Continually soaked with blood, the whole earth is but an immense altar upon which all that lives has to be immolated - endlessly, incessantly. . . .
- COMTE JOSEPH DE MAISTRE (Soirées. ii, 35)
Many are the "antiquated religious superstitions" of the East which Western nations often and unwisely deride: but none is so laughed at and practically set at defiance as the great respect of Oriental people for animal life. Flesh-eaters cannot sympathize with total abstainers from meat. We Europeans are nations of civilized barbarians with but a few millenniums between ourselves and our cave-dwelling forefathers who sucked the blood and marrow from uncooked bones. Thus, it is only natural that those who hold human life so cheaply in their frequent and often iniquitous wars, should entirely disregard the death-agonies of the brute creation, and daily sacrifice millions of innocent, harmless lives; for we are too epicurean to devour tiger steaks or crocodile cutlets, but must have tender lambs and golden feathered pheasants. All this is only as it should be in our era of Krupp cannons and scientific vivisectors. Nor is it a matter of great wonder that the hardy European should laugh at the mild Hindu, who shudders at the bare thought of killing a cow, or that he should refuse to sympathize with the Buddhist and Jain, in their respect for the life of every sentient creature - from the elephant to the gnat.
But, if meat-eating has indeed become a vital necessity - "the tyrant's plea!" - among Western nations; if hosts of victims in every city, borough and village of the civilized world must needs be daily slaughtered in temples dedicated to the deity, denounced by St. Paul and worshipped by men "whose God is their belly": - if all this and much more cannot be avoided in our "age of Iron," who can urge the same excuse for sport? Fishing, shooting, and hunting, the most fascinating of all the "amusements" of civilized life - are certainly the most objectionable from the standpoint of occult philosophy, the most sinful in the eyes of the followers of these religious systems which are the direct outcome of the Esoteric Doctrine - Hinduism and Buddhism. Is it altogether without any good reason that the adherents of these two religions, now the oldest in the world, regard the animal world - from the huge quadruped down to the infinitesimally small insect - as their "younger brothers," however ludicrous the idea to a European? This question shall receive due consideration further on.
Nevertheless, exaggerated as the notion may seem, it is certain that few of us are able to picture to ourselves without shuddering the scenes which take place early every morning in the innumerable shambles of the so-called civilized world, or even those daily enacted during the "shooting season." The first sun-beam has not yet awakened slumbering nature, when from all points of the compass myriads of hecatombs are being prepared - to salute the rising luminary. Never was heathen Moloch gladdened by such a cry of agony from his victims as the pitiful wail that in all Christian countries rings like a long hymn of suffering throughout nature, all day and every day from morning until evening. In ancient Sparta - than whose stern citizens none were ever less sensitive to the delicate feelings of the human heart - a boy, when convicted of torturing an animal for amusement, was put to death as one whose nature was so thoroughly villainous that he could not be permitted to live. But in civilized Europe rapidly progressing in all things save Christian virtues - might remains unto this day the synonym of right. The entirely useless, cruel practice of shooting for mere sport countless hosts of birds and animals is nowhere carried on with more fervour than in Protestant England, where the merciful teachings of Christ have hardly made human hearts softer than they were in the days of Nimrod, "the mighty hunter before the Lord." Christian ethics are as conveniently turned into paradoxical syllogisms as those of the "heathen." The writer was told one day by a sportsman that since "not a sparrow falls on the ground without the will of the Father," he who kills for sport - say, one hundred sparrows does thereby one hundred times over - his Father's will!
A wretched lot is that of poor brute creatures, hardened as it is into implacable fatality by the hand of man. The rational soul of the human being seems born to become the murderer of the irrational soul of the animal - in the full sense of the word, since the Christian doctrine teaches that the soul of the animal dies with its body. Might not the legend of Cain and Abel have had a dual signification? Look at that other disgrace of our cultured age - the scientific slaughter-houses called "vivisection rooms." Enter one of those halls in Paris, and behold Paul Bert, or some other of these men - so justly called "the learned butchers of the Institute" - at his ghastly work. I have but to translate the forcible description of an eye-witness, one who has thoroughly studied the modus operandi of those "executioners," a well known French author:
"Vivisection" - he says - "is a specialty in which torture, scientifically economised by our butcher-academicians, is applied during whole days, weeks, and even months to the fibres and muscles of one and the same victim. It (torture) makes use of every and any kind of weapon, performs its analysis before a pitiless audience, divides the task every morning between ten apprentices at once, of whom one works on the eye, another one on the leg, the third on the brain, a fourth on the marrow; and whose inexperienced hands succeed, nevertheless, towards night after a hard day's work, in laying bare the whole of the living carcass they had been ordered to chisel out, and that in the evening, is carefully stored away in the cellar, in order that early next morning it may be worked upon again if only there is a breath of life and sensibility left in the victim! We know that the trustees of the Grammont law (loi) have tried to rebel against this abomination; but Pans showed herself more inexorable than London and Glasgow."l
And yet these gentlemen boast of the grand object pursued, and of the grand secrets discovered by them. "Horror and lies!" - exclaims the same author. "In the matter of secrets - a few localizations of faculties and cerebral motions excepted - we know but of one secret that belongs to them by rights: it is the secret of torture eternalized, beside which the terrible natural law of autophagy (mutual manducation), the horrors of war, the merry massacres of sport, and the sufferings of the animal under the butcher's knife - are as nothing! Glory to our men of science! They have surpassed every former kind of torture, and remain now and for ever, without any possible contestation, the kings of artificial anguish and despair!"2
The usual plea for butchering, killing, and even for legally torturing animals - as in vivisection - is a verse or two in the Bible, and its ill-digested meaning, disfigured by the so-called scholasticism represented by Thomas Aquinas. Even De Mirville, that ardent defender of the rights of the church, calls such texts - "Biblical tolerances, forced from God after the deluge, as so many others, and based upon the decadence of our strength." However this may be, such texts are amply contradicted by others in the same Bible. The meat-eater, the sportsman and even the vivisector - if there are among the last named those who believe in special creation and the Bible - generally quote for their justification that verse in Genesis, in which God gives dual Adam - "dominion over the fish, fowl, cattle, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth" - (Ch. I., v. 28); hence - as the Christian understands it - power of life and death over every animal on the globe. To this the far more philosophical Brahman and Buddhist might answer; "Not so. Evolution starts to mould future humanities within the lowest scales of being. Therefore, by killing an animal, or even an insect, we arrest the progress of an entity towards its final goal in nature - MAN"; and to this the student of occult philosophy may say "Amen," and add that it not only retards the evolution of that entity, but arrests that of the next succeeding human and more perfect race to come.
