"The curtains of Yesterday drop down, the curtains of To-morrow roll up; but Yesterday and Tomorrow both are." — Sartor Resartus: Natural Supernaturalism.
"May we not then be permitted to examine the authenticity of the Bible? which since the second century has been put forth as the criterion of scientific truth? To maintain itself in a position so exalted, it must challenge human criticism." — Conflict between Religion and Science.
"One kiss of Nara upon the lips of Nari and all Nature wakes." — Vina Snati (A Hindu Poet).
We must not forget that the Christian Church owes its present canonical Gospels, and hence its whole religious dogmatism, to the Sortes Sanctorum. Unable to agree as to which were the most divinely-inspired of the numerous gospels extant in its time, the mysterious Council of Nicea concluded to leave the decision of the puzzling question to miraculous intervention. This Nicean Council may well be called mysterious. There was a mystery, first, in the mystical number of its 318 bishops, on which Barnabas (viii. 11, 12, 13) lays such a stress; added to this, there is no agreement among ancient writers as to the time and place of its assembly, nor even as to the bishop who presided. Notwithstanding the grandiloquent eulogium of Constantine,* Sabinus, the Bishop of Heraclea, affirms that "except Constantine, the emperor, and Eusebius Pamphilus, these bishops were a set of illiterate, simple creatures, that understood nothing"; which is equivalent to saying that they were a set of fools. Such was apparently the opinion entertained of them by Pappus, who tells us of the bit of magic resorted to to decide which were the true gospels. In his Synodicon to that Council Pappus says, having "promiscuously put all the books that were referred to the Council for determination under a communion-table in a church, they (the bishops) besought the Lord that the inspired writings might get upon the table, while the spurious ones remained underneath, and it happened accordingly." But we are not told who kept the keys of the council chamber over night!
On the authority of ecclesiastical eye-witnesses, therefore, we are at liberty to say that the Christian world owes its "Word of God" to a
method of divination, for resorting to which the Church subsequently condemned unfortunate victims as conjurers, enchanters, magicians, witches, and vaticinators, and burnt them by thousands! In treating of this truly divine phenomenon of the self-sorting manuscripts, the Fathers of the Church say that God himself presides over the Sortes. As we have shown elsewhere, Augustine confesses that he himself used this sort of divination. But opinions, like revealed religions, are liable to change. That which for nearly fifteen hundred years was imposed on Christendom as a book, of which every word was written under the direct supervision of the Holy Ghost; of which not a syllable, nor a comma could be changed without sacrilege, is now being retranslated, revised, corrected, and clipped of whole verses, in some cases of entire chapters. And yet, as soon as the new edition is out, its doctors would have us accept it as a new "Revelation" of the nineteenth century, with the alternative of being held as an infidel. Thus, we see that, no more within than without its precincts, is the infallible Church to be trusted more than would be reasonably convenient. The forefathers of our modern divines found authority for the Sortes in the verse where it is said: "The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord";* and now, their direct heirs hold that "the whole disposing thereof is of the Devil." Perhaps, they are unconsciously beginning to endorse the doctrine of the Syrian Bardesanes, that the actions of God, as well as of man, are subject to necessity?
It was no doubt, also, according to strict "necessity" that the Neoplatonists were so summarily dealt with by the Christian mob. In those days, the doctrines of the Hindu naturalists and antediluvian Pyrrhonists were forgotten, if they ever had been known at all, to any but a few philosophers; and Mr. Darwin, with his modern discoveries, had not even been mentioned in the prophesies. In this case the law of the survival of the fittest was reversed; the Neo-platonists were doomed to destruction from the day when they openly sided with Aristotle.
At the beginning of the fourth century crowds began gathering at the door of the academy where the learned and unfortunate Hypatia expounded the doctrines of the divine Plato and Plotinus, and thereby impeded the progress of Christian proselytism. She too successfully dispelled the mist hanging over the religious "mysteries" invented by the Fathers, not to be considered dangerous. This alone would have been sufficient to imperil both herself and her followers. It was precisely the teachings
of this Pagan philosopher, which had been so freely borrowed by the Christians to give a finishing touch to their otherwise incomprehensible scheme, that had seduced so many into joining the new religion; and now the Platonic light began shining so inconveniently bright upon the pious patchwork, as to allow every one to see whence the "revealed" doctrines were derived. But there was a still greater peril. Hypatia had studied under Plutarch, the head of the Athenian school, and had learned all the secrets of theurgy. While she lived to instruct the multitude, no divine miracles could be produced before one who could divulge the natural causes by which they took place. Her doom was sealed by Cyril, whose eloquence she eclipsed, and whose authority, built on degrading superstitions, had to yield before hers, which was erected on the rock of immutable natural law. It is more than curious that Cave, the author of the Lives of the Fathers, should find it incredible that Cyril sanctioned her murder on account of his "general character." A saint who will sell the gold and silver vessels of his church, and then, after spending the money, lie at his trial, as he did, may well be suspected of anything. Besides, in this case, the Church had to fight for her life, to say nothing of her future supremacy. Alone, the hated and erudite Pagan scholars, and the no less learned Gnostics, held in their doctrines the hitherto concealed wires of all these theological marionettes. Once the curtain should be lifted, the connection between the old Pagan and the new Christian religions would be exposed; and then, what would have become of the Mysteries into which it is sin and blasphemy to pry? With such a coincidence of the astronomical allegories of various Pagan myths with the dates adopted by Christianity for the nativity, crucifixion, and resurrection, and such an identity of rites and ceremonies, what would have been the fate of the new religion, had not the Church, under the pretext of serving Christ, got rid of the too-well-informed philosophers? To guess what, if the coup d'etat had then failed, might have been the prevailing religion in our own century would indeed, be a hard task. But, in all probability, the state of things which made of the middle ages a period of intellectual darkness, which degraded the nations of the Occident, and lowered the European of those days almost to the level of a Papuan savage — could not have occurred.
The fears of the Christians were but too well founded, and their pious zeal and prophetic insight was rewarded from the very first. In the demolition of the Serapeum, after the bloody riot between the Christian mob and the Pagan worshippers had ended with the interference of the emperor, a Latin cross, of a perfect Christian shape, was discovered hewn upon the granite slabs of the adytum. This was a lucky discovery, indeed; and the monks did not fail to claim that the cross had
been hallowed by the Pagans in a "spirit of prophecy." At least, Sozomen, with an air of triumph, records the fact.* But, archeology and symbolism, those tireless and implacable enemies of clerical false pretences, have found in the hieroglyphics of the legend running around the design, at least a partial interpretation of its meaning.
According to King and other numismatists and archaeologists, the cross was placed there as the symbol of eternal life. Such a Tau, or Egyptian cross, was used in the Bacchic and Eleusinian Mysteries. Symbol of the dual generative power, it was laid upon the breast of the initiate, after his "new birth" was accomplished, and the Mystae had returned from their baptism in the sea. It was a mystic sign that his spiritual birth had regenerated and united his astral soul with his divine spirit, and that he was ready to ascend in spirit to the blessed abodes of light and glory — the Eleusinia. The Tau was a magic talisman at the same time as a religious emblem. It was adopted by the Christians through the Gnostics and kabalists, who used it largely, as their numerous gems testify, and who had the Tau (or handled cross) from the Egyptians, and the Latin cross from the Buddhist missionaries, who brought it from India, where it can be found until now, two or three centuries B.C. The Assyrians, Egyptians, ancient Americans, Hindus, and Romans had it in various, but very slight modifications of shape. Till very late in the mediaeval ages, it was considered a potent spell against epilepsy and demoniacal possession; and the "signet of the living God," brought down in St. John's vision by the angel ascending from the east to "seal the servants of our God in their foreheads," was but the same mystic Tau — the Egyptian cross. In the painted glass of St. Dionysus (France), this angel is represented as stamping this sign on the forehead of the elect; the legend reads, signvm TAY. In King's Gnostics, the author reminds us that "this mark is commonly borne by St. Anthony, an Egyptian recluse."† What the real meaning of the Tau was, is explained to us by the Christian St. John, the Egyptian Hermes, and the Hindu Brahmans. It is but too evident that, with the apostle, at least, it meant the "Ineffable Name," as he calls this "signet of the living God," a few chapters further on,‡ the "Father's name written in their foreheads."
The Brahmatma, the chief of the Hindu initiates, had on his headgear two keys, symbol of the revealed mystery of life and death, placed
cross-like; and, in some Buddhist pagodas of Tartary and Mongolia, the entrance of a chamber within the temple, generally containing the staircase which leads to the inner daghoba,* and the porticos of some Prachida† are ornamented with a cross formed of two fishes, and as found on some of the zodiacs of the Buddhists. We should not wonder at all at learning that the sacred device in the tombs in the Catacombs, at Rome, the "Vesica piscis," was derived from the said Buddhist zodiacal sign. How general must have been that geometrical figure in the world-symbols, may be inferred from the fact that there is a Masonic tradition that Solomon's temple was built on three foundations, forming the "triple Tau," or three crosses.
In its mystical sense, the Egyptian cross owes its origin, as an emblem, to the realization by the earliest philosophy of an androgynous dualism of every manifestation in nature, which proceeds from the abstract ideal of a likewise androgynous deity, while the Christian emblem is simply due to chance. Had the Mosaic law prevailed, Jesus should have been lapidated.‡ The crucifix was an instrument of torture, and utterly common among Romans as it was unknown among Semitic nations. It was called the "Tree of Infamy." It is but later that it was adopted as a Christian symbol; but, during the first two decades, the apostles looked upon it with horror.§ It is certainly not the Christian Cross that John had in mind when speaking of the "signet of the living God," but the mystic Tau — the Tetragrammaton, or mighty name, which, on the most ancient kabalistic talismans, was represented by the four Hebrew letters composing the Holy Word.
The famous Lady Ellenborough, known among the Arabs of Damascus, and in the desert, after her last marriage, as Hanoum Medjouye, had a talisman in her possession, presented to her by a Druze from Mount Lebanon. It was recognized by a certain sign on its left corner, to belong to that class of gems which is known in Palestine as a "Messianic" amulet, of the second or third century, B. C. It is a green stone of a pentagonal form; at the bottom is engraved a fish; higher, Solomon's seal;||
and still higher, the four Chaldaic letters — Jod, He, Vau, He, IAHO, which form the name of the Deity. These are arranged in quite an unusual way, running from below upward, in reversed order, and forming the Egyptian Tau. Around these there is a legend which, as the gem is not our property, we are not at liberty to give. The Tau, in its mystical sense, as well as the crux ansata, is the Tree of Life.
