, this much — that I may fascinate, as the snake would fascinate, Onora Mayne.
And if she love another, I pray that he may die, and that I alone, by thy power, may gain entry to her maiden soul.
(To be continued.)
The sage does not say what he does; but he does nothing that cannot be said.
Pagodas are measured by their shadows and great men by their enviers.
( Chinese Aphorisms. ) [Page 399]
IT has occurred to me that it would be interesting if some spiritualist or occultist would try to explain the various curious and intricate spiritualistic beliefs of peasants. When reading Irish folklore, or listening to Irish peasants telling their tales of magic and fairyism and witchcraft, more and more is one convinced that some clue there must be. Even if it is all dreaming, why have they dreamed this particular dream? Clearly the occultist should have his say as well as the folk-loreist. The history of a belief is not enough, one would gladly hear about its cause.
Here and there an occult clue is visible plainly. Some of the beliefs about ghosts are theosophical; the Irish ghost or thivish, for instance, is merely an earth-bound shell, fading and whimpering in the places it loved. And many writers, from Paracelsus to d' Assier, have shed a somewhat smoky light on witches and their works, and Irish witches do not differ much from their tribe elsewhere, except in being rather more harmless. Perhaps never being burnt or persecuted has lessened the bitterness of their war against mankind, for in Ireland they have had on the whole, a very peaceable and quiet time, disappearing altogether from public life since the “loyal minority” pilloried and imprisoned three and knocked out the eye of one with a cabbage stump, in 1711, in the town of Carrickfergus. For many a long year now have they contented themselves with going out in the grey of the morning, in the shape of hares, and sucking dry their neighbour's cows, or muttering spells while they skimmed with the severed hand of a corpse the surface of a well gathering thereon a neighbour's butter.
It is when we come to the fairies and “fairy doctors”, we feel most the want of some clue — some light, no matter how smoky. These “fairy doctors”, are they mediums or clairvoyants? Why do they fear the hazel tree, or hold an ash tree in their hands when they pray? Why do they say that if you knock once at their doors they will not open, for you may be a spirit, but if you knock three times they will open. What are these figures, now little, now great, now kindly, now fierce, now ugly, now beautiful, who are said to surround them — these fairies, whom they never confuse with spirits, but describe as fighting with the spirits though generally having the worst of it, for their enemies are more God-fearing? Can any spiritualist or occultist tell us of these things? Hoping they can, I set down here this classification of Irish fairyism and demonology. The mediaeval divisions of sylphs, gnomes, undines and salamanders will not be found to help us. This is a different dynasty.
Unlike the witch, who deals with ghosts and spirits, the fairy doctor is never malignant; at worst, he is mischievous like his masters and [Page 400] servants the fairies. Croker, in the “Confessions of Tom Bourke”, said by Keightley, of the “Fairy Mythology”, to be the most valuable chapter in all his writings, describes the sayings and doings of such a man. Each family has its particular adherent among the “good people”, as the fairies are called, and sometimes when a man died the factions of his father and mother would fight as to the graveyard he was to be buried in, the relations delaying the funeral until Tom Bourke told them one party or other had won. If they buried in the wrong graveyard all kinds of ill luck would follow, for fairies know how to kill cattle with their fairy darts, and do all kinds of mischief.
The fairy doctor is great with herbs and spells. He can make the fairies give up people they have carried off, and is in every way the opposite of the witch.
Lady Wilde, in her “Ancient Legends”, thus describes one who lived in the Island of Innis-Sark: “He can heal diseases by a word, even at a distance, and his glance sees into the very heart and reads the secret thoughts of men. He never touched beer, spirits or meat in all his life but has lived entirely on bread, fruit, and vegetables. A man who knew him thus describes him: Winter and summer his dress is the same, merely a flannel shirt and coat. He will pay his share at a feast, but neither eats nor drinks of the food and drink set before him. He speaks no English, and never could be made to learn the English tongue, though he says it might be used with great effect to curse one's enemy. He holds a burial-ground sacred, and would not carry away so much as a leaf of ivy from a grave; and he maintains that the people are right in keeping to their ancient usages — such as never to dig a grave on a Monday, and to carry the coffin three times round the grave, following the course of the sun, for then the dead rest in peace. Like the people, also, he holds suicides accursed; for they believe that all the dead who have been recently buried turn over on their faces if a suicide is laid amongst them.
“Though weIl off, he never, even in his youth, thought of taking a wife, nor was he ever known to love a woman. He stands quite apart from life, and by this means holds his power over the mysteries. No money will tempt him to impart this knowledge to another, for if he did he would be struck dead, so he believes. He would not touch a hazel stick, but carries an ash wand, which he holds in his hand when he prays, laid across his knees, and the whole of his life is given to works of grace and charity.
“Though an old man, he has never had a day's sickness; no one has ever seen him in a rage, nor heard an angry word from his lips but once, and then, being under great irritation, he recited the Lord's Prayer backwards as an imprecation on his enemy. Before his death he will reveal the mystery of his power, but not till the hand of death is on him for certain”, and then we may be sure he will reveal it only to his successor. [Page 401]
THE SOCIABLE FAIRIES
These are the Sheoques (Ir. Sidheog, “a little fairy”), and are usually of small size when first seen, though seeming of common human height when you are once glamoured. It sometimes appears as if they could take any shape according to their whim. Commonly, they go about in troops, and are kind to the kindly and mischievous to the evil and ill-tempered, being like beautiful children, having every charm but that of conscience — consistency.
Their divisions are sheoque, a land fairy, and merrow Ir. moruada, or “sea maid” (the masculine is unknown ), a water fairy. The merrow is said not to be uncommon. I asked a peasant woman once whether the fishermen of her village ever saw one. “Indeed, they don't like to see them at all”, she answered, “for they always bring bad weather”. Sometimes the merrows come out of the sea in the shape of little, hornless cows. When in their own shape, they have fish tails and wear a red cap usually covered with feathers, called a cohullen druith. The men among them have green teeth, green hair, pigs' eyes and red noses, but their women are beautiful, and sometimes prefer handsome fishermen to their green-haired lovers. Near Bantry, in the last century, lived a woman covered with scales like a fish, who was descended from such a marriage.
All over Ireland are little fields circled by ditches, and supposed to be ancient fortifications and sheep folds. These are the raths or forts. Here, marrying and giving in marriage, live the land fairies. Many a mortal have they enticed down into their dim world. Many more have listened to their fairy music, till all human cares and joys drifted from their hearts, and they became great fairy doctors, or great musicians, or poets like Carolan, who gathered his tunes while sleeping on a fairy rath; or else they died in a year and a day, to live ever after among the fairies.
These sociable fairies are in the main good, but one most malicious habit have they — a habit worthy of a witch. They steal children, and leave a withered fairy a thousand, or may be two thousand years old, for the matter of that, instead. Two or three years ago a man wrote to one of the Irish papers, telling of a case in his own village, and how the parish priest made the fairies deliver up again the stolen child.
At times full grown men and women have been carried off. Near the village of Ballisodare, Sligo, I have been told, lives an old woman who was taken in her youth. When she came home, at the end of seven years, she had no toes, for she had danced them off.
Especially do they steal men, women and children on May eve, Mid-summer eve, and November eve, for these are their festivities.
On May eve, every seventh year, they fight for the harvest, for the best ears of corn belong to them. An old man told me he saw them [Page 402] fighting once. They tore the thatch off a house in the battle. Had you or I been there we had merely felt a great wind blowing; the peasantry know better than to mistake the fairies for the wind.When a little whirlwind passes, lifting the straws, they take off their hats and say: “God bless them”, for the fairies are going by.
On Midsummer eve, Bonfire Night, as we call it, the sheoques are very gay, and on this night more than any other do they steal beautiful mortals to be their brides.
On November eve, according to the old Gaelic reckoning the first night of winter, the fairies are very gloomy, and in their green raths dance with the ghosts, while abroad in the world witches make their spells, and a solitary and wicked fairy, called the Pooka, has power, and girls set tables with food in the name of the devil, that the fetch of their future lovers may come through the window and eat.
The sociable fairies are very quarrelsome.
Lady Wilde tells about one battle in which, no stones being at hand, they stole butter and flung it at each other. A quantity stuck in the branches of an alder-tree. A man in the neighbourhood mended the handle of the dash of his churn with a branch of this tree. As soon as he began churning, the butter, until now hanging invisible in the alder branches, flowed into his churn. The same happened every churning-day, until he told the matter to a fairy doctor, which telling broke the spell, for all these things have to be kept secret.
Kennedy describes a battle heard by a peasant of his acquaintance. The sheoques were in the air over a river. He heard shots and light bodies falling into the water, and a faint sound of shouting, but could see nothing. Old Patrick Kennedy, who records this, was a secondhand bookseller in Dublin, and claimed in one of his works to know spells for making the fairies visible, but would not tell them for fear they might set dangerous forces in action — forces that might destroy the user of the spell. These battles are often described by Irish fairy seers. Sometimes the sociable sheoques, dressed in green coats, fight with the solitary red-coated fairies.
THE SOLITARY FAIRIES
The best known of these is the Lepracaun (Ir. Leith bhrogan, i.e., “the one shoe maker”). He is seen sitting under a hedge mending a shoe, and one who catches him and keeps his eyes on him can make him deliver up his crocks of gold, for he is a rich miser; but if he takes his eyes off him, the creature vanishes like smoke. He is said to be the child of a spirit and a debased fairy, and, according to MacNally, wears a red coat with seven rows of buttons, seven buttons in each row, and a cocked hat, on the point of which he sometimes spins like a top.
Some writers have supposed the Cluricaun to be another name of the same fairy, given him when he has laid aside his shoe-making at night [Page 403] and goes on the spree. The Cluricaun's one occupation is robbing wine-cellars.
The Gonconer or Gancanagh (Ir. Gean-canagh, i.e., “Love talker”) is a little creature of the Lepracaun type, unlike him, however, in being an idler. He always appears with a pipe in his mouth in lonely valleys, where he makes love to shepherdesses and milkmaids.
The Far Darrig (Ir. Fear-Dearg i. e., red man) plays practical jokes continually. A favourite trick is to make some poor mortal tramp over hedges and ditches, carrying a corpse on his back, or to make him turn it on a spit. Of all these solitary, and mainly evil, fairies there is no more lubberly wretch than this same Far Darrig. Like the next phantom, he presides over evil dreams.
The Pooka seems to be of the family of the nightmare. He has most likely never appeared in human form, the one or two recorded instances being probably mistakes, he being mixed up with the Far Darrig. His shape is that of a horse, a bull, goat, eagle, ass and perhaps of a black dog, though this last may be a separate spirit. The Pooka's delight is to get a rider, whom he rushes with through ditches and rivers and over mountains, and shakes off in the grey of the morning. Especially does he love to plague a drunkard — a drunkard's sleep is his kingdom.
The Dullahan is another gruesome phantom. He has no head, or carries it under his arm. Often he is seen driving a black coach, called the coach-a-bower (Ir. Coise-bodhar), drawn by headless horses. It will rumble to your door, and if you open to it, a basin of blood is thrown in your face. To the houses where it pauses it is an omen of death. Such a coach, not very long ago, went through Sligo in the grey of the morning (the spirit hour). A seaman saw it, with many shudderings. In some villages its rumbling is heard many times in the year.
The Leanhaun Shee (fairy mistress) seeks the love of men. If they refuse, she is their slave; if they consent, they are hers, and can only escape by finding one to take their place. Her lovers waste away, for she lives on their life. Most of the Gaelic poets, down to quite recent times, have had a Leanhaun Shee, for she gives inspiration to her slaves. She is the Gaelic muse, this malignant fairy. Her lovers, the Gaelic poets, died young. She grew restless, and carried them away to other worlds, for death does not destroy her power.
Besides these, we have other solitary fairies, such as the House Spirit and Water Sheerie, a kind of Will-o'-the-Wisp, and various animal spirits, such as the Anghiska, the water-horse, and the Pastha ( Piast-vestea ) the lake-dragon, a guardian of hidden treasure, and two fairies, the Far-gorta and the Banshee, who are technically solitary fairies, though quite unlike their fellows in disposition.
The Far-gorta (man of hunger) is an emaciated fairy that goes through the land in famine time, begging, and bringing good luck to the giver of alms. [Page 404]
The Banshee (Bean-sidhe) seems to be one of the sociable fairies grown solitary through the sorrow or the triumph of the moment; her name merely means woman-fairy, answering to the less common word Farshee [Fear-sidhe], man fairy. She wails, as most people know, over the death of some member of an old Irish family. Sometimes she is an enemy of the house, and wails with triumph; sometimes a friend, and wails with sorrow. When more than one Banshee comes to cry, the man or woman who is dying must have been very holy or very brave. Occasionally she is undoubtedly believed to be one of the sociable fairies. Cleena, once an ancient Irish goddess, is now a Munster sheoque.