Which of the opponents is right, which of them the more logical? The answer depends mainly, of course, on the personal belief of the intermediary chosen to decide the questions. If he believes in special creation - so-called - then in answer to the plain question - "Why should homicide be viewed as a most ghastly sin against God and nature, and the murder of millions of living creatures be regarded as mere sport?" - he will reply: - "Because man is created in God's own image and looks upward to his Creator and to his birth-place - heaven (os homini sublime dedit); and that the gaze of the animal is fixed downward on its birth-place - the earth; for God said - 'Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind'." (Genesis I, 24.) Again, "because man is endowed with an immortal soul, and the dumb brute has no immortality, not even a short survival after death."
Now to this an unsophisticated reasoner might reply that if the Bible is to be our authority upon this delicate question, there is not the slightest proof in it that man's birth-place is in heaven anymore than that of the last of creeping things - quite the contrary; for we find in Genesis that if God created "man" and blessed "them," (Ch. I, v. 27-28) so he created "great whales" and "blessed them" (2I, 22). Moreover, "the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground" (II, v. 7): and "dust" is surely earth pulverized? Solomon, the king and preacher, is most decidedly an authority and admitted on all hands to have been the wisest of the Biblical sages; and he gives utterances to a series of truths in Ecclesiastes (Ch. III) which ought to have settled by this time every dispute upon the subject. "The sons of men . . . might see that they themselves are beasts" (v. 18) . . . "that which befalleth the sons of men, befalleth the beasts . . . a man has no pre-eminence above a beast," - (v. 19) "all go into one place; all are of the dust and turn to dust again, (v. 20) . . . "who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upwards, and the spirit of the beast, that goeth downward to the earth? (v. 21.) Indeed, "who knoweth!" At any rate it is neither science nor "school divine."
Were the object of these lines to preach vegetarianism on the authority of Bible or Veda, it would be a very easy task to do so. For, if it is quite true that God gave dual Adam - the "male and female" of Chapter I of Genesis - who has little to do with our henpecked ancestor of Chapter II - "dominion over every living thing," yet we nowhere find that the "Lord God" commanded that Adam or the other to devour animal creation or destroy it for sport. Quite the reverse. For pointing to the vegetable kingdom and the "fruit of a tree yielding seed" - God says very plainly: "to you (men) it shall be for meat." (I, 29.)
So keen was the perception of this truth among the early Christians that during the first centuries they never touched meat. In Octavio Tertullian writes to Minutius Felix: "we are not permitted either to witness, or even hear narrated (novere) a homicide, we Christians, who refuse to taste dishes in which animal blood may have been mixed."
But the writer does not preach vegetarianism, simply defending "animal rights" and attempting to show the fallacy of disregarding such rights on Biblical authority. Moreover, to argue with those who would reason upon the lines of erroneous interpretations would be quite useless. One who rejects the doctrine of evolution will ever find his way paved with difficulties; hence, he will never admit that it is far more consistent with fact and logic to regard physical man merely as the recognized paragon of animals, and the spiritual Ego that informs him as a principle midway between the soul of the animal and the deity. It would be vain to tell him that unless he accepts not only the verses quoted for his justification but the whole Bible in the light of esoteric philosophy, which reconciles the whole mass of contradictions and seeming absurdities in it - he will never obtain the key to the truth; - for he will not believe it. Yet the whole Bible teems with charity to men and with mercy and love to animals. The original Hebrew text of Chapter XXIV of Leviticus is full of it. Instead of the verses 17 and 18 as translated in the Bible: "And he that killeth a beast shall make it good, beast for beast" in the original it stands: - "life for life," or rather "soul for soul," nephesh tachat nephesh.3 And if the rigour of the law did not go to the extent of killing, as in Sparta, a man's "soul" for a beast's "soul" - still, even though he replaced the slaughtered soul by a living one, a heavy additional punishment was inflicted on the culprit.
But this was not all. In Exodus (Ch. XX. 10, and Ch. XXIII. 2 et seq.) rest on the Sabbath day extended to cattle and every other animal. "The seventh day is the sabbath . . . thou shalt not do any work, thou nor thy . . . cattle"; and the Sabbath year . . . "the seventh year thou shalt let it (the land) rest and lie still . . . that thine ox and thine ass may rest" - which commandment, if it means anything, shows that even the brute creation was not excluded by the ancient Hebrews from a participation in the worship of their deity, and that it was placed upon many occasions on a par with man himself. The whole question rests upon the misconception that "soul," nephesh, is entirely distinct from "spirit" - ruach. And yet it is clearly stated that "God breathed into the nostrils (of man) the breath of life and man became a living soul," nephesh, neither more or less than an animal, for the soul of an animal is also called nephesh. It is by development that the soul becomes spirit, both being the lower and the higher rungs of one and the same ladder whose basis is the UNIVERSAL SOUL or spirit.
This statement will startle those good men and women who, however much they may love their cats and dogs, are yet too much devoted to the teachings of their respective churches ever to admit such a heresy. "The irrational soul of a dog or a frog divine and immortal as our own souls are?" - they are sure to exclaim but so they are. It is not the humble writer of the present article who says so, but no less an authority for every good Christian than that king of the preachers - St. Paul. Our opponents who so indignantly refuse to listen to the arguments of either modern or esoteric science may perhaps lend a more willing ear to what their own saint and apostle has to say on the matter; the true interpretation of whose words, moreover, shall be given neither by a theosophist nor an opponent, but by one who was as good and pious a Christian as any, namely, another saint - John Chrysostom - he who explained and commented upon the Pauline Epistles, and who is held in the highest reverence by the divines of both the Roman Catholic and the Protestant churches. Christians have already found that experimental science is not on their side; they may be still more disagreeably surprised upon finding that no Hindu could plead more earnestly for animal life than did St. Paul in writing to the Romans. Hindus indeed claim mercy to the dumb brute only on account of the doctrine of transmigration and hence of the sameness of the principle or element that animates both man and brute. St. Paul goes further: he shows the animal hoping for, and living in the expectation of the same "deliverance from the bonds of corruption" as any good Christian. The precise expressions of that great apostle and philosopher will be quoted later on in the present Essay and their true meaning shown.
