Isis Unveiled by H. P. Blavatsky — Vol. 1
Theosophical University Press Online Edition
"You never hear the really philosophical defenders of the doctrine of uniformity speaking of impossibilities in nature. They never say what they are constantly charged with saying, that it is impossible for the Builder of the universe to alter his work. . . . No theory upsets them (the English clergy). . . . Let the most destructive hypothesis be stated only in the language current among gentlemen, and they look it in the face." — TYNDALL: Lecture on the Scientific Use of the Imagination.
"The world will have a religion of some kind, even though it should fly for it to the intellectual whoredom of Spiritualism." — TYNDALL: Fragments of Science.
"But first on earth as vampires sent
Thy corpse shall from its tomb be rent. . . .
And suck the blood of all thy race." — LORD BYRON: Giaour.
WE are now approaching the hallowed precincts of that Janus-god — the molecular Tyndall. Let us enter them barefoot. As we pass the sacred adyta of the temple of learning, we are nearing the blazing sun of the Huxleyocentric system. Let us cast down our eyes, lest we be blinded.
We have discussed the various matters contained in this book, with such moderation as we could command in view of the attitude which the scientific and theological world have maintained for centuries toward those from whom they have inherited the broad foundations of all the actual knowledge which they possess. When we stand at one side, and, as a spectator, see how much the ancients knew, and how much the moderns think they know, we are amazed that the unfairness of our contemporary schoolmen should pass undetected.
Every day brings new admissions of scientists themselves, and the criticisms of well-informed lay observers. We find the following illustrative paragraph in a daily paper:
"It is curious to note the various opinions which prevail among scientific men in regard to some of the most ordinary natural phenomena. The aurora is a notable case in point. Descartes considered it a meteor falling from the upper regions of the atmosphere. Halley attributed it to the magnetism of the terrestrial globe, and Dalton agreed with this opinion. Coates supposed that the aurora was derived from the fermentation of a matter emanating from the earth. Marion held it to be a consequence of a contact between the bright atmosphere of the sun and the atmosphere of our planet. Euler thought the aurora proceeded from the vibrations of the ether among the particles of the terrestrial atmosphere. Canton and Franklin regarded it as a purely electrical phenome-
non, and Parrot attributed it to the conflagration of hydrogen-carbonide escaping from the earth in consequence of the putrefaction of vegetable substances, and considered the shooting stars as the initial cause of such conflagration. De la Rive and Oersted concluded it to be an electro-magnetic phenomenon, but purely terrestrial. Olmsted suspected that a certain nebulous body revolved around the sun in a certain time, and that when this body came into the neighborhood of the earth, a part of its gaseous material mixed with our atmosphere, and that this was the origin of the phenomenon of the aurora." And so we might say of every branch of science.
Thus, it would seem that even as to the most ordinary natural phenomena, scientific opinion is far from being unanimous. There is not an experimentalist or theologian, who, in dealing with the subtile relations between mind and matter, their genesis and ultimate, does not draw a magical circle, the plane of which he calls forbidden ground. Where faith permits a clergyman to go, he goes; for, as Tyndall says, "they do not lack the positive element — namely, the love of truth; but the negative element, the fear of error, preponderates." But the trouble is, that their dogmatic creed weighs down the nimble feet of their intellect, as the ball and chain does the prisoner in the trenches.
As to the advance of scientists, their very learning, moreover, is impeded by these two causes — their constitutional incapacity to understand the spiritual side of nature, and their dread of public opinion. No one has said a sharper thing against them than Professor Tyndall, when he remarks, "in fact, the greatest cowards of the present day are not to be found among the clergy, but within the pale of science itself."* If there had been the slightest doubt of the applicability of this degrading epithet, it was removed by the conduct of Professor Tyndall himself; for, in his Belfast address, as President of the British Association, he not only discerned in matter "the promise and potency of every form and quality of life," but pictured science as "wresting from theology the entire domain of cosmological theory"; and then, when confronted with an angry public opinion, issued a revised edition of the address in which he had modified his expression, substituting for the words "every form and quality of life," all terrestrial life. This is more than cowardly — it is an ignominious surrender of his professed principles. At the time of the Belfast meeting, Mr. Tyndall had two pet aversions — Theology and Spiritualism. What he thought of the former has been shown; the latter he called "a degrading belief." When hard pressed by the Church for alleged atheism, he made haste to disclaim the imputation, and sue for
* "On the Scientific Use of the Imagination."
peace; but, as his agitated "nervous centres" and "cerebral molecules" had to equilibrate by expanding their force in some direction, he turns upon the helpless, because pusillanimous, spiritualists, and in his Fragments of Science insults their belief after this fashion: "The world will have a religion of some kind, even though it should fly for it to the intellectual whoredom of Spiritualism." What a monstrous anomaly, that some millions of intelligent persons should permit themselves to be thus reviled by a leader in science, who, himself, has told us that "the thing to be repressed both in science and out of it is 'dogmatism!' "
We will not encroach upon space by discussing the etymological value of the epithet. While expressing the hope that it may not be adopted in future ages by science as a Tyndallism, we will simply remind the benevolent gentleman of a very characteristic feature in himself. One of our most intelligent, honorable, and erudite spiritualists, an author of no small renown,* has pointedly termed this feature as "his (Tyndall's) simultaneous coquetry with opposite opinions." If we are to accept the epithet of Mr. Tyndall in all its coarse signification, it applies less to spiritualists, who are faithful to their belief, than to the atheistical scientist who quits the loving embraces of materialism to fling himself in the arms of a despised theism; only because he finds his profit in it.
We have seen how Magendie frankly confesses the ignorance of physiologists as to some of the most important problems of life, and how Fournie agrees with him. Professor Tyndall admits that the evolution-hypothesis does not solve, does not profess to solve, the ultimate mystery.
We have also given as much thought as our natural powers will permit to Professor Huxley's celebrated lecture On the Physical Basis of Life, so that what we may say in this volume as to the tendency of modern scientific thought may be free from ignorant misstatement. Compressing his theory within the closest possible limits, it may be formulated thus: Out of cosmic matter all things are created; dissimilar forms result from different permutations and combinations of this matter; matter has "devoured spirit," hence spirit does not exist; thought is a property of matter; existing forms die that others may take their place; the dissimilarity in organism is due only to varying chemical action in the same life-matter — all protoplasm being identical.
As far as chemistry and microscopy goes, Professor Huxley's system may be faultless, and the profound sensation caused throughout the world by its enunciation can be readily understood. But its defect is that the thread of his logic begins nowhere, and ends in a void. He has made the best possible use of the available material. Given a universe crowded
* Epes Sargent. See his pamphlet, "Does Matter do it All?"
with molecules, endowed with active force, and containing in themselves the principle of life, and all the rest is easy; one set of inherent forces impel to aggregate into worlds, and another to evolve the various forms of plant and animal organism. But what gave the first impulse to those molecules and endowed them with that mysterious faculty of life? What is this occult property which causes the protoplasms of man, beast, reptile, fish, or plant, to differentiate, each ever evolving its own kind, and never any other? And after the physical body gives up its constituents to the soil and air, "whether fungus or oak, worm or man," what becomes of the life which once animated the frame?
Is the law of evolution, so imperative in its application to the method of nature, from the time when cosmic molecules are floating, to the time when they form a human brain, to be cut short at that point, and not allowed to develop more perfect entities out of this "preexistent law of form"? Is Mr. Huxley prepared to assert the impossibility of man's attainment to a state of existence after physical death, in which he will be surrounded with new forms of plant and animal life, the result of new arrangements of now sublimated matter?* He acknowledges that he knows nothing about the phenomena of gravitation; except that, in all human experience, as "stones, unsupported, have fallen to the ground, there is no reason for believing that any stone so circumstanced will not fall to the ground." But, he utterly repels any attempt to change this probability into a necessity, and in fact says: "I utterly repudiate and anathematize the intruder. Facts I know, and Law I know; but what is this necessity, save an empty shadow of my own mind's throwing?" It is this, only, that everything which happens in nature is the result of necessity, and a law once operative will continue to so operate indefinitely until it is neutralized by an opposing law of equal potency. Thus, it is natural that the stone should fall to the ground in obedience to one force, and it is equally natural that it should not fall, or that having fallen, it should rise again, in obedience to another force equally potent; which Mr. Huxley may, or may not, be familiar with. It is natural that a chair should rest upon the floor when once placed there, and it is equally natural (as the testimony of hundreds of competent witnesses
* In his "Essay on Classification" (sect. xvii., pp. 97-99), Louis Agassiz, the great zoologist, remarks: "Most of the arguments in favor of the immortality of man apply equally to the permanency of this principle in other living beings. May I not add that a future life in which man would be deprived of that great source of enjoyment and intellectual and moral improvement, which results from the contemplation of the harmonies of an organic world would involve a lamentable loss? And may we not look to a spiritual concert of the combined worlds and all their inhabitants in the presence of their creator as the highest conception of paradise?"
shows) that it should rise in the air, untouched by any visible, mortal hand. Is it not Mr. Huxley's duty to first ascertain the reality of this phenomenon, and then invent a new scientific name for the force behind it?
"Facts I know," says Mr. Huxley, "and Law I know." Now, by what means did he become acquainted with Fact and Law? Through his own senses, no doubt; and these vigilant servants enabled him to discover enough of what he considers truth to construct a system which he himself confesses "appears almost shocking to common sense." If his testimony is to be accepted as the basis for a general reconstruction of religious belief, when they have produced only a theory after all, why is not the cumulative testimony of millions of people as to the occurrence of phenomena which undermine its very foundations, worthy of a like respectful consideration? Mr. Huxley is not interested in these phenomena, but these millions are; and while he has been digesting his "bread and mutton-protoplasms," to gain strength for still bolder metaphysical flights, they have been recognizing the familiar handwriting of those they loved the best, traced by spiritual hands, and discerning the shadowy simulacra of those who, having lived here, and passed through the change of death, give the lie to his pet theory.
So long as science will confess that her domain lies within the limits of these changes of matter; and that chemistry will certify that matter, by changing its form "from the solid or liquid, to the gaseous condition," only changes from the visible to the invisible; and that, amid all these changes, the same quantity of matter remains, she has no right to dogmatize. She is incompetent to say either yea or nay, and must abandon the ground to persons more intuitional than her representatives.
High above all other names in his Pantheon of Nihilism, Mr. Huxley writes that of David Hume. He esteems that philosopher's great service to humanity to be his irrefragable demonstration of "the limits of philosophical inquiry," outside which lie the fundamental doctrines "of spiritualism," and other "isms." It is true that the tenth chapter of Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding was so highly esteemed by its author, that he considered that "with the wise and learned" it would be an "everlasting check to all kinds of superstitious delusion," which with him was simply a convertible term to represent a belief in some phenomena previously unfamiliar and by him arbitrarily classified as miracle. But, as Mr. Wallace justly observes, Hume's apothegm, that "a miracle is a violation of the laws of nature," is imperfect; for in the first place it assumes that we know all the laws of nature; and, second, that an unusual phenomenon is a miracle. Mr. Wallace proposes that a miracle should be defined as: "any act or event necessarily im-
plying the existence and agency of superhuman intelligences." Now Hume himself says that "a uniform experience amounts to a proof," and Huxley, in this famous essay of his, admits that all we can know of the existence of the law of gravitation is that since, in all human experience, stones unsupported have fallen to the ground, there is no reason for believing that the same thing will not occur again, under the same circumstances, but, on the contrary, every reason to believe that it will.
If it were certain that the limits of human experience could never be enlarged, then there might be some justice in Hume's assumption that he was familiar with all that could happen under natural law, and some decent excuse for the contemptuous tone which marks all of Huxley's allusions to spiritualism. But, as it is evident from the writings of both these philosophers, that they are ignorant of the possibilities of psychological phenomena, too much caution cannot be used in according weight to their dogmatic assertions. One would really suppose that a person who should permit himself such rudeness of criticism upon spiritualistic manifestations had qualified himself for the office of censor by an adequate course of study; but, in a letter addressed to the London Dialectical Society, Mr. Huxley, after saying that he had no time to devote to the subject, and that it does not interest him, makes the following confession, which shows us upon what slight foundation modern scientists sometimes form very positive opinions. "The only case of spiritualism," he writes, "I ever had the opportunity of examining into for myself, was as gross an imposture as ever came under my notice."
