The Key to Theosophy
H. P. Blavatsky
MYSTERY OF THE EGO
ENQUIRER. I perceive in the
quotation you brought forward a little while ago from the Buddhist
Catechism a discrepancy that I would like to hear explained. It is there
stated that the Skandhas—memory included—change with every new incarnation.
And yet, it is asserted that the reflection of the past lives, which, we are
told, are entirely made up of Skandhas, “must survive.” At the present
moment I am not quite clear in my mind as to what it is precisely that survives,
and I would like to have it explained. What is it? Is it only that
“reflection,” or those Skandhas, or always that same EGO, the Manas?
THEOSOPHIST. I have just
explained that the re-incarnating Principle, or that which we call the divine
man, is indestructible throughout the life cycle: indestructible as a thinking Entity,
and even as an ethereal form. The “reflection” is only the
spiritualised remembrance during the Devachanic period, of the ex-personality, Mr. A. or Mrs. B.—with which the Ego identifies
itself during that period. Since the latter is but the continuation of the
earth-life, so to say, the very acme and pitch, in an unbroken series, of the
few happy moments in that now past existence, the Ego has to identify
itself with the personal consciousness of that life, if anything shall
remain of it.
ENQUIRER. This means that
the Ego, notwithstanding its divine nature, passes every such period
between two incarnations in a state of mental obscuration, or temporary
THEOSOPHIST. You may regard
it as you like. Believing that, outside the ONE Reality, nothing is better than
a passing illusion—the whole Universe included—we do not view it as
insanity, but as a very natural sequence or development of the terrestrial life.
What is life? A bundle of the most varied experiences, of daily changing ideas,
emotions, and opinions. In our youth we are often enthusiastically devoted to an
ideal, to some hero or heroine whom we try to follow and revive; a few years
later, when the freshness of our youthful feelings has faded out and sobered
down, we are the first to laugh at our fancies. And yet there was a day when we
had so thoroughly identified our own personality with that of the ideal in our
mind—especially if it was that of a living being—that the former was
entirely merged and lost in the latter. Can it be said of a man of fifty that he
is the same being that he was at twenty? The inner man is the same; the
outward living personality is completely transformed and changed. Would you also
call these changes in the human mental states insanity?
ENQUIRER. How would you
name them, and especially how would you explain the permanence of one and the
evanescence of the other?
THEOSOPHIST. We have our
own doctrine ready, and to us it offers no difficulty. The clue lies in the
double consciousness of our mind, and also, in the dual nature of the mental
“principle.” There is a spiritual consciousness, the Manasic mind illumined
by the light of Buddhi, that which subjectively perceives abstractions; and the
sentient consciousness (the lower Manasic light), inseparable from our
physical brain and senses. This latter consciousness is held in subjection by
the brain and physical senses, and, being in its turn equally dependent on them,
must of course fade out and finally die with the disappearance of the brain and
physical senses. It is only the former kind of consciousness, whose root lies in
eternity, which survives and lives for ever, and may, therefore, be regarded as
immortal. Everything else belongs to passing illusions.
ENQUIRER. What do you
really understand by illusion in this case?
THEOSOPHIST. It is very
well described in the just-mentioned essay on “The Higher Self.” Says its
“The theory we are
considering (the interchange of ideas between the Higher Ego and the
lower self) harmonizes very well with the treatment of this world in which we
live as a phenomenal world of illusion, the spiritual plane of nature being on
the other hand the noumenal world or plane of reality. That region of nature in
which, so to speak, the permanent soul is rooted is more real than that in which
its transitory blossoms appear for a brief space to wither and fall to pieces,
while the plant recovers energy for sending forth a fresh flower. Supposing
flowers only were perceptible to ordinary senses, and their roots existed in a
state of Nature intangible and invisible to us, philosophers in such a world who
divined that there were such things as roots in another plane of existence would
be apt to say of the flowers, These are not the real plants; they are of no
relative importance, merely illusive phenomena of the moment.”
This is what I mean. The
world in which blossom the transitory and evanescent flowers of personal lives
is not the real permanent world; but that one in which we find the root of
consciousness, that root which is beyond illusion and dwells in the eternity.
