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vol. 3, p. 125
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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< Appearances of the Holy Virgin in France (continued from page 3-124) >

with the portraits of the Holy Mother as they are with the persons of their own parents. They are always before their eyes in their own cottages or other houses, often, it is true, very rudely painted, but always bearing the same characteristics. At every turn out of doors, on the fronts of churches, within the churches, over the altars; on shrines by the way side, in woods and hills, everywhere stands or sits the Holy Mother, with the Child on her arm, and a crown on her head. So the children called the White Lady at once the Blessed “Mutter Gottes” (Mother of God). Nor long did she wait to declare herself. She was asked who she really was, and replied, “The Mother of Mercy.”

Ancient Theosophy or Spiritism in the Past

The fact that the far East, the cradle of all civilization, derived from the Aryan race, has created the proverb “ab orients lux,” is not astooishing when we regard the architectural remains and religions of a people coeval with the Egyptians and the Hindoos. It has been established beyond question by Sir William Jones, Colebrooke, and other Orientalists, that in the twilight of history one of the most remarkable races which ever drew breath, but whose derivation is shrouded in myth, were seated in India, indulging in science and philosophy. At a time when the Teuton and Celt were in the dint age, the religious system inculcated in Hindustan, thousands of years before the advent of Judaism, possessed such elevation of thought and purity of teaching that our modern theologies compared therewith are effete superstitions; for, as Cousin says, “The history of Indian philosophy is the abriged history of the philosophy of the world.”

In the pure religion of Brahm, as first enunciated, the idea of the Eternal Spirit is one of the sublimest conceivable by the human mind; it was considered as the Universal Spirit penetrating, vitalizing, and supporting all things, and of whom our own spirits are infinitesimal parts as are also the higher and lower grades of invisibles thronging around and maintaining us. Ln the Bhagavadgita, Christna, the eighth avatara of Vishnu, under the guise of an entity, to meet human comprehension, describes to Arjuna the Supreme as “the soul which standeth in the bodies of all beings: the beginning, the middle and the end of all things.” Wherever is found a belief resting on bases like these is discovered conjointly a spiritual system of great pretensions; thus in—

“India thousands of years ago the real world rested as now in the higher (deemed) supernatural world of spirits, from which an unceasing influence was felt by this world, and which higher divine influence man may participate in, and thereby gain the highest initiation of his being.”

In India Theosophy was admixed with the finest ideas of Spiritology, and the knowledge of the healing art and chemistry; and we trace in the ancient religious records those sublime states of spirit in communion with the Divine Essence which would give vent, for instance, in the following aspiration full of mystical imagery in the Gheeta;—

“To thee turn the inferior spirits for refuge. Some, affrighted murmur prayers with folded hands. The holy sages, seven in number, and all the saints praise thee in hymns of adoration. The genii of the winds, of the months and of fire, the sacred sons of Duty, the children of the sun, the blessed saints, the winds and the shades of the dead, the heavenly choirs, the demoniac guardians of wealth, and the hostile giants behold thee and are all amazed.”

The peculiar phase of aspiration towards the Supreme which the Indian mind turned was that of ecstacy similar to that of the magnetic clairvoyant of our days. An illuminated Fakir’s contemplation would be under one of three conditions of waking, sleeping and trance, and under all of which he would obtain potency through his will power. Although Manon, thirteen hundred years before Christ, had enacted laws against the complete but misused system of sorcery common among many of the adepts, yet, according to the sacred Zenda, sickness could be driven away by the means of spirits or genii, evoked by the proper ceremonies, taught by the Gymnosophists in the last of the nine degrees ending in Nirvana. or absorption in the Supreme, a strong proof of advancement in theurgical and spiritistic power. The scientific knowledge of the Brahmins was great; not only have they ever been celebrated for their knowledge of the principles of civil polity, morality, and philosophy, but for what was rendered to them great praise—their care in the education of the young and inculcation of noble and virtuous feelings. So prominent was this fact that one of their enemies, the Christian Abbe Dubois, acknowledges:

“Justice, humanity, good faith, compassion, disinterested- ness; in fact, all the virtues were familiar to them and taught by them to others, both by precept and example.”