O'Donovan, one of the very greatest of the Irish antiquarians, wrote in 1849 to a friend, who quoted his words in the Dublin University Magazine: “When my grandfather died in Leinster, in 1798, Cleena came all the way from Tonn Cleena, at Glandore, to lament him; but she has not been heard ever since lamenting any of our race, though I believe she still weeps in the mountains of Drumaleaque in her own country, where so many of the race of Eoghan More are dying of starvation”.
The Banshee who cries with triumph is often believed to be no fairy but the ghost of one wronged by an ancestor of the dying. Besides these are various fairies who fall into none of the regular groups, such as ''Dark Joan of the Boyne”. This fairy visits houses in the form of a hen with a lot of chickens, or a pig with a litter of banyans. Several now living say they have fought with this fairy pig. This taking the appearance of several animals at one time is curious, and brings to mind how completely a matter of whim or symbolism the form of an enchanted being must be thought. Indeed, the shape of Irish fairies seems to change with their moods — symbolizing or following the feelings of the moment.
When we look for the source of this spirit rabble, we get many different answers. The peasants say they are fallen angels who were too good to be lost, too bad to be saved, and have to work out their time in barren places of the earth. An old Irish authority — the Book of Armagh — calls them gods of the earth, and quite beyond any kind of doubt many of them were long ago gods in Ireland.
Once upon a time the Celtic nations worshipped gods of the light, called in Ireland Tuath-de-Danan and corresponding to Jupiter and his fellows, and gods of the great darkness corresponding to the Saturnian Titans. Among the sociable fairies are many of the light gods; perhaps, some day, we may learn to look for the dark gods among the solitary fairies. The Pooka we can trace, a mysterious deity of decay, to earliest times. Certainly, he is no bright Tuath-de-Danan. Around him hangs the dark vapour of Domnian Titanism. [Page 405]
W. B. YEATS.
(To be continued.)
I WAS lately at a concert in the Hof-Kirche, at Lucerne, to hear a celebrated artist sing an Ave Maria and St. Elizabeth's prayer, the latter by Listz. But even more than with this beautiful music I was occupied with the symbolism of portions of the church. In the dim evening light I could just see, in a side chapel, a beautiful Assunta slowly ascending heavenward, with a rapt ecstatic expression of divine love, her eyes filled with the light of Heaven radiating from her heart, the only true heaven.
I saw that in a few moments more she would be beyond my ken, and that I was one of the sorrowful children of earth who are fated to moan during her absence, and to long, with unutterable longings, for her return.
Is not Maria the glorified human female soul, ascending in the “upward path” heavenwards, but ascending in order again to descend and to fill with completed beauty and loveliness each lonely and divided heart of man?
I saw this “Meri-Amun” [ “Beloved of God” ] — Miriam — or, as the Grecianized Jews called her, “Maria”, in the dim “religious light” of the sanctuary, slowly ascending beyond my sight, but suddenly she became transfigured before my earthly eyes and “clad with the sun” as foretold; but the radiance and the glory were too bright for my weak eyes of earth. I only saw her smile one sweet farewell to my longing and eager eyes, and then she made a sign to me, her right hand pressed to her heart, and I heard a voice as from Heaven say, “Be comforted, lone heart, I ascend now, but only in order to descend again; wait with patience. I will surely come and descend gloriously, as Queen, into your heart. Love on, but be patient and calm”.
Then the Voice ceased; and I fell into a trance, as often before, when the soft notes of a woman's heart-voice enter into my soul's heart.
And in the trance I saw the other symbol, Man crucified on earth, and the pale and suffering face and figure was life-like on the Cross, nailed on the beautiful metal lattice railing separating the holy of holies from the outer portion of the church. Within the sanctuary was silence, no living being was there, while outside was the crowd of sorrowers, and I among them, as was meet and necessary; for Mary, had she not departed, and was I not alone?
And another Voice came to me from Heaven and said, “Dost thou not understand the symbolism of all this earthly woe?” and my heart replied, “But dimly. Who can explain the Mystery? ” [Page 406]
And the Voice said, with tones deep and soft like the Atlantic wave as it rolls landwards on the long sands — “That beautiful partition on which idealized man is ever — and ever must be — crucified, until Mary comes back again, is the barrier between the two worlds, the low miserable world of earth and the true ideal transcendental world of the spirit and the soul. This wall of separation is made beautiful in order to make the earthly souls suffer from the ugliness of the evil in earth life, and to excite through this Suffering the sense of ideal beauty, which is in its true meaning exactly what men call religion. Behold, I tell you a mystery; this Partition that separates the two worlds can never be removed until Mary descends again into the living human heart, annulling its division, and bringing to each the divine counterpart of which Maria is the eternal symbol”.
“When she comes again — and I say the time is not long — the crucifixion of Man shall be ended, the opposites, the antinomies, shall cease, melted into the divine unity of love, and the world shall be as once it was before. Pray, then, ye mortal crucified ones, wandering sadly through life gazing at the partition which separates ye from bliss, that is, from completed and satisfied love; pray ye ever that Marie may
return, and soon, so that the Cross may vanish! ” The Voice ceased and I heard the divine prayer of Elizabeth sweetly echoing in my ears and heart, through the inspired music of Listz — Listz who is now with his Saint, in the same love-choir of glorified idealized ones.
And in one of the pauses of the melody, when the love paean was dying away in the far distance, as if, like Marie, ascending slowly heavenwards, I looked entranced, and behold, the Partition was gone the divine Crucified one was there, but transfigured, and shining with the “soma augoeides”, and this body was to me transparent, and I saw One like to Marie, but it was not Marie, lying close wound around the glorified Heart.
And the Voice came again, and said, “Behold the next evolution of Man, and praise God, the eternal loving One, that the time is not long. Marie comes soon again to each and all, and there shall be no more sorrow or sighing in the whole City of God. Pray then that She may come soon, for the earth is weary of her absence”.
Then I awoke from the trance, and gazing before me, I saw the Partition again, and the pale and wan crucified type of our race was there once more in his anguish — Prometheus like — with the Vulture of the world, Sorrow, gnawing at his heart.
And “Gloria in excelsis” was pealing in my ears, but I sadly went away, saying, “When, O when shall be the end, that the true glory from on high may come to us, Maria in the heart of each?” — OM [Page 407]
A. J. C.
PART - 2 -
Of course it is most difficult, and, as you say, “puzzling” to understand correctly and distinguish between the various aspects, called by us the “principles” of the real EGO. It is the more so as there exists a notable difference in the numbering of those principles by various Eastern schools, though at the bottom there is the same identical substratum of teaching in all of them.
X. Are you thinking of the Vedantins. They divide our seven “principles” into five only, I believe?
M. They do; but though I would not presume to dispute the point with a learned Vedantin, I may yet state as my private opinion that they have an obvious reason for it. With them it is only that compound spiritual aggregate which consists of various mental aspects that is called Man at all, the physical body being in their view something beneath contempt, and merely an illusion. Nor is the Vedanta the only philosophy to reckon in this manner. Lao-Tze in his Tao-te-King, mentions only five principles, because he, like the Vedantins, omits to include two principles, namely, the spirit (Atma) and the physical body, the latter of which, moreover, he calls “the cadaver”. Then there is the Taraka Rajà-Yogà School. Its teaching recognises only three “principles” in fact; but then, in reality, their Sthulopadi, or the physical body in its jagrata or waking conscious state, their Sukshmopadhi, the same body in svapna or the dreaming state, and their Karanopadhi or “causal body”, or that which passes from one incarnation to another, are all dual in their aspects, and thus make six. Add to this Atma, the impersonal divine principle or the immortal element in Man, undistinguished from the Universal Spirit, and you have the same seven, again, as in the esoteric division.[ See “Secret Doctrine” for a clearer explanation]
X. Then it seems almost the same as the division made by mystic Christians: body, soul and spirit?
M. Just the same. We could easily make of the body the vehicle of the “vital Double”; of the latter the vehicle of Life or Prana; of Kamarupa or (animal) soul, the vehicle of the higher and the lower mind, and make of this six principles, crowning the whole with the one immortal spirit. In Occultism, every qualificative change in the state of our consciousness gives to man a new aspect, and if it prevails and becomes part of the living and acting EGO, it must be (and is) [Page 408] given a special name, to distinguish the man in that particular state from the man he is when he places himself in another state.
X. It is just that which is so difficult to understand.
M. It seems to me very easy, on the contrary, once that you have seized the main idea, i.e., that man acts on this, or another plane of consciousness, in strict accordance with his mental and spiritual condition. But such is the materialism of the age that the more we explain, the less people seem capable of understanding what we say. Divide the terrestrial being called man into three chief aspects, if you like; but, unless you make of him a pure animal, you cannot do less. Take his objective body; the feeling principle in him — which is only a little higher than the instinctual element in the animal — or the vital elementary soul; and that which places him so immeasurably beyond and higher than the animal — i.e., his reasoning soul or “spirit”. Well, if we take these three groups or representative entities, and subdivide them, according to the occult teaching, what do we get?
First of all Spirit (in the sense of the Absolute, and therefore indivisible ALL) or Atma. As this can neither be located nor conditioned in philosophy, being simply that which IS, in Eternity, and as the ALL cannot be absent from even the tiniest geometrical or mathematical point of the universe of matter or substance, it ought not to be called, in truth, a “human” principle at all. Rather, and at best, it is that point in metaphysical Space which the human Monad and its vehicle man, occupy for the period of every life. Now that point is as imaginary as man himself, and in reality is an illusion, a maya; but then for ourselves as for other personal Egos, we are a reality during that fit of illusion called life, and we have to take ourselves into account — in our own fancy at any rate, if no one else does. To make it more conceivable to the human intellect, when first attempting the study of Occultism, and to solve the A.B.C. of the mystery of man, Occultism calls it the seventh principle, the synthesis of the six, and gives it for vehicle the Spiritual Soul, Buddhi. Now the latter conceals a mystery, which is never given to anyone with the exception of irrevocably pledged chelas, those at any rate, who can be safely trusted. Of course there would be less confusion, could it only be told; but, as this is directly concerned with the power of projecting one's double consciously and at will, and as this gift like the “ring of Gyges” might prove very fatal to men at large and to the possessor of that faculty in particular, it is carefully guarded. Alone the adepts, who have been tried and can never be found wanting have the key of the mystery fully divulged to them... Let us avoid side issues, however, and hold to the “ principles”. This divine soul or Buddhi, then, is the Vehicle of the Spirit. In conjunction, these two are one, impersonal, and without any attributes (on this plane, of course), and make two spiritual “principles”. If we pass on to the Human Soul (manas, the mens) everyone will agree that the intelligence of man is [Page 409] dual to say the least: e.g. the high-minded man can hardly become low-minded; the very intellectual and spiritual-minded man is separated by an abyss from the obtuse, dull and material, if not animal-minded man. Why then should not these men be represented by two “principles” or two aspects rather? Every man has these two principles in him, one more active than the other, and in rare cases, one of these is entirely stunted in its growth: so to say paralysed by the strength and predominance of the other aspect, during the life of man. These, then, are what we call the two principles or aspects of Manas, the higher and the lower; the former, the higher Manas, or the thinking, conscious EGO gravitating toward the Spiritual Soul (Buddhi); and the latter, or its instinctual principle attracted to Kama, the seat of animal desires and passions in man. Thus, we have four “principles” justified; the last three being ( 1) the “Double” which we have agreed to call Protean, or Plastic Soul; the vehicle of (2) the life principle and (3) the physical body. Of course no Physiologist or Biologist will accept these principles, nor can he make head or tail of them. And this is why, perhaps, none of them understand to this day either the functions of the spleen, the physical vehicle of the Protean Double, or those of a certain organ on the right side of man, the seat of the above mentioned desires, nor yet does he know anything of the pineal gland, which he describes as a horny gland with a little sand in it, and which is the very key to the highest and divinest consciousness in man — his omniscient, spiritual and all embracing mind. This seemingly useless appendage is the pendulum which, once the clock-work of the inner man is wound up, carries the spiritual vision of the EGO to the highest planes of perception, where the horizon open before it becomes almost infinite. ...
X. But the scientific materialists assert that after the death of man nothing remains; that the human body simply disintegrates into its component elements, and that what we call soul is merely a temporary self-consciousness produced as a bye-product of organic action, which will evaporate like steam. Is not theirs a strange state of mind?
M. Not strange at all, that I see. If they say that self-consciousness ceases with the body, then in their case they simply utter an unconscious prophecy. For once that they are firmly convinced of what they assert, no conscious after-life is possible for them.
X. But if human self-consciousness survives death as a rule, why should there be exceptions?
M. In the fundamental laws of the spiritual world which are immutable, no exception is possible. But there are rules for those who see, and rules for those who prefer to remain blind.
