TO THE MISTAKEN CONCEPTIONS OF THE
CONCERNING MY OBSERVATIONS ON CHRISTIAN ESOTERICISM
H. P. BLAVATSKY
[Le Lotus, Paris, Vol. II, No. 13, April, 1888, pp. 3-19]
[Translation of the foregoing original French text.]
In the February issue of Le Lotus, the Abbé speaks of a “drubbing” [bourrade] which he believes he received from me. At the same time, with a meekness which I will not call Christian—because the Christians are neither humble nor gentle in their polemics—but certainly Buddhistic, my interlocutor assures me that he bears me no ill-will. On the contrary, he says he is gratified by “my courteous manner and the complete frankness of my language,” quite natural results of my “Amazonian gait.”
A more cavilling mind than mine could find something to say to that. It would point out, perhaps, that such a superabundance of adjectives and personal epithets, in reply to observations on a subject as abstract as religious metaphysics, denotes quite the opposite of satisfaction. But Theosophists are but seldom flattered by their critics, and I myself have often received compliments more ill-turned than those the Abbé Roca lavishes on me. I should be wrong, therefore, not to appreciate his courtesy, especially since in his touching solicitude in considering my personality, and in order to do justice to my “virile intellect” and to my “masculine vigour,” the Abbé has consigned the theological Christ to the background and has not breathed a word about the esoteric Christ.
Now, as I have nothing to say of the first, and as I deny in toto the Christ invented by the Church, as well as all the doctrines, all the interpretations, and all the dogmas, ancient and modern, concerning that personage, I begin by declaring the Reply of the Abbé to my “Notes on
Christian Esotericism” to be no answer at all. I do not find, in all his voluminous letter, one single expression that would seriously contradict my objections, by refuting them logically and scientifically. Faith—and above all blind faith—cannot be “critically discussed”; in any case it can never be “scientifically established,” even though the Christian reader may be well satisfied with such casuistry. My interlocutor even bears me a grudge for having “displayed” what he pleases to call “such erudition.” That goes without saying. Against historical and valid arguments, he can offer as an objection only one single fact as “experimental” proof: Jesus Christ unceasingly telling him in his soul “that he is the Unique Master and the only true Doctor.” A feeble proof, indeed, in the face of science, law, and even the common sense of an unbeliever!
It is obvious that the famous paradox of Tertullian: “Credo quia absurdum et impossibile est”* has nothing to do with a discussion of this kind. I thought I was addressing myself to the erudite mystic, to the socialistic and liberal Abbé Roca. Have I disturbed myself merely for a priest, a fidei defensor! The Abbé gets out of it by saying: “I know Buddhism well enough to understand her [me] easily; she does not know Christianity sufficiently well to readily catch my meaning.” Grieved as I am to contradict him, truth must nevertheless come before all else. The Abbé deceives himself in fancying he understands Buddhism; it is easy to see that he does not know it even exoterically, any more than Hinduism, even in its popular form. Otherwise would he have ever placed Krishna, as he does on page 259, among the Buddhas? Or again, would he have confused the name of a historical personage, Prince Gautama, with his mystical titles, enumerating them as so many Buddhas?
Does he not write, indeed, in speaking of Jesus, that the chalice from which he drank was “far more bitter than the cup from which Socrates in the West drank the hemlock, or
* [This is the often misquoted sentence from Tertullian’s Carne Christi, ch. v, which runs: “Certum est quia impossibile est,” meaning “it is certain because it is impossible.”—Compiler.]
that . . . . which Krishna, Śâkyamuni,* Gautama of Kapilavastu, Siddhârtha, and all the other Buddhas” had drained? This “and all the other Buddhas” is a definite proof for us that the Abbé not only knows nothing of esoteric Buddhism, but has not the slightest idea of even the simple historical and popular biography of the great Hindu reformer. This is exactly as if, in speaking of Jesus, I should write: “Orpheus, the Son of Mary, Emmanuel, the Saviour, the Nazarene, and all the other Christs who have been crucified.” Without further wasting time in pointing out a number of lapsus linguae relating to Sanskrit, Brâhmanical and Buddhist terms scattered throughout the articles of the Abbé Roca—otherwise very learned articles and certainly very eloquent in style—that example is sufficient to permit the public to judge if my critic knows the first word of Buddhism in the present discussion. Can it be that the Abbé confounds it, as so many others have done, with Theosophy? In that case I may be allowed to inform him that Theosophy is neither Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Mohammedanism, Hinduism, nor any other ism: it is the esoteric synthesis of the known religions and philosophies.
Surely I must know something of Christianity—the popular and especially the exoteric—to allow myself to enter the lists against so erudite a Catholic priest as my adversary. Should one not say rather (admitting for the moment that I have not been able “to catch at once” the Christianity of the Abbé Roca) that my esteemed interlocutor is not too well aware of what he preaches? That, having thrown to the windmills his cap of an orthodox and papistical ecclesiastic, ignoring the true esotericism of the Brâhmanas and the Buddhists, of the Pagan and Christian Gnostics, as well as of the authentic Chaldean Kabalah, and knowing nothing of the doctrines of the Theosophists, he has fabricated for himself a Christianity of his own, an Esotericism sui generis? I confess that I do not understand him.
