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vol. 3, p. 243
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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< A Few Questions to Hiraf (continued from page 3-242) >


mysteries, if divulged,” in the present chaotic state of society, “would produce mere confusion and death,” they shut up that knowledge within themselves Heirs to the early heavenly wisdom of their first forefathers, they keep the keys which unlock the most guarded of Nature’s secrets, and impart them only gradually and with the greatest caution But still they do impart sometimes! Once in such a cercle vicieux, Hiraf sins likewise in a certain comparison he makes between Christ, Buddha, and Khong-foo-tse, or Confucius. A comparison can hardly be made between the two former wise and spiritual Illuminati, and the Chinese philosopher. The higher aspirations and views of the two Christs can have nothing to do with the cold, practical philosophy of the latter; brilliant anomaly as he was among a naturally dull and materialistic people, peaceful and devoted to agriculture from the earliest ages of their history Confucius can never bear the slightest comparison with the two great Reformers. Whereas the principles and doctrines of Christ and Buddha were calculated to embrace the whole of humanity, Confucius confined his attention solely to his own country; trying to apply his profound wisdom and philosophy to the wants of his countrymen, and little troubling his head about the rest of mankind. Intensely Chinese in patriotism and views, his philosophical doctrines are as much devoid of the purely poetic element, which characterizes the teachings of Christ and Buddha, the two divine types, as the religious tendencies of his people lack in that spiritual exaltation which we find, for instance, in India Khong-foo-tse has not even the depth of feeling and the slight spiritual striving of his contemporary, Lao-tse. Says the learned Ennemoser: “The spirits of Christ and Buddha have left indelible, eternal traces all over the face of the world. The doctrines of Confucius can be mentioned only as the most brilliant proceedings of cold human reasoning.” C. F. Haug, in his Allgemeine Geschichte, has depicted the Chinese nation perfectly, in a few words: their “heavy, childish, cold, sensual nature explains the peculiarities of their history.” Hence any comparison between the first two reformers and Confucius, in an essay on Rosicrucianism, in which Hiraf treats of the Science of Sciences and invites the thirsty for knowledge to drink at her inexhaustible source, seems inadmissible.

Further, when our learned author asserts so dogmatically that the Rosicrucian learns, though he never uses, the secret of immortality in earthly life, he asserts only what he himself, in his practical inexperience, thinks impossible. The words “never” and “impossible” ought to be erased from the dictionary of humanity, until the time at least when the great Cabala shall all be solved, and so rejected or accepted. The “Count de Saint-Germain” is, until this very time, a living mystery, and the Rosicrucian Thomas Vaughan another one. The countless authorities we have in literature, as well as in oral tradition (which sometimes is the more trustworthy) about this wonderful Count’s having been met and recognized in different centuries, is no myth. Anyone who admits one of the practical truths of the Occult Sciences taught by the Cabala, tacitly admits them all. It must be Hamlet’s “to be or not to be,” and if the Cabala is true, then Saint-Germain need be no myth.

But I am digressing from my object, which is, firstly, to show the slight differences between the two Cabalas—that of the Rosicrucians and the Oriental one; and, secondly, to say that the hope expressed by Hiraf to see the subject better appreciated at some future day than it has been till now, may perhaps become more than a hope. Time will show many things; till then, let us heartily thank Hiraf for this first well-aimed shot at those stubborn scientific runaways, who, once before the Truth, avoid looking her in the face, and dare not even throw a glance behind them, lest they should be forced to see that which would greatly lessen their self-sufficiency. As a practical follower of Eastern Spiritualism, I can confidently wait for the time when, with the timely help of those “who know,” American Spiritualism, which even in its present shape has proved such a sore in the side of the materialists, will become a science and a thing of mathematical certitude, instead of being regarded only as the crazy delusion of epileptic monomaniacs.

