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“As it would seem irrational to affirm that we already know all existing causes, permission must be given to assume, if need be, an entirely new agent.
“Assuming, what is not strictly accurate as yet, that the undulatory hypothesis accounts for all the facts, we are called on to decide whether the existence of an undulating Ether is thereby proved. We cannot positively affirm
that no other supposition will explain the facts. Newton’s corpuscular hypothesis is admitted to have broken down on Interference; and there is, at the present day, no rival. Still, it is extremely desirable in all such hypotheses to find some collateral confirmation, some evidence aliunde, of the supposed ether. . . . . Some Hypotheses consist of assumptions as to the minute structure and operations of bodies. From the nature of the case, these assumptions can never be proved by direct means. Their only merit is their suitability to express the phenomena. They are representative fictions.” — (“Logic,” by Alexander Bain, LL.D., Part II., p. 133)
Ether, this hypothetical Proteus, one of the “representative Fictions” of modern Science — which, nevertheless, was so long accepted — is one of the lower “principles” of what we call primordial substance (Akasa, in Sanskrit), one of the dreams of old, and which has now become again the dream of modern science. It is the greatest, just as it is the boldest, of the surviving speculations of ancient philosophers. For the Occultists, however, both ether and the Primordial Substance are a reality. To put it plainly, ether is the Astral Light, and the Primordial Substance is Akasa, the Upadhi of divine thought.
In modern language, the latter would be better named cosmic ideation — Spirit; the former, cosmic substance, Matter. These, the Alpha and the Omega of Being, are but the two facets of the one Absolute Existence. The latter was never addressed, or even mentioned, by any name in antiquity, except allegorically. In the oldest Aryan race, the Hindu, the worship of the intellectual classes never consisted (as with the Greeks) in a fervent adoration of marvellous form and art, which led later on to anthropomorphism. But while the Greek philosopher adored form, and the Hindu sage alone “perceived the true relation of earthly beauty and eternal truth” — the uneducated of every nation understood neither, at any time.
They do not understand it even now. The evolution of the God-idea proceeds apace with man’s own intellectual evolution. So true it is that the noblest ideal to which the religious Spirit of one age can soar, will appear but a gross caricature to the philosophic mind in a succeeding epoch! The philosophers themselves had to be initiated into perceptive mysteries, before they could grasp the correct idea of the ancients in relation to this most metaphysical subject. Otherwise — outside such initiation — for every thinker there will be a “Thus far shalt thou go and no farther,” mapped out by his intellectual capacity, as clearly and as unmistakeably as there is for the progress of any nation or race in its cycle by the law of Karma. Outside of initiation, the ideals of contemporary religious thought must always have their wings clipped and remain unable to soar higher; for idealistic as well as realistic thinkers, and even free-thinkers, are but the outcome and the natural product of their respective environments and periods. The ideals of both are only
the necessary results of their temperaments, and the outcome of that phase of intellectual progress to which a nation, in its collectivity, has attained. Hence, as already remarked, the highest flights of modern (Western) metaphysics have fallen far short of the truth. Much of current Agnostic speculation on the existence of the “First Cause” is little better than veiled materialism — the terminology alone being different. Even so great a thinker as Mr. Herbert Spencer speaks of the “Unknowable” occasionally in terms that demonstrate the lethal influence of materialistic thought, which, like the deadly Sirocco, has withered and blighted all current ontological speculation.*
From the early ages of the Fourth Race, when Spirit alone was worshipped and the mystery was made manifest, down to the last palmy days of Grecian art at the dawn of Christianity — the Hellenes alone had dared to raise publicly an altar to the Unknown God. Whatever St. Paul may have had in his profound mind when declaring to the Athenians that this “unknown,” ignorantly worshipped by them, was the true God announced by himself — that Deity was not “Jehovah” (see “The Holy of Holies”), nor was he “The Maker of the world and all things.” For it is not the “God of Israel” but the “Unknown” of the ancient and modern Pantheist that “dwelleth not in temples made with hands” (Acts xviii., 23-4).
Divine thought cannot be defined, or its meaning explained, except by the numberless manifestations of Cosmic Substance in which the former is sensed spiritually by those who can do so. To say this, after having defined it as the Unknown Deity, abstract, impersonal, sexless, which must be placed at the root of every Cosmogony and its subsequent evolution, is equivalent to saying nothing at all. It is like attempting a transcendental equation of conditions for the true values of a set, having in hand for deducing them only a number of unknown quantities. Its place is found in the old primitive Symbolic charts, in which, as shown in the text, it is represented by a boundless darkness, on the ground of which appears the first central point in white — thus symbolising coeval and co-eternal Spirit-Matter making its appearance in the phenomenal world, before its first differentiation. When “the one becomes two,” it may then be
* For instance, when he terms the “First Cause” — the Unknowable — a “power manifesting through phenomena,” and “an infinite eternal Energy” (?) it is clear that he has grasped solely the physical aspect of the mystery of Being — the Energies of Cosmic Substance only. The co-eternal aspect of the One Reality — Cosmic Ideation — (as to its noumenon, it seems non-existent in the mind of the great thinker) is absolutely omitted from consideration. Without doubt, this one-sided mode of dealing with the problem is due largely to the pernicious Western practice of subordinating consciousness, or regarding it as a “by-product” of molecular motion.
referred to as Spirit and matter. To “Spirit” is referable every manifestation of consciousness, reflective or direct, and of unconscious purposiveness (to adopt a modern expression used in Western philosophy, so-called) as evidenced in the Vital Principle, and Nature’s submission to the majestic sequence of immutable law. “Matter” must be regarded as objectivity in its purest abstraction — the self-existing basis whose septenary manvantaric differentiations constitute the objective reality underlying the phenomena of each phase of conscious existence. During the period of Universal Pralaya, Cosmic Ideation is nonexistent; and the variously differentiated states of Cosmic Substance are resolved back again into the primary state of abstract potential objectivity.
