Thoughts on Theosoph
ARE THE TEACHINGS ASCRIBED TO JESUS CONTRADICTORY? — Gerald Massey
THERE are none so blind as those who won’t see, excepting those who can’t!
In Light, for September 10th , there is a letter from Dr. Wyld, who writes as follows: “In the last number of Light there is a quotation from the Spiritual Reformer in which the writer shows the absurdity of the idea that Jesus was not an historic being. But while thanking the writer for this contribution, I would take the strongest objection to his assertion that many of Christ’s teachings are contradictory and mistaken. This is an assertion occasionally made by Spiritualists, arid whenever I have met with it I have asked for evidence of the assertion, but hitherto I have received none”.
But that might surely have been easily supplied. Here, for example, are a few very direct contradictions in the speaker’s own words. Every one knows how secret were the teachings in their nature; how secretly they were conveyed in private places apart, how secretly his secrets were to be kept; and yet in “presence of the High Priest Jesus makes the astounding declaration: “ I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues; and in secret spake I nothing”. —John xviii. 20.
Jesus, in keeping with the mythical character, is made to claim equality and identity with the Father. He says (John x. 30), “I and my Father are one”; but in the same book (John xiv. 28), he says, “The Father is greater than I” — (Cf. Matthew xxiv. 36.) Again, he claims superiority over his Father. “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son. As I hear I judge” (John v. 22, 30). And then in the same gospel he says, “I judge no man” (John viii. 15.) “ If any man hear my words and believe not, I judge him not; for I came not to judge the world” (John xii. 47). Again, “ I am one that bear witness of myself. Though I bear witness of myself, yet my record is true”, (John viii. 14, 18); which is contradicted by (John v. 31) “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true”. He says (John v. 33, 34) that ”John bare witness unto the truth, but I receive not testimony from man”, and then tells the disciples, who are supposed to have been men, that “they also shall bear witness” to or of him (John xv. 27). Again he says, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works” (Matthew v. 16). But “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them”. (Matthew vi. i).
“Resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew v. 39); for “all that take the sword, shall perish with the sword” (Matthew xxvi. 52). Nevertheless, “He that hath no sword let him sell his garment and buy one”, (Luke xxii. 36). “ I came not to send Peace but a Sword” (Matthew x. 34), “Be not afraid of them that kill the body” (Luke xii. 4). Nevertheless “Jesus would not walk in Jewry because the Jews sought to kill him” (John vii. i). [Page 136]
I merely ask, for the sake of information, are these statements contradictory or are they not ?
I will but offer one or two specimens of the more serious and fundamental contradictions in the olla podrida of teaching assigned to Jesus. The teaching of the alleged founder of Christianity in the Gospel according to Matthew (ch. xix. 12), is that of the Saboi, the self-mutilators, who are still extant as the Russian Skoptsi [Of whom there are large colonies along the Black Sea and the coast of Imeretia and Poti.] and who emasculate themselves to save their spermatic souls, as Origen is reputed to have done. Jesus is made to say, “There are Eunuchs which made themselves Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heavens sake”. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it”. And then in the opening verses of the very next chapter, the same teacher says, “Suffer little children and forbid them not, to come unto me; for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven”. But those who became Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake could not be suffering the little children to come unto him or to them. They would be forbidding them to come at all. If the Kingdom of Heaven be such as the children of Eunuchs it must be non-extant. As Hood’s deaf shopman said of the crackers going off, there were so many reports he did not know which to believe.
And where is the sense of talking so much nonsense about the “Golden Rule” or the Divine humanity on behalf of one who carried on the blindest warfare against human nature itself? Who declared that “ If any man come to me and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke xiv. 26). And who promised that every follower of his who “left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the Kingdom of God’s sake should receive manifold more in the present and in the world to come life everlasting”. Well may the grateful Musselman cry in his adorations, “Thank God OUR Father has no Son!”
