If the students of the dead languages know anything, they ought to know that the method of extreme necessitarianism was practised ancient as well as in modern philosophy; that from the first ages of man, the fundamental truths of all that we are permitted to know on earth were in the safe keeping of the Adepts of the sanctuary; that the difference in creeds and religious practice was only external; and that those guardians of the primitive divine revelation, who had solved every problem that is within the grasp of human intellect, were bound together by a universal freemasonry of science and philosophy, which formed one unbroken chain around the globe. It is for philology and the Orientalists to endeavour to find the end of the thread. But if they will persist in seeking it in one direction only, and that the wrong one, truth and fact will never be discovered. It thus remains the duty of psychology and Theosophy to help the world to arrive at them. Study the Eastern religions by the light of Eastern — not Western — philosophy, and if you happen to relax correctly one single loop of the old religious systems, the chain of mystery may be disentangled. But to achieve this, one must not agree with those who teach that it is unphilosophical to enquire into first causes, and that all that we can do is to consider their physical effects. The field of scientific investigation is bounded by physical nature on every side; hence, once the limits of matter are reached, enquiry must stop and work be re-commenced.
As the Theosophist has no desire to play at being a squirrel upon its revolving wheel, he must refuse to follow the lead of the materialists. He, at any rate, knows that the revolutions of the physical world are, according to the ancient doctrine, attended by like revolutions in the world of intellect, for the spiritual evolution in the universe proceeds in cycles, like the physical one. Do we not see in history a regular alternation of ebb and flow in the tide of human progress? Do we not see in history, and even find this within our own experience, that the great kingdoms of the world, after reaching the culmination of their greatness, descend again, in accordance with the same law by which they ascended? till, having reached the lowest point, humanity reasserts itself and mounts up once more, the height of its attainment being, by this law of ascending progression by cycles, somewhat higher than the point from which it had before descended. Kingdoms and empires are under the same cyclic laws as planets, races, and everything else in Kosmos.
The division of the history of mankind into what the Hindus call the Sattva, Tretya, [Misprint of Satya, Treta. — Ed.] Dvapara and Kali Yugas, and what the Greeks referred to as "the Golden, Silver, Copper, and Iron Ages" is not a fiction. We see the same thing in the literature of peoples. An age of great inspiration and unconscious productiveness is invariably followed by an age of criticism and consciousness. The one affords material for the analyzing and critical intellect of the other. The moment is more opportune than ever for the review of old philosophies. Archaeologists, philologists, astronomers, chemists and physicists are getting nearer and nearer to the point where they will be forced to consider them. Physical science has already reached its limits of exploration; dogmatic theology sees the springs of its inspiration dry. The day is approaching when the world will receive the proofs that only ancient religions were in harmony with nature, and ancient science embraced all that can be known. Once more the prophecy already made in Isis Unveiled . . . years ago is reiterated.
Secrets long kept may be revealed; books long forgotten and arts long time lost may be brought out to light again; papyri and parchments of inestimable importance will turn up in the hands of men who pretend to have unrolled them from mummies, or stumbled upon them in buried crypts; tablets and pillars, whose sculptured revelations will stagger theologians and confound scientists, may yet be excavated and interpreted. Who knows the possibilities of the future? An era of disenchantment and rebuilding will soon begin — nay, has already begun. The cycle has almost run its course; a new one is about to begin, and the future pages of history may contain full evidence, and convey full proof [of the above]. (I, 38)
Since the day that this was written much of it has come to pass, the discovery of the Assyrian clay tiles and their records alone having forced the interpreters of the cuneiform inscriptions — both Christians and, Freethinkers — to alter the very age of the world. [Sargon, the first "Semitic" monarch of Babylonia, the prototype and original of Moses, is now placed 3,750 years B.C. (p. 21), and the Third Dynasty of Egypt "some 6,000 years ago," hence some years before the world was created, agreeably to Biblical chronology. (Vide Hibbert Lectures on Babylonia, by A. H. Sayce, 1887, pp. 21 and 33.)]