What would this protoplasmic philosopher think of a spiritualist who, having had but one opportunity to look through a telescope, and upon that sole occasion had had some deception played upon him by a tricky assistant at the observatory, should forthwith denounce astronomy as a "degrading belief"? This fact shows that scientists, as a rule, are useful only as collectors of physical facts; their generalizations from them are often feebler and far more illogical than those of their lay critics. And this also is why they misrepresent ancient doctrines.
Professor Balfour Stewart pays a very high tribute to the philosophical intuition of Herakleitus, the Ephesian, who lived five centuries before our era; the "crying" philosopher who declared that "fire was the great cause, and that all things were in a perpetual flux." "It seems clear," says the professor, "that Herakleitus must have had a vivid conception of the innate restlessness and energy of the universe, a conception allied in character to, and only less precise than that of modern philosophers who regard matter as essentially dynamical." He considers the expression fire as very vague; and quite naturally, for the evidence is wanting to show that either Prof. Balfour Stewart (who seems less in-
clined to materialism than some of his colleagues) or any of his contemporaries understand in what sense the word fire was used.
His opinions about the origin of things were the same as those of Hippocrates. Both entertained the same views of a supreme power,* and, therefore, if their notions of primordial fire, regarded as a material force, in short, as one akin to Leibnitz's dynamism, were "less precise" than those of modern philosophers, a question which remains to be settled yet, on the other hand their metaphysical views of it were far more philosophical and rational than the one-sided theories of our present-day scholars. Their ideas of fire were precisely those of the later "fire-philosophers," the Rosicrucians, and the earlier Zoroastrians. They affirmed that the world was created of fire, the divine spirit of which was an omnipotent and omniscient GOD. Science has condescended to corroborate their claims as to the physical question.
Fire, in the ancient philosophy of all times and countries, including our own, has been regarded as a triple principle. As water comprises a visible fluid with invisible gases lurking within, and, behind all the spiritual principle of nature, which gives them their dynamic energy, so, in fire, they recognized: 1st. Visible flame; 2d. Invisible, or astral fire — invisible when inert, but when active producing heat, light, chemical force, and electricity, the molecular powers; 3d. Spirit. They applied the same rule to each of the elements; and everything evolved from their combinations and correlations, man included, was held by them to be triune. Fire, in the opinion of the Rosicrucians, who were but the successors of the theurgists, was the source, not only of the material atoms, but also of the forces which energize them. When a visible flame is extinguished it has disappeared, not only from the sight but also from the conception of the materialist, forever. But the Hermetic philosopher follows it through the "partition-world of the knowable, across and out on the other side into the unknowable," as he traces the disembodied human spirit, "vital spark of heavenly flame," into the AEthereum, beyond the grave.**
This point is too important to be passed by without a few words of comment. The attitude of physical science toward the spiritual half of the cosmos is perfectly exemplified in her gross conception of fire. In this, as in every other branch of science, their philosophy does not contain one sound plank: every one is honeycombed and weak. The works of their own authorities teeming with humiliating confessions, give us the
* "Diog. in Vita."
** See the works of Robertus de Fluctibus; and the "Rosicrucians," by Hargrave Jennings.
right to say that the floor upon which they stand is so unstable, that at any moment some new discovery, by one of their own number, may knock away the props and let them all fall in a heap together. They are so anxious to drive spirit out of their conceptions that, as Balfour Stewart says: "There is a tendency to rush into the opposite extreme, and to work physical conceptions to an excess." He utters a timely warning in adding: "Let us be cautious that, in avoiding Scylla, we do not rush into Charybdis. For the universe has more than one point of view, and there are possibly regions which will not yield their treasures to the most determined physicists, armed only with kilogrammes and meters and standard clocks."* In another place he confesses: "We know nothing, or next to nothing, of the ultimate structure and properties of matter, whether organic or inorganic."
As to the other great question — we find in Macaulay, a still more unreserved declaration: "The question what becomes of man after death — we do not see that a highly educated European, left to his unassisted reason, is more likely to be in the right than a Blackfoot Indian. Not a single one of the many sciences in which we surpass the Blackfoot Indians throws the smallest light on the state of the soul after the animal life is extinct. In truth, all the philosophers, ancient and modern, who have attempted, without the help of revelation, to prove the immortality of man, from Plato down to Franklin, appear to us to have failed deplorably."
There are revelations of the spiritual senses of man which may be trusted far more than all the sophistries of materialism. What was a demonstration and a success in the eyes of Plato and his disciples is now considered the overflow of a spurious philosophy and a failure. The scientific methods are reversed. The testimony of the men of old, who were nearer to truth, for they were nearer to the spirit of nature — the only aspect under which the Deity will allow itself to be viewed and understood — and their demonstrations, are rejected. Their speculations — if we must believe the modern thinkers — are but the expression of a redundance of the unsystematic opinions of men unacquainted with the scientific method of the present century. They foolishly based the little they knew of physiology on well-demonstrated psychology, while the scholar of our day bases psychology — of which he confesses himself utterly ignorant — on physiology, which to him is as yet a closed book, and has not even a method of its own, as Fournie tells us. As to the last objection in Macaulay's argument, it was answered by Hippocrates centuries ago: "All knowledge, all arts are to be found in nature," he
* Professor B. Stewart: "Conservation of Energy."
says; "if we question her properly she will reveal to us the truths to pertain to each of these and to ourselves. What is nature in operation but the very divinity itself manifesting its presence? How are we to interrogate her; and how is she to answer us? We must proceed with faith, with the firm assurance of discovering at last the whole of the truth; and nature will let us know her answer, through our inner sense, which with the help of our knowledge of a certain art or science, reveals to us the truth so clearly that further doubt becomes impossible."*
Thus, in the case in hand, the instinct of Macaulay's Blackfoot Indian is more to be trusted than the most instructed and developed reason, as regards man's inner sense which assures him of his immortality. Instinct is the universal endowment of nature by the Spirit of the Deity itself ; reason the slow development of our physical constitution, an evolution of our adult material brain. Instinct, as a divine spark, lurks in the unconscious nerve-centre of the ascidian mollusk, and manifests itself at the first stage of action of its nervous system as what the physiologist terms the reflex action. It exists in the lowest classes of the acephalous animals as well as in those that have distinct heads; it grows and develops according to the law of the double evolution, physically and spiritually; and entering upon its conscious stage of development and progress in the cephalous species already endowed with a sensorium and symmetrically-arranged ganglia, this reflex action, whether men of science term it automatic, as in the lowest species, or instinctive, as in the more complex organisms which act under the guidance of the sensorium and the stimulus originating in distinct sensation, is still one and the same thing. It is the divine instinct in its ceaseless progress of development. This instinct of the animals, which act from the moment of their birth each in the confines prescribed to them by nature, and which know how, save in accident proceeding from a higher instinct than their own, to take care of themselves unerringly — this instinct may, for the sake of exact definition , be termed automatic; but it must have either within the animal which possesses it or without, something's or some one's intelligence to guide it.
This belief , instead of clashing with the doctrine of evolution and gradual development held by eminent men of our day, simplifies and completes it, on the contrary. It can readily dispense with special creation for each species ; for, where the first place must be allowed to formless spirit, form and material substance are of a secondary importance. Each perfected species in the physical evolution only affords more scope to the directing intelligence to act within the improved nervous system.
* Cabanis: "Histoire de la Médecine."
The artist will display his waves of harmony better on a royal Erard than he could have done on a spinet of the sixteenth century. Therefore whether this instinctive impulse was directly impressed upon the nervous system of the first insect, or each species has gradually had it developed in itself by instinctively mimicking the acts of its like, as the more perfected doctrine of Herbert Spencer has it, is immaterial to the present subject. The question concerns spiritual evolution only. And if we reject this hypothesis as unscientific and undemonstrated, then will the physical aspect of evolution have to follow it to the ground in its turn, because the one is as undemonstrated as the other, and the spiritual intuition of man is not allowed to dovetail the two, under the pretext that it is "unphilosophical." Whether we wish it or not, we will have to fall back on the old query of Plutarch's Symposiacs, whether it was the bird or the egg which first made its appearance.
Now that the Aristotelean authority is shaken to its foundations with that of Plato; and our men of science reject every authority — nay hate it, except each his own; and the general estimate of human collective wisdom is at the lowest discount, mankind, headed by science itself, is still irrepressibly drawing back to the starting-point of the oldest philosophies. We find our idea perfectly expressed by a writer in the Popular Science Monthly. "The gods of sects and specialities," says Osgood Mason, "may perhaps be failing of their accustomed reverence, but, in the mean time, there is dawning on the world, with a softer and serener light, the conception, imperfect though it still may be, of a conscious, originating, all-pervading active soul — the 'Over-Soul,' the Cause, the Deity; unrevealed through human form or speech, but filling and inspiring every living soul in the wide universe according to its measure: whose temple is Nature, and whose worship is admiration." This is pure Platonism, Buddhism, and the exalted but just views of the earliest Aryans in their deification of nature. And such is the expression of the ground-thought of every theosophist, kabalist, and occultist in general; and if we compare it with the quotation from Hippocrates, which precedes the above, we will find in it exactly the same thought and spirit.
To return to our subject. The child lacks reason, it being as yet latent in him; and meanwhile he is inferior to the animal as to instinct proper. He will burn or drown himself before he learns that fire and water destroy and are dangerous for him; while the kitten will avoid both instinctively. The little instinct the child possesses fades away as reason, step by step, develops itself. It may be objected, perhaps, that instinct cannot be a spiritual gift, because animals possess it in a higher degree than man, and animals have no souls. Such a belief is erroneous and based upon very insecure foundations. It came from the fact that
the inner nature of the animal could be fathomed still less than that of man, who is endowed with speech and can display to us his psychological powers.
But what proofs other than negative have we that the animal is without a surviving, if not immortal, soul? On strictly scientific grounds we can adduce as many arguments pro as contra. To express it clearer, neither man nor animal can offer either proof or disproof of the survival of their souls after death. And from the point of view of scientific experience, it is impossible to bring that which has no objective existence under the cognizance of any exact law of science. But Descartes and Bois-Raymond have exhausted their imaginations on the subject, and Agassiz could not realize such a thing as a future existence not shared by the animals we loved, and even the vegetable kingdom which surrounds us. And it is enough to make one's feelings revolt against the claimed justice of the First Cause to believe that while a heartless, cold-blooded villain has been endowed with an immortal spirit, the noble, honest dog, often self-denying unto death; that protects the child or master he loves at the peril of his life; that never forgets him, but starves himself on his grave; the animal in whom the sense of justice and generosity are sometimes developed to an amazing degree, will be annihilated! No, away with the civilized reason which suggests such heartless partiality. Better, far better to cling to one's instinct in such a case, and believe with the Indian of Pope, whose "untutored mind" can only picture to himself a heaven where
". . . admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company."
Space fails us to present the speculative views of certain ancient and mediaeval occultists upon this subject. Suffice it that they antedated Darwin, embraced more or less all his theories on natural selection and the evolution of species, and largely extended the chain at both ends. Moreover, these philosophers were explorers as daring in psychology as in physiology and anthropology. They never turned aside from the double parallel-path traced for them by their great master Hermes. "As above, so below," was ever their axiom; and their physical evolution was traced out simultaneously with the spiritual one.
On one point, at least, our modern biologists are quite consistent: unable, as yet, to demonstrate the existence of a distinct individual soul in animals, they deny it to man. Reason has brought them to the brink of Tyndall's "impassable chasm," between mind and matter; instinct alone can teach them to bridge it. When in their despair of ever being
able to fathom the mystery of life, they will have come to a dead stop, their instinct may reassert itself, and take them across the hitherto fathomless abyss. This is the point which Professor John Fiske and the authors of the Unseen Universe seem to have reached; and Wallace, the anthropologist and ex-materialist, to have been the first to courageously step over. Let them push boldly on till they discover that it is not spirit that dwells in matter, but matter which clings temporarily to spirit; and that the latter alone is an eternal, imperishable abode for all things visible and invisible.