ENQUIRER. What do you mean
by the root dwelling in eternity?
THEOSOPHIST. I mean by this
root the thinking entity, the Ego which incarnates, whether we regard it as an
“Angel,” “Spirit,” or a Force. Of that which falls under our sensuous
perceptions only what grows directly from, or is attached to this invisible root
above, can partake of its immortal life. Hence every noble thought, idea and
aspiration of the personality it informs, proceeding from and fed by this root,
must become permanent. As to the physical consciousness, as it is a quality of
the sentient but lower “principle,” (Kama-rupa or animal instinct,
illuminated by the lower manasic reflection), or the human Soul—it
must disappear. That which displays activity, while the body is asleep or
paralysed, is the higher consciousness, our memory registering but feebly and
inaccurately—because automatically—such experiences, and often failing to be
even slightly impressed by them.
ENQUIRER. But how is it
that MANAS, although you call it Nous,
a “God,” is so weak during its incarnations, as to be actually
conquered and fettered by its body?
THEOSOPHIST. I might retort
with the same question and ask: “How is it that he, whom you regard as ‘the
God of Gods’ and the One living God, is so weak as to allow evil (or
the Devil) to have the best of him as much as of all his creatures,
whether while he remains in Heaven, or during the time he was incarnated on this
earth?” You are sure to reply again: “This is a Mystery; and we are
forbidden to pry into the mysteries of God.” Not being forbidden to do so by
our religious philosophy, I answer your question that, unless a God descends as
an Avatar, no divine principle can be otherwise than cramped and
paralysed by turbulent, animal matter. Heterogeneity will always have the upper
hand over homogeneity, on this plane of illusions, and the nearer an essence is
to its root-principle, Primordial Homogeneity, the more difficult it is for the
latter to assert itself on earth. Spiritual and divine powers lie dormant in
every human Being; and the wider the sweep of his spiritual vision the mightier
will be the God within him. But as few men can feel that God, and since, as an
average rule, deity is always bound and limited in our thought by earlier
conceptions, those ideas that are inculcated in us from childhood, therefore, it
is so difficult for you to understand our philosophy.
ENQUIRER. And is it this
Ego of ours which is our God?
THEOSOPHIST. Not at all;
“A God” is not the universal deity, but only a spark from the one ocean of
Divine Fire. Our God within us, or “our Father in Secret” is what
we call the “HIGHER SELF,” Atma. Our
incarnating Ego was a God in its origin, as were all the primeval emanations of
the One Unknown Principle. But since its “fall into Matter,” having to
incarnate throughout the cycle, in succession, from first to last, it is no
longer a free and happy god, but a poor pilgrim on his way to regain that which
he has lost. I can answer you more fully by repeating what is said of the INNER
MAN in Isis Unveiled (Vol. II. 593):—
“From the remotest
antiquity mankind as a whole have always been convinced of
the existence of a personal spiritual entity within the
personal physical man. This inner
entity was more or less divine, according to its proximity to the crown. The
closer the union the more serene man’s destiny, the less dangerous the
external conditions. This belief is neither bigotry nor superstition, only an
ever-present, instinctive feeling of the proximity of another spiritual and
invisible world, which, though it be subjective to the senses of the outward
man, is perfectly objective to the inner ego. Furthermore, they believed that there
are external and internal conditions which affect the determination of our will
upon our actions. They rejected
fatalism, for fatalism implies a blind course of some still blinder power. But
they believed in destiny or Karma,
which from birth to death every man is weaving thread by thread around
himself, as a spider does his cobweb; and this destiny is guided by that
presence termed by some the guardian angel, or our more intimate astral inner
man, who is but too often the evil genius of the man of flesh or the personality.
Both these lead on MAN, but one of them must prevail; and from the very
beginning of the invisible affray the stern and implacable law of
compensation and retribution steps in and takes its course, following
faithfully the fluctuating of the conflict. When the last strand is woven, and
man is seemingly enwrapped in the net-work of his own doing, then he finds
himself completely under the empire of this self-made destiny. It then
either fixes him like the inert shell against the immovable rock, or like a
feather carries him away in a whirlwind raised by his own actions.”
