" Always seek mutual consent with one another ... "
They said to him, ' What is the place to which we are going? ' The Lord said, ' Stand in the place you can reach! ' " Mary said, ' Everything established thus is seen. ' The Lord said, ' I have told you that it is the one who can see who reveals. '
THE FRATERNITY OF PERFECTED SOULS
THEOSOPHY teaches the existence of a Fraternity of Perfected Souls. From its ranks have come to mankind its Savior-Teachers; some with a more exalted mission than others, but each fulfilling the requirements of the cycle for which He undertakes that mission. Some as Divine Kings, others as Holy Mendicants, all come to impress on the whole or a portion of humanity the same sublime truths which form the ancient Wisdom-Religion. Hence we find that underlying every ancient popular religion is the same Wisdom-Doctrine, one and identical, professed and practiced by the Initiates of every country. One body of Universal Teaching in the custody of one Fraternity of Cosmopolitan Philanthrophists -- such is the sublime fact which our modern world has forgotten.
Among the followers of every religion there exists a genuine and sincere faith in the divine nature of their own particular prophet-savior. On what does this faith rest? On the fact that Divine Men have incarnated to energize and inspire mankind in every age and clime. But that pristine faith degenerates in its outer expression; the adherents of each religion claim a unique position for their own lawgiver, refusing divinity to other instructors of humanity. Priestly cunning has foisted on the credulous the One and Only Son of God, or the One and Only Prophet, or its equivalent. Claims which Krishna or Buddha, Jesus or Muhammed never made for Themselves or Their Teachings, the respective followers made and now make, under priestly guidance, to the debasement of Truth and the detriment of humanity.
Theosophists have the duty to deliver mankind from the clutches of organized priesthoods. The first step towards this emancipation is the restoration of the knowledge of old that there exist no special privileges for any soul, nor are there any chosen peoples, but that Divine Instructors are Living Brothers with one aim, one purpose, one teaching, who reached Their stature of perfection by self-redeeming work and who teach all humanity without making distinctions of any kind soever. Passion blinds the fanatic to this truth; he fails to see that the life-incidents and actions of all Teachers are identical, that the story of every Savior from Vishvakarma to Christ is the same. He is taught to believe in special privileges for himself through a belief in the uniqueness of his own prophet.
There is hardly a religious institution in the modern world from the Vedic to the Buddhistic, from the Catholic to the Swedenborgian, which does not claim some kind of a unique place for its own particular savior. This erroneous notion is to be traced to the fact that in myths and legends characters like Krishna, Hercules, Pythagoras, Buddha, Jesus, Apollonius, are represented as divinely begotten Saviors. Every one of them, whether at birth or afterwards, is searched for and threatened with death (yet never killed) by an opposing power whether it be called Kansa or Herod, Maya or Mara. They are all tempted, persecuted and finally said to have been murdered at the end of the Rite of Initiation, i.e., in their physical personalities, of which they are supposed to have been rid forever after spiritual birth or resurrection. Then after this allegorical violent death they all descend to the Nether World or Naraka, Hell or Hades to save the souls of the damned; on their triumphant return they have become transformed into Gods. Thus they are given the epithet of Soter (savior).
Let us note a few parallels out of the many in the lives of saviors and prophets of widely separated lands and eras. The early missionaries who went to China were appalled(1) at finding that Fo-hi was born of a virgin whose story was but a counterpart of the narrative of the virgin Mary. In India, Krishna was born of the virgin Devaki who "bore in her womb the lotus-eyed deity," and Buddha "shot through the void as a six-rayed star and entered Maya's womb upon the right." Note that "from the time of conception the Divine Lady was free from passion and full of purity" -- what else is this but the doctrine of immaculate conception 600 years B.C.? In Siam, Codom was virgin-born; his mother was the Praying Lady and was impregnated by the Sun-beams. The Egyptian Horus, the Babylonian Adonis, and Bacchus or Dionysus were all born of virgins, and so were the Mexican Quetzalcoatl and the Aztec Huitzilopochtli and Bacab in Yucatan. These South American gods were born at the Winter Solstice as their types in Asia and Europe, e.g., the Scandinavian Baldur, the Persian Mythra, and numerous others. Thus is seen the significance of the following from the famous "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" by Gibbon (II, p. 383):
The Roman Christmas, ignorant of the real date of the Christ's birth, fixed the solemn festival to the 25th December, the Brumalia, or Winter Solstice, when the Pagans annually celebrated the birth of Sol.
St. Chrysostom, who lived about 390 A.D., is thus quoted:
On this day, also, the birth of Christ was lately fixed at Rome, in order that whilst the heathen were busy with their profane ceremonies, the Christians might perform their holy rites undisturbed.
And how many Sons of God have been tempted, murdered, even crucified and who resurrected themselves? How many rose from the sepulchre at the Vernal Equinox, celebrated to this day in Persia as Jamshedi-Navroz. Tammuz, Horus, Atys, Memnon, they all were put to death and rose from the dead, and descended to hell to save the sin-imprisoned souls of men.
Whence this close similarity so clearly indicative of a universal tradition in connection with the birth, work, and death of all saviors? One of the ways in which the Great Lodge taught infant humanity was to cast in myth or legend form the lives of these Sons of Light. The ancient biographies of the external personalities bearing the names of Great Souls are the mystic records of their public, and parallel therewith of their inner lives, in their characters as Neophytes and Initiates. Hence, the manifest sameness of the means of construction of their respective biographies. However much masked and hidden from profane gaze, the chief features of such lives are common.
Narratives of these Mystic Lives are well preserved, as they contain correct keys to several cosmic and human phenomena. The non-understanding of certain incidents of these ancient mystic biographies has been the cause of the assigning of a unique position to such teachers as Krishna in India or Jesus in Christendom. For a right reading of these Lives we have further to bear in mind that every such god has three biographies in the narrative, so to say, running parallel with each other and each connected with one of the aspects of the God-Savior -- historical, astronomical and perfectly mythical, the last serving to connect the other two and smooth away the asperities and discordancies in the narrative, while gathering into one or more symbols the verities of the first two. Localities are made to correspond with astronomical and even with psychic events. Thus arose in the ancient world myths truer than history, for the latter dealt with events on the planes of action, and the former narrated the happenings in the world of Soul.
Among such myths was one about the Great Sacrifice of the Master-Soul who renounced his freedom to accept the woes of bodily birth, the self-chosen incarnation of the Lord of Compassion for the sake of Orphan Humanity. The central fact of the mystic life, that every human Soul sacrifices himself and is crucified on the fourfold cross of matter, is but a variant of that same profound truth. This fact the Lodge impressed on the minds of many peoples by spreading in their midst allegorical stories of heroes who are supposed to have gone through experiences similar to that Master-Soul and which every human Ego should emulate. Such experiences were often purposely woven into the lives of local rulers, saints and sages. Hence the birth at winter solstice, the resurrection at spring equinox -- astronomical and cosmic factors; and crucifixion on the four-fold cross, descent into hell -- psychological and human aspects.
The soul of all such history-myths stands unveiled in the writings of H. P. Blavatsky. In studying the teachings of Theosophy in different eras and climes a proper comprehension of this fact provides a key which unlocks many statements which otherwise sound enigmatic -- some of them, even absurd.
The language of the Soul and therefore the Soul of all languages is -- symbols. That language is universal. Like the incarnating Ego in Man it embodies itself in many forms. Religions, philosophies, sciences, all branches of knowledge spring from the Wisdom-Religion, which has for its vehicle this ancient universal language.
The Wisdom-Religion or Theosophy is the drama of the unfoldment of the One Life. The springing forth of the many lives from the One Life and the orderly procession of the many as the kingdoms of Nature, till they re-become the One, form the contents of the Record of the Masters, and that is Theosophy. Every stage of that long pilgrimage is described in symbols, and among them, that of the Adept-Teacher whose compassion manifests in practical sacrifice and makes him incarnate in a body of flesh and blood. There is a long line of Divine Incarnations. All religions bear witness to the fact. The occult nature of this mighty phenomenon is so holy and sacred, and withal so difficult of comprehension by the ordinary human intellect, that the truth has ever been cast in symbolic and allegorical forms. Use is made of the law of correspondence and analogy and these Teachers named "Suns of Righteousness." In our objective universe of matter and false appearances the Sun is the most fitting emblem of the life-giving beneficent Power of the Master of Compassion, who, as a self-luminous Being enlightens humanity by the great sacrifice of incarnation.
Divine Incarnations are historical facts. In Their own personalities these Beings embody Pure Truths, They are Wisdom Incarnate, the Word made flesh. Purna-Avataras, Full Incarnations of Wisdom, i.e., Beings who embody the totality of knowledge gained and retained in the Mahatmic Hierarchy, are a recognized occult phenomenon in Theosophy. They are the pure channels of Cyclic Will which finds expression in and through Their corporeal existence. Hence in Them sidereal and cosmic forces manifest on the one hand, as psychological and human on the other. All Solar myths are but different versions of the same natural Primeval Mystery on which the Wisdom-Religion was based and the development of its Adepts subsequently framed.
Evolutionary impulse manifests in a sevenfold manner in Nature and in Man: seven cosmic forces unfold seven planets; seven hierarchies of beings beget seven types of humans. On man-bearing globes of our system, Beings who have been men, out of deep compassion and the spirit of sacrifice for their fellows, incarnate to impress the imperishable centre in each man's heart with the supreme and sublime fact that he, too, can, through purity and knowledge, reach the Divine status. This happened on earth when animal-man became the human being some eighteen million years ago. In collectivity but One Being, such compassionate Beings constituted the Lodge of Mahatmas, to form the nursery for future human adepts on this, our earth, and from this Tree of Wisdom, the Ever-Living-Human-Banyan, sprang in due season the branches known as Kapila, Hermes, Enoch, Orpheus, etc., etc. In its constitution the Lodge is sevenfold.
In one of the obscure Sanskrit documents we come across the original of the common Theosophical expression the Great Lodge -- Maha-Shala, the Great House, translated in central and western India as the Great School. It is not a place but a collectivity of Beings, whose self-conscious intelligence transcends human comprehension. In that House are lodged seven types of Men, Pure Rays of Light, each but an issue of the Seven Sacred Planets called the Seven Lords -- Rishis by the Brahamanas, Ameshaspentas by the Zoroastrians, Arch-Angels by the Christians. Of these Translucent Men it is said that they can no longer err. They appear on earth but at the origin of every new human race and at the junction or close of the two ends of the small and great cycle, and are known as Avatars or Incarnations. Their stay among mortals is exactly the time required, and no more, to impress upon the plastic minds of child-humanity the eternal verities which they embody in their own being, such impress remaining vivid though latent in mankind as "innate ideas." Here is the true source of the very common belief in revelation, which is not of books read or hymns heard, but of Truths impressed in the Heart of Men. This is done so as to ensure the eternal truths from being utterly lost or forgotten by the forthcoming generations.
As a result of this Spiritual Mission, some souls, however few in number, make the supreme effort to follow the noble example set by the Great Sacrifice. In every cycle and race souls have striven to express in thought, word and deed, that Impress made within their Hearts. The successes among such strivers become the Adepts and Initiates; they continue the example set, incarnate among men to instruct and inspire, and do for their younger brethren what was done for themselves.
In the course of the spiritual and intellectual evolution of humanity, these Master-Souls taught in parables and in symbols the Primeval Truths. Thus arose myths and sacred dramas, which in course of time degenerated into dogmas and religions. At the very dawn of intellectual humanity were laid the foundation-stones of all the faiths and creeds, of every fane and church built from first to last; and those allegorical foundations still survive. Universal myths, personifications of Powers divine and cosmic, primary and secondary, and historical personages of all the now-existing as well as of extinct religions, are to be found in the Seven Chief Deities and Their correlations. These Seven in Their spiritual collectivity constitute a Supreme Unity, to which can never be offered profane worship. That Supreme Unity casts its radiance on earth and is the Lodge of Mahatmas.
There is a principle in our complex being dormant in most men; it is the Impress referred to above. It is the real awakener of the human mind and soul. First by the study of Theosophy and then by enacting in our own lives the actions of the Great Ones, we emancipate ourselves and learn the lesson of Renunciation.
Each one of us is a "Child of God"; each one of us can develop into a "Sun of Righteousness" whose life-giving effulgence kills the terrestrial passions, which are the impediments to Self-Realization. By the help of that hidden Principle we emerge triumphant from the region of lust and iniquity, become Karma-Sakshin, Witness of the karma of men, and in all the glory of regeneration we arise as the Graha-Raja, King of the Constellations, and are addressed as Gabnashman, "re-possessed of his rays."
That which is written can be read; that which is spoken can be heard, but there is that in the expression of These Mighty Masters which can neither be seen nor heard but which can be known in the hollow of the head and fully realized in the chamber of the heart. Let us all be born again this month as the Sun starts on His journey Northward on the 21st of December. He is hidden enshrined in the heart of each one of us:
Thou residest in the agglomeration of thy divine personages. Thou begettest us, Oh, Thou Unknown, and we greet Thee in worshipping each God Soul which descendeth from Thee and liveth in us.
Ancient Landmarks Zorastrian Psychology
The Secret Doctrine is the common property of the countless millions of men born under various climates, in times with which History refuses to deal, and to which esoteric teachings assign dates incompatible with the theories of Geology and Anthropology. The birth and evolution of the Sacred Science of the Past are lost in the very night of Time.... It is only by bringing before the reader an abundance of proofs all tending to show that in every age, under every condition of civilization and knowledge, the educated classes of every nation made themselves the more or less faithful echoes of one identical system and its fundamental traditions -- that he can be made to see that so many streams of the same water must have had a common source from which they started. What was this source? If coming events are said to cast their shadows before, past events cannot fail to leave their impress behind them. It is, then, by those shadows of the hoary Past and their fantastic silhouettes on the external screen of every religion and philosophy, that we can, by checking them as we go along, and comparing them, trace out finally the body that produced them. There must be truth and fact in that which every people of antiquity accepted and made the foundation of its religions and its faith. (Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, p. 794.)
The study of the hidden meaning in every religious and profane legend, of whatsoever nation, large or small -- pre-eminently the traditions of the East -- has occupied the greater portion of the present writer's life. She is one of those who feel convinced that no mythological story, no traditional event in the folk-lore of a people has ever been, at any time, pure fiction, but that every one of such narratives has an actual, historical lining to it. (Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 303.)
IN GIVING her Message to the world H. P. Blavatsky reiterated the fact of the existence of a body of knowledge universal and ever-present. She did not stop with this assertion but proceeded to demonstrate its veracity. There is no better proof of her spiritual profundity and wisdom than the manifestation of her power to discern the true from the false; of her capacity to put together the beautiful gems in a perfect piece of jewelry, rejecting the ugly with which the world of human thought is adorned; of her faculty to show what evil is and how good can supplant it in the moral universe. Of all her phenomena this one was the most marvellous -- the presentation of a practical philosophy of life, not new but old, to be found in the literature, sacred and secular, esoteric and exoteric, of every land and every era.
H.P.B. performed her varied phenomena for the edification of those who surrounded her. Most of them entertained themselves with these "psychological tricks;" very few indeed gained the instruction they conveyed. Unfortunately this is true also of the most marvellous phenomenon she ever produced. Only a limited number have concerned themselves with the presentation of Theosophy, in different climes and ages. This is one reason why Theosophy is still called a new creed, one of the many neo-isms with which our civilization is running amuck. As students, practitioners and promulgators of the Teachings of the Great Lodge to our century many among us have over-looked our solemn duty to those Predecessors who laboured in Their days and generations as H.P.B. laboured in hers. The mission of those Mighty Theosophists often failed because Their Message got transformed into a creed, religious, philosophic or magical. The well-meaning enthusiasts among the followers of great spiritual teachers are among those responsible for the degeneration which takes shape as a church or a mosque, a creed or a religion. Such a degeneration often starts because the "faithful" followers of the Teacher narrow their examination of Truth to only one channel. Unlike their Teacher who went wide afield, with courage and vigour, seeking Truth wherever and whenever He found it, the followers, out of a sense of false loyalty to Him, refuse to do what He did. Such do not use his teachings as pick and shovel to unearth the gems of other mines and learn by comparison their relative values. The main feature of any creed is the false value it sets and the false meaning it imparts to certain truths. This arises because the power of discretion through adequate comparison, and thus of perception of real values, is not utilised. This obstacle has to be removed if H.P.B.'s Message is not to dwindle into a creed.
Generally speaking, it is among the poorer students of their Teacher's philosophy that the perpetrators of creeds are to be found. The doubters, the shallow critics, the ambitious are failures in the practice of Theosophy; this because of insufficient study. Their lower nature does not gain sufficient purity of perception; but it adopts its own limited understanding and faulty vision as truth. The capacity to weigh and judge their own conclusions and deductions in the light of their own Teacher's philosophy is absent. Thus the luke-warmness of many so-called Theosophists towards the mission and message of H.P.B. would have disappeared if they had compared her pearls with those of others. The message of H.P.B. does not suffer by comparison with that of any Teacher or Prophet; her teachings gain in value and worth when placed side by side with others; the Secret Doctrine proves of better content than the Vedas, the Upanishads and their commentaries; the Voice of the Silence can more than stand comparison with the Sermon on the Mount; Isis Unveiled has a profounder philosophy than the Book of the Dead; the Key to Theosophy has better practical wisdom than the Quran and the Bible put together. For a proper appreciation of the Message of H.P.B., both as to technique-form and life-inspiration, an examination of theosophies of various cycles and cultures is essential.
There is still another thought which should be reflected upon, especially by those who are endeavouring to propagate Theosophy. In our work and life we meet people seeking for an explanation of problems; many of them are honest and earnest and suffer from hastily built mental structures, from preconceptions, from false notions, and the like. Through mental laziness or intellectual narrowness such people often fail to accept Theosophy which is spoken in a language not their own. Of course it is their fault that they will not study Theosophy; but is there not something to be shared by us in that fault? Can we familiarize ourselves with their language and speak it as far as possible to arouse interest, to awaken understanding, to deepen perception? Can we who have come out from among them and become separate help others to do likewise by speaking their tongue -- be it of science, of religion, of art, of letters?
If we are following in the footsteps of our Predecessors, then the forms in which They cast Their Teachings ought to be subjects of study for us; if we are to know and not only believe that Theosophy and Its Light-Bearers are ever in the world and that identity of doctrines subsists, a proper examination of the languages of Theosophy becomes necessary; if we are to help the masses and the classes to recognize Theosophy we have to go with our gospel of H.P.B.'s Message in their midst and help them to destroy their false gods and to worship at the inner shrine of the God within each.
In the coming cycle the task awaits us to continue that work of H.P.B., which figures so prominently in Isis Unveiled and the Secret Doctrine; and that of Mr. Judge who laboured energetically and wisely to bring to the notice of the West the Theosophy of the ancient East and to that of the East the Hidden Wisdom of the West. In the plan and the programme of the Great Masters the Second Object of the Theosophical Movement demands our thought and reflection.
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
The civilization of today, and especially of the United States, is an attempt to accentuate and glorify the individual. The oft-repeated declaration that any born citizen may aspire to occupy the highest office in the gift of the nation is proof of this, and the Mahatmas who guard the truth through the ages while nations are decaying, assert that the reaction is sure to come in a relapse into the worst forms of anarchy. The only way to prevent such a relapse is for men to really practice the Universal Brotherhood they are willing to accept with the tongue.--W.Q.J.
THE modern world has elevated the cult of the personal to an art; so much is this the prevailing ideal that in dealing with old world documents up-to-date savants forget that spiritual teachers of yore labored for the impersonal; they not only advocated for their pupils, and themselves practised, the destruction of the sense of separateness, which is the soul of that cult, but also applied the principle in and to their own public and exoteric work.
In every case we find the personality of the teacher almost lost in the mass of teachings and traditions which have gathered round his name. The name itself becomes the mask that hides more than one personality. It was an universal custom in the ancient world for the Teacher to assume a Name-Title occultly indicative of his mission and those who continued His work adopted it; thus the teacher's name invariably became a generic appellation of the School he founded, e.g., the name-title of the Iranian Reformer Zorathushtra -- the STAR who contemplates and sacrifices to the Living SUN. Of course, in the progress of time with the rise of ambitious and unscrupulous persons within the fold, came the faithlessness to the cause for which the School itself was founded. For example, the name-title of one of the greatest of Adepts, Shankar-Acharya, has been used in India these many centuries, by the Schools (Mathams) which came into being under His influence. The official manager-expounder in each of such schools called himself Shankar-Acharya, in conformity with the practice of the old occult traditions; their duty was to preserve intact and prevent any violation of the teachings of the Adept in their respective schools. To this day, in India several Shankar-acharyas have spiritual sway over large masses of Hindus, but they are more rivals than co-operators, and hardly any impart the pure and genuine doctrines of the original Reformer. The form has survived, but the Soul is absent.
Like all other tradition-institutions this is rooted in truth. The teaching about the Guruparampara Chain which has deteriorated into the grotesque and immoral doctrine of Apostolic Succession has an occult aspect, viz., that the office of the Teacher is never vacant and that orphan humanity is never without its Guides and Gurus. The highest title of the Buddha -- and there are as many Buddhas as there are Sankaras -- is Tathagata, he who is like his predecessors and successors. And what is true of Buddha, the Enlightened One, is equally true of Christ, the Anointed One.
In studying ancient Theosophies this is a factor the student has to keep well in mind. Thus in the consideration of Zoroastrian Theosophy we have to remember that the School represented by Zoroaster is very ancient. Writes H.P.B.:
If we had to describe broadly the origin of this religion from the standpoint, and upon the authority of the Occult teachings, we would call it by its original, primitive name, that of Magianism. Locating its first development in those vast regions which would have to be described as the whole area between the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Okhotsk in its length, and that which stretches through the unexplored deserts between the Altai and the Himalayan mountains in its breadth, we would place it back at an epoch, undreamt of by modern science and, therefore, rejected by all but the most speculative and daring anthropologists. We have no right to give out in this journal the correct number of years or rather of ages upon ages, since -- according to the doctrines of the Secret Science -- the first seeds of Magianism were sown by the hand of the BEING to whose duty it falls to rear, nurse and guide the tottering steps of the renascent human races, that awake anew to life on every planet in its turn, after its periodical "obscuration." It goes as far back as the days of our local Manvantara, so that the seeds sown among the first "root-race" began sprouting in its infant brain, grew up, and commencing to bear fruit toward the latter part of the second race, developed fully during the third, into what is known among Occultists as the "Tree of Knowledge," and the "Tree of Life" -- the real meaning of both having been, later on, so sadly disfigured and misinterpreted by both Zoroastrians and Christians.
Now, Occult Records claim to have the correct dates of each of the 13 Zoroasters. According to the said Records, Zoroastrianism as a distinct religio-philosophic school is of early Atlantean origin, i.e., before spiritual sinfulness overtook that race. The founding of this School coincides with the beginning of the cycle of the Iranian branch of the Aryan stock; this event is marked by the physical incarnation of the first Zoroaster from whose psycho-spiritual seed sprang the builders of Iranian Mysteries and culture. In the narratives of his life-labors, mythical and astronomical events were incorporated, as said in the previous article of this series. Parts of this narrative are to be found in the Vendidad.