It is well known, that the earliest Christian emblems — before it was ever attempted to represent the bodily appearance of Jesus — were the Lamb, the Good Shepherd, and the Fish. The origin of the latter emblem, which has so puzzled the archaeologists, thus becomes comprehensible. The whole secret lies in the easily-ascertained fact that, while in the Kabala, the King Messiah is called "Interpreter," or Revealer of the mystery, and shown to be the fifth emanation, in the Talmud — for reasons we will now explain — the Messiah is very often designated as "Dag," or the Fish. This is an inheritance from the Chaldees, and relates — as the very name indicates — to the Babylonian Dagon, the man-fish, who was the instructor and interpreter of the people, to whom he appeared. Abarbanel explains the name, by stating that the sign of his (Messiah's) coming "is the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in the sign Pisces."* Therefore, as the Christians were intent upon identifying their Christos with the Messiah of the Old Testament, they adopted it so readily as to forget that its true origin might be traced still farther back than the Babylonian Dagon. How eagerly and closely the ideal of Jesus was united, by the early Christians, with every imaginable kabalistic and Pagan tenet, may be inferred from the language of Clemens, of Alexandria, addressed to his brother co-religionists.
When they were debating upon the choice of the most appropriate symbol to remind them of Jesus, Clemens advised them in the following words: "Let the engraving upon the gem of your ring be either a dove, or a ship running before the wind (the Argha), or a fish." Was the good father, when writing this sentence, laboring under the recollection of Joshua, son of Nun (called Jesus in the Greek and Slavonian versions); or had he forgotten the real interpretation of these Pagan symbols?
Joshua, son of Nun, or Nave (Navis), could have with perfect propriety adopted the image of a ship, or even of a fish, for Joshua means Jesus, son of the fish-god; but it was really too hazardous to connect the emblems of Venus, Astarte, and all the Hindu goddesses — the argha, dove, and fish — with the "immaculate" birth of their god! This looks very much as if in the early days of Christianity but little difference was made between Christ, Bacchus, Apollo, and the Hindu Christna, the incarnation of Vishnu, with whose first avatar this symbol of the fish originated.
In the Hari-purana, in the Bagaved-gitta, as well as in several other books, the god Vishnu is shown as having assumed the form of a fish with a human head, in order to reclaim the Vedas lost during the deluge. Having enabled Visvamitra to escape with all his tribe in the ark, Vishnu, pitying weak and ignorant humanity, remained with them for some time. It was this god who taught them to build houses, cultivate the land, and to thank the unknown Deity whom he represented, by building temples and instituting a regular worship; and, as he remained half-fish, half-man, all the time, at every sunset he used to return to the ocean, wherein he passed the night.
"It is he," says the sacred book, "who taught men, after the diluvium, all that was necessary for their happiness.
"One day he plunged into the water and returned no more, for the earth had covered itself again with vegetation, fruit, and cattle.
"But he had taught the Brahmas the secret of all things" (Hari-purana).
So far, we see in this narrative the double of the story given by the Babylonian Berosus about Oannes, the fish-man, who is no other than Vishnu — unless, indeed, we have to believe that it was Chaldea which civilized India!
We say again, we desire to give nothing on our sole authority. Therefore we cite Jacolliot, who, however criticised and contradicted on other points, and however loose he may be in the matter of chronology (though even in this he is nearer right than those scientists who would have all Hindu books written since the Council of Nicea), at least cannot be denied the reputation of a good Sanscrit scholar. And he says, while analyzing the word Oan, or Oannes, that O in Sanscrit is an interjection expressing an invocation, as O, Swayambhuva! O, God! etc.; and An is a radical, signifying in Sanscrit a spirit, a being; and, we presume, what the Greeks meant by the word Daemon, a semi-god.
"What an extraordinary antiquity," he remarks, "this fable of Vishnu, disguised as a fish, gives to the sacred books of the Hindus; especially in presence of the fact that the Vedas and Manu reckon more than twenty-five thousand years of existence, as proved by the most serious as the
most authentic documents. Few peoples, says the learned Halled, have their annals more authentic or serious than the Hindus."*
We may, perhaps, throw additional light upon the puzzling question of the fish-symbol by reminding the reader that according to Genesis the first created of living beings, the first type of animal life, was the fish. "And the Elohim said: 'Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life' . . . and God created great whales . . . and the morning and the evening were the fifth day." Jonah is swallowed by a big fish, and is cast out again three days later. This the Christians regard as a premonition of the three days' sepulture of Jesus which preceded his resurrection — though the statement of the three days is as fanciful as much of the rest, and adopted to fit the well-known threat to destroy the temple and rebuild it again in three days. Between his burial and alleged resurrection there intervened but one day — the Jewish Sabbath — as he was buried on Friday evening and rose to life at dawn on Sunday. However, whatever other circumstance may be regarded as a prophecy, the story of Jonah cannot be made to answer the purpose.
"Big Fish" is Cetus, the latinized form of Keto — [[Ketos]] and keto is Dagon, Poseidon, the female gender of it being Keton Atar-gatis — the Syrian goddess, and Venus, of Askalon. The figure or bust of Der-Keto or Astarte was generally represented on the prow of the ships. Jonah (the Greek Iona, or dove sacred to Venus) fled to Jaffa, where the god Dagon, the man-fish, was worshipped, and dared not go to Nineveh, where the dove was revered. Hence, some commentators believe that when Jonah was thrown overboard and was swallowed by a fish, we must understand that he was picked up by one of these vessels, on the prow of which was the figure of Keto. But the kabalists have another legend, to this effect: They say that Jonah was a run-away priest from the temple of the goddess where the dove was worshipped, and desired to abolish idolatry and institute monotheistic worship. That, caught near Jaffa, he was held prisoner by the devotees of Dagon in one of the prison-cells of the temple, and that it is the strange form of the cell which gave rise to the allegory. In the collection of Mose de Garcia, a Portuguese kabalist, there is a drawing representing the interior of the temple of Dagon. In the middle stands an immense idol, the upper portion of whose body is human, and the lower fish-like. Between the belly and the tail is an aperture which can be closed like the door of a closet. In it the transgressors against the local deity were shut up until further disposal. The drawing in question was made from an old tablet covered with curious drawings and inscriptions in old Phoenician characters, describing this Venetian
oubliette of biblical days. The tablet itself was found in an excavation a few miles from Jaffa. Considering the extraordinary tendency of Oriental nations for puns and allegories, is it not barely possible that the "big fish" by which Jonah was swallowed was simply the cell within the belly of Dagon?
It is significant that this double appellation of "Messiah" and "Dag" (fish), of the Talmudists, should so well apply to the Hindu Vishnu, the "Preserving" Spirit, and the second personage of the Brahmanic trinity. This deity, having already manifested itself, is still regarded as the future Saviour of humanity, and is the selected Redeemer, who will appear at its tenth incarnation or avatar, like the Messiah of the Jews, to lead the blessed onward, and restore to them the primitive Vedas. At his first avatar, Vishnu is alleged to have appeared to humanity, in form like a fish. In the temple of Rama, there is a representation of this god which answers perfectly to that of Dagon, as given by Berosus. He has the body of a man issuing from the mouth of a fish, and holds in his hands the lost Veda. Vishnu, moreover, is the water-god, in one sense, the Logos of the Parabrahm, for as the three persons of the manifested god-head constantly interchange their attributes, we see him in the same temple represented as reclining on the seven-headed serpent, Ananta (eternity), and moving, like the Spirit of God, on the face of the primeval waters.
Vishnu is evidently the Adam Kadmon of the kabalists, for Adam is the Logos or the first Anointed, as Adam Second is the King Messiah.
Lakmy, or Lakshmi, the passive or feminine counterpart of Vishnu, the creator and the preserver, is also called Ada Maya. She is the "Mother of the World," Damatri, the Venus Aphrodite of the Greeks: also Isis and Eve. While Venus is born from the sea-foam, Lakmy springs out from the water at the churning of the sea; when born, she is so beautiful that all the gods fall in love with her. The Jews, borrowing their types wherever they could get them, made their first woman after the pattern of Lakmy. It is curious that Viracocha, the Supreme Being in Peru, means, literally translated, "foam of the sea."
Eugene Burnouf, the great authority of the French school, announces his opinion in the same spirit: "We must learn one day," he observes, "that all ancient traditions disfigured by emigration and legend, belong to the history of India." Such is the opinion of Colebrooke, Inman, King, Jacolliot, and many other Orientalists.
We have said above, that, according to the secret computation peculiar to the students of the hidden science, Messiah is the fifth emanation, or potency. In the Jewish Kabala, where the ten Sephiroth emanate from Adam Kadmon (placed below the crown), he comes fifth. So in
the Gnostic system; so in the Buddhistic, in which the fifth Buddha — Maitree, will appear at his last advent to save mankind before the final destruction of the world. If Vishnu is represented in his forthcoming and last appearance as the tenth avatar or incarnation, it is only because every unit held as an androgyne manifests itself doubly. The Buddhists who reject this dual-sexed incarnation reckon but five. Thus, while Vishnu is to make his last appearance in his tenth, Buddha is said to do the same in his fifth incarnation.*
The better to illustrate the idea, and show how completely the real meaning of the avatars, known only to the students of the secret doctrine was misunderstood by the ignorant masses, we elsewhere give the diagrams of the Hindu and Chaldeo-Kabalistic avatars and emanations.† This basic and true fundamental stone of the secret cycles, shows on its very face, that far from taking their revealed Vedas and Bible literally, the Brahman-pundits, and the Tanaim — the scientists and philosophers of the pre-Christian epochs — speculated on the creation and development of the world quite in a Darwinian way, both anticipating him and his school in the natural selection of species, gradual development, and transformation.
We advise every one tempted to enter an indignant protest against this affirmation to read more carefully the books of Manu, even in the incomplete translation of Sir William Jones, and the more or less careless one of Jacolliot. If we compare the Sanchoniathon Phoenician Cosmogony, and the record of Berosus with the Bhagavatta and Manu, we will find enunciated exactly the same principles as those now offered as the latest developments of modern science. We have quoted from the Chaldean and Phoenician records in our first volume; we will now glance at the Hindu books.
"When this world had issued out of darkness, the subtile elementary principles produced the vegetal seed which animated first the plants; from the plants, life passed into fantastical bodies which were born in the ilus of the waters; then, through a series of forms and various animals, it reached man."‡
"He (man, before becoming such) will pass successively through plants, worms, insects, fish, serpents, tortoises, cattle, and wild animals; such is the inferior degree."
"Such, from Brahma down to the vegetables, are declared the transmigrations which take place in this world."§
In the Sanchoniathonian Cosmogony, men are also evolved out of the ilus of the chaos,* and the same evolution and transformation of species are shown.
