Ages of Darkness

This section is still under construction. See the menu to your right (scroll down on mobiles) for more Movements.

The Light of the Dark Ages

The Light of the Dark Ages

The sixth century was the darkest period in the history of the Western world. It marks the mid-point, or nadir, in the 2500-year cycle which began with Pythagoras and ended with H.P.B., and corresponds to the lowest of the seven worlds. It is almost impossible to get a clear picture of Europe during this dark century because for two hundred years after its beginning there was scarcely a Christian who could either read or write. The only important historian of this century was the half-illiterate Pope Gregory the Great, who is described by historians as “the most inveterate enemy of learning who ever lived,” and whose Dialogues make it difficult to believe that they could have been written by a prominent man and addressed to adult minds. Taking as his motto, Ignorance is the mother of devotion, Pope Gregory celebrated his rise to power by burning the Palatine Library and by forbidding the study of mathematics and the classics. He was so proud of his own ignorance that he openly boasted of the ungrammatical construction of his own writings and severely censured a priest for paying attention to the rules of grammar.

In this century the scientific knowledge of Europe reached its lowest ebb. The idea of the sphericity of the earth, commonly accepted a thousand years before, was now anathema. The Christian world had embraced the system of cosmogony worked out by Cosmas Indicopleustes. This monk described the earth as a flat quadrangular plane four hundred days’ journey long and two hundred broad. Above the earth, like the second floor of a house, is heaven. Here the angels spend their time pushing and pulling the planets to and fro and opening the windows of the heavenly palace so that rain can fall upon the earth. Heaven, the final abode of all orthodox Christians, is cooled by glacial waters. Hell lies beneath the earth and is populated by all who were born before Jesus Christ, and with those who, after hearing of the Gospel, refused to accept it. Cosmas closes his treatise with rapturous assertions that not only Moses and the Prophets, but also all the angels and apostles agree with the truth of his teachings, assuring his readers that on the Day of Judgment God will condemn all who do not accept them.

Such was the “science” of Europe in the sixth century. The study of philosophy was a state crime, and any one caught with a philosophical book in his house was accused of magic and put to death.

The persecution of scholars steadfastly maintained by the Christian Church for over four hundred years had gradually driven all students of science and philosophy out of Europe. These people sought and found refuge in Arabia, the still unconquered land of liberty in those days, where they continued to promulgate the knowledge which had caused their persecution and exile. The persecuted Gnostics gave the Arabs a knowledge of Greek philosophy. The Nestorians made them acquainted with the Neoplatonic writers and the persecuted Jews instructed them in the Kabala.

Among the various groups who had taken sanctuary in Arabia, the Nestorians were by this time the most powerful. Nestorius, the founder of the Order, was the Bishop who had refused to accept the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God. He was excommunicated and exiled to an African oasis where he died of thirst. After his death his followers emigrated into Asia Minor, China, Tartary and India, and increased so rapidly that they eventually outnumbered all the Christians of the Greek and Roman Churches combined. Many of these Nestorians were students of the Hermetic philosophy and the Kabala. Many of them, like Nestorius, were students of Neoplatonism, while others followed the Gnostic teachings. In his followers, therefore, four streams of ancient Wisdom-Religion met and mingled, and for this reason the Nestorians formed an important link in the Theosophical Movement.

In the last quarter of the sixth century occurred an event which was destined to change the history not only of Europe, but of the whole world. One summer day in the year 581, a caravan of camels laden with the costly products of southern Arabia appeared in the little town of Busra. The leader of the caravan was accompanied by a boy who was the nephew of the guardian of the Caaba, the sacred Temple of the Arabs in Mecca. The boy’s name was Mohammed. During his stay in Busra Mohammed was entertained in the Nestorian monastery. He had many conversations with the monks and became deeply interested in their religious and philosophical views, particularly in their aversion to idolatry and their revolt against the carnalized Trinity of the orthodox Christian Church. As Mohammed grew to manhood he came more and more under the influence of the Nestorians. Finally he retired to a grotto and gave himself up to meditation. From this silent communication with his own thoughts one conviction was born: the Unity of God. He then left his retreat, determined to devote his whole life to the promulgation of that one truth. By the end of six years he had gained only 1500 converts. But when he departed from Medina on his last pilgrimage to Mecca, he was accompanied by 114,000 followers. The religion of Islam has now approximately 200,000,000 believers.

Like Jesus and the Buddha before him, Mohammed had no intention of founding a new religion. His purpose was to reform Christianity and Judaism, to destroy the sectarianism and idolatry into which these two religions had fallen. For many centuries the Muslims considered their religion merely as an offshoot of Nestorianism. Not until it had become intoxicated with its own success did Islam repudiate the original intentions of its founder and assert itself as a distinct revelation.

There was, however, one striking difference between Christianity and Mohammedanism which appeared at the very beginning of both religions and continued without interruption for many centuries. Where the Christians denounced learning, the Mohammedans encouraged it. Where the Christians destroyed libraries and universities, the Mohammedans built them. Within twenty-five years after the death of Mohammed, intellectual development had become a settled principle in the system of Islam. Ali, the son-in-law of Mohammed, became a patron of arts and sciences and devoted himself to the pursuit of knowledge. When the seat of government was removed to Baghdad, a new era of intellectual development arose which had ultimately a profound influence on the whole of Europe. The first Khalif of Baghdad was a devoted student of the sciences who established many colleges of medicine and law. When Haroun-al-Raschid (hero of the Arabian Nights) came into power he ordered a school to be attached to every mosque built. He never traveled without his retinue of a hundred scholars. Sir Mark Sykes gives us an illuminating picture of Mohammedan culture under his reign:

The Imperial Court was polished, luxurious and wealthy. Every department of state had a properly regulated and well-ordered public office. Schools and colleges abounded. Philosophers, students, doctors, poets and theologians flocked to Baghdad from all parts of the civilized globe. (The Caliph’s Last Message.)

While the Christians were declaring that the world is flat, the Mohammedans were teaching geography from globes in their common schools. While the Christians were touching “holy relics” in the hope of being cured of their diseases, the Mohammedans were establishing great medical colleges conducted along strictly scientific lines, with rigid entrance requirements. In these colleges physiology and hygiene were studied, and their materia medica was practically the same as ours today. Their surgeons understood the use of anaesthetics and performed some of the most difficult operations known. A description of one of these Arabian hospitals recently published by the American University at Beirut relates that the number of patients admitted often amounted to 4000 daily. Every patient when discharged received a certain sum of money and a suit of clothes. The furniture and bedding in this hospital rivalled the appointments in the palaces of the Khalif and the princes. Efficient service was assured by capable physicians, competent inspectors, educated directors and active servants who attended to all the needs of the sick.