Originally the Vendidad was preeminently an Occult treatise; it has passed through innumerable vicissitudes and distortions during these thousands of years, as through scores of editions in the course of the evolution of languages; in its present form it is but a fragment, and a patched-up one at that -- put together mostly from memory and surviving documents, some of doubtful authenticity from the occult point of view, after the exploits of the vandal Iskander, whom the West knows as Alexander and calls "Great"!
Since the days of the first Zoroaster this School (like the Sister Schools in other lands) has bent to the blows of cyclic law; it became greatly corrupted in its exoteric ranks at times and became only a surviving esoteric centre; flourished through its beneficent and influential works at others. During this ebb and flow Adept-Teachers of different ranks restored the teachings and resuscitated the work; all of Them were reformers and protestants against anti-Theosophic doctrines and practices; one of them protested and led a revolt against the Vaidic corruptions when cultured intercourse between India and Persia was close and intimate; another reformed the magic-practices of Egyptians and Chaldeans in their sub-cycles of degradation. In doing all this they always employed the name-title of the Original Founder and with good reason; for they were, one and all, but Incarnations, however limited, of the Original Influence.(1) The last one to do this was the builder of the Temple of Azareksh, many ages before the historical era; he was the Mage who taught the doctrines of Divine Magic which spread from Bactris to Medes and thence under the name of Magism were used by the Adept-astronomers in Chaldea which influenced considerably the Mosaic doctrines; he was the author of the Zend-Avesta which, as Darmesteter explains, is "a commentary or explanation of the Law", i.e., he was the transcriber and annotator of the works on the primeval sacred Magian religion. The original Zend is a secret code of certain words and expressions agreed upon by the original compilers, and the key to which is but with the Initiates. Neither was The Avesta of Ardeshir identical with that which was brought out and given to Gushtasp, by Zara-Ishter the 13th prophet of the Desatir; nor that of the latter quite the same as the original Zend, although even this one was the exoteric version of the Zen-Zara.
While certain Persian books repeating the Occult teaching speak of 13 Zoroasters, we must not forget that there were other individuals connected with the exoteric side of the School who also claimed from time to time the name-title of Zoroaster for themselves. Such claimants distorted and disfigured the pure teachings and have left their mark and impress on the outer story of the School. Naturally, these spurious claimants do not form part of the Occult Records about the true Zoroasters.
The original treatises -- codes of law like the Vendidad, or hymns like the five Gathas, or litanies like the Yasna are almost all extinct. The sparse fragments we now possess are worse than fragmentary, for interpolations have taken place. All the same they are full of high philosophy, noble ethics, and not altogether devoid of occult lore and esoteric teachings, though they are rightly called "the ruins of a religion".
The extant Zoroastrian texts and documents will not be appreciated till all this is kept in mind. What we now possess is the residue of centuries of trials and tribulations through which Iranian culture came to birth, culminated, declined and from all appearances is becoming extinct -- this last is one phase of the communal karma which the modern Parsis, only some 95,000 strong, are facing today.
Highly mixed as this residue is, there is enough of Theosophy not only to interest but also instruct our readers. We will here examine some of its metaphysical propositions, then turn to its cosmo- and anthropo-genesis, and finally to its psychology, and gain inspiration from its noble ethics.
As in all true Theosophical expositions the conception of a personal God is absent. Writes H.P.B.:
Magianism, in the days of its full maturity and practice, and long ages before the first of the 12 great religions, its direct offshoots -- mentioned and feebly described by Mohsan Fani in the Dabistan, -- ever saw light; and even much anterior to the appearance of the first devotees of the religion of Hush-ang, which, according to Sir W. Jones, "was long anterior to that of Zeratusht, the prophet of the modern Parsis," that religion, as we can undeniably prove was, "ATHEISM". At any rate, it would be so regarded now, by those who call Kapila and Spinoza, BUDDHA and our MAHATMAS, Brihaspati of the Charvack and the modern Adwaitees, all alike, nastikas or atheists. Assuredly no doctrine about a personal God, a gigantic man and no more -- was ever taught by the true Magi. Hence Zoroaster -- the seventh prophet (according to the Desatir, whose compilers mixed up and confused the 14 "Zaro-Ishtars," the high priests and initiates of the Chaldean worship or Magian Hierophants -- the 13th) -- would be regarded as an atheist in the modern sense of the word.
Omnipresent Deity, a Living Nature are the central truths of Zoroastrianism. The physical and visible Nature is energised by the psychical and both are ensouled and enveloped by the spiritual. Ahuramazda, the Sovereign Spirit, is the Universal Power, one with his manifestation. Of course he is personified and the latter has become an object of prayer and worship with the ignorant. The Ahuramazda Yasht is highly reminiscent of the 9th, 10th, and 11th discourses of the Bhagavad Gita. Like Shri Krishna, Ahuramazda in answer to his favorite disciple, Zoroaster, describes his own nature. He gives his own many names, characteristic of that Nature and starts with -- "Ahmi--I am." The original construction (no doubt purposely employed just as Krishna plays on the word Atma in the 6th Gita) also leads to the translation: "I am That about which every one enquires and questions." The second name which has puzzled Orientalists and even Parsi philologists is rendered "Herd-giver" by Darmesteter among the former, and as "protector and nourishers of the Herd" by Ervad Kanga among the latter. It really refers to the character of Ahuramazda as constituting the hierarchy of beings which is immanent in the manifested universe; in his transcendent nature he is the energising ensouling Power who, like Krishna, having established this whole Universe with a fragment of himself, remains separate.(2) The very third name, "I am the one strength in everybody," and those which follow, are clearly indicative of the all-pervasive nature of Ahuramazda -- Wisdom Incarnate.
Zoroastrianism is not a monotheistic religion, however much some of its Anglicized adherents of today make that claim, imitating the unphilosophical churches of Christendom; nor is it polytheistic, though among the superstitious of the community there prevails ceremonial and other worship of the elemental, psychic and spiritual forces, personified in the Zend Avesta; nor is it even pantheistic as pantheism is conceived by the modern West. It is a philosophic hylo-zoism in which matter and life are inseparate and inseparable, the Unit made up of numberless units, each a manifestation of Wisdom Divine -- Mazda Ahura -- which is the container and common link of its two aspects.
On the subjective side Zoroastrianism teaches the doctrine of emanations, on the objective that of evolution. These Emanations (like the Syzigies of Simon Magus) are always in pairs, one of the pair itself an emanation of the other. Thus Ahura-Existence-Beness, and Mazda -- Absolute Wisdom -- are a pair; Mazda the coeval and coeternal emanation or inherent radiation of Ahura. Then Ahuramazda emanates Vohu Mano -- the Good Mind, and these two labor for the spiritual unfoldment of the manifested universe. For this purpose is begotten Asha Vahishta -- Divine Harmony the third of the Amesha Spentas; thus the 1st and the 2nd, the 2nd and the 3rd, the 3rd and the 4th, the 4th and the 5th, the 5th and the 6th, the 6th and the 7th, and the last Ameretat -- Immortality -- and the first Ahura Mazda, work for the preservation and regeneration of all. The last pair represents the end of toil -- Immortal Repose, Equipoise, Nirvana. Thus the Seven Primal Builders emanate one from the other and form the Great Circle -- the Circle of Everlasting Divinity knowing Its own immortal nature. The Great Dragon of Wisdom, Ahuramazda, biting his own tail, Immortality-Ameretat, remains forever and ever in limitless Duration -- Zrvan Akarana, and periodically casts its shadow, Zrvan Daregho-Khaodata -- the Circle of Time, the Chakra-Wheel of Periodicity.(3) Zrvan Daregho-Khaodata is the eternity of the universe in toto as a boundless plane periodically the playground of numberless universes; Zrvan Akarana is the Vibrant Sphere of Duration, boundless and limitless, of which sphere the Zrvan Daregho-Khaodata is the plane-circle. The Cycle in motion is the emanation of the Sphere which is Motionlessness -- such is the Zoroastrian mode of expression about the Absolute and the Great Breath.
Thus we have the root of cycles of differing periods in the concept of Zrvan Daregho-Khaodata -- Circles of Manifested Time, each of which has a beginning and therefore an end; this latter is the second of the pair, the first being Zrvan Akarana, "Limitless Time", which is Duration beginningless and endless. Every orthodox Parsi in reciting his matin prayers repeats: Zrvan Akarana yazmaidae, Zrvan Daregho-Khaodata yazmaidae -- "Sacrifice of praise unto the Boundless Duration, sacrifice of praise unto the sovereign Time of the Great Period."
Unfortunately, however, this primal metaphysical duality in time concept is not given (by modern students of Zoroastrianism) the consideration it deserves. There is another pair which meets with a similar fate -- Ahuramazda -- Absolute Wisdom which manifests itself as Ahuna Vairya -- the Veracious Word.(4) The abstraction Mazda Ahura -- the Wisdom which IS -- becomes incarnate, expresses itself as the Word, as Brahman becomes Pranava.
This Word, Ahuna Vairya or Honover, is composed of three couplets and twenty-one words. From Pahlavi and Persian books we learn that these twenty-one words are the names of the twenty-one Sacred Books of the Holy Law which are mostly destroyed; fragments of fragments only are available at present. This Veracious Word is like the sacred formula of the Buddhists -- Om Mani Padme Hum -- or like the Brahmanical Gayatri. It is at once a mantra with tone effects, a colorful ideograph, an occult cipher to be deciphered according to the true science of Numbers. Metaphysically speaking, it unveils the nature of Deity and Cosmos, and from the psychological viewpoint is the Soul-Power which all true men and good use to destroy the mighty magic of Ahriman, following the example of Zoroaster himself.(5) It is called the "axe of victory" by which man hews down the Tree of Evil.
This Word was the primary manifestation and came into being before the Universe, hence, as Darmesteter points out (Sacred Books of the East, -- Vol. 4, pp. 206-07) "in the boundless Time"; i.e., the Word and the Cycle or Period of Time are coeval and coeternal -- two aspects of the one. This manifestation of the Word is described in some detail in Yasna XIX. The chanting of this Word has several meanings, cosmical and human; it contains the three stages, like the Three Steps of Vishnu and Jehovah Elohim by which Ahuramazda completed his task of creation;(6) it is the Note struck for his people by the first Zoroaster, a cyclic avatara; it is the knowledge about 3 X 7 = 21 natures of man; 7 Spiritual-monadic, 7 Intellectual-individual, and 7 Formal-personal, so that every one can employ the Word in pursuance of the injunction "Man know thyself." Of it the record stands:
"Ahunem Vaiream Tanum Payatae The Word sustains the Body."
IF the Orientalists, through their peculiar method of reading Zend, Pahalvi and Pazand, have disfigured the import of Zoroastrian texts, they have at least done the service of drawing to them the attention of the Western world. There are two occidental volumes which have misled western readers these many years -- Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra, and Samuel Laing's A Modern Zoroastrian. The former has deceived only the bourgeois mind into believing that Nietzsche's Zoroaster was anything else but an imaginary figure of the German writer. The latter has done more serious damage; the author, a materialistic rationalist of repute, but a poor philosopher and a worse metaphysician, harnessed his badly digested reading on the religion of the Parsis (reading presumably done in his capacity as a globe-trotter) to adorn his thesis on the dualism of matter-polarity. His volume is excellent reading from the standpoint of science and his remarks on Zoroastrian dualism are very interesting, but the title is a misnomer. The book has misled even Parsis, especially those unfamiliar with the real metaphysics and philosophy of their own religion. Orientalists began speaking of the religion of Zoroaster as dualism, and Laing, the scientist, confirmed the theory -- so, it became canonical!
In every civilization metaphysical ideas and cosmic ultimates have undergone strange metamorphoses through their misinterpretation by minds not pure and noble enough to comprehend them. A greater confusion than ignorant identification of Brahman with Brahmà exists in reference to the Zoroastrian pair. Not centuries but aeons of evolution are traceable since the two primeval spirits became transformed as Ormazd and Ahriman. If Zoroastrian cosmogenesis is to be understood, we should once again bear in mind the fact of lengthy eras of materializing thought which has made Zoroastrianism what it is, fragmentary and anthropomorphic.
Let the following be first grasped: the functions of the good and evil forces in Zoroastrian cosmology represent definite philosophic concepts; the activities of the same powers in anthropology and mythos are also distinct ideas; their psychological and human aspects make up a story by themselves, different again from the other two. Not only the different eras in which evolution of the duality-idea took place, have to be noted, but also the fact that different teachers used the same words and names to designate distinct ideas -- universal or personal, cosmic or psychological, mythical or allegorical.
In Zend tradition Ahuramazda and Angramainyu are not two opposing beings. They become so in their later Pahlavi transformations. Those two primeval Spirits -- Minos --are called Spento and Angro, and they are the powers (shaktis, as the Parsi Ervad Kanga points out, p. 23 of his Gathas) of Ahuramazda. Dr. Mills says in his Zarathustrian Gathas (p. 84), "The Spenta-mainyu here is not identical with Ahura, but it is, as so often, His Spirit, whatever precisely this expression may mean." This word Spenta is the same as in Amesha Spenta, the seven Immortals and really means the Mainyu-Spirit which unfolds its sevenfold nature or emanates seven hierarchies of beings. Thus Spenta-mainyu is the source from which emanate Ahuramazda himself with his six satellites. The supplementing power is Angra-Mainyu, the source of evil which is the root of matter and in its personified aspect is the father-brother of seven evil demons. Great discussion has taken place as to the real origin of this conception of Angra-Mainyu which later became Ahriman, Satan. The concept which ensouls the word is derived from the same source from which Ahimanyu of the Rig Veda comes. The Zoroastrian concept was not borrowed from the Vedas but like so many others is rooted in the original parent of both the Vedic and Avestic systems; the Ah-hi of the Esoteric Doctrine is the common parent of the Avesta Angra and the Vedic Ahi. Ahi the serpent of evil, or the Cycle of Matter is really the manifested Universe, the flesh made by the Word.
The two primeval spirits, Spento and Angro, are impersonal, universal and omnipotent forces -- centripetal and centrifugal. Out of them emanate the seven hierarchies of spiritual intelligence and the seven material kingdoms of nature. Spento and Angro are like the Purusha and Prakriti of Indian philosophy. Just as "Light and darkness are the world's eternal ways" (Gita, VIII) so do Spento and Angro-Mainyus commence, sustain, and renovate the cycle of necessity, Ahuramazda Himself being the primal expression thereof. The Gathas sing thus:
The spirits primeval are a pair and they together communed. These two differ in thought, in word, in deed, one the enhancer of betterment, the other the fashioner of evil ... The two spirits came together at the dawn -- one the maker of life, the other to mar it, and thus they shall be unto the last. Yasna XXX-3, 4.
I announce to you life's first two spirits of whom the Good accosted the Evil: Never our thoughts, nor creeds, nor understandings, nor beliefs, nor words, nor deeds, nor consciences, nor souls can be the same. Yasna XLV-2.
These two, the centripetal and centrifugal forces, are the basis of the universe. They cause manifestation and dissolution. The two are objects of worship by the Holy Sraosha, "the God Obedient to Ahura" (Yasna LVII-2). Spirit-Matter, Ideation-Substance, the One Life with its dual aspect, manifests as the Universe, the Zrvan Daregho-Khaodata -- sovereign time. This Zoroastrian expression stands for "the Great Day 'Be With Us'" which the Egyptians called "Day of Come to Us." It is the "Ring Pass Not" of the Manifested Cosmos in the Secret Doctrine.
This circle of Zrvan Daregho-Khaodata is guarded by four Star Chieftains -- Tistrya in the East, Satavaesa in the West, Vanant in the South and Haptoiringa in the North. Students of H. P. Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine will recognize in them the four Maharajas connected with the Lipikas and Karma.
The Zodiac with its twelve constellations as also the seven planets are mentioned in the Bundahis. Says H.P.B.:
The Sun, the moon and the stars in the Avesta are all emblematical representations -- the Sun, especially -- the latter being the concrete and most appropriate emblem of the one universal life-giving principle, while the stars are part and parcel of the Occult sciences. Yima never "prayed" but went to "meet the sun" in the vast space of heavens, and bringing down with him "the science of the stars, pressed the earth with his golden ring and forced (thereby) the 'Spenta Armaiti' -- (the genius of the earth) to stretch asunder and to bear flocks and herds and men." (Farg. II, 10.)
The Sun is regarded as a focal point for the universal light. The relation between Khorshed "the undying, shining, swift-horsed Sun" and Mihir or Mithra "the Lord of wide pastures, who has a thousand ears well shapen and ten thousand eyes, high, with full knowledge, strong, sleepless, and ever awake" has been a puzzle to the students of the Avesta. Says Darmesteter: "Mithra is closely connected with the Sun, but not yet identical with it." But esoteric cosmogony and the occult teaching on the nature of the physical sun once accepted, the puzzle remains no more a puzzle. Just as in the famous verse of the Isavasyaopanishad (15), the Spiritual Sun behind the physical sun is invoked, so is there behind the Avesta Khorshed -- Sun its Spiritual-Soul, Mihir or Mithra. Mihir in its cosmic aspect is the universal invisible light, and by the power inherent in it, produces physical stars which are its eyes and in the intervening spaces super-physical ones which cannot be seen but whose music can be heard. The dwelling place of Mihir extends over the manifested universe and he has eight friends who from watch-towers guard the faithful, and also listen to those who lie unto that Soul of Light and Lustre. This also is imagery of a teaching dealt with in the Esoteric Commentary -- "Eight houses were built by Mother." (c.f. S.D. I, 100.) Mihir's Chariot is inlaid with stars and made of spirit-substance (Mainyu-tashtem) drawn by four immortal horses, who, like Poseidon's steeds, live on ambrosia. In that chariot Mihir drives throughout Space, and the thousand well-made maces of iron on one side of that chariot fall upon the skulls of demons. Here is to be found poetic and allegorical descriptions of the formation of the heavenly bodies -- from suns to star dust.
In the prayer of praise recited every day by the orthodox Parsi, Mihir is described as present in seven directions (Mihir Nyayis, 11), in reference to every globe, the third of which is called "this country." The order is peculiar but the Key to it lies in the Chaldean Kabala diagram given in the Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 200. In one of His aspects, like the bright Nyima-Sun, Mihir falls under Karmic law and becomes the fiery aura of the "Hand" of Lhagpa-Mercury; in that particular aspect he became the central figure of the Mithraic Mysteries. Surrounding and within, above and below, in front and behind the land of Mihir, Mercury (Globe "F" of the Eastern Gupta Vidya and Tephreth of the Chaldean Kabala) is the Life-Power of the Central Sun -- Mihir in his solar aspect.
Several hints about the Moon being the preceding planetary chain are to be found: how the Moon was produced from Vohumano -- the Good Mind, as in the Vedas it is produced from the Manas of Purusha; how the Moon is the Keeper of the Seed of Bull (Taurus) (c.f. Isis Unveiled II, 465), how the Ameshaspentas pour Moon's glory (Khoreno -- Theosophic Aura-Augoeides) on the earth, and other cognate ideas, are to be found in the Mah Yast and other fragments.
That brings us to the doctrine of the seven Karshvares -- globes -- of our earth planetary chain, about which H.P.B. writes:
On Page six of his Introduction IV, to Part I of the Zend-Avesta -- the Vendidad, Mr. J. Darmesteter has the following remark: "The Ancestors of the Indo Iranians had been led to speak of seven worlds, the Supreme God was often made sevenfold, as well as the worlds over which he ruled.... The seven worlds became in Persia the seven KARSHVARE of the earth: the earth is divided into seven KARSHVARE, only one of which is known and accessible to man, the one on which we live, namely, 'hvaniratha': which amounts to saying that there are seven earths." The latter belief is attributed, of course, to ignorance and superstition. Nor do we feel quite certain that this opinion will not be shared by those of our readers who neither are Chelas nor have read the "Fragments of Occult Truth." But we leave it with the "lay chelas" and others to judge whether this sevenfold division (see Farg. XIX) is not the ABC of the Occult Doctrines.
The Secret Doctrine (Vol. II, pp. 757-759) treats fully of this subject and explains the mystery. Space forbids our quoting in full the important passage, with the explanatory diagram, but the subject will remain incomplete if the reader omits to peruse it at this point.
That brings us to earth and anthropogenesis.
"Bundahis is an old eastern work in which among other things anthropology is treated in an allegorical form," says H.P.B., and we will make use of that valuable treatise, thus:
The field of evolution, the earth planetary chain, has an age limit -- 9,000 years divided into three periods. During the first 3,000 years everything proceeds by the will of Ahuramazda, followed by the second 3,000 years when an intermingling of the wills of Ahuramazda and Ahriman prevails, and then the last when the evil spirit is disabled and completely defeated. These three periods are worked by the magic of the Veracious Word of 21 words -- Honovar -- recited by Ahuramazda (see Bundahis I, 20-22). This is the poetic rendition of the stately progression of the 7 classes of Monads in the 7 Kingdoms through the 7 Rounds; the 9,000 years being a symbol -- 9 (made up of 4+3+2) worked with the aid of three ciphers, one each for the three periods of forthgoing, balance, and return.
We will take next the description -- puzzling to the ordinary reader but graphic to the student of the Secret Doctrine -- of that important event in evolution, the descent of the Manasa-putras, or the phenomenon of the lighting up of Manas. It is said (Bundahis II, 9) that Ahuramazda performed the Yazeshnai -- Sacrifice Ceremony -- with the help of the Ameshaspentas in the Rapitavan Gah and through that rite supplied every means necessary for overcoming adversity caused by the adversary -- Ahriman. Now, Rapithavan is one of the five periods of the day -- the exact middle of the day being its starting moment -- which is observed during the seven summer months, but not during the remaining five winter months. Chapter XXV of this Pahalvi volume deals with cycles; days, months, and seasons are utilized to serve the purpose of defining and describing a variety of cycles. Thus Ahuramazda performing this ceremony in the middle of the day is a very pointed reference to the event in the middle of the fourth round on this earth. What does he do? He deliberates with previously made Fravashis who had "remained 3,000 years in a spiritual state, so that they were unthinking, unmoving with intangible bodies" (Bundahis I, 8). Fravashis are the spirit-prototypes, the inner guardian angels of all souls -- sub-human, human, as well as super-human -- Ahuramazda himself having a Fravashi. H.P.B. speaks of it as "the spiritual counterpart of the still more spiritual original." Each Fravashi has attached to it Bod (Theosophic Buddhi) and Ahuramazda confers with these Fravashi-Bod.
Which seems to you the more advantageous, when I shall present you to the world? that you shall contend in a bodily form with the fiend (drug), and the fiend shall perish, and in the end I shall have you prepared again perfect and immortal, and in the end give you back to the world, and you will be wholly immortal, undecaying, and undisturbed; or that it be always necessary to provide you protection from the destroyer? (Ibid, II, 10.)
Then these spirit-entities "became of the same opinion" as Ahuramazda and descended to the world to fight the fiend of the lower nature and gain the knowledge of their immortality and become perfect.
