Alas, whether we turn East, West, North or
South, it is but a contrast of externals; whether one observes
life among Christians or Pagans, worldly or religious men, everywhere
one finds oneself dealing with man, masked man only MAN.
Though centuries lapse and decades of ages drop out of the lap
of time, great reforms take place, empires rise and fall and rise
again, and even whole races disappear before the triumphant march
of civilization, in his terrific selfishness the "man"
that was is the "man" that is judged
by its representative element the public, and especially society.
But have we the right to judge man by the utterly artificial standard
of the latter? A century ago we would have answered in the negative.
Today, owing to the rapid strides of mankind toward civilization,
generating selfishness and making it (mankind) keep pace with
it, we answer decidedly, yes. Today everyone, especially in England
and America, is that public and that society, and exceptions but
prove and reinforce the rule. The progress of mankind cannot be
summed up by counting units especially on the basis of internal
and not external growth. Therefore, we have the right to judge
of that progress by the public standard of morality in the majority;
leaving the minority to bewail the fall of its ideals. And what
do we find? First of all Society Church, State and Law in conventional
conspiracy, leagued against the public exposure of the results
of the application of such a test. They wish the said minority
to take Society and the rest en bloc, in its fine clothes,
and not pry into the social rottenness beneath. By common consent
they pretend to worship an IDEAL, one at any
rate, the Founder of their State Christianity; but they also combine
to put down and martyrise any unit belonging to the minority who
has the audacity, in this time of social abasement and corruption,
to live up to it.
* * * *
Do we not all know such self-devoting men and women in our midst?
Have we not all of us followed the career of certain individuals,
Christ-like in aspirations and practical charity, though, perhaps,
Christ-denying and Church-defying in intellect and words, who
were tabooed for years by bigoted society, insolent clergy, and
persecuted by both to the last limits of law? How many of such
victims have found justice and the recognition they merit? After
doing the noblest work among the poor for years, embellishing
our cold and conventional age by their altruistic charity, making
themselves blessed by old and young, beloved by all who suffer,
the reward they found was to hear themselves traduced and denounced,
slandered and secretly defamed by those unworthy to unloosen the
latchets of their shoes the Church-going hypocrites and Pharisees, the Sanhedrim of the World of Cant! . . .
Thus, out of the many noble ideals trampled practically in the
mud by modern society, the one held by the Western World as the
highest and grandest of all, is, after all, the most ill-treated.
The life preached in the Sermon on the Mount, and the commandments
left to the Church by her MASTER, are precisely
those ideals that have fallen the lowest in our day. All these
are trampled under the heel of the caitiffs of the canting caste de facto though sub rosa of course, cant preventing
that they should do so de jure and shams are substituted
in their place. . . .
The great scandal of modern religion as a rule of life is, that
taking modern Society all around in a broad way, it does not command
any attention at all. It has failed not so much to show what ought
to be done and left undone for of course even the maxims of the
church as far as words go, cover a great deal of ground as it
has failed to show with any adequate force why this or that should
be a guiding principle. The modern church, in fact, has broken
down as a practical agency governing the acts of its followers i.e., of the millions who are content to be called its followers,
but who never dream of listening to a word it says.
Fully conscious that a great deal it says is very good, its
exponents (blandly ignorant how bad is a great deal of the rest)
think it is owing to the perversity of mankind that people at
large are not better than they are. They never realize that they
themselves the Dry Monopole of social wines are primarily to
blame for having divorced the good codes of morals bequeathed
to them from the religions of all time, from the fundamental sanctions
which a correct appreciation of true spiritual science would attach
to them. They have converted the divine teaching which is the
Theosophy of all ages into a barbarous caricature, and they expect
to find their parrot echoes of preposterous creeds a cry that
will draw the worldlings to their fold, an appeal which will stir
them up to the sublime task of spiritualizing their own natures.
