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Blavatsky Net - Theosophy

This site focuses on Madame Blavatsky and her teaching - Theosophy. It features an introduction to Theosophy, study aids, research tools, original text, supporting evidence, membership, and visitor interaction.

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[From The Banner Light, Oct. 28th, 1876.]

As I see the issue that has been raised by Dr. Hallock with Mr. Huxley, it suggests to me the comparison of two men looking at the same distant object through a telescope. The Doctor, having taken the usual precautions, brings the object within close range where it can be studied at one’s leisure; but the naturalist, having forgotten to remove the cap, sees only the reflection of his own image.

Though the materialists may find it hard to answer even the brief criticisms of the Doctor, yet it appears that Mr. Huxley’s New York lectures—as they present themselves to me in their naked desolation—suggest one paramount idea which Dr. Hallock has not touched upon. I need scarcely say to you, who must have read the report of these would-be iconoclastic lectures, that this idea is one of the "false pretences" of Modern Science. After all the flourish which attended his coming, all the expectations that had been aroused, all the secret apprehensions of the church and the anticipated triumph of the materialists, what did he teach us that was really new or so extremely suggestive? Nothing, positively nothing. Exclude a sight of his personality, the sound of his well-trained voice, the reflection of his scientific glory, and the result may be summed up thus: "Cr., Thomas H. Huxley, £1,000."

Of him it may be said, as it has been of other teachers before, that what he said that was new was not true; and that which was true was not new.

Without going into details, for the moment, it suffices to say that the materialistic theory of evolution is far from being demonstrated, while the thought that Mr. Huxley does not grasp—i.e., the double evolution of spirit and matter—is imparted under the form of various legends in the oldest parts of the Rig Veda (the Aitareya Brâhmana). Only these benighted Hindûs, it seems, made the trifling improvement over Modern Science, of hooking a First Cause on to the further end of the chain of evolution.

In the Chaturhôtri Mantra (Book V of the Aitareya Brâhmana) the Goddess Eath (Iyam), who is termed the Queen of the Serpents (Sârpa), for she is the mother of everything that moves (Sârpat), was in the beginning of time completely bald. She was nothing but one round head, which was soft to the touch, i.>e., "a gelatinous mass." Being distressed at her baldness, she called for help to the great Vâyu, the Lord of the airy regions; she prayed him to teach her the Mantra (invocation or sacrificial prayer—a certain part of the Veda), which would confer on her the magical power of creating things (generation). He complied, and then as soon as the Mantra was pronounced by her "in the proper metre" she found herself covered with hair (vegetation). She was now hard to the touch, for the Lord of the air had breathed upon her—the globe had cooled. She had become of a variegated or motley appearance, and suddenly acquired the power to produce out of herself every animate and inanimate form, and to change one form to another.

Therefore in like manner [says the sacred book] the man who has such a knowledge [of the Mantras] obtains the faculty of assuming any shape or form he likes.

It will scarcely be said that this allegory is capable of more than one interpretation, viz., that the ancient Hindûs, many centuries before the Christian era, taught the doctrine of evolution. Martin Haug, the Sanskrit scholar, asserts that the Vedas were already in existence from 2,000 to 2,200 B.C.

Thus, while the theory of evolution is nothing new, and may be considered a proven fact, the new ideas forced upon the public by Mr. Huxley are only undemonstrated hypotheses, and as such liable to be exploded the first fine day upon the discovery of some new fact. We find no admission of this, however, in Mr. Huxley’s communications to the public; but the unproved theories are enunciated with as much boldness as though they were established scientific facts, corroborated by unerring laws of Nature. Notwithstanding this the world is asked to revere the great evolutionist, only because he stands under the shadow of a great name.

