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DEITY COSMOS AND MAN
by Geoffrey Farthing
Chapter XIV Religion
The source of religious teachings lies, according to the occult tradition, in a past far antedating any recorded history.
The celestial teachers in the above passage were those who, having reached full manhood in the Moon Chain (i.e. the Chain before ours), came to our earth as Instructors; they had finished their human evolution and did not incarnate into the chhayas or forms provided by the Lunar Pitris, who were at a lower stage of development but from whom man got his present bodily form (chhaya). The light of the true teaching has persisted throughout the ages, but in historical times, except for some few illumined men, it has shone only from behind the screen of superstition and ignorance in the forms of exoteric religions. In some of these the light is so obscured as to be hardly perceptible; in some others the veil is thinner, allowing beams of
the pure light to penetrate it. That light is indeed the original inspiration behind the classical religious literature of the world, and is least obscured where the old wordings have suffered least from translation and intentional or unwitting modification.
It is sometimes mistakenly thought that the occult doctrine stands in opposition to religion. This is clearly not so. The Preface to The Secret Doctrine, for example, states that among the aims of the work are two of particular relevance to our study, namely,
The esoteric philosophy is not an attempt to make a new religion by a synthesis of existing ones, nor is it in itself a new religion, for
The ecclesiastical historian Mosheim describes the teaching of Ammonius Saccas in terms that accord with the understanding of modern Theosophists:
As for the mistaken notion that Theosophy is a new religion, the answer is unequivocal:
Those who are generally regarded as the founders of the great religions were all, in Mme Blavatsky's view,
transmitters, not original teachers. They were the authors of new forms and interpretations, while the truths upon which the latter were based were as old as mankind. Secret Doctrine (I xxxvi, I 20, I 58)
Moreover, her support for the religious principle, as distinct from exoteric religious beliefs and practices, is made abundantly clear in this same Introductory section of The Secret Doctrine:
That the Deity of the esoteric philosophy is no personal 'extra-cosmic and anthropomorphic God' is further asserted in the answers given in The Key to Theosophy to questions about the theosophical attitude to God and Prayer. Mme Blavatsky dismisses the contention that Theosophy is either atheistic or pantheistic, and then adds:
Is man then to be deprived of comfort and strength in his hour of trial? No indeed, for Mme Blavatsky reminds her readers more than once of the words of Paul - whom she acknowledged to be an Initiate - in his letter to the Corinthians, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (I Cor iii, 16). If these words be believed, what need can there be for help from an external source? Again in The Secret Doctrine there is this significant passage:
The ever-unknowable and incognizable Karana alone, the Causeless Cause of all cause, should
have its shrine and altar on the holy and ever untrodden ground of our heart - invisible, intangible,
unmentioned, save through 'the still small voice' of our spiritual consciousness. Those who
worship before it ought to do so in the silence and the sanctified solitude of their Souls; making
This passage is one of several in The Secret Doctrine which imply the necessity for a rigorous code of ethics to accompany the theoretical study of Esoteric Science. The aim of that science being "the assimilation of the human soul with the Universal Soul", Caves and Jungles of Hindostan 446 a process of purification must prepare the way for its attainment. The first stage of the human pilgrimage, variously described as "the path of outgoing" or "the path of descent", is one of increasing materiality. In the case of our humanity, the lowest point of the descending arc was reached in the Fourth Root Race. We are now at the beginning of the ascending arc, the emergence out of materiality into one of increasing spirituality. This indeed is the vision of the future of mankind placed before us in the panoramic view of Esoteric Science.
The codes of ethics that accompany the teachings of the great religions, in spite of obvious man-made accretions that disfigure rather than enhance them, are closely paralleled by the yama and niyama of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and the catalogue of desirable (and undesirable) qualities given in the Sixteenth Discourse of the Bhagavad Gita. These are rungs on the ladder that is to lead to Self-realization. They also provide the basis for future exoteric religions which, cleansed of superstition, are necessary for the guidance of mankind in its long journey to human perfection, Adeptship. Popular religion must stimulate and keep alive the spiritual intuitions which are more or less active in all men. They arise by reason of man's inner constitution wherein all are at one with the One Spirit. This is the indispensable principle of Unity which manifests as the One Life shared by all. This Unity also shows forth as the Law, previously discussed, but of which the twin law of Karma and Reincarnation are aspects.
These form the basis in their turn of the restraints and disciplines essential to the welfare and happiness of humanity. Without them a satisfactory and
satisfying civilized society is impossible. Our ethical and moral codes are aspects of these disciplines. Some ceremonial, ritual practices and music would lend colour and suggestive significance to religious teaching, but cannot be see as an end in themselves.
It is to be noted that, although the great Vedantic works insist on the uselessness of ceremonial acts as means of salvation, nowhere is the devotee instructed to abandon their performance, the teaching here being simply that he must not mistake the means for the end. There can be no salvation from outside, no vicarious atonement. Man is his own absolute law-giver and must affect his own salvation himself.
A communication from one of the Adept Teachers to A.P. Sinnett shows the importance those Teachers attached to the highest code of ethics, not only for the spiritual progress of the individual but more especially for the happiness of the human race, and to a truthful theology:
Remember the sum of human misery will never be diminished unto that day when the better portion of humanity destroys in the name of Truth, morality, and universal charity, the altars of their false gods. Mahatma Letters (58, 58)
Ethical precepts, given to successive human groups by their Teachers, are based on knowledge of the laws inherent in Nature. It follows that the responsibility of those who have access to the teachings is two-fold: to study further the doctrines of Esoteric Science, then, as far as they can, to live accordingly and to make those teachings more widely available.
The Scriptures of the world abound in the seemingly miraculous. The student of Esoteric Science does not necessarily dismiss such accounts as fictional: rather does he adopt the standpoint of Mme Blavatsky when, at the end of Isis Unveiled, she attempted to summarize the principles there enunciated:
A happening that one fails to understand may well be called miraculous, but Occult Science asserts that 'there is really nothing above or beyond NATURE and Nature's laws' Key to Theosophy 290. Seeming miracles may indeed occur but, like the wonders of modern technology, they can be produced only by those who are well acquainted with the nature and processes of Nature herself and are thus able to manipulate the forces involved. Hence the injunction to those who would ally themselves to the forces of Nature for the greater good of humanity:
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