Hermetic Brothers of Egypt

Paid Online Writing Jobs

Get Paid to Write at Home

Get Instant Access

But it must not be inferred, on that account, that such a mysterious brotherhood is but a fiction, not even a name, though it remains unknown to this day. Whether its affiliates are called by an Egyptian, Hindu, or Persian name, it matters not. Persons belonging to one of these sub-brotherhoods have been met by trustworthy, and not unknown persons, besides the present writer, who states a few facts concerning them, by the special permission of one who has a right to give it. In a recent and very valuable work on secret societies, K. R. H. Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopedia, we find the learned author himself, an honorary member of the Canongate Kilwinning Lodge, No. 2 (Scotland), and a Mason not likely to be imposed upon, stating the following, under the head, Hermetic Brothers of Egypt:

"An occult fraternity, which has endured from very ancient times, having a hierarchy of officers, secret signs, and passwords, and a peculiar method of instruction in science, religion, and philosophy. . . . If we may believe those who, at the present time, profess to belong to it, the philosopher's stone, the elixir of life, the art of invisibility, and the power of communication directly with the ultramundane life, are parts of the inheritance they possess. The writer has met with only three persons who maintained the actual existence of this body of religious philosophers, and who hinted that they themselves were actually members. There was no reason to doubt the good faith of these individuals — apparently unknown to each other, and men of moderate competence, blameless lives, austere manners, and almost ascetic in their habits.

They all appeared to be men of forty to forty-five years of age, and evidently of vast erudition . . . their knowledge of languages not to be doubted. . . . They never remained long in any one country, but passed away without creating notice."*

Another of such sub-brotherhoods is the sect of the Pitris, in India. Known by name, now that Jacolliot has brought it into public notice, it yet is more arcane, perhaps, than the brotherhood that Mr. Mackenzie names the "Hermetic Brothers." What Jacolliot learned of it, was from fragmentary manuscripts delivered to him by Brahmans, who had their reasons for doing so, we must believe. The Agrouchada Parikshai gives certain details about the association, as it was

* What will, perhaps, still more astonish American readers, is the fact that, in the United States, a mystical fraternity now exists, which claims an intimate relationship with one of the oldest and most powerful of Eastern Brotherhoods. It is known as the Brotherhood of Luxor, and its faithful members have the custody of very important secrets of science. Its ramifications extend widely throughout the great Republic of the West. Though this brotherhood has been long and hard at work, the secret of its existence has been jealously guarded. Mackenzie describes it as having "a Rosicrucian basis, and numbering many members" ("Royal Masonic Cyclopedia," p. 461). But, in this, the author is mistaken; it has no Rosicrucian basis. The name Luxor is primarily derived from the ancient Beloochistan city of Looksur, which lies between Bela and Kedgee, and also gave its name to the Egyptian city.

in days of old, and, when explaining mystic rites and magical incantations, explains nothing at all, so that the mystic L'om, L'Rhum, Sh'hrum, and Sho-rim Ramaya-Namaha, remain, for the mystified writer, as much a puzzle as ever. To do him justice, though, he fully admits the fact, and does not enter upon useless speculations.

Whoever desires to assure himself that there now exists a religion which has baffled, for centuries, the impudent inquisitiveness of missionaries, and the persevering inquiry of science, let him violate, if he can, the seclusion of the Syrian Druzes. He will find them numbering over 80,000 warriors, scattered from the plain east of Damascus to the western coast. They covet no proselytes, shun notoriety, keep friendly — as far as possible — with both Christians and Mahometans, respect the religion of every other sect or people, but will never disclose their own secrets. Vainly do the missionaries stigmatize them as infidels, idolaters, brigands, and thieves. Neither threat, bribe, nor any other consideration will induce a Druze to become a convert to dogmatic Christianity. We have heard of two in fifty years, and both have finished their careers in prison, for drunkenness and theft. They proved to be "real Druzes,"* said

