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A NOTE ON ELIPHAS LÉVI
From A Modern Panarion
Articles by HPB
[Vol. III. No. 1, October, 1881.]
[To the Editor of "The Theosophist."
MADAM,—Since you have published a posthumous letter of my master and beloved friend, the late Éliphas Lévi, I think it would be agreeable to you to publish, if judged suitable, a few extracts of the many manuscripts in my possession, written expressly for, and given to, me by my ever regretted master.
To begin with, I send you "Stray Thoughts on Death and Satan" from his pen.
I cannot close this letter without expressing the deep indignation aroused in me by the base diatribes published in the London Spiritualist against your Society and its members. Every honest heart is irritated at such unfair treatment, especially when proceeding from a man of honour as Mr. Harrison (editor of The Spiritualist) who admits in his journal anonymous contributions that are tantamount to libels.
With the utmost respect, I remain, Madam,
It is with feelings of sincere gratitude that we thank Baron Spédalieri for his most valuable contribution. The late Éliphas Lévi was the most learned Kabalist and Occultist of our age in Europe, and everything from his pen is precious to us, in so far as it helps us to compare notes with the Eastern Occult doctrines and, by the light thrown upon both, to prove to the world of Spiritualists and Mystics, that the two systems—the Eastern Âryan, and the Western or the Chaldæo-Jewish Kabalah—are one in their principal metaphysical tenets. Only, while the Eastern Occultists have never lost the key to their esotericism, and are daily verifying and elaborating their doctrines by personal experiments, and by the additional light of modern science, the Western or Jewish Kabalists, besides having been misled for centuries by the introduction of foreign elements in it such as Christian dogmas, dead-letter interpretations of the Bible, etc., have most undeniably lost the true key to the esoteric meaning of Simeon Ben Iochai's Kabalah, and are trying to make up for the loss by interpretations emanating from the depths of their imagination and inner consciousness. Such is evidently the case with J. K., the self-styled London "adept," whose anonymous and powerless vilifications of the Theosophical Society and its members are pertinently regarded by Baron Spédalieri as "tantamount to libels." But we have to be charitable. That poor descendant of the biblical Levites—as we know him to be--in his pigmy efforts to upset the Theosophists, has most evidently fractured his skull against one of his own "occult" sentences. There is one especially in The Spiritualist (July 22nd), to which the attention of the mystically inclined is drawn further down, as this paragraph is most probably the cause of the sad accident which befell so handsome a head. Be it as it may, but it now disables the illustrious J. K. from communicating " scientifically his knowledge" and forces him at the same time to remain, as he expresses it, "in an incommunicable ecstatic state." For it is in no other "state" that our great modern adept—the literary man of such a "calibre"* [Footnote: *. "To accuse a literary man of my calibre of ignorance, is as amusing a mistake as it would have been to charge Porson of ignorance of Greek," he writes in The Spiritualist of July 8th. . . . "The occult is my special subject, and . . . there is but little ... that I do not know," he adds. Now, the above sentence settles the question at once for us. Not only no "adept," but no layman or profane of the most widely recognized intellect and ability would ever have dared, under the penalty of being henceforth and for ever regarded as the most ridiculously conceited of Æsop's heroes, to use such a sentence when speaking of himself! So stupidly arrogant and cowardly impertinent behind the shield of his initials has he shown himself in his transparent attacks upon far better and more worthy men than himself in the above-named Spiritualist, that it is the first and certainly the last time that we do him the honour of noticing him in these columns. Our journal has a nobler task, we trust, than to be polemizing with those, whom in vulgar parlance the world generally terms—bullies. ] that to suspect him of "ignorance" becomes equal, in audacity, to throwing suspicion upon the virtue of Cæsar's wife—could possibly have written the following lines, intended by him, we believe, as a lucid and clear exposition of his own psycho-kabalistic lore as juxtaposed to the "hard words," "outlandish verbiage," "moral and philosophical platitudes," and "jaw-breakers" of "the learned Theosophists."
These are the "gems of occult wisdom" of the illustrious Jewish Kabalist who, like a bashful violet, hides his occult learning under two modest initials.
In every human creature there lies latent in the involitional part of the being a sufficient quantity of the omniscient, the absolute. To induce the latent absolute, which is the involitional part of our volitional conscious being, to become manifest, it is essential that the volitional part of our being should become latent. After the preparatory purification from acquired depravities, a kind of introversion has to take place; the involitional has to become volitional, by the volitional becoming involitional. When the conscious becomes semi-unconscious, the, to us, formerly unconscious becomes fully conscious. The particle of the omniscient that is within us, the vital and growing, sleepless, involitional, occult or female principle being allowed to express itself in the volitional, mental, manifest, or masculine part of the human being, while the latter remains in a state of perfect passivity, the two formerly dissevered parts become reunited as one holy (wholly) perfect being, and then the divine manifestation is inevitable.
Very luckily, J. K. gives us himself the key to this grandiloquent gush by adding:
Necessarily, this is only safely practicable while living in uncompromisingly firm purity, for otherwise there is danger of unbalancement—insanity, or a questionable form of mediumship.
The italics are ours. Evidently with our immaculate "adept" the "involitional, occult or female principle" was not allowed to "express itself in the volitional, mental, manifest, or masculine part" of his being, and—behold the results!
For the edification of our Hindu readers, who are unprogressive enough to refuse to read the lucubrations of J. K., or follow the mental "grand trapeze" performed by this remarkable "adept" on the columns of The Spiritualist, we may add that in the same article he informs his English readers that it is "Hindu mystification, acting on Western credulity" which "brought out the Theosophical Society." "Hindu philosophy," according to that great light of the nineteenth century, is no "philosophy" but rather "mysticism."
Following the track of the mystifying and mystified Hindus they [the Theosophists] consider the four above faculties [Siddhis of Krishna], Anima, Mahima, Laghima and Garima to be the power they [we] have to strive for.
Indeed, what a ludicrous confusion of effect with cause! The injury to the brain must have been serious indeed. Let us hope that timely and repeated lotions of "witch-hazel" or the "universal magic balm" will have its good effects. Meanwhile, we turn the attention of our Hindu readers and students of Occultism to the identity of the doctrines taught by Éliphas Lévi (who is also contemptuously sneered at, and sent by the "adept" to keep company with "Brothers," "Yogis," and "Fakirs") in every essential and vital point with those of our Eastern initiates.