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Like Talking to a Brick Wall… | Christianity versus Theosophy

“. . .you are absolutely right as to the Egyptian origin of Christianity, the carnalisation of purely metaphysical dogmas of the Gnostics . . . the archaic Esoteric Wisdom of one nation, the Egyptian, now radiating in so-called Christianity in a thousand broken rays.  Let us, then, work in peace, harmony, and alliance against our common foe — the modern enemy and curse of humanity — Exoteric Christianity.”

H.P. Blavatsky, LETTER TO THE EGYPTOLOGIST GERALD MASSEY, NOV. 2, 1887. PUBLISHED IN THE AGNOSTIC JOURNAL (London, October 3, 1891, p. 214).
Master of Frankfurt; Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

The Theosophists can never be really understood, if one did not understand the history and world of ancient polytheistic and ethnic religions, which functioned as a means of intercultural translation. Does one see ill-intent in the above quoted words, or does one truly understand why these critiques and what we are here fighting for are necessary steps. The distinction between what is false and true religion (counter-religion) is a distinction in Western monotheism constructed from the “Mosaic.” Theosophists dissected and reexamined this true-false distinction, attempting to also demonstrate the very falseness and deception of the distinction, which had occupied and colonized the cultural and mental space of the Europeans for nearly two millennia.

When we are comparing all of these gods to each other the problem all researchers come against, is when trying to apply the same techniques as means of intercultural translation the ancient world used onto the Biblical and Islamic literature; and their theologians say, “no-no!” These traditions severed this form of communication. The new distinctions bred more sub-divisions each claiming to be a prophetic fulfillment, or progressive succession of the tradition or sacred book before it. Accompanying these divisions often required another new authoritative figure, saint, prophet, mahdi, etc. These divisions, in my belief can never be remedied, due to an inherent flaw in the distinctions constructed by monotheistic tradition. To admit this inherent flaw would gnaw at and throttle the edifice of what we have come to know as religion in American and European thought. Two Theosophists in the 1880s, Mohini Chatterji and Laura Holloway explain, that a real unimpeded effort in the dissemination of genuine Occult Philosophy would threaten in the minds of the people, our view of religion, which would appear as child’s play. They explain, that Occult Philosophy only seems, or appears to serve as fanciful complements to scripture, but this is only the “first attack.” People would if made to really understand the implications of the campaign, never see religion itself, nor the history of religion the same; however “the idols” we have built hitherto cannot be destroyed all at once, without properly replacing them.

What could it be replaced by? Firstly, we must consider the history of ideas not taken into account:

“Assuredly no doctrine about a personal God, a gigantic man and no more — (though a number of so-called divine beings were and are still recognized) — was ever taught by the true Magi.”

ZOROASTRIANISM IN THE LIGHT OF OCCULT PHILOSOPHY,, BCW, IV, 513-34.

This above would be sufficient to explain why Theosophical Positions and the established Doctrine of Christ is incompatible, and not for the reasons the Christians believe, such as the charge of so-called “heresy”:

H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, pg. xxxviii-xxxix, xlv.: “It would be worse than useless to publish in these pages even those portions of the esoteric teachings that have now escaped from confinement, unless the genuineness and authenticity – at any rate, the probability – of the existence of such teachings was first established. Such statements as will now be made, have to be shown warranted by various authorities: those of ancient philosophers, classics and even certain learned Church Fathers. (…) The writer will have to give historical and trustworthy names, and to cite well-known authors, ancient and modern, of recognized ability, good judgment, and truthfulness, as also to name some of the famous proficients in the secret arts and science…”

“This accounts for the necessity under which the writer has laboured to be ever explaining the facts given from the hoariest Past by evidence gathered from the historical period. No other means was at hand, at the risk even of being once more charged with a lack of method and system. The public must be made acquainted with the efforts of many World-adepts, of initiated poets, writers, and classics of every age, to preserve in the records of Humanity the Knowledge of the existence, at least, of such a philosophy, if not actually of its tenets. The Initiates of 1888 would indeed remain incomprehensible and ever a seemingly impossible myth, were not like Initiates shown to have lived in every other age of history. This could be done only by naming Chapter and Verse where may be found mention of these great characters…”

The above passage highlighted the importance scholarship still played a role for the case of the Theosophists.

