The Theosophical Forum – May 1939


Occult Standing of Great Men (1)


The latter writers [Cicero and Clemens Alexandrinus] are the only ones who attribute the fact that Æschylus was charged by the Athenians with sacrilege and condemned to be stoned to death, to its true cause. They say that having been himself uninitiated, Æschylus had profaned the Mysteries by exposing them in his trilogies on a public stage. (2) But he would have incurred the same condemnation had he been initiated — which must have been the case, as otherwise he must, like Socrates, have had a daimon to reveal to him the secret and sacred allegorical drama of initiation. At all events, it is not the "father of the Greek tragedy" who invented the prophecy of Prometheus; for he only repeated in dramatic form that which was revealed by the priests during the Mysteria of the Sabasia. . . .

The translators of the drama wonder how Æschylus could become guilty of such "discrepancy between the character of Zeus as portrayed in the "Prometheus Bound" and that depicted in the remaining dramas". (Mrs. A. Swanwick.) This is just because Æschylus, like Shakespeare, was and will ever remain the intellectual "Sphinx" of the ages. — S. D. II, 419


It is well known that Leibnitz came several times very near the truth, but defined monadic evolution incorrectly, which is not to be wondered at, since he was not an Initiate, nor even a Mystic, only a very intuitional philosopher. Yet no psycho-physicist ever came nearer than he has to the esoteric general outline of evolution. This evolution — viewed from its several standpoints — i. e., as the universal and the individualized Monad; and the chief aspects of the Evolving Energy, after differentiation — the purely Spiritual, the Intellectual, the Psychic and the Physical — may be thus formulated as an invariable law; a descent of Spirit into Matter, equivalent to an ascent in physical evolution; a re-ascent from the depths of materiality towards its status quo ante, with a corresponding dissipation of concrete form and substance up to the Laya state, or what Science calls "the zero-point," and beyond. — S. D. I, 619-20


One of the very few commentators on old Greek and Latin authors, who have given their just dues to the ancients for their mental development, is Thomas Taylor. In his translation of Iamblichus" Life of Pythagoras, we find him remarking as follows: "Since Pythagoras, as Iamblichus informs us, was initiated in all the Mysteries of Byblus and Tyre, in the sacred operations of the Syrians, and in the Mysteries of the Phoenicians, and also that he spent two and twenty years in the adyta of the temples in Egypt, associated with the magians in Babylon, and was instructed by them in their venerable knowledge, it is not at all wonderful that he was skilled in magic, or theurgy, and was therefore able to perform things which surpass merely human power, and which appear to be perfectly incredible to the vulgar." — Isis, I, 284

. . .. we will recur to the untiring labors of that honest and brave defender of the ancient faith, Thomas Taylor, and his works.

However much dogmatic Greek scholarship may have found to say against his "mistranslations," his memory must be dear to every true Platonist, who seeks rather to learn the inner thought of the great philosopher than enjoy the mere external mechanism of his writings. Better classical translators may have rendered us, in more correct phraseology, Plato's words, but Taylor shows
us Plato's meaning, and this is more than can be said of Zeller, Jowett, and their predecessors. Yet, as writes Professor A. Wilder, "Taylor's works have met with favor at the hands of men capable of profound and recondite thinking; and it must be conceded that he was endowed with a superior qualification — that of an intuitive perception of the interior meaning of the subjects which he considered. Others may have known more Greek, but he knew more Plato." — Isis, II, 109


Thus Newton, whose profound mind read easily between the lines, and fathomed the spiritual thought of the great Seer in its mystic rendering, owes his great discovery to Jacob Boehme, the
nursling of the genii (Nirmanakayas) who watched over and guided him, of whom the author of the article in question so truly remarks, that "every new scientific discovery goes to prove his profound and intuitive insight into the most secret workings of nature." — S. D. I, 494

This number [seven] is closely connected with the moon, whose occult influence is ever manifesting itself in septenary periods. It is the moon which is the guide of the occult side of terrestrial nature, while the Sun is the regulator and factor of manifested life; and this truth was ever evident to the Seers and the adepts. Jacob Boehme, by insisting on the fundamental doctrine of the seven properties of everlasting mother Nature, proved himself thereby a great Occultist. — S. D. II 595


The danger was this: Doctrines such as the planetary chain, or the seven races, at once give the clue to the seven-fold nature of man, for each principle is correlated to a plane, a planet, and a race; and the human principles are, on every plane, correlated to seven-fold occult forces — those of the higher planes being of tremendous power. So that any septenary division at once gives a clue to tremendous occult powers, the abuse of which would cause incalculable evil to humanity. A clue, which is, perhaps, no clue to the present generation — especially the Westerns — protected as they are by their very blindness and ignorant materialistic disbelief in the occult; but a clue which would nevertheless, have been very real in the early centuries of the Christian era, to people fully convinced of the reality of occultism, and entering a cycle of degradation, which made them rife for abuse of occult powers and sorcery of the worst description.

