Theosophical University Press Online Edition
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The Logos or Creative deity, the “Word made Flesh,” of every religion, has to be traced to its ultimate source and Essence. In India, it is a Proteus of 1,008 divine names and aspects in each of its personal transformations, from Brahma-Purusha down through the Seven divine Rishis and ten semi-divine Prajapati (also Rishis) to the divine-human Avatars. The same puzzling problem of the “One in many” and the multitude in One, is found in other Pantheons, in the Egyptian, the Greek and the Chaldeo-Judaic, the latter having made confusion still more confused by presenting its Gods as euhemerizations, in the shapes of Patriarchs. The latter are now accepted by those who reject Romulus as a myth, and are represented as living and historical Entities. Verbum satis sapienti.
In the Zohar, En-Soph is also the One, and the infinite Unity. This was known to the very few learned Fathers of the Church, who were aware that Jehovah was but a third rate potency and no “highest” God. But while complaining bitterly of the Gnostics and saying . . . “our Heretics hold . . . that Propator is known but to the Only begotten Son* (who is Brahma among the rest) that is to the mind” (nous), Irenaeus never mentioned that the Jews did the same in their real secret books. Valentinus, “the profoundest doctor of the Gnosis,” held that “there was a perfect aion who existed before Bythos, or Buthon (the first father of unfathomable nature, which is the second Logos) called Propator.” It is thus Aion, who springs as a Ray from Ain-Soph (who does not create), and Aion, who creates, or through whom, rather, everything is created, or evolves.
* As Mulaprakriti is known only to Iswar, the Logos, as he is called now by Mr. T. Subba Row, of Madras. (See his Bhagavadgita Lectures.)
For, as the Basilidians taught, “there was a supreme god, Abraxax, by whom was created mind” (Mahat, in Sanskrit, Nous in Greek). “From Mind proceeded the word, Logos, from the word, Providence (Divine Light, rather), then from it Virtue and Wisdom in Principalities, Powers, Angels, etc., etc.” By these (Angels) the 365 AEons were created. “Amongst the lowest, indeed, and those who made this world, he (Basilides) sets last of all the God of the Jews, whom he denies to be God (and very rightly), affirming he is one of the angels” (Ibid.). Here, then, we find the same system as in the Puranas, wherein the Incomprehensible drops a seed, which becomes the golden egg, from which Brahma is produced. Brahma produces Mahat, etc., etc. True Esoteric philosophy, however, speaks neither of “creation” nor of “evolution” in the sense the exoteric religions do. All these personified Powers are not evolutions from one another, but so many aspects of the one and sole manifestation of the Absolute all. The same system as the gnostic prevails in the Sephirothal aspects of Ain-Soph, yet, as these aspects are in Space and Time, a certain order is maintained in their successive appearances. Therefore, it becomes impossible not to take notice of the great changes that the Zohar has undergone under the handling of generations of Christian Mystics. For, even in the metaphysics of the Talmud, the “lower Face” (or “Lesser Countenance”), the microprosopus, in fact, could never be placed on the plane of the same abstract ideal as the Higher, or “Greater Countenance,” macroprosopus. The latter is, in the Chaldean Kabala, a pure abstraction; the Word or Logos, or Dabar (in Hebrew), which Word, though it becomes in fact a plural number, or “Words” — D(a)B(a)Rim, when it reflects itself, or falls into the aspect of a Host (of angels, or Sephiroth, “numbers”) is still collectively One, and on the ideal plane a nought — 0, a “No-thing.” It is without form or being, “with no likeness with anything else.” (Franck, “Die Kabbala,” p. 126.) And even Philo calls the Creator, the Logos who stands next God, “the Second God,” and “the second God who is his (Highest God’s) Wisdom” (Philo. Quaest. et Solut). Deity is not God. It is nothing, and darkness. It is nameless, and therefore called Ain-Soph — “the word Ayin meaning nothing.” See Franck “Die Kabbala,” p. 153. See also Section XII., “Theogony of the Creative Gods.” The “Highest God” (the unmanifested Logos) is its Son.