What a contrast between the condition in Mohammedan Arabia and that found in Christian Europe! When a Christian fell ill in those days, his only hope of recovery depended upon the touching of some “holy relic” carried about by the monks, for touching which a substantial fee was asked. These relics, which are described by a monk who brought some of them back from Jerusalem, show the intellectual degradation into which Europe had fallen. They included a finger of the Holy Ghost; the snout of a seraph; one of the fingernails of a cherub; one of the ribs of the Word made Flesh; some rays of the Star which led the Wise Men to the cradle of the Holy Infant; a phial containing the sweat of St. Michael which exuded during his fight with the Devil — “all of which things,” the pious monk observed, “have I brought home with me.”

In the year 800 Pope Leo III. placed the royal diadem upon the head of Charlemagne, who showed his gratitude to the Church by inflicting capital punishment upon all who refused to accept Christianity or who still continued to eat meat during Lent. When Charlemagne substituted the Ambrosian chant in the Church in place of the old Gregorian, he ordered the singers to be burned along with their music. But Charlemagne’s submission to Papal authority could not be pushed beyond a certain limit. He expressed his disapproval of celibacy by taking unto himself nine wives and several concubines, and he openly fought the Papal ban against education by trying to learn to read and write. In this, however, he was unsuccessful, never being able to do more than sign his own name.

It seems almost useless to look for any traces of the Theosophical Movement in these dark centuries of European history. As a matter of fact, there is no historical record of any individual in the Christian world between the sixth and ninth centuries who openly espoused the work of the Movement. But in the ninth century one man appeared who was bold enough to defy the Holy Anathema against the study of philosophy, and brave enough to declare reason superior to blind faith. That man was John Erigena.

John Erigena was a native of Britain. Procuring copies of the works of Plato and Aristotle in his early youth, he studied them in silence and secrecy. In the year of Charlemagne’s coronation Erigena started on a pilgrimage to visit the places where these two philosophers had lived and taught. There he came in contact with men who were acquainted with the philosophies of Greece and the Far East, a fact which shows that there must have been obscure Theosophists living in Europe even in those dark days. When Erigena returned to his native land he wrote an important treatise called De Divisione Naturae, in which he promulgated many Theosophical teachings. God, he said, is not a Person, but a Principle which is the Creator, Preserver and Regenerator of Nature, “the Beginning and Cause of all things; the end and consummation of all things.” The Universe, he declared, is an Emanation of this First Principle, which is Life itself. Therefore Life is universal, and there is nothing dead or inanimate in the whole of Nature. Erigena declared that this First Principle expressed itself as the fundamental Law of the Universe, which he described as the Law of Cause and Effect. He held also that all souls are one with the Universal Over-Soul. As John Erigena gave utterance to the three fundamental propositions of Theosophy, he must be considered as one of the “Companions” whose work it is to rediscover and promulgate the teachings of the ancient Wisdom-Religion.

During the eighth and ninth centuries, four “Companions” appeared in the Mohammedan world. Two of them gave expression to the Neoplatonic tradition; the other two continued the Hermetic line of the Movement.

Neoplatonic thought, which had been carried on from the fifth century by the Nestorians, was given new life in the eighth century by the great Arabian philosopher Al-Kindi. In his youth Al-Kindi had come in contact with Arabic translations of the works of Proclus, Plotinus and Pythagoras. He became so interested in Neoplatonism that he took up the study of Greek so that he could translate the works of other Neoplatonists. When he died he left many of these translations behind him, accompanied by voluminous commentaries of his own. The work of Al-Kindi was continued in the ninth century by an equally famous Arabian scholar, Al-Ferabi, who received his philosophical training in Baghdad. He was a prolific writer on many subjects, all of which were approached from the Neoplatonic point of view. He was succeeded by his still more famous pupil, Avicenna.

The Hermetic line of the Theosophical Movement found able exponents in two other illustrious Arab scholars — Geber and Rhazes. The life of Geber (whose real name was Abu Musa Djafar al-Sofi) is full of mystery. Some historians describe him as an “Illuminated Monarch of India” who had come from that land to instruct the sons of Islam in Eastern philosophy. Others say that he was a Persian mystic, a member of the mysterious sect of Sufis. Whatever his mystical connections may have been, there seems to be no doubt as to the amount of scientific knowledge he possessed. Geber is called the “father of modern chemistry” and is acknowledged as the man who re-introduced the science of chemistry into Europe. Hoefer says that “Geber, for the history of chemistry, is what Hippocrates is for the history of medicine.” Cardan describes him as one of the twelve great geniuses of the world. Geber wrote over five hundred books, only three of which have survived to the present day. He veiled his real teachings in such obscure language that the name of Geber eventually gave rise to our word “gibberish.” The reason why they appear as “gibberish” to the average scientist is because Geber approached the science of chemistry from the philosophical and ethical point of view. He declared that no one could really understand the science of chemistry unless he first learned to know himself. He taught that matter must be considered from the spiritual point of view, and in his Book of Mercy (a strange title for a chemical treatise) he declared that “the body is only the place of sojourn and refuge of the spirit, the spirit being the real force within every body.”

The Hermetic and alchemical line of the Theosophical Movement was continued in the ninth century by the great Arabian scientist and philosopher Rhazes, whose real name was Abu-Bekr Arrasi. He devoted many years of his life to working out the correspondences between the planets, the metals and the principles of man. He applied his knowledge of these correspondences in the practice of medicine, and performed many wonderful cures. His success was so great that his methods became the basis of medical study in all the large Arab Universities, and were considered as the final authority in medical science up to the time of Paracelsus.

Thus, in the life and work of these five men — one in Christian Europe, four in Mohammedan Arabia — we have convincing evidence of the continuity of the Theosophical Movement, the light of which is never extinguished, although at times the flame burns low. Like the quenchless lamps of the Alchemists, buried for centuries in silent tombs, the undying light of this great Movement burns steadily throughout the centuries, however unaware of the fact the world may be.