* These people do not accept the name of Druzes, but regard the appellation as an insult. They call themselves the "disciples of Hamsa," their Messiah, who came to them, in the tenth century, from the "Land of the Word of God," and, together with his disciple, Mochtana Boha-eddin, committed this Word to writing, and entrusted it to the care of a one of their chiefs, in discussing the subject. There never was a case of an initiated Druze becoming a Christian. As to the uninitiated, they are never allowed to even see the sacred writings, and none of them have the remotest idea where these are kept. There are missionaries in Syria who boast of having in their possession a few copies. The volumes alleged to be the correct expositions from these secret books (such as the translation by Petis de la Croix, in 1701, from the works presented by Nasr-Allah to the French king), are nothing more than a compilation of "secrets," known more or less to every inhabitant of the southern ranges of Lebanon and Anti-Libanus. They were the work of an apostate Dervish, who was expelled from the sect Hanafi, for improper conduct — the embezzlement of the money of widows and orphans. The Exposé de la Religion des Druzes, in two volumes, by Sylvestre de Sacy (1828), is another net-work of hypotheses. A copy of this work was to be found, in 1870, on the window-sill of one of their principal Holowey, or place of religious meeting. To the inquisitive question of an English traveller, as to their rites, the Okhal,+ a venerable old man, who spoke English as well as French, opened the volume of de Sacy, and, offering it to his interlocutor, remarked, with a benevolent smile: "Read this instructive and truthful book; I could explain to you few initiates, with the injunction of the greatest secresy. They are usually called Unitarians.

f The Okhal (from the Arabic akl — intelligence or wisdom) are the initiated, or wise men of this sect. They hold, in their mysteries, the same position as the hierophant of old, in the Eleusinian and others.

neither better nor more correctly the secrets of God and our blessed Hamsa, than it does." The traveller understood the hint.

Mackenzie says they settled at Lebanon about the tenth century, and "seem to be a mixture of Kurds, Mardi-Arabs, and other semi-civilized tribes. Their religion is compounded of Judaism, Christianity, and Mahometanism. They have a regular order of priesthood and a kind of hierarchy . . . there is a regular system of passwords and signs. . . . Twelve month's probation, to which either sex is admitted, preceded initiation."

We quote the above only to show how little even persons as trustworthy as Mr. Mackenzie really know of these mystics.

Mosheim, who knows as much, or we should rather say as little, as any others, is entitled to the merit of candidly admitting that "their religion is peculiar to themselves, and is involved in some mystery." We should say it was — rather!

That their religion exhibits traces of Magianism and Gnosticism is natural, as the whole of the Ophite esoteric philosophy is at the bottom of it. But the characteristic dogma of the Druzes is the absolute unity of God. He is the essence of life, and although incomprehensible and invisible, is to be known through occasional manifestations in human form * Like the Hindus they hold that he was incarnated more than once

* This is the doctrine of the Gnostics who held Christos to be the personal immortal Spirit of man.

on earth. Hamsa was the precursor of the last manifestation to be (the tenth avatar) t not the inheritor of Hakem, who is yet to come. Hamsa was the personification of the "Universal Wisdom." Bohaeddin in his writings calls him Messiah. The whole number of his disciples, or those who at different ages of the world have imparted wisdom to mankind, which the latter as invariably have forgotten and rejected in course of time, is one hundred and sixty-four (164, the kabalistic s d k). Therefore, their stages or degrees of promotion after initiation are five; the first three degrees are typified by the "three feet of the candlestick of the inner Sanctuary, which holds the light of the five elements"; the last two degrees, the most important and terrifying in their solemn grandeur belonging to the highest orders; and the whole five degrees emblematically represent the said five mystic Elements. The "three feet are the holy Application, the Opening, and the Phantom," says one of their books; on man's inner and outer soul, and his body, a phantom, a passing shadow. The body, or matter, is also called the "Rival," for "he is the minister of sin, the Devil ever creating dissensions between the Heavenly Intelligence (spirit) and the soul, which he tempts incessantly." Their ideas on transmigration are Pythagorean and kabalistic. The spirit, or Temeami (the divine soul), was in Elijah and John the Baptist; and the soul of Jesus was that of H'amsa; that is to say, of the same degree of purity and sanctity. Until their resurrection, by which they understand f The ten Messiahs or avatars remind again of the five Buddhistic and ten Brahmanical avatars of Buddha and Christna.

the day when the spiritual bodies of men will be absorbed into God's own essence and being (the Nirvana of the Hindus), the souls of men will keep their astral forms, except the few chosen ones who, from the moment of their separation from their bodies, begin to exist as pure spirits. The life of man they divide into soul, body, and intelligence, or mind. It is the latter which imparts and communicates to the soul the divine spark from its H'amsa (Christos).

