Key to Theosophy
FUNDAMENTAL TEACHINGS OF THEOSOPHY
GOD AND PRAYER
ENQUIRER. Do you believe in God?
THEOSOPHIST. That depends what you mean by the term.
ENQUIRER. I mean the God of the Christians, the Father of Jesus,
and the Creator: the Biblical God of Moses, in short.
THEOSOPHIST. In such a God we do not believe. We reject the idea
of a personal, or an extra-cosmic and anthropomorphic God, who is but the
gigantic shadow of man, and not of man at his best, either. The God of
theology, we say—and prove it—is a bundle of contradictions and a logical
impossibility. Therefore, we will have nothing to do with him.
ENQUIRER. State your reasons, if you please.
THEOSOPHIST. They are many, and cannot all receive attention. But
here are a few. This God is called by his devotees infinite and absolute, is he
ENQUIRER. I believe he is.
THEOSOPHIST. Then, if infinite—i. e., limitless—and
especially if absolute, how can he have a form, and be a creator of anything?
Form implies limitation, and a beginning as well as an end; and, in order to
create, a Being must think and plan. How can the ABSOLUTE be supposed to
think—i. e., to have any
relation whatever to that which is limited, finite, and conditioned? This is a
philosophical, and a logical absurdity. Even the Hebrew Kabala rejects such an
idea, and therefore, makes of the one and the Absolute Deific Principle an
infinite Unity called Ain-Soph.
In order to create, the Creator has to become active; and as this is impossible
for ABSOLUTENESS, the infinite principle had to be shown becoming the cause of
evolution (not creation) in an indirect way—i.e., through the
emanation from itself (another absurdity, due this time to the translators of
the Kabala) of the Sephiroth.
ENQUIRER. How about those Kabalists, who, while being such, still
believe in Jehovah, or the Tetragrammaton?
THEOSOPHIST. They are at liberty to believe in what they please,
as their belief or disbelief can hardly affect a self-evident fact. The Jesuits
tell us that two and two are not always four to a certainty, since it depends on
the will of God to make 2 X 2 = 5. Shall we accept their sophistry for all that?
ENQUIRER. Then you are Atheists?
THEOSOPHIST. Not that we know of, and not unless the epithet of
“Atheist” is to be applied to those who disbelieve in an anthropomorphic
God. We believe in a Universal Divine Principle, the root of ALL, from which all
proceeds, and within which all shall be absorbed at the end of the great cycle
This is the old, old claim of Pantheism. If you are Pantheists, you cannot
be Deists; and if you are not Deists, then you have to answer to the name of
THEOSOPHIST. Not necessarily so. The term “Pantheism” is again
one of the many abused terms, whose real and primitive meaning has been
distorted by blind prejudice and a one-sided view of it. If you accept the
Christian etymology of this compound word, and form it of pan,
“all,” and theos, “god,” and then imagine and teach that this
means that every stone and every tree in Nature is a God or the ONE God, then,
of course, you will be right, and make of Pantheists fetish-worshippers, in
addition to their legitimate name. But you will hardly be as successful if you
etymologise the word Pantheism esoterically, and as we do.
What is, then, your definition of it?
THEOSOPHIST. Let me ask you a question in my turn. What do you
understand by Pan, or Nature?
Nature is, I suppose, the sum total of things existing around us; the aggregate
of causes and effects in the world of matter, the creation or universe.
THEOSOPHIST. Hence the personified sum and order of known causes
and effects; the total of all finite agencies and forces, as utterly
disconnected from an intelligent Creator or Creators, and perhaps “conceived
of as a single and separate force”—as in your cyclopaedias?
Yes, I believe so.
THEOSOPHIST. Well, we neither take into consideration this
objective and material nature, which we call an evanescent illusion, nor do we
mean by pan Nature, in the sense of its accepted derivation from the
Latin Natura (becoming, from nasci,
to be born). When we speak of the Deity and make it identical, hence
coeval, with Nature, the eternal and uncreate nature is meant, and not your
aggregate of flitting shadows and finite unrealities. We leave it to the
hymn-makers to call the visible sky or heaven, God’s Throne, and our earth of
mud His footstool. Our DEITY is neither in a paradise, nor in a particular tree,
building, or mountain: it is everywhere, in every atom of the visible as of the
invisible Cosmos, in, over, and around every invisible atom and divisible
molecule; for IT is the mysterious power of evolution and involution, the
omnipresent, omnipotent, and even omniscient creative potentiality.
