WHAT IS GOD?
[Lucifer, Vol. II, No. 11, July, 1888, pp. 417-420]
[All the footnotes in this article, signed “Ed.,” are by H.P.B.]
I wish to thank you for reply to my former communication. I find I agree to an extent with your thought, but not wholly. With your permission I will open out my thought on this great subject a little more, if useful.
I have no conception of Infinite and Boundless as positive existence. The Eternal or Absolute Void may be said to be Infinite and Boundless, but this Void is nothing, and of which nothing can be predicated; so that Infinite or Boundless and Absolute in this respect are nonexistent.* You seem to identify Deity with the Original Nothing, the absolute Negation. But such Deity has nothing to do with what we call the Something or the Real, and existence is quite independent of it.† If Deity or God is the same as Absolute Nothing, and all things came from Him or It, then something has come from nothing,
* To some minds, very likely. In the opinion of a Vedantin or an Eastern Occultist this “Boundless” is the one deity and the one reality in this universe of Maya, and it is the one everlasting and uncreated principle—everything else being illusionary, because finite, conditioned and transitory.—ED.
† It cannot be independent, since “existence” is precisely that Deity which we call “Absolute Existence,” of which nothing can be “independent.”
which, philosophy declares, cannot be.* The real, as opposed to the unreal, can alone produce that which is real, whatever kind of reality it be, divine, spiritual or natural. In plain words nothing can produce nothing. Something only can produce itself in varied differentiations.† Nothing is the Infinite. The Something (universal reality or the all) is the Finite; but (if you like) Infinite in this sense that, being all-inclusive, it is bounded by nothing beyond it. If Deity has originated form, size, number and motion as attributes of the concrete—spiritual or nature ‡—how could He (allow me to use this pronoun) so have done unless these in some way are in Himself. As He has originated all conditions, He surely possesses in Himself the original of these conditions; and though He is not conditioned by anything beyond or greater than himself, yet He is Himself the sum total of conditions. That is, He is the all of conditions.§ As I take it, Deity is the All of the Universe in its first, original or originating form, and what we call the evolved universe is Deity in his last or ultimate form. It is as if Deity out-breathed Himself forth into vastitude, then in-breathed Himself back into minutude.|| He
* Which philosophy? Not Eastern philosophy and metaphysics—the oldest of all. Nothing cannot come out of or from another nothing—if the latter word is accepted in our finite sense. All comes from Nothing, or NO-THING, En-Soph, the Boundless (to us) nothingness! but on the plane of Spirit the noumenon of ALL.—ED.
† Our correspondent is very little acquainted, we see, with occult Eastern ideas and true metaphysics. The deity he calls “Nothing” and we “No-thing” can produce nothing, for the simple reason that IT is in itself ALL, the Infinite, Boundless and Absolute, and that even IT could never produce anything outside of itself, since whatever manifests is ITSELF.—ED.
‡ Lightning is produced by electricity, and is an aspect of the concealed Cause. And because that Cause originates the phenomenon shall we call it “lightning” and a “He”?—ED.
§ And why not “She,” the ALL? Just as natural one as the other, and, in our opinion, quite as incongruous.—ED.
|| Say, at once, “itself,” instead of “Himself,” and do not make it a personal (on our plane) conscious action and you will be nearer the mark of our occult teachings.
is thus the all of substance as to Being, and the all of Form and of motions as to Truth. It is an alternation of states, the one the state of concentration, the other the state of diffusion or expansion. The Alpha and Omega, making true the saying “the first shall be the last, and the last shall be the first.” The Microcosm becomes the Macrocosm [?!] and this again resolves itself back into the Microcosmic form and state. The going forth of Deity from the self to the not-self and back again to the self constitutes in the motions the Age of ages or Eternity, and is the all of Truth, the all of cosmic and universal history.*
Of course the evolved, universal form, being a result, as to state, is not absolute or personal Deity, but only his image or reflection the shadow of the real as it were, an administration of the Original Being. I may here be expressing the same as you mean, when you call phenomena Maya or illusion, not being absolutely permanent. Yes, yet phenomena are real as appearances. The Mayavic World is real while it is Mayavic, just as a snowflake is until it melts.
I have said that the All, as the little Universe evolves itself into the form and state of the vast universe; but in the process it exhausts its potencies, and at this stage the evolution begins to cease, and involution begins; and Deity the little is recuperated by re-absorbing the substances and forms of the Mayavic Universe, which thus in the process of ages ceases to be, returning to the Nirvanic state of Deific concentrated. Now—a Vedantist would say—Brahm sleeps on the lotus, and will awake anew to create another Mayavic Universe.†
* This is Kabalistic and, on the whole, correct, but too indefinite for esoteric philosophy. Does our critic mean to say that it is the microcosm which becomes the Macrocosm, instead of the reverse? (See Editors’ Notes at the end).—ED.