Nor are most of the gnostic systems, which come down to us mutilated by the Church Fathers, anything better than the distorted shells of the original speculations. Nor were they open to the public or reader, at any time; i.e., had their hidden meaning or esotericism been revealed, it would have been no more an esoteric teaching, and this could never be. Alone Marcus (the chief of the Marcosians, 2nd century), who taught
that deity had to be viewed under the symbol of four syllables, gave out more of the esoteric truths than any other Gnostic. But even he was never well understood. For it is only on the surface or dead letter of his Revelation that it appears that God is a quaternary, to wit: “the Ineffable, the Silence, the Father, and Truth,” — in reality it is quite erroneous, and divulges only one more esoteric riddle. This teaching of Marcus was that of the early Kabalists and ours. For he makes of Deity, the number 30 in 4 syllables, which, translated esoterically, means a Triad or Triangle, and a Quaternary or a square, in all seven, which, on the lower plane made the seven divine or secret letters of which the God-name is composed. This requires demonstration. In his “Revelation,” speaking of divine mysteries expressed by means of letters and numbers, Marcus narrates how the “Supreme Tetrad came down unto me (him) from the region which cannot be seen nor named, in a female form, because the world would have been unable to bear her appearing under a male figure,” and revealed to him “the generation of the universe, untold before to either gods or men.”
This first sentence already contains a double meaning. Why should a female figure be more easily borne or listened to by the world than a male figure? On the very face of it this appears nonsensical. Withal it is quite simple and clear to one who is acquainted with the mystery-language. Esoteric Philosophy, or the Secret Wisdom, was symbolized by a female form, while a male figure stood for the Unveiled mystery. Hence, the world not being ready to receive, could not bear it, and the Revelation of Marcus had to be given allegorically. Then he writes:
“When first the Inconceivable, the Beingless and Sexless (the Kabalistic Ain-Soph) began to be in labour (i.e., when the hour of manifesting Itself had struck) and desired that Its Ineffable should be born (the first Logos, or AEon, or Aion), and its invisible should be clothed with form, its mouth opened and uttered the word like unto itself. This word (logos) manifested itself in the form of the Invisible One. The uttering of the (ineffable) name (through the word) came to pass in this manner. He (the Supreme Logos) uttered the first word of his name, which is a syllable of four letters. Then the second syllable was added, also of four letters. Then the third, composed of ten letters; and after this the fourth, which contains twelve letters. The whole name consists thus of thirty letters and of four syllables. Each letter has its own accent and way of writing, but neither understands nor ever beholds that form of the whole Name, — no; not even the power of the letter that stands next to Itself (to the Beingless and the Inconceivable.)* All these sounds when united are the collective Beingless,
* Iswara, or the Logos, cannot see Parabrahmam, but only Mulaprakriti, says the lecturer, in the Four Lectures on Bhagavatgita. (See Theosophist, Feb., 1887.)
unbegotten AEon, and these are the Angels that are ever beholding the face of the Father* (the Logos, the “second God,” who stands next God, “the Inconceivable,” according to Philo).
This is as plain as ancient esoteric secrecy would make it. It is as Kabalistic, but less veiled than the Zohar in which the mystic names or attributes are also four syllabled, twelve, forty-two, and even seventy-two syllabled words! The Tetrad shows to Marcus the truth in the shape of a naked woman, and letters every limb of that figure, calling her head [[omega]], her neck [[psi]], shoulders and hands [[gamma]], and [[chi]], etc., etc. In this Sephira is easily recognised, the Crown (Kether) or head being numbered one; the brain or Chochmah, 2; the heart, or Intelligence (Binah), 3; and the other seven Sephiroth representing the limbs of the body. The Sephirothal Tree is the Universe, and Adam Kadmon represents it in the West as Brahma represents it in India.
