SOME REASONS FOR SECRECY
The fact that the Occult Sciences have been withheld from the world at large, and denied by the Initiates to Humanity, has often been made matter of complaint. It has been alleged that the Guardians of the Secret Lore were selfish in withholding the “treasures” of Archaic Wisdom; that it was positively criminal to keep back such knowledge–“if any”–from the men of Science, etc.
Yet there must have been some very good reasons for it, since from the very dawn of History such has been the policy of every Hierophant and “Master.” Pythagoras, the first Adept and real Scientist in pre-Christian Europe, is accused of having taught in public the immobility of the earth, and the rotary motion of the stars around it, while he was declaring to his privileged Adepts his belief in the motion of the Earth as a planet, and in the heliocentric system. The reasons for such secrecy, however, are many and were never made a mystery of. The chief cause was given in Isis Unveiled. It may now be repeated.
From the very day when the first mystic [taught by the first Instructor of the “divine Dynasties” of the early races, was taught] the means of communication between this world and the worlds of the invisible host, between the sphere of matter and that of pure spirit, he concluded that to abandon this mysterious science to the [desecration, willing or unwilling, of the profane] rabble–was to lose it. An abuse of it might lead mankind to speedy destruction; it was like surrounding a group of children with
* New Platonism and Alchemy, p. 6 and footnote.
explosive [substances], and furnishing them with matches. The first [divine Instructor] initiated but a select few, and kept silence with the multitudes. [They recognized their “God” and each Adept felt the great “SELF “ within himself.] The “}tman,” the self, the mighty Lord and Protector, once that man knew him as the “I am,” the “Ego Sum, “ the “Asmi,” showed his full power to him who could recognize the “still small voice.” From the days of the primitive man described by the first Vedic poet, down to our modern age, there has not been a philosopher worthy of that name, who did not carry in the silent sanctuary of his heart the grand and mysterious truth. If initiated, he learnt it as a sacred science; if otherwise, then, like Socrates, repeating to himself as well as his fellowmen, the noble injunction, “O man, know thyself,” he succeeded in recognizing his God within himself. “Ye are gods,” the king-psalmist tells us, and we find Jesus reminding the scribes that this expression was addressed to other mortal men, claiming for themselves the same privilege without any blasphemy.* And, as a faithful echo, Paul, while asserting that we are all “the temple of the living God,”† cautiously adds that after all these things are only for the “wise,” and it is “unlawful” to speak of them.‡
Some of the reasons for this secrecy may here be given.
The fundamental law and master-key of practical Theurgy, in its chief applications to the serious study of cosmic and sidereal, of psychic and spiritual, mysteries was, and still is, that which was called by the Greek Neo-Platonists “Theophania.” In its generally-accepted meaning this is “communication between the Gods (or God) and those initiated mortals who are spiritually fit to enjoy such an intercourse.” Esoterically, however, it signifies more than this. For it is not only the presence of a God, but an actual–howbeit temporary–incarnation, the blending, so to say, of the personal Deity, the Higher Self, with man–its representative or agent on earth. As a general law, the Highest God, the Over-soul of the human being (Atma-Buddhi), only over-shadows the individual during his life, for purposes of instruction and revelation; or as Roman Catholics–who erroneously call that Over-soul the “Guardian Angel”–would say, “It stands outside and watches.” But in the case of the theophanic mystery, it incarnates itself in the Theurgist for purposes of revelation. When the incarnation is temporary, during those mysterious trances or “ecstasy,” which Plotinus defined as
* John x, 34, 35.
† 2 Corinth. vi, 16.
‡ Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, pp. 317-18.
The liberation of the mind from its finite consciousness, becoming one and identified with the Infinite,
this sublime condition is very short. The human soul, being the offspring or emanation of its God, the “Father and the Son” become one, “the divine fountain flowing like a stream into its human bed.”* In exceptional cases, however, the mystery becomes complete; the Word is made Flesh in real fact, the individual becoming divine in the full sense of the term, since his personal God has made of him his permanent life-long tabernacle– “the temple of God,” as Paul says.
