Studies in Occult Philosophy — G. de Purucker

Questions and Answers  (part 15)

No Historical Record of Jesus

What is known through historic channels of the person Jesus?

Absolutely nothing is known through historic channels of the person Jesus — if we omit the Christian Gospels themselves.  Even the reference in Josephus, the Jewish historian, to the fact that a certain man called Christus lived in Jerusalem shortly preceding his own date, is now almost universally believed by scholars outside of the Christian Church, and by many Christian scholars also, to have been interpolated in Josephus’ works, perhaps by Eusebius.  There is absolutely no historical record whatsoever in any ‘Pagan’ historian of his real existence, beyond the vague statement in Tacitus and one or two other writers; and these statements are obviously founded on mere hearsay, doubtless emanating from early Christians.  So much so, that dozens of scholars have concluded that the whole story about Jesus was simply an early ‘solar myth’ — which is not what the Theosophist accepts.  Undoubtedly there did live at a time, which we call the beginning of the Christian Era, or in the century preceding the commonly accepted date of the Christian Era, a Sage, a Seer, who lived and worked in Palestine, who probably was called Yeshua‘, which is the Hebrew word meaning ‘Savior.’  This is the original form of the name which became Iesous in Greek, Jesus in Latin.  He is the one whom Theosophists refer to as the Avatara.

I don’t think people know how utterly unfounded many of the accepted stories of Christianity are.  There is absolutely no proof, according to the usual standards of proof, that Jesus ever lived.  The Christians have been frequently challenged to bring forward some exact proof, and they have not succeeded.  But they do argue, with good show of reason, that there must have been some original figure around whom clustered the myths, stories, legends, which later were imbodied in the various scriptures, as in the four Gospels presently called canonical, and in the score or more of presently called apocryphal Gospels.

When one considers the bitter conflicts, theological and otherwise, the centuries of battling that the early Christians had among themselves, constantly fighting for the first five hundred years or more, one will realize that scarcely anything originally true could have survived.  What did survive was the result: Christian theology; and this again was broken up into different Schools; as, for instance, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Roman so-called Catholic Church, the Armenian Church, the Nestorian Church, the Coptic Church, the Syrian Church, and other smaller sects.  And then added to these there were the great Christian theological parties, like the so-called Orthodox party and the Arian party.

Present-day Christian theology is simply the result of a hodgepodge of theological squabbling for the first five hundred years, and the fourteen hundred that succeeded!

Obscure Origin of the Gospels

What is known in regard to the tampering with original texts so as to make them the better to fit in with the ideas of the Church-Fathers?  I remember reading in The Theosophical Path of one Lactantius, who spilled the beans as to how he juggled the texts, but I cannot now locate this article.

The reference to Lactantius I believe is erroneous in this connection.  Lactantius was one of the later Christian Apologists who lived in the early part of the fourth century of the Christian Era, when the Four Gospels already had probably been accepted as more or less canonical.  Nobody really knows who were the ones who tampered with the Gospels, if, indeed, they were tampered with, as they probably were — some more, some less.  It is a sheer fact that all that scholars really know — outside of opinion and hypothesis — about the Gospels is that these four, now called canonical, finally prevailed over many others; and about the fourth century of the Christian Era had become the accepted four canonical Gospels or Scriptures of the Christian Churches.  This is all that one can state with certainty.  All the rest is obscurity, opinion, and guesswork.

It is evident to anyone who reads the four Gospels that they must be works written after, i.e., according to, others which were originals and which have disappeared: because the present Gospels contain sufficient likeness and sufficient identity of content to suggest this conclusion.  They likewise contain a sufficient number of mutual contradictions to prove that different hands had been at work upon them or wrote them.  The Christian Fathers were some later and some earlier than the Gospels.

Prajapatis, Amshaspends, Kabiri, Etc.

Are the Prajapatis the same as the Amshaspends?  H. P. B. seems to use both terms and I don’t see much difference between them.

Prajapatis is a Sanskrit compound which means ‘parents of progeny,’ ‘beginners of races,’ usually reckoned as 7 or 10 in number; actually 12.  What in India are called Prajapatis, among the Persians were called the Amshaspends.  In Jewish Theosophy, the Qabbalah, they were called the Sefiroth.  In the Orphic occult teaching of ancient Greece and Asia Minor they were called Kabiri, who were especially revered in the Mystery-Schools of Samothrace.  Or again, all these are practically identical with what in Christianity were called the Archangels; and if you understood the original Christian teaching about the Archangels, you would understand the functions of Prajapatis, Sefiroth, and Kabiri.  Another name for the Prajapatis, when the human race alone is alluded to, is Manus; and these are practically identical with the Rishis.

