A NOTE OF EXPLANATION
[Lucifer, Vol. I, No. 5, January, 1888, pp. 418-421]
I would much rather suffer an unintentional misrepresentation of my meaning than take the trouble to reply, and have no desire to magnify small matters of difference. But a very critical friend calls my attention to certain statements and apparent discrepancies in “The Esoteric Character of the Gospels,” on which I will beg leave to say a word.
I find it affirmed on p. 300, in a foot-note,† that “Mr. G. Massey is not correct in saying that ‘. . . . The Gnostic form of the name Chrêst, or Chrêstos, denotes the Good God, not a human original,’ for it denotes the latter, i.e., a good, holy man.” But either the statement has no meaning as an answer to me, or it is based on a misunderstanding of mine. ‡ I was showing that the original Christ
of the Gnosis was not one particular form of human personality, like the supposed historic Christ, and that the name denoted a divine, and not a human original. I was perfectly well aware, as your quotations show, that the name was afterwards conferred on the “good” as the Chrêstoi or Chrêstiani. Nor do I say, or anywhere imply, that the “Karest,” or mummy-type of immortality was the only form of the Christ, as your quotations again will prove. I have written enough about the Gnostic Christ who was the Immortal Self in man, the reflection of, or emanation from, the divine nature in humanity, and in both sexes, not merely in one.* This is the Christ that never could become a one person or be limited to one sex. This you accept and preach; yet you can add “Still, the personage (Jesus) so addressed [by Paul]—wherever he lived—was a great Initiate and a ‘Son of God.’”† But the Christos of Paul, being the Gnostic Christ, as you
I do not for one moment oppose Mr. Massey’s conclusions, nor doubt his undeniable learning in the direction of those particular researches, i.e., about the words “Christos” and “Chrêstos.” What I say is, that he limits them to the negation of an historical Christ, and, for reasons no doubt very weighty, does not touch upon their principal esoteric meaning in the temple-phraseology of the Mysteries.—H.P.B.
* This is absolutely and pre eminently a Theosophical doctrine taught ever since 1875, when the Theosophical Society was founded.—H.P.B.
† This, I am afraid, is a misunderstanding (due, no doubt, to my own fault) on the part of our learned correspondent, of the meaning that was intended to be conveyed in the articles now criticized. If he goes to the trouble of reading over again the paragraph that misled him (see p. 307, 5th paragraph), he will, perhaps, see that it is so. That which was really meant was that, though the terms Christos and Chrêstos are generic surnames, still, the personage so addressed (not by Paul, necessarily, but by any one), was a great Initiate and a “Son of God.” It is the name “Jesus,” placed in the sentence in parentheses that made it both clumsy and misleading. Whether Paul knew of Jehoshua Ben Pandira (and he must have heard of him), or not, he could never
admit (p. 301), it cannot be a personage named Jesus, or a great Initiate, who was addressed by him. It appears to me that in passages like these, you are giving away all that is worth contending for, and vouching for that which never has been, and never can be, proved. I have searched for Jesus many years in the Gospels and elsewhere without being able to catch hold of the hem of the garment of any human personality. Ben-Pandira we know a little of, but cannot make him out in the Christ of the Gospels. The Christ of the Gnosis can be identified, but not with any historic Jesus.
We do not go to the Christian Gospels to learn the true nature of the Christ, or the incarnation according to the Gnostic religion (I use this term in preference to yours of the “Wisdom-Religion,” as being more definite and explanatory; not as a religion, supposed by the Idiotai to have followed in the wake of Historic Christianity!). These were known in Egypt, more than six thousand years ago. When the monuments began, the Cult of the Supreme God Atum was extant. We know not how many aeons earlier, but six thousand years will do. Atum=Adam was the divine father of an eternal soul which was personated as his son, named Iu-em-hept (the Greek Imothos or Aesculapius), an image of whom used to be seen (on shelf 3,578 b. 1874), in the British Museum.* He was the second Atum=Adam,
have applied the surname used by him to Jesus or any other historic Christ. Otherwise his Epistles would not have been withheld and exiled as they were. The sentence which precedes the two incriminated [sic] statements, shows that no such thing, as understood by Mr. Massey, could have been really meant, as it is said “Occultism pure and simple finds the same mystic elements in the Christian as in other faiths, though it rejects as emphatically its dogmatic and historic character.” The two statements, viz., that Jesus or Jehoshua Ben Pandira, whenever he lived, was a great Initiate and the “Son of God”—just as Apollonius of Tyana was—and that Paul never meant either him or any other living Initiate, but a metaphysical Christos present in, and personal to, every mystic Gnostic as to every initiated Pagan—are not at all irreconcilable. A man may know of several great Initiates, and yet place his own ideal on a far higher pedestal than any of these. —H.P.B.