“To connect the Mosaic Religion with the Mysteries is to wrest from the Church its position, and to show that the Old Testament is the result of human effort…”

Samuel F. Dunlap. 1860. Sōd: The Mysteries of Adonai, pg. iii

These are serious charges theologians have not attempted to argue against with real confidence.

“Moreover it is Astrolatry and Sabaean worship, pure and simple, that is to be found in the Pentateuch when it is read exoterically, and Archaic Science and Astronomy to a most wonderful degree, when interpreted — Esoterically.”

Helena P. Blavatsky, Old Wine in New Bottles

“The work of the Old Testament is the first offshoot from the Mysteries; the New Testament is the second. The Old Testament is the Reformed Judaeo-Phoenician or Rabbinical Church—The New Testament is the Essene-Nazarene Glad Tidings. Adon, Adoni, Adonis, called also Bol, was the Deity in both the Old-Phoenician and the Judaeo-Phoenician styles of worship. The Hebrew Religion stepped out from the noblest side of the Dionysian-worship, influenced no doubt, to some extent by Persian and Babylonian ideas, but still retaining the Phoenician impress.”

Samuel F. Dunlap. 1860. Sōd: The Mysteries of Adonai, pg. iii-iv.

“But for how long until the end comes, well may sincere Christians remember the prophetic lamentations of the thrice-great Trismegistus over his own country: Alas, alas, my son, a day will come when the sacred hieroglyphics will become but idols. The world will mistake the emblems of science for gods, and accuse grand Egypt of having worshipped hell-monsters. But those who will calumniate us thus, will themselves worship Death instead of Life, folly in place of wisdom; they will denounce love and fecundity, fill their temples with dead men’s bones, as relics, and waste their youth in solitude and tears. Their virgins will be widows (nuns) before being wives, and consume themselves in grief; because men will have despised and profaned the sacred mysteries of Isis.” (Champollion: “Hermes Trismegistus,” xxvii.).”

Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, Vol. 2., 1877, pg. 360

Speaking from two different orientations

Hence, the strongest arguments of the Theosophists and other scholars for the task had in the past been in the direction to prove the non-uniqueness of the Mosaic tradition, and its relation to the worships of the time, to the Bacchian-Adonis worship, the Egyptian mysteries, to demonstrate the invention of the other created from this distinction as so-called “Paganism” (see Alexander Wilder on Pagans and the Value of the Classical Religions). That religions shared a common ground is not a mere contemporary belief. We only hit a tree, when we try to apply it to the three monotheisms, because of the two different orientations. What makes it difficult for people to understand are the distinctions constructed by monotheism, from which originated a thousand denominations and sub-denominations all proliferating on the basis of the true-false distinction that has led to intolerance, violence, and conflict. It even obscures our understanding of history and beliefs from the ancient world, since people adopted the prejudices and outlook about other people from scripture.

This is why H.P. Blavatsky stated, that there will never be an understanding between East and West, unless, e.g., the conventional Christological dogma yielded to the Occult Philosophy, to the explanations of Gnostic theosophy and Hindu esotericism. In the end, Christianity has only left in its argument a faith in “Jesus Christ” the begotten of God and in his uniqueness, and in whom “alone is salvation,” etc. The Jesus of popular Christianity as presented in the Gospels according to Theosophy is an invented fiction and never existed though proposing the literary character was inspired by a real learned man and reformer; and at any rate, if this political prophet existed, is considered by them in the same class as Sankaracharya or Gautama. We find the root of the Christos doctrine in ancient pre-scientific notions long before the Gnostics. Valentinus even admitted, that his doctrines are of ancient origin.

The comparison for example between the Gnostic Christos and the Upanishadic Atman is no mere speculative comparison or a modern construction. It is intimation. It is a real clue to the teaching.