* This title, thanks to the kindness of Monsieur Gaboriau, did not appear at all with the others in Le Lotus, but I have the first proofs where it is found in the order indicated above.
Of his “Law of Ram” and his “Ab-Ram, issue of Ram” (?) —I know nothing. I know perfectly well the VA¤ŚÂVALI or genealogy of the Sûrya and the Chandra races * from Ikshvâku and Budha † to Râma and Krishna, the common source whence the Purânas (ancient Scriptures), the Bhâgavata, the Skanda, the Agni and the Bhavishya-Purâna, have drawn their divine, human, and dynastic genealogies. A copy of it is to be found in the royal library of the Mahârâjâs of Udaipur (the most ancient of the Indian royal houses, whose family genealogy has been examined and sanctioned by the Anglo-Indian government). Râma is a historical personage. The ruins of cities built by him and buried under several successive strata of other cities, more recent but still prehistoric, still exist in India; they are known as well as the ancient coins with his effigy and name. What then is this “ Ab-Ram, issue of Ram”? ‡ A-bram or A-brahm, in Sanskrit, means a non-Brâhmana, hence a man driven out from the Brahmin caste, or a man of inferior caste. Abra is the name of Indra’s elephant; its female is called Abramu. The words are Sanskrit, and the name Abramu is found
* Sûrya and Chandra (Solar and Lunar) are terms used respectively for the two great primitive and radical races of Âryâvarta, called the Solar and Lunar Races.
† I hope the reader will avoid confounding Budha (with one d) the son of Soma, the Moon, with the mystical title of Buddha (two d’s). The one is the proper name of an individual (Budha, Intelligence or Wisdom), the other is the title of the Sages, the “Illuminated.”
‡ It is not the tribes of the proud Râjputs of the Solar race, Sûryavaˆśa—tribes which historically prove their descent from Lava and Kuśa, the two sons of Râma—who would acknowledge this unknown “Ab-Ram.” See my note No. I on Abraham in a forthcoming number of Le Lotus.
[In the course of this essay, H.P.B. refers eight different times to certain Notes, numbered from I to 8, which she seems to have written for some forthcoming issue of Le Lotus. Such Notes have not been found in any later issue of this journal, and are certainly not the footnotes which she appended, in the June, 1888, issue of Le Lotus, to the final installment of this controversy with the Abbé Roca. So it is impossible to say at the present time what particular Notes were meant.––Compiler.]
again in Chaldea, but the Abraham of the Jews has nothing to do with the Hindu Râma; * he cannot have issued from the latter, for it is Râma, on the contrary, who has issued from Brahman (neuter) through his terrestrial aspect, Vishnu, of which he is the Avatâra.†
This is simply a digression which the Abbé may perhaps call another “thrashing” [bourrade]. À propos of this, I would say he must be very thin-skinned, as I do not see, in my “Notes on Christian Esotericism,” anything that could have given rise to such an idea in the imagination of my honorable interlocutor. The puff of wind which knocks down a house of cards may easily pass for a heavy squall in the eyes of the architect who built it; but if the Abbé Roca lays the blame on the puff, rather than on the weakness of his edifice, it is certainly not my fault. He also accuses me of partisanship; that is an accusation as unjust as the other. As I am neither a priest nor under the ferocious rod of a Church which declares itself infallible, I, myself, am ready to accept the truth from whence it comes. My critic, less fortunate than myself, finding himself between the hammer and the anvil, cannot accept my conclusions, and forthwith tries to attribute them to my “partisanship,” and my “ignorance” of his religion. Once again, the spirit of partisanship cannot exist in a Society as universal and impartial as ours, which has chosen for its motto “There is no religion higher than Truth.” Our Masters being Sages far too great to bedizen themselves with the peacock’s feathers of infallibility or even to boast of the possession of absolute Truth, their disciples always keep an open mind to facts which can be demonstrated to them. Let the Abbé demolish the proofs we offer against the existence of a carnalized Christ, hence Christ-Man, whether called Jesus or Krishna; let him
* Ab, Aba means “father,” but only in the Semitic tongues.
† We must draw the reader’s attention, in passing, to the importance of these remarks, because the works of Fabre d’Olivet and Saint-Yves d’Alveydre are based upon data completely out of harmony with them.—Editor, Le Lotus.
demonstrate that there has never been any other incarnated God than his “Jesus-Christ,” and that this one is the “only” as well as the “greatest” of the Masters and Doctors—not only the greatest of the Mahâtmans but God in person! Very good; then let him give us proofs, irrefutable or at least as logical and evident as those advanced by us. But he must not come offering as proof the voice which speaks in his soul, or quotations drawn from the Gospels. Because his voice—were it even the twin-sister of that of the daïmôn of Socrates—has no more value in the discussion, for us or for the public, than has for him or for any other person, the voice which tells me to the contrary in my soul. Yes, he is right in saying that “it is so difficult to rid oneself of all personal interest, and, still more, of all partisanship of school, sect, church, caste”; as that sentence could in no way apply to me, for I do not hold to any special school nor belong to any sect, Church or caste, since I am a Theosophist, would it not apply to him, Christian, Catholic, Ecclesiastic and Canon?
