THEOSOPHY, Vol. 5, No. 7, May, 1917
(Pages 307-314; Size: 27K)
(Number 3 of a 10-part series)
STUDIES IN ISIS UNVEILED
SPIRITUAL IDENTITYThe accompanying article is made up of textual extracts from Isis Unveiled, topically and sequentially arranged. The page references from which the statements are taken, are given at the conclusion of the article. --EDITORS.THE Ineffable Name, in the search for which so many vainly consume their knowledge and lives, dwells latent in the heart of every man.
A man can have no god that is not bounded by his own human conceptions. The wider the sweep of his spiritual vision, the mightier will be his deity. But where can we find a better demonstration of Him than in man himself; in the spiritual and divine powers lying dormant in every human being? From the remotest antiquity mankind as a whole have always been convinced of the existence of a personal spiritual entity within the personal physical man. This inner entity was more or less divine according to its proximity to the crown -- Chrestos. This belief is neither bigotry nor superstition, only an ever-present, instinctive feeling of the proximity of another spiritual and invisible world, which, though it be subjective to the senses of the outward man, is perfectly objective to the inner ego. Humanity is the highest manifestation on earth of the Unseen Supreme Deity, and each man an incarnation of his God.
Is it enough for man to know that he exists? Is it enough to be formed a human being to enable him to deserve the appellation of MAN? To become a genuine spiritual entity, which that designation implies, man must first create himself anew, so to speak, i.e., thoroughly eliminate from his mind and spirit, not only the dominating influence of selfishness and other impurity, but also the infection of superstition and prejudice. The latter is far different from what we call antipathy or sympathy. We are at first irresistibly or unwittingly drawn within its dark circle by that peculiar influence, that powerful current of magnetism which emanates from ideas as well as from physical bodies. By this we are surrounded, and finally prevented through moral cowardice -- fear of public opinion -- from stepping out of it. It is rare that men regard a thing in either its true or false light, accepting the conclusion by the free action of their own judgment. Quite the reverse. The conclusion is more commonly reached by blindly adopting the opinion current at the hour among those with whom they associate. The work now submitted to public judgment is offered to such as are willing to accept truth wherever it may be found, and to defend it, even looking popular prejudice straight in the face. The clergy apart, none but the logician, the investigator, the dauntless explorer, should meddle with books like this. Such delvers after truth have the courage of their opinions.
When, years ago, we first traveled over the East, we came in contact with certain men, endowed with such mysterious power and such profound knowledge that we may truly designate them as the sages of the Orient. To their instructions we lent a ready ear. They showed us that by combining science with religion, the existence of God and immortality of man's spirit may be demonstrated like a problem of Euclid. The Oriental philosophy has room for no other faith than an absolute and immovable faith in the omnipotence of man's own immortal self. This omnipotence comes from the kinship of man's spirit with the Universal Soul -- God! Science, theology, every human hypothesis and conception born of imperfect knowledge, lost forever their authoritative character in our sight.
Such knowledge is priceless; and it has been hidden only from those who overlooked it, derided it, or denied its existence. Our Ego, that which lives and thinks and feels independently of us in our mortal casket, does more than believe. It knows that there exists a God in nature, for the sole and invincible Artificer of all lives in us as we live in Him. No dogmatic faith or exact science is able to uproot that intuitional feeling inherent in man, when he has once fully realized it in himself. Difficult, nay, impossible, as it seems to science to find out the invisible, universal motor of all -- Life, to explain its nature, or even to suggest a reasonable hypothesis for the same, the mystery is but half a mystery, not merely for the great adepts and seers, but even for the true and firm believers in a spiritual world. To the simple believer, there remains divine faith. The latter is firmly rooted in his inner senses; in his unerring intuition, with which cold reason has naught to do, he feels it cannot play him false. Let human-born, erroneous dogmas, and theological sophistry contradict each other; let one crowd off the other, and the subtile casuistry of one creed fell to the ground the crafty reasoning of another; truth remains one, and there is not a religion, whether Christian or heathen, that is not firmly built upon the rock of ages -- God and immortal spirit.