So then, the Prajapatis, the Sefiroth, the Kabiri, the Archangels, the Amshaspends, and similar beings or entities in other ancient systems, are the beginners of races; and on a smaller scale the beginners of civilizations, the Manus and the Sishtas when we are talking especially of our human race or life-wave.  Each Prajapati corresponds, in one very interesting way of viewing the thing, to one cosmic plane; or to put it in another way; there being 7 or 10 or 12 classes of monads, according to the way you count, each prajapati is the head of one class of monads.

It is good to remember these correspondences or equivalents, because you will be able to read H. P. B.’s Secret Doctrine with a much clearer understanding of what she wrote.  She had a habit, a wonderful habit in a way for one who was a true scholar, but she had a habit of bringing illustrative material from everywhere she could find it, and lumping it all together without always explaining that these things are equivalent.  Thus some students of The Secret Doctrine when they saw Prajapatis and Sefiroth and Kabiri and Amshaspends and Archangels all together thought they were all entirely different things.  They were the same great beings, but with different names, as reckoned in different parts of the earth or among different races.

The Logos as Individual and Hierarchy

Is the Cosmic Logos an individual from which radiate all the minor monadic individualities composing it?  Or is the Logos on the other hand merely the collected totality of all monads?

Let me in response phrase the question by means of a picture: Is a tree merely an assemblage of atoms grouping themselves into roots, trunk, bark, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, and fruit, without an entitative individuality in itself?  Or is it an entitative individuality built up of these minor lives, as the life-atoms build up the body?  It would seem easy to answer offhand, and say a tree is an entity builded up of minor lives, and this answer would be quite correct.  But yet it is not fully satisfactory, because it is clear that no root of the tree nor the bark nor the trunk, nor a branch nor a leaf nor a flower thereof is the whole tree.

Another illustration: Is the table before which I sit an entitative individuality in invisible planes which through abstruse karmic powers has been cut from different trees, shaped by different human hands, polished by them, and formed into the aggregate of woods now before me, these different woods themselves composed of molecules and atoms?  My answer again is: Both.  The table before me could not exist unless it had preexisted in the astral light, which means unless it has an entitative existence of its own, difficult for us humans to comprehend but nevertheless real; and yet when you consider the table in detail, just as when we consider the tree in detail, or when we look at the details of a logos which are the various hierarchies making it, we are inclined to think there is no entitative reality to the table or tree or logos, but that each is a mere aggregate of its component parts; and this would be partly right and partly wrong.

The Logos, the tree, the table, and in fact any other entity which appears in the universe, be its existence long or short, is a karmic reproduction in imbodiment, of an entitative individuality in the invisible worlds, call them the spiritual worlds if you trace it back far enough.

Yes the Logos is an entity, an individuality, of high spiritual character, comprising numerous minor hierarchies which are radial groups from itself, or groups from its rays.  So that if we look at the matter from above, we must say that the logos is an individual composed of its hierarchical monads or life-atoms; and if we look at the matter from below, we are apt to see the logos as a mere collection or the complete aggregate of the innumerable individuals composing the universe.

In conclusion, I sometimes question myself whether these very interesting queries are of value except to philosophers, and yet I am inclined to think that they are because they take men’s minds away from the gross and material aspects of life, and give to them ideas and intuitions of greater things.  The loss of soul usually is caused in its beginnings by a loss of ideals; and for a similar reason I have always highly approved of the study of the cosmic structure and therefore of planetary chains and rounds and races, and similar fundamental teachings, for they elevate the mind out of matter, induce feelings of a common unity or of universal brotherhood, and are therefore seen to have immense and powerful ethical or moral value, with its consequent effect on us.

Nations and Races as Entities

Is it correct to consider Nations and Races as actual entities?

This question is not so easy to answer.  In a sense Yes, because every unit, great or small, racial, national, regional, or on a smaller scale like cities and towns and villages, and even a family, represents a svabhava which is the imbodiment therefore of a kind of unit in the spiritual realms.  Indeed the Greeks and Romans even carried this entification of abstractions to the extent that they actually said there was a goddess Virtue, and a goddess Patience, and so forth, and a goddess of Strife and equivalent gods, etc., all of which has some abstract reality, because Patience and Strife and Love and Sympathy and Virtue are all qualities flowing forth from the cosmic hierarchy, and therefore in a sense can be entified and made into individuals.  But this must not be carried so far as to make them identical with, although much larger than, an incarnating and reincarnating human ego.

