THEOSOPHY, Vol. 82, No. 9, July, 1994
(Pages 269-272; Size: 10K)
(Number 2 of a 3-part series)
THE ANCIENT WISDOM IN AFRICA(1)
SOME years after the Boer War, I was engaged in work on behalf of the Natal Government, in a certain large Native Reserve, in the course of which I was astonished to find occupying a remote, inaccessible valley, a small community of people -- perhaps less than a hundred of all ages and both sexes -- who were certainly not Zulus, nor, in fact, of an African Race I had ever seen. Had it not been for the fact that they lived the life of the Natives, and identified themselves in all respects with their Bantu neighbours, I should have said that they were members of some Southern European Race. In colour they varied a good deal, from the brown of a high caste Hindu to pure white. Their features were of pure European type, more uniformly classical indeed than is usual among Europeans.
The chief of this little community bore the Zulu name of Mandhlalanga (Strength of the Sun). From the first, Mandhlalanga was extremely friendly towards me, and showed a desire to win my confidence....As regards himself, he remained for a time rather reserved, however. He and his people, he gave me to understand, were Berbers, or rather Khabyles (he pronounced the name Kha-beel-ya),...from North Africa. But what they were doing five thousand miles from their native habitat...he did not explain....One day I was speaking of the inexplicable manner in which news of distant happenings spreads among the Natives, when suddenly he said:Thought is speedier than the electric spark and needs no wires for its conveyance. All it requires is a brain to dispatch it and another to receive it. Would you believe if I told you that I and others of the Brotherhood to which I belong can transmit our thoughts one to the other, no matter how far apart our bodies may be?This was a rather startling statement, but I recalled what I had learned from Mankanyezi. I replied, "Yes, I think I might believe that, but I should be more sure if you explained how it is done."
"To attempt to explain our science to you," he said, smiling, "would be rather like trying to explain the differential calculus to a child who is ignorant of simple addition. However....if you will, I will take you as a pupil and teach you the simple addition of our lore...I can teach, but I cannot guarantee that you can learn."
After some consideration I agreed to become Mandhlalanga's pupil, and for a year continued under his instruction....The sum of the information I gained from Mandhlalanga, during that year, is not very large,...I shall content myself here with certain extracts from the copious notes I made of his discourses.
Mandhlalanga, I may explain, is a Master, or Teacher in the Brotherhood mentioned by Mankanyezi. He has traveled in Europe, Asia and America. He speaks English and other European languages perfectly, but his talks with me were conducted in the secret Bantu tongue...the continued existence of which few Europeans are aware...Mandhlalanga deals as follows with "The Riddle of Existence."The Itongo (Universal Spirit) is ALL that ever was, is, or ever shall be, conceivable or inconceivable. The Itongo is ALL things, all things are of IT; but the sum of all things is not the Itongo. The Itongo is ALL the wisdom there is, all wisdom is of IT; but all wisdom conceivable is not the Itongo. ALL substance, ALL power, ALL wisdom is of IT and IT is in them and manifest through them, but IT is also above them and beyond them, eternally unmanifest. Man who is of the Itongo can never know the Itongo while he is Man. All he can know of IT are certain manifestations which come within the range of his perceptions. The pupil is generally taught that the manifestations are three in number. Namely:But really there are but two manifestations, Mind and Matter. What we call Force is not a separate manifestation. It is simply certain of the lowest, or grosser grades of Mind. Force is simply that portion of Mind which endows Matter with Form. It is that portion of Mind which transmits the idea of Form to the higher grades where Consciousness dwells. Let the Pupil think and he must see that this is so. Colour, size, shape, what are they? Simply light vibrations which when passed on to the Consciousness give the idea of Form. And what is vibration? It is Force. Heat, cold, hardness, softness, varieties of taste and smell are all vibrations, and therefore also Force. If you make Force a separate manifestation, then also must you make those planes of Mind which transfer the ideas of passion or emotion separate manifestations.1. Universal Mind,
2. Universal Force,
3. Universal Substance or Matter.
In the beginning of a Cosmic Cycle the Itongo first manifested in all the many grades of mind, downward into all the grades of Matter. But at first both Mind and Matter were unindividualised. When, how, or why, only the Itongo can know. Individuality began in the highest planes of Mind -- those planes which touch on pure Spirit. Understanding of what occurred is best gained by the following conception. Think of the Cosmos, just before Individuality began, as a vast, amorphous ocean of Mind and Matter, its surface ripples and upper reaches, those planes of Mind which touch on Spirit; growing denser and denser, downward till Matter, in Etheric form, is reached; downward till Ether becomes Gas, which may be likened to the mineral-charged lower strata of the ocean; downward till gases become liquids (muddy water); finally into solids (thick mud).
The beginning of Individuality in this Cosmic Ocean may be likened to the starting of myriads of tiny "whirlpools" among the ripples of the surface (the Spiritualised Mind). These "whirlpools" under the force of a growing flood-tide, extended deeper and deeper, till at last all strata were involved in the swirl. Thus we have Individuality set up, extending from Spiritual Mind to the Physical Plane. The "whirlpool" on the surface represents the birth of the Soul. Its extension to the muddy depths represents the Soul's descent into matter. In matter the Soul has reached the aphelion of its cycle, and now it begins its long, slow return journey. By the process of evolution it climbs slowly upward, from mineral to plant, from plant to animal, from animal to man; through all grades and states of human development, shaking off, slowly and painfully as it climbs, the gross accretions gathered during its descent; up through the lower mind to the higher, it climbs, till at last, its cycle complete, it merges with its source, the Itongo, and ceases to be Individual, being one with the ALL.
(To be continued)
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:
The Secret Doctrine was the universally diffused religion of the ancient and prehistoric world.... there never was a religious founder who had invented a new religion, or revealed a new truth. These founders were all transmitters. They were the authors of new forms and interpretations. Every nation received some of the said truths, under the veil of its own local and special symbolism; which as time went on, developed into a more or less philosophical cultus, a Pantheon in mythical disguise.
--The Secret Doctrine
THE ANCIENT WISDOM IN AFRICA
(Part 3 of a 3-part series)
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ONE (1) FOOTNOTE LISTED BELOW:
(1) NOTE--These are excerpts from Patrick Bowen's account of his experiences in Africa, published in The Theosophist, August, 1927.
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