THEOSOPHY, Vol. 25, No. 12, October, 1937, Pages 532-538

The Druzes of Mount Lebanon

The Druzes of Mount Lebanon

The tenth century is an important milestone in the history of Europe, as it marked the end of the first thousand years of Christianity. For many centuries the Catholic Church had claimed to be the sole repository of Jesus’ teachings, with the Popes as His living representatives. How were these self-assumed responsibilities being discharged at the end of a thousand years?

The Gospel of Matthew states that on a certain occasion—

Jesus went into the Temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the Temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers . . . and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the House of Prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matthew xvi:12-13.)

A thousand years later the House of Prayer had become an institution of money-changers. Benefices, dispensations, licenses, absolutions and privileges were now being bought and sold like so much merchandise, and the entire time of “Christ’s Representatives” was occupied with politics, litigations and processes. Every stroke of the pen had its price, and a system of bribery prevailed which extended from the doorkeeper to the Pope himself.

The Gospel of Matthew records another of Jesus’ statements:

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew v:27-28.)

A thousand years later practically every “Representative of Christ” had his mistresses and his concubines. This custom extended straight down the clerical line, and the support of the illegitimate children resulting from these illicit unions had now become a serious matter to the Church.

The mistress of Sergius III, the first Pope of the tenth century, was a notorious prostitute who finally deposed Sergius and placed her new lover in the Papal Chair. Fourteen years later her daughter (also a prostitute) had the Pope smothered and secured his position for her own illegitimate son, and later for her grandson. The Lateran Palace at this time was a veritable brothel. The life of Pope Benedict IX was so foul that his successor “shuddered to describe it.” His adulteries, murders and other abominations were of such common occurrence that at last the people revolted. In despair of maintaining his position, Pope Benedict finally put up the Papal Chair at auction. It was bought by John Gratian, who became Pope Gregory Vl.

The Gospel of Matthew also records these words of Jesus:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you. (Matthew v:43-44.)

One thousand years later Pope Urban II started the First Crusade. It was preceded by a vanguard having as its mascot a goose in which the Holy Ghost was said to be enshrined. The capture of Jerusalem was attended by atrocities almost beyond belief. The brains of young children were dashed out against the walls. Infants were thrown over the battlements. Every woman who could be seized was violated. Men were roasted alive after being ripped open to see if they had swallowed gold. During the final massacre of 70,000 persons, the Pope’s legate was seen “partaking in the triumph.”

In the eleventh century the first protestant appeared. He was a young Frenchman, Gerbert, who had studied in one of the Arab Universities in Spain. After returning to his native city of Rheims, Gerbert tried to establish a school in which the sphericity of the earth would be taught. When the Bishop of Orleans rebuked him for trying to bring Mohammedan ideas into a Christian country, suggesting that Rome, and not Cordova, was the world’s center of learning, Gerbert replied: “There is not one at Rome who knows enough of letters to qualify him for a door-keeper. With what face shall he presume to teach who has never learned?” When Gerbert protested against the sale of indulgences, the Bishop admitted the charge but asked, “Did not the Saviour Himself take gifts from the Wise Men?” When Gerbert spoke of the gross immoralities of the Roman Pontiffs, he was warned to let such matters alone and reminded that “Ham was accursed for uncovering his father’s nakedness.” But — so strange are the workings of Karma — Gerbert eventually became Pope Sylvester II, although his career was cut short by a dish of poisoned figs. The name of Pope Sylvester does not appear in the Catholic catalogue of “Saints.” Perhaps his name is inscribed in other, and more important records.

The contrast between Christian and Mohammedan Europe in the tenth century is worthy of consideration. Spain had been conquered by the Mohammedans in the eighth century, and two hundred years later it had become a veritable Paradise. Every street in the city of Cordova was lighted by public lamps. Seven hundred years later there was not a single street lamp in the city of London. The streets of Cordova were well paved and immaculately clean. Hundreds of years later the streets of Paris became sloughs on rainy days. The sanitary conditions were appalling. Until the beginning of the seventeenth century the streets of Berlin were never swept, and there was a law that every countryman who came to town should take away a load of dirt when he departed from the city.

The palaces of the Mohammedan princes represented the height of luxury and comfort. Six hundred years later the audience chamber of Queen Elizabeth was “covered with hay, after the English fashion,” as one of her chroniclers informs us. The Mohammedan palaces had air-conditioning systems while the Christian Princes warmed themselves with huge fires, the smoke of which escaped through a hole in the roof. The religion of Islam demanded exquisite personal cleanliness while the Christians wore leather garments often remaining unchanged until they fell to pieces. The luxury of a bath was practically unknown. The bodies of great officers of state, like the Archbishop of Canterbury, swarmed with vermin. Certainly no Mohammedan Minister of State would have presented such a condition on the day of his death as did the corpse of Thomas á Becket. Cleanliness was not associated with godliness in those days. As Dr. Andrew D. White, one time President of Cornell University, and later American Ambassador to St. Petersburg and Berlin, writes:

Living in filth was considered by great numbers of holy men as an evidence of sanctity. St. Jerome and the Breviary of the Roman Church dwell with unction on the fact that St. Hilarion lived his whole life long in utter physical uncleanliness. St. Anthony never washed his feet; St. Euphraxia belonged to a convent in which the nuns religiously abstained from bathing. St. Simeon Stylites was in this respect unspeakable. The least that can be said is, that he lived in ordure and stench intolerable to his visitors. (History of Warfare of Science and Theology II, 69.)

The religion of Islam prohibited the use of all intoxicating liquors, while the famous Christian slogan of that day was: As drunk as a Pope!

Although Europe is indebted to its Mohammedan conquerors for many of its physical comforts, its real debt to Islam is intellectual. From the seventh to the thirteenth centuries it was the Arabs and the Jews, and they alone, who kept the torch of knowledge burning. The Mohammedans encouraged intellectual pursuits, allowed freedom of thought and religious liberty, and welcomed all scholars into their midst, irrespective of their religion, color or race.