In the Vendidad (Fargard II) we see the Theosophical teachings about the early races of humanity on earth. Just as Krishna (Gita IV) speaks of his having previously communicated the wisdom to Vivasvat, etc., so here Ahuramazda speaks to Zoroaster about the first mortal to whom the Deity taught the sacred lore. This was "the fair Yima, son of Vivanghat" whose story is narrated. H.P.B. informs us that Yima -- Persian Jamshed -- is "representative of the first unborn human race of our fourth round." Yima is "the good shepherd" who on being asked to be the bearer of the Good Law replies, "I was not born to be the preacher, nor was taught to be the bearer of the Law." This answer is indicative of the pure spiritual nature of that first race which was not "yet in need of the truths of the Sacred Science, -- hence Ahriman is powerless over the innocence of infancy," writes H.P.B. Yima keeps disease and death away from his people. This race grows seventy times seven, and thrice Yima enlarges the earth by the aid of the two implements -- gifts of Ahuramazda -- a golden ring and a poniard inlaid with gold. All this takes 1,000 winters, which says Isis Unveiled (II, 221) is a cycle known to the initiates and which has an allegorical sense. "By the power of his innate untaught light and knowledge, due to the absence of Angra Mainyu, he forces the earth to grow larger at his will and wish," says H.P.B. Thus Yima becomes the symbol of the three races.
Then Ahuramazda and his Ameshaspentas meet Yima with his flock in Airyana Vaego and the Deity informs Yima that fatal winters are going to befall, and that "all the three sorts of beasts shall perish"; "therefore make thee a vara, an enclosure," and thither bring the seeds of all species -- "two of every kind, to be kept inexhaustible there, so long as those men stay there." The Secret Doctrine (Vol. II, 291 et seq.) throws great light on subsequent events of the narrative, to which the reader's attention is called. Our attempt has been to indicate that a rich field of research awaits those who desire to know. In the words of H.P.B.:
Every thinking Parsee, has to help himself if he would learn more. His religion is not dead yet; and under the lifeless mask of modern Zoroastrianism the pulse of the Magi of old still beats. We have endeavoured as briefly as possible to give a correct, though a very superficial, view of the purport and spirit of true Magianism. There is not a sentence in this for which authority cannot be shown.
WESTERN scholars may say "the Key to the Avesta is not the Pahlavi but the Vedas"; the Occultist's answer is "aye, but the Key to the Vedas is the Secret Doctrine." The former assert correctly enough that "the Vedas come from the same source as the Avesta"; the students of Occultism ask, "do you know even the a.b.c. of that source?" -- thus wrote H.P.B.
Praiseworthy efforts have been made by some Orientalists to study comparatively Sanscrit-Pali and Zend-Pahlavi lore. Serious and important as that philological study is, the student of the esoteric philosophy looks on it as but the forerunner to the more important study of the real import and the true meaning of the fables, legends, myths, symbols of the teachings of Buddhas and Zoroasters alike. Students of Theosophy have to endeavor to arouse genuine and sincere interest in the message of the Ancients, so that the world will demand more than mere word translations of hoary texts and Mss. Presently the cyclic return will show its effects and the western world will have to be satisfied with the tenets of the Soul unfolding philosophy-ethics of the Aryans. Many hundreds of words and expressions, Sanskrit, Zend, Pahlavi, Pali, Pazand, are not understood because philology is divorced from philosophy, words from ideas. The true Theosophist must be ready with the correct comprehension of universal ideas which are the basis of all particular creeds and popular philosophies. If there are dangers lurking in this cycle along the line of the third object of the Theosophical Movement there also exist certain dangers in connection with the second object.
Lack of philosophical knowledge on the part of western philologists and even their eastern pupils and companions have led most of them to confound and confuse teachings which with even a little knowledge of Theosophy and the esoteric doctrines become clear and explicit. While in matters of metaphysics and cosmology one may not see the danger and the pity of this neglect, in matters of psychology and practical ethics the case is otherwise. What a difference it would make, for instance, to the modern educated Parsi, if he could understand and apply the tenets about man's constitution to be found in his Yasna 26 and 55 (54 of Spiegel, which translation is a better rendering than that of Dr. L. H. Mills in the Sacred Books of the East), in Farvardin Yasht and in other texts.
We will outline here two schemes of human constitution to be found in the Avesta:
I. An eight-fold being composed of (1) Fravarshi -- the triple Atma, the Individual Ray of the Impersonal Deity; (2) Urvan the Soul, the Buddhi and Manas, the Discriminator and Thinker, the dual Powers-Shaktis of Atma-Ishvara or Fravarshi; (3) Bodhas, the faculty of the Urvan whereby he chooses, selects and devises ways and means of his own growth; (4) Tevishes, the Desire-Kama which inclines towards Bodhas or gravitates towards (5) Keherpas, which is Persian Kaleb Aerial form or mould, Linga Sharira; (6) Ushtanas is the Vital-heat or prana; (7) and (8) are Bony structure and the Body, symbolic representatives of the immortal and mortal constituents of the body whose true import the esotericist is familiar with.
II. A five-fold being composed of (1) Ahu -- the Self, the Personality in incarnation, the lower-self with its quarternary principles; (2) Daena, Its ever-present and watchful holy insight, its pure and wise spouse who stores away all that is worthy in the myriad experiences of the first, and who alone can enable it to understand the tenets of the True Faith (Din); she forms the link between the first and the higher triad and after the death of the personality appears to it -- objectivized form of its own experiences as we see below; (3) Bodhas (4) Urvan (5) Fravarshi are the same as in the first classification.
In another place two different names are used: instead of the third Bodhas, in the above, the word Manah, which is the same as in Sanskrit is given, and for the first Ahu -- the Personal Self -- the word Asna is inserted. Asna is the aspiring-desiring nature, the primal constituent and the very basis of the Personal Self; by that power it moves upward or downward.
A beautiful as well as instructive picture of after death states is to be found in the following condensed rendition of a Yast fragment:
Zarathushtra asked Ahura Mazda: Thou Pure Spirit, the unfolder of all that is beneficent, when one of the pure dies where does his soul abide?
Ahura Mazda answered: Zarathushtra, that Soul, engaged in his ideation sings the Ustavaiti Gatha: "Prosperity to him through whom prosperity comes to all" on the first night, and on the second, and on the third; he enjoys the peace which comes to all mortals through his chanting.
At the end of the third night as the dawn rises that Soul wends its way southward, inhaling the fragrance of orchards and the scent of flowering shrubs and he contemplates -- "Whence that fragrance, the sweetest ever breathed?"
And he sees, approaching him, a Virgin pure, of fifteen summers, as fair as the fairest thing of earth, handsome, radiant, heroic, stately, of appearance that attracts, of divine lineage, of the ancient seed of the Spirit; and the good soul questions her: "Who art thou, the fairest maid I have ever seen?"
"I am thine own Daena (thine Inner Spirit-Self)," answers the Maid, "thou youth of good thoughts, good words, good deeds, good faith, I am thyself. Clad in those virtues bright thou appeared to others on earth, as now and here I appear to thee. When some derided the teachings about the Inner Self and prayed to idols, and some shut their door against the poverty-stricken, and some were engaged in destroying growing plants and trees, thou sat singing the Gathas praising the waters of life and the Fire which is the Soul, the Son of Ahura Mazda and made happy the righteous from near and afar. Oh, radiant youth, I was lovely and thou madest me lovelier; I was fair and now I am fairer; I was desirable and thou madest me still more desirable; I used to sit in a forward place and now thou madest me sit in the foremost place; henceforth mortals will worship me for thee having sacrificed long in converse with Ahura Mazda."
Then first through the paradise of good Thought, and then of good Word, and then of good Deed, the Soul found himself, in the Heaven of Light.
And one of the faithful who had arrived there previously asked him, "How didst thou depart the life, O, holy man, from the material world into the spiritual, from the decaying unto this the undecaying one?"
Ahura Mazda interposed, "Ask him not, who has just finished the dreary way, the life of the body." Then the Good Soul and his spirit spouse (Daena) feasted of the food of experience like unto the butter skimmed from the fresh milk of spring.
Then Zarathushtra asked Ahura Mazda: Thou Pure Spirit, the unfolder of all that is beneficent, when one of the impure dies where does his soul abide? Ahura Mazda answered: Zarathushtra, that Soul desiring his desires, wailing dirge of despondency cries -- "To what land shall I turn? To whom shall I go?" and this on the first night, and the second and the third and through it all, suffering in his, the suffering he caused to all.
At the end of the third night as the dawn rises that Soul wends its way northward, inhaling the stench of impure corpses and contemplates -- "Whence that stench, the worst I ever inhaled?" And he sees a hag approaching, foul, loathsome, gaping, of demoniacal lineage, of the seed of passion; and the unfortunate soul questions her, "Who art thou, O ugly witch?"
"I am thou, thy lower Self," answered the hag, "thou man of evil thoughts, evil words, evil deeds, and evil faith, I am thyself. Clad in hideous vice thou showed thyself to mortals down on earth as I now show myself to thee. Thou derided the teaching about the Inner Self and prayed to idols of greed and passion and pelf, strewing poverty all around, destroyer of beings on their upward way, causing consternation to the good and despair to the righteous. I was not beautiful and thou madest me ugly; I was not fair and thou madest me hideous; I had not a forward seat and now I am fallen backwards. Henceforth mortals will remember me with fear and dishonour."
Then first through the hell of bad thought, and then of bad word, and then of bad deed, the soul plunged himself in the gloom of darkness.
And one of the wicked who had arrived there previously asked him, "How didst thou depart the life, O, wicked man, from the material world into the spiritual, from the decaying unto this the undecaying one?"
Angra Mainyu interposed, "Ask him not, who has just finished the dreary way, the life of the body." Then the bad soul and his passion spouse feasted on experience like unto the poison and of poisonous stench.
Zoroastrianism is widely known as the religion of fire-worship. Fire, however, is a symbol, certain phases of which only are commonly accepted. It is not grasped that in Zoroastrianism Fire as a symbol-emblem is intended to show the identity of nature between the macrocosm and the microcosm. The variety of fires mentioned; the mode of building up fire (1) in home, (2) in small temples, and (3) in big temples; the custom of never allowing these fires to be extinguished or polluted; and other matters have to be understood as parable-tenets of the science of esoteric psychology.
In numerous places Fire is named the "Son of Ahuramazda," whose Sanskrit equivalent is manasa-putra -- the mind-born son of Brahma. The Fire is the reincarnating ego and has two aspects, one stationary, immovable, the other changing and growing. The non-moving is the Divine Ego whose ray is the other. The former sits, the watching spectator, saying "What does he who comes and goes bring to him who is motionless?" But this motionless Fire is "the purifier," "the maker of prosperity," is "strong and immortal" and is named "the warrior." He is also designated "the cook who cooks the day and night meals of mortals," i.e., he is the supplier of experiences in waking and sleeping conditions, as also in life and death. It is further narrated that when a passerby brings him the essence of purity in the shape of Asem, Barsem and Hadhanaepita tree (these are symbolic representations) then the Warrior-Son of Ahuramazda becomes well pleased with that person, and fed as required, that Fire blesses him thus: "May there be increase of cows for thee (i.e., the organisms which yield the milk of sweet and health-giving experiences); may there be increase of heroes for thee (same as above, but note that the former is of the animal kingdom, the latter of the human); may thy mind be master of its vow; may thy soul be master of its vow; may thou live on in the joy of the Soul all the nights of thy life (i.e., in sleep and after-death states)." Such is the blessing given by the Fire-Soul to anyone who brings to him "dry wood" (i.e., deeds free from the moisture of passion), well cleansed with godly intent, well examined by the light of day (i.e., performed from pure motive during day and life, sleep and death being subjective conditions). It is further said that this Fire assists him who feeds him as above described, but fails not to handle those who are inimical to him -- which is the doctrine of Karma working from within without.
Though Reincarnation as a doctrine is not clearly and explicitly taught in the fragments now extant, there are numerous passages, such as the above, which clearly indicate that it was well-known.
The doctrine of Fravarshi is of special interest to the student of Theosophy. Every creature, whatever the body may happen to be, has its spiritual counterpart which is Fravarshi. To begin with, Ahuramazda himself has his Fravarshi and he recommends Zoroaster to invoke his Fravarshi and not himself, i.e. the impersonal and true essence of Deity, one with Zoroaster's own atman (or Christos), not the false and personal appearance. The seven Amesha-spentas, all the religious teachers like Zoroaster, all warrior-souls, all evil-doers, animals, plants, minerals, everything has a Fravarshi. The coming into manifestation of these Fravarshis, their evolution and ultimate destiny are all described in Zend, Pahalvi and Persian books. As H.P.B. points out, this doctrine influenced Church-Christianity, and Ferouer is but a corrupted concept-word of the Zend Fravarshi.
The Chinvant Bridge over which the soul passes after death to the state of light or darkness, is significant as the teaching about Antaskarana; the noose around the neck of the man when he dies, which falls away be he righteous, and drags him into hell if wicked, is the teaching about the Kama-rupic shell of the after-death condition. Numerous powers and faculties of the human consciousness, and the nature of super-physical and spiritual hierarchies, of which man is a compound, are described in metaphorical language. As a clue to the chief symbol of Zoroastrianism H.P.B. gave the following in Isis Unveiled.
Fire, in the ancient philosophy of all times and countries, including our own, has been regarded as a triple principle. As water comprises a visible fluid with invisible gases lurking within, and behind all the spiritual principle of nature, which gives them their dynamic energy, so, in fire, they recognized: 1st. Visible flame; 2nd. Invisible, or astral fire -- invisible when inert, but when active producing heat, light, chemical force, and electricity, the molecular powers; 3rd. Spirit. They applied the same rule to each of the elements; and everything evolved from their combinations and correlations, man included, was held by them to be triune.
IF the spirit of Vedanta singing through the Gita endeavors to bring the world to Dharma-Duty, the theme which Zoroastrianism recites for humanity is Ashoi-Purity. The very words with which Ahuramazda rejoiced Zoroaster as given in the Vendidad (V-21) are: "For man purity is the greatest good even from his birth." This code of purity contains an exhortation profound in its simplicity (IX-19).
Make thyself pure, O righteous man! Anyone in the world here below can win purity for himself, namely when he cleanses himself with good thoughts, words and deeds.
The first, the shortest, but regarded as the most efficacious of prayers is Ashem-Vohu which translated is:
Purity is the noblest blessing. Happiness it is -- happiness to him who is pure for the sake of noblest purity itself.
The metaphysical and cosmical aspects of the twin-spirits, good and evil, Ormazd and Ahriman, have already been considered. Just as the great war of Kurukshetra was used by occult teachers in India to instruct humanity in the metaphysical source of all wars (the dual principle of spirit-matter) and its precipitation in man of the greatest of all wars, so also "the whole struggle of Ahura-mazda and Ahriman is but the allegory of the great religious and political war between Brahmanism and Zoroastrianism." (Isis Unveiled, II, p. 237.) Elsewhere H. P. Blavatsky writes:
Ahriman is matter, the begetter of all Evil, and the Destroyer, since matter -- eternal per se and indestructible -- having to ever change form destroys its units, while Ormazd or Spirit remains immutable in its abstract Unity and as a whole.
It was neither the metaphysical nor the historical aspect which perpetuated the teaching about Ormazd-Ahriman in old Iran; it was the personal -- the strife of mind and heart in man, the struggle between his own members. They were a practical people, the Iranians, and what appealed to them was the truth that Mazda's Law of Purity was the weapon to destroy the impure being of their own passion-nature. Their veneration for the great elements, in fact the whole of Nature, sprang from the idea that it was the religious duty of man not only to refrain from polluting but to raise and elevate all the kingdoms of the manifested universe. The aspect of the dual powers which persist with such tenacity in Zoroastrianism is the psychologic-human one, and while Ahriman has been personified and has become, like Satan, a living entity for the superstitious, for the cultured he is but a force within man, his own lower nature.
Zoroastrian ethics is based on Ashoi-Purity. It has two aspects -- (1) Purity of the Inner Man, and (2) Purity for the great without. The former is triple -- of thoughts, of words, of deeds; the latter is four-fold -- of Fire, of Air, of Water, of Earth. The Law of Purity is the Law of Wisdom. Dadistani-Dinik says:
As through Wisdom is created the world of righteousness, through wisdom is subjugated every evil, and through wisdom is perfected every good.
The Law of Mazda, the Wise, is the Law of Purity -- (1) of matter--force--consciousness, (2) of elements--energies--beings, (3) of body--mind--soul, (4) of deed--word--thought.
Every Zoroastrian wears next to his skin the Sudarah, the shirt of white material, symbol of purity, of a prescribed cut with symbolic mark thereon, and ties the sacred thread, Kusti, made up of seventy-two interwoven filaments, round his waist over that shirt. Each of the seventy-two filaments represents one of the seventy-two parts of the Izashne -- the Yagna-Sacrifice ritual. The thread circumvents the waist three times; in tying it a particular knot is made in the front and another with loose ends at the back. It is thus done: the middle of the thread is applied to the waist in front, and the loose ends go round behind where they change hands, what was in the left hand being taken up by the right and the end in the right hand is picked up by the left; then these are brought back to the front so that the thread has gone round twice; then are made two knots -- a right hand and a left hand, and the loose ends for the last time passed behind and tied there with a similar knot. This way in which it is tied, the chanting which accompanies it, in fact its whole symbology centers round the fundamental idea -- Humata, Hukhata, Huaresta, good thought, good word, good deed. Several times a day the pious or orthodox Parsi in untying and retying the thread repeats short prayers to affirm the joyous victory of Ahuramazda, and the contempt he feels for Ahriman, and to repent the error of his ways, thus:
I repent for all the evil thoughts, the evil words, the evil deeds, deliberate or unintentional, which I started on their nefarious journey, related to my body or soul, connected with the material or the spiritual world -- I repent with the power of the Triple Word.
He reminds himself of the fact that the Law of Ahuramazda is the only true protector and its benediction comes from the Soul-Fire, the Son of Ahura whose intelligence is divine and good.
This Law of Ahuramazda is clear to the wise and the discriminating who by its aid acquire the power of righteous thought and deed and obtain control over the tongue (yasna xxxi -- 19 and 22). Manasni--Gavasni--Kunasni -- Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds, according to the righteous law of Ahura is reiterated in numerous places in the Avesta. It is insisted that man should consult the righteous Law of Wisdom. His own good inclinations or noble aspirations are not all sufficient, his mental and verbal expressions and especially his deeds should be in conformity with the Code of Wisdom. The Renunciation of Sin (a definite magic-rite now forgotten) has to be performed for the preservation of the soul, in a deliberate manner. Says Dina-i-Maninog-i-Khirad (LII):
Every disaster which springs up he is to trace to the violence of Ahriman and his host, and he is not to seek his own welfare and advantages through the injury of any one else; thus he becomes compassionate as regards all the creatures of Ahuramazda. In duty and good works he is diligent and persistent..... For the performance of Renunciation of Sin the special thing is this, that one commits no sin voluntarily; and if through folly, or weakness and ignorance, a sin occurs, he should then renounce that sin by approaching the high-priest who is his good soul; and after that when he refrains from that sin, having learnt its lesson, that sin is swept away from him, just as the wind, fast and strong sweeping over the plain carries away every single blade of grass and anything that is not rooted in the soil.
Vendidad (XVIII-17) advocates that one should never be slack in good thoughts, words, and deeds, but let a man ever be slack in the three opposing abominations. When a man thinks, speaks, and acts righteously according to the Good Law he obtains from Spenta-Mainyu, the good spirit of Mazda, blissful immortality which is universal harmony of Wisdom (yasna -- XLVII -- 1-2). There is no trace of any vicarious method of gaining happiness and spiritual insight -- the man himself has to fight the evil and refrain from it, to befriend the good and practise it. The struggle which rages within man is long and protracted but through the Soul-Fire the faithful purified of his sins comes to immortality.
The Avesta enjoins the faithful to maintain and increase the purity of the four great elements. It is indicated that these elements are contacted by the man through his own constitution and that an intimate kinship between man and the elemental worlds exists. Thus the tilling of the earth is not only a physical but a psychological process; the water is not only a material element but a psycho-spiritual force; the radiant fire is but a substantial manifestation of divine intelligence; air is not only gaseous matter but a magnetic healer and a purifier of druj-sin, whose nature is psychic.
Thus in the Vendidad the earth rejoices when the faithful digs out corpses of man and beast (i.e. throws out of his being the dead things of lust and passion); the earth feels happy and rejoices when the faithful steps on it on his way to the performance of religious rites (i.e. resolves to begin the spiritual life); when the faithful clears the ground to erect his house (i.e. creates by the power of thought and deed the temple as the soul's habitat); when the faithful cultivates corn, grass and fruit (i.e. reaps his good Karma); and when the faithful brings increase of flocks and herds (i.e. increases his spiritual faculties for the feeding of his fellow-men). Therefore it is said in the Vendidad (III-24):
Unhappy is the land that has long lain unsown with the seed of the sower and wants a good husbandman. He who would till the earth, O Spitama Zarathustra! with the left arm and the right, with the right arm and the left, the earth will bring forth plenty of fruit. Unto the tiller says the Earth: "O thou man! who dost till me with the left arm and the right, with the right arm and the left, hither shall people ever come and beg for bread, here shall I ever go on bearing, bringing forth all manner of food, bringing forth profusion of corn." But to the non-tiller says the Earth: "O thou man! who dost not till me with the left arm and the right, with the right arm and the left, ever shalt thou stand at the door of the stranger, among those who beg for bread; ever shalt thou wait there for the refuse that is brought unto thee, brought by those who have profusion of wealth."
This is not only a reference to the farming process, but the metaphor is used as in the 13th Gita for the immortal Farmer-Soul who sows and reaps thoughts and words and deeds. Therefore it is said:
O Maker of the material world, thou Holy One! What is the food that fills the law of Mazda, what is the stomach of the Law? Ahura Mazda answered: "It is sowing corn again and again, O Spitama Zarathustra! He who sows corn, sows holiness; he makes the law of Mazda grow higher and higher; he makes the law of Mazda as fat as he can with a hundred acts of adoration, a thousand oblations, ten thousand sacrifices.
And so it is sung:
'When barley occurs, then the demons hiss;
When thrashing occurs, then the demons whine;
When grinding occurs, then the demons roar;
When flour occurs, then the demons flee.'
Then let the people learn this holy saying: 'No one who does not eat, has strength to do works of holiness, strength to do works of husbandry, strength to beget children. By eating every material creature lives; by not eating it dies away.'"
All this is reference to the doing of good action and the living of the life of holiness. The growth of courageous resolve to live is sowing and its first fruit is barley; the working with that fruit with discrimination is thrashing; when the knowledge is applied the corn is being ground and the evil in man roars, and when the spiritual insight as the result of good living comes to fruition (flour) the evil dies.
Next let us see the element of water. The following is from Aban-Yast (10-13):
Offer up a sacrifice, O Spitama Zarathustra! unto this spring of mine, Ardvi Sura Anahita, the wide-expanding and health-giving, who hates the Demons and obeys the laws of Ahura, who is worthy of sacrifice in the material world, worthy of prayer in the material world; the life-increasing and holy, the herd-increasing and holy, the fold-increasing and holy, the wealth-increasing and holy, the country-increasing and holy;
Who drives forwards on her chariot, holding the reins of the chariot. She goes, driving, on this chariot, longing for the worship of men and thinking thus in her heart: "Who will praise me? Who will offer me a sacrifice, with libations cleanly prepared and well-strained, together with the Haoma and meat? To whom shall I cleave, who cleaves unto me, and thinks with me, and bestows gifts upon me, and is of goodwill unto me?"
