THEOSOPHY, Vol. 86, No. 2, December, 1997
(Pages 38-42; Size: 11K)

ON READING THE SCRIPTURES(1)

MYTH MEANS oral tradition, passed from mouth to mouth, from one generation to the other. Even in modern etymology the term stands for a fabulous statement conveying some important truth; a tale of some extraordinary personage whose biography has become overgrown, owing to the veneration of successive generations, with rich popular fancy, but which is no wholesale fable. Like our ancestors, the primitive Aryans, we believe firmly in the personality of more than one phenomenon-producing Force in nature.

All the "ancient philosophies" and "modern religions" are an exoteric veil thrown over the face of esoteric truth, and, as the direct result of this, they are allegorical, i.e., mythological in form. From the Orphic theogony down to Ezra's last remodeling of the Pentateuch, every old Scripture having in its origin borrowed its facts from the East, it has been subjected to constant alterations by friend and foe, until of the original version there remained but the name, a dead shell from which the Spirit has been gradually eliminated. This alone ought to show that no religious work now extant can be understood without the help of the Archaic wisdom, the primitive foundation on which they were all built.

To thoroughly comprehend the idea of every ancient cosmology necessitates the study, in a comparative analysis, of all the great religions of antiquity; as it is only by this method that the root idea will be made plain. Exact science -- could the latter soar so high, while tracing the operations of nature to their ultimate and original sources -- would call this idea the hierarchy of Forces. The original transcendental and philosophical conception was one. But as systems began to reflect with every age more and more the idiosyncrasies of nations; and as the latter, after separating, settled into distinct groups, each evolving along its own national or tribal grooves, the main idea gradually became veiled with the overgrowth of human fancy. While in some countries FORCES, or rather the intelligent Powers of nature, received divine honours.

The silent worship of abstract or noumenal Nature, the only divine manifestation, is the one ennobling religion of Humanity. We must not confuse the purely metaphysical personifications of the abstract attributes of Deity with their reflections -- sidereal gods. This reflection, however, is in reality the objective expression of the abstraction: living Entities and the models formed on that divine prototype. The religion of every ancient nation had been primarily based upon the Occult manifestations of a purely abstract Force or Principle now called "God." The very establishment of such worship shows, in its details and rites, the philosophers who evolved those systems of nature, subjective and objective, professed profound knowledge, and were acquainted with many facts of a scientific nature.

The oldest religions of the world -- exoterically, for the esoteric root or foundation is one -- are the Indian, the Mazdean, and the Egyptian. Then comes the Chaldean, the outcome of these -- entirely lost to the world now, except in its disfigured Sabeanism as at present rendered by archaeologists; then, passing over a number of religions comes the Jewish, esoterically, as in the Kabala, following in the line of Babylonian Magism; exoterically, as in Genesis and the Pentateuch, a collection of allegories. Read by the light of the Zohar, the initial four chapters of Genesis are the fragment of a highly philosophical page in the world's Cosmogony. Left in their symbolic disguise, they are a nursery tale.

However superhuman the efforts to obliterate the Secret Doctrine from the very memory of man, they all failed. Truth can never be killed; hence the failure to sweep away entirely from the face of the earth every vestige of that ancient Wisdom. Even in her uncertain records, history has preserved enough of that which has survived to throw an impartial light upon the whole.

The great archaic system known from prehistoric ages as the sacred Wisdom Science, one that is contained and can be traced in every old as well as new religion, had, and still has, its universal language -- the language of the Hierophants, which has seven "dialects," so to speak, each referring, and being especially appropriated, to one of the seven mysteries of Nature. Each had its own symbolism. Nature could thus be either read in its fullness, or viewed from one of its special aspects. The proof of this lies, to this day, in the extreme difficulty which the Orientalists in general, the Indianists and Egyptologists especially, experience in interpreting the allegorical writings of the Aryans and the hieratic records of old Egypt. This is because all ancient records were written in a language which was universal and known to all nations alike in days of old. Every religious and philosophical symbol had seven meanings attached to it, each pertaining to its legitimate plane of thought, i.e., either purely metaphysical or astronomical; psychic or physiological, etc., etc. These seven meanings and their applications are hard enough to learn when taken by themselves; but the interpretations become tenfold more puzzling when, instead of being correlated or made to flow consecutively out of and to follow each other, each or any one of these meanings is accepted as the sole explanation of the whole symbolical idea.

As time rolled on, the archaic teaching grew dimmer, nations more or less lost sight of the highest and One principle and began to transfer the abstract attributes of the "causeless cause" to the caused effects, which became in their turn causative -- the creative Powers of the Universe. As real Occultism had been prevalent among the Mystics during the centuries that preceded our era, so Magic, or rather Sorcery, with its Occult Arts, followed the beginning of Christianity. It is the esoteric teachings, and the initiates of the Future, whose mission it is, and will be, to redeem and ennoble once more the primitive conception.

The exoteric dogmas may often have been altered, the esoteric never. That which the Jews had from Egypt, through Moses and other initiates, was confused and distorted and that which the Church got is still more misinterpreted. Yet their system is identical in this special department of symbology -- the key, namely, to the mysteries of astronomy as connected with those of generation and conception -- with those of ancient religions. The Jewish system of sacred measures applied to religious matters is the same, so far as geometrical and combinations go, as were those of Chaldea, Greece, and Egypt, having been adopted by the Jews during their captivity with those nations.

The Esoteric doctrine of the East furnishes and strikes the keynote -- which is as scientific as it is philosophical and poetical -- every nation having followed its lead. It is from the exoteric religions that we have to dig out the root-idea before we turn to esoteric truths, lest the latter should be rejected. Every symbol in every religion may be read esoterically, by the extraordinary agreement of all, however much the glyphs and symbols may vary among themselves. For in their origin these symbols were all identical. Take, for instance, the opening sentences in various cosmogonies: in every case it is either a circle, an egg, or a head. DARKNESS is always associated with this first symbol and surrounds it -- as shown in the Hindu, the Egyptian, the Chaldeo-Hebrew and even the Scandinavian systems -- hence black ravens, black doves, black waters and even black flames.

The following is an interpretation given by a learned Kabalist and scholar of a verse in Exodus 33: 18-23. Moses beseeches the Lord to show him his "glory." Evidently it is not the crude dead letter phraseology as found in the Bible that is to be accepted. There are seven meanings in the Kabala, of which we may give two as interpreted by two scholars. One of them quotes, while explaining: "Thou canst not see my face ... I will put thee in the cleft of the rock ... cover thee with my hand while I pass by. And then I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see a'hoor, my back," and tells us in a gloss, "That is, I will show you 'My back,' i.e., my visible universe, my lower manifestations, but, as a man still in the flesh, thou canst not see my invisible nature." This is correct, and is the cosmo-metaphysical explanation.

In truth, every one of the seven Keys has to be used in its right place, if we would unveil the entire cycle of mysteries.


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