The first Cabala in which a mortal man ever dared to explain the greatest mysteries of the universe, and show the keys to “those masked doors in the ramparts of Nature through which no mortal can ever pass without rousing dread sentries never seen upon this side of her wall,” was compiled by a certain Shimon Ben Yochai, who lived at the time of the second Temple’s destruction. Only about thirty years after the death of this renowned Cabalist, his MSS. and written explanations, which had till then remained in his possession as a most precious secret, were used by his son Rabbi Eleazar and other learned men. Making a compilation of the whole, they so produced the famous work called Sohar (God’s splendour). This book proved an inexhaustible mine for all the subsequent Cabalists their source of information and knowledge, and all more recent and genuine Cabalas were more or less carefully copied from the former. Before that, all the mysterious doctrines had come down in an unbroken line of merely oral traditions as far back as man could trace himself on earth. They were scrupulously and jealously guarded by the Wise Men of Chaldaea, India, Persia and Egypt, and passed from one initiate to another, in the same purity of form as when handed down to the first man by the angels, students of God’s great Theosophic Seminary. For the first time since the world’s creation, the secret doctrines, passing through Moses who was initiated in Egypt, underwent some slight alterations. In consequence of the personal ambition of this great prophet-medium, he succeeded in passing off his familiar spirit, the wrathful “Jehovah,” for the spirit of God himself, and so won undeserved laurels and honors. The same influence prompted him to alter some of the principles of the great oral Cabala in order to make them the more secret. These principles were laid out in symbols by him in the first four books of the Pentateuch, but for some mysterious reasons he withheld them from Deuteronomy. Having initiated his seventy Elders in his own way, the latter could give but what they had received themselves, and so was prepared the first opportunity for heresy, and the erroneous interpretations of the symbols. While the Oriental Cabala remained in its pure primitive shape, the Mosaic or Jewish one was full of drawbacks, and the keys to many of the secrets—forbidden by the Mosaic law—purposely misinterpreted. The powers conferred by it on the initiates were formidable still, and of all the most renowned Cabalists, King Solomon and his bigoted parent, David, notwithstanding his penitential psalms, were the most powerful. But still the doctrine remained secret and purely oral, until, as I have said before, the days of the second Temple’s destruction. Philologically speaking, the very word Cabala is formed from two Hebrew words, meaning to receive, as in former times the initiate received it orally and directly from his Master, and the very Book of the “Sohar” was written out on received information, which was handed down as an unvarying stereotyped tradition by the Orientals, and altered through the ambition of Moses, by the Jews. <... continues on page 3-244 >

(See for the rest next page on the back of this one)

Calculation and Memory

William Lawson, teacher of mathematics in Edinburgh, who died in 1757, when employed about twenty years before his death as preceptor to the sons of a gentleman, was induced by his employer to undertake an extraordinary piece of mental calculation. Upon a wager laid by his patron, that the numbers from 1 to 40 inclusive could, by memory alone, be multiplied continually—that is, 1 multiplied 2; the product then arising 2, by 3; the next product 6, by 4; the next, 24, by 5; and so on, 40 being the last multiplier—Mr. Lawson was, with reluctance, prevailed upon to attempt the task. He began it next morning at seven o’clock, taught his pupils their Latin lessons in the forenoon as usual, had finished the operation by six in the evening, and then told the last product to the gentlemen who had laid the wager, which they took down in writing, making a line of forty-eight figures, and found to be just. The shortness of the time rendered the work the more difficult, as each multiplication was in its turn so far to be forgotten as not to interfere with those that succeeded. When the operation was over, he could perceive his veins to start, like a man in a nervous fever; the three following nights he dreamed constantly of numbers; and he was often heard to say that no inducement would ever again engage him in a like attempt. A fair copy of the whole operation, attested by the subscriptions of three gentlemen, parties in the wager, was put into a frame with glass, and hung up in the patron’s dining-room.— Chambers’s Journal.

Editor's notes

  1. Calculation and Memory by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 19, July 15, 1875, p. 224. From Chambers's Jonrnal