Whom four horses carry, all white, of one and the same colour, of the same blood, tall, crushing down the hates of all haters, the hates of Demons and men, of evil spirits and goblins, of the oppressors, of the blind and of the deaf.
This goddess of water is, as H.P.B. points out, the Zoroastrian-Minerva: "Begging the pardon of our European Sanskritists and Zend scholars, we would ask them to tell, if they know, who was the Mazdean goddess Ardvi-Sura Anahita? We maintain and can prove what we say, that the said personage implored by Ahura, and Saraswati (the Brahminical goddess of Secret or Occult wisdom) are identical."
In the previous article we have already dealt with the fire intelligence, the Soul in man, the Son of Ahura-Mazda. In the above passage from Dina-i-Maninog-i-Khirad and in other places the righteous and purifying power of air, its might to destroy and sweep away evil, etc., are mentioned.
Rich in metaphor, profusely symbolic, but to the student of Theosophy and esotericism very clear, are all the Avesta fragments. There is enough of the ancient Wisdom extant in them to make them more than interesting; they provide important proofs of the existence of the Universal Wisdom Religion from which all religions and philosophies sprang. Says H.P.B.:
The origin of the Brahmans and Magi in the night of time is one, the secret doctrine teaches us. First, there were a hierarchy of adepts, of men profoundly versed in physical and spiritual sciences and occult knowledge, of various nationalities, all celibates, and enlarging their numbers by the transmission of their knowledge to voluntary neophytes. Then when their numbers became too large to be contained in the "Airyanam Vaejo," the adepts scattered far and wide, and we can trace them establishing other hierarchies on the model of the first in every part of the globe.
Such Adept-Messengers to the four corners of the Globe were the incarnated Ameshaspentas -- "who were all of One Thought, who were all of One Speech, who were all of One Deed, whose thought is the same, whose word is the same, whose deed is the same, who see from afar one another's soul thinking of good thoughts, thinking of good words, thinking of good deeds, thinking of the World of Light. Radiant are their Paths, shining Their ways as They go down to the Libations."
THE KINGS OF CHINA
IN his Ocean of Theosophy William Q. Judge speaks of "ancient and honorable China" -- ancient it is, for as the Secret Doctrine tells us, the Chinese reached their highest civilization when the fifth Aryan race had hardly appeared in Asia. The original Chinese belong to the seventh sub-race of the Atlantean Race, and from them branched off not only the Malayans, Mongolians and Tibetans, but also Hungarians, Finns and even the Esquimaux. These true Chinamen are of the inland, the aborigines who, in their purity, form the highest and last branch of the fourth Race, whose headquarters are in the province of Fo-kien where H.P.B. reports the existence of a "sacred library" which contains some most ancient Mss. in the Lolo language. The other Chinese are one of the oldest nations of our fifth race, whose latter-day Emperors are the degenerate successors of the Dragons or Initiates who ruled the early races of that fifth humanity. As to China being honorable, who has not heard of the integrity of the Chinese? In such spheres as commerce and politics they have a reputation for honesty and honor worthy of emulation by the modern world. Ancient and honorable China is dying, but her spiritual resources will be inherited by those who evolve out of that branch race.
The wisdom of China comes to us in certain great books, withstanding the ravages of time. In spite of changes and more omissions than interpolations, these texts are not so fragmentary and disconnected as those of Zoroastrianism, examined in previous articles. We are indebted to Confucius for this.
The Chinese divide their eras into three antiquities -- the most recent commences with the period of Confucius, who was contemporary with the great Buddha; the second, called the middle antiquity, goes back from Confucius to about 1200 B.C.; while the highest covers a period of 2200 years, commencing with Fu-hsi 5000 years ago. It will not be far wrong to regard Fu-hsi, as the Krishna of China, the opener of its Kali Yuga, first in the line of earthly rulers who "broke up the Primal Unity," of the preceding age.
Beyond the three antiquities is the "fabulous" and "mythological" era. It covers millions of years. Beginning with the epoch of Pan-ku in whose time "heaven and earth were first separated," we come to the 12 Tien-hoang, Kings of Heaven, 12 To-hoang, Kings of Earth, and 9 Gin-hoang or Kings' men, who ruled for some 500,000 years. These 12 Tien-hoang are "the twelve hierarchies of Dhyanis or Angels, with human Faces and Dragon bodies; the dragon standing for Divine Wisdom or Spirit; and they create men by incarnating themselves in seven figures of clay -- earth and water -- made in the shape of those Tien-hoang, a third allegory." (S.D. II, 26-7.) Among these mythical beings is one Sui-zan, "The Man of the Burning Speculum," the Fire-Producer, the Prometheus of China. Superb culture, heavenly knowledge and high civilization are reported in these prehistoric eras. Very scanty is the information about them available to the non-Chinese. These mythical figures, truer than their historical counterparts, remain unknown and unappreciated by the modern world, whose culture is too gross and narrow to grasp the meaning of the cosmic and evolutionary events which they embody.
Fu-hsi, also called Po-hsi, the first Human Ruler of the Chinese people, is even today regarded as a superhuman being. To his credit stands the task of recording the Eight Kwa or Trigrams. In the Yi King, an ancient work "written by generations of Sages" says H.P.B., which the Theosophical Glossary describes as the Kabbalah of China, it is said:
Anciently, when Pao-hsi had come to the rule of all under heaven, looking up, he contemplated the brilliant forms exhibited in the sky, and looking down he surveyed the patterns shown on the earth. He contemplated the ornamental appearances of birds and beasts and the (different) suitabilities of the soil. Near at hand, in his own person, he found things for consideration, and the same at a distance, in things in general. On this he devised the eight trigrams, to show fully the attributes of the spirit-like and intelligent (operations working secretly), and to classify the qualities of the myriads of things.
These eight trigrams are lineal figures of great interest to the student of universal metaphysics and occultism, both of which form such an important part of H.P.B.'s Secret Doctrine. These figures are made up of three lines: the first is made up of three unbroken lines, and is followed by one broken and the remaining unbroken lines, till the eighth is evolved, which is composed of three broken ones. These represent (1) Heaven (2) Still Waters (3) fire (4) Thunder (5) Air (6) Running Waters (7) High land or mountains, and (8) Low land or earth -- the eight-fold universe described by the Bhagavad-Gita. Each of these is representative of a material plane and a hierarchy of conscious beings who all play their shadow-game on the illusory eighth, the earth, this man-bearing globe. Therefore, each also has its corresponding virtue. These eight form a circle, the first at the South and the last at the North.
These eight result from Four Hsiang or Emblematic Symbols, which in their turn come from the Two Elementary Forms, and the two from the One, the Great Extreme. James Legge, the well-known Chinese authority asked in 1882: "Who will undertake to say what is meant by 'the Great Extreme' which produced the two elementary forms?" The Secret Doctrine did undertake to answer him, and the student will find an explanation in Vol. I, 440-41, and Vol. II, 554.
Further, to the credit of Fu-hsi stands the construction of musical instruments and the spread of the Science of Sociology; he was par excellence the advocate of a pure family life and the dignity of the home. His successor invented agricultural implements, and thus gained for himself the title of "the Divine Labourer." Yi-King attributes the discovery of Agriculture to "the instruction given to men by celestial genii." (S.D. II, 374.) Hwang-Ti, the third of the prehistoric, semi-divine emperors was the builder of sacred shrines and libraries. Under his influence arose a regular board of historians, the chief of whom was the reviser and amender of the hieroglyphic writing. Hwang-Ti also regulated the calendar, to which he added the intercalary month. His wife is credited with the invention of the several manipulations in the rearing of silkworms and the making of silk.
All this in the night of time. For thousands of years China has been famous for her discoveries -- artesian-wells, compass, glass, gunpowder, paper, printing, porcelain, etc. Much of this knowledge has come down from these mythical periods. Most probably it is to the board of sage historians of the reign of Hwang-Ti that the Chinese owe their habit of preserving records and their custom of maintaining archives. Our knowledge of ancient China comes from certain great books which have been transmitted with faithful care down the generations.
The first of these ancient volumes is the Shu King, which is history with proper chronology, which chronology is based on a very accurate astronomical knowledge; their astronomical sphere is assigned an antiquity of 18,000 years (S.D. I, 658; also II, 620). The book acquired this title in 202 B.C., before which period it was known only as Shu -- "the Pencil speaking." A fourteenth century General Examination of Records and Scholars by Ma Twan-lin says that "the Pencil of the Recorders was busy from the time of Hwang-Ti" which is 2697 B.C. But the Secret Doctrine tells us that it was derived from the "very old Book" referred to in Isis Unveiled. Therefore it contains pointed references to events in the third and the fourth races. (S.D. Vol. II, 280-81; also Vol. II, 372.)
The first two books of the Shu King are regarded as legendary. They deal with the rules of Yaou and of Shun who had to contend against the floods and the deluge. Of Yaou, the ancient book narrates that when he found a handful of his subjects a little discontented, he said. "The fault is mine. I must study to increase my virtue and see wherein I have departed from the Way of Heaven." And again on hearing some sage advice, thus:
"We come by many branching roads and devious ways to the understanding of wisdom ... I perceive that the forest trees are of many sorts and sizes and that those which bear fruit do not put it all forth upon a single branch. I will think upon it." And this was what he had heard from the Keeper of the Hwa Mountain: "If you have many sons and they be well occupied, what need is there to fear? If you are rich, you can distribute your wealth to others, and then what need is there for care? And if you live a long while and follow the true way, should the empire prosper you will flourish with the rest. But if you live a long while, and the world is filled with wickedness, you have only to retire into obscurity and cultivate your virtue, then when life is done and human ties are severed, you will go to join the gods. And thus transcending the clouds, you will attain the regions of the Supreme; so what occasion is there for decline?"
Of Shun it is written:
Wherever he ploughed the people forgot their landmarks, wherever he fished, the people took in their lines. He made pottery on the banks of the Hwang-Ho that was perfectly smooth and non-porous. He made implements at Show-shan. Wherever he lived for a year, the people formed a community; wherever he lived for two years they built a city; and wherever he resided for three years they erected a capital.
Then came Yu when the chronological accounts begin. Of this ruler H.P.B. writes:
The Emperor Yu the "Great" (2207 B.C.), a pious mystic, is credited with having obtained his occult wisdom and the system of theocracy established by him -- for he was the first one to unite in China ecclesiastical power with temporal authority -- from Si-dzang. That system was the same as with the old Egyptians and the Chaldees; that which we know to have existed in the Brahmanical period in lndia, and to exist now in Tibet -- namely, all the learning, power, the temporal as well as the secret wisdom were concentrated within the hierarchy of the priests and limited to their caste.
Yu was also the inspirer of nine urns with engravings on them which in a later age became the basis of Shan-Hai-King, i.e., Wonders by sea and land by Chung-Ku, B.C. 1818. H.P.B. adds that in the last quarter of the third century of our era Kwoh P'oh wrote a commentary on the same. Besides these historical records of Shu-King there are the Odes (Shi-King) and the Books of Rituals (Li-Chi).
To the Theosophical student of today what is of paramount interest in Chinese literature is the ethical philosophy of this ancient race. Our task is somewhat difficult but we will not lose our way in the labyrinthine maze of records if we keep these landmarks in mind. Three great rivers of religious, philosophic, and mystic tradition empty themselves in the ocean which today is China. Confucianism resulted from the activity of the sage who has played the most important role in Chinese history. He was the resuscitator of the Wisdom of his ancient people. He stitched the loose pages of old records in a coherent volume; he explained the metaphysics of Fu-hsi, of Yaou, of Yu; above all he taught noble ethics equal in rank to those of Jesus and even Gautama. The second is the Tao, the Path that Lao Tze and his school walked and advocated others to tread. The third influence is that of Buddhism, which took root in the Chinese soil in the first century of our era. Like three sacred rivers in a confluence, these meet reaching a profounder depth and become more inspiring. The three rivers lose their different courses and become one in the life of the people. The current gathering force becomes clear of dross and in it the whole past of this great people is mirrored. These rapid and engulfing waters contain for the daring soul an experience not to be met elsewhere in the ocean of worldly knowledge.
The influence of the "Brothers of the Sun", as the Masters are called in the Chinese literature, has exerted an immemorial influence on the race and its achievements. Says H.P.B.:
The aphorisms in the oldest books of China, moreover, say plainly that the "Dragon" is a human, albeit divine Being. Speaking of the "yellow Dragon," the chief of the others, the Twan-ying-T'u says: "His wisdom and virtue are unfathomable ... he does not go in company and does not live in herds (he is an ascetic). He wanders in the wilds beyond the heavens. He goes and comes, fulfilling the decree (Karma); at the proper seasons if there is perfection he comes forth, if not he remains (invisible)." .... And Kon-fu-tyu is made to say by Lu-lan, "The Dragon feeds in the pure water of Wisdom and sports in the clear waters of life."
EGYPTIAN SYMBOLISM AND ANIMAL WORSHIP
THE sincere and unprejudiced student of comparative religions comes at last to see that without the help of symbology no ancient Scripture can ever be correctly understood. No Egyptian papyrus, no Indian olla, no Assyrian tile, or Hebrew scroll, should be read and accepted literally. Besides, the symbology must be studied from every one of its aspects, for each nation had its own peculiar methods of expression. The point to which even the most truth-loving and truth-searching Orientalist seems to remain blind, is the fact that every symbol is a many-faced diamond, each face of which not merely bears several interpretations, but relates likewise to several sciences. Many myths which, on the surface, have only an astronomical bearing, conceal facts in regard to the evolution of rounds and races which are of the utmost significance.
One of the best known, at least the most frequently represented, is that of the sun. Ra made his passage across the heavens in a boat from which streamed a blue light -- the "Sun's son." A first bark, the Saktit (Sakti?) boat, received him at birth and carried him from the Eastern to the Southern extremity of the world. Mazit, the second bark, received him at noon and bore him into the land of Manu, which is at the entrance of Hades; other barks ... conveyed him by night, from his setting until his arising at morn. In the formulae of the "Book of Knowing that which is in Hades," the dead sun remains in the bark Saktit during part of the night, and it is only to traverse the fourth and fifth hours that he changesinto another. Sometimes he entered the barks alone, and then they were magic and self-directed. Such is the bark of the sun in the other world, for although carrying a full crew, yet for the most part it progresses at its own will, and without their help. Sometimes they were equipped with a full crew, having a pilot at the prow to take soundings in the channel and forecast the wind, a pilot astern to steer, a quartermaster in the midst to transmit the orders of the pilot at the prow to the pilot at the stern, and half a dozen sailors to handle the oars. (Maspero, "Dawn of Civilization," p. 90).
If we may be permitted to identify the boats with the Saktis, considered as the "principles" -- whose powers they are, the above symbolism is most suggestive. According to Theosophical teaching, at each round or period of evolution, man enters a body or "boat" composed of the substance of that particular round. At "noon," or the mid-point of evolution, man was borne into "the land of Manu, which is at the entrance into Hades;" Hades is the earth of physical existence, into which the "Manu," or man, enters and becomes a seven-fold being having his "full crew" on board. The barks referred to in the "Book of Knowing that which is in Hades" at the fourth and fifth hours of the night, correspond at least to the fourth and fifth rounds, when man has donned his "coats of skin," which after the fifth "hour" or round, will give place to more ethereal "barks" or vestures. After death the "crew" is of no use to the magic boat, for the lower principles which these useless sailors represent, die out and disappear.
The first-born of Ra by the goddess Hathor was Shu. He is solar energy. "The blossoms of Shu" are the sun's rays. In Chapter XVII of the Book of the Dead, Shu places the sky on top of the staircase in the City of the Eight. According to tradition earth and sky, or Seb and Neith, were two lovers lost in Nu, fast locked in each other's embrace. On the day of creation Shu, coming forth from the primeval waters, stepped between them and seizing Neith with both hands lifted her above his head. Although the starry body of the goddess extended in space, her head to the West, her feet and hands touched the earth, forming the four pillars of the firmament. Usually these supports are referred to as the pillars of Shu. It was Shu who was depicted holding up the sky and possibly from him the Greeks derived their representations of Atlas.
Seb is the Egyptian Saturn, ushering in a new cycle of evolution. Esoterically he is nearer to Parabrahman than Brahma. He is called the "Great Cackler," who laid the world upon his head, and is represented with a black swan or goose. Darkness, always associated with "beginnings," is symbolized in all religions by black birds. Two black doves flew from Egypt and settling on the oaks of Dodona, gave their names to the Grecian gods. In Chapter LIV of the Book of the Dead Seb's egg is referred to as the "egg conceived at the hour of the great one of the Dual Force."
According to tradition the golden age of Ra had gone, for even the gods die. All of them were represented as mummies and in Chapter VIII, are the words, "I am that Osiris in the West, and Osiris knoweth the day in which he shall be no more." The children of earth had become rebellious, bringing down upon themselves the wrath of Ra and their almost complete destruction by Hathor, whose hand was stayed by the repentant god, and a new race produced from mandragora plants. Afterwards mounting upon the back of a cow, Ra disappeared into the heavens. Shu and Tefnut (the double Lion-god) reigned in his stead. They represent the first differentiation of substance: as applied to Rounds and Races, the second in descending order. In this aspect, Seb ushers in the third and more material world, while his four children rule over the fourth.
This line of descent formed the basis of the Egyptian Enneads, or four pairs proceeding from the One. This gives us the ogdoad, or eight (the double cube of good and evil) of which Ra, or Tem, was the ninth, counting from below up. In the City of the Eight (Hermopolis) where Hermes was adored, Hermes was the One who contained in himself the double cube. Eight was the number of the caduceus or wand of Mercury, the figure being made by the intertwining of the two serpents of good and evil, or the joining of two cubes. There were as many Enneads as there were cities, but all are merely personifications covering the one general scheme or idea. Considering, then, a typical one, we have Tem (or Ra) who is said to have emanated Shu from himself; Shu and Tefnut; Seb and Neith; Osiris and Isis; Set and Nepthys -- lower aspects of Osiris and Isis. Thus the exoteric system of the Egyptians, as H. P. Blavatsky has pointed out, dealt with but five planes out of the seven, the pairs having to do with the four lower ones.
Hathor was always represented as a cow, sacred also to Isis, the Universal Mother -- Nature. Both goddesses were allied to the sun and the moon, as the disk and the cow's horns (which form a crescent) prove. In the Vedas the dawn of creation is represented by a cow. This dawn is Hathor, and the day which follows -- or Nature already formed -- is Isis, for both are one except in point of time. Isis is cow-horned, the cow of plenty, and as the mother of Horus (the physical world) she is the "mother of all that lives." The right eye of Horus, or the Sun, was called the cow of Hathor. In Chapter XVII of the Book of the Dead, the cow Meh-urt, is called "the Eye of Ra;" while in Chapter CIX the sun is represented as a spotted calf when Sibu (Seb) its father was a bull and Hathor a heifer. The vignette to Chapter CLXX shows a cow wearing the solar disk upon her head and around her neck the symbol of life.
The symbol of life is the ankh or ansated cross of the Egyptians -- the Tau with a handle. In illustrations of the Sunrise the sun's disk is upheld by two arms emerging from the ankh, the ankh itself supported by the Tet or Didu or Osiris. This emblem is a short pillar or disbranched tree-trunk surmounted by four cross bars, reminiscent of the tree fabled to have held the dead body of Osiris. Might it not be the sacred Ashwatta tree which the Egyptian Avatar had cut down with the strong axe of dispassion? It was also thought to be the backbone of Osiris after he had been "reconstructed" and "set up" by Isis. In Chapter LXXVIII of the Ritual the deceased says: "He (Osiris) hath stablished my heart through his own backbone; he hath stablished my heart through his own great and exceeding strength." This is evidence that the tree-like formation of the nerves radiating from the spine had not escaped the attention of the Egyptians, nor were they without their Trees of Life.
The sycamores planted on the edge of the desert were supposed to be inhabited by Hathor, Neith and other goddesses, and numerous vignettes represent the deceased as stopping before these trees to receive water and bread -- the Water and Bread of Life -- from the goddess whose body emerges from the sheltering foliage. The persea tree was the symbol of the "Sacred Heart" of Horus. The pear-like shape of its fruit, especially of its kernel, resembles the heart. It is sometimes seen on the head of Isis, the mother of Horus, the fruit being cut open and the heart-like kernel exposed to view. Here again we trace a form of worship, that of the "Sacred Heart" of Jesus and of the Virgin Mary by the Catholics, back to Egypt.
The use of these symbols seems fitting and justifiable, but why did the Egyptians worship animals? Why was the sun represented as a beetle? Why was the cat sacred to Bast, the jackal to Anubis, the hawk to Horus, the ibis to Thot? And how came Set to be incarnated in the fennec and Osiris and Ptah in the bull? The wise Egyptians never did worship animals, although as the true ideas were lost, the ignorant masses did. In "A Weird Tale"(1) a hint in regard to this symbolism is given. It is stated therein that there was an occult reason back of it and that the ancient Egyptians never did anything unscientifically; that there are undoubtedly types (of forms and intelligences) and that forms having been once assumed and seen by the seers always repeated the same forms to those persons. Therefore having taken a certain view of invisible nature, every symbol was made to conform or be consistent with that view. This partial explanation might also be applied to the fairies seen sometimes by children and psychic persons. The form of the fairy, or of an idea for the matter of that, once seen or held by an individual repeats itself and may even be photographed, which picture is then taken to be the real form or the fact; but this form is very often merely in the imagination that fashioned it and may neither be true to the type of elemental seen or to the fact. It is true, nevertheless, that Nature has evolved certain patterns which she copies wherever feasible; and just as the tree pattern may be traced in the formation of certain crystals on up through the vegetable, animal and human kingdoms, so there are likewise types of sentiency and function found in the vegetable and animal kingdoms which are reproduced in man, for Nature is One. "All beings are the same in kind and differ only in degree." If we realized the unity of all the kingdoms, if we saw, as the Egyptians did, the divine form of Amen-Ra in all forms, we would treat our younger brothers better -- we would neither wantonly kill animals nor torture them in the perverted belief that thereby man is better served or benefited.
A passage from the Book of the Dead, (quoted in the Secret Doctrine, II, p. 635) reads: "I am the mouse." "I am the hawk." "I am the ape." ... "I am the crocodile whose soul comes FROM MEN." This corroborates the teaching that "while the human monad has passed on globe A and others, in the First Round, through all the three kingdoms -- the mineral, the vegetable, and the animal -- in this our Fourth Round, every mammal has sprung from Man ... not the form of flesh, blood, and bones, now referred to as Man,... but the inner divine MONAD with its manifold principles or aspects." Furthermore, all animals are the cast-off clothing of man; for man impresses all the lives in his body by his thought and feeling, and these lives entering into the bodies of animals, give them their peculiar characteristics. Thus, in a sense, they become the mirror in which man may see his own features and have frequent occasion to scorn his own image. The types in the early periods of evolution, therefore, must have been brought over from a prior mankind. As might be expected, then, in Egyptian symbolism there is a correspondence between the characteristics and functions of the animals and of the gods.