* [More correctly, Imouthês, , and ‘Imhôtep, in Egyptian. It has not been possible definitely to identify the figure to which
and is called the “Eternal Word” in the Ritual. In external phenomena this type represented the Solar God, re-born monthly or annually in the lunar orb, in human phenomena the Christ or Son of God as the essential and eternal soul in man. But he was neither a man nor an Initiate. He was just what the Logos, the Word of Truth or Ma-Kheru, the Buddha or Christ is in other Cults. *
I cordially agree with “M,” a correspondent whom you quote, and wish that all our orthodox friends would as frankly face the facts.
H.P.B. refers. There are at present in the British Museum three bronze statuettes of ’Imhôtep, on view in the Fifth Egyptian Room, wall-case No. 216. They are small seated figures numbered 40666, 63800 and 64495.—Compiler.]
* Nor shall I dispute this statement in general. But this does not invalidate in one iota my claim. The temple priests assumed the names of the gods they served, and this is as well known a fact, as that the defunct Egyptian became an “Osiris”—was “osirified”—after his death. Yet Osiris was assuredly neither “man nor an Initiate,” but a being hardly recognised as such by the Royal Society of materialistic science. Why, then, could not an “Initiate,” who had succeeded in merging his spiritual being into the Christos state, be regarded as a Christos after his last and supreme initiation, just as he was called Chrêstos before that? Neither Plotinus, Porphyry nor Apollonius were Christians, yet, according to esoteric teaching, Plotinus realized this sublime state (of becoming or uniting himself with his Christos) six times, Apollonius of Tyana four times, while Porphyry reached the exalted state only once, when over sixty years of age. The Gnostics called the “Word” “Abraxas” and “Christos” indiscriminately, and by whatever name we may call it, whether Ma-Kheru, or Christos or Abraxas, it is all one. That mystic state which gives to our inner being the impulse that attracts “the soul towards its origin and centre, the Eternal good,” as Plotinus teaches, and makes of man a god, the Christos or the unknown made manifest, is a pre eminently theosophical condition. It belongs to the temple mysteries, and the teachings of the Neo-Platonists.—H.P.B.
If any historic Jesus ever did claim to be the Gnostic Christ made flesh * once for all, he would be the supremest impostor in history.
Let us define to ourselves very strictly what it is we do mean, or we shall introduce the direst confusion into the conflict, and we shall be unable to distinguish the face of friend from foe in the cloud of battle-dust which we may raise. What I find is, that Historic Christianity was based either upon the suppression or the perversion of all that was esoteric in Gnostic Christianity. And to bring any aid from the one to the support of the other is to try and re-establish with the left hand all that you are knocking down with the right.
I am also taken to task on page 177 for alluding to the Bible as a “magazine of falsehoods already exploded, or just going off,” by the writer who adds force to my words later on in characterizing these same writings as a “magazine of [wicked] falsehoods” (p. 178), † which was going farther than I went, who do set down as much to ignorance as to knavery. What I meant was, that the “Fall of Man” in the Old Testament, is a falsification of fable, now exploded, and that the redemption from that fall, which is promised in the New, whether by an “Initiate” or “Son of God” is a fraud based on the fable, and a falsehood that is going to be exploded. There is no call to mix up the Book of the Dead, the Vedas, or any other sacred writings, in this matter. Each tub must stand on its own bottom, and the one that won’t, can’t hold water.†
* “Christ made flesh,” would be a claim worse than imposture, as it would be absurdity, but a man of flesh assuming the Christ-condition temporarily, is indeed an occult, yet living, fact.—H.P.B.
† Just so, if it has been originally written to be accepted in its dead letter sense. But, as I entirely agree with Mr. Massey, that historic Christianity was based upon the suppression, and especially the perversion of that which was esoteric in gnosticism, it is difficult to see in what it is that we disagree? The perversion of esoteric facts in the gospels is not so cleverly done as to prevent the true occultist from reading the Gospel narratives between the lines.—H.P.B.
‡ If Mr. G. Massey kindly waits till the conclusion of “The Esoteric Character of the Gospels” to criticise the statements, he may perhaps arrive at the conviction that
P.S. By the by, I see the Adventists, and other misleading Delusionists are all agog just now about the wonderful fulfilment of prophecy, and corroboration of historic fact, that we are now witnessing. The “Star of Bethlehem” has re-appeared, so they say, to prove the truth of the Christian story. But, sad to say, it is not the star of Christ that is now visible in the south-east before sunrise every morning. It is Venus in her heliacal rising. It is Venus as the Maleess, or Lucifer as “Sun of the Morning.” This particular Star of Bethlehem—there are various others less brilliant and less noticeable —generally does return once every nineteen months or so, when the planet Venus is the Morning Star. Only the gaping camel-swallowers, who know all about the “Star of Bethlehem,” and the fulfilment of prophecy, are not up in Astronomy, and they will no doubt squirm and strain at this small gnat of real fact offered to them by way of an explanation.