X. Quite so, I understand. It is an aberration of a blind man, who denies the existence of the sun because he does not see it. But after death his spiritual eyes will certainly compel him to see?
M. They will not compel him, nor will he see anything. Having persistently [Page 410] denied an after-life during this life, he will be unable to sense it. His spiritual senses having been stunted, they cannot develop after death, and he will remain blind. By insisting that he must see it, you evidently mean one thing and I another. You speak of the spirit from the Spirit, or the flame from the Flame — of Atma in short — and you confuse it with the human soul — Manas...... You do not understand me, let me try to make it clear. The whole gist of your question is to know whether, in the case of a downright materialist, the complete loss of self-consciousness and self-perception after death is possible? Isn't it so? I say: It is possible. Because, believing firmly in our Esoteric Doctrine, which refers to the post-mortem period, or the interval between two lives or births as merely a transitory state, I say: – Whether that interval between two acts of the illusionary drama of life lasts one year or a million, that post-mortem state may, without any breach of the fundamental law, prove to be just the same state as that of a man who is in a dead swoon.
X. But since you have just said that the fundamental laws of the after-death state admit of no exceptions, how can this be?
M. Nor do I say now that they admit of exceptions. But the spiritual law of continuity applies only to things which are truly real. To one who has read and understood Mundakya Upanishad and Vedanta-Sara all this becomes very clear. I will say more: it is sufficient to understand what we mean by Buddhi and the duality of Manas to have a very clear perception why the materialist may not have a self-conscious survival after death: because Manas, in its lower aspect, is the seat of the terrestrial mind, and, therefore, can give only that perception of the Universe which is based on the evidence of that mind, and not on our spiritual vision. It is said in our Esoteric school that between Buddhi and Manas, or Iswara and Pragna, [ Iswara is the collective consciousness of the manifested deity, Brahmâ, i.e., the collective consciousness of the Host of Dhyan Chohans; and Pragna is their individual wisdom] — there is in reality no more difference than between a forest and its trees, a lake and its waters, just as Mundakya teaches. One or hundreds of trees dead from loss of vitality, or uprooted, are yet incapable of preventing the forest from being still a forest. The destruction or post-mortem death of one personality dropped out of the long series, will not cause the smallest change in the Spiritual divine Ego, and it will ever remain the same EGO. Only, instead of experiencing Devachan it will have to immediately reincarnate.
X. But as I understand it, Ego-Buddhi represents in this simile the forest and the personal minds the trees. And if Buddhi is immortal, how can that which is similar to it, i.e., Manas-taijasi [ Taijasi means the radiant in consequence of the union with Buddhi of Manas, the human, illuminated by the radiance of the divine soul. Therefore Manas-taijasi may be described as radiant mind; the human reason lit by the light of the spirit; and Buddhi-Manas is the representation of the divine plus the human intellect and self-consciousness] — lose entirely its consciousness till the day of its new incarnation? I cannot understand it.
M. You cannot, because you will mix up an abstract representation [Page 411] of the whole with its casual changes of form; and because you confuse Manas-taijasi, the Buddhi-lit human soul, with the latter, animalized. Remember that if it can be said of Buddhi that it is unconditionally immortal, the same cannot be said of Manas, still less of taijasi, which is an attribute. No post-mortem consciousness or Manas-Taijasi, can exist apart from Buddhi, the divine soul, because the first (Manas) is, in its lower aspect, a qualificative attribute of the terrestrial personality, and the second (taijasi) is identical with the first, and that it is the same Manas only with the light of Buddhi reflected on it. In its turn, Buddhi would remain only an impersonal spirit without this element which it borrows from the human soul, which conditions and makes of it, in this illusive Universe, as it were something separate from the universal soul for the whole period of the cycle of incarnation. Say rather that Buddhi-Manas can neither die nor lose its compound self-consciousness in Eternity, nor the recollection of its previous incarnations in which the two — i.e. the spiritual and the human soul, had been closely linked together. But it is not so in the case of a materialist, whose human soul not only receives nothing from the divine soul, but even refuses to recognise its existence. You can hardly apply this axiom to the attributes and qualifications of the human soul, for it would be like saying that because your divine soul is immortal, therefore the bloom on your cheek must also be immortal; whereas this bloom, like taijasi, or spiritual radiance, is simply a transitory phenomenon.
X. Do I understand you to say that we must not mix in our minds the noumenon with the phenomenon, the cause with its effect ?
M. I do say so, and repeat that, limited to Manas or the human soul alone, the radiance of Taijasi itself becomes a mere question of time; because both immortality and consciousness after death become for the terrestrial personality of man simply conditioned attributes, as they depend entirely on conditions and beliefs created by the human soul itself during the life of its body. Karma acts incessantly: we reap in our after-life only the fruit of that which we have ourselves sown, or rather created, in our terrestrial existence.
X. But if my Ego can, after the destruction of my body, become plunged in a state of entire unconsciousness, then where can be the punishment for the sins of my past life?
M. Our philosophy teaches that Karmic punishment reaches the Ego only in its next incarnation. After death it receives only the reward for the unmerited sufferings endured during its just past existence. [Some Theosophists have taken exception to this phrase, but the words are those of the Masters, and the meaning attached to the word “unmerited” is that given above. In the T. P.S. pamphlet No.6, a phrase, criticised subsequently in LUCIFER was used, which was intended to convey the same idea. In form however it was awkward and open to the criticism directed against it; but the essential idea was that men often suffer from the effects of the actions done by others, effects which thus do not strictly belong to their own Karma, but to that of other people — and for these sufferings they of course deserve compensation. If it is true to say that nothing that happens to us can be anything else than Karma – or the direct or indirect effect of a cause — it would be a great error to think that every evil or good which befalls us is due only to our own personal Karma. ( Vide further on.) ] [Page 412] The whole punishment after death, even for the materialist, consists therefore in the absence of any reward and the utter loss of the consciousness of one's bliss and rest. Karma — is the child of the terrestrial Ego, the fruit of the actions of the tree which is the objective personality visible to all, as much as the fruit of all the thoughts and even motives of the spiritual “I ”; but Karma is also the tender mother, who heals the wounds inflicted by her during the preceding life, before she will begin to torture this Ego by inflicting upon him new ones. If it may be said that there is not a mental or physical suffering in the life of a mortal, which is not the fruit and consequence of some sin in this, or a preceding existence, on the other hand, since he does not preserve the slightest recollection of it in his actual life, and feels himself not deserving of such punishment, but believes sincerely he suffers for no guilt of his own, this alone is quite sufficient to entitle the human soul to the fullest consolation, rest and bliss in his post-mortem existence. Death comes to our spiritual selves ever as a deliverer and friend. For the materialist, who, notwithstanding his materialism, was not a bad man, the interval between the two lives will be like the unbroken and placid sleep of a child; either entirely dreamless, or with pictures of which he will have no definite perception. For the believer it will be a dream as vivid as life and full of realistic bliss and visions. As for the bad and cruel man, whether materialist or otherwise, he will be immediately reborn and suffer his hell on earth. To enter Avitchi is an exceptional and rare occurrence.
X. As far as I remember, the periodical incarnations of Sutratma [Our immortal and reincarnating principle in conjunction with the Manasic recollections of the preceding lives is called Sutratma, which means literally the Thread-Soul; because like the pearls on a thread so is the long series of human lives strung together on that one thread. Manas must become taijasi, the radiant, before it can hang on the Sutratma as a pearl on its thread, and so have full and absolute perception of itself in the Eternity. As said before, too close association with the terrestrial mind of the human soul alone causes this radiance to be entirely lost ] are likened in some Upanishad to the life of a mortal which oscillates periodically between sleep and waking. This does not seem to me very clear, and I will tell you why. For the man who awakes, another day commences, but that man is the same in soul and body as he was the day before; whereas at every new incarnation a full change takes place not only in his external envelope, sex and personality, but even in his mental and psychic capacities. Thus the simile does not seem to me quite correct. The man who arises from sleep remembers quite clearly what he has done yesterday, the day before, and even months and years ago. But none of us has the slightest recollection of a preceding life or any fact or event concerning it... I may forget in the morning what I have dreamed during the night, still I know that I have slept and have the certainty that I lived during sleep; but what recollection have I of my past incarnation? How do you reconcile this ?
M. Yet some people do recollect their past incarnations. This is what the Arhats call Samma-Sambuddha — or the knowledge of the whole series of one's past incarnations. [Page 413]
X. But we ordinary mortals who have not reached Samma-Sambuddha, how can we be expected to realize this simile?
M. By studying it and trying to understand more correctly the characteristics of the three states of sleep. Sleep is a general and immutable law for man as for beast, but there are different kinds of sleep and still more different dreams and visions.
X. Just so. But this takes us from our subject. Let us return to the materialist who, while not denying dreams, which he could hardly do, yet denies immortality in general and the survival of his own individuality especially.
M. And the materialist is right for once, at least; since for one who has no inner perception and faith, there is no immortality possible. In order to live in the world to come a conscious life, one has to believe first of all in that life during one's terrestrial existence. On these two aphorisms of the Secret Science all the philosophy about the post-mortem consciousness and the immortality of the soul is built. The Ego receives always according to its deserts. After the dissolution of the body, there commences for it either a period of full clear consciousness, a state of chaotic dreams, or an utterly dreamless sleep indistinguishable from annihilation; and these are the three states of consciousness. Our physiologists find the cause of dreams and visions in an unconscious preparation for them during the waking hours; why cannot the same be admitted for the post-mortem dreams? I repeat it, death is sleep. After death begins, before the spiritual eyes of the soul, a performance according to a programme learnt and very often composed unconsciously by ourselves: the practical carrying out of correct beliefs or of illusions which have been created by ourselves. A Methodist, will be Methodist. a Mussulman, a Mussulman, of course, just for a time — in a perfect fool's paradise of each man’s creation and making. These are the post-mortem fruits of the tree of life. Naturally, our belief or unbelief in the fact of conscious immortality is unable to influence the unconditioned reality of the fact itself, once that it exists; but the belief or unbelief in that immortality, as the continuation or annihilation of separate entities, cannot fail to give colour to that fact in its application to each of these entities. Now do you begin to understand it?
X. I think I do. The materialist, disbelieving in everything that cannot be proven to him by his five senses or by scientific reasoning, and rejecting every spiritual manifestation, accepts life as the only conscious existence. Therefore, according to their beliefs so will it be unto them. They will lose their personal Ego, and will plunge into a dreamless sleep until a new awakening. Is it so?
M. Almost so. Remember the universal esoteric teaching of the two kinds of conscious existence: the terrestrial and the spiritual. The latter must be considered real from the very fact that it is the region of the eternal, changeless, immortal cause of all; whereas the incarnating [Page 414] Ego dresses itself up in new garments entirely different from those of its previous incarnations, and in which all except its spiritual prototype is doomed to a change so radical as to leave no trace behind.
X. Stop! ...Can the consciousness of my terrestrial Egos perish not only for a time, like the consciousness of the materialist, but in any case so entirely as to leave no trace behind?
M. According to the teaching, it must so perish and in its fulness, all except that principle which, having united itself with the Monad, has thereby become a purely spiritual and indestructible essence, one with it in the Eternity. But in the case of an out and out materialist, in whose personal “ I ” no Buddhi has ever reflected itself, how can the latter carry away into the infinitudes one particle of that terrestrial personality? Your spiritual “ I ” is immortal; but from your present Self it can carry away into after-life but that which has become worthy of immortality, namely, the aroma alone of the flower that has been mown by death.
X. Well, and the flower, the terrestrial “ I” ?
M. The flower, as all past and future flowers which blossomed and died, and will blossom again on the mother bough, the Sutratma, all children of one root or Buddhi, will return to dust. Your present “I”, as you yourself know, is not the body now sitting before me, nor yet is it what I would call Manas-Sutratma — but Sutratma-Buddhi.
X. But this does not explain to me at all, why you call life after death immortal, infinite, and real, and the terrestrial life a simple phantom or illusion; since even that post-mortem life has limits, however much wider they may be than those of terrestrial life.