They fail to see that the command to love one another must be
ineffective in the case of people whose whole conceptions of futurity
turn upon their chances of drawing a lucky number in the lottery
of the elect, or of dodging the punishment that would naturally
be their due, at a happy moment when the divine mind may be thrown
off its balance by reflecting on the beauty of the Christian sacrifice.
The teachers of modern religion, in fact, have lost touch with
the wisdom underlying their own perverted doctrines, and the blind
followers of these blind leaders have lost touch even with the
elementary principles of physical morality which the churches
still continue to repeat, without understanding their purpose,
and from mere force of habit. The ministers of religion, in short,
of the Nineteenth Century, have eaten the sour grapes of ignorance,
and the teeth of their unfortunate children are set on edge. .
Of all the beautiful ideals of the Past, the true religious feeling
that manifests in the worship of the spiritually beautiful alone,
and the love of plain truth, are those that have been the most
roughly handled in this age of obligatory dissembling. We are
surrounded on all sides by Hypocrisy, and those of its followers
of whom Pollock has said that they were men:
Who stole the livery of the court of heaven,
To serve the devil in.
Oh, the unspeakable hypocrisy of our age! The age when everything
under the Sun and Moon is for sale and bought. The age when all
that is honest, just, noble-minded, is held up to the derision
of the public, sneered at, and deprecated; when every truth-loving
and fearlessly truth-speaking man is hooted out of polite Society,
as a transgressor of cultured traditions which demand that every
member of it should accept that in which he does not believe,
say what he does not think, and lie to his own soul! The age,
when the open pursuit of any of the grand ideals of the Past is
treated as almost insane eccentricity or fraud; and the rejection
of empty form the dead letter that killeth and preference for
the Spirit "that giveth life" is called infidelity, and forthwith the cry is started, "Stone him to death!"
No sooner is the sacrifice of empty conventionalities, that yield
reward and benefit but to self, made for the sake of practically
working out some grand humanitarian idea that will help the masses,
than a howl of indignation and pious horror is raised: the doors
of fashionable Society are shut on the transgressor, and the mouths
of slanderous gossips opened to dishonour his very name.
Yet, we are daily served with sanctimonious discourses upon the
blessings conferred by Christian civilization and the advantages
offered by both, as contrasted with the curses of "heathenism"
and the superstitions and horrors of say the Middle Ages. The
Inquisition with its burning of heretics and witches, its tortures
at the stake and on the rack, is contrasted with the great freedom
of modern thought, on one hand, and the security of human
life and property now, as compared with their insecurity
in days of old. "Is it not civilization that abolished the
Inquisition and now affords the beggar the same protection of
law as the wealthy duke?" we are asked. "We do not know,"
we say. History would make us rather think that it was Napoleon
the First, the Attila whose iniquitous wars stripped France and
Europe of their lustiest manhood, who abolished the Inquisition,
and this not at all for the sake of civilization, but rather because
he was not prepared to allow the Church to burn and torture those
who could serve him as chair à canon. As to the
second proposition with regard to the beggar and the duke, we
have to qualify it before accepting it as true. The beggar, however
right, will hardly find as full justice as the duke will; and
if he happens to be unpopular, or an heretic, ten to one he will
find the reverse of justice. And this proves that if Church and
State were un-christian then, they are still un-christian, if not more so now.
True Christianity and true civilization both ought to be opposed
to murder, however legal. And yet we find, in the last half of
our departing century more human lives sacrificed because of
the improved system and weapons of warfare, thanks to the progress
of science and civilization than there were in its first
half. "Christian civilization," indeed! Civilization,
perhaps; but why "Christian"? Did Pope Leo XIII personify
it when in an agony of despair he shut himself up on the day when
Bruno's monument was unveiled, and marked it as a dies iræ in Church History? But may we not turn to civilization, pure
and simple? "Our manners, our civilization," says Burke,
"and all the good things connected with manners . . . have
in this European world of ours, depended for ages upon two principles.
. . . I mean the spirit of a gentleman and the spirit of religion."