Theosophists feel particularly grateful to one Mohammedan and one Jew whose efforts in the tenth and eleventh centuries resuscitated the Hermetic and Neoplatonic philosophies in Europe and brought the Kabala to the attention of the Western world. The Hermetic philosophy and Alchemy were re-introduced into Europe by Avicenna, the famous pupil of Al-Ferabi. He was born in Bokhara in 937 and at the age of ten he had memorized the entire Koran. At eighteen he was an accomplished physician and philosopher, and at twenty-one he wrote an encyclopedia of all sciences except mathematics. He was equally famed as a geologist and a poet, some of his biographers claiming that it was Avicenna who was the real author of the quatrains of Omar Khayyam. He founded the Graeco-Arabian School of Medicine and his works were still being studied in the European Universities as late as 1650. To this day his portrait adorns the diploma of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. Like many other Arab physicians, Avicenna used his knowledge of correspondences (which forms the basis of the Hermetic philosophy) in his treatment of disease. He traced many diseases back to the inner principles, and made a special study of the influences of the mother’s imagination upon the unborn child. He is also said to have possessed the knowledge which allowed him to retain his physical body long beyond the average term of years. The Theosophical Glossary repeats the legend that “owing to his knowledge of the Elixir of Life he still lives as an Adept who will disclose himself to the profane at the end of a certain cycle.”

Ibn Gebirol, known to the Medieval Scholastics as Avicebron, formed an important link in the Neoplatonic succession, since it was through him that Neoplatonism, long exiled, returned to Europe. His parents were Spanish Jews and Ibn Gebirol spoke Arabic and Hebrew with equal facility from his earliest youth. In a poem written in his sixteenth year he declares: “From my youth have I labored in the cause of wisdom, for her goal is joy-engendering.” His writings fall into two classes: (1) his poems, always written in Hebrew for the purpose of expounding Kabalistic doctrines, and (2) his prose, always written in Arabic, containing expressions of Neoplatonic philosophy. He wrote over three hundred poems, some of which have been incorporated into the Liturgy of the Spanish Jews. Of his twenty philosophical works only two remain, the most important being his Fons Vitae, or Fountain of Life. This is written in the form of a dialogue between Master and disciple, and the influence of Plotinus can be traced throughout its pages. In regard to the First Principle, Avicebron wrote: “To ascend to the First Supreme Substance is impossible, but it is possible, though difficult, to ascend to That Which is nearest to this Substance.” (v:55.) The Universe, he says, is an emanation of this First Supreme Substance, which becomes more perceptible to sense as it descends the ladder of being. “The nearer the form is to the First Supreme Substance the more intangible and unapparent it is; while the nearer it is to the corporeal form, the more dense and visible it is.” (v:26.) Like all true philosophers, Avicebron declares that the first object of man’s search should be knowledge: “The knowledge which should above all be sought is the knowledge of himself. At the same time he should seek to know the Final Cause through Which he is, because the existence of man has a Final Cause.” (v:1.)

In the eleventh century an important movement arose in Syria which still remains as one of the last surviving relics of the ancient Wisdom-Religion. It was centered in the Druzes of Mount Lebanon, a people of much mystery. Many theories as to their origin have been suggested, and their religion is described as a mixture of Judaism, Christianity and Mohammedanism, strongly tinged with Gnosticism, Lamaism and the Magian system of Persia. In reality, the Druzes are the descendants of the persecuted mystics of all nations who found refuge in the mountains of Syria during the early years of the Christian era. The Gnostic strain in their religious philosophy came to them from the Gnostic Ophites who fled to Syria in the second century in order to escape the persecution of the Christian Church. Some of the Druzes trace their Order back to Hemsa, the uncle of Mohammed who, in the year 625, went to Tibet in search of the secret wisdom. He is said to have incarnated again in the eleventh century as H’amsa, the Founder of the Druzes. From that time on he is supposed to have reincarnated successively in the body of the chief Druze Hierophant (or Okhal) in the same way that the Buddha is said to reincarnate in the Tibetan Lamas, and Nanak in the Guru-Kings of the Sikhs. The Druzes are actually the Sikhs of Asia Minor, the similarity between them being the result of their mutual connection with a third, and still more mysterious community — that Fraternity of Tibetan Lamaists known as the Brotherhood of Khe-lang.

H. P. Blavatsky, who as a Druze Initiate spoke from personal knowledge, said that the Druzes are more Lamaistic in their beliefs and certain rites than any other people on the face of the globe. H’amsa, the Founder of their Order, came to Syria from the “Land of the Word of God,” which is a literal translation of Lhassa, the sacred city of Tibet. The spiritual titles given to H’amsa correspond perfectly with those of the Dalai-Lama. The five Druze “Messengers” occupy the same position as the five Hobilghans of Tibet. Both the Druze and the Tibetan Fraternities have their inner, esoteric schools which are unknown to the world at large. The period of probationary discipleship in both schools is long and severe, and the neophytes of both schools have pass-words and signs of recognition which are practically identical.

The Druzes claim that H’amsa, at the present day, is concealed in a secret retreat known only to their Initiates. Every seventh year some of these Initiates travel to a certain spot in the Western part of China, returning at the expiration of the eleventh year with fresh instructions from “El Hamma.”

The Druzes worship no personal God. Their Deity is the Essence of Life, ever-invisible, all-pervading and incomprehensible to the human mind. They divide man into soul, body and intelligence, or mind, and say that it is the latter which imparts and communicates to the soul the divine spark from its H’amsa (or Christos). Their ideas concerning reincarnation and transmigration are Pythagorean and Kabalistic. Seven commandments are given to the uninitiated, and the morality demanded of their humblest member is strict and uncompromising.

The Druzes at the present day number around 100,000 souls. They are a strong, stalwart race, distinguished and dignified in appearance, noted for their polished manners and their fine, keen intelligence. A Druze can always be recognized by his accurate pronunciation of the Arabic gutturals, which he never slurs or softens as many of the other Syrians do.

Any visitor to Syria who happens to come in contact with some of the Druzes will be welcome to attend one of their public meetings, which take place on Thursday evenings. If the visitor be a Christian, he will probably listen to a reading from his own Scriptures. If he be a Mohammedan, he will be equally sure to hear selections from the Koran. Probably neither will be aware of the fact that these Thursday meetings are merely blinds conducted for the benefit of the inquisitive stranger who might have heard of their secret meetings, which occur on occasional Friday nights, and to which no outsider has ever been invited. At certain stated intervals the elders and Initiates of the two highest degrees repair to a secret place in the mountains where there is an old monastery which was erected during the early years of the Christian era. Underneath the ruins are great subterranean chambers where their rites of initiation take place, rites which have never been witnessed by any outsider. Nor have the forty-five sacred Books of the Druzes ever been examined by any European scholar. Not one of the copies now in the possession of the Vatican and other European libraries is genuine, and the work presented to the French King by Nasr-Allah as a portion of the Druze Scriptures is nothing but a forgery.