They have seven great commandments which are imparted equally to all the uninitiated; and yet, even these well-known articles of faith have been so mixed up in the accounts of outside writers, that, in one of the best Cyclopedias of America (Appleton's), they are garbled after the fashion that may be seen in the comparative tabulation below; the spurious and the true order parallel:

Correct Version Of The


1. The unity of God, or the infinite oneness of Deity.

2. The essential excellence of Truth.

Garbled Version Reported


1. (2) " 'Truth in words,' meaning in practice, only truth to the religion and to the initiated; it is lawful to act and to speak falsehood to men of another creed."}

2. (7) "Mutual help, ' watchfulness, and protection."

* See, farther on, a letter from an "Initiate."

f In this column the first numbers are those given in the article on the Druzes in the "New American Cyclopxdia" (Appleton's), vol. vi., p. 631. The numbers in parentheses show the sequence in which the commandments would stand were they given correctly. J This pernicious doctrine belongs to the old policy of the Catholic Church, but is certainly false as regards the Druzes. They maintain that it is right and lawful to withhold the truth about their own tenets, no one outside their own sect having a right to pry into their religion. The okhals never countenance deliberate falsehood in any form, although the laymen have many a time got rid of the spies sent by the Christians to discover their secrets, by deceiving them with sham initiations. (See the letter of Prof. Rawson to the author, p. 313.)

3. Toleration; right given to all men and women to freely express their opinions on religious matters, and make the latter subservient to reason.

3. (?) "To renounce all other religions."*

4. Respect to all men and women according to their character and conduct.

4. (?) "To be separate from infidels of every kind, not externally but only in heart."+

5. Entire submission to God's decrees.

5. (1) "Recognize God's eternal unity."

6. Chastity of body, mind, and soul.

6. (5) "Satisfied with God's acts."

7. Mutual help under all conditions.

7. (5) "Resigned to God's will."

As will be seen, the only expose in the above is that of the great ignorance, perhaps malice, of the writers who, like Sylvestre de Sacy, undertake to enlighten the world upon matters concerning which they know nothing.

"Chastity, honesty, meekness, and mercy," are thus the four theological virtues of all Druzes, besides several others demanded from the initiates: "murder, theft, cruelty, covetousness, slander," the five sins, to which several other

* This commandment does not exist in the Lebanon teaching. f There is no such commandment, but the practice thereof exists by mutual agreement, as in the days of the Gnostic persecution.

sins are added in the sacred tablets, but which we must abstain from giving. The morality of the Druzes is strict and uncompromising. Nothing can tempt one of these Lebanon Unitarians to go astray from what he is taught to consider his duty. Their ritual being unknown to outsiders, their would-be historians have hitherto denied them one. Their "Thursday meetings" are open to all, but no interloper has ever participated in the rites of initiation which take place occasionally on Fridays in the greatest secresy. Women are admitted to them as well as men, and they play a part of great importance at the initiation of men. The probation, unless some extraordinary exception is made, is long and severe. Once, in a certain period of time, a solemn ceremony takes place, during which all the elders and the initiates of the highest two degrees start out for a pilgrimage of several days to a certain place in the mountains. They meet within the safe precincts of a monastery said to have been erected during the earliest times of the Christian era. Outwardly one sees but old ruins of a once grand edifice, used, says the legend, by some Gnostic sects as a place of worship during the religious persecutions. The ruins above ground, however, are but a convenient mask; the subterranean chapel, halls, and cells, covering an area of ground far greater than the upper building; while the richness of ornamentation, the beauty of the ancient sculptures, and the gold and silver vessels in this sacred resort, appear like "a dream of glory," according to the expression of an initiate. As the lamaseries of Mongolia and Thibet are visited upon grand occasions by the holy shadow of "Lord Buddha," so here, during the ceremonial, appears the resplendent ethereal form of Hamsa, the Blessed, which instructs the faithful. The most extraordinary feats of what would be termed magic take place during the several nights that the convocation lasts; and one of the greatest mysteries — faithful copy of the past — is accomplished within the discreet bosom of our mother earth; not an echo, nor the faintest sound, not a glimmer of light betrays without the grand secret of the initiates.