The fact that so many interpreters - Fathers of the Church and scholastics, - tried to evade the real meaning of St. Paul is no proof against its inner sense, but rather against the fairness of the theologians whose inconsistency will be shown in this particular. But some people will support their propositions, however erroneous, to the last. Others, recognizing their earlier mistake, will, like Cornelius a Lapide, offer the poor animal amende honorable. Speculating upon the part assigned by nature to the brute creation in the great drama of life, he says: "The aim of all creatures is the service of man. Hence, together with him (their master) they are waiting for their renovation" - cum homine renovationem suam expectant.4 "Serving" man, surely cannot mean being tortured, killed, uselessly shot and otherwise misused; while it is almost needless to explain the word "renovation." Christians understand by it the renovation of bodies after the second coming of Christ; and limit it to man, to the exclusion of animals. The students of the Secret Doctrine explain it by the successive renovation and perfection of forms on the scale of objective and subjective being, and in a long series of evolutionary transformations from animal to man, and upward. . . .
This will, of course, be again rejected by Christians with indignation. We shall be told that it is not thus that the Bible was explained to them, nor can it ever mean that. It is useless to insist upon it. Many and sad in their results were the erroneous interpretations of that which people are pleased to call the "Word of God." The sentence "cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren" (Gen. IX, 25), - generated centuries of misery and undeserved woe for the wretched slaves - the negroes. It is the clergy of the United States who were their bitterest enemies in the anti-slavery question, which question they opposed Bible in hand. Yet slavery is proved to have been the cause of the natural decay of every country; and even proud Rome fell because "the majority in the ancient world were slaves," as Geyer justly remarks. But so terribly imbued at all times were the best, the most intellectual Christians with those many erroneous interpretations of the Bible, that even one of their grandest poets, while defending the right of man to freedom, allots no such portion to the poor animal.
God gave us only over beast, fish, fowl,
Dominion absolute; that right we hold
By his donation; but man over man
He made not lord; such title to himself
Reserving, human left from human free
- says Milton.
But, like murder, error "will out," and incongruity must unavoidably occur whenever erroneous conclusions are supported either against or in favour of a prejudged question. The opponents of Eastern philozoism thus offer their critics a formidable weapon to upset their ablest arguments by such incongruity between premises and conclusions, facts postulated and deductions made.
It is the purpose of the present Essay to throw a ray of light upon this most serious and interesting subject. Roman Catholic writers in order to support the genuineness of the many miraculous resurrections of animals produced by their saints, have made them the subject of endless debates. The "soul in animals" is, in the opinion of Bossuet, "the most difficult as the most important of all philosophical questions."
Confronted with the doctrine of the Church that animals, though not soulless, have no permanent or immortal soul in them, and that the principle which animates them dies with the body, it becomes interesting to learn how the school-men and the Church divines reconcile this statement with that other claim that animals may be and have been frequently and miraculously resurrected.
Though but a feeble attempt - one more elaborate would require volumes - the present Essay, by showing the inconsistency of the scholastic and theological interpretations of the Bible, aims at convincing people of the great criminality of taking - especially in sport and vivisection - animal life. Its object, at any rate, is to show that however absurd the notion that either man or brute can be resurrected after the life-principle has fled from the body forever, such resurrections - if they were true - would not be more impossible in the case of a dumb brute than in that of a man; for either both are endowed by nature with what is so loosely called by us "soul," or neither the one nor the other is so endowed.
What a chimera is man! what a confused chaos, what a subject of contradiction! a professed judge of all things, and yet a feeble worm of the earth! the great depository and guardian of truth, and yet ad mere huddle of uncertainty! the glory and the scandal of the universe!
We shall now proceed to see what are the views of the Christian Church as to the nature of the soul in the brute, to examine how she reconciles the discrepancy between the resurrection of a dead animal and the assumption that its soul dies with it, and to notice some miracles in connection with animals. Before the final and decisive blow is dealt to that selfish doctrine, which has become so pregnant with cruel and merciless practices toward the poor animal world, the reader must be made acquainted with the early hesitations of the Fathers of the Patristic age themselves, as to the right interpretation of the words spoken with reference to that question by St. Paul.
It is amusing to note how the Karma of two of the most indefatigable defenders of the Latin Church - Messrs. Des. Mousseaux and De Mirville, in whose works the record of the few miracles here noted are found - led both of them to furnish the weapons now used against their own sincere but very erroneous views.5
The great battle of the Future having to be fought out between the "Creationists" or the Christians, as all the believers in a special creation and a personal god, and the Evolutionists or the Hindus, Buddhists, all the Free-thinkers and last, though not least, most of the men of science, a recapitulation of their respective positions is advisable.
1. The Christian world postulates its right over animal life: (a) on the afore-quoted Biblical texts and the later scholastic interpretations; (b) on the assumed absence of anything like divine or human soul in animals. Man survives death, the brute does not.
2. The Eastern Evolutionists, basing their deductions upon their great philosophical systems, maintain it is a sin against nature's work and progress to kill any living being - for reasons given in the preceding pages.
3. The Western Evolutionists, armed with the latest discoveries of science, heed neither Christians nor Heathens. Some scientific men believe in Evolution, others do not. They agree, nevertheless, upon one point: namely, that physical, exact research offers no grounds for the presumption that man is endowed with an immortal, divine soul, any more than his dog.
Thus, while the Asiatic Evolutionists behave toward animals consistently with their scientific and religious views, neither the church nor the materialistic school of science is logical in the practical applications of their respective theories. The former, teaching that every living thing is created singly and specially by God, as any human babe may be, and that it finds itself from birth to death under the watchful care of a wise and kind Providence, allows the inferior creation at the same time only a temporary soul. The latter, regarding both man and animal as the soulless production of some hitherto undiscovered forces in nature, yet practically creates an abyss between the two. A man of science, the most determined materialist, one who proceeds to vivisect a living animal with the utmost coolness, would yet shudder at the thought of laming - not to speak of torturing to death - his fellow man. Nor does one find among those great materialists who were religiously inclined men any who have shown themselves consistent and logical in defining the true moral status of the animal on this earth and the rights of man over it.