We are quite willing to test the character of the age by these
ideals. Only, it has always been hard to say just what
definition to give to the term "gentleman"; while as
to religion, ninety-nine out of every hundred people one meets
would, if asked, reply in such a fashion as to make it plain that
they had confounded religion with theology.
* * * *
But perhaps we have to look for true Christianity and true civilization
and culture in the modern higher courts of Law? Alas, there are
modern judges of whom their Lord (our Karma) would say, "Hear
what the unjust judge sayeth." For, in our day, the decree
of justice is sometimes uttered in the voice of the bigots who
sit in Solomon's seat and judge as the Inquisitors of old did.
In our century of Christian civilization, judges emulating their
predecessors of the tribunal of the sons of Loyola, employ the
more exquisite instruments of moral torture, to insult
and goad to desperation a helpless plaintiff or defendant. In
this they are aided by advocates, often the type of the ancient
headsman, who, metaphorically, break the bones of the wretch seeking
justice; or worse yet, defile his good name and stab him to the
heart with the vilest innuendoes, false suppositions concocted
for the occasion but which the victim knows will henceforth become actual truths in the mouth of foul gossip and slander.
Between the defunct brutal tortures of the unchristian Inquisition
of old, and the more refined mental tortures of its as unchristian
but more civilized copy our Court and truculent cross-examiners,
the palm of "gentleness" and charity might almost be
given to the former.
Thus we find every ideal of old, moral and spiritual, abased to
correspond with the present low moral and unspiritual conceptions
of the public. Brutalized by a psychical famine which has lasted
through generations, they are ready to give every ideal spiritual
Regenerator as food for the dogs, while like their debauched prototypes,
the Roman populace under Nero, Caligula, and Heliogabalus, they
crowd to see bull-fights in Paris, where the wretched horses drag
their bleeding bowels around the arena, imported Almehs dancing
their loathsome danse du ventre, black and white pugilists
bruising each other's features into bloody pulp, and "raise
the roof" with their cheers when the Samsons and Sandows
burst chains and snap wires by expanding their preter-natural
muscles. Why keep up the old farce any longer? Why not change
the Christmas carol thus:
Gladiator natus hodie.
Or change the well-known anthem after this fashion:
"GLORY TO GOLD IN THE HIGHEST
AND ON EARTH STRIFE, ILL-WILL TOWARD MEN."
* * * *
In a world of illusion in which the law of evolution operates,
nothing could be more natural than that the ideals of MAN as
a unit of total, or mankind should be forever shifting. A part
of the Nature around him, that Protean, ever-changing Nature,
every particle of which is incessantly transformed, while the
harmonious body remains as a whole ever the same, like these particles
man is continually changing, physically, intellectually, morally,
spiritually. At one time he is at the topmost point of the circle
of development; at another, at the lowest. And, as he thus alternately
rises and sinks, and his moral nature responsively expands or
contracts, so will his moral code at one time embody the noblest
altruistic and aspirational ideals, while at the other, the ruling
conscience will be but the reflection of selfishness, brutality
and faithlessness. But this, however, is so only on the external,
illusionary plane. In their internal, or rather essential constitution,
both nature and man are at one, as their essence is identical.
All grows and develops and strives toward perfection on the former
planes of externality or, as well said by a philosopher, is "ever
becoming"; but on the ultimate plane of the spiritual essence
all Is, and remains therefore immutable. It is toward this eternal Esse that every thing, as every being, is gravitating,
gradually, almost imperceptibly, but as surely as the Universe
of stars and worlds moves towards a mysterious point known to,
yet still unnamed by, astronomy, and called by the Occultists the central Spiritual Sun.
Hitherto, it was remarked in almost every historical age that
a wide interval, almost a chasm, lay between practical and ideal
perfection. Yet, as from time to time certain great characters
appeared on earth who taught mankind to look beyond the veil of
illusion, man learnt that the gulf was not an impassable one;
that it is the province of mankind through its higher and more
spiritual races to fill the great gap more and more with every
coming cycle; for every man, as a unit, has it in his power to
add his mite toward filling it. Yes; there are still men, who,
notwithstanding the present chaotic condition of the moral world,
and the sorry débris of the best human ideals, still
persist in believing and teaching that the now ideal human
perfection is no dream, but a law of divine nature; and that,
had Mankind to wait even millions of years, still it must some
day reach it and rebecome a race of gods.
