THEOSOPHY, Vol. 57, No. 3, January, 1969
(Pages 75-83; Size: 26K)
(Number 15 of a 36-part series)
THE CHRISTIAN SCHEME(1)
GOD: Where? Who? What?
WHEN, years ago, we first travelled over the East, exploring the penetralia of its deserted sanctuaries, two saddening and ever-recurring questions oppressed our thoughts: Where, WHO, WHAT is GOD? Who ever saw the IMMORTAL SPIRIT of man, so as to be able to assure himself of man's immortality?
It was while most anxious to solve these perplexing problems that we came into contact with certain men, endowed with such mysterious powers 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. For the first time we received the assurance that the Oriental philosophy has room for no other faith than an absolute and immovable faith in the omnipotence of man's own immortal self. We were taught that this omnipotence comes from the kinship of man's spirit with the Universal Soul -- God! The latter, they said, can never be demonstrated but by the former. Man-spirit proves God-spirit, as the one drop of water proves a source from which it must have come. Tell one who had never seen water, that there is an ocean of water, and he must accept it on faith or reject it altogether. But let one drop fall upon his hand, and he then has the fact from which all the rest may be inferred. After that he could by degrees understand that a boundless and fathomless ocean of water existed. Blind faith would no longer be necessary; he would have supplanted it with KNOWLEDGE. When one sees mortal man displaying tremendous capabilities, controlling the forces of nature and opening up to view the world of spirit, the reflective mind is overwhelmed with the conviction that if one man's spiritual Ego can do this much, the capabilities of the FATHER SPIRIT must be relatively as much vaster as the whole ocean surpasses the single drop in volume and potency. Ex nihilo nihil fit; prove the soul of man by its wondrous powers -- you have proved God!
In our studies, mysteries were shown to be no mysteries. Names and places that to the Western mind have only a significance derived from Eastern fable, were shown to be realities. Reverently we stepped in spirit within the temple of Isis; to lift aside the veil of "the one that is and was and shall be" at Saïs; to look through the rent curtain of the Sanctum Sanctorum at Jerusalem; and even to interrogate within the crypts which once existed beneath the sacred edifice, the mysterious Bath-Kol. The Filia Vocis -- the daughter of the divine voice -- responded from the mercy-seat within the veil, and science, theology, every human hypothesis and conception born of imperfect knowledge, lost forever their authoritative character in our sight. The one-living God had spoken through his oracle -- man, and we were satisfied. Such knowledge is priceless; and it has been hidden only from those who overlooked it, derided it, or denied its existence.
What is Atheism, we ask, first of all? Is it disbelief in and denial of the existence of a God, or Gods, or simply the refusal to accept a personal deity on the somewhat gushy definition of R. Hall, who explains Atheism as "a ferocious system" because, "it leaves nothing above (?) us to awe, nor around us to awaken tenderness" (!) If the former, then most of our members -- the hosts in India, Burmah, and elsewhere -- would demur, as they believe in Gods and supernal beings, and are in great awe of some of them. Nor would a number of Western Theosophists fail to confess their full belief in Spirits, whether spatial or planetary, ghosts or angels. Many of us accept the existence of high and low Intelligences, and of Beings as great as any "personal" God. This is no occult secret.... Most of us believe in the survival of the Spiritual Ego, in Planetary Spirits and Nirmanakayas, those great Adepts of the past ages, who, renouncing their right to Nirvana, remain in our spheres of being, not as "spirits" but as complete spiritual human Beings. Save their corporeal, visible envelope, which they leave behind, they remain as they were, in order to help poor humanity, as far as can be done without sinning against Karmic law. This is the "Great Renunciation," indeed; an incessant, conscious self-sacrifice throughout æons and ages till that day when the eyes of blind mankind will open and, instead of the few, all will see the universal truth. These Beings may well be regarded as God and Gods -- if they would but allow the fire in our hearts, at the thought of that purest of all sacrifices, to be fanned into the flame of adoration, or the smallest altar in their honour. But they will not. Verily, "the secret heart is fair Devotion's (only) temple," and any other, in this case, would be no better than profane ostentation.