And yet, in spite of their secret rites of initiation and their connection with the Brotherhood of Khe-lang, H.P.B. declared that

. . . the Druzes may be said to belong to one of the least esoteric of secret societies. There are others far more powerful and learned, the existence of which is not even suspected in Europe. There are many branches belonging to the great “Mother Lodge” which, mixed up with certain communities, may be termed secret sects within other sects. (Isis Unveiled II, 315.)

THEOSOPHY, Vol. 26, No. 1, November, 1937, Pages 4-10

Roger Bacon

Roger Bacon

Wherever thought has struggled to be free, there the great Theosophical Movement is to be discerned. The twelfth century is interesting from this point of view, as it marked the beginning of the struggle for intellectual freedom in Christian Europe. Up to this time the Church had been the only educational institution in Christendom, and no one, unless he were a member of the clergy or had studied in some monastical institution, could either read or write. But in the twelfth century small groups of students began to gather in France, determined to gain an education themselves and to pass on their knowledge to others. In 1100 a young man named Peter Abelard came in contact with some of these students. He prepared himself to teach and encouraged others to do the same. As the result of his efforts, the teachers of Paris formed a guild or union, known as a Universitas, and from this original impulse sprang the first Universities in Christian Europe.

At the same time another group of people banded themselves together for altruistic service, and in 1118 the Order of the Knights Templar was founded by the two Knights Hugh de Payens and Geoffrey de St. Omer. The purpose of this Order, on the surface, was to protect pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land. Its secret object, however, was to encourage the new-born struggle for intellectual freedom and to restore the one universal religion in the world. Even Masonic authorities differ as to the forces which lay behind the founding of this Order, although it is agreed that they were in Asia Minor. Lawrie, in his History of Freemasonry, claims that the Templars inherited their occult knowledge from the Druzes of Mount Lebanon. In reality Hugh de Payens was initiated by Theocletes, Grand-Pontiff of the Nazarenes, or “St. John Christians,” who had inherited the esoteric instructions of Jesus as found in the original Gospel of Matthew. The first Templars regarded Jesus as a Brother, not a God, and strictly adhered to the secret teachings of their Chiefs in the East. The red cross on their white mantles had the same significance as with the Initiates of every other country.

The Knights Templar were opposed to the Church of Rome from the very first. In order to keep their real purpose a secret from the Church, the Templars held their meetings in caves or isolated country houses. In the early part of the fourteenth century the French King Philip the Fair and Pope Clement V concocted a plan for the destruction of the Order and the confiscation of their property. Jacques de Molay, the head of the Order, was called to Paris and thrown into prison, and every Knight in France was arrested on the charge of heresy. After a mock trial de Molay and fifty-four other Knights were burned at the stake. Says Albert Pike:

The Order disappeared at once. Its estates and wealth were confiscated, and it seemed to have ceased to exist. Nevertheless it lived, under other names and governed by unknown Chiefs, revealing itself only to those who had proven themselves worthy to be entrusted with the dangerous Secret. For the modern Orders that style themselves Templars have assumed a name to which they have not the shadow of a title. (Morals and Dogmas of Freemasonry.)

The Temple was the last secret organization in Europe which, as a body, had in its possession some of the mysteries of the East. For centuries a meeting was held every thirteen years on the Island of Malta, where thirteen representatives of the Order, among whom were crowned heads, planned for the religious and political fate of the different nations. As late as the eighteenth century there were isolated “Brothers” secretly working under the direction of Eastern Brotherhoods. The spurious Order which later arose in France was under the supervision of the Jesuits. In 1826 this Jesuitical Order brought about the assassination of one of the greatest Princes in Europe. This Prince, whose mysterious death has never been satisfactorily explained, was the last possessor of the secrets of the true Knights Templar.

To the “intellectual heresy” of the student groups and the “spiritual heresy” of the Knights Templar a third form of “heresy” — this one philosophical — was soon added. It was known as Averrhoism, and was based upon the doctrine of Emanations, which directly opposed the idea of a Creative Deity. The work of Averrhoes was supplemented by that of two Jewish Rabbis, Isaac the Blind and Azariel ben Menachem, whose Commentary on the Ten Sephiroth presented the same doctrine from the Kabalistic point of view. Averrhoism quickly penetrated into the University of Paris and was adopted by some of the foremost thinkers of the day. The Emperor Frederick II openly espoused it and was excommunicated from the Church as a result. Roger Bacon studied it and approved of it. It formed the favorite theme of discussion among the later Italian painters, Leonardo da Vinci accepting it without question, while others used Averrhoes in their paintings as the type of anti-Christ. In 1512 the Church anathematized Averrhoes and his doctrines and branded all who studied them as infidels.

By the thirteenth century the number and variety of “heretics” had increased so rapidly that for the first time the Church began to be afraid. As H. G. Wells humorously remarks: “It was hunting everywhere for heretics as timid old ladies were said to look under beds and in cupboards for burglars before retiring for the night.” (Outline of History, p. 655.) In her frenzied search for all who opposed her supreme dictatorship, the Church found in the south of France a veritable hornet’s nest of “heretics” known as the Albigenses and Waldenses.

The Albigenses were the descendants of those heretical Christians who had continued to follow the doctrines of the Persian Mani (Manichaeus), who had been flayed and crucified in the year 277. His principal doctrine, expressed in the words of The Bhagavad-Gita, was that “Light and Darkness are the world’s eternal ways.” From the third century onwards the Manichean doctrines began to spread rapidly, especially among the Cathars of Bulgaria and the Albigenses of southern France. The latter, protected as they were by William IX, Duke of Aquitania, and a large portion of the southern nobility, at last became so powerful that they rose in rebellion against the Church, declaring that the established religion was a motley system of errors and superstitions, and that the dominion which the Pope had usurped over the people was unlawful and tyrannical. Going still further, they declared that the Pope’s claim to be the Supreme Lord of the Universe was without foundation and a usurpation of the rights of man.

In 1170 another heretical sect known as the Waldenses arose in Provence and the valleys of Piedmont and joined forces with their Albingensian neighbors. They fought against the system of capital punishment which then prevailed in the Church, against the Holy Wars in which the Church was constantly engaged, and bitterly denounced the gross immorality of the Popes.

