LECTURE THE FIFTH
THE CONSTITUTION OF EXISTENCE: ITS NATURE AND UNITY (1)
1. the argument to the exposition of which this discourse will be devoted, is based on the doctrine of the Correspondence subsisting between things manifest to the inner sense and things manifest to the outer sense: “the invisible things of God being,” as Paul says, “understood by the things that are made.”
Now the reasonableness and necessity of this doctrine of Correspondence between the outer and the inner, between the real and the material, become apparent when we consider the essential unity of both – unity, that is, of Substance, implying unity of origin and of mode.
2. As has already been advanced, the Real is substance in its condition of spirit or Mind; and the Phenomenal is substance in its condition of densification – become manifest, that is, by Motion. Between these two – real and phenomenal, spirit and matter – there is no arbitrary, definite line of separation, no bound of division precluding interaction, but a transitional difference only, such as exists at their extreme limits between all departments of nature. That which commonly is known as “Nature” comprises the phenomena cognisable by the outer sense; that which is commonly designated “supernatural” comprises all the inner kingdom, the primary kingdom of ideas, cognisable by the interior sense. This latter region, far from being “contrary” to the natural, necessarily precedes and controls the expression of nature, the phenomena of which exist only, because the super or ante-natural subsists. Hence the relation
of Mind – which is Substance under the attribute of thought – to Matter – which is Substance under the attribute of extension; and hence also the possibility of the power, wrongly called “miraculous,” which is the prerogative of men who develop and exercise all their human faculties. Such are men understanding the procession of nature, and acting by and within laws the conditions for enforcing which are not fulfilled by the majority of the race. For, as all Substance is single, so all Force is single; and Law is the mode of application of Force, and of its relation to Substance. Law, therefore, though it seem to be diverse, is one in principle; and this principle is expressed pretty closely by the term Polarisation – analogous to Gravitation. So long as we work within and by the Law, we direct Force and maintain Order and Life: when we violate it, Force recoils upon us, and disorder and death ensue in the economy concerned. These three entities – Force, Substance, and Law – are present throughout the universe, whether in the real or in the phenomenal world, because between these worlds there is no difference of essence, but only of extension or mode. That is to say, the attributes of Matter are dependent for their manifestation on Condition; this condition itself being due to the operation of Force upon the substance of Matter. Substance is spiritual, fluid or solid according to its dynamic state; and Force, however immeasurably active or restrained, is eternally present, and the Law of its manifestation is, in every degree of that manifestation, the same. Force, whether active or latent, is co-equal with Substance. We can conceive neither of Substance without Force, nor of Force without Substance, and both are expressed in and by Law. From these three, co-equal and co-eternal, proceeds the universe.
3. As in a lake are mirrored the images of things above it, so, in the Phenomenal are seen the projections of the Real. By means of the former we apprehend the latter; for the process of the rays which convey the image from the invisible rarer medium of the airy atmosphere to the tangible grosser medium of the watery, is identical and continuous in both.
4. Such is the basis of the famous doctrine of Correspondence, to which the name of Swedenborg has become attached, but which is equally Spinozic, and, thousands of years before Spinoza, belonged to the Hermetic and Kabbalistic philosophy; the doctrine, in short, upon which all parabolic or mystic scriptures are based, and in the principle of which is contained the Key of their interpretation. The etymology of the word Religion
itself finds an explanation in this doctrine, which binds together (religare) the things of heaven and the things of earth, whether in the Macrocosm or in the Microcosm. As the will of the religious man is bound up with the Divine Will, so is the law of things earthly with the law of things heavenly. And, as we have seen, this doctrine is formulated on the Hermetic (and Spinozic) proposition of the unity of the substance of all things. Great and small, outer and inner, nether and upper, phenomenal and spiritual, microscopic and telescopic, all are of one essence, manifested by one force, and governed by one law. To paraphrase the well-known aphorism of Islam: “There is but one Substance, and the Law of Correspondence is its Exponent.”
6. To the objection that, in instituting the comparison about to be made, we are arguing from that which is wholly phenomenal to that which is phenomenal in part only, the answer is, that the objector has not yet grasped the fact that there is nothing wholly phenomenal in the universe. The immaterial is but substance in a more ethereal and essential condition than the material, since the method and constitution of all things are necessarily one. As the substantial is that which sub-stands the phenomenal, phenomenal form and action are what they are because they represent to phenomenal sensation the processes of eternal positive Being. That which causes the Soul and the astral body to evade cognition by the outer perception, is not a difference of kind from the phenomenal, but a difference of mode; the mode of their manifestation being ordinarily such as
to render them inappreciable by the methods employed for the cognition of objects commonly called Sensible.
7. To give an illustration: The radiation which composes the solar spectrum possesses a dimension much larger than that of which the eye can take cognisance. This spectrum is, in reality, composed of three distinct parts: – 1st) of luminous rays, which, acting on the retina of the eye, constitute the spectrum of seven simple colours; 2nd) of rays lying within the red ray, and which do not affect the vision, but the existence of which is scientifically demonstrated by their calorific power; 3rd) of rays lying beyond the violet, equally invisible, but whose existence is not the less demonstrable by chemical tests. Thus the spectrum consists of three sorts of rays, calorific, luminous, and chemical; the second of which only is directly appreciable by the organ of vision, the existence of the others being ascertained by experimental observation involving an exercise of mind.
8. Now, the reason why we cannot see the rays lying inside the red, is, that the optic nerve is so constituted as to be sensitive to the vibrations of the universal ethereal medium only when the number of them is contained within certain limits; for the ether it is, and not the air, which, by means of the vibrations of its molecules, causes in us the sensation of light. The red ray is found by scientists to set up in the ethereal medium a number of vibrations estimated at 496 millions of millions a second; and the violet ray, a number estimated at 728 millions of millions a second. These two colours, and all the other five lying between them, are perceptible to the eye; but the constitution and disposition of the optic nerve does not permit the appreciation of colours producing a less number of vibrations than those set up by the red ray, or a greater number than those due to the violet. Nevertheless, the invisible rays certainly affect the ether in the same manner as do the visible rays; for it is ascertained that caloric is transmitted by the same vehicle as light, the difference between the two being expressed only by a difference in the degree of the velocity of motion respectively produced in the mass of ether. Similarly, the exceedingly refrangible rays beyond the violet determine chemical action only, because the intensely rapid and short undulations to which they give rise, manifest their action, not in heat, nor in light, but in the operation of composition, decomposition, and allied phenomena.
9. This study of the spectrum affords an analogy of the relation between the material and the spiritual. The spectral rays are all one in kind; they are all manifest by motion; and that
motion is controlled by one law. But our vision is capable of responding only to the results of motion within certain limits. We accept the fact of the existence of the imperceptible rays, and recognise the method of their transmission as identical with that of the visible rays, although their mode of operation is so different from that of the latter that the relation between the two is demonstrable only by an application of science. In like manner the spiritual, or unmanifest, becomes cognisable by the mind, and is discerned as necessary to the explanation and completion of the phenomenal, by means of the phenomenal itself. The phenomenal is but a part manifestation of the whole; it is that portion of the planisphere which, at any given moment, happens to be above our horizon.
10. Since, thus, the Spiritual is in thought that which the Material is in extension, there is nothing illogical in reasoning from the one to the other. And we may fully take the phenomenal as an expression adapted to our limited bodily apprehension, of substantial verities lying eternally within and beyond the range of our transient perceptive organs. Of these Verities, which Constitute the kingdom of the Real, the phenomenal may be likened to the shadow, which, though readily apprehended by the mere exterior sense, appeals for comprehension of its nature and import to the extension of sensation in reason. Thus Mind is competent to grasp the universe which, transcending sense, occupies both the Within and the Beyond.
11. Now the universe of the phenomenal is resumed and epitomised in the organic Cell. By this term is denoted a mass of organised living matter, having a determinate form and constituting an individuality capable of nourishing and reproducing itself. Primitively spherical, but able to assume various forms, this organic unity may, according to circumstances, be reduced to a homogeneous mass of albuminoid substance, or, in a more developed and perfect state, it may offer distinct parts having different characters and properties; all these parts being modifications, by differentiation of polarity, of the same fluidic substance. This fundamental substance is known as Protoplasm, itself highly complex in constitution, containing chiefly the four elements – oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen – sulphur and phosphorus, and distinguished from all other modes of matter by the fact that it possesses vital qualities, absorbing, appropriating, reproducing, and dying.
12. The Cell, thus constituted, is the basis of every living economy. Of such microscopic entities, themselves individual
and vitalised, are composed the solids and fluids of all organic bodies, whether animal or vegetable. The cuticle, the muscular tissue, the nervous tissue, the cartilaginous and bony fabrics, the connective tissues, the blood and the lymph of the human economy, all are built up and constituted of cellular entities, varying, according to the particular tissue or humour, in aspect, dimension, constitution, and consistence.
[Figure 3: Section of the Typical Organic Cell.
A. Nucleolus: Divine Spirit, Nous, Jechidah. B. Nucleus: Soul, Anima Divina, Neschamah. C. Protoplasm or Cell-substance: Perisoul, divisible into two parts, i.e., Earthly Mind, Anima Bruta, Ruach; and Astral body, Shade, Nephesch. D. Cell-membrane: Physical body. E. Protoplasmic Granules: Astral Reflects or “Spirits.”]
14. The composition of the protoplasm, or fluidic content of the cell, undergoes variations according to the age of the cell. At first it is formed only of albuminoid substance; but later, the processes of assimilation and of disassimilation which occur in and by it, give rise – either by intussusception, or by internal generation – to the production in its mass of diverse granulations, pigmentary, fatty, and other. The proportion borne by the protoplasmic contents of a cell to its other constituent parts varies with the kind of cell, and with its age and circumstances. Under certain conditions, this plasmic medium may – as in old epithelial cells on the extreme surface of the skin – become by degrees wholly solidified, incapable of exercising its normal functions, and transformed into a fixed horny mass known to anatomists as “keratine.” This mass is formed by the intimate merging of the nucleus, cell-membrane, and transformed fluidic body, all of which have become indistinguishable and inseparable one from another, the hardening mass of the degraded protoplasm having gradually absorbed alike the nucleus and the periphery. Such cells are no longer capable of self-perpetuation; they gradually detach themselves, and are shed from the economy of which they were once living elements.
15. The nucleus of the cell may be examined microscopically with most distinctness in embryonic tissues. It presents the appearance of a sphere or vesicule, the contents of which are more or less liquid, homogeneous, and transparent. This substance differs in quality from that of the protoplasmic fluid surrounding it, with which it is prevented from fusing by a capsule so tenuous and diaphanous that its presence, even under the strongest lens power, is demonstrated chiefly by the current observable in its contents. In the interior of the transparent matrix of the nucleus is discernible, in the perfect cell, a tiny, brilliant globule called the nucleolus. This bright central point – of spherical form and albuminoid nature – was formerly regarded as pre-existing the nucleus, and determining its production. It is now ascertained to be an ulterior formation, resulting from a differentiation in the liquid mass of the nucleus. In some cells the nucleolus is represented, not by a single brilliant point, but by two or even more, all identical in origin and nature, and manifold only in the same sense as light itself.
16. Such, briefly, is the constitution of the organic vital particle. Before inquiring into its behaviour it will be well to compare the details of structure just described with those of the human kingdom, as they are presented to us by the Gnosis alike
of all ancient schools, the Hermetic, the Buddhistic, the Platonic, and the rest.
According to this Gnosis, Man attains his completion and is made in the Divine image on becoming fourfold. He is constituted, from without inwards, of body, astral or fluid body, soul, and spirit. So also, we have seen, is the perfect cell. Its cortical envelope, or wall, represents its fixed body; the protoplasmic medium lying within represents its fluid body; the nucleus, its soul; the nucleolus, its spirit. And just as all these different elements of the cell are produced from one material substance by variation of polarisation, so are all the four elements of Man begotten in the bosom of one Substance, and that the one Vital Living Mother, the essential Protoplasm of both Microcosm and Macrocosm. And as the material protoplasm is thus quadruple in potentiality, so is also the Divine Protoplasm quadruple, inasmuch as within it are contained the alchemic elements of the constitution of the fourfold universe, human and general. This Divine basis of life it is to which all lives are ultimately traceable.