And now we will leave the rostrum to Mr. Darwin: "I believe that animals have descended from at most only four or five progenitors."†
Again: "I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth, have descended from some one primordial form.‡ . . . I view all beings, not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Silurian system was deposited."§
In short, they lived in the Sanchoniathonian chaos, and in the ilus of Manu. Vyasa and Kapila go still farther than Darwin and Manu. "They see in Brahma but the name of the universal germ; they deny the existence of a First Cause; and pretend that everything in nature found itself developed only in consequence of material and fatal forces," says Jacolliot.||
Correct as may be this latter quotation from Kapila, it demands a few words of explanation. Jacolliot repeatedly compares Kapila and Veda Vyasa with Pyrrho and Littre. We have nothing against such a comparison with the Greek philosopher, but we must decidedly object to any with the French Comtist; we find it an unmerited fling at the memory of the great Aryan sage. Nowhere does this prolific writer state the repudiation by either ancient or modern Brahmans of God — the "unknown," universal Spirit; nor does any other Orientalist accuse the Hindus of the same, however perverted the general deductions of our savants about Buddhistic atheism. On the contrary, Jacolliot states more than once that the learned Pundits and educated Brahmans have never shared the popular superstitions; and affirms their unshaken belief in the unity of God and the soul's immortality, although most assuredly neither Kapila, nor the initiated Brahmans, nor the followers of the Vedanta school would ever admit the existence of an anthropomorphic creator, a "First Cause" in the Christian sense. Jacolliot, in his Indo-European and African Traditions, is the first to make an onslaught on Professor Muller, for remarking that the Hindu gods were "masks without actors . . . names without being, and not beings without names."¶ Quoting, in support of his argument, numerous verses from the sacred Hindu books, he adds: "Is it possible to refuse to the author of these stanzas a definite and clear conception of the divine force, of
the Unique Being, master and Sovereign of the Universe? . . . Were the altars then built to a metaphor?"*
The latter argument is perfectly just, so far as Max Muller's negation is concerned. But we doubt whether the French rationalist understands Kapila's and Vyasa's philosophy better than the German philologist does the "theological twaddle," as the latter terms the Atharva-Veda. Professor Muller and Jacolliot may have ever so great claims to erudition, and be ever so familiar with Sanscrit and other ancient Oriental languages, but both lack the key to the thousand and one mysteries of the old secret doctrine and its philosophy. Only, while the German philologist does not even take the trouble to look into this magical and "theological twaddle," we find the French Indianis never losing an opportunity to investigate. Moreover, he honestly admits his incompetency to ever fathom this ocean of mystical learning. In its existence he not only firmly believes, but throughout his works he incessantly calls the attention of science to its unmistakable traces at every step in India. Still, though the learned Pundits and Brahmans — his "revered masters" of the pagodas of Villenoor and Chelambrum in the Carnatic,† as it seems, positively refused to reveal to him the mysteries of the magical part of the Agrouchada-Parikshai,‡ and of Brahmatma's triangle,§ he persists in the honest declaration that everything is possible in Hindu metaphysics, even to the Kapila and Vyasa systems having been hitherto misunderstood.
M. Jacolliot weakens his assertion immediately afterward with the following contradiction:
The answer is one which would suggest itself to every ancient philosopher, Kabalist and Gnostic, of the early days. It contains the very spirit of the delphic and kabalistic commandment, for esoteric philosophy solved, ages ago, the problem of what man was, is, and will be. If persons
believing the Bible verse which teaches that the "Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life," reject at the same time the idea that every atom of this dust, as every particle of this "living soul," contains "God" within itself, then we pity the logic of that Christian. He forgets the verses which precede the one in question. God blesses equally every beast of the field and every living creature, in the water as in the air, and He endows them all with life, which is a breath of His own Spirit, and the soul of the animal. Humanity is the Adam Kadmon of the "Unknown," His microcosm, and His only representative on earth, and every man is a god on earth.
We would ask this French scholar, who seems so familiar with every sloka of the books of Manu, and other Vedic writers, the meaning of this sentence so well known to him:
"Plants and vegetation reveal a multitude of forms because of their precedent actions; they are surrounded by darkness, but are nevertheless endowed with an interior soul, and feel equally pleasure and pain" (Manu, book i.).
If the Hindu philosophy teach the presence of a degree of soul in the lowest forms of vegetable life, and even in every atom in space, how is it possible that it should deny the same immortal principle to man? And if it once admit the immortal spirit in man, how can it logically deny the existence of the parent source — I will not say the first, but the eternal Cause? Neither rationalists nor sensualists, who do not comprehend Indian metaphysics, should estimate the ignorance of Hindu metaphysicians by their own.
The grand cycle, as we have heretofore remarked, includes the progress of mankind from its germ in the primordial man of spiritual form to the deepest depth of degradation he can reach — each successive step in the descent being accompanied by a greater strength and grossness of the physical form than its precursor — and ends with the Flood. But while the grand cycle, or age, is running its course, seven minor cycles are passed, each marking the evolution of a new race out of the preceding one, on a new world. And each of these races, or grand types of humanity, breaks up into subdivisions of families, and they again into nations and tribes, as we see the earth's inhabitants subdivided to-day into Mongols, Caucasians, Indians, etc.
Before proceeding to show by diagrams the close resemblance between the esoteric philosophies of all the ancient peoples, however geographically remote from each other, it will be useful to briefly explain the real ideas which underlie all those symbols and allegorical representations and have hitherto so puzzled the uninitiated commentators. Better than anything, it may show that religion and science were closer knit than twins
in days of old; that they were one in two and two in one from the very moment of their conception. With mutually convertible attributes, science was spiritual and religion was scientific. Like the androgyne man of the first chapter of Genesis — "male and female," passive and active; created in the image of the Elohim. Omniscience developed omnipotency, the latter called for the exercise of the former, and thus the giant had dominion given him over all the four kingdoms of the world. But, like the second Adam, these androgynes were doomed to "fall and lose their powers" as soon as the two halves of the duality separated. The fruit of the Tree of Knowledge gives death without the fruit of the Tree of Life. Man must know himself before he can hope to know the ultimate genesis even of beings and powers less developed in their inner nature than himself. So with religion and science; united two in one they were infallible, for the spiritual intuition was there to supply the limitations of physical senses. Separated, exact science rejects the help of the inner voice, while religion becomes merely dogmatic theology — each is but a corpse without a soul.
The esoteric doctrine, then, teaches, like Buddhism and Brahmanism, and even the persecuted Kabala, that the one infinite and unknown Essence exist from all eternity, and in regular and harmonious successions is either passive or active. In the poetical phraseology of Manu these conditions are called the "day" and the "night" of Brahma. The latter is either "awake" or "asleep." The Svabhavikas, or philosophers of the oldest school of Buddhism (which still exists in Nepaul), speculate but upon the active condition of this "essence," which they call Svabhavat, and deem it foolish to theorize upon the abstract and "unknowable" power in its passive condition. Hence they are called atheists by both Christian theology and modern scientists; for neither of the two are able to understand the profound logic of their philosophy. The former will allow of no other God than the personified secondary powers which have blindly worked out the visible universe, and which became with them the anthropomorphic God of the Christians — the Jehovah, roaring amid thunder and lightning. In its turn, rationalistic science greets the Buddhists and the Svabhavikas as the "positivists" of the archaic ages. If we take a one-sided view of the philosophy of the latter, our materialists may be right in their own way. The Buddhists maintain that there is no Creator but an infinitude of creative powers, which collectively form the one eternal substance, the essence of which is inscrutable — hence not a subject for speculation for any true philosopher. Socrates invariably refused to argue upon the mystery of universal being, yet no one would ever have thought of charging him with atheism, except those who were bent upon his destruction. Upon inaugurating an active period, says the
Secret Doctrine, an expansion of this Divine essence, from within outwardly, occurs in obedience to eternal and immutable law, and the phenomenal or visible universe is the ultimate result of the long chain of cosmical forces thus progressively set in motion. In like manner, when the passive condition is resumed, a contraction of the Divine essence takes place, and the previous work of creation is gradually and progressively undone. The visible universe becomes disintegrated, its material dispersed; and "darkness," solitary and alone, broods once more over the face of the "deep." To use a metaphor which will convey the idea still more clearly, an outbreathing of the "unknown essence" produces the world; and an inhalation causes it to disappear. This process has been going on from all eternity, and our present universe is but one of an infinite series which had no beginning and will have no end.
Thus we are enabled to build our theories solely on the visible manifestations of the Deity, on its objective natural phenomena. To apply to these creative principles the term God is puerile and absurd. One might as well call by the name of Benvenuto Cellini the fire which fuses the metal, or the air that cools it when it is run in the mould. If the inner and ever-concealed spiritual, and to our minds abstract, Essence within these forces can ever be connected with the creation of the physical universe, it is but in the sense given to it by Plato. It may be termed, at best, the framer of the abstract universe which developed gradually in the Divine Thought within which it had lain dormant.
In Chapter VIII. we will attempt to show the esoteric meaning of Genesis, and its complete agreement with the ideas of other nations. The six days of creation will be found to have a meaning little suspected by the multitude of commentators, who have exercised their abilities to the full extent in attempting to reconcile them by turns with Christian theology and un-Christian geology. Disfigured as the Old Testament is, yet in its symbolism is preserved enough of the original in its principal features to show the family likeness to the cosmogonies of older nations than the Jews.
We here give the diagrams of the Hindu and the Chaldeo-Jewish cosmogonies. The antiquity of the diagram of the former may be inferred from the fact that many of the Brahmanical pagodas are designed and built on this figure, called the "Sri-Iantara."* And yet we find the highest honors paid to it by the Jewish and mediaeval kabalists, who call it "Solomon's seal." It will be quite an easy matter to trace it to its origin, once we are reminded of the history of the king-kabalist and his transaction with King Hiram and Ophir — the country of peacocks, gold, and ivory — for which land we have to search in old India.
explanation of the two diagrams
chaotic and the formative periods, before and
after our universe began to be evolved.
from the esoteric brahmanical, buddhistic, and chaldean
standpoints, which agree in every respect with the
evolutionary theory of modern science.
The Hindu Doctrine.
The Chaldean Doctrine.
The Upper Triangle
The Upper Triangle
Contains the Ineffable Name. It is the aum — to be pronounced only mentally, under penalty of death. The Unrevealed Para-Brahma, the Passive-Principle; the absolute and unconditioned "mukta," which cannot enter into the condition of a Creator, as the latter, in order to think, will, and plan, must be bound and conditioned (baddha); hence, in one sense, be a finite being. "This (Para-Brahma) was absorbed in the non-being, imperceptible, without any distinct attribute, non-existent for our senses. He was absorbed in his (to us) eternal (to himself) periodical, sleep," for it was one of the "Nights of Brahma." Therefore he is not the First but the Eternal Cause. He is the Soul of Souls, whom no being can comprehend in this state. But "he who studies the secret Mantras and comprehends the Vach" (the Spirit or hidden voice of the Mantras, the active manifestation of the latent Force) will learn to understand him in his "revealed" aspect.
