[Lucifer, Vol. I, No. 1, September, 1887, pp. 71-75]
Buddhism in Christendom, or Jesus the Essene, by Arthur Lillie, etc.—A queer and rather thickish volume, of a presumably scientific character, by an amateur Orientalist. Contents:—Familiar theories, built on two sacred and time-honoured names, which the author enshrines between garlands of modern gossip and libels on his critics, past and present. A true literary sarcophagus inhuming the decayed bodies of very old, if occasionally correct, theories jumbled up together with exploded speculations.
The volume—title and symbology—is pregnant with the atmosphere of the sacred poetry attached to the names of Gautama the Buddha, and “Jesus the Essene.” To find it sprinkled with the heavy drops of personal spite, is like gazing at an unclean fly fallen into the communion-wine of a chalice. One can but wonder and ask oneself, what shall be the next move in literature? Is it a new “Sacred Book of the East,” in which one will find the evidence by Policeman Endacott against Miss Cass welcomed and accepted as an historical fact? Or shall it be the Pentecostal tongues of fire examined in the light of the latest improved kerosene lamp?
But a well-informed chronicler at our elbow reports that the author of Buddhism in Christendom, or Jesus the Essene, is a strong medium who sits daily for spiritual development. This would account for the wonderfully mixed character of the contents of the volume referred to. It must be so, since it reads just as such a joint production would. It is a curious mixture of “spirit” inspiration,
passages bodily taken from the reports of the Society “for Spookical Research,” as that misguided body was dubbed—for once wittily—by the Saturday Review, and various other little defamatory trifles besides. The “spirit guides” are proverbially revengeful and not always wise in their generation. A former work by the same medium having been three or four years ago somewhat painfully mangled by a real Sanskrit and Buddhist scholar in India, the “Spirit Angel” falls foul now of his critics. The wandering Spook tries to run amuck among them, without even perceiving, the poor, good soul, that he only blots and disfigures with the corrosive venom of his spite the two noble and sacred characters whom his medium-author undertakes to interpret, before ever he has learned to understand them....
This places Lucifer under the disagreeable necessity of reviewing the pretentious work at length in one of its future numbers. As the same mistakes and blunders occur in Buddhism in Christendom as in Buddha and Early Buddhism, the magazine must make it its duty, if not altogether its pleasure, to check the volume of 1883 by that of 1887.
It is rumoured that A Catechism on Every-Day Life, by a Theosophical writer, is ready for press. Let us hope it will contain no special theology or dogmas, but only wise advice for practical life, in its application to the ordinary events in the existence of every theosophist. The time has come when the veil of illusion is to be pulled aside entirely, not merely playfully, as hitherto done. For if mere members of the theosophical body have nothing to risk, except, perhaps, an occasional friendly stare and laugh at those who, without any special necessity, as believed, pollute the immaculate whiteness of their respectable society skirts by joining an unpopular movement, real theosophists ought to look truth and fact right in the face. To become a true theosophist—i.e. one thoroughly imbued with altruistic feelings, with a willingness to forget self, and readiness to help his neighbour to
carry the burden of life—is to become instantaneously transformed into a public target. It is to make oneself a ready thing for heavy “Mrs. Grundy” to sit upon: to become the object of ridicule, slander, and vilification, which will not stop even before an occasional criminal charge. For some theosophists, every move in the true theosophical direction, is a forlorn-hope enterprise. All this notwithstanding, the ranks of the “unpopular” society are steadily, if slowly increasing.
For what does slander and ridicule really matter? When have fools ever been slandered, or rich and influential men and women ostracised, however black and soiled in their hearts, or in their secret lives? Who ever heard of a Reformer’s or an orator’s course of life running smooth? Who of them escaped from being pelted with dirt by his enemies?
Gautama Buddha, the great Hindu Reformer, was charged by the Brahmins with being a demon, whose form was taken by Vishnu, to encourage men to despise the Vedas, deny the gods, and thus effect their own destruction.
“Say we not well thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” said the Pharisees to Jesus. “He deceiveth the people . . . Stone him to death!”