17. As the cell-membrane is made and put forth by the fluidic cell-content, so precisely is the phenomenal human body made and put forth by the astral, or, as sometimes it is styled, the “fiery” body. And as the histologist may by mechanical compression expel the fluidic contents from a cell, leaving the empty sheathing on his object-glass, so the soul and astral body may be expelled from the phenomenal body. And, moreover, as in the early age of the cell, its fluidic medium is pure and clear, but gradually, from within or from without, becomes loaded with floating granulations, sometimes so numerous and so dense as to conceal the nucleus and to mask its very existence; so the astral element of man – which in childhood is translucent and unclouded – becomes, as he grows older, thronged with phantasmal images, evoked from within or reflected from without, which obscure the perceptions of the soul, and may even threaten to absorb or engulf it. It is for this reason that, in order to receive “the kingdom of Heaven,” man must revert to the pure condition of childhood and be “born again,” by which process he clears his astral element, and becoming “pure,” “sees God” – the Sun and Nucleolus of his Soul.
18. The plasmic medium of the cell may, as we have observed, become by degrees so solidified and horny as to be exclusively cortical, and to present throughout its whole mass a uniform hard consistency, neither nucleus nor protoplasm being any
longer distinguishable. So also may man, by persistent tendency outwards, grow wholly materialised, his soul and his rational part degrading continually, and becoming at last altogether sensual, and capable of apprehending material things only. What is the end of such a man? We have seen what is the end of the cell under similar conditions. It pushes its way more and more to the surface of the cuticle, and at last disintegrates, being shed or pared off, and so is lost to the economy. In like manner, by the same law operating identically in small and great, is the finally unregenerate man lost. He has ceased to fulfil the conditions of being, and life can no longer retain him.
19. The nucleus of the cell answers, as we have seen, to the Soul. Within it is a tiny brilliant point, the nucleolus, the nature of which has never been determined, but which is known not to exist in all cells. Many cells go through their entire course of evolution from birth to death without ever possessing a nucleolus. Its correspondence in man is the Divine Spirit. The possession of this constitutes him man in the perfect sense. Like the nucleolus in the nucleus, it appears in the soul through a differentiation of polarity occurring in the psychic element itself. Rudimentary men and mere animals have it not at any stage of their existence as rudimentaries. And as, on the other hand, the nucleolus is seen in certain cells to be dual or even multiple, so also, in some high and saintly souls the AEon or “Double Portion” may be manifest, thus constituting them media for the Macrocosmic as well as the Microcosmic God. Or – as with the Christs – the Divine Spirit may rest upon them with such fulness as to polarise in them all Its Sevenfold powers. (1)
20. We now pass to the second part of our study, namely, the history of the behaviour, or evolution, of the Cell. The nucleus was long ago demonstrated – at least in the greater number of cases – to exist prior to the formation of the cell itself as a complete entity, of which it has therefore been considered by many observers as the necessary point of departure. (2) But it is only
very recently that the entire history of the cell, from its earliest to its latest stages, has been consecutively traced and chronicled.
21. The Journal of the Royal Microscopical Society for June, 1879, contains a paper which had been previously read before the Society by two well-known students of histology, on the development and retrogression of the typical cell.
The authors of this careful study have assured themselves that all fixed or stationary cells have once been “wandering” cells, that is, nomadic embryonic entities moving over the free surfaces of membranes, in search of some medium or tissue for which they have a physiological affinity, and which, when met with, they will penetrate, by passing from the upper free surface of the membrane into the endothelium-covered tract wherein alone fixed cells are found. Here they will root themselves, and take on the character of “fixed” cells, becoming through contiguity, or some other cause, similar to the other fixed cells of the tissue into which they have been drawn. Young wandering cells, just entering on the migratory stage, consist of a nucleus surrounded by a mere film of protoplasm or cell-substance, but having no
peripheral envelope (see Figure 4). Older wanderers, ripe for a new stage of development as fixed cells, have abundance of protoplasm round their nucleus. Every gradation of form may be seen between these two extreme types; and, whenever a wandering cell is about to become a fixed cell, it develops a considerable amount of protoplasm, which increases in such a manner as to form by degrees the strong peripheral envelope characteristic of the condition of a fixed cell. Having fulfilled its period of evolution and existence in this form, it returns into its original state of a “wanderer.” Of this return the process – which has been observed – is described as follows: –
22. During the development of the cell – taking for type a cell of adipose tissue – it is noticed that as the protoplasmic element of the cell increases, the number of floating granulations contained in this element increases also pari passu. In the absorption or retrogression of the cell, there are thus two elements to get rid of before the cell can return to its original condition, namely, excess of protoplasm and the corpuscular deposits it contains. During the evolution of the cell in its fixed state these granulations may become so numerous or extensive as to distend the matrix of the protoplasm, and displace the nucleus from its central position. Even in the process of return to the free condition, the nucleus does not at once recover its former place and dimensions, but by degrees only, as the process about to be described admits.
23. When a fixed cell is about to disintegrate, the granules which crowd the protoplasmic medium are seen becoming as it were detached from the transparent fluid containing them, and appear as if increasing in number. Suddenly, and without any particular change or warning, the cell begins to break up. The granules are shed on every side and apparently in no definite direction. With them goes also the excess of the protoplasm which contained them, and, of course, the external periphery formed by the thickening of the outer ring of the protoplasm. The nucleus is then again left in the condition of a “wanderer,” with only a faintly tinted zone of protoplasm attached to it. Thus, when the period of life of the fixed cell is ended, its essential element, surrounded only by this transparent investment, regains the power of locomotion and drifts off from the scene of its quondam existence (figures 4 and 5).
24. Its nomadic faculty being now restored, there is every reason to conclude that it may travel into quite other localities, and by contiguity become again a fixed entity in another kind of tissue. For as, when first observed, the nucleus and its filmy
envelope constituted a wandering cell, having migrated along free surfaces from some part unknown to the observer; and as, when last observed, it had returned to that condition, the obvious inference is, that at the time of the first observation it may
[Figure 4: Wandering Cell, deprived of Cell-membrane
and Granules (section).
A and B, same as in Fig.
[Figure 5: Break-up of the Fixed Cell, and Dispersion
of the Granules and Excess of Protoplasm (section).
A, B, C, D, and E, same
as in Fig.
already have passed through other evolutions and disintegrations than that one process actually described, and that when last observed, it was on its way again to undergo a similar evolution, and so on, perhaps, almost indefinitely. The question is one, of
course, involving great patience and accuracy on the part of the investigator, and great precision on the part of his instruments. The researches detailed in the paper just quoted, were carried on with unwearied care for a term of more than four years, (1) and their results verified on a vast number of preparations. A sequel to these studies is promised, when the history of the progress and ultimate destiny of the cell shall have been still further successfully traced. Meantime, so far as concerns the facts ascertained, the behaviour of the elements constituting the cell parallels exactly the history of the constituent elements of man.
25. Let us take the first fact established – that all fixed cells having cortical envelopes have once been wandering cells consisting only of nucleus and surrounding protoplasmic film – and compare it with the Hermetic doctrine concerning the soul. The nucleus, as we have seen, represents the soul, and the protoplasmic fluid the astral region of the human kingdom. Like the soul, the nucleus pre-exists as a wandering entity, clothed only in the transparent intangible medium which constitutes the link between it and the earthly, and which indicates it as still “under the elements,” and liable to the vicissitudes of “existence.” The time for it to take on itself a new condition by redescending into Matter, is determined by the law of affinity, which is one with that of gravitation. When this time arrives, the soul penetrates the earthly atmosphere, which is represented by the endothelium-covered tissue, and roots itself in the sphere of those incarnate personalities with which, at such time, it has the closest sympathy or magnetic affinity. It then, by means of its astral body, puts forth a phenomenal material periphery, or fleshly body, and becomes incarnate as animal or as man, its new condition not being determined arbitrarily, but being always the inevitable result of its acquired affinities, behaviour, and capacities. That which determines the incarnation of a soul is its gravitation towards Matter, through being weighted, so to speak, with a dense astral element, incapable of present sublimation, and its need of further purgation in the earthly sphere before it can mount to the celestial. So, accordingly, we have seen, that which converts the wandering nucleus into a fixed cell, is precisely the great abundance of the protoplasmic element with which it is, at any given moment, surrounded. If man would escape the necessity of re-incarnation, he must destroy in himself the tendency towards Matter, the love of the flesh, and
the affection for the objects of earth and of the outer sense; for all these minister to the astral, and the astral to them, and inevitably cause gravitation towards the earthly sphere. And the soul is and must be obedient to this law of gravitation; for, as has been observed, it is the universal law in which, and by which, everywhere, Force works in Substance.
26. We have seen that when the time arrives for the fixed cell to disintegrate, it sheds the greater part of its protoplasmic element containing the granulations and corpuscular deposits which, during its evolution as a fixed cell, it had accumulated therein. Thus, too, at death, man sheds his body, and with it that part of his astral personality (anima bruta) which is intimately attached to it, and which contains those unsubstantial reflects and images of mundane things developed in his mind by the circumstances of the earth-life he is about to quit: mirages and illusions which Death breaks down; clouds and phantasms which, perhaps, may have so overspread the man's outer reason as to obscure his inner life and choke the free expansion of his soul and its divine germ. For in the normal and unperverted condition, the place of this divine germ in the man, like that of the sun in the system and of the nucleus in the cell, is central. Hence the common phrase used of the man in whom the love or soul element maintains its human ascendency: “His heart is in the right place.” But when the astral or earthly mind develops unduly, and its false growths begin to obscure and repress the intuition, the man resembles the cell in which the nucleus is driven from its central position and replaced by the products of degeneration.
27. With regard to these products our authors further observe: “The point of greatest importance is the nature or character of the granules which we see leaving the cells and travelling through the gelatinous matrix of the membrane, apparently by virtue of their own power of locomotion. Indeed, the end of these studies only opens out to us the commencement of other more minute, more delicate, and more important researches. As may well be conceived, the first point of importance to settle was, whether they were fatty or protoplasmic in their nature. If, as was likely, they were fat-granules, little importance was to be attached to them; but if, on the contrary, they were protoplasmic in character, they were all-important as a key to the past and an explanation of the future.”
In order to decide this point, recourse was had to many and various chemical tests, the result of winch unmistakably proved
these granules to be, not fatty, but protoplasmic in nature. “The character stamped upon them by staining tests,” continues the recital, “as well as the power they appeared to possess of moving off at pleasure from the parent-cells by their own inherent power, show us that we have here to do with something specific in biology, something vastly more minute, and a stage more elementary than the composite body called a cell; something which lives and moves and has its being independently of the cell, and to which we are called upon to assign a specific sphere in nature. Have we here, in these living atoms, germs, the micrococci, the zoogloea, the spores, fungi, bacteria, or the spores from which bacteria are developed? We have no doubt that they furnish a key to the alleged discoveries of some of the above-named classes of organisms in certain specific or infective diseases in the past, and may probably furnish an explanation of many infective processes in the future. Dr. Bastian, in his work, On the Lower Organisms, says, in endeavouring to account for the presence of bacteria within the living body; ‘We must imagine that when the vital activity of any organism, whether simple or complex, is on the wane, its constituent particles (being still portions of living matter) are capable of individualising themselves, and of growing into the low organisms in question. Just as the life of one of the cells of a higher organism may continue for some time after the death of the organism itself, so, in accordance with this latter view, may one of the particles of such a cell be supposed to continue to live after even cell life is impossible.'
“This hypothesis of Dr. Bastian is exactly applicable to the granular particles we have described; we believe them to supply the missing link between cellular and germ pathology; and their bearing on the causation of disease will become more apparent when, at another time and place, we have an opportunity of showing that granular exodus is not confined to healthy cells, but that in a virulent disease we have the characteristic granular breaking up of its cells throughout the body, and, in that, the explanation of contagion.”
28. This description, translated into philosophical language, exactly fits the class of magnetic spirits already described as inhabiting the astral region of man's system. We have seen that astral spirits are not persons – that is, they are not in any sense complete entities or cells, for they are protoplasmic merely, possessing no personal soul or permanent element. Yet they may be regarded in many cases as existences, in that they act
with apparent independence, passing from one man's sphere to that of another, and behaving with such a semblance of personality as often to get mistaken for true cells or individuals. In them also we recognise the germs and carriers of all spiritual disease of the contagious kind, such as hysteria, preaching epidemics, religious mania, revival panics, and kindred phenomena, so many hundreds of instances of which have abounded and still abound in all countries and under all systems of faith. And it is no small part that the astral spirits have enacted and still enact in the production of “spiritualistic manifestations,” by means of the facility with which they personate individuals, and of their faculty for reflecting the beliefs or memories of the inquirer and of the Sensitive, as do mirrors the objects placed before them. In like manner they construct phrases, exhortations, rhymes, and descriptive utterances which, though often marvels of eloquence, are essentially worthless, and partake of the unsubstantial and vapid character of the region whence they are derived.