"There is a personal God, and there is a personal Devil!" thunders the Christian preacher. "There is no personal God, except the grey matter in our brain," contemptuously replies the materialist, "and there is no Devil." Between Science and Theology is a bewildered public, fast losing all belief in man's personal immortality, in a deity of any kind, and rapidly descending to the level of mere animal existence.
Human nature is like universal nature in its abhorrence of a vacuum. It feels an intuitional yearning for a Supreme Power. Mankind have one innate, irrepressible craving. This is the yearning after the proofs of immortality. How could such a belief have stood for the countless ages, were it not that among all nations, whether civilized or savage, man has been allowed the demonstrative proof? Is not the very existence of such a belief an evidence that thinking philosopher and unreasoning savage have both been compelled to acknowledge the testimony of their senses? Being forbidden to search for Him where alone His traces would be found, man filled the aching void with the personal God whom his spiritual teachers built up for him from the crumbling ruins of heathen myths and hoary philosophies of old. How otherwise explain the mushroom growth of new sects, some of them absurd beyond degree?
Sincere skepticism as to the immortality of man's soul is a malady, a malformation of the physical brain, and has existed in every age. As there are infants born with a caul upon their heads, so there are men who are incapable till their last hour of ridding themselves of that kind of caul evidently enveloping their organs of spirituality. Those who resign themselves to a materialistic existence, shutting out the divine radiance shed by their spirit, at the beginning of the earthly pilgrimage, and stifling the warning voice of that faithful sentry, the conscience, which serves as a focus for the light in the soul -- such beings as these, having left behind conscience and spirit, and crossed the boundaries of matter, will of necessity have to follow its laws.
We are at the bottom of a cycle and evidently in a transitory state. Plato divides the intellectual progress of the universe during every cycle into fertile and barren periods. During the barren periods the spiritual sight of the majority of mankind is so blinded as to lose every notion of the superior power of its own divine spirit. We are in a barren period: the eighteenth century, during which the malignant fever of skepticism broke out so irrepressibly, has entailed unbelief as an hereditary disease upon the nineteenth. The divine intellect is veiled in man; his animal brain alone philosophizes.
Reason, the outgrowth of the physical brain, develops at the expense of instinct -- the flickering reminiscence of a once divine omniscience -- spirit. Reason avails only for the consideration of material things; it is incapable of helping its possessor to a knowledge of spirit. In losing instinct, man loses his intuitional powers, which are the crown and ultimatum of instinct. Reason is the clumsy weapon of the scientists -- intuition the unerring guide of the seer. The brain feeds and lives and grows in strength and power at the expense of its spiritual parent. It aims but at the development and fuller comprehension of natural, earthly life; and thus, can discover but the mysteries of physical nature. Its grief and fear, hope and joy, are all closely blended with its terrestrial existence. It ignores all that cannot be demonstrated by either its organs of action or sensation. It begins by becoming virtually dead; it dies at last completely. It is annihilated. When death arrives, there is no more a soul to liberate. The whole essence of the latter has already been absorbed by the vital system of the physical man. Our present cycle is pre-eminently one of such soul-deaths. We elbow soulless men and women at every step in life.
There are revelations of the spiritual senses of man which may be trusted far more than all the sophistries of materialism. Instinct is more to be trusted than the most instructed and developed reason, as regards man's inner sense which assures him of his immortality. Instinct is the universal endowment of nature by the Spirit of the Deity itself; reason, the slow development of our physical constitution, an evolution of our adult material brain. Instinct, as a divine spark, grows and develops according to the law of the double evolution, physically and spiritually. It is the divine instinct in its ceaseless progress of development.