Esoteric philosophers held that everything in nature is but a materialization of spirit. The Eternal First Cause is latent spirit, they said, and matter from the beginning. "In the beginning was the word . . . and the word was God." While conceding the idea of such a God to be an unthinkable abstraction to human reason, they claimed that the unerring human instinct grasped it as a reminiscence of something concrete to it though intangible to our physical senses. With the first idea, which emanated from the double-sexed and hitherto-inactive Deity, the first motion was communicated to the whole universe, and the electric thrill was instantaneously felt throughout the boundless space. Spirit begat force, and force matter; and thus the latent deity manifested itself as a creative energy.
When; at what point of the eternity; or how? the question must always remain unanswered, for human reason is unable to grasp the great mystery. But, though spirit-matter was from all eternity, it was in the latent state; the evolution of our visible universe must have had a beginning. To our feeble intellect, this beginning may seem so remote as to appear to us eternity itself — a period inexpressible in figures or language. Aristotle argued that the world was eternal, and that it will always be the same; that one generation of men has always produced another, without ever having had a beginning that could be determined by our intellect. In this, his teaching, in its exoteric sense, clashed with that of Plato, who taught that "there was a time when mankind did not perpetuate itself"; but in spirit both the doctrines agreed, as Plato adds immediately: "This was followed by the earthly human race, in which the primitive history was gradually forgotten and man sank deeper and deeper"; and Aristotle says: "If there has been a first man he must have been born without father or mother — which is repugnant to nature. For there could not have been a first egg to give a beginning to birds, or there should have been a first bird which gave a beginning to eggs; for a bird comes from an egg." The same he held good for all species, believing, with Plato, that everything before it appeared on earth had first its being in spirit.
This mystery of first creation, which was ever the despair of science, is unfathomable, unless we accept the doctrine of the Hermetists. Though matter is coeternal with spirit, that matter is certainly not our visible, tangible, and divisible matter, but its extreme sublimation. Pure spirit is but one remove higher. Unless we allow man to have been evolved out of this primordial spirit-matter, how can we ever come to any reasonable hypothesis as to the genesis of animate beings? Darwin begins his evolution of species at the lowest point and traces upward. His only mistake may be that he applies his system at the wrong end. Could he remove his quest from the visible universe into the invisible, he might find himself on the right path. But then, he would be following in the footsteps of the Hermetists.
That our philosophers — positivists — even the most learned among them, never understood the spirit of the mystic doctrines taught by the old philosophers — Platonists — is evident from that most eminent modern work, Conflict between Religion and Science. Professor Draper begins his fifth chapter by saying that "the Pagan Greeks and Romans believed that the spirit of man resembles his bodily form, varying its appearance with his variations, and growing with his growth." What the ignorant masses thought is a matter of little consequence, though even they could never have indulged in such speculations taken a la lettre. As to Greek and Roman philosophers of the Platonic school, they believed no such thing of the spirit of man, but applied the above doctrine to his soul, or psychical nature, which, as we have previously shown, is not the divine spirit.
Aristotle, in his philosophical deduction On Dreams, shows this doctrine of the twofold soul, or soul and spirit, very plainly. "It is necessary for us to ascertain in what portion of the soul dreams appear," he says. All the ancient Greeks believed not only a double, but even a triple soul to exist in man. And even Homer we find terming the animal soul, or the astral soul, called by Mr. Draper "spirit," [[thumos]], and the divine one [[vous]] — the name by which Plato also designated the higher spirit.
The Hindu Jainas conceive the soul, which they call Jiva, to have been united from all eternity to even two sublimated ethereal bodies, one of which is invariable and consists of the divine powers of the higher mind; the other variable and composed of the grosser passions of man, his sensual affections, and terrestrial attributes. When the soul becomes purified after death it joins its Vaycarica, or divine spirit, and becomes a god. The followers of the Vedas, the learned Brahmins, explain the same doctrine in the Vedanta. The soul, according to their teaching, as a portion of the divine universal spirit or immaterial mind, is capable of uniting itself with the essence of its highest Entity. The teaching is ex-
plicit; the Vedanta affirms that whoever attains the thorough knowledge of his god becomes a god while yet in his mortal body, and acquires supremacy over all things.
Quoting from the Vedaic theology the verse which says: "There is in truth but one Deity, the Supreme Spirit; he is of the same nature as the soul of man," Mr. Draper shows the Buddhistic doctrines as reaching Eastern Europe through Aristotle. We believe the assertion unwarranted, for Pythagoras, and after him Plato, taught them long before Aristotle. If subsequently the later Platonists accepted in their dialectics the Aristotelean arguments on emanation, it was merely because his views coincided in some respect with those of the Oriental philosophers. The Pythagorean number of harmony and Plato's esoteric doctrines on creation are inseparable from the Buddhistic doctrine of emanation; and the great aim of the Pythagorean philosophy, namely, to free the astral soul from the fetters of matter and sense, and make it thereby fit for an eternal contemplation of spiritual things, is a theory identical with the Buddhistic doctrine of final absorption. It is the Nirvana, interpreted in its right sense; a metaphysical tenet that just begins to be suspected now by our latest Sanscrit scholars.
If the doctrines of Aristotle have exercised on the later Neo-platonists such a "dominating influence," how is it that neither Plotinus, nor Porphyry, nor Proclus ever accepted his theories on dreams and prophetic soul-visions? While Aristotle held that most of those who prophesy have "diseases of madness"* — thus furnishing some American plagiarists and specialists with a few reasonable ideas to disfigure — the views of Porphyry, hence those of Plotinus, were quite the reverse. In the most vital questions of metaphysical speculations Aristotle is constantly contradicted by the Neo-platonists. Furthermore, either the Buddhistic Nirvana is not the nihilistic doctrine, as it is now represented to be, or the Neo-platonists did not accept it in this sense. Surely Mr. Draper will not take upon himself to affirm that either Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, or any other philosopher of their mystic school, did not believe in the soul's immortality? To say that either of them sought ecstasy as a "foretaste of absorption into the universal mundane soul," in the sense in which the Buddhist Nirvana is understood by every Sanscrit scholar, is to wrong these philosophers. Nirvana is not, as Mr. Draper has it, a "reabsorption in the Universal Force, eternal rest, and bliss"; but, when taken literally by the said scholars, means the blowing out, the extinction, complete annihilation, and not absorption.** No one, so far as we know, has ever taken
* "De Vatibus in Problemate," sect. 21.
** See Max Muller: "The Meaning of Nirvana."
upon himself to ascertain the true metaphysical meaning of this word, which is not to be found, even in the Lankavatara,* which gives the different interpretations of the Nirvana by the Brahmans-Tirthakas. Therefore, for one who reads this passage in Mr. Draper's work, and bears in mind but the usually-accepted meaning of the Nirvana, will naturally suppose that Plotinus and Porphyry were nihilists. Such a page in the Conflict gives us a certain right to suppose that either 1, the learned author desired to place Plotinus and Porphyry on the same plane with Giordano Bruno, of whom he makes, very erroneously, an atheist; or, 2, that he never took the trouble of studying the lives of these philosophers and their views.
Now, for one who knows Professor Draper, even by reputation, the latter supposition is simply absurd. Therefore, we must think, with deep regret, that his desire was to misrepresent their religious aspirations. It is decidedly an awkward thing for modern philosophers, whose sole aim seems to be the elimination of the ideas of God and the immortal spirit from the mind of humanity, to have to treat with historical impartiality the most celebrated of the Pagan Platonists. To have to admit, on the one hand, their profound learning, their genius, their achievements in the most abstruse philosophical questions, and therefore their sagacity; and, on the other, their unreserved adhesion to the doctrine of immortality, of the final triumph of spirit over matter, and their implicit faith in God and the gods, or spirits; in the return of the dead, apparitions, and other "spiritual" matters, is a dilemma from which academical human nature could not reasonably be expected to extricate itself so easily.
The plan resorted to by Lempriere,** in such an emergency as the above, is coarser than Professor Draper's, but equally effective. He charges the ancient philosophers with deliberate falsehood, trickery, and credulity. After painting to his readers Pythagoras, Plotinus, and Porphyry as marvels of learning, morality, and accomplishments; as men eminent for personal dignity, purity of lives, and self-abnegation in the pursuit of divine truths, he does not hesitate to rank "this celebrated philosopher" (Pythagoras) among impostors; while to Porphyry he attributes "credulity, lack of judgment, and dishonesty." Forced by the facts of history to give them their just due in the course of his narrative, he displays his bigoted prejudice in the parenthetical comments which he allows himself. From this antiquated writer of the last century we learn that a man may be honest, and at the same time an impostor; pure, virtuous, and a great philosopher, and yet dishonest, a liar, and a fool!
We have shown elsewhere that the "secret doctrine" does not con-
* "The Lankavatara," transl. by Burnouf, p. 514.
** "Classical Dictionary."
cede immortality to all men alike. "The eye would never see the sun, if it were not of the nature of the sun," said Plotinus. Only "through the highest purity and chastity we shall approach nearer to God, and receive in the contemplation of Him, the true knowledge and insight," writes Porphyry. If the human soul has neglected during its life-time to receive its illumination from its Divine Spirit, our personal God, then it becomes difficult for the gross and sensual man to survive for a great length of time his physical death. No more than the misshapen monster can live long after its physical birth, can the soul, once that it has become too material, exist after its birth into the spiritual world. The viability of the astral form is so feeble, that the particles cannot cohere firmly when once it is slipped out of the unyielding capsule of the external body. Its particles, gradually obeying the disorganizing attraction of universal space, finally fly asunder beyond the possibility of reaggregation. Upon the occurrence of such a catastrophe, the individual ceases to exist; his glorious Augoeides has left him. During the intermediary period between his bodily death and the disintegration of the astral form, the latter, bound by magnetic attraction to its ghastly corpse, prowls about, and sucks vitality from susceptible victims. The man having shut out of himself every ray of the divine light, is lost in darkness, and, therefore, clings to the earth and the earthy.
No astral soul, even that of a pure, good, and virtuous man, is immortal in the strictest sense; "from elements it was formed — to elements it must return." Only, while the soul of the wicked vanishes, and is absorbed without redemption, that of every other person, even moderately pure, simply changes its ethereal particles for still more ethereal ones; and, while there remains in it a spark of the Divine, the individual man, or rather, his personal ego, cannot die. "After death," says Proclus, "the soul (the spirit) continueth to linger in the aerial body (astral form), till it is entirely purified from all angry and voluptuous passions . . . then doth it put off by a second dying the aerial body as it did the earthly one. Whereupon, the ancients say that there is a celestial body always joined with the soul, and which is immortal, luminous, and star-like."
But, we will now turn from our digression to further consider the question of reason and instinct. The latter, according to the ancients, proceeded from the divine, the former from the purely human. One (the instinct) is the product of the senses, a sagaciousness shared by the lowest animals, even those who have no reason — it is the [[aisthetikon]]; the other is the product of the reflective faculties — [[noetikon]], denoting judiciousness and human intellectuality. Therefore, an animal devoid of reasoning powers has in its inherent instinct an unerring faculty which is but that spark of the divine which lurks in every particle of inorganic
matter — itself materialized spirit. In the Jewish Kabala, the second and third chapters of Genesis are explained thus: When the second Adam is created "out of the dust," matter has become so gross that it reigns supreme. Out of its lusts evolves woman, and Lilith has the best of spirit. The Lord God, "walking in the garden in the cool of the day" (the sunset of spirit, or divine light obscured by the shadows of matter) curses not only them who have committed the sin, but even the ground itself, and all living things — the tempting serpent-matter above all.
Who but the kabalists are able to explain this seeming act of injustice? How are we to understand this cursing of all created things, innocent of any crime? The allegory is evident. The curse inheres in matter itself. Henceforth, it is doomed to struggle against its own grossness for purification; the latent spark of divine spirit, though smothered, is still there; and its invincible attraction upward compels it to struggle in pain and labor to free itself. Logic shows us that as all matter had a common origin, it must have attributes in common, and as the vital and divine spark is in man's material body, so it must lurk in every subordinate species. The latent mentality which, in the lower kingdoms is recognized as semi-consciousness, consciousness, and instinct, is largely subdued in man. Reason, the outgrowth of the physical brain, develops at the expense of instinct — the flickering reminiscence of a once divine omniscience — spirit. Reason, the badge of the sovereignty of physical man over all other physical organisms, is often put to shame by the instinct of an animal. As his brain is more perfect than that of any other creature, its emanations must naturally produce the highest results of mental action; but reason avails only for the consideration of material things; it is incapable of helping its possessor to a knowledge of spirit. In losing instinct, man loses his intuitional powers, which are the crown and ultimatum of instinct. Reason is the clumsy weapon of the scientists — intuition the unerring guide of the seer. Instinct teaches plant and animal their seasons for the procreation of their species, and guides the dumb brute to find his appropriate remedy in the hour of sickness. Reason — the pride of man — fails to check the propensities of his matter, and brooks no restraint upon the unlimited gratification of his senses. Far from leading him to be his own physician, its subtile sophistries lead him too often to his own destruction.