Throughout, the 10 Sephiroth are represented as divided into the three higher, or the spiritual Triad, and the lower Septenary. The true Esoteric meaning of the sacred number seven is cleverly veiled in the Zohar; yet was betrayed by the double way of writing “in the beginning” or Be-resheeth, and Be-raishath, the latter the “Higher, or Upper Wisdom.” As shown by Mr. Macgregor Mathers in his Kabbalah (p. 47), and in the Qabbalah of Mr. T. Myer (p. 233), both of these Kabalists being supported by the best ancient authorities, these words have a dual and secret meaning. Braisheeth bara Elohim means that the six, over which stands the seventh Sephiroth, belong to the lower material class, or, as the author says: “Seven . . . . are applied to the Lower Creation, and three to the spiritual man, the Heavenly Prototypic or first Adam.”
When the Theosophists and Occultists say that God is no Being, for It is nothing, No-Thing, they are more reverential and religiously respectful to the Deity than those who call God a He, and thus make of Him a gigantic Male.
He who studies the Kabala will soon find the same idea in the ultimate thought of its authors, the earlier and great Hebrew Initiates, who got this secret Wisdom at Babylonia from the Chaldean Hierophants, while Moses got his in Egypt. The Zohar cannot well be judged by its after translations in Latin and other tongues, as all those ideas were, of course, softened and made to fit in with the views and policy of its Christian arrangers; but in truth its ideas are identical with those of all other religious systems. The various Cosmogonies show that the Archaic Universal Soul was held by every nation as the “Mind” of the Demiurgic Creator; and that it
* The “Seven Angels of the Face,” with the Christians.
was called the “Mother,” Sophia with the Gnostics (or the female Wisdom), the Sephira with the Jews, Saraswati or Vach, with the Hindus, the Holy Ghost being a female Principle.
Hence, born from it, the Kurios or Logos was, with the Greeks, the “God, mind” (nous). “Now Koros (Kurios) signifies the pure and unmixed nature of intellect — wisdom,” says Plato in “Cratylus”; and Kurios is Mercury, the Divine Wisdom, and “mercury is the Sol” (Sun) (“Arnobius” vi., xii.), from whom Thot-Hermes received this divine Wisdom. While, then, the Logoi of all countries and religions are correlative (in their sexual aspects) with the female Soul of the World or the “Great Deep;” the deity, from which these two in one have their being, is ever concealed and called the “Hidden One,” connected only indirectly with Creation,* as it can act only through the Dual Force emanating from the Eternal Essence. Even AEsculapius, called the “Saviour of all,” is identical, according to ancient classics, with Phta, the Egyptian Creative Intellect (or Divine Wisdom), and with Apollo, Baal, Adonis and Hercules (see Dunlap’s “Mystery of Adonis,” pp. 23 and 95); and Phta is, in one of its aspects, the “Anima Mundi,” the Universal Soul of Plato, the “Divine Spirit” of the Egyptians, the “Holy Ghost” of the early Christians and Gnostics, and the Akasa of the Hindus, and even, in its lower aspect, the Astral Light. For Phta was originally the “God of the Dead,” he in whose bosom they were received, hence the Limbus of the Greek Christians, or the Astral Light. It is far later that Phta was classed with the Sun-gods, his name signifying “he who opens,” as he is shown to be the first to unveil the face of the dead mummy, to call the soul to life in his bosom. (See Maspero’s “Bulaq Museum.”) Kneph, the Eternal Unrevealed, is represented by the snake-emblem of eternity encircling a water-urn, with its head hovering over the “waters” which it incubates with its breath — another form of one and the same idea of “Darkness,” its ray moving on the waters, &c. As “Logos-Soul,” this permutation is called Phta; as Logos-Creator, he becomes Imhot-pou, his son, “the god of the handsome face.” In their primitive characters these two were the first Cosmic Duad, Noot, “space or Sky,” and Noo, “the primordial Waters,” the Androgyne Unity, above whom was the Concealed Breath of Kneph. And all of them had the aquatic animals and plants sacred to them, the ibis, the swan, the goose, the crocodile, and the lotus.
