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THEOSOPHY WORLD ------------------------------------ October, 2007
An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World
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(Please note that the materials presented in THEOSOPHY WORLD are
the intellectual property of their respective authors and may not
be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)
"Prayer and Aspiration," by G. de Purucker
"The Philosophy of Nature," by Katherine Tingley
"The Peacock-God or 'Devil Redeemed," by H.T. Edge
"The Ancient Doctrine of Man's Essential Divinity," by P.A. Malpas
"The Concept of Deity," by Francis Angold
"Wagner's Gospel," by Evelyn Pyne
> If she had lived, she would have undoubtedly left her protest
> against her friends making a saint of her or a bible out of her
> magnificent though not infallible writings. I helped to compile
> her ISIS UNVEILED, while Mr. Keightley and several others did
> the same by THE SECRET DOCTRINE. Surely we know how far from
> infallible are our portions of the books, to say, nothing about
> -- H.S. Olcott, OLD DIARY LEAVES, IV, page 429.
PRAYER AND ASPIRATION
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 51-54]
When we are asked the question "Do Theosophists pray?" I for one
answer Yes and No; it depends upon what the questioner means by
prayer. If he means getting down on bended knee and addressing a
petition to a god outside of himself, purely imaginary, which the
intellect has enormous labor in attempting to conceive of, and
therefore which is not instinctive in the human heart as a
reality, then we must answer: No, not prayer of that type. That
is an abdication of the god within the individual denying its own
rights and appealing for help outside itself. That is mere
supplication, mere petitioning, a mere begging for benefits. It
is purely exoteric.
True prayer is the rich, deep, spiritual humility of the human
self envisioning the ineffably grand. It is a yearning to become
like the heavenly Father, as Jesus phrased it: yearning to become
a son of the Divine. It is almost a command of the man to
himself to arise and pass on to higher things, upwards towards
the Divine, of which a spark pulsates in every human soul. When
we come into sympathetic relationship, into identical vibrational
frequency, with this inner heartbeat, this pulsing of the Divine,
then our lives are made over; we are completely reformed, we
become no longer mere men begging for favors, and thereby
weakening ourselves. We begin to recognize our identity with the
Divine. Dignity steals over us and enfolds us like a garment.
And what prayer is nobler than this: for the son to yearn to
become like unto its divine parent?
This is the kind of prayer Theosophists love. I, for my own
part, never sleep at night, never arise from my bed in the
morning, until at least once I have raised myself and attained
the experience. And prayer of this kind is not merely an
attitude of mind. It is a way of life, a way of living, clothing
him who falls in love with it and follows it, with dignity,
enriching his mind with understanding, making him sympathetic to
all else that lives.
> He prayeth best who loveth best
> All things both great and small.
Yes, for this is a becoming at one with all around us. It simply
means progressively making our consciousness greater, expanding
every day a little more, to include a little more, to encompass,
to embrace a little more of the world around us. Our
consciousness, after this way of prayer, of living, of thinking,
of feeling, grows ever larger, until finally some day we shall be
in our thoughts and feelings able to encompass the universe.
Then no longer shall we be merely men; we shall be god-men, and
after we die, we shall take our place with the gods, the cosmic
spirits, archangels, angels, powers -- if you like the Christian
What is the difference between the ordinary man and the genius?
The ordinary man is one who lives in the small, circumscribed,
shell of personal consciousness; he cannot go beyond it. He has
no intuition, no inspirations. The man of genius is the man who
has broken this shell. He wanders out in consciousness and
feeling to the surrounding universe. He vibrates in synchronous
frequency with the universe around him, and then come inspiration
and marvelous ideas. He sees, he feels, and men say, "A genius
This then is the prayer that we love. It puts us in touch with
all things. It gives us qualities that have been latent in us
before but now have an opportunity to come out, to evolve, to
unroll, to expand. And by true prayer we mean not only enlarging
the personal consciousness towards becoming at one with the
universal consciousness, but putting this experience into
practice. And this is a pleasure just as exquisite: to practice
what we preach. Otherwise we are but as tinkling cymbals and the
rolling bellow of empty drums -- Vox et praeterea nihil, a voice
and nothing more.
When you PRACTICE prayer, then you reinforce your own powers by
exercise. What you have yourself felt, you begin to practice.
You see the light of understanding flash in the eyes of other
men, a new and secret sympathy springing up between man and man.
It is a new life-force. Thus this kind of prayer is likewise a
way of life. It is likewise science; it is philosophy; it is
religion. That kind of prayer we do believe in, and some of us
practice it constantly.
We are children of the Infinite, of the Divine. Our Deity is
intra-cosmic and yet transcendent, just exactly in the same way
as a man is not only his physical body, and not only his mind or
his spirit. He is body and feelings and emotions and mind and
soul; but above these, he is transcendent; there is something in
him which is greater than all this. That is the spark of the
Divine, the spark by which man is linked with the Invisible, with
Divinity. That spark is the most important, the most powerful
element in us. It is the predominating and governing factor in
our destiny, and if we want to grow grander and greater and
nobler and higher, we have to raise ourselves up towards that
spark, we have to raise ourselves by living what we know. Then
our life will become grand.
Finally, when practice has become relatively perfect, the vision
of genius will steal into the mind. For genius is cosmic wisdom.
With genius, understanding grows and grows, and finally we begin
to realize that we are not merely a man with perhaps a
post-mortem life in heaven or hell, but that our destiny is the
destiny of the infinite all: that we are endless, coeval with
duration, with cosmic time, that the boundless universe is our
home; that we are here on earth merely for a day-night; that this
is just a phase in our evolutionary journey upwards and onwards.
Towards this we aspire, for this we pray: an ever-enlarging
consciousness by aspiration, by study, by living the life we
profess -- an ever enlarging consciousness towards that Ultimate,
a unity with the Divine. We pass through all the kingdoms of
nature, growing from being a man to becoming a superman, from a
superman to a demigod, from demi-godhood to god-hood, to
super-godhood, and so on and up the endless ladders of life.
What a marvel! What a conception!
That divine spirit of which we speak so glibly -- because it does
represent an intuition, an answer to that yearning, that
ineffable hunger within every normal man -- we realize that that
divinity was but our human conception of something still more
wonderful, vaster, that we can never reach an end, that it is
growth and advance and enlarging genius of consciousness forever
and ever and forever.
Do Theosophists pray? In that way, we try to make our daily lives
a prayer in action. We have the Ariadne's thread, we have the
key, and we are trying to use it. And do you know what this key
is? It is our own god-wisdom. And do you know what the lock is?
It is man himself, taking this key. Inserting it into our own
consciousness, turning it however slightly, magic streams forth
from the slightly open door, from the ineffable mysteries hidden
within, drawn from the cosmic font. No man can ever name it. It
is nameless. Names but degrade it. Aspiration towards it always
and forever -- that is prayer. By living it we grow. What hope
and what peace! What increase of understanding comes to the man
who from within himself, from his own consciousness, has got the
end of the Ariadne's thread. This, in its steadily progressing
stages of experience and growth, is what we call Initiation. He
who hath ears to hear, let him hear!
THE PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE
By Katherine Tingley
[From THE GODS AWAIT, pages 155-66.]
It is because we build our hopes, such as they are, not on
knowledge but on faith -- on blind faith, and at that, faith in a
personality and powers outside of ourselves -- that we have
drifted away so pitiably from the inspiration and beautiful
philosophy of Nature; who with her stars and all her hierarchies
of beauty could reveal to us the wonderful doctrine, if we would
turn and heed.
I remember very vividly the morning I met H.P. Blavatsky's
Teacher on the mountainside near Darjeeling. He was dressed
plainly in the Tibetan style, and had an English pocket-knife in
his hand, and was whittling a piece of wood with it. In the
field below, not far away, a young Hindu was plowing with a brace
of oxen; and the whittling, the Teacher told me, was to make a
little plug or peg which, inserted in the yoke, would make it
easier for the beasts.
He drew my attention to the plowman, one of his own chelas, he
said. "Were a battery of guns firing, and the shells falling all
around him," said the Teacher, "he would not stir from his work.
Indeed, he would hardly be aware of the noise or the peril, so
absorbed he is. Those two oxen, with anyone else, are most
unmanageable creatures; with him they are always, as now,
perfectly quiet. He does not control them with his will; his
mind does not concern itself with them at all; -- but you see
there for yourself proof that those dumb things can feel the
atmosphere of purity of thought.
"And when he goes upon a pilgrimage, he will travel more miles in
a day than any of the others, and come in far ahead. You know
how the women here in India lave and anoint the feet of the
pilgrims? Well; his feet, after the longest day's journey, have
never been found hurt or damaged by the road. Why? Because he
never dreads or even thinks of the distance, but goes on his way
happily; and it never occurs to him to be troubled as to whether
or not he may have missed the road or taken the wrong turning or
the like. His mind is so buoyant with the joy of the spiritual
life that it actually lightens his body for him.
"You know, the atoms of the human body become weighed down as a
rule with the burdens of the mind -- the irrelevant ideas, the
preoccupations and anxieties. They go through series of changes
momently, affected by the thoughts of the brain-mind. The lack
of trust, the lack of inspiration that people suffer from, -- the
hopelessness -- bring these atoms down half way to death; but
they can be quickened to a kind of immortality by the fire of the
divine life and attuned into universal harmony. Men anywhere
could get rid of all that burden of unnecessities and carry
themselves like that young Chela does if they had the mental
"If you had to go from here to America," he continued, "you would
not sit still and dream about the place you wanted to go to and
think that was enough. The trouble with some Theosophical
aspirants is that they waste the strength of their lives looking
at the goal ahead rather than at the immediate moments and
seconds of which the Path is composed; and so their better selves
become exhausted. They should let the Beaming Thought pour
itself into each arriving moment and be indifferent to the
morrow. One can find in every instant of time, if one has the
desire, the door into worlds of golden opportunity, the gateway
to a glorious path stretching out into the limitless Eternal.