But, I do not charge these contradictory sayings and teachings to any personal character. The collectors are but making use of the Kurios, the Lord of the pre-Christian Mythos, the mystical Christ of the Gnostics, as a puppet to represent them and their divers doctrines. They make the human, image of a God of Love to be the preacher of everlasting punishment, and the bearer of a fan with which he fans the fires of hell; a false foreteller of that which never came to pass, and the forerunner of a fulfilment which did not follow. In short, they make this Marionette Messiah dance to any particular tune they play.
Jesus is posed as the original revealer of a father in Heaven, whereas the doctrine of the Divine Fatherhood was taught in three different Egyptian Cults during some four thousand years previously.
Dr. Wyld implies that I deny the existence of a personal Jesus. That is the misrepresentation of ignorance. But the sole historical Jesus acknowledged by me is the only one who was ever known to the Jews, to Celsus, to Epiphanius, as the descendant of JOSEPH Pandira, he, who according to Ireneus, lived to be over fifty years of age.
This, I admit, was not the kind of Jesus whom the Christians find in the Gospels and honour as a God.
The Gospel histories do not contain the biography of Ben-Pandira, the son [Page 137] of Joseph. Nor was it intended that they should. Their Jesus is the mythical Christ, the Horus of 12 years, and the adult Horus of 30 years; the Lord of the age, Aeon or Cycle, who came and went, and was to come again for those who possessed the Gnosis.
Another writer in Light, a week earlier, could not understand how any one can deny the personal existence of the “Historical Christ!”
The Historical Christ! You might as well demand our belief in the historical Chronos — Time, in person —or the historical Ghost, in man or out of him. If the writer knew anything of the pre-Christian Spiritualism —anything of the true nature or even the meaning of the name — he would perceive the Historic Impossibility of the personal Christ. An “Historical Christ” is as much a nonentity as the historical Mrs. Harris. But, cui bono ? I have no hope in these matters of any orthodox Christian Spiritualists. They have to learn the primary lesson, at last, that Historic Christianity was not founded on our facts until it had buried them ! That it was the negation of Gnosticism, the antithesis of phenomenal Spiritualism. That it substituted faith for facts; a physical resurrection for a spiritual continuity, and a corporeal Christ-for the trans-corporeal man.
The Christian Revelation leaves no room for modern Spiritualism, and they are logically, truly Christians who reject it ! It recognises no other rising again except at the last day, and then only for the few who believed in Jesus (John vi. 40). The Christians have no other world but one at the end of this; no other spirits extant excepting their physical Christ and the devil.
People who will see nothing contradictory in direct opposites, no difference betwixt black and white, but rather the necessary duality of antiphonal truth, who can accept a misinterpretation of mythology for the Word of God, are of little account as witnesses for Spiritualism. They who tell a story about the whale swallowing Jonah are not likely to be credited when they come with another that looks very like Jonah swallowing the whale. Professed believers in the literal truth of the Gospel fables are of necessity “Suspects” as witnesses for abnormal and extraordinary facts.
Pointing to his antagonist on the platform, O’Connel once enquired of his audience, “Can ye believe a single word that a gentleman says who wears a waistcoat of that colour ? ” It was yellow, and they couldn’t.
What is the use of taking your “Bible oath” that this thing is true, if the Book you are sworn upon is a magazine of falsehoods already exploded or just going off?
Moreover, the Christian Priesthood has been preaching through all these centuries that the dead do not return; and the living have believed them.
Dr. Sprenger has calculated that nine million persons have been put to death as Witches, Wizards, or Mediums, since 1484, when Pope Innocent VIII. issued his Bull against Spiritualism and all its practices, which were considered to be the works of the devil.
Besides, if the Christian scheme of damnation be true, as assigned to the teaching of Jesus, no humane person should want to know that there is any hereafter.