Some instances must now be brought to prove the charges stated. Appealing to serious and cultured minds it must be postulated that the views of the various authorities here cited are not unfamiliar to the reader. It will suffice therefore simply to give short epitomes of some of the conclusions they have arrived at - beginning with the Churchmen.
As already stated, the Church exacts belief in the miracles performed by her great Saints. Among the various prodigies accomplished we shall choose for the present only those that bear directly upon our subject - namely, the miraculous resurrections of dead animals. Now one who credits man with an immortal soul independent of the body it animates can easily believe that by some divine miracle the soul can be recalled and forced back into the tabernacle it deserts apparently for ever. But how can one accept the same possibility in the case of an animal, since his faith teaches him that the animal has no independent soul, since it is annihilated with the body? For over two hundred years, ever since Thomas of Aquinas, the Church has authoritatively taught that the soul of the brute dies with its organism. What then is recalled back into the clay to reanimate it? It is at this juncture that scholasticism steps in, and - taking the difficulty in hand - reconciles the irreconcilable.
It premises by saying that the miracles of the Resurrection of animals are numberless and as well authenticated as "the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ."6 The Bollandists give instances without number. As Father Burigny, a hagiographer of the 17th century, pleasantly remarks concerning the bustards resuscitated by St. Remi - "I may be told, no doubt, that I am a goose myself to give credence to such 'blue bird' tales. I shall answer the joker, in such a case, by saying that, if he disputes this point, then must he also strike out from the life of St. Isidore of Spain the statement that he resuscitated from death his master's horse; from the biography of St. Nicolas of Tolentino - that he brought back to life a partridge, instead of eating it; from that of St. Francis - that he recovered from the blazing coals of an oven, where it was baking, the body of a lamb, which he forthwith resurrected; and that he also made boiled fishes, which he resuscitated, swim in their sauce; etc., etc. Above all he, the sceptic, will have to charge more than 100,000 eye-witnesses - among whom at least a few ought to be allowed some common sense - with being either liars or dupes."
A far higher authority than Father Burigny, namely, Pope Benedict (Benoit) XIV, corroborates and affirms the above evidence. The names, moreover, as eye-witnesses to the resurrections, of Saint Sylvestrus, Francois de Paule, Severin of Cracow and a host of others are all mentioned in the Bollandists. "Only he adds" - says Cardinal de Ventura who quotes him - "that, as resurrection, however, to deserve the name requires the identical and numerical reproduction of the form,7 as much as of the material of the dead creature; and as that form (or soul) of the brute is always annihilated with its body according to St. Thomas' doctrine, God, in every such case finds himself obliged to create for the purpose of the miracle a new form for the resurrected animal; from which it follows that the resurrected brute was not altogether identical with what it had been before its death (non idem omnino esse.)"8
Now this looks terribly like one of the mayas of magic. However, although the difficulty is not absolutely explained, the following is made clear: the principle, that animated the animal during its life,. and which is termed soul, being dead or dissipated after the death of the body, another soul - "a kind of an informal soul" - as the Pope and the Cardinal tell us - is created for the purpose of miracle by God; a soul, moreover, which is distinct from that of man, which is "an independent, ethereal and ever lasting entity."
Besides the natural objection to such a proceeding being called a "miracle" produced by the saint, for it is simply God behind his back who "creates" for the purpose of his glorification an entirely new soul as well as a new body, the whole of the Thomasian doctrine is open to objection. For, as Descartes very reasonably remarks: "if the soul of the animal is so distinct (in its immateriality) from its body, we believe it hardly possible to avoid recognizing it as a spiritual principle, hence - an intelligent one."
The reader need hardly be reminded that Descartes held the living animal as being simply an automaton, a "well wound up clock-work," according to Malebranche. One, therefore, who adopts the Cartesian theory about the animal would do as well to accept at once the views of the modern materialists. For, since that automaton is capable of feelings, such as love, gratitude, etc., and is endowed as undeniably with memory, all such attributes must be as materialism teaches us "properties of matter." But if the animal is an "automaton," why not Man? Exact science - anatomy, physiology, etc., - finds not the smallest difference between the bodies of the two; and who knows justly enquires Solomon - whether the spirit of man "goeth upward" any more than that of the beast? Thus we find metaphysical Descartes as inconsistent as any one.
But what does St. Thomas say to this? Allowing a soul (anima) to the brute, and declaring it immaterial, he refuses it at the same time the qualification of spiritual. Because, he says: "it would in such case imply intelligence, a virtue and a special operation reserved only for the human soul." But as at the fourth Council of Lateran it had been decided that "God had created two distinct substances, the corporeal (mundanam) and the spiritual (spiritualem), and that something incorporeal must be of necessity spiritual St. Thomas had to resort to a kind of compromise, which can avoid being called a subterfuge only when performed by a saint. He says: "This soul of the brute is neither spirit, nor body; it is of a middle nature."9 This is a very unfortunate statement. For elsewhere, St. Thomas says that "all the souls - even those of plants - have the substantial form of their bodies," and if this is true of plants, why not of animals? It is certainly neither "spirit" nor pure matter, but of that essence which St. Thomas calls "a middle nature." But why, once on the right path, deny it survivance - let alone immortality? The contradiction is so flagrant that De Mirville in despair exclaims, "Here we are, in the presence of three substances, instead of the two, as decreed by the Lateran Council!", and proceeds forthwith to contradict, as much as he dares, the "Angelic Doctor."
