1876: (New) York Against Lankester

A New War Of The Roses Despite the constant recurrence of new discoveries by modern men of science, an exaggerated respect for authority and an established routine among the educated class retard the progress of true knowledge. Facts which, if observed, tested, classified and appreciated, would be of inestimable importance to science, are summarily cast into the despised limbo of supernaturalism. To these conservatives the experience of the past serves neither as an example nor a warning. The overturning of a thousand cherished theories finds our modern philosopher as unprepared for each new scientific revelation as though his predecessor had been infallible from time immemorial. The protoplasmist should, at least, in modesty remember that his past is one vast cemetery of dead theories; a desolate potter’s field wherein exploded hypotheses lie, in ignoble oblivion, like so many executed malefactors, whose names cannot be pronounced by the next of kin […] Read More

1879: “Not A Christian”!

Before entering upon the main question that compels me to ask you kindly to accord me space in your esteemed paper, will you inform me as to the nature of that newly-born infant prodigy which calls itself The Bombay Review? Is it a bigoted, sectarian organ of the Christians, or an impartial journal, fair to all, and unprejudiced as every respectable paper styling itself “Review” ought to be, especially in a place like Bombay, where such a diversity of religious opinions is to be found? The two paragraphs in the number of February 22nd, which so honour the Theosophical Society by a double notice of its American members, would force me to incline toward the former opinion. Both the editorial which attacks my esteemed friend, Miss Bates, and the apocalyptic vision of the modern Ezekiel, alias “Anthropologist,” who shoots his rather blunt arrows at Col. Olcott, require an answer, […] Read More

A Posthumous Publication

We are glad to lay before our readers the first of a series of unpublished writings of the late Éliphas Lévi (Abbé Louis Constant) one of the great masters of occult sciences of the present century in the West. An ex-Catholic priest, he was unfrocked by the ecclesiastical authorities at Rome, who tolerate no belief in God, Devil, or Science outside the narrow circle of their circumscribed dogma, and who anathematize every creed-crushed soul that succeeds in breaking its mental bondage. “Just in the ratio that knowledge increases, faith diminishes; consequently, those that know the most, always believe the least” – said Carlyle. Éliphas Lévi knew much; far more than the privileged few even among the greatest mystics of modern Europe; hence, he was traduced by the ignorant many. He had written these ominous words . . . “The discovery of the great secrets of true religion and of […] Read More

A Note On Eliphas Lévi

[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, Yours devotedly, – […] Read More

1888: To the Readers of Lucifer

Our magazine is only four numbers old, and already its young life is full of cares and trouble. This is all as it should be; i.e., like every other publication, it must fail to satisfy all its readers, and this is only in the nature of things and the destiny of every printed organ. But what seems a little strange in a country of culture and free thought is that Lucifer should receive such a number of anonymous, spiteful, and often abusive letters. This, of course, is but a casual remark, the waste-basket in the office being the only addressee and sufferer in this case; yet it suggests strange truths with regard to human nature. 1 Sincerity is true wisdom, it appears, only to the mind of the moral philosopher. It is rudeness and insult to him who regards dissimulation and deceit as culture and politeness, and holds that […] Read More

Chelas And Lay Chelas

As the word Chela has, among others, been introduced by Theosophy into the nomenclature of Western metaphysics, and the circulation of our magazine is constantly widening, it will be as well if some more definite explanation than heretofore is given with respect to the meaning of this term and the rules of Chelaship, for the benefit of our European if not Eastern members. A “Chela” then, is one who has offered himself or herself as a pupil to learn practically the “hidden mysteries of Nature and the psychical powers latent in man.” The spiritual teacher to whom he proposes his candidature is called in India a Guru; and the real Guru is always an Adept in the Occult Science. A man of profound knowledge, exoteric and esoteric, especially the latter; and one who has brought his carnal nature under subjection of the WILL; who has developed in himself both […] Read More

Diagnoses and Palliatives

“That the world is in such bad condition morally, is conclusive evidence that none of its religions and philosophies, those of the civilized races less than any other, have ever possessed the truth. The right and logical explanation of the subject, of the problems of the great dual principles – right and wrong, good and evil, liberty and despotism, pain and pleasure, egotism and altruism – are as impossible to them now as they were 1881 years ago: they are as far from the solution as they ever were. . . .” (From an Unpublished Letter, well known to Theosophists.) One need not belong to the Theosophical Society to be forcibly struck with the correctness of the above remarks. The accepted creeds of the civilized nations have lost their restraining influence on almost every class of society; nor have they per had any other restraint save that of physical […] Read More

Is the Desire to ‘Live’ Selfish?