M. No doubt. The spiritual Ego of man moves in Eternity like a pendulum between the hours of life and death. But if these hours marking the periods of terrestrial and spiritual life are limited in their duration, and if the very number of such stages in Eternity between sleep and awakening, illusion and reality, has its beginning and its end, on the other hand the spiritual “Pilgrim” is eternal. Therefore are the hours of his post-mortem life — when, disembodied he stands face to face with truth and not the mirages of his transitory earthly existences during the period of that pilgrimage which we call “the cycle of rebirths” — the only reality in our conception. Such intervals, their limitation notwithstanding, do not prevent the Ego, while ever perfecting itself, to be following undeviatingly, though gradually and slowly, the path to its last transformation, when that Ego having reached its goal becomes the divine ALL. These intervals and stages help towards this final result instead of hindering it; and without such limited intervals the divine Ego could never reach its ultimate goal. This Ego is the actor, and its numerous and various incarnations the parts it plays. Shall you call these parts with their costumes the individuality of the actor himself? Like that actor, the Ego is forced [Page 415] to play during the Cycle of Necessity up to the very threshold of Para-nirvana, many parts such as may be unpleasant to it. But as the bee collects its honey from every flower, leaving the rest as food for the earthly worms, so does our spiritual individuality, whether we call it Sutratma or Ego. It collects from every terrestrial personality into which Karma forces it to incarnate, the nectar alone of the spiritual qualities and self-consciousness, and uniting all these into one whole it emerges from its chrysalis as the glorified Dhyan Chohan. So much the worse for those terrestrial personalities from which it could collect nothing. Such personalities cannot assuredly outlive consciously their terrestrial existence.
X. Thus then it seems, that for the terrestrial personality, immortality is still conditional. Is then immortality itself not unconditional?
M. Not at all. But it cannot touch the non-existent. For all that which exists as SAT, ever aspiring to SAT, immortality and Eternity are absolute. Matter is the opposite pole of spirit and yet the two are one. The essence of all this, i.e. Spirit, Force and Matter, or the three in one, is as endless as it is beginningless; but the form acquired by this triple unity during its incarnations, the externality, is certainly only the illusion of our personal conceptions. Therefore do we call the after-life alone a reality, while relegating the terrestrial life, its terrestrial personality included, to the phantom realm of illusion.
X. But why in such a case not call sleep the reality, and waking the illusion, instead of the reverse?
M. Because we use an expression made to facilitate the grasping of the subject, and from the standpoint of terrestrial conceptions it is a very correct one.
X. Nevertheless, I cannot understand. If the life to come is based on justice and the merited retribution for all our terrestial suffering, how, in the case of materialists many of whom are ideally honest and charitable men, should there remain of their personality nothing but the refuse of a faded flower !
M. No one ever said such a thing. No materialist, if a good man, however unbelieving, can die for ever in the fulness of his spiritual individuality. What was said is, that the consciousness of one life can disappear either fully or partially; in the case of a thorough materialist, no vestige of that personality which disbelieved remains in the series of lives.
X. But is this not annihilation to the Ego?
M. Certainly not. One can sleep a dead sleep during a long railway journey, miss one or several stations without the slightest recollection or consciousness of it, awake at another station and continue the journey recollecting other halting places, till the end of that journey, when the goal is reached. Three kinds of sleep were mentioned to you: the dreamless, the chaotic, and the one so real, that to the sleeping man his dreams become full realities. If you believe in the latter why can't you [Page 416] believe in the former? According to what one has believed in and expected after death, such is the state one will have. He who expected no life to come will have an absolute blank amounting to annihilation in the interval between the two rebirths. This is just the carrying out of the programme we spoke of, and which is created by the materialist himself. But there are various kinds of materialists, as you say. A selfish wicked Egoist, one who never shed a tear for anyone but himself, thus adding entire indifference to the whole world to his unbelief, must drop at the threshold of death his personality for ever. This personality having no tendrils of sympathy for the world around, and hence nothing to hook on to the string of the Sutratma, every connection between the two is broken with the last breath. There being no Devachan for such a materialist, the Sutratma will re-incarnate almost immediately. But those materialists who erred in nothing but their disbelief, will oversleep but one station. Moreover, the time will come when the ex-materialist will perceive himself in the Eternity and perhaps repent that he lost even one day, or station, from the life eternal.
X. Still, would it not be more correct to say that death is birth into a new life, or a return once more to the threshold of eternity?
M. You may if you like. Only remember that births differ, and that there are births of “still-born” beings, which are failures. Moreover, with your fixed Western ideas about material life, the words “living”, and “being” are quite inapplicable to the pure subjective state of post-mortem existence. It is just because of such ideas — save in a few philosophers who are not read by the many and who themselves are too confused to present a distinct picture of it — that all your conceptions of life and death have finally become so narrow. On the one hand, they have led to crass materialism, and on the other, to the still more material conception of the other life which the Spiritualists have formulated in their SummerIand. There the souls of men eat, drink and marry, and live in a Paradise quite as sensual as that of Mohammed, but even less philosophical. Nor are the average conceptions of the uneducated Christians any better, but are still more material, if possible. What between truncated Angels, brass trumpets, golden harps, streets in paradisiacal cities paved with jewels, and hell-fires, it seems like a scene at a Christmas pantomime. It is because of these narrow conceptions that you find such difficulty in understanding. And, it is also just because the life of the disembodied soul, while possessing all the vividness of reality, as in certain dreams, is devoid of every grossly objective form of terrestrial life, that the Eastern philosophers have compared it with visions during sleep.
X & M ( by HPB, acc G: see Corbett Extvah) [Page 417]
The sombre depth of southern wood.
A fine leaf-scented atmosphere.
A spot so hushed I almost feel
The heart of silence throbbing here
The only sound upon the air,
A subtle note of harmony,
The lullaby of yonder brook
That sings my mood to reverie.
Another hour; another scene,
The clime less soft and sensuous sweet
Comes back to me in vivid dream.
Again I walk, with joyous feet,
The narrow path that winds between
The close-grown trunks of social trees
Whose branches keep a lazy time
To music in the low-tuned breeze.
Another brook as softly sings
Its purling way o’er pebbly bed,
While all the vibrant verdure breathes
Its tender secrets overhead.
And somewhere from the leafy shade
That screens him from too-curious eyes
The poet of the wood awakes
Vague memories of Paradise.
Why do I start in sudden way,
While strangely all pulses thrill?
Did I but dream, or did I hear
Again that thrush’s liquid trill?
No sound, no motion, stirs the dense
Green canopy above my head.
And wooing back the spell, I search
For that fair day-dream’s broken thread.
Ah! suddenly it falls again,
Soft breaking through the mystic hush,
Pure, pristine strain from Paradise.
Unerring soul; it is thy thrush! [Page 418]
How came he here, sweet rover from
That land beneath those distant skies?
I only know he is the same,
And listen, awed, with humid eyes,
For him to greet me once again
With that long-loved, familiar note.
What told the bird I wandered here,
An exile in these wilds remote?
Was it some kindred chrod of pain
That drew him to this dim retreat,
My aching, home-sick heart to stir
With strain half sad, yet wholly sweet?
Dear, gentle bird!— a wanderer, too —
Since this far land is dear to thee,
No more will I, a stranger, pine
Where'er thou art is home to me.
Mary R. Shippey
A TRADITION OF AN OLD SCOTCH FAMILY
A Theosophist, a gentleman living in Edinburgh, writes to tell us about this most extraordinary occurence: —
“A wealthy landed proprietor in Scotland had to leave home for a few days on business. The road from his house was visible for over a mile from the windows. His wie watched him going along till a small clum of trees hid him from sight; the road was plainly visible on either side, but she never saw him emerge. She thought little of this till several days passed and he neither came back nor sent any message. Then the whole country was searched and all possible inquiries made, but without results. A year later she died. The family vault was opened for her burial and there was found a fresh coffin, the plate bearing the husband's name, and the date of death the very day on which he had left. The coffin was opened and the body clearly identified, with no mark of violence on it. But by what means he died, or how his body came to be in a closely walled-up vault, under a family chapel, which would take a number of workmen considerable time to open, has never been ascertained”.
Unfortunely, the family are averse to making their name public. Nor are we told whether the coffin could be traced to any store or workshop, in Scotland or England. [Page 419]
A GENTLEMAN, as great a materialist as ever lived, writes as follows to a lady theosophist : –
“On the night of Monday last (New Year's Eve) as I lay in my bed, in a somnolent state, between sleeping and waking, the lines which follow seemed chanted as from a distance. It could scarcely be said to be in an audible voice but like the ringing recollection of some old familiar song surging up anew on the echoes of memory. It was between two and three in the morning, but I woke up and committed the words to paper — literally — as they again came to me. I know not whether they be my own lines or not, but I know that they cost me no effort or study whatsoever, and so far as I am conscious, have never been heard or read by me at any previous time.
“I think that your Ladyship might possibly like to have a copy of these verses, so different in the mode of their production from my usual compositions. If these verses be indeed mine, they must have been produced by an act of unconscious cerebration or automatic reflex action of the Brain. That is the only explanation I can give. I here subjoin them, and remain, etc, etc,”
Behold! a Light is beaming
From loftiest Centres streaming
On worlds of wonders gleaming
Far spreads the Light, descending
Thick clouds of darkness rending;
The lone and sad befriending;
All truths eternal blending
For evermore !
Far thro' the distant ages,
'Twas hail'd by Guardian Sages,
It 'lumed the sacred pages
Of ancient Lore!
The Powers new Life are granting
To waken'd mortals panting;
Bright flowers of Eden planting
From shore to shore !
The following bit of poetry was given under the same conditions: —
There's a Spirit in Man that's unmeasured in might,
That's born for the Victory – born for the Light !
That's born yet to conquer the Powers that oppress,
And the Gardens of Paradise yet to possess !
Though toilsome its path through the Ages afar,
Though 'tis bound to the sod, it shall soar to the star !
Though the coils of the flesh and the Powers of the Air
May have league to enswathe it in bands of despair;
Unscathed by the Battle – unsinged by the Flame –
Mid Charnel's corruption, itself, and the same !
As air of the Mountain unfettered and free,
It breathes o'er the City – it sweeps o'er the Sea !
Though sunk in pollution – though lapsed and depraved,
Through aeons of anguish it yet shall be saved !
Though its garments be stain'd – though its wings be defiled —
A Star on its brow! 'Tis Eternity's Child ! [Page 420]
(a great materialist)
[The author, a foreigner, has never before written in this language. But, believing that timidity is neither a theosophical virtue nor an English vice, he hopes the reader will forgive him this attempt at Theosophy in English.]
OCCULT knowledge is said to consist of a finite number of axioms, infinite in their applications. In reality there is only one truth, which is to be expressed by one “word”, and to be understood in that unique state where the knower, the knowledge and the known are all one. But the lighted area widening as the rays travel further from the central sun, the number of such axioms, as weIl as of the corollaries in which their bearings must be pointed out, depends entirely on the degree of advancement of the student himself. Words, numerous and elaborate, may fail sometimes to awaken the intended feeling, while a glance will in other cases be sufficient: each occult axiom may be dissected into volumes or condensed into one symbol, by the living power of which clouds of sunken thoughts will be roused in the minds of initiates.
Of such symbols the cross is one. Metaphysically, it means that the existence of opposites is the condition of existence: that is, of existence such as we can conceive or understand, of finite or mayavic existence. For everything finite is a delusion compared with the infinite reality, where the two poles of the egg-shaped universe merge into the omnipresent centre of the limitless and consequently formless sphere.
As the sense of depth in ocular or stereoscopic vision is due to the angle between the retinas or the lenses, so the universal mirage is due to the strabism of the seer. Theological as weIl as materialistic doctrines are superficial, because each of them insists on looking at truth with but one eye. God, or the good, without the devil, or evil, is a one-sided abstraction, just as matter or body without force or spirit. To those who will use both eyes, the devil will appear no longer as a son of God, but as his wife, and these two abstractions will be found united by so strong a partnership, that the removal of the one would cause the instant disappearance of its complementary Maya. One-sided were also the puzzled and puzzling enquiries of all our modern philosophers into the problem of the antinomies of pure reason, which Hamilton has formulated in what he calls the law of the conditioned. “All that is conceivable in thought lies between two extremes, which, as contradictory to each other, cannot both be true, but of which, as mutual contradictories, one must”. We need but slightly alter the wording of this problem to obtain its solution, and at the same time to express one of the deepest occult axioms: “All that is conceivable, that is to say, finite and illusory, lies between two extremes APPARENTLY contradictory but ABSOLUTELY identical”.
The deepest of such antinomies, and the source of all others, lies between ego and non-ego, between that in us which is conscious of everything else and every thing of which we are conscious. On the material plane the area of demarcation [Page 421] is the surface itself of our body: we say that we are hurt, when any part of our flesh garment is injured; and too many are those amongst us whose chief or only care is this sensitive though coarse self. On the mental plane, the wall is built between our own souls and the thoughts, feelings and desires of others; here, already, the castle is not so jealously closed as to exclude sympathy with similar tastes or interests: hence association raises man from amongst the beasts. But as we proceed higher, into the spiritual world, we perceive that all the things we call ours, soul as well as body, are only the instruments of our real self, which, as a ray of the universal Atma, is in no way distinct or separated from other rays. Deep within the strata of our constitution lies that hidden spring of all our volitions, thoughts and feelings. And it is only when we have drunk its pure waters of life that we can know Ananda, and taste that real happiness, the desire of which has been the spur of our weary and thirsty soul through the misery of its pilgrimage; because then, as far as being extends, there is no longer anything distinct from our own being.