"To move away from the material plane of effort and thought and
personality, -- that is what the Soul is urging us to do: to move
out into the hidden vast realities of life and understand that
within and above and around us, and in the very atmosphere in
which our thoughts and feelings exist, Universal Life is
pulsating continuously in response to our yearnings and
questionings. When people say that they are seeking happiness,
they mean that they are aiming at that stage in their evolution
where their present problems will be solved. To reach it, one
must withdraw from the allurements of life and all its outward
and discouraging aspects and find himself in the solitude of his
own being, in a silence unbreakable within his own heart and
"The outer life is transient: he must gain the inner power, and
live in the Spirit which is eternal. He cannot step free-souled
into that light without having learned concentration: which many,
these days, advertise they can teach, and lecture on it, forming
cults, holding classes, and taking dollars; but all they can do
at last is to lead their victims away from reality, and farther
and farther away from the True Self within themselves. For
concentration is a power inherent in the Self and above and
beyond the mind: it cannot be found in the objective world, for
it is not there. The Kingdom of Heaven is on earth, and the
gates of it are to be sought and discovered in the heart of man.
"So the aspirant should not think about the cultivation of
powers, but live in the light and strength of his own Higher
Nature. The Divine Law is in every man and woman, and each must
find it there for himself and make it manifest in his life. No
one can pour pure water into foul so that it shall still retain
its purity. Selflessness attains; selfishness defeats, men's
possibilities are in direct proportion to their ability to see
beyond themselves and to feel for others.
"To throw the mind, on moving out of sleep into waking, directly
upon the outward things, is to lose half the life of the day.
One should awake in the morning with a beautiful thought,
reminding himself that the battle for the day is before him, and
that the God Within desires a moment's conference with the mind
before the arduous duties of the morning begin.
"He should find something in the silence and sunlight of the
first hours, which should link itself with his own Higher Nature
and bring forth the blossom and the fruit; he should free himself
in the morning in the sweetness of the sunlight; beginning the
day as gently as though he were waking a little child from its
slumbers; bringing forward the truer and nobler side of himself,
I do not mean, working it out in words and language, but in
thought approaching the richness and fullness of the Spirit, and
letting the God Within blossom into each moment as it rises.
Then, reaching out for the most difficult duty that one KNOWS TO
BE ONE'S DUTY, and overcoming it, he will learn the secret of
being on guard; and in a little while have thrown away unawares
all the burdens that obstructed him.
"Many have been working hard and conscientiously to get rid of
these burdens: there is no need to spend a moment on them. It is
but to put aside the doubts and misgivings; to enter the chambers
of the Soul; to bask in the sunlight and strength that are
"The first three hours of the day," the Master continued, "are
the great opportunity. He who does not rise with the sun loses
an immense amount of power. He who rises before the sun, and by
daybreak has finished with the duties of this plane and what may
be necessary for the care of the body, and is ready to step out
with the sunrise and work with the sun, -- he has the cooperation
of a force he little knows of -- the vibrant blue light behind
"The trouble is with many of our aspirants that too often they
begin with the letter and go backwards in search of the spirit.
But let them hold to these things in the silence, and create a
noble future in their hearts: going alone in the morning into the
silence of Nature; freeing themselves there from their old trying
memories and from all anticipations of trouble, let them make
themselves at one with that Light in Nature. And it will not
hurt them to look at the stars with wonder occasionally; or to
listen with delight to the music of the birds; or to spend whole
days in silence, brooding on these sacred things whilst
performing all the duties that come to them to do."
I think he placed a talisman in our hands and gave us the real
secret of life.
When the conquest of self is made, the whole aspect of the
universe changes; we move with divine affection close to the
Mighty Mother. We realize that all these years the silence and
the stars in heaven have been pleading with us, and that for us
the trees have put forth their leaves and all the flowers their
blossoms, and that every bird that sang, sang for us, and that
for our sake all beauty has been.
I recall how Carlyle after years of doubt came to a place in his
life where the whole world seemed dead to him, and he could find
no answer to his questions in books or in his Calvinistic
religion; and then one morning, as hungering after truth he
looked out over the hilltops, it came to him; and in the glory of
the morning-light above the mountains he realized the power and
grandeur within Nature, whose secret beauty was reflected into
his soul; and he found the Divinity within him, and the truth and
message he afterwards wrote so brilliantly for the world: a
message of perfect trust in the divineness of the Universe and
And this revelation is awaiting us all: for the Infinite is in
everything and all things are expressions of the Spirit. The
invisible forces lying behind external Nature are identical with
the invisible forces working through ourselves; and in both are
many hidden things we have not discovered and do not understand.
The Spirit that shines through the beauty of dawns and sunsets
seeks equally to express its grandeur and dignity through our
human lives; the spiritual will that urges us towards noble and
righteous living is a part of the same great essence that
breathes through all Nature, expressing itself in the hue and
perfume of the flowers, in the whisper or crying of the wind, in
all the music of the wild waters and the rolling billows of the
In the search for freedom, in the quest for sublime perfection,
there is eternal alliance between Man and Nature; and the waves
and winds can shout for us the battle-cry or sing for us the song
of our peace, or whisper to us their dreams of sunlit ages to be.
Under the blue of heaven in the free air we can always find that
which is akin and most intimate to ourselves, and a friendliness
in every green and growing thing, and the New Life, which is the
God-essence, everywhere; and it is in the plan of evolution that
we should enjoy this noble silent companionship, and that all
Nature should constantly appeal to and invoke that which is
impersonal, and therefore godlike, in ourselves.
Go into the secret chambers of your heart. Go out under the
magnificence of the constellations. Arise to the viewpoint of
the godhead you shall find in both. Then the stars themselves
will bring forth new manifestations of wonder for you, and you
shall know certainly that where life is. In that place is the
Divine. In the glory of the sky and the sweet silence of the
air, the wonder of music, the richness and vitality of color are
but manifestations and permutations of Impersonal Deity.
You cannot think of a beautiful line of poetry without awakening
in some degree that divine Inner Glory within yourself. You can
read such a line again and again until after a while you have
lost sight of your surroundings and are out in an ideal world all
beauty and sublimity. The trouble with us is that we never
remain there long enough to find out who we are. We do not catch
the undertones of the silence there. We are in too much hurry to
Seek the upward and ennobling path, and you are no longer alone.
Your own Divinity is on your side with you, and what you can
encompass of what Universal Nature affords is with you to support
you towards final victory.
For music you shall have hearing of the symphony of life, and the
stars in their courses shall sing to you. The trees shall chant
to you the hymn of their beautiful being, and all Nature shall
greet you with the salutation of respect, because of the noble
effort you are making.
The glory of Death shall be made known to you; and you shall know
the path you must travel though you may not foresee the goal: for
the Soul shall implant in your mind knowledge of its high
But he who chooses the downward path and uses his energies on
behalf of the evil in him has at his elbow likewise the evil of
THE PEACOCK-GOD OR "DEVIL REDEEMED"
By H.T. Edge
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, February 1930, pages 168-73.]
In 1888 H.P. Blavatsky founded a Theosophical magazine and gave
it the unexpected title of LUCIFER. In that name was expressed
by a single word one of the most important, perhaps the most
important, of Theosophical teachings; and her title was a
As she explains in an article about this name (as also in many
other parts of her writings), the theological idea of the Devil
or Satan has resulted from confounding together two separate and
distinct conceptions, with results disastrous both to the
doctrine and to the conduct based thereon. Venus-Lucifer, the
Light-Bringer or Redeemer, has been confused with that Devil who
is but the personification of our evil desires; and the
consequence has been that people, under pretense of warning them
against their evil desires, have been taught to fear their
The immediate occasion for these remarks and for those which
follow is the appearance in an illustrated weekly of a picture of
a steel image of the Yezidi 'peacock-god,' under which is
> The Yezidis, a race scattered over Kurdistan, Armenia, and the
> Caucasus, worship the redeemed Devil in the semblance of a
> peacock. . . . They believe he has regained his place in
> heaven as the highest of the Archangels.
The same subject is mentioned in THE SECRET DOCTRINE in a
quotation from the author of WAR IN HEAVEN, which runs as
> Why do the Yezidis, the 'Devil-Worshipers,' worship the
> 'Muluk-Taoos' -- the 'Lord Peacock' -- the emblem of pride and of
> hundred-eyed intelligence (and of Initiation also), which was
> expelled from heaven with Satan, according to an old Oriental
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 514 fn
In India the war-god Karrtikeya is sometimes represented riding
on a peacock -- "the bird of Wisdom and Occult Knowledge, and the
Hindu Phoenix" (THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 619).
The following verses illustrate a similar idea:
> God said: "I will create a world in the air."
> Satan heard and answered: "I will be there!"
> God said: "I will make of man a creature supreme!"
> Satan answered: "I will destroy Thy splendid dream!"
> God said: "I will ordain That thou shalt no longer be!"
> Satan answered: "Thou canst not, Lord, for I am a part of Thee!"
> - MARIE CORELLI
Edward Carpenter has a poem in which man wrestles with Satan and
is thrown again and again, until at last the man grows so strong
by practice that he throws Satan, who thereupon embraces him,
calls him his beloved son, and says that he was waiting for this
glad day. In FAUST, though Faust himself and Marguerite are the
technical hero and heroine, there is another character who
commands our admiration and enthusiasm, as there is in PARADISE
LOST, whose hero is surely not poor Adam but the magnificent
Satan. Milton was a theologian, but he was first and foremost a
Merezhkovsky has written a series of novels "animated by a single
master idea, the Pagan-Christian dualism of our human nature."
