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The Key to Theosophy

 

H.P. Blavatsky

 

Section 11

ON THE MYSTERIES OF RE-INCARNATION

(2 of 2)

 

WHO ARE THOSE WHO KNOW?

ENQUIRER. Does this hold equally of ourselves as of others?

THEOSOPHIST. Equally. As just said, the same limited vision exists for all, save those who have reached in the present incarnation the acme of spiritual vision and clairvoyance. We can only perceive that, if things with us ought to have been different, they would have been different; that we are what we have made ourselves, and have only what we have earned for ourselves.

ENQUIRER. I am afraid such a conception would only embitter us.

THEOSOPHIST. I believe it is precisely the reverse. It is disbelief in the just law of retribution that is more likely to awaken every combative feeling in man. A child, as much as a man, resents a punishment, or even a reproof he believes to be unmerited, far more than he does a severer punishment, if he feels that it is merited. Belief in Karma is the highest reason for reconcilement to ones lot in this life, and the very strongest incentive towards effort to better the succeeding re-birth. Both of these, indeed, would be destroyed if we supposed that our lot was the result of anything but strict Law, or that destiny was in any other hands than our own.

ENQUIRER. You have just asserted that this system of Re-incarnation under Karmic law commended itself to reason, justice, and the moral sense. But, if so, is it not at some sacrifice of the gentler qualities of sympathy and pity, and thus a hardening of the finer instincts of human nature?

THEOSOPHIST. Only apparently, not really. No man can receive more or less than his deserts without a corresponding injustice or partiality to others; and a law which could be averted through compassion would bring about more misery than it saved, more irritation and curses than thanks. Remember also, that we do not administer the law, if we do create causes for its effects; it administers itself; and again, that the most copious provision for the manifestation of provision for the manifestation of just compassion and mercy is shown in the state of Devachan.

ENQUIRER. You speak of Adepts as being an exception to the rule of our general ignorance. Do they really know more than we do of Re-incarnation and after states?

THEOSOPHIST. They do, indeed. By the training of faculties we all possess, but which they alone have developed to perfection, they have entered in spirit these various planes and states we have been discussing. For long ages, one generation of Adepts after another has studied the mysteries of being, of life, death, and re-birth, and all have taught in their turn some of the facts so learned.

ENQUIRER. And is the production of Adepts the aim of Theosophy?

THEOSOPHIST. Theosophy considers humanity as an emanation from divinity on its return path thereto. At an advanced point upon the path, Adeptship is reached by those who have devoted several incarnations to its achievement. For, remember well, no man has ever reached Adeptship in the Secret Sciences in one life; but many incarnations are necessary for it after the formation of a conscious purpose and the beginning of the needful training. Many may be the men and women in the very midst of our Society who have begun this uphill work toward illumination several incarnations ago, and who yet, owing to the personal illusions of the present life, are either ignorant of the fact, or on the road to losing every chance in this existence of progressing any farther. They feel an irresistible attraction toward occultism and the Higher Life, and yet are too personal and self-opinionated, too much in love with the deceptive allurements of mundane life and the worlds ephemeral pleasures, to give them up; and so lose their chance in their present birth. But, for ordinary men, for the practical duties of daily life, such a far-off result is inappropriate as an aim and quite ineffective as a motive.

ENQUIRER. What, then, may be their object or distinct purpose in joining the Theosophical Society?

THEOSOPHIST. Many are interested in our doctrines and feel instinctively that they are truer than those of any dogmatic religion. Others have formed a fixed resolve to attain the highest ideal of mans duty.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FAITH AND KNOWLEDGE; OR, BLIND AND REASONED FAITH

ENQUIRER. You say that they accept and believe in the doctrines of Theosophy. But, as they do not belong to those Adepts you have just mentioned, then they must accept your teachings on blind faith. In what does this differ from that of conventional religions?