29. We see, then, in this disintegration of the cell and release of the nucleus, the complete picture of the dissolution of the fleshly body of the man, and of his departure from the earth-sphere to wander for a term in a bodiless condition, and finally of his return, saving in rare and special instances, to re-incarnate himself in a new and, generally, a higher form.
30. Thus does the science of things material and transient present us with the image of things substantial and eternal, and thus does knowledge of the phenomenal minister to the divine Gnosis.
As is the Microcosm, so also is the Macrocosm. As is the Cell, so is the Man, so is the Planet, and so the Solar System. And in all, the order of creation is that set forth in the opening chapter of the truly Hermetic book of Genesis; the work of the “fourth day “being in each the manifestation of the Sun – the nucleolus or Central Spirit of the System – by the polarisation of all the elements of the system. And so of the whole universal Cosmos mystically termed the “Grand Man.” The nucleolus is the Macrocosmic God; the nucleus is the Divine Substance, the heavenly Waters upon and within which moves the Spirit or Life, that is, the nucleolus; the protoplasmic fluid is the manifest ether, interplanetary as well as intermolecular, the medium of
light, heat, and electricity; and, finally, the cell-membrane is Matter in its visible and tangible condition.
31. Of these four we know that God and Substance are alone eternal and absolute, Matter and the astral Ether being derived and relative. It is in these last that the infinite Substance particularises itself. The various individual finite forms thus arising, constitute what Spinoza calls Modi. These are to Substance what the waves are to the sea – shapes that perpetually die away, that never are. Nothing finite is possessed of a self-subsistent individuality. The finite individual exists indeed, because the unlimited productive power of Substance must give birth to an infinite variety of particular finite forms; but these have no proper reality: Substance is the only Real. But that which is true of Substance as a whole, is true also of it in subdivision. Substance individualised is still Substance; and each segregated portion of it undergoes similar changes in respect of manifestation. The error which has arisen in connection with the Spinozic doctrine, consists in the application of the term Modus to the essential self of the individual; whereas the truth is, that this being actually divine, and having by the process known as “creation” acquired individuality, is, like God, permanent both In being and in personality, and changeable only as to the mode of its manifestation in Matter. It is this material Modus which is transient and unreal, belonging as it does to that world of phenomenon or illusion, which is expressed in Hindu philosophy by the term Maya. That which is real and permanent in the individual, is thus to be conceived of as an integral portion of that divine Self Who subsists at once both as an infinite whole, and in infinite subdivision.
it corresponds, in the organic Cell, to the nucleus; the false, outer personality, vulgarly taken for the real, having its correspondence in the protoplasmic body which falls away and disperses at the break-up of the cell. Recognition between soul and soul will be finally possible only according to the degree of love which, during their passage through the phenomenal, may have united them. For such love only as has been intense and divine enough in its nature to penetrate beyond the mere outer personality into the true being, will be everlasting in duration. All lesser and lower loves, cares, attractions, affinities, or interests belong wholly to the terrestrial, and – when physical disintegration occurs – are abandoned to the astral atmosphere. In this atmosphere they continue to exist just so long as the respective vitality of each particle permits; as in the parenchyma of the tissues do the protoplasmic corpuscles set free by the breaking up of the cell.
33. All principles endure. Whatever during the soul's experience of transient personality has, in any incarnation, acquired the nature of principle, that is, of Being, is ultimately absorbed by and continues to exist in the permanent personality, when, having completed its Kalpa, it is finally redeemed from existence. For principles are essential and therefore indestructible, being indefeasible properties of Deity. For this reason it is said that in heaven everything is personal, the idea of personality being inherent in every molecule of the Infinite Person, the return into Oneness with whom constitutes Nirvana. Redemption is thus exhibited as the final cause of Creation. For therein Existence returns into Being, Phenomenon into Essence, Matter into Spirit; the Universe reverts to its Sabbath of Perfection, and God “rests” from the work of manifestation.
34. It is in fact the acquirement of true personality that constitutes immortality, and therefore Redemption. Perdition consists in failure to attain permanence as a person, and implies therefore dissolution and dissipation; for, as all is of God, annihilation of the substance of things is impossible. Consisting of the substance of God, and differentiated only by mode and not by nature, the creature possesses the potentiality of the Creator, and is capable of attaining to the condition of God. Thus, the nucleolus, or Divine spirit, appears to be “spontaneously generated” in the nucleus or soul, because all substance is penetrated, suffused, and charged with the Spirit from the beginning; though it is not manifested until the element of the nucleus or soul is polarised in such a degree as no longer to
disperse, but to converge, and thereby render manifest, the Divine light subsisting, latent, in its substance. The operation is the analogue of the polarisation of physical light, a process consisting of a certain modification of the luminous ray, by virtue of which, once reflected or refracted, it becomes incapable of reflecting or refracting itself again in any but one direction. This condition of the ray – which under the old theory of emission was explained by the conception of a material fluid of light – must now be held to depend on the parallel direction assumed by the magnetic poles of all the molecules of ether constituting the vehicle of the ray. In like manner, when the molecules of the psychic element are so directed that their axes all converge to a central point, in accordance with this law of polarisation or gravitation – which, as has been said, is the one law alike of Matter and of Spirit – the whole Will of the soul is single, and harmoniously centralised throughout all its elementary molecules. In such a soul the Divine Spirit – latent and permanent before its polarisation – becomes centralised and manifest (see Figure 6).
35. The process of polarisation in Matter is itself dependent on the existence
and direction of the magnetic forces of its particles. Science has demonstrated
the presence, around every material molecule, of particular currents, which,
before magnetisation, are indeterminately and
heterogeneously directed, and mutually antagonistic; but which, after magnetisation, circulate in such a manner that not only do
all assume the same direction in parallel planes, but their central points are
also all disposed in linear series parallel to the axis of the entity to which
the molecules belong, which thus becomes a system of circular currents equal and
parallel throughout its mass. Every form of Matter is capable of magnetisation; and every molecule of Matter, therefore, is
capable of developing a current of its own, and is necessarily likewise
possessed of poles and an equator. These poles, which before magnetisation are heterogeneously directed, assume under magnetisation such a position as to form continuous lines of
rays; and the contiguity of the positive pole of every molecule to the negative
pole of its immediate successor, constitutes the series a chain of magnetic
attraction (see Figures 6 and
36. That which is in physical science the magnetic current inherent in every molecule of Matter, is, in Hermetic science, the will of the microcosmic individual. The two molecular poles represent the Dual Ego of every personality, and the equator the Unity of this duality. In the system of the ungenerate
man there are many elementary wills, all mutually antagonistic and destructive, the mind warring against the heart, and the senses against the intuition, so that the man is, as it were, torn by contrary winds, and carried hither and
[Figures 6, 7 and 8: Schemata showing the Magnetic
Molecular Poles in Health and in Disease (sections).]
thither by divers passions. And of this condition the result is first spiritual disease, that is, sin, and finally death, that is, dissolution (see Figure 8, B).
37. But in the
regenerate man one harmonious will prevails throughout the whole being; because
of every element therein, the will, which is the spirit, operates in one
direction, causing every elementary
ego to polarise
itself centrally, and thus producing throughout the whole system a regularised series of molecular currents, of which the
resultant collective current is the Will of the Man himself. And of this Will –
united by attraction to the Divine Will, which is the “Universal Magnet” – the
central point of radiation is the Microcosmic God, the Adonai
of the human kingdom, Himself the Express Image – ΧαραКτήρ – of the Infinite Personality. Such
is the condition of Man Regenerate and Redeemed (see Figs.
38. By the violation of this harmony is set up Disease, which is spiritual or phyisical according to the sphere of the disturbance. For the destruction of the polar equilibrium of the cells gives rise to cross magnetisms; and these in their turn cause, in the protoplasmic medium of the cells affected, eddies and other irregular currents which whirl with accelerated velocity around the local foci which have generated them; and, by attracting within their sphere the disintegrated particles of ruptured cells in their vicinity, presently cause these to become manifest as masses of protoplasmic granulation (see Figure 7).
39. Such also is the generation of the astral incubi and ephemera. It occurs through the disintegration of the collective Will of the system concerned, and the divergence of the parts in different directions, with consequent dispersion of the mental forces, and their dissipation in the Extraneous and Illusory.
40. Neither Disease, nor Death in the ordinary acceptation of the word, could reign in a perfectly polarised entity; as neither sin nor weakness could be manifest in a soul perfectly harmonised with and obedient to the Divine Will. But, instead of the process of death as we are ordinarily accustomed to see it, with all its attendant horrors of suffering, delirium, and corruption, would be witnessed the “passing away” of the regenerate, in whom the earthly soul has become suffused with the Divine, and every element of the human personality vitalised by Spirit.
41. The Buddha Gautama, when dying, said to his disciples: “Beloved, that which causes Life, causes also Death and Decay.” The allusion was, doubtless, to the operation of the magnetic body, by which is formed the embryon before birth,
and by which, likewise, the magnetic forces of the earthly frame are gradually re-absorbed and exhausted. That which puts forth centrifugally resolves centripetally when its cycle is accomplished. In the healthily born, purely nourished, unpoisoned and undrugged body, death resembles transmutation rather than dissolution. Disintegration of the organism ensues as a result, not of any pathological process, for that would imply physical “sin” of a mortal kind, but of the gradual withdrawal of the animal life into the magnetic, and consequent gradual reinforcement of the latter, precisely as in the cell about to disintegrate, its protoplasmic contents are seen to become better defined and to increase as, simultaneously, their containing capsule becomes more tenuous and transparent. And where the astral, or merely protoplasmic, has itself been in great measure transmuted into psychic substance, the process implies, necessarily, a reversion from the material to the spiritual plane.
“Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!”
(305:1) This lecture is a reprint of Lecture V of the First Edition of The Perfect Way. It was written by Anna Kingsford, and was delivered by her on Monday the 20th June, 1881. Dr. Ernst Gryzanowsky of Leghorn, who “was recognised far and wide as one of the world's elect, alike for his mental power, scientific and philosophic culture, and grasp of spiritual things,” considered it, and particularly the third part of it, to be one of the most important and interesting chapters of The Perfect Way (Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 113). It was withdrawn from the Second and Third Editions in favour of Lecture V, ante. Edward Maitland says: “The chief reason for its withdrawal was our conviction of the superior importance of the subject of the latter and the impossibility of including both owing to the book being stereotyped. A secondary reason was Mary's reluctance to retain an illustration such as that of the 'Wandering Cell,' while physiologist were still undecided about the reality of the phenomenon” (Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 17, 34; and see Preface).
It is now over forty years since this Lecture was given, and, though the reality of the phenomenon of the “wandering” cell, as therein described, does not appear to be expressly acknowledged by physiologists, it remains uncontradicted. Modern Science, so far as it has declared itself, appears to favour, rather than otherwise, the possibility of such a phenomenon. The idea of the wandering cell has fascinated many modern minds, and each one works it out in his own way. Dr. Halliburton, for example, in his well known Handbook of Physiology (7th Edition), after pointing out that the most obvious physiological characteristic of most cells is their power of movement (p. 12), speaks of “gliding movement” which has been noticed in certain animal cells; “the mobile part of the cell is composed of protoplasm, bounding a central and more compact mass; by means of the free movement of this layer, the cell may be observed to move along” (p. 13): Max Verworn, in his General Physiology (1895), referring to “amoeboid wandering cells of various kinds,” says that amoeboid movement “is found wherever there exist naked protoplasmic masses, there is, cells, the protoplasmic bodies of which are not surrounded by cell membrane” (p. 234): Metchnikoff, in expounding his great theory of the work of the phagocytes, says that “distributed throughout every part of our bodies are certain cells which fulfil special functions of their own. They are capable of independent movement, and also of devouring all sorts of solid matter, a capacity which has gained them the name of phagocytes or voracious cells” (The Nature of Man (1904), p. 239): and Dr. A.T. Shofield, writing of the cell in a recent article on the Systems and Organs of the Body, says that the cell “is capable of spontaneous motion, and frequently of locomotion,” and he refers in particular to the colourless corpuscles which, he says, “seem able to make their way actively and at will about any part of the body,” for “their movements appear to be guided by some sort of instinct, and are by no means haphazard,” (Harmsworth Self-Educator (1906), vol. i., pp. 199-200).