Nothing is more demonstrable than the proposition that the perfection of matter is reached at the expense of instinct. The zoophyte attached to the submarine rock, opening its mouth to attract the food that floats by, shows, proportionately with its physical structure, more instinct than the whale. The ant, with its wonderful architectural, social, and political
abilities, is inexpressibly higher in the scale than the subtile royal tiger watching its prey. "With awe and wonder," exclaims du Bois-Raymond, "must the student of nature regard that microscopic molecule of nervous substance which is the seat of the laborious, constructive, orderly, loyal, dauntless soul of the ant!"
Like everything else which has its origin in psychological mysteries, instinct has been too long neglected in the domain of science. "We see what indicated the way to man to find relief for all his physical ailings," says Hippocrates. "It is the instinct of the earlier races, when cold reason had not as yet obscured man's inner vision. . . . Its indication must never be disdained, for it is to instinct alone that we owe our first remedies."* Instantaneous and unerring cognition of an omniscient mind, instinct is in everything unlike the finite reason; and in the tentative progress of the latter, the god-like nature of man is often utterly engulfed, whenever he shuts out from himself the divine light of intuition. The one crawls, the other flies; reason is the power of the man, intuition the prescience of the woman!
Plotinus, the pupil of the great Ammonius Saccas, the chief founder of the Neo-platonic school, taught that human knowledge had three ascending steps: opinion, science, and illumination. He explained it by saying that "the means or instrument of opinion is sense, or perception; of science, dialectics; of illumination, intuition (or divine instinct). To the last, reason is subordinate; it is absolute knowledge founded on the identification of the mind with the object known."
Prayer opens the spiritual sight of man, for prayer is desire, and desire develops WILL; the magnetic emanations proceeding from the body at every effort — whether mental or physical — produce self-magnetization and ecstasy. Plotinus recommended solitude for prayer, as the most efficient means of obtaining what is asked; and Plato advised those who prayed to "remain silent in the presence of the divine ones, till they remove the cloud from thy eyes, and enable thee to see by the light which issues from themselves." Apollonius always isolated himself from men during the "conversation" he held with God, and whenever he felt the necessity for divine contemplation and prayer, he wrapped himself, head and all, in the drapery of his white woolen mantle. "When thou prayest enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father in secret," says the Nazarene, the pupil of the Essenes.
Every human being is born with the rudiment of the inner sense called intuition, which may be developed into what the Scotch know
* See Cabanis: "Histoire de la Medecine."
as "second sight." All the great philosophers, who, like Plotinus, Porphyry, and Iamblichus employed this faculty, taught the doctrine. "There is a faculty of the human mind," writes Iamblichus, "which is superior to all which is born or begotten. Through it we are enabled to attain union with the superior intelligences, to being transported beyond the scenes of this world, and to partaking the higher life and peculiar powers of the heavenly ones."
Were there no inner sight or intuition, the Jews would never have had their Bible, nor the Christians Jesus. What both Moses and Jesus gave to the world was the fruit of their intuition or illumination. What their subsequent elders and teachers allowed the world to understand was — dogmatic misrepresentations, too often blasphemy.
To accept the Bible as a "revelation" and nail belief to a literal translation, is worse than absurdity — it is a blasphemy against the Divine majesty of the "Unseen." If we had to judge of the Deity, and the world of spirits, by its human interpreters, now that philology proceeds with giant-strides on the fields of comparative religions, belief in God and the soul's immortality could not withstand the attacks of reason for one century more. That which supports the faith of man in God and a spiritual life to come is intuition; that divine outcome of our inner-self, which defies the mummeries of the Roman Catholic priest, and his ridiculous idols; the thousand and one ceremonies of the Brahman and his idols; and the jeremiads of the Protestant preacher, and his desolate and arid creed, with no idols, but a boundless hell and damnation hooked on at the end. Were it not for this intuition, undying though often wavering because so clogged with matter, human life would be a parody and humanity a fraud. This ineradicable feeling of the presence of some one outside and inside ourselves is one that no dogmatic contradictions, nor external form of worship can destroy in humanity, let scientists and clergy do what they may. Moved by such thoughts of the boundlessness and impersonality of the Deity, Gautama-Buddha, the Hindu Christ, exclaimed: "As the four rivers which fall in the Ganges lose their names as soon as they mingle their waters with the holy river, so all who believe in Buddha cease to be Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras!"
The Old Testament was compiled and arranged from oral tradition; the masses never knew its real meaning, for Moses was ordered to impart the "hidden truths" but to his seventy elders on whom the "Lord" put of the spirit which was upon the legislator. Maimonides, whose authority and whose knowledge of the sacred history can hardly be rejected, says: "Whoever shall find out the true sense of the book of Genesis ought to take care not to divulge it. . . . If a person should discover the
true meaning of it by himself, or by the aid of another, then he ought to be silent; or, if he speaks of it, he ought to speak of it but obscurely and in an enigmatical manner."
This confession, that what is written in the Holy Writ is but an allegory, was made by other Jewish authorities besides Maimonides; for we find Josephus stating that Moses "philosophized" (spoke riddles in figurative allegory), when writing the book of Genesis. Therefore modern science, by neglecting to unriddle the true sense of the Bible, and by allowing the whole of Christendom to go on believing in the dead letter of the Jewish theology, tacitly constitutes herself the confederate of the fanatical clergy. She has no right to ridicule the records of a people who never wrote them with the idea that they would receive such a strange interpretation at the hands of an inimical religion. That their holiest texts should be turned against them and that the dead men's bones could have smothered the spirit of truth, is the saddest feature of Christianity!
"The gods exist," says Epicurus, "but they are not what the rabble, [[hoi polloi]], suppose them to be." And yet Epicurus, judged as usual by superficial critics, is set down and paraded as a materialist.
But neither the great First Cause nor its emanation — human, immortal spirit — have left themselves "without a witness." Mesmerism and modern spiritualism are there to attest the great truths. For over fifteen centuries, thanks to the blindly-brutal persecutions of those great vandals of early Christian history, Constantine and Justinian, ancient WISDOM slowly degenerated until it gradually sank into the deepest mire of monkish superstition and ignorance. The Pythagorean "knowledge of things that are"; the profound erudition of the Gnostics; the world and time-honored teachings of the great philosophers; all were rejected as doctrines of Antichrist and Paganism, and committed to the flames. With the last seven wise men of the Orient, the remnant group of the Neo-platonists, Hermias, Priscianus, Diogenes, Eulalius, Damaskius, Simplicius and Isidorus, who fled from the fanatical persecutions of Justinian, to Persia, the reign of wisdom closed. The books of Thoth, or (Hermes Trismegistus), which contain within their sacred pages the spiritual and physical history of the creation and progress of our world, were left to mould in oblivion and contempt for ages. They found no interpreters in Christian Europe; the Philaletheians, or wise "lovers of the truth," were no more; they were replaced by the light-fleers, the tonsured and hooded monks of Papal Rome, who dread truth, in whatever shape and from whatever quarter it appears, if it but clashes in the least with their dogmas.
As to skeptics — this is what Professor Alexander Wilder remarks of
them and their followers, in his sketches on Neo-platonism and Alchemy: "A century has passed since the compilers of the French Encyclopaedia infused skepticism into the blood of the civilized world, and made it disreputable to believe in the actual existence of anything that cannot be tested in crucibles or demonstrated by critical reasoning. Even now, it requires candor as well as courage to venture to treat upon a subject which has been for many years discarded and contemned, because it has not been well or correctly understood. The person must be bold who accounts the Hermetic philosophy to be other than a pretense of science, and so believing, demands for its enunciation a patient hearing. Yet its professors were once the princes of learned investigation, and heroes among common men. Besides, nothing is to be despised which men have reverently believed; and disdain for the earnest convictions of others is itself the token of ignorance, and of an ungenerous mind."
And now, encouraged by these words from a scholar who is neither a fanatic nor a conservative, we will recall a few things reported by travellers as having been seen by them in Thibet and India, and which are treasured by the natives as practical proofs of the truth of the philosophy and science handed down by their forefathers.
First we may consider that most remarkable phenomenon as seen in the temples of Thibet and the accounts of which have reached Europe from eye-witnesses other than Catholic missionaries — whose testimony we will exclude for obvious reasons. Early in the present century a Florentine scientist, a skeptic and a correspondent of the French Institute, having been permitted to penetrate in disguise to the hallowed precincts of a Buddhist temple, where the most solemn of all ceremonies was taking place, relates the following as having been seen by himself. An altar is ready in the temple to receive the resuscitated Buddha, found by the initiated priesthood, and recognized by certain secret signs to have reincarnated himself in a new-born infant. The baby, but a few days old, is brought into the presence of the people and reverentially placed upon the altar. Suddenly rising into a sitting posture, the child begins to utter in a loud, manly voice, the following sentences: "I am Buddha, I am his spirit; and I, Buddha, your Dalai-Lama, have left my old, decrepit body, at the temple of . . . and selected the body of this young babe as my next earthly dwelling." Our scientist, being finally permitted by the priests to take, with due reverence, the baby in his arms, and carry it away to such a distance from them as to satisfy him that no ventriloquial deception is being practiced, the infant looks at the grave academician with eyes that "make his flesh creep," as he expresses it, and repeats the words he had previously uttered. A detailed account of this adventure, attested with the signature of this eye-witness, was forwarded to Paris,
but the members of the Institute, instead of accepting the testimony of a scientific observer of acknowledged credibility, concluded that the Florentine was either suffering under an attack of sunstroke, or had been deceived by a clever trick of acoustics.
Although, according to Mr. Stanislas Julien, the French translator of the sacred Chinese texts, there is a verse in the Lotus* which says that "A Buddha is as difficult to be found as the flowers of Udumbara and Palaca," if we are to believe several eye-witnesses, such a phenomenon does happen. Of course its occurrence is rare, for it happens but on the death of every great Dalai-Lama; and these venerable old gentlemen live proverbially long lives.
The poor Abbe Huc, whose works of travel in Thibet and China are so well-known, relates the same fact of the resuscitation of Buddha. He adds, furthermore, the curious circumstance that the baby-oracle makes good his claim to being an old mind in a young body by giving to those who ask him, "and who knew him in his past life, the most exact details of his anterior earthly existence."
It is worthy of notice, that des Mousseaux, who expatiates at length on the phenomenon, attributing it as a matter of course to the Devil, gravely remarks of the Abbe himself, that the fact that he had been unfrocked (defroque) "is an accident which I (he) confess scarcely tends to strengthen our confidence." In our humble opinion this little circumstance strengthens it all the more.
The Abbe Huc had his work placed on the Index for the truth he told about the similarity of the Buddhistical rites with the Roman Catholic ones. He was moreover suspended in his missionary work for being too sincere.
If this example of infant prodigy stood alone, we might reasonably indulge in some hesitation as to accepting it; but, to say nothing of the Camisard prophets of 1707, among whom was the boy of fifteen months described by Jacques Dubois, who spoke in good French "as though God were speaking through his mouth"; and of the Cevennes babies, whose speaking and prophesying were witnessed by the first savants of France — we have instances in modern times of quite as remarkable a character. Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, for March, 1875, contained an account of the following phenomenon: "At Saar-Louis, France, a child was born. The mother had just been confined, the midwife was holding forth garrulously 'on the blessed little creature,' and the friends were congratulating the father on his luck, when somebody asked what time it was. Judge of the surprise of all, on hearing the new-born babe reply
* "Le Lotus de la bonne Loi," by E. Burnouf, translated from the Sanscrit.
distinctly 'Two o'clock!' But this was nothing to what followed. The company were looking on the infant, with speechless wonder and dismay, when it opened its eyes, and said: 'I have been sent into the world to tell you that 1875 will be a good year, but that 1876 will be a year of blood.' Having uttered this prophecy it turned on its side and expired, aged half-an-hour."