THEOSOPHIST. As it differs on almost all the other points, so it differs on this one. What you call faith, and that which is blind faith, in reality, and with regard to the dogmas of the Christian religions, becomes with us knowledge, the logical sequence of things we know, about facts in nature. Your Doctrines are based upon interpretation, therefore, upon the second-hand testimony of Seers; ours upon the invariable and unvarying testimony of Seers. The ordinary Christian theology, for instance, holds that man is a creature of God, of three component partsbody, soul, and spiritall essential to his integrity, and all, either in the gross form of physical earthly existence or in the etherealized form of post-resurrection experience, needed to so constitute him for ever, each man having thus a permanent existence separate from other men, and from the Divine. Theosophy, on the other hand, holds that man, being an emanation from the Unknown, yet ever present and infinite Divine Essence, his body and everything else is impermanent, hence an illusion; Spirit alone in him being the one enduring substance, and even that losing its separated individuality at the moment of its complete re-union with the Universal Spirit.

ENQUIRER. If we lose even our individuality, then it becomes simply annihilation.

THEOSOPHIST. I say it does not, since I speak of separate, not of universal individuality. The latter becomes as a part transformed into the whole; the dewdrop is not evaporated, but becomes the sea. Is physical man annihilated, when from a foetus he becomes an old man? What kind of Satanic pride must be ours if we place our infinitesimally small consciousness and individuality higher than the universal and infinite consciousness!

ENQUIRER. It follows, then, that there is, de facto, no man, but all is Spirit?

THEOSOPHIST. You are mistaken. It thus follows that the union of Spirit with matter is but temporary; or, to put it more clearly, since Spirit and matter are one, being the two opposite poles of the universal manifested substancethat Spirit loses its right to the name so long as the smallest particle and atom of its manifesting substance still clings to any form, the result of differentiation. To believe otherwise is blind faith.

ENQUIRER. Thus it is on knowledge, not on faith, that you assert that the permanent principle, the Spirit, simply makes a transit through matter?

THEOSOPHIST. I would put it otherwise and saywe assert that the appearance of the permanent and one principle, Spirit, as matter is transient, and, therefore, no better than an illusion.

ENQUIRER. Very well; and this, given out on knowledge not faith?

THEOSOPHIST. Just so. But as I see very well what you are driving at, I may just as well tell you that we hold faith, such as you advocate, to be a mental disease, and real faith, i.e., the pistis of the Greeks, as belief based on knowledge, whether supplied by the evidence of physical or spiritual senses.

ENQUIRER. What do you mean?

THEOSOPHIST. I mean, if it is the difference between the two that you want to know, then I can tell you that between faith on authority and faith on ones spiritual intuition, there is a very great difference.

ENQUIRER. What is it?

THEOSOPHIST. One is human credulity and superstition, the other human belief and intuition. As Professor Alexander Wilder says in his Introduction to the Eleusinian Mysteries, It is ignorance which leads to profanation. Men ridicule what they do not properly understand The undercurrent of this world is set towards one goal; and inside of human credulity is a power almost infinite, a holy faith capable of apprehending the supremest truths of all existence. Those who limit that credulity to human authoritative dogmas alone, will never fathom that power nor even perceive it in their natures. It is stuck fast to the external plane and is unable to bring forth into play the essence that rules it; for to do this they have to claim their right of private judgment, and this they never dare to do.

ENQUIRER. And is it that intuition which forces you to reject God as a personal Father, Ruler and Governor of the Universe?

