The Evolution of the God-Idea | H.P. Blavatsky on the Limits of the Greeks and Christians
A section from the 1888 work of H.P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine (pp. 326-28: Divine Thought, or Cineritious Matter) discusses the evolution of the GOD-IDEA. This is the beginning of some far more dense commentary on occult physics that will be central to the completed three parts on Everything about Lucifer, and The Nineteenth-Century Politicization of the Desatir: Theosophists and Zoroastrianism. In no other present-day philosophical tradition is the concept of a “VITAL FORCE” and DIVINE MIND in nature been so detailed on its theoretical basis. Helena P. Blavatsky in Studies in Occultism: Kosmic Mind tried to demonstrate the link between phenomena in nature and the mind; that the vital-theory, or rather hylozoism cannot be merely understood through a physicalist and mechanical explanation. Pay attention to the sub-titles of the section: Divine Thought, or Cineritious Matter and the footnotes; and therefore the theoretical positions, which we find to be dealt with in ways other schools and religions do not, or have not tried to explain. It is this manner of elucidation we find most unique and valuable about Blavatsky’s work, attention to detail, and credit to the works of others.
“In the oldest Aryan race, the Hindu, the worship of the intellectual classes never consisted (as with the Greeks) in a fervent adoration of marvellous form and art, which led later on to anthropomorphism. But while the Greek philosopher adored form, and the Hindu sage alone “perceived the true relation of earthly beauty and eternal truth” — the uneducated of every nation understood neither, at any time.
They do not understand it even now. The evolution of the GOD-IDEA proceeds apace with man’s own intellectual evolution. So true it is that the noblest ideal to which the religious Spirit of one age can soar, will appear but a gross caricature to the philosophic mind in a succeeding epoch! The philosophers themselves had to be initiated into perceptive mysteries, before they could grasp the correct idea of the ancients in relation to this most metaphysical subject. Otherwise — outside such initiation — for every thinker there will be a “Thus far shalt thou go and no farther,” mapped out by his intellectual capacity, as clearly and as unmistakeably as there is for the progress of any nation or race in its cycle by the law of Karma. Outside of initiation, the ideals of contemporary religious thought must always have their wings clipped and remain unable to soar higher; for idealistic as well as realistic thinkers, and even free-thinkers, are but the outcome and the natural product of their respective environments and periods. The ideals of both are only
Vol. 1, Page 327 DIVINE THOUGHT, OR CINERITIOUS MATTER.
the necessary results of their temperaments, and the outcome of that phase of intellectual progress to which a nation, in its collectivity, has attained. Hence, as already remarked, the highest flights of modern (Western) metaphysics have fallen far short of the truth. Much of current Agnostic speculation on the existence of the “First Cause” is little better than veiled materialism — the terminology alone being different. Even so great a thinker as Mr. Herbert Spencer speaks of the “Unknowable” occasionally in terms that demonstrate the lethal influence of materialistic thought, which, like the deadly Sirocco, has withered and blighted all current ontological speculation.*
From the early ages of the Fourth Race, when Spirit alone was worshipped and the mystery was made manifest, down to the last palmy days of Grecian art at the dawn of Christianity — the Hellenes alone had dared to raise publicly an altar to the Unknown God. Whatever St. Paul may have had in his profound mind when declaring to the Athenians that this “unknown,” ignorantly worshipped by them, was the true God announced by himself — that Deity was not “Jehovah” (see “The Holy of Holies”), nor was he “The Maker of the world and all things.” For it is not the “God of Israel” but the “Unknown” of the ancient and modern Pantheist that “dwelleth not in temples made with hands” (Acts xviii., 23-4).
Divine thought cannot be defined, or its meaning explained, except by the numberless manifestations of Cosmic Substance in which the former is sensed spiritually by those who can do so. To say this, after having defined it as the Unknown Deity, abstract, impersonal, sexless, which must be placed at the root of every Cosmogony and its subsequent evolution, is equivalent to saying nothing at all. It is like attempting a transcendental equation of conditions for the true values of a set, having in hand for deducing them only a number of unknown quantities. Its place is found in the old primitive Symbolic charts, in which, as shown in the text, it is represented by a boundless darkness, on the ground of which appears the first central point in white — thus symbolising coeval and co-eternal Spirit-Matter making its appearance in the phenomenal world, before its first differentiation. When “the one becomes two,” it may then be referred to as Spirit and matter.
- For instance, when he terms the “First Cause” — the Unknowable — a “power manifesting through phenomena,” and “an infinite eternal Energy” (?) it is clear that he has grasped solely the physical aspect of the mystery of Being — the Energies of Cosmic Substance only. The co-eternal aspect of the One Reality — Cosmic Ideation — (as to its noumenon, it seems non-existent in the mind of the great thinker) is absolutely omitted from consideration. Without doubt, this one-sided mode of dealing with the problem is due largely to the pernicious Western practice of subordinating consciousness, or regarding it as a “by-product” of molecular motion.