I have been assured by those who are in a position to know, that though, since 1881, knowledge on this subject has increased and theories have differed and differ, there is nothing in modern science that can be said to be inconsistent with the facts about the cell upon which Anna Kingsford based this Lecture. One thing is certain, and that is, the doctrine contained in this Lecture is spiritually and substantially true, and this ought not any longer to be kept in the background or allowed to be forgotten through the withholding of this Lecture from publication. S.H.H.
(314:1) Isaias, xi. 2,3.
(314:2) It appears to be well established that the nucleus exercises a controlling Influence over the nutrition and subdivision of the cell; any portion of the cell cut off from the nucleus undergoes degenerate changes (Dr. Halliburton's Handbook of Physiology, seventh edition, p. 10). In his book New Light on Immortality (pp. 69, 70), E.E. Fournier d'Albe, B.Sc. (London), M.R.T.A., quotes from Dr. E.B. Wilson's classical treatise on “The Cell” (Columbia University, Biological Series, Macmillan Company, New York, 1904) the following passage: – “A fragment of a cell deprived of its nucleus may live for a considerable time and manifest the power of co-ordinated movement without perceptible impairment. Such a mass of protoplasm is, however, devoid of the powers of assimilation, growth, and repair, and sooner or later dies. In other words, those functions that involve destructive metabolism may continue for a time in the absence of the nucleus; those that involve constructive metabolism cease with its removal. There is, therefore, strong reason to believe that the nucleus plays an essential part in the constructive metabolism of the cell, and through this is especially concerned with the formative process involved in growth and development. For these and many other reasons, to be discussed hereafter, the nucleus is generally regarded as a controlling centre of cell-activity, and hence a primary factor in growth, development, and the transmission of specific qualities from cell to cell, and so from one generation to another.” After dwelling on the fact that within the cell itself it is the nucleus, or rather the life principle which it visibly represents, which “governs the process of assimilation, growth, and repair” (pp. 65, 105), and that if a cell be deprived of its nucleus, it will gradually die, the writer says, “Meanwhile the nuclei will retain all their capacities, and, if provided with suitable surroundings, with food-supplies at the proper temperature, will resume their functions as if nothing had happened, leaving the abandoned body to its fate” (p. 107): and he says that “Each nucleus is a centre of life, the seat of some intelligent activity which we, being so far removed from it in the scale of intelligence, can only dimly appreciate,” and that “the most essential, vital, directive parts of each cell, constitute its soul,” and that “this soul is withdrawn from the cell when it dies” (pp. 121, 123).
(327:1) See Illumination “Concerning Sin and Death” (C.W.S., part. ii., No. IV., p. 221).
Paragraphs 27 to 41 of Lecture VIII of the
Second Edition of The
27. the true design and method of the
Gospels, together with the process of their degradation, become clear in
proportion as the nature of their real subject – the Man Regenerate – is
understood. In dealing with this we are met at the outset by an example of
perversion, one of the most conspicuous and disastrous in the whole history of
religion. This is the perversion of the doctrine of the “Incarnation.” Of this
doctrine the original basis was a prophecy – or declaration of universal import
founded in the nature of existence – of the means whereby, both as race and as
individual, Man is redeemed. Born originally of Matter, and subject to the
limitations of Matter, Man, according to this prophecy, is redeemed, and made
superior to those limitations, by being reborn of Spirit, a process by which he
is converted from a phenomenal into a substantial being, one in nature with
original Deity, and having, therefore, in himself the power of life eternal. Of
this perfected Man the foster-father is always that which, spiritually, is
the world. He is, thus, a type of the
philosophical element, both in itself and in its relations with the State; and a
representative of the rising Hebrew Mysteries. In the Gospels he reappears –
28. He who would redeem and save others, must first be himself redeemed and saved. The Man Regenerate, therefore, first saves himself, by becoming regenerate. He receives, accordingly, a name expressive of this function. For, of Jesus one of the significations is Liberator. This name is given, not on the birth of the man physical, nor to the man physical – of whose birth and name the Gospels take no note – but to the man spiritual, on his initiation, or new birth from the material to the spiritual plane. And it is the name, not of a person, but of an Order, the Order of all those who – being regenerate and attaining perfection – find, and are called, “Christ Jesus” (as see Ephesians, iii. 15).
29. Of the Miracles worked by the Regenerate Man, some are on the physical, some on the spiritual plane; for, being himself regenerate in all, he is master of the spirits of all the elements. But while the terms in which the Miracles are described are uniformly derived from the physical plane, the true value and significance of these Miracles are spiritual. That, for example, known as the Raising of Lazarus, is altogether a parable, being constructed on lines rigidly astronomical, and having an application purely spiritual. To a like category belongs also the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. For the “loaves” given to the multitude represent the general doctrine of the
lesser Mysteries, whose “grain” is of the
30. [Reprinted as paragraph 29 of the Third and Present Editions.]
surmised by him to have been intended as a
sarcophagus, resembled rather the coffers used in the religious celebrations for
which such labyrinths were designed. Similar constructions, of vast antiquity,
32. But of all existing memorials of these institutions, the most wonderful is that known as the Great Pyramid of Gizeh, the formative idea and purpose of which has for ages baffled inquirers. This artificial mountain of stone is, however, no other than a religious symbol setting forth in its every detail from base to apex the method of that which constitutes the title and subject of these lectures, namely, The Perfect Way and The Finding of Christ. Outwardly, its form denotes the ascent of the soul, as a flame ever aspiring, from the material plane to union with the Divine, and attaining this union through Christ, who, as “the Headstone of the corner,” is symbolised by the topmost point of the pyramid, and in whom, as the culmination, completion, and perfection of the whole creation, the earthly is “taken up” into the heavenly, or existence into pure Being. The successive layers of stone form a series of steps from the base to the summit, and represent the various stages of the soul's upward progress in its ascent of the “hill of the Lord”; – an idea expressed by Peter when he writes: – “Be ye also as living stones built up a spiritual house, acceptable to God by Christ Jesus. As it is said, Behold I lay in Sion a chief corner-stone, elect and precious.” Similarly, Paul says: “Christ Jesus himself is the chief corner-stone, in whom all the building, being fitly framed together, groweth up into an holy temple in the Lord. In whom ye also are built together, into an habitation of God in the Spirit.” Thus is the whole intention of Creation, from its lowest to its highest plane, recognised as finding its fulfilment and realisation in the headstone which is at once the Christos and the Chrestos, the “Anointed” and the “Best,” being Anointed because the Best, and the Best because the Anointed. In being, moreover, four-sided, like the Heavenly, city of the Apocalypse, and culminating in respect of each side in an angle, the Pyramid denotes the fourfold nature at once of the Macrocosm and the Microcosm, and the final assumption of
each kingdom of nature, through Evolution, into the At-one-ment of Christ. (1)
33. Interiorly, the Pyramid is designed to illustrate, both in character and in duration, the various stages of the soul's history, from her first immergence in Matter to her final triumphant release and return to Spirit. In this view was constructed the complicated system of shafts, passages, and chambers recently described and drawn, after researches involving extraordinary toil, skill, and care, by Professor Piazzi Smyth. (2) Of the two shafts, one, whereby the light from without enters the edifice, points directly to the Pole-star at its lower culmination, 2500 B.C., the date given as that of the erection of the Pyramid. By this is indicated the idea of the soul as a ray proceeding from God as the Pole-star and source of all things, whose Seven Spirits – like the seven stars of the constellation called by us the Great Bear, but by the Mystics of old, more significantly, the Sheepfold – kept watch and ward over the universe, yet ever indicate the Supreme. Of this shaft the opposite extremity terminates in a pit lying below, the centre of the Pyramid. Constituting the only portion of the whole structure which is unpaved, this pit represents the bottomless abyss of negation, and, consequently, final destruction. Descending thither, the ray would become extinguished; and such is the fate of the soul which, entering into Matter, persists in a downward course. The Pyramid, however, is designed expressly to represent the way of salvation; and it accordingly provides a passage turning out of that just described, and leading upwards towards the centre of the edifice, just beyond which centre lies the principal apartment, which is called the “King's Chamber.” This is reached by a series of passages, steep, narrow, intricate, and in some parts so contracted in dimensions as to compel the explorer to traverse them on his hands and knees. Such peculiarities of construction, involving an exercise of great ingenuity, skill, and labour, could not, it is obvious, have been introduced into a structure intended, as some have suggested, as a granary or as a tomb. The “King's
Chamber,” which terminates the
series, is a large vaulted apartment having six roofs or ceilings, composed in
all of seven stones, placed one above another, the two topmost stones forming an
angle. In the centre of this chamber is a coffer, hollowed out of a single
stone, and representing in its proportions and dimensions the idea thus
expressed in the Epistle to the Ephesians: “When we all meet in the unity of
faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto
the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” In a coffer such as this, the candidate who had successfully
encountered all the ordeals symbolised
in the passages of the pyramid, was, at his final initiation, laid as a corpse in a sarcophagus. And the Initiator, who
presided on the occasion, was a woman – a priestess – who was called the
“Mother,” and who acted as the sponsor representative of
34. Such was the mode whereby was accomplished initiation into those greater Mysteries of which the culminating stage was termed the Ascension. The lesser Mysteries, the “acts” of which were designated the Baptism or Betrothal, the Temptation
or Trial, and the Passion, are symbolised in the Great Pyramid by the apartment called the Queen's Chamber. This is situated considerably below the King's Chamber, and in the northern section of the building, and is reached by a level passage, at the commencement of which is a precipitous chasm, having for bottom the pit already described, and betokening the fate of those who fail to become regenerate, and consequently the danger escaped by these who have attained initiation into things spiritual. The Queen's Chamber serves also as the “Banqueting Hall,” wherein, after his accomplishment of the three acts named, the candidate celebrates the “Solemnisation.” He is then qualified to proceed to the greater Mysteries of which the final scene is the “King's Chamber.” This, as already said, is placed at the extreme summit of the passages, and beyond the centre of the Pyramid; and its purpose is to symbolise that kingdom of heaven which the Initiate attains by what is called the Divine Marriage, an act which separates him altogether from his life of the past. The six superposed beams which compose the ceiling of this chamber denote the “six crowns” of the Man Regenerate, that is, the six acts or stages of initiation, of which three appertain to the lesser and three to the greater Mysteries. These “crowns,” therefore, are Baptism, Temptation, Passion, Burial, Resurrection, and Ascension. Of all these the ultimate object is that full and complete Redemption which, by its realisation of the soul's supreme felicity, is termed the “Marriage of the Son of God.” And in the second shaft passing upwards through the Pyramid, from the topmost point of the last gallery, and pointing in one direction to the coffer in the King's Chamber, and in the other direction to the Pole-star at its greatest altitude, may be seen symbolised the return to God of the soul, perfected and triumphant, on her final release from Matter. So that by the two Pole-star-pointing shafts are typified respectively the forces centrifugal and centripetal, the Will and the Love, from the operation of which proceed Creation and Redemption (fig. 9).
35. Between the “Resurrection” and “Ascension” of the Man Regenerate, is an interval which – in accordance with the mystical system of making all dates which relate to the soul's history coincide with the corresponding solar periods – is termed “Forty Days.” The actual length of the period, however, is dependent upon individual circumstance. The New Testament contains nothing incompatible with the suggestion that Jesus may have lived on the earth for many years after his
[Figure 9: Section of the Great Pyramid of Gizeh.
A. Upper culmination of
Pole-star of 2500 B.C. B. Lower
culmination of Pole-star of 2500 B.C. C.
Grand Gallery (
“Resurrection,” and was therefore still in the body when seen of Paul. For that which occurs at the expiration of this cycle is not a quittance of the earth in the physical sense ordinarily supposed, but the complete withdrawal of the man into his own interior and celestial region. The Spirit attains the Sabbath of perfection only by attaining Rest or Quiescence; and to this Sabbath – or Nirvana – the Man Regenerate necessarily attains, sooner or later, after his “Crucifixion” and “Resurrection”; and the attainment of it constitutes his “Ascension.” There are then no longer two wills. The Man has “ascended to his Father,” and he and God are One. Henceforth he is Lord of his own micro-cosmic universe, having the “kingdom, the power, and the glory” thereof. And all things in “heaven” and on “earth” are subject to him. “He hath put all things under his feet, that God may be all in all.”