THEOSOPHIST. Precisely. We believe in an ever unknowable Principle, because blind aberration alone can make one maintain that the Universe, thinking man, and all the marvels contained even in the world of matter, could have grown without some intelligent powers to bring about the extraordinarily wise arrangement of all its parts. Nature may err, and often does, in its details and the external manifestations of its materials, never in its inner causes and results. Ancient pagans held on this question far more philosophical views than modern philosophers, whether Agnostics, Materialists or Christians; and no pagan writer has ever yet advanced the proposition that cruelty and mercy are not finite feelings, and can therefore be made the attributes of an infinite god. Their gods, therefore, were all finite. The Siamese author of the Wheel of the Law, expresses the same idea about your personal god as we do; he says (p. 25)

A Buddhist might believe in the existence of a god, sublime above all human qualities and attributesa perfect god, above love, and hatred, and jealousy, calmly resting in a quietude that nothing could disturb, and of such a god he would speak no disparagement, not from a desire to please him or fear to offend him, but from natural veneration; but he cannot understand a god with the attributes and qualities of men, a god who loves and hates, and shows anger; a Deity who, whether described as by Christian Missionaries or by Mahometans or Brahmins,* or Jews, falls below his standard of even an ordinary good man.

ENQUIRER. Faith for faith, is not the faith of the Christian who believes, in his human helplessness and humility, that there is a merciful Father in Heaven who will protect him from temptation, help him in life, and forgive him his transgressions, better than the cold and proud, almost fatalistic faith of the Buddhists, Vedantins, and Theosophists?

THEOSOPHIST. Persist in calling our belief faith if you will. But once we are again on this ever-recurring question, I ask in my turn: faith for faith, is not the one based on strict logic and reason better than the one which is based simply on human authority orhero-worship? Our faith has all the logical force of the arithmetical truism that 2 and 2 will produce 4. Your faith is like the logic of some emotional women, of whom Tourgenyeff said that for them 2 and 2 were generally 5, and a tallow candle into the bargain. Yours is a faith, moreover, which clashes not only with every conceivable view of justice and logic, but which, if analysed, leads man to his moral perdition, checks the progress of mankind, and positively making of might, righttransforms every second man into a Cain to his brother Abel.

ENQUIRER. What do you allude to?

HAS GOD THE RIGHT TO FORGIVE?

THEOSOPHIST. To the Doctrine of Atonement; I allude to that dangerous dogma in which you believe, and which teaches us that no matter how enormous our crimes against the laws of God and of man, we have but to believe in the self-sacrifice of Jesus for the salvation of mankind, and his blood will wash out every stain. It is twenty years that I preach against it, and I may now draw your attention to a paragraph from Isis Unveiled, written in 1875. This is what Christianity teaches, and what we combat:

Gods mercy is boundless and unfathomable. It is impossible to conceive of a human sin so damnable that the price paid in advance for the redemption of the sinner would not wipe it out if a thousandfold worse. And furthermore, it is never too late to repent. Though the offender wait until the last minute of the last hour of the last day of his mortal life, before his blanched lips utter the confession of faith, he may go to Paradise; the dying thief did it, and so may all others as vile. These are the assumptions of the Church, and of the Clergy; assumptions banged at the heads of your countrymen by Englands favourite preachers, right in the light of the XIXth century, this most paradoxical age of all. Now to what does it lead?

ENQUIRER. Does it not make the Christian happier than the Buddhist or Brahmin?

THEOSOPHIST. No; not the educated man, at any rate, since the majority of these have long since virtually lost all belief in this cruel dogma. But it leads those who still believe in it more easily to the threshold of every conceivable crime, than any other I know of. Let me quote to you from Isis once more (vide Vol. II. pp. 542 and 543)