It will be easily perceived that such a state of be-ness is absolutely different from anything we can conceive under the term existence. Indeed, one and all of the qualifications by which beings are constituted are inadequate to it.
Perfection of being seems at first sight to imply perfection of form. Various and beautiful are the shapes under which artists, poets and seers have pictured the celestial inhabitants, the ideal, airy fancies in which their pure aspirations hoped to dwell or remembered having dwelt; devas with their beautiful monstrosities and appalling powers; houris, with the fathomless love in their eyes and the flowing vesture of their dark locks; angels, chaste and white, with the dove-like softness of their four great wings. And they are not mere fancies, these dreamy glimpses of other worlds and other planes of existence; but a moment's thought will show that, a form being constituted by its very limits, perfect being cannot have any form at all.
For perfect being is nothing, if not limitless; towards an ever-growing extension tends the ever-progressing evolution. Enclosed within our prison of flesh, we have grown senses all around ourselves, and millions of years were busily spent by nature that we might have sight to enjoy the light and hearing to listen to the word. Our intellect has extended those senses; we have helped our eyes by the range of the telescope, our walk by the impetuosity of steam, our voice by the flash of electricity. If the ancients attached wings to the feet or shoulders of their heroes, even more than they, are we justified in conceiving that the power of a god may be measured by the reach of his arm. But the same reflection will convince us that infinitude is too great to have any size.
Similarly, time is too eternal to last. Our present, which is already gone, is nothing but a shadow sandwiched between the past, which is no more, and the future, which is not yet. So strong is our desire for the continuance of life, that we always forget the past and its dim regrets in favour of an ever brighter and more hopeful future. Hence immortality seems to be essential to perfect happiness, and we should have reason to envy the ambrosia of the Olympians, if Manus' dire logic had not warned us that even the gods must die.
Some will say, justly enough, that the life of ephemeridae, spent in dance and turmoil, is longer than the cold and infinitesimal growth of the Lebanon cedar, [Page 422] and that a few moments of deep love or even bitter emotion are worth three-score years of golden idleness. Shall we rest sure, at least, that vividness of consciousness is the real standard of the perfection of being? Alas, this supreme satisfaction will also elude our embrace. For a being conscious of all could not be conscious of any one thing, and omniscience is, to our limited minds, synonymous with nescience. We can find our self only by losing ourselves, for “how could we know the knower?” and how could the only reality appear as anything?
Such reasoning, although as old as human thought, may seem new to our paradoxical age; and this is scarcely to be wondered at, in a universe which is itself nothing but a vast paradox. Yet all sacred books and mystic lore teach us that liberation can be acquired only by sacrifice; that in order to get knowledge we must forget personality; that Nirvana is a state of absorption, of extinction in absolute light; and that nothing appears to the Jivan-Mukta as different from himself: all names, all forms, all distinctions have vanished, even the fundamental one between ego and non-ego. And this unity, this permanent centre of existence, is also the focus of all evolution. “In the beginning, all this was Self, one only! ”
The reflexion of this subjective duality endows objectivity with its poles. Owing to the distinction between the knower and the known, all knowledge presents a double aspect. Space appears as great and small, time as long and short, movement as quick and slow. Yet the limits of both tendencies are unthinkable. Vainly does our imagination fly from earth to sun, from the solar system to the stars, from the milky way to the nebulae: when it has struck its forehead against the dark mysteries of the beyond, it has advanced no further than when resting in its humility. And if, frightened by the abyss, we recoil into minuteness, if we explore the universes which our bodies are to their cells, the planets which our blood-corpuscles are to the organisms living in them, we find ourselves lost again, where there hardly seems to be room for movement, and we have to exclaim with a Chinese sage: “Nothing is greater than the small ! ”
To the conception of space are closely allied those of time and motion, for none of the three can be conceived independently from the others. But in vain would we swell our minds' capacity from the ages of the gods to the ages of Brahmâ, for all the tears of humanity are nothing more than a drop in the ocean of eternity. On the other hand, dream-experience shows us that hours may be condensed into the duration of a breath: thousands of entities may have lived and accomplished their life-task after a momentary explosion is over; and the twinkling of an eye, if it could not be sub-divided, would be no part of time. The existence of the present, as a mathematical line dividing the past from the future, is nothing but a delusion; and yet eternity is run through by that nothingness; because in reality the present and the eternal are one and the same. By the same delusion do we speak of causes and effects: a first cause and a last effect are mere abstractions, because both merge into the absolute; and phenomena are but irridescences on the soap-bubble of Maya, which hangs from the unknown, and expands by the unknown breath.
We should have very different ideas about motion if we were enclosed in an [Page 423] oyster-shell, or again if we moved along a flash of lightning. All degrees of movement, from electricity to light, from a ray to a thought, are comprised between absolute rest, which is to be found nowhere in nature, and absolute rapidity, which is evidently nothing else but omnipresence, that is to say, rest again. So motion, like time and space, returns upon itself, and every speed, every duration, every expansion, lies between two extremes, apparently contradictory, but absolutely identical.
To this absolute identity, which is at the same time the primary and the ultimate unit from which both scales start and to which they tend, we have given the name of Omnipresence, which applies equally to an instant and to eternity, to a point and to infinity, to stillness and to unperceivable rapidity. But Omnipresence, and this is what we have been driving at, is also the essential quality of what we should conceive as perfect consciousness, and that is why religions have attributed it to God. Consciousness is co-extensive with space, with motion, with time; nothing extends, nothing moves, nothing lasts, but consciousness is able to take cognizance of it, is adequate to its extension; speed and duration expand with it, move with it, last with it. Truly has it been said that no world would exist if there was no consciousness whatever to know its existence. We shall go further and say that through consciousness everything exists, moves and lasts; for it endows space, time and motion, with measure and quality, with name and form. There is no such thing as size or duration per se; bodies are great or small only by comparison with each other, and consciousness alone decides between them, bringing forward, at its own tribunal, the standard adopted by itself. Whether such standard remains invariable from no-beginning to no-end, or whether the Heavenly consciousness awakes in different moods at each manvantaric dawn, is a question of no practical interest to us. Once consciousness is limited by an angle of vision, the horizon of eternity must appear to it as intersected by the sides of this angle, as a basis or upadhi more or less distant, as a straight line between the two points of positivity and negativity; once consciousness is established at one of the extremities of the cross, space, motion and time stand in their places at the three other extremities. But in the absolute, all the four, returning, so to say, upon themselves, merge into the point of intersection, which in symbology becomes the centre of the circle, the emblem of their incomprehensible unity. The rose has closed its petals and sleeps. Nothing is left but the One Element, which is at the same time consciousness and duration, life and movement, space (form) and substance. All the seven rest in the womb of the unknowable, mixed and yet distinct, like the undeveloped yet complete flower in the lotus-bud.
Thus, in the macrocosm as well as in the microcosm, everything appears dual, while in reality ALL THINGS ARE ONE. The point in the circle, the germ in the egg, Thaï-y in Tao, Aditi in Tat, Mulaprakriti in Parabrahm, Sephira in Ain-Soph, this mysterious Thebaw, the arch where the prototype of the universe is preserved during the deluges of darkness, is the only thing which exists, has existed, and will exist, whether the world subsists or not, whether there are gods or none, whether Brahmâ is asleep or awake. About the non-being which is identical with be-ness, about the no-number which yields number, about the zero [Page 424] equal to the circle, the nothing identical with all, we need not say anything, as its sacredness transcends all human speculation. But even this metaphysically if not easily comprehensible Omnipresence, which is the only visible side of the hidden sun, must be carefully guarded against the sacrilegious attempts of anthropomorphism; and although we have just seen China and the Veda agree on this point with Vedantism and the Kabala, we cannot, however earnest our desire, include in their synthesis systems which have only raised to minor levels the minds of their followers. We cannot re-cognize anything approaching this concept of omnipresent unity in what the moderns generally understand by the term God. We cannot conceive how any being, let alone a personal one, could be the absolute being, and at the same time omnipotent and omnipresent, infinite and first cause, supremely good and perfectly conscious; for Balzac, Stuart Mill and Mansel have shown that such attributes hopelessly clash with one another. A cause is related to its effect, a conscious subject to the object he is conscious of, and good is only such relatively to its opposite, evil. If, therefore, we consider such a God as first cause, supreme goodness and perfect consciousness, then he is not the supreme principle, but only one of the extreme principles of creation, and the attributes of absoluteness and infinity must be reserved for the unity in which the essence of substance rests undifferentiated. [These two last attributes, however, are not contradictory to each other, whatever Hamilton may say to the contrary. He arrives at his conclusion by opposing the infinite to the finite; but these two terms are to be superposed and not opposed; for the finite lies between two infinites. The terms to be opposed are the infinitely great and the infinitely small, which merge into equality or absoluteness.] – Occultism understands by God the Spirits of the Universe, and considers the universe as his bodies; but it knows that spirit and matter are only complementary appearances of the one Element.
Our religions are intoxicants to souls thirsty for pure ideal waters. As soon as you question them, they turn their backs, where is written the word Mystery. They affect shame to conceal their unattractiveness; to avoid giving explanations which they have not got, they say that it is profane to ask for them. They are responsible for the superficiality of modern minds, because for ages they have sold toys instead of distributing thoughts. Now-a-days, one must excuse oneself after talking for five minutes on the problems of life; it bothers ladies, and gentlemen too. In vain does the philosopher seek for a man in public thoroughfares: people avoid his lantern.
The recognition of this principle of duality implies a number of consequences. Every accentuation of the distinction between opposites acts as a help to the forces producing universal illusion. The most potent of such forces is that egotism through which subsists the fundamental antagonism between ourselves and everybody or everything else. Individualism, upon which modern society is built, is one of the most nefarious aspects of this powerful agent, and its ever-growing momentum is calculated to plunge humanity deeper and deeper into the mire. Here is a sure criterion of conduct for those who wish to react against this evil, as well as a sound basis for a new morality.
We do not mean that such forces are evil in themselves; they are necessary factors in the world's history. But, as evolution advances to superior planes, these factors must yield to new ones of a different character. It is true enough [Page 425] that competition is one of the springs of material progress, but it is more true still that materiality only represents the lowest arc of the evolutionary circle: and even the recognition of universal opposition would suffice to suggest that individualism being the law of material evolution, altruism must be the law of spiritual growth. This, the sages know to be a fact; but it can be seen by the least far-sighted observer in the tendency to association which characterises the ascending orders of beings, and which, after all, has alone rendered human progress possible. Competition itself is but an association of a peculiar kind; even on the material plane, the evil carries its own remedy. The savage struggle between isolated individuals has necessitated their association in tribes; the conflicts between tribes have induced some of them to ally and form nations, and international wars will eventually result in the union of all humanity. Opposites are also correlatives, and virtue is only a progress upon certain vices. An organised family is a decided improvement upon unruled animal passions; but there may come a day when our patriotism and heroism will be looked upon as vices. The exclusivism of sex will transform itself into unsexual love, the blossom will ripen into the fruit.
There is no conservatism in Nature: all must move or die. And this movement runs in a circle: we have to quicken and follow it, rather than oppose it and run backwards. Will anybody ask children or plants to stop growing? Will you say to a rough that he must cease drinking if he wants to reach Nirvana? He will laugh at you, and drink more. Show him that there are other springs of enthusiasm, initiate him into artistic enjoyment, supply opportunities to his admiration, tempt his power of reasoning by himself; make him feel first, then make him think: you will have awakened a soul, and this soul will spontaneously begin to struggle against the animal. But in presence of vice, disease, and misery, do not drop your hands in despair and ask what is to be done. Follow Nature, who spends vices in order to gain virtues, who boils matter to distil forces: believe Fourier, who said that passions ought not to be stifled, but canalized and utilized. Humanity is ignorant, and with ignorance we have to deal. Philosophers who build to themselves a world of their own are only egotists, who cannot plead the excuse of illusion, while they work to strengthen it.
Truth can never be attained by anyone running along a particular line of thought, to the exclusion of all other lines, or hurrying along his own path, heedless of the distressed calls of fellow-men who travel other ways under difficulty. An ordinary respectable tradesman, versed in the art of drawing gold from other people's pockets into his own family safe, will laugh at you if you argue that those who supply the money which he gives to his wife and children belong to his family also. A doctor knows all the names and habits of bacteria, and can even fight against diseases specially produced by them: but he will never think of destroying the moral bacteria of his patients, being often himself infested with them; and if you say that something ought to be done to remedy prostitution, he will call you a Utopian. A theologian can quote any verses from the Bible, with their commentaries: but if you enquire about the fate of people who never saw the book, or cannot believe it, he will send them altogether to eternal perdition; and if you protest, he will damn you too. [Page 426]
For centuries Christians have been accustomed to look upon humanity as divided into two classes: the good, that is to say the believers, destined to become saints on a sudden; to attain, by the one short step of death, a perfection after which they had only striven at leisure; to enjoy an everlasting happiness after a brief life devoid of unhappy circumstances and irresistible temptations; and the wicked, who did not know better, marked for an eternal and useless suffering without any hope of amendment. As if the wickedness of the most wicked, even of one who should have quenched his anger in the blood of a fellow-man, could equal that of a father who is not to be appeased by an eternal revenge, so great is his horror of sin! Oh! give us back the Greek gods and goddesses, who were only a little more virtuous at times, but never much more vicious, than ordinary mortals.