The great Bossuet in his Traité de la Connaissance de Dieu et de soi même analyses and compares the system of Descartes with that of St. Thomas. No one can find fault with him for giving the preference in the matter of logic to Descartes. He finds the Cartesian "invention" - that of the automaton, - as "getting better out of the difficulty" than that of St. Thomas, accepted fully by the Catholic Church; for which Father Ventura feels indignant against Bossuet for accepting "such a miserable and puerile error." And, though allowing the animals a soul with all its qualities of affection and sense, true to his master St. Thomas, he too refuses them intelligence and reasoning powers. "Bossuet," he says, "is the more to be blamed, since he himself has said: 'I foresee that a great war is being prepared against the Church under the name of Cartesian philosophy'." He is right there, for out of the "sentient matter" of the brain of the brute animal comes out quite naturally Locke's thinking matter, and out of the latter all the materialistic schools of our century. But when he fails, it is through supporting St. Thomas' doctrine, which is full of flaws and evident contradictions. For, if the soul of the animal is, as the Roman Church teaches, an informal, immaterial principle, then it becomes evident that, being independent of physical organism, it cannot "die with the animal" any more than in the case of man. If we admit that it subsists and survives, in what respect does it differ from the soul of man? And that it is eternal - once we accept St. Thomas' authority on any subject - though he contradicts himself elsewhere. "The soul of man is immortal, and the soul of the animal perishes," he says (Summa, Vol. V. p. 164), - this, after having queried in Vol. II of the same grand work (p. 256) "are there any beings that re-emerge into nothingness?" and answered himself: - "No, for in the Ecclesiastes it is said: (iii. 14) Whatsoever GOD doeth, it shall be for ever. With God there is no variableness (James I. 17)." "Therefore," goes on St. Thomas, "neither in the natural order of things, nor by means of miracles, is there any creature that re-emerges into nothingness (is annihilated); there is naught in the creature that is annihilated, for that which shows with the greatest radiance divine goodness is the perpetual conservation of the creatures."l0
This sentence is commented upon and confirmed in the annotation by the Abbé Drioux, his translator. "No," he remarks - "nothing is annihilated; it is a principle that has become with modern science a kind of axiom."
And, if so, why should there be an exception made to this invariable rule in nature, recognized both by science and theology, - only in the case of the soul of the animal? Even though it had no intelligence, an assumption from which every impartial thinker will ever and very strongly demur.
Let us see, however, turning from scholastic philosophy to natural sciences, what are the naturalist's objections to the animal having an intelligent and therefore an independent soul in him.
"Whatever that be, which thinks, which understands, which acts, it is something celestial and divine; and upon that account must necessarily be eternal," wrote Cicero, nearly two millenniums ago. We should understand well, Mr. Huxley contradicting the conclusion, - St. Thomas of Aquinas, the "king of the metaphysicians," firmly believed in the miracles of resurrection performed by St. Patrick.l1
Really, when such tremendous claims as the said miracles are put forward and enforced by the Church upon the faithful, her theologians should take more care that their highest authorities at least should not contradict themselves, thus showing ignorance upon questions raised nevertheless to a doctrine.
The animal, then, is debarred from progress and immortality, because he is an automaton. According to Descartes, he has no intelligence, agreeably to mediæval scholasticism; nothing but instinct, the latter signifying involuntary impulses, as affirmed by the materialists and denied by the Church.
Both Frederic and George Cuvier have discussed amply, however, on the intelligence and the instinct in animals.l2 Their ideas upon the subject have been collected and edited by Flourens, the learned Secretary of the Academy of Sciences. This is what Frederic Cuvier, for thirty years the Director of the Zoological Department and the Museum of Natural History at the Jardin des Plantes, Paris, wrote upon the subject. "Descartes' mistake, or rather the general mistake, lies in that no sufficient distinction was ever made between intelligence and instinct. Buffon himself had fallen into such an omission, and owing to it every thing in his Zoological philosophy was contradictory. Recognizing in the animal a feeling superior to our own, as well as the consciousness of its actual existence, he denied it at the same time thought, reflection, and memory, consequently every possibility of having thoughts." (Buffon, Discourse on the Nature of Animals, VII, p. 57.) But, as he could hardly stop there, he admitted that the brute had a kind of memory, active, extensive and more faithful than our (human) memory (Id. Ibid., p. 77). Then, after having refused it any intelligence, he nevertheless admitted that the animal "consulted its master, interrogated him, and understood perfectly every sign of his will." (Id. Ibid., Vol. X, History of the Dog, p. 2.)
A more magnificent series of contradictory statements could hardly have been expected from a great man of science.
The illustrious Cuvier is right therefore in remarking in his turn, that "this new mechanism of Buffon is still less intelligible than Descartes' automaton."l3
As remarked by the critic, a line of demarcation ought to be traced between instinct and intelligence. The construction of beehives by the bees, the raising of dams by the beaver in the middle of the naturalist's dry floor as much as in the river, are all the deeds and effects of instinct forever unmodifiable and changeless, whereas the acts of intelligence are to be found in actions evidently thought out by the animal, where not instinct but reason comes into play, such as its education and training calls forth and renders susceptible of perfection and development. Man is endowed with reason, the infant with instinct; and the young animal shows more of both than the child.
Indeed, every one of the disputants knows as well as we do that it is so. If any materialist avoid confessing it, it is through pride. Refusing a soul to both man and beast, he is unwilling to admit that the latter is endowed with intelligence as well as himself, even though in an infinitely lesser degree. In their turn the churchman, the religiously inclined naturalist, the modern metaphysician, shrink from avowing that man and animal are both endowed with soul and faculties, if not equal in development and perfection, at least the same in name and essence. Each of them knows, or ought to know that instinct and intelligence are two faculties completely opposed in their nature, two enemies confronting each other in constant conflict; and that, if they will not admit of two souls or principles, they have to recognize, at any rate, the presence of two potencies in the soul, each having a different seat in the brain, the localization of each of which is well known to them, since they can isolate and temporarily destroy them in turn - according to the organ or part of the organs they happen to be torturing during their terrible vivisections. What is it but human pride that prompted Pope to say:
Ask for whose end the heavenly bodies shine;
Earth for whose use? Pride answers, 'Tis for mine.
For me kind nature wakes her genial power,
Suckles each herb, and spreads out every flower.
For me the mine a thousand treasures brings;
For me health gushes from a thousand springs;
Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise;
My footstool earth, my canopy the skies!
And it is the same unconscious pride that made Buffon utter his paradoxical remarks with reference to the difference between man and animal. That difference consisted in the "absence of reflection, for the animal," he says, "does not feel that he feels." How does Buffon know? "It does not think that it thinks," he adds, after having told the audience that the animal remembered, often deliberated, compared and chose!l4 Who ever pretended that a cow or a dog could be an idealogist? But the animal may think and know it thinks, the more keenly that it cannot speak, and express its thoughts. How can Buffon or any one else know? One thing is shown however by the exact observations of naturalists and that is, that the animal is endowed with intelligence; and once this is settled, we have but to repeat Thomas Aquinas' definition of intelligence - the prerogative of man's immortal soul - to see that the same is due to the animal.