The pearl (idea) once it had become shaped by the early Church into their man-god worship, became grotesque and childish. It makes Christianity appear as a grave-robber, who is not able to properly identify the artifact that he has stolen . . . then embellishing it a little as he sees fit, afterwards accuses the property-owners of being ignorant of its real value. The value and key to which had been fully elaborated in the Egyptian mysteries, and among the healing Theraputae and Buddhists. Hence, “Great Theosophist: Jesus Christ,” says, that “The study of Jesus’ life, even in the fragmentary way that it has been presented, should give us a much broader view of the position occupied by this great Teacher than the one that is presented by the Church. It shows, for one thing, Jesus was not a small provincial character with no particular education, but on the contrary was a man of profound learning, who had gathered his knowledge in some of the most powerful occult schools of the day. It shows, furthermore, that Jesus was not a narrow bigot whose knowledge was confined to the Hebrew Scriptures, but was a man fully acquainted with the philosophical systems of Egypt, Greece, Chaldea and the Far East. As he is known to have instituted reforms among all the different sects that he contacted, he no longer appears as the “meek and gentle Jesus” of the Sunday-school, but as a man of power and authority.”

“If Christianity is an expression of universal Truth, it will gain, rather than lose, by a recognition of its identity with other expressions of the same truth. If the Bible is a revelation of God, its truth will become more apparent if it is found to agree with other “revelations.” If Jesus was a “Son of God”, his position will become still more secure when he is recognized as a member of a great Fraternity of Perfected Men, all of whom have presented identical doctrines.

The study of the history of these five centuries will disclose an important fact: that there is nothing unique in Christianity. It will show that Jesus was not a unique character, but only one of a long line of Teachers. It will show that the Bible is not a unique book, but only one of the many Scriptures of the world. It will show that there is not a single dogma, ritual nor ceremony in the Christian Church that has not been taken bodily from the so-called “Pagan” religions. Finally it will show that not even the term Christian is unique.

Many persons believe that Christianity has been in existence for only two thousand years. But history shows that the terms Christ and Christians were well known to writers like Herodotus and Aeschylus fully five centuries before the “Christian” era, and were simply borrowed by the later “Christians” from the Temple terminology of the Pagans. The early Church knew this to be a fact, for it is openly admitted by no less an authority than Justin Martyr, one of the foremost Christian writers of the second century.

The terms Chrestos and Christos came from the Mysteries.”

GREAT THEOSOPHISTS: JESUS CHRIST, THEOSOPHY, VOL.. 24, NO. 7, MAY, 1936

Monotheism as a Cross-Cultural Impediment

“The Jews contend that their God, Yahweh or Jehovah, is the Supreme Being, who deigned to communicate with them and them alone in the covenant at Sinai. Christians and Muslims, their spiritual descendants, have taken up the claim—while insisting that their revelations are the final and complete versions. All of these religions, in their dominant forms, insist that any other god either does not exist or is a demon in disguise. Sometimes, however, the charges have been reversed to say that the monotheistic God of the Abrahamic faiths is not what he is claimed to be. One of them was H.P. Blavatsky.” (Richard Smoley, God and the Great Angel, Quest 99. 1, Winter 2011, pp. 24-28.)

An Egyptologist, Jan Assmann argues in his 1997 work, “Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism,” that monotheism has been the single most important impediment to cross-cultural translation, communication and understanding, and, for this reason, the single most influential source of negativity and intolerance. According to Assmann, it is only with monotheism that we encounter the phenomenon of a “counter-religion”, by which he means a religious formation that posits a distinction between true and false religion. Before the emergence of monotheism, the boundaries between polytheistic cults were in principle open. Translatability is readily grounded in a general function attributed to divinities whose work in nature shows a correspondence. “The polytheistic religions overcame the primitive ethnocentrism of tribal religions by distinguishing several deities by name, shape and function,” Assmann writes, “the names are of course different (…) But the functions are strikingly similar” [so that] “the sun god of one religion is easily equated to the sun god of another religion. In contrast, monotheism, because revealed and not grounded in nature, erects a rigid boundary between true religion and everything else. Whereas polytheism (…) rendered different cultures mutually transparent and compatible, the new counter-religion blocked inter-cultural translatability. False gods cannot be translated.” (Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997).

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