But, if the knowledge of the occult powers of nature opens the spiritual sight of man, and leads him unerringly to a profounder veneration for the Creator, on the other hand ignorance, dogmatic narrow-mindedness, and a childish fear of looking to the bottom of things, invariably leads to fetish-worship and superstition. Within the limits of his intellectual capabilities the true philosopher knows no forbidden ground, and should be content to accept no mystery of nature as inscrutable and inviolable. Fanaticism in religion, fanaticism in science, or fanaticism in any other question becomes a hobby, and cannot but blind our senses. "There is no more fatal fallacy than that the truth will prevail by its own force, that it has only to be seen to be embraced. In fact the desire for the actual truth exists in very few minds, and the capacity to discern it in fewer still. When men say they are seeking the truth, they mean that they are looking for evidence to support some prejudice or prepossession. Their beliefs are moulded to their wishes. They see all, and more than all, that seems to tell for that which they desire; they are blind as bats to whatever tells against them. The scientists are no more exempt from this common failing than are others."
Many men have arisen who have had glimpses of the truth, and fancied they had it all. Such have failed to achieve the good they might have done and sought to do, because vanity has made them thrust their personality into such undue prominence as to interpose it between their believers and the whole truth that lay behind. The world needs no sectarian church, whether of Buddha, Jesus, Mahomet, Swedenborg, Calvin, or any other. There being but ONE Truth, man requires but one church -- the Temple of God within us, walled in by matter, but penetrable by any who can find the way; the pure in heart see God. If by Christianity is meant the external religious forms of worship, then in the eyes of every truly religious man, who has studied ancient exoteric faiths, and their symbology, Christianity is pure heathenism, and Catholicism, with its fetish-worshipping, is far worse and more pernicious than Hinduism in its most idolatrous aspect. The everlasting conflict between the world-religions -- Christianity, Judaism, Brahmanism, Paganism, Buddhism, proceeds from this one source: Truth is known but to the few; the rest, unwilling to withdraw the veil from their own hearts, imagine it blinding the eyes of their neighbor. The god of every exoteric religion, including Christianity, notwithstanding its pretensions to mystery, is an idol, a fiction, and cannot be anything else.
There never was, nor can there be more than one universal religion; for there can be but one truth concerning God. Like an immense chain whose upper end, the alpha, remains invisibly emanating from a Deity -- in statu absconditu with every primitive theology -- it encircles our globe in every direction; it leaves not even the darkest corner unvisited, before the other end, the omega, turns back on its way to be again received where it first emanated. On this divine chain was strung the exoteric symbology of every people. Their variety of form is powerless to affect their substance, and under their diverse ideal types of the universe of matter, symbolizing its vivifying principles, the uncorrupted immaterial image of the spirit of being guiding them is the same. So far as human intellect can go in the ideal interpretation of the spiritual universe, its laws and powers, the last word was pronounced ages since. Let human brains submit themselves to torture for thousands of years to come; let theology perplex faith and mime it with the enforcing of incomprehensible dogmas in metaphysics; and science strengthen skepticism by pulling down the tottering remains of spiritual intuition in mankind, with her demonstrations of its fallibility, eternal truth can never be destroyed. True philosophy and divine truth are convertible terms. A religion which dreads the light cannot be a religion based on either truth or philosophy -- hence, it must be false. The ancient Mysteries were mysteries to the profane only, whom the hierophants never sought nor would accept as proselytes; to the initiates the Mysteries became explained as soon as the final veil was withdrawn. No mind like that of Pythagoras or Plato would have contented itself with an unfathomable and incomprehensible mystery, like that of the Christian dogma.
Kapila, Orpheus, Pythagoras, Plato, Basilides, Marcian, Ammonius and Plotinus, founded schools and sowed the germs of many a noble thought, and disappearing left behind them the refulgence of demi-gods. But the three personalities of Christna, Gautama, and Jesus appeared like true gods, each in his epoch, and bequeathed to humanity three religions built on the imperishable rock of ages. That all three, especially the Christian faith, have in time become adulterated, and the latter almost unrecognizable, is no fault of either of the noble Reformers. It is the priestly self-styled husbandmen of the "vine of the Lord" who must be held to account by future generations. Purify the three systems of the dross of human dogmas, the pure essence remaining will be found identical. Gautama-Buddha is mirrored in the precepts of Christ; Paul and Philo Judaeus are faithful echoes of Plato; and Ammonius Saccas and Plotinus won their immortal fame by combining the teachings of all these grand masters of true philosophy. "Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good," ought to be the motto of all brothers on earth. Not so is it with the interpreters of the Bible.
