Did the Theosophical Adepts believe in God? Mahatma Letter No. 10 Strongly Explains
COSMOLOGICAL NOTES IN THEOSOPHY SERIES: ABOUT THE MAHATMA LETTER NO. 10 ON THE THEOSOPHICAL ADEPTS POSITION ON GOD
K.H. urged, that if you wanted to understand the THEORETICAL side of OCCULT PHILOSOPHY, we must learn the fundamental A.B.C.’s of that system, which they call the “true Theosophy.” This begins principally in its detail with the nature of the ultimate reality. We know what the monotheists teach regarding God, but there have existed philosophical schools that have a spiritual, or lofty conception of nature, without a God. Theosophy is non-theistic. The debates between the domineering forces of religion, proponents of physicalism and atheism give us very little space to debate between them.
THE MAHATMA LETTER correspondences implore us to consider other positions than both the monotheists and modern atheist. Spinoza articulated the esoteric doctrine when he contended, that God is Substance. All things in nature was born and evolved from Svabhāva or Zìxìng (substance or self-originating nature), in both the manifestation of the universe and physical phenomena. Svabhāva is the protean, eternal Substance, or Nature, Force and Motion, generating cosmic electricity. Its phenomenal nature is cognizable by physicists on the cosmic and terrestrial plane. This phenomenal nature refers to Sound, Light, Heat, Colour, &c., The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1., pg. 554 elaborates. This position holds to a belief in the eternal indestructibility of MATTER, rather than the conception of the ultimate reality as an entified godhead, or monarchic super-entity-person. Hence, Theosophy does not hold to notions about a God that consciously schemes, answers prayers, and governs the universe, nor does it hold the idea therefore, that there is a God consciously selecting prophets, and playing dice, or chess with the organisms of his creation. K.H. felt it very important to get rid of this notion if we ought to learn their philosophy. In the context of The Mahatma Letters, he is speaking to two Europeans who rather sometimes in the letter listen, come with many pre-conceived notions that obstruct them from understanding their concepts and ways of life. Hence, K.H. becomes very honest in his replies in regards to the God theory.
“Occultism sees in all these Forces and manifestations a ladder, the lower rungs of which belong to exoteric physics, and the higher are traced to a living, intelligent, invisible Power, which is, as a rule, the unconcerned, and exceptionally, the conscious cause of the sense-born phenomenon designated as this or another natural law. We say and maintain that Sound, for one thing, is a tremendous Occult power; that it is a stupendous force, of which the electricity generated by a million of Niagaras could never counteract the smallest potentiality when directed with occult knowledge. Sound may be produced of such a nature that the pyramid of Cheops would be raised in the air, or that a dying man, nay, one at his last breath, would be revived and filled with new energy and vigour” (ibid.).
K.H. spoke of a Buddhist philosophical school in India, pointing to it as one of the most logical positions on this issue. You “will find them the most learned as the most scientifically logical wranglers in the world. Their plastic, invisible, eternal, omnipresent and unconscious Swabhavat is Force or Motion ever generating its electricity which is life.” This position is that of the Nepalese Svābhāvika School (Brian H. Hodgson’s published article can be read here), and they are said to be philosophers of the oldest school of Buddhism.
“The only sources on this available either then or now, are the essays of Brian H. Hodgson published in Asiatic Researches, etc., starting in 1828, and later collected into a book entitled Essays on the Languages, Literature and Religion of Nepál and Tibet, London, 1874. Hodgson had been British Resident in Kathmandu, living there from 1821 through 1843. Since Nepal was otherwise closed to foreigners, Hodgson’s writings were for nearly a century the only source of information on Nepalese Buddhism. All the early Buddhist scholars, including Eugène Burnouf, Samuel Beal, Joseph Edkins, Hendrik Kern, etc., most of whom were quoted by Blavatsky and K.H., relied on these writings.” (David Reigle, Technical Terms in Stanza II)
It is interesting to note, that K.H., frequently paraphrased outspoken French-German atheist Baron D’Holbach in the letter no. 10, commending his work, even paraphrasing from his writings. Baron D’Holbach was a French-German during the French Enlightenment, whose philosophy was atheistic and materialist, and similar to the described Svābhāvikas and Samkhya. Blavatsky stresses the difference between the ancient and modern atheist.
K.H., the “frenchified” philosopher shares the flare of d’Holbach—when d’Holbach states: “All religions are ancient monuments to superstition, ignorance, ferocity; and modern religions are only ancient follies rejuvenated.” “Religion has ever filled the mind of man with darkness, and kept him in ignorance of his real duties and true interests. It is only by dispelling the clouds and phantoms of Religion, that we shall discover Truth, Reason, and Morality” (Baron d’Holbach).
The notion, Theosophy aims to influence a new singular and global authoritarian religion, regime, and despot at its helm is foolish in the light of the original motives of these men. The objective of the Theosophist School chiefly regards the future esteem of PHILOSOPHY, and the elevation of man through the knowledge of their true nature and origins.
EXCERPT FROM K.H., THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT, LETTER NO. 10, RECEIVED SIMLA, 1881-? ’82.”
“Neither our philosophy nor ourselves believe in a God, least of all in one whose pronoun necessitates a capital H. Our philosophy falls under the definition of Hobbes. It is preeminently the science of effects by their causes and of causes by their effects, and since it is also the science of things deduced from first principle, as Bacon defines it.
Before we admit any such principle we must know it, and have no right to admit even its possibility. Your whole explanation is based upon one solitary admission made simply for argument’s sake in October last.
You were told that our knowledge was limited to this our solar system: ergo as philosophers who desired to remain worthy of the name we could not either deny or affirm the existence of what you termed a supreme, omnipotent, intelligent being of some sort beyond the limits of that solar system. But if such an existence is not absolutely impossible, yet unless the uniformity of nature’s law breaks at those limits we maintain that it is highly improbable.
Nevertheless we deny most emphatically the position of agnosticism in this direction, and as regards the solar system. Our doctrine knows no compromises. It either affirms or denies, for it never teaches but that which it knows to be the truth. Therefore, we deny God both as philosophers and as Buddhists. We know there are planetary and other spiritual lives, and we know there is in our system no such thing as God, either personal or impersonal. Parabrahm is not a God, but absolute immutable law, and Iswar is the effect of Avidya and Maya, ignorance based upon the great delusion.
The word “God” was invented to designate the unknown cause of those effects which man has either admired or dreaded without understanding them, and since we claim and that we are able to prove what we claim — i.e. the knowledge of that cause and causes we are in a position to maintain there is no God or Gods behind them. The idea of God is not an innate but an acquired notion, and we have but one thing in common with theologies — we reveal the infinite.
But while we assign to all the phenomena that proceed from the infinite and limitless space, duration and motion, material, natural, sensible and known (to us at least) cause, the theists assign them spiritual, super-natural and unintelligible an un-known causes. The God of the Theologians is simply an imaginary power, un loup garou as d’Holbach expressed it — a power which has never yet manifested itself.
Our chief aim is to deliver humanity of this nightmare, to teach man virtue for its own sake, and to walk in life relying on himself instead of leaning on a theological crutch, that for countless ages was the direct cause of nearly all human misery. Pantheistic we may be called — agnostic NEVER. If people are willing to accept and to regard as God our ONE LIFE immutable and unconscious in its eternity they may do so and thus keep to one more gigantic misnomer.”