Stop! Omniscience is the prerogative of something that thinks, and you deny
to your Absoluteness the power of thought.
THEOSOPHIST. We deny it to the ABSOLUTE, since thought is
something limited and conditioned. But you evidently forget that in philosophy
absolute unconsciousness is also absolute consciousness, as otherwise it would
not be absolute.
Then your Absolute thinks?
THEOSOPHIST. No, IT does not; for the simple reason that it is Absolute
Thought itself. Nor does it exist, for the same reason, as it is absolute
existence, and Be-ness, not a Being. Read the superb Kabalistic poem by
Solomon Ben Jehudah Gabirol, in the Kether-Malchut, and you will
understand:—Thou art one, the root of all numbers, but not as an element of
numeration; for unity admits not of multiplication, change, or form. Thou art
one, and in the secret of thy unity the wisest of men are lost, because they
know it not. Thou art one, and Thy unity is never diminished, never extended,
and cannot be changed. Thou art one, and no thought of mine can fix for Thee a
limit, or define Thee. Thou ART, but not as one existent, for the understanding
and vision of mortals cannot attain to Thy existence, nor determine for Thee the
where, the how and the why,” etc., etc. In short, our Deity is the eternal,
incessantly evolving, not creating, builder of the universe;
that universe itself unfolding out of its own essence, not
being made. It is a sphere, without circumference, in its symbolism,
which has but one ever-acting attribute embracing all other existing or
thinkable attributes—ITSELF. It is the one law, giving the impulse to
manifested, eternal, and immutable laws, within that never-manifesting, because
absolute LAW, which in its manifesting periods is The ever-Becoming.
I once heard one of your members remarking that Universal Deity, being
everywhere, was in vessels of dishonour, as in those of honour, and, therefore,
was present in every atom of my cigar ash! Is this not rank blasphemy?
THEOSOPHIST. I do not think so, as simple logic can hardly be
regarded as blasphemy. Were we to exclude the Omnipresent Principle from one
single mathematical point of the universe, or from a particle of matter
occupying any conceivable space, could we still regard it as infinite?
IT NECESSARY TO PRAY?
Do you believe in prayer, and do you ever pray?
THEOSOPHIST. We do not. We act, instead of talking.
You do not offer prayers even to the Absolute Principle?
THEOSOPHIST. Why should we? Being well-occupied people, we can
hardly afford to lose time in addressing verbal prayers to a pure abstraction.
The Unknowable is capable of relations only in its parts to each other, but is
non-existent as regards any finite relations. The visible universe depends for
its existence and phenomena on its mutually acting forms and their laws, not on
prayer or prayers.
Do you not believe at all in the efficacy of prayer?
THEOSOPHIST. Not in prayer taught in so many words and repeated
externally, if by prayer you mean the outward petition to an unknown God as the
addressee, which was inaugurated by the Jews and popularised by the Pharisees.
Is there any other kind of prayer?
THEOSOPHIST. Most decidedly; we call it WILL-PRAYER, and it is
rather an internal command than a petition.
ENQUIRER. To whom, then, do you pray when you do so?
THEOSOPHIST. To “our Father in heaven”—in its esoteric
Is that different from the one given to it in theology?
THEOSOPHIST. Entirely so. An Occultist or a Theosophist addresses
his prayer to his Father which is in secret (read, and try to
understand, ch. vi. v. 6, Matthew), not to an extra-cosmic and therefore finite
God; and that “Father” is in man himself.
Then you make of man a God?
THEOSOPHIST. Please say “God” and not a God. In our
sense, the inner man is the only God we can have cognizance of. And how can this
be otherwise? Grant us our postulate that God is a universally diffused,
infinite principle, and how can man alone escape from being soaked through by,
and in, the Deity? We call our “Father in heaven” that deific
essence of which we are cognizant within us, in our heart and spiritual
consciousness, and which has nothing to do with the anthropomorphic conception
we may form of it in our physical brain or its fancy: “Know ye not that ye are
the temple of God, and that the spirit of (the absolute) God dwelleth in you?”