The cat, associated with the moon, was sacred to the cat-goddess Bast or Pasht, and to kill one was to court death. The Egyptian word for cat is mau, meaning to see, and both the moon and the cat were seers by night. As the moon reflects the light of the sun, so the cat was supposed to reflect the moon on account of its phosphorescent eyes. In the form of the goddess Bast the cat keeps watch for the sun, with her paw holding down and bruising the head of the serpent of darkness, the sun's eternal enemy. In Chapter XVII of the Book of the Dead, "The male cat is Ra himself, and he is called 'Mau'" (Seer), while the illustrations represent him in action similar to Bast. The chief-priest of Amen-Ra was called "Oiru mau," Master of Visions, he who beheld God "face to face."
The sun is represented as a beetle in the solar boat -- the "Boat of millions of years" -- and is referred to as giving birth to beings in his name of Khepera. Khepera is the beetle or scarabaeus, the symbol of rebirth. The word is derived from the verb kheper, to become, to build again. Like the beetle the sun appeared to come up out of the earth and to ascend aloft as with wings. The winged globe is but another form of the scarabaeus and the egg, relating both to the rebirth of man and to his spiritual regeneration. No mummy is found without several of these green or blue beetles.
The jackal-headed god was Anubis, the "Opener of the Ways." The jackal's omniscience as to where any dead body is hidden, his absolute certainty of direction in the trackless desert, made him a fitting symbol of Anubis, who not only guided the dead along the trackless path of the underworld, but also led the reincarnating entity into the underworld of physical existence. Anubis is often identified with Horus and with Hermes, the Higher Mind; he is the knowledge on any plane which leads one whithersoever he has need to go. Anubis is also connected with the dog-star, the Sothis of the Egyptians.
The ibis, sacred to Thot, was held in the greatest veneration. It kills the land serpents and makes havoc among the crocodile eggs, thus saving Egypt from being overrun by these saurians. The black and white ibis was sacred to the moon, because this planet has a dark as well as a light side. Under the form of an ibis Thot watched over the Egyptians and taught them the occult arts and sciences. Maspero affirms that the word "Thot" means ibis. The ibis religiosa is said to have magical properties, in common with many other birds. At all events, he who killed either an ibis or the golden sparrow-hawk risked death. The hawk, the keen-sighted, was the symbol of the sun, of Horus and of the human soul.
The fennec is the Egyptian fox, appropriate symbol of Set whose craftiness conceived the coffin into which Osiris was enticed and confined, thus causing his death. Apis the white bull, sacred to Osiris and into which he was supposed to incarnate, was typical of the universal generative or evolving power in nature. Mariette Bey discovered near Memphis the Serapaeum, an imposing subterranean crypt containing the mummies of thirty sacred bulls. The mummification of various sacred animals would show that the Egyptians took the utmost care to conserve the "lives" in any highly evolved type or species. The bull is also the Taurus of the zodiac, connected with all the "First-born" solar gods. Christians associated this constellation with Christ. Here again, the Egyptians no more worshipped the bull than Christians worship the lamb. The ram is always a symbol of physical generation, the ram or the goat of Mendes being another symbol of Osiris.
Maspero suggests that the habit of certain monkeys assembling, as it were in full court, and chattering noisily a little before sunrise and just before sunset, may have justified the Egyptians in entrusting the apes with the duty of hailing Ra morning and evening. In the illustrations of the Sunrise previously mentioned, six apes hail the sun; the Papyrus of Hu-nefer gives seven. In Chapter C of the Book of the Dead, the deceased says, "I have united myself unto the divine apes who sing at the dawn and I am a divine Being among them." The dog-headed ape was a Hermetic symbol, filling the same office in Egypt that Hanuman did in India. In Chapter XLII the defunct says, "I am the dog-headed ape of gold, three palms and two fingers high."
The crocodiles in the Celestial Nile are five, and the god Toum calls them forth in his fifth creation. When Osiris, "the defunct Sun," is buried and enters into Amenti, the sacred crocodiles plunge into the abyss of primordial waters. When the Sun of life rises, they re-emerge from the sacred river. In the Secret Doctrine the Fifth Group is said to be a very mysterious one, as it is connected with the Microcosmic Pentagon, the five-pointed star representing man. In India and in Egypt those Dhyanis were connected with the crocodile, and their abode is in the zodiacal sign of Capricorn. In Egypt the defunct was transformed into a crocodile -- Sebakh or Sevekh, the "Seventh" -- showing it to be a type of intelligence, a dragon in reality, not a crocodile. (S.D. I, 219; II, 580). The mummy donned the head of a crocodile to indicate that it was a soul arriving from earth. The instructions appended to Chapter CLXIII are that it should be read before a serpent with two legs, meaning thereby a Dragon of Wisdom, or Hierophant. The evil serpent, "the enemy of Ra" was Apep (Apophis) whose power was greatest at the full of the moon, his overthrow being the subject of Chapter XXXIX.
Chapter LXXIII is devoted to the transformation into the Bennu bird, the Egyptian phoenix, symbol of the cycle of rebirth. The deceased says: "I came (literally 'I flew') into being from unformed matter. I came into existence like the god Khepera. I have germinated like the things (i.e., the plants) which germinate, and I have dressed myself like the tortoise. I am [of] the germs of every god."
In this incomplete list of animal symbols must be included a curious little insect called the praying mantis, the "diviner" who led the deceased unerringly to the underworld. It was greatly honored in Egypt, the Greeks attributed to it supernatural powers, and the Arabs declare that it always prays with its head toward Mecca. We might connote with it the state called manticism, during which the gift of prophecy is developed. (See chapter in Isis Unveiled, "Before the Veil.")
The lotus was pre-eminently the flower of Egypt. The lotus seeds, even before they germinate, contain perfectly formed leaves -- the miniature of the perfect plants they will some day become, thus showing how idea comes to be made visible, which is true of the birth of a world as of a man. Its roots growing in the mud, and its blossoms in the air typify the human nature -- its body grown out of the lower kingdoms, and the soul belonging to the higher spiritual regions. In Chapter LXXI of the Ritual -- making the transformation into a lotus, a human head springs from the flower, and the god exclaims: "I am the pure Lotus, emerging from the Luminous One... I carry the messages of Horus. I am the pure lotus which comes from the Solar Fields." So the god Khnoom, the moist principle of life, sits on a throne within a lotus. Thot is often seated on a lotus. Finally, it is the goddess Hiquet, under the shape of a frog, who rests on the lotus. This undeniably most ancient of goddesses, on account of her amphibious nature, was one of the chief cosmic deities connected with creation. Because the frog comes to life after being buried for years under rocks or in old walls, it was typical of resurrection. A frog or toad enshrined in a lotus, or simply without the flower, was the form chosen by the early Christians for their church lamps, on which were engraved the words, "I am the resurrection."
Was the general character of Egyptian religion monotheistic, polytheistic or pantheistic, is a question that has caused endless discussion. The epithet "the only god," which on the surface might imply monotheism, was applied to several gods. In the Papyrus of Nesi-Khonsu, Amen-Ra is addressed as "the One One," "the divine form who dwelleth in the forms of all the gods;" but this concept was held only by the educated and the priesthood. Then, as now, the true teaching existed: that behind all forms is a nameless, invisible Power, the source of all manifested life, expressed in such passages as this: "You look and you see it not -- it is colorless; you listen and you hear it not -- it is voiceless; you desire to handle it -- you touch it not -- it is formless."
Budge says in the Collection of Moral Aphorisms composed by ancient sages are several allusions to a divine power to which no personal name is given. The word used to indicate this is Neter, translated "God" by him in the following examples taken from the Precepts of Kagema and the Precepts of Ptah-hotep, whose many instructions remind one of the Proverbs of Solomon:
"The things which God doeth cannot be known."
"Terrify not men. God is opposed thereto."
"When thou ploughest, labour in the field God (Karma) hath given thee."
The Teaching of Amenemapht clearly shows, says this author, that the writer distinguished between Deity and the gods Ra, Thot, etc.
"Leave the angry man in the hands of God. God (Karma) knows how to requite him."
"Take good heed to the Lord of the Universe." (The Self).
"Truth is the great bearer of Deity."
In the Teaching of Khensu-hetep, Budge finds a more intimate, personal Heavenly Being:
"It is God who gives thee existence."
"The Deity is the judge of the truth."
"The house of God abominates overmuch speaking. Pray with a loving heart, the words of which are hidden. He will do what is needful for thee, he will hear thy petitions and will accept thy oblations." (The God within each being).
In Chapter CXXV of the Book of the Dead, the defunct says, "I have not cursed God" and "I have not contemned the god of my city," showing the Egyptian admitted the existence of another Neter besides the god of his native place.
Whatever the Egyptian thought as to Deity or to the gods, he knew he was himself "of the germs of every god." He never considered himself a poor worm of the dust, as do Christians, but ever declared,
"Thou, Ra, art in me and I am in thee; and thy
attributes are my attributes."
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
ONE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE
No one can study ancient philosophies seriously without perceiving that the striking similitude of conception between all -- in their exoteric form very often, in their hidden spirit invariably -- is the result of no mere coincidence, but of a concurrent design: and that there was, during the youth of mankind, one language, one knowledge, one universal religion, where there were no churches, no creeds or sects, but when every man was a priest unto himself. And, if it is shown that already in those ages which are shut out from our sight by the exuberant growth of tradition, human religious thought developed in uniform sympathy in every portion of the globe; then, it becomes evident that, born under whatever latitude, in the cold North or the burning South, in the East or West, that thought was inspired by the same revelations, and man was nurtured under the protecting shadow of the same TREE OF KNOWLEDGE.--S.D. I, p. 341.
OSIRIS, ISIS, HORUS, AND SET
"Salutations to thee, O Osiris, thou the greatest of the six gods issued from the Goddess Noo; thou the great favorite of thy father Ra; Father of Fathers; King of Duration; Master in the Eternity; multiform God, whose name is unknown and who hast many names in towns and provinces."
OSIRIS Un-nefer, "the Good Being," in a Hymn from the Papyrus of Ani is "eldest son of Nut, (primordial matter and infinite space) engendered by Seb (celestial fire) ... lord of the lofty white crown; as prince of gods and of men he hath received the crook and the whip and the dignity of his divine fathers." His "body is of bright and shining metal," his "head is of azure blue, and the brilliance of the turquoise encircleth him." As Ahura-Mazda is one with, or the synthesis of the Amshaspends, so Osiris, the collective unit, when differentiated and personified becomes Osiris, Isis, and Horus -- the upper triad -- and their reflection, Anubis, Nephtys (sister of Isis and mother of Anubis by Osiris) and Set -- the latter when alone standing for the lower quaternary. These two triads together with the body make up the seven principles of man. All these gods and goddesses were worshipped independently of Osiris, but when the Osirian cult became dominant were fused into his nature.(1) So, also, Osiris-Ptah (Light) represented his spiritual aspect; Osiris-Horus, the intellectual, manasic aspect; Osiris-Lunus, the psychic; Osiris-Typhon (Set), the physical, therefore passional, turbulent aspect. In these four phases he symbolized the dual Ego, the divine and human, the cosmico-spiritual and the terrestrial. Although his name is the "Ineffable," his forty-two attributes bore each one of his names, which added to his seven dual aspects complete the forty-nine "fires." Thus the god is blended in man and the man is deified into a god.
Osiris was born at Mount Sinai, the Nyssi of the Old Testament, (Exodus XVII, 15) the birthplace of nearly all the solar gods of antiquity, although Osiris actually lived in human form some 75,000 years ago. One of the Great Teachers, civilizers and benefactors of humanity, in the course of his mission he encountered evil, was murdered by his brother Set at the age of twenty-eight, and buried at Abydos. According to Bonwick (Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought) he did not remain in the grave, but at the end of three, or forty,(2) days rose again and ascended to Heaven and thenceforth became the judge of the dead and the hope of a future life for the Egyptians. All of which proves that the story of Christ was found ready in most of its details thousands of years before the Christian era, and the Christian fathers had no greater task than to apply it to a new personage. This detracts no whit from Christ; it only goes to show that the biographies of all these Divine Instructors are practically identical because all are similar in nature and mission, and in a mystical sense their legendary life-record is true.
The name Osiris (Asar in Egyptian) is connected with fire, as is Asari in Babylonia; Aesar in old Etruscan means a god, derived possibly from the Asura of the Vedas, a modified form of which is Is'war or Iswara of the Bhagavad-Gita. In his universal aspect of destroying fire necessary to regeneration, Osiris is the "Lord of Terror," and in Chapter XVII of the Book of the Dead he is "the devourer of all slaughtered things," just as Krishna in the eleventh Gita is "Time matured, come hither for the destruction of these creatures."
Among the many titles ascribed to Osiris, one frequently used is "the god of the staircase." In Chapter XXII of the Ritual the deceased prays that he may "have a portion with him who is on the top of the staircase," and there are any number of illustrations of a stairway of seven steps. What can this be but "the stairway of the seven worlds, the stairs of which each step becomes denser and darker. It is of this seven-times-seven scale thou art the faithful climber and mirror, O little man! Thou art this, but thou knowest it not." But great beings like Osiris know it, because by their own efforts they have become Perfected Men, at the top of this septenary stairway of evolution, which they descend and ascend knowingly, without ever losing their consciousness of Self. Whether in a body or out of it, they preserve an unbroken memory of all the states (or stairs) through which they pass. This uninterrupted memory is the realization of immortality. Although we are immortal we do not realize it, our memory being broken every night during sleep and also at death. So we find in many chapters of the Book of the Dead the deceased implores that he may retain his memory; that he may not forget the names of the guardians of the doors as his disembodied soul passes from one Aat (or state) to another; and, as a prerequisite -- to which the utmost importance was attached, that his mouth may be opened and that he may regain his speech (Chapter XXIII); for speech is "manasic," indicative of and associated only with self-consciousness.
The real meaning of immortality, including life before birth as well as life after death, seems to have been as much misunderstood by many of the Egyptians as by Christians today, whose heritage of ideas, true and false, comes in unbroken continuity from that far past. Judging from the Book of the Dead, resurrection was insured by the recitation of magical formulae, or conferred upon the dead by Osiris. As Christians believe their resurrection possible because Christ rose from the dead and appeared in one of his finer "sheaths" on Easter morn, so the Egyptians thought that the body of Osiris had been dismembered(3) and afterwards reconstructed into a living being, therefore their members would also be reunited into a living whole. In Chapter XLIII the deceased says: "I am Fire, the son of Fire, to whom was given his head after it had been cut off. The head of Osiris was not taken away from him, let not the head of Osiris Ani (the deceased) be taken away from him. I have knit myself together,... I have renewed my youth; I am Osiris, the lord of eternity." In the Papyrus of Hu-nefer, Osiris is thus addressed by Thot: "Homage to thee, O Governor of Amentet, who dost make men and women to be born again."
Budge thinks the offerings placed in the tomb indicate that pre-dynastic man thought he would live again in the identical body he had upon earth, an opinion apparently contradicted in a statement immediately following: "In later times although the funeral offerings were made as before, the belief in a material resurrection was given up by the educated Egyptians and in texts, both of the earliest and the latest periods,... it is distinctly stated that the material part of man rests in earth, whilst the immortal part has its abode in heaven." Now the belief was common that the Ka, or double, for which food and drink were placed in the tomb, was liable to annoy the living. The offerings and the many personal effects, such as were found in great and exquisite variety in the tomb of Tutankhamen and other notables, permeated with their owners' magnetism, would have a tendency to attract and hold the Ka. So might they not prevent it from being evoked or attracted elsewhere? -- a danger against which the wise Egyptians would wish to take the utmost precaution. Mummification was practised in order to keep all the atoms of the body intact, so that they might again be used -- not the same body, but the same aggregation of lives.
Abydos was the object of pilgrimage for thousands of years. From all parts of Egypt kings and princes were brought to this sacred spot that their remains might rest near those of their beloved lord. Here was the celebrated Osireion with its inclined passage leading to some underground chamber where were enacted "the Mysteries of Osiris," by which it was said that the beholders were so affected that death lost its sting and the grave its terror. Here was preserved the relic of Osiris, "the living One," carried in all the great religious processions, and here was performed one of the earliest Miracle Plays, which presented in dramatic form the story of the life and death and resurrection of this "Golden One of Millions of Years."
Isis is the Virgin-Mother, sister and wife of Osiris and mother of Horus. She is "the woman clothed with the sun" of the land of Chem. In the litany apostrophizing her, she is the "Immaculate Lady," "Queen of Heaven," "Illustrious Isis, most powerful, merciful and just," titles transferred entire or with slight change to the Virgin-Mary. (See Isis Unveiled, II, 209, for comparison of litanies). And not only was the adoration of Isis restored under a new name, but even her image standing on the crescent moon was adopted by the Christians, while her well-known effigy with Horus in arms has descended to our time in the many pictures of the Madonna and child. The "Black Virgins," so highly reverenced in certain French cathedrals were found, upon critical examination, to be basalt figures of Isis! But behind the symbolism of Isis were sublime spiritual and cosmical truths never conveyed to her worshippers by the mother of Christ.
Isis-Osiris is the equivalent of Kwan-Shai-Yin and Kwan-Yin in China. Coming later than Thot-Hermes, the companion and instructor of this pair was Hermes II, an incarnation of the celestial Hermes. In connection with her beneficent mission, Isis taught the women to spin the most wonderful linen, the priests devoted to her service being called the Linigera on account of the exquisite linen robes they wore. Isis was the great healer, hence the name Isis was given to a universal panacea. Her power to make men immortal is told in several legends, none with more tender charm than an episode connected with her search for Osiris, which has come down to us from Plutarch. Having traced the body of her lord to a tamarisk pillar built into the presence hall of King Malkander, she gained audience with his Queen, Athenais, and was engaged by the latter to nurse her sickly child Diktys. Isis agreed to restore him on condition that her ministrations be not observed. The child soon waxing strong and beautiful aroused the curiosity of Queen Athenais, who secreted herself in the chamber where nightly some mysterious work went on. From her hiding place she saw Isis build a great fire and place the child therein as in a cradle, changing herself thereupon into a twittering swallow. Horrified at the proceedings, Queen Athenais sprang forward and snatched her son from the flames, only to be confronted by the majestic but angry goddess, who upbraided her for her folly and told her that in the space of only a few days more her son would have been completely purified and immortal, but now he must live and die like other men. It was through the word and touch of Isis that Osiris, whose fourteen members (his seven dual aspects) having been found and put together, became once more a living being. So, in the Book of the Dead she is called the Lady of Life.
Horus was the last in the line of divine sovereigns in Egypt. A tablet describes him as the "substance of his father," of whom he is an incarnation and identical with him. There is an elder Horus (Haroeris) to be distinguished from the son of Isis, although in the legends they appear to be inextricably fused.(4) In one aspect, the elder Horus is the Idea of the world in the demiurgic mind; the younger is the same Idea going forth from the Logos, clothed with matter and assuming actual existence. The elder was from remotest times fused with Ra at Heliopolis, and worshipped as Ra-Haremkhuti (Horus of the two mountains), or the rising and the setting sun. In a beautiful illustration of sunrise from the Papyrus of Hu-nefer, Horus-Ra as a golden sparrow-hawk, wearing a disk encircled by a serpent, is adored by seven apes. Astronomically Horus the younger is the winter-sun, and at the time of the winter-solstice (our Christmas) his image in the form of a new-born babe was brought out of the sanctuary and adored by the worshipping crowd. Several references are made in the Book of the Dead to "the followers of Horus" -- Aryans who settled in Egypt when it had hardly risen from the waters. Yet they possessed the hieroglyphic form of writing peculiar to the Egyptians, founded the principal cities of Egypt and built some of the most important sanctuaries. They were said to be smiths (mesnitiu) armed with weapons of iron, and the mesnit or "Forge" was the name given to the passage opening into the shrine of the temple at Edfu, where Horus was worshipped under the form of the winged solar disk. An inscription on the temple wall, which Prof. Sayce thinks a late invention of the priests, declares that in the 363rd year of Ra-Harmachis on earth, he fled from the rebels who had risen against him in Nubia and found refuge in Edfu. Thereafter, his followers smote the enemies of their leader from the southern to the northern boundary of Egypt.
While Osiris subdued the world by gentleness and persuasion, by song and flute (which he invented) his son Horus from first to last was a warrior. Born to be the avenger of his father, he is said to have assumed the shape of a human-headed lion to gain advantage over Set. In this form he is the Sphinx -- Har-em-chu -- which is verily his image. He is also represented standing on a boat of serpentine form, with spear in hand, killing the serpent. His constant warfare with Set covers many facts, cosmical, spiritual and historical. In one aspect it is the struggle with the lower, personal nature and symbolizes the trials of adeptship; the fact that his triumphs are but temporary shows that his adeptship has to be regained in each new birth. The magnet was called the "bone of Horus" and iron, "the bone of Typhon," the latter being the rough Titanic power which opposes its force to the divine magnetic spirit trying to harmonize everything in nature. The dual nature of Horus is referred to in Chapter XVII of the Book of the Dead in these words: "It is Horus when he riseth up with a double head, whereof one beareth right and truth and the other wickedness" (Set). In Chapter CLXXVII he is "the blue-eyed" and "the red-eyed Horus," -- Set was always depicted red. In Chapter XXIX B, Horus is the Universal Ego; the deceased says: "My heart is with me, and it shall never come to pass that it shall be carried away.... I am Horus, the dweller in hearts, who is within the dweller in the body." In Chapter LXXVIII, The Chapter of Making the Transformation into the Divine Hawk, the deceased says: "And behold, when as yet Isis had not given birth to Horus, I had germinated, and had flourished, and I had become aged. (pre-existence) ... And I had risen up like the divine hawk, and Horus made for me a spiritual body (sahu) containing his own soul.... I, even I, am Horus, who dwelleth in the divine Khu (luminous form). I have gained power over his crown, I have gained power over his radiance, and I have travelled over the remote, illimitable parts of heaven... Horus is both the divine food and the sacrifice.... The gods labor for him, and they toil for him for millions of years." In later times the Pharaohs, by way of asserting (rightfully or otherwise) their divine nature, assumed the title "The Golden Horus," for according to Chapter LXXXIII of the Book of the Dead, Horus was one of those Illuminated Beings "who emitted light from his divine body," and "who never lie down in death."
Set, as we have just seen, is an integral part of both Osiris and Horus, just as Ahriman is an inseparable part of Ahura-Mazda. Typhon is a later name for Set, but still very ancient, his turbulent nature finding expression in the word "typhoon." In Chapter XXXIX, Apep, the serpent of evil is slain by Set's serpent; therefore Set could not have been originally evil. In Chapter XLII, Typhon is described as "Set, formerly Thot," who was also Seth -- a puzzle indeed to the Orientalist, but in which we may recognize a Serpent of Wisdom. Cosmologically, all these serpents conquered by their slayers stand for the turbulent, confused principles in chaos, brought to order by the Sun-gods, or creative forces in their evolutionary processes. Elsewhere these principles are called "the sons of Rebellion." "In that night, the oppressor, the murderer of Osiris, otherwise called the deceiving Serpent... calls the Sons of Rebellion in Air, and when they arrive to the East of Heaven, then there is War in Heaven and in the entire World."