When Pope Innocent III came into power, he determined to exterminate these two groups of heretics without further delay, and sent out a Crusade against them in 1209. The officers of this Holy Army were Christian prelates, its generals were Bishops, and an Archbishop stood at its head. As it was difficult for the Crusaders to distinguish between the heretics and the orthodox Christians, the Abbot Arnold ordered the soldiers to “Kill them all! God will know His own!” In one day 7,000 persons were massacred in a Church, while 20,000 were slaughtered in the town itself. Another day 400 were burned in a single pile. H. G. Wells comments: “The accounts of the cruelties and abominations of this crusade are far more terrible to read than any account of Christian martyrdoms by the pagans, and they have the added horror of being indisputably true ” (Outline of History, p. 656.)

By this time Crusades had become a habit with the Church. Whenever the excitement of a fresh conquest failed to bring about a proper response from the elders, children were called out, as they were in the famous Children’s Crusade of 1212. In the fourth Crusade the atrocities committed shocked the Pope himself, for he admitted that “the Crusaders practiced fornications, incests, adulteries; they abandoned matrons and virgins consecrated to God to the lewdness of grooms; they lifted their hands against the treasures of the Church, carrying off crosses and relics.”

In this way the Abbot Martin obtained for his monastery in Alsace such relics as a spot of blood of the Saviour; the arm of the Apostle James; part of the skeleton of John the Baptist; and — a bottle of the milk of the Mother of God!

The rapidly increasing number of heretics caused the Church to found a new institution in the thirteenth century — the Papal Inquisition. This consisted of a series of Courts established for the purpose of ferreting out all cases of heresy and bringing the offenders to punishment. The power of the Inquisition was greatly augmented by the introduction of compulsory confession. If a man suspected of heresy failed to confess to his priest, he was called before the Court of the Inquisition, which sat in secret and allowed no witness for the accused to be present. If he still failed to confess, he was thrown into a dark and poisonous dungeon, where he was subjected to the thumb-screw, the stretching-rope and other instruments of torture. This usually brought out the desired confession, whether the man was guilty or not. Then the man was burned at the stake.

In the thirteenth century, when the slightest suggestion of “heresy” might cost a man his life, it took a brave man to defy openly the Church’s anathema against the study of science and philosophy. Such an one was Roger Bacon, who was born near Ilchester in Somerset in 1214. At the age of sixteen Bacon entered the University of Oxford, where he took his M.A. degree. Six years later he took the same degree in the University of Paris. When twenty-six years old Bacon returned to Oxford and entered a Franciscan monastery. His reason for taking this step is difficult to understand, since he described some of the famous Franciscans of his day as “fools, ignorant of philosophy and metaphysics, whose writings are full of puerile vanity and voluminous superfluity,” and openly denounced the moral corruption of the Church from the Pope downward.

On his return to Oxford, Bacon took up the study of philosophy, mathematics, physics and astronomy, and made many experiments with instruments constructed by himself. In 1267 he wrote: “During the twenty years that I have spent in the study of wisdom, I have spent more than 2,000 libra ($3,500) on secret books, languages, instruments and astronomical tables.”

Bacon’s unusual learning, coupled with his outspoken denunciation of the Church, caused him to be accused of studying and practicing magic. After making a demonstration of some of his scientific experiments in Oxford he was prohibited from giving further lectures. In 1266, when Clement IV, who had been a cardinal legate in England, was raised to the Papacy, he sent Raymond de Loudon to Oxford with a request for some of Bacon’s writings, irrespective of any conflicting regulations of the Franciscan Order. Bacon responded by sending the Pope his Opus Majus, Opus Minus and Opus Tertius. For the next twelve years Bacon was allowed to study and write without further interference. But in 1278 he was summoned to Paris and charged with two offenses. The first was that he had denied the possibility of miracles, declaring that everything that happens is the result of natural law. This, of course, directly contradicted the teachings of the Church, in which even the rainbow was considered as a supernatural sign placed in the heavens by God as an assurance that there would never be another flood. The second charge against Bacon was that he was in league with the Devil, since he had declared that all of the things which the Church attributed to his Satanic Majesty were also the result of natural causes. In those days, it must be remembered, it was as much of a crime to limit the power of the Devil as it was to limit the power of God.

The heads of the Franciscan Order met in solemn conclave, condemned Bacon and his writings and threw him into prison. There he remained for fourteen years, dying in 1292, in the seventy-eighth year of his life. In spite of his denunciation of the Church, he was buried at Greyfriars, the Franciscan Church in Oxford. It was not long, however, before his work began to be appreciated. By the end of the fourteenth century he had been proclaimed the foremost natural philosopher of his day, and in the fifteenth century the University of Oxford acknowledged him as “one of those Oxonians who had kept the brightness of Oxford’s fame untarnished.”

Roger Bacon was one of those men who belonged by right, if not by record, to that Brotherhood which includes all those who study the occult sciences. His knowledge did not come to him as a “revelation,” but because he studied ancient works on magic and alchemy and because he had the key to the real meaning of words. “All of my knowledge,” Bacon once wrote, “has come to me from the Sages of the East.” In his famous work The Mirror of Alchimy, Bacon referred to Hermes as the “Master Initiate” whose words may be taken as final authority upon every subject. The Theosophical trend of his thought is found in his statement of the three fundamental propositions of Theosophy. God, he declared, is not a Person, but a Principle. The Universe is simply the “process of Becoming.” Man is a God, capable of perceiving and understanding all things through “divine illumination” or union with the Higher Self. Bacon was equally appreciative of the attempts made by his contemporaries to keep certain aspects of the ancient Wisdom-Religion alive, frequently quoting from the works of Rhazes, Avicenna and Averrhoes. Two hundred years after his death Bacon’s statement that there was another continent on the other side of the earth was read by Christopher Columbus. It was probably due in part to Bacon’s influence that America was discovered. It is certain that Bacon exerted a powerful influence upon Copernicus.

The versatility of Roger Bacon appears in the fact that he was a philosopher, mathematician, philologist, physical geographer, chemist, and physician, earning for himself the title of “Doctor Mirabilis.” The amount of actual scientific knowledge he possessed seems almost phenomenal at the present day. He was a great astronomer, and rectified the Julian calendar. He was an expert in the science of optics, analyzing the property of lenses and convex glasses, inventing spectacles, telescopes and microscopes. One of his cipher manuscripts shows that he was familiar with micro-organisms, with the cellular structure of plants and with bacteria. In this manuscript many of the discoveries attributed to Pasteur and Lister are carefully outlined.

The predictions made by Roger Bacon are quite as astonishing as his discoveries. He anticipated the invention of the hydraulic press, the diving bell and the kaleidoscope, which he declared were all known to the ancients and would be known again in the future.