Spiritualism can make no headway where it has to draw after it this dead weight of a tail. [Page 138]
Christian Spiritualism also ostentatiously proclaims that it has nothing in the world to do with “Woman’s Rights”, “Vaccination”, or any such merely human interests. It would seek to create an [interest in another life, whilst ignoring the vital interests of this. But that is to sign its own death-warrant and to seal its own speedy doom. This is to repeat the mistake and follow the failure of the Christian system of saving souls for another life whilst allowing them to be damned in this. At the same time, it would drag Spiritualism into the bankrupt business of Historic Christianity and bind up a third testament to save the other two, as a sort of Trinity in Unity. But as a system of thought, of religion, or morals and a mode of interpreting nature, Historic Christianity is moribund and cannot be saved, or resuscitated by transfusion of new blood into it; not if you bled Spiritualism to death in trying to give it a little new life. They try in vain to make our phenomena guarantee the miracles of mythology as spiritual realities. They try in vain to tether the other world in this and make it draw for the fraudulent old faith. They keep on jumping up and down to persuade themselves and others that they are free. But it is only a question of length of chain, for those who are still fettered fast at foot upon the ancient standing-ground.
I have not answered the writer in the paper quoted by Light, and approved by Dr. Wyld, for the reason that his acquaintance with my data was too limited to make discussion profitable or useful. Those data are already presented in accessible books and pamphlets, and there is no need for me to repeat them in reply to him. Those who undertake to write on so perplexing a subject ought to be able to illuminate it and enlighten their opponents. The problems are not to be solved by any amount of personal simplicity. I am always ready to meet any competent and well-informed defender of the faith upon the platform or in the press. I should prefer it to be a bishop, who is also an Egyptologist. But beggars are not allowed to be choosers. I am prepared at any time to demonstrate the entirely mythical and mystical origin of the Christ, and the non-spiritual, non-historical beginnings of the vast complex called Christianity.
[Any “Bishop Egyptologist”, or even Assyriologist, of whom we have heard there are not a few in England, is cordially invited to defend his position in the pages of LUCIFER. The “Son of the Morning” is the Light-Bearer, and welcomes light from every quarter of the globe. — H.P.Blavatsky, Editor]
[NOTE. —As LUCIFER cannot concur in the exclusively exoteric view, taken by Mr. Massey, of this allegorical, though none the less philosophical, scripture, the next number will contain an article dealing with the esoteric meaning of the New Testament. — H.P.Blavatsky, Editor]
TO THE AUTHOR OF “LIGHT ON THE PATH” — Interrogator
THERE is a sentence in your “Comments” which has haunted me with a sense of irritation: “To obtain knowledge by experiment is too tedious a method for those who aspire to do real work”, etc.. Have we any knowledge, of whatever sort, that has been of use in the world, which has been obtained otherwise than experimentally ? By patient and persistent toil of sifting and testing, we have obtained the little knowledge that is of service to us. Is there such a [Page 139] thing as “certain intuition” ? Has intuitive knowledge, if such there be, been accepted as positive knowledge until it has been submitted to the test of experiment ? Would it be right that it should be ? Your illustration of the “determined workman” brings the question down (as I think the question should be brought) to the plane of practice. Is there any workman who can know his tools until he has tried them ? Is not the history of knowledge the history of intuitions put to the test of practice ? Intuitions, or what we call such, seem to me quite as apt and likely to deceive us as anything in the world; we only know them for good when we have tried them.
REPLY TO INTERROGATOR – Editor
It seems to me there is some confusion in this letter between obtaining knowledge by experiment, and testing it by experiment. Edison knew that his discoveries were only things to look for, and he tested his knowledge by experiment. The actual work of great inventors is the bringing of intuitive knowledge on to the plane of practice by applying the test of experiment. But all inventors are seers; and some of them having died without being able to put into practice the powers which they knew existed in Nature were considered madmen. Later on, other men are more fortunate, and rediscover the laughed-at knowledge. This is an old and familiar story, but we need constantly to be reminded of it. How often have great musicians or great artists been regarded as “infant prodigies” in their childhood ? They have intuitive knowledge of that power of which they are chosen interpreters, and experiment is only necessary in order to find out how to give that which they know to others.