In general, our esteemed correspondent must have a rather lively imagination. For now he imagines the Editor of Le Lotus “intoxicated by the heady fumes” of his eulogies of the knowledge of the Mahâtmans and “nodding and winking” at him. If so, the Editor must be “melancholy in his cups” since, instead of thanking him for his flattering advances (flattering, according to him), the Editor sends the Abbé’s first article to me in London, so that I may answer it, and follows it by my “thrashing.” Our facts and intentions do not agree with the ideas the Abbé Roca has of them. It is true that he has warned his readers that “no one would suspect this lady [his humble servant] of toadyism in respect to Catholic priests.” That is an incontestable and historical fact; it is indeed the only one I find in his long epistle. If, having the experience of a long life passed in studying the above-mentioned priests, I have put an extinguisher on the rosy hopes which shone in the flame of his first letter, it is because I could not take seriously the simple compliments of civility addressed to the pagan Mahâtmans by a Christian and a French Abbé, and because, even if the Editor of the French Lotus could be
deceived, the Editor of the English Lucifer had seen through them.* While sincerely appreciating the Abbé Roca as a writer, and while in my thoughts distinguishing the mystical philosopher from the priest, I cannot, however, lose sight of his cassock. So the homage he renders to the wisdom of our Masters, instead of intoxicating me by its heady fumes, immediately appeared to me under its true guise. This homage plays the part of a greasy pole erected to serve as a support for Christian gewgaws attached to it in profusion, by an apostolic and Roman hand, or of a Hindu-Theosophic doll bedecked with Popish amulets. † Far from being intoxicated—I confess with my usual “frankness” and my unambiguous rudeness —I feel but a redoubled mistrust.
The misconceptions with which the Abbé’s Reply abounds prove how right I was. Did he expect the Editor of Le Lotus and the Theosophists to cry out in chorus: Mea culpa! and be converted en masse to his ideas? We see him, after the first reply from them, parrying imaginary blows, and, in a second letter, giving an entirely different colour to the compliments of his first article. He certainly has the right to do this; better than anyone else he must know the real meaning of his own thoughts. But this applies to everyone, I believe. Why then does he proceed to disfigure what I say, and even to invent impossible scenes and cases where he makes me play a strange part, and attributes to
* We hardly dare claim we catch Madame Blavatsky’s idea, but we believe that in the present case we have not been deceived. We have generously offered the Abbé Roca a forum; in this he has expressed his ideas which Madame Blavatsky refutes with a masterly hand; other writers express and will express their own ideas herein, because the object of Le Lotus is to instruct its readers, by giving from time to time the opinions of eminent minds who may differ from us on some points. —Editor, Le Lotus.
† Madame Blavatsky judges according to the spirit and the terms of the article under consideration. We happen to know that the Abbé Roca is eloquently fulminating against Leo XIII, but the latter, stricken with an incurable deafness, cannot hear him. Moreover, one cannot wake the dead, and it is better to leave them alone, in order to occupy oneself with the living.—Editor, Le Lotus.
me words that he certainly did not find in my “Notes” written in answer to his December article? The fundamental idea of my observations was in fact that he who would say “Ego sum veritas” is yet to be born; that the “Vos Dii estis” applies to all, and that every man born of woman is “the son of God,” whether he be good, bad, or neither the one nor the other. Either the Abbé Roca is obstinately determined not to understand me, or he has an ulterior purpose. I do not at all object to his mistaking the thundering voice of his Latin Church for the one he thinks he hears in the depth of his soul, but I do most emphatically object to his representing me as sharing the dogmas which have been thus inculcated in him, when in reality I repudiate them completely.
Judge for yourself. I write in every letter that a divine Christ (or Christos) has never existed under a human form outside the imagination of blasphemers who have carnalized a universal and entirely impersonal principle. I venture to believe that this is perfectly clear. Well, the Abbé Roca, after having represented me as saying “I am the Truth”—an absurdity I leave to the Churches who discovered it, and at which an Adept, a Sage, would smile in pity—allows himself to make the following assertion:
. . . . . it happens that another presented himself to the world who said squarely, “I am the TRUTH––Ego sum Veritas”! . . . . That is the language of Christ, and if it did not reveal God Himself, it would betray him as the most shameless of impostors. Now to say in the presence of Madame Blavatsky that Christ is an impostor should be carefully avoided, because she would reply with an outright smack on the mouth of the blasphemer. Draw your own conclusions then. . . .
Draw your own conclusions!!!. . .
What conclusions may or may not be drawn by others interests me very little. But I will draw my own conclusions, for, I believe, I understand.
There are two possibilities:
a. Either the Abbé has no clear idea of what Theosophy is, of its real doctrines, or of myself, the humble disciple of Truth, and speaks to the winds and at random;
b. Or he wants to corner me, to force me to explain myself, so as to get a categorical answer from me.
The reasoning would not be bad. Either Madame Blavatsky will pass in silence that assertion which is as extraordinary as it is false—silence means consent or she will reply by contradicting and denying it; in the latter case she will make fresh enemies among the Christians, and that would be so much gained.