Contains the Ineffable Name. It is En-Soph, the Boundless, the Infinite, whose name is known to no one but the initiated, and could not be pronounced aloud under the penalty of death.
No more than Para-Brahma can En-Soph create, for he is in the same condition of non-being as the former; he is non-existent so long as he lies in his latent or passive state within Oulom (the boundless and termless time); as such he is not the Creator of the visible universe, neither is he the Aur (Light). He will become the latter when the period of creation shall have compelled him to expand the Force within himself, according to the Law of which he is the embodiment and essence.
"Whosoever acquaints himself with the Mercaba and the lahgash (secret speech or incantation),* will learn the secret of secrets."
* Lahgash is nearly identical in meaning with Vach, the hidden power of the Mantras.
Both "This" and En-Soph, in their first manifestation of Light, emerging from within Darkness, may be summarized in the Svabhavat, the Eternal and the uncreated Self-existing Substance which produces all; while everything which is of its essence produces itself out of its own nature.
The Space Around the Upper Triangle.
When the "Night of Brahma" was ended, and the time came for the Self-Existent to manifest Itself by revelation, it made its glory visible by sending forth from its Essence an active Power, which, female at first, subsequently becomes
The Space Around the Upper Triangle.
When the active period had arrived, En-Soph sent forth from within his own eternal essence, Sephira, the active Power, called the Primordial Point, and the Crown, Keter. It is only through her that the "Un-bounded Wisdom" could
androgyne. It is Aditi, the "Infinite,"* the Boundless, or rather the "Unbounded." Aditi is the "mother" of all the gods, and Aditi is the Father and the Son.† "Who will give us back to the great Aditi, that I may see father and mother?"‡ It is in conjunction with the latter female, Force, that the Divine but latent Thought produces the great "Deep" — water. "Water is born from a transformation of light . . . and from a modification of the water is born the earth," says Manu (book i.).
"Ye are born of Aditi from the water, you who are born of the earth, hear ye all my call."§
In this water (or primeval chaos) the "Infinite" androgyne, which, with the Eternal Cause, forms the first abstract Triad, rendered by Aum, deposited the germ of universal life. It is the Mundane Egg, in which took place the gestation of Purusha, or the manifested Brahma. The germ which fecundated the Mother Principle (the water) is called Nara, the Divine Spirit or Holy Ghost,|| and the waters themselves, are an emanation of the former, Nari, while the Spirit which brooded over it is called Narayana.¶
"In that egg, the great Power sat inactive a whole year of the Creator, at the close of which, by his thought alone, he caused the egg to divide itself."** The upper half became heaven, the lower, the
* In "Rig-Veda Sanhita" the meaning is given by Max Muller as the Absolute, "for it is derived from 'diti,' bond, and the negative particle A."
† "Hymns to the Maruts," I., 89, 10.
‡ Ibid., I., 24, 1.
§ Ibid., X., 63, 2.
|| Thus is it that we find in all the philosophical theogonies, the Holy Ghost female. The numerous sects of the Gnostics had Sophia; the Jewish kabalists and Talmudists, Shekinah (the garment of the Highest), which descended between the two cherubim upon the Mercy Seat; and we find even Jesus made to say, in an old text, "My Mother, the Holy Ghost, took me."
"The waters are called nara, because they were the production of Nara, the Spirit of God" ("Institutes of Manu," i. 10).
¶ Narayana, or that which moves on the waters.
** "Manu," sloka 12.
give a concrete form to his abstract Thought. Two sides of the upper triangle, the right side and the base, are composed of unbroken lines; the third, the left side, is dotted. It is through the latter that emerges Sephira. Spreading in every direction, she finally encompasses the whole triangle. In this emanation of the female active principle from the left side of the mystic triangle, is foreshadowed the creation of Eve from Adam's left rib. Adam is the Microcosm of the Macrocosm, and is created in the image of the Elohim. In the Tree of Life the triple triad is disposed in such a manner that the three male Sephiroth are on the right, the three female on the left, and the four uniting principles in the centre. From the Invisible Dew falling from the Higher "Head" Sephira creates primeval water, or chaos taking shape. It is the first step toward the solidification of Spirit, which through various modifications will produce earth.* "It requires earth and water to make a living soul," says Moses.
When Sephira emerges like an active power from within the latent Deity, she is
* George Smith gives the first verses of the Akkadian Genesis as found in the Cuneiform Texts on the "Lateres Coctiles." There, also, we find Anu, the passive deity or En-Soph, Bel, the Creator, the Spirit of God (Sephira) moving on the face of the waters, hence water itself, and Hea the Universal Soul or wisdom of the three combined.
The first eight verses read thus:
1. When above, were not raised the heavens;
2. and below on the earth a plant had not grown up.
3. The abyss had not broken its boundaries.
4. The chaos (or water) Tiamat (the sea) was the producing mother of the whole of them. (This is the Cosmical Aditi and Sephira.)
5. Those waters at the beginning were ordained but
6. a tree had not grown, a flower had not unfolded.
7. When the gods had not sprung up, any one of them;
8. a plant had not grown, and order did not exist.
This was the chaotic or ante-genesis period.
earth (both yet in their ideal, not their manifested form).
Thus, this second triad, only another name for the first one (never pronounced aloud), and which is the real pre-Vedic and primordial secret Trimurti, consisted of
The Trimurti, comprising Brahma, the Creator, Vishnu, the Preserver, and Siva, the Destroyer and Regenerator, belongs to a later period. It is an anthropomorphic afterthought, invented for the more popular comprehension of the uninitiated masses. The Dikshita, the initiate, knew better. Thus, also, the profound allegory under the colors of a ridiculous fable, given in the Aytareya Brahmana,* which resulted in the representations in some temples of Brahm-Nara, assuming the form of a bull, and his daughter, Aditi-Nari, that of a heifer, contains the same metaphysical idea as the "fall of man," or that of the Spirit into generation — matter. The All-pervading Divine Spirit embodied under the symbols of Heaven, the Sun, and Heat (fire) — the correlation of cosmic forces — fecundates Matter or Nature, the daughter of Spirit. And Para-Brahma himself has to submit to and bear the penance of the curses of the other gods (Elohim) for such an incest. (See corresponding column.) According to the immutable, and, therefore, fatal law, both Nara and Nari are mutually Father and Mother, as well as Father and Daughter.† Matter, through infinite transformation, is the gradual product of Spirit. The unification of one Eternal Supreme Cause required such a correlation; and if nature be
*See Haug's "Aytareya Brahmanam," of the Rig-Veda.
† The same transformations are found in the cosmogony of every important nation. Thus, we see in the Egyptian mythology, Isis and Osiris, sister and brother, man and wife; and Horus, the Son of both, becoming the husband of his mother, Isis, and producing a son, Malouli.
female; when she assumes the office of a creator, she becomes a male; hence, she is androgyne. She is the "Father and Mother Aditi," of the Hindu Cosmogony. After brooding over the "Deep," the Spirit of God" produces its own image in the water, the Universal Womb, symbolized in Manu by the Golden Egg. In the kabalistic Cosmogony, Heaven and Earth are personified by Adam Kadmon and the second Adam. The first Ineffable Triad, contained in the abstract idea of the "Three Heads," was a "mystery name." It was composed of En-Soph, Sephira, and Adam Kadmon, the Protogonos, the latter being identical with the former, when bisexual.* In every triad there is a male, a female, and an androgyne. Adam-Sephira is the Crown (Keter). It sets itself to the work of creation, by first producing Chochmah, Male Wisdom, a masculine active potency, represented by , jah, or the Wheels of Creation, , from which proceeds Binah, Intelligence, female and passive potency, which is Jehovah, , whom we find in the Bible figuring as the Supreme. But this Jehovah is not the kabalistic Jodcheva. The binary is the fundamental corner-stone of Gnosis. As the binary is the Unity multiplying itself and self-creating, the kabalists show the "Unknown" passive En-Soph, as emanating from himself, Sephira, which, becoming visible light, is said to produce Adam Kadmon. But, in the hidden sense, Sephira and Adam are one and the same light, only latent and active, invisible and visible. The second Adam, as the human tetragram, produces in his turn Eve, out of his side. It is this second triad, with which the kabalists have hitherto dealt, hardly hinting at the Supreme and Ineffable One, and never committing anything to writing. All knowledge concerning the latter was imparted orally. It is the second Adam, then, who is the unity represented by Jod, emblem of the kabalistic male principle, and, at the same time, he is Chochmah, Wisdom, while Binah or Jehovah is Eve; the first
* When a female power, she is Sephira; when male, he is Adam Kadmon; for, as the former contains in herself the other nine Sephiroth, so, in their totality, the latter, including Sephira, is embodied in the Archetypal Kadmon, the [[protogonos]].
the product or effect of that Cause, in its turn it has to be fecundated by the same divine Ray which produced nature itself. The most absurd cosmogonical allegories, if analyzed without prejudice, will be found built on strict and logical necessarianism.
"Being was born from not-being," says a verse in the Rig-Veda.* The first being had to become androgyne and finite, by the very fact of its creation as a being. And thus even the sacred Trimurti, containing Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva will have an end when the "night" of Para-Brahma succeeds the present "day," or period of universal activity.
The second, or rather the first, triad — as the highest one is a pure abstraction — is the intellectual world. The Vach which surrounds it is a more definite transformation of Aditi. Besides its occult significance in the secret Mantram, Vach is personified as the active power of Brahma proceeding from him. In the Vedas she is made to speak of herself as the supreme and universal soul. "I bore the Father on the head of the universal mind, and my origin is in the midst of the ocean; and therefore do I pervade all beings. . . . Originating all beings, I pass like the breeze (Holy Ghost). I am above this heaven, beyond this earth; and what is the Great One that am I."† Literally, Vach is speech, the power of awakening, through the metrical arrangement contained in the number and syllables of the Mantras,‡ corresponding powers in the invisible world. In the sacrificial Mysteries Vach stirs up the Brahma (Brahma jinvati), or the power lying latent at the bottom of every magical operation. It existed from eternity as the Yajna (its latent form), lying dormant in Brahma from "no-beginning," and proceeded forth from him as Vach (the active power). It is the key to the "Trai-
* Mandala I., Sukta 166, Max Muller.
† "Asiatic Researches," vol. viii., pp. 402, 403; Colebrooke's translation.
‡ As in the Pythagorean numerical system every number on earth, or the world of the effects, corresponds to its invisible prototype in the world of causes.