Set was once a great god universally adored throughout Egypt. Manetho, an Egyptian priest, says that he treacherously murdered Osiris and allied himself with the Shemites (the Israelites). This may possibly have originated the fable told by Plutarch that after the fight between Typhon and Horus, Typhon overcome with fright at the mischief he had caused, "fled seven days on an ass, and escaping begat the boys Jerusalem and Judaea." He is evidently connected with the Hyksos, the ancestors of the Jews according to Josephus, and both Typhon and the Jews were "an abomination" to the Egyptians.
The goat was sacred to Typhon, and it was over the goat that the Egyptians confessed their sins, after which the animal was turned into the desert. This was ages before the time of Moses, and the origin of the Jewish scape-goat. Turning to Leviticus XVI, 21, we read; "And Aaron shall ... lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel... and shall send him away.... into the wilderness." It is also easy to trace the evolution of Sat (Set)-an to the Egyptian devil.
Although the seven principles of man are symbolized under the various aspects of Osiris, the Egyptians had special names for the sheaths of the soul. While the Egyptologists differ as to their classification, as to spelling of names and in many other details, we quote from Budge's Book of the Dead. His list does not exactly agree with the theosophical division of principles, nevertheless it practically covers them, as we shall see, and proves conclusively that the Egyptians were familiar with our seven "souls" in spite of the fact that the translations do not fully bring out the distinctions.
Khat, the physical body. Ka, the double, which could become a vampire (Kama-rupa). Ba, the heart-soul, connected with the Ka, and depicted as a human-headed hawk; it could die a second time (Animal soul or Kama-Manas). Khaibit, the shadow, the hieroglyph of which was an umbrella. Budge regards it as a kind of third soul (Astral body). Khu, meaning "luminous," the spiritual soul which under no circumstances could die; it dwelt in the Sahu (Higher Manas). Sahu, the spiritual body, which formed the habitation of the soul (Atma-Buddhi individualized). It was supposed to spring from the body on account of the prayers that were said, but this could have been merely popular belief, for the author describes it as a "body which had attained to a degree of knowledge and power and glory whereby it becomes henceforth lasting and incorruptible." Sa was the mysterious fluid of the gods, and Hu was one of the celestial foods. In the Judgment Scene Hu and Sa, as gods, head the deities who preside over the weighing of the heart. Sekhem, or power, Budge says is the incorporeal personification of the vital force of a man, which dwelt in heaven with the Khus. Se-Khem is the residence or loka of the god Khem, the devachan of Atma-Buddhi, hence we might think of Sekhem as the devachanic body. To this list our author adds Ren, the name, to preserve which the Egyptians took the most extraordinary care, for the belief was widespread that unless the name of a man was preserved he ceased to exist; and Ab, the heart, an organ rather than a principle, although Budge says it was considered the center of the spiritual and thinking life, in short, the conscience. In Chapter XXVI the deceased says: "I understand with my heart." In Chapter CLXIX two hearts are mentioned, "thy heart (ab), thy mother, and thy heart (hat) that is in thy body."
In Chapter XCII, souls and spirits and shadows are mentioned together. The deceased says: "... let a way be opened for my soul and for my shade, and let them see the Great God in the shrine on the day of the judgment of souls, and let them recite the utterances of Osiris.... to those who guard the members of Osiris, and who keep ward over the Spirits, and who hold captive the shadows of the dead who would work evil against me. May a way for my double (Ka) ... be prepared by those who keep ward over the members of Osiris, and who hold captive the shades of the dead." In Chapter LXXXIX the deceased addresses "the gods who make souls to enter into their sahu" and at the close of the chapter it begs that it may "look upon its material body, may it rest upon its spiritual body (sahu); and may it neither perish nor suffer corruption for ever."
The soul of every defunct, from the Hierophant down to the sacred bull Apis, became an Osiris after death -- was Osirified; Ani, for instance, became Osiris Ani. In Chapter CXIX the deceased says: "I am the spiritual body of the God;" and not only this, but all his members were identified with Osiris or some other of the gods. In Chapter XLII, entitled The Deification of Members, the disembodied soul says: "My hair is the hair of Nu. My face is the face of the Disk. My eyes are the eyes of Hathor... My neck is the neck of the divine goddess Isis.... My forearms are the forearms of Neith. My feet are the feet of Ptah.... There is no member of my body which is not the member of some god." What is this but the teaching that man is verily the microcosm of the macrocosm? And the chapter continues: "I am Ra... I am Horus and traverse millions of years. In very truth, my forms are inverted. I am Un-nefer from one season unto another, and what I have is within me.... I am he whose being has been moulded in his eye and I shall not die again." The real Osirification is the final assimilation with the One Life -- the Egyptian Day of Come-Unto-Us (or Me) which refers to the long pralaya after the Mahamanvantara. "The 'Monad' ... has to perform its septenary gyration throughout the Cycle of Being and forms, from the highest to the lowest; and then from man to God." (S.D., I, 135). Those who cross the "iron-bound world" "will rest in the bosom of Parabrahm or the "Unknown Darkness," which shall then become for all of them Light -- during the whole period of Mahapralaya, namely, 311,040,000,000,000 years. (S.D., I, 134).
"Hail, O Egg! Hail, O Egg! I am Horus, he who liveth
for millions of years, whose flame shineth upon
you and bringeth your hearts to me."
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
Question--What in Theosophy is regarded as having been the original cause of the "obscuration of the effulgence of the mysterious Being of Tathagata?"
Answer--The Being of Tathagata is the Being of Buddha. It is a mystical statement made by orientals of the doctrine that the Divine Man, the Higher-Self of the Universe, has been obscured by its "descent into matter." For they hold that all Buddhas throughout eternity are the same, and that the Highest nature of Man is the same as the Buddha. Hence this sentence is only a statement that the original effulgence or glory radiated by the Highest Self becomes temporarily obscured by dwelling in matter during evolution; but that effulgence will be restored and shine again at the end of the seventh Round because then matter will have been altered and refined by the indwelling effulgent Buddha. But such quotations as that in the question should never be given without the context in which they occur.--W.Q.J.
HAD nothing remained to us of the Book of the Dead but the Judgment Scene, it alone furnishes abundant evidence of the Egyptian teaching of Karma -- the universal Law of Balance; clear indication, too, of the origin of the handwriting on the wall of Balshazzar's palace: "Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting." In the Papyrus of Ani, the scene is made up of five "acts," so to say, the first three constituting the portion assigned to the judgment proper, the last two completing the drama of the soul by depicting its resurrection and introduction by Horus into the presence of Osiris. In the upper left register sit twelve great gods. Underneath, Ani (the deceased) leading his wife, enters the Hall of the double Maati -- Truth and Right. In the second act, Ani, separated into his component parts, stands before the scales. These parts are represented by a human-headed bird -- the soul; a tri-colored cubit bearing a human head, which Budge calls Ani's embryo (the cubit symbolizes the "principles"); a human figure representing his destiny; the two goddesses of birth; and the heart enclosed in a vase balanced against the feather of Truth and Right in the opposite scale-pan. Here are plainly typified the ideas that death involves a separation of the principles; that out of these is to come another body; and that the future birth or destiny, whether into post-mortem states or into a new human form, will be the result of the life just passed. On the standard of the scales sits the dog-headed ape, sacred to Thot, marking the middle point in the evolutionary round when the Sons of Wisdom incarnated in the human-animal forms in the equilibrizing sign of Libra; for Libra and Thot-Hermes are one. (See Isis Unveiled, II, 463). At the right of the scales, testing the tongue of the balance, kneels the jackal-headed god, Anubis, he who guides the justified soul to the Fields of Aanroo.
The soul seeking admission to the Judgment Hall is at once confronted by its doors and even the various parts of its gates -- all forbidding his entrance unless he tells them their mystery names. What can this indicate, but a recognition of the potentiality of the "Word"? After death the good or purified soul in conjunction with its higher or uncreated spirit, is more or less the victim of the dark influence of the dragon Apophis. If it has attained the final knowledge of the heavenly and infernal mysteries -- the gnosis, or complete reunion with the spirit, it will triumph over its enemies; if not, the soul cannot escape its second death, "the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone" (elements), a purely Egyptian idea. But this awful fate can be avoided by the knowledge of the "Mysterious Name." The defunct, having complied with this initial requirement, begins a recital of his good deeds, enumerating first those which relate to his conduct towards his family, his servants and his fellowmen; and not until he has given evidence that he has acted with justice and mercy towards his fellows, is he allowed to pass on to prove he has faithfully performed his duties towards the gods. He is then brought before the forty-two assessors who assist Osiris nightly in the examination of souls, and pleads his innocence of the particular sins which they are appointed to judge. After this "negative confession" he recounts numerous services he has rendered, such as: "I have performed the commandments of men as well as the things whereat are gratified the gods. I have given bread to the hungry man, and water to the thirsty man, and apparel to the naked man and a boat to the shipwrecked mariner.... I am clean of mouth and clean of heart: therefore let it be said unto me...'Come in peace'." (Chap. CXXV). While this protestation of righteousness has been going on, Thot, with reed and palette in hand, records the weighing of the heart; for in spite of the attempt of the deceased to justify himself, it is the heart that determines the balance up or down.
The Egyptians well knew that although one may think the good deeds done or the evils not committed are the measure of character, the feeling in the heart that accompanied the actions is the true estimate of one's righteousness and its ultimate determinant. The man of unrighteous heart will be found wanting. He whose heart was evil, and works utterly wanting, was devoured by Ammet, the "Eater of the Dead," a composite creature with crocodile head, lion body and hinder parts of the hippopotamus, sitting by the side of Anubis. Hence the fear voiced by the deceased in Chap. XXX: "My heart, my mother! My heart, my mother! My heart of transformation! (i.e., necessary for my reincarnation)... May there be no parting of thee from me in the presence of him that keepeth the Balance!" The hieroglyph of the heart was a vase, and when we remember Ammonius Saccas taught that Hermes got his wisdom from India, there would seem to be no mere coincidence that in the Gayatri the True Sun is said to be "hidden by a vase of golden light," -- by the kamic principle coursing through the blood of the heart. In the New Testament (Matthew XXV, 34-36) occurs an almost exact reproduction of the setting of the Judgment Scene: the Son of Man sits upon his throne judging the nations and says to the justified: "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you ... For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink... Naked, and ye clothed me."
The progress of the soul after death consists in a series of transformations by means of which the defunct divests himself, one by one, of his principles, materialized for the sake of clearness into ethereal entities or bodies. The shadow, the astral form, is annihilated, "devoured by the Uræus,"(1) the Manes (kama-rupa) will be annihilated; but the Soul-bird, "the divine Swallow -- and the Uræus of the Flame" (Manas and Atma-Buddhi) will live in the eternity, for they are their mother's husbands. (S.D. I, 227). Those who think the Egyptians did not teach reincarnation should remember that the Soul (the Ego) of the defunct is said to be living in Eternity: it is immortal, "coeval with and disappearing with the Solar boat" -- symbol of the cycle of Necessity. The Soul emerges from the Tiaou, or Tuat, (the realm of the cause of life) and joins the living on Earth by day, to return to the Tuat every night.
What is the Tuat? The frequent allusions to it in the Book of the Dead contain a mystery. The Tuat is the path of the Night Sun, the inferior hemisphere or the infernal regions of the Egyptians, placed by them on the concealed side of the moon. In their esotericism, the human being came out of the moon (a triple mystery -- astronomical, physiological and psychological at once); he crossed the whole cycle of existence and then returned to his birth-place (the moon) before issuing from it again into a new birth. Thus the defunct is shown arriving at the West where he receives his judgment, passes through Amenti, resurrects as Horus, and then circles around the sidereal heavens, which is an allegorical assimilation to Ra, when he becomes once more the free and self-conscious God. In Chap. CXXX we read: "The Osiris Nu (the defunct) embarketh in thy boat, O Ra, he is furnished with thy throne and he receiveth thy spiritual form." Then begins the descent into matter. He crosses the celestial abyss (Nu), and returns once more to the Tuat, where he is assimilated to Osiris-Lunus, who in his aspect of god of reproduction, inhabits the moon. Plutarch says the Egyptians celebrated a festival called "The Ingress of Osiris into the Moon."
Chapter LXIV of the Book of the Dead, entitled the "Chapter of the Coming Forth By Day in a Single Chapter," was looked upon as an abridgement of the entire Book. Birth in the Tuat, Amenti, or heaven, hence means death on another plane, and vice versa. Birth and death, endless transformation, universal reincarnation, proclaim themselves on every page of the Book of the Dead. "I am Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow; and I have the power to be born a second time. I am the hidden Soul who createth the gods and who giveth celestial meals unto the denizens of the Tuat, Amentet, and heaven. I am the Lord of those who are raised up from the dead... Make thou thy roads glad for me, and make broad for me my paths, when I set forth from earth for life in the celestial region... Send forth thy light upon me, O Soul unknown, for I am one of those who are about to enter, and the divine speech is in my ears in the Tuat, and let no defects of my mother be imputed unto me... The god (Anubis) transporteth me to the chamber and my nurse is the double Lion-god himself... Let me journey on in peace; let me pass over the sky;... Let me soar like a bird to see the hosts of the spirits in the presence of Ra day by day.... I shall come into being in the form of the Lion-god and like the blossoms of Shu. I am he who is never overwhelmed in the waters... I have come to see him that dwelleth in his divine Uræus, face to face and eye to eye. Thou art in me and I am in thee; and thy attributes are my attributes... My forms are the forms of the god Khepera... I have entered in as a man of no understanding, and I shall come forth in the form of a strong spirit, and I shall look upon my form which shall be that of men and women for ever and for ever."
Amenti, literally the dwelling of Amen, the hidden God, was the kingdom of Osiris, in which were fourteen halls or "mansions," (Chap. CXLIX, Book of the Dead), each one set aside for some special purpose connected with the after-death state of the soul. Besides the Hall of Judgment there were the Elysian Fields, or Fields of Aanroo, and many other mystical halls -- one of torment in which the waters were of fire, and though the spirits wished to enter and quench their thirst, they dare not. The worst of all was the Hall of eternal Sleep and Darkness. As Lepsius portrays it, the defunct "sleep therein in incorruptible forms, they wake not to see their brethren, they recognize no longer father and mother, their hearts feel naught toward their wife and children. This is the dwelling of the All-Dead.... Each trembles to pray to him, for he hears not." This god is Karmic Decree; the abode of those who die absolute disbelievers, those killed by accident before their allotted time, and finally the dead on the threshold of Avitchi, which save in one case, is not in Amenti but on this earth of forced re-birth. These tarried not long in their state of oblivion, but were carried speedily toward the gate of exit (Amh). The two chief gates of the abode of Osiris were the gate of entrance, Re-stau, and the gate of exit, or reincarnation.
The second Aat of Amenti was Aarru (Chap. CIX), "the walls of which are of iron. The height of the wheat thereof is five cubits...; the barley thereof is seven cubits in height.... And the Khus (Spirits) therein, who are nine cubits in height reap the wheat and the barley side by side with the divine Souls of the East." In this instance the ninefold division is used and refers to those spirits who have just been translated -- before the separation of the principles. The reaping of the grain is a very graphic representation of the Law of Retribution or Karma. Those who reaped the two highest numbers entered into the state of Devachan; the disembodied souls whose harvest was less went into the lower regions (Kamaloka). However, in Chap. CX is a region called the place of the Khus who are seven cubits high, the wheat is three cubits high and it is the Spirits who have become perfect who reap it. These perfected souls are the Atma-Buddhi-Manasic entities, symbolized by the wheat of three cubits, already separated from their lower principles and ready for the Devachanic state. (S.D. II, 374).
Thot is the great Dragon of Wisdom in Egypt. He is the lunar god of the first dynasties, the master of cynocephalus (the dog-headed ape who stood as the living symbol and remembrance of the Third Root Race), therefore a divine being who took on the human-animal form. For here, too, is to be found the Theosophical teaching of evolution. The moon-god Taht-Esmun represented the first human "ancestor," expressing the seven powers of nature prior to himself as his seven souls, he being the manifestor of them as the eighth. Thus Thot is the god who looks both ways -- Janus, Hermes and Mercury combined. With reed and palette, as we have seen him, he is the scribe of the gods and the recorder of Karma. He is "the Lord of Hermopolis," wearing the atef crown and lunar disk, and bearing "the Eye of Horus" (the third eye) in his hand. Protector of Egypt under the form of the ibis, the foe of the bad serpent, he was the good serpent whose mysteries are concealed in the caduceus or wand of Mercury. Thot is connected with our word thought, and since to think is to create, Thot was said to have created the world by his Word, the articulate word being considered the most potent of creative forces. The deceased in the Book of the Dead time and again implores Thot to give him the "correct voice," name or pronunciation of those beings who bar his passage that they may open the way to him. To Thot are ascribed all the arts and sciences and the invention of the Egyptian alphabet. It is as difficult to place his era as to assign to their pyramids their exact date, but his name is found on the oldest monuments. The 4th of January is held sacred to him as Christians hold December 25th sacred to Jesus of Nazareth.
Thot-Hermes is both god and human Teacher, and as Teacher there are at least five personages in the line. Hermes Trismegistus, the "thrice-great" is Hermes great in Secret Wisdom, great as king or divine ruler, and great as law-giver and instructor in the arts of civilization. Hermes was called "the trainer of Christs," since he taught men the eternal verities and showed how to live them that they, too, might be Christs in their turn and know their own nature as he did his. Hermes is not the proper name of any individual, but a generic title applied to Adepts in the Secret Wisdom, the great name having crept into our every-day language in the word "hermetic" -- sealed. The teachings of the Hermes are recorded in the Book of the Dead, on monuments and tombs and tablets, and in the Books of Thot. The Greek writer Iamblichus says there were 1200 books of Hermes, and another writer, Seleucus, says there were 20,000 before the time of Menes. Eusebius, an early Church Father, speaks of seeing forty-two. Some of these books were works on anatomy, medicine and other arts. The name Hermes came to be used by mystics of every shade for generations, consequently great discrimination has to be used in accepting so-called Hermetic writings. Almost all the Fragments bearing the name have been greatly distorted and exhibit a tendency to the personal God idea, while the original teachings were purely pantheistic. The Deity referred to in them is the one defined by Paul as that in which "we live, and move and have our being," the "in Him" of the translators notwithstanding.
In the Book of Hermes, Pymander appears to Hermes in the shape of a Fiery Dragon of "Light, Fire, and Flame." Pymander, the "Thought Divine" personified, says:
"The Light is me, I am the Nous (the mind or Manu), I am thy God, and I am far older than the human principle which escapes from the shadow ("Darkness," or the concealed Deity). I am the germ of thought, the resplendent Word, the Son of God. All that thus sees and hears in thee is the Verbum of the Master, it is the Thought (Mahat) which is God, the Father." (The seventh principle in Man and Kosmos are here meant.) (S.D., I, 74).
"That Universal Being, that contains all, and which is all, put into motion the Soul and the World, all that nature comprises, says Hermes. In the manifold unity of universal life, the innumerable individualities distinguished by their variations, are, nevertheless, united in such a manner that the whole is one, and that everything proceeds from Unity."
"My judgment is that void space does not exist, that it never has existed, and that it never will exist, for all the various parts of the universe are filled, as the earth also is complete and full of bodies, differing in quality and in form."
"God is not a mind, but the cause that the mind is; not a spirit, but the cause that the Spirit is; not light, but the cause that the Light is."
"To speak of God is impossible. For corporeal cannot express the incorporeal.... That which has not any body nor appearance, nor form, nor matter, cannot be comprehended by sense ... that which it is impossible to define -- that is God."
Trismegistos: Reality is not upon earth, my son, and it cannot be thereon.... Nothing on earth is real, there are only appearances.... He (man) is not real, my son, as man. The real consists solely in itself and remains what it is... Man is transient, therefore he is not real, he is but appearance, and appearance is the supreme illusion.
Tatios: Then the celestial bodies themselves are not real, my father, since they also vary?
Trismegistos: That which is subject to birth and to change is not real ... There is in them a certain falsity, seeing that they too are variable.
Tatios: And what then is the primordial Reality?
Trismegistos: That which is one and alone, O Tatios; That which is not made of matter, nor in any body. Which has neither colour nor form, which changes not nor is transmitted but which always is. (S.D., I, 285-287).
"...matter becomes; formerly it was; for matter is the vehicle of becoming. Becoming is the mode of activity of the uncreate deity. Having been endowed with the germs of becoming, matter (objective) is brought into birth, for the creative force fashions it according to the ideal forms. Matter not yet engendered had no form; it becomes when it is put into operation."
"Everything is the product of one universal creative effort.... There is nothing dead in Nature. Everything is organic and living, and therefore the whole world appears to be a living organism." (S.D., I, 281).
"From one Soul, that of All, spring all the Souls, which spread themselves as if purposely distributed through the world. These souls undergo many transformations; those which are already creeping creatures turn into aquatic animals; from these aquatic animals are derived land animals; and from the latter the birds. From the beings who live aloft in the air (heaven) men are born. On reaching that status of men, the Souls receive the principle of (conscious) immortality, become Spirits, then pass into the choir of the gods."
"The creation of Life by the Sun is as continuous as his light; nothing arrests or limits it. Around him, like an army of Satellites, are innumerable choirs of genii ... All these Genii preside over mundane affairs....they imprint their likeness on our Souls ... But the reasonable part of the Soul is not subject to the genii; it is designed for the reception of (the) God, who enlightens it with a sunny ray. Those who are thus illumined are few in number..." (high Initiates and Adepts are here meant). Students should read the entire passage: (S.D., I, 294-295).
"Thou art from old, O Soul of Man; yea, thou art from everlasting.
"The Soul passeth from form to form; and the mansions of her pilgrimage are manifold. Thou puttest off thy bodies as raiment; and as vesture dost thou fold them up."
The Egyptians are accused of teaching the doctrine of transmigration -- that men reincarnate in the bodies of animals. The following extract might be thought to corroborate this opinion:
"But the Soul entering into the Body of a Man, if it continue evil, shall neither taste of Immortality nor be partaker of the Good; but being drawn back the same Way, it returneth into Creeping Things. And this is the condemnation of an evil Soul."
We need only to refer to the symbol of the Sphinx to see that Soul never came from the lower kingdom -- it enters into the body. Only the lower soul returns to the lower kingdoms; the Spirit-Soul likewise returns the Way it came to higher regions of Spirit. The teaching is: "Once a man, always a man." But, to be immortal one must have body and spirit conjoined in harmony on earth. Consequently, by living selfishly and evilly, a man condemns every atom of his lower sheaths to be drawn into the bodies of lower animals, and he will meet those effects when again he comes into incarnation.
The teaching of Hermes, AS ABOVE SO BELOW -- "the whole of magic" -- is found in the Smaragdine Tablet which is alleged to have been found by Sarai, Abraham's wife, on the dead body of Hermes. This is pure allegory. May it not be, suggests Madame Blavatsky, that Saraiswati, the goddess of secret wisdom and learning, finding still much of the ancient wisdom latent in the dead body of Humanity, revivified that wisdom? This led to the rebirth of the Occult Sciences, so long forgotten and neglected, the world over.
"What is below is like that which is above, and what is above is similar to that which is below, to accomplish the wonders of one only thing," -- which is MAN.
"The Father of THAT ONE ONLY THING is the Sun; its Mother the Moon; the Wind carries it in his bosom; and its nurse is the Spirituous Earth." In the occult rendering of the same it is added: "and Spiritual Fire is its instructor (Guru)."