Is that so, Monsieur l’Abbé? Then it is just one more miscalculation. The “amazon” will have this time, as well as on other occasions, enough “masculine vigour” to reply without ambiguity and in the very face of the universe, what she thinks of your little arrangement. In fact, to say that Christ (we say Christos) is an impostor would be to proffer, not a blasphemy, but a simple stupidity: a personal adjective cannot be applied to an ideal principle, to an abstraction; it would be like saying: “Infinite Space is a devotee.” An Occultist-Theosophist would laugh. As to the supposition that I am capable of replying “with an outright smack” on the mouth of the one who would proffer the expression, that is still more grotesque. The Abbé forgets that I am first of all a Theosophist, and is probably ignorant that I am personally a disciple of the Buddhist philosophy. Now a true Buddhist would not even strike a dog to stop him from barking. The Buddhists practice all the virtues preached in the “Sermon on the Mount” of Gayâ––on the Mount of Galilee six centuries later—virtues which are heard of but rarely in the churches of the Christian countries, and that are practised still less frequently. The Buddhists do not resist, they do not return evil for evil; they leave the glory of smacking, of cutting off the ears of their adversaries, to those like saint Peter who in that way defend their Master, only to betray and deny him two hours later, according to the sad story. Does the Abbé wish to know, without ambiguity, what I really think of the Christian legend ? It is easy for me to satisfy him.
For me Jesus Christ, i.e., the Man-God of the Christians, copied from the Avatâras of every country, from the Hindu Krishna as well as the Egyptian Horus, was never a
historical person. He is a deified personification of the glorified type of the great Hierophants of the Temples,* and his story, as told in the New Testament, is an allegory, assuredly containing profound esoteric truths, but still an allegory. It is interpreted by the help of the seven keys, similarly to the Pentateuch. This theory of the seven keys, the Church, according to the Abbé Roca, has simplified “without disfiguring it,” reducing the keys to three; while, on the contrary, it has fabricated three false keys which do not open anything. The legend of which I speak is founded, as I have demonstrated over and over again in my writings and my notes, on the existence of a personage
* Every act of the Jesus of the New Testament, every word attributed to him, every event related of him during the three years of the mission he is said to have accomplished, rests on the programme of the Cycle of Initiation, a cycle founded on the Precession of the Equinoxes and the Signs of the Zodiac. When the Hebrew Gospel not according to but by Matthew the Gnostic, of whom they have made an Evangelist— the Gospel of which (saint) Jerome spoke in the IVth century and which he refused to translate on the pretext that it was falsified (!) by Seleucus, the Manichaean disciple (See Hieronymus, De viris illust., cap. 3)—when, I say, that original document shall have been translated, if ever it is found, and the Christian Churches will have at least one document not falsified, then only will it be feasible to speak of the “life of Jesus,” of the events of which “no one is ignorant.” Meanwhile, and without losing time arguing the subject of the century in which Jesus or Jehoshua lived, one fact is certain, namely that the Occultists are prepared to prove that even the sacramental words attributed to him on the cross have been disfigured, and that they mean something quite different from what the Greek translation conveys. See my additional notes (No. 2) in a forthcoming number of Le Lotus.
[H.P.B.’s reference to St. Jerome’s De viris illustribus liber, chap. 3, is only partially correct. The main point of Jerome’s argument, and the mention of Seleucus, occur rather in his letter to the Bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, as can be ascertained by consulting St. Jerome’s Opera, Vol. V, col. 445 (Johannis Martianay, Paris, 1706). H.P.B. uses the same argument in her article on “The Origin of the Gospels and the Bishop of Bombay” (The Theosophist, Vol. IV, No. l, October, 1882, pp. 6-9), and again in the third instalment of her essay on “The Esoteric Character of the Gospels” (Lucifer, Vol. I, No. 6, February, 1888, pp. 490-96). Vide Compiler’s Notes to this latter essay for comprehensive survey of the various references and quotations used by her, and their complete text.—Compiler.]
called Jehoshua (from which Jesus has been made) born at Lüd or Lydda about 120 years before the modern era. And if this fact is denied—to which I can hardly object—one must resign oneself to regard the hero of the drama of Calvary as a myth pure and simple. As a matter of fact, in spite of all the desperate research made during long centuries, if we set aside the testimony of the “Evangelists,” i.e., unknown men whose identity has never been established, and that of the Fathers of the Church, interested fanatics, neither history, nor profane tradition, neither official documents, nor the contemporaries of the soi-disant drama, are able to provide one single serious proof of the historical and real existence, not only of the Man-God but even of him called Jesus of Nazareth, from the year 1 to the year 33. All is darkness and silence. Philo Judaeus, born before the Christian Era, and dying quite some time after the year when, according to Renan, the hallucination of a hysterical woman, Mary of Magdala, gave a God to the world, made several journeys to Jerusalem during that interval of forty-odd years. He went there to write