Chochmah issuing from Keter, or the androgyne, Adam Kadmon, and the second, Binah, from Chochmah. If we combine with Jod the three letters which form the name of Eve, we will have the divine tetragram pronounced Ievo-hevah, Adam and Eve, , Jehovah, male and female, or the idealization of humanity embodied in the first man. Thus is it that we can prove that, while the Jewish kabalists, in common with their initiated masters, the Chaldeans and the Hindus, adored the Supreme and Unknown God, in the sacred silence of their sanctuaries, the ignorant masses of every nation were left to adore something which was certainly less than the Eternal Substance of the Buddhists, the so-called Atheists. As Brahma, the deity manifested in the mythical Manu, or the first man (born of Swayambhuva, or the Self-existent), is finite, so Jehovah, embodied in Adam and Eve, is but a human god. He is the symbol of humanity, a mixture of good with a portion of unavoidable evil; of spirit fallen into matter. In worshipping Jehovah, we simply worship nature, as embodied in man, half-spiritual and half-material, at best: we are Pantheists, when not fetich worshippers, like the idolatrous Jews, who sacrificed on high places, in groves, to the personified male and female principle, ignorant of Iao, the Supreme "Secret Name" of the Mysteries.
Shekinah is the Hindu Vach, and praised in the same terms as the latter. Though shown in the kabalistic Tree of Life as proceeding from the ninth Sephiroth, yet Shekinah is the "veil" of En-Soph, and the "garment" of Jehovah. The "veil," for it succeeded for long ages in concealing the real supreme God, the universal Spirit, and masking Jehovah, the exoteric deity, made the Christians accept him as the "father" of the initiated Jesus. Yet the kabalists, as well as the Hindu Dikshita, know the power of the Shekinah or Vach, and call it the "secret wisdom," .
The triangle played a prominent part in the religious symbolism of every great nation; for everywhere it represented the three great principles — spirit, force, and matter; or the active (male), passive (female), and the dual or correlative principle which partakes of both and binds the two together. It was the Arba or mystic
vidya," the thrice sacred science which teaches the Yajus (the sacrificial Mysteries).*
Having done with the unrevealed triad, and the first triad of the Sephiroth, called the "intellectual world," little remains to be said. In the great geometrical figure which has the double triangle in it, the central circle represents the world within the universe. The double triangle belongs to one of the most important, if it is not in itself the most important, of the mystic figures in India. It is the emblem of the Trimurti three in one. The triangle with its apex upward indicates the male principle, downward the female; the two typifying, at the same time, spirit and matter. This world within the infinite universe is the microcosm within the macrocosm, as in the Jewish Kabala. It is the symbol of the womb of the universe, the terrestrial egg, whose archetype is the golden mundane egg. It is from within this spiritual bosom of mother nature that proceed all the great saviours of the universe — the avatars of the invisible Deity.
"Of him who is and yet is not, from the not-being, Eternal Cause, is born the being Pouroucha," says Manu, the legislator. Pouroucha is the "divine male," the second god, and the avatar, or the Logos of Para-Brahma and his divine son, who in his turn produced Viradj, the son, or the ideal type of the universe. "Viradj begins the work of creation by producing the ten Pradjapati, 'the lords of all beings.' "
According to the doctrine of Manu, the universe is subjected to a periodical and never-ending succession of creations and dissolutions, which periods of creation are named Manvantara.
"It is the germ (which the Divine Spirit produced from its own substance) which never perishes in the being, for it becomes the soul of Being, and at the period of pralaya (dissolution) it returns to absorb itself again into the Divine Spirit, which itself rests from all eternity
* See initial chap., vol. i., word Yajna.
"four,"* the mystery-gods, the Kabeiri, summarized in the unity of one supreme Deity. It is found in the Egyptian pyramids, whose equal sides tower up until lost in one crowning point. In the kabalistic diagram the central circle of the Brahmanical figure is replaced by the cross; the celestial perpendicular and the terrestrial horizontal base line.† But the idea is the same: Adam Kadmon is the type of humanity as a collective totality within the unity of the creative God and the universal spirit.
* Eve is the trinity of nature, and Adam the unity of spirit; the former the created material principle, the latter the ideal organ of the creative principle, or, in other words, this androgyne is both the principle and the Logos, for is the male, and the female; and, as Levi expresses it, this first letter of the holy language, Aleph, represents a man pointing with one hand toward the sky, and with the other toward the ground. It is the macrocosm and the microcosm at the same time, and explains the double triangle of the Masons and the five-pointed star. While the male is active the female principle is passive, for it is spirit and matter, the latter word meaning mother in nearly every language. The columns of Soloman's temple, Jachin and Boaz, are the emblems of the androgyne; they are also respectively male and female, white and black, square and round; the male a unity, the female a binary. In the later kabalistic treatises, the active principle is pictured by the sword , the passive by the sheath . See "Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie," vol. i.
† The vertical line being the male principle, and the horizontal the female, out of the union of the two at the intersection point is formed the cross; the oldest symbol in the Egyptian history of gods. It is the key of Heaven in the rosy fingers of Neith, the celestial virgin, who opens the gate at dawn for the exit of her first-begotten, the radiant sun. It is the Stauros of the Gnostics, and the philosophical cross of the high-grade Masons. We find this symbol ornamenting the tee of the umbrella-shaped oldest pagodas in Thibet, China, and India, as we find it in the hand of Isis, in the shape of the "handled cross." In one of the Chaitya caves, at Ajunta, it surmounts the three umbrellas in stone, and forms the centre of the vault.
within Swayambhuva, the 'Self-Existent' " (Institute of Manu, book i.).
As we have shown, neither the Svabhavikas, Buddhist philosophers — nor the Brahmans believe in a creation of the universe ex nihilo, but both believe in the Prakriti, the indestructibility of matter.
The evolution of species, and the successive appearance of various new types is very distinctly shown in Manu.
"From earth, heat, and water, are born all creatures, whether animate or inanimate, produced by the germ which the Divine Spirit drew from its own substance. Thus has Brahma established the series of transformations from the plant up to man, and from man up to the primordial essence. . . . Among them each succeeding being (or element) acquires the quality of the preceding; and in as many degrees as each of them is advanced, with so many properties is it said to be endowed" (Manu, book i., sloka 20).*
This, we believe, is the veritable theory of the modern evolutionists.
* "When this world had emerged from obscurity, the subtile elementary principles produced the vegetable germ which at first animated the plants; from the plants, life passed through the fantastic organisms which were born in the ilus (boue) of the waters; then through a series of forms and different animals, it at length reached man" ("Manu," book i.; and "Bhagavatta").
Manu is a convertible type, which can by no means be explained as a personage. Manu means sometimes humanity, sometimes man. The Manu who emanated from the uncreated Swayambhuva is, without doubt, the type of Adam Kadmon. The Manu who is progenitor of the other six Manus is evidently identical with the Rishis, or seven primeval sages who are the forefathers of the post-diluvian races. He is — as we shall show in Chapter VIII. — Noah, and his six sons, or subsequent generations are the originals of the post-diluvian and mythical patriarchs of the Bible.
"Of him who is formless, the non-existent (also the eternal, but not First Cause), is born the heavenly man." But after he created the form of the heavenly man , he "used it as a vehicle wherein to descend," says the Kabala. Thus Adam Kadmon is the avatar of the concealed power. After that the heavenly Adam creates or engenders by the combined power of the Sephiroth, the earthly Adam. The work of creation is also begun by Sephira in the creation of the ten Sephiroth (who are the Pradjapatis of the Kabala, for they are likewise the Lords of all beings).
The Sohar asserts the same. According to the kabalistic doctrine there were old worlds (see Idra Suta: Sohar, iii., p. 292b). Everything will return some day to that from which it first proceeded. "All things of which this world consists, spirit as well as body, will return to their principal, and the roots from which they proceeded" (Sohar, ii., 218b). The kabalists also maintain the indestructibility of matter, albeit their doctrine is shrouded still more carefully than that of the Hindus. The creation is eternal, and the universe is the "garment," or "the veil of God" — Shekinah; and the latter is immortal and eternal as Him within whom it has ever existed. Every world is made after the pattern of its predecessor, and each more gross and material than the preceding one. In the Kabala all were called sparks. Finally, our present grossly materialistic world was formed.
In the Chaldean account of the period which preceded the Genesis of our world, Berosus speaks of a time when there existed nothing but darkness, and an abyss of waters, filled with hideous monsters, "produced of a two-fold principle. . . . These were creatures in which were combined the limbs of every species of animals. In addition to these fishes, reptiles, serpents, with other monstrous animals, which assumed each other's shape and countenance."*
* Cory's "Ancient Fragments."
In the first book of Manu, we read: "Know that the sum of 1,000 divine ages, composes the totality of one day of Brahma; and that one night is equal to that day." One thousand divine ages is equal to 4,320,000,000 of human years, in the Brahmanical calculations.
Throughout the whole immense period of progressive creation, covering 4,320,000,000 years, ether, air, water and fire (heat), are constantly forming matter under the never-ceasing impulse of the Spirit, or the unrevealed God who fills up the whole creation, for he is in all, and all is in him. This computation, which was secret and which is hardly hinted at even now, led Higgins into the error of dividing every ten ages into 6,000 years. Had he added a few more ciphers to his sums he might have come nearer to a correct explanation of the neroses, or secret cycles.*
In the Sepher Jezireh, the kabalistic Book of Creation, the author has evidently repeated the words of Manu. In it, the Divine Substance is represented as having alone existed from the eternity, boundless and absolute; and emitted from itself the Spirit. "One is the Spirit of the living God, blessed be His Name, who liveth for ever! Voice, Spirit, and Word, this is the Holy Spirit";† and this is the kabalistic abstract Trinity, so unceremoniously anthropomorphized by the Fathers. From this triple one emanated the whole Cosmos. First from one emanated number two, or Air, the creative element; and then number three, Water, proceeded from the air; Ether or Fire complete the mystic four, the Arba-il.‡ "When the Concealed of the Concealed wanted to reveal Himself, he first made a point (primordial point, or the first Sephira, air or Holy Ghost), shaped it into a sacred form (the ten Sephiroth, or the Heavenly man), and covered it with a rich and splendid garment, that is the world."§ "He maketh the wind His messengers, flaming Fire his
servants," says the Jezireh, showing the cosmical character of the later euhemerized angels,* and that the Spirit permeates every minutest atom of the Cosmos.†
When the cycle of creation is run down, the energy of the manifested word is weakening. He alone, the Unconceivable, is unchangeable (ever latent), but the Creative Force, though also eternal, as it has been in the former from "no beginning," yet must be subject to periodical cycles of activity and rest; as it had a beginning in one of its aspects, when it first emanated, therefore must also have an end. Thus, the evening succeeds the day, and the night of the deity approaches. Brahma is gradually falling asleep. In one of the books of Sohar, we read the following:
"As Moses was keeping a vigil on Mount Sinai, in company with the Deity, who was concealed from his sight by a cloud, he felt a great fear overcome him and suddenly asked: 'Lord, where art Thou . . . sleepest thou, O Lord?' And the Spirit answered him: 'I never sleep; were I to fall asleep for a moment before my time, all the Creation would crumble into dissolution in one instant.' " And Vamadeva-Modely describes the "Night of Brahma," or the second period of the Divine Unknown existence, thus:
"Strange noises are heard, proceeding from every point. . . . These are the precursors of the Night of Brahma; dusk rises at the horizon and the Sun passes away behind the thirtieth degree of Macara (sign of the zodiac), and will reach no more the sign of the Minas (zodiacal pisces, or fish). The gurus of the pagodas appointed to watch the ras-chakr (Zodiac), may now break their circle and instruments, for they are henceforth useless.