Rudimentary man, having been nursed by the "air" or the "wind," becomes the perfect man later on; when, with the development of "Spiritual Fire" ... he acquires from his inner Self, or Instructor, the Wisdom of Self-Consciousness, which he does not possess in the beginning. This fire is the higher Self, which, on this plane, is in bondage to the lower. Unless the Ego takes refuge in the Atman, the ALL-SPIRIT, and merges entirely into the essence thereof, the personal Ego may goad it to the bitter end. (S.D., II, 109, 113).
"Separate the earth from the fire, the subtile from the gross."
"Ascend from the earth to heaven and then descend again to earth, and unite together the power of things inferior and superior; thus you will possess the light of the whole world, and all obscurity will fly from you."
In these words is contained the riddle of the cross, and its double mystery is solved -- to the Occultist. "The philosophical cross ... symbolizes our human existence, for the circle of life circumscribes the four points of the cross, which represents in succession birth, life, death, and Immortality."
From a study of the foregoing fragments some comprehension may be gained of how one man may impress himself upon his own epoch so forcibly that the influence may be carried -- through the ever-interchanging currents of energy between the two worlds, the visible and the invisible -- from one succeeding age to another, until it affects the whole of mankind. Hermes has been an universal source of knowledge.
The glories of now-subject Egypt are of the past -- of a past so remote that we can find no later writings recorded to show that there were witnesses left upon the scene. The knowledge once in Egypt went on to Greece and shone there under Pythagoras and Plato, who studied in Egypt, and other Hermetic philosophers who taught the TRUTH and RIGHT of Thot-Hermes and Hermes Trismegistus. We have seen, too, how much of Egyptian doctrine and practice found its way, although greatly distorted, into the Old Testament and the Apocalypse. Moses was an Egyptian priest before he became leader of the Israelites, Jesus spent part of his youth in Egypt, and all the most learned Jews drank at her fount of wisdom.
Madame Blavatsky told, we suspect, what was personally known to her, in saying that there are still some solitary students of the ancient lore -- sole remnants of the true Egyptian race, Copts, who are aware of the existence of many a secret treasure of the sanctuary, and keep silent. These Copts wear monkish attire of Arab-Christians, and live in poor desolate convents on the borders of the Libyan desert. Some believe the attire is but a disguise. These Copts are held in great esteem by the Greek monks of Palestine, and "there is a rumor current among the Christian pilgrims of Jerusalem, who throng the Holy Sepulcher at every Easter, that the holy fire from heaven will never descend so miraculously as when these monks of the desert are present to draw it down with their prayers. Thousands of pilgrims are there waiting with their tapers to light them at this sacred fire, which at the precise hour and when needed descends from the chapel-vault and hovers about the sepulcher in tongues of fire until every one of the thousand pilgrims has lighted his wax taper at it." Thus we see the holders of the flame, now in one country and now in another, form an unbroken sacrificial chain down the ages.
If it were possible to summarize in a sentence Egypt's contribution to the human race, it might be expressed in the Hermetic teaching "Death does not exist, and man never steps outside of universal life; nevertheless, conscious immortality must be gained by each individual for himself." "Oh, men, live soberly. Win your immortality. Instructor and guide of humanity, I will lead you on to salvation" -- the clarion cry of Hermes Trismegistus rings vital still, because vitalized by the message of H.P.B. The term "scribe of the gods" -- Thot-Hermes -- can be no more fitly applied than to this recorder of the most complete teaching yet written down. She, as in the allegory of Saraiswati, found the body of Humanity dying, and tried to arouse its Soul by restating the ancient eternal Truth, the Right application of which alone will save the world.
BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA
TO whom does not "the Garden of Eden" bring instant thought of an actual paradise on earth? The Old Testament depicts it as the abode of Adam and Eve, who were driven out because they ate of "the forbidden fruit." The word Eden in the Sumerian dialect means simply a plain, and we find that the sandy plain north of the Persian Gulf was the birthplace of a people who were to found the great civilizations of Babylonia and Assyria. The Greeks called the region above the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers Mesopotamia -- meso meaning in the midst of or between, and potami, rivers. More than 6,000 years ago a colony settled at Eridu and built the "Holy City of Ea," then on the water's edge, but now over one hundred miles inland, owing to the silting down of the soil into the Gulf. This part of the country was called Sumer, a name pointing to Indian origin (Su-Meru) and corroborated by the Secret Doctrine which states that adepts on their way to Asia Minor tarried to teach and civilize a barbarian people. The oldest texts are in Sumerian, but about 2,000 B.C. the hymns and liturgies began to be supplied with interlinear translations in the Semitic tongue -- one of many indications that the Wisdom-Religion of the Sumerians was the source of the Babylonian and, through it, of the still later Israelitish worship and belief. From its beginning -- it seems probable that it was an offshoot of Eridu -- Babylon was the seat of Sanscrit and Brahman learning.(1)
Until recent years our knowledge of these people was gained mostly from the Bible, which led us to suppose they were all idolaters and savages; but the unearthing and deciphering of monuments and clay tablets, particularly those composing the great library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh, reveal a very different and startling story.(2) Before Abraham(3) who, we used to think, lived at the very dawn of history, so great was the learning and culture of Babylonia that its influence extended throughout Western Asia, while before the time of Moses the language of this country was used for international correspondence, even the Egyptian Pharaoh (Amenophis IV) using it instead of his own tongue. The great antiquity claimed for this people both by Berosus(4) and Herodotus has not been credited, but a Sumerian tablet gives a period of 32,234 years between the deluge and the last king of Isin, who lived 2,000 B.C. This carries us back more than 36,000 years!
Ziggurats, or terraced temples, consisting of one to seven stories, built upon an elevated mound of earth, were common throughout Babylonia, the ziggurat of Babylon being the famous Tower of Babel. The fortunes of the deity to whom the temple was dedicated followed the fortunes of the city, the rise of a city to supremacy involving the supremacy of that particular deity. Thus, when Eridu was the chief city, Ea was the principal god, but with the rise of Babylon, Marduk (the Merodach of the Bible) became the Bel or lord of the whole pantheon, the attributes and deeds of the former being ascribed to the latter. This custom accounts for the different names of gods and heroes found in the various versions of the same story.
Around the entire country was a great moat filled with water, serving the double purpose of keeping out the enemy and also filling the vast network of irrigating canals. The larger canals were used as highways of commerce, one extending from Assyria to the Gulf, so old in the time of Nebuchadnezzar that he pointed with pride to having cleaned it out and restored it. There was also a tunnel under the river-bed, showing that modern engineering feats are but a reëmergence of the past.
The province of Akkad, north of Sumer,(5) came into prominence under the leadership of Sargon, who styled himself King of Sumer and Akkad. He is the Babylonian Moses, as indicated by the following inscription:
"Sargon, the powerful king, King of Akkad am I.
My mother was a princess, my father I did not know...
She placed me in an ark of rushes, with bitumen my
exit she sealed up.
She launched me in the river, which did not drown me.
The river carried me, to Akki, the water-carrier,(6) it
Of Moses' mother it is said (Exodus ii, 3): "And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink." Agade was near Sippar(7) and Zipporah is the name of the wife of Moses -- another strange coincidence. Since Sargon lived long before Moses, it is but logical to infer that the story of the former was known to the author of Exodus, who applied it to the Israelitish leader. Babylonia had its great law-giver in Hammurapi (2123-2086 B.C.) whose famous Code, it is now definitely known, was based upon an earlier Sumerian code, again pointing to India and the laws of Manu as source.
As time went on the Assyrians in the north, who took their name from their chief god Ashur,(8) rose to power. Their military ensign was the great red dragon, always carried on the field of battle, which became a terror to all the surrounding nations. At the fall of Assyria "the cedars of Lebanon" (Initiates) are said to have leaped for joy. The prophet Isaiah calls the nation "the rod of God's anger" -- his axe and saw. Sennacherib, "the wolf who came down on the fold" (II Kings, xix), conquered Babylon and utterly destroyed it by turning the waters of a canal across its site. He then made Nineveh his capital, and so identified it with the fortunes of the nation that we never think of Assyria without thinking of "that great city."(9) Babylon, however, was destined to have a renaissance under the famous Nebuchadnezzar, who built the hanging gardens and made the city much more magnificent than it had ever been before. He it was who captured Jerusalem (II Kings, xxv) and led the king, whom he first blinded, and a large part of the inhabitants to Babylon. The 137th Psalm is the Israelites' lamentation over their captivity. Like all other calamities, the sojourn of the Jews among the Babylonians was not an unmixed evil; for there they became acquainted with the wisdom of the Chaldees,(10) the Chaldean Book of Numbers, with the Sumerian literature, its account of creation and the deluge, the Babylonian psalms and poems, all of which served as models for many of the books which later formed part of the Old Testament.
The Chaldean Book of Numbers is taken from the same "old book" which was used as the basis of the Secret Doctrine. The original of it served as the basis of the Kabbalah of the Jews. In it is stated that "The one Universal Light, which to man is Darkness, is ever existent." Again, "The Blessed Ones have nought to do with the purgations of matter." "In the beginning of time the great invisible one had his holy hands full of celestial matter which he scattered throughout infinity; and lo, behold! it became balls of fire, and balls of clay; and they scattered like the moving metal (quicksilver) into many smaller balls, and began their ceaseless turning; and some of them which were balls of fire became balls of clay; and the balls of clay became balls of fire; and the balls of fire were waiting their turn to become balls of clay; and the others envied them and bided their time to become balls of pure divine fire." An epitome of the arts and sciences, not only of the Chaldeans, but also of the Assyrians and Canaanites of pre-historic ages, by a Babylonian Adept, Qu-tamy (who said he was instructed by the idol of the moon)(11) has been published under the title Nabathean Agriculture. The Nabatheans were descendants of Ham, who settled in Babylonia under the leadership of Nimrod (the mighty hunter of Genesis x, 9-10) and the sect is similar to the Nazarenes, whose city Nazareth was the birthplace of Jesus.
The Seven Tablets of Creation, greatly mutilated and incomplete, found at Nineveh by the Assyriologist George Smith in 1872, read as follows:
When above were not raised the heavens:
And below the earth was not called by name,
The primeval deep (Apsu) was the source of both,
The chaos of the sea (Tiamat) was the mother of them all.
Their waters were embosomed in one place,
The corn-stalk was ungathered, the marsh-plant was ungrown.
Time was when gods had not been made,
No name was named, no destiny determined:
Then were created the gods in the midst [of heaven]
Lakmu and Lakhamu burst forth.
Anshar and Kishar were created,
Days grew long...
Anu, [Bel and Ea were created.](12)
In time a brood of monsters arose, all sorts of combinations of animals and men, with Tiamat at their head. At last Marduk says he will undertake to dispose of them. Follows the forging of weapons and then, after a long encounter,
Bel(13) trampled on the underpart of Tiamat,(14)
With his blows unceasing he smote the skull.
And he brake her like a dried fish in two pieces;
He took one-half of her and made it the covering of the sky;
He stretched out the skin, and caused a watch to be kept,
Enjoining that her waters should not issue forth.
After this victory
He established the stations for the great gods;
The stars, their likenesses, he set up as constellations;
He fixed the year, and marked the divisions.
The twelve months he divided among three stars,(15)
From the beginning of the year till the close.
He established the station of Jupiter(16) to indicate their boundary,
So that there might be no deviation nor wandering from the course.
He established with him the stations of Bel and Ea.
He made the moon appear illuminating the night.
["On the 28th day] thou shalt approach the sun-god."
At that time the gods in their assembly created [the beasts],
They made perfect the mighty monsters.
They caused the living creatures [of the field] to come forth,
The cattle of the field, [the wild beasts] of the field, and
the creeping things.
But the gods complain to Marduk that they are lonely and unhappy because there is no one to worship them.
Upon Marduk's hearing the utterance of the gods he was
prompted to carry out [a clever plan].
He opened his mouth and unto Ea [he spake],
"My blood I will gather and bone [I will take],
I will create man to inhabit the earth,
That the worship of the gods may be established."
Turning now to the Old Testament, we find in Genesis I:
1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4. .....and God divided the light from the darkness.
7. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament.
9. And God said ...... let the dry land appear;
11. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself.
14. And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days, and years:
16. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: and he made the stars also.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
20. And God said: Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth...
21. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth....
25. And God made the beast of the earth ... and cattle ... and everything that creepeth upon the earth after their kind: and God saw that it was good.
26. And God said, Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female (i.e., androgynous) created he them.
The similarities between Genesis and the far older Chaldean records are so striking that one cannot escape the conclusion that Babylonia was the source of the Old Testament writing. In both accounts darkness precedes light, all is chaos, "without form, and void," and water fills the great deep of Space. "The Spirit of God" that "moved upon the face of the deep" in Genesis is the same as the Chaldean Ea, the god of wisdom. The "waters" are the divine Akasa, or Æther, which in course of time became the visible waters of earth, at first pure, but later on befouled -- the abode of Tiamat (sinful, gross matter). The struggle with this monster is not given in Genesis, but is the original of the war in heaven (Revelations xii) where "Michael and his angels fought against the dragon." Berosus gives a curious legend of a Man-Fish, Oannes.(17) His body was that of a fish, but under the fish's head was a human head and under the tail were feet, human also was his voice and his speech. During the day he lived among men and instructed them in arts and sciences, in everything that would tend to soften their manners and humanize their lives; but at night he would retire into the deep, for he could live both on land and in the water. He it was who wrote about these hideous beings, the progeny of Tiamat. Oannes also said that Bel cut off his own head and from a mixture of his blood with that of earth, human beings were formed. On this account they are rational and partly divine. We see that this story was applied to Marduk, and that it is only another way of showing the union of the higher with the lower nature.
The account of the establishment of the moon and stars is fuller in the Tablets than in Genesis, predominance being given to the moon. The Chaldeans were renowned astronomers and held the moon in deep reverence, as it was the basis of their calendar and the chief planet of measurement. The Chaldean name for the moon-god was Sin, also called Nannar.(18) Genesis speaks of the "lights in the firmament" being for "signs and for seasons," that is, for astronomical calculations and the measurement of cycles. The word translated "God" in the first chapter of Genesis is the Logos, the Elohim -- a plural word, and refers to the host of builders -- the Dhyan Chohans or angels, of whom there were many orders, some high and some low. The lower angels, among whom was Jehovah, made the animal form of man, the man of dust, mentioned in the second chapter. The higher angels, represented by "Light" in Gen. i, 3, made the ethereal man, sometimes spoken of as the "archetypal man," or Adam. This is the immortal first race of Theosophy. The first animals (belonging to what is called the Primal Creation) are the sacred animals of the zodiac, the "great whale" of verse 21 referring to the zodiacal sign of Capricorn -- the leviathan of the Hebrews.
It is possible to trace in Genesis the orderly development of the elements -- not the elements of science, but their originals. Since there are seven planes there must be seven elements, of which ether is the fifth, the "waters" of space. The element of fire is represented by light (verse 3). The word "firmament" (verse 7) should be translated "expanse," the word used to express the idea of "air" which passes everywhere unobstructed. After this appears the water and lastly the earth. The elements having been evolved for the building up of forms, we may now trace the various kingdoms. The earth undoubtedly answers to the mineral kingdom, the basis for all the rest. In verse II, we have the three divisions of the vegetable kingdom, corresponding to the three geological periods known as the age of cryptogams, the phænogams, and the fruit trees. "The moving creature that hath life" (verse 20), should be "swimming and creeping creatures," agreeing with the zoological order of fishes (mollusks) and reptiles. Then come the birds, the beasts and cattle of the field. We must remember that Genesis has been incorrectly translated and tampered with, just as happened to the Chaldean tablets, and without the key which Theosophy furnishes, it cannot be understood or properly interpreted.
While in the first chapter of Genesis what is there called man is created after the animals, in the second chapter man, that is, the human form, is created first: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life: and man became a living soul." Now there were two versions of creation among the Babylonians; and Prof. Jastrow points out that the resemblance of the second Babylonian version to the second chapter of Genesis extends even to certain phrases which they have in common. "And no plant of the field was yet in the earth, and no herb of the field had yet sprung up" (verse 5) might serve almost as a translation of the second line of the Babylonian counterpart. Read in its true esoteric sense, chapter one of Genesis contains the history of the first Three Rounds, as well as the first Three Races of the Fourth, up to the moment when Man is called to self-consciousness by the Sons of Wisdom. In chapter two, Adam comes first, so at the beginning of the Fourth Round on Globe D, Man is the first to appear. Even the state of mental torpor and unconsciousness of the first two races, and of the first half of the Third Race, is symbolized in Genesis ii, by the deep sleep of Adam.
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
THE PRICE OF KNOWLEDGE
Power belongs to him who knows; this is a very old axiom: knowledge, or the first step to power, especially that of comprehending the truth, of discerning the real from the false -- belongs only to those who place truth above their own petty personalities. Those only who having freed themselves from every prejudice, and conquered their human conceit and selfishness, are ready to accept every and any truth -- once the latter is undeniable and has been demonstrated to them -- those alone, I say, may hope to get at the ultimate knowledge of things. --H.P.B.
THE GARDEN OF EDEN
THE biblical Garden of Eden is inseparably associated with the theological dogmas of original sin, a personal Devil, the "fall" of man, and the attendant curse which rests upon all mankind, for "in Adam all sinned:" the whole episode the prelude to the necessary birth of a Savior, whose vicarious atonement for man's wickedness is the only hope of his salvation, or eternal life. Since these erroneous and subversive ideas constitute the basis upon which popular Christianity rests, every one should acquaint himself with this allegory which in ancient times was universal, and symbolical of esoteric truths now revealed in the teachings of Theosophy. The story in Genesis is, condensed, as follows:
"And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison,...the name of the second river is Gihon,...the name of the third river is Hiddikel; that is it which goeth east of Assyria, and the fourth is Euphrates. And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. And the Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make an helpmeet for him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs,...and the rib...made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. [Then the Lord cursed Adam and Eve, saying] cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou returnest to the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."
Up to the present time no complete form of this story has been found among the clay tablets of Mesopotamia, but portions have been discovered which indicate its origin and show that the Babylonians were as familiar with this as with other allegories transplanted on Hebrew soil. Its location between the Euphrates and the Tigris, a name for which was Idikla, to which the word hid, meaning river, was prefixed, giving us the Hiddikel of Genesis, carries us back to Sumer. Now there is a Sumerian hymn in which reference is made to a holy place in the plain of Eden, but instead of a tree we find--
"In Eridu a vine(1) grew overshadowing; in a holy place
was it brought forth;
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Into the heart of its holy house, which spreads its
shade like a forest, hath ho man entered.
In its midst is Tammuz,(2)
Between the mouths of the rivers on both sides."
We will recall that rivers are mentioned in the Mahabharata, and there represent the spiritual and physical streams of life. Although the Garden of Eden has been considered by Christians only the geographical location of the birthplace of all mankind, it also corresponds to the Kuru-Kshetra,(3) or body acquired by karma, which should indeed be a holy place, "the temple of the Holy Ghost." There were many Edens; China, which can hardly be suspected of having known anything of the Jews 2,000 B.C., had such a primitive garden in Central Asia, inhabited by the "Dragons of Wisdom." In days of old, the Tree and the Serpent were divine imagery; but the tree was reversed, its roots growing above as we have already seen in the sacred Ashwattha of India and the mighty ash, Yggdrasil, of the Norse. It is only when its pure boughs had touched terrestrial matter, our Adamic race, that this tree became soiled by contact and lost its pristine purity; and that the Serpent of Eternity -- the heaven-born Logos -- was finally degraded. In Smith's Chaldean Account of Genesis (p. 88) there is a most striking picture of an early Babylonian cylinder which represents the garden of Eden as plainly as may be done in art. In the center is the tree of life, with four branches on the side of the woman, and three on the side of the man. The base of the tree is formed out of a serpent, while behind the woman is a standing serpent, evidently beguiling her with words of wisdom. The four and the three branches symbolize the seven races and the seven principles of man, the four on the woman's side typifying the lower, material nature, the three on the man's side symbolical of the higher triad. For the tree is verily man himself, and the serpent, the conscious Manas, the connecting link between matter and spirit, heaven and earth. The antiquity of the serpent symbol also points to the fact that the original sin and the so-called "fall," when the sexes separated in the Third Round, occurred during the earliest portion of what science calls the Mesozoic times, or the age of reptiles. Thus we see that between the Serpent of Eden and the Devil of Christianity is an abyss. Alone the sledge hammer of the ancient Wisdom-Religion can kill this pernicious theological dogma.
In the Babylonian "curse" after the "fall," (given in Smith's Chaldean Account of Genesis) the "Lord of the earth his name called out, the Father Elu" (Elohim), and pronounced his curse, which "the God Hea (Ea) heard, and his liver was angry, because his man (angelic man) had corrupted his purity," for which Hea expresses the desire that "'Wisdom and knowledge' hostilely may they injure him" (man). Hea tries to bring to nought the knowledge gained by man through his newly-acquired intellectual and conscious capacity of creating in his turn -- thus taking the monopoly out of the hands of God (the Gods) -- just as the Elohim do in the third chapter of Genesis. Following their example, it has always been the policy of the priesthood to keep man in ignorance, and hence mankind generally, in spite of its vaunted knowledge, is unacquainted with its own nature. Nevertheless the spirit of wisdom being upon and in man -- by the union of the Manasic with the Kamic nature -- that Manasic spirit which made him learn the secrets of creation on the Kriyashaktic and of procreation on the earthly planes, led some as naturally to discover their way to immortality, without the intercession of a Savior, notwithstanding the jealousy of all the gods. Therefore, in anticipation of this possibility, which no Christian believes in, the Elohim say: "And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and live forever," as he has already taken of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they "placed at the east of Eden Cherubim and a flaming sword (the evil passions) which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."
This final mystery finds its counterpart in the legend of Adapa,(4) "the seed of mankind." Adapa, a fisherman, is the son of Ea, and a zealous provider for the temple at Eridu. One day while fishing he broke the wings of the south wind so that for seven days it could not blow. Anu, noticing this, sent for Adapa to appear in heaven. Before his departure Ea instructs, or rather purposely deceives him, in much the same fashion as the Lord God deceived Adam in regard to the eating of the tree: "When thou comest before Anu, they will offer thee food of death. Do not eat. They will offer thee waters of death. Do not drink. They will offer thee a garment. Put it on. They will offer thee oil. Anoint thyself. The order that I give thee do not neglect." Adapa arrives in heaven and the gods are angry that an impure mortal has been allowed to see their abode and learn their secrets. Since, however, nothing now remains but to admit him into their circle, they bring him food and water of life. He refuses this, but puts on the dress which they bring him and anoints himself with the oil. At this procedure Anu is amazed and inquires: "Now, Adapa, why didst thou not eat? Why didst thou not drink? Now thou wilt not remain alive." Adapa answers that he followed the instructions of Ea; so he was sent back to earth to live and die as an ordinary mortal. This action is parallelled in the action of those Mahatmas who forego Nirvana and take on body after body of flesh so that they may remain with and help mankind. The dress Adapa dons may be likened to "the coats of skins" which the Lord God gave Adam and Eve, that is, the physical body, before which time -- when their eyes were still unopened -- they were "naked," an expression for the astral condition of the human form. So we see that the "original sin" and the "fall" were only steps in the evolutionary law of life, a necessary change from the methods of creation in the preceding cycles. We are now better able, perhaps, to understand that passage in the Gita: "He who, sinfully delighting in the gratification of his passions, doth not cause this wheel [or reincarnation] thus already set in motion to continue revolving, liveth in vain." And H. P. Blavatsky states that with the Brahmans it was a religious duty to have a son.