But in justice to real Christian philosophy, we are able to show that primitive Christianity has never preached such atrocious doctrines - the true cause of the falling off of so many of the best men as of the highest intellects from the teachings of Christ and his disciples.
O Philosophy, thou guide of life, and discoverer of virtue!
Philosophy is a modest profession, it is all reality and plain dealing; I hate solemnity and pretence, with nothing but pride at the bottom.
The destiny of man - of the most brutal, animal-like, as well as of the most saintly - being immortality, according to theological teaching; what is the future destiny of the countless hosts of the animal kingdom? We are told by various Roman Catholic writers - Cardinal Ventura, Count de Maistre and many others - that "animal soul is a Force."
"It is well established that the soul of the animal," says their echo De Mirville, - "was produced by the earth, for this is Biblical. All the living and moving souls (nephesh or life principle) come from the earth; but, let me be understood, not solely from the dust, of which their bodies as well as our own were made, but from the power or potency of the earth; i.e., from its immaterial force, as all forces are . . . those of the sea, of the air, etc., all of which are those Elementary Principalities (principautés élementaires) of which we have spoken elsewhere."l5
What the Marquis de Mirville understands by the term is, that every "Element" in nature is a domain filled and governed by its respective invisible spirits. The Western Kabalists and the Rosicrucians named them Sylphs, Undines, Salamanders and Gnomes; christian mystics, like De Mirville, give them Hebrew names and class each among the various kinds of Demons under the sway of Satan - with God's permission, of course.
He too rebels against the decision of St. Thomas, who teaches that the animal soul is destroyed with the body. "It is a force," - he says - that "we are asked to annihilate, the most substantial force on earth, called animal soul," which, according to the Reverend Father Ventura, isl6 "the most respectable soul after that of man."
He had just called it an immaterial force, and now it is named by him "the most substantial thing on earth."l7
But what is this Force? George Cuvier and Flourens the academician tell us its secret.
"The form or the force of the bodies," (form means soul in this case, let us remember,) the former writes, - "is far more essential to them than matter is, as (without being destroyed in its essence) the latter changes constantly, whereas the form prevails eternally.' To this Flourens observes: "In everything that has life, the form is more persistent than matter; for, that which constitutes the BEING of the living body, its identity and its sameness, is its form."l8
"Being," as De Mirville remarks in his turn, "a magisterial principle. a philosophical pledge of our immortality,"l9 it must be inferred that soul - human and animal - is meant under this misleading term. It is rather what we call the ONE LIFE I suspect.
However this may be, philosophy, both profane and religious, corroborates this statement that the two "souls" are identical in man and beast. Leibnitz, the philosopher beloved by Bossuet, appeared to credit "Animal Resurrection" to a certain extent. Death being for him "simply the temporary enveloping of the personality" he likens it to the preservation of ideas in sleep, or to the butterfly within its caterpillar. "For him," says De Mirville, "resurrection20 is a general law in nature, which becomes a grand miracle, when performed by a thaumaturgist, only in virtue of its prematurity, of the surrounding circumstances, and of the mode in which he operates." In this Leibnitz is a true Occultist without suspecting it. The growth and blossoming of a flower or a plant in five minutes instead of several days and weeks, the forced germination and development of plant, animal or man, are facts preserved in the records of the Occultists. They are only seeming miracles; the natural productive forces hurried and a thousand-fold intensified by the induced conditions under occult laws known to the Initiate. The abnormally rapid growth is effected by the forces of nature, whether blind or attached to minor intelligences subjected to man's occult power, being brought to bear collectively on the development of the thing to be called forth out of its chaotic elements. But why call one a divine miracle, the other a satanic subterfuge or simply a fraudulent performance?
Still as a true philosopher Leibnitz finds himself forced, even in this dangerous question of the resurrection of the dead, to include in it the whole of the animal kingdom in its great synthesis, and to say: "I believe that the souls of the animals are imperishable, . . . and I find that nothing is better fitted to prove our own immortal nature."2l
Supporting Leibnitz, Dean, the Vicar of Middleton, published in 1748 two small volumes upon this subject. To sum up his ideas, he says that "the holy scriptures hint in various passages that the brutes shall live in a future life. This doctrine has been supported by several Fathers of the Church. Reason teaching us that the animals have a soul, teaches us at the same time that they shall exist in a future state. The system of those who believe that God annihilates the soul of the animal is nowhere supported, and has no solid foundation to it," etc. etc.22
Many of the men of science of the last century defended Dean's hypothesis, declaring it extremely probable, one of them especially - the learned Protestant theologian Charles Bonnet of Geneva. Now, this theologian was the author of an extremely curious work called by him Palingenesia23 or the "New Birth," which takes place, as he seeks to prove, owing to an invisible germ that exists in everybody, and no more than Leibnitz can he understand that animals should be excluded from a system, which, in their absence, would not be a unity, since system means "a collection of laws."24
"The animals," he writes, "are admirable books, in which the creator gathered the most striking features of his sovereign intelligence. The anatomist has to study them with respect, and, if in the least endowed with that delicate and reasoning feeling that characterises the moral man, he will never imagine, while turning over the pages, that he is handling slates or breaking pebbles. He will never forget that all that lives and feels is entitled to his mercy and pity. Man would run the risk of compromising his ethical feeling were he to become familiarised with the suffering and the blood of animals. This truth is so evident that Governments should never lose sight of it. . . . as to the hypothesis of automatism I should feel inclined to regard it as a philosophical heresy, very dangerous for society, if it did not so strongly violate good sense and feeling as to become harmless, for it can never be generally adopted."
"As to the destiny of the animal, if my hypothesis be right, Providence holds in reserve for them the greatest compensations in future states.25 . . . And for me, their resurrection is the consequence of that soul or form we are necessarily obliged to allow them, for a soul being a simple substance, can neither be divided, nor decomposed, nor yet annihilated. One cannot escape such an inference without falling back into Descartes' automatism; and then from animal automatism one would soon and forcibly arrive at that of man" . . .