Herbert Trench, who translates his novels, says:
> What specially interests Merezhkovsky in the vast spectacle of
> human affairs is the everlasting contrast between the idea of a
> God-Man and the idea of a Man-God; that is to say, between the
> conception of a God incarnate for a while (as in Christ) and the
> conception of Man himself as God -- gradually evolving higher
> types of splendid and ruling character which draw after them the
> The novelist's own doctrine seems to be that both the Pagan and
> Christian elements in our nature, although distinct, are equally
> legitimate and sacred . . . He conceives that European
> civilization has been born of the tremendous conflict between
> these two main ideas.
In one of these novels a Sage says: "Ah! If thou canst make one
the truth of the Titan and the truth of the Galilean, thou wilt
be greater than any that have been born of women!"
Has not the Russian romancer here touched the truth? He loves
Paganism but is compelled to depict its failure; he despises the
so-called Christianity of those times, yet is obliged to admit
the truth of the Christ ideal. Neither late Paganism nor early
Christianity succeeded, because each was only a half. That is
the point. He who can blend them (blend the essential principle
in each) into one -- he is a master of Wisdom.
The quotation of these authors does not of course commit us to
any other views they may happen to hold, which may be wise or
unwise, but are in either case irrelevant.
In Job, Satan appears among the Sons of God and is assigned the
duty of developing Job, which he successfully accomplishes. In
Isaiah, Lucifer (i.e., 'Light-Bringer') is called "Son of the
Here is the Theosophical teaching -- a very old one revived. The
Verbum, the Word proceeding from `God,' though One in its essence
becomes dual as soon as it enters into Man and that in Man it has
a dual manifestation.
> "The Logos is passive Wisdom in Heaven, and Conscious,
> Self-Active Wisdom on Earth," we are taught.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 231
> The Logos -- who is WISDOM, but who, as the opponent of
> ignorance, is Satan or Lucifer at the same time. This remark
> refers to divine Wisdom falling like lightning on, and quickening
> the intellects of those who fight the devils of ignorance and
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 230
> LUCIFER is divine and terrestrial light, the `Holy Ghost,' and
> 'Satan' at one and the same time . . . The FALL was the RESULT
> OF MAN'S KNOWLEDGE, for his "eyes were opened." Indeed, he was
> taught Wisdom and the hidden knowledge by the 'Fallen Angel,' for
> the latter had become from that day his Manas, Mind and
> Self-consciousness. In each of us that golden thread of
> continuous life . . . IS from the beginning of our appearance
> on this earth . . .
> And now it stands proven that Satan, or the Red FIERY Dragon, the
> 'Lord of Phosphorus' (brimstone was a theological improvement),
> and LUCIFER, or 'Light-Bearer,' is in us: it is our MIND -- our
> tempter and Redeemer, our intelligent liberator and Savior from
> pure animalism. Without this principle -- the emanation of the
> very essence of the pure divine principle Mahat (Intelligence),
> which radiates direct from the Divine Mind -- we would surely be
> no better than animals . . .
> Thus, esoteric philosophy shows that man is truly the manifested
> deity in both its aspects -- good and evil, but theology cannot
> admit this philosophical truth.
> -- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 513, et seq.
Every student of Theosophy knows that one of its characteristic
teachings is that God is IN Man, and Man hence is a potential
God; and that in this, Theosophy merely repeats the ancient tenet
that 'Christ' is the perfected Man, made God by the full
manifestation of his Divine potentialities. But the theologians,
at some time or another, removed this God from out of Man,
converting Man into a MISERABLE SINNER. This was the great sin
of the early Church, by which the true Christianity was converted
into a superstition that wrought so much harm.
Now, having made God into an external deity, separate from Man,
they had to do the same for Satan. Satan, as shown above, stood
for the MIND in Man, that Divine Gift which first 'tempts' him
and ends by redeeming him. But now Satan was also made into an
external deity or demon; as the God in Man had been made into a
great extra-cosmic deity, so Satan was made his adversary. A
similar process takes place in all religions when the truth is
lost sight of and other things are allowed to creep in. Thus is
born in the heart of Man that FEAR of his own God-given faculties
that leads him to renounce (yea, even in the name of Christ) all
intellect and art, to burn books and destroy temples, and even to
refrain from washing and caring for the body.
Theology, in fact, has TWO Gods, Jehovah and Satan, which are
worshiped alternately, one on the seventh day, the other on the
six remaining days. In its double vision, men become Pagans and
Nazarenes, Puritans and Cavaliers, men of religion and men of
culture. Man has been made afraid of his own faculties, so that
the very animals shame him and he continually falls a victim to
those faculties, which he has profaned and turned into vices. He
oscillates between austerity and licentiousness; he is a
hypocrite. The old 'Pagan Joy,' 'Pagan Serenity,' 'Pagan
Confidence,' what has become of them? Must we forever associate
them with their own profanations? Can we never have the Pagan Joy
and Pagan Purity and Serenity without the license of the last
Pagan corruption? (But was that corruption worse than our own
We have not been successful in our attempt to sunder our Divine
Self into two halves: Satan is still 'a part of God.' We KNOW
that our Mind and our aspirations are God-given and beneficent;
we take our theology on sufferance.
The problem of Good and Evil is not such a mystery after all,
provided we are content to look at the practical side of it.
Evil, for Man, is that which tends to keep him from progressing
in Wisdom and Weal -- tends to destroy him -- and Good is that
which tends the other way. Evil is ignorance, Good is knowledge;
Evil is cowardice, Good is courage. And have we not often shown
ourselves cowards in the presence of our God-given faculties?
Have we not cowered before them and asked in mercy to be let off,
protected from them? Are there not people who, having failed in
mastering their lower nature, have recoiled from the struggle and
taken refuge in an attitude of noncombatant negative 'goodness?'
Theology talks about the SACRIFICE of Deity in his Son. What was
that sacrifice? Was it not that the Son, out of his love,
descended into mortal form, imprisoned himself in the clay, in
voluntary exile from the light, that through long ages of
pilgrimage he might redeem mankind and lead his terrestrial
brother up to walk with him on high? 0 Lucifer, Light-Bringer,
how art thou fallen from heaven! How has Man used his Divine
Guest? What does he do with the beautiful pure Light within him?
Theology speaks of a Savior. The Savior is our God-given
Intelligence -- `Satan!' Whatever else can save Man? What else
has ever saved him? Always he has been driven back, as
superstition failed, upon his own essential Divinity in its twin
manifestation of Wisdom and Divine Compassion. They read history
right who discern that the whole purpose of the Divine Powers is
to make Man bestir himself and to throw him back upon his own
resources. But Man shrinks back and declines the task, until
finally circumstances literally force him into the right
The Divine Power within us -- in other words, our true Self -- is
urging us to take the unruly steed of our lower nature into our
own strong hands and master him ourselves. The two poles of
slavery and license are equally opposed to real liberty, which
means freedom to obey the laws of Nature -- of HIGHER Nature.
Man is his own Savior; not by his perverse and blundering
self-will, but by the Divine Intelligence, which he has power to
evoke. Yet this Divine aid comes not in answer to appeals for
external aid; it comes through Man's own resolve to exercise it.
"Heaven helps those who help themselves," says an old saying; and
we remember the fable of the wagoner who fell on his knees in the
road and prayed to Hercules to lift his wheel out of the rut, and
how Hercules bade him put his own shoulder to the wheel.
The above remarks will not be taken as justifying the spirit of
mental anarchism now so prominent in the ephemeral pages of
print. For these proclaimers of 'new' doctrines of rebellion
against established usages claim license for their personal
proclivities; a course which, if adopted, would not only bring
them into the greater slavery to passion, but would prove
incompatible with the harmony of society. True freedom makes no
such loud trumpeting and has no complaint to air. It is the weak
man who demands recognition for himself, not the strong man.
Before we demand liberty to exercise what we think to be the law
of our nature, let us be sure that this incentive deserves so
high a name; for it may turn out to be only passion in a fair
disguise. And let us remember that true Love finds its
satisfaction in sacrifice. As long as our affections are
ATTRACTED, we are slaves to them, no matter how high-sounding a
name we may give to the sentiment. But by virtue of our higher
nature we possess the power to DIRECT our affections.
The recognized laws of society, though they may bear hard on a
few individual cases, are nevertheless wise and beneficent in
their general working; for they guard us against the havoc that
might be wrought by giving sanction to such headlong things as
Another delusion that might be generated by a careless reading of
these remarks is the old fallacy that passion can ever be
overcome by indulging it. It is a fire, and grows by what it
feeds upon. We have to take our thoughts away from the old
desires and fix them on higher ideals, leaving the accumulated
force to run down, and exercising patience. Man learns by his
falls; but he must not fall down on purpose.
For the confusion over the meaning of the words 'Satan' and
'Lucifer,' Theosophy is not responsible.
Twisted indeed must be the mind that could read into our remarks
any semblance of an invitation to yield to passion, when the
whole burden of those remarks is an exhortation to overcome
The original meaning of the name 'Satan,' as shown in one of the
quotations from THE SECRET DOCTRINE, is the opponent of
ignorance, who frees Man from thraldom to his passions; but this
is not the same as the Satan who typifies our evil desires.
Again it must be repeated -- the confusion was not made by
Theosophy. We can only overcome our desires by the exercise of
our Will and Intelligence, for by such exercise we do indeed
invoke the Divine. What possibilities are in store for Man, when
once he can liberate his faculties from thraldom to the senses!
THE ANCIENT DOCTRINE OF MAN'S ESSENTIAL DIVINITY
By P.A. Malpas
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, March 1930, pages 252-58.]
Scattered about in the ancient literature of all real religions
we find the glorious doctrine of man's essential Divinity either
delicately hinted at or plainly declared. That it was not more
vulgarized was due to the fact that the knowledge and teaching
have been profaned and degraded where the knowledge has not been
preceded by mental, moral, and spiritual discipline -- the Christ
has so very, very often found a cross instead of a throne
prepared for it.