Another Chaldean tablet bearing upon this subject gives an account of the seven wicked Gods or Spirits:
"1. In the first days the evil Gods
2. the angels, who were in rebellion, who in the lower part of heaven
3. had been created,
4. they caused their evil work
5. devising with wicked heads ...
7. There were seven of them."
Then follows the description of them, the fourth being a "serpent," the phallic symbol of the Fourth Race in human evolution.
"15. The seven of them, messengers of Anu, their king."
Anu is identical with Sin, the moon, in one aspect, the seed of all material life, and corresponds to Jehovah, who is double-sexed as Anu is. That they are those who create man's form is evidenced by their being "in the lower part of heaven." The messengers of Anu are shown, in lines 28-41, as being finally overpowered by the same Sin with the help of Bel (the Sun) and Ishtar (Venus). There are two "falls," the rebellion of the Archangels and their "fall," and the "fall" of Adam and Eve. Both are karmic effects, intellectual and spiritual on the one hand, physical and psychic on the other. The Archangels, some of whom were Nirmanakayas from other Manvantaras, were those who, compelled by Karmic law to drink the cup of gall to its last bitter drop, had to incarnate anew, and thus make responsible thinking entities of the astral statues projected by their inferior brethren -- "the wicked gods."
The Secret Doctrine is not alone in speaking of primeval MEN born simultaneously on the seven divisions of our Globe. In the first column of the Cutha tablet, seven human beings with the faces of ravens (black, swarthy complexions), whom "the (seven) great gods created," are mentioned. "In the midst of the earth they grew up and became great ... Seven kings, brothers of the same family." These are the Seven Kings of Edom to whom reference is made in the Kabala; the first race, which was imperfect, i.e., was born before the "balance" (sexes) existed, was therefore destroyed. They were "destroyed," as a race, by being merged in their own progeny (by exudation); that is to say, the sexless race became the bisexual (potentially); the latter the androgynes; these again the sexual, the later third (our Adam and Eve). Were the Chaldean tablets less mutilated, says H.P.B., they would be found to contain word for word the same accounts as given in the archaic records. They corroborate the Theosophical teachings: (1) That the race which was the first to fall into generation was a dark race (Zalmat Gaguadi), which they call the Adami or dark Race, and that Sarka, or the light race, remained pure for a long while subsequently. (2) That the Babylonians recognized two principal Races at the time of the Fall, the Race of the Gods (the Ethereal doubles of the Pitris), having preceded these two. These "Races" are our second and third Root-races. (3) That these seven Gods, each of whom created a man, or group of men, were "the gods imprisoned or incarnated." In one of the Magical Texts are the following lines:
"O Sin,(5) thou who alone givest light,
Extending light to mankind,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Showing favor to the black-headed ones,
Thy light is glorious as the Sun."
The state after death is depicted in the legend of Ishtar, the Babylonian Venus. She is represented as having destroyed her youthful consort, Tammuz, a solar-deity -- the sun approaching the summer solstice, which occurs in the sixth month, designated by the title, the month of "the mission of Ishtar." The goddess, repentant and weeping goes to the lower world in search of her spouse and is obliged to pass through seven gates. At the first her great crown is removed; at the second, her earrings; at the third, her necklace; at each gate some portion of her dress is taken away until at the seventh, she stands naked before Allatu, who presides over this realm. During her absence all fertility on the earth has ceased. Shamash is informed of the disaster, and goes to Sin and Ea for aid. The latter creates "a divine servant," whose name means "the Renewal of Light," who proceeds to "the land whence there is no return" to fetch the goddess. As Ishtar repasses the gates, the articles stripped from her on her descent are returned; first, her loin cloth, her bracelets, ankle-rings and so on until she reappears upon earth fully clothed. While the myth is a symbol of the passage of the sun through the fall and winter months, it is a clear indication of the post-morten states, when the soul is divested one by one of its astral envelopes, which it again picks up on its return to another incarnation. The story ends with a warning to all who mourn for their dead to remember Tammuz. The festival of Tammuz was selected as an "All-Souls" day and became an occasion of calling to mind those who had entered Aralu. There are many references to women weeping for Tammuz. Excessive grief over the dead was manifested in Babylonia -- a custom which still prevails in the Orient -- and was the occasion for the production of a great number of dirges. The Book of Lamentations is based upon this very custom of wailing for the dead. Arulu, as the nether world was called, is dark and gloomy:
"...the house whose inhabitants are deprived of light.
The place where dust is their nourishment, their food clay.
They have no light, dwelling in dense darkness.
And they are clothed like birds, in a garment of feathers."
Prof. Jastrow says,(6) "It is almost startling to note to what a degree the views embodied in the Old Testament writings regarding the fate of the dead, coincide with Babylonian conceptions. The descriptions of Sheol found in Job, in the Psalms, in Isaiah, Ezekiel, and elsewhere are hardly to be distinguished from those that we have encountered in Babylonian literature. While the dead are weak and generally inactive, although capable of suffering, they were also regarded by the Hebrews as possessing powers superior to those of the living. As among the Babylonians, the dead stand so close to the higher powers as to be themselves possessed of divine qualities. Schwally aptly characterizes this apparent contradiction by saying, 'that the dead are Refa'im (weak), but, at the same time, Elohim, i.e., divine beings." Corroborating what has already been brought out, this author says: "Further discoveries beneath the mounds of Mesopotamia and further researches in Babylonian literature, will add more evidence to the indebtedness of the Hebrews to Babylonia. It will be found that in the sacrificial ordinances of the Pentateuch, in the legal regulations, in methods of justice and punishment, Babylonian models were largely followed, or, what is an equal testimony to Babylonian influence, an opposition to Babylonian methods was dominant. It is not strange that when by a curious fate, the Hebrews were once more carried back to the 'great river of Babylon' (Psalm cxxxvii, I) the people felt so thoroughly at home there. It was only the poets and some ardent patriots who hung their harps on the willows and sighed for a return to Zion. The Jewish population steadily increased in Babylonia, and soon also the intellectual activity of Babylonian Jews outstripped that of Palestine.(7) The finishing touches to the structure of Judaism were given in Babylonia -- on the soil where the foundations were laid."
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
FIRE OF PROMETHEUS
The allegory of the fire of Prometheus is another version of the rebellion of the proud Lucifer, who was hurled down to the bottomless pit, or simply unto our Earth, to live as man. The Hindu Lucifer, the Mahasura, is also said to have become envious of the Creator's resplendent light, and, at the head of inferior Asuras (not gods, but spirits), to have rebelled against Brahmâ; for which Siva hurled him down to Pâtâla. But, as philosophy goes hand in hand with allegorical fiction in Hindu myths, the devil is made to repent, and is afforded the opportunity to progress: he is a sinful man esoterically, and can by yoga devotion, and adeptship, reach his status of one with the deity, once more. Hercules, the Sun-god, descends to Hades (the cave of Initiation) to deliver the victims from their tortures, etc., etc. The Christian Church alone creates eternal torment for the devil and the damned, that she has invented. --S.D., II, p. 237.
THE BABYLONIAN EPIC OF GILGAMESH
LIKE India, Greece and other countries, Babylonia had its great national epic centering around a hero named Gilgamesh. His feats remind us of the labors of Hercules and, like the latter, he was supposed to be a purely mythical character until, among some clay tablets found at Nippur a few years ago, was a list of historical dynasties in which Gilgamesh is mentioned as a king of Uruk (or Erech). Follows now the startling revelation by Col L. A. Waddell, in a book on The Indo-Sumerian Seals (1926)that "the Haryas'wa of the Vedas and Indian Epics and the Ur-Nina of the Assyriologists, generally regarded as the first great dynast of the early Sumerians,...is the son of the great Hercules of the Phoenicians and Greeks, here conclusively identified with Gilgamesh of Erech, and now disclosed for the first time as a historical Aryan-Sumerian-Phoenician king and great sun priest of Bel of relatively fixed date, about 3150 B.C."(1) As the Gilgamesh Epic has been reconstructed from thousands of broken pieces, it is exceedingly fragmentary; interesting to few besides the historian and archaeologist. To the theosophical student its chief appeal lies in its many indications that against a background of legend and history is depicted the drama of one "striving for perfection." The poem is divided into twelve books,(2) which probably correspond to the twelve signs of the zodiac, with which the twelve great "labors" of Hercules have usually been associated.
The narrative opens with a complaint of the people of Erech that Gilgamesh has taken away their sons and daughters and they appeal to the goddess Aruru to create a man who may be "equal to taking up the fight against him." Accordingly Aruru forms "a man of Anu in her heart," then breaks off clay and throws it upon the ground. Thus is created Enkidu,(3) the hero, "a lofty offspring of the host of Ninib."(4) But his body is covered with hair like an animal, he eats and drinks with the animals, and upsets the traps of the hunter who, in order to catch him, sends to him an Ukhat.(5) The woman bids him "Come, arise from the accursed ground!" Enkidu obeys her entreaty, learns to eat human food, drinks seven jars of wine, so that "his heart became glad and his face shone," is clothed by her, anointed with oil, and finally becomes a shepherd, protecting the fold from attacks of lions and other wild beasts.
Now Gilgamesh has two dreams. In the first, something heavy falls upon him from heaven, almost crushing him with its weight. He manages to take the burden to his mother, who says it forebodes the coming of one like himself, born in the mountain, and to whom all will pay homage and to whom he himself will become deeply attached. In the second dream he sees one like himself, brandishing an axe; this, his mother explains, is none other than Enkidu. Conducted by the woman to Erech, Enkidu meets Gilgamesh and immediately ensues a fierce combat in which Gilgamesh is worsted; nevertheless thereafter the two become inseparable. Gilgamesh is referred to as the "younger brother," slightly taller than Enkidu, who is otherwise his exact counterpart, except that on some cylinders he is represented with animal hoofs and horns.
The first task undertaken by the two is an attack upon Huwawa, the mighty guardian of the cedar forest, whose mouth emitted fire and whose breath was death. The elders try to dissuade Gilgamesh from so perilous an undertaking, Enkidu declares that even his strength is not sufficient, but Gilgamesh upbraids his companion for such cowardice, affirms his reliance upon Shamash (the sun-god) and says, "If I fall, I will establish my name." At last having received favorable oracles from the gods and being advised by the elders to wash his feet in the stream of Huwawa, the two set out, Enkidu leading, because he is acquainted with the way. After this exploit in which Huwawa is conquered, the goddess Ishtar offers herself in marriage to Gilgamesh, and enraged at his rejection of her suit, appeals to her father Anu to avenge the insult. Accordingly, Anu sends a winged bull which Enkidu seizes by the tail, adding insult to injury by flinging a piece of the carcass into the angry goddess' face. As punishment, he is smitten with a fatal illness to which he succumbs after twelve days. Then begins a long course of wanderings by Gilgamesh who, also afflicted with disease, seeks both healing and immortal life. The quest brings him to the portal guarded by the scorpion-men of terrifying aspect, who allow him to pass unmolested but warn him of the increasing difficulties of the way. Undaunted, our hero gropes along until he comes to a tree covered with precious stones and bearing beautiful fruit. Passing beyond this he reaches the sea where he meets a maiden who tells him that his search for immortality is vain, he might better eat, drink and be merry. When, despite her attempts to discourage him, he expresses his determination to go on, she unbars the portal and he continues his course until he comes to another sea and even to the waters of death, over which no one but Shamash has crossed. Following the directions of the ferryman, although the current is very strong, twelve strokes bring him to his desired haven and he stands face to face with Utnaphistim, the survivor of the flood, who has in addition become immortal. Utnaphistim relates the story of the deluge and then, in pity for the hero, puts him to sleep for six days and seven nights. During this time Utnaphistim's wife concocts a magic food which Gilgamesh eats upon waking and "of a sudden the man was transformed," although his body is covered with sores; these he finally washes away so that he becomes as white as snow. Still Gilgamesh has not found the secret of immortal life. At last the woman tells him where to find the plant called "the restoration of old age to youth," which he plucks, but alas! no sooner is it in his grasp than a devil, in the form of a serpent, snatches it from him. Gilgamesh is grief-stricken at the loss and is obliged to return to Erech without having obtained the object of his quest.
Many explanations of this poem have been offered. Prof. Jastrow believes the name Gilgamesh is not Babylonian -- which lends support to Col. Waddell's conclusions -- and that the first episode, the complaint of the people of Erech, is a reminiscence of the extension of Gilgamesh's domain by the conquest of the city. The creation of Enkidu by the goddess follows the universal tradition: he is the "man of dust," or more precisely, of the Babylonian clay, while the description of his person answers to that of similar half-animal tribes found in various parts of the world even at the present time. Curiously enough, Enkidu's environment differs but little from that of Adam who, in Genesis ii:19-20, is surrounded by the animals and in Chapter iii:17, "cursed is the ground" which he has to till; while Eve finds a partial counterpart in the Ukhat who entices the man from the companionship of the animals and leads him to Erech, the whole episode symbolizing the evolution of man from a savage or "mindless" state to a self-conscious, civilized life. The meeting of Gilgamesh with Enkidu, or his kind, who serves the former in his subsequent undertakings may have an historical basis. A similar tribe was used by Rama in his war with the king of Lanka and by their sacrificial service must have merited the right to enter upon a higher evolutionary round. On the other hand, the fact that Enkidu is the exact counterpart of Gilgamesh(6) with only the addition of hoofs and horns, is an indication that we may read the poem metaphysically. Enkidu may well stand for the human body. He is "a man of Anu," in biblical phraseology "a man of God," for Anu was one of the Babylonian trinity. But the word anu in Sanscrit, which was well known in Babylonia, means an atom, hence the atomic man is a primary or astral form. In the dreams of Gilgamesh that follow, the heavy weight which falls upon him may typify the heavy responsibility assumed by the beings who incarnated in the "mindless" physical forms in the third Round, also the heavy burden which he and every man assumes whenever they enter a new physical body; for it is said that upon the threshold of devachan lie in wait the skandhas (the tendencies, in large part evil) which were engendered in the preceding life or lives, and which go to make up the new astral body of the reincarnating Ego. Therefore, Gilgamesh takes the burden to his mother. The second dream in which he sees some one just like himself is, as his mother explains, Enkidu, the forthcoming personality or body. So Gilgamesh represents the Higher Triad in man. He had built the seven walls that surround Erech, he is described as "the seven-fold hero," two-thirds god and one-third human, while the signs composing his name are said to be a picture of fire under a bowl, or issuing from a torch. What is this but the light of Manas? He is also called the "younger brother," just as the Pandus in the Gita are the younger tribe, because they have appeared last on this plane of matter. As soon as Gilgamesh meets Enkidu there is the inevitable conflict between the higher and the lower self in which the latter is for the time conqueror, but afterwards Enkidu becomes the best of servants, doing with his hands the deeds which Gilgamesh, with the light of mind, points out to be done. Although Enkidu is aware that his strength is not sufficient, as is the leader of the Kurus, by his alliance with Gilgamesh he is able to overcome the foe.
And what is the cedar forest in which dwells the beast Huwawa, but the forest of our own nature?(7) Then there is the curious advice of the elders that Gilgamesh wash his feet in the stream of Huwawa! May we not find an interpretation of this passage in Light on the Path? "Before the soul can stand in the presence of the Masters its feet must be washed in the blood of the heart." For the beast of evil "lives fruitfully in the heart of the devoted disciple as well as in the heart of the man of desire." The episode of Ishtar occurs in the sixth book or sign, and Enkidu's killing of the bull which follows may typify the killing out of the purely animal nature, after which the next portal guarded by the scorpion-men may with safety be passed, although the darkness deepens as our hero proceeds. It will be instructive at this point to turn to another guide-book on this "small old path," The Voice of the Silence, and note how Gilgamesh's experiences tally with it. "The more thou dost advance, the more thy feet pitfalls will meet. The Path that leadeth on is lighted by one fire -- the light of daring burning in the heart. The more one dares, the more he shall obtain. The more he fears, the more that light shall pale -- and that alone can guide." The scorpion-men are at the mountain of Mashu, and Prof. Jastrow says that Mashu was a name applied to the Arabian desert, and that even the bold Assyrian armies hesitated before passing through this region. Hence he thinks this episode may refer to some expedition to Southern Arabia. This may be true; for can we not see that the Path of the disciple is two-fold, manifesting as objective achievement -- the facts of history and biography -- and as subjective metempsychoses, or the desires, motives, choices which constitute the real journey of the soul -- the Path "without moving" as distinguished from the moving path of effects? Because of this parallelism, history and story may be employed as a symbol of soul experiences, following the Hermetic axiom, "As above, so below." As within, so without. Since many meanings may be implied by the successive steps taken by Gilgamesh, we leave the student to think them out for himself.
And now the "Pilgrim" pushes on even to the "waters of death," which no one but the Sun-god had ever crossed, and he crosses over them -- daring antetype of Columbus and Lindbergh! For did not these men pass over tracts of sea and air never traversed before by any but the sun-god in the heavens? Some commentators have suggested that the journey over the waters of death referred to a voyage to Atlantis, not an impossible adventure considering the maritime skill of the Phoenicians. Where these waters were, insofar as we may interpret them as navigable seas, does not really matter. It would appear, however, that Gilgamesh journeyed to some great Sage at a distance, possibly to India. We will recall that the American "witnesses on the scene" made long journeys to some central Lodge and Great Chohan for the ostensible purpose of getting the rejuvenating Elixir of Life. At all events, when Gilgamesh found this "Immortal One," he recognized him as his Master. Arjuna, with Krishna at his side, did not know that he was a Master, but asked him what such a being looked like. When Gilgamesh saw Utnaphistim he was astonished to find that in outward appearance he was no different from himself. So it is said that one may live in the same house with a Master and never recognize him as such. So, too, the Ego, who thinks himself only man, may waken himself to knowledge of his own Divinity.
And now Utnaphistim proceeds to tell Gilgamesh about the flood. That this episode existed independently of its setting in the epic is certain, for it was a universal tradition, and followed an older version in which the survivor's name is Atrakhasis, meaning "The Very Wise One." We also see that the story is the model for the account in Genesis. Utnaphistim says Ea warned him in a dream of the approaching cataclysm and instructed him to build a vessel and to catch fish and birds. After completing the "ark," he loaded it with silver and gold and "all living beings of all kinds" and then brought his family and household and workmen on board. At last--
"The fixed time approached,
When the rulers of darkness at even-time were to
cause a terrible rain-storm.
I recognized the symptoms of [such] a day,
A day, for the appearance of which I was in terror."
The hurricane raged so furiously that even the gods were terrified and crouched like dogs in enclosure. For six days it continued to sweep over the land
"When the seventh day approached, the hurricane
and cyclone ceased the combat,
The sea grew quiet, the evil storm abated, the
cyclone was restrained.
I looked at the day and the roar had quieted down,
And all mankind had turned to clay.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I looked in all directions of the sea.
At a distance of twelve [miles] an island appeared.
At Mount Nizir the ship stood still.
Mount Nizir took hold of the ship so that it could not move.
When the seventh day arrived,
I sent forth a dove, letting it free.
Not finding a resting-place, it came back.
I sent forth a swallow, letting it free.
The swallow went hither and thither.
Not finding a resting-place, it came back.
I sent forth a raven, letting it free.
The raven went and saw the decrease of the water,
It ate, croaked, but did not come back."(8)
Then Utnaphistim made a sacrifice to the gods, who "smelled the sweet odor" and "like flies gathered around the sacrifice." Ea took this occasion to upbraid the leader and warrior of the gods for bringing on this terrible deluge and confesses that he warned Utnaphistim so that the latter might be saved and mankind not completely destroyed. Enlil then blesses the survivors, saying:
"Hitherto Utnaphistim was a man:
Now Utnaphistim and his wife shall be on a level
with the gods.
Utnaphistim shall dwell in the distance, at the
confluence of the streams."
Utnaphistim's tale ended, Gilgamesh is put into a trance-sleep, is "transformed," healed of his sores, and told where to find the elixir of life, a plant, which he plucks. Just as he is about to achieve immortality, the narrative continues, he waits to bathe in a cool cistern. A serpent snatches the precious plant from him. After this, Gilgamesh returns to Erech, where he evokes the shade of Enkidu and asks for information about the life after death, but the ghost says he can give no knowledge to Gilgamesh.
Such is the apparently inglorious ending to this ancient Epic -- tragedy of failure where one would anticipate a glorious climax. What may be its meaning? Considering the view of Col. Waddell that Gilgamesh may be identified with the Grecian Hercules one would conclude that, like that hero, Gilgamesh should have been admitted to the circle of the gods. Other scholars reach a more abstract opinion and think that the fate of Gilgamesh is intended to teach that the search for immortality is useless, that death does, indeed, "end all," even for the most heroic man.
But Theosophists who have studied "The Secret Doctrine" and "The Voice of the Silence" and gained some insight into the symbolisms in which are recorded the various Paths pursued in the course of Evolution, Spiritual and Psychic as well as physical, may read other meanings into or out of this old Epic. It is true that "great ones fall back, even from the threshold, unable to sustain the weight of their responsibility, unable to pass on;" and so, "when the victory is all but won, it is lost" -- as recited in Light on the Path. But the whole course of Gilgamesh, as narrated in the Poem, is against this supposition, let alone the false psychology of leading the hero of a great religious Epic, which we must assume to have excited the reverence of a whole people for long ages, to final failure after having triumphed over every obstacle. Nor does the narrative lend itself to the supposition that Gilgamesh personifies or typifies a practitioner of or devotee to Atlantean Black magic.
Rather, one would think, Gilgamesh, having reached to the mystic plant, the "Shangna robe," or plant of the Voice of the Silence, pauses indeed, to bathe in the "cool cistern" in which, if he will, he can gain "oblivion of the World and men for ever" by choosing the Path of "Liberation" rather than that of "Renunciation." But -- who knows? -- the Serpent in the Epic may have said to Gilgamesh:
"The choice is thine....But stay, Disciple....
Yet one word. Canst thou destroy divine COMPASSION?"
And Gilgamesh may have replied, as in the "Voice:" "OM! I believe that the Nirvana-Dharma is entered not by all the Buddhas," and so have chosen the "Secret Path" of the Nirmanakaya, to live and work in the Ethereal world where, as in the physical, he would find his shadow, "Enkidu."
" The Logos-Wisdom is the principle of all Divine and Esoteric Revelations. She has the characteristics of being the indwelling revealer of God. She IS the active principle and the transmitter of all Divine knowledge as well the cosmological cause of all creation. "
" The Ladies of My Spiritual Bridal Chamber Awakening. "click here.
Think for yourself and do not quickly accept ideas. Test all things; hold fast what is good. (1 Thes. 5:21)
If you have enemies, each has a Soul, as you do.
" Love your enemies "
" By their fruits you will recognize them" (Matt.7:15-16) "
" Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own. " --Robert A. Heinlein
" I neither know nor think that I know. " --Socrates
This translate, the deep links selector, works only from the English language. First click on the translate, select, then click on Deep links button.