What is this but one of the many false pretences of the sciolists? And yet Huxley and his admirers charge the believers in the evolution of spirit with the same crime of false pretences, because, forsooth, our theories are as yet undemonstrated. Those who believe in Slade’s spirits are "lost to reason," while those who can see embryonic man in Huxley’s "gelatinous mass" are accepted as the progressive minds of the age. Slade is arraigned before the magistrate for taking $5 from Lankester, while Huxley triumphantly walks away with $5,000 of American gold in his pockets, which was paid him for imparting to us the mirific fact that man evolved from the hind toe of a pedactyl horse!

Now, arguing from the standpoint of strict justice, in what respect is a materialistic theorist any better than a spiritualistic one? And in what degree is the evolution of man-independent of divine and spiritual interference—better proven by the toe-bone of an extinct horse, than the evolution and survival of the human spirit by the writing upon a screwed-up slate by some unseen power or powers? And yet again, the soulless Huxley sails away laden with flowers like a fashionable corpse, conquering and to conquer in fresh fields of glory, while the poor medium is hauled before a police magistrate as a "vagrant and a swindler," without proof enough to sustain the charge before an unprejudiced tribunal.

There is good authority for the statement that psychological science is a debatable land upon which the modern physiologist hardly dares to venture. I deeply sympathize with the embarrassed student of the physical side of Nature. We all can readily understand how disagreeable it must be to a learned theorist, ever aspiring for the elevation of his hobby to the dignity of an accepted scientific truth, constantly to receive the lie direct from his remorseless and untiring antagonist—psychology. To see his cherished materialistic theories become every day more untenable, until they are reduced to the condition of mummies swathed in shrouds, self-woven and inscribed with a farrago of pet sophistries, is indeed hard. And in their self-satisfying logic, these sons of matter reject every testimony but their own: the divine entity of the Socratic daimonion, the ghost of Cæsar, and Cicero’s Divinum Quidam, they explain by epilepsy; and the prophetic oracles of the Jewish Bath-Kol are set down as hereditary hysteria!

And now, supposing the great protoplasmist to have proved to the general satisfaction that the present horse is an effect of a gradual development from the Orohippus, or four-toed horse of the Eocene formation, which, passing further through Miocene and Pliocene periods, has become the modern honest Equus, does Huxley thereby prove that man has also developed from a one-toed human being? For nothing short of that could demonstrate his theory. To be consistent he must show that while the horse was losing at each successive period a toe, man has in reversed order acquired an additional one at each new formation; and unless we are shown the fossilized remains of man in a series of one-, two-, three- and four-toed anthropoid ape-like beings antecedent to the present perfected Homo, what does Huxley’s theory amount to? Nobody doubts that everything has evolved out of something prior to itself. But, as it is, he leaves us hopelessly in doubt whether it is man who is a hipparionic or equine evolution, or the antediluvian Equus that evolved from the primitive genus Homo!

Thus to apply the argument to Slade’s case we may say that, whether the messages on his slate indicate an authorship among the returning spirits of antediluvian monkeys, or the bravos and Lankestrian ancestors of our day, he is no more guilty of false pretences than the $5,000 evolutionist. Hypothesis, whether of scientist or medium, is no false pretence; but unsupported assertion is, when people are charged money for it.

If, satisfied with the osseous fragments of a Hellenized or Latinized skeleton, we admit that there is a physical evolution, by what logic can we refuse to credit the possibility of an evolution of spirit? That there are two sides to the question, no one but an utter psychophobist will deny. It may be argued that even if the Spiritualists have demonstrated their bare facts, their philosophy is not complete, since it has missing links. But no more have the evolutionists. They have fossil remains which prove that once upon a time the ancestors of the modern horse were blessed with three and even four toes and fingers, the fourth "answering to the little finger of the human hand," and that the Protohippus rejoiced in "a fore-arm"; Spiritualists in their turn exhibit entire hands, arms, and even bodies in support of their theory that the dead still live and revisit us. For my part I cannot see that the osteologists have the better of them. Both follow the inductive or purely scientific method, proceeding from particulars to universals; thus Cuvier, upon finding a small bone, traced around it imaginary lines until he had built up from his prolific fancy a whole mammoth. The data of scientists are no more certain than those of Spiritualists; and while the former have but their modern discoveries upon which to build their theories, Spiritualists may cite the evidence of a succession of ages, which began long prior to the advent of Modern Science.