Meanwhile, the periodical rise and fall of human character on
the external planes takes place now, as it did before, and the
ordinary average perception of man is too weak to see that both
processes occur each time on a higher plane than the preceding.
But as such changes are not always the work of centuries, for
often extreme changes are wrought by swift acting forces e.g. by wars, speculations, epidemics, the devastation of famines
or religious fanaticism therefore, do the blind masses imagine
that man was, is, and will be the same. To the eyes of us, moles,
mankind is like our globe seemingly stationary. And yet, both
move in space and time with an equal velocity, around themselves
Moreover, at whatever end of his evolution, from the birth of
his consciousness, in fact, man was, and still is, the vehicle
of a dual spirit in him good and evil. Like the twin sisters
of Victor Hugo's grand, posthumous poem "Satan" the
progeny issued respectively from Light and Darkness the angel
"Liberty" and the angel "Isis-Lilith" have
chosen man as their dwelling on earth, and these are at eternal
strife in him.
The Churches tell the world that "man is born in sin,"
and John (1st Epist.iii.,8) adds that "He that committeth
sin is of the devil, for the devil sinneth from the beginning."
Those who still believe in the rib-and-apple fable and in the
rebellious angel "Satan," believe, as a matter of course,
in a personal Devil as a contrast in a dualistic religion to
a personal God. We, Theosophists of the Eastern school, believe
in neither. Yet we go, perhaps, further still than the Biblical
dead letter. For we say that while as extra-cosmic Entities
there is neither god nor devil, that both exist, nevertheless.
And we add that both dwell on earth in man, being, in truth, the
very man himself, who is, as a physical being, the devil,
the true vehicle of evil, and as a spiritual entity god,
or good. Hence, to say to mankind, "thou hast the
devil," is to utter as metaphysical a truth as when saying
to all its men, "Know ye not that god dwelleth in you?"
Both statements are true. But, we are at the turning point of
the great social cycle, and it is the former fact which has the
upper hand at present. Yet, as to paraphrase a Pauline text "there
be devils many . . . yet there is but one Satan," so while
we have a great variety of devils constituting collectively mankind,
of such grandiose Satanic characters as are painted by Milton,
Byron and recently by Victor Hugo, there are few, if any. Hence,
owing to such mediocrity, are the human ideals falling, to remain
unreplaced; a prose-life as spiritually dead as the London November
fog, and as alive with brutal materialism and vices, the seven
capital sins forming but a portion of these, as that fog is with
deadly microbes. Now we rarely find aspirations toward the eternal
ideal in the human heart, but instead of it every thought tending
toward the one central idea of our century, the great "I,"
self being for each the one mighty center around which the
whole Universe is made to revolve and turn.
When the Emperor Julian called the Apostate because, believing
in the grand ideals of his forefathers, the Initiates, he would
not accept the human anthropomorphic form thereof saw for the
last time his beloved gods appear to him, he wept. Alas, they
were no longer the bright spiritual beings he had worshipped,
but only the decrepit, pale and worn out shades of the gods he
had so loved. Perchance they were the prophetic vision of the
departing ideals of his age, as also of our own cycle. These "gods"
are now regarded by the Church as demons and called so;
while he who has preserved a poetical, lingering love for them,
is forthwith branded as an Anti-Christ and a modern Satan.