Hamsa, like Jesus, was a mortal man, and yet "Hamsa" and "Christos" are synonymous terms as to their inner and hidden meaning. Both are symbols of the Nous, the divine and higher soul of man — his spirit. The doctrine taught by the Druzes on that particular question of the duality of spiritual man, consisting of one soul mortal, and another immortal, is identical with that of the Gnostics, the older Greek philosophers, and other initiates.

Outside the East we have met one initiate (and only one), who, for some reasons best known to himself, does not make a secret of his initiation into the Brotherhood of Lebanon. It is the learned traveller and artist, Professor A. L. Rawson, of New York City. This gentleman has passed many years in the East, four times visited Palestine, and has travelled to Mecca. It is safe to say that he has a priceless store of facts about the beginnings of the Christian Church, which none but one who had had free access to repositories closed against the ordinary traveller could have collected. Professor Rawson, with the true devotion of a man of science, noted down every important discovery he made in the Palestinian libraries, and every precious fact orally communicated to him by the mystics he encountered, and some day they will see the light. He has most obligingly sent us the following communication, which, as the reader will perceive, fully corroborates what is above written from our personal experience about the strange fraternity incorrectly styled the Druzes:

". . . Your note, asking me to give you an account of my initiation into a secret order among the people commonly known as Druzes, in Mount Lebanon, was received this morning. I took, as you are fully aware, an obligation at that time to conceal within my own memory the greater part of the 'mysteries,' with the most interesting parts of the 'instructions'; so that what is left may not be of any service to the public. Such information as I can rightfully give, you are welcome to have and use as you may have occasion.

"The probation in my case was, by special dispensation, made one month, during which time I was 'shadowed' by a priest, who served as my cook, guide, interpreter, and general servant, that he might be able to testify to the fact of my having strictly conformed to the rules in diet, ablutions, and other matters. He was also my instructor in the text of the ritual, which we recited from time to time for practice, in dialogue or in song, as it may have been. Whenever we happened to be near a Druze village, on a Thursday, we attended the 'open' meetings, where men and women assembled for instruction and worship, and to expose to the world generally their religious practices. I was never present at a Friday 'close' meeting before my initiation, nor do I believe any one else, man or woman, ever was, except by collusion with a priest, and that is not probable, for a false priest forfeits his life. The practical jokers among them sometimes 'fool' a too curious 'Frank' by a sham initiation, especially if such a one is suspected of having some connection with the missionaries at Beirut or elsewhere.

"The initiates include both women and men, and the ceremonies are of so peculiar a nature that both sexes are required to assist in the ritual and 'work.' The 'furniture' of the 'prayer-house' and of the 'vision-chamber' is simple, and except for convenience may consist of but a strip of carpet. In the 'Gray Hall' (the place is never named, and is underground, not far from Bayt-ed-Deen) there are some rich decorations and valuable pieces of ancient furniture, the work of Arab silversmiths five or six centuries ago, inscribed and dated. The day of initiation must be a continual fast from daylight to sunset in winter, or six o'clock in summer, and the ceremony is from beginning to end a series of trials and temptations, calculated to test the endurance of the candidate under physical and mental pressure. It is seldom that any but the young man or woman succeeds in 'winning' all the 'prizes,' since nature will sometimes exert itself in spite of the most stubborn will, and the neophyte fail of passing some of the tests. In such a case the probation is extended another year, when another trial is had.

"Among other tests of the neophyte's self-control are the following: Choice pieces of cooked meat, savory soup, pilau, and other appetizing dishes, with sherbet, coffee, wine, and water, are set, as if accidentally, in his way, and he is left alone for a time with the tempting things. To a hungry and fainting soul the trial is severe. But a more difficult ordeal is when the seven priestesses retire, all but one, the youngest and prettiest, and the door is closed and barred on the outside, after warning the candidate that he will be left to his 'reflections,' for half an hour. Wearied by the long-continued ceremonial, weak with hunger, parched with thirst, and a sweet reaction coming after the tremendous strain to keep his animal nature in subjection, this moment of privacy and of temptation is brimful of peril. The beautiful young vestal, timidly approaching, and with glances which lend a double magnetic allurement to her words, begs him in low tones to 'bless her.' Woe to him if he does! A hundred eyes see him from secret peep-holes, and only to the ignorant neophyte is there the appearance of concealment and opportunity.