The passage, “to Live, to Live, TO LIVE must be the unswerving resolve,” occurring in the article on the Elixir of Life, published in the March and April Numbers of Vol. III of the Theosophist, is often quoted, by superficial readers unsympathetic with the Theosophical Society, as an argument that the above teaching, of occultism is the most concentrated form of selfishness. In order to determine whether the critics are right or wrong, the meaning of the word “selfishness” must first be ascertained. According to an established authority, selfishness is that “exclusive regard to one’s own interest or happiness; that supreme self-love or self-preference which leads a person to direct his purposes to the advancement of his own interest, power, or happiness, without regarding those of others.” In short, an absolutely selfish individual is one who cares for himself and none else, or, in other words, one who is […] Read More

1882: Esoteric Axioms And Spiritual Speculations

    In a lengthy review of A. Lillie’s book, Buddha and Early Buddhism, by M. A. (Oxon), our esteemed friend, the critic, takes the opportunity for another quiet little fling at his well-wishers, the Theosophists. On the authority (?) of Mr. Lillie, who seems to know all about it, the reviewer contradicts and exposes the assertions made and theories enunciated by the Theosophists. We will now quote from his review “Buddhism and Western Thought,” published in the October number of the Psychological Review:     “It will be evident to any reader, who has followed me so far, that the Buddhist belief is permeated by what I have described as a distinctive, ‘a peculiar note of Modern Spiritualism – the presence and guardianship of departed spirits'(!?)1 I confess that this struck me with some surprise, and, I may say, pleased surprise, for I had come to think that there was […] Read More

Mr. A. Lillie’s Delusions

I write to rectify the many mistakes – if they are, indeed, only “mistakes” – in Mr. Lillie’s last letter that appeared in Light of August 2nd, in answer to the Observations on his pamphlet by the President of the London Lodge. 1. This letter, in which the author of Buddha and Early Buddhism proposed to     Consider briefly some of the notable omissions made in the “Observations,” begins with two most notable assertions concerning myself, which are entirely false, and which the author had not the slightest right to make. He says:     For fourteen years (1860 to 1874) Madame Blavatsky was an avowed Spiritualist, controlled by a spirit called “John King” . . . she attended many séances. But this would hardly prove anyone to be a Spiritualist, and, moreover, all these assertions are entirely false. I say the word and underline it, for the facts in them are […] Read More

Lodges of Magic

    When fiction rises pleasing to the eye,     Men will believe, because they love the lie;     But Truth herself, if clouded with a frown,     Must have some solemn proofs to pass her down.         – CHURCHILL.     One of the most esteemed of our friends in occult research, propounds the question of the formation of “working Lodges” of the Theosophical Society, for the development of adeptship. If the practical impossibility of forcing this process has been shown once, in the course of the theosophical movement, it has scores of times. It is hard to check one’s natural impatience to tear aside the veil of the Temple. To gain the divine knowledge, like the prize in a classical tripos, by a system of coaching and cramming, is the ideal of the average beginner in occult study. The refusal of the originators of the Theosophical Society to encourage […] Read More

Our Three Objects

    All the performances of the human heart at which we look with praise or wonder are instances of the resistless force of PERSEVERANCE. It is by this that the quarry becomes a pyramid, and that distant countries are united by canals. . . . Operations incessantly continued, in time surmount the greatest difficulties, and mountains are levelled and oceans bounded by the slender force of human beings. – JOHNSON So it is, and must be always, my dear boys. If the Angel Gabriel were to come down from heaven and head a successful rise against the most abominable and unrighteous vested interest which the poor old world groans under, he would most certainly lose his character for many years, probably for centuries, not only with upholders of the said vested interest, but with the respectable mass of people he had delivered. – HUGHES Post nubila Phæbus. – After the […] Read More

Philosophers and Philosophicules

    We shall in vain interpret their words by the notions of our philosophy and the doctrines in our schools. – LOCKE Knowledge of the lowest kind is un-unified knowledge; Science is partially unified knowledge; Philosophy is completely unified knowledge. – HERBERT SPENCER, First Principles. New accusations are brought by captious censors against our Society in general and Theosophy, especially. We will summarize them as we proceed along, and notice the “freshest” denunciation. We are accused of being illogical in the “Constitution and Rules” of the Theosophical Society; and contradictory in the practical application thereof. The accusations are framed in this wise: In the published “Constitution and Rules” great stress is laid upon the absolutely non-sectarian character of the Society. It is constantly insisted upon that it has no creed, no philosophy, no religion, no dogmas, and even no special views of its own to advocate, still less to impose […] Read More