Now that which is meant here by the personal God of Man is, of course, not his seventh Principle alone, as per se and in essence that is merely a beam of the infinite Ocean of Light. In conjunction with our Divine Soul, the Buddhi, it cannot be called a Duad, as it otherwise might, since, though formed from }tma and Buddhi (the two higher Principles), the former is no entity but an emanation from the Absolute, and indivisible in reality from it. The personal God is not the Monad, but indeed the prototype of the latter, what for want of a better term we call the manifested Karanatman (Causal Soul),† one of the “seven” and chief reservoirs of the human Monads or Egos. The latter are gradually formed and strengthened during their incarnation-cycle by constant additions of individuality from the personalities in which incarnates that androgynous, half-spiritual, half-terrestrial principle, partaking of both heaven and earth, called by the Vedantins Jiva and Vijśanamaya Kośa, and by the Occultists the Manas (mind); that, in short, which uniting itself partially with the Monad, incarnates in each new birth. In perfect unity with its (seventh) Principle, the Spirit
* Plotinus claims to have experienced this sublime ecstasy four times during his mystic life; Porphyry asserts that Apollonius of Tyana was thus united four times to his deity–a statement which we believe to be a mistake, since Apollonius was a Nirmnakaya (divine incarnation – not Avatara)–and he (Porphyry) only once, when over sixty years of age. Theophany (or the actual appearance of a God to man), Theopathy (or “assimilation of divine nature”), and Theopneusty (inspiration, or rather the mysterious power to hear orally the teachings of a God) have never been rightly understood [See also New Platonism and Alchemy, p. 13.]
† Karana-sarira is the “causal” body and is sometimes said to be the “personal God.” And so it is, in one sense.
unalloyed, it is the divine Higher Self, as every student of Theosophy knows. After every new incarnation Buddhi-Manas culls, so to say, the aroma of the flower called personality, the purely earthly residue of which–its dregs–is left to fade out as a shadow. This is the most difficult–because so transcendentally metaphysical–portion of the doctrine.
As is repeated many a time in this and other works, it is not the Philosophers, Sages, and Adepts of antiquity who can ever be charged with idolatry. It is they in fact, who, recognising divine unity, were the only ones, owing to their initiation into the mysteries of Esotericism, to understand correctly the (hyponoia), or under-meaning of the anthropomorphism of the so-called Angels, Gods, and spiritual Beings of every kind. Each, worshipping the one Divine Essence that pervades the whole world of Nature, reverenced, but never worshipped or idolised, any of these “Gods,” whether high or low–not even his own personal Deity, of which he was a Ray, and to whom he appealed.
The holy Triad emanates from the One, and is the Tetraktys; the gods, daimons, and souls are an emanation of the Triad. Heroes and men repeat the hierarchy in themselves.
Thus said Metrodorus of Chios, the Pythagorean, the latter part of the sentence meaning that man has within himself the seven pale reflections of the seven divine Hierarchies; his Higher Self is, therefore, in itself but the refracted beam of the direct Ray. He who regards the latter as an Entity, in the usual sense of the term, is one of the “infidels and atheists,” spoken of by Epicurus, for he fastens on that God “the opinions of the multitude”–an anthropomorphism of the grossest kind.† The Adept and the Occultist know that “what are styled the Gods are only the first principles.”‡ None the less they are intelligent,
* This would be in one sense Self-worship.
† “The Gods exist,” said Epicurus, “but they are not what the hoi polloi (the multitude) suppose them to be. He is not an infidel or atheist who denies the existence of Gods whom the multitude worship, but he is such who fastens on the Gods the opinions of the multitude.” [Diog. Laert., Lives, X, 123.]
‡ [Aristotle: Metaphysics, Bk. XII, 8, p. 1074 b.]
conscious, and living “Principles,” the Primary Seven Lights manifested from Light unmanifested–which to us is Darkness. They are the Seven– exoterically four–Kumaras or “Mind-Born Sons” of Brahma. And it is they again, the Dhyani-Chohans, who are the prototypes in the aeonic eternity of lower Gods and hierarchies of divine Beings, at the lowest end of which ladder of being are we–men.