"There is no infidelity, idolatry, or other really bad feature in the system. They have the relics of what was once a grand form of nature-worship, which has been contracted under a despotism into a secret order, hidden from the light of day, and exposed only in the smoky glare of a few burning lamps, in some damp cave or chapel under ground. The chief tenets of their religious teachings are comprised in seven 'tablets,' which are these, to state them in general terms:

"1. The unity of God, or the infinite oneness of deity.

"2. The essential excellence of truth.

"3. The law of toleration as to all men and women in opinion.

"4. Respect for all men and women as to character and conduct.

"5. Entire submission to God's decrees as to fate.

"6. Chastity of body and mind and soul.

"7. Mutual help under all conditions.

"These tenets are not printed or written. Another set is printed or written to mislead the unwary, but with these we are not concerned.

"The chief results of the initiation seemed to be a kind of mental illusion or sleep-waking, in which the neophyte saw, or thought he saw, the images of people who were known to be absent, and in some cases thousands of miles away. I thought (or perhaps it was my mind at work) I saw friends and relatives that I knew at the time were in New York State, while I was then in Lebanon. How these results were produced I cannot say. They appeared in a dark room, when the 'guide' was talking, the 'company' singing in the next 'chamber,' and near the close of the day, when I was tired out with fasting, walking, talking, singing, robing, unrobing, seeing a great many people in various conditions as to dress and undress, and with great mental strain in resisting certain physical manifestations that result from the appetites when they overcome the will, and in paying close attention to the passing scenes, hoping to remember them — so that I may have been unfit to judge of any new and surprising phenomena, and more especially of those apparently magical appearances which have always excited my suspicion and distrust. I know the various uses of the magic-lantern, and other apparatus, and took care to examine the room where the 'visions' appeared to me the same evening, and the next day, and several times afterwards, and knew that, in my case, there was no use made of any machinery or other means besides the voice of the 'guide and instructor.' On several occasions afterward, when at a great distance from the 'chamber,' the same or similar visions were produced, as, for instance, in Hornstein's Hotel at Jerusalem. A daughter-in-law of a well-known Jewish merchant in Jerusalem is an initiated 'sister,' and can produce the visions almost at will on any one who will live strictly according to the rules of the Order for a few weeks, more or less, according to their nature, as gross or refined, etc.

"I am quite safe in saying that the initiation is so peculiar that it could not be printed so as to instruct one who had not been 'worked' through the 'chamber.' So it would be even more impossible to make an expose of them than of the Freemasons. The real secrets are acted and not spoken, and require several initiated persons to assist in the work.

"It is not necessary for me to say how some of the notions of that people seem to perpetuate certain beliefs of the ancient Greeks — as, for instance, the idea that a man has two souls, and many others — for you probably were made familiar with them in your passage through the 'upper' and 'lower chamber.' If I am mistaken in supposing you an 'initiate,' please excuse me. I am aware that the closest friends often conceal that 'sacred secret' from each other; and even husband and wife may live — as I was informed in Dayr-el-Kamar was the fact in one family there — for twenty years together and yet neither know anything of the initiation of the other. You, undoubtedly, have good reasons for keeping your own counsel,

Before we close the subject we may add that if a stranger ask for admission to a "Thursday" meeting he will never be refused. only, if he is a Christian, the okhal will open a Bible and read from it; and if a Mahometan, he will hear a few chapters of the Koran, and the ceremony will end with this. They will wait until he is gone, and then, shutting well the doors of their convent, take to their own rites and books, passing for this purpose into their subterranean sanctuaries. "The Druzes remain, even more than the Jews, a peculiar people," says Colonel Churchill,* one of the few fair and strictly impartial writers. "They marry within their own race;

they are rarely if ever converted; they adhere tenaciously to their traditions, and they baffle all efforts to discover their cherished secrets. . . The bad name of that caliph whom they claim as their founder is fairly compensated by the pure lives of many whom they honor as saints, and by the heroism of their feudal leaders."