the history of the religious sects of his epoch in Palestine. No writer is more correct in his descriptions, more careful to omit nothing; no community, no fraternity, even the most insignificant, escaped him. Why then does he not speak of the Nazarites? Why does he not make the least allusion to the Apostles, to the divine Galilean, to the Crucifixion? The answer is easy. Because the biography of Jesus was invented after the first century, and no one in Jerusalem was better informed on the subject than Philo himself. We have but to read the quarrel of Irenaeus with the Gnostics in the 2nd century, to be certain of it. Ptolemaeus (180 A.D.), having remarked that Jesus preached one year according to the legend, and that he was too young to have been able to teach anything of importance, Irenaeus had a bad fit of indignation and testified that Jesus preached more than ten or even twenty years! Tradition alone, he said, speaks of ten years (Contra Haereses, lib. II, cap. 22, para. 4-5). Elsewhere, he makes Jesus die at the age of fifty years or more!! Now, if as early as the year 180, a Father of the Church had recourse to tradition, and if no
one was sure of anything, and no great importance was attributed to the Gospels—to the Logia of which there were more than sixty—what place has history in all of this? Confusion, lies, deceit, and forgery, such is the ledger of the early centuries. Eusebius of Caesarea, king of falsifiers, inserted the famous 16 lines referring to Jesus in a manuscript of Josephus, to get even with the Gnostics who denied that there ever had been a real personage named Jesus.* Still more: he attributed to Josephus, a fanatic who died as he had lived, a stubborn Jew, the reflection that it is perhaps not correct to call him (Iasous) a man ("<ZD), because he was the Lord’s Anointed, i.e., the Messiah!! (Vide Josephus, Antiq., lib. XVIII, cap. iii, 3.)†
But what use is it to waste time repeating what every well-educated man knows. The Abbé continually refers us to the Gospels and to St. Paul, and, showering on us a torrent of quotations, triumphantly demands: “Is this clear enough? Did not Christ himself say this and that, and does not St. Paul assure us that. . . etc., etc., . . .” It is hardly necessary to say that for the words of Jesus to possess any value as proof, the authenticity of the Gospels must first be proved. Jesus, whether he lived at that epoch or earlier, never wrote anything, and what he has been made to say in the four Gospels is sometimes terribly contradictory. As to Paul, undoubtedly a historical personage, it would be difficult to separate, in his writings, what he said himself and what his editors and correctors have made him say. However, there remains—doubtless by inadvertence—one expression, by him or by his collaborators, which sums up in two words what was thought about Jesus. Look up the Epistle to the Hebrews, ii, 9; you will read there that Jesus was made “inferior to the angels.” That is enough for us.
* Add to this that he invented the famous monogram for the Labarum of Constantine (a combination of X Chi, and P Rho, initials of Christos which he applied to Jesus) and fabricated the vision of that Emperor. But Gibbon and other historians have judged Eusebius long ago, and his value is well known now. See my notes (No. 3), on this subject, in a forthcoming number of Le Lotus.
† [Also 63-64, acc. to the pagination of the Greek text.—Compiler.]
Can one who is inferior to the angels be God, the Infinite and the Only?
Indeed, every man, every Ju-su (name of Horus, Khonsu, the Son, the type of humanity), above all, every initiate whose body is made inferior to that of the angels, can say, in the presence of his Âtman (Divine Spirit): Vivit vero in me Christus, as he would say: Krishna, Buddha, or Ormuzd lives in me.* After having repeated what I said in my “Notes” about the Christos developing only through the Chrestos, the Abbé, as if he were saying something new which emanated from him, exclaims in threatening tone that no one will enter into that glorified body except by the “strait gate and narrow way.” For him, this is the blessed Nirvâna, and he continues to preach what we have been preaching for twelve years and what I repeated in my “Notes.” He must let me complete what he leaves in such fine shape, unable to find that path except in the bosom of his Church, of his own faith. Unfortunately his angusta porta, et arcta via can apply neither to his Church nor to his faith. In that Church where everything is bought, crimes and indulgences, amulets and beatitudes (on earth, at least; as to Heaven—after me the Deluge!), the way and the gate become wider in proportion to the sums paid by the faithful. Be gone, religion of Judas! It was to (saint) Peter that his Master said: VADE RETRO SATANAS! The proof of this is in the Gospel itself, I say, repeating the customary expression of the Abbé Roca.
He sends me to Damascus that I may become “a perfect initiate and the greatest of Christian Buddhists” (?).
* In Hebrew, man or Aïsh () gives this other form by Kabalistic derivation Jesh, in Greek and in French Jes-us, signifying at once fire, sun, divinity, and man. This word (with its masoretic points) was pronounced ish or Jesh, man in this case. The feminine form was Issa, woman; in Egyptian Isi-s, Isis. The collateral form of it was Jesse, or Isi, of which the feminine in Egyptian was Isi-s. But Isi is the equivalent of Jesse, the father of David, of the race from which came Jesus, Jes-us. It is necessary that one should know the Mystery language and that of Symbolism before speaking with so much authority, and that language the Church has lost. See my notes (No. 4), in a forthcoming number of Le Lotus.