Yet, let no man anthropomorphise that essence in us. Let no Theosophist, if he
would hold to divine, not human truth, say that this “God in secret” listens
to, or is distinct from, either finite man or the infinite essence—for all are
one. Nor, as just remarked, that a prayer is a petition. It is a mystery rather;
an occult process by which finite and conditioned thoughts and desires, unable
to be assimilated by the absolute spirit which is unconditioned, are translated
into spiritual wills and the will; such process being called “spiritual
transmutation.” The intensity of our ardent aspirations changes prayer into
the “philosopher’s stone,” or that which transmutes lead into pure gold.
The only homogeneous essence, our “will-prayer” becomes the active or
creative force, producing effects according to our desire.
Do you mean to say that prayer is an occult process bringing about physical
THEOSOPHIST. I do. Will-Power becomes a living power. But
woe unto those Occultists and Theosophists, who, instead of crushing out the
desires of the lower personal ego or physical man, and saying,
addressing their Higher Spiritual EGO immersed in Atma-Buddhic light,
“Thy will be done, not mine,” etc., send up waves of will-power for selfish
or unholy purposes! For this is black magic, abomination, and spiritual sorcery.
Unfortunately, all this is the favourite occupation of our Christian statesmen
and generals, especially when the latter are sending two armies to murder each
other. Both indulge before action in a bit of such sorcery, by offering
respectively prayers to the same God of Hosts, each entreating his help to cut
its enemies’ throats.
David prayed to the Lord of Hosts to help him smite the Philistines and slay
the Syrians and the Moabites, and “the Lord preserved David whithersoever he
went.” In that we only follow what we find in the Bible.
THEOSOPHIST. Of course you do. But since you delight in calling
yourselves Christians, not Israelites or Jews, as far as we know, why do you not
rather follow that which Christ says? And he distinctly commands you not to
follow “them of old times,” or the Mosaic law, but bids you do as he tells
you, and warns those who would kill by the sword, that they, too, will perish by
the sword. Christ has given you one prayer of which you have made a lip prayer
and a boast, and which none but the true Occultist understands, In it
you say, in your dead-sense meaning: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our
debtors,” which you never do. Again, he told you to love your enemies
and do good to them that hate you. It
is surely not the “meek prophet of Nazareth” who taught you to pray to your
“Father” to slay, and give you victory over your enemies! This is why we
reject what you call “prayers.”
ENQUIRER. But how do you explain the universal fact that all
nations and peoples have prayed to, and worshipped a God or Gods? Some have
adored and propitiated devils and harmful spirits, but this only proves
the universality of the belief in the efficacy of prayer.
THEOSOPHIST. It is explained by that other fact that prayer has
several other meanings besides that given it by the Christians. It means not
only a pleading or petition, but
meant, in days of old, far more an invocation and incantation. The mantra,
or the rhythmically chanted prayer of the Hindus, has precisely such a meaning,
as the Brahmins hold themselves higher than the common devas or
“Gods.” A prayer may be an appeal or an incantation for malediction, and a
curse (as in the case of two armies praying simultaneously for mutual
destruction) as much as for blessing. And as the great majority of people are
intensely selfish, and pray only for themselves, asking to be given their
“daily bread” instead of working for it, and begging God not to lead them
“into temptation” but to deliver them (the memorialists only) from evil, the
result is, that prayer, as now understood, is doubly pernicious: (a) It
kills in man self-reliance; (b) It develops in him a still
more ferocious selfishness and egotism than he is already endowed with by
nature. I repeat, that we believe in “communion” and simultaneous action in
unison with our “Father in secret”; and in rare moments of ecstatic bliss,
in the mingling of our higher soul with the universal essence, attracted as it
is towards its origin and centre, a state, called during life Samadhi,
and after death, Nirvana. We refuse to pray to created finite
beings—i. e., gods, saints, angels, etc., because we regard it as
idolatry. We cannot pray to the ABSOLUTE for reasons explained before;
therefore, we try to replace fruitless and useless prayer by meritorious and
Christians would call it pride and blasphemy. Are they wrong?
THEOSOPHIST. Entirely so. It is they, on the contrary, who show
Satanic pride in their belief that the Absolute or the Infinite, even if there
was such a thing as the possibility of any relation between the unconditioned
and the conditioned—will stoop to listen to every foolish or egotistical
prayer. And it is they again, who virtually blaspheme, in teaching that an
Omniscient and Omnipotent God needs uttered prayers to know what he has to do!