Such is the destiny of the
Man—the true Ego, not the Automaton, the shell that goes by that
name. It is for him to become the conqueror over matter.
THE COMPLEX NATURE OF MANAS
ENQUIRER. But you wanted to tell me something of the essential nature of Manas, and of the relation in which the Skandhas of physical man stand to it?
THEOSOPHIST. It is this nature, mysterious, Protean, beyond any grasp, and almost shadowy in its correlations with the other principles, that is most difficult to realise, and still more so to explain. Manas is a “principle,” and yet it is an “Entity” and individuality or Ego. He is a “God,” and yet he is doomed to an endless cycle of incarnations, for each of which he is made responsible, and for each of which he has to suffer. All this seems as contradictory as it is puzzling; nevertheless, there are hundreds of people, even in Europe, who realise all this perfectly, for they comprehend the Ego not only in its integrity but in its many aspects. Finally, if I would make myself comprehensible, I must begin by the beginning and give you the genealogy of this Ego in a few lines.
ENQUIRER. Say on.
THEOSOPHIST. Try to imagine
a “Spirit,” a celestial Being, whether we call it by one name or another,
divine in its essential nature, yet not pure enough to be one with the ALL,
and having, in order to achieve this, to so purify its nature as to finally gain
that goal. It can do so only by passing individually and personally,
i. e., spiritually and physically,
through every experience and feeling that exists in the manifold or
differentiated Universe. It has, therefore, after having gained such experience
in the lower kingdoms, and having ascended higher and still higher with every
rung on the ladder of being, to pass through every experience on the human
planes. In its very essence it is THOUGHT, and is, therefore, called in its
plurality Manasa putra, “the
Sons of the (Universal) mind.” This individualised “Thought” is
what we Theosophists call the real EGO, the thinking Entity imprisoned
in a case of flesh and bones. This is surely a Spiritual Entity, not Matter,
and such Entities are the incarnating EGOS that inform the bundle of animal
matter called mankind, and whose names are Manasa or “Minds.” But
once imprisoned, or incarnate, their essence becomes dual: that is to say, the rays
of the eternal divine Mind, considered as individual entities, assume a
two-fold attribute which is (a) their essential inherent
characteristic, heaven-aspiring mind (higher Manas), and (b)
the human quality of thinking, or animal cogitation, rationalised owing to the
superiority of the human brain, the Kama-tending or lower Manas. One
gravitates toward Buddhi, the other, tending downward, to the seat of passions
and animal desires. The latter have no room in Devachan, nor can they associate
with the divine triad which ascends as ONE into mental bliss. Yet it is the Ego,
the Manasic Entity, which is held responsible for all the sins of the lower
attributes, just as a parent is answerable for the transgressions of his child,
so long as the latter remains irresponsible.
ENQUIRER. Is this “child” the “personality”?
THEOSOPHIST. It is. When,
therefore, it is stated that the “personality” dies with the body it does
not state all. The body, which was only the objective symbol of Mr. A. or Mrs.
B., fades away with all its material Skandhas, which are the visible expressions
thereof. But all that which constituted during life the spiritual bundle
of experiences, the noblest aspirations, undying affections, and unselfish nature
of Mr. A. or Mrs. B. clings for the time of the Devachanic period to the EGO,
which is identified with the spiritual portion of that terrestrial Entity, now
passed away out of sight. The ACTOR is so imbued with the role just
played by him that he dreams of it during the whole Devachanic night, which vision
continues till the hour strikes for him to return to the stage of life to
enact another part.
ENQUIRER. But how is it that this doctrine, which you say is as old as thinking men, has found no room, say, in Christian theology?
THEOSOPHIST. You are
mistaken, it has; only theology has disfigured it out of all recognition, as it
has many other doctrines. Theology calls the EGO the Angel that God gives us at
the moment of our birth, to take care of our Soul.