And yet the Druzes may be said to belong to one of the least esoteric of secret societies. There are others far more powerful and learned, the existence of which is not even suspected in Europe. There are many branches belonging to the great "Mother Lodge" which, mixed up with certain communities, may be termed secret sects within other sects. one of them is the sect commonly known as that of Laghana-sastra. It reckons several thousand adepts who are scattered about in small groups in the south of the Dekkan, India. In the popular superstition, this sect is dreaded on account of its great reputation for magic and sorcery. The Brahmans accuse its members of atheism and sacrilege, for none of them will consent to recognize the authority of either the Vedas or Manu, except so far as they conform to the versions in their possession, and which they maintain are professedly the only original texts; the Laghana-sastra have neither temples nor priests, but, twice a month, every member of the community has to absent himself from home for three days. Popular rumor, originated among their women, ascribes such absences to pilgrimages performed to their places of fortnightly resort. In some secluded mountainous spots, unknown and inaccessible to other sects, hidden far from sight among the luxurious vegetation of India, they keep their bungalows, which look like small fortresses, encircled as they are by lofty and thick walls. These, in their turn, are surrounded by the sacred trees called assonata, and in Tamul arassa maram. These are the "sacred groves," the originals of those of Egypt and Greece, whose initiates also built their temples within such "groves" inaccessible to the profane.*

It will not be found without interest to see what Mr. John Yarker, Jr., has to say on some modern secret societies among the Orientals. "The nearest resemblance to the Brahmanical Mysteries, is probably found in the very ancient 'Paths' of the Dervishes, which are usually governed by twelve officers, the oldest 'Court' superintending the others by right of seniority. Here the master of the 'Court' is called 'Sheik,' and has his deputies, 'Caliphs,' or successors, of which there may be many (as, for instance, in the brevet degree of a Master Mason). The order is divided into at least four columns, pillars, or degrees. The first step is that of 'Humanity,' which supposes attention to the written law, and 'annihilation in the Sheik.' The second is that of the 'Path,' in which the 'Murid,' or disciple, attains spiritual powers and 'self-annihilation' into the 'Peer' or founder of the 'Path.' The third stage is called 'Knowledge,' and the 'Murid' is supposed to become inspired, called 'annihilation into the Prophet.' The fourth stage leads him even to God, when he becomes a part of the Deity and

* Every temple in India is surrounded by such belts of sacred trees. And like the Koum-boum of Kansu (Mongolia) no one but an initiate has a right to approach them.

sees Him in all things. The first and second stages have received modern subdivisions, as 'Integrity,' 'Virtue,' 'Temperance,' 'Benevolence.' After this the Sheik confers upon him the grade of 'Caliph,' or Honorary Master, for in their mystical language, 'the man must die before the saint can be born.' It will be seen that this kind of mysticism is applicable to Christ as founder of a 'Path.' "

To this statement, the author adds the following on the Bektash Dervishes, who "often initiated the Janizaries. They wear a small marble cube spotted with blood. Their ceremony is as follows: Before reception a year's probation is required, during which false secrets are given to test the candidate; he has two godfathers and is divested of all metals and even clothing; from the wool of a sheep a cord is made for his neck, and a girdle for his loins; he is led into the centre of a square room, presented as a slave, and seated upon a large stone with twelve escallops; his arms are crossed upon his breast, his body inclined forward, his right toes extended over his left foot; after various prayers he is placed in a particular manner, with his hand in a peculiar way in that of the Sheik, who repeats a verse from the Koran: 'Those who on giving thee their hand swear to thee an oath, swear it to God, the hand of God is placed in their hand; whoever violates this oath, will do so to his hurt, and to whoever remains faithful God will give a magnificent reward.' Placing the hand below the chin is their sign, perhaps in memory of their vow. All use the double triangles. The Brahmans inscribe the angles with their trinity, and they possess also the Masonic sign of distress as used in France."*

From the very day when the first mystic found the means of communication between this world and the worlds of the invisible host, between the sphere of matter and that of pure spirit, he concluded that to abandon this mysterious science to the profanation of the rabble was to lose it. An abuse of it might lead mankind to speedy destruction; it was like surrounding a group of children with explosive batteries, and furnishing them with matches. The first self-made adept initiated but a select few, and kept silence with the multitudes. He recognized his God and felt the great Being within himself. The "Atman," the Self,+ the mighty Lord and

* John Yarker, Jr., "Notes on the Scientific and Religious Mysteries of Antiquity," etc.