He foretold the time when ships would cross the ocean without the aid of rowers, propelled under the direction of a single man, and said:

It is equally possible to construct cars which may be set in motion with marvelous rapidity, independently of horses or other animals. Flying machines may also be made, the man seated in the center, and by means of artificial contrivances beating the air with artificial wings.

The story of Roger Bacon forms another dark chapter in the history of the Church. It is sad to think what this great man might have given to the world had he been allowed to do so. As Dr. Andrew D. White points out in his History of the Warfare of Science with Theology:

He held the key to treasures which would have freed mankind from ages of error and misery. Thousands of precious lives shall be lost, tens of thousands shall suffer discomfort, sickness, poverty, for lack of discoveries and methods which, but for this mistaken dealing with Roger Bacon and his compeers, would now be blessing the earth.

THEOSOPHY, Vol. 26, No. 2, December, 1937, Pages 50-56

Mystics and Mysticism in Christianity

Mystics and Mysticism in Christianity

It is no part of the purpose of the writer of this paper to give a connected history of mysticism, or to introduce all the writers who in such a history would have to be admitted to consideration. Mysticism is a vague term, and while there is some element common to all genuine mystics, these writers differ very widely in their method of philosophizing, and particularly in the extent in which the emotional element is mingled with their philosophy.

Mysticism is not Theosophy, though there are certain elements common to both, and the two terms have been often applied by different writers to the same individual. No history of either Theosophy or Mysticism would be complete that left out any prominent mystic or theosophist. Neither Mysticism nor Theosophy can be adequately defined in a phrase; neither of these forms of thought readily crystalizes into a creed: either form may, and often has adopted without dissent the Christian creed in vogue at the time, and each has undertaken to give the inner sense, or spiritual meaning of the accepted dogmas. Mysticism has more often been emotional, than philosophical, and hence is strongly characterized by religious devotion. Tauler was a typical mystic and it is said of him that in his sermons he was often so wrought up by his emotions, and the idea of union with God, that he could no longer speak or stand, and was carried out fainting.

Aspiration differs widely from emotion and yet is equally akin to devotion, and when once centred in the soul is less liable to transitions and oscillations and is nearer related to philosophy. Meditation or contemplation may coexist with either the emotional or aspirational nature, and both mystic and theosophist recognize the Divine Unity and aim at the union of the human with the divine. If this difference between aspiration and emotion, between the true light and the perturbations produced in the individual by that light, be kept in mind, and the closer consonance of philosophy with aspiration, the relation of Theosophy to Mysticism can be more clearly apprehended. Another point should also be held clearly in view, viz.: the philosophical relation between Faith and Reason; between the existence, immutability, and beneficence of the Divine Life, and the orderly sequence of its manifestation, and apprehension by the mind of man. It is only through the establishment of a perfect equilibrium between faith and reason that the Divine Life and the Divine Wisdom can become manifest in man. Faith without reason becomes fanaticism; reason divorced from faith becomes sordid materialism, and while prating of order and law begets anarchy.

Christian mysticism may be said to date from the first quarter of the ninth century, a.d., though there were Christian mystics from the beginning of the present era. There were the Essenes, the Therapeutae, the Gnostic sects and the Neoplatonists during the early centuries, but with the conquests of Constantine and the Mohammedan these disappeared and western Europe was left in darkness and superstition. The monasteries became almost the only seats of learning, and though in secrecy the spiritually minded among the monks might pore over the philosophy of Plato woe unto him who dared to antagonize the blind superstitious and crass materialism of his fellows or of potentate in church or state.

In the year 824 the Greek Emperor Michael sent as a present to Lewis the Mild the treatise of the supposed Dionysius the Areopagite. This book was translated into Latin by Joannes Scotus. This treatise contained the following sections: “On the Celestial Monarchy”; “On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy”; “On Divine Names” and “On Mystic Theology.” These books were eagerly read by the Western Church, but being without the Pope’s sanction; they were soon condemned by Pope Nicholas the First, who ordered that Scotus should be banished from the University of Paris and sent to Rome, instead of which he fled from Paris and subsequently returned to England.

It was this book, says Enfield, which revived the knowledge of Alexandrian Platonism in the West. “Thus,” continues Enfield, “philosophical enthusiasm, born in the East, nourished by Plato, educated in Alexandria, matured in Asia, and adopted into the Greek Church, found its way, under the pretext and authority of an apostolic name, into the Western Church.”

The history of the Church for the next two or three centuries and its various councils is chiefly interesting from the efforts made to get rid of the influences of the mystical philosophy and the heresies of Origen and Nestorius. Four hundred years after the Greek emperor sent the books of the Areopagite to Lewis the Mild, Thomas Aquinas was born. He was called the “Angelic Doctor,” was canonized by Pope John XXII, and it was popularly believed that miracles were wrought at his tomb and that the soul of St. Augustine had reincarnated in him.

Bonaventura was contemporaneous with Thomas Aquinas, and equally famous in his day, being designated as the “Seraphic Doctor.” Both of these famous men connected the scholastic philosophy with theology. They considered knowledge the result of supernatural illumination and to be communicated to men through the medium of the holy scriptures. Meditation on the Divine attributes, prayer, and religious devotion were considered as the source of real illumination. They were mystics in the strictest sense, and though Aquinas is better known to modern times, they both influenced all subsequent religious thought.

Roger Bacon was born in 1214, and was thus seven years older than Bonaventura and ten years the senior of Aquinas. Though a monk, and familiar with the scholastic philosophy, he was less a mystic than any of his predecessors or contemporaries, and stands as a fair example of the difference between Theosophy and Mysticism. He transferred the philosophy of Aristotle to the plane of physical investigation in place of the vagaries of theological speculation, and was far more of a philosopher than a theologian. He made theology subservient to philosophy, instead of the reverse, as with Thomas Aquinas, and united faith with reason to an extent seldom found and never transcended, perhaps, previous to his day, since the beginning of the Christian era. He was undoubtedly the greatest mind of his age, and had much to do with the revival of learning which dates about two centuries after his death, which occurred in 1294 at the age of 80. (There is a discrepancy in dates as given by his biographers.)