What would he say if I told him that it is after long years passed in the state of Chrêstos, after thirty years of physical and moral martyrdom, that I have got there, and that it is precisely on that glorious path that I have discovered that the Churches, which style themselves Christian, are nothing but whited sepulchres filled with the dead bones of esoteric paganism and moral putrefaction. So I prefer by far to remain the humblest of esoteric Buddhists than the greatest of orthodox and exoteric Christians. I have the most profound respect for the transcendental idea of the universal Christos (or Christ) which lives in the soul of the Bushman and the savage Zulu, as well as in that of the Abbé Roca, but I have the keenest aversion for the Christolatry of the Churches. I hate those dogmas and doctrines which have degraded the ideal Christos by making of it an absurd and grotesque anthropomorphic fetish, a jealous and cruel idol which damns for eternity those who decline to bow down before it.* The least of the Gnostic Docetae
* It is so much the easier for me to prove the solid foundation of my repugnance, since in order to support my statements, I have merely to open The Tablet, the leading organ of the English Roman Catholics. Here is an excerpt from it:
“The official statement as to the moral and material progress of India which has recently been published, supplies a very interesting contribution to the controversy on the missionary question. It appears from these figures that while we effect a very marked moral deterioration in the natives by converting them to our creed, their natural standard of morality is so high that, however much we Christianize them, we cannot succeed in making them altogether as bad as ourselves. The figures representing the proportions of criminality in the several classes, are as follows:—Europeans, I in 274; Eurasians, 1 in 509; Native Christians, I in 799; Mohammedans, I in 856; Hindus, 1 in 1361; and Buddhists, 1 in 3787. The last item is a magnificent tribute to the exalted purity of Buddhism, but the statistics are instructive throughout, and enforce with resistless power the conclusion that, as a mere matter of social polity, we should do much better if we devoted our superfluous cash and zeal, for a generation or two, to the ethical improvement of our own countrymen, instead of trying to upset the morality, together with the theology, of people who might reasonably send out missions to convert us.”
What a superb confession!
who claimed that Jesus crucified was nothing but an illusion, and his story an allegory, was much nearer the truth than a “saint” Augustin or even an “Angel of the Schools.” A pagan living a simple and patriarchal life, loving his neighbour and doing his duty, is a thousand times nearer the angusta porta, et arcta via than was ever a (saint) Cyril, the ferocious murderer of Hypatia, or a (saint) Constantine, probably beatified because he killed his son with his own hands, boiled monks in pitch, disemboweled his wife, and made himself as miserably famous as Nero. *
Oh, the Abbé informs us, “if the sublime conception of that Christian ideal [the Christos living within man] is that of the Mahâtmans, honour to them!” That ideal is not Christian, nor has it been invented by the Mahâtmans; it was the apotheosis of the Mysteries of Initiation. As to the “Word made Flesh,” it is the heritage of the whole of humanity, received by man the moment the universal Soul incarnated in him, i.e., from the appearance of the first perfect man—who, by the way, was not Adam.
By way of proving that Jesus was God, we are offered his martyrdom on the Cross and his voluntary sacrifice. Before believing a “Master” the equal of “Christ,” he should have to agree to drink from the chalice that Jesus drained at Gethsemane and to pardon his executioners for his moral and physical tortures. A strange idea, truly! But it is exactly the insignificance of those sufferings that makes every pagan smile in pity. What are three years of sermons and of living in the open, ended by a few hours of suffering on the cross, compared with the eighty years of moral torture of Gautama the Buddha, before which all the tortures of the flesh fade into insignificance! Ah, Monsieur l’Abbé, it is more difficult, more meritorious and more divine, to live voluntarily for Humanity than to die for it. And how? By a violent and inevitable death from which escape is attempted by praying his heavenly Father to
* See my notes (No. 5) on this subject in a forthcoming number of Le Lotus.
remove the chalice. For that is, word for word, the narrative of the Gospels. Are you going to interest a yogi or a fanatical fakir in those sufferings if you interpret them to him literally! *
Being assured that I have not understood it, I am instructed in the true meaning of the conversion of (saint) Paul. Saint Paul, according to the Abbé Roca, was “an initiate of the Essenian School . . . . a perfect Nazarite, as he tells us himself” (p. 261). I thank him for this information, but regret being unable to accept it. A Nazarite-Essene would be the equivalent of a Brâhman-Buddhist; albeit we have heard a hybrid creature said formerly to have lived in Paris, spoken of as a “Brâhman-Buddhist priest”! Paul, whatever he might have been, could not have been at the same time an Essene and a Nazarite, if by Nazarite is meant the Nazar sect of the Old Testament, mentioned even in Genesis. The Essenes had a horror of oil and wine, while the Nazars made use of both (see Numbers, vi, 20). The former did not recognize the “anointed of the Lord” and used water to wash themselves several times daily, like the Hindus and Buddhists; the Nazars never washed but anointed themselves all over with oil. It is true that Paul tells us in the Epistle to the Galatians (i, 15 et seq.) that he had been “separated” for the Lord’s service from his birth: i.e., pledged to the nazarship; but, as he says elsewhere (I Cor., xi, 14) that it is a shame to wear long hair (as Jesus and St. John are represented as doing),
* I refer the Abbé to the accounts of what Monsieur Jacolliot saw in India, and which all w ho have lived there could see at any time. Consider those fanatical yogis who, at each new moon, hang themselves by the skin of the back to an iron hook fixed at the end of a horizontal branch on the top of a high post. This arm, like a see-saw, lifts them high in the air and makes them twirl round till the bleeding flesh breaks away and the voluntary martyr is hurled perhaps twenty paces. Look at those who, for long years, burn their bodies over hot coals every day, and those w ho bury themselves to the neck and remain thus all their lives exposed to the blazing sun, the cold of freezing nights, the myriads of insects and savage beasts, not to mention hunger and thirst and other delights of that kind.
this proves that he remained a Nazar * only until his conversion to the Christos of the Gnostics. John the Baptist was a real Nazar, also John of the Apocalypse, but Saul ceased to be so when he became Paul. So then, he was not a “perfect Nazarite.” He was no longer an Essene either, because what they held as most sacred after God was Moses, his Genesis, and the observance of the Sabbath, and Paul had renounced Moses and the Sabbath. What are we to do? The Abbé tells us one thing, and history with both Testaments, quite another.