This—understood esoterically—is corroborated by both Buddha and Jesus. The
one says “seek nought from the helpless Gods—pray not! but rather act;
for darkness will not brighten. Ask nought from silence, for it can neither
speak nor hear.” And the other—Jesus—recommends: “Whatsoever ye shall
ask in my name (that of Christos) that will I do.” Of course, this quotation,
if taken in its literal sense, goes against our argument. But if we
accept it esoterically, with the full knowledge of the meaning of the term,
“Christos,” which to us represents Atma-Buddhi-Manas, the
“SELF,” it comes to this: the only God we must recognise and pray to, or
rather act in unison with, is that spirit of God of which our body is the
temple, and in which it dwelleth.
But did not Christ himself pray and recommend prayer?
THEOSOPHIST. It is so recorded, but those “prayers” are
precisely of that kind of communion just mentioned with one’s “Father in
secret.” Otherwise, and if we identify Jesus with the universal deity, there
would be something too absurdly illogical in the inevitable conclusion that he,
the “very God himself” prayed to himself,
and separated the will of that God from his own!
One argument more; an argument, moreover, much used by some Christians. They
say, “I feel that I am not able to conquer any passions and weaknesses in my
own strength. But when I pray to Jesus Christ I feel that he gives me strength
and that in His power I am able to conquer.”
THEOSOPHIST. No wonder. If “Christ Jesus” is God, and one
independent and separate from him who prays, of course everything is, and must
be possible to “a mighty God.” But, then, where’s the merit, or
justice either, of such a conquest? Why should the pseudo-conqueror be rewarded
for something done which has cost him only prayers? Would you, even a simple
mortal man, pay your labourer a full day’s wage if you did most of his work
for him, he sitting under an apple tree, and praying to you to do so, all the
while? This idea of passing one’s whole life in moral idleness, and having
one’s hardest work and duty done by another—whether God or man—is most
revolting to us, as it is most degrading to human dignity.
so, yet it is the idea of trusting in a personal Saviour to help and strengthen
in the battle of life, which is the fundamental idea of modern Christianity. And
there is no doubt that, subjectively, such belief is efficacious; i. e.,
that those who believe do feel themselves helped and strengthened.
THEOSOPHIST. Nor is there any more doubt, that some patients of
“Christian” and “Mental Scientists”—the great “Deniers”—are
also sometimes cured; nor that hypnotism, and suggestion, psychology, and even
mediumship, will produce such results, as often, if not oftener. You take into
consideration, and string on the thread of your argument, successes alone. And
how about ten times the number of failures? Surely you will not presume to say
that failure is unknown even with a sufficiency of blind faith, among fanatical
But how can you explain those cases which are followed by full success?
Where does a Theosophist look to for power to subdue his passions and
THEOSOPHIST. To his Higher Self, the divine spirit, or the God in
him, and to his Karma. How long shall we have to repeat over and over
again that the tree is known by its fruit, the nature of the cause by its
effects? You speak of subduing passions, and becoming good through and with the
help of God or Christ. We ask, where do you find more virtuous, guiltless
people, abstaining from sin and crime, in Christendom or Buddhism—in Christian
countries or in heathen lands? Statistics are there to give the answer and
corroborate our claims. According to the last census in Ceylon and India, in the
comparative table of crimes committed by Christians, Mussulmen, Hindoos,
Eurasians, Buddhists, etc., etc., on two millions of population taken at random
from each, and covering the misdemeanours of several years, the proportion of
crimes committed by the Christian stands as 15 to 4 as against those committed
by the Buddhist population. (Vide Lucifer for April, 1888, p. 147,
Art. Christian lecturers on Buddhism.) No Orientalist, no historian of any note,
or traveller in Buddhist lands, from Bishop Bigandet and Abbe Huc, to Sir
William Hunter and every fair-minded official, will fail to give the palm of
virtue to Buddhists before Christians. Yet the former (not the true Buddhist
Siamese sect, at all events) do not believe in either God or a future reward,
outside of this earth. They do not pray, neither priests nor laymen. “Pray!”
they would exclaim in wonder, “to whom, or what?”
Then they are truly Atheists.
THEOSOPHIST. Most undeniably, but they are also the most
virtue-loving and virtue-keeping men in the whole world. Buddhism says: Respect
the religions of other men and remain true to your own; but Church Christianity,
denouncing all the gods of other nations as devils, would doom every non-Christian
to eternal perdition.
Does not the Buddhist priesthood do the same?