The documents were concealed, it is true, but the knowledge itself and its actual existence had never been made a secret of by the Hierophants of the Temple, wherein Mysteries have ever been made a discipline and stimulus to virtue. This is very old news, and was repeatedly made known by the great adepts, from Pythagoras and Plato down to the Neoplatonists. — S. D. I, xxxv

Plato and his school never understood the Deity otherwise, many epithets of his applied to the "God over all" (ό έπίπάσι θέος) notwithstanding. Plato having been initiated, could not believe in a personal God — a gigantic Shadow of Man. His epithets of "monarch" and "Law-giver of the Universe" bear an abstract meaning well understood by every Occultist, who, no less than any Christian, believes in the One Law that governs the Universe, recognizing it at the same time as immutable. . . . Is it Plato, the greatest pupil of the archaic Sages, a sage himself, for whom there was but a single object of attainment in this life — Real Knowledge — who would have ever believed in a deity that curses and damns men for ever, on the slightest provocation? Not he, who considered only those to be genuine philosophers and students of truth who possessed the knowledge of the really existing in opposition to mere seeming; of the always existing in opposition to the transitory; and of that which exists permanently in opposition to that which waxes, wanes, and is developed and destroyed alternately. — S. D. II, 554-5


Here is an example: Prof. W. Crookes" latest discovery of what he has named protyle. In the "Notes on the Bhagavat Gita", by one of the best metaphysicians and Vedantic scholars in India [T. Subba Row] the lecturer, referring cautiously to "things occult" in that great Indian esoteric work, makes a remark as suggestive as it is strictly correct. ". . . . Into the details of the evolution of the solar system itself," he says, "it is not necessary for me to enter. You may gather some idea as to the way in which the various elements start into existence from these three principles into which Mulaprakriti is differentiated (the Pythagorean triangle), by examining the lecture delivered by Professor Crookes a short time ago upon the so-called elements of modern chemistry. This lecture will give you some idea of the way in which these Elements spring from Vishwanara, the most objective of these three principles, which seems to stand in the place of the protyle mentioned in that lecture. Except in a few particulars, this lecture seems to give the outlines of the theory of physical evolution on the plane of Vishwanara, and is, so far as I know, the nearest approach made by modern investigators to the real occult theory on the subject."

These words will be re-echoed and approved by every Eastern Occultist. . . . Since then, there has been another lecture delivered, as remarkable as the first one, on the "Genesis of the Elements," and also a third one. Here we have almost a corroboration of the teachings of Esoteric philosophy concerning the mode of primeval evolution. It is, indeed, as near an approach, made by a great scholar and specialist in chemistry, to the Secret Doctrine, as could be made apart from the application of the monads and atoms to the dogmas of pure transcendental metaphysics, and their connection and correlation with "Gods and intelligent Conscious Monads. — S.D. I, 620-1

. . .. The revolution produced in old chemistry by Avogadro was the first page in the Volume of New Chemistry. Mr. Crookes has now turned the second page, and is boldly pointing to what may be the last. For once protyle accepted and recognized — as invisible Ether was, both being logical and scientific necessities — Chemistry will have virtually ceased to live: it will reappear in its reincarnation as New Alchemy, or Metachemistry. The discoverer of radiant matter will have vindicated in time the Archaic Aryan works on Occultism and even the Vedas and Puranas. — S. D. I, 622-3

Science may, of course, if it so pleases her, call electricity a force. Only by grouping it together with light and heat, to which the name of force is decidedly refused, she has either to plead guilty of inconsistency, or to tacitly admit that it is a "species of matter." But whether electricity has weight or not, no true scientist is prepared to show that there is no matter so light as to be beyond weighing with our present instruments. And this brings us directly to the latest discovery, one of the grandest in science, I mean Mr. Crookes" "radiant matter" or — as it is now called THE FOURTH STATE OF MATTER. — The Complete Works of H. P. B., Vol. IV, p. 93


Swedenborg, following the mystical doctrines of the Hermetic philosophers, devoted a number of volumes to the elucidation of the "internal sense" of Genesis. Swedenborg was undoubtedly a "natural-born magician," a seer; he was not an adept. Thus, however closely he may have followed the apparent method of interpretation used by the alchemists and mystic writers, he partially failed; the more so, that the model chosen by him in this method was one who, albeit a great alchemist, was no more of an adept than the Swedish seer himself, in the fullest sense of the word. Eugenius Philalethes had never attained "the highest pyrotechny," to use the diction of the mystic philosophers. But, although both have missed the whole truth in its details, Swedenborg has virtually given the same interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis as the Hermetic philosophers. The seer, as well as the initiates, notwithstanding their veiled phraseology, clearly show that the first chapters of Genesis relate to the regeneration, or a new birth of man, not to the creation of our universe and its crown work — Man. — Isis Unveiled, I, 306


1. Scattered throughout H. P. Blavatsky's writings are illuminating hints for the student on the occult standing of great or famous men down the ages. Such hints are an aid in correctly estimating the works of these men when studying or reading them. The present collection does not pretend to be at all exhaustive even as regards the few names given here, taken almost at random (hundreds of others might be found), but are merely an indication of how one's efforts are richly rewarded if one searches for such information in H. P. B.'s Works. — Eds. (return to text)

2. Herodotus and Pausanias supposed that the cause of the condemnation was that Æschylus, adopting the theogony of the Egyptians, made Diana, the daughter of Ceres, and not of Latona. . . . But Æschylus was initiated. (return to text)

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