Yet there are testimonies enough of the existence of this
Justin Martyr flourished about the middle of the second century
A.D. He may be considered as almost the first of the great
patristic writers. Therefore of course, he is sure to say some
things that were afterwards pruned away as Christianity
solidified and materialized into formalism. And he has been
blamed for so doing by 'orthodox' writers of our own day. But
that does not in the least affect the fact that he was closer to
the fountainhead and more worthy of attention than those who
followed. This is what he says:
> One article of our faith, then, is that Christ is the first
> begotten of God, and we have already proved him to be the very
> Logos [universal reason] of which all mankind are partakers; and
> therefore those who live according to the Logos are Christians,
> notwithstanding that they may pass with you for Atheists. Such
> among the Greeks were Socrates, Heraklitos, and the like: among
> the barbarians were Abraham, Elias, and many others. Those who
> have made the Logos or Reason the rule of their action are
> Christians and men without fear.
This article of the Christian faith has long been forgotten, but
was obviously given its due importance in the Christian church
less than a hundred years after the death of Paul. Not all the
covert and open remarks of modern casuists can upset it though it
is very easy to allude to Justin Martyr as a man whose
Christianity was not sound, or alternatively to say that any
inconvenient thing he said is of "doubtful authenticity."
Not that that matters in the least, for the doctrine was no more
Christian in the sectarian sense than it was Pagan. It was
In the eighty-second Psalm the same doctrine is stated, "I have
said, Ye are Gods; and all of you are children of the Most High,"
which is plain enough; but a little curious in the light of the
first verse of the same ancient hymn: "God standeth in the
congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods."
The inference is obvious that since the God in question is only
one among the many gods of the Jewish pantheon, using various
devices to put himself at their head, and also that men are
divine, the writer is clearly of opinion that men have at least
the potentiality of equality with the God of the psalms. Even
the latter, through Moses, is very careful to avoid bringing too
much trouble on himself when, referring to the others, he says
categorically, "Thou shalt not revile the gods," as the
authorized version has it. I have not a Hebrew Bible at hand,
but in translation 'gods' usually means alhim or elohim, and God
is the Israelite Ieve or Yahveh, while the 'Most High' is the far
In John, x, 34, this passage is utilized by the Galilean Reformer
to refute the charge of blasphemy in saying that he was the Son
of God. As plainly as words can put it, he says that acting as
such, he is such, and implies that as soon as other men act in
conformity with their divine nature they will be so, too. For
naturally, when the god within is overlaid with sin and
selfishness and materiality, he is no longer more than a
paralyzed god, or at least a crucified one, hardly recognizable.
Elsewhere it is declared that man is the TEMPLE OF THE LIVING
GOD, and "the Spirit of God dwelleth in you." It is all the same
doctrine. Only the temple is too often more like a cenotaph,
without even a corpse inside it. But that does not affect the
doctrine that the normal man is divine, whatever his outer
covering may be, even though the abnormal man can gravitate
towards the very opposite of divinity.
After all, however, the Jewish literature is not all antiquity,
and it is very often more distorted and veiled than most, to say
nothing of corruptions that have crept in.
Yet there were undoubtedly among the Jews a certain number who
had so far transcended their national limitations as to have made
great progress along the path of universal religion. One such
was Josephus, the general and historian. He was evidently a more
remarkable man than he chose to show; but he gives unmistakable
As a youth Josephus followed the ascetic courses of more than one
mystic sect with the greatest enthusiasm. He was of the highest
priestly family-caste and seems to have ended by being as much a
Pharisee as anything else, though with greater experience than
most Pharisees. He had by his ascetic training acquired the gift
of prediction; he used it in the case of Vespasian and thereby
obtained favor with the Roman general. Such things were
sometimes possible with the ancient Orientals, though hardly
suitable to Occidental folk. However, what matters is that he
evidently knew things which were not for the multitude and yet
were well known to the initiated of various mystic and orthodox
In an outburst of candor at a very critical moment, he says:
> The bodies of all men are indeed mortal, and are created out of
> corruptible matter, but the soul is ever immortal, and is A
> PORTION OF THE DIVINITY THAT INHABITS OUR BODIES.
> -- WARS OF THE JEWS, chap. viii
So much for the doctrine of a Pharisee.
In his TIMAEUS, Plato writes of such deep and such heavily-veiled
mysteries, that it is said to be impossible for any but an
initiate into those mysteries to fathom them, and most statements
therein have to be taken with extreme caution as to their
dead-letter. But the statements as to the Divinity of man seem
plain beyond question. Scattered here and there, they are
readily recognizable. However, it is in the closing lines of the
CRITIAS, that wonderful story of Atlantis, that we have a quite
unmistakable reference to the doctrine.
Describing the rise and glory of the golden age of Atlantis,
Plato arrives at a point where the men of that mighty
civilization fell, owing to their gravitation towards the lower
side of their dual human nature, ever more towards the animal
than to the divine. Man is not fully divine unless he chooses to
sublime the animal part of his nature in the alembic of life.
The REAL man is divine, but in the body he only too often
identifies himself with his false material image.
Tracing the transference of power from Atlantis to the East as a
result of karma, i.e., causes set in motion by the Atlanteans
themselves, and not from any arbitrary decision of some
anthropomorphic deity, Plato says:
> For many generations, as long as the NATURAL POWER OF THE GOD
> SUFFICED THEM, they remained obedient to the laws and kindly
> affected towards THE DIVINE NATURE TO WHICH THEY WERE ALLIED: for
> they possessed true and altogether lofty ideas, and practiced
> mildness united with wisdom, in reference to the casual
> occurrences of life and towards each other.
> Hence, looking above everything except virtue, they considered
> things present as of small importance, and contentedly bore, as a
> burden, the mass of gold and other property; nor were they
> deceived by the intoxication of luxury, or rendered intemperate
> through wealth: but on the other hand, being sober, they acutely
> perceived that all these things are increased through common
> friendship mingled with virtue, and that by too anxiously
> pursuing and honoring them, these goods themselves are corrupted,
> and with them (friendship) itself likewise perishes.
> To such a mode of reasoning then, and the abiding of such a
> nature, was it owing that they made all the progress that we
> before described. But when the divine portion within them became
> extinct through much and frequent admixture of the mortal nature,
> and the manners of men began to hold sway, then, through
> inability to bear present events, they began to exhibit
> unbecoming conduct and to the intelligent beholder appeared base,
> destroying the fairest among their most valuable possessions, --
> though all the while held by those who were unable to see a true
> life of happiness based on truth, to be in the highest degree
> worthy and blessed, though filled with avarice and unjust power.
> Zeus, however, the god of gods, WHO RULES ACCORDING TO THE LAWS,
> and is able to see into such things, perceiving an honorable race
> in a condition of wretchedness, and wishing to inflict punishment
> on them, that they might become more diligent in the practice of
> temperance, collected all the gods into their own most ancient
> habitation, which indeed, being situated in the center of the
> whole world, beholds all things that have had a share in
> generation: and having assembled them, he said,
The CRITIAS here abruptly ends.
Allowing for a few somewhat transparent veils, we have here a
plain record that one of the greatest of the Initiates into the
Greek Mysteries was well acquainted with the Divinity of Man.
The gods and Zeus are, of course, figurative, not really
personalities. "Zeus, the god of gods who rules according to the
laws," is simply that ruling quality in mankind that generates
and suffers karma, the perfect law of action and reaction -- even
he is a god within all men.
It is curious to note how the orthodox Christian translators of
Plato make him speak of God as if he were referring to the
nebulous and composite God of the Christians of our own day.
Probably few Europeans reading Plato in translations have failed
to picture him as influenced by THEIR idea of 'God.' Yet it is
doubtful that Plato ever contemplated any exterior 'God' outside
of man individually or of man in the aggregate.
The same thing occurs with the famous Latin sentence quoted a
million times in our own century, "Quem deus vult perdere, prius
dementat," as "Whom God would destroy, he first makes mad," or
"Whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad." Long custom
has sanctioned these translations, and yet is the meaning not
plain that it should be, "Whom the god would destroy, he first
makes mad?" This sounds very much like the proposition that the
divine part of man deserts one who has brought destruction on
himself and what is left is either mad or its equivalent, that
is, devoid of all spirituality, as some even exceptionally
intellectual men are.
Consider again the famous scripture of the early Gnostics, the
Gospel of Valentine, the PISTIS SOPHIA, so much revered by the
best Christians of the first centuries of the Common Era as
containing the deeper teachings of the one they knew as Jesus.
Here is a famous extract from Schwartze's Latin and Greek
translation of 1851, page 156:
> When therefore Andrew had said these things, the spirit of the
> Savior was moved in him, and crying out, he said: "How long shall
> I bear with you, how long shall I tolerate you -- do you not yet
> understand [with the higher faculties] and are you still
> For do you not know and do you not understand that YOU ARE ALL
> ANGELS, AND ARCHANGELS, AND ALL GODS AND LORDS AND ARCHONS OR
> RULERS, and all the great invisible powers, and all those
> belonging to the Middle Space, and belonging to all the Regions
> of those of the Right Hand, and all the great emanations of
> Light, and all their glory; that you are all from yourselves and
> in yourselves mutually from one mass and one HYLE or matter, and
> one being?
> And that you are all from one mixed compound, and by the decree
> of the First Mystery the mixed compound is forced by necessity
> until all the great ones of the emanations of Light and all their
> glory have purged the mixture?
> And they have purged them not of their own initiative but of
> necessity, according to the economy of the One and the Same
> Ineffable. And they have by no means gone through sufferings,
> and they have by no means suffered changes in the Regions, nor
> have they at all laid themselves bare, nor poured themselves into
> different bodies and from one into another, nor have they been in
> any tribulation; therefore you are the worst dregs of the
> Treasure, and you are the dregs of these regions that belong to
> the Right Hand, and you are the dregs of the regions that belong
> to the Middle Space, and you are the dregs of the invisible ones
> and of all the archons or rulers -- you are the dregs of all
> these; and you are in great sufferings and tribulations in being
> poured into various bodies in the cosmos, and after all these
> sufferings you have struggled of yourselves, and you have fought,
> having renounced the whole world and all the matter that is in
> it, and you have not drawn back your hands from the contest until
> you found all the mysteries of the Kingdom of Light, which,
> purging you, restored you to refined light of the highest purity,
> and have made you pure light.