Manvantaric impulse commences with the re-awakening of Cosmic Ideation (the “Universal Mind”) concurrently with, and parallel to the primary emergence of Cosmic Substance — the latter being the manvantaric vehicle of the former — from its undifferentiated pralayic state. Then, absolute wisdom mirrors itself in its Ideation; which, by a transcendental process, superior to and incomprehensible by human Consciousness, results in Cosmic Energy (Fohat). Thrilling through the bosom of inert Substance, Fohat impels it to activity, and guides its primary differentiations on all the Seven planes of Cosmic Consciousness. There are thus Seven Protyles (as they are now called), while Aryan antiquity called them the Seven Prakriti, or Natures, serving, severally, as the relatively homogeneous basis, which in the course of the increasing heterogeneity (in the evolution of the Universe) differentiate into the marvellous complexity presented by phenomena on the planes of perception. The term “relatively” is used designedly, because the very existence of such a process, resulting in the primary segregations of undifferentiated Cosmic Substance into its septenary bases of evolution, compels us to regard the protyle* of each plane as only a mediate phase assumed by Substance in its passage from abstract, into full objectivity.
Cosmic Ideation is said to be non-existent during Pralayic periods, for the simple reason that there is no one, and nothing, to perceive its effects. There can be no manifestation of Consciousness, semi-consciousness, or even “unconscious purposiveness,” except through the
* The term Protyle is due to Mr. Crookes, the eminent chemist, who has given that name to pre-Matter, if one may so call primordial and purely homogeneous substances, suspected, if not actually yet found, by Science in the ultimate composition of the atom. But the incipient segregation of primordial matter into atoms and molecules takes its rise subsequent to the evolution of the Seven Protyles. It is the last of these — having recently detected the possibility of its existence on our plane — that Mr. Crookes is in search of.
vehicle of matter; that is to say, on this our plane, wherein human consciousness in its normal state cannot soar beyond what is known as transcendental metaphysics, it is only through some molecular aggregation or fabric that Spirit wells up in a stream of individual or sub-conscious subjectivity. And as Matter existing apart from perception is a mere abstraction, both of these aspects of the Absolute — Cosmic Substance and Cosmic Ideation — are mutually inter-dependent. In strict accuracy — to avoid confusion and misconception — the term “Matter” ought to be applied to the aggregate of objects of possible perception, and “Substance” to noumena; for inasmuch as the phenomena of our plane are the creation of the perceiving Ego — the modifications of its own subjectivity — all the “states of matter representing the aggregate of perceived objects” can have but a relative and purely phenomenal existence for the children of our plane. As the modern Idealists would say, the co-operation of Subject and Object results in the Sense-object or phenomenon. But this does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that it is the same on all other planes; that the co-operation of the two on the planes of their septenary differentiation results in a septenary aggregate of phenomena which are likewise non-existent per se, though concrete realities for the Entities of whose experience they form a part, in the same manner as the rocks and rivers around us are real from the stand-point of a physicist, though unreal illusions of sense from that of the metaphysician. It would be an error to say, or even conceive such a thing. From the stand-point of the highest metaphysics, the whole Universe, gods included, is an illusion; but the illusion of him who is in himself an illusion differs on every plane of consciousness; and we have no more right to dogmatise about the possible nature of the perceptive faculties of an Ego on, say, the sixth plane, than we have to identify our perceptions with, or make them a standard for, those of an ant, in its mode of consciousness. The pure object apart from consciousness* is unknown to us, while living on the plane of our three-dimensional World; as we know only the mental states it excites in the perceiving Ego. And, so long as the contrast of Subject and Object endures — to wit, as long as we enjoy our five senses and no more, and do not know how to divorce our all-perceiving Ego (the Higher Self) from the thraldom of these senses — so long will it be impossible for the personal Ego to break through the barrier which separates it from a
* Cosmic Ideation focussed in a principle or upadhi (basis) results as the consciousness of the individual Ego. Its manifestation varies with the degree of upadhi, e.g., through that known as Manas it wells up as Mind-Consciousness; through the more finely differentiated fabric (sixth state of matter) of the Buddhi resting on the experience of Manas as its basis — as a stream of spiritual intuition.
knowledge of things in themselves (or Substance). That Ego, progressing in an arc of ascending subjectivity, must exhaust the experience of every plane. But not till the Unit is merged in the all, whether on this or any other plane, and Subject and Object alike vanish in the absolute negation of the Nirvanic State (negation, again, only from our plane), is scaled that peak of Omniscience — the Knowledge of things-in-themselves; and the solution of the yet more awful riddle approached, before which even the highest Dhyan Chohan must bow in silence and ignorance — the unspeakable mystery of that which is called by the Vedantins, the Parabrahmam.