36. But although the true signification of the Gospel narrative of the Ascension is spiritual only, the process of Redemption is not without its physical results; for every faculty is enhanced thereby to the degree ordinarily deemed “miraculous,” rendering the Subject clairvoyant and clairaudient, enabling him to impart health and recall life by the touch or by the will, to project himself in visible form through material obstructions, and to withdraw himself from sight at will. And not only is disease eliminated from and rendered impossible to his system, but his organism becomes so highly refined and vitalised that wounds, however severe, heal by first intention and even instantaneously. So that, if only for this reason, it is quite impossible that the Gospels should have intended to represent their typical regenerate man as dying, in a physical sense, of the injuries described by them as received on the cross.
37. By the Crucifixion of the Man Regenerate is denoted no physical or brief exterior act, but the culmination of a prolonged Passion, and its termination in the complete surrender of the soul. And this arrival of the “last hour” of the earthly man, or old Adam, is symbolised by the action of tasting the very dregs and lees of the cup of suffering – the soul's experience, that is, of the limitations of existence. Accordingly it is written: – “Jesus, knowing that all things were accomplished, said, I thirst. And they put a sponge full of vinegar upon a reed, and gave him to drink. Jesus then, when he had tasted the vinegar, said, It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost.” By this exclamation is announced the emptying of that cup of spiritual bitterness which may not pass from the Christ until the
dregs even be consumed. This self-same cup it is of which the symbol, fixed on the summit of a reed, was borne in the hand of an attendant priestess at the ceremony of final initiation as practised in the Mysteries.
38. By this cup is represented the chalice of Existence or Incarnation, wherein is contained that Substantial Water, or Soul, which by the “marriage” of the will of the man with the Will of God, becomes the Wine of the holy Sacrament or Communion with God. The Reed which supports this Cup is the universal Rod or Staff which so constantly recurs in Hermetic Scriptures, and is at once the rod of Moses, the wand of the Magician, the sceptre of the King, the reed of the Angel, the rod of Joseph that flowers, and the caduceus of Hermes himself. For it is the symbol of Force, the Line, or Jod, by which is typified alike the creative act of projection into Matter and individualisation thereby, and the energy of the will – inflexible and undivided – through which the return to Spirit is accomplished and salvation achieved. Of these cup-surmounted reeds the bearers, in the Greek Mysteries, were called Canephorae, or reed-bearers. And the corresponding celebration in the Gospels is appropriately described as occurring at Cana of Galilee, where, as may be gathered from Josephus, was a cave of initiation. The nature of the occasion depicted in fig. 10 is further denoted by the symbol carried in the right hand, both of the priestess and of the candidate. This is the Crux ansata, or handled cross, called the Cross of Osiris, and already referred to as an indispensable emblem in all religious ceremonials, in that, combining the cross with the circle, it denotes Renunciation as the means whereby Eternal Life, the object of initiation, is attained. This symbol it was which, transferred to Christian hands, became the model of the Papal Keys of the kingdom of heaven; while, mounted on four steps, or traversed by four bars, it indicated also the fourfold nature of existence to be comprehended by those who would attain to perfection. The character of this perfection is, moreover, symbolised in the cross, in that, being formed of two transverse beams, it portrays the at-one-ment between the divine and human wills. The “new-born” is represented as overshadowed by a dove – emblem of the Holy Spirit – as is the Man Regenerate of the Gospels at his baptism of initiation. The two figures on either side of the candidate are, respectively, the male representative of Thoth or Hermes wearing the ram's horns – emblematic of Intelligence; and the female representative of Isis, the initiating priestess, bearing the Rosary of the Five
Wounds or Decades already mentioned. By the presence of these two, as representatives of the Intellect and the Intuition, is denoted the absolute necessity to the individual of perfecting himself alike in both regions – the masculine and feminine – of his nature, so that by the co-equal unfoldment of head and heart he may attain to the stature of the whole humanity. It is the man thus complete and become, spiritually, man and woman in one, that, primarily, is typified by the Greeks under the dual form of Hermaphroditus, the joint child, as his name denotes, of Intelligence and Love.
[Figure 10: Bas-relief in the
in the Isle of Elephantine on the
39. As the last substance tasted by the Regenerate Man of the Gospels before his death on the cross, is the “vinegar” of
the exhausted Chalice of the Passion, so the first food partaken by him after his resurrection is “fish,” to which some add “an honeycomb.” By these is symbolised the commencement of the new life inaugurated by the greater Mysteries. For the fish, as already stated, is the symbol of Water, and therein of the Soul, its Greek name ІχΦύς being the monogram of the Christ and the tessera of Redemption – Iησύς Χρіστòς ΘεοûΨ΄іòς Σωτήρ. And the honey, uniting sweetness of taste with the colour of gold, and contained in the six-sided cell or “cup” of the comb – typifying the six acts of the Mysteries – is the familiar emblem of the Land of Promise “beyond Jordan,” to which only the Man Risen can attain. For, as the River of Egypt denotes the Body, and the Euphrates the Spirit – the redeemed man being promised the dominion of the whole region contained within these (Genesis xv. 18) – so the Hiddekel, the Ganges, and the Jordan, in the mystical systems of their respective countries, denote the Soul, and constitute the boundary between the “wilderness” of the Material, and the “Garden” of the Spirit.
40. It is in
41. The third and final scene of the “Marriage” belongs to the greater
Mysteries. The “Crucifixion” is the last stage of the lesser Mysteries, and
closes initiation into them. Immediately on “giving up the ghost” – or
renouncing altogether the lower life – the Christ ”enters into his kingdom”; and “the veil of the
(328:1) The corresponding paragraphs of the First Edition were very slightly revised in the Second Edition. They were replaced, in the Third Edition, for the greater part, by fresh matter, “in accordance with wishes expressed and suggestions made by Anna Kingsford shortly before her death” (Life of A. K., vol. ii., p. 34; and see Preface).
(332:1) The statement of Manetho and Herodotus, that this pyramid was built by the Egyptians under compulsion of a foreign and hated people who obtained temporary dominion over them, may be regarded as due to a literal acceptation of some mystical legend intended to imply that it was built by Egypt's body or State at the dictation of Egypt's soul or Church, by the physical element, that is, of the country, in obedience to the spiritual element, and as a monument in illustration of the power of the soul over the body, and of Spirit working in Matter.
(332:2) See Life of A. K., vol. i., p. 360.
To the Editor of The Theosophist. (2)
FOR the frank recognition accorded in The Theosophist (May and June, 1882) to the above-named book, we – its writers – cordially thank you. There are, however, in your notice of it, certain strictures at once so injurious and so unwarranted, that we are constrained to request your insertion of the following vindication of our statements.
We take first the assertion that, in defining the constitution of man, we “ignore the most important of all the elements which constitute humanity – the sixth, or spiritual soul, the principle in which the whole individuality of the perfected man will ultimately be centred,” an omission which is said to render our statement “so painfully incomplete as to be practically erroneous.”
Now, so far from our having made the omission thus positively and distinctly imputed to us, it is no other than this very element in man's nature, which, under the names “Anima Divina” and “Neschamah,” constitutes the chief topic and keynote of our whole book; and it is in the perfectionment and exaltation of this element, as the Divine-Human Ego of the individual, that we place the proper end of all culture and experience. And in the Fifth Lecture, (3) which treats specially of the constitution of existence, we give an elaborate description of the physiologic cell and its correspondence with the human system, in which the “soul” is set forth as the essential and
permanent self – that which alone progresses and is re-born, and by its ultimate sublimation consummates Nirvana. For it is, say we, the Nucleus of the man, having the absolute Divine Spirit for its Nucleolus. Still more emphatically is this important element particularised in the Second Appendix; (1) but both the Fifth Lecture and the Second Appendix, as, indeed, the whole motive of the book, seem altogether to have escaped the notice of your reviewer.
In our analysis, the element in question occupies, not the sixth, but the third place; because, in our description of the human system we have followed the order which we found to be that of the Hermetic, Kabbalistic, and other ancient Mysteries, and which our own experience and the analogy of correspondence everywhere demonstrates; the order, namely, which recognises man as substantially a fourfold being. The four main divisions of man's nature given in The Perfect Way are, however, in themselves capable of certain subdivisions, to the number of seven in all, as your reviewer states. But to say that, because we insist on the fourfold character of the whole, we omit a portion, and leave a gap unfilled, is tantamount to laying that, because one describes the year as consisting of four seasons, one omits some of the twelve months, the fifty-two weeks, or the three hundred and sixty-five days! The truth is, of course, that all minor and functional divisions are involved and comprised in the substantial divisions. (2)
It is greatly to be regretted that a review of a work admitted to be of so much importance, should have been so hurriedly committed to press, or that neither the Editor, nor an Adept in knowledge, should have compared the allegations of the criticism with the pages of the book itself. (1) For, then, not only would our work have escaped flagrant misrepresentation, but The Theosophist itself would have avoided the double fault of an inaccurate description of its subject, and of a defective presentation of occult doctrine.
For of this last the critic of The Perfect Way is certainly guilty in respect of another important point on which he imputes error to us: – that of psychic retrogression. His assertion, made in contravention of our doctrine on this point, that “Nature never goes back” is not only in itself singularly inaccurate and unscientific, but it is also wholly beside the mark. What we have said is that “Nature,” which is the manifestation at once of spirit and of spirits – of the universal and of the individual – allows the individual who persists in exhibiting a perverse will, and in suppressing the humanity already acquired, to manifest his retrogression by outward expression, and thus to descend, as well as to ascend, upon the manifold steps of the ladder of Incarnation and Re-births. Your critic allows, indeed, that the individual may become “extinct,” but he rejects the process of deterioration, by means of which alone extinction becomes possible. And, in thus denying a logical and scientific necessity, he both contradicts
the teaching of the Hindû and other sacred mysteries, and also, by implication,
represents man as attaining perfection by means mechanical and compulsory,
instead of by the inevitable action of free-will. For, as Apollonius of
Tyana taught (in common with Buddha and others), every act and thought
(which is a psychic act) brings forth inevitable consequences which cannot by
any means be bought off or avoided. Character is Destiny, and “all futures are
fruits of all pasts.” As says Edwin Arnold in
The Light of
“Also he spake of what the holy books
Do surely teach, how that at death some sink
To bird and beast, and these rise up to man
In wanderings of the spark which grows purged flame.”
That such has been the doctrine of all occult schools of thought worthy the name, whether of East or West, could be easily proved; and that without it the problems of the Universe are inexplicable and disorderly, needs only some knowledge of natural history and some earnest reflection to decide. A notable instance of the inadequacy of the criterion employed by your reviewer in connection with the teachings of our book, appears in his remarks on our interpretation of the Catholic formula, “Mary brings us to Jesus.” For, on the simple ground that he himself was unaware of any interior meaning implied by that formula – he having (like many others) rejected Christianity without ever having reached its esoteric significance – he hazards the assertion that such meaning was never dreamt of by the Church, and charges us with having originated it ourselves. It would be interesting to know how far he applies the same method of criticism to the orthodox presentations of Buddhism. To deal fairly with both religious systems, the same rule must be applied to both. If one has an esoteric meaning, the inference is that the other – also of Oriental birth – has it likewise. Men do not construct parables without signification. And the failure to discover it does not justify a denial of its existence.
* * * * * * * *
Your obedient servants,
The Writers of “The
To the Editor of The Theosophist. (1)
* * * * * * * *
First, we beg leave to observe that we think our reviewer has not clearly grasped our definition of the distinction between the Anima Divina and the Anima Bruta. In its essential principle, of course, the Anima Divina, or Spiritual Soul, is incapable of perfectionment, because it is essential; but according to the instruction we have received, the whole end of culture, experience, and manifold re-births, is no other than the exaltation and glorification of this principle. To use a familiar analogy, we may compare the spiritual soul to a flame, originally burning dimly and uncertainly in a dark lantern, the dimness and uncertainty being caused, of course, not by any obscurity in the flame itself, but by the inferior quality of the oil supplied, and the uncleanly condition of the lamp-glass. But when oil of a refined and better kind is poured into the receptacle, and the glass cleansed, the radiance of the flame within becomes steady and brilliant. This process we have called the “perfectionment and exaltation of the soul,” that is, of course, of the conditions under which it is manifested. This is the idea expressed in the lines quoted in our last letter:
“Wanderings of the spark which grows purged flame.”