Returning to the Kabalistic deity, this Concealed Unity is then = [[to pan]] = [[apeiros]], Endless, Boundless, non-Existent, so
* We use the term as one accepted and sanctioned by use, and therefore more comprehensible to the reader.
long as the Absolute is within Oulom,* the boundless and termless time, as such, En-Soph cannot be the Creator or even the modeller of the Universe, nor can he be Aur (light). Therefore En-Soph is also Darkness. The immutably Infinite and the absolutely Boundless can neither will, think, nor act. To do this it has to become finite, and it does so, by its ray penetrating into the mundane egg — infinite space — and emanating from it as a finite god. All this is left to the ray latent in the one. When the period arrives, the absolute will expands naturally the force within it, according to the Law of which it is the inner and ultimate Essence. The Hebrews did not adopt the egg as a symbol, but they substituted for it the “Duplex heavens,” for, translated correctly, the sentence “God made the heavens and the earth” would read: — “In and out of his own essence as a womb (the mundane egg), God created the two heavens.” But the Christians have chosen as the symbol of their Holy Ghost, the dove.
“Whosoever acquaints himself with the Mercaba and the lahgash (secret speech or incantation), will learn the secret of secrets.” Lahgash is nearly identical in meaning with Vach, the hidden power of the Mantras.
When the active period has arrived, from within the eternal essence of Ain-Soph, comes forth Sephira, the active Power, called the Primordial Point, and the Crown, Kether. It is only through her that the “Un-bounded Wisdom” could give a concrete form to the abstract Thought. Two sides of the upper triangle by which the ineffable Essence and the universe — its manifested body — are symbolized, the right side and the base are composed of unbroken lines; the third, the left side, is dotted. It is through the latter that emerges Sephira. Spreading in every direction, she finally encompasses the whole triangle. In this emanation the triple triad is formed. From the invisible Dew falling from the higher Uni-triad (thus leaving 7 sephiroths only), the “Head” Sephira creates primeval waters, i.e., Chaos takes shape. It is the first stage towards the solidification of spirit which through various modifications will produce earth. “It requires earth and water to make a living soul,” says Moses. It requires the image of an aquatic bird to connect it with water, the female element of procreation with the egg and the bird that fecundates it.
When Sephira emerges like an active power from within the latent Deity, she is female; when she assumes the office of a creator, she becomes a male; hence, she is androgyne. She is the “Father and
* With the ancient Jews, as shown by Le Clerc, the word Oulom meant only a time whose beginning or end is not known. The term “eternity,” properly speaking, did not exist in the Hebrew tongue with the meaning, for instance, applied by the Vedantins to Parabrahm.
Mother Aditi,” of the Hindu Cosmogony and of the Secret Doctrine. If the oldest Hebrew scrolls had been preserved, the modern Jehovah-worshipper would have found that many and uncomely were the symbols of the creative god. The frog in the moon, typical of his generative character, was the most frequent. All the birds and animals now held “unclean” in the Bible had been the symbols of the Deity in days of old. It was because they were too sacred that a mask of uncleanness was placed over them, in order to preserve them from destruction. The brazen serpent was not a bit more poetical than the goose or swan, if symbols are to be accepted a la lettre.
In the words of the Zohar: “The Indivisible Point, which has no limit and cannot be comprehended because of its purity and brightness, expanded from without, forming a brightness that served the indivisible Point as a veil;” yet the latter also “could not be viewed in consequence of its immeasurable light. It too expanded from without, and this expansion was its garment. Thus through a constant upheaving (motion) finally the world originated” (Zohar I. 20a). The Spiritual substance sent forth by the Infinite Light is the first Sephira or Shekinah: Sephira exoterically contains all the other nine Sephiroths in her. Esoterically she contains but two,* Chochmah or Wisdom, “a masculine, active potency whose divine name is Jah (),” and Binah, a feminine passive potency, Intelligence, represented by the divine name Jehovah (); which two potencies form, with Sephira the third, the Jewish trinity or the Crown, Kether. These two Sephiroths called Father, Abba, and Mother Amona, are the duad or the double-sexed logos from which issued the other seven Sephiroths. (See Zohar.) This first Jewish triad (Sephira, Chochmah, and Binah) is the Hindu Trimurti.* However veiled, even in the Zohar, and more still in the exoteric Pantheon of India, every particular connected with one is reproduced in the other. The Prajapati are the Sephiroths. Ten with Brahma they dwindle to seven, when the Trimurti, and the Kabalistic triad, are separated from the rest. The seven Builders (Creators) become the seven Prajapati, or the seven Rishis, in the same order as the Sephiroths become the Creators; then the Patriarchs, etc. In both Secret Systems, the One Universal Essence is incomprehensible and inactive in its absoluteness, and can be connected with the building of the Universe only in an indirect way. In both, the primeval Male-female or androgynous Principle, and their ten and seven Emanations (Brahma-Viraj and Aditi-Vach on the one part and the Elohim-Jehovah, or Adam-Adami (Adam Kadmon) and Sephira Eve on the
* In the Indian Pantheon the double-sexed Logos is Brahma, the Creator, whose seven “mind born” sons are the primeval Rishis — the “Builders.”