Therefore, such being the case, all those who sought to give a name to the incognizable Principle have simply degraded it. Even to speak of Cosmic Ideation — save in its phenomenal aspect — is like trying to bottle up primordial Chaos, or to put a printed label on Eternity.
What, then, is the “primordial Substance,” that mysterious object of which Alchemy was ever talking, and which became the subject of philosophical speculation in every age? What can it be finally, even in its phenomenal pre-differentiation? Even that is all in manifested Nature and — nothing to our senses. It is mentioned under various names in every Cosmogony, referred to in every philosophy, and shown to be, to this day, the ever grasp-eluding Proteus in Nature. We touch and do not feel it; we look at it without seeing it; we breathe it and do not perceive it; we hear and smell it without the smallest cognition that it is there; for it is in every molecule of that which in our illusion and ignorance we regard as Matter in any of its states, or conceive as a feeling, a thought, an emotion. . . . In short, it is the “upadhi,” or vehicle, of every possible phenomenon, whether physical, mental, or psychic. In the opening sentences of Genesis, as in the Chaldean Cosmogony; in the Puranas of India, and in the Book of the Dead of Egypt, it opens everywhere the cycle of manifestation. It is termed “Chaos,” and the face of the waters, incubated by the Spirit proceeding from the Unknown, under whatever name. (See “Chaos, Theos, Kosmos.”)
The authors of the sacred Scriptures in India go deeper into the origin of things evolved than Thales or Job, for they say: —
“From Intelligence (called Mahat in the Puranas) associated with Ignorance (Iswar, as a personal deity) attended by its projective power, in which the quality of dulness (tamas, insensibility) predominates, proceeds Ether — from ether, air; from air, heat; from heat, water; and from water, earth “with everything on it.” “From this, from this same self, was the Ether produced,” says the Veda. (Taittiriya Upanishad II. 1).
It becomes thus evident that it is not this Ether — sprung at the fourth
remove from an Emanation of Intelligence “associated with Ignorance” — which is the high principle, the deific Entity worshipped by the Greeks and Latins under the name of “Pater omnipotens AEther,” and “Magnus AEther” in its collective aggregates. The septenary gradation, and the innumerable subdivisions and differences, made by the ancients between the powers of Ether collectively, from its outward fringe of effects, with which our Science is so familiar, up to the “Imponderable Substance,” once admitted as the “Ether of Space,” now about to be rejected, has been ever a vexing riddle for every branch of knowledge. The mythologists and symbologists of our day, confused by this incomprehensible glorification, on the one hand, and degradation on the other, of the same deified entity and in the same religious systems, are often driven to the most ludicrous mistakes. The Church, firm as a rock in each and all of her early errors of interpretation, has made of Ether the abode of her Satanic legions.* The whole hierarchy of the “Fallen” angels is there; the Cosmocratores — or the “world bearers,” (according to Bossuet); Mundi Tenentes — the “world holders,” as Tertullian calls them; and Mundi Domini “world dominations,” or rather dominators, the Curbati, or “Curved,” etc., who thus make of the stars and celestial orbs in their course — Devils!
The difference made between the seven states of Ether (itself one of the Seven Cosmic principles), while the AEther of the Ancients is universal Fire, may be seen in the injunctions by Zoroaster and Psellus, respectively. The former said: “Consult it only when it is without form or figure,” absque forma et figura, which means without flames or burning coals. “When it has a form — heed it not,” teaches Psellus; “but when it is formless, obey it, for it is then sacred fire, and all it will reveal thee, shall be true.”† This proves that Ether, itself an aspect of Akasa, has in its turn several aspects or “principles.”
All the ancient nations deified AEther in its imponderable aspect and potency. Virgil calls Jupiter, Pater omnipotens AEther, “the great AEther.”‡ The Hindus have also placed it among their deities; under the name of Akasa (the synthesis of AEther). And the author of the Homoiomerian
* For it is thus that the Church has interpreted verse 12 in the VI. Chapter to the Ephesians. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world.” Further on St. Paul mentions the spiritual malices (“wickedness” in English texts) spread in the air — “Spiritualia nequitiae coelestibus,” the Latin texts giving various names to these “malices,” the innocent “Elementals.” But the Church is right this time, though wrong in calling them all devils. The astral light or lower Ether is full of conscious and semi-conscious and unconscious entities; only the church has less power over them than over invisible microbes or mosquitoes.
† Effatum XVI. “Oracles of Zoroaster.”
‡ Georgica. Book II.
System of philosophy, Anaxagoras of Clazomenae, firmly believed that the spiritual prototypes of all things, as well as their elements, were to be found in the boundless Ether where they were generated, whence they evolved, and whither they returned — an Occult teaching.
It thus becomes clear that it is from Ether in its highest synthetic aspect, once anthropomorphised, that sprung the first idea of a personal creative deity. With the philosophical Hindus the elements are Tamas, i.e., “unenlightened by intellect, which they obscure.”