Brahminism has held for thousands of years complete sway of the mind of Hindostan, and the whole of the sacred books are simply designed as a system of education or discipline for the purpose of fitting man to a proper relation with his fellows and future destiny. The whole of the philosophy of Hindoo theosophy may be summed up in one passage from the Bhagavadgita:—

“The man whose passions enter his heart as waters run into the unswelling, passive ocean obtaineth happiness; not he who lusteth in nis lusts. The man who, having abandoned all lusts of the flesh, walketh without inordinate desires, unassuming and free from pride, obtaineth happiness. This is divine dependence. A man being possessed of this confidence in the Supreme goeth not astray; even at the hour of death, should he attain it, he shall mix with incorporeal nature of Brahm.”

Notwithstanding the original purity of the Vedic theology, as time rolled on it became paganised, and Pantheons filled with deified mortals and strange gods, caste, suttee and other abominations opposed to the pure and simple principles were set in motion; but the religion was restored to its prestine character by Sakya-Muni, one of the most famed spiritistic reformers.

In the alluvial plain, at the head of the Persian Gulf, thousands of years before the Christian epoch, arose the earliest Asiatic monarchy known, it was the Chaldean, founded by Nimrod. As a proof of their extraordinary erudition Voltaire points out in one of his astronomical articles what modern discoverers are now beginning to comprehend, that the scientists of this nation

“Had as just ideas of what is called the heavens as ourselves. They placed the sun in the centre of our planetary world, and nearly at the same distance we have found it to be; and they held the revolution of the earth; and of all the planets around that body; this we are informed of by Aristarchus of Samos; and it is the true system of the world since resuscitated by Copernicus.”

The evidence we have concerning the Chaldean theosophical knowledge is considerable. Plutarch tells us that the Sages taught the Dualistic principles of good and evil; Daniel extols the Magi or Wise, from whose name is derived the term “magic,” of which the antithesis is sorcery or the black art; and Herodotus says that the Chaldean theurgists, also styled the “Interpretes of God,” practiced materialization and the evoking of spirits as a portion of the celebrated Cabiric Mysteries of Samothrace.

In fact, when we analyze our information, we discover that divination, or penetration into the future, and the belief in a spirit world with which they had familiar intercourse, was a portion of their civilization. As with the Assyrians, Medes, and Babylonians, in after times, their philosophy of spirit intercourse belonged to dogmatic speculation; and it made later theosophists form theories from which was gained a knowledge of man himself and the occult secrets of nature.

The important discoveries recently made among the Assyrian collections show that 4000 years ago papyrus books, in imitation of the earlier Chaldean, filled the shelves of Assyrian libraries. Here also, by their side, were to be found the cylindrical records and curious, latent coctiles or clay tablets, which were printed on both sides with characters so microscopic that magnifying lenses had to be used to decipher them. These libraries, in every large city, gotten together for the use “of the people,” and freely used by them, were served by a staff of librarians or “men of the written tablets,” who also catalogued the particulars of the different editions texts of works on agriculture, collections of ancient proverbs, tables of laws and precedents, contracts and leases, public despatches and private correspondence, prayers and beast fables, diadactic treatises and hints on government, tables of cube root and other mathematical formulae, lists of animals and stones, of countries and towns, of temples, of foreign products and classes of persons, and above all, annals and other historical documents. Among the most carious of these works, still preserved in the British Museum, London, is a long one, in seventy tablets or books, on astronomy and astrology, which was drawn up for a Babylonian monarch who reigned about 2000 B. C.; the catalogue of this work mentions separate treatises on the pole-star, on comets, on the movements of Venus, etc. Besides the astrological tablets, there is in the same collection a long work on omens, with formulae for averting witchcraft or practising sorcery.

To be continued.

Editor's notes

  1. Ancient Theosophy or Spiritism in the Past by Sotheran, Charles, Spiritual Scientist, v. 4, No. 8, April 27, 1876, p. 88