THEOSOPHY, Vol. 53, No. 10, August, 1965
(Pages 303-311; Size: 22K)
THE SYMBOLOGY OF SCRIPTURE(1)
MYTH means oral tradition, passed from mouth to mouth, from one generation to the other. Even in modern etymology the term stands for a fabulous statement conveying some important truth; a tale of some extraordinary personage whose biography has become overgrown, owing to the veneration of successive generations, with rich popular fancy, but which is no wholesale fable. Like our ancestors, the primitive Aryans, we believe firmly in the personality of more than one phenomenon-producing Force in nature.
All the "ancient philosophies" and "modern religions" are an exoteric veil thrown over the face of esoteric truth, and, as the direct result of this, they are allegorical, i.e., mythological in form. From the Orphic theogony down to Ezra's last remodelling of the Pentateuch, every old Scripture having in its origin borrowed its facts from the East, it has been subjected to constant alterations by friend and foe, until of the original version there remained but the name, a dead shell from which the Spirit has been gradually eliminated. This alone ought to show that no religious work now extant can be understood without the help of the Archaic wisdom, the primitive foundation on which they were all built.
To thoroughly comprehend the idea of every ancient cosmology necessitates the study, in a comparative analysis, of all the great religions of antiquity; as it is only by this method that the root idea will be made plain. Exact science -- could the latter soar so high, while tracing the operations of nature to their ultimate and original sources -- would call this idea the hierarchy of Forces. The original, transcendental and philosophical conception was one. But as systems began to reflect with every age more and more the idiosyncrasies of nations; and as the latter, after separating, settled into distinct groups, each evolving along its own national or tribal grooves, the main idea gradually became veiled with the overgrowth of human fancy. While in some countries the FORCES, or rather the intelligent Powers of nature, received divine honours they were hardly entitled to, in others -- as now in Europe and the civilized lands -- the very thought of any such Force being endowed with intelligence seems absurd, and is proclaimed unscientific.
The silent worship of abstract or noumenal Nature, the only divine manifestation, is the one ennobling religion of Humanity. We must not confuse the purely metaphysical personifications of the abstract attributes of Deity with their reflections -- the sidereal gods. This reflection, however, is in reality the objective expression of the abstraction: living Entities and the models formed on that divine prototype. The religion of every ancient nation had been primarily based upon the Occult manifestations of a purely abstract Force or Principle now called "God." The very establishment of such worship shows, in its details and rites, that the philosophers who evolved those systems of nature, subjective and objective, professed profound knowledge, and were acquainted with many facts of a scientific nature.
The oldest religions of the world -- exoterically, for the esoteric root or foundation is one -- are the Indian, the Mazdean, and the Egyptian. Then comes the Chaldean, the outcome of these -- entirely lost to the world now, except in its disfigured Sabeanism as at present rendered by the archaeologists; then, passing over a number of religions ... comes the Jewish, esoterically, as in the Kabala, following in the line of Babylonian Magism; exoterically, as in Genesis and the Pentateuch, a collection of allegorical legends. Read by the light of the Zohar, the initial four chapters of Genesis are the fragment of a highly philosophical page in the world's Cosmogony. Left in their symbolic disguise, they are a nursery tale, an ugly thorn in the side of science and logic, an evident effect of Karma.
However superhuman the efforts of the early Christian fathers to obliterate the Secret Doctrine from the very memory of man, they all failed. Truth can never be killed; hence the failure to sweep away entirely from the face of the earth every vestige of that ancient Wisdom, and to shackle and gag every witness who testified to it. But the same spirit of the dark demon of bigotry and intolerance has perverted systematically and ever since, every bright page written in the pre-Christian periods. Even in her uncertain records, history has preserved enough of that which has survived to throw an impartial light upon the whole.
