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disguised in absurd and debasing rites and superstitions, the nearer we trace them to their source, appear in greater and greater purity and nobility, with more exalted views, doctrines, and aims. For as Tegner says
“... känslan's grundton är ändå densamma."
And as the same poet expresses it, antiquity is
det Atlantis som gick under
That Atlantis that perished
Thus the ethic odes of Buddha and Zoroaster have been regarded as anticipations of the teaching of Christianity; so that even St. Augustin remarked: “What is now called the Christian religion existed among the ancients, and was not absent from the beginning of the human race until Christ came, from which time the true religion, which existed already, began to be called Christian."
Again, through all the more elevated creeds there ran certain fundamental ideas which, differing and even sometimes distorted in form, may yet in a certain sense be regarded as common to all. Such were the belief in a Trinity; the dogma that the “Logos," or omnific Word, created all things by making the Nothing manifest; the worship of light; the doctrine of regeneration by passing through the fire, and others.
10. The true Doctrines of Nature and Being. But what was the knowledge on which the teaching of the mysteries was founded ? It was no less than that of the ground and geniture of all things; the whole state, the rise, the workings, and the progress of all Nature (16), together with the unity that pervades heaven and earth. A few years ago this was proclaimed with great sound of trumpets as a new discovery, although so ancient an author as Homer speaks, in the 8th book of the “Iliad,” of the golden chain connecting heaven and earth; the golden chain of sympathy, the occult, all-pervading, all-uniting influence, called by a variety of names, such as anima mundi, mercurius philosophorum, Jacob's ladder, the vital magnetic series, the magician's fire, &c. This knowledge, in course of time, and
through man's love of change, was gradually distorted by perverse interpretations, and overlaid or embroidered, as it were, with fanciful creations of man's own brain ; and thus arose superstitious systems, which became the creed of the unthinking crowd, and have not lost their hold on the public mind, even to this day keeping in spiritual thraldom myriads who tremble at a thousand phantoms conjured up by priestcraft and their own ignorance, whilst
“Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas ;
11. Fundamental Principles of true Knowledge possessed by the Ancients.-From what was taught in the mysteries, we are justified in believing that thousands of years ago men knew what follows; though the knowledge is already dimmed and perverted in the mysteries, the phenomena of outward Nature only being presented in them, instead of the inward spiritual truths symbolised.
(i.) All around us we behold the evidences of a life permeating all things; we must needs, therefore, admit that there is a universal, all-powerful, all-sustaining life.
(ii.) Behind or above the primeval life which is the basis of this system may be beheld the “Unmoved Mover," the only supernatural ens, who, by the Word, or “ Logos,” has spoken forth all things out of himself; which does not imply any pantheism, for the words of the speaker, though proceeding from him, are not the speaker himself.
(iii.) The universal life is eternal.
(iv.) Matter is eternal, for matter is the garment in which the life clothes and renders itself manifest.
(v.) That matter is light, for the darkest substance is, or can be, reduced into it.
(vi.) Whatsoever is outwardly manifest must have existed ideally, from all eternity, in an archetypal figure, reflected in what Indian mythology calls the Eternal Liberty, the mirror Maja, whence are derived the terms "magus,
magia," magic," "image,” “imagination," all implying the fixing of the primeval, structureless, imperceptible, living matter, in a form, figure, or creature. In modern theosophy, the mirror Maja is called the Eternal Mirror of Wonders, the Virgin Sophia, ever bringing forth, yet over a virgin—the analogue and prototype of the Virgin Mary.
(vii.) The eternal life which thus manifests itself in this
visible universe is ruled by the same laws that rule the invisible world of forces.
(viii.) These laws, according to which the life manifests itself, are the seven properties of eternal Nature, six working properties, and the seventh, in which the six, as it were, rest, or are combined into perfect balance or harmony, i.e., paradise. These seven properties, the foundation of all the septenary numbers running through natural phenomena and all ancient and modern knowledge, are: (1) Attraction; (2) Reaction or Repulsion; (3) Circulation; (4) Fire; (5) Light; (6) Sound; (7) Body, or comprisal of all.
(ix.) This septenary is divisible into two ternaries or poles, with the fire (symbolised by a cross) in the middle. These two poles constitute the eternal dualism or antagonism in Nature—the first three forming matter or darkness, and producing pain and anguish, i.e., hell, cosmically winter; the last three being filled with light and delight, i.e., paradise, cosmically summer.
(x.) The fire is the great chymist, or purifier and transmuter of Nature, turning darkness into light. Hence the excessive veneration and universal worship paid to it by ancient nations, the priests of Zoroaster wearing a veil over their mouths for fear of polluting the fire with their breath. By the fire here, of course, is meant the empyrean, electric fire, whose existence and nature were tolerably well known to the ancients. They distinguished the moving principle from the thing moved, and called the former the igneous ether or spirit, the principle of life, the Deity, You-piter, Vulcan, Phtha, Kneph (18, 24).