> For this cause therefore I have told you before. Seek that you
> may find. I have said unto you therefore. You shall seek the
> Mysteries of the Light which shall purify the body of HYLE or
> matter and make it into refined Light, extremely pure.
> Amen, I say unto you concerning the human race -- because it is
> of matter, I have torn myself asunder and have brought all the
> mysteries to these lights that I may purge them, because they are
> the dregs of all matter of their matter; or else no soul of the
> whole race of men would have been saved, nor would they have been
> able to inherit the Kingdom of Light if I had not brought the
> purifying mysteries to them. For the emanations of Light have no
> need of the Mysteries, because they are pure; but the human race
> has need of them, because they are all dregs of matter. For this
> reason I once said to you: 'They that are whole have no need of
> the physician, but they that are sick,' that is, those who are of
> the Light have no need of the mysteries, because they are pure
> lights . . . Therefore announce to the whole race of men:
> 'Cease not to seek by day and night until you have found the
> purifying Mysteries.'
The above fragment has special interest as not only declaring the
inherent Divinity of man, but the way back to its full expression
through the Mysteries of Antiquity. Also, for those interested
in the New Testament, there is food for thought in the
demonstration that even the simplest sentences of the true
Gnostic threads in the Gospels have a meaning quite other than
the simple dead-letter of the text; which does not mean, however,
that anyone is at liberty to put any meaning he likes to any text
and say it is the genuine meaning. Quite the contrary: without
the Gnostic key, it may be taken for granted that every
interpretation is wrong.
Matthew, of course, was a Gnostic, and only the accident of
having to leave his school for a time caused him to write the
ritual, as even Eusebius says. The step was fatal, for once
written, the ritual began to be hardened into a dogma and
alternatively corrupted to meet varying views until at last the
accepted Gospels differed so widely from the original Hebrew
"Matthew" that they were declared by the greatest expert of the
Roman Church (Jerome) to be directly opposed to it.
Apollonius of Tyana mentions the doctrine, or rather the life of
him by Philostratus does so in his name. His Teacher, the great
Indian Sage Iarchas, whom he had met in the Himalayan or
Cashmirian retreat of the Sages, was conversing with him.
Apollonius had asked the question "what the Sages thought of
larchas replied, "Gods."
"And why Gods?" said Apollonius.
"Because we ARE GOOD MEN," was the answer, which Apollonius
considered so replete with wisdom that he afterwards used it in
his apology to Domitian.
This is, plainly enough, the doctrine of man's Divinity expressed
so gently as to avoid forcing it on the attention of those not
prepared to enter into its meaning more deeply than the mere
It would be easy to find many another ancient record of this
universal doctrine, though often enough translators who know
languages but do not know philosophies have rendered the plainest
passages in the crudest fashion.
For an instance see Genesis, vi, 3, where nobody seems to have
much idea even now as to what is meant. For hundreds of years we
have had the authorized version of the Most High and Mighty
Prince, James, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, etc.,
telling us that "My spirit shall not always strive with man." The
Vulgate says it means "My spirit shall not always remain in man."
Others say it means "My spirit shall not always be debased in
man." (The word "man" in the original is simply "Adam.")
As in a thousand other cases, I suppose the worthy pundits of
King James of happy memory made the words mean what they thought
they ought to mean rather than what they do mean. It was not in
their philosophy to realize and repeat that there is a Divinity
within man all the time unless it has been crowded out. But
there is the doctrine, plainly enough.
Now philosophy is not of much use unless applied. Supposing that
this mislaid doctrine were true. Supposing again that some of us
knew it and could realize the divine side of our nature in every
detail of life until we were dominated by it alone, and
identified ourselves with it. Would not the world be changed in
a generation into a real heaven if we could educate children from
that high standpoint, giving no encouragement to all the little
lower tendencies that are usually allowed to run wild or are
positively fostered -- usually in the name of the child's
happiness -- until it becomes a nuisance to all? The cruel
kindness of yielding to the lower, non-divine tendencies would
disappear and with it the fearful responsibility of, someday,
somehow, having to pay for it to the last item.
Well, that is the secret of Raja Yoga. Certainly in these days
it cannot fully flower in a year or two, but when teachers are
striving along that line in their own lives and know what the
goal is, the effect on the life of a child in their care is
Is not the true knowledge of oneself knowledge of the divine?
"Know Thy Self!" said the Teacher of old. He was very wise.
THE CONCEPT OF DEITY
By Francis Angold
[From THE ARYAN PATH, June 1963, pages 226-30.]
Theology, the queen of sciences, is an attempt on the part of man
to interpret what he believes to be. An expanding comprehension
of the world involved, inevitably, not only an increasing
interest in a common source, but an ever extending effort to
expound the growing comprehension. To man living in a limited
world, or at least a restricted knowledge of his world, the
source of his being need appear as only slightly greater than
himself. Primitive man finds sufficient comfort in the
recognition of a Being, which, while apparently of but small
significance to us with greater knowledge of the world, is to him
of paramount importance.
We are apt to think of ourselves as being different from the
primitive, whereas, in actual fact, we merely represent the
development achieved over the centuries. It follows in
consequence of the diversity of outlook that the concept of Deity
is largely one of human design. It must be understood that the
essential human aspect of the matter in no way affects the
validity of that which IS. If I am called upon to describe a
certain person, I may, after having made the best use of my
descriptive faculties, fail to offer a reliable picture of the
person concerned. It is equally possible for me to deliberately
distort the depiction of the person I am called upon to describe.
Under such conditions, the concept formed will either be
incomplete or entirely false. Whatever the nature of the
concept, the person is in no way affected; it is merely the
interpretation that fails. Man, whatever his state of
development may be, remains finite and will accordingly
experience difficulty in seeking to interpret the Infinite.
The mark of progress is the application of labels. Everything
must be classified and neatly pigeonholed for future reference.
Progressive man having departmentalized his existence, the Deity
he chooses recognize is of necessity but the sum of his efforts:
that which is easily explained, and still more conveniently
Modern times, or more accurately the times in which we are
living, have made us familiar with all manner of aids to
successful living. We may by these methods acquire the art of
salesmanship, the ability of right thinking, the delights of
effective speaking, and a host of other positive attainments, all
of which in a word are designed to make the recipient more
powerful. Power is a dangerous quality, because in the words of
Hazlitt, whereas "The love of liberty is the love of others; the
love of power is the love of ourselves."' (POLITICAL ESSAYS, "On
the Connection between Toad Eaters and Tyrants.")
Power is a corrupting influence in society; it breeds animosity
and generates aggressors. The fact that two world wars have been
fought in the first half of the century is a fair measure of
civilized man's achievement; his thirst for power. Primitive man
was content to leave power in the hands of his Deity, and so
satisfied was he with the result that for long missionaries and
others making contact with him failed to appreciate his
recognition of Deity and in consequence dubbed him irreligious.
Progressive man in his search for conquest, by adding to his own
status, has tended to diminish the status of the Deity he chooses
to worship. Man in attempting to dominate his fellows has
usurped the place of God.
The Church, custodian of all that is spiritual, following the
trend of the times, has obediently sought to depict God, the
father of all men, not as the Essence of Love, but as the
personification of power.
The Reformation, so-called, was but an attempt on the part of a
disgruntled section to effect a transference of power. In
England an egotistical monarch, taking advantage of a spiritual
upheaval, sought to establish a political monopoly. Like all
politicians since his time, he denied to his right hand the
knowledge of what he sought to accomplish by means of his left
hand. Like his successors in the political field, he was
prepared, in order to obtain more power, to deny the faith,
championship of which had earned for him the title "Defender of
The Protestant cause, vainly believing that strength is
synonymous with numbers, has been indefatigable in its efforts to
extend its sway. Faced with the even greater threat of
Communism, the former enemies of the Church make rather
ridiculous overtures to the Papacy. State-appointed archbishops,
moderators, and egotistical prime ministers crave audience of His
Holiness, all in the vain hope that they may present a united
front to what they believe to be a common foe. The God enthroned
by the Church is a God of power no less, and union lies along one
path only, that of submission to the Papal Throne.
The religion which under its many and diverse guises passes for
Christianity is no more than church-ianity; it is as far removed
from the teaching of Jesus, as is organized religion from the
simple practices of primitive man. In spite of all the centuries
of misrepresentation, there, within the shadow, standeth God,
keeping watch over all His own.
Man can never alter that which IS. The presence of the
counterfeit serves to emphasize the existence of the genuine.
Behind all the pretences of the false, gleams all the glory of
the real. If man is confronted with such a diversity of
interpretation, it follows that he will of necessity conjure up
all manner of self-conceived ideas as touching the rock whence he
It may well be that in every congregation of the faithful there
will be as many different concepts of Deity as there are people
present. The theologian may expound the intricacies of sectarian
and denominational belief. The ecumenical advocate will discover
the minimum basis of agreement and wax enthusiastic accordingly.
There are even those who care to see beyond the multiplicity of
religious expression, and seek a formula for a common religion.
Fewer still are they who seek beyond all the multifarious forms
of expression to discover the common Source.
Ibsen in his spiritual and metaphysical drama, THE MASTER
BUILDER, brings out this concept of Deity. Hilda, in spite of
all that has happened, refusing to accept the self-destruction of
the Master Builder as important, recognizes only the fact of his
achievement. The play closes with the cry of Hilda, "My -- MY
Master Builder." To Hilda, the Master Builder is God, and in this
concept, we observe a reflection of the dying and rising again of
the God of the Sumerians. The Ibsenian drama presents a dying
deity, but one who will continue to live in that which he has
accomplished. It may well be that the immortality of Deity is no
more than that which can be immortalized in brick and stone.