We have now to exhaust the question of the mystical meaning of “Primordial Chaos” and of the Root-Principle, and show how they were connected in the ancient philosophies with Akasa, wrongly translated AEther, and also with Maya (illusion) — of which Ishwara is the male aspect. We shall speak further on of the intelligent “principle,” or rather of the invisible immaterial properties, in the visible and material elements, that “sprung from the primordial Chaos.”
For, “What is the primordial Chaos but AEther?” it is asked in “Isis Unveiled.” Not the modern Ether; not such as is recognised now, but such as was known to the ancient philosophers long before the time of Moses; but AEther, with all its mysterious and occult properties, containing in itself the germs of universal creation. Upper AEther or Akasa, is the celestial virgin and mother of every existing form and being, from whose bosom, as soon as “incubated” by the Divine Spirit, are called into existence Matter and Life, Force and Action. AEther is the Aditi of the Hindus, and it is Akasa. Electricity, magnetism, heat, light, and chemical action are so little understood even now that fresh facts are constantly widening the range of our knowledge. Who knows where ends the power of this protean giant — AEther; or whence its mysterious origin? Who, we mean, that denies the spirit that works in it, and evolves out of it all visible forms?
It will be an easy task to show that the cosmogonical legends all over the world are based on a knowledge by the ancients of those sciences, which have allied themselves in our days in support of the doctrine of evolution; and that further research may demonstrate that those ancients were far better acquainted with the fact of evolution itself, embracing both its physical and spiritual aspects, than we are now. “With the old philosophers, evolution was a universal theorem, a doctrine embracing the whole, and an established principle; while our modern evolutionists are enabled to present us merely with speculative theoretics; with particular, if not wholly negative theorems. It is idle for the representatives of our modern wisdom to close the debate and pretend that the question is settled, merely because the obscure phraseology of the Mosaic, far later, account clashes with the definite exegesis of ‘Exact Science’ ” (“Isis Unveiled”).
If one turns to the “Laws (or Ordinances) of Manu,” one finds the prototype of all these ideas. Mostly lost (to the Western world) in their original form, disfigured by later interpolations and additions, they have, nevertheless, preserved quite enough of their ancient Spirit to show its character. “Removing the darkness, the Self-existent Lord” (Vishnu, Narayana, etc.) becoming manifest, and “wishing to produce beings from his Essence, created, in the beginning, water alone. In that he cast seed. . . . . That became a golden Egg.” (V. 6, 7, 8, 9.) Whence this Self-existent Lord? It is called this, and is spoken of as “Darkness, imperceptible, without definite qualities, undiscoverable as if wholly in sleep.” (V. 5.) Having dwelt in that Egg for a whole divine year, he “who is called in the world Brahma,” splits that Egg in two, and from the upper portion he forms the heaven, from the lower the earth, and from the middle the sky and “the perpetual place of waters.” (12, 13.)
But there is, directly following these verses, something more important for us, as it corroborates entirely our esoteric teachings. From verse 14 to 36, evolution is given in the order described in the Esoteric philosophy. This cannot be easily gainsaid. Even Medhatithi, the son of Viraswamin, and the author of the Commentary, “the Manubhasya,” whose date, according to the western Orientalists, is 1,000 a.d., helps us with his remarks to the elucidation of the truth. He showed himself either unwilling to give out more, because he knew that truth which has to be kept from the profane, or else he was really puzzled. Still, what he does give out makes the septenary principle in men and nature plain enough.
Let us begin with Chapter I. of the “Ordinances” or “Laws” after the Self-existent Lord, the unmanifesting Logos of the Unknown “Darkness,” becomes manifested in the golden Egg. It is from this “Egg,” from —
(11.) That which is the undiscrete (undifferentiated) cause, eternal, which Is and Is not, from It issued that male who is called in the world Brahma. . . . .
Here we find, as in all genuine philosophical systems, even the “Egg” or the Circle (or Zero), boundless Infinity, referred to as It,* and Brahma, the first unit only, referred to as the male god, i.e., the fructifying Principle. It is or 10 (ten) the Decade. On the plane of the Septenary or our World only, it is called Brahma. On that of the Unified Decade in the realm of Reality, this male Brahma is an illusion.
(14.) “From Self (atmanah) he created mind, (1) which is and is not;
The ideal apex of the Pythagorean triangle: vide Sections in Vol. II., “Cross and Circle,” and the “Earliest Symbolics of the Cross.”
(2) and from mind, Ego-ism (Self-Consciousness) the ruler; (3) the Lord.”
(1.) The mind is Manas. Medhatithi, the commentator, justly observes here that it is the reverse of this and shows already interpolation and rearranging; for it is Manas that springs from Ahamkara or (Universal) Self-Consciousness, as Manas in the microcosm springs from Mahat, or Maha-Buddhi (Buddhi, in man). For Manas is dual, and as shown and translated by Colebrooke, “is serving both for sense and action, is an organ by affinity, being cognate with the rest.” “The rest” means, here, that Manas, our fifth principle (the fifth, because the body was named the first, which is the reverse of the true philosophical order)* is in affinity both with Atma-Buddhi and with the lower four principles. Hence, our teaching: namely, that Manas follows Atma-Buddhi to Devachan, and that the lower (dregs, the residue of) Manas remains with Kama rupa, in Limbus, or Kama-loka, the abode of the “Shells.”