Seers, righteous men, who had attained to the highest science of the inner man and the knowledge of truth, have, like Marcus Antoninus, received instructions "from the gods," in sleep and otherwise. Helped by the purer spirits, those that dwell in "regions of eternal bliss," they have watched the process and warned mankind repeatedly. Skepticism may sneer; faith, based on knowledge and spiritual science, believes and affirms. Spiritual Life is the one primordial principle above; Physical Life is the primordial principle below, but they are one under their dual aspect. When the Spirit is completely untrammelled from the fetters of correlation, and its essence has become so purified as to be reunited with its CAUSE, it may -- and yet who can tell whether it really will -- have a glimpse of the Eternal Truth. Till then, let us not build ourselves idols in our own image, and accept the shadows for the Eternal Light.
A man's idea of God is that image of blinding light that he sees reflected in the concave mirror of his own soul, and yet this is not, in very truth, God, but only His reflection. His glory is there, but it is the light of his own Spirit that the man sees, and it is all that he can bear to look upon. The clearer the mirror, the brighter will be the divine image. In the ecstatic Yogin, in the illuminated Seer, the spirit will shine like the noon-day sun; in the debased victim of earthly attraction, the radiance has disappeared, for the mirror is obscured with the stains of matter. Such men deny their God, and would willingly deprive humanity of soul at one blow.
The profoundest and most transcendental speculations of the ancient metaphysicians are all based on that great principle underlying the whole of their religious metaphysics -- illusion of the senses. Everything that is finite is illusion, all that which is infinite and eternal is reality. The objects of sense being ever delusive and fluctuating, cannot be a reality. Spirit alone is unchangeable, hence -- alone is no illusion. The Hermetic axiom maintains that only the First Cause and its direct emanations, our spirits, are incorruptible and eternal. Christos, as a unity, is but an abstraction representing the collective aggregation of the numberless spirit-entities, which are the direct emanations of the infinite, invisible, incomprehensible FIRST CAUSE -- the individual spirits of men, erroneously called the souls. They are the divine sons of God, of which some only overshadow mortal men -- but this the majority -- some remain forever planetary spirits, and some -- the smaller and rare minority -- unite themselves during life with some men. Such God-like beings as Gautama-Buddha, Jesus, Tissoo, Christna, and a few others had united themselves with their spirits permanently -- hence they became gods on earth. Others, such as Moses, Pythagoras, Apollonius, Plotinus, Confucius, Plato, Iamblichus, and some Christian saints, having at intervals been so united, have taken rank in history as demi-gods and leaders of mankind. The Greek Logos, the Hebrew Messiah, the Latin Verbum, and the Hindu Viradj are identically the same. They represent an idea of collective entities -- of flames detached from the one eternal centre of light.
It is by the spirit of the teachings of both Buddha and Pythagoras, that we can so easily recognize the identity of their doctrines. The all-pervading, universal soul, the Anima Mundi, is Nirvana; and Buddha, as a generic name, is the anthropomorphized monad of Pythagoras. When resting in Nirvana, the final bliss, Buddha is the silent monad, dwelling in darkness and silence; he is also the formless Brahm, the sublime but unknowable Deity, which pervades invisibly the whole universe. Whenever it is manifested, desiring to impress itself upon humanity in a shape intelligent to our intellect, whether we call it an avatar or a King Messiah, or a permutation of Divine Spirit, Logos, Christos, it is all one and the same thing. In each case it is "the Father" who is in the Son, and the Son in "the Father." The immortal spirit overshadows the mortal man. It enters into him, and pervading his whole being, makes of him a god, who descends into his earthly tabernacle. Every man may become a Buddha, says the doctrine. And so throughout the interminable series of ages we find now and then men who more or less succeed in uniting themselves "with God" as the expression goes, with their own spirit, as we ought to translate. The Buddhists call such men Arhat. Though the individual human spirits are numberless, collectively they are one, as every drop of water drawn out of the ocean, metaphorically speaking, may have an individual existence, and still be one with the rest of the drops going to form that ocean; for each human spirit is a scintilla of the one all-pervading light. This divine spirit animates the flower, the particle of granite on the mountain side, the lion, the man. The same spirit that animates the particle of dust, lurking latent in it, animates man, manifesting itself in him in its highest state of activity. This doctrine of God being the universal mind diffused through all things underlies all ancient philosophies.