Even if this be destroyed, the picture will remain imprinted upon
the mind of the beholder; thus its creator will live forever in
the imagination of the devotee.
The Ibsenian concept is akin to that of the Chinese, who, while
not concerned with a future life, make every effort to ensure
that they and their memory are preserved in their offspring. The
cult of ancestor worship is designed to ensure that the memory of
their forbears is never forgotten by their children. The parents
live in the devotion of their descendants, and this perpetuation
carries the mind back to an ultimate source of life and being.
We see therefore that Deity is that which exists: the power by
whom all creation is nourished and sustained. The precise nature
of Deity matters little, the manner of interpretation still less.
The content of worship will inevitably be determined by the
concept devised or accepted by different people living under
different conditions and at different times.
In a mystery novel by a modern writer, I read the following:
> He likened the cold moon to the good God, and the river to all
> the confused and chaotic dreams and strivings that had made the
> ambition which was his life, and it seemed somehow to comfort him
> strangely as he reflected that perhaps somewhere, in some heaven,
> He had been watching him and all that he had done with the same
> passionless and austere serenity.
> -- Pierre Audemars, THE CROWN OF NIGHT
It may seem strange that even a French detective is moved by the
natural surroundings in which he is called upon to conduct his
investigations, to muse not only upon the existence, but likewise
the nature of God.
The presence of the All-Seeing Eye carries us back to the ancient
Egyptians who conducted all their dealings beneath its watchful
care, a fact attested by its frequent use on the mummy cases of
ancient Egypt. The same idea prevails in later times, and a
glance at the Lindisfarne Gospels shows St. Matthew at work with
a head peeping round the corner. The diligence of the writer is
assured by the watchful eye of God.
It is not that man makes his god in his own likeness, but rather
that he endeavors to interpret the Infinite in terms which are
intelligible to his own finite understanding. In so doing, man
does not in any way diminish the greatness of that which IS, but
reveals his own inalienable dependence upon that indescribable
Source of all being and power.
The Source being such, it remains beyond the power of human
definition or material interpretation. In the final analysis,
the source of being is spiritual, and accordingly can be
approached only through the medium of spiritual understanding.
The highest form of religion is that which seeks to lift man from
his material surroundings and transport him beyond the realms of
time and space to commune unfettered with the Eternal Mind.
> A creed is a rod,
> And a crown is of night;
> But this thing is God,
> To be man with thy might,
> To grow straight in the strength of thy spirit,
> And live out thy life as the light.
> -- Swinburne, HERTHA
By Evelyn Pyne
From LUCIFER, November 15, 1888, pages 224-34.]
What a grand example Nature yields to the artist, the scientist,
and the workman! She is never satisfied with her work, but
continually varies the detail and alters the type, lest by any
chance there should be better means to a given end than she has
yet made manifest.
She is continually trying experiments; here an extra petal, there
a crimson spot; here a longer hair, there a shorter ear; here she
broadens the curve of a bay, there she develops a strip of
low-lying land; here she builds up a mountain, there she lowers a
precipice; and over all this practical work, she throws the
artistic glamour -- the sculptor's grace of outline, the
painter's sweetness of color -- and with her mighty hands draws
music from everything; from the waves as they fret the shore,
from the clouds as they fall in rippling showers, from the
rhythmic swing of the wind-blown branches, from the waving of the
grass and the corn, from the cadences of falling water, and the
soft murmuring of the rivers and little streamlets; yea, even
from the fresh young leaves as they smite cymbal-wise together in
the laughing spring weather.
Now and again she feels the necessity of expressing this
universal music in concrete form, and then she develops the
artist as in the flower-world she would develop from the old
pink-flowered variety a crimson rose, with an added fragrance, a
sweeter grace, and a more subtle charm to indicate the greatest
perfection a flower-life could at that time attain to and be to
the flowers a representative-rose.
And so, all ages have had their representative men. In every
age, one man's mind stands out broadly, as a type of what his
time could do, and think, and dream, and suffer; in his work is
enshrined its deepest philosophy, holiest religion, highest
poetry, and truest science; and to this man, it has fallen -- his
sight being clearer, his soul broader, his intellect swifter and
more subtle than his contemporaries' -- to rebuke their sins,
ridicule their follies, strengthen their combats, brighten their
ideal aims, and lift them one step nearer that perfected humanity
which he feels, rather than sees, lightening the dim distance of
It has been said, "Art interprets Nature to man, "but we may go
further and say, "Art interprets God to man." Art renders visible
the divine beneath its material veil, gathers into a focus all
those scattered rays of light which fall obliquely across the
darkened chamber of life, and shows that the many-hued prism of
existence is but one white radiance of glory set in the dawn of
It is to the artist then we must look for this representative
mind; the priest anointed by God himself to make his ways known
unto us; and though a Buddha may shine out through all ages by
the exceptional beauty of his life until that life affects us
with the mystery of a living poem, or a tangible strain of music,
vibrating on the air-waves of humanity forever, yet, for the most
part, we need our lessons in concrete form, that form which is
beauty, and which Dante tells us "che l'universo a dio fa
A poem, a picture, a statue, and lastly, and perhaps most
powerfully, a tone-drama, reveal us to ourselves; strike
responsive but dormant chords in our nature, and bring those
vague spiritual visitations hovering around us from cradle to the
grave into direct communication with the spiritual in us, without
which they are too liable to "fly forgotten like a dream" and
thus fail to react on that life they hallow and glorify. It has
always been the task of the greatest minds, those who "knowing
most, the most believe," to protest against the unbelief of their
Age, whether that unbelief takes the form of word-refining and
credulity, or the rougher but more honest absolute denial of
spiritual power at all: "nier est facile, it s'agit d'expliquer,"
says Figuier, and whether we are able to explain or not, the
negation of some spiritual power beyond us, yet with whom we at
rare intervals hold communion, tends to narrow our humanity and
lessen its glory.
We find these representative men set at intervals on the ladder
of life to mark the height attained; thus in the record of past
ages, humanity rose as high as Plato, or as Shakespeare, and in
the future, it be seen that in this nineteenth century, Wagner
marks our progress; humanity rose as high as Wagner.
In speaking of Wagner and his teaching, we wish it clearly
understood that we shall examine his work from no scientific
standpoint, whether his method be true or false to the received
theories of composition; whether he fulfils or disobeys the laws
of harmony, as laid down by the old Masters, or carries out the
axiom of Novalis, "Nur seinen eignenen Gesetzen soll der mensch
All these questions are of no value to our present enquiry; we
simply seek to determine his value as a teacher to that great
multitude to whom all such questions are as sealed volumes, yet
who are none the less influenced by their results. We contend
that Art must not be judged by its power over the few priests,
but by its broad influence on the many, its effects on the people
as shown in thought, life, and conduct. It must penetrate, like
Jesus, to the poor and the sinning, and raise, purify, and
The art that inspires a school is great possibly, but it is only
in its first phase of development. By-and-bye it will leave its
narrow bounds, and spring, and spread, and influence the world,
or it will dwindle away and die out of knowledge and sight.
"But," it will be asked, "since all Art must begin by inspiring a
school, that is, must at first be confined to a few, how
distinguish the true from the false -- the Art that shall live
from the Art that shall die?" By examining its teaching. If we
find THAT based on some universal truth of our nature, and not
merely shrouding a passing phase of sentiment in fantastic garb
to catch attention, we may feel sure THAT Art will live.
Opposition will but strengthen it, and abuse fall from it like
rain from the gleaming wings of the eagle. And these universal
truths are ideas of the Infinite, gathered from the contemplation
of the finite shadows; in other words, they are the recognition
of the One in the many:
> The One remains, the many change and pass;
> Heaven's light for ever shines, earth's shadows fly.
The search amidst the ever-changing flux of BECOMING, for the
eternal IS, the true BEING: and to bring this abstract idea into
concrete form is the mission of art! It recognizes the fact that
life, in itself, has no present; it is but a hopeless glance into
the twilight of the past, or the darkness of the future; but it
also recognizes as the reverse of this changeful life the
steadfastness of eternal being; where neither past nor future
exist, but the present is all in all. It strives to find the
connecting link between the human and divine, and finds it in
what has been taught under a great variety of names with one and
the same meaning: "Love," "God," "inspiration," "ecstasy,"
"self-annihilation," "reason," innate ideas." Numberless are the
terms, but the signification is one. We will call it "Love," as
the word hallowed by the Christian teaching and elevated to a
crowned supremacy by Shelley expresses better to our minds the
almost infinite variety contained in the one expression.
Not by ignoring the human, not by denying the divine, neither by
asceticism nor sensualism will the truth be reached: with a
slight variation of Plato's beautiful myth, we might say the
chariot of the soul has two winged horses, the divine and human,
and a charioteer called Love, who if he will can drive them
safely to the end; but woe to him if in his enthusiasm for the
divine he neglects the human and does not insist that the two
draw equally. If the one stumble or the other grows restive, the
chariot is overturned and ruined. Wise is the charioteer and
faithful who knows that on mutual help and support depends the
safety of his car, and so cherishes both!
So much for the necessary basis of art; we have now to consider
the distinguishing characteristic of the artist. We shall find
this to be an universal sympathy, boundless in its stretch,
all-embracing in its love. This universal sympathy produces a
sensitiveness alive to the smallest influences, whether of
nature, art, humanity or God; a sensitiveness not only responding
to purely outward influences, but being played upon by and
echoing internal impressions, emotions, and ideal passions; a
sensitiveness which, from its finely-strung nerves, can imagine
or create what others never really comprehend or know; and this
creation is merely the excess of sympathy which makes possible
the exchange of emotion between the soul of the creator (the
artist) and something outside his mind, yet by the power of
sympathy inextricably linked TO his mind.