Toward the end of the first quarter of the nineteenth century, a distinct class of literature appeared in the world, which became with every year more defined in its tendency. Being based on the scholarly researches of Sanskritists and Orientalists in general, it was held scientific. Hindu, Egyptian, and other ancient religions, myths, and emblems were made to yield anything the symbologist wanted them to yield, thus often giving out the rude outward form in place of the inner meaning. Works most remarkable for their ingenious deductions and speculations, foregone conclusions generally changing places with premises as in the syllogisms of more than one Sanskritist and Pali scholar, appeared rapidly in succession, over-flooding the libraries with dissertations rather on phallic and sexual worship than on real symbology, and each contradicting the other. This is the true reason, perhaps, why the outlines of a few fundamental truths from the Secret Doctrine of the Archaic ages are now permitted to see the light, after long millenniums of the most profound silence and secrecy.
The great archaic system known from prehistoric ages as the sacred Wisdom Science, one that is contained and can be traced in every old as well as every new religion, had, and still has, its universal language -- suspected by the Mason Ragon -- the language of the Hierophants, which has seven "dialects," so to speak, each referring, and being especially appropriated, to one of the seven mysteries of Nature. Each had its own symbolism. Nature could thus be either read in its fulness, or viewed from one of its special aspects. The proof of this lies, to this day, in the extreme difficulty which the Orientalists in general, the Indianists and Egyptologists especially, experience in interpreting the allegorical writings of the Aryans and the hieratic records of old Egypt. This is because they will never remember that all the ancient records were written in a language which was universal and known to all nations alike in days of old, but which is now intelligible only to the few. Every religious and philosophical symbol had seven meanings attached to it, each pertaining to its legitimate plane of thought, i.e., either purely metaphysical or astronomical; psychic or physiological, etc., etc. These seven meanings and their applications are hard enough to learn when taken by themselves; but the interpretations and the right comprehension of them become tenfold more puzzling when, instead of being correlated or made to flow consecutively out of and to follow each other, each or any one of these meanings is accepted as the one and sole explanation of the whole symbolical idea.
It is impossible to conceive of anything without a cause; the attempt to do so makes the mind a blank. This is virtually the condition to which the mind must come at last when we try to trace the chain of causes and effects, but both science and religion jump to this condition of blankness much more quickly than is necessary; for they ignore the metaphysical abstractions which are the only conceivable cause of physical concretions.
According to all the ancient theologists and to the doctrines of Pythagoras and Plato, Zeus, or the immediate artificer of the universe, is not the highest god; any more than Sir Christopher Wren in his physical human aspect is the MIND in him which produced his great works or art. Homer, therefore, is not only silent with respect to the first principle, but likewise with respect to those two principles immediately posterior to the first, the Æther and Chaos of Orpheus and Hesiod, and the bound and infinity of Pythagoras and Plato ... "the Unity of Unities, and beyond the first adyte ... more ineffable than all silence, and more occult than all Essence ... concealed amidst the intelligible gods." With Pythagoras, the MONAD returns into silence and Darkness as soon as it has evolved the triad, from which emanate the remaining seven numbers of the ten numbers which are at the base of the manifested universe.
In the earliest Hindu cosmogonies, it is not even the Demiurge who creates. For it is said in one of the Puranas that: "The great Architect of the World gives the first impulse to the rotatory motion of our planetary system by stepping in turn over each planet and body." It is this action "that causes each sphere to turn around itself, and all around the Sun." After which action, "it is the Brahmandica, the Solar and Lunar Pitris (the Dhyan-Chohans) who take charge of their respective spheres (earths and planets), to the end of the Kalpa." The Creators are the Rishis; most of whom are credited with the authorship of the mantras or Hymns of the Rig Veda.
One thing is undeniably proven. The more one studies their Hierarchies and finds out their identity, the more proofs one acquires that there is not one of the past and present personal gods, known to us from the earliest days of history, that does not belong to the third stage of cosmic manifestation. In every religion we find the concealed deity forming the groundwork, then the ray therefrom, that falls into primordial cosmic matter (first manifestation); then the androgyne result, the dual Male and Female abstract Force, personified (second stage); this separates itself finally, in the third into seven Forces, called the creative Powers by all the ancient Religions, and the "Virtues of God" by the Christians. The later explanations and metaphysical abstract qualifications have never prevented the Roman and Greek Churches from worshipping these "Virtues" under the personifications and distinct names of the seven Archangels.