Instead of holding that “Angel” responsible for the transgressions of
the poor helpless “Soul,” it is the latter which, according to theological
logic, is punished for all the sins of both flesh and mind! It is the Soul, the
immaterial breath of God and his alleged creation,
which, by some most amazing intellectual jugglery, is doomed to burn in a
material hell without ever being consumed,
while the “Angel” escapes scot free, after folding his white pinions and
wetting them with a few tears. Aye, these are our “ministering Spirits,” the
“messengers of mercy” who are sent, Bishop Mant tells us—
“…… to fulfil
Good for Salvation’s heirs, for us they still
Grieve when we sin, rejoice
when we repent;”
Yet it becomes evident that
if all the Bishops the world over were asked to define once for all what they
mean by Soul and its functions, they would be as unable to do so as to
show us any shadow of logic in the orthodox belief!
THE DOCTRINE IS TAUGHT IN ST
ENQUIRER. To this the adherents to this belief might answer, that if even the orthodox dogma does promise the impenitent sinner and materialist a bad time of it in a rather too realistic Inferno, it gives them, on the other hand, a chance for repentance to the last minute. Nor do they teach annihilation, or loss of personality, which is all the same.
THEOSOPHIST. If the Church
teaches nothing of the kind, on the other hand, Jesus does; and that is
something to those, at least, who place Christ higher than Christianity.
ENQUIRER. Does Christ teach anything of the sort?
THEOSOPHIST. He does; and
every well-informed Occultist and even Kabalist will tell you so. Christ, or the
fourth Gospel at any rate, teaches re-incarnation as also the annihilation of
the personality, if you but forget the dead letter and hold to the esoteric
Spirit. Remember verses I and 2 in chapter xv. of St. John. What does the
parable speak about if not of the upper triad in man? Atma is
the Husbandman—the Spiritual Ego or Buddhi (Christos) the Vine, while
the animal and vital Soul, the personality, is the “branch.” “I
am the true vine, and my Father is the Husbandman. Every branch in me
that beareth not fruit he taketh away… As the branch cannot bear fruit of
itself except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am
the Vine—ye are the branches. If a man abide not in me he is cast forth as a
branch, and is withered and cast into the fire and burned.”
Now we explain it in this
way. Disbelieving in the hell-fires which theology discovers as underlying the
threat to the branches, we say
that the “Husbandman” means Atma, the Symbol for the infinite, impersonal
while the Vine stands for the Spiritual Soul, Christos, and each
“branch” represents a new incarnation.
ENQUIRER. But what proofs have you to support such an arbitrary interpretation?
symbology is a warrant for its correctness and that it is not arbitrary. Hermas
says of “God” that he “planted the Vineyard,” i. e., he created mankind. In the Kabala,
it is shown that the Aged of the Aged, or the “Long Face,” plants a
vineyard, the latter typifying mankind; and a vine, meaning Life. The Spirit of
“King Messiah” is, therefore, shown as washing his garments in the
wine from above, from the creation of the world.
And King Messiah is the EGO purified by washing his garments (i.
e., his personalities in re-birth), in the wine from above, or
BUDDHI. Adam, or A-Dam, is “blood.” The Life of the flesh is in the blood (nephesh—soul),
Leviticus xvii. And Adam-Kadmon is the Only-Begotten. Noah also
plants a vineyard—the allegorical hot-bed of future humanity. As a consequence
of the adoption of the same allegory, we find it reproduced in the Nazarene Codex.
Seven vines are procreated—which seven vines are our Seven Races with
their seven Saviours or Buddhas—which spring from Iukabar Zivo, and
Ferho (or Parcha) Raba waters them.
When the blessed will ascend among the creatures of Light, they shall see
Iavar-Xivo, Lord of LIFE, and the First VINE.
These kabalistic metaphors are thus naturally repeated in the Gospel
according to St. John (xv., 1).