How does he create? By calling out of chaos, order; out of
darkness, light; in short, by sympathy with the hidden
possibilities lying coiled up in the matter, his soul touches and
breathes life into. An artist must see with the hundred eyes of
Argus, and hear with worldwide ears; nothing is so small, common,
or unclean but to him it can suggest grandeur, rarity, purity!
He creates from a word, an object; and describes it so
graphically that though his bodily eyes may never have beheld it,
yet his mental ones note every shade, every tint, every tone;
thus it is not infrequent to find poets describing minutely
things they have never seen, so that they enable others to
behold, and realize what, to them, is purely a sympathetic
intuition of the possibility lying dormant in Matter.
An artist like Prospero has only to wave his wand, and behold,
the reign of magic has begun! A word conjures up an object; a
perfume, a passion, and it may be that unknown to himself, he
reveals truths of which he believed himself unconscious. The
very teaching the language of his art expresses may be
unintelligible to him; he may be merely the vehicle for the
revelation, as the wind, unknowing its mission, carries the seeds
of future forests on its careless wings, or the electric flash is
chained for human enlightenment as it swiftly flits through the
He will require no teaching per se, either of joy or suffering,
for he will hear in himself the depths of personally unfelt
sorrow as well as the crowned heights of personally untasted joy.
His soul will be like a perfect instrument from which the
lightest touch draws music, now sad, now mirthful, now
passionate, but music always, that is, truth -- truth to
somebody; not perhaps truth to us who criticize, and from the
narrowness of our minds call only what we ourselves experience
truth; but truth, nevertheless, a deeper truth than we can grasp
unless with it we grasp all Nature.
Language in common life seems an unmusical thing enough; a poor,
broken-to-harness drudge, with very little beauty or charm left;
but note the change when, under the sympathetic hands of the
poet, language, leaving the beaten track of commonplace, soars
above to the heights of poetry, grand, ennobled, beautiful; the
common words fall into chains of jeweled sound, caress the ear,
woo the air into their likeness, and behold, the despised drudge
is a fair queen, full of grace, cleaving the blue encircling air
with a thousand shadows of beauty, interlacing curves of
A block of stone appears to have little might to move or inspire;
but behold under the sympathetic hands of the sculptor, it
springs forth an Apollo, a Saint John, or an Aphrodite. The
artist in both cases recognized, by the power of sympathy, the
possibility hidden in the despised surroundings and drew it
It is from the very depth and grasp of this sympathy that we find
so many artists leading solitary lives. The world around them
whirls onwards, fearful, and avoiding all great emotions; hiding
as much as possible, even from itself, the power latent in its
soul, and and only venturing on the dead level of small thoughts,
small aims, and small pleasures that lead to content.
This world can never either plunge or mount into the regions
familiar to the artist; and so he leaves it, in his highest
moods, behind him, and soaring beyond its view, loses sight of
the phantoms it pursues so eagerly, yea loses his own identity,
which becomes merged in the universal, and thus the highest
triumphs of art are gained, and the shadows of Deity falling
softly round the artist, wake his nature to active response,
until the truth revealed to his soul takes objective
manifestation at his hands!
We have thus seen that the basis of art must be a comprehension
of the possibilities in life, seen from its two sides, divine and
human, and the basis of the artist's nature, an universal
sympathy to comprehend and render these possibilities in concrete
form. In this age, when one Master teaches an eternal sleep to
be the only possible or desirable ending to "life's fitful
fever," and another scoffs at all spiritual communication; that
is to say, all those feelings and dim experiences which cannot be
directly reduced to material sources, as the results of ignorance
or incipient madness; it is full time our representative mind
should stand forth and say aloud that all may hear.
Behold! He stands amongst us, a crowned king of art, the art that
belongs, par excellence, to this nineteenth century; music, that
socialistic art, which is as easily understood and enjoyed by the
beggar as the king, and even finds an echo in the breasts of
those humbler creatures to whose narrowed powers we arrogantly
deny the light of reason: music, to whose magic we plead,
whenever we wish to move mightily the human heart to inspire it
for noble deeds or pure emotions.
Do not our soldiers march to battle, spurred on by music's voice?
Are not our religious services dependent on music for the greater
portion of their force and influence? Is not our most perfect
enjoyment (the opera) derived from music? And, even in the
legitimate drama itself, is it not music whose influence is
invoked to soften and prepare the mind for the reception of the
deep emotions unfolded by the play it is witnessing?
Shakespeare's love of music runs like a sweet melody through all
his writings. Carlyle thus expresses its power.
> The meaning of song goes deep. Who is there that, in logical
> words, can express the effect music has on us? A kind of
> inarticulate, unfathomable speech which leads us to the edge of
> the infinite, and lets us, for a moment, gaze into that.
Shelley, in most musical words, tells of music's might over his
> The cope of heaven seems rent and cloven
> By the enchantment of thy strain,
> And on my shoulders wings are woven,
> To follow its sublime career
> Beyond the mighty moons that wane
> Upon the verge of Nature's utmost sphere,
> 'Till the world's shadowy walls are past and disappear.
And from the edge of that Infinite, to which music has led him,
Wagner turns and interprets the life around: he brimmed with its
passion, pale with its yearning, with the undying thirst of the
age for certainty, for perfect knowledge -- that age which would
rather choose to deny the existence of spiritual power than
confess it beyond its comprehension, and with passionate zeal
seeks to elevate humanity into a religion, yet flings it down
into the abyss of Nothingness and oblivion -- that age which,
with frantic ardor, preaches Socialism as a creed, yet fulfills
it by striving to rob its brothers, and will not, or cannot,
Your Fouriers failed,
Because not poets enough to understand
That life develops from within.
Wagner stands forth, priest of the gospel, revealed in music, and
preaches mightily and clearly to all of us; with boundless
sympathy for the hopeless struggles and diverse aims of his age,
yet clear sight and never-failing grasp of the haven where our
storm-tossed barks may ride safely after life's perilous voyage.
The mind of man has conceived, and the voice of man uttered,
three gospels, the gospel of hatred and defiance, the gospel of
Negation, and the gospel of love. The depths of a man's
intellect may be gauged and the worth of his doctrine proved by
the gospel he preaches.
Some minds receive all three at different stages of their growth;
some, as Voltaire and Byron, never grow beyond the first, and can
only teach us to tear the mask of beauty from ugliness and to
bury our dead, though with much wailing and gnashing of teeth;
some, as Mill and Schopenhauer, remain always true to the gospel
of Negation, and their teaching also has great value, inasmuch as
it inculcates that calm severity of thought which will utterly
deny rather than half believe; but our true prophets, our
veritable masters, are those who, whether from heavenly radiance
of Nature or hard toil of heart, have cut their way through the
"everlasting No" to the glory and brightness of the "everlasting
Such minds, piercing below the frippery of popular belief or
denial, and setting at its true value the mythology in which an
Age has woven the tinted weeds it gathers on the shore of
eternity, and the prismatic shells flung there by the receding
waters of Time, speak not to one nation or for one Age; but to
all nations and for eternity! Such are Shakespeare, the
poet-philosopher; Shelley, the sweet singer; and Wagner, the
Shelley indeed, only reached the land "where music, and moonlight
and feeling are one" after much beating of breast, and breaking
of pinion against the darkened bars of life's prison house; but
Wagner was native there from the first, sweet strains of
spiritual music, and star-like radiance shone through, and showed
the bars were but imaginary barriers, mere shadowy clouds between
spirit and matter; and so, with the perpetual passing of angels,
life's rhythmic dance sweeps on, the infinitely great and the
infinitely little united in the wondrous mosaic of being:
> Ruhn oben die Sterne
> Und unten die Graber.
If we consider his works, we shall find their texts are all taken
from the Gospel of Love. Love he teaches, divine or human, is
the one unconquerable, all-saving power. Love the redeemer, as
in "Der Fliegende Hollander;" Love the pardoner, as in
"Tannhauser;" Love the revealer, as in "Lohengrin;" Love the
conqueror, as in the "Ring der Nibelungen"; but there is a
continual growth of power, in grasp and expression of the truth
taught, from the love that pities to the love that pardons, of
the two first dramas, and from faith in possible to the full
flood of actual love, sweeping on resistless and boundless as the
divinity whose shadow and symbol it is, of the two latter.
No poet (we speak advisedly, for Wagner claims to be a poet, and
is one, if piercing to the very heart of life and revealing the
essential beneath the external constitute a poet), no poet, save
Shakespeare and Shelley, has so completely realized a
"disembodied joy," and in this his Art aids him mightily; and
when by his magic he holds up to the human the mirror of itself,
deeply shadowed and fringed with the spiritual, whence all
"disembodied joys" are born, yea, interwoven with it so deftly
that to draw the silver thread of inter-penetrant deity frays the
web of life into meaningless strands, our spirits float on in
"music's most serene dominions," through the air of earth,
starless, and tremulous with sighs, until we reach the shining
Let us briefly consider the "motif" and treatment of "Tannhauser"
and "Lohengrin," prefacing our remarks by repeating our leading
axioms in this discussion. Art should be individual only so far
as the individual typifies the universal; directly Art ceases to
perceive the whole in the part, it fails in its mission.
"Tannhauser" opens with the solemn strains of the Pilgrim Song, a
holy phrase of great power and beauty, in which is woven the
sweet music of earnest prayer and the deep harmony of devotional
yearnings; this changes to the wild unearthly music of the
Venus-Berg, in which all Nature takes part with desire and
You hear in this wondrous witch-song the joy of the awakening
earth on a spring morning, the flowers flushing beneath the sun,
the fresh young leaves smiting their little hands together in
rapture and praise, the cool plashing of slowly flowing rivers,
lily-garlanded; the whisper of the wind amid the reeds and tall
irises; the tender lisp of the little streams, the full glory of
the bird-chorus, and the music of the human, of the young man,
and maiden rejoicing in their beauty and brimmed with the joy of
life. The whole tone of this witch-song is one glad cry, "How
fair is life! Let us kiss her lips, and drain to the dregs the
cup she offers, filled with a sweet strong wine. There is no
soul! There is no future! Drink! Enjoy!"