Intuitive knowledge in reference to the subjects with which I have been dealing must indeed be tested by experiment; and it is the whole purpose of “ Light on the Path ” itself, and the “Comments” to urge men to test their knowledge in this way. But the vital difference between this and material forms of knowledge is that for all occult purposes a man must obtain his own knowledge before he can use it. There are many subjects of time content to linger on through aeons of slow development, and pass the threshold of eternity at last by sheer force of the great wheel of life with which they move; possibly during their interminable noviciate, they may obtain knowledge by experiment and with well-tested tools. Not so the pioneer, the one who claims his divine inheritance now. He must work as the great artists, the great inventors have done; obtain knowledge by intuition, and have such sublime faith in his own knowledge that his life is readily devoted to testing it.
But for this purpose the testing has to be actually done in the astral life. In a new world, where the use of the senses is a pain, how can the workman stay to test his tools ? The old proverb about the good workman who never quarrels with them, however bad they are, though of course had he the choice he would use the best, applies here.
As to whether intuitive knowledge exists or noT, I can only ask how came philosophies, metaphysics, mathematics into existence ? All these represent a portion of abstract truth.
Before I received this letter the “Comments” for this month were written, in which, as it happens, I have spoken a great deal about intuitive knowledge. [Page 140] Therefore, I will now only quote the definition of a philosopher from Plato, which is given near the end of Book V., —
“ I mean by philosopher, the man who is devoted to the acquisition of knowledge, real knowledge, and not merely inquisitive. The more our citizens approach this temperament, the better the state will be. True knowledge in its perfection and its entirety, man cannot attain. But he can attain to a kind of knowledge of realities, if he has any knowledge at all, because he cannot know nonentities. Hence his knowledge is half-way between real knowledge and ignorance, and we must call it opinion”.
NOTE. — Several questions which have been received are held over to be answered next month.
To the Editors of LUCIFER — Interrogator
IN the interesting and lucid article on “Karma” in your number of September 15th, everything seems to hinge on the theory of re-incarnation. “Very well”, says the author of that paper, “let us take the principle of re-incarnation for granted”. But is not this a rather unphilosophical way of handling a subject of such gravity ? Take this or that principle for granted, and you may go about to prove anything under the sun. It is the old weakness of begging the question. Is it not this taking for granted what cannot be proved, and is not attempted to be proved, that has led astray speculators — both scientific and religious — everywhere and in every age, and is it not upon similar assumptions that the whole monstrous fabric of theology rests ? Of course, in every kind of speculation one is compelled to set out with an assumption of some sort; but then the first thing the reader demands is, that the grounds shall be shown upon which the assumption rests; the assumption, whatever it be, must be made good before one can be asked to accept that which is to be raised upon it. And here comes in my question: What is the warrant or sanction for the principle of re-incarnation ? What is the principle grounded upon ? Do we undergo re-incarnation, and how do you know it ?
Having set out with the assumption, the author does not return to it again, and at the end of the article I am as uninstructed as at the outset respecting the pivotal principle upon which all that follows seems to turn.
Reply to Interrogator – by Editor
The author of “Karma” will go into this question fully in a paper devoted entirely to the subject of re-incarnation. The two subjects are inextricably interwoven, but it was decided that to treat the two at the same time would produce too great a confusion, and offer too wide an area of speculation for the mind to grapple with. Therefore this course was adopted of taking the principle of re-incarnation for granted. It is possible that the second paper should have come first, but the two theories stand side by side, not one before the other, so that the question of precedence was a difficult one. But it is necessary, in view of this blending of the ideas, that the reader shall have the complete presentation of both before him, and then draw his conclusions. Therefore indulgence is asked until the papers dealing with each subject are completed. As many readers may have felt the same difficulty as our correspondent, we are glad to insert this letter and reply. [Page 141]