The chronology of the Hindu Puranas, reproduced in The Secret Doctrine, is now derided, but the time may come when it will be universally accepted. This may be regarded as simply an assumption, but it will be so only for the present. It is in truth but a question of time. The whole issue of the quarrel between the defenders of ancient wisdom and its detractors — lay and clerical — rests (a) on the incorrect comprehension of the old philosophers, for the lack of the keys the Assyriologists boast of having discovered; and (b) on the materialistic and anthropomorphic tendencies of the age. This in no wise prevents the Darwinists and materialistic philosophers from digging into the intellectual mines of the ancients and helping themselves to the wealth of ideas they find in them; nor the divines from discovering Christian dogmas in Plato's philosophy and calling them "presentiments," as in Dr. Lundy's Monumental Christianity, and other like modern works.
Of such "presentiments" the whole literature — or what remains of this sacerdotal literature — of India, Egypt, Chaldaea, Persia, Greece and even of Guatemala (Popul Vuh), is full. Based on the same foundation-stone — the ancient Mysteries — the primitive religions, all without one exception, reflect the most important of the once universal beliefs, such, for instance, as an impersonal and universal divine Principle, absolute in its nature, and unknowable to the "brain" intellect, or the conditioned and limited cognition of man. To imagine any witness to it in the manifested universe, other than as Universal Mind, the Soul of the universe — is impossible. That which alone stands as an undying and ceaseless evidence and proof of the existence of that One Principle, is the presence of an undeniable design in kosmic mechanism, the birth, growth, death and transformation of everything in the universe, from the silent and unreachable stars down to the humble lichen, from man to the invisible lives now called microbes. Hence the universal acceptation of "Thought Divine," the Anima Mundi of all antiquity. This idea of Mahat (the great) Akasha or Brahma's aura of transformation with the Hindus, of Alaya, "the divine Soul of thought and compassion" of the trans-Himalayan mystics; of Plato's "perpetually reasoning Divinity," is the oldest of all the doctrines now known to, and believed in, by man. Therefore they cannot be said to have originated with Plato, nor with Pythagoras, nor with any of the philosophers within the historical period. Say the Chaldaean Oracles: "The works of nature co-exist with the intellectual noeto, spiritual Light of the Father. For it is the Soul psuche which adorned the great heaven, and which adorns it after the Father."
"The incorporeal world then was already completed, having its seat in the Divine Reason," says Philo, who is erroneously accused of deriving his philosophy from Plato.
In the Theogony of Mochus, we find Aether first, and then the air; the two principles from which Ulom, the intelligible noetos God (the visible universe of matter) is born.
In the Orphic hymns, the Eros-Phanes evolves from the Spiritual Egg, which the aethereal winds impregnate, wind being "the Spirit of God," who is said to move in aether, "brooding over the Chaos" the Divine "Idea." In the Hindu Kathopanishad, Purusha, the Divine Spirit, stands before the original Matter; from their union springs the great Soul of the World, "Maha-Atma, Brahm, the Spirit of Life"; these latter appellations are identical with the Universal Soul, or Anima Mundi, and the Astral Light of the Theurgists and Kabalists.
Pythagoras brought his doctrines from the eastern sanctuaries, and Plato compiled them into a form more intelligible than the mysterious numerals of the Sage — whose doctrines he had fully embraced — to the uninitiated mind. Thus, the Kosmos is "the Son" with Plato, having for his father and mother the Divine Thought and Matter. The "Primal Being" (Beings, with the Theosophists, as they are the collective aggregation of the divine Rays), is an emanation of the Demiurgic or Universal Mind which contains from eternity the idea of the "to be created world" within itself, which idea the unmanifested LOGOS produces of Itself. The first Idea "born in darkness before the creation of the world" remains in the unmanifested Mind; the second is this Idea going out as a reflection from the Mind (now the manifested LOGOS), becoming clothed with matter, and assuming an objective existence.
[From Lucifer (19:109), September 15, 1896; reprinted in Sunrise, August/September 1986.]