Yet, even as this wild frenzy of passionate life possesses the
listening air, we hear the sad refrain. We hear the wail of the
sea-bird, half lost in the dash of the hopeless wave on an
iron-bound shore; the shriek of the wind-tortured trees on dark
stormy nights when everything is hidden in thick blackness and
only weird cries tell of the work of devastation.
The roar of the avalanche as it sweeps on, heedless of the
anguish it causes, slaying and to slay; and so the pilgrim-song
and the witch-music shadow forth the strife of the human and the
divine, and the drama of the individual life begins.
Tannhauser has sought the forbidden presence of Venus; the
goddess who gives man the swift, wild joys of passion has wooed
him from the holy land of song; yet plunged in these bodily
pleasures, he is not happy, and at last, calling on Mary, tears
away, and finds himself free again. He goes to Rome, but is
denied pardon; so-called religion curses him; so-called
friendship would slay; only Love, as typified in the sweet,
saintly Elizabeth, remains faithful.
She watches and prays; but Tannhauser, stung to madness by the
Pope's haughty answer to his plea for pardon -- "Sooner shall
this staff blossom than thou be pardoned!" -- strives to find the
home of Venus once more. Again the witch-music sounds in his
ears, again the old magic begins to tinge everything in his
sight, when the name of Elizabeth strikes on his shattered
hearing, and like a spell recalls him to his better self, and he
struggles away from the sensual glamour that is fast stealing
away his senses.
A solemn chant fills the air. Behold a mournful procession,
bearing the dead body of Elizabeth! While slowly advancing across
the hills march a body of pilgrims from Rome, bearing the joyful
tidings that the Pope's staff has blossomed! Tannhauser's sin is
pardoned! Falling on his knees by the dead Elizabeth, he loses
life, to be in death redeemed by the Love which was stronger than
Let us now turn to "Lohengrin." It opens with a picture of
cloudland, a summer-day scene; blue stretches of sky, flecked and
furrowed by faint fleecy snow-wreaths of cloud, the air is nearly
still, tremulous only with light wind voices, that whisper
tidings of the coming glory to the listening trees; but lo! as we
watch the azure depths above, not clouds, but angels are there,
and what we thought the voices of the wind is but the flutter of
their snowy pinions making low music to the rhythm of their
flight as they bear the mystic cup of life across the world,
chanting the solemn Grail-Song, that unuttered music to which
life is set.
Then the pictures changes; we are carried into the thick of
material life, from of the glow of spirit to the darkness of
Matter. Wrong and suffering abound here, as peace and joy there;
but still patient endurance, truth, and courage can reach the
serene comforters; the spiritual leans down, the material strains
upward, and in the light of love finds salvation and joy. But
woe to that reckless one who, not content with deep draughts of
the mystic cup, must analyze and separate the elixir to find its
component parts! It is the fate of Tantalus again, and the rash
soul must thirst, and the rash heart hunger in vain!
So Elsa, not content with the mysterious joy, the half-unknown
blessings, seeks to reduce it to an ordinary gift, to certify
whence it came and whither it goes, and at the instant it has
left her, leaving, indeed, the calm of reason and philosophy (the
brother), but never the rapture of religion, the faith in the
presence of the uncomprehended (the lover), which makes the
beauty and magic of life.
We have briefly analyzed these two, but the same fundamental
truth is the ground-work of all Wagner's dramas; while in the
"Nibelungen" even the very gods themselves are powerless against
the might of the Supreme Love! Thus he teaches us the grandest
lesson the mind of man is capable of receiving, not by ignoring
the human with its needs and weaknesses; not by denying the
divine, but by showing how the human may rise beyond itself into
the light above by fulfillment of its conditions and loving
strife towards the dawn; as the seed is laid in the earth, and
rises to the glad sunlight, flushing to a fair flower, not by
proud rejection of its lowly resting-place, but by patient
development of the germ of life in its heart!
He teaches us to recognize the ONE in the many, in a new and
sweeter sense than the old masters taught, the sense of an
eternal ever-present spirit that moulds the human many into the
divine one, and that eternal Spirit is "Love"; not blind
necessity, not iron fate, not stern justice, NOT an avenging
deity, but "Love," a spirit that has its dwelling-place in the
meanest and -- it may be faintly or it may be powerfully
according to the material it works in -- moulds that meanest into
some faint likeness of its own eternal beauty.
To Wagner all life is holy and worthy of reverence; we soar with
him to heaven, we descend to Hell, we rest in Purgatory, and we
roam the earth as surely as if with Dante and Virgil we had
indeed accomplished the momentous journey.
Fairyland opens her silvern gates to us; elves dance in the
moonlight; the world of soulless spirits, good and evil, floats
round us in the air, and like Prospero, we command their
attendance and ministry or dismiss them with a wave of our magic
Wagner, like Shakespeare, rejects nothing as too small or mean
and fears nothing as too high for his purpose; he has just as
perfect comprehension and sympathy (in the sense we have defined)
for ugliness as for beauty; passion as Law, Hell as Heaven; and
what is far rarer and more precious, he has a perfect
comprehension of the regions between the two extremes, where the
one imperceptibly melts into the other; the knight on his steed,
the minstrel with his inspired song, the shepherd piping amid the
hills, the steersman at his post, the pilgrims with their holy
chant, the maidens at their spinning, the pure and wronged
princess, the dauntless champion of the grail, the tender,
loving, self-sacrificing maiden, the jealous, unscrupulous woman,
the true-hearted knight, the world-weary Dutchman, the fierce
warrior who preferred hell with his beloved to heaven without
her, are all equally life-like, all have the same intense
humanity and passionate vitality of existence.
His dramas carry us into the very heart of life, with its sharply
defined contrasts and conflicting interests, and there is such a
wonderful air of reality about his music; people do not there die
to a sentimental cavatina, or express their despair in an
elegantly cadenced aria!
No, the music is changeful as life itself; where, in reality,
speech would rise to the grand and poetical, there we have
phrases of sweet, and grand, and pathetic melody; where, in life,
the human strains above itself, and becomes god-like in its
tragic despair and strife, there the music swells upwards in
superhuman grandeur or sinks down in superhuman gloom; but where
mean ideas, mean actions, or commonplace speech would exist in
life, there we find scant melody, rude phrases, hurried
utterances; truly this man has swept away empirical laws as the
giant pursuing his way in the morning sunlight sweeps away the
cobwebs that bar his path and passes on with a smile!
Wagner (like Shakespeare) writing for all ages, cannot be
comprehended fully in one; as it takes innumerable years to ripen
humanity to the vintage of a mind like Shakespeare's or Wagner's,
so it takes innumerable years to educate mankind to their flavor,
but as slow passing time goes on, each moment casts a fairer
gleam of light on their pages, and the deep truths enshrined
there grow slowly clearer and clearer, until humanity sees (as
they did) that the solid wall it had been vainly beating its
breast against was but the morning mist, which the sun of
progress is melting away.
The age sneers when a prophet tells his visions.
> [It continually] culls simples,
> With a broad clown's back turned broadly to the glory of the stars.
None the less, the prophet is constrained to speak; it is as true
now, as of old, that the prophet may not speak of himself, but a
power that is above him puts words into his mouth, and though he
would curse the ingratitude of the world, yet is he bound to
bless by the sacred gift that is alive in his soul!
Wagner proudly styles his dramas "Music of the future," yet they
breathe the very spirit of the present, when even art seems
seized with that frantic thirst for perfect knowledge, and
unceasingly strives for the completed circle, the fully rounded
disc, and is ready to sacrifice her own beautiful existence to
give life to an art that shall be greater, purer, more perfect
than herself; an art which shall, from the renouncement of
individual development by all its branches, rise to a grand
unity, partaking indeed of the charm of painting, poetry, music,
and sculpture, but belonging exclusively to none of them.
Such an art we find shadowed forth in these dramas, and the
future historian of the nineteenth century will find, if he
wishes to grasp that intangible spirit that colors every action
and every thought of the age, he must go to Wagner's music,
breathe its fragrance, comprehend its sense, and then the bare,
historical facts will take quite other faces for him, and be
quite otherwise comprehensible, and his history will be not a dry
record of cut-and-dried actions, meaningless to a succeeding age,
with different thoughts and aims, but like the plays of
Shakespeare, and the music-dramas of Wagner, a gorgeous,
many-hued woof, in which the bittersweet of life is inextricably
blended, each delicate feeling, each original action, whether
good or evil, lending its color and shade, and each dimly-felt
intuition, its gleam to the whole, so that it stands forth,
glittering and glowing, yet black in its folds, tear-stained at
its edges, with flowerlike borders and perfumed fringes, amid
which skulls grin and nettles and nightshade mingle.
Wagner has preached his gospel well with no faltering tone and no
halting speech, and if it is not fully understood in these days,
we should remember that the deeper the water the longer the nets
necessary to dredge for its treasures. Any eye can perceive the
pebbles hidden in a shallow, brawling stream, but where do the
coral and pearl come from? There, or the deep, still ocean?
His teaching, as graven in gleaming letters, on his works, his
actions, and probably his thoughts, seem condensed into:
> We are spirits, my brothers, and akin to God! Around us the
> spirit-world hovers; hold out your hands, and you may reach it;
> open your hearts, and it will fill them with truth and love, and
> lift them into the light; shut them, and you fall into the
> starless darkness of material life, made glorious by no dreams,
> but iron-barred from your kindred, and voiceless, save from your
> sighs. We seek the completed circle, and behold it is the
> spiritual alone that can round life's rainbow of passion and
> anguish into it! You cannot SEE with your minds, but you can, if
> you will, PERCEIVE with your souls, though the curtain of death
> be drawn across and a river of tears rolls between!
In that perception, the secret of life lies, and in the
expression of that perception is the secret of art.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application