Iconoclasm Toward Illusions
The Path, December 1892
A disposition not to interfere in any way with beliefs which are illusions prevails with many who dislike the pain caused by such tearing away of the veil. And the argument that illusionary beliefs, creeds, and dogmas should not be done away with so long as the believer is happy or good has been used by the Christian Church—and more especially by the Roman Catholic branch of it—as a potent means of keeping the mind of man in an iron chain. They are accustomed to add that unless such creeds and beliefs shall stand, morality will die out altogether. But experience does not prove the position to be correct.
For numerous examples exist in the dissenting or Protestant form of Christianity showing that the important doctrines of the Church are not necessary for the prevailing of good morals; and, on the other hand, immorality, vice, and crime in places high and low coexist with a formal declaration of belief in the church dogmas. In many parts of Italy the grossest superstition and murderous vengefulness and crooked hearts are found side by side with an outwardly pious compliance with the ordinances of the Church and a superstitious belief in its dogmas. The whole Christian assembly of nations officially violates the commands of Jesus every day and hour.
Shall it be worse or better, or kind or harsh, to tear away the veil as quickly as possible? And if the iconoclastic attack should be made, for what reason ought one to hesitate because the operation and the attack may result in mental pain?
The only reason for hesitation lies in this fear to give pain; there can be nothing but good results from the change from an untrue and illogical, and therefore debasing, creed, if a system that is complete and reasonable be furnished in its place.
Were we dealing with children or with a race mind which though dwelling in an adult body is but that of a child, then, indeed, it would be right to lead them on by what may be entirely an illusion. But the day of man’s childhood as an immortal being has passed away. He is now grown up, his mind has arrived at the point where it must know, and when, if knowledge be refused, this violation of our being will result in the grossest and vilest superstition or the most appalling materialism. No child is born without the accompanying pains, and now the soul-mind of man is struggling for birth. Shall we aid in preventing it merely for the avoidance of preliminary pain? Shall we help a vast brood of priests to refasten the clamps of steel which for so many centuries they have held tightly on the race-mind? Never, if we see the great truth that we are preparing for a cycle when reason is to take her place beside the soul and guide the pilgrim to the tree of life eternal.
Be not beguiled by the argument that ’tis unwise to tell the truth. It is but the song of the siren, intended to lure the traveler to his doom.
Tell the truth, but do not force it. If even a pious soul should lose the historical Jesus Christ and see instead the glorious image of the Self in every man, that were a gain worth all the pain the first rude shock might give. The danger of lifting the veil of Isis lies not in the doctrines of Unity, Reincarnation, and Karma, but in untaught mysteries which not Theosophist is able to reveal. The change from dogma or creed to a belief in law and justice impartial will bring perhaps some tears to the soul, but the end thereof is peace and freedom.
The “great orphan Humanity,” now grown up, no longer needs the toys of a thousand years ago, but requires, and with a voice like the rush of mighty waters demands, that every veil shall be lifted, every lie unveiled, and every light be lighted that can shed a ray upon the remainder of its toilsome road.