“He who surpasses or subdues mankind,
Must look down on the hate of those below,” *
says the great English poet. The latter is echoed in prose by the King of French poets. Writes Victor Hugo:
You have your enemies; but who has not? Guizot has enemies, Thiers has enemies, Lamartine has enemies. Have I not been myself fighting for twenty years? Have I not been for twenty years past reviled, betrayed, sold, rended, hooted, taunted, insulted, calumniated? Have not my books been parodied, and my deeds travestied? I also am beset and spied upon, I also have traps laid for me, and I have even been made to fall into them. But what is all that to me? I disdain it. It is one of the most difficult yet necessary things in life to learn to disdain. Disdain protects and crushes. It is a breastplate and a club. You have enemies? Why, it is the story of every man who has done a great deed, created a new idea. It is the cloud which thunders around everything which shines. Do not trouble yourself about it. Do not give your enemies the satisfaction of thinking that they cause you any feeling, be disdainful. (Choses Vues.)
* [Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Canto III, 45.—Compiler.]
The Latest Romance of Science, summarized by a Frenchman.
If the Atomo-mechanical Theory of the Universe has caused considerable embarrassment to our materialists and brought some of their much beloved scientific speculations to grief (see The Concepts and Theories of Modern Physics, by J. B. Stallo), the layman must not be ungrateful to the great men for other boons received at their hands. Through the indefatigable labours of the most famous biologists and anthropologists of the day, the mystery which has hitherto enshrouded the origin of man is no more. It has vanished into thin air; thanks to the activity of the officina (workshop, in Queen’s English), in Haeckel’s brain, or, as a Hylo-Idealist would say, in the vesiculo-neurine of his hemispherical ganglia *—the origin of mankind has to be sought in that scientific region, and nowhere else.
Religiously read by the “Animalists” in its English translation in Protestant and Monarchical England, The Pedigree of Man † is now welcomed with shouts of joy in Roman Catholic Republican France. A summary has just been compiled of it by a French savant, who rejoices in the name of Topinard. The summary on that “question of questions” (as Mr. HuxIey calls it), is more interesting in reality than the Pedigree of Man itself. It is so deliciously fantastic and original, that one comes almost to regret that our numerous and frolicsome ancestors in
* Dr. Lewins, the Hylo-Idealist, in his appendices to What is Religion? A Vindication of Freethought, by C. N. [Constance Naden]: The Brain Theory of Mind and Matter, the Creed of Physics, Physics and Philosophy. W. Stewart and Co.
† [The Pedigree of Man; and Other Essays . . . Translated from the German by E. B. Aveling, 1883. International Library of Sciences and Freethought. Vol. 6.—Compiler.]
the Zoological Gardens of Europe and America seem to show no intention of getting up a subscription list among themselves, for the raising of a lasting monument to the great Haeckel. Thus, ingratitude in man must surely be a phenomenon of atavism; another suggestive point being thus gained toward further proof of man’s descent from the ingrate and heartless, as well as tailless, pithecoid baboon.
Saith the learned Topinard:—
At the commencement of what geologists call the Laurentian period of the Earth, and the fortuitous union of certain elements of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen, under conditions which probably only took place at that epoch, the first albuminoid clots were formed. From them, and by spontaneous generation,* the first cellules or cleavage masses took their origin. These cellules were then subdivided and multiplied, arranging themselves in the form of organs, and after a series of transformations, fixed by Mr. Haeckel at nine in number, originated certain vertebrata of the genus Amphioxus lanceolatus. The division into sexes was marked out, the spinal marrow and chorda dorsalis became visible. At the tenth stage the brain and skull made their appearance, as in the lamprey; at the eleventh, the limbs and jaws were developed . . . . . the earth was then only in the Silurian period. At the sixteenth, the adaptation to terrestrial life ceased. At the seventeenth, which corresponds to the Jurassic phase of the history of the globe, the genealogy of man is raised to the kangaroo among the marsupials. At the eighteenth, he becomes a lemurian; the Tertiary period commences. At the nineteenth, he becomes a Catarrhinian, that is to say, an ape with a tail, a Pithecian. At the twentieth he becomes an anthropoid, continuing so throughout the whole of the Miocene period. At the twenty-first he becomes a man-ape, he does not possess language, nor in consequence the corresponding brain. Lastly, at the twenty-second, man comes forth . . . . in his inferior types.†
* Mark well: when a theosophist or an occultist speaks of “spontaneous generation,” because for him there exists no inorganic matter in Kosmos—he is forthwith set down as an ignoramus. To prove the descent of man from the animal, however, even spontaneous generation from dead or inorganic matter, becomes an axiomatic and scientific fact.