For ages, the device of humanity has been “Vae Victis”; and men were born free or slaves, lords or vassals, noble or vulgar, civilized or barbarians, believers or infidels, rich or poor, virtuous or vicious. In vain did Karma put slavish souls into bodies filled with blue blood, and elicit geniuses, nay, even redeemers, from the ranks of the toilers; in vain did Nature chastise all her children with impartial suffering, equal folly, similar diseases and chaotic corruption. Men took the hint only partially: they have begun to understand that they can improve and must help Nature; but while physical science is studying every fibre of our frames in order to secure health for all, while the newly-born social science is striving to establish equal rights and impartial laws, religion, which ought to console us for animal necessities by preaching spiritual liberation, has been, and is yet, the prostituted slave of might versus right; ready to quote Scripture in favour of slavery, to sing anthems after international slaughter; to sell its pews, in church or heaven, to the highest bidder; always prepared to proclaim the fatality of human curses, to attribute them to original sin, and to preach resignation to those who have nothing to resign: but ever impotent to direct men out of the mire and to prepare the reign of God upon earth.
Man has not yet understood that he has no business to meddle with destiny and to poison it for himself by making it worse for others. He is always ready to submit to Kismet and aggravate fatality, because he ignores the laws of Karma and doubts justice. Indeed, the only devil is ignorance, which makes man despair of his own nature. Evil-doers are exceptions, but wrong-doers are legion. We have a thousand good reasons to avoid condemning others beyond remission: for it is easy to see the acts of men, but very difficult to know their motives: we can see plainly the undesirable results of the work of missionaries for instance, yet their vocation was an impulse of devotion to humanity, corrupted by exclusive devotion to one God. We can see easily the rising tide of vice and crime amongst us, but few trace it to its real cause, the attraction of misery, that satellite of civilization. From distorted souls in emaciated bodies we can expect very little morality. Virtue is a luxury, and those possessed of so great a wealth ought to show it by a great charity.
The habit of drawing hard and fast lines of distinction has permeated all our life, even to our art and literature. Our plays and romances are indebted to it for the types of the perfect traitor, who never thinks but to plan poisonous designs, who never speaks but to blaspheme, who never moves but to strike; [Page 427] and of the perfect hero, always handsome and well-combed, always strong and courageous, always virtuous and successful. Our maidens dream about such princes, and when they awake by the side of an honest, plain fellow, full of the common mixture of good intentions and poor compromises, it is only to fancy that their just hopes have been deceived, and to waste a life in distrust and misery. The poor things do not perceive that the same combination exists in themselves and may be the cause of reciprocal disenchantment. Yet they might easily console themselves for imperfections which are perhaps one of their main charms. I cannot help thinking that we should not get on half so well with angels from Heaven as we can do with our earthly companions. We might feel inclined to follow the example of the man who hanged himself because he had a perfect wife. Truly has it been said that women are neither fools nor angels, but that whoever takes them for angels is a fool.
It has been argued that the devotion to humanity recommended by Theosophy is incompatible with family feelings. Are those creeds then better calculated to strengthen bonds of love, which induce men to look upon death as a possibly eternal separation, after which an infinite bliss will fill their own hearts, shut for ever by some degrading and repulsive process to the agonies and torments of some of their kin? With this prospect of intensified and transcendental egotism, Theosophy, in truth, has nothing to compare. Let it be contented with teaching men actual brotherhood and mutual love. Let those build their stone houses upon interested partnership and momentary lust, who think the human heart too small to contain more than one love, more than one god. Meanwhile, let us cherish our present family, without forgetting that numberless have been our children, and numberless will be our parents; that, born from one and the same light, we must strive all together towards final union; that the sacred books enjoin us to perform fully our duties to humanity, to our race, to our families, in one word to our Selves; and also tell us: “Verily, a wife is not dear, that you may love the wife; but that you may love Atma, therefore a wife is dear”. If there is a people in the world who considered the family as a sacred and divine institution, it is the Chinese, who have written thousands of books upon filial duty, and who believe they hold part of their souls from their ancestors, upon whose altars they offer daily sacrifices. Yet this is what Confucius says in the Classic of Filial Piety: “The Filial Piety of the wise is a tribute of reverence to all fathers under Heaven, his reverence a tribute to all brothers, his submission a tribute to all rulers”, and he recommends reverence towards Heaven and Earth, the father and mother of all creatures. “During the golden age”, says the Book of Rites, “men did not pay reverence only to their own fathers, neither did they treat as sons only their own children. Thus egotism was crushed in the egg”.
Under direction of this same philosopher was composed a little treatise, the name of which can be translated “Doctrine of the Mean”, or “Invariability in the Middle”, or again “Perfect Equilibrium”. Curiously enough, the doctrine contained in it can be understood in three corresponding senses. Simple inspection of the cross will show us that there are three positions between the right and left extremities. First there is a passive equilibrium at the lowest point, representing the state of mind of the man who is unable to decide or [Page 428] even distinguish between the two seers of grain; who is always desirous to spare both parties, never able to satisfy anyone; always ready to follow the strongest, never able to know his own tendency; always anxious to ascertain other people's opinion, never able to form his own; not quite evil, scarcely good; prompt between affirmation and negation, stingy between riches and poverty, tepid between cold and heat: this is the man to whom Christ said: “I will spew thee out of my mouth! ”
Next there is the equilibrium at the centre of the cross, or that worldly wisdom expressed in the adage; “ Virtus in medio”, Of this the book of Confucius treats more specially. He tries to show that wisdom consists in following the middle way, in keeping a perpetual adjustment between the opposite tendencies of life: “Few follow this way, because the learned go beyond, while the fools do not reach it”, yet it is not to be sought for very far, for it is “here and now”, in the nature of man himself. Flying after the unknowable is useless; you may ride even the human passions, provided you rein them into their normal course. For the saint is not so much the virtuous as the just; and the aim of nature seems to be rather the establishment of harmony than the prevalence of goodness.
Order is undoubtedly the way to a good social constitution and to earthly prosperity. But above the extreme, at the upper point of the cross, outside of Maya, in the absolute, stands perfect equilibrium. This can be attained only by those who have equalized the scales of Karma, who have reached again the neutral point from which they had been started into the swing of incarnation. Knowing that our past evolution has been mostly spent in animal passion and human egotism, in ignorance and sin, we cannot doubt that the balance of this enormous debt is to be struck only by a compulsory and hastened payment of altruistic actions and deeds of virtue. Karma cannot be put out of the way; it must be satisfied. Once this equilibrium has been obtained, and to him only who has reached it, virtue and vice become equally indifferent; good and evil, light and darkness, merge into each other and vanish, as, before the reality of dawn, dreams of love disappear together with nightmares. Then the saint can view the pairs of extremes from the standpoint of the great mystic Lao-tzeu, “He regards people as children, and all creatures as the dogs of straw which are to be burnt when the sacrifice is over. Men who are virtuous and sincere, he treats as virtuous and sincere; men who are not virtuous nor sincere, he treats also as virtuous and sincere; and this is the acme of virtue and sincerity”. [Page 429]
THE letter from which the following pages are translated – and which was never meant for publication — was recently addressed to one of the Editors by Madame Camille Lemaître, the friend of our late and regretted brother Louis Dramard, and a most worthy member of the T. S. in France. The tone and spirit of the writer's remarks are so eminently noble, theosophical and altruistic, and the suggestions made so desirable, that permission has been obtained from the lady for their translation and publication. It is hoped that the seed thus sown will bear fruit in the minds of our readers. – [H.P.Blavatsky, Editor]
As regards the theosophical movement in France, about which you ask my opinion, Dramard and myself shared precisely the same ideas. In our view, the T. S. is too fine and delicate a plant to live and thrive in the surroundings among which it was first planted. Flourishing in all its glory and bearing fruit in its strength upon the highest table-lands of the earth, its birth-place, it neither can nor ever could take root in the strong soil of plains fattened and watered with the sweat of the poor, or on those sterile tufa rocks called respectively the bourgeoisie or middle-class, and an aristocracy more or less learned or ignorant, lazy or active; just as it could only fade and wither in the hot-house drawing-rooms and boudoirs, where women of the world, gay, foolish, capricious, see in it only an exotic novelty of a special kind.
This plant of life needs pure air, blazing sunshine and fresh dews. It is only in the heart of a man purified by suffering, by the daily battle for life; it is in the heart of him who has begun to pay his debt to Karma by the unheard-of sufferings which our civilization of steel and iron, with its sham airs of equality and philanthropy, imposes on the disinherited of life; it is in the heart of him who, in spite of the difficulties of all kinds amidst which he struggles, thinks more of others than of himself, forgetting self in the thought of those who suffer more than he does — it is in such hearts, I say, that the divine plant can find the elements needed for its first development.
That plant can indeed never take root among us, nor doubtless elsewhere, unless it finds congenial soil where men desire to know and to learn from pure love of the truth and not of the honour, the glory, the riches which its truths can bring them. And however astonishing it may seem to many at first sight, that soil exists in the people and in the French people — I answer for it ! I do not speak thus in a narrow national spirit; by temperament I have no country, no family, and I strive daily to have no “self”. Father, mother, husband, all disappear before the great questions of general welfare. An integral part of the great whole, my centre, like its centre, is everywhere in the thought of my future harmonious unity. For the moment, I must act in one small special [Page 430] corner of the earth, whither in the course of my evolution my previous affinities have brought me. I speak of this little corner, simply because I know it best.
“The French nation is frivolous”, say of it the other nations. Well, yes, it is frivolous! It forgets from one day to the next its injuries and insults. Under the influence of one kind word it puts itself back entirely into the hands of its most terrible enemy and allows itself to be deceived like a baby. Yes, it is frivolous, for to obtain for its dear ones, for its neighbours, for all, the smallest liberty of action and thought, it goes to meet death — singing.
The proof of what I thus assert is to be found in its love for the révolution bourgeoise of 1789. For what has that revolution done for the proletariat, for the penniless, for the daily labourer who possesses nothing whatsoever on the face of this our planet? Nothing, but to increase, by a violent transformation of social conditions, the intensity of his sufferings, of his physical and moral anxieties. The middle classes ousted the aristocracy and took its place in the possession of honours, of fortune, in the guidance of the classes it exploits, with no other thought of the poor than to batten on their misery.
And yet the French masses actually worship “their revolution”, and those who have defended its spirit. The poor owe nothing, absolutely nothing, to one or to the others on the plane of material gratification, for they are still more inexorably shorn and put to ransom than before; but they revere the one and the others because they know that they have given freedom to the spirit; and, to a certain extent, liberty to thought. The revolution certainly did more in this direction than Luther's Reformation, which with us left the people mostly indifferent, as the Catholic Church, which is seldom mistaken in judging an enemy, well knows; and it considers the French Revolution as one of the hardest blows which have struck it since its establishment. It is right, for it is thanks to the breach opened in its ramparts by the light artillery of '89, that the T. S. can today penetrate to the very heart of the stronghold, and the Church feels that it is by the hand of that doctrine that it will irrevocably perish.
A people which thus raises itself unconsciously from off the material plane, which it considers as nothing, to attach itself to the spirit, is it not ploughed and ready to receive; the divine seed?
Moreover, to accomplish anything lasting in Theosophy, one must leave the dead and dying, and those who slumber in the comfort of the flesh, gorged with material and intellectual riches, and who neither see, nor hear, nor understand, nor desire, nor do anything. We must address those who live, who think, who suffer, who aspire, who desire, who hunger physically, intellectually, morally, and even spiritually. We must go to the true (the poor) people.
But how is the true to be distinguished from the false, the good man from him who hides under a simple exterior the same gross needs, the same selfish desires, the same longings, the same brutality and cruelty as the satisfied, the possessors, those in power, and who, if tomorrow they held the place of these, would be the same oppressors of the feeble, as those they seek to over-throw today?