Let us not forget that in
the human system—even according to those philosophies which ignore our
septenary division—the EGO or thinking man is called the Logos, or
the Son of King of Soul and Queen of Spirit. “Manas is the adopted Son of
King—and Queen—” (esoteric equivalents for Atma and Buddhi), says an
occult work. He is the “man-god” of Plato, who crucifies himself in Space
(or the duration of the life cycle) for the redemption of MATTER. This he
does by incarnating over and over again, thus leading mankind onward to
perfection, and making thereby room for lower forms to develop into higher. Not
for one life does he cease progressing himself and helping all physical nature
to progress; even the occasional, very rare event of his losing one of his
personalities, in the case of the latter being entirely devoid of even a spark
of spirituality, helps toward his individual progress.
ENQUIRER. But surely, if
the Ego is held responsible for the transgressions of its
personalities, it has to answer also for the loss, or rather the complete
annihilation, of one of such.
THEOSOPHIST. Not at all,
unless it has done nothing to avert this dire fate. But if, all its efforts
notwithstanding, its voice, that of our conscience,
was unable to penetrate through the wall of matter, then the obtuseness of
the latter proceeding from the imperfect nature of the material is classed with
other failures of nature. The Ego is sufficiently punished by the loss of
Devachan, and especially by having to incarnate almost immediately.
ENQUIRER. This doctrine of
the possibility of losing one’s soul—or personality, do you call
it?—militates against the ideal theories of both Christians and Spiritualists,
though Swedenborg adopts it to a certain extent, in what he calls Spiritual
death. They will never accept it.
THEOSOPHIST. This can in no
way alter a fact in nature, if it be a fact, or prevent such a thing
occasionally taking place. The universe and everything in it, moral, mental,
physical, psychic, or Spiritual, is built on a perfect law of equilibrium and
harmony. As said before (vide Isis Unveiled), the
centripetal force could not manifest itself without the centrifugal in the
harmonious revolutions of the spheres, and all forms and their progress are the
products of this dual force in nature. Now the Spirit (or Buddhi) is
the centrifugal and the soul (Manas) the centripetal spiritual energy;
and to produce one result they have to be in perfect union and harmony. Break or
damage the centripetal motion of the earthly soul tending toward the centre
which attracts it; arrest its progress by clogging it with a heavier weight of
matter than it can bear, or than is fit for the Devachanic state, and the
harmony of the whole will be destroyed. Personal life, or perhaps rather its
ideal reflection, can only be continued if sustained by the two-fold force, that
is by the close union of Buddhi and Manas in every re-birth or
personal life. The least deviation from harmony damages it; and when it is
destroyed beyond redemption the two forces separate at the moment of death.
During a brief interval the personal form (called indifferently Kama
rupa and Mayavi rupa), the
spiritual efflorescence of which, attaching itself to the Ego, follows it into
Devachan and gives to the permanent individuality its personal
colouring (pro tem., so to speak), is carried off to remain in Kamaloka
and to be gradually annihilated. For it is after the death of the utterly
depraved, the unspiritual and the wicked beyond redemption, that arrives the
critical and supreme moment. If during life the ultimate and desperate effort of
the INNER SELF (Manas), to unite something of the personality
with itself and the high glimmering ray of the divine Buddhi, is thwarted; if
this ray is allowed to be more and more shut out from the ever-thickening crust
of physical brain, the Spiritual EGO or Manas, once freed from the body, remains
severed entirely from the ethereal relic of the personality; and the latter, or Kama
rupa, following its earthly attractions, is drawn into and
remains in Hades, which we call
the Kamaloka. These are “the
withered branches” mentioned by Jesus as being cut off from the Vine.
Annihilation, however, is never instantaneous, and may require centuries
sometimes for its accomplishment. But there the personality remains along with
the remnants of other more fortunate personal Egos, and becomes with
them a shell and an Elementary. As said in Isis, it is these two classes of “Spirits,” the shells
and the Elementaries, which
are the leading “Stars” on the great spiritual stage of
“materialisations.” And you may be sure of it, it is not they who incarnate;
and, therefore, so few of these “dear departed ones” know anything of
re-incarnation, misleading thereby the Spiritualists.
