Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

stoppage of these immutable laws. Do not be angry, but understand me. I believe in the miracles, the so-called miracles of both Christ and the Apostles, but I do not believe that the Supreme Power in Its own person, brought natural laws to a stoppage for their sake. These laws I do not understand in the sense of our foolish learned folk; for they have not yet dreamed of a tenth part of them, and it is not of natural, physical law I am speaking, but of spiritual laws which become manifest in all their power only when man, having become like unto bodiless spirits, has reached, like some miracle-workers, the divine point of his individuality. It is because of this that their own spirit, rid of every trace of the flesh and the devil, acquires the faculty apparently to work miracles. Can't you see that the basis for the springing up of all kinds of heresies consisted exactly in the fact of the Fathers of the Church having anathematised the ancient philosophical conception of the triple individuality of man, and the emanation of the Spirit of man from the essence of Divinity itself. This triple individuality was upheld and believed in by Origen, for which he was exiled, and even Irenæus, in 178 A. D. Perchance it may be said that Origen was once upon a time a Neo-platonist, but Irenæus hated this school, and for him the philosophers and Eclectics of Alexandria were even worse than the Gnostics themselves, whom he so persistently fought. Yet what does he say? -"Carne, anima, spiritu, alteri quidam figurant, spiritu altero quod formatur, carne. Id vero quod inter hæc est duo est anima, quæ aliquando subsequens spiritum elevatur ab eo, aliquando autem consentiens carni in terrenos concupiscentias” (Irenæus V. I.). In other words, the altogether perfect man consists of body, soul and immortal spirit; the Soul stands as intermediary between them; 'Soul' in the Old Testament is Nephesh, which word, without either choice or sense is translated indifferently, 'Soul, life, blood' and various other terms; and when this soul, by the power of its own highest aspirations, holds more to its Supreme Spirit, well and good; but when it is more in sympathy with the flesh, the latter absorbs it in itself, and will ultimately bring it to perdition. Per se, the soul is not immortal. The soul outlives the man's body only for as long as is necessary for it to get rid of everything earthly and fleshly; then, as it is gradually purified, its essence comes into progressively closer union with the Spirit, which alone is immortal. The tie between them becomes more and more indissoluble. When the last atom of the earthly is evaporated, then this duality becomes a unity, and the Ego of the former man becomes forever immortal. But if whilst still in the flesh, the man has failed to prepare himself to part with joy from his perishable body, if the man has lived only his earthly life, and the fleshly thoughts have strangled all trace of spiritual life in him, he will not be born again; he will not see God (John iii, 3). Like a still-born child, he will leave the womb of earthly life, his mother, and after the death of his flesh he will be born not into a better world, but into the region of eternal death, because his Soul has ruined itself for ever, having destroyed its connection with the Spirit. The flesh has triumphed, and the soul is carried downward, not upward.

And so not all of us human beings are immortal. As Jesus expresses it, we must take the Kingdom of Heaven by violence. Alas, my dear Madam, there are not many of the great parables of Christ which have been understood. Read in Matt. xiii, the parable of the seed, some of which fell by the wayside and the birds devoured them, and some brought forth a hundredfold, because their roots struck deep into their own spirit. As to the grains that were lost forever, they are human souls. Have you never met people who have long ago parted with their soulspeople who have nothing left but their animal souls, and of whose spirit there is no more trace? I have met such. When their bodies die, these people will die forever. No resurrection for them, no future life, and not the strongest mediums could call them back anymore, because they are nowhere to be found any more. Origen says the same thing. Consequently we are all trinities. Plato, Pythagoras and Plutarch all taught this; but so far these philosophers have been so little understood, that all their terminology is dreadfully mixed up. Both nous (immortal spirit), and psyche (soul), have been rendered by the same word, "soul;" in the Acts of the Apostles you will find the same thing. St. Paul clearly speaks of two principles; the soul and the spirit, but the translators have distorted everything. Look up the epistle of James, Our Lord's brother (Ch. iii. 15).

I do not know how it is translated in Russian, but in the Greek text you will find that James points out directly the kind of thing our soul is, by the following words: this wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, psychical, devilish. The human spirit (man's spiritual individuality) lights up the earthly man, the Adam of the second chapter of Genesis, from above, touching more or less his head only, and the soul (Nephesh) has its seat in the blood and bones, throughout the body The soul is the spiritual man, merely in the physiological sense. When the soul is imprisoned in a sinning body, it is as if in jail, and in order to get rid of its chains, it has progressively to aspire upward toward its spirit. The soul is a chameleon. It becomes a copy either of the spirit or of the body. In the first case, it acquires the faculty of separating itself from the body with ease, and of setting forth, traveling all over the wide world, having left in the body a provision of vital forces, or animal, instinctive mental movements.

For it, there are no obstacles of either distance or matter. In the measure of its union with the spirit it becomes more or less clairvoyant. It may even become all-seeing and omniscient for a few earthly moments,

[ocr errors]

or even hours. This is the secret of somnambulism and certain kinds of mediumism. But in the second case it is merely an animal soul. In it there is no clairvoyance, not even any glimpse of prescience; yet mediumism is by no means an indication of a man's holiness. It is merely a physiological phenomenon. Usually, the better the medium, the more delicate he is; yet it is not disease that comes as a result of mediumism, but the latter as the result of bodily weakness, of shattered nerves. The walls of the prison being down, the soul will find it easier to tear itself away and go forth into free space. A man may be a blackguard, like H-, and be the greatest of mediums; but in this case his soul will be obsessed by other souls, more or less sinful, in accord with the quality of his own; as is the pastor, so is the parish. But there are thousands of shades of mediumism, and they cannot all be enumerated in a letter. All the ancient philosophers knew this, and shunned mediumism to such an extent that it was strictly forbidden to admit mediums to the Eleusinian and other Mysteries: those who had a "familiar spirit.” Socrates was higher and purer than Plato; yet the latter was initiated into the Mysteries, while Socrates was rejected, and in the course of time he was even doomed to die, because, though not initiated into the Mysteries, he revealed a part of them to the world through the agency of his daimonion, of which he himself was not consciously aware.