† Aye, Brahmâ “sleeps” on the lotus during the “nights,” and between the “days” of Brahma (neuter). But Brahmâ, the Creator, dies and disappears when his age is at an end, and the hour for the MAHA PRALAYA strikes. Then NO-THING reigns supreme and alone in Boundless Infinitude and that No-thing is non-differentiated space which is no-space, and the ABSOLUTE, “The most excellent male is worshipped by men, but the soul of wisdom, THAT in which there are no attributes of name or form is worshipped by Sages (Yogins)” (Vishnu-Purana). This, then, is the point of difference with your correspondent.
The imperfect attempts at statement are but general, and do exclude all that can be conceived and known of the manifold planes and ranks of intelligent beings that exist in the manifold universe. You seem to think I am very materialistic in thought. But mystical thought that denies form to Spirit and thus to Deity, is no proof of superiority or spirituality of intelligence.*
You will perceive the point toward which my line of thought strains. The beings on the highest ranges of the Universe are far more glorious in form than those on the lower ranges. Those on the terrestrial globes, such as ourselves, are the most shadowy, as to our outer forms. He who centres the myriadal hosts of His children, must be the most and all-glorious.† But surely this is because He must be the most concentrated in substance and the most complex in his form, inconceivably so. The human forms of the Elohim are as floating shadows compared to Him. His form, as to organization and shape, is the Human, the dual human. [!] The infinitesimal cells in His body are the germ points of Solar Systems, to be realized during the ages in the Mayavic expanses.‡
Each plane of existence is organic, and the most refined is the most dense and vital and potential. All Spirits are human forms, all the Elohim (if you like)—male and female—or two in one—are human forms. In fact, existence is form, Life is form, Intelligence, Love and the human affections are based upon and held in the continent of the human organization, and all lesser or fragmentary formations of mineral, vegetable, animal or sphered world, are its production. It is the one Truth, the eternal, the uncreated and
* None whatever. It only denotes better knowledge of metaphysics. That which has form cannot be absolute. That which is conditioned or bounded by either space, time, or any limitation of human conception and growth—cannot be INFINITE, still less ETERNAL.—ED.
† Undeniably so, “He who centres the myriadal hosts” is not ABSOLUTE DEITY, not even its LOGOS, Aja (the unborn), but at best Adam-Kadmon, the Tetragrammaton of the Greeks, and the Brahma-Vishnu on the Lotus of Space, the HE which disappears with the “Age of Brahm.”—ED.
‡ Just so, and this is Adam-Kadmon, the heavenly man, the “male-female” or the symbol of the material manifested Universe, whose 10 limbs (or 10 Sephiroth, the numbers) correspond to the zones of the universe, the 3 in 1 of the upper and the 7 of the lower planes.—ED.
unimagined, the continent of universal particulars, The All Father-Mother in whom we and all things live and move and have our being.—Respectfully yours,
April 30th, 1888. J. HUNTER
EDITORS’ NOTE.—The writer seems a little confused in his ideas. He launches in one place into verbal pantheism and then uses language embodying the most curious anthropomorphic conceptions. Deity, for instance, is regarded as “outbreathing Himself into vastitude,” and as the “all of substance as to Being, and the all of Form and motions, as to Truth.” Later on “he” is described as an apparently gigantic organism: “His form. . . . . is the Human, the dual human.” The “all of Forms” and conditions, merely an enormous hermaphrodite? Why not a monkey or elephant, or, still better, a mosaic pieced together out of all the different organic types? It is unphilosophical to regard such a thing as the “All of forms,” if it only reproduces the human organization, though it may be strictly theological.
In another place the writer speaks of this anomalous creature—the “All Father-Mother”—as “unimaginable.” After allusions to the function of its organic cells, its human organization, its substance and relation to the Universe, etc., this epithet appears sufficiently bewildering. We are also assured that “what we call the evolved universe is Deity in his last or ultimate form.” Has Deity, then, several forms or states? Obviously so, if our critic is identifying him with plane after plane in this summary fashion. Such an interpretation would, however, result in the dethronement of the big Hermaphrodite, the only form Deity patronizes, according to his present biographer.
All argument based on the idea of reading such qualities as “form, size, number and motion,” etc., into Deity is necessarily worthless. It utterly ignores the distinction between Substance and Attribute. Notice, also, such obvious objections as the following:—(1) If Deity is a form, he cannot be Infinite because form implies a boundary line somewhere. (2) If Deity can be numbered, polytheism is a truth. (3) If it possesses size, it is no
longer Absolute, size being a relative notion derived from phenomena. (4) Motion again involves limitation, inasmuch as it only means the passage through space of an object. Deity if infinite can have nothing to traverse, and like contradictions.
Our critic objects to being classed among materialistic thinkers; unfortunately for him it is his own writings that denounce him as such. For a Deity in form, obviously possesses all the qualities which make up matter, viz., extension in space, form, size, etc. He must even possess that of colour, to be distinguishable from other objects of perception according to him! Where then are we to stop?
Mr. Hunter’s conceptions are, in fact, so extremely unspiritual, that they far outvie in “materialism” the utterances of the most “advanced” agnostics, who, at least, grasp one fact, viz:—that the realm of matter and the realm of mind cannot be jumbled up at random.