An inductive hypothesis, we are told, is demonstrated when the facts are shown to be in entire accordance with it. Thus, if Huxley possesses conclusive evidence of the evolution of man in the genealogy of the horse, Spiritualists can equally claim that proof of the evolution of spirit out of the body is furnished in the materialized, more or less substantial, limbs that float in the dark shadows of the cabinet, and often in full light—a phenomenon which has been recognized and attested by numberless generations of wise men of every country. As to the pretended superiority of modern over ancient science, we have only the word of the former for it. This is also an hypothesis; better evidence is required to prove the fact. We have but to turn to Wendell Phillips’s lecture on the Lost Arts to have a certain right to doubt the assurance of Modern Science.

Speaking of evidence, it is strange what different and arbitrary values may be placed upon the testimony of different men equally trustworthy and well-meaning. Says the parent of protoplasm:

It is impossible that one’s practical life should not be more or less influenced by the views which he may hold as to what has been the past history of things. One of them is human testimony in its various shapes—all testimony of eye-witnesses, traditional testimony from the lips of those who have been eye-witnesses, and the testimony of those who have put their impressions into writing or into print.

On just such testimony, amply furnished in the Bible (evidence which Mr. Huxley rejects), and in many other less problematical authors than Moses, among whom may be reckoned generations of great philosophers, theurgists, and laymen, Spiritualists have a right to base their fundamental doctrines. Speaking further of the broad distinction to be drawn between the different kinds of evidence, some being less valuable than others, because given upon grounds not clear, upon grounds illogically stated and upon such as do not bear thorough and careful inspection, the same gelatinist remarks:

For example, if I read in your history of Tennessee [Ramsay’s] that one hundred years ago this country was peopled by wandering savages, my belief in this statement rests upon the conviction that Mr. Ramsay was actuated by the same sort of motives that men are now, . . . that he himself was, like ourselves, not inclined to make false statements. . . . If you read Cæsar’s Commentaries, wherever he gives an account of his battles with the Gauls, you place a certain amount of confidence in his statements. You take his testimony upon this, you feel that Cæsar would not have made these statements unless he had believed them to be true.

Profound philosophy! precious thoughts! gems of condensed, gelatinous truth! long may it stick to the American mind! Mr. Huxley ought to devote the rest of his days to writing primers for the feebleminded adults of the United States. But why select Cæsar as the type of the trustworthy witness of ancient times? And if we must implicitly credit his reports of battles, why not his profession of faith in augurs, diviners and apparitions?—for in common with his wife, Calpurnia, he believed in them as firmly as any modern Spiritualist in his mediums and phenomena. We also feel that no more than Cæsar would such men as Cicero and Herodotus and Livy and a host of others "have made these false statements," or reported such things "unless they believed them to be true."

It has already been shown that the doctrine of evolution, as a whole, was taught in the Rig Veda, and I may also add that it can be found in the most ancient of the books of Hermes. This is bad enough for the claim to originality set up by our modern scientists, but what shall be said when we recall the fact that the very pedactyl horse, the finding of whose footprints has so overjoyed Mr. Huxley, was mentioned by ancient writers (Herodotus and Pliny, if I mistake not), and was once outrageously laughed at by the French Academicians? Let those who wish to verify the fact read Salverti’s Philosophy of Occult Science, translated by Todd Thompson.

Some day proofs as conclusive will be discovered of the reliability of the ancient writers as to their evidence on psychological matters. What Niebuhr, the German materialist, did with Livy’s History, from which he eliminated every one of the multitude of facts of phenomenal "Supernaturalism," scientists now seem to have tacitly agreed to do with all the ancient, mediæval and modern authors. What they narrate, that can be used to bolster up the physical part of science, scientists accept and sometimes coolly appropriate without credit; what supports the Spiritualistic philosophy they incontinently reject as mythical and contrary to the order of Nature. In such cases "evidence" and the "testimony of eye-witnesses" count for nothing. They adopt the contrary course to Lord Verulam, who, arguing on the properties of amulets and charms, remarks that:

We should not reject all this kind, because it is not known how far those contributing to superstition depend on natural causes.