Well, Satan is an elastic term, and no one has yet ever given
even an approximately logical definition of the symbolical meaning
of the name. The first to anthropomorphize it was John Milton;
he is his true putative intellectual father, as it is widely conceded
that the theological Satan of the Fall is the "mind-born
Son" of the blind poet. Bereft of his theological and dogmatic
attributes Satan is simply an adversary, not necessarily
an "arch fiend" or a "persecutor of men,"
but possibly also a foe of evil. He may thus become a Saviour
of the oppressed, a champion of the weak and poor, crushed by
the minor devils (men), the demons of avarice, selfishness and
hypocrisy. Michelet calls him the "great Disinherited"
and takes him to his heart. The giant Satan of poetical concept
is, in reality, but the compound of all the dissatisfied and noble
intellectuality of the age. But Victor Hugo was the first to intuitively
grasp the occult truth. Satan, in his poem of that time, is a
truly grandiose Entity, with enough human in him to bring it within
the grasp of average intellects. To realize the Satans of Milton
and of Byron is like trying to grasp a handful of the morning
mist: there is nothing human in them. Milton's Satan wars
with angels who are a sort of flying puppets, without spontaneity,
pulled into the stage of being and of action by the invisible
string of theological predestination; Hugo's Lucifer fights a
fearful battle with his own terrible passions and again becomes
an Archangel of Light, after the awfulest agonies ever conceived
by mortal mind and recorded by human pen.
All other Satanic ideals pale before his splendour. The Mephisto
of Goethe is a true devil of theology; the Ahriman of Byron's
"Manfred" a too supernatural character, and even Manfred
has little akin to the human element, great as was the genius
of his creator. All these images pale before Hugo's SATAN, who loves as strongly as he hates. Manfred and Cain are the incarnate Protests of downtrodden, wronged and persecuted individuality
against the "World" and "Society" those giant
fiends and savage monsters of collective injustice. Manfred is
the type of an indomitable will, proud, yielding to no influence
earthly or divine, valuing his full absolute freedom of action
above any personal feeling or social consideration, higher than
Nature and all in it. But, with Manfred as with Cain, the Sef,
the "I" is ever foremost; and there is not a spark of
the all-redeeming love in them, no more than of fear. Manfred
will not submit even to the universal Spirit of Evil; alone, face
to face with the dark opponent of Ahura-Mazda Universal Light Ahriman
and his countless hosts of Darkness, he still holds his own. These
types arouse in one intense wonder, awe-struck amazement by their
all-defiant daring, but arouse no human feeling: they are too
supernatural ideals. Byron never thought of vivifying his
Archangel with that undying spark of love which forms nay, must form the essence of the "First-Born" out of the
homogeneous essence of eternal Harmony and Light, and is the element
of forgiving reconciliation, even in its (according to our philosophy)
last terrestrial offspring Humanity. Discord is the concomitant
of differentiation, and Satan being an evolution, must in that
sense, be an adversary, a contrast, being a type of Chaotic matter.
The loving essence cannot be extinguished but only perverted.
Without this saving redemptive power, embodied in Satan, he simply
appears the nonsensical failure of omnipotent and omniscient imbecility
which the opponents of theological Christianity sneeringly and
very justly make him: with it he becomes a thinkable Entity, the Asuras of the Puranic myths, the first breaths of
Brahma, who, after fighting the gods and defeating them are finally
themselves defeated and then hurled on to the earth where they
incarnate in Humanity. Thus Satanic Humanity becomes comprehensible.
After moving around his cycle of obstacles he may, with accumulated
experiences, after all the throes of Humanity, emerge again into
the light as Eastern philosophy teaches.
If Hugo had lived to complete his poem, possibly with strengthened
insight, he would have blended his Satanic concept with that of
the Aryan races which makes all minor powers, good or evil, born
at the beginning and dying at the close of each "Divine Age."