"Gradually light pales, heat diminishes, uninhabitable spots multiply on the earth, the air becomes more and more rarefied; the springs of waters dry up, the great rivers see their waves exhausted, the ocean shows its sandy bottom, and plants die. Men and animals decrease in size daily. Life and motion lose their force, planets can hardly gravitate in space; they are extinguished one by one, like a lamp which the hand of the chokra (servant) neglects to replenish. Sourya (the Sun) flickers and goes out, matter falls into dissolution (pralaya), and Brahma merges back into Dyaus, the Unrevealed God, and his task being accomplished, he falls asleep. Another day is passed, night sets in and continues until the future dawn.
"And now again re-enter into the golden egg of His Thought, the germs of all that exist, as the divine Manu tells us. During His peaceful rest, the animated beings, endowed with the principles of action, cease their functions, and all feeling (manas) becomes dormant. When they are all absorbed in the Supreme Soul, this Soul of all the beings sleeps in complete repose, till the day when it resumes its form, and awakes again from its primitive darkness."*
If we now examine the ten mythical avatars of Vishnu, we find them recorded in the following progression:
Brahmanism into two sects. That of the Vaihnava refuses to recognize the incarnations of their god Vishnu in animal forms literally. They claim that these must be understood as allegorical.
In this diagram of avatars we see traced the gradual evolution and transformation of all species out of the ante-Silurian mud of Darwin and the ilus of Sanchoniathon and Berosus. Beginning with the Azoic time, corresponding to the ilus in which Brahma implants the creative germ, we pass through the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic times, covered by the first and second incarnations as the fish and tortoise; and the Cenozoic, which is embraced by the incarnations in the animal and semi-human forms of the boar and man-lion; and we come to the fifth and crowning geological period, designated as the "era of mind, or age of man," whose symbol in the Hindu mythology is the dwarf — the first attempt of nature at the creation of man. In this diagram we should follow the main idea, not judge the degree of knowledge of the ancient philosophers by the literal acceptance of the popular form in which it is presented to us in the grand epical poem of Maha-Bharata and its chapter the Bagaved-gitta.
Even the four ages of the Hindu chronology contain a far more philosophical idea than appears on the surface. It defines them according to both the psychological or mental and the physical states of man during their period. Crita-yug, the golden age, the "age of joy," or spiritual innocence of man; Treta-yug, the age of silver, or that of fire — the period of supremacy of man and of giants and of the sons of God; Dwapara-yug, the age of bronze — a mixture already of purity and impurity (spirit and matter) the age of doubt; and at last our own, the Kali-yug, or age of iron, of darkness, misery, and sorrow. In this age, Vishnu had to incarnate himself in Christna, in order to save humanity from the goddess Kali, consort of Siva, the all-annihilating — the goddess of death, destruction, and human misery. Kali is the best emblem to represent the "fall of man"; the falling of spirit into the degradation of matter, with all its terrific results. We have to rid ourselves of Kali before we can ever reach "Moksha," or Nirvana, the abode of blessed Peace and Spirit.
With the Buddhists the last incarnation is the fifth. When Maitree-Buddha comes, then our present world will be destroyed; and a new and a better one will replace it. The four arms of every Hindu Deity are the emblems of the four preceding manifestations of our earth from its invisible state, while its head typifies the fifth and last Kalki-Avatar, when this would be destroyed, and the power of Budh — Wisdom (with the Hindus, of Brahma), will be again called into requisition to manifest itself — as a Logos — to create the future world.
In this diagram, the male gods typify Spirit in its deific attributes
while their female counterparts — the Sakti, represent the active energies of these attributes. The Durga (active virtue), is a subtile, invisible force, which answers to Shekinah — the garment of En-Soph. She is the Sakti through which the passive "Eternal" calls forth the visible universe from its first ideal conception. Every one of the three personages of the exoteric Trimurti are shown as using their Sakti as a Vehan (vehicle). Each of them is for the time being the form which sits upon the mysterious wagon of Ezekiel.
Nor do we see less clearly carried out in this succession of avatars, the truly philosophical idea of a simultaneous spiritual and physical evolution of creatures and man. From a fish the progress of this dual transformation carries on the physical form through the shape of a tortoise, a boar, and a man-lion; and then, appearing in the dwarf of humanity, it shows Parasu Rama physically, a perfect, spiritually, an undeveloped entity, until it carries mankind personified by one god-like man, to the apex of physical and spiritual perfection — a god on earth. In Christna and the other Saviours of the world we see the philosophical idea of the progressive dual development understood and as clearly expressed in the Sohar. The "Heavenly man," who is the Protogonos, Tikkun, the first-born of God, or the universal Form and Idea, engenders Adam. Hence the latter is god-born in humanity, and endowed with the attributes of all the ten Sephiroth. These are: Wisdom, Intelligence, Justice, Love, Beauty, Splendor, Firmness, etc. They make him the Foundation or basis, "the mighty living one," , and the crown of creation, thus placing him as the Alpha and Omega to reign over the "kingdom" — Malchuth. "Man is both the import and the highest degree of creation," says the Sohar. "As soon as man was created, everything was complete, including the upper and nether worlds, for everything is comprised in man. He unites in himself all forms" (iii., p. 48 a).
But this does not relate to our degenerated mankind; it is only occasionally that men are born who are the types of what man should be, and yet is not. The first races of men were spiritual, and their protoplastic bodies were not composed of the gross and material substances of which we see them composed now-a-day. The first men were created with all the faculties of the Deity, and powers far transcending those of the angelic host; for they were the direct emanations of Adam Kadmon, the primitive man, the Macrocosm; while the present humanity is several degrees removed even from the earthly Adam, who was the Microcosm, or "the little world." Seir Anpin, the mystical figure of the Man, consists of 243 numbers, and we see in the circles which follow each other that it is the angels which emanated from the "Primitive
Man," not the Sephiroth from angels. Hence, man was intended from the first to be a being of both a progressive and retrogressive nature. Beginning at the apex of the divine cycle, he gradually began receding from the centre of Light, acquiring at every new and lower sphere of being (worlds each inhabited by a different race of human beings) a more solid physical form and losing a portion of his divine faculties.
In the "fall of Adam" we must see, not the personal transgression of man, but simply the law of the dual evolution. Adam, or "Man," begins his career of existences by dwelling in the garden of Eden, "dressed in the celestial garment, which is a garment of heavenly light" (Sohar, ii., 229 b); but when expelled he is "clothed" by God, or the eternal law of Evolution or necessarianism, with coats of skin. But even on this earth of material degradation — in which the divine spark (Soul, a corruscation of the Spirit) was to begin its physical progression in a series of imprisonments from a stone up to a man's body — if he but exercise his will and call his deity to his help, man can transcend the powers of the angel. "Know ye not that we shall judge angels?" asks Paul (1 Corinthians, vi. 3). The real man is the Soul (Spirit), teaches the Sohar. "The mystery of the earthly man is after the mystery of the heavenly man . . . the wise can read the mysteries in the human face" (ii., 76 a).
This is still another of the many sentences by which Paul must be recognized as an initiate. For reasons fully explained, we give far more credit for genuineness to certain Epistles of the apostles, now dismissed as apocryphal, than to many suspicious portions of the Acts. And we find corroboration of this view in the Epistle of Paul to Seneca. In this message Paul styles Seneca "my respected master," while Seneca terms the apostle simply "brother."
No more than the true religion of Judaic philosophy can be judged by the absurdities of the exoteric Bible, have we any right to form an opinion of Brahmanism and Buddhism by their nonsensical and sometimes disgusting popular forms. If we only search for the true essence of the philosophy of both Manu and the Kabala, we will find that Vishnu is, as well as Adam Kadmon, the expression of the universe itself; and that his incarnations are but concrete and various embodiments of the manifestations of this "Stupendous Whole." "I am the Soul, O, Arjuna. I am the Soul which exists in the heart of all beings; and I am the beginning and the middle, and also the end of existing things," says Vishnu to his disciple, in Bagaved-gitta (ch. x., p. 71).
"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. . . . I am the first and the last," says Jesus to John (Rev. i. 6, 17).
Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva are a trinity in a unity, and, like the
Christian trinity, they are mutually convertible. In the esoteric doctrine they are one and the same manifestation of him "whose name is too sacred to be pronounced, and whose power is too majestic and infinite to be imagined." Thus by describing the avatars of one, all others are included in the allegory, with a change of form but not of substance. It is out of such manifestations that emanated the many worlds that were, and that will emanate the one — which is to come.
Coleman, followed in it by other Orientalists, presents the seventh avatar of Vishnu in the most caricatured way.* Apart from the fact that the Ramayana is one of the grandest epic poems in the world — the source and origin of Homer's inspiration — this avatar conceals one of the most scientific problems of our modern day. The learned Brahmans of India never understood the allegory of the famous war between men, giants, and monkeys, otherwise than in the light of the transformation of species. It is our firm belief that were European academicians to seek for information from some learned native Brahmans, instead of unanimously and incontinently rejecting their authority, and were they, like Jacolliot — against whom they have nearly all arrayed themselves — to seek for light in the oldest documents scattered about the country in pagodas, they might learn strange but not useless lessons. Let any one inquire of an educated Brahman the reason for the respect shown to monkeys — the origin of which feeling is indicated in the story of the valorous feats of Hanouma, the generalissimo and faithful ally of the hero of Ramayana,† and he would soon be disabused of the erroneous idea that the Hindus accord deific honors to a monkey-god. He would, perhaps, learn — were the Brahman to judge him worthy of an explanation — that the Hindu sees in the ape but what Manu desired he should: the transformation of species most directly connected with that of the human family — a bastard branch engrafted on their own stock before the final perfection of the latter.‡ He might learn, further, that in the eyes of the
educated "heathen" the spiritual or inner man is one thing, and his terrestrial, physical casket another. That physical nature, the great combination of physical correlations of forces ever creeping on toward perfection, has to avail herself of the material at hand; she models and remodels as she proceeds, and finishing her crowning work in man, presents him alone as a fit tabernacle for the overshadowing of the Divine spirit. But the latter circumstance does not give man the right of life and death over the animals lower than himself in the scale of nature, or the right to torture them. Quite the reverse. Besides being endowed with a soul — of which every animal, and even plant, is more or less possessed — man has his immortal rational soul, or nous, which ought to make him at least equal in magnanimity to the elephant, who treads so carefully, lest he should crush weaker creatures than himself. It is this feeling which prompts Brahman and Buddhist alike to construct hospitals for sick animals, and even insects, and to prepare refuges wherein they may finish their days. It is this same feeling, again, which causes the Jain sectarian to sacrifice one-half of his life-time to brushing away from his path the helpless, crawling insects, rather than recklessly deprive the smallest of life; and it is again from this sense of highest benevolence and charity toward the weaker, however abject the creature may be, that they honor one of the natural modifications of their own dual nature, and that later the popular belief in metempsychosis arose. No trace of the latter is to be found in the Vedas; and the true interpretation of the doctrine, discussed at length in Manu and the Buddhistic sacred books, having been confined from the first to the learned sacerdotal castes, the false and foolish popular ideas concerning it need occasion no surprise.