f This "Self," which the Greek philosophers called Augoeides, the "Shining One," is impressively and beautifully described in Max Muller's "Veda." Showing the "Veda" to be the first book of the Aryan nations, the professor adds that "we have in it a period of the intellectual life of man to which there is no parallel in any other part of the world. In the hymns of the "Veda" we see man left to himself to solve the riddle of this world. . . . He invokes the gods around him, he praises, he worships them. But still with all these gods . . . beneath him, and above him, the early poet seems ill at rest within himself. There, too, in his own breast, he has discovered a power that is never mute when he prays, never absent when he fears and trembles. It seems to inspire his prayers, and yet to listen to them; it seems to live in him, and yet to support him and all around him. The only name he can find for this mysterious power is 'Brahman'; for brahman meant originally force, will, wish, and the propulsive power of creation. But this impersonal brahman, too, as soon as it is named, grows into something strange and

Protector, once that man knew him as the "I am," the "Ego Sum," the "Ahmi," showed his full power to him who could recognize the "still small voice." From the days of the primitive man described by the first Vedic poet, down to our modern age, there has not been a philosopher worthy of that name, who did not carry in the silent sanctuary of his heart the grand and mysterious truth. If initiated, he learnt it as a sacred science; if otherwise, then, like Socrates repeating to himself, as well as to his fellow-men, the noble injunction, "O man, know thyself," he succeeded in recognizing his God within himself. "Ye are gods," the king-psalmist tells us, and we find Jesus reminding the scribes that the expression, "Ye divine. It ends by being one of many gods, one of the great triad, worshipped to the present day. And still the thought within him has no real name; that power which is nothing but itself, which supports the gods, the heavens, and every living being, floats before his mind, conceived but not expressed. At last he calls it 'Atman,' for Atman, originally breath or spirit, comes to mean Self, and Self alone; Self, whether Divine or human; Self, whether creating or suffering; Self, whether one or all; but always Self, independent and free. 'Who has seen the first-born,' says the poet, when he who had no bones (i.e., form) bore him that had bones? Where was the life, the blood, the Self of the world? Who went to ask this from any one who knew it?" ("Rig-Veda," i., 164, 4). This idea of a divine Self, once expressed, everything else must acknowledge its supremacy; "Self is the Lord of all things, Self is the King of all things. As all the spokes of a wheel are contained in the nave and the circumference, all things are contained in this Self; all Selves are contained in this Self. Brahman itself is but Self" (Ibid., p. 478; "Khandogya-Upanishad," viii., 3, 3, 4); "Chips from a German Workshop," vol. i., p. 69.

are gods," was addressed to other mortal men, claiming for himself the same privilege without any blasphemy.* And, as a faithful echo, Paul, while asserting that we are all "the temple of the living God,"t cautiously adds, that after all these things are only for the "wise," and it is "unlawful" to speak of them.

Therefore, we must accept the reminder, and simply remark that even in the tortured and barbarous phraseology of the Codex Nazar^us, we detect throughout the same idea. Like an undercurrent, rapid and clear, it runs without mixing its crystalline purity with the muddy and heavy waves of dogmatism. We find it in the Codex, as well as in the Vedas, in the Avesta, as in the Abhidharma, and in Kapila's Sankhya Sutras not less than in the Fourth Gospel. We cannot attain the "Kingdom of Heaven," unless we unite ourselves indissolubly with our Rex Lucis, the Lord of Splendor and of Light, our Immortal God. We must first conquer immortality and "take the Kingdom of Heaven by violence," offered to our material selves. "The first man is of the earth earthy; the second man is from heaven. . . . Behold, I show you a mystery," says Paul (1 Corinthians, xv. 47). In the religion of Sakya-Muni, which learned commentators have delighted so much of late to set down as purely nihilistic, the doctrine of immortality is very clearly defined, notwithstanding the European or rather Christian ideas about Nirvana. In the sacred Jai'na books, of Patuna, the dying Gautama-Buddha is thus addressed: "Arise

into Nirvi (Nirvana) from this decrepit body into which thou hast been sent. Ascend into thy former abode, O blessed Avatar!" This seems to us the very opposite of Nihilism. If Gautama is invited to reascend into his "former abode," and this abode is Nirvana, then it is incontestable that Buddhistic philosophy does not teach final annihilation. As Jesus is alleged to have appeared to his disciples after death, so to the present day is Gautama believed to descend from Nirvana. And if he has an existence there, then this state cannot be a synonym for annihilation.

Was this article helpful?

0 -1

Post a comment