(2.) Such is the meaning of Manas, which “is, and is not.”
(3.) Medhatithi translates it as “the one conscious of the I,” or Ego, not “ruler,” as the Orientalists do. Thus they translate verse 16: “He also, having made the subtile parts of those six (the Great Self and the five organs of sense) of unmeasured brightness, to enter into the elements of Self (Atmamatrasu) created all beings.”
When, according to Medhatithi, it ought to read matra-Chit instead of “Atmamatrasu,” and thus be made to say: —
“He having pervaded the subtile parts of those six, of unmeasured brightness, by elements of self, created all beings.”
This latter reading must be the correct one, since he, the Self, is what we call Atma, and thus constitutes the seventh principle, the synthesis of the “six.” Such is also the opinion of the editor of Manava-dharma Shastra, who seems to have intuitionally entered far deeper into the spirit of the philosophy than has the translator of the “Ordinances of Manu,” the late Dr. Burnell. For he hesitates little between the text of Kulluka and the Commentaries of Medhatithi. Rejecting the tanmatra, or subtile elements, and the atmamatrasu of Kulluka, he says, applying the principles to the Cosmic Self: “The six appear rather to be the manas plus the five principles of Ether, air, fire, water, earth;” “having united five portions of these six with the spiritual element (the seventh) he (thus) created all existing things;” atmamatra is therefore the spiritual atom as opposed to the elementary, not reflective “elements of himself.” Thus he corrects the translation of verse — “17. As the subtile elements of bodily forms of This One depend on these six, so
* Vide A. Coke Burnell’s translation, edited by Ed. W. Hopkins, Ph.D.
the wise call his form carira” (sharira) — and he says that “Elements” mean here portions or parts (or principles), which reading is borne out by verse 19, which says: —
“19. This non-eternal (Universe) arises then from the Eternal, by means of the subtile elements of forms of those seven very glorious principles” (purusha).
Commenting upon which, according to Medhatithi, the Editor remarks that “the five elements plus mind (Manas) and Self-Consciousness (Ahamkara)* are meant;” “subtile elements,” as before (meaning) “five portions of form” (or principles). For verse 20 shows it, when saying of these (five elements, or “five portions of form” (rupa, plus Manas and Self-Consciousness) that they constitute the “seven purusha,” or principles, called in the Puranas the “Seven Prakritis.”
Moreover, these “five elements” or “five portions” are spoken of in verse 27 as “those which are called the atomic destructible portions” — therefore “distinct from the atoms of the nyaya.”
This creative Brahma, issuing from the mundane or golden egg, unites in himself both the male and the female principles. He is, in short, the same as all the creative Protologoi. Of Brahma, however, it could not be said, as of Dionysos: “[[protogonon diphue trigonon Baccheion Hanakta Hagrion arreton kruphion dikerota dimorphon]]” — a lunar Jehovah — Bacchus truly, with David dancing nude before his symbol in the ark — because no licentious Dionysia were ever established in his name and honour. All such public worship was exoteric, and the great universal symbols were distorted universally, as those of Krishna are now by the Vallabacharyas of Bombay, the followers of the infant god. But are these popular gods the true Deity? Are they the Apex and synthesis of the sevenfold creation, man included? Never! Each and all are one of the rungs of that septenary ladder of Divine Consciousness, pagan as Christian. For Ain-Soph also is said to manifest through the Seven Letters of Jehovah’s name who, having usurped the place of the Unknown Limitless, was given by his devotees his Seven Angels of the Presence — his Seven Principles. Yet they are mentioned in almost every school. In the pure Sankhya philosophy mahat, ahamkara and the five tanmatras are called the seven Prakritis (or Natures), and they are counted from Maha-Buddhi or Mahat down to Earth. (See Sankhya Karika III. and Commentaries.)
Nevertheless, however disfigured for Rabbinical purposes is the original Elohistic version by Ezra, however repulsive at times even the
* Ahamkara, as universal Self-Consciousness, has a triple aspect, as also Manas. For this conception of “I,” or one’s Ego, is either sattwa, “pure quietude,” or appears as rajas, “active,” or remains tamas, “stagnant,” in darkness. It belongs to Heaven and Earth, and assumes the properties of either.
esoteric meaning in the Hebrew scrolls, which is far more so than its outward veil or cloaking may be* — once the Jehovistic portions are eliminated, the Mosaic books are found full of purely occult and priceless knowledge, especially in the first six chapters.
Read by the aid of the Kabala one finds a matchless temple of occult truths, a well of deeply concealed beauty hidden under a structure, the visible architecture of which, its apparent symmetry notwithstanding, is unable to stand the criticism of cold reason, or to reveal its age, for it belongs to all the ages. There is more wisdom concealed under the exoteric fables of Puranas and Bible than in all the exoteric facts and science in the literature of the world, and more occult true Science, than there is of exact knowledge in all the academies. Or, in plainer and stronger language, there is as much esoteric wisdom in some portions of the exoteric Puranas and Pentateuch, as there is of nonsense and of designed childish fancy in it, when read only in the dead-letter murderous interpretations of great dogmatic religions, and especially of sects.