Thus again, is a hive of bees the expression of an inner monad or entity?  Or is a hive of bees merely an aggregate of small bee-monads?  Answer: It is both.  The bee-monads are certainly there, and each is an individualized reimbodying entity.  But the hive as a collection of such monads is the representation of the collectivity of the monads united in a common svabhava or minor logos, which is an entity in its highest, but a merely collective and quantitative expression through radiation as a hive.

The Americans as a nation, for instance, are a group of human monads.  Their destiny or karma is drawing them together, and as time passes they will grow more powerful and their native qualities will grow more pronounced when the assimilation of so many immigrant people in the United States has been completed.  Now what is, or what then will be the American people?  What is it now, what will it then be?  Can we say that there is a spiritual being or entity or monad existent in the spiritual spheres which expresses itself for a time through its radiated qualities on this earth as the American people, formed of the monads that come and go through reimbodiment in this spiritual-astral mold of radiation?  The answer is Yes.  But this must not be looked upon as a reimbodying entity taking material imbodiment again and again, because that would make it merely — I mean here the nation — a reimbodying monad.

On the other hand, it is quite true that over vast periods of manvantaric time, what has been is cyclically reproduced, but cyclically somewhat higher than its last appearance.  This is an old Stoic doctrine; so that all that now exists, in some far past manvantaric time then existed also on a somewhat less evolved plane than now, because the astral molds were shaping then, and will again appear in the far distant future, but on a somewhat higher plane.  But we as individual monads now taking part here will have moved onwards into higher spheres.  Thus we can see that this abstract spiritual entity will again manifest itself as a nation, but this will be manvantaric ages hence, and with new monads forming its life-atoms, so to speak.

Thus then we can say that every nation is the expression of a national Genius, signifying here a national spirit, and similarly so every people, every race, every globe’s general population; and on the decreasing scale, similarly so every abstract of a nation, and again every city or town or village or even family.  The whole thing is a very subtil and difficult thing to explain, but it becomes clear enough if (a) we remember that each such unit karmically expresses itself on earth because it is a manifestation of inner invisible spiritual causes, inner spiritual qualities radiating from a spiritual focus; and if we also remember (b) that this is analogical with, but not identical with, a reimbodying ego like a human ego.  Further, we must never forget that every local or national unit is the sister or brother of all other local or national units, just as human beings are brothers, for all are born from one common source; and when we remember this last most important fact of all, then we lose our fanatic nationalisms, our tendencies to consider our own nation or people superior to all others on earth, and we realize that we as human individuals in our next life may be born in the very nation which today we may happen to dislike, provided of course our rebirth is not too long delayed, because then the nation may have temporarily passed into disappearance.

The Tower of Babel

Is there any inner meaning to the story of the Tower of Babel?

There is no historical basis for the story of the Tower of Babel as an actual Tower.  The Tower of Babel as related in the Hebrew Bible is an allegory told after the Jewish manner of the late Atlantean magicians aspiring to conquer even ‘heaven’ by their human magic.  So in the allegory the Atlantean magicians built a ‘Tower of Thought,’ but as this was earthly and not spiritual, typically Atlantean in character, after it had reached a certain level in construction, according to the allegory, evolution, the ordinary human evolution, or evolution of mankind, spread confusion into this attempt to ‘scale heaven’ by human magic.  The confusion of tongues meant that the Atlantean races split up into various different human families, and confusion and separateness resulted from this.

The Initiates of the Right-hand path likewise built a “Tower of Infinite Thought,” as Master points out in The Mahatma Letters, but their tower is based on spirit instead of matter, and therefore is united throughout itself, therefore making confusion impossible.  No confusion and misunderstanding is there possible, such as is the case brought about by merely human efforts, by human magic, to scale the ‘ramparts of heaven.’

Pythagorean Injunctions

Why were the Pythagoreans told not to eat beans?

I wonder if Pythagoras would have been very welcome in a certain town in New England — baked beans and brown bread!  Is there anything wicked or criminal in eating beans, or brown bread and beans even though they are somewhat indigestible?  But that is not the real meaning.  Do you know, a certain small early Christian sect thought that the fig was the fruit of that especial tree in the Garden of Eden which Mother Eve tempted Father Adam to eat?  And why did they pick upon the poor fig to make it so holy that they forbade those who believed with them to eat figs?  Another case of ‘beans,’ you see, because they reasoned that the little seeds in the fig were symbolic of the seeds of life, and they made a symbol of that fig; and they made it a holy thing, tabu as they say in the South.  So — do not eat figs: they are too holy to eat!  And doubtless they pointed to those particular phrases in the Hebrew book of Genesis where, because Eve and Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, the angel with the flaming sword chased them out.