There can be no real enfranchisement of human thought nor expansion of scientific discovery until the existence of spirit is recognized, and the double evolution accepted as a fact. Until then, false theories will always find favour with those who, having forsaken "the God of their fathers," vainly strive to find substitutes in nucleated masses of matter. And of all the sad things to be seen in this era of "shams," none is more deplorable—though its futility is often ludicrous—than the conspiracy of certain scientists to stamp out spirit by their one-sided theory of evolution, and destroy Spiritualism by arraigning its mediums upon the charge of "false pretences."


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List of Articles
African Magic
Ahkoond of Swat
An Astral Prophet
An Unsolved Mystery
Ancient Doctrines Vindicated
Ancient Magic in Modern Science
Animated Statues
Answers to Queries
Antiquity of the Vedas
Apollonius Tyaneus and Simon Magus
Are Chelas "Mediums"?
Are Dreams but Idle Visions?
Arya Samaj
The Babel of Modern Thought
Black Magic in Science
Blessings of Publicity
Bright Spot of Light
Buddhism, Christianity and Phallicism
Buddhism in America
Can the Double Murder?
Can the Mahatmas Be Selfish?
Case of Obsession
Chelas and Lay Chelas
Chinese Spirits
Christmas Then and Christmas Now
Civilization, the Death of Art and Beauty
Claims of Occultism
Classification of "Principles"
Count St. Germain
Cross and Fire
Cycle Moveth
Denials and the Mistakes of the Nineteenth Century
Devil's Own-Thoughts on Ormuzd and Ahriman
Diagnoses and Palliatives
Dialogue on the Mysteries of the After Life
Dialogues between the Two Editors
Do the Rishis Exist?
Does Vaccination Prevent Smallpox?
Dr. Beard Criticized
Dreamland and Somnambulism
Drift of Western Spiritualism
Dual Aspect of Wisdomhe
Echoes from India. What is Hindu Spiritualism?
Eddy Manifestations
Editorial Comment
Editorial Appendix
Eighth Wonder
Electric and Magnetic Affinities between Man and Nature
Esoteric Axioms and Spiritual Speculations
"Esoteric Buddhism" and its Critic
"Esoteric Buddhism" and the "Secret Doctrine"
Esoteric Character of the Gospels
Fakirs and Tables
Fall of Ideals
Fate of the Occultist
Few Thoughts on Some Wise Words from a Wise Man
Force of Prejudice
French View of Women's Rights
Grand Inquisitor
"H. M." and the Todas
H. P. Blavatsky on Precipitation and Other Matters
H. P. Blavatsky's Masonic Patent
Have Animals Souls?
Hindu Widow-Marriage
History of a "Book"
History of a Planet
Holmes Controversy
Holmes Controversy(continued)
Huxley and Slade
Hypnotism, and Its Relations to Other Modes of Fascination
Imperfections of Science
Indian Metaphysics
Intro-Version of Mental Vision
Is Creation Possible for Man?
Is Denunciation a Duty?
Is Foeticide a Crime?
"Is it Idle to Argue Further?"
Is Suicide a Crime?
Is the Desire to "Live" Selfish?
Is Theosophy a Religion?
"Isis Unveiled" and the "Theosophist" on Reincarnation
Isis Unveiled and the Vishishtadwaita
"It's the Cat!"
Jews in Russia
Kabalah and the Kabalists
Kabalistic Views of "Spirits"
Karmic Visions
Knout, The. As Wielded by the Great Russian Theosophist
Kosmic Mind
Lack of Unity among Spiritualists
Lamas and Druses
Land of Mystery
Last Song of the Swan
Le Phare de L'Inconnu
Leaven of Theosophy