We are not aware that this prodigy has received official authentication by the civil authority — of course we should look for none from the clergy, since no profit or honor was to be derived from it — but even if a respectable British commercial journal was not responsible for the story, the result has given it special interest. The year 1876, just passed (we write in February, 1877) was emphatically, and, from the standpoint of March, 1875, unexpectedly — a year of blood. In the Danubian principalities was written one of the bloodiest chapters of the history of war and rapine — a chapter of outrages of Moslem upon Christian that has scarcely been paralleled since Catholic soldiers butchered the simple natives of North and South America by tens of thousands, and Protestant Englishmen waded to the Imperial throne of Delhi, step by step, through rivers of blood. If the Saar-Louis prophecy was but a mere newspaper sensation, still the turn of events elevated it into the rank of a fulfilled prediction; 1875 was a year of great plenty, and 1876, to the surprise of everybody, a year of carnage.
But even if it should be found that the baby-prophet never opened its lips, the instance of the Jencken infant still remains to puzzle the investigator. This is one of the most surprising cases of mediumship. The child's mother is the famous Kate Fox, its father H. D. Jencken, M.R.I., Barrister-at-law, in London. He was born in London, in 1873, and before he was three months old showed evidences of spirit-mediumship. Rappings occurred on his pillow and cradle, and also on his father's person, when he held the child in his lap and Mrs. Jencken was absent from home. Two months later, a communication of twenty words, exclusive of signature, was written through his hand. A gentleman, a Liverpool solicitor, named J. Wason, was present at the time, and united with the mother and nurse in a certificate which was published in the London Medium and Daybreak of May 8th, 1874. The professional and scientific rank of Mr. Jencken make it in the highest degree improbable that he would lend himself to a deception. Moreover, the child was within such easy reach of the Royal Institution, of which his father is a member, that Professor Tyndall and his associates had no excuse for neglecting to examine and inform the world about this psychological phenomenon.
The sacred baby of Thibet being so far away, they find their most convenient plan to be a flat denial, with hints of sunstroke and acoustical
machinery. As for the London baby, the affair is still easier; let them wait until the child has grown up and learned to write, and then deny the story point-blank!
In addition to other travellers, the Abbe Huc gives us an account of that wonderful tree of Thibet called the Kounboum; that is to say, the tree of the 10,000 images and characters. It will grow in no other latitude, although the experiment has sometimes been tried; and it cannot even be multiplied from cuttings. The tradition is that it sprang from the hair of one of the Avatars (the Lama Son-Ka-pa) one of the incarnations of Buddha. But we will let the Abbe Huc tell the rest of the story: "Each of its leaves, in opening, bears either a letter or a religious sentence, written in sacred characters, and these letters are, of their kind, of such a perfection that the type-foundries of Didot contain nothing to excel them. Open the leaves, which vegetation is about to unroll, and you will there discover, on the point of appearing, the letters or the distinct words which are the marvel of this unique tree! Turn your attention from the leaves of the plant to the bark of its branches, and new characters will meet your eyes! Do not allow your interest to flag; raise the layers of this bark, and still OTHER CHARACTERS will show themselves below those whose beauty had surprised you. For, do not fancy that these superposed layers repeat the same printing. No, quite the contrary; for each lamina you lift presents to view its distinct type. How, then, can we suspect jugglery? I have done my best in that direction to discover the slightest trace of human trick, and my baffled mind could not retain the slightest suspicion."
We will add to M. Huc's narrative the statement that the characters which appear upon the different portions of the Kounboum are in the Sansar (or language of the Sun), characters (ancient Sanscrit); and that the sacred tree, in its various parts, contains in extenso the whole history of the creation, and in substance the sacred books of Buddhism. In this respect, it bears the same relation to Buddhism as the pictures in the Temple of Dendera, in Egypt, do to the ancient faith of the Pharaohs. The latter are briefly described by Professor W. B. Carpenter, President of the British Association, in his Manchester Lecture on Egypt. He makes it clear that the Jewish book of Genesis is nothing more than an expression of the early Jewish ideas, based upon the pictorial records of the Egyptians among whom they lived. But he does not make it clear, except inferentially, whether he believes either the Dendera pictures or the Mosaic account to be an allegory or a pretended historical narrative. How a scientist who had devoted himself to the most superficial investigation of the subject can venture to assert that the ancient Egyptians had the same ridiculous notions about the world's instantaneous creation
as the early Christian theologians, passes comprehension! How can he say that because the Dendera picture happens to represent their cosmogony in one allegory, they intended to show the scene as occurring in six minutes or six millions of years? It may as well indicate allegorically six successive epochs or aeons, or eternity, as six days. Besides, the Books of Hermes certainly give no color to the charge, and the Avesta specifically names six periods, each embracing thousands of years, instead of days. Many of the Egyptian hieroglyphics contradict Dr. Carpenter's theory, and Champollion has avenged the ancients in many particulars. From what is gone before, it will, we think, be made clear to the reader that the Egyptian philosophy had no room for any such crude speculations, if the Hebrews themselves ever believed them; their cosmogony viewed man as the result of evolution, and his progress to be marked by immensely lengthened cycles. But to return to the wonders of Thibet.
Speaking of pictures, the one described by Huc as hanging in a certain Lamasery may fairly be regarded as one of the most wonderful in existence. It is a simple canvas without the slightest mechanical apparatus attached, as the visitor may prove by examining it at his leisure. It represents a moon-lit landscape, but the moon is not at all motionless and dead; quite the reverse, for, according to the abbe, one would say that our moon herself, or at least her living double, lighted the picture. Each phase, each aspect, each movement of our satellite, is repeated in her fac-simile, in the movement and progress of the moon in the sacred picture. "You see this planet in the painting ride as a crescent, or full, shine brightly, pass behind the clouds, peep out or set, in a manner corresponding in the most extraordinary way with the real luminary. It is, in a word, a most servile and resplendent reproduction of the pale queen of the night, which received the adoration of so many people in the days of old."
When we think of the astonishment that would inevitably be felt by one of our self-complacent academicians at seeing such a picture — and it is by no means the only one, for they have them in other parts of Thibet and Japan also, which represent the sun's movements — when we think, we say, of his embarrassment at knowing that if he ventured to tell the unvarnished truth to his colleagues, his fate would probably be like that of poor Huc, and he flung out of the academical chair as a liar or a lunatic, we cannot help recalling the anecdote of Tycho-Brahe, given by Humboldt in his Cosmos.*
"One evening," says the great Danish astronomer, "as, according
* "Cosmos," vol. iii., part i., p. 168.
to my usual habit, I was considering the celestial vault, to my indescribable amazement, I saw, close to the zenith, in Cassiopea, a radiant star of extraordinary size. Struck with astonishment, I knew not whether I could believe my own eyes. Some time after that, I learned that in Germany, cartmen, and other persons of the lower classes had repeatedly warned the scientists that a great apparition could be seen in the sky; which fact afforded both the press and public one more opportunity to indulge in their usual raillery against the men of science, who, in the cases of several antecedent comets, had not predicted their appearance."
From the days of the earliest antiquity, the Brahmans were known to be possessed of wonderful knowledge in every kind of magic arts. From Pythagoras, the first philosopher who studied wisdom with the Gymnosophists, and Plotinus, who was initiated into the mystery of uniting one's self with the Deity through abstract contemplation, down to the modern adepts, it was well known that in the land of the Brahmans and Gautama-Buddha the sources of "hidden" wisdom are to be sought after. It is for future ages to discover this grand truth, and accept it as such, whereas now it is degraded as a low superstition. What did any one, even the greatest scientists, know of India, Thibet, and China, until the last quarter of this century? That most untiring scholar, Max Muller, tells us that before then not a single original document of the Buddhist religion had been accessible to European philologists; that fifty years ago "there was not a single scholar who could have translated a line of the Veda, a line of the Zend-Avesta, or a line of the Buddhist Tripitaka," let alone other dialects or languages. And even now, that science is in possession of various sacred texts, what they have are but very incomplete editions of these works, and nothing, positively nothing of the secret sacred literature of Buddhism. And the little that our Sanscrit scholars have got hold of, and which at first was termed by Max Muller a dreary "jungle of religious literature — the most excellent hiding-place for Lamas and Dalai-Lamas," is now beginning to shed a faint light on the primitive darkness. We find this scholar stating that that which appeared at the first glance into the labyrinth of the religions of the world, all darkness, self-deceit, and vanity begin to assume another form. "It sounds," he writes, "like a degradation of the very name of religion, to apply it to the wild ravings of Hindu Yogins, and the blank blasphemies of Chinese Buddhists. . . . But, as we slowly and patiently wend our way through the dreary prisons, our own eyes seem to expand, and we perceive a glimmer of light, where all was darkness at first."*
* "Lecture on the Vedas."
As an illustration of how little even the generation which directly preceded our own was competent to judge the religions and beliefs of the several hundred million Buddhists, Brahmans, and Parsees, let the student consult the advertisement of a scientific work published in 1828 by a Professor Dunbar, the first scholar who has undertaken to demonstrate that the Sanscrit is derived from the Greek. It appeared under the following title:
"An Inquiry into the structure and affinity of the Greek and Latin languages; with occasional comparisons of the Sanscrit and Gothic; with an Appendix, in which THE DERIVATION OF THE SANSCRIT FROM THE GREEK is endeavoured to be established. By George Dunbar, F.R.S.E., and Professor of Greek in the University of Edinburgh. Price, 18s."*
Had Max Muller happened to fall from the sky at that time, among the scholars of the day, and with his present knowledge, we would like to have compiled the epithets which would have been bestowed by the learned academicians upon the daring innovator! One who, classifying languages genealogically, says that "Sanscrit, as compared to Greek and Latin, is an elder sister . . . the earliest deposit of Aryan speech."
And so, we may naturally expect that in 1976, the same criticisms will be justly applied to many a scientific discovery, now deemed conclusive and final by our scholars. That which is now termed the superstitious verbiage and gibberish of mere heathens and savages, composed many thousands of years ago, may be found to contain the master-key to all religious systems. The cautious sentence of St. Augustine, a favorite name in Max Muller's lectures, which says that "there is no false religion which does not contain some elements of truth," may yet be triumphantly proved correct; the more so as, far from being original with the Bishop of Hippo, it was borrowed by him from the works of Ammonius Saccas, the great Alexandrian teacher.
This "god-taught" philosopher, the theodidaktos, had repeated these same words to exhaustion, in his numerous works some 140 years before Augustine. Acknowledging Jesus as "an excellent man, and the friend of God," he always maintained that his design was not to abolish the intercourse with gods and demons (spirits), but simply to purify the ancient religions; that "the religion of the multitude went hand in hand with philosophy, and with her had shared the fate of being by degrees corrupted and obscured with mere human conceits, superstition, and lies: that it ought therefore to be brought back to its original purity by purging it of this dross and expounding it upon philosophical principles; and
* "The Classical Journal," vol. iv., pp. 107, 348.
that the whole which Christ had in view was to reinstate and restore to its primitive integrity the wisdom of the ancients."*
It was Ammonius who first taught that every religion was based on one and the same truth; which is the wisdom found in the Books of Thoth (Hermes Trismegistus), from which books Pythagoras and Plato had learned all their philosophy. And the doctrines of the former he affirmed to have been identical with the earliest teachings of the Brahmans — now embodied in the oldest Vedas. "The name Thoth," says Professor Wilder, "means a college or assembly,"** and "it is not improbable that the books were so named as being the collected oracles and doctrines of the sacerdotal fraternity of Memphis. Rabbi Wise had suggested a similar hypothesis in relation to the divine utterances recorded in the Hebrew Scripture. But the Indian writers assert, that during the reign of king Kansa, Yadus (Judeans?) or sacred tribe left India and migrated to the West, carrying the four Vedas with them. There was certainly a great resemblance between the philosophical doctrines and religious customs of the Egyptians and Eastern Buddhists; but whether the Hermetic books and the four Vedas were identical, is not now known."
But one thing is certainly known, and that is, that before the word philosopher was first pronounced by Pythagoras at the court of the king of the Philasians, the "secret doctrine" or wisdom was identical in every country. Therefore it is in the oldest texts — those least polluted by subsequent forgeries — that we have to look for the truth. And now that philology has possessed itself of Sanscrit texts which may be boldly affirmed to be documents by far antedating the Mosaic Bible, it is the duty of the scholars to present the world with truth, and nothing but the truth. Without regard to either skeptical or theological prejudice, they are bound to impartially examine both documents — the oldest Vedas and the Old Testament, and then decide which of the two is the original Sruti or Revelation, and which but the Smriti, which, as Max Muller shows, only means recollection or tradition.