Thus perchance Polytheism, when philosophically understood, may be a degree higher than even the Monotheism of the Protestant, say, who limits and conditions the Deity in whom he persists in seeing the Infinite, but whose supposed actions make of that “Absolute and Infinite” the most absurd paradox in Philosophy. From this standpoint Roman Catholicism itself is immeasurably higher and more logical than Protestantism, though the Roman Church has been pleased to adopt the exotericism of the heathen “multitude” and to reject the Philosophy of pure Esotericism.
Thus every mortal has his immortal counterpart, or rather his Archetype, in heaven. This means that the former is indissolubly united to the latter, in each of his incarnations, and for the duration of the cycle of births; only it is by the spiritual and intellectual Principle in him, entirely distinct from the lower self, never through the earthly personality. Some of these are even liable to break the union altogether, in case of absence in the moral individual of binding, viz., of spiritual ties. Truly, as Paracelsus puts it in his quaint, tortured phraseology, man with his three (compound) Spirits is suspended like a foetus by all three to the matrix of the Macrocosm; the thread which holds him united being the “Thread-Soul,” Sãtratman, and Taijasa (the “Shining”) of the Vedantins. And it is through this spiritual and intellectual Principle in man, through Taijasa–the Shining, “because it has the luminous internal organ as its associate”–that man is thus united to his heavenly prototype, never through his lower inner self or Astral Body, for which there remains in most cases nothing but to fade out.
Occultism, or Theurgy, teaches the means of producing such union. But it is the actions of man–his personal merit alone that can produce it on earth, or determine its duration. This lasts from a few seconds–a flash–to several hours, during which time the Theurgist or Theophanist is that overshadowing “God”
himself; hence he becomes endowed for the time being with relative omniscience and omnipotence. With such perfect (divine) Adepts as Buddha* and others such a hypostatical state of avataric condition may last during the whole life; whereas in the case of full Initiates, who have not yet reached the perfect state of J§vanmukta,† Theopneusty, when in full sway, results for the high Adept in a full recollection of everything seen, heard, or sensed.
Taijasa . . . has fruition of the supersensible.‡
For one less perfect it will end only in a partial, indistinct remembrance; while the beginner has to face in the first period of his psychic experiences a mere confusion, followed by a rapid and finally complete oblivion of the mysteries seen during this super-hypnotic condition. The degree of recollection, when one returns to his waking state and physical senses, depends on his spiritual and psychic purification, the greatest enemy of spiritual memory being man’s physical brain, the organ of his sensuous nature.
The above states are described for a clearer comprehension of terms used in this work. There are so many and such various conditions and states that even a Seer is liable to confound one with the other. To repeat: the Greek, rarely-used word, “Theophania,” meant more with the Neo-Platonists than it does with the modern maker of dictionaries. The compound word, Theophania (from theos, “God,” and phainesthai, “to appear,”) does not simply mean “a manifestation of God to man by actual appearance”–an absurdity, by the way–but the actual presence of a God in man, a divine incarnation. When Simon the Magician claimed to be “God the Father,” what he wanted to convey was just that which has been explained, namely, that he was a divine incarnation of his own Father, whether we see in
* Esoteric, as exoteric, Buddhism rejects the theory that Gautama was an incarnation or Avatara of Vishnu, but teaches the doctrine as herein explained. Every man has in him the materials, if not the conditions, for theophanic intercourse and Theopneusty, the inspiring “God” being, however, in every case, his own Higher Self, or divine prototype.
† One entirely and absolutely purified, and having nothing in common with earth except his body.
‡ Mândûkyopanishad, 4.
the latter an Angel, a God, or a Spirit; therefore he was called “that power of God which is called great,”* or that power which causes the Divine Self to enshrine itself in its lower self–man.
This is one of the several mysteries of being and incarnation. Another is that when an Adept reaches during his lifetime that state of holiness and purity that makes him “equal to the Angels,” then at death his apparitional or astral body becomes as solid and tangible as was the late body, and is transformed into the real man.† The old physical body, falling off like the cast-off serpent’s skin, the body of the “new” man remains either visible or, at the option of the Adept, disappears from view, surrounded as it is by the Akasic shell that screens it. In the latter case there are three ways open to the Adept:
(1) He may remain in the earth’s sphere (Vayu or Kamaloka), in that ethereal locality concealed from human sight save during flashes of clairvoyance. In this case his astral body, owing to its great purity and spirituality, having lost the conditions required for }kaśic light (the nether or terrestrial ether) to absorb its semi-material particles, the Adept will have to remain in the company of disintegrating shells–doing no good or useful work. This, of course, cannot be.