Let anyone read the first verses of chapter i. of Genesis and reflect upon them. There “God” commands to another “god,” who does his bidding — even in the cautious English Protestant translation of James the First’s authorised edition.
In the “beginning,” the Hebrew language having no word to express the idea of Eternity,† “God” fashions the heaven and the Earth; and the latter is “without form and void,” while the former is no Heaven in fact, but the “Deep,” Chaos, with darkness upon its face.‡
“And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the Waters” (v. 2), or the great Deep of the Infinite Space. And this Spirit is Nara-yana, or Vishnu.
* See “The Holy of Holies.”
† The word “eternity,” by which Christian theologians interpret the term “for ever and ever,” does not exist in the Hebrew tongue — either as a word or meaning. Oulam, says Le Clerc, only imports a time when beginning or end is not known. It does not mean “infinite duration,” and the word for ever in the Old Testament, only signifies a “long time.” Nor is the term “eternity” used in the Christian sense in the Puranas. For in Vishnu Purana, it is clearly stated that by Eternity and Immortality only “existence to the end of the Kalpa” is meant (Book II. chap. viii.).
‡ Orphic theogony is purely Oriental and Indian in its Spirit. The successive transformations it has undergone, have now separated it widely from the spirit of ancient Cosmogony, as may be seen by comparing it even with Hesiod’s theogony. Yet the truly Aryan Hindu spirit breaks forth everywhere in both Hesiod’s and the Orphic theogony. (See the remarkable work of James Darmesteter, Cosmogonies Aryennes, in his Essais Orientaux.) Thus the original Greek conception of Chaos is that of the Secret Wisdom Religion. In Hesiod, therefore, Chaos is infinite, boundless, endless and beginningless in duration, an abstraction at the same time as a visible presence. Space filled with darkness, which is primordial matter in its pre-cosmic state. For in its etymological sense, Chaos is Space, according to Aristotle, and Space is the ever Unseen and Unknowable Deity in our philosophy.
“And God said, Let there be a firmament. . .” (v. 6), and “God,” the second, obeyed and “made the firmament” (v. 7). “And God said let there be light,” and “there was light.” Now the latter does not mean light at all, but in the Kabala, the androgyne “Adam Kadmon,” or Sephira (Spiritual light), for they are one; or, according to the Chaldean “Book of Numbers,” the secondary angels, the first being the Elohim who are the aggregate of that “fashioning” god. For to whom are those words of command addressed? And who is it who commands? That which commands is the eternal Law, and he who obeys, the Elohim, the known quantity acting in and with x, or the coefficient of the unknown quantity, the Forces of the one Force. All this is Occultism, and is found in the archaic stanzas. It is perfectly immaterial whether we call these “Forces” the Dhyan Chohans, or the Ophanim, as St. John does.
“The one Universal Light, which to Man is Darkness, is ever existent,” says the Chaldean “Book of Numbers.” >From it proceeds periodically the Energy, which is reflected in the “Deep” or Chaos, the store-house of future worlds, and, once awakened, stirs up and fructifies the latent Forces, which are the ever present eternal potentialities in it. Then awake anew the Brahmas and Buddhas — the co-eternal Forces — and a new Universe springs into being. . . . .
In the Sepher Jezireh, the Kabalistic Book of Creation, the author has evidently repeated the words of Manu. In it, the Divine Substance is represented as having alone existed from the eternity, boundless and absolute; and as having emitted from itself the Spirit.* “One is the Spirit of the living God, blessed be Its name, which liveth for ever! Voice, Spirit, and Word, this is the Holy Spirit;”† and this is the Kabalistic abstract Trinity, so unceremoniously anthropomorphised by the Christian Fathers. From this triple One emanated the whole Kosmos. First from One emanated number Two, or Air (the Father), the creative element; and then number Three, Water (the Mother), proceeded from the air; Ether or Fire completes the mystic four, the Arba-il.‡ “When the Concealed of the Concealed wanted to reveal Himself, he first made a point (primordial point, or the first Sephiroth, air, or Holy Ghost), shaped into a sacred form (the ten Sephiroth, or the Heavenly man), and covered it with a rich and splendid garment, that is the world.”§
* The manifested Spirit; Absolute, Divine Spirit is one with absolute Divine Substance: Parabrahm and Mulaprakriti are one in essence. Therefore, Cosmic Ideation and Cosmic Substance in their primal character are one also.
† “Sepher Jezireh,” chap. 1, Mishna ix.
‡ Ibid. It is from Arba that Abram is made to come.
§ “Sohar,” I., 2a.
“He maketh the wind His messengers, flaming Fire His servants,” says the Jezireh, showing the cosmical character of the later euhemerised Elements,* and that the Spirit permeates every atom in Kosmos.