Next, in regard to the explanation now given by our reviewer of his declaration that “Nature never goes back upon her own foot-steps,” we are gratified to find that he is entirely at one with us. We have been explicitly taught in a fragment not yet published, that ”there are two streams or currents, an Ascending and a Descending,” and that ”retrogression does not occur by the same current as that which draws upward and onward.” We, therefore, exactly endorse our reviewer's phrase: “The self-degraded Ego gets upon a wholly different ladder in a wholly different world,” understanding this word “world” to signify not a material planet (necessarily) but a new plane of manifestation. And we submit that on p. 47 of our book will be
found a passage which might surely have indicated to our reviewer the identity of our doctrine with that he has received.
[Here follows a quotation from paragraph 18 of Lecture II.]
To use a popular mode of speech, we might say “there are two creations, one of Divine origin, the other the product of the ‘Fall’.“
It is, in fact, only by the inter-action of this law of Ascent and Retrogression operating inevitably and systematically in two different currents that the problems of existence can be satisfactorily explained. But we understood our reviewer to deny altogether the possibility of retrogression, even while admitting that of extinction.
Thirdly, our phrase “The Church” has been evidently misapprehended. We used that term and have constantly used it to designate, not the corrupt orthodoxy of the day which has usurped the title, but the interior, true, and divine Ecclesia, having the keys of the mysteries of God. And we would point out to our reviewer that it is not by any means “the same thing” whether we have “distilled mysticism” from the current Christianity, or whether we have restored to that Christianity its “original and true” meaning. If our reviewer will take the trouble to study the dogmas of the Catholic Church – (not of the Protestant sects) – he will find how marvellously from behind every one of those masks come forth the divine features of truth, and how incontestably they exhibit themselves as materialisations of spiritual doctrine. So that with the symbology of the Catholic Church, the student, having occult knowledge, may reconstruct the whole fabric of the mysteries, in their due order and mutual relation, not as one may chip and chisel a statue out of a shapeless block of marble, but as from a mould prepared with skill one may cast a perfect work of art.
In their esoteric significance all the great religions of the world are one, are
built upon the same fundamental truths according to the same essential ideas.
Our reviewer repudiates, as he himself admits, the “crude exoteric notions” of
the popular Hindû theology; yet he accepts its
esoteric meanings and regards them as constituting an expression of the highest
truth. We ask him to believe that the popular religion of Europe is capable of
precisely the same interpretation as that of
claim of the Catholic Church with the
Buddhist, Brahman, and other
* * * * * * * *
The Writers of “The
To the Editor of Light. (2)
SIR, – Permit us space in your columns for a few words in reply to the strictures of Dr. W. and Mrs. P. upon the above book.
The Perfect Way neither is, nor purports to be, a “new” Gospel in the sense implied by your correspondents. On the contrary, it is expressly declared in the preface that “nothing new is told, but that which is ancient – so ancient, that either it or its meaning has been lost – is restored and explained.” Its mission is that simply of Rehabilitation and Interpretation, undertaken with the view, not of superseding Christianity, but of saving it.
For, as the deepest and most earnest thinkers of our day are painfully aware, the Gospel of Christendom, as it stands in the Four Evangels, does not suffice, uninterpreted, to satisfy the needs of the age, and to furnish a perfect system of thought and rule of life. Christianity – historically preached and understood – has for eighteen centuries filled the world with wars, persecutions, and miseries of all kinds; and in these days it is rapidly filling it with agnosticism, atheism, and revolt against the very idea of God. The Perfect Way seeks to consolidate truth in one complete whole, and by systematising religion to demonstrate its Catholicity. It seeks to make peace between Science and Faith; to marry the Intellect with the Intuition; to bring together East and West; and to unite Buddhist philosophy with Christian love, by demonstrating that the basis of religion is not historical, but spiritual; not physical, but psychic; not local and temporal, but universal and eternal. It avers that the true “Lord Jesus Christ” is no mere historical character, no mere
demi-god, by whose material blood the
souls of men are washed white, but “the hidden man of the heart,” continually
born, crucified, ascending and glorified in the interior Kingdom of the
Christian's own Spirit. A scientific age rightly refuses to be any longer put
off with data which are more than dubious, and logic which morality and
philosophy alike reject. A deeper, truer, more real religion is needed for an
epoch of thought and for a world familiar with biblical criticism and revision –
a religion whose foundations no destructive agnosticism can undermine, and in
whose structure no examination, however searching, shall be able to find flaw or
blemish. It is only by rescuing the Gospel of Christ from the externals of
history, persons, and events, and by vindicating its essential significance,
that Christianity can be saved from the destruction which inevitably overtakes
all idolatrous creeds. There is not a word in The Perfect Way
at variance with the spirit of the Gospel of the “Lord Jesus Christ.” If your
correspondents think otherwise, it can only be because they are themselves
dominated by idolatrous conceptions in regard to the personal and historical
Jesus, and cannot endure to see their Eidolon broken to pieces in the presence
It is just those who have fully accepted, and who comprehend, the Spirit of the old Gospel, who are ready and anxious to hear what the promised Spirit of Truth has yet to reveal. But the world at large never has accepted that Gospel, and cannot accept it for need of that very interpretation which our opponents deprecate. If the Spirit of Truth be really charged to “show all things,” such exposition certainly will not consist in a mere reiteration, in the same obscure, because symbolical, terms of the old formulas. But if they elect to close their minds against any elucidation of sacred mysteries other than that provided by a Behmen or a Swedenborg, they virtually quench the Spirit and fossilise its revelation.
Despite the eulogy of Dr. W., Mrs. P.'s letter is altogether inadequate to its intention. Like the utterances of conventional pulpiteers, it is profuse of phrase and meagre of explanation. Terms such as ”the water of life,” and “the painful mysteries of our own nature,” are used wholly without indication as to their meaning; and the sense in which it speaks of “the Lord Jesus Christ” is left entirely to the readers imagination. Surely she must be aware that these oft-repeated expressions have failed of their proper practical spiritual issue, precisely because they have lacked the interpretation necessary to render them intelligible,
and that until they are so explained the world's conversion is not to be hoped for. But, as it seems to us, Mrs. P. is one of those who, contemning knowledge, postulate as the condition of salvation a faith which is divorced from understanding, and which, therefore, is no true faith, indefeasible and constant, but a blind, mechanical assent, born of mere wilfulness, and liable at any instant to fail and fall away.
The secret, however, of the opposition made in certain circles to the doctrine set forth in The Perfect Way is not far to seek. It is to be found in the fact that the book is, throughout, strenuously opposed to idolatry in all its forms, including that of the popular “Spiritualism” of the day, which is, in effect, a revival under a new guise and with new sanctions of the ancient cultus known as Ancestor-Worship. The Perfect Way, on the contrary, insists that Truth is accessible only through the illumination, by the Divine Spirit, of man's own soul; and that precisely in proportion as the individual declines such interior illumination, and seeks to extraneous influences, does he impoverish his own soul and diminish his possibilities of knowledge. It teaches that “Spirits,” or “Angels,” as their devotees are fond of styling them, are untrustworthy guides, possessed of no positive or divine element, and reflecting, therefore, rather than instructing their interrogators; and that the condition of mind, namely passivity, insisted on by these “angels” is one to be strenuously avoided, the true attitude for obtaining divine illumination being that of ardent, active aspiration, impelled by a resolute determination to know nothing but the Highest. Precisely such a state of passivity, voluntarily induced, and such veneration of and reliance upon “guides” or “controls,” are referred to by the Apostle when he says: “But let no man beguile you by a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels.” And precisely such exaltation of the personal Jesus as The Perfect Way repudiates and its opponents demand, is by the same Apostle condemned in the words: “Henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.”
This, then, is the conclusion of the whole matter. God, with “Christ,” is in the man who, purifying his spirit after the secret of the Christ, aspires prayerfully and fervently. And it is to this interior spirit that he must look for illumination and salvation, and not to any outside “angel” or fleshly Saviour. Attaining such illumination for themselves, our critics will be able both to recognise the source and to verify the teachings of our book for
themselves. For, thus invoked, the Divine Spirit will “bring all things to remembrance” for them, even as it has for us. Opinions will be merged in knowledges. And, instead of limiting the Spirit by the form in which its past revelations have been couched, they will be able to discern, in all its plentitude, the Spirit through the form. Your correspondents referred to have, clearly, not yet recognised the source of the teaching to which they take exception. They will find it fully described in Part I of Appendix III. If the divinity of this utterance is beyond their power of recognition, argument in their case is hopeless, and no avenue exists through which Divine truth can reach them. God grant it may not be so.
The Writers of “The
To the Editor of Light. (2)
SIR, – In the number of Light following that which contained Dr. W.'s last letter on the above subject, there is a passage which strikingly exhibits the unsoundness of the position assumed by some of our critics in regard to the historical Jesus and the design of the Gospels. The passage in question consists in a list of parallelisms between the lives ascribed to Buddha, Chrishna, and Jesus, and might have been enlarged, as is pointed out in the opening pages of The Perfect Way, by the addition of the names of Osiris, Mithras, Heracles, Bacchus, Zoroaster, and other portraitures of the Man Regenerate. And it needs, surely, but an intelligent and unprejudiced examination of these manifold parallelisms to convince the student that the various expressions implying a Divine nature and mission, on which the conventional theology of the Christian Church bases its estimate of Jesus, are simply the stock formulas whereby the mystical writers of all times and places have been wont to depict that which they regarded as the supreme object of culture and end of experience, namely, the perfectionment, through suffering, of the typical Man Regenerate; the entire process of the building up
of the Christ within the human kingdom. And the very name by which the spiritual and solar hero of the Four Evangels is designated – Christ Jesus – is in itself an indication that it is a universal name. Not the name of any one individual, or even of any fleshly personage, but the name by which, in the language of Heaven, all pure and perfected Spirits are called – the Anointed of God, the everlasting “Yes” or “Jesous,” who alone have eternal life.
For us the Four Gospels depict the ever-recurring acts of the soul in all ages, her flight from Matter and Illusion, her recognition of the Divine, her reception of illumination, her painful sufferings and passion on the earth-plane, her final triumph and ascension into purer spheres. They are thus, not the record of any one man's actual life, the facts of which, as they stand, are necessarily open to serious dispute and contradiction, but they are a spiritual drama or mystery, setting forth the manifestation of the Son of God in man; the Immanuel, or God within us. And we declare that this mystic and wholly spiritual ”God's spell” has been wrested from its true and original meaning by an ignorant or designing priesthood, which, in its inveterate desire to provide the people with a material and human god, palpable to sense, and extraneous to themselves, has persistently misapplied to the fleshly personage, titles, acts, and achievements belonging only to the kingdom of the Invisible and Spiritual. And thus the corrupted Church has committed idolatry as gross as that of falling down and worshipping an image in place of the Lord God.
But we are willing to go so far with Dr. W. as to admit that, inasmuch as it is probable all the mystical histories of various times and countries may each have centred round some special representative, it is likely that the Christian Gospels may, in great measure, have taken shape and spirit from the life and teachings of some fitting model, chosen to exemplify the spiritual possibilities of the human race. We affirm only that what immediately and vitally concerns us and our salvation are not the acts or the sufferings of this individual, or of any individual soever, but the living of that life ourselves, the suffering of that Cross and Passion in ourselves, the “rising again from the dead and ascending into Heaven” of our own interior regenerate Ego.
So that if it should at any time be proved – what we nowise assert or wish to believe – that the historical Jesus never existed at all, and that everything related about Him is a pure, absolute myth, we should sustain no shock, lose no hold on our faith, and
retain our position inviolate. And, far from lacking in reverence or gratitude to any one of the many “Captains of Salvation” who have been “made perfect through suffering,” we indeed show our regard for these by rescuing the foremost of their number from the category of impossible monstrosities, and reinstating him in that proper humanity which he must have loved so dearly and laboured so painfully and successfully to exalt by showing what it has in it to be.