ENQUIRER. But does not the
author of Isis Unveiled stand accused of having preached against
THEOSOPHIST. By those who
have misunderstood what was said, yes. At the time that work was written,
re-incarnation was not believed in by any Spiritualists, either English or
American, and what is said there of re-incarnation was directed against
the French Spiritists, whose theory is as un-philosophical and absurd as the
Eastern teaching is logical and self-evident in its truth. The
Re-incarnationists of the Allan Kardec School believe in an arbitrary and
immediate re-incarnation. With them, the dead father can incarnate in his own
unborn daughter, and so on. They have neither Devachan, Karma, nor any
philosophy that would warrant or prove the necessity of consecutive re-births.
But how can the author of “Isis” argue against Karmic
re-incarnation, at long intervals varying between 1,000 and 1,500 years, when it
is the fundamental belief of both Buddhists and Hindus?
ENQUIRER. Then you reject the theories of both the Spiritists and the Spiritualists, in their entirety?
THEOSOPHIST. Not in their
entirety, but only with regard to their respective fundamental beliefs. Both
rely on what their “Spirits” tell them; and both disagree as much with each
other as we Theosophists disagree with both. Truth is one; and when we hear the
French spooks preaching re-incarnation, and the English spooks denying and
denouncing the doctrine, we say that either the French or the English
“Spirits” do not know what they are talking about. We believe with the
Spiritualists and the Spiritists in the existence of “Spirits,” or invisible
Beings endowed with more or less intelligence. But, while in our teachings their
kinds and genera are legion, our opponents admit of no other than human
disembodied “Spirits,” which, to our knowledge, are mostly Kamalokic SHELLS.
ENQUIRER. You seem very
bitter against Spirits. As you have given me your views and your reasons for
disbelieving in the materialization of, and direct communication in séances,
with the disembodied spirits—or the “spirits of the dead”—would you
mind enlightening me as to one more fact? Why are some Theosophists never tired
of saying how dangerous is intercourse with spirits, and mediumship? Have they
any particular reason for this?
THEOSOPHIST. We must
suppose so. I know I have. Owing to my familiarity for over half a
century with these invisible, yet but too tangible and undeniable
“influences,” from the conscious Elementals, semi-conscious shells,
down to the utterly senseless and nondescript spooks of all kinds, I claim a
certain right to my views.
ENQUIRER. Can you give an instance or instances to show why these practices should be regarded as dangerous?
THEOSOPHIST. This would
require more time than I can give you. Every cause must be judged by the effects
it produces. Go over the history of Spiritualism for the last fifty years, ever
since its reappearance in this century in America—and judge for yourself
whether it has done its votaries more good or harm. Pray understand me. I do not
speak against real Spiritualism, but against the modern movement which goes
under that name, and the so-called philosophy invented to explain its phenomena.
ENQUIRER. Don’t you believe in their phenomena at all?
THEOSOPHIST. It is because
I believe in them with too good reason, and (save some cases of deliberate
fraud) know them to be as true as that you and I live, that all my being revolts
against them. Once more I speak only of physical, not mental or even psychic
phenomena. Like attracts like. There are several high-minded, pure, good men and
women, known to me personally, who have passed years of their lives under the
direct guidance and even protection of high “Spirits,” whether disembodied
or planetary. But these Intelligences are not of the type of the John
Kings and the Ernests who figure in séance rooms. These Intelligences
guide and control mortals only in rare and exceptional cases to which they are
attracted and magnetically drawn by the Karmic past of the individual. It is not
enough to sit “for development” in order to attract them. That only opens
the door to a swarm of “spooks,” good, bad and indifferent, to which the
medium becomes a slave for life. It is against such promiscuous mediumship and
intercourse with goblins that I raise my voice, not against spiritual mysticism.
The latter is ennobling and holy; the former is of just the same nature as the
phenomena of two centuries ago, for which so many witches and wizards have been
made to suffer. Read Glanvil and other authors on the subject of witchcraft, and
you will find recorded there the parallels of most, if not all, of the physical
phenomena of nineteenth century “Spiritualism.”
ENQUIRER. Do you mean to suggest that it is all witchcraft and nothing more?