The Egyptians also divided man in the same way, and gave the name of Nut to the one Spirit of God. It would seem that Anaxagoras was the first to borrow this name from them, and gave to the omnipotent spirit (Archê tês Kenéseôs) the name of Nous, or as he puts it, Nous Autokrates: “At the beginning of Creation,” he says, “everything was in chaos; then appeared Nous and introduced order into this chaos." In his idea, Nous was the Spirit of God. The Logos was man, an emanation of Nous. The exterior senses could cognize phenomena, but Nous alone was capable of a mental contemplation of noumena, or subjective objects.

But you are probably tired of all this. I do not know how to write Russian, and cannot express everything I should like to, but, dear soul, please do not imagine that I have become even worse than I used to be in regard to religious matters. Now there is more religion in me than ever before. Master is teaching me, and I am irresistibly drawn to study, to know, to learn.

.

I'

T will be best to treat my theme historically; and I may be pardoned,

perhaps, if I speak of my own observation of the Theosophical Movement, as it has been the most important thing in my life for the last two and twenty years.

When I first came to know of the movement, much had already been accomplished since the foundation of the Theosophical Society at New York in 1875. While Mme. Blavatsky was still in America, her first great work, Isis Unveiled, appeared, and even as early as 1878, the Theosophical Society, of which she was the tireless Corresponding Secretary, had carried its organization and work to England, India, Australia and other lands. Colonel Olcott's lectures on Theosophy, Religion and Occult Science had also been published, with their very interesting views of psychic force, and the comparative study of religions. Certain other books had also been written, of which more in a moment.

For some little time before we came in touch with the Theosophical Movement, some of us had been unconsciously preparing the way for it by other studies. We had gone pretty deeply into astronomy, geology, physics and natural history, paying special heed to the doctrine of Darwin and the large laws of Evolution, which play so great a part in the life and growth of the world. We had also applied ourselves to the study of Christianity, trying to get a firm grasp of the teachings of Jesus, in theory and practice alike, and also gaining some knowledge of the modern criticism of religious documents. Our natural and spiritual studies were in complete harmony. In Henry Drummond's phrase, we were able to recognize "natural law in the spiritual world."

Thus prepared, we came across Mr. Sinnett's book, The Occult World. This was toward the close of 1884. For my own part, when I first read this admirable little book, the occult phenomena there described seemed to me wholly credible, and I found no difficulty at all in believing that powers commonly called miraculous should be possessed by men who had come to their full spiritual heritage. But far greater than the occult phenomena were the personalities that shone through the narrative: the clear outlines of those great men whom we call Masters, revealed in their letters and acts throughout the book. The full significance of the subject came home to me just before Easter, 1885, when I read Mr. Sinnett's Esoteric Buddhism. After that reading, Theosophy was no longer an open question. The entire reasonableness of the account there given of the life and growth of the soul, interwoven with the

* An address delivered at the Convention of the T. S. A., April, 1907.

[blocks in formation]

Theosophical

Voke 5

hont
lebig

long history of the world, came home with convincing force, and has remained with me ever since.

Meanwhile clouds had been gathering. During 1884, the recently founded "Society for Psychical Research” had become deeply interested in the phenomena described in The Occult World and in Mme. Blavatsky's magazine, The Theosophist, and had appointed a Committee to investigate these phenomena. A very favorable preliminary report had been issued, which shows that the members of

members of the Committee saturated themselves with the ideas of the Theosophical Movement. It was decided to supplement this preliminary work by further investigation in India, and a young student of psychic phenomena, Mr. Richard Hodgson, was asked to go to India, to carry this out.

During this period, events had been happening at Adyar, near Madras, the headquarters of the Theosophical Society. While Mme. Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott were absent in Europe, two members of the Society, M. and Mme. Coulomb, who had for years been sheltered at the headquarters at Bombay and Madras, were asked to withdraw. There were charges of misappropriation of funds, evil speaking and trickery, which made it inexpedient for them to remain at the central office of the Society in a position of trust. These two persons presently retaliated by making an attack on Mme. Blavatsky, to which publicity was given by a Madras missionary organ, and in which it was asserted that the phenomena described in The Occult World and elsewhere were tricks, and that many of them had been produced by these two members, who now repented of their misdeeds. Letters were published by them, which they said had been written by Mme. Blavatsky, and which gave color to the charge of fraud; but the originals of these letters were never available for impartial examination, and the alleged copies were full of mistakes, vulgarity and puerility, and bore little resemblance to the genuine letters of the great Theosophical writer. Mr. Richard Hodgson arrived in India shortly after this attack was made. He found something congenial in the thought and methods of these two retired members who accused themselves of fraud, and he practically adopted their views and pretensions as to the whole of the phenomena he had been sent to investigate. He spent a short time in India, and returned to England early in 1885. Toward the end of June, 1885, he read a part of his Report on the phenomena before a meeting of the "Society for Psychical Research.”

That meeting made an epoch in the attitude of public opinion toward the Theosophical Movement. Never sympathetic, public opinion thereafter became frankly hostile and incredulous. Mme. Blavatsky was treated as an imposter, and her friends as fools. The public accepted Mr. Hodgson's view without question or examination. And public opinion

« AnteriorContinuar »