In this difficulty we have only to imitate nature; to cast myriads of seeds on the wind to obtain one plant. According to the ancient parable of esoteric wisdom, re-edited like so many other things by our relatively modern evangelists: [Page 431] “one third will be trodden under foot, one third will be eaten by the birds, and the third part will sprout and bear fruit an hundred fold”. [This is just the policy of the T. S. from its beginning. Its visible leaders are unable to always distinguish the good from the bad, to see still dormant evil in the hearts of those who apply to join our Society, and the real Founders — those behind the screen — will denounce or accuse no living man. All are given a chance. Gladly would our Society abolish even the small entrance fee, had it any funds, however small, to carry on the work which increases daily, and many branches have already done so. For several years no initiation fees were paid; but our scanty and even joint means were found insufficient to maintain the Headquarters, pay the stationery, and the ever-increasing postage, and feed and lodge all those who volunteered to work gratis for theosophy. Thus, the fees were re-established. Other Societies beg for, and are given, large sums of money, but the T. S. never does. Nevertheless, the taunt that the Founders sell Theosophy, creating Theosophists for £1 or twenty shillings, a head, is being repeatedly thrust into our faces! And yet the poor are never made to pay anything at all. And if those who have the means will refuse to help to do good to the disinherited and the suffering, what are those who have given all they had, and have nothing now to give but their services, to do? . H.P.Blavatsky, Editor ]
The Protestants imitated this example; they have cast the seed of their foolish ideas to the four corners of the earth and have made the weeds of their folly and ineptness to spring up everywhere. You will say that the soil for such a harvest is not scarce. True; but it is also true that, in their hunger, many souls have thrown themselves upon this poor and insipid food, hoping it would give them strength, moral health, and spiritual life.
If to such is given true bread and a fish, instead of a serpent, to use the language of their New Testament, they will surely know how to distinguish between them. If a real doctor, an expert in the healing art, is brought to them instead of a charlatan who adds to their sufferings, they will know how to leave one for the other.
Beauty is always beauty, justice always justice, truth will be ever truth. Every soul to which is shown the pure gold of truth will of itself turn away from the base imitation, from the false in religion; and the hollowness of many of our scientific data will be perceived by one who, in the eyes of the world, is the simplest and most ignorant of men.
Thus, in order to naturalise in France, and even anywhere, in Europe as in America, the divine plant of Theosophy, we should sow broadcast the seed of the eastern esoteric teachings.
But how shall we sow the seed? How shall we bring within reach of the many, who have neither the means nor the leisure, these precious teachings? How? How? It is of the solution of this question only that I have been thinking, since I have had the happiness to find food to renew my life by their reception and assimilation.
The following was Dramard's idea: Form a closed nucleus of attraction, however small, of tried theosophists, and accept anyone who, whether from idleness, from curiosity, or any other vain feeling, comes to ask anything. That which is of importance in this open group is to bring together the largest possible number of adherents, in view of their clubbing together as means for propagandising in the way we desire. [We are glad, however, to hear on the testimony of our correspondent, an old and trusted friend of M.Louis Dramard, the late President of our T.S. in Paris, that such were his ideas, as we had been assured of the contrary. We may have something to say of this at some future time. H.P.Blavatsky, Editor ]
This propaganda should not have for its objects to make Theosophists à la lettre, [Page 432] as for instance the Catholics seek to make Catholics, or people ready to declare themselves as such, but to spread, effectively, the theosophical teachings and to make their meaning reach those hearts which are ready to welcome it, and which it cannot reach from want of an inlet.
Dig canals through which a large part of what has for years past been filtering into the world from a sacred fountain, can reach the fertile soil which is ready for it, a soil which is only waiting for such an irrigation to produce abundant harvests.
We must thus select among all that has been written since the foundation of the T.S. and, without commentary or explanation of the why and wherefore, sow pamphlets broadcast, like the Biblical fanatics who thrust everywhere their little tracts, in which they beseech us to save our souls from Hell, to come to Jesus, to believe in Jesus, to fear a personal devil cunning and wise, and a god no less personal, but more foolish and more ignorant than his devil.
And to think that for centuries past it is with such “rubbish” that men feed souls, and seek to edify human beings! Can one wonder at the moral and physical weakness of poor humanity ?
Blessings be upon the beings who have worked for their own divinity, and praise be to those through whom they have sent to us their work; it is not the materials for edification that are wanting, but the means of turning them to account. At one with Dramard, my husband and I would have considered ourselves the greatest wretches and egoists on earth had we remained quietly contemplating the splendid treasure we held in our hands, without thinking of spreading it abroad and sharing it with others.
How then! Such a fortune in the hands of some thousands of Theosophists, and of these three fourths are indifferent to the blessing granted to them, or think only how to profit by it themselves. What! Of these only a few have air, light and food, while the masses beside them agonise in the shadow, and die of starvation on the spiritual plane! The matter is a grave one, and must have, for all of us, the most terrible consequences!
With our present social organisations, a man — ten men, die of hunger. That is a trifle, for which the law of retribution will exact payment from the organisers and leaders of men and society; but that does not prevent the globe's rolling on. But what is of real serious importance and a hindrance to the march of evolution is that, through the faults of men calling themselves friends of humanity, souls should wither from want, and die of inanition.
Is it surprising that our world should advance so slowly? What numbers of motive powers are unused, what numbers of beneficent forces are left inactive from want of a fulcrum, from want of one true datum which could serve as the starting point for a whole series of actions, which would strengthen the great movement of regeneration.
I repeatedly begged the “ISIS Branch” to work in this direction, to print, for instance, the Abbé Roca's articles and your luminous and crushing replies. Nothing is better calculated to strike the mind of the French people, and to assist it to find its orientation, than the work you have there done. [ Reference here is made to the late Isis, the Branch of the T.S. in Paris, and a controversy in the LotusI between the Abbé Roca and one of the Editors of Lucifer. H.P.Blavatsky, Editor ] [Page 433]
The same remark applies to the letter published in LUCIFER to the Primate of England; I should like to see it translated into all languages and distributed in millions in all Catholic and Protestant countries. The same, again, for Theosophy or Jesuitism, which I translated for the Lotus. How much good might already have been done. So little has “Isis” concerned itself with propaganda, that twice have the subscriptions sent by my husband and myself been returned to us (after Dramard's death?). Thus, though the “Isis” cannot be accused of having done nothing and kept the money, yet the last thing its staff cared to do, was to spread Theosophy broadcast.
What numbers of things might be used for the masses! And always on our system of spreading on all sides the glad tidings, how much might be taken from Esoteric Buddhism; Magic: White and Black, etc., but the most fruitful source of all to draw from, will be the Secret Doctrine; yet for its spread, when translated, it is to be regretted that Esoteric Buddhism has not been published. For France, its translation would have aided the spread of the Theosophical movement far more than that of the Occult World. Such was Dramard's opinion.
Esoteric Buddhism, its incompleteness notwithstanding, gives a far better general idea of the Doctrine. All are of the same opinion. It is absolutely necessary for our country to prepare the way for the Secret Doctrine, which throws light on just those points which are left in the shadow by Esoteric Buddhism, and amplifies its explanations by the way in which it states the truth.
But to return to our idea of propaganda, which I want to explain to you thoroughly. For I feel disgusted when I see that the “Salvation Army” manages, penny by penny, to draw millions into its coffers, millions which it uses to distribute bad tea, rancid cakes, and poisonous doctrines, while sincere Theosophists cannot manage to quit their own narrow circle and spread far and wide the flood of saving truths, which they have received for some time past.
To accomplish anything, we must understand each other (and should that be so impossible among co-thinkers who preach only UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD ?), and each should give financially, intellectually, morally, and spiritually, according to his means. An annual subscription is a good thing, apart from the donations which those who are favoured by fortune can give; always on condition, however, that for their few pounds the latter do not imagine that they have the right to hamper everything by their narrow views, their timid spirit, and their pusillanimous character.
The poor man's farthing even is not to be disdained; on the contrary, a great step will be made when “the widow” will have understood that she can do no more useful work for Humanity than to give her mite towards relieving the great burden of ignorance under which that poor humanity is dying, whether clad in silken vesture or in rags, marching under the banners of Religion, of Science, Politics, or Society.
I say all this to you and you know it better than anyone since you are the mouth-piece of the Teachers who keep on repeating it in their letters and writings. And I only speak to you thus at length of this mode of organisation, which belongs to the entirely practical domain, because such an organisation tends to beget consequences on the “spiritual plane”.
One word more on this subject. François de Salles, terrified at the progress [Page 434] of the Reformation, was seeking every means to combat it. In his letters to the ecclesiastics and bishops among his friends, he used to say: “Let us write Catholic novels”, and they wrote Catholic novels, and these novels were in everybody's hands. They never ceased appearing except during the First Republic. And after that had been crushed by Napoleon I. a revival of this kind of literature occurred, which became a regular avalanche after Napoleon III. had crushed, in his turn, the Second Republic. These books are everywhere today; in the libraries for children and women, they form the basis of the communal libraries, and are still given as prizes in the Lycées and other schools. Thus in spite of Voltaire and the free thinkers, or those who think themselves so, “François” always wins the battle and Catholicism still possesses, as in the past, the heart of the woman; through her it holds the child, and is master of the man, however emancipated he may fancy himself.
It is true that those who destroyed, had nothing to put in its place; and the soul's aspirations are no empty word. “Give us our daily bread”, is a prayer uttered with a constancy worthy of a better fate by these poor starving ones. “Give us our daily bread” cry in the desert of life those who know not that this bread cannot be given, but must be earned, and that it is in ourselves. “Give us our daily bread” is repeated on every note, by poor humanity; some addressing themselves to the ministers of their religion, others to the leading lights of science; these to the philosophers, those to the politicians; these to the sociologists, who are no better off, those to any charlatan who claims to know.
And the wisdom of wisdoms, Theosophy, of whose existence all these needy ones are ignorant, answers to all desires and can fulfil all aspirations. It alone can restore strength, health, physical and moral peace to all these troubled, excited beings, exhausted by centuries of political, economic and religious despotisms. It alone can show to each man that he himself is the way, and that in himself alone are the truth and the life.
Let us then write Theosophical novels for the masses; i.e., novels in which, leaving aside the transcendental part of occultism, we seek only to express and to render intelligible by the action of the heroes, the lofty meaning of its saving morality thus inculcating into men's hearts its all-embracing principles.
Let us write Theosophical novels, and if we know how, as Moleschott says, always to respect the law of cause and effect in the actions, the words, even the thoughts of the people we introduce, those novels will be interesting as well as instructive. They will be read with pleasure by the men, whom they please by their independent and manly tone: they will charm and move the women by the sentiments they express and by their healthy psychism; they will appeal to the children — by their simplicity, their straightforwardness, their truth.
What cannot be done in this direction with the help of the light which the esoteric doctrine throws upon man, the worlds, life, evolution in general? In the great humanitarian work, each has his lot. The task given to me, to my Highest Self, is to work thus — however difficult it may be. I throw my whole heart into it, knowing that all that a man wills that can he do.
A little will is my only possession; with this little I work ceaselessly to learn that I may be able to do. Able to do what? Able to start as many Egos as possible upon the path of the final spiritual growth. By this reckoning, all [Page 435] healthy books, which quicken the good feelings in man, or which assist their development, are books written with this end, whether intentionally or not. Tolstoi's Socialistic novels, for instance, are thus theosophical novels; the presence or absence of the word itself making no difference.
I see in the October Number of LUCIFER, that some members of the T. S. are possessed with the desire to form “Lodges of Magic”, Poor things! What are they thinking of? they are but wasting their time. If they are tormented by the desire to progress on the spiritual plane, let them first work at rendering healthy the physical and moral atmosphere in which they live, so as to develop some spiritual faculties. To that end, let them enlighten the whole, let them employ their strength, their intelligence, their need of activity, their money, in pushing a propaganda such as I propose. They ought to have the means, these people whom the devil tempts by suggesting to them thus to throw themselves haphazard, without training, without preparation, into a path so dangerous, so little trodden; and surely the daily struggle for a livelihood must be unknown to them. If they have leisure, let them help to teach those who have none. It will be the first step on the road of Initiation.
Adeptship, i.e., knowledge, and the power it gives, is what turns the heads of weak mortals and keeps them back from the goal for long; since, in their haste, full of covetousness and egoism, they completely lose their way.
For this reason, in such novels as I suggest, it is not the Adept in his power and glory whom I would see represented, but the Adept unconscious even of being so, in course of preparation, the Adept who will be, in his toilsome, difficult, impossible, unceasing struggle against himself, against all the evil and opposing wills, against all the elements — in one word, against all the previous causes whose effects he has to destroy by labours of which those of Hercules are only a pale symbol, it is this Adept whom I would have shown in every phase of his arduous ascent, so as to fire men's souls and raise their courage.
What is true, is touching, and the Initiate, the Adept, is no myth. The Mahatma IS. Edgard Quinet, in his splendid book, “Creation”, wherein he thinks and has the intuition of so many truths about evolution, states the fact as a self-evident truth, when he says: – “A soul which holds straight on to the highest point of human nature is upon the plane of universal nature; it finds the truths upon which the world rests. Before experience has torn them from him, Nature confides her secrets to the great and good man”.