Our modern school of biologists has arrived at the theory of "automaton-man," but its disciples may be left to their own devices and conclusions. That with which I am at present concerned, is the final and absolute proof that neither the Bible, nor its most philosophical interpreters - however much they may have lacked a clearer insight into other questions - have ever denied, on Biblical authority, an immortal soul to any animal, more than they have found in it conclusive evidence as to the existence of such a soul in man - in the old Testament. One has but to read certain verses in Job and the Ecclesiastes (iii. 17 et seq. 22) to arrive at this conclusion. The truth of the matter is, that the future state of neither of the two is therein referred to by one single word. But if, on the other hand, only negative evidence is found in the Old Testament concerning the immortal soul in animals, in the New it is as plainly asserted as that of man himself, and it is for the benefit of those who deride Hindu philozoism, who assert their right to kill animals at their will and pleasure, and deny them an immortal soul, that a final and definite proof is now being given.
St. Paul was mentioned at the end of Part I as the defender of the immortality of all the brute creation. Fortunately this statement is not one of those that can be pooh-poohed by the Christians as "the blasphemous and heretical interpretations of the holy writ, by a group of atheists and free-thinkers." Would that every one of the profoundly wise words of the Apostle Paul - an Initiate whatever else he might have been - was as clearly understood as those passages that relate to the animals. For then, as will be shown, the indestructibility of matter taught by materialistic science; the law of eternal evolution, so bitterly denied by the Church; the omnipresence of the ONE LIFE, or the unity of the ONE ELEMENT, and its presence throughout the whole of nature as preached by esoteric philosophy, and the secret sense of St. Paul's remarks to the Romans (viii. 18-23 ), would be demonstrated beyond doubt or cavil to be obviously one and the same thing. Indeed, what else can that great historical personage, so evidently imbued with neo-Platonic Alexandrian philosophy, mean by the following, which I transcribe with comments in the light of occultism, to give a clearer comprehension of my meaning?
The apostle premises by saying (Romans viii. 16, 17) that "The spirit itself" (Paramatma) "beareth witness with our spirit" (atman) "that we are the children of God," and "if children, then heirs" - heirs of course to the eternity and indestructibility of the eternal or divine essence in us. Then he tells us that:
"The sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed." (v. 18.)
The "glory" we maintain, is no "new Jerusalem," the symbolical representation of the future in St. John's kabalistical Revelations - but the Devachanic periods and the series of births in the succeeding races when, after every new incarnation we shall find ourselves higher and more perfect, physically as well as spiritually; and when finally we shall all become truly the "sons" and "the children of God" at the "last Resurrection" - whether people call it Christian, Nirvanic or Parabrahmic; as all these are one and the same. For truly -
"The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God." (v. 19.)
By creature, animal is here meant, as will be shown further on upon the authority of St. John Chrysostom. But who are the "sons of God," for the manifestation of whom the whole creation longs? Are they the "sons of God" with whom "Satan came also" (see Job) or the "seven angels" of Revelations? Have they reference to Christians only or to the "sons of God" all over the world?26 Such "manifestation" is promised at the end of every Manvantara27 or world-period by the scriptures of every great Religion, and save in the Esoteric interpretation of all these, in none so clearly as in the Vedas. For there it is said that at the end of each Manvantara comes the pralaya, or the destruction of the world - only one of which is known to, and expected by, the Christians - when there will be left the Sishtas, or remnants, seven Rishis and one warrior, and all the seeds, for the next human "tide-wave of the following Round."28 But the main question with which we are concerned is not at present, whether the Christian or the Hindu theory is the more correct; but to show that the Brahmins - in teaching that the seeds of all the creatures are left over, out of the total periodical and temporary destruction of all visible things, together with the "sons of God" or the Rishis, who shall manifest themselves to future humanity - say neither more nor less than what St. Paul himself preaches. Both include all animal life in the hope of a new birth and renovation in a more perfect state when every creature that now "waiteth" shall rejoice in the "manifestation of the sons of God." Because, as St. Paul explains:
"The creature itself (ipsa) also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption," which is to say that the seed or the indestructible animal soul, which does not reach Devachan while in its elementary or animal state, will get into a higher form and go on, together with man, progressing into still higher states and forms, to end, animal as well as man, "in the glorious liberty of the children of God" (v. 21).
And this "glorious liberty" can be reached only through the evolution or the Karmic progress of all creatures. The dumb brute having evoluted from the half sentient plant, is itself transformed by degrees into man, spirit, God - et seq. and ad infinitum! For says St. Paul -
"We know ("we," the Initiates) that the whole creation, (omnis creatura or creature, in the Vulgate) groaneth and travaileth (in child-birth) in pain until now."29 (v. 22.)
This is plainly saying that man and animal are on a par on earth, as to suffering, in their evolutionary efforts toward the goal and in accordance with Karmic law. By "until now," is meant up to the fifth race. To make it still plainer, the great Christian Initiate explains by saying:
"Not only they (the animals) but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, we groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." (v. 23.) Yes, it is we, men, who have the "first-fruits of the Spirit," or the direct Parabrahmic light, our Atma or seventh principle, owing to the perfection of our fifth principle (Manas), which is far less developed in the animal. As a compensation, however, their Karma is far less heavy than ours. But that is no reason why they too should not reach one day that perfection that gives the fully evoluted man the Dhyanchohanic form.
Nothing could be clearer - even to a profane, non-initiated critic - than those words of the great Apostle, whether we interpret them by the light of esoteric philosophy, or that of mediæval scholasticism. The hope of redemption, or, of the survival of the spiritual entity, delivered "from the bondage of corruption," or the series of temporary material forms, is for all living creatures, not for man alone.