THEOSOPHIST. Never. They hold too much to the wise precept found
in the DAMMAPADA to do so, for they know that, “If any man, whether he be
learned or not, consider himself so great as to despise other men, he is like a
blind man holding a candle—blind himself, he illumines others.”
THE SOURCE OF THE HUMAN SOUL
How, then, do you account for man being endowed with a Spirit and Soul? Whence
THEOSOPHIST. From the Universal Soul. Certainly not bestowed by a personal
God. Whence the moist element in the jelly-fish? From the Ocean which
surrounds it, in which it lives and breathes and has its being, and whither it
returns when dissolved.
So you reject the teaching that Soul is given, or breathed into man, by God?
THEOSOPHIST. We are obliged to. The “Soul” spoken of in ch.
ii. of Genesis (v. 7) is, as therein stated, the “living Soul” or Nephesh
(the vital, animal soul) with which God (we say “nature” and immutable
law)endows man like every animal. Is not at all the thinking soul or mind;
least of all is it the immortal Spirit.
ENQUIRER. Well, let us put it otherwise: is it God who endows man
with a human rational Soul and immortal Spirit?
THEOSOPHIST. Again, in the way you put the question, we must
object to it. Since we believe in no personal God, how can we believe
that he endows man with anything? But granting, for the sake of argument, a God
who takes upon himself the risk of creating a new Soul for every new-born baby,
all that can be said is that such a God can hardly be regarded as himself
endowed with any wisdom or prevision. Certain other difficulties and the
impossibility of reconciling this with the claims made for the mercy, justice,
equity and omniscience of that God, are so many deadly reefs on which this
theological dogma is daily and hourly broken.
What do you mean? What difficulties?
THEOSOPHIST. I am thinking of an unanswerable argument offered
once in my presence by a Cingalese Buddhist priest, a famous preacher, to a
Christian missionary—one in no way ignorant or unprepared for the public
discussion during which it was advanced. It was near Colombo, and the Missionary
had challenged the priest Megattivati to give his reasons why the Christian God
should not be accepted by the “heathen.” Well, the Missionary came out of
that for ever memorable discussion second best, as usual.
I should be glad to learn in what way.
THEOSOPHIST. Simply this: the Buddhist priest premised by asking
the padri whether his God had given commandments to Moses only for men
to keep, but to be broken by God himself. The missionary denied the supposition
indignantly. Well, said his opponent, “you tell us that God makes no
exceptions to this rule, and that no Soul can be born without his will. Now God
forbids adultery, among other things, and yet you say in the same breath that it
is he who creates every baby born, and he who endows it with a Soul. Are we then
to understand that the millions of children born in crime and adultery are your
God’s work? That your God forbids and punishes the breaking of his laws; and
that, nevertheless, he creates daily and hourly souls for just such
children? According to the simplest
logic, your God is an accomplice in the crime; since, but for his help and
interference, no such children of lust could be born. Where is the justice of
punishing not only the guilty parents but even the innocent babe for that which
is done by that very God, whom yet you exonerate from any guilt himself?” The
missionary looked at his watch and suddenly found it was getting too late for
You forget that all such inexplicable cases are mysteries, and that we are
forbidden by our religion to pry into the mysteries of God.
THEOSOPHIST. No, we do not forget, but simply reject such
impossibilities. Nor do we want you to believe as we do. We only answer the
questions you ask. We have, however, another name for your “mysteries.”
BUDDHIST TEACHINGS ON THE ABOVE
What does Buddhism teach with regard to the Soul?
THEOSOPHIST. It depends whether you mean exoteric, popular
Buddhism, or its esoteric teachings. The former explains itself in the Buddhist
Catechism in this wise: “Soul it considers a word used by the ignorant
to express a false idea. If everything is subject to change, then man is
included, and every material part of him must change. That which is subject to
change is not permanent, so there can be no immortal survival of a changeful
thing.” This seems plain and definite. But when we come to the question that
the new personality in each succeeding re-birth is the aggregate of “Skandhas,”
or the attributes, of the old personality, and ask whether this
new aggregation of Skandhas is a new being likewise, in which
nothing has remained of the last, we read that: “In one sense it is a new
being, in another it is not. During this life the Skandhas are continually
changing, while the man A. B. of forty is identical as regards personality with
the youth A. B. of eighteen, yet by the continual waste and reparation of his
body and change of mind and character, he is a different being. Nevertheless,
the man in his old age justly reaps the reward or suffering consequent upon his
thoughts and actions at every previous stage of his life. So the new being of
the re-birth, being the same individuality as before (but not the same
personality), with but a changed form, or new aggregation of Skandhas, justly
reaps the consequences of his actions and thoughts in the previous existence.”