Origen writes that the Brahmans were always famous for the wonderful cures which they performed by certain words;*** and in our own age we find Orioli, a learned corresponding member of the French Institute,**** corroborating the statement of Origen in the third century, and that of Leonard de Vair of the sixteenth, in which the latter wrote: "There are also persons, who upon pronouncing a certain sentence — a charm, walk bare-footed on red, burning coals, and on the points of sharp knives stuck
* See "Mosheim."
** "New Platonism and Alchemy."
*** Origen: "Contra Celsum."
**** "Fatti relativi al Mesmerismo," pp. 88, 93, 1842.
in the ground; and, once poised on them, on one toe, they will lift up in the air a heavy man or any other burden of considerable weight. They will tame wild horses likewise, and the most furious bulls, with a single word."*
This word is to be found in the Mantras of the Sanscrit Vedas, say some adepts. It is for the philologists to decide for themselves whether there is such a word in the Vedas. So far as human evidence goes, it would seem that such magic words do exist.
It appears that the reverend fathers of the Order of Jesuits have picked up many such tricks in their missionary travels. Baldinger gives them full credit for it. The tschamping — a Hindu word, from which the modern word shampooing is derived — is a well-known magical manipulation in the East Indies. The native sorcerers use it with success to the present day, and it is from them that the father Jesuits derived their wisdom.
Camerarius, in his Horae Subscecivae, narrates that once upon a time there existed a great rivalry of "miracles" between the Austin Friars and the Jesuits. A disputation having taken place between the father-general of the Austin Friars, who was very learned, and the general of the Jesuits, who was very unlearned, but full of magical knowledge, the latter proposed to settle the question by trying their subordinates, and finding out which of them would be the readiest to obey his superiors. Thereupon, turning to one of his Jesuits, he said: "Brother Mark, our companions are cold; I command you, in virtue of the holy obedience you have sworn to me, to bring here instantly out of the kitchen fire, and in your hands, some burning coals, that they may warm themselves over your hands." Father Mark instantly obeyed, and brought in both his hands a supply of red, burning coals, and held them till the company present had all warmed themselves, after which he took them back to the kitchen hearth. The general of the Austin Friars found himself crestfallen, for none of his subordinates would obey him so far as that. The triumph of the Jesuits was thus accomplished.
If the above is looked upon as an anecdote unworthy of credence, we will inquire of the reader what we must think of some modern "mediums," who perform the same while entranced. The testimony of several highly respectable and trustworthy witnesses, such as Lord Adair and Mr. S. C. Hall, is unimpeachable. "Spirits," the spiritualists will argue. Perhaps so, in the case of American and English fire-proof mediums; but not so in Thibet and India. In the West a "sensitive" has to be entranced before being rendered invulnerable by the presiding "guides," and we defy any "medium," in his or her normal physical state
* "Leonard de Vair," 1. ii., ch. ii.; "La Magie au 19me Siecle," p. 332.
to bury the arms to the elbows in glowing coals. But in the East, whether the performer be a holy lama or a mercenary sorcerer (the latter class being generally termed "jugglers") he needs no preparation or abnormal state to be able to handle fire, red-hot pieces of iron, or melted lead. We have seen in Southern India these "jugglers" keep their hands in a furnace of burning coals until the latter were reduced to cinders. During the religious ceremony of Siva-Ratri, or the vigil-night of Siva, when the people spend whole nights in watching and praying, some of the Sivaites called in a Tamil juggler, who produced the most wonderful phenomena by simply summoning to his help a spirit whom they call Kutti-Sattan — the little demon. But, far from allowing people to think he was guided or "controlled" by this gnome — for it was a gnome, if it was anything — the man, while crouching over his fiery pit, proudly rebuked a Catholic missionary, who took his opportunity to inform the bystanders that the miserable sinner "had sold himself to Satan." Without removing his hands and arms from the burning coals within which he was coolly refreshing them, the Tamil only turned his head and gave one arrogant look at the flushed missionary. "My father and my father's father," he said, "had this 'little one' at their command. For two centuries the Kutti is a faithful servant in our home, and now, Sir, you would make people believe that he is my master! But they know better." After this, he quietly withdrew his hands from the fire, and proceeded with other performances.
As for the wonderful powers of prediction and clairvoyance possessed by certain Brahmans, they are well known to every European resident of India. If these upon their return to "civilized" countries, laugh at such stories, and sometimes even deny them outright, they only impugn their good faith, not the fact. These Brahmans live principally in "sacred villages," and secluded places, principally on the western coast of India. They avoid populated cities, and especially Europeans, and it is but rarely that the latter can succeed in making themselves intimate with the "seers." It is generally thought that the circumstance is due to their religious observance of the caste; but we are firmly convinced that in many cases this is not so. Years, perhaps centuries, will roll away before the real reason is ascertained.
As to the lower castes, some of which are termed by the missionaries devil-worshippers, notwithstanding the pious efforts on the part of the Catholic missionaries to spread in Europe heart-rending reports of the misery of these people "sold to the Arch-Enemy"; and like efforts, perhaps only a trifle less ridiculous and absurd, of Protestant missionaries, the word devil, in the sense understood by Christians, is a nonentity for them. They believe in good and bad spirits; but they neither worship nor dread the Devil. Their "worship" is simply a ceremonial precaution
against "terrestrial" and human spirits, whom they dread far more than the millions of elementals of various forms. They use all kinds of music, incense, and perfumes, in their efforts to drive away the "bad spirits" (the elementary). In this case, they are no more to be ridiculed than the well-known scientist, a firm spiritualist, who suggested the keeping of vitriol and powdered nitre in the room to keep away "unpleasant spirits"; and no more than he, are they wrong in so doing; for the experience of their ancestors, extending over many thousands of years has taught them how to proceed against this vile "spiritual horde." That they are human spirits is shown by the fact that very often they try to humor and propitiate the "larvae" of their own daughters and relatives, when they have reason to suspect that the latter did not die in the odor of sanctity and chastity. Such spirits they name "Kanni," bad virgins. The case was noticed by several missionaries; Rev. E. Lewis,* among others. But these pious gentlemen usually insist upon it that they worship devils, whereas, they do nothing of the sort; for they merely try to remain on good terms with them in order to be left unmolested. They offer them cakes and fruit, and various kinds of food which they liked while alive, for many of them have experienced the wickedness of these returning "dead ones," whose persecutions are sometimes dreadful. On this principle likewise they act toward the spirits of all wicked men. They leave on their tombs, if they were buried, or near the place where their remains were burnt, food and liquors, with the object of keeping them near these places, and with the idea that these vampires will be prevented thereby from returning to their homes. This is no worship; it is rather a spiritualism of a practical sort. Until 1861, there prevailed a custom among the Hindus of mutilating the feet of executed murderers, under the firm belief that thereby the disembodied soul would be prevented from wandering and doing more mischief. Subsequently, they were prohibited, by the police, from continuing the practice.
Another good reason why the Hindus should not worship the "Devil" is that they have no word to convey such a meaning. They call these spirits "puttam," which answers rather to our "spook," or malicious imp; another expression they use is "pey" and the Sanscrit pesasu, both meaning ghosts or "returning ones" — perhaps goblins, in some cases. The puttam are the most terrible, for they are literally "haunting spooks," who return on earth to torment the living. They are believed to visit generally the places where their bodies were burnt. The "fire" or "Siva-spirits" are identical with the Rosicrucian gnomes and salamanders; for they are pictured as dwarfs of a fiery appearance, living in
* "The Tinnevelly Shanars," p. 43.
earth and fire. The Ceylonese demon called Dewel is a stout smiling female figure with a white Elizabethan frill around the neck and a red jacket.
As Dr. Warton justly observes: "There is no character more strictly Oriental than the dragons of romance and fiction; they are intermixed with every tradition of early date and of themselves confer a species of illustrative evidence of origin." In no writings are these characters more marked, than in the details of Buddhism; these record particulars of the Nagas, or kingly snakes, inhabiting the cavities under the earth, corresponding with the abodes of Tiresias and the Greek seers, a region of mystery and darkness, wherein revolves much of the system of divination and oracular response, connected with inflation, or a sort of possession, designating the spirit of Python himself, the dragon-serpent slain by Apollo. But the Buddhists no more believe in the devil of the Christian system — that is, an entity as distinct from humanity as the Deity itself — than the Hindus. Buddhists teach that there are inferior gods who have been men either on this or another planet, but still who were men. They believe in the Nagas, who had been sorcerers on earth, bad people, and who give the power to other bad and yet living men to blight all the fruit they look upon, and even human lives. When a Cinghalese has the reputation that if he looks on a tree or on a person both will wither and die, he is said to have the Naga-Raja, or king-serpent on him. The whole endless catalogue of bad spirits are not devils in the sense the Christian clergy wants us to understand, but merely spiritually incarnated sins, crimes, and human thoughts, if we may so express it. The blue, green, yellow, and purple god-demons, like the inferior gods of Jugandere, are more of the kind of presiding genii, and many are as good and beneficient as the Nat deities themselves, although the Nats reckon in their numbers, giants, evil genii, and the like which inhabit the desert of Mount Jugandere.
The true doctrine of Buddha says that the demons, when nature produced the sun, moon, and stars, were human beings, but, on account of their sins, they fell from the state of felicity. If they commit greater sins, they suffer greater punishments, and condemned men are reckoned by them among the devils; while, on the contrary, demons who die (elemental spirits) and are born or incarnated as men, and commit no more sin, can arrive at the state of celestial felicity. Which is a demonstration, remarks Edward Upham, in his History and Doctrine of Buddhism, that all beings, divine as well as human, are subject to the laws of transmigration, which are operative on all, according to a scale of moral deeds. This faith then, is a complete test of a code of moral enactments and motives, applied to the regulation and government of man,
an experiment, he adds, "which renders the study of Buddhism an important and curious subject for the philosopher."
The Hindus believe, as firmly as the Servians or Hungarians, in vampires. Furthermore, their doctrine is that of Pierart, the famous French spiritist and mesmerizer, whose school flourished some dozen years ago. "The fact of a spectre returning to suck human blood," says this Doctor,* "is not so inexplicable as it seems, and here we appeal to the spiritualists who admit the phenomenon of bicorporeity or soul-duplication. The hands which we have pressed . . . these 'materialized' limbs, so palpable . . . prove clearly how much is possible for astral spectres under favorable conditions."
The honorable physician expresses the theory of the kabalists. The Shadim are the lowest of the spiritual orders. Maimonides, who tells us that his countrymen were obliged to maintain an intimate intercourse with their departed ones, describes the feast of blood they held on such occasions. They dug a hole, and fresh blood was poured in, over which was placed a table; after which the "spirits" came and answered all their questions.**
Pierart, whose doctrine was founded on that of the theurgists, exhibits a warm indignation against the superstition of the clergy which requires, whenever a corpse is suspected of vampirism, that a stake should be driven through the heart. So long as the astral form is not entirely liberated from the body there is a liability that it may be forced by magnetic attraction to reenter it. Sometimes it will be only half-way out, when the corpse, which presents the appearance of death, is buried. In such cases the terrified astral soul violently reenters its casket; and then, one of two things happens — either the unhappy victim will writhe in the agonizing torture of suffocation, or, if he had been grossly material, he becomes a vampire. The bicorporeal life begins; and these unfortunate buried cataleptics sustain their miserable lives by having their astral bodies rob the life-blood from living persons. The ethereal form can go wherever it pleases; and so long as it does not break the link which attaches it to the body, it is at liberty to wander about, either visible or invisible, and feed on human victims. "According to all appearance, this 'spirit' then transmits through a mysterious and invisible cord of connection, which perhaps, some day may be explained, the results of the suction to the material body which lies inert at the bottom of the tomb, aiding it, in a manner, to perpetuate the state of catalepsy."***
* Pierart: "Revue Spiritualiste," chapter on "Vampirism."