Now with regard to other invisible Beings, some of whom are still higher, and others far lower on the scale of divine evolution. To the latter we will have nothing to say; the former will have nothing to say to us: for we are as good as non-existent for them. The homogeneous can take no cognizance of the heterogeneous; and unless we learn to shuffle off our mortal coil and commune with them "spirit to spirit," we can hardly hope to recognise their true nature. Moreover, every true Theosophist holds that the divine HIGHER SELF of every mortal man is of the same essence as the essence of these Gods. Being, moreover, endowed with free-will, hence having, more than they, responsibility, we regard the incarnated EGO as far superior to, if not more divine than, any spiritual INTELLIGENCEstill awaiting incarnation. Philosophically, the reason for this is obvious, and every metaphysician of the Eastern school will understand it. The incarnated EGOhas odds against it which do not exist in the case of a pure divine Essence unconnected with matter; the latter has no personal merit, whereas the former is on his way to final perfection through the trials of existence, of pain and suffering. The shadow of Karma does not fall upon that which is divine and unalloyed, and so different from us that no relation can exist between the two. As to those deities which are regarded in the Hindu esoteric Pantheon as finite and therefore under the sway of Karma, no true philosopher would ever worship them; they are signs and symbols.
Shall we then be regarded as atheists, only because while believing in Spiritual Hosts -- those beings who have come to be worshipped in their collectivity as a personal God -- we reject them absolutely as representing the ONE Unknown? and because we affirm that the eternal Principle, the ALL in ALL, or the Absoluteness of the Totality, cannot be expressed by limited words, nor be symbolised by any thing with conditioned and qualificative attributes? Shall we, moreover, permit to pass without protest the charge against us of idolatry -- by the Roman Catholics, of all men? They, whose religion is as pagan as any of the solar and element worshippers; whose creed was framed out for them, cut and dry, ages before the year 1 of Christian era; and whose dogmas and rites are the same as those of every idolatrous nation -- if any such nation still exists in spirit anywhere at this day. Over the whole face of the earth, from the North to the South Pole, from the frozen gulfs of Northland to the torrid planes of Southern India, from Central America to Greece and Chaldea, the Solar Fire, as the symbol of divine Creative Power, of Life and Love, was worshipped. The union of the Sun (male element) with Earth and the Water (matter, the female element) was celebrated in the temples of the whole Universe. If Pagans had a feast commemorative of this union -- which they celebrated nine months ere the Winter Solstice, when Isis was said to have conceived -- so have the Roman Catholic Christians. The great and holy day of the Annunciation, the day on which the Virgin Mary "found favour with (her) God" and conceived "the Son of the Highest," is kept by Christians nine months before Christmas. Hence, the worship of the Fire, lights and lamps in the churches. Why? Because Vulcan, the fire-God, married Venus, the daughter of the Sea; that the Magi watched over the sacred fire in the East, and the Virgin-Vestals in the West. The Sun was the "Father," Nature, the eternal Virgin-Mother: Osiris and Isis, Spirit-Matter, the latter worshipped under each of its three states by Pagan and Christian. Hence the Virgins -- even in Japan -- clothed with star-spangled blue, standing on the lunar crescent, as symbolical of female Nature (in her three elements of Air, Water, Earth); Fire or the male Sun, fecundating her yearly with his radiant beams (the "cloven tongues like as of fire" of the Holy Ghost).
In Kalevala, the oldest epic Poem of the Finns, of the pre-Christian antiquity of which there remains no doubt in the minds of scholars, we read of the gods of Finland, the gods of air and water, of fire and the forest, of Heaven and the Earth. In the superb translation by J. M. Crawford, in Rune L (Vol. II) the reader will find the whole legend of the Virgin Mary inUkko, the great Spirit, whose abode is in Yumala, the sky or Heaven, chooses the Virgin Mariatta as his vehicle to incarnate through her in a Man-God. She becomes pregnant by plucking and eating a red berry (marja), when, repudiated by her parents, she gives birth to a "Son immortal," in the manger of a stable. Then the "Holy Babe" disappears and Mariatta is in search of him. She asks a star, "the guiding star of Northland," where her "holy baby lies hidden," but the star answers her angrily:Mariatta, child of beauty,
Virgin-Mother of the Northland ...and tells the Virgin nothing. Nor will the golden moon help her, because, Mariatta's babe having created her, left her in the great sky:If I knew, I would not tell thee;
'Tis thy child that me created,
In the cold to shine for ever....It is only the "Silver Sun" who, taking pity upon the Virgin-Mother, tells her:Here to wander in the darkness,
All alone at eve to wander,
Shining for the good of others....She takes the holy baby home, and while the mother calls him "Flower,"Yonder is thy golden infant,
There thy holy babe lies sleeping,
Hidden to his belt in water,
Hidden in the reeds and rushes.Is this a post-Christian legend? Not at all; for, as said, it is essentially pagan in origin and recognized as pre-Christian. Hence, with such data in hand in literature, the ever-recurring taunts of idolatry and atheism, of infidelity and paganism, ought to cease. The term idolatry, moreover, is of Christian origin. It was used by the early Nazarenes, during 21/2 centuries of our era, against those nations who used temples and churches, statues and images, because they, the early Christians themselves, had neither temples, statues, nor images, all of which they abhorred. Therefore the term "idolatrous" fits far better our accusers than ourselves, as this article will show. With Madonnas on every cross road, their thousands of statues, from Christs and Angels in every shape down to Popes and Saints, it is rather a dangerous thing for a Catholic to taunt any Hindu or Buddhist with idolatry. The assertion has now to be proved.Others named him Son of Sorrow.