So the Pythagoreans had a teaching along exactly the same line, and they looked upon beans — they might have chosen peas, or apple seeds, or anything else that has seeds, but they happened to choose beans — as symbolic of life, as monads, productive of a whole future, a plant producing other seeds, beans, peas, what not.  And later Pythagoreans, when the School had dropped from its earlier high understanding, took the prohibition as meaning that it is wicked to eat beans because they are foul, which is the reverse of the meaning.

I don’t think even Pythagoras would have said that any one of his pupils could not eat a mess of beans.  Can’t you see how utterly ridiculous the thing is when you bring it right down to brass tacks?  Beans with them were like a pass word, alluding to a wonderful secret occult doctrine which was not edible, that is to say partakable of by any except those who were strong enough to stomach it, to understand, to digest.  Consequently, beans became prohibited.

Any doctrine which is not productive of a better life is horrible.  It is not worth anything.  If a doctrine does not improve your life in every way, I would say, to use the old English word, eschew it, abhor it.

Now why is it that the Pythagorean doctrines so radically changed the characters of those who studied them?  On account of the effect of conversion, the old Christian word, changing the mind, of changing the mind from things here below to higher things; and this is exactly what ails the world today.  It has almost forgotten the need of thinking and thinking aright in order that men may live aright.  And in order to think aright you must have rules, rules which men believe in, are convinced of the truth of, and this truth is brought by spiritual and intellectual persuasion through study.  That is why the study of religion, of philosophy, of science, can ennoble a man’s life, take him out of the range where life as he sees it is but a struggle against other men, bringing out all the animal within him, the fighting qualities exercised against his fellows.  Thinking aright ennobles a man’s character because it enriches, it enlarges, his views, gives him other views of his fellows.

Why did Pythagoras enjoin five years of silence on his disciples?

I don’t believe there was any such rule!  I think the meaning was that no pupil, outer or inner, was allowed to teach, to speak, until he had been adequately trained; and five years was considered the time within which he might, as we say today, graduate, have his diploma and practice.  And it was a very wise provision indeed, because today just look at the mushy clap-trap, folderol, all kinds of perfectly indescribable stuff that you pay for merely in order to read — without instruction, without learning, often without decency.  Anyone who wants to can get up on his legs and talk and say almost anything, and if his legs are long enough and his inventive genius is strong enough he can get away with it.  The rule of Pythagoras prevented that kind of thing.

Evolution and the Control of the Life-Atoms

How is it possible that we, who were rulers of a solar system, i.e., in the time when the atoms were our dwelling houses, cannot rule the composing beings of our body today?  We are developed from the atoms and we will rule a solar system in the macro-cosmos in the future.  Is our state of consciousness lower now than in the time of our atom-life?

The reason that we human beings find it difficult in this stage of our evolutionary pilgrimage to control the lower elements, including the atoms, electrons, etc., of our bodies, is that we are at the mid-point in our evolutionary journey, because we are sunken in the material worlds, although we are now beginning to rise towards Spirit again.  This situation means that the matter-parts of our being, including the atoms, etc., of course, are more in their own sphere, and therefore have greater individual power than they have in the higher spheres; and consequently they act more strongly in their own individual ways than they do when they are again in Spirit, or in the spiritual worlds, and more under the divine influence of being in the spiritual worlds.  Thus the sun, the divinity in and behind the sun, can control the lower elements and lower atoms much better than we can, because this divinity, being so much ahead of us, attracts more spiritual types of atoms than we do, because we are naturally much less spiritually evolved than is the solar divinity.

Thus it is that in the future we shall be able to control perfectly not only our own matter-elements, but the very atoms, etc., which compose these matter-elements of us, because we shall in time gain in spiritual power; and even these matter-elements of us will have risen more towards Spirit, and we and our component lower elements and atoms then will have become more alike, both more spiritual, than now we are.  Hence there will be more harmony, greater ease, in what we may call brotherly cooperation, in our journey back to Spirit.

You have given the main idea correctly when you say that the Mahatmans much more easily can control their lower elements and atoms than we can, and this is because of the two main reasons I have just stated: In evolution the Mahatmans are beyond us, and therefore stronger than we are; and they attract to themselves for their bodies, etc., more spiritualized atoms than we do.  Hence there is greater harmony there between the higher and the lower than there is with us.

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