THEOSOPHIST. What I mean is
that, whether conscious or unconscious, all this dealing with the dead is necromancy,
and a most dangerous practice. For ages before Moses such raising of the
dead was regarded by all the intelligent nations as sinful and cruel, inasmuch
as it disturbs the rest of the souls and interferes with their evolutionary
development into higher states. The collective wisdom of all past centuries has
ever been loud in denouncing such practices. Finally, I say, what I have never
ceased repeating orally and in print for fifteen years: While some of the
so-called “spirits” do not know what they are talking about, repeating
merely—like poll-parrots—what they find in the mediums’ and other
people’s brains, others are most dangerous, and can only lead one to evil.
These are two self-evident facts. Go into spiritualistic circles of the Allan
Kardec school, and you find “spirits” asserting re-incarnation and speaking
like Roman Catholics born. Turn to the “dear departed ones” in England and
America, and you will hear them denying re-incarnation through thick and thin,
denouncing those who teach it, and holding to Protestant views. Your best, your
most powerful mediums, have all suffered in health of body and mind. Think of
the sad end of Charles Foster, who died in an asylum, a raving lunatic; of
Slade, an epileptic; of Eglinton—the best medium now in England—subject to
the same. Look back over the life of D. D. Home, a man whose mind was steeped in
gall and bitterness, who never had a good word to say of anyone whom he
suspected of possessing psychic powers, and who slandered every other medium to
the bitter end. This Calvin of Spiritualism suffered for years from a terrible
spinal disease, brought on by his intercourse with the “spirits,” and died a
perfect wreck. Think again of the sad fate of poor Washington Irving Bishop. 1
knew him in New York, when he was fourteen, and he was undeniably a medium. It
is true that the poor man stole a march on his “spirits,” and baptised them
“unconscious muscular action,” to the great gaudium of all the
corporations of highly learned and scientific fools, and to the replenishment of
his own pocket. But de mortuis nit nisi bonum;
his end was a sad one. He had strenuously concealed his epileptic
fits—the first and strongest symptom of genuine mediumship—and who knows
whether he was dead or in a trance when the post-mortem examination was
performed? His relatives insist that he was alive, if we are to believe
Reuter’s telegrams. Finally, behold the veteran mediums, the founders and
prime movers of modern spiritualism—the Fox sisters. After more than forty
years of intercourse with the “Angels,” the latter have led them to become
incurable sots, who are now denouncing, in public lectures, their own life-long
work and philosophy as a fraud. What kind of spirits must they be who prompted
them, I ask you?
ENQUIRER. But is your inference a correct one?
THEOSOPHIST. What would you
infer if the best pupils of a particular school of singing broke down from
overstrained sore throats? That the method followed was a bad one. So I think
the inference is equally fair with regard to Spiritualism when we see their best
mediums fall a prey to such a fate. We can only say:—Let those who are
interested in the question judge the tree of Spiritualism by its fruits, and
ponder over the lesson. We Theosophists have always regarded the Spiritualists
as brothers having the same mystic tendency as ourselves, but they have always
regarded us as enemies. We, being in possession of an older philosophy, have
tried to help and warn them; but they have repaid us by reviling and traducing
us and our motives in every possible way. Nevertheless, the best English
Spiritualists say just as we do, wherever they treat of their belief seriously.
Hear “M. A. Oxon.” confessing this truth: “Spiritualists are too much
inclined to dwell exclusively on the intervention of external spirits in this
world of ours, and to ignore the powers of the incarnate Spirit.”
Why vilify and abuse us, then, for saying precisely the same? Henceforward, we
will have nothing more to do with Spiritualism. And now let us return to
*** *** ***
Being of “an asbestos-like nature,”
according to the eloquent and fiery expression of a modern English
 During the Mysteries, it is the Hierophant, the “Father,” who planted the Vine. Every symbol has Seven Keys to it. The discloser of the Pleroma was always called “Father.”
Zohar XL., 10.
Codex Nazaræus, Vol. III., pp. 60, 61.
 Ibid., Vol. II., p. 281.
Second Sight, “Introduction.”