The Path – November 1891

THE NATURAL LAW OF ALTRUISM — Archibald Keightley

Is such a conception possible, and, if so, is it equivalent to Atheism? The whole question depends on the meaning attached by each individual to the idea of Deity. In the very attempt to give definition and say what the idea of Deity means to him, each man puts a limit to Deity by confining it to the terms of his understanding. It then becomes for him personally a God, but it is not Deity for any other man, since there is no perfect identity to be found between two human minds. Therefore one essential aspect of Deity is to the finite human intellect incomprehensible. From this point, if the various attributes of Deity are considered, it is seen that all the attributes end in becoming a personal or individual God to the individual mind which considers them. Finally, Deity surrounded by all these attributes becomes an aggrandized personal God anthropomorphized in terms of the human understanding, and thereby loses its essential character of Deity. In short, beyond the fact that "in it we live and move and have our being," Deity as such is not related to the manifested Universe.

But Deity in itself is Absolute, and its Absoluteness of energy and consciousness is incomprehensible to us, and therefore to us is latent and unconscious. But none the less is there activity and consciousness which, by processes incomprehensible to man, render themselves into manifestation. Unity becomes polarised and diversified: energy and consciousness become interaction, guided by intelligence. In other words, there is proceeding from Unity a Trinity of Cosmic Substance, Cosmic Ideation, and Cosmic Energy. By some they are called Matter, Force, and Intelligence, and by others Spirit, Matter, and Force. But in reality these three have — by a process unintelligible to our consciousness — become in space and time the aspects of Absoluteness unconditioned by space and time. Thus it may be said that there are three stages in the passage of the concealed Deity into manifestation. It is not until the third stage — the differentiation of Cosmic Substance under the Energy guided by Cosmic Ideation — that the "Creative Powers" of the various religions are found. It is by these powers or forces interacting and differentiating that the manifested universe was formed. These are the Hierarchies of Archangels, Amshaspends, Elohim, &c, which collectively personify the attributes of Deity but are not Deity itself. In thus dealing with religion by basing it on a conception of Abstract Deity, a Unity manifested in an infinity of creative powers, it becomes evident that these creators are the instruments through which the workings of Universal Law are made manifest, and that there can be no question of caprice, such as we find in the sacred scriptures of many nations. It is plain that the creative powers are the ministers of that which is mind, will, and righteousness. In this way order is evolved from "Chaos", and the mind dwelling on the workings of its origin — the Universal Mind — is eminently reasonable because adjusted to the most permanent conditions of the manifested Universe.

The Hierarchy of Being is incessantly engaged in the process of its own evolution, and within the Universe it might be said that, following the lines of universal evolution, there is an analogous Hierarchy for each Solar System and also for each Planet. Thus for the period of planetary existence within space and time there is an in-breathing after an out-breathing of cosmic energy as applied to this earth. In other words, the relative unity as applied to this earth emerges into diversity and then returns again to unity after accomplishing its evolution within a "world-period". It may, then, well be that powers hitherto unrecognised as natural powers may lie within the reach of those who press forward more eagerly than others in the line of evolution, and it would indeed be unfortunate for the general average of mankind if there were no restriction on the exercise of these powers. But as we see that self-denial leading from the assertion of the individual to the rights of mankind as a whole is one of the conditions of the involution from diversity to unity, the very fact of the acquisition of such powers carries with it the safe-guard. Such is the law, it would seem, of natural evolution. Thus supposing that some outstripped their fellow-men and, acquiring these powers, used them for selfish purposes and to gratify their own ambition, does it not also follow that nature, being mightier than the individual man (even though he be possessed of such extended powers), will inevitably put an end to the individual strength of such a man as opposed to the fixed line of her general evolution? In this way the power of the evolutionary Hierarchy of the Earth personified as Nature irresistibly follows the Law of its being. and so becomes a "providence" to those within its operations.

Thus those men who are spurred on to follow with the utmost forces of their being the law of evolution find the love of humanity entailed upon them, and in place of tyrants become the servants of nature and therefore of humanity. The higher they rise in the human hierarchy, the more they have to serve, until, as regards the total progress to be accomplished within a "world-period," they reach the limit of attainment. They may then be said to be on the threshold of Nirvana and to have returned from the evolution of individual self-consciousness to the unity of divine consciousness. Thus Nirvana is not the annihilation of self-consciousness, but it is union with the divine in nature, and rest from the labors of evolution. The work is accomplished, but there are those who, according to oriental philosophy, sacrifice this Nirvana and return to their labors, thus giving up their rest in order to become the quickeners and saviors of men who endanger themselves through delay in their evolution.

This very briefly is an outline of a religion with Deity and many Gods. It is a manifested Pantheism based on a concealed Unity, and its inconsistent with itself. As such, for the benefit of a large number of men it solves a number of difficulties both from the materialistic and the theological standpoints. It at least demonstrates why altruism and the love for humanity is a law which has its origin in the very foundation of Being, and the ethics of altruism therefore become a logical necessity. This is a feeble rendering of the Theosophy which Mme Blavatsky brought before the world, the said Theosophy being, as she repeatedly declared, no new idea, but older than humanity itself.


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