other), with their Prajapati and Sephiroths, represent in their totality, first of all the Archetypal man, the Proto-logos; and only in their secondary aspect do they become Cosmic powers, and astronomical or sidereal bodies. If Aditi is the mother of the gods, Deva-Matri, Eve is the mother of all living; they are the Sakti or generative power in their female aspect of the “Heavenly man,” and they are all compound Creators. Says a “Gupta Vidya” Sutra: “In the beginning, a ray issuing from Paramarthika (the one and only true existence), it became manifested in Vyavaharika (conventional existence) which was used as a Vahan to descend into the Universal Mother, and to cause her to expand (swell, brih).” And in the Zohar it is stated: “The Infinite Unity, formless and without similitude, after the form of the heavenly man was created, used it. The Unknown Light* (Darkness) used the (heavenly form) as a chariot through which to descend, and wished to be called by this form, which is the sacred name Jehovah.”
As the Zohar says: “In the beginning was the Will of the King, prior to any other existence. . . . It (the Will) sketched the forms of all things that had been concealed but now came into view. And there went forth as a sealed secret from the head of Ain Soph, a nebulous spark of matter, without shape or form. . . . Life is drawn from below, and from above the source renews itself, the sea is always full and spreads its waters everywhere.” Thus the deity is compared to a shoreless sea, to water which is “the fountain of life” (Zohar iii., 290). “The seventh palace, the fountain of life, is the first in the order from above” (ii. 261). Hence the Kabalistic tenet on the lips of the very Kabalistic Solomon, who says in Proverbs ix., 1: “Wisdom hath builded her house; it hath hewn out its seven pillars.”
Whence then, all this identity of ideas, if there was no primeval Universal Revelation? The few points shown are like a few straws in a hayrick, in comparison to that which will be shown as the work proceeds. If we turn to that most hazy of all Cosmogonies — the Chinese, even there the same idea is found. Tsi-tsai (the Self-Existent) is the unknown Darkness, the root of the Wuliang-sheu (Boundless Age), Amitabhe, and Tien (heaven) come later on. The “great Extreme” of Confucius gives the same idea, his “straws” notwithstanding. The latter are a source of great amusement to the missionaries. These laugh at every “heathen” religion, despise and hate that of their
* Says Rabbi Simeon: “Ah, companions, companions, man as an emanation was both man and woman, as well on the side of the ‘Father’ as on the side of the ‘Mother.’ And this is the sense of the words: ‘And Elohim spoke; Let there be Light, and it was Light’ . . . and this is the two-fold man.” (“Auszuge aus dem Sohar,” p. 13, 15.) Light, then, in Genesis stood for the Androgyne Ray or “Heavenly Man.”
brother Christians of other denominations, and yet one and all accept a la lettre their own Genesis. If we turn to Chaldea we find in it Anu, the concealed deity, the One, whose name, moreover, shows it to be of Sanskrit origin. Anu, which means in Sanskrit “atom,” aniyamsam aniyasam (smallest of the small), is a name of Parabrahm in the Vedantic philosophy; Parabrahm being described as smaller than the smallest atom, and greater than the greatest sphere or universe: “Anagraniyam and Mahatorvavat.” This is what George Smith gives as the first verses of the Akkadian Genesis as found in the Cuneiform Texts on the “Lateras Coctiles.” There also, we find Anu the passive deity or En-Soph, Bel, the Creator, the Spirit of God (Sephira) moving on the face of the waters, hence water itself, and Hea, the Universal Soul or wisdom of the three combined.