From the eighth to the fourteenth century the scholastic philosophy served as the basis of endless theological speculations and with the great mass of ecclesiastics these angry disputes served only to engender hatred and foment strife. The dispute between Calvin and Servetus may serve as an illustration. To differ in intellectual conception of the nature of the trinity from a vindictive and brutal priest in power, was a sufficient ground for ecclesiastical murder; and the history of the “Holy Inquisition” and the list of martyrs is a sufficient commentary. The anathemas of Councils of the Church during the 6th, 7th and 8th centuries a.d., specifying wherein it was a crime to differ from the opinions of those in power, show conclusively how liberty was enchained, spirituality dethroned, progress prevented and power maintained at any cost.

The numberless creeds and sects into which modern Christianity is divided find their roots in these angry disputations of the dark ages, demonstrating beyond all controversy that to repress truth is to break religion into fragments. Nothing but liberty and light can ever unify and perpetuate. To attempt to unify by force is to sow the seed of inevitable dissolution. Modern Christendom is reaping the reward of its follies and crimes.

The theologian differs from the mystic as the doctrine of the head ever differs from the religion of the heart. The former wrangles and grows dangerous over human conceptions of the Divine nature. The latter meditates on the Divine attributes, and seeks to unfold within the soul the Divine Love and the Divine Light. The theologian has often begun as a heresy-hunter and ended as a murderer. The true mystic is the most gentle and compassionate of beings in regard to the failings of others, whether of the head or heart, but is continually bent on purifying his own heart and elevating his own spiritual nature, while a divine compassion governs all his relations to his fellow men. The theological and the mystical natures have often mingled in varying proportion in the same individual.

The philosophical basis of mysticism is the Platonic doctrine of emanation; its method is meditation; and its result is charity and good works, or altruism. The real source of mysticism as found in the Christian church is the philosophy of Plato, fragments of which survived the extinction of the Essenes and the Gnostic sects and were in every age exemplified by the purest and noblest of men. Contemplation and religious devotion, and the resulting degree of spirituality were permitted and encouraged in every age by the church provided the mystic either avoided all theological disputations, or when interrogated answered in the orthodox form. Just as theological disputations have rent the church in pieces, and as she apologizes for, where she can no longer conceal or deny her ecclesiastical murders; so on the other hand, has she been ready to exalt many a true mystic to the order of saintship. But for these examples of genuine piety regardless of all theological ideas, the church would have nothing with which to face an age of liberation and intelligence but a record of barbarism, and this in the face of the fact that she has often butchered the most saintly of her children!

The beginning of the sixteenth century ushered in a new era of thought and paved the way for all subsequent progress and enlightenment. Luther, Melancthon, Tauler, Erasmus and many lesser lights, broke down the old barriers and destroyed organized abuses. Luther was essentially a reformer, a theologian and a Soldier of the Cross, with little of the mystic in his nature. He was versed in the scholastic philosophy, and was influenced and inspired by Melancthon who was more of a philosopher, by the great scholar and Kabalist, his friend and teacher, John Reuchlin, and by the mystics, Tauler and Erasmus. Bent on reforming abuses Luther gave a practical turn to church affairs and was aided and sustained by the fiery eloquence with which Erasmus denounced the scholastic philosophy, and made intellectual disputation inferior to grace. In seeking through religious emotion, the hearts of his hearers, Tauler exhausted himself, made friends with the masses, and bitter enemies among the priests. To these active agencies in the Church Reformation must be added, Trithemius of St. Jacob and his illustrious pupils, Paracelsus and Cornelius Agrippa.

Such a coterie of Reformers, Mystics and Occultists can nowhere else be found in history. Had Trithemius, Reuchlin, Paracelsus and Agrippa prevailed, instead of merely influencing events at the time, the world would have been saved four hundred years of blind intellectual belief, the “Triumph of Faith” born of ignorance and superstition. But the world was not ready for such an era of enlightenment. The Kabalah was obscured, denied, tabooed, and the literal text of the Pentateuch gained the ascendency, with the resulting wrangles over Predestination, Free-will, the Trinity, Atonement, etc., etc., to the utter confusion of reason, the darkening of the understanding, and the unbrotherliness of man to man. In other words: faith dethroned reason, and religious fanaticism was the inevitable result.

Christian Mysticism alone remained of the genuine elements of a true religious renaissance, and has worked its ethical results just in proportion as theological wrangles have ceased, and humanitarianism has encroached upon the boundaries and prerogatives of eclesiasticism. The downfall of creeds has been the uplifting of humanity.

It may be denied that there is any relation between mysticism and humanitarianism, and claimed that the former is as vague and uncertain as the latter is practical and beneficent. It is in the motive and method, rather than in the verbiage of mysticism that the key to its influence is to be sought. Meditation with one of sincere motive and a pure heart, striving to put down selfishness, lust, pride and all manner of uncharitableness can give rise to but one result, viz: love to God and love to man. The desire of the heart is the motive power in man, and long ere the Christian dispensation began it had been demonstrated that self-renunciation is the only way to holiness, and that its synonym is Divine Compassion, and its sure fruitage the Universal Brotherhood of man. The very essence of true mysticism is the unification of the whole human race.

Now the philosophy of this Kabalah, or of Occultism, or of Theosophy differs from Mysticism in this: not in setting the intellect against the heart and placing knowledge above devotion, but in uniting both heart and mind and thus establishing a perfect equilibrium between faith and reason, and basing both on a complete philosophy of Nature and of Life. Such knowledge was in the possession of Trithemius, Reuchlin, Paracelsus and Agrippa, and not hidden from Luther and his more immediate co-workers. But the age was too dark, the priesthood too corrupt and too much in power, and while gross abuses could be exposed and held up to public scorn and chastizement, new light and real knowledge could not be disseminated, for the power to apprehend, and the willingness to serve them was confined to the very few. Luther wrote an introduction to the “Theologia Germanica,” one of the purest and best treatises on mysticism that exists, and there were not wanting fraternities like the “Friends of God,” among whom the pure Doctrine of the Heart led to peace and true knowledge. It may thus be seen what an immense influence mysticism has had upon Christianity, all apparent triumphs of dogmatic theology to the contrary notwithstanding. Theosophy is capable of dissipating all the mists of mysticism, of removing all obscurity, and by reconciling faith with reason of restoring the true religion of Jesus, and thus of hastening the time when all nations, kindred and tongues shall acknowledge One Redeemer, viz.: Divine Compassion in the soul of man.

“A new Commandment I give unto you; That ye love one another — as I have loved you.”

— J. D. Buck, Theosophy, June 1897

© 2017 Universal Theosophy