So it is quite useless to tell the occultists that “what was revealed to Paul was not by any means the Christos of the Gnostics . . . . but really the Chrestos with all the arcana of his abasement and of his annihilation.” This Chrestos is exactly the Chrestos-Christos of the Gnostics. Paul was never an apostle of ecclesiastical Christianity, being the Gnostic adversary of Peter. As proof of this fact we have the authentic words of Paul, which were overlooked in the revision and correction, and the double meaning, that disharmony which runs through the Epistles. If two men are in possession, I will not say of the absolute truth but of a fact established by evidence, in other words, of a relative truth, why does the one say of the other that he withstood him to his face (Gal., ii, 11), and why does Paul show such contempt for the claim of Peter (Cephas), James and John to be considered as “pillars of the Church”?
It is equally useless to refer me to Dr. Sepp and his Life of Christ. I read it twenty years ago and found nothing else but fanaticism and plagiarism, conscious or unconscious, of the religion of the Brâhmanas. It is not just from yesterday that we have known the chrono-sidereal system of this Bavarian with a lively imagination. Many
* Nazar=the Separated (See Genesis, xlix, 26; Numbers, vi, 2; Judges, xiii, 5, etc.). This word, when written without the masoretic points, and reading NZR, , actually yields the key to its Kabalistic significance in its three letters, because nun signifies the matrix, the letter O, the woman; zayin, the emblem of spiritual Sovereignty, the Sceptre; and resh, the head, the circle. The razor was never allowed to touch the hair or beard of the true Nazar.
curious things could be said of his calculation of the Saros—a Japanese salad composed of the calculations of Pliny and Suidas. I will mention but one.* Every Theosophist knows of the great period of Mahâ-yuga whose divisions always lead us back to the figure 432. Thus Kali-yuga†––the black and evil age of the Brâhmanas, during which the world expiates the sins of the three preceding yugas and to whose help no Avatâra will come before its close ‡—will last 432,000 years, while the total of the Mahâ-yuga, made up of the Satya, Tretâ, Dwâpara and Kali-Yugas makes 4,320,000 years. This is a mystical calculation that the Brâhmanas give only to their Initiates, a calculation which has made our Orientalists, who can make nothing of it, utter many absurdities.§ Well, the celebrated Munich professor has let the cat out of the bag. In Volume I (p. 9) of his book, he gives us the following key:
“It is an asserted fact [by Kepler] that at the moment of the incarnation, all the planets were in conjunction in the sign of the Fishes which the Jews called, from the beginning of things, the constellation of the Messiah. The Star of the Magi was found in that constellation . . .” This was the famous planet that everyone in London could see this year, the beautiful Venus-Lucifer of which a
* Vie de N.-S. Jésus-Christ, Vol. II, p. 417.
[It is obvious that both H.P.B. and the Abbé Roca have in mind the German work of Johann Nepomuk Sepp (1816-1909), entitled Das Leben Jesu Christi, originally published in seven volumes at Regensburg, 1843-46 (4th ed., 1898-1902), entitled Das Leben Jesu. We have left in H.P.B.’s footnote the title of the French translation of this work by Charles Sainte-Foi (Paris: Ve Poussielgue-Rusand, 1854, 2nd ed., ibid., 1861), as it is almost certain that reference is to such a translation. Vide Compiler’s footnote on p. 211 of the present Volume.—Compiler.]
† Among other errors, Saint-Yves d’Alveydre (Mission des Juifs) makes of it the Golden Age, the age of spiritual rebirth.—Editor, Le Lotus.
‡ See my notes on this subject (No. 6), in a forthcoming number of Le Lotus.
§ See my notes on this subject (No. 7), in a forthcoming issue.
Kabalistic Jewish tradition says that it will one day absorb the 70 planets which preside over the various nations of the world. As to Dr. Sepp, he claims that in virtue of these natural prophecies it was written in the stars that the Messiah had to appear in the lunar year of the world 4320, in that memorable year when the “whole choir of planets was in jubilee.” *
Thus, to admit Dr. Sepp’s whimsical notions published in his “fine monument to the Christian Gnosis,” we must, while closing our eyes and compressing our brains:
(1) Believe that the world is only six thousand years old—not a day more. (Long live Genesis and the Chronology of Moses!)
(2) Assume that this famous conjunction took place in the year 1 of our era, and not four or five years before the Christian era as Kepler himself proved.
3) Forget what we know in order to allow the miraculous fantasies of the ecclesiastics to be triumphant. Now, we know that this astronomical calculation was borrowed by the Jews from the Chaldeans, from their 432,000 dynastic years, which they themselves had received from the 4,320,000 years of the Brâhmanical Mahâ-yuga.