Religion can never depend for its facts and its hopes on historical data. These, in the very nature of things, are always questionable, and become more and more difficult to verify as the transit of centuries removes us from the epoch to which alone they are related. The real events of religion are not of this world; its kingdom is interior; its acts are all spiritual and essential. We “must be born again” into another sphere, upon another plane, converted from the material to the immaterial, before we can apprehend heavenly things. No one knows this better than Dr. W. himself; yet at times he chooses to write as though, with the mass of uneducated and superstitious Churchmen of the day, he accepted on the material plane the miraculous history of the Gospels, and trusted to the “mystery of the holy Incarnation,” “agony and bloody sweat,” of the man, Jesus of Nazareth, to save his soul and to endow him with life eternal. (1)
It is against this idolatry that we uncompromisingly contend. The Gospels – and all similar books in all religions – present us, we maintain, with a picture, a guide, a demonstration of eternal and universal processes, illustrated by the history – partially true, but in great part gathered from other previous histories – of one, who, by successive re-births, had attained so high a grade as to constitute him our Elder Brother in a special sense, and to make him worthy of our deepest homage and tender affection. All this – but no more. Even he was not perfect, as the Gospels themselves witness. For one who could pray, “Not My will, but Thine be done!” was plainly not yet in entire union with God. And so it needs must be, for when that perfect union is accomplished, there remains no passion, no cross, no burial to be endured. All re-births are ended, and the spirit is for ever freed from matter. There could not, therefore, by the very nature of things, be any perfect man upon the earth-plane; because, so soon as perfection is attained, this plane is necessarily incapable of retaining the purified spirit. Wherefore to adore a human being with the adoration due to God, or to look to any human being, whether in the past or in the present, for our own
redemption by means of any sacrifice he could make of his own body – this is at once idolatry and blasphemy; the first because it places an earthly creature in the place of God; the second, because it directly militates against that immutable principle of justice which is the essential centre-point of Divinity.
Apart from this question of historical religion, there is not a word in Dr. W.'s last letter which we cannot thoroughly endorse. It is so strange to us that he should think otherwise that we cannot avoid giving expression to a lingering suspicion that he has not read our book – especially the chapters on the “Atonement” and the “Redemption,” and Appendix V. (1) For surely, in such case, he could not have accused us – as by implication, at least, he has more than once done – of an attempt to create a “new Gospel,” differing from that of “Jesus Christ.”
To pass to a letter headed, “The Teachings
As for our divergency from Swedenborg in respect to the relations of Matter and Spirit, we are not concerned to rebut this statement. And if, indeed, Swedenborg has maintained the proposition cited, we are only too glad to differ, so monstrous to us appears the notion of two original self-subsisting entities, and no single universal elemental essence, of and from which all things are, and to which all can revert. But, may it not be that your correspondent has failed correctly to apprehend Swedenborg's meaning, precisely as he has failed, so singularly, to apprehend ours on another point? We trust so, for we have great respect for Swedenborg, though not unaware of his limitations.
To conclude with a reply to the Hon. R. N.'s objection to our statement respecting the compound constitution of man, we think his difficulty is due to his not having taken into account the various gradations into which the central-essential Ego differentiates its consciousness, according as it subsists in the outer or the Inner spheres of the individual system. Thus, while all consciousness is, originally, that of the Spirit, each separate element, body, astral soul, and anima divina, possesses a consciousness of its own, suited to its character and needs, making each of these, in a sense, a distinct personality, and enabling them each to subsist apart from the others, though, in the case of the body, for a short time only. Body, soul, and spirit are thus, not precisely one, but they “agree in one,” as declared in the Hermetic formula cited in Lecture I, par. 30. And when severed, each represents and retains, so long as it survives, the functions exercised and the characteristics presented by it when in combination, so inveterate is the principle of personality in the substance of existence. Should our critic ask for some handy illustration of the mystical truths just indicated, we would remind him of the natural order known as the articulated animals, of which every segment possesses an independent life of its own, and if separated from the body of which it forms part, continues to exist and even to reproduce itself for a period more or less long. This rough comparison may serve to convince him that at least the idea he finds so much difficulty in accenting is neither monstrous nor without parallel in Nature. The subject is, however, too intricate and lengthy to be adequately discussed here. All that we have advanced respecting it has been, for us, amply verified by our own independent experience. And if Mr. N. will carefully examine certain passages in our second Appendix, “Concerning the
Hereafter,” (1) and compare them, not with any preconceived opinions, but with any actual experiences he may have, he will, we are confident, be sooner or later at one with us.
Since writing the above we have read, in the current number of Light two
letters, one of which, like that from
“R. J. S.” misquotes in representing us as saying that Paul was only or always “in the astral,” and, therefore, altogether unworthy of heed. What we have said is that “Paul, whose teaching and character are in many respects of the noblest, was not uniformly enlightened, but oscillated between the astral and the celestial, mixing error and truth accordingly.” This he himself, by implication, admits when he says that he sometimes wrote “as a man,” or even “as a fool,” and that at others he only thought he had the sanction of the Divine Spirit for his assertions. Had Paul but acted on his own advice in regard to the necessity of “discerning spirits,” and expunged before dissemination all that he wrote from the lower level, he would certainly not have left it in the power of “R. J. S.” to cite him as an authority on behalf of the inevitable brutalities of the slaughter-house or the revolting and inhuman practice of corpse-eating. As it is, the very fact that Paul found it necessary to interfere in this matter between two differing schools of the Church, proves that the conviction and practice in regard to flesh-eating were far from uniform among professing Christians, and that no inconsiderable number of them refrained on principle from bloody meats. And, if we listen to tradition, and study such historical memoranda as we possess on the subject, we shall find that Paul himself was the innovator, and that the general habits and teaching of the early Church were Nazarene or Essenian, and therefore vegetarian. Jesus the Nazarene must certainly have been an abstainer from flesh and strong drink, and even the statements in regard to His custom of eating fish are, as one of us has elsewhere demonstrated, (2) not literally, but mystically intended. James, the “brother” of Jesus, and one of his most familiar associates, is universally reputed to have been a vegetarian, and so also was
an innumerable company of the early
saints, both men and women. The stricter devotional Orders of the Catholic
Church, like those of all other divine Mysteries, have always abstained from
flesh; and, Paul notwithstanding, this unbloody and
innocent diet has from the beginning been regarded by all Adepts as constituting
“the excellent – or perfect – way.” Certain it is, that the prophecy of
Isaias – “They shall not hurt nor slay in all My
holy mountain” – will never be realised by those who
persist in destroying and devouring like beasts of carnage. How shall we hasten
the restoration of
“R. J. S.” seems to argue that the superiority of certain races is due to their habit of flesh-eating. As well might he assert it to be due to their not less universal habit of dram-drinking. Both habits are equally abuses and drawbacks, and have doubtless withheld these very races from the higher and interior civilisation they have hitherto invariably and significantly failed to reach. For there can be no true and perfect civilisation without sympathy and solidarity between all the children of God's family, and without the recognition of the fact which must be the basis of that solidarity – that the same Spirit breathes in all, that the same Destiny is over all, and that the same Immortality is the heritage of all, no matter on what round of the ladder each individual soul, at any given time, may stand. To kill, to devour, or to torture any sentient fellow-being for a selfish end, is a breach of the law of solidarity, and there is but a question of degree between the murder of an ox and that of a man (Isa. lxvi. 3).
In the insinuation that we claim to give “higher teachings than those of Jesus Christ,” “R. J. S.” simply repeats Dr. W.'s
curious misapprehension, already amply exposed. For, as we have said, far from making any such claim, our whole endeavour has been to interpret those very teachings in the Spirit of Christ, and to restore their meaning perverted by superstition and ignorance.
Against the use of wine we have said nothing; on this subject we leave “R. J. S.” to make peace between Paul and the Nazarenes, to whose number Jesus, John the Baptist, and many a saint and hero of the Old Testament, belonged.
In answer to the desire expressed for a “proof” of our doctrine, in the shape of
“miracles,” we would point to Lecture I, pars. 24-
The only really satisfactory “miracles” are those which are intellectual, solving problems of man's nature and history hitherto regarded as inscrutable, and reconciling difficulties, the failure of the orthodox Church to interpret which, has been long a prolific source of unbelief. Such miracles as these, at least, cannot be simulated, nor can they proceed from intelligences other than divine.
It is possible that some of the extravagant charges so gratuitously made against us by various “critics” may have been devised with the view of testing our patience. If this be indeed the case, the ordeal has surely been severe enough, and may be regarded as complete. It is incomprehensible to us why a book so plainly, clearly, and lucidly written as The Perfect Way – a book differing so entirely from the mass of mystic literature, by its freedom from obscure and ambiguous expressions – should be, in good faith, so persistently misunderstood and mis-quoted.
The Writers – not the “Authors” – of
To the Editor of Light. (1)
SIR, – It is necessary to give a reply, which shall be made as brief as possible, to the questions and statements made on the above subject in a letter printed in a recent issue of Light, under the heading, “Teachings of The Perfect Way.”
Most modern Christians believe that Jesus ate not only fish, but flesh, and this impression constitutes for them clear licence and sanction to do likewise, although a careful examination of the Sacred Writings, and a scrupulous comparison of the various statements made in the Gospels, would go far to convince them that the probabilities of the case are strongly in favour of a wholly different view.
In the second chapter of Matthew it is stated that Jesus was a “Nazarene.” The fact that the writer refers to prophecy for his Authority plainly shows that he means not a Nazarene in the sense of it mere inhabitant of Nazareth, but a “Nazarite,” for the reference made can only be to the declaration of Jacob (Genesis xlix. a6), in which the word nâzîr occurs for the first time in the Bible, and in the Protestant version is translated “separate”; to the directions given by an angel to the mother of Samson; and to the vow of Hannah in regard to Samuel. According to ecclesiastical tradition, a Nazarene or Nazarite appears to have been one who wore his hair long, clothed himself in a single outer garment without seam, abstained from fermented drinks, and, in the higher degrees of the order, as among the Essenes,
from flesh-meats also, after the manner of John the Baptist. The belief that Jesus was one of this order is not only supported by Gospel statement, but by legendary art, based on early conviction and doctrine, as is conclusively shown by all the Christian representations of the Master, depicting Him invariably in the Nazarite garb, with flowing hair and beard. That He was an adherent of John's doctrine appears further probable from the fact that He sought and underwent baptism at the hands of the latter, and the very word “Essene” is derived from a root signifying “Bather.” To be “bathed” was, therefore, to profess Essenism.
There is no evidence, written or traditional, that Jesus ever partook of flesh. The phrase, “the Son of Man is come eating and drinking,” is plainly shown by the context (in the revised edition) to refer to the eating of bread; and it implies that Jesus did not push abstinence to asceticism, as did John. The Paschal Lamb difficulty (in connection with the Last Supper) arises out of a simple misunderstanding, easily rectified. The Last Supper is shown in the Gospel of John, who himself was a prominent figure on the occasion, (1) to have taken place on the evening of the thirteenth day of the month of Nisan, that is, as is many times distinctly affirmed, before the day of the Paschal meal, which was the fourteenth of Nisan. On this latter day (Friday) the Crucifixion itself took place, for we are told in all four Gospels that this event occurred on the preparation day of the Sabbath, which Sabbath, being also the Convocation day, was “an high day.” The date of the Crucifixion is unmistakably fixed by John in the verse: “They led Jesus, therefore, into the palace; and it was early; and they themselves entered not into the palace, that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.”
That the Crucifixion took place the day after that of the Last Supper is clearly stated by all four Evangelists, and this fact affords plain evidence that the mention of the “eating of the Passover” in relation to the Supper is an erroneous interpolation, for all of them agree that it was held on the thirteenth of Nisan (Thursday), on which day the Passover could not have been eaten.
In calling attention to these facts, over which Biblical students have been much and hopelessly exercised, we cannot refrain from once more pointing out the uncertainty of the historical data of the Gospels, and the danger – exemplified in your correspondent's letter – of citing from “the plain, clear,
unmistakable record” of one Gospel narrative, a statement which is flatly contradicted by another of equal or even greater authority.
But that Jesus ate fish, is, if these Gospel records are to be accepted in their literal sense – an assumption we emphatically contest – pretty well established. Let your correspondent bear with us while we point out the strong indications which exist why the fish-eating and fish-catching attributed to Jesus and His disciples, have, not a literal, but a parabolic and mystic meaning, precisely as have also the many references to the “cup” and to wine-drinking in the same narratives. All these allusions are related to astronomical symbology, and identify the Hero of the Christian Evangels with His ancient prototypes.
