[Common Esotericism of East and West]
Theosophist, January, 1883
Selection from a Letter to the Editor (in response to a review of The Perfect Way) by it’s authors: Dr. Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland | Note and Reply by H.P.B.
. . . our phrase “The Church” has been evidently misapprehended. We used that term and have constantly used it to designate, not the corrupt orthodoxy of the day which has usurped the title, but the interior, true and divine Ecclesia, having the keys of the mysteries of God. And we would point out to our Reviewer that it is not by any means “the same thing” whether we have “distilled mysticism” from the current Christianity, or whether we have resorted to that christianity its “original and true” meaning. If our Reviewer will take the trouble to study the dogmas of the Catholic Church,—(not of the Protestant sects)—he will find how marevellously from behind every one of these masks come forth the divine features of truth, and how incontestably they exhibit themselves as materialisations of spiritual doctrine. So that with the symbology of the Catholic Church, the student, having occult knowledge, may reconstruct the whole fabric of the mysteries, in their due order and mutual relation, not as one may chip and chisel a statue out of a shapeless block of marble, but as from a mould prepared with skill one may cast a perfect work of art.
We are profoundly convinced that the Theosophical Society of Bombay1 would exhibit both wisdom and leaning by accepting the symbology of the West as it does that of the East, and thus adopting as its own the poetic and beautiful types which the art and literature of Europe have consecrated for the past eighteen centuries. In their esoteric significance all the great religions of the world are one, and are built upon the same fundamental truths according to the same essential ideas. Our Reviewer repudiates, as he himself admits, the “crude exoteric notions” of the popular Hindu theology; yet he accepts its esoteric meanings and regards them as constituting an expression of the highest truth. We ask him to believe that the popular religion of Europe is capable of precisely the same interpretation as that of Hindustan, and earnestly invite him and the Bombay Theosophical Society to recognise the equal claim of the Catholic Church with the Buddhist, Brahman and other Eastern Churches to the possession of mystical truth and knowledge. . . .
Editor’s Note: It is most agreeable to us to see our Reviewer of the “Perfect Way” and the writers of that remarkable work thus clasping hands and waving palms of peace over each other’s heads. The friendly discussion of the metaphysics of the book in question has elicited, as all such debates must, the fact that deep thinkers upon the nature of absolute truth scarcely differ, save as to externals. As was remarked in “Isis Unveiled,” the religions of men are but prismatic rays of the one only Truth. If our good friends, the Perfect Way-farers, would but read the second volume of our work, they would find that we have all along been of precisely their own opinion that there is a “mystical truth and knowledge deeply underlying” Roman Catholicism, which is identical with Asiatic esotericism; and that its symbology marks the same ideas, often under duplicate figures. We even went so far as to illustrate with woodcuts the unmistakable derivation of the Hebrew Kabala from the Chaldean—the archaic parent of all later symbology—and the Kabalistic nature of nearly all the dogmas of the R. C. Church. It goes without saying that we, in common with all Asiatic Theosophists, cordially reciprocate the amicable feelings of the writers of the “Perfect Way” for the Theosophical Society. In this moment of supreme effort to refresh the moral nature and satisfy the spiritual yearnings of mankind, all workers, in whatsoever corner of the field, ought to be knit together in friendship and fraternity of feeling. It would be indeed strange if any misunderstanding could arise of so grave a nature as to alienate from us the sympathies of that highly advanced school of modern English thought of which our esteemed correspondents are such intellectual and fitting representatives.
1. Our eminent correspondents mean, we suppose, the “Parent Theosophical Society,” since that of Bombay is but a Branch?