But the "paragon" of animals, proverbially unfair even to his fellow-beings, could not be expected to give easy consent to sharing his expectations with his cattle and domestic poultry. The famous Bible commentator, Cornelius a Lapide, was the first to point out and charge his predecessors with the conscious and deliberate intention of doing all they could to avoid the application of the word creatura to the inferior creatures of this world. We learn from him that St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Origen and St. Cyril (the one, most likely, who refused to see a human creature in Hypatia, and dealt with her as though she were a wild animal) insisted that the word creatura, in the verses above quoted, was applied by the Apostle simply to the angels! But, as remarks Cornelius, who appeals to St. Thomas for corroboration, "this opinion is too distorted and violent (distorta et violenta); it is moreover invalidated by the fact that the angels, as such, are already delivered from the bonds of corruption." Nor is St. Augustine's suggestion any happier; for he offers the strange hypothesis that the "creatures," spoken of by St. Paul, were "the infidels and the heretics" of all the ages! Cornelius contradicts the venerable father as coolly as he opposed his earlier brother-saints. "For," says he, "in the text quoted the creatures spoken of by the Apostle are evidently creatures distinct from men: - not only they but ourselves also; and then, that which is meant is not deliverance from sin, but from death to come."30 But even the brave Cornelius finally gets scared by the general opposition and decides that under the term creatures St. Paul may have meant - as St. Ambrosius, St. Hilarius (Hilaire) and others insisted elements (!!) i.e., the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, etc. etc.
Unfortunately for the holy speculators and scholastics, and very fortunately for the animals - if these are ever to profit by polemics - they are over-ruled by a still greater authority than themselves. It is St. John Chrysostomus, already mentioned, whom the Roman Catholic Church, on the testimony given by Bishop Proclus, at one time his secretary, holds in the highest veneration. In fact St. John Chrysostom was, if such a profane (in our days) term can be applied to a saint, - the "medium" of the Apostle to the Gentiles. In the matter of his Commentary on St. Paul's Epistles, St. John is held as directly inspired by that Apostle himself, in other words as having written his comments at St. Paul's dictation. This is what we read in those comments on the 3rd Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans.
"We must always groan about the delay made for our emigration (death); for if, as saith the Apostle, the creature deprived of reason (mente, not anima, "Soul") - and speech (nam si hæc creatura mente et verbo carens) groans and expects, the more the shame that we ourselves should fail to do so."3l
Unfortunately we do, and fail most ingloriously in this desire for "emigration" to countries unknown. Were people to study the scriptures of all nations and interpret their meaning by the light of esoteric philosophy, no one would fail to become, if not anxious to die, at least indifferent to death. We should then make profitable use of the time we pass on this earth by quietly preparing in each birth for the next by accumulating good Karma. But man is a sophist by nature. And, even after reading this opinion of St. John Chrysostom - one that settles the question of the immortal soul in animals forever, or ought to do so at any rate, in the mind of every Christian, - we fear the poor dumb brutes may not benefit much by the lesson after all. Indeed, the subtle casuist, condemned out of his own mouth, might tell us, that whatever the nature of the soul in the animal, he is still doing it a favour, and himself a meritorious action, by killing the poor brute, as thus he puts an end to its "groans about the delay made for its emigration" into eternal glory.
The writer is not simple enough to imagine, that a whole British Museum filled with works against meat diet, would have the effect of stopping civilized nations from having slaughter-houses, or of making them renounce their beefsteak and Christmas goose. But if these humble lines could make a few readers realize the real value of St. Paul's noble words, and thereby seriously turn their thoughts to all the horrors of vivisection - then the writer would be content. For verily when the world feels convinced - and it cannot avoid coming one day to such a conviction - that animals are creatures as eternal as we ourselves, vivisection and other permanent tortures, daily inflicted on the poor brutes, will, after calling forth an outburst of maledictions and threats from society generally, force all Governments to put an end to those barbarous and shameful practices.
Theosphist, January, February, and March, 1886
H. P. Blavatsky
lDe la Resurrection et du Miracle. E. de Mirville. back to text
2De la Resurrection et du Miracle. E. de Mirville. back to text
3 Compare also the difference between the translation of the same verse in the Vulgata, and the texts of Luther and De Wette. back to text
11 St. Patrick, it is claimed, has Christianized "the most Satanized country of the globe - Ireland, ignorant in all save magic" - into the "Island of Saints," by resurrecting "sixty men dead years before." Suscitavit sexaginta mortuos (Lectio I. ii, from the Roman Breviary, 1520). In the M.S. held to be the famous confession of that saint, preserved. in the Salisbury Cathedral (Descript. Hibern. I. II, C. 1), St. Patrick writes in an autograph letter: "To me the last of men, and the greatest sinner, God has, nevertheless, given, against the magical practices of this barbarous people the gift of miracles, such as had not been given to the greatest of our apostles - since he (God) permitted that among other things (such as the resurrection of animals and creeping things) I should resuscitate dead bodies reduced to ashes since many years." Indeed, before such a prodigy, the resurrection of Lazarus appears a very insignificant incident. back to text
12 More recently Dr. Romanes and Dr. Butler have thrown great light upon the subject. back to text
13Biographie Universelle, Art. by Cuvier on Buffon's Life. back to text
22 See vol. XXIX of the Bibliothéque des sciences, 1st Trimester of the year 1768. back to text
23 From two Greek words - to be born and reborn again. back to text
24 See Vol. II Palingenesis. Also, De Mirville's Resurrections. back to text
25 We too believe in "future states" for the animal from the highest down to the infusoria - but in a series of rebirths, each in a higher form, up to man and then beyond - in short, we believe in evolution in the fullest sense of the word. back to text
27 What was really meant by the "sons of God" in antiquity is now demonstrated fully in the SECRET DOCTRINE in its Part I (on the Archaic Period) - now nearly ready. back to text
28 This is the orthodox Hindu as much as the esoteric version. In his Bangalore Lecture "What is Hindu Religion?" - Dewan Bahadoor Raghunath Rao, of Madras, says: "At the end of each Manvantara, annihilation of the world takes place; but one warrior, seven Rishis, and the seeds are saved from destruction. To them God (or Brahm) communicates the Statute law or the Vedas . . . as soon as a Manvantara commences these laws are promulgated . . . and become binding . . . to the end of that Manvantara. These eight persons are called Sishtas, or remnants, because they alone remain after the destruction of all the others. Their acts and precepts are, therefore, known as Sishtacar. They are also designated 'Sadachar' because such acts and precepts are only what always existed."
This is the orthodox version. The secret one speaks of seven Initiates having attained Dhyanchohanship toward the end of the seventh Race on this earth, who are left on earth during its "obscuration" with the seed of every mineral, plant, and animal that had not time to evolute into man for the next Round or world-period. See Esoteric Buddhism, by A. P. Sinnett, Fifth Edition, Annotations, pp. 146, 147. back to text
29. . . ingemiscit et parturit usque adhuc in the original Latin translation. back to text