This “primordial Substance” is called by some Chaos: Plato and the Pythagoreans named it the Soul of the World after it had been impregnated by the Spirit of that which broods over the Primeval Waters, or Chaos. It is by being reflected in it, say the Kabalists, that the brooding Principle created the phantasmagoria of a visible, manifested Universe. Chaos, before — Ether, after, the “reflection;” it is still the deity that pervades all Space and things. It is the invisible, imponderable Spirit of things and the invisible, but too tangible fluid that radiates from the fingers of the healthy magnetizer, for it is Vital Electricity — Life itself. Called in derision by the Marquis de Mirville “the nebulous Almighty,” it is termed by the Theurgists and Occultists to this day “the living Fire”; and there is not a Hindu who practises at dawn a certain kind of meditation but knows its effects.† It is the “Spirit of
* “Sepher Jezireh,” Mishna ix., 10. Everywhere throughout the Acts, Paul calls the invisible Kosmic Beings the “Elements.” (See Greek Texts.) But now the Elements are degraded into and limited to atoms of which nothing is known, so far, and which are only “children of necessity” as Ether is too — as we said in “Isis.” “The poor primordial elements have long been exiled, and our ambitious physicists run races to determine who shall add one more to the fledgling brood of the sixty and odd elementary substances.” Meanwhile there rages a war in modern chemistry about terms. We are denied the right to call these substances “chemical elements,” for they are not “primordial principles of self-existing essences out of which the universe was fashioned,” according to Plato. Such ideas associated with the word element were good enough for the “old Greek philosophy,” but modern science rejects them; for, as Professor Crookes says, “they are unfortunate terms,” and experimental science will have “nothing to do with any kind of essences except those which it can see, smell, or taste. It leaves others to the metaphysicians. . . .” We must feel grateful even for so much.
† Writing upon this subject in Isis Unveiled we said of it that it was: “The Chaos of the ancients, the Zoroastrian sacred fire, or the Atash-Behram of the Parsees; the Hermes-fire, the Elmes-fire of the ancient Germans; the lightning of Cybele; the burning torch of Apollo; the flame on the altar of Pan; the inextinguishable fire in the temple on the Acropolis, and in that of Vesta; the fire-flame of Pluto’s helm; the brilliant sparks on the hats of the Dioscuri, on the Gorgon head, the helm of Pallas, and the staff of Mercury; the Egyptian Phtha-Ra; the Grecian Zeus Cataibates (the descending) of Pausanias; the pentacostal fire-tongues; the burning bush of Moses; the pillar of fire of the Exodus, and the “burning lamp” of Abram, the eternal fire of the “bottomless pit”; the Delphic oracular vapours; the Sidereal light of the Rosicrucians; the Akasa of the Hindu adepts; the Astral Light of Eliphas Levi; the nerve-aura and the fluid of the magnetists; the od of the Reichenbach; the Psychod and ectenic force of Thury; the psychic force of Sergeant Cox, and the atmospheric magnetism of some naturalists; galvanism; and finally, electricity — all these are but various names for many different manifestations or effects of the same mysterious, all-pervading cause, the Greek Archeus.” We now add — it is all this and much more.
Light” and Magnes. As truly expressed by an opponent, Magus and magnes are two branches growing from the same trunk and shooting forth the same resultants. And in this appellation of “living fire” we may also discover the meaning of the puzzling sentence in the Zend-Avesta saying that there is “a fire that gives knowledge of the future. Science and amiable speech,” i.e., develops an extraordinary eloquence in the sybil, the sensitive, and even some orators.
This “fire” is spoken of in all the Hindu Books, as also in the Kabalistic works. The Zohar explains it as the “white hidden fire, in the Resha trivrah” (the White Head), whose Will causes the fiery fluid to flow in 370 currents in every direction of the universe. It is identical with the “Serpent that runs with 370 leaps” of the Siphrah Dzenioota, which, when the “Perfect Man,” the Metatron, is raised, i.e., when the divine man indwells in the animal man, it, the Serpent, becomes three spirits, that is to say, is Atma-Buddhi-Manas, in our theosophical phraseology. (Vide Part II. in Vol. II., §§ 3, “The Many Meanings of the War in Heaven.”)
Spirit, then, or Cosmic Ideation, and Cosmic Substance — one of whose principles is Ether — are one, and include the elements, in the sense St. Paul attaches to them. These Elements are the veiled Synthesis standing for Dhyan Chohans, Devas, Sephiroth, Amshaspends, Archangels, etc., etc. The Ether of science — the Ilus of Berosus, or the Protyle of Chemistry — constitutes, so to speak, the rude material (relatively) out of which the above-named “Builders,” following the plan traced out for them eternally in the divine thought, fashion the systems in the Cosmos. They are “myths,” we are told. “No more so than Ether and the Atoms,” we answer. The two latter are absolute necessities of physical science; the “Builders” are as absolute a necessity of metaphysics. We are twitted with: “You never saw them.” We ask the materialists: “Have you ever seen Ether, or your Atoms, or, again, your force?” Moreover, one of the greatest Western Evolutionists of our modern day, the coadjutor of Darwin, Mr. A. R. Wallace, when discussing the inadequacy of Natural Selection alone to account for the physical form of Man, admits the guiding action of “higher intelligences” as a “necessary part of the great laws which govern the material Universe” (“Contributions to Theory of Natural Selection”).
These “higher intelligences” are the Dhyan Chohans of the Occultists.