We may begin by the origin of the word God. What is the real and primitive meaning of the term? Its meanings and etymologies are as many as they are various. One of them shows the word derived from an old Persian and mystic term goda. It means "itself," or something self-emanating from the absolute Principle. The root word was godan -- whence Wodan, Woden, and Odin, the Oriental radical having been left almost unaltered by the Germanic races. Thus they made of it gott, from which the adjective gut -- "good," as also the term gotz, or idol, were derived. In ancient Greece, the word Zeus and Theos led to the Latin Deus. This goda, the emanation, is not, and cannot be, identical with that from which it radiates, and is, therefore, but a periodical, finite manifestation. Old Aratus, who wrote "full of Zeus are all the streets and the markets of man; full of Him is the sea and the harbours," did not limit his deity to such a temporary reflection on our terrestrial plane as Zeus, or even its antetype -- Dyaus, but meant, indeed, the universal, omnipresent Principle. Before the radiant god Dyaus (the sky) attracted the notice of man, there was the Vedic Tad ("that") which, to the Initiate and philosopher, would have no definite name, and which was the absolute Darkness that underlies every manifested radiancy. No more than the mythical Jupiter -- the later reflection of Zeus -- could Surya, the Sun, the first manifestation in the world of Maya and theSon of Dyaus, fail to be termed "Father" by the ignorant. Thus the Sun became very soon interchangeable and one with Dyaus; for some, the "Son," for others, the "Father" in the radiant sky; Dyaus-Pitar, the Father in the Son, and the Son in the Father, truly shows however, his finite origin by having the Earth assigned to him as a wife. It is during the full decadence of metaphysical philosophy that Dyava-prithivi, "Heaven and Earth," began to be represented as the Universal cosmic parents, not alone of men, but of the gods also. From the original conception, abstract and poetical, the ideal cause fell into grossness. Dyaus, the sky, became very soon Dyaus or Heaven, the abode of the "Father," and finally, indeed, that Father himself. Then the Sun, upon being made the symbol of the latter, received the title of Dina-Kara, "day-maker," or Bhaskara, "light-maker," now the Father of his Son, and vice versa. The reign of ritualism and of anthropomorphic cults was henceforth established and finally degraded the whole world, retaining supremacy to the present civilized age.
Such being the common origin, we have but to contrast the two deities -- the god of the Gentiles and the god of the Jews -- on their own revealed WORD; and judging them on their respective definitions of themselves, conclude intuitively which is the nearest to the grandest ideal. We quote Colonel Ingersoll, who brings Jehovah and Brahma parallel with each other. The former, "from the clouds and darkness of Sinai," said to the Jews:"Thou shalt have no other gods before me.... Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them; for I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third generation of them that hate me." Contrast this with the words put by the Hindu into the mouth of Brahm: "I am the same to all mankind. They who honestly serve other gods, involuntarily worship me. I am he who partaketh of all worship, and I am the reward of all worshippers." Compare these passages. The first, a dungeon where crawl the things begot of jealous slime; the other, great as the domed firmament inlaid with suns....The "first" is the god who haunted Calvin's fancy, when he added to his doctrine of predestination that of Hell being paved with the skulls of unbaptized infants. The beliefs and dogmas of our churches are far more blasphemous in the ideas they imply than those of the benighted Heathen. The amours of Brahma, under the form of a buck, with his own daughter, as a deer, or of Jupiter with Leda, under that of a swan, are grand allegories. They were never given out as a revelation, but known to have been the products of the poetic fancy of Hesiod and other mythologists. Can we say as much of the immaculate daughters of the god of the Roman Catholic Church -- Anna and Mary? Yet, even to breathe that the Gospel narratives are allegories too, as they would be most sacrilegious were they accepted in their dead letter, constitutes in a Christian born the acme of blasphemy!