And we should have to accept that fine passage “of the gnosis” from Bavaria! We would be inclined to believe that Dr. Sepp had found it at the bottom of a pot of beer, did we not know that long before him Col. Wilford, who was so nicely tricked by the Brâhmanas † at the beginning of this century, had himself made the famous calculation, preserved to this day, by the way, in the volumes of the Royal Asiatic Society’s Library in Calcutta, and in all the European libraries. To repeat, does the Abbé Roca wish us to abandon the 4,320,000 years of our Mahâ-yuga in
* [Vide Compiler’s footnote on p. 212 of the present Volume.]
† The Brâhmanas, annoyed at the persistence with which Col. Wilford searched for Adam and Eve, Noah and his three sons, composed a pretty little Purâna with those names in Sanskrit, which they inserted in some old manuscripts. Sir William Jones himself was caught by this, and with him the whole of Europe. See Introduction to the Science of Religion, by Max Müller.
order to accept the 4,320 lunar years that Dr. Sepp puts between the Creation of the World and the Nativity?
After all, it may be that I contradict the Abbé Roca less than I imagine, as he himself says. So much the better, so much the better. Furthermore, the application of his metaphor of the “white ray decomposing into three principal colours which, etc.” is found in my Isis Unveiled (Vol. II, p. 639) written nearly twelve years ago. * Perhaps some day, then, we shall understand each other. In the meantime, I will send Le Lotus some notes † on the last words of Jesus crucified, simply to show the Abbé that we, occultists, know what some Fathers of the Church believed they knew. Whence came, for instance, the esoteric tradition (because the aforesaid Fathers could not have seen him personally) that “Christ, dying on the cross . . . held his face turned, his eyes opened, and his arms extended towards the West”? In my Notes I shall explain everything, except the assertion that the Crucified, whose hands were restrained by two big nails to the two lateral arms of the cross, had “his arms extended towards the West,” a feat difficult to be performed by a “crucified one.” But that is an insignificant detail.
In closing I will say that I still think the Abbé deceives himself and that his hope is optimistic. I accept Victor Hugo as a great poet, but I have never heard it said that he was a prophet. As to the closing words (quant au mot de
* For the benefit of our readers, we quote this passage from Mme. Blavatsky: “. . . . . . As the white ray of` light is decomposed by the prism into the various colours of the solar spectrum, so the beam of divine truth, in passing through the three-sided prism of man’s nature, has been broken up into vari-coloured fragments called RELIGIONS. And, as the rays of the spectrum, by imperceptible shadings, merge into each other, so the great theologies that have appeared at different degrees of divergence from the original source, have been connected by minor schisms, schools, and off-shoots from the one side or the other. Combined, their aggregate represents one eternal truth; separate, they are but shades of human error and the signs of imperfection . . . .” —Editor, Le Lotus.
† See Note No. 8, in a forthcoming issue.
la fin, ou de la faim) * which my interlocutor flings at me in the guise of farewell, I would have him observe: (1) that misery and dirt are found practically everywhere where the Catholic priest rules, and, (2) that there, near the Mahâtmans, as he says, there are no poor for the good reason that there are no rich; other people, besides the mendacious missionaries, have been there.
And now that I have answered the Abbé Roca, the Catholic priest, I will terminate this unduly lengthy reply by addressing Mr. Roca, my critic and interlocutor, who is as courteous as he is spiritual when he is willing to forget his cassock. It is to the latter that I express my sincere regret that I have had to parry all his blows and to contradict him in everything and everywhere. If he thinks this reply, as well as my previous “Notes,” to be a new “drubbing,” he will be wrong. For if we do not understand one another—though he may say he understands me very well—that is because, while in appearance we are both speaking the same language, our ideas as to the value and meaning of Christian esotericism, of Brâhman-Buddhist esotericism, and of that of the Gnostics, are diametrically opposed. He derives his conclusions and his esoteric data from sources which I could not know, since they are of modern invention, while I am speaking to him in the language of the ancient Initiates and offer him the conclusions of archaic esotericism which, in their turn, as far as I can see, are quite unfamiliar to him.
To define with accuracy and without ambiguity our respective positions, it seems to me that, while I offer an esoteric outline of the universal Christos, i.e., of the impersonal and pre-Christian LOGOS, he answers me by falling back upon the sectarian Christ of the modern era, on the ecclesiastical and dogmatic Christ whose pattern is pre-Christian. To the esotericism of the ancient Gnosis that he declares the Church has lost, he opposes the scholastic esotericism of the Middle Ages. He tries to get even with me
* [An untranslatable expression, as it contains a pun on words. The French word “faim” means hunger. The “closing words” of the Abbé hint at misery and hunger in the Orient.—Compiler.]
(Courtesy Alan Denson, London, England)
(For biographical sketch see the Bio-Bibliographical Index)
by means of the subtleties of theologians and Rosicrucians who, to escape being burned alive, concealed themselves under a cloak of orthodoxy and openly affected a Christianity against which they protested in secret. In view of all this, how could we understand each other? As to “better appreciating each other,” I thank the Abbé for his kind wishes, while doubting whether he can ever appreciate the smoothness of my manners combined with the extreme frankness of my language; as for myself, I beg him to believe that I have always appreciated in him the able writer of large and liberal heart, as well as the fearless priest who has the rare courage of his opinions.
After all, vera pro gratiis, even though that saying ought to be followed by its opposite, veritas odium parit.
H. P. BLAVATSKY,
Corresponding-Secretary of The Theosophical Society.