** Maimonides: "Abodah Sarah," 12 Absh, 11 Abth.
*** Pierart: "Revue Spiritualiste."
Brierre de Boismont gives a number of such cases, fully authenticated, which he is pleased to term "hallucinations." A recent inquest, says a French paper, "has established that in 1871 two corpses were submitted to the infamous treatment of popular superstition, at the instigation of the clergy . . . O blind prejudice!" But Dr. Pierart, quoted by des Mousseaux, who stoutly adheres to vampirism, exclaims: "Blind, you say? Yes, blind, as much as you like. But whence sprang these prejudices? Why are they perpetuated in all ages, and in so many countries? After a crowd of facts of vampirism so often proved, should we say that there are no more and that they never had a foundation? Nothing comes of nothing. Every belief, every custom springs from facts and causes which gave it birth. If one had never seen appear, in the bosom of families of certain countries, beings clothing themselves in the shape of the familiar dead, coming thus to suck the blood of one or of several persons, and if the death of the victims by emaciation had not followed, they would never have gone to disinter the corpses in cemeteries; we would never have had attested the incredible fact of persons buried for several years being found with the corpse soft, flexible, the eyes open, with rosy complexions, the mouth and nose full of blood, and of the blood running in torrents under blows, from wounds, and when decapitated."*
One of the most important examples of vampirism figures in the private letters of the philosopher, the Marquis d'Argens; and, in the Revue Britannique, for March, 1837, the English traveller Pashley describes some that came under his notice in the island of Candia. Dr. Jobard, the anti-Catholic and anti-spiritual Belgian savant, testifies to similar experiences.**
"I will not examine," wrote the Bishop d'Avranches Huet, "whether the facts of vampirism, which are constantly being reported, are true, or the fruit of a popular error; but it is certain that they are testified to by so many authors, able and trustworthy, and by so many eye-witnesses, that no one ought to decide upon the question without a good deal of caution."***
The chevalier, who went to great pains to collect materials for his demonological theory, brings the most thrilling instances to prove that all such cases are produced by the Devil, who uses graveyard corpses with which to clothe himself, and roams at night sucking people's blood. Methinks we could do very well without bringing this dusky personage upon the scene. If we are to believe at all in the return of spirits, there are plenty of wicked sensualists, misers, and sinners of other de-
* Dr. Pierart: "Revue Spiritualiste," vol. iv., p. 104.
** See "Hauts Phen.," p. 199.
*** "Huetiana," p. 81.
scriptions — especially suicides, who could have rivalled the Devil himself in malice in his best days. It is quite enough to be actually forced to believe in what we do see, and know to be a fact, namely spirits, without adding to our Pantheon of ghosts the Devil — whom nobody ever saw.
Still, there are interesting particulars to be gathered in relation to vampirism, since belief in this phenomenon has existed in all countries, from the remotest ages. The Slavonian nations, the Greeks, the Wallachians, and the Servians would rather doubt the existence of their enemies, the Turks, than the fact that there are vampires. The broucolak, or vourdalak, as the latter are called, are but too familiar guests at the Slavonian fireside. Writers of the greatest ability, men as full of sagacity as of high integrity, have treated of the subject and believed in it. Whence, then, such a superstition? Whence that unanimous credence throughout the ages, and whence that identity in details and similarity of description as to that one particular phenomenon which we find in the testimony — generally sworn evidence — of peoples foreign to each other and differing widely in matters concerning other superstitions.
"There are," says Dom Calmet, a skeptical Benedictine monk of the last century, "two different ways to destroy the belief in these pretended ghosts. . . . The first would be to explain the prodigies of vampirism by physical causes. The second way is to deny totally the truth of all such stories; and the latter plan would be undoubtedly the most certain, as the most wise."*
The first way — that of explaining it by physical, though occult causes, is the one adopted by the Pierart school of mesmerism. It is certainly not the spiritualists who have a right to doubt the plausibility of this explanation. The second plan is that adopted by scientists and skeptics. They deny point-blank. As des Mousseaux remarks, there is no better or surer way, and none exacts less of either philosophy or science.
The spectre of a village herdsman, near Kodom, in Bavaria, began appearing to several inhabitants of the place, and either in consequence of their fright or some other cause, every one of them died during the following week. Driven to despair, the peasants disinterred the corpse, and pinned it to the ground with a long stake. The same night he appeared again, plunging people into convulsions of fright, and suffocating several of them. Then the village authorities delivered the body into the hands of the executioner, who carried it to a neighboring field and burned it. "The corpse," says des Mousseaux, quoting Dom Calmet, "howled like a madman, kicking and tearing as if he had been alive. When he was
* Dom Calmet: "Apparitions," etc. Paris, 1751, vol. ii., p. 47; "Hauts Phen. de la Magie," 195.
run through again with sharp-pointed stakes, he uttered piercing cries, and vomited masses of crimson blood. The apparitions of this spectre ceased only after the corpse had been reduced to ashes."*
Officers of justice visited the places said to be so haunted; the bodies were exhumed, and in nearly every case it was observed that the corpse suspected of vampirism looked healthy and rosy, and the flesh was in no way decaying. The objects which had belonged to these ghosts were observed moving about the house without any one touching them. But the legal authorities generally refused to resort to cremation and beheading before they had observed the strictest rules of legal procedure. Witnesses were summoned to appear, and evidence was heard and carefully weighed. After that the exhumed corpses were examined; and if they exhibited the unequivocal and characteristic signs of vampirism, they were handed over to the executioner.
"But," argues Dom Calmet,** "the principal difficulty consists in learning how these vampires can quit their tombs, and how they reenter them, without appearing to have disturbed the earth in the least; how is it that they are seen with their usual clothing; how can they go about, and walk, and eat? . . . If this is all imagination on the part of those who believe themselves molested by such vampires, how happens it that the accused ghosts are subsequently found in their graves . . . exhibiting no signs of decay, full of blood, supple and fresh? How explain the cause of their feet found muddy and covered with dirt on the day following the night they had appeared and frightened their neighbors, while nothing of the sort was ever found on other corpses buried in the same cemetery?*** How is it again that once burned they never reappear? and that these cases should happen so often in this country that it is found impossible to cure people from this prejudice; for, instead of being destroyed, daily experience only fortifies the superstition in the people, and increases belief in it."****
There is a phenomenon in nature unknown, and therefore rejected by physiology and psychology in our age of unbelief. This phenomenon is a state of half-death. Virtually, the body is dead; and, in cases of persons in whom matter does not predominate over spirit and wickedness not so great as to destroy spirituality, if left alone, their astral soul will disengage itself by gradual efforts, and, when the last link is broken,
* "Hauts Phen.," p. 196.
*** See the same sworn testimony in official documents: "De l'Inspir. des Camis," H. Blanc, 1859. Plon, Paris.
**** Dom Calmet: "Apparit.," vol. ii., chap. xliv., p. 212.
it finds itself separated forever from its earthly body. Equal magnetic polarity will violently repulse the ethereal man from the decaying organic mass. The whole difficulty lies in that 1, the ultimate moment of separation between the two is believed to be that when the body is declared dead by science; and 2, a prevailing unbelief in the existence of either soul or spirit in man, by the same science.
Pierart tries to demonstrate that in every case it is dangerous to bury people too soon, even though the body may show undoubted signs of putrefaction. "Poor dead cataleptics," says the doctor, "buried as if quite dead, in cold and dry spots where morbid causes are incapable to effect the destruction of their bodies, their (astral) spirit enveloping itself with a fluidic body (ethereal) is prompted to quit the precincts of its tomb, and to exercise on living beings acts peculiar to physical life, especially that of nutrition, the result of which, by a mysterious link between soul and body, which spiritualistic science will explain some day, is forwarded to the material body lying still in its tomb, and the latter thus helped to perpetuate its vital existence."* These spirits, in their ephemeral bodies, have been often seen coming out from the graveyard; they are known to have clung to their living neighbors, and have sucked their blood. Judicial inquiry has established that from this resulted an emaciation of the victimized persons, which often terminated in death.
Thus, following the pious advice of Dom Calmet, we must either go on denying, or, if human and legal testimonies are worth anything, accept the only explanation possible. "That souls departed are embodied in aerial or aetherial vehicles is most fully and plainly proved by those excellent men, Dr. C. and Dr. More," says Glanvil, "and they have largely shown that this was the doctrine of the greatest philosophers and most ancient and aged fathers."**
Gorres, the German philosopher, says to the same effect, that "God never created man as a dead corpse, but as an animal full of life. Once He had thus produced him, finding him ready to receive the immortal breath, He breathed him in the face, and thus man became a double masterpiece in His hands. It is in the centre of life itself that this mysterious insufflation took place in the first man (race?); and thence were united the animal soul issued from earth, and the spirit emanating from heaven."***
Des Mousseaux, in company with other Roman Catholic writers, exclaims: "This proposition is utterly anti-Catholic! "Well, and suppose
* Pierart: "Revue Spiritualiste," vol. iv., p. 104.
** "Sadducismus Triumphatus," vol. ii., p. 70.
*** Gorres: "Complete Works," vol. iii., ch. vii., p. 132.
it is? It may be archi-anti-Catholic, and still be logic, and offer a solution for many a psychological puzzle. The sun of science and philosophy shines for every one; and if Catholics, who hardly number one-seventh part of the population of the globe, do not feel satisfied, perhaps the many millions of people of other religions who outnumber them, will.
And now, before parting with this repulsive subject of vampirism, we will give one more illustration, without other voucher than the statement that it was given to us by apparently trustworthy witnesses.
About the beginning of the present century, there occurred in Russia, one of the most frightful cases of vampirism on record. The governor of the Province of Tch---- was a man of about sixty years, of a malicious, tyrannical, cruel, and jealous disposition. Clothed with despotic authority, he exercised it without stint, as his brutal instincts prompted. He fell in love with the pretty daughter of a subordinate official. Although the girl was betrothed to a young man whom she loved, the tyrant forced her father to consent to his having her marry him; and the poor victim, despite her despair, became his wife. His jealous disposition exhibited itself. He beat her, confined her to her room for weeks together, and prevented her seeing any one except in his presence. He finally fell sick and died. Finding his end approaching, he made her swear never to marry again; and with fearful oaths, threatened that, in case she did, he would return from his grave and kill her. He was buried in the cemetery across the river; and the young widow experienced no further annoyance, until, nature getting the better of her fears, she listened to the importunities of her former lover, and they were again betrothed.
On the night of the customary betrothal-feast, when all had retired, the old mansion was aroused by shrieks proceeding from her room. The doors were burst open, and the unhappy woman was found lying on her bed, in a swoon. At the same time a carriage was heard rumbling out of the courtyard. Her body was found to be black and blue in places, as from the effect of pinches, and from a slight puncture on her neck drops of blood were oozing. Upon recovering, she stated that her deceased husband had suddenly entered her room, appearing exactly as in life, with the exception of a dreadful pallor; that he had upbraided her for her inconstancy, and then beaten and pinched her most cruelly. Her story was disbelieved; but the next morning, the guard stationed at the other end of the bridge which spans the river, reported that, just before midnight, a black coach and six had driven furiously past them, toward the town, without answering their challenge.
The new governor, who disbelieved the story of the apparition, took nevertheless the precaution of doubling the guards across the bridge.
The same thing happened, however, night after night; the soldiers declaring that the toll-bar at their station near the bridge would rise of itself, and the spectral equipage sweep by them despite their efforts to stop it. At the same time every night, the coach would rumble into the courtyard of the house; the watchers, including the widow's family, and the servants, would be thrown into a heavy sleep; and every morning the young victim would be found bruised, bleeding, and swooning as before. The town was thrown into consternation. The physicians had no explanations to offer; priests came to pass the night in prayer, but as midnight approached, all would be seized with the terrible lethargy. Finally, the archbishop of the province came, and performed the ceremony of exorcism in person, but the following morning the governor's widow was found worse than ever. She was now brought to death's door.
The governor was finally driven to take the severest measures to stop the ever-increasing panic in the town. He stationed fifty Cossacks along the bridge, with orders to stop the spectre-carriage at all hazards. Promptly at the usual hour, it was heard and seen approaching from the direction of the cemetery. The officer of the guard, and a priest bearing a crucifix, planted themselves in front of the toll-bar, and together shouted: "In the name of God, and the Czar, who goes there?" Out of the coach-window was thrust a well-remembered head, and a familiar voice responded: "The Privy Councillor of State and Governor, C----!" At the same moment, the officer, the priest, and the soldiers were flung aside as by an electric shock, and the ghostly equipage passed by them, before they could recover breath.