(2) He can by a supreme effort of will merge entirely into, and get united with, his Monad. By doing so, however, he would (a) deprive his Higher Self of posthumous Samadhi––a bliss which is not real Nirvana – the astral, however pure, being too earthly for such state; and (b) he would thereby open himself to Karmic law; the action being, in fact, the outcome of personal selfishness – of reaping the fruits produced by and for oneself – alone.
(3) The Adept has the option of renouncing conscious Nirvana and rest, to work on earth for the good of mankind. This he can do in a twofold way: either, as above said, by consolidating his astral body into physical appearance, he can re-assume the self-same personality; or he can avail himself of an
* Acts, viii, 10 (Revised Version).
† See the explanations given on the subject in “The Elixir of Life,” by G. Mitford (From a Chela’s Diary), Five years of Theosophy, London, 1885. [Theosophy Co. reprint, 1980.]
entirely new physical body, whether that of a newly-born infant or–as Śamkaracharya is reported to have done with the body of a dead Raja–by “entering a deserted sheath,” and living in it as long as he chooses. This is what is called “continuous existence.” The Section entitled “The Mystery about Buddha” will throw additional light on this theory, to the profane incomprehensible, or to the generality simply absurd. Such is the doctrine taught, everyone having the choice of either fathoming it still deeper, or of leaving it unnoticed.
The above is simply a small portion of what might have been given in Isis Unveiled, had the time come then, as it has now. One cannot study and profit by Occult Science, unless one gives himself up to it–heart, soul, and body. Some of its truths are too awful, too dangerous, for the average mind. None can toy and play with such terrible weapons with impunity. Therefore it is, as St. Paul has it, “unlawful” to speak of them. Let us accept the reminder and talk only of that which is “lawful.”
The quotation on p. 47-48 relates, moreover, only to psychic or spiritual Magic. The practical teachings of Occult Science are entirely different, and few are the strong minds fitted for them. As to ecstasy, and such like kinds of self-illumination, this may be obtained by oneself and without any teacher or initiation, for ecstasy is reached by an inward command and control of Self over the physical Ego; as to obtaining mastery over the forces of Nature, this requires a long training, or the capacity of one born a “natural Magician.” Meanwhile, those who possess neither of the requisite qualifications are strongly advised to limit themselves to purely spiritual development. But even this is difficult, as the first necessary qualification is an unshakable belief in one’s own powers and the Deity within oneself; otherwise a man would simply develop into an irresponsible medium. Throughout the whole mystic literature of the ancient world we detect the same idea of spiritual Esotericism, that the personal God exists within, nowhere outside, the worshipper. That personal Deity is no vain breath, or a fiction, but an immortal Entity, the Initiator of the Initiates, now that the heavenly or Celestial Initiators of primitive humanity–the Śishtas of the preceding cycles–are no more among us. Like an under-current, rapid and clear, it runs without mixing its crystalline purity with the muddy and troubled waters of
dogmatism, an enforced anthropomorphic Deity and religious intolerance. We find this idea in the tortured and barbarous phraseology of the Codex Nazaraeus,* and in the superb Neo-Platonic language of the Fourth Gospel of the later Religion, in the oldest Veda and in the Avesta, in the Abhidharma, in Kapila’s Sânkhya-Sûtras, and the Bhagavad-Gîtâ [and in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras]. We cannot attain Adeptship and Nirvana, Bliss and the “Kingdom of Heaven,” unless we link ourselves indissolubly with our Rex Lucis, the Lord of Splendour and of Light, our immortal God within us. Aham eva Parabrahman–“I am verily the Supreme Brahman”–has ever been the one living truth in the heart and mind of the Adepts, and it is this which helps the Mystic to become one. One must first of all recognize one’s own immortal Principle, and then only can one conquer, or take the Kingdom of Heaven by violence. Only this has to be achieved by the higher–not the middle, nor the third–man, the last one being of dust. Nor can the second man, the “Son”–on this plane, as his “Father” is the Son on a still higher plane–do anything without the assistance of the first, the “Father.” But to succeed one has to identify oneself with one’s divine Parent.