Deus Sol or Solus, the Father, was made interchangeable with the Son: the "Father" in his noon glory, he became the "Son" at Sun-rise, when he was said to "be born." This idea received its full apotheosis annually on December the 25th, during the Vernal Solstice, when the Sun -- hence the solar gods of all the nations -- was said to be born. Natalis solis invicte. And the "precursor" of the resurrecting Sun grows and waxes strong, until the vernal equinox, when the god Sol begins its annual course, under the sign of the Ram or the Lamb, the first lunar week of the month. The 1st of March was feasted throughout all pagan Greece, as its neomenia was sacred to Diana. Christian nations celebrate their Easter, for the same reason, on the first Sunday that follows the full moon, at the Vernal Equinox. With the festivals of the Pagans, the canonicals of their priests and Hierophants were copied by Christendom. Will this be denied? In his "Life of Constantine" Eusebius confesses -- thus saying, perhaps, the only truth he ever uttered in his life -- that "in order to render Christianity more attractive to the Gentiles, the priests (of Christ) adopted the exterior vestments and ornaments used in the pagan cult." He might have added "their rituals" and dogmas also.
Up to the fourth century the churches knew of no altars. Up to that date the altar was a table raised in the middle of the temple, for purposes of Communion, or fraternal repasts (the Cúna, as mass was originally said in the evening). In the same way now the table is raised in the "Lodge" for Masonic Banquets, which usually close the proceedings of a Lodge and at which the resurrected Hiram Abifs, the "Widow's Sons," honour their toasts by firing, a Masonic mode of transubstantiation. Shall we call their banquet tables altars also? Why not? The altars were copies from the ara maxima of pagan Rome. The Latins placed square and oblong stones near their tombs, and called them ara, altar; they were consecrated to the gods Lares and Manes. Our altars are a derivation from these square stones, another form of the boundary stones known as the gods Termini -- the Hermeses, and the Mercuries, whence Mercurius quadratus, quadriceps, quadrifrons, etc., etc., the four-faced gods, whose symbols these square stones were, from the highest antiquity. The stone on which the ancient kings of Ireland were crowned was such an "altar." Such a stone is in Westminster Abbey, endowed, moreover, with a voice. Thus our altars and thrones descend directly from the priapic boundary stones of the pagans -- the gods termini.
Shall the church-going reader feel very indignant if he is told that the Christians adopted the pagan way of worshipping in a temple, only during the reign of Diocletianus? Up to that period they had an insurmountable horror for altars and temples, and held them in abomination for the first 250 years of our era. These primitive Christians were Christians indeed; the moderns are more pagan than any ancient idolators. The former were the Theosophists of those days; from IVth century they became Helleno-Judaic Gentiles minus the philosophy of the Neo-Platonists. Read what Minutius Felix says in the third century to the Romans:You fancy that we (Christians) conceal that which we worship because we will have neither temples nor altars? But what image of God shall we raise, since Man is himself God's image? What temple can we build to the Deity, when the Universe, which is Its work, can hardly contain It? How shall we enthrone the power of such Omnipotence in a single building? Is it not far better to consecrate to the Deity a temple in our heart and spirit?But then the Chrestians of the type of Minutius Felix had in their mind the commandment of the MASTER-INITIATE, not to pray in the synagogues and temples as the hypocrites do, "that they may be seen of men." (Matthew 6:5.) They remembered the declaration of Paul, the Apostle-Initiate, the "Master Builder" (I Corinthians 3:10), that MAN was the one temple of God, in which the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God dwelleth; (Ibid.). They obeyed the truly Christian precepts, whereas the modern Christians obey but the arbitrary canons of their respective churches, and the rules of their Elders. "Theosophists are notorious Atheists," exclaims a writer in the "Church Chronicle." "Not one of them is ever known to attend divine service ... the Church is obnoxious to them"; and forthwith uncorking the vials of his wrath, he pours out their contents on the infidel, heathen F.T.S. The modern Churchman stones the Theosophist as his ancient forefather, the Pharisee of the "Synagogue of the Libertines" (Acts 6:9) stoned Stephen, for saying that which even many Christian Theosophists say, namely that "the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands" (Ibid. 48); and they "suborn men" just as these iniquitous judges did (Ibid. II) to testify against us.
Forsooth, friends, you are indeed the righteous descendants of your predecessors, whether of the colleagues of Saul, or of those of Pope Leo X, the cynical author of the ever famous sentence: "How useful to us this fable of Christ." "Quantum nobis prodest hac fabula Christi!"
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 BASIS OF EGOIC DEVELOPMENT
It is only he who is possessed of the most complete sincerity that can exist under heaven, who can give its full development to his own nature. Able to give full development to his own nature, he can do the same to the nature of other men. Able to give its full development to the nature of other men, he can give their full development to the nature of animals and things. Able to give their full development to the natures of creatures and things, he can assist the transforming and nourishing power of Heaven and Earth.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON
THE CHRISTIAN SCHEME
GOD: The Unknowable
(Part 16 of a 36-part series)
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ONE (1) FOOTNOTE LISTED BELOW:
(1) NOTE.--"The Christian Scheme," begun in November, 1967, is collated from the works of H. P. Blavatsky. It recounts the historical background and early development of Christianity.
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