Upon those who, in the remains of antiquity, see evidence that modern times can lay small claim to originality, it is common to charge a disposition to exaggerate and distort facts. But the candid reader will scarcely aver that the above is an example in point. There were evolutionists before the day when the mythical Noah is made, in the Bible, to float in his ark; and the ancient scientists were better informed, and had their theories more logically defined than the modern evolutionists.
Plato, Anaxagoras, Pythagoras, the Eleatic schools of Greece, as well as the old Chaldean sacerdotal colleges, all taught the doctrine of the
dual evolution; the doctrine of the transmigration of souls referring only to the progress of man from world to world, after death here. Every philosophy worthy of the name, taught that the spirit of man, if not the soul, was preexistent. "The Essenes," says Josephus, "believed that the souls were immortal, and that they descended from the ethereal spaces to be chained to bodies."* In his turn, Philo Judaeus says, the "air is full of them (of souls); those which are nearest the earth, descending to be tied to mortal bodies, [[palindromousin authis]], return to other bodies, being desirous to live in them."† In the Sohar, the soul is made to plead her freedom before God: "Lord of the Universe! I am happy in this world, and do not wish to go into another world, where I shall be a handmaid, and be exposed to all kinds of pollutions."‡ The doctrine of fatal necessity, the everlasting immutable Law, is asserted in the answer of the Deity: "Against thy will thou becomest an embryo, and against thy will thou art born."§ Light would be incomprehensible without darkness, to make it manifest by contrast; good would be no good without evil, to show the priceless nature of the boon; and so, personal virtue claim no merit, unless it had passed through the furnace of temptation. Nothing is eternal and unchangeable, save the Concealed Deity. Nothing that is finite — whether because it had a beginning, or must have an end — can remain stationary. It must either progress or recede; and a soul which thirsts after a reunion with its spirit, which alone confers upon it immortality, must purify itself through cyclic transmigrations, onward toward the only Land of Bliss and Eternal Rest, called in the Sohar, "The Palace of Love," ; in the Hindu religion, "Moksha"; among the Gnostics, the "Pleroma of eternal Light"; and by the Buddhists, Nirvana. The Christian calls it the "Kingdom of Heaven," and claims to have alone found the truth, whereas he has but invented a new name for a doctrine which is coeval with man.
The proof that the transmigration of the soul does not relate to man's condition on this earth after death, is found in the Sohar, notwithstanding the many incorrect renderings of its translators. "All souls which have alienated themselves in heaven from the Holy One — blessed be His Name — have thrown themselves into an abyss at their very existence, and have anticipated the time when they are to descend on earth.|| . . .
Come and see when the soul reaches the abode of Love. . . . The soul could not bear this light, but for the luminous mantle which she puts on. For, just as the soul, when sent to this earth, puts on an earthly garment to preserve herself here, so she receives above a shining garment, in order to be able to look without injury into the mirror, whose light proceeds from the Lord of Light."* Moreover, the Sohar teaches that the soul cannot reach the abode of bliss, unless she has received the "holy kiss," or the re-union of the soul with the substance from which she emanated — spirit. All souls are dual, and, while the latter is a feminine principle, the spirit is masculine. While imprisoned in body, man is a trinity, unless his pollution is such as to have caused his divorce from the spirit. "Woe to the soul which prefers to her divine husband (spirit), the earthly wedlock with her terrestrial body," records a text of the Book of the Keys.†
These ideas on the transmigrations and the trinity of man, were held by many of the early Christian Fathers. It is the jumble made by the translators of the New Testament and ancient philosophical treatises between soul and spirit, that has occasioned the many misunderstandings. It is also one of the many reasons why Buddha, Plotinus, and so many other initiates are now accused of having longed for the total extinction of their souls — "absorption unto the Deity," or "reunion with the universal soul," meaning, according to modern ideas, annihilation. The animal soul must, of course, be disintegrated of its particles, before it is able to link its purer essence forever with the immortal spirit. But the translators of both the Acts and the Epistles, who laid the foundation of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the modern commentators on the Buddhist Sutra of the Foundation of the Kingdom of Righteousness, have muddled the sense of the great apostle of Christianity, as of the great reformer of India. The former have smothered the word [[psuchikos]], so that no reader imagines it to have any relation with soul; and with this confusion of soul and spirit together, Bible readers get only a perverted sense of anything on the subject; and the interpreters of the latter have failed to understand the meaning and object of the Buddhist four degrees of Dhyana.
In the writings of Paul, the entity of man is divided into a trine — flesh, psychical existence or soul, and the overshadowing and at the same time interior entity or Spirit. His phraseology is very definite, when he teaches the anastasis, or the continuation of life of those who have died. He maintains that there is a psychical body which is sown in the corruptible, and a spiritual body that is raised in incorruptible sub-
stance. "The first man is of the earth earthy, the second man from heaven." Even James (iii. 15) identifies the soul by saying that its "wisdom descendeth not from the above but is terrestrial, psychical, demoniacal" (see Greek text). Plato, speaking of the Soul (psuche), observes that "when she allies herself to the nous (divine substance, a god, as psuche is a goddess), she does everything aright and felicitously; but the case is otherwise when she attaches herself to Annoia." What Plato calls nous, Paul terms the Spirit; and Jesus makes the heart what Paul says of the flesh. The natural condition of mankind was called in Greek [[apostasia]]; the new condition [[anastasis]]. In Adam came the former (death), in Christ the latter (resurrection), for it is he who first publicly taught mankind the "Noble Path" to Eternal life, as Gautama pointed the same Path to Nirvana. To accomplish both ends there was but one way, according to the teachings of both. "Poverty, chastity, contemplation or inner prayer; contempt for wealth and the illusive joys of this world."
"Enter on this Path and put an end to sorrow; verily the Path has been preached by me, who have found out how to quench the darts of grief. You yourselves must make the effort; the Buddhas are only preachers. The thoughtful who enter the Path are freed from the bondage of the Deceiver (Mara)."*
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction. . . . Follow me. . . . Every one that heareth these sayings and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man" (Matthew vii. and viii.). "I can of mine own self do nothing" (John v. 30). "The care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word" (Matthew xiii. 22), say the Christians; and it is only by shaking off all delusions that the Buddhist enters on the "Path" which will lead him "away from the restless tossing waves of the ocean of life," and take him "to the calm City of Peace, to the real joy and rest of Nirvana."
The Greek philosophers are alike made misty instead of mystic by their too learned translators. The Egyptians revered the Divine Spirit, the One-Only One, as Nout. It is most evident that it is from that word that Anaxagoras borrowed his denominative nous, or, as he calls it, [[Nous autokrates]] — the Mind or Spirit self-potent, the [[archetes kineseos]]. "All things," says he, "were in chaos; then came Nous and introduced order." He also denominated this Nous the One that ruled the many. In his idea Nous was God; and the Logos was man, the emanation of the former. The external powers perceived phenomena; the nous alone recog-
nized noumena or subjective things. This is purely Buddhistic and esoteric.
Here Socrates took his clew and followed it, and Plato after him, with the whole world of interior knowledge. Where the old Ionico-Italian world culminated in Anaxagoras, the new world began with Socrates and Plato. Pythagoras made the Soul a self-moving unit, with three elements, the nous, the phren and the thumos; the latter two, shared with the brutes; the former only, being his essential self. So the charge that he taught transmigration is refuted; he taught no more than Gautama-Buddha ever did, whatever the popular superstition of the Hindu rabble made of it after his death. Whether Pythagoras borrowed from Buddha, or Buddha from somebody else, matters not; the esoteric doctrine is the same.
The Platonic School is even more distinct in enunciating all this.
The real selfhood was at the basis of all. Socrates therefore taught that he had a daimonion, a spiritual something which put him in the road to wisdom. He himself knew nothing, but this put him in the way to learn all.
Plato followed him with a full investigation of the principles of being. There was an Agathon, Supreme God, who produced in his own mind a paradeigma of all things.
He taught that in man was "the immortal principle of the soul," a mortal body, and a "separate mortal kind of soul," which was placed in a separate receptacle of the body from the other; the immortal part was in the head (Timaeus xix., xx.) the other in the trunk (xliv.).
Nothing is plainer than that Plato regarded the interior man as constituted of two parts — one always the same, formed of the same entity as Deity, and one mortal and corruptible.
"Plato and Pythagoras," says Plutarch, "distribute the soul into two parts, the rational (noetic) and irrational (agnoia); that that part of the soul of man which is rational, is eternal; for though it be not God, yet it is the product of an eternal deity, but that part of the soul which is divested of reason (agnoia) dies."
"Man," says Plutarch, "is compound; and they are mistaken who think him to be compounded of two parts only. For they imagine that the understanding is a part of the soul, but they err in this no less than those who make the soul to be a part of the body, for the understanding (nous) as far exceeds the soul, as the soul is better and diviner than the body. Now this composition of the soul ([[psuche]]) with the understanding ([[nous]]) makes reason; and with the body, passion; of which the one is the beginning or principle of pleasure and pain, and the other of virtue and vice. Of these three parts conjoined and compacted together, the earth
has given the body, the moon the soul, and the sun the understanding to the generation of man.