If we step outside the little circle of creed and consider the universe as a whole balanced by the exquisite adjustment of parts, how all sound logic, how the faintest glimmering sense of justice, revolts against this Vicarious Atonement! If the criminal sinned only against himself, and wronged no one but himself; if by sincere repentance he could cause the obliteration of past events, not only from the memory of man, but also from that imperishable record, which no deitynot even the Supremest of the Supremecan cause to disappear, then this dogma might not be incomprehensible. But to maintain that one may wrong his fellow-man, kill, disturb the equilibrium of society and the natural order of things, and thenthrough cowardice, hope, or compulsion, it matters notbe forgiven by believing that the spilling of one blood washes out the other blood spiltthis is preposterous! Can the results of a crime be obliterated even though the crime itself should be pardoned? The effects of a cause are never limited to the boundaries of the cause, nor can the results of crime be confined to the offender and his victim. Every good as well as evil action has its effects, as palpably as the stone flung into calm water. The simile is trite, but it is the best ever conceived, so let us use it. The eddying circles are greater and swifter as the disturbing object is greater or smaller, but the smallest pebble, nay, the tiniest speck, makes its ripples. And this disturbance is not alone visible and on the surface. Below, unseen, in every directionoutward and downwarddrop pushes drop until the sides and bottom are touched by the force. More, the air above the water is agitated, and this disturbance passes, as the physicists tell us, from stratum to stratum out into space forever and ever; an impulse has been given to matter, and that is never lost, can never be recalled!

So with crime, and so with its opposite. The action may be instantaneous, the effects are eternal. When, after the stone is once flung into the pond, we can recall it to the hand, roll back the ripples, obliterate the force expended, restore the etheric waves to their previous state of non-being, and wipe out every trace of the act of throwing the missile, so that Times record shall not show that it ever happened, then, then we may patiently hear Christians argue for the efficacy of this Atonement,

andcease to believe in Karmic Law. As it now stands, we call upon the whole world to decide, which of our two doctrines is the most appreciative of deific justice, and which is more reasonable, even on simple human evidence and logic.

ENQUIRER. Yet millions believe in the Christian dogma and are happy.

THEOSOPHIST. Pure sentimentalism overpowering their thinking faculties, which no true philanthropist or Altruist will ever accept. It is not even a dream of selfishness, but a nightmare of the human intellect. Look where it leads to, and tell me the name of that pagan country where crimes are more easily committed or more numerous than in Christian lands. Look at the long and ghastly annual records of crimes committed in European countries; and behold Protestant and Biblical America. There, conversions effected in prisons are more numerous than those made by public revivals and preaching. See how the ledger-balance of Christian justice (!) stands: Red-handed murderers, urged on by the demons of lust, revenge, cupidity, fanaticism, or mere brutal thirst for blood, who kill their victims, in most cases, without giving them time to repent or call on Jesus. These, perhaps, died sinful, and, of courseconsistently with theological logicmet the reward of their greater or lesser offences. But the murderer, overtaken by human justice, is imprisoned, wept over by sentimentalists, prayed with and at, pronounces the charmed words of conversion, and goes to the scaffold a redeemed child of Jesus! Except for the murder, he would not have been prayed with, redeemed, pardoned. Clearly this man did well to murder, for thus he gained eternal happiness! And how about the victim, and his, or her family, relatives, dependents, social relations; has justice no recompense for them? Must they suffer in this world and the next, while he who wronged them sits beside the holy thief of Calvary, and is for ever blessed? On this question the clergy keep a prudent silence. (Isis Unveiled.) And now you know why Theosophistswhose fundamental belief and hope is justice for all, in Heaven as on earth, and in Karmareject this dogma.

ENQUIRER. The ultimate destiny of man, then, is not a Heaven presided over by God, but the gradual transformation of matter into its primordial element, Spirit?

THEOSOPHIST. It is to that final goal to which all tends in nature.

ENQUIRER. Do not some of you regard this association or fall of spirit into matter as evil, and re-birth as a sorrow?

THEOSOPHIST. Some do, and therefore strive to shorten their period of probation on earth. It is not an unmixed evil, however, since it ensures the experience upon which we mount to knowledge and wisdom. I mean that experience which teaches that the needs of our spiritual nature can never be met by other than spiritual happiness. As long as we are in the body, we are subjected to pain, suffering and all the disappointing incidents occurring during life. Therefore, and to palliate this, we finally acquire knowledge which alone can afford us relief and hope of a better future.

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* Sectarian Brahmins are here meant. The Parabrahm of the Vedantins is the Deity we accept and believe in.

 

 

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