Leo Tolstoi and His Unecclesiastical Christianity
"Let Every Man Prove His Own Work"
Life and Death
Life Principle
Literary Jottings on Criticism, Authorities, and Other Matters
Lodges of Magic
Logic versus Peripatetic
Madame Blavatsky on "The Himalayan Brothers"
Mahatmas and Chelas
Memory in the Dying
Mind in Nature
Missing Link
Missionaries Militant
Mistaken Notions on "The Secret Doctrine"
Modern Apostles and Pseudo-Messiahs
Mote and the Beam
Mr. A. Lillie's Delusions
My Books
Mysterious Race
Nature's Human Magnets
Negations of Science
New Cycle
(New) York against Lankester. A new War of the Roses
"Not a Christian"!
Note on Eliphas Levi
Note on "Memory"
Notes on some Aryan-Arhat Esoteric Tenets
Notice to Mediums
Number Seven
Number Seven and Our Society
Occult or Exact Science?
Occult Phenomena
Occultism or Magic
Occultism versus the Occult Arts
Old Hindu Ships
Old Philosophers and Modern Critics
On Pseudo-Theosophy
On The New Year's Morrow
"Oppressed Widowhood" in America
Organisation of the Theosophical Society
Origin of Evil
Our Cycle and the Next
Our Three Objects
Paradoxical World
Parting Words
Persian Zoroastrianism and Russian Vandalism
Pertinent Queries
Pertinent Questions
Philosophers and Philosophicules
Popular Idea of Soul-Survival
Posthumous Publication
Practical Occultism
Pralaya of Modern Science
Premature and Phenomenal Growths
Progress and Culture
Psychic and Noetic Action
Psychic Warning
Psychology - The Science of the Soul
Puzzle from Adyar
Puzzle in "Esoteric Buddhism"
Queries and Answers
Questions Answered about Yoga Vidya
Re-Classification of Principles
Recent Progress in Theosophy
Reincarnations in Tibet
Reply to Our Critics, A.
Republican Citizen
Retort Courteous
Roots of Ritualism in Church and Masonry
Russian Atrocities
Sacred Tree of Kum Bum
Science of Life
Science of Magic
"Scrutator Again"
Search after Occultism
Seeming "Discrepancies"
Seventeen-Rayed Sun-Disc
She Being Dead Yet Speaketh
Signal of Danger
Signs of the Times
Six-Pointed and Five-Pointed Stars
Society Without a Dogma
Some Scientific Questions Answered
Spiritual Progress
Spiritualism and Occult Truth
Spiritualism and Spiritualists
Spiritualism in Russia
Spiritualistic Tricksters
Star-Angel-Worship in the Roman Catholic Church
Stars and Numbers
Stray Thoughts on Death and Satan
Substantial Nature of Magnetism
Theories about Reincarnation and Spirits
Theory of Cycles
"Theosophical Mahatmas"
Theosophical Society: Its Mission and Its Future
Theosophists and their Opponents
Theosophy and Spiritualism
Theosophy or Jesuitism?
Thoughts of the Dead
Thoughts on the Elementals
Tibetan Teachings
Tidal Wave
"To the Readers of 'Lucifer'"
Transmigration of the Life Atoms
Trickery or Magic?
Universe in a Nut-Shell
Views of the Theosophists
War in Olympus
Warning to Mediums
Was Cagliostro a "Charlatan"?
Washing the Disciples' Feet
What Are the Theosophists?
What is Occultism?
What is Theosophy?
"What Is Truth?"
What of Phenomena?
What Shall We Do for Our Fellow-Men?
What's in a Name? - Why the Magazine is called "Lucifer"
Which First - the Egg or the Bird?
Why Do Animals Suffer?
Why I Do Not Return to India
Why the "Vahan"?
"Word with Our Friends"
World-Improvement or World-Deliverance
Year is Dead, Long Live the Year
Year of Theosophy
Yoga Philosophy