The whole Kosmos is guided, controlled, and animated by almost endless series of Hierarchies of sentient Beings, each having a mission to perform, and who -- whether we give to them one name or another, and call them Dhyan-Chohans or Angels -- are "messengers" in the sense only that they are the agents of Karmic and Cosmic Laws. They are "Living Ones," because they are the streams projected on the Kosmic screen of illusion from the ABSOLUTE LIFE; beings in whom life cannot become extinct, before the fire of ignorance is extinct in those who sense these "Lives." They are neither "ministering" nor "protecting" angels; nor are they "Harbingers of the Most High", still less the "Messengers of wrath" of any God such as man's fancy has created. To appeal to their protection is as foolish as to believe that their sympathy may be secured by any kind of propitiation; for they are, as much as man is, the slaves and creatures of immutable Karmic and Kosmic Laws.
What was the religion of the Third and Fourth Races? In the common acceptation of the term, neither the Lemurians, nor yet their progeny, the Lemuro-Atlanteans, had any, as they knew no dogma, nor had they to believe on faith. No sooner had the mental eye of man been opened to understanding, than the Third Race felt itself one with the ever-present as the ever to be unknown and invisible ALL, the One Universal Deity. Endowed with divine powers, and feeling in himself his inner God, each felt he was a Man-God in his nature, though an animal in his physical Self. The struggle between the two began from the very day they tasted of the fruit of the Tree of Wisdom; a struggle for life between the spiritual and the psychic, the psychic and the physical. Those who conquered the lower principles by obtaining mastery over the body, joined the "Sons of Light." Those who fell victims to their lower natures, became the slaves of Matter. From "Sons of Light and Wisdom" they ended by becoming the "Sons of Darkness." They had fallen in the battle of mortal life with Life immortal, and all those so fallen became the seed of the future generations of Atlanteans.
It was the Atlanteans, the first progeny of semi-divine man after his separation into sexes -- hence the first-begotten and humanly-born mortals -- who became the first "Sacrificers" to the god of matter. They stand in the far-away dim past, in ages more than prehistoric, as the anthropomorphists who worshipped form and matter. That worship degenerated very soon into self-worship, thence led to phallicism, or that which reigns supreme to this day in the symbolisms of every exoteric religion of ritual, dogma, and form. Adam and Eve became matter, or furnished the soil, Cain and Abel -- the latter the life-bearing soil, the former "the tiller of that ground or field." Thus the first Atlantean races, born on the Lemurian Continent, separated from their earliest tribes into the righteous and the unrighteous; into those who worshipped the one unseen Spirit of Nature -- the ray of which man feels within himself -- or the Pantheists, and those who offered fanatical worship to the Spirits of the Earth, the dark Cosmic, anthropomorphic Powers, with whom they made alliance.
As time rolled on, the archaic teaching grew dimmer; and those nations more or less lost sight of the highest and One principle of all things, and began to transfer the abstract attributes of the "causeless cause" to the caused effects -- became in their turn causative -- the creative Powers of the Universe: the great nations, out of the fear of profaning the IDEA, the smaller, because they either failed to grasp it or lacked the power of philosophic conception needed to preserve it in all its immaculate purity. But one and all, with the exception of the latest Aryans, now become Europeans and Christians, show this veneration in their Cosmogonies. As Thomas Taylor shows, no nation has ever conceived the One principle as the immediate creator of the visible Universe, for no sane man would credit a planner and architect with having built the edifice he admires with his own hands. On the testimony of Damascius they referred to it as "the UNKNOWN DARKNESS." The Babylonians passed over this principle in silence.