† [It has not been possible to ascertain from what particular work of Paul Topinard this passage has been taken. “The Latest Romance of Science” is apparently only a descriptive title used by H.P.B., and does not actually identify the work quoted from. Vide Bio-Bibl. Index, s.v. TOPINARD.—Compiler.]
Happy, privileged man! Hapless evolution-forsaken baboon! We are not told by science the secret why, while man has had plenty of time to become, say a Plato, a Newton, a Napoleon, or even a Haeckel, his poor ancestor should have been arrested in his growth and development. For, as far as is known, the rump of the cynocephalus seems as blue and as callous to-day, as it was during the reign of Psammetichus or Cheops; the macacus must have made as ugly faces at Pliny 18 centuries back, as he does now at a Darwinian. We may be told that in the enormous period of time that must have elapsed since the beginning of evolution, 2,000 or even 10,000 years mean very little. But then, one does not find even the Moneron any better off for the millions of years that have rolled away. Yet, between the gelatinous and thoughtful hermit of the briny deep and man, there must have elapsed quite sufficient time for some trifling transformation. That primordial protoplasmic creature, however, seems to fare no better at the hands of evolution, which has well-nigh forgotten it.
By this time, one should suppose that this ancestor of ours of stage one, ought to have reached, to say the least, a higher development; to have become, for instance, the amphibian “sozura” of the “fourteenth stage,” so minutely and scientifically described by Mr. Haeckel, and of which de Quatrefages so wickedly says in The Human Species (p. 108),* that it (the sozura) “is equally unknown to science.” But we see quite the reverse. The tender-bodied little one, has remained but a moneron to this very hour; so much so, that Mr. Huxley, fishing him out from the abysmal ocean depths, took pity upon him, and gave him a father. He baptized our archaic ancestor, and named him Bathybius Haeckelii. . . . . .
But all these are mysteries that will, no doubt, be easily explained to the full satisfaction—of science, by
* [New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1879; 2nd ed., London: Paul & Co., 1881. This is the English translation of the French work, L’Espèce humaine, by Jean L. A. de Quatrefages de Bréau, 3rd ed., Paris: G. Baillière et Cie., 1877.—Compiler.]
any biologist of Haeckel’s brain power. As all know, no acrobatic feats, from the top of one tree to another top, by the swiftest of chimpanzees, can ever approach, let alone equal, the rapid evolutions of fancy in his cerebral “officina,” whenever Haeckel is called upon to explain the inexplicable. . . .
There is one trifle, however, which seems to have the best of even his capacity for getting out of a scientific dilemma, and this is the eighteenth stage of his genealogy in The Pedigree of Man. Man’s evolution from the Monera, alias Bathybius Haeckelii, up to tailed and then tailless man, passes through the marsupials, the kangaroo, sarrigue, etc. Thus he writes:
Eighteenth stage. Prosimiae, allied to the Loris (Stenops), and Makis (Lemur), without marsupial bones and cloaca, with placenta.*
Now it may be perhaps interesting to the profane and the innocent to learn that no such “prosimiae,” with placenta, exist in nature. That it is, in short, another creation of the famous German Evolutionist, and a child of his own brain. For de Quatrefages has pointed out several years ago, that:
. . . . the anatomical investigations of MM. Alphonse Milne-Edwards and Grandidier . . . . place it beyond all doubt that the prosimiae of Haeckel have no decidua and a diffuse placenta. They are indeciduata. Far from any possibility of their being the ancestors of the apes, according to the principle laid down by Haeckel himself, they cannot even be regarded as the ancestors of the zonoplacential mammals, the carnivora for instance, and ought to be connected with the pachydermata, the edentata and the cetacea.†
But, as that great French savant shows, “Haeckel, without the least hesitation, adds his prosimiae,” to the other groups in The Pedigree of Man, and “attributes to them a decidua and a discoidal placenta.” ‡ Must the world of the too credulous innocents again accept on faith these two creatures unknown to Science or man, only because “the proof of their existence arises from the necessity of an intermediate type”? This necessity, however,
* The Pedigree of Man and other Essays, p. 77.