This is abstruse metaphysics, and plainly does not express disbelief in
Soul by any means.
not something like this spoken of in Esoteric
THEOSOPHIST. It is, for this teaching belongs both to Esoteric Budhism
or Secret Wisdom, and to the exoteric Buddhism, or the religious philosophy of
But we are distinctly told that most of the Buddhists do not believe in the
THEOSOPHIST. No more do we, if you mean by Soul the personal
Ego, or life-Soul—Nephesh.
But every learned Buddhist believes in the individual or divine Ego. Those
who do not, err in their judgment. They are as mistaken on this point, as those
Christians who mistake the theological interpolations of the later editors of
the Gospels about damnation and hell-fire, for verbatim utterances of
Jesus. Neither Buddha nor “Christ” ever wrote anything themselves, but both
spoke in allegories and used “dark sayings,” as all true Initiates did, and
will do for a long time yet to come. Both Scriptures treat of all such
metaphysical questions very cautiously, and both, Buddhist and Christian
records, sin by that excess of exotericism; the dead letter meaning far
overshooting the mark in both cases.
Do you mean to suggest that neither the teachings of Buddha nor those of
Christ have been heretofore rightly understood?
THEOSOPHIST. What I mean is just as you say. Both Gospels, the
Buddhist and the Christian, were preached with the same object in view. Both
reformers were ardent philanthropists and practical altruists—preaching
most unmistakably Socialism of the noblest and highest type,
self-sacrifice to the bitter end. “Let the sins of the whole world fall upon
me that I may relieve man’s misery and suffering!” cries Buddha; . . . “I
would not let one cry whom I could save!” exclaims the Prince-beggar, clad in
the refuse rags of the burial-grounds. “Come unto me all ye that labour and
are heavy laden and I will give you rest,” is the appeal to the poor and the
disinherited made by the “Man of Sorrows,” who hath not where to lay his
head. The teachings of both are boundless love for humanity, charity,
forgiveness of injury, forgetfulness of self, and pity for the deluded masses;
both show the same contempt for riches, and make no difference between meum
and tuum. Their desire was, without revealing to all the
sacred mysteries of initiation, to give the ignorant and the misled, whose
burden in life was too heavy for them, hope enough and an inkling into the truth
sufficient to support them in their heaviest hours. But the object of both
Reformers was frustrated, owing to excess of zeal of their later followers. The
words of the Masters having been misunderstood and misinterpreted, behold the
But surely Buddha must have repudiated the soul’s immortality, if all the
Orientalists and his own Priests say so!
THEOSOPHIST. The Arhats began by following the policy of their
Master and the majority of the subsequent priests were not initiated, just as in
Christianity; and so, little by little, the great esoteric truths became almost
lost. A proof in point is, that, out of the two existing sects in Ceylon, the
Siamese believes death to be the absolute annihilation of individuality and
personality, and the other explains Nirvana, as we theosophists do.
But why, in that case, do Buddhism and Christianity represent the two
opposite poles of such belief?
THEOSOPHIST. Because the conditions under which they were preached
were not the same. In India the Brahmins, jealous of their superior knowledge,
and excluding from it every caste save their own, had driven millions of men
into idolatry and almost fetishism. Buddha had to give the death-blow to an
exuberance of unhealthy fancy and fanatical superstition resulting from
ignorance, such as has rarely been known before or after. Better a philosophical
atheism than such ignorant worship for those—
cry upon their gods and are not heard,
are not heeded—”
and who live and die in mental despair. He had to arrest first of all
this muddy torrent of superstition, to uproot errors before he gave out
the truth. And as he could not give out all for the same good reason as
Jesus, who reminds his disciples that the Mysteries of Heaven are not
for the unintelligent masses, but for the elect alone, and therefore “spake he
to them in parables” (Matt. xiii. 11)—so his caution led Buddha to
conceal too much. He even refused to
say to the monk Vacchagotta whether there was, or was not an Ego in man. When
pressed to answer, “the Exalted one maintained
refers to Gautama, but in what way does it touch the Gospels?