(xi.) All light is born out of darkness, and must pass through the fire to manifest itself; there is no other way but through darkness, or death, or hell—an idea which we find enunciated and represented in all the mysteries. As little as a plant can come forth into the beauty of blossoms, leaves, and fruit, without having passed through the dark state of the seed and being buried in the earth, where it is chymically transmuted by the fire; so little can the mind arrive at the fulness of knowledge and enlightenment without having passed through a stage of self-darkening and imprisonment, in which it suffered torment, anguish-in which it was as in a furnace, in the throes of generation.
12. Key to Mystic Teaching.—That the first men possessed the knowledge of the foregoing facts is certain, not only from the positive and inferential teachings of the mysteries, but also from the inonuments of antiquity, which in grandeur
of conception and singleness of ideal aim, excel all that modern art or industry, or even faith, has accomplished. By bearing this in mind, the reader will get a deeper insight into the true meaning of the dogmas of initiation than was attainable by the epopts themselves. He will also understand that the reason why there was so much uniformity in the teaching of the mysteries was the fact that the dogmas enunciated were explanations of universal natural phenomena, alike in all parts of the earth. In describing the ceremonies of initiation, I shall therefore abstain from appending to them a commentary or exegesis, but simply refer to the paragraphs of this introduction, as to a key.
13. Mystic Teaching summarised. — It was theological, moral, and scientific. Theologically, the initiated were shown the error of vulgar polytheism, and taught the doctrine of the Unity and of a future state of reward and punishment; morally, the precepts were summed up in the words of Confucius: “If thou be doubtful whether an action be right or wrong, abstain from it altogether;" scientifically, the principles were such as we have detailed above (11), with their natural and necessary deductions, consequences, and results.
14. How true Knowledge came to be lost.—Though I have already on several occasions (e.g., 10) alluded to the fact that the true knowledge of Nature possessed by the first men had in course of time become corrupted and intermixed with error, it will not be amiss to show the process by which this came to pass. It is well known that the oldest religious rites of which we have any written records were Sabæan or Helio-Arkite. The sun, moon, and stars, however, to the true original epopts were merely the outward manifestations and symbols of the inward powers of the Eternal Life. But such abstract truths could not be rendered intelligible to the vulgar mind of the multitude, necessarily more occupied with the satisfaction of material wants; and hence arose the personification of the heavenly bodies and terrestrial seasons depending on them. Gradually the human figure, which in the first instance had only been a symbol, came to be looked upon as the representation of an individual being, that had actually lived on earth. Thus, the sun, to the primitive men, was the outward manifestation of the Eternal, all-sustaining, all-saving Life; in different countries and ages this power was personified under the names of Chrisna, Fo, Osiris, Hermes, Hercules, and so on; and eventually these latter were supposed to have been men that really existed,
and had been deified on account of the benefits they had conferred on mankind. The tombs of these supposed gods were shown, such as the Great Pyramid, said to be the tomb of Osiris; feasts were celebrated, the object of which seemed to be to renew every year the grief occasioned by their loss. The passing of the sun through the signs of the zodiac gave rise to the myths of the incantations of Vishnu, the labours of Hercules, &c., his apparent loss of power during the winter season, and the restoration thereof at the winter solstice, to the story of the death, descent into hell, and resurrection of Osiris and of Mithras. In fact, what was pure Nature-wisdom in one age became mythology in the next, and romance in the third, taking its characteristics from the country where it prevailed. The number seven being found everywhere, and the knowledge that its prevalence was the necessary consequence of the seven properties of Nature being lost, it was supposed to have reference only to the seven planets then known.
15. Original Spirit of the Mysteries, and Results of their Decay. In the mysteries all was astronomical, but a deeper meaning lay hid under the astronomical symbols. While bewailing the loss of the sun, the epopts were in reality mourning the loss of that light whose influence is life; whilst the working of the elements, according to the laws of elective affinity, produces only phenomena of decay and death. The initiated strove to pass from under the dominion of the bond-woman Night into the glorious liberty of the freewoman Sophia or Light; to be mentally absorbed into the Deity, i.e., into the Light. The dogmas of ancient Naturewisdom were set before the pupil, but their understanding had to arise as inspiration in his soul. It was not the dead body of science that was surrendered to the epopt, leaving it to chance whether it quickened or not, but the living spirit itself was infused into him. But for this reason, because more had to be apprehended from within by inspiration, than from without, by oral instruction, the mysteries gradually decayed; the ideal yielded to the realistic, and the merely physical elements—Sabæism and Arkism-became their leading features. The frequent emblems and mementos in the sanctuary of death and resurrection, pointing to the mystery that the moments of highest psychical enjoyment are the most destructive to bodily existence—i.l., that the most intense delight is a glimpse of paradise—these emblems and mementos eventually were applied to outward Nature only, and their misapprehension led to all the creeds