† The Human Species, p. 110.
‡ Op. cit., p. 109.
being one only for the greater success of their inventor, Haeckel, that Simian Homer must not bear us ill will, if we do not hesitate to call his “genealogy” of man a romance of Science of the wildest type.
One thing is very suggestive in this speculation. The discovery of the absence of the needed placenta in the so-called prosimiae now dates several years back Haeckel knows of it, of course. So does Mr. Ed. B. Aveling, D.Sc., his translator. Why is the error allowed to remain uncorrected, and even unnoticed, in the English translation of The Pedigree of Man of 1883? Do the “members of the International Library of Science and Freethought,” fear to lose some of Haeckel’s admirers were these to learn the truth?
Nevertheless Haeckel’s scientific Pedigree of Man ought to awake and stir up to action the spirit of private enterprise. What a charming Féerie could be made of it on the stage of a theatre! A corps de ballet, composed of antediluvian reptiles and giant lizards, gradually, and stage by stage, metamorphosing themselves into kangaroos, lemurs, tailless apes and anthropoid baboons, and finally into a chorus of German biologists!
Such a Féerie would have The Black Crook,* and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, nowhere. An intelligent manager, alive to his interests, would make his fortune were he but to follow the happy thought.
Nota bene: The suggestion is copyright.
The Book of Life, by Siddhartha (also) Vonisa; his discoveries from “6215 to 6240, Anno Mundi.”
A cross between an octavo and duodecimo.
This volume, we see, is highly appreciated by the clergy, by whom, at this gloomy day of infidelity, even small favours seem to be thankfully received. The author (profane name unknown) hints, when he does not state plainly, that he is a reincarnation of Gautama Buddha,
* [A spectacular light opera, by Chas. M. Barra, music by T. Baller, first produced in 1886, and frequently revived.—Compiler.]
or Siddhartha, as also of a few other no meaner historical personages. The work is a clever steering between the sand-banks of science and theology. Enough is given in careful agreement with the former to make it ignore the more abundant concessions to the gods of the latter—e.g., Biblical chronology. The age of the world is allowed 6240 years from Adam, “seven hundred years after the brown and black races had been created” (p. 53, “Chronology”); the date of the earth’s incrustation and globe being left to the imagination of the reader. A chronological table of the principal historical events of the world is published on pages 53-56. Among them the birth of Moses is placed 1572 B.C. The Vedas are shown compiled in India, and the poems of Homer in Greece, “about 1200 B.C.” Siddhartha or Gautama established Buddhism in India “from 808 to 726,” B.C., we are told. Last, but not least, of the world epochs and divine signs of the time, comes the forever memorable event of March 31st, 1885—namely, “The Book of Life, Vonisa, was completely written,” and it closes the list. The reader is notified, moreover, at the line beginning with A.M. 6240, that the year 1884 C.E. (Christian Era) is the “beginning of Messianic age and close of Christian age,” which might account for the appearance and publication in the year following of the original volume under review.
The new Messiah declares that “although much of the work consists of discoveries which are original with the author, yet the reader will find in the Analytic Index a few hundred out of the many references which might be given to eminent authorities which were consulted in its preparation.” Among these, it seems, one has to include some theosophical writings, as it is stated in The Book of Life that—
(a.) “Seven great forces were concerned in these vast movements of early creation.”
(b.) “Seven Ages of the Earth.”
(c.) “Vayomer Elohim” translated “according to the laws of the Hebrew language,” means “seven forces were used as three-fold factors,” and
(d.) “That the first human beings were incarnated spirits”(pp. 26-27).