The archbishop then resolved, as a last expedient, to resort to the time-honored plan of exhuming the body, and pinning it to the earth with an oaken stake driven through its heart. This was done with great religious ceremony in the presence of the whole populace. The story is that the body was found gorged with blood, and with red cheeks and lips. At the instant that the first blow was struck upon the stake, a groan issued from the corpse, and a jet of blood spurted high into the air. The archbishop pronounced the usual exorcism, the body was reinterred, and from that time no more was heard of the vampire.
How far the facts of this case may have been exaggerated by tradition, we cannot say. But we had it years ago from an eye-witness; and at the present day there are families in Russia whose elder members will recall the dreadful tale.
As to the statement found in medical books that there are frequent cases of inhumation while the subjects are but in a cataleptic state, and the persistent denials of specialists that such things happen, except very rarely, we have but to turn to the daily press of every country to find
the horrid fact substantiated. The Rev. H. R. Haweis, M.A., author of Ashes to Ashes,* enumerates in his work, written in advocacy of cremation, some very distressing cases of premature burial. On page forty-six occurs the following dialogue:
"But do you know of many cases of premature burial?"
"Undoubtedly I do. I will not say that in our temperate climate they are frequent, but they do occur. Hardly a graveyard is opened but coffins are found containing bodies not only turned, but skeletons contorted in the last hopeless struggle for life underground. The turning may be due to some clumsy shaking of the coffin, but not the contortion."
After this he proceeds to give the following recent cases:
"At Bergerac (Dordogne), in 1842, the patient took a sleeping draught . . . but he woke not. . . . They bled him, and he woke not. . . . At last they declared him to be dead, and buried him. After a few days, remembering the sleeping draught, they opened the grave. The body had turned and struggled."
"The Sunday Times, December 30, 1838, relates that at Tonneins, Lower Garonne, a man was buried, when an indistinct noise proceeded from the coffin; the reckless grave-digger fled. . . . The coffin was hauled up and burst open. A face stiffened in terror and despair, a torn winding-sheet, contorted limbs, told the sad truth — too late."
"The Times, May, 1874, states that in August of 1873, a young lady died soon after her marriage. . . . Within a year the husband married again, and the mother of his first bride resolved to remove her daughter's body to Marseilles. They opened the vault and found the poor girl's body prostrate, her hair dishevelled, her shroud torn to pieces."**
As we will have to refer to the subject once more in connection with Bible miracles, we will leave it for the present, and return to magical phenomena.
If we were to give a full description of the various manifestations which take place among adepts in India and other countries, we might fill volumes, but this would be profitless, as there would remain no space for explanation. Therefore we select in preference such as either find their parallels in modern phenomena or are authenticated by legal inquiry. Horst tried to present an idea of certain Persian spirits to his readers, and failed; for the bare mention of some of them is calculated to set the brains of a believer in a whirl. There are the Devs and their specialities; the Darwands and their gloomy tricks; the Shadim and Djinnas; the whole vast legion of spirits, demons, goblins, and elves of the Persian
* "Ashes to Ashes," London: Daldy, Isbister & Co., 1875.
** The author refers all those who may doubt such statements to G. A. Walker's "Gatherings from Graveyards," pp. 84-193, 194, etc.
calendar; and, on the other hand, the Jewish Seraphim, Cherubim, Izeds, Amshaspands, Sephiroth, Malachim, Elohim; and, adds Horst, "the millions of astral and elementary spirits, of intermediary spirits, ghosts, and imaginary beings of all races and colors."*
But the majority of these spirits have naught to do with the phenomena consciously and deliberately produced by the Eastern magicians. The latter repudiate such an accusation and leave to sorcerers the help even of elemental spirits and the elementary spooks. The adept has an unlimited power over both, but he rarely uses it. For the production of physical phenomena he summons the nature-spirits as obedient powers, not as intelligences.
As we always like to strengthen our arguments by testimonies other than our own, it may be well to present the opinion of a daily paper, the Boston Herald, as to phenomena in general and mediums in particular. Having encountered sad failures with some dishonest persons, who may or may not be mediumistic, the writer went to the trouble of ascertaining as to some wonders said to be produced in India, and compares them with those of modern thaumaturgy.
"The medium of the present day," he says, "bears a closer resemblance, in methods and manipulations, to the well-known conjurer of history, than any other representative of the magic art. How far short he still remains of the performances of his prototypes is illustrated below. In 1615 a delegation of highly-educated and distinguished men from the English East India Company visited the Emperor Jehangire. While on their mission they witnessed many most wonderful performances, almost causing them to discredit their senses, and far beyond any hint even of solution. A party of Bengalese conjurers and jugglers, showing their art before the emperor, were desired to produce upon the spot, and from seed, ten mulberry trees. They immediately planted ten seeds, which, in a few minutes produced as many trees. The ground divided over the spot where a seed was planted, tiny leaves appeared, at once followed by slender shoots, which rapidly gained elevation, putting out leaves and twigs and branches, finally spreading wide in the air, budding, blossoming and yielding fruit, which matured upon the spot, and was found to be excellent. And this before the beholder had turned away his eyes. Fig, almond, mango, and walnut trees were at the same time under like conditions produced, yielding the fruit which belonged to each. Wonder succeeded wonder. The branches were filled with birds of beautiful plumage flitting about among the leaves and singing sweet notes. The leaves turned to russet, fell from their places, branches and twigs withered, and
* Horst: "Zauber Bibliothek," vol. v., p. 52.
finally the trees sank back into the earth, out of which they had all sprung within the hour.
"Another had a bow and about fifty steel-pointed arrows. He shot an arrow into the air, when, lo! the arrow became fixed in space at a considerable height. Another and another arrow was sent off, each fixing itself in the shaft of the preceding, until all formed a chain of arrows in the air, excepting the last shot, which, striking the chain, brought the whole to the ground in detachments.
"They set up two common tents facing each other, and about a bow-shot apart. These tents were critically examined by the spectators, as are the cabinets of the mediums, and pronounced empty. The tents were fastened to the ground all around. The lookers-on were then invited to choose what animals or birds they would have issue from these tents to engage in a battle. Khaun-e-Jahaun incredulously asked to see a fight between ostriches. In a few minutes an ostrich came out from each tent rushed to combat with deadly earnestness, and from them the blood soon began to stream; but they were so nearly matched that neither could win the victory, and they were at last separated by the conjurers and conveyed within the tents. After this the varied demands of the spectators for birds and animals were exactly complied with, always with the same results.
"A large cauldron was set, and into it a quantity of rice thrown. Without the sign of fire this rice soon began to boil, and out from the cauldron was taken more than one hundred platters of cooked rice, with a stewed fowl at the top of each. This trick is performed on a smaller scale by the most ordinary fakirs of the present day.
"But space fails to give opportunity for illustrating, from the records of the past, how the miserably tame performances — by comparison — of the mediums of the present day were pale and overshadowed by those of other days and more adroit peoples. There is not a wonderful feature in any of the so-called phenomena or manifestations which was not, nay, which is not now more than duplicated by other skilful performers, whose connection with earth, and earth alone, is too evident to be doubted, even if the fact was not supported by their own testimony."
It is an error to say that fakirs or jugglers will always claim that they are helped by spirits. In quasi-religious evocations, such as Jacolliot's Kovindasami is described to have produced before this French gentleman, when the parties desire to see real "spiritual" manifestations, they will resort to Pitris, their disembodied ancestors, and other pure spirits. These they can evoke but through prayer. As to all other phenomena, they are produced by the magician and fakir at will. Notwithstanding the state of apparent abjectness in which the latter lives, he is often an initiate of
the temples, and is as well acquainted with occultism as his richer brethren.
The Chaldeans, whom Cicero counts among the oldest magicians, placed the basis of all magic in the inner powers of man's soul, and by the discernment of magic properties in plants, minerals, and animals. By the aid of these they performed the most wonderful "miracles." Magic, with them, was synonymous with religion and science. It is but later that the religious myths of the Magdean dualism, disfigured by Christian theology and euhemerized by certain fathers of the Church, assumed the disgusting shape in which we find them expounded by such Catholic writers as des Mousseaux. The objective reality of the mediaeval incubus and succubus, that abominable superstition of the middle ages which cost so many human lives, advocated by this author in a whole volume, is the monstrous production of religious fanaticism and epilepsy. It can have no objective form; and to attribute its effects to the Devil is blasphemy: implying that God, after creating Satan, would allow him to adopt such a course. If we are forced to believe in vampirism, it is on the strength of two irrefragable propositions of occult psychological science: 1. The astral soul is a separable distinct entity of our ego, and can roam far away from the body without breaking the thread of life. 2. The corpse is not utterly dead, and while it can yet be reentered by its tenant, the latter can gather sufficient material emanations from it to enable itself to appear in a quasi-terrestrial shape. But to uphold, with des Mousseaux and de Mirville, that the Devil, whom the Catholics endow with a power which, in antagonism, equals that of the Supreme Deity, transforms himself into wolves, snakes, and dogs, to satisfy his lust and procreate monsters, is an idea within which lie hidden the germs of devil-worship, lunacy, and sacrilege. The Catholic Church, which not only teaches us to believe in this monstrous fallacy, but forces her missionaries to preach such a dogma, need not revolt against the devil-worship of some Parsee and South India sects. Quite the reverse; for when we hear the Yezides repeat the well-known proverb: "Keep friends with the demons; give them your property, your blood, your service, and you need not care about God — He will not harm you," we find him but consistent with his belief and reverential to the Supreme; his logic is sound and rational; he reveres God too deeply to imagine that He who created the universe and its laws is able to hurt him, poor atom; but the demons are there; they are imperfect, and therefore he has good reasons to dread them.
Therefore, the Devil, in his various transformations, can be but a fallacy. When we imagine that we see, and hear, and feel him, it is but too often the reflection of our own wicked, depraved, and polluted soul that we see, hear, and feel. Like attracts like, they say; thus, according to the
mood in which our astral form oozes out during the hours of sleep, according to our thoughts, pursuits, and daily occupations, all of which are fairly impressed upon the plastic capsule called the human soul, the latter attracts around itself spiritual beings congenial to itself. Hence some dreams and visions that are pure and beautiful, others fiendish and beastly. The person awakes, and either hastens to the confessional, or laughs in callous indifference at the thought. In the first case, he is promised final salvation, at the cost of some indulgences (which he has to purchase from the church), and perhaps a little taste of purgatory, or even of hell. What matter? is he not safe to be eternal and immortal, do what he may? It is the Devil. Away with him, with bell, book, and holy sprinkler! But the "Devil" comes back, and often the true believer is forced to disbelieve in God, when he clearly perceives that the Devil has the best of his Creator and Master. Then he is left to the second emergency. He remains indifferent, and gives himself up entirely to the Devil. He dies, and the reader has learned the sequel in the preceding chapters.
The thought is beautifully expressed by Dr. Ennemoser: "Religion did not here [Europe and China] strike root so deeply as among the Hindus," says he, arguing upon this superstition. "The spirit of the Greeks and Persians was more volatile. . . . The philosophical idea in the good and bad principle, and of the spiritual world . . . must have assisted tradition in forming visions of heavenly and hellish shapes, and the most frightful distortions, which in India were much more simply produced by a more enthusiastic fanaticism; there the seer received by divine light; here he lost himself in a multitude of outward objects, with which he confounded his own identity. Convulsions, accompanied by the mind's absence from the body, in distant countries, were here common, for the imagination was less firm, and also less spiritual.
"The outward causes are also different; the modes of life, geographical position, and artificial means producing various modifications. The mode of life in Western countries has always been very variable, and therefore disturbs and distorts the occupation of the senses, and the outward life is therefore reflected upon the inner dream-world. The spirits, therefore, are of endless varieties of shape, and incline men to gratify their passions, showing them the means of so doing, and descending even to the minutest particulars, which was so far below the elevated natures of Indian seers."
Let the student of occult sciences make his own nature as pure and his thoughts as elevated as those of these Indian seers, and he may sleep unmolested by vampire, incubus, or succubus. Around the insensible form of such a sleeper the immortal spirit sheds a power divine that protects it from evil approaches, as though it were a crystal wall.
"Haec murus aeneus esto: nil conscire sibi, nulla pallascere culpa."