The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second [inner, our higher] man is the Lord from heaven . . . . Behold, I show you a mystery.†
Thus says Paul, mentioning but the dual and trinitarian man for the better comprehension of the non-initiated. But this is not all, for the Delphic injunction has to be fulfilled: man must know himself in order to become a perfect Adept. How few can acquire the knowledge, however, not merely in its inner mystical, but even in its literal sense, for there are two meanings in this command of the Oracle. This is the doctrine of Buddha and the Bodhisattvas pure and simple.
Such is also the mystical sense of what was said by Paul to the Corinthians about their being the “temple of God,” for this meant Esoterically:
* [Published as The Book of Adam or Liber Adami in Latin & Syriac by Mathieu Norberg in 3 vols. including concordance, 1815.]
† I Cor. XV, 47, 51. [Cp. Isis II, p. 318.]
Ye are the temple of [the, or your] God, and the Spirit of [a, or your] God dwelleth in you.*
This carries precisely the same meaning as the “I am verily Brahman” of the Vedantin. Nor is the latter assertion more blasphemous than the Pauline–if there were any blasphemy in either, which is denied. Only the Vedantin, who never refers to his body as being himself, or even a part of himself, or aught else but an illusory form for others to see him in, constructs his assertion more openly and sincerely than was done by Paul.
The Delphic command “Know thyself” was perfectly comprehensible to every nation of old. So it is now, save to the Christians, since, with the exception of the Moslems, it is part and parcel of every Eastern religion, including the Kabalistically instructed Jews. To understand its full meaning, however, necessitates, first of all, belief in Reincarnation and all its mysteries; not as laid down in the doctrine of the French Reincarnationists of the Allan Kardec school, but as they are expounded and taught by Esoteric Philosophy. Man must, in short, know who he was, before he arrives at knowing what he is. And how many are there among Europeans who are capable of developing within themselves an absolute belief in their past and future reincarnations, in general, even as a law, let alone mystic knowledge of one’s immediately precedent life? Early
* I Cor. iii, 16. Has the reader ever meditated upon the suggestive words, often pronounced by Jesus and his Apostles? “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father . . . is perfect” (Matt.v, 48), says the Great Master. The words “as perfect as your Father which is in heaven,” being interpreted as meaning God. Now the utter absurdity of any man becoming as perfect as the infinite, all-perfect, omniscient and omnipresent Deity, is too apparent. If you accept it in such a sense, Jesus is made to utter the greatest fallacy. What was Esoterically meant is, “Your Father who is above the material and astral man, the highest Principle (save the Monad) within man, his own personal God, or the God of his own personality, of whom he is the ‘prison’ and the ‘temple.’” “If thou wilt be perfect (i.e., an Adept and Initiate), go and sell that thou hast” (Matt. xix, 21). Every man who desired to become a neophyte, a chela, then, as now, had to take the vow of poverty. The “Perfect” was the name given to the Initiates of every denomination. Plato calls them by that term. The Essenes had their “Perfect,” and Paul plainly states that they, the Initiates, can only speak before other Adepts. “We speak wisdom among them [only] that are perfect” (I Cor. ii, 6.).