As real Occultism had been prevalent among the Mystics during the centuries that preceded our era, so Magic, or rather Sorcery, with its Occult Arts, followed the beginning of Christianity. It is the profane of the past ages who have degraded the pure ideal of cosmic creation into an emblem of mere human reproduction and sexual functions: it is the esoteric teachings, and the initiates of the Future, whose mission it is, and will be, to redeem and ennoble once more the primitive conception so sadly profaned by its crude and gross application to exoteric dogmas and personations by theological and ecclesiastical religionists.
The exoteric dogmas may often have been altered, the esoteric never. That which the Jews had from Egypt, through Moses and other initiates, was confused and distorted enough in later days; and that which the Church got from both, is still more misinterpreted. Yet their system is now proven identical in this special department of symbology -- the key, namely, to the mysteries of astronomy as connected with those of generation and conception -- with those ideas of ancient religions, the theology of which has developed the phallic elements. The Jewish system of sacred measures applied to religious symbols is the same, so far as geometrical and numerical combinations go, as those of Chaldea, Greece, and Egypt, having been adopted by the Jews during the centuries of their slavery and captivity with those nations.
The Esoteric doctrine of the East furnishes and strikes the keynote -- which is as scientific as it is philosophical and poetical, as may be seen, under its allegorical garb -- every nation having followed its lead. It is from the exoteric religions that we have to dig out the root-idea before we turn to esoteric truths, lest the latter should be rejected. Furthermore, every symbol -- in every national religion -- may be read esoterically, and the proof furnished for its being correctly read by transliterating it into its corresponding numerals and geometrical forms -- by the extraordinary agreement of all -- however much the glyphs and symbols may vary among themselves. For in their origin these symbols were all identical. Take, for instance, the opening sentences in various cosmogonies: in every case it is either a circle, an egg, or a head. DARKNESS is always associated with this first symbol and surrounds it -- as shown in the Hindu, the Egyptian, the Chaldeo-Hebrew and even the Scandinavian systems -- hence black ravens, black doves, black waters and even black flames....
The following is an interpretation given by a learned Kabalist and scholar of a verse in Exodus 33:18-23. Moses beseeches the Lord to show him his "glory." Evidently it is not the crude dead letter phraseology as found in the Bible that is to be accepted. There are seven meanings in the Kabala, of which we may give two as interpreted by two scholars. One of them quotes, while explaining: "Thou canst not see my face ... I will put thee in the cleft of the rock ... cover thee with my hand while I pass by. And then I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my a'hoor, my back"; and tells us in a gloss, "That is, I will show you 'My back,' i.e., my visible universe, my lower manifestations, but, as a man still in the flesh, thou canst not see my invisible nature." This is correct, and is the cosmo-metaphysical explanation.
In truth, every one of the seven Keys has to be used in its right place, and never mixed with the others, if we would unveil the entire cycle of mysteries. In our day of dreary soul-killing materialism, the ancient priest Initiates have become, in the opinion of our learned generations, the synonyms of clever impostors, kindling the fires of superstition in order to obtain an easier sway over the minds of men. This is an unfounded calumny, generated by skepticism and uncharitable thoughts.
It is barely possible that the minds of the present generations are not quite ripe for the reception of occult Truths. Such will be the retrospect furnished to the advanced thinkers of the Sixth Root Race of the history of the acceptance of Esoteric Philosophy -- fully and unconditionally. Meanwhile the generations of our Fifth Race will continue to be led away by prejudice and preconceptions. Occult Sciences will have the finger of scorn pointed at them from every street corner, and everyone will seek to ridicule and crush them in the name, and for the greater glory, of Materialism and its so-called Science.
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
ADVENTURE IN RELIGION
Religion alive confronts the individual with the most momentous option this world can present. It calls the soul to the highest adventure it can undertake, a proposed journey across the jungles, peaks, and deserts of the human spirit. The call is to confront reality, to master the self. Those who dare to hear and follow this secret call soon learn the dangers and difficulties of its lonely journey.
TEACHINGS ON THE AVATARS
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