Who is better fitted to impart to us the mysteries of after-death, so erroneously thought impenetrable, than these men who having, through self-discipline and purity of life and purpose, succeeded in uniting themselves with their "God," were afforded some glimpses, however imperfect, of the great truth? The love of truth is inherently the love of good; and so predominating over every desire of the soul, purifying it and assimilating it to the divine, thus governing every act of the individual, it raises man to a participation and communion with Divinity.
Men possessed of such knowledge and exercising such powers patiently toiled for something better than the vain glory of a passing fame. Seeking it not, they became immortal, as do all who labor for the good of the race, forgetful of mean self. Illuminated with the light of eternal truth, these rich-poor alchemists fixed their attention upon the things that lie beyond the common ken, recognizing nothing inscrutable but the First Cause, and finding no question unsolvable. To dare, to know, to will, and REMAIN SILENT, was their constant rule; to be beneficent, unselfish, and unpretending were, with them, spontaneous impulses. Disdaining the rewards of petty traffic, spurning wealth, luxury, pomp, and worldly power, they aspired to knowledge as the most satisfying of all acquisitions.NOTE.--The volume and page references to Isis Unveiled, from which the foregoing article is compiled, are, in the order of the excerpts, as follows: II, 343; II, 567; II, 593; II, 374; I, 39; I, v; II, iv; I, vi; I, vii; I, 36; I, 467; I, 36; I, x; I, 36-7; I, 115; I, 328; I, 247; I, 433; II, 368-9; I, 424; I, 425; II, 41; I, 402; I, 615; II, 635; II, 80; I, 307; I, 560; I, 561; II, 121; II, 536; II, 84; II, 369; II, 402; I, xviii; II, 157; II, 158; I, 502; II, 159; II, 158-9; I, 291; I, 292; I, 289; I, 292; I, xiii; I, 66-7.
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
ARE BACILLI ANYTHING NEW?(1)
TRULY may one query in the words of Solomon: "Is there anything whereof it may be said: See, this is new!" Thus, it is to the modern discoverer and the proud patentee, that the wise words in Ecclesiastes apply: "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; that which is done, is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the Sun." Koch and Kochists, and all ye modern Attilas of that interesting creature called Microbe and Bacillus, and what not, down with your diminished heads, you are not its discoverers! Like as the heliocentric system was known thousands of years before the Christian era to be re-discovered by Galileo, so the invisible foreigners on which you are now making a raid, were known in dark antiquity. The infinitesimal insect you are insectating is spoken of by a Latin poet in the first century B.C. Just turn to the pages of P. Terentius Varro (39 B.C.; Rerum Rusticarum I, iii.) and see what the famous Atacinus says of your tubercular and other bacilli:--
"Small creatures, invisible to the eye, fill the atmosphere in marshy localities, and penetrating with the air breathed through the nose and mouth, into the human organism, cause thereby dangerous diseases."
Just so: the thing that hath been, it is that which is.
STUDIES IN ISIS UNVEILED
EVOLUTION OF THE SOUL
(Part 4 of a 10-part series)
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ONE (1) FOOTNOTE LISTED BELOW:
(1) This article was first printed by H. P. Blavatsky in Lucifer for April, 1891.
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