The above four declarations have the approval of theosophy. Whether the sentence that follows, namely, that “the work of incarnation [of the spirits] took place according to law,” and is “the clearest hypothesis which science has to offer concerning the origin of man,” will meet with the same approval from Messrs. Huxley, Haeckel, and Fiske, of the “Atomo-mechanical Theory,” is very doubtful.
Nor is it so sure that the Ethnological department in the Anglo-Indian Bureau of Statistics is quite prepared to alter its census returns in accordance with Siddhartha’s declaration, on page 29, that—
“One branch of the brown race was the Dravidian which still holds its place in Northern India.” [?!]
A new book, bearing the title of Spirit Revealed, is nearly ready for press. It is described as an extraordinary work. Its author is Wm. C. Eldon Serjeant, F.T.S., a writer of articles on the “Coming Reformation,” “Sparks from the World of Fire,” etc., etc. The work claims to “explain the Nature of the Deity, and to discuss His manifestations on every plane of existence, and to show forth the form of Christ, whose second coming is expected by Christians, and to proclaim the advent of the Messiah according to the belief of the Jews.” “Many subjects, involving questions of considerable obscurity in reference to the Deity, to the Scriptures, to men, to animals, and to things generally, are comprehensively treated and explained in accordance with the Word of the Spirit declared at various times through the sons of men.”
Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research: These reports coming out ad libitum, without any definite date, cannot be regarded as periodical. Depending for their circulation chiefly on the consummation of what the learned editors offer as bona fide psychic and spiritualistic exposés—which the public accepts as most kind advertisements of the people so attacked—this publication occupies a position entirely sui generis. The Proceedings offer to the public a very useful manual, something between a text and
guide-book, with practical instructions in diplomatic policy in the domain of the Psychic, in the form of scientific letters and private detective information. Sensitives discern in the Proceedings (by telepathic impact) the Machiavellian spirit of aristocratic Bismarck, seasoned with an aura strongly impregnated with the plebeian perfumes of honest mouchards on duty, but then they are, perhaps, prejudiced. On the other hand, some Russian spiritualistically inclined members of the S. P. R. have been heard to say, that the Proceedings reminded them of those of the happily defunct Third Section of the St. Petersburg Police. Thus, the tutelary “guides” of the learned association of the British Psychists, may one day turn out to be the departed spirits of Russian gendarmes after all?
Occasionally when the hunting grounds of this erudite body have afforded a specially successful chase—after mares’ nests—a Supplement is added to the Proceedings, the magnitude of the added volume being in inverse ratio to the illumination of its contents, which are generally offered as a premium to materialism.
Hence, the Proceedings may be better described as the fluctuating and occasional records of a society bent upon giving the lie to its own name For “Psychical” research is surely a misnomer, besides being a delusion and a snare for the unwary. Lucifer would suggest as a truer title, “Society for Hylo-Pseusmatical Research.” This would give the S. P. R., the benefit of an open connection with Dr. Lewins’ unparalleled “Hylo-Idealism” *—while it would enable it to sail under its true colours
Whether Lucifer’s advice be accepted or not, the profound philosophy of the phenomenon baptized “telepathy” and telepathic impact can only be studied scientifically, in our spasmodic contemporary. This new Greek stranger is the crowning work of the Psychic Fathers of
* , “matter as opposed to mind”; therefore Material-Idealism—a contradiction in terms exactly parallel to the name “Psychic” and the very “anti-psychic” work of the Society referred to. Pseusma should replace Psyche, as it seeks for frauds and not soul-action.
our century. It is their “first” and “only” offspring, and is a genuine discovery as far as its Hellenic name goes. For, bereft of its Greek appellation, it becomes like America. The genius who discovered the phenomenon, is like Columbus on whom the Northmen, and even the Chinamen, had stolen a march centuries before. This phenomenon can only seem new when thus disguised under a name solemn and scientific—because incomprehensible to the average profane. Its plain description in English—as transference of thought or sensation from a distance—could never hope to have the same ring of classical learning in it.
Nevertheless, the Proceedings with the two additional gigantic volumes of the psychic “Leviathan,” called Phantasms of the Living, are strongly recommended to invalids. They are priceless in cases of obstinate insomnia, as the best soporific known. Directions: The reader must be careful not to light a match in too close proximity to the said works.