"Now of the deaths we die, the one makes man two of three, and the other, one of (out of) two. The former is in the region and jurisdiction of Demeter, whence the name given to the Mysteries [[telein]] resembled that given to death, [[teleutan]]. The Athenians also heretofore called the deceased sacred to Demeter. As for the other death it is in the moon or region of Persephone. And as with the one the terrestrial, so with the other the celestial Hermes doth dwell. This suddenly and with violence plucks the soul from the body; but Proserpina mildly and in a long time disjoins the understanding from the soul. For this reason she is called Monogenes, only-begotten, or rather begetting one alone; for the better part of man becomes alone when it is separated by her. Now both the one and the other happens thus according to nature. It is ordained by Faith that every soul, whether with or without understanding ([[nous]]), when gone out of the body, should wander for a time, though not all for the same, in the region lying between the earth and moon. For those that have been unjust and dissolute suffer there the punishment due to their offences; but the good and virtuous are there detained till they are purified, and have, by expiation, purged out of them all the infections they might have contracted from the contagion of the body, as if from foul health, living in the mildest part of the air, called the Meadows of Hades, where they must remain for a certain prefixed and appointed time. And then, as if they were returning from a wandering pilgrimage or long exile into their country, they have a taste of joy, such as they principally receive who are initiated into Sacred Mysteries, mixed with trouble, admiration, and each one's proper and peculiar hope."
The daemonium of Socrates was this [[nous]], mind, spirit, or understanding of the divine in it. "The [[nous]] of Socrates," says Plutarch, "was pure and mixed itself with the body no more than necessity required. . . . Every soul hath some portion of [[vous]], reason, a man cannot be a man without it; but as much of each soul as is mixed with flesh and appetite is changed and through pain or pleasure becomes irrational. Every soul doth not mix herself after one sort; some plunge themselves into the body, and so, in this life their whole frame is corrupted by appetite and passion; others are mixed as to some part, but the purer part [noustill remains without the body. It is not drawn down into the body, but it swims above and touches (overshadows) the extremest part of the man's head; it is like a cord to hold up and direct the subsiding part of the soul, as long as it proves obedient and is not overcome by the appetites of the flesh. The part that is plunged into the body is called soul. But the incorruptible part is called the nous and the vulgar think it is within them,
as they likewise imagine the image reflected from a glass to be in that glass. But the more intelligent, who know it to be without, call it a Daemon" (a god, a spirit).
"The soul, like to a dream, flies quick away, which it does not immediately, as soon as it is separated from the body, but afterward, when it is alone and divided from the understanding (nous). . . . The soul being moulded and formed by the understanding (nous), and itself moulding and forming the body, by embracing it on every side, receives from it an impression and form; so that although it be separated both from the understanding and the body, it nevertheless so retains still its figure and resemblance for a long time, that it may, with good right, be called its image.
"And of these souls the moon is the element, because souls resolve into her, as the bodies of the deceased do into earth. Those, indeed, who have been virtuous and honest, living a quiet and philosophical life, without embroiling themselves in troublesome affairs, are quickly resolved; because, being left by the nous, understanding, and no longer using the corporeal passions, they incontinently vanish away."
We find even Irenaeus, that untiring and mortal enemy of every Grecian and "heathen" heresy, explain his belief in the trinity of man. The perfect man, according to his views, consists of flesh, soul, and spirit. ". . . carne, anima, spiritu, altero quidem figurante, spiritu, altero quod formatur, carne. Id vero quod inter haec est duo, est anima, quae aliquando subsequens spiritum elevatur ab eo, aliquando autem consentiens carni in terrenas concupiscentias" (Irenaeus v., 1).
And Origen, in his Sixth Epistle to the Romans, says: "There is a threefold partition of man, the body or flesh, the lowest part of our nature, on which the old serpent by original sin inscribed the law of sin, and by which we are tempted to vile things, and as oft as we are overcome by temptations are joined fast to the Devil; the spirit, in or by which we express the likeness of the divine nature in which the very Best Creator, from the archetype of his own mind, engraved with his finger (that is, his spirit), the eternal law of honesty; by this we are joined (conglutinated) to God and made one with God. In the third, the soul mediates between these, which, as in a factious republic, cannot but join with one party or the other, is solicited this way and that and is at liberty to choose the side to which it will adhere. If, renouncing the flesh, it betakes itself to the party of the spirit it will itself become spiritual, but if it cast itself down to the cupidities of the flesh it will degenerate itself into body."
Plato (in Laws x.) defines soul as "the motion that is able to move itself." "Soul is the most ancient of all things, and the commencement
of motion." "Soul was generated prior to body, and body is posterior and secondary, as being, according to nature, ruled over by the ruling soul." "The soul which administers all things that are moved in every way, administers likewise the heavens."
"Soul then leads everything in heaven, and on earth, and in the sea, by its movements — the names of which are, to will, to consider, to take care of, to consult, to form opinions true and false, to be in a state of joy, sorrow, confidence, fear, hate, love, together with all such primary movements as are allied to these . . . being a goddess herself, she ever takes as an ally Nous, a god, and disciplines all things correctly and happily; but when with Annoia — not nous — it works out everything the contrary."
In this language, as in the Buddhist texts, the negative is treated as essential existence. Annihilation comes under a similar exegesis. The positive state, is essential being but no manifestation as such. When the spirit, in Buddhistic parlance, entered nirvana, it lost objective existence but retained subjective. To objective minds this is becoming absolute nothing; to subjective, no-thing, nothing to be displayed to sense.
These rather lengthy quotations are necessary for our purpose. Better than anything else, they show the agreement between the oldest "Pagan" philosophies — not "assisted by the light of divine revelation," to use the curious expression of Laboulaye in relation to Buddha — and the early Christianity of some Fathers. Both Pagan philosophy and Christianity, however, owe their elevated ideas on the soul and spirit of man and the unknown Deity to Buddhism and the Hindu Manu. No wonder that the Manicheans maintained that Jesus was a permutation of Gautama; that Buddha, Christ, and Mani were one and the same person,* for the teachings of the former two were identical. It was the doctrine of old India that Jesus held to when preaching the complete renunciation of the world and its vanities in order to reach the kingdom of Heaven, Nirvana, where "men neither marry nor are given in marriage, but live like the angels."
It is the philosophy of Siddhartha-Buddha again that Pythagoras expounded, when asserting that the ego ([[nous]]) was eternal with God, and that the soul only passed through various stages (Hindu Rupa-locas) to arrive at the divine excellence; meanwhile the thumos returned to the earth, and even the phren was eliminated. Thus the metempsychosis was only a succession of disciplines through refuge-heavens (called by the Buddhists Zion),† to work off the exterior mind, to rid the nous of the
phren, or soul, the Buddhist "Winyanaskandaya," that principle that lives from Karma and the Skandhas (groups). It is the latter, the metaphysical personations of the "deeds" of man, whether good or bad, which, after the death of his body, incarnate themselves, so to say, and form their many invisible but never-dying compounds into a new body, or rather into an ethereal being, the double of what man was morally. It is the astral body of the kabalist and the "incarnated deeds" which form the new sentient self as his Ahancara (the ego, self-consciousness), given to him by the sovereign Master (the breath of God) can never perish, for it is immortal per se as a spirit; hence the sufferings of the newly-born self till he rids himself of every earthly thought, desire, and passion.
We now see that the "four mysteries" of the Buddhist doctrine have been as little understood and appreciated as the "wisdom" hinted at by Paul, and spoken "among them that are perfect" (initiated), the "mystery-wisdom" which "none of the Archons of this world knew."* The fourth degree of the Buddhist Dhyana, the fruit of Samadhi, which leads to the utmost perfection, to Viconddham, a term correctly rendered by Burnouf in the verb "perfected,"† is wholly misunderstood by others, as well as in himself. Defining the condition of Dhyana, St. Hilaire argues thus:
"Finally, having attained the fourth degree, the ascetic possesses no more this feeling of beatitude, however obscure it may be . . . he has also lost all memory . . . he has reached impassibility, as near a neighbor of Nirvana as can be. . . . However, this absolute impassibility does not hinder the ascetic from acquiring, at this very moment, omniscience and the magical power; a flagrant contradiction, about which the Buddhists no more disturb themselves than about so many others."‡
And why should they, when these contradictions are, in fact, no contradictions at all? It ill behooves us to speak of contradictions in other peoples' religions, when those of our own have bred, besides the three great conflicting bodies of Romanism, Protestantism, and the Eastern Church, a thousand and one most curious smaller sects. However it may be, we have here a term applied to one and the same thing by the Buddhist holy "mendicants" and Paul, the Apostle. When the latter says: "If so be that I might attain the resurrection from among the dead [the Nirvana], not as though I had already attained, or were already perfect" (initiated),§ he uses an expression common among the initiated Buddhists. When a Buddhist ascetic has reached the "fourth degree," he is considered a rahat. He produces every kind of phenomena by the
sole power of his freed spirit. A rahat, say the Buddhists, is one who has acquired the power of flying in the air, becoming invisible, commanding the elements, and working all manner of wonders, commonly, and as erroneously, called meipo (miracles). He is a perfect man, a demi-god. A god he will become when he reaches Nirvana; for, like the initiates of both Testaments, the worshippers of Buddha know that they "are gods."
"Genuine Buddhism, overleaping the barrier between finite and infinite mind, urges its followers to aspire, by their own efforts, to that divine perfectibility of which it teaches that man is capable, and by attaining which man becomes a god," says Brian Houghton Hodgson.*
Dreary and sad were the ways, and blood-covered the tortuous paths by which the world of the Christians was driven to embrace the Irenaean and Eusebian Christianity. And yet, unless we accept the views of the ancient Pagans, what claim has our generation to having solved any of the mysteries of the "kingdom of heaven"? What more does the most pious and learned of Christians know of the future destiny and progress of our immortal spirits than the heathen philosopher of old, or the modern "Pagan" beyond the Himalaya? Can he even boast that he knows as much, although he works in the full blaze of "divine" revelation? We have seen a Buddhist holding to the religion of his fathers, both in theory and practice; and, however blind may be his faith, however absurd his notions on some particular doctrinal points, later engraftings of an ambitious clergy, yet in practical works his Buddhism is far more Christ-like in deed and spirit than the average life of our Christian priests and ministers. The fact alone that his religion commands him to "honor his own faith, but never slander that of other people,"† is sufficient. It places the Buddhist lama immeasurably higher than any priest or clergyman who deems it his sacred duty to curse the "heathen" to his face, and sentence him and his religion to "eternal damnation." Christianity becomes every day more a religion of pure emotionalism. The doctrine of Buddha is entirely based on practical works. A general love of all beings, human and animal, is its nucleus. A man who knows that unless he toils for himself he has to starve, and understands that he has no scapegoat to carry the burden of his iniquities for him, is ten times as likely to become a better man than one who is taught that murder, theft, and profligacy can be washed in one instant as white as snow, if he but believes in a God who, to borrow an expression of Volney, "once took food upon earth, and is now himself the food of his people."