The first eight verses read thus:
1. When above, were not raised the heavens;
2. And below on the earth a plant had not grown up.
3. The abyss had not broken its boundaries.
4. The chaos (or water) Tiamat (the sea) was the producing mother of the whole of them. (This is the Cosmical Aditi and Sephira.)
5. Those waters at the beginning were ordained but —
6. A tree had not grown, a flower had not unfolded.
7. When the gods had not sprung up, any one of them.
8. A plant had not grown, and order did not exist.
This was the chaotic or ante-genetic period — the double Swan and the Dark Swan, which becomes white, when Light is created.*
The symbol chosen for the majestic ideal of the Universal Principle will seem little calculated to answer its sacred character. A goose, or even a swan, may appear unfit, no doubt, to represent the grandeur of the Spirit. Nevertheless, it must have had some deep occult meaning, since it figures not only in every cosmogony and world religion, but even was chosen by the mediaeval Christians, the Crusaders, as the vehicle of the Holy Ghost supposed to lead the army to Palestine, to wrench the Tomb of the Saviour from the hands of the Saracen. If we are to credit Professor Draper’s statement in his “Intellectual Development of Europe,” the Crusaders, led on by Peter the Hermit, were preceded, at the head of the army, by the Holy Ghost under the shape of a white gander in company of a goat. The Egyptian God of Time, Seb, carries a goose on his head. Jupiter assumes the form of a swan and Brahma also, because the root of all this is that mystery of mysteries — the Mundane Egg. (See preceding §).
* The Seven Swans that are believed to land from Heaven into Lake Mansarovara, are in the popular fancy the Seven Rishis of the Great Bear, who assume that form to visit the locality where the Vedas were written.
One has to learn the reason of a symbol before one depreciates it. The dual element of Air and Water is that of the ibis, swan, goose and pelican, of crocodiles and frogs, lotus flowers and water lilies, &c.; and the result is the choice of the most unseemly symbols among the modern as much as the ancient mystics. Pan, the great god of nature, was generally figured in connection with aquatic birds, geese especially, and so were other gods. If, later on, with the gradual degeneration of religion, the gods to whom geese were sacred, became Priapic deities, it does not stand to reason that water fowls were made sacred to Pan and other Phallic deities as some scoffers even of antiquity would have it (see Petronii Satyrica, cxxxvi.); but that the abstract and divine power of procreative nature had become grossly anthropomorphized. Nor does the Swan of Leda show “Priapic doings and her enjoyment thereof,” as Mr. Hargrave Jennings chastely expresses it; for the myth is but another version of the same philosophical idea of cosmogony. Swans are frequently found associated with Apollo, as they are the emblems of water and fire (sun-light also), before the separation of the Elements.
Our modern symbologists might profit by some remarks made by a well-known writer, Mrs. Lydia Maria Child. “From time immemorial an emblem has been worshipped in Hindostan as the type of creation, or the origin of life. . . . Siva or the Mahadeva being not only the reproducer of human forms, but also the fructifying principle, the generative power that pervades the Universe. The maternal emblem is likewise a religious type. This reverence for the production of life, introduced into the worship of Osiris the sexual emblems. Is it strange that they regarded with reverence the great mystery of human birth? Were they impure thus to regard it? Or are we impure that do not so regard it? But no clean and thoughtful mind could so regard them. . . . We have travelled far, and unclean have been the paths, since those old Anchorites first spoke of God and the soul in the solemn depths of their first sanctuaries. Let us not smile at their mode of tracing the infinite and the incomprehensible Cause throughout all the mysteries of nature, lest by so doing we cast the shadow of our own grossness on their patriarchal simplicity.” (“Progress of Religious Ideas,” Vol. 1, p. 17, et seq.)