Indeed, there are few Myths in any religious system worthy of the name, but have an historical as well as a scientific foundation. “Myths,” justly observes Pococke, “are now proved to be fables, just in proportion as we misunderstand them; truths, in proportion as they were once understood.”
The one prevailing, most distinct idea — found in all ancient teaching,
with reference to Cosmic Evolution and the first “creation” of our Globe with all its products, organic and inorganic (strange word for an Occultist to use) — is that the whole Kosmos has sprung from the divine thought. This thought impregnates matter, which is co-eternal with the one reality; and all that lives and breathes evolves from the emanations of the one Immutable — Parabrahm = Mulaprakriti, the eternal one-root. The former of these is, so to say, the aspect of the central point turned inward into regions quite inaccessible to human intellect, and is absolute abstraction; whereas, in its aspect as Mulaprakriti — the eternal root of all, — it gives one some hazy comprehension at least of the Mystery of Being.
“Therefore, it was taught in the inner temples that this visible universe of spirit and matter is but the concrete image of the ideal abstraction; it was built on the model of the first divine idea. Thus our universe existed from Eternity in a latent state. The soul animating this purely spiritual universe is the central sun, the highest deity itself. It was not the One who built the concrete form of the idea, but the first-begotten; and as it was constructed on the geometrical figure of the dodecahedron,* the first-begotten ‘was pleased to employ twelve thousand years in its creation.’ The latter number is expressed in the Tyrrhenian cosmogony,† which shows man created in the sixth millennium. This agrees with the Egyptian theory of 6,000 ‘years’‡ and with the Hebrew computation. But it is the exoteric form of it. The secret computation explains that the ‘twelve thousand and the 6,000 years’ are years of Brahma — one day of Brahma being equal to 4,320,000,000 years. Sanchoniathon§ in his Cosmogony, declares that when the wind (spirit) became enamoured of its own principles (the chaos), an intimate union took place, which connection was called pothos, and from this sprang the seed of all. And the chaos knew not its own production, for it was senseless; but from its embrace with the wind was generated Mot, or the ilus (mud).|| From this proceeded the spores of creation and the generation of the universe.
“Zeus-Zen (aether), and Chthonia (the chaotic earth) and Metis (the water), his wives; Osiris and Isis-Latona — the former god also representing ether — the first emanation of the Supreme Deity, Amun, the primeval source of light; the goddess earth and water again; Mithras,¶ the rock-born god, the symbol of the male mundane-fire, or the personified primordial light, and Mithra, the fire-goddess, at once his mother and his wife: the pure element of fire (the active or male principle) regarded as light and heat, in conjunction with earth and water, or matter (female, or passive, elements of Cosmical generation)
* Plato: “Timaeus.”
† “Suidas” v. Tyrrhenia.”
‡ The reader will understand that by “years” is meant “ages,” not mere periods of thirteen lunar months each.
§ See the Greek translation by Philo Byblus.
|| Cory: “Ancient Fragment.”
¶ Mithras was regarded among the Persians as the Theos ekpetros — god of the rock.
Mithras is the son of Bordj, the Persian mundane mountain,* from which he flashed out as a radiant ray of light. Brahma, the fire-god, and his prolific consort; and the Hindu Agni, the refulgent deity from whose body issue a thousand streams of glory and seven tongues of flame, and in whose honour certain Brahmans preserve to this day a perpetual fire; Siva, personated by the mundane mountain of the Hindus, the Meru: these terrific fire-gods, who are said in the legend to have descended from heaven, like the Jewish Jehovah, in a pillar of fire, and a dozen other Archaic double-sexed deities, all loudly proclaim their hidden meaning. And what could these dual myths mean but the psychochemical principle of primordial creation? The first Evolution in its triple manifestation of spirit, force and matter; the divine correllation at its starting point, allegorized as the marriage of Fire and water, products of electrifying spirit, union of the male active principle with the female passive element, which become the parents of their tellurian child, cosmic matter, the prima materia, whose soul is AEther, and whose shadow is the astral light!” (Isis Unveiled).
The fragments of the systems that have now reached us are rejected as absurd fables. Nevertheless, occult Science — having survived even the great Flood that submerged the antediluvian giants and with them their very memory, save in the Secret Doctrine, the Bible and other Scriptures — still holds the Key to all the world problems.
Let us apply that Key to the rare fragments of long-forgotten cosmogonies and try by their scattered parts to re-establish the once Universal Cosmogony of the Secret Doctrine. The Key fits them all. No one can study ancient philosophies seriously without perceiving that the striking similitude of conception between all — in their exoteric form very often, in their hidden spirit invariably — is the result of no mere coincidence, but of a concurrent design: and that there was, during the youth of mankind, one language, one knowledge, one universal religion, when there were no churches, no creeds or sects, but when every man was a priest unto himself. And, if it is shown that already in those ages which are shut out from our sight by the exuberant growth of tradition, human religious thought developed in uniform sympathy in every portion of the globe; then, it becomes evident that, born under whatever latitude, in the cold North or the burning South, in the East or West, that thought was inspired by the same revelations, and man was nurtured under the protecting shadow of the same tree of knowledge.
* Bordj is called a fire-mountain — a volcano ; therefore it contains fire, rock, earth and water: the male, or active and the female, or passive, elements. The myth is suggestive.