Let the Theosophists who want to found a lodge of Magic meditate upon these words, and let them make themselves able to find the truths upon which the world is based, and there will be no further danger for them in gratifying their desire. ...
[It is to preserve Theosophists from such dangers that the “Esoteric Section” of the T.S. has been founded. Its Preliminary Rules and Bylaws prove that the way to the acquisition of occult powers and the conquest of the secrets of Nature leads through the Golgotha and the Crucifixion of the personal self. The selfish and the faint-hearted need not apply. H.P.Blavatsky, Editor ] [Page 436]
[ Owing to the great pressure on our space this month we are compelled to hold over all the Reviews till February. H.P.Blavatsky, Editor]
Miss Susie C. Clark, of Cambridgeport, Mass., says in substance:
“I am a mental healer...Of late rumours reach me of prominent theosophists who are confirmed invalids, of others who use quinine for ailments, not scorning to lean on the arm of the servant-matter — when the infinite resources of the Master (Spirit) are at their command. Even LUCIFER countenances the use of mineral and other remedies. If the ‘Truth maketh free' why not free from all physical bondage? Why are we, on the lower rounds of the ladder, freer than those who have climbed higher? I have been raised from invalidism to immaculate health”. She then goes on to ask us for our views on what she calls “metaphysical thought” in America, and wishes us to exclude what is known there as “Christian science”, on the ground that it “has not yet grown to recognise or to hold to proper conceptions of the Wisdom Religion”.[Page 437]
ANSWER by H.P.Blavatsky, Editor. This reply is not exhaustive of the subject but will cover the inquiry. We cannot give the “views” asked for, since it is not clear what is wanted. The correspondent speaks of “metaphysical thought” evidently meaning the strained use made in America of the term. As we do not wish to pronounce on this without experience on the spot, the writer’s wish cannot be gratified. But we cannot help noticing that she claims for her branch of this so-called “Science” a pre-eminence over a rival in the field, namely “Christian Science”, the latter being the same as the other however, except that it is more or less closely attached to Christianity. As our correspondent infers that because she has been cured “the infinite resources of the Master are at her command”, those resources and that Master (or Spirit) could easily show her that Christian science is just as good as her own.
We know little of either, except, perhaps, that both show an arrogance in their supposed superiority over Science, Theosophy, and everything else in creation with results that do not seem to us proportionate with the loud claims made. We have received, however, a letter from a prominent Christian Scientist who is as distinguished a metaphysician as she is a valuable and good a theosophist; and we mean to treat of it at length in our next number. Meanwhile, we must reply a few words to Miss S. Clark’s queries.
The main question with her is, why do prominent, or any, theosophists use medicine for cure of disease? We think all theosophists have the right to do so or not, as theosophy is not a system of diet, or that which is simply to help our bodies, but is a metaphysical and ethical system intended to bring about among men a right thought to be followed by action. There are deep questions involved in the matter: deeper than our correspondent will solve in one life. We have no objections against anyone getting cured in any way they [Page 437] think good, but we have decided objections to “mind-curers” or “metaphysicians,” taking theosophists to task for not adopting their system and at once discarding all remedies. They argue that because they were thus cured, others must go the same road. This is our present difference with mental healers, and our correspondent should know that theosophists grant to all the right to use or dispense with medicine and claim for themselves similar privileges. They do not meddle with other persons’ liberty of thought, and demand the same independence for themselves.
Evidently Miss Clark has not reflected that “prominent theosophists” use medicine because of some bearings of Karma upon their lives and on account of its occult properties; nor has she, apparently, thought of what is called “delayed Karma”; nor that, perhaps, through too much attention to her body she is reaping a temporary enjoyment now, for which, in subsequent lives, she will have to pay; nor that again, by using her mind so strangely to cure her body she may have removed her infirmities from the plane of matter to that of the mind; the first effects of which we can trace dimly in her strictures on “Christian Science”, as she has acquired a slant, as it were, against the latter and in favour of her own, and a tone of lofty superiority with the Theosophists.
The claim that “the infinite resources of the Master” are within our present reach is not tenable, and the use of the text, “Truth shall make us free”, to show freedom from ills is not permissible. At any rate, truth does not seem to have made all mental Scientists free from conceit and prejudice. The man who uttered the words had, himself, a certain infirmity, and we think freedom of mind and soul is meant only. The acceptance of Truth and the practice of virtue cannot avert Karma waiting from other lives, but can produce good effects in lives to come, and what the extreme practice of mental curing does is to stave off for a time an amount of Karma which will, later on, reach us. We prefer to let it work out naturally through the material part of us and to expel it quickly if we may with even mineral remedies. But for all that we have no quarrel with mental healing at all, but leave each one to his or her own judgment.
Finally we would say that whenever it shall be proved to us and the world in general that among all the hosts of Mental curers, Mind healers, Christian Scientists, et hoc genus omne, there is even a large majority in perfect bodily health, instead of as at present only a minority, though a noisy and boastful one — then will we admit the justice of the arrogant claims made by our correspondent.
Cures — real, undeniable cures have been effected at Lourdes also, but is that any reason why we should all become Roman Catholics?
“When you begin with so much pomp and show,
Why is the end so little and so low?”
I have only two remarks on your notes to my letter published in the December Number of LUCIFER. –
( I. ) I do not “hope” to see spooks by the help of the Theosophical Society. My baser part sometimes desires manifestation, but I recognize such desire to be impure. I earnestly trust no Member of [Page 438] the Society will ever indulge in the evocation of phenomena, whether for curiosity, or for the gratification of the intellect.
( 2. ) I asked if the worship of the One God in spirit and in truth was the aim of the Society. You reply with the motto of the Society. But your real answer appears to be in the opening article of the Magazine on Denunciation.
I candidly think the formation of the Society was a mistake. Not a mistake in motive, but a mistake in generalship. The speed of the slowest ship marks the rate of progress of a fleet. The weak ones of the Society mark its position in the world. But if the Society has only helped one brother to right living, then it has done much to justify its existence, and I have naught to say.
My real reason in again addressing you is to call your attention to a Novel written by A. de Grasse Stevens. At page 141 is a reference to yourself as a Russian spy who was ejected from India by Lord Dufferin.
I have never before seen this curious slander in print, and, although you may consider it beneath contempt, I think it a pity to allow it altogether to escape notice.
The reprehensible conduct of the Publishers in allowing an Author to libel a living person, and that person a woman, is such that I do not care to express my opinion on paper more fully than in this letter.
I am, your most faithful servant, [Page 439]
The Theosophical Society has “helped “ many and many of its “brothers” to “right living” — and this is its proudest boast.
I thank our Correspondent for his kind remarks about me. With regard to publishers in general, their “reprehensible conduct” may perhaps find an excuse in the great law of the “struggle for life”; this species having always been known to feed and thrive on the carrion of murdered reputations. As to the authoress of this would-be politico-social novel, a rather green than young American, it is said, her exceptional claim to distinction from other trans-Atlantic writers of her sex, would seem to be an intimate acquaintance with the lobby and the back stairs of politics.
Apart from the half-dozen living people whose reputations she slaughters on a single page, what this political Amazon invents is that:—
“. . . . Mme. Blavatsky, for many years carried on a secret correspondence with Monsieur Zinovief [?!], chief of the Asiatic Department,” and that “but for Lord Dufferin’s clear-sightedness Madame might still be carrying on her patriotic work” — presumably in India.
LIES from the first word to the last. I never knew a “Monsieur Zinovief,” nor corresponded with one at any time. I defy any government in the world to produce the slightest evidence, even inferential, that I have ever been a spy, or corresponded secretly with any Russian authority. As to Lord Dufferin he reached India only after I left it. As I have answered fully the infamous libel in the Pall Mall Gazette of January 3, I hope the public will leave this fresh lie to share the fate of the many that preceded it — in the waste-paper basket of literature.
H. P. BLAVATSKY.
Several reviews of this book having come to my hand, in which it is said that Dr. Hartmann does not make it very clear what his own opinion is, in regard to the (external ?) facts collated in his book, I will solve the problem which seems to puzzle the minds of some readers, by stating that it is not of the least importance to know what my opinion in regard to this matter is, nor do I consider it of any consequence for the welfare of humanity, whether such a personality as Jehoshua Ben Pandira has ever existed upon this globe. The important things which the book proposes to describe to a certain extent, are the psychical and spiritual processes which take place in everyone who travels the road of initiation, and if the man Jehoshua has actually existed and become an Adept, these processes must have taken place in his soul. Whether or not the external events of the story have occurred as described therein, seems to me useless to inquire; they merely serve as a frame to hold together the pictures of what takes place in the interior kingdom. The reason why these descriptions are not more explicit need not be explained to anyone who claims to be a Theosophist.
“The Life of Jehoshua”, like all the rest of the books which I have so far written or translated, has not been intended to be a substitute for Intuition, but a guide to point out the direction for the only true practical way, that of the attainment of self-knowledge. There are thousands of persons interested in external intellectual researches of psychic phenomena, who are incapable or unwilling to think deep enough to perceive the truth within themselves, and who are, therefore, seeking for information in regard to such things in well authenticated and credible books.
An opinion acquired in such a manner may be very interesting from a historical or antiquarian point of view, but it is not self-knowledge, and serves for little more than for the gratification of curiosity or for amusement. It may do very well for those who have no other object but “psychic research”, but is of no value for the spiritual unfoldment of the mind. It has been frequently stated that there is no such thing as a merely theoretical Theosophy, because to have merely an opinion about a truth is not Divine Wisdom.
Theology and metaphysics may be intellectually taught, but Wisdom must be spiritually acquired. The scientist, dealing with metaphysical objects, or the speculative philosopher, is satisfied with the description of a thing which he has never seen, if that description is in accordance with his accepted method of logical reasoning; but the true and practical occultist seeks to obtain the key by which he may open himself the door of the sanctuary and find the truth within himself.
Now, as two thousand years ago, there are many who crave after the “flesh-pots and treasures of Egypt”, meaning intellectual learning in regard to external phenomena, historical occurrences, etc., while there are few who are willing to enter the wilderness to seek for the “heavenly manna”, the desert of the light of the spirit within the soul; but it is written that “those who desire to live of the altar must serve the altar”, by which is meant that those who desire to enter spiritual life by the awakening of the “secret fire” within themselves, must [Page 440] leave off clinging to merely external things and matters of a dead and buried past, and serve the divine principle within the secret recesses of their own heart, worshipping there the “Master” with all their mind, with all their soul and with their whole being, in Spirit and in Truth.
The mystery of the initiation can never be fully explained, for the reason that such an explanation would neither be believed nor understood, unless it is experienced, nor could I give such a description, even if I desired to do so; but if the “Life of Jehoshua” has made clear to a few thinking minds the difference between external and internal knowledge, and shown to them the way by which self-knowledge may be attained, its object has been accomplished.
F. HARTMANN, M.D.
In her “notes” upon my paper printed in the October Number, the editor of LUCIFER suspects me of materialism, but I am no materialist, only, if isms must be, an actualist, an acceptor of each one of the material and ideal facts of life and nature known to me, simply and humbly, that is in so far as the quite unexhausted brute element in me admits of simplicity and humility.
Metaphysics then, since they also represent a permanent tendency in human nature, I am bound to accept as fact, though fact astonishingly and uniquely relative to the idiosyncracy of each individual metaphysician.
This over preponderance of the personal element is characteristic of supermundane metaphysics, especially since they alone are without basis or buttress of some sort in the external world, and lack altogether the continuous confirmation of experimental certainty, which turns private theories at last into universal convictions. Only through being thus confirmed do hazy intuitions about the planetary system, about the origin of species, get themselves finally established; and they are ever afterwards subject to correction from normal experience, and by normal faculty. Whereas supermundane metaphysics depends confessedly upon transcendental experience, and makes its appeal to a higher consciousness.
Now I am very far from denying the existence of an unseen universe, or of a superior consciousness connecting us therewith; thence as it would seem, come strange experiences, gleams of light, inflow of strength and sweetness; but how indefinite are all these things, how ungraspable, and impossible even to catalogue correctly, is proved most conspicuously by looking over even once a few of the innumerable charts of a visionary Paradise left to us by enthusiastic seers of all ages, remote as well as recent, everyone of them caught up several times into Heaven, or rendered immortal in the flesh.
This world's common sense calls us back from the chambers of the Prophets and the caves of the witches to that homely earth where three quarters at least of our life is fixed, to the earth which from constitutional necessity is the most direct point of contact between the little locus of matter and focus of force that we call a man, and the universal Life (as blessed and beautiful surely here as elsewhere.) It calls us to the labour and the Arts which bring the nature that we know close home to our hearts and fill us with brave perceptions and high hopes, in essence doubtless all true, and in detail mere motley harlequinading dress borrowed from the wardrobe of experience. [Page 450]
JAMES A. CAMPBELL.
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