It is admitted by most critics of the Sacred Scriptures, that they are largely based on and governed by reference to that science which in earlier times, and in Eastern lands – whence both the Hebrew and Christian oracles are derived – dominated and directed all expressions, whether tabular or written, of psychic truths. This science was founded on the study of the Celestial Planisphere, and its earliest and most universal textbook was the Zodiac. The phenomenon known as the Precession of the Equinoxes, causes a different sign in the Zodiac to appear at the vernal equinox about every 2000 years, and to the character of this vernal sign prominent expression was given by the initiated, in the theological cultus of the period. Thus, history has shown us successively the Bull (Apis) and the Lamb (Aries) as the dominant emblems of Egyptian and Jewish worship; and this latter sign has survived in Christian symbolism because Aries is always the first Zodiacal hieroglyph, and thus the permanent emblem of the one eternal year or great sun-cycle. But the sign which actually ushered in the Christian dispensation, and which therefore we should expect to find reflected in the sacred legends of the period, was Pisces, or the fish.
Hence the Messiah, who appeared under the auspices of this sign, is portrayed as being followed by fishers; as distributing fishes (the “two small fishes” of the Zodiac) to His disciples; as preparing fish for the food of His Apostles; and as Himself partaking of fish after His resurrection.
Besides, the fish is the maritime emblem, and Jesus is said to have been born of Maria and the Holy Ghost, or of Water and the Spirit. The prophet Esdras (Esdras, Book II., chapter xiii.) sees Christ in a vision coming up out of the sea; and the ceremony of “passing through the sea and the cloud” is still connected with the initiation into Christian doctrine.
For these reasons, the
In the Roman catacombs – the home of primitive Christian art – the most remarkable and the most general symbol employed to express the name of Christ was that of the fish, which affords, significatively, a combination of everything desirable in a tessera, or mystic sign. The Greek word for fish – ΊXθΥΣ – contains the initials of the words, Ίησους Xρіστός Θεού Τіоς Σωτήρ (Jesus Christ, Son of God, the Saviour). Sometimes the word Ίχθυς was written at length in place of the graven symbol.
Augustine also applies this emblem to Jesus, and says that “He is a Fish which lives in the midst of waters.” Paulinus, speaking of the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes (the mystic number of the planets), alludes to Jesus as “the Fish of the living waters.” Prosper refers to Him as “the Fish dressed at his death.” And Tertullian calls the Christians “fishes bred in the water, and saved by one great Fish.” Jerome, commending a disciple who sought baptism, tells him “that like the Son of the Fish, he desires to be cast into the water.”
As thus the Messiah of the Gospels is associated with the sea and with redemption through and by water, so, with perfect reason, the successors of Peter, His chief apostle and vicar, claim as their distinctive title the name of the “Fisherman,” and the ring with which each successive Pontiff is invested, in token of his office and authority, is known as the “Fisherman's Ring.” It has been observed also, that the mitre, characteristic of ecclesiastical authority in the Christian Church, represents a fish's head, and expresses, therefore, the relation of the wearer to the Founder of the religion inaugurated under that sign. Fish were connected in primitive Christian times with all theological ceremonies; the saints in the sacred mysteries were called “pisciculi” – little fishes – and to this day the water vase at the entrance of Catholic Churches bears the name of “piscina.”
The custom of eating fish on Friday, in commemoration of the chief event in the history of Him whose Mother is identical with the genius of that day, is still common in the larger section of Christians.
We might insist at greater length on the peculiarly symbolical character of the whole 21st chapter of John's Gospel, containing the account of the final fish-miracle, which chapter is appended as an epilogue to the Gospel itself, whose formally concluding verse closes the preceding chapter.
More than one critic has pointed out the strong probability that the episode referred to, with its curiously emphasised numerals – seven, two hundred, a hundred and fifty and three – and the unlikely character of its literal interpretation (see the Rev. Malcolm White on the symbolical numbers of Scripture), is altogether mystical and, perhaps, prophetical in meaning.
But enough has been said to indicate the reasons for attaching a sense, not historical but symbolical, to the various statements contained in the four Gospels on the subject of Christ's connection with fish and fishery, and the reason of the substitution of the fish for the lamb, which represented the former dispensation.
His connection with bread and wine is equally mystic in its character, and needs no explanation for those who are acquainted with the facts and doctrines of ancient mythology and the relation of the latter to the religion of which they are the lineal ancestor.
* * * * * * * *
We entirely deny that we have “heaped loose and indiscriminate imputations on the ministers of the Gospel.” For the true “ministers of the Gospel” we have no words of blame; we spoke of “priesthoods and of their inveterate tendency to materialise spiritual doctrines,” not in the Christian religion only, but in all others. (...) The Resurrection of Jesus is not held by Christians of any recognised Church to have been a spiritual resurrection. Both Catholic and Protestant divines have invariably taught that Jesus rose from the dead in the body, in that body appeared to His disciples (Luke xxiv. 39), and with that body ascended into Heaven, where, in that body, He sits at the right hand of God the Father. If “S. C.'' holds otherwise, he cannot believe the letter of the Scriptures, nor the Articles of the orthodox faith, of both of which he appears to be the champion. As it is while spiritualising the Resurrection, he seems to ascribe a physical meaning to the Incarnation.
As regards the doctrine of re-births, “S. C.” writes as though we had been the inventors, or, at least, the first promulgators of that doctrine, which, he ought to know, is so ancient that upon it all the early theosophies and philosophies were built. It is
really too late in the day to discuss a doctrine which is now – since the publication of The Perfect Way – openly taught and at great length insisted on in the pages of the Theosophist, and which has but very recently been clearly expounded in Light by “C.C.M.” If “S.C.” is not content with these, he may turn to some letters on “Re-Incarnation” published in Light a year ago, (1) under the signature “Anna Kingsford, M.D.” He will there find plainly set forth the true nature of that doctrine, which, in common with most Spiritualists, he wholly misunderstands. In passing, it is, however, well to remind him that Spirit is Divine in its nature, and therefore, of course, possesses and includes the dual principles. Hence Spirit incarnate must needs comprehend the potentiality of both sexes. Were it otherwise, the “perfected man” could not be in the image of God. A full humanity must comprise all experiences and all human relations. Otherwise all would be disorderly, unsystematised, and unequal.
As last words on this controversy, we wish to say generally that we have never
put forward any “hypothesis” or “opinions.” We have taught, and shall still
teach, the doctrine of all mystic adepts from Hermes Trismegistus to the Theosophists of our own century, a
doctrine given to us by precisely the same method as to all who live the
requisite life. And the rule of that life we have openly proclaimed in both
precept and practice. We have been asked by some to show our credentials for our
authority – to give a sign of the truth of our doctrine. Our answer is that the
whole of that doctrine, in its minutest details, was obtained independently of
any initiation at human hands, independently of any previous study in
contemporary schools of Occultism, and by a method so clear, so luminous, so
divine in character, as to leave no doubt of its source in the memory of the
interior Ego. And since the book which contains this doctrine has been given to
the world, it has been made abundantly clear that the recipients of the most
venerable traditionary teaching in the world – that of
whom we had no possible means of learning them, withheld, as they have hitherto been, from even the admitted disciples of the Adepts on whose authority they are now declared.
There has, then, been neither appropriation nor invention in the case; there has been recovery only, and this not by the mediation of “Spirits,” but through interior recollection. Thus the book is in itself, as one of your correspondents has suggested, a proof at once of the doctrine of Re-incarnation and of the soul's ability to regain and communicate of its memories of the past. And it is upon the appeal of such intrinsic evidence to developed and instructed understandings that we rely for the recognition and appreciation which are its due.
The Writers of “The
(341:1) See Preface, p. xlvi, n. 112, and Life of A. K., vol. ii., pp. 64-68.
(341:2) This joint-letter, dated 10th July, 1882, was written by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland in reply to the review of The Perfect Way, which had appeared in the May and June numbers of The Theosophist, 1882 (pp. 207-210 and 232-235), and was published in The Theosophist of the following September (pp. 295-296). It was followed by a further article by the reviewer, which appeared in The Teosophist of October, 1882 (p. 10), and such further article was replied to by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland in a further and final joint-letter dated 10th November, 1882. – S.H.H.
(341:3) For Lecture V of the First Edition of The Perfect Way, see Appendix I, ante.
(342:1) For the Second Appendix to the First Edition of The Perfect Way, see Anna Kingsford's Illumination “Concerning the Hereafter” in Clothed With the Sun, part i., No. xi., pp. 156-161.
(342:2) The Writers appended to their letter the following table reconciling the two analyses of the human system: –
A. The Outer Personality for which there is no Re-birth, and which is renewed at every incarnation:
1. Physical Body.
1. Physical Body.
2. Jiv-Atma, or Vital Principle.
2. Astral Body, or Nephesch; called also the odic, magnetic, or fiery body; the perispirit of Allan-Kardac; the shade of the Ancients. In The Perfect Way this element is included in the protoplasm, which is stated to be divisible into two parts – the Astral body, and the mundane Mind or Ruach, the creator of all earthly affections, desires, and affinities, the Anima Bruta.
3. Linga-sharira, or etherial shape.
4. Kama-rupa, or body of desire.
5. The animal or physical intelligence, or Ego (corresponding to the Ruach).
B. The Interior Personality, which is re-born; the permanent Ego:
3. Anima Divina, or Neschamah, Soul or Nucleus.
6. Spiritual intelligence or higher consciousness.
4. Divine Spirit, or Nous, Jechidah or Nucleolus.
7. Spirit, uncreated emanation from the Absolute.
The four principles of The Perfect Way correspond, therefore, perfectly with the seven of The Theosophist; but of these seven the two first are contained in the first of the four, and the three second in the second of the four. The Body is typified by the Mineral, Earth, or Ox. The Astral Body and Mind by the Vegetable and Animal, or Lion.
The Anima Divina by the Human, or Angel.
The Spirit by the Divine, or Eagle.
An instructive table on similar lines will also be found in Light, 1891, p. 51. – S.H.H.
(343:1) It will be remembered that a copy of the Book had been sent by Anna Kingsford to the Editor of The Theosophist (see Preface, pp. xlii-xliv, ante).
(345:1) This joint-letter, dated 10th November, 1882, was written by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland in reply to a further article by the reviewer of The Perfect Way, which had appeared in The Theosophist of October, 1882 (p. 10). It was published in The Theosophist of January, 1883 (p. 87), and was followed by a Note by the Editor (Madame Blavatsky), which is reprinted in The Life of Anna Kingsford, vol. ii., pp. 67-68. – S.H.H.
(347:1) See Preface p. xlviii, n. 117, and Life of A. K., vol. ii., pp. 75-78.
(347:2) This joint-letter was published in Light of 23rd September, 1882, p. 425.
(350:1) The Appendices in the First Edition of The Perfect Way which consisted of some of Anna Kingsford's Illuminations or portions thereof, are not reprinted in the present edition (see Preface). The Illumination here referred to is the one “Concerning Inspiration and Prophesying,” published in full in C.W.S., part i., No. ii. (part i.), p. 5.
(350:2) This letter was published in Light of 11th November, 1882, p. 508.
(353:1) Appendix V of the First Edition consisted of a portion of the Illumination “Concerning the Great Work, the Redemption, and the Share of Christ Jesus Therein,” now published in full in C.W.S., part ii., No. 5, p. 224.
(355:1) Now published in C.W.S., part i., No. xl., p. 156.
(355:2) See note to letter, p. 358, post.
(357:1) Several of
your correspondents mistake the title of our book, and call it “The
(358:1) This letter was published in Light of 9th December, 1882, p. 551. The greater part of it follows (almost verbatim) a letter of Anna Kingsford “On Pure Diet,” in The Food Reform Magazine of October, 1881 (vol. i., No. 2, pp. 46-50); and, in the next following number of the same magazine (January, 1882, p. 100), Anna Kingsford said that the sole object of her criticisms and interpretations was to suggest to conscientious Christians a ground of reconciliation between the tenets of their faith and the practice of vegetarianism, so that they might not fancy themselves forced to conclude that religion sanctioned and even inculcated that which their own secret sense of morality condemned; for, she said, “It is a serious difficulty to be unable to regard the personages whom sacred tradition presents to us as types of perfection, as failing in respect of one of the chief articles in the moral code by which they regulate their own lives.” Anna Kingsford's “Letter on Pure Diet” have since been reprinted in Addresses and Essays on Vegetarianism, by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland, which was published in 1912 (pp. 64-76). – S.H.H.
(359:1) This observation is not less pertinent if we suppose the Fourth Gospel to have been written, not by John, but according to John, for in either case it would record his version of the event in question.
(363:1) In April, 1882, p. 168, and since reprinted in The Credo of Christendom (pp. 191-196), which was published in 1916.