As human nature is ever the same, and sociological, spiritual
and intellectual evolution is a question of step by step, it is
quite possible that instead of catching one half of the Satanic
ideal as Hugo did, the next great poet may get it wholly: thus
voicing for his generation the eternal idea of Cosmic equilibrium
so nobly emphasized in the Aryan mythology. The first half of
that ideal approaches sufficiently to the human ideal to make
the moral tortures of Hugo's Satan entirely comprehensible to
the Eastern Theosophist. What is the chief torment of this great
Cosmic Anarchist? It is the moral agony caused by such a duality
of nature the tearing asunder of the Spirit of Evil and Opposition
from the undying element of primeval love in the Archangel. That
spark of divine love for Light and Harmony, that no HATE can wholly smother, causes him a torture far more unbearable than
his Fall and exile for protest and Rebellion. This bright, heavenly
spark, shining from Satan in the black darkness of his kingdom
of moral night, makes him visible to the intuitive reader. It
made Victor Hugo see him sobbing in superhuman despair, each mighty
sob shaking the earth from pole to pole; sobs first of baffled
rage that he cannot extirpate love for divine Goodness (God) from
his nature; then changing into a wail of despair at being cut
off from that divine love he so much yearns for. All this is intensely
human. This abyss of despair is Satan's salvation. In his Fall, a feather drops from his white and once immaculate wing, is
lighted up by a ray of divine radiance and forth with transformed
into a bright Being, the Angel LIBERTY. Thus,
she is Satan's daughter, the child jointly of God and the Fallen
Archangel, the progeny of Good and Evil, of Light and Darkness,
and God acknowledges this common and "sublime paternity"
that unites them. It is Satan's daughter who saves him. At the
acme of despair at feeling himself hated by LIGHT, Satan hears the divine words "No; I hate thee not."
Saith the Voice, "An angel is between us, and her deeds go
to thy credit. Man, bound by thee, by her is now delivered."
O Satan, tu peux dire á present: je vivrai!
Viens; l'Ange Liberté c'est ta fille et la mienne
Cette paternité sublime nous unit! . . .
The whole conception is an efflorescence of metaphysical ideality.
This white lotus of thought springs now, as in former ages, from
the rottenness of the world of matter, generating Protest and
LIBERTY. It is springing in our very midst
and under our very eyes, from the mire of modern civilization,
fecund bed of contrasting virtues. In this foul soil sprouted
the germs which ultimately developed into All-denying protestators,
Atheists, Nihilists, and Anarchists, men of the Terror. Bad, violent,
criminal some of them may be, yet no one of them could stand as
the copy of Satan; but taking this heart-broken, hopeless, embittered
portion of humanity in their collectivity, they are just Satan
himself; for he is the ideal synthesis of all discordant forces
and each separate human vice or passion is but an atom of his
totality. In the very depths of the heart of this HUMAN Satanic
totality burns the divine spark, all negations notwithstanding.
It is called LOVE FOR HUMANITY,
an ardent aspiration for a universal reign of Justice hence a
latent desire for light, harmony and goodness. Where do we find
such a divine spark among the proud and the wealthy? In respectable
Society and the correct orthodox, so-called religious portion
of the public, one finds but a predominating feeling of selfishness
and a desire for wealth at the expense of the weak and the destitute,
hence as a parallel, indifference to injustice and evil. Before
Satan, the incarnate PROTEST, repents and
reunites with his fellow men in one common Brotherhood, all cause
for protest must have disappeared from earth. And that can come
to pass only when Greed, Bias, and Prejudice shall have disappeared
before the elements of Altruism and Justice to all. Freedom, or
Liberty, is but a vain word just now all over the civilized globe;
freedom is but a cunning synonym for oppression of the people
in the name of the people, and it exists for castes, never for
units. To bring about the reign of Freedom as contemplated by
Hugo's Satan, the "Angel Liberty" has to be born simultaneously
and by common love and consent of the "higher" wealthy
caste, and the "lower" classes the poor; in other words,
to become the progeny of "God" and "Satan,"
thereby reconciling the two.
But this is a Utopia for the present. It cannot take place before
the castes of the modern Levites and their theology the
Dead-sea fruit of Spirituality shall have disappeared; and the
priests of the Future have declared before the whole World in
the words of their "God"
Et j'éfface la nuit sinistre, et rien n'en reste,
Satan est mort, renais O LUCIFER CELESTE!