THEOSOPHIST. Read history and think over it. At the time the
events narrated in the Gospels are alleged to have happened, there was a similar
intellectual fermentation taking place in the whole civilized world, only with
opposite results in the East and the West. The old gods were dying out. While
the civilized classes drifted in the train of the unbelieving Sadducees into
materialistic negations and mere dead-letter Mosaic form in Palestine, and into
moral dissolution in Rome, the lowest and poorer classes ran after sorcery and
strange gods, or became hypocrites and Pharisees. Once more the time for a
spiritual reform had arrived. The cruel, anthropomorphic and jealous God of the
Jews, with his sanguinary laws of “an eye for eye and tooth for tooth,” of
the shedding of blood and animal sacrifice, had to be relegated to a secondary
place and replaced by the merciful “Father in Secret.” The latter had to be
shown, not as an extra-Cosmic God, but as a divine Saviour of the man of flesh,
enshrined in his own heart and soul, in the poor as in the rich. No more here
than in India, could the secrets of initiation be divulged, lest by giving that
which is holy to the dogs, and casting pearls before swine, both the Revealer
and the things revealed should be trodden under foot. Thus, the reticence
of both Buddha and Jesus—whether the latter lived out the historic period
allotted to him or not, and who equally abstained from revealing plainly the
Mysteries of Life and Death—led in the one case to the blank negations of
Southern Buddhism, and in the other, to the three clashing forms of the
Christian Church and the 300 sects in Protestant England alone.
Ain-Soph, Hebrew ‘eyn-sof’ = Greek to pan = Greek epeiros,
the endless, or boundless, in and with Nature, the non-existent which IS,
but is not a Being.
 How can the non-active eternal principle emanate or emit? The Parabrahm of the Vedantins does nothing of the kind; nor does the Ain-Soph of the Chaldean Kabala. It is an eternal and periodical law which causes an active and creative force (the logos) to emanate from the ever-concealed and incomprehensible one principle at the beginning of every maha-manvantara, or new cycle of life.
One often finds in Theosophical writings conflicting statements about the
Christos principle in man. Some call it the sixth principle (Buddhi),
others the seventh (Atman). If Christian Theosophists wish to
make use of such expressions, let them be made philosophically correct by
following the analogy of the old Wisdom-religion symbols. We say that
Christos is not only one of the three higher principles, but all the three
regarded as a Trinity. This Trinity represents the Holy Ghost, the Father,
and the Son, as it answers to abstract spirit, differentiated spirit, and
embodied spirit. Krishna and Christ are philosophically the same principle
under its triple aspect of manifestation. In the Bhagavatgita we
find Krishna calling himself indifferently Atman, the abstract Spirit,
Kshetragna, the Higher or reincarnating Ego, and the Universal SELF, all
names which, when transferred from the Universe to man, answer to Atma,
Buddhi and Manas. The Anugita is full of the same
The new sect of healers, who, by disavowing the existence of anything but
spirit, which spirit can neither suffer nor be ill, claim to cure all and
every disease, provided the patient has faith that what he denies can have
no existence. A new form of self-hypnotism.
Buddha gives to Ananda, his initiated disciple, who enquires for
the reason of this silence, a plain and unequivocal answer in the dialogue
translated by Oldenburg from the Samyuttaka Nikaya:—“If
I, Ananda, when the wandering monk Vacchagotta asked me: ‘Is there the
Ego?’ had answered ‘The Ego is,’ then that, Ananda, would have
confirmed the doctrine of the Samanas and Brahmanas, who believed in
permanence. If I, Ananda, when the wandering monk Vacchagotta asked me,
‘Is there not the Ego?’ had answered, ‘The Ego is not,’ then that,
Ananda, would have confirmed the doctrine of those who believed in
annihilation. If I, Ananda, when the wandering monk Vacchagotta asked me,
‘Is there the Ego?’ had answered, ‘The Ego is,’ would that have
served my end, Ananda, by producing in him the knowledge: all existences
(dhamma) are non-ego? But if I, Ananda, had answered, ‘The Ego is not,’
then that, Ananda, would only have caused the wandering monk Vacchagotta to
be thrown from one bewilderment to another: ‘My Ego, did it not exist
before? But now it exists no longer!”‘ This shows, better than anything,
that Gautama Buddha withheld such difficult metaphysical doctrines from the
masses in order not to perplex them more. What he meant was the difference
between the personal temporary Ego and the Higher Self, which sheds its
light on the imperishable Ego, the spiritual “I” of man.