education, tradition and training of thought, everything is opposing itself during their whole lives to such a belief. Cultured people have been brought up in that most pernicious idea that the wide difference found between the units of one and the same mankind, or even race, is the result of chance; that the gulf between man and man in their respective social positions, birth, intellect, physical and mental capacities–every one of which qualifications has a direct influence on every human life– that all this is simply due to blind hazard, only the most pious among them finding equivocal consolation in the idea that it is “the will of God.” They have never analysed, never stopped to think of the depth of the opprobrium that is thrown upon their God, once the grand and most equitable law of the manifold rebirths of man upon this earth is foolishly rejected. Men and women anxious to be regarded as Christians, often truly and sincerely trying to lead a Christ-like life, have never paused to reflect over the words of their own Bible. “Art thou Elias?” the Jewish priests and Levites asked the Baptist.* Their Saviour taught His disciples this grand truth of the Esoteric Philosophy, but verily, if His Apostles comprehended it, no one else seems to have realized its true meaning. No; not even Nicodemus, who, to the assertion; “Except a man be born again† he cannot see the Kingdom of God,” answers: “How can a man be born when he is old?” and is forthwith reproved by the remark: “Art thou a master in Israel and knowest not these things?”–as no one had a right to call himself a “Master” and Teacher, without having been initiated into the mysteries (a) of a spiritual rebirth through water, fire and spirit, and (b) of the rebirth from flesh.‡ Then again what can be a clearer expression
* John, i, 21.
† John, iii, 3. “Born” from above, viz., from his Monad or divine EGO, the seventh Principle, which remains till the end of the Kalpa, the nucleus of, and at the same time the overshadowing Principle, as the Kâranâtman (Causal Soul) of the personality in every rebirth. In this sense, the sentence “born anew” means “descends from above,” the last two words having no reference to heaven or space, neither of which can be limited or located, since one is a state and the other infinite, hence having no cardinal points. (See New Testament, Revised Version, loc. cit.)
‡ This can have no reference to Christian Baptism, since there was none in the days of Nicodemus and he could not therefore know anything of it, even though a “Master.”
as to the doctrine of manifold rebirths than the answer given by Jesus to the Sadducees, “who deny that there is any resurrection,” i.e., any rebirth, since the dogma of the resurrection in the flesh is now regarded as an absurdity even by the intelligent clergy:
They who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world [Nirvana] * neither marry . . . neither can they die any more,
which shows that they had already died, and more than once. And again:
Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed . . . when at the bush, he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, for he is not a God of the dead, but of the living.†
The sentence “now that the dead are raised” evidently applied to the then actual rebirths of the Jacobs and the Isaacs, and not to their future resurrection; for in such case they would have been still dead in the interim, and could not be referred to as “the living.”
But the most suggestive of Christ’s parables and “dark sayings” is found in the explanation given by him to his Apostles about the blind man:
Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this [blind, physical] man sinned nor his parents; but that the works of [his] God should be made manifest in him.‡
Man is the “tabernacle,” the “building” only, of his God; and of course it is not the temple but its inmate–the vehicle of
* This word, translated in the New Testament “world” to suit the official interpretation, means rather an “age” (as shown in the Revised Version) or one of the periods during the Manvantara, a Kalpa, or Aeon. Esoterically the sentence would read: “He who shall reach, through a series of births and Karmic law, the state in which Humanity shall find itself after the Seventh Round and the Seventh Race, when comes Nirvana, Moksha, and when man becomes ‘equal unto the Angels’ or Dhyani-Chohans, is a ‘son of the resurrection’ and ‘can die no more’; then there will be no marriage, as there will be no difference of sexes”–a result of our present materiality and animalism.
† Luke, xx, 27-38.
‡ John, ix, 2, 3
“God”* that had sinned in a previous incarnation, and had thus brought the Karma of cecity upon the new building. Thus Jesus spoke truly; but to this day his followers have refused to understand the words of wisdom spoken. The Saviour is shown by his followers as though he were paving, by his words and explanation, the way to a preconceived programme that had to lead to an intended miracle. Verily the Grand Martyr has remained thenceforward, and for eighteen centuries, the Victim crucified daily far more cruelly by his clerical disciples and lay followers than he ever could have been by his allegorical enemies. For such is the true sense of the words “that the works of God should be made manifest in him,” in the light of theological interpretation, and a very undignified one it is, if the Esoteric explanation is rejected.
Doubtless the above will be regarded as fresh blasphemy. Nevertheless there are a number of Christians whom we know–whose hearts go out as strongly to their ideal of Jesus, as their souls are repelled from the theological picture of the official Saviour–who will reflect over our explanation and find in it no offence, but perchance a relief.
* The conscious Ego, or Fifth Principle, Manas, the vehicle of the divine Monad or “God.”