It is written in an old book on the Occult Sciences: "Gupta Vidya (Secret Science) is an attractive sea, but stormy and full of rocks. The navigator who risks himself thereon, if he be not wise and full of experience, (1) will be swallowed up, wrecked upon one of the thousand submerged reefs. Great billows, in color like sapphires, rubies and emeralds, billows full of beauty and mystery, will overtake him, ready to bear the voyager away towards other and numberless lights that burn in every direction But these are will-o'-the-wisps, lighted by the sons of Kaliya (2) for the destruction of those who thirst for life. Happy are they who remain blind to these false deceivers; more happy still those who never turn their eyes from the only true Beacon-light, whose eternal flame burns in solitude in the depths of the waters of the Sacred Science. Numberless are the pilgrims who desire to enter those waters; very few are the strong swimmers who reach the Light He who gets there must have ceased to be a number, and have become all numbers. He must have forgotten the illusion of separation, and have accepted only the truth of collective individuality (3) He must see with the ears, hear with the eyes, (4) understand the language of the rainbow, and have concentrated his six senses in his seventh sense." (5)
The Beacon-light of Truth is Nature without the veil of the senses. It can be reached only when the adept has become absolute master of his personal self, able to control all his physical and psychic senses by the aid of his "seventh sense," through which he is gifted also with the true wisdom of the gods — Theo-sophia.
Needless to say, the profane — the non-initiated, those outside the temple or pro-fanes — judge of the "lights" and the "Light" above mentioned in a reversed sense. For them it is the Beacon-light of occult truth which is the ignus fatuus, the great will-o'-the-wisp of human illusion and folly, and they regard all the others as marking beneficent sand-banks, which stop in time those who are excitedly sailing on the sea of folly and superstition.
"Is it not enough," say our kind critics, "that the world by dint of "isms" has arrived at Theosophism, which is nothing but transcendental humbuggery [fumisterie], without the latter's offering us further a rechauffee of mediaeval magic, with its grand Sabbath and chronic hysteria?"
Stop, stop, gentlemen. Do you know, when you talk like that, what true magic is, or the Occult Sciences? In your schools you have allowed yourselves to be stuffed full of the "diabolical sorcery" of Simon the magician, and his disciple Menander, according to the good Father Irenaeus, the too zealous Theodoret, and the unknown author of Philosophumena. You have permitted yourselves to be told on the one hand that this magic came from the devil; and on the other hand that it was the result of imposture and fraud. Very well. But what do you know of the true nature of the system followed by Apollonius of Tyana, Iamblichus and other magi? And what is your opinion about the identity of the theurgy of Iamblichus with the "magic" of the Simons and the Menanders? Its true character is only half revealed by the author of the book de Mysteriis. (6) Nevertheless, his explanations sufficed to convert Porphyry, Plotinus, and others, who from enemies of the esoteric theory became its most fervent adherents. The reason is extremely simple.
True Magic, the theurgy of Iamblichus, is in its turn identical with the Gnosis of Pythagoras, the science of things as they are, and with the divine ecstasy of the Philaletheans, "the lovers of Truth." But one can judge of the tree only by its fruits. Who are those who have witnessed to the divine character and the reality of that ecstasy which is called Samadhi in India? (7)
A long series of men, who, had they been Christians, would have been canonized — not by the decision of the Church, which has its partialities and predilections, but by that of whole nations, and by the vox populi, which is hardly ever wrong in its judgments. There is, for instance, Ammonius Saccas, called the Theodidaktos, "God-instructed," the great master whose life was so chaste and so pure, that Plotinus, his pupil, had not the slightest hope of ever seeing any mortal comparable to him. Then there is Plotinus himself, who was for Ammonius what Plato was for Socrates — a disciple worthy of his illustrious master. Then there is Porphyry, the pupil of Plotinus, (8) the author of the biography of Pythagoras. Under the shadow of this divine Gnosis, whose beneficent influence has extended to our own days, all the celebrated mystics of the later centuries have been developed, such as Jacob Boehme, Emanuel Swedenborg, and so many others. Madame Guyon is the feminine counterpart of Iamblichus. The Christian Quietists, the Mussulman Sufis, the Rosicrucians of all countries, drink the waters of that inexhaustible fountain — the Theosophy of the Neo-Platonists of the first centuries of the Christian Era. The Gnosis preceded that era, for it was the direct continuation of the Gupta-Vidya and of the Brahma-Vidya ("secret knowledge" and "knowledge of Brahma') of ancient India, transmitted through Egypt; just as the theurgy of the Philaletheans was the continuation of the Egyptian mysteries. In any case, the point from which this "diabolic" magic starts, is the Supreme Divinity; its end and aim, the union of the divine spark which animates man with the parent-flame, which is the Divine ALL.
1. Acquired under a Guru. (return to text)
2. The great serpent conquered by Krishna and driven from the River Yanuma into the sea, where he took for a wife a kind of siren, by whom he had a numerous family. (return to text)
3. The illusion of the personality of the Ego, placed by our egotism in the first rank. In a word, it is necessary to assimilate the whole of humanity, live by it, for it, and in it, in other terms, cease to be "one," and become "all" or the total. (return to text)
4. A Vedic expression The senses, counting in the two mystic senses, are seven in Occultism, but an Initiate does not separate these senses from each other, any more than he separates his unity from Humanity. Every sense contains all the others. (return to text)
5. Symbology of colors. The language of the prism, of which "the seven mother-colors have each seven sons," that is to say, forty-nine shades or "sons" between the seven, which graduated tints are so many letters or alphabetical characters. The language of colors has, therefore, fifty six letters for the Initiate. Of these letters each septenary is absorbed by the mother color, as each of the seven mother-colors is absorbed finally in the white ray, Divine Unity, symbolized by these colors. (return to text)
6. By Iamblichus, who used the name of his master, the Egyptian priest Abammon as a pseudonym. (return to text)
7. Samddhi is a state of abstract contemplation, defined in Sanskrit terms each of which would require a whole sentence to explain. It is a mental, or rather, spiritual state, which is not dependent upon any perceptible object, and during which the subject, absorbed in the region of pure spirit, lives in Divinity. (return to text)
8. He lived in Rome for 28 years, and was so virtuous a man that it was considered an honor to have him as guardian for the orphans of the highest patricians. He died without having made an enemy during these 28 years. (return to text)
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