Occult Philosophy: Is the Universe ruled by a Moral Governor?

“And we maintain that wherever there is life and being, and in however much spiritualized a form, there is no room for moral government, much less for a moral Governor…” (K.H., see ML, no. 22)

The excerpt of the letter no. 22 is about the dual nature of the infinite mind, according to Theosophy. How can a philosophical school reject the idea of a moral ruler of the universe, but maintain the idea of a “divine mind?” We teach, that the universe is not governed by a moral Supreme Judge, or entity, particularly of the monotheist-type. In Pre-Socratic (Anaxagoras) thought, and Neoplatonism, this notion of the infinite mind is known as the Divine Nous.

“Whatever that be which thinks, which understands, which wills, which acts, it is something celestial and divine, and upon that account must necessarily be eternal.” (Marcus Tullius Cicero)

Deepak Chopra, in a bad debate once with Sam Harris and Michael Shermer asked, why we don’t debate complexities of the arguments. Sam Harris rightly says along the lines, that we can, but those are not ideas that the millions of people watching, and at the debate believe. How limited does this make these public debates then, if we can only debate notions of orthodoxy?

“I wanted to plant a flag there, so that you all can see it. The god that our neighbours believe in is essentially, an invisible person. It’s a creator deity, that created the universe, to have a relationship with one species of primate.” (Sam Harris)

And now to your extraordinary hypothesis that Evil with its attendant train of sin and suffering is not the result of matter, but may be perchance the wise scheme of the moral Governor of the Universe. Conceivable as the idea may seem to you trained in the pernicious fallacy of the Christian, — “the ways of the Lord are inscrutable” — it is utterly inconceivable for me. Must I repeat again that the best Adepts have searched the Universe during milleniums and found nowhere the slightest trace of such a Machiavellian schemer — but throughout, the same immutable, inexorable law. You must excuse me therefore if I positively decline to lose my time over such childish speculations. It is not “the ways of the Lord” but rather those of some extremely intelligent men in everything but some particular hobby, that are to me incomprehensible.” (K.H., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, Letter no. 22., 1882)

Gawen Hamilton, Clarke Brothers with other Gentlemen taking wine

Concerning Theoretical and Practical Occultism:

“Spiritual science is foremost with the Adepts; physical science being of secondary importance. The main strength of occultism has been devoted to the science of metaphysical energy and to the development of faculties in man, not instruments outside him, which will yield him actual experimental knowledge of the subtle powers in nature. It aims to gain actual and exact knowledge of spiritual things which, under all other systems, remain the subject of speculation or blind religious faith.” (Alvin Boyd Kuhn, The Mahatmas and Their Letters)

Theosophy teaches a cosmology, which suggests that matter/energy is the sole substance of existence (see What Is Matter and What Is Force?).

This is on the subject of MATTER, from Notes headed “God” (“The Mahatma Letter” no. 10) in the early 1880’s, a reply to A.O. Hume and A.P. Sinnett on the exposition of ‘the occult philosophy.’ It provides its clearest position on “God.” Is this materialism, or a different philosophy? They deny God and “believe in matter alone”:

“We do not bow our heads in the dust before the mystery of mind — for we have solved it ages ago. Rejecting with contempt the theistic theory we reject as much the automaton theory, teaching that states of consciousness are produced by the marshalling of the molecules of the brain; and we feel as little respect for that other hypothesis — the production of molecular motion by consciousness. Then what do we believe in?” (ibid.)

“(…) we believe in MATTER alone, in matter as visible nature and matter in its invisibility as the invisible omnipresent omnipotent Proteus with its unceasing motion which is its life, and which nature draws from herself since she is the great whole outside of which nothing can exist.”

Here is the following:

“Neither our philosophy nor ourselves believe in a God, least of all in one whose pronoun necessitates a capital H (…) If people are willing to accept and to regard as God our ONE LIFE immutable and unconscious in its eternity they may do so and thus keep to one more gigantic misnomer (…) When we speak of our One Life we also say that it penetrates, nay is the essence of every atom of matter; and that therefore it not only has correspondence with matter but has all its properties likewise, etc.—hence is material, is matter itself (…) Matter we know to be eternal, i.e., having had no beginning (…) As to God—since no one has ever or at any time seen him or it—unless he or it is the very essence and nature of this boundless eternal matter, its energy and motion, we cannot regard him as either eternal or infinite or yet self existing…”

In Isis Unveiled, Vol. 1 (page 428), Helena Blavatsky had explained, that everything in nature was but the materialization of spirit, and both spirit and matter were co-eval in the state of pre-cosmic and preconditioned latency. With the first ideation, she wrote, that emanated from the latent deity, ‘the first motion was communicated through the whole universe, and the electric thrill was felt throughout boundless space. Spirit beget force, and the latent deity manifested as a creative energy.’

Spirit and matter, are taught as being, but two modes of the one substance. However, Blavatsky states:

“Nor do we believe that “Spirit breathed out Matter;” but that, on the contrary, it is Matter which manifests Spirit.” (H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Vol. 4, pg. 298)

It would seem contradictory, but she is referring to Mūlaprakṛti or Svābhāvat, or the indestructible root-substance of Matter. It continues:

“(…) the Arhat esoteric doctrine teaches that (1) “‘Matter and Life are equally eternal and indestructible,’ for—they are one and identical; the purely subjective—hence (for physical science) unprovable and unverifiable—matter becoming the ONE life or what is generally termed ‘Spirit.’” (H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Vol. 4., pg. 452)

“(…) the Eastern Occultists hold that there is but one element in the universe—infinite, uncreated and indestructible—MATTER; which element manifests itself in seven states. . . . Spirit is the highest state of that matter, they say, since that which is neither matter nor any of its attributes is—NOTHING.” (H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Vol. 4, pg. 602)

“Instead of spirit, or God, creating matter, or of matter creating spirit, i.e. of one thing somehow giving rise to something fundamentally different, KH is saying that spirit and matter are in essence one, but exist in innumerable degrees of density.” (David Pratt, The Mahatmas, Spirit and God)

Matter is eternal. Unless it is the energy and motion of matter itself, they say, ‘we cannot admit that proposed principle to even be eternal, infinite, or self-existing.’

“(1) We deny the absurd proposition that there can be, even in a boundless and eternal universe — two infinite, eternal and omnipresent existences.

(2) Matter we know to be eternal, i.e., having had no beginning (a) because matter is Nature herself (b) because that which cannot annihilate itself and is indestructible exists necessarily — and therefore it could not begin to be, nor can it cease to be (c) because the accumulated experience of countless ages, and that of exact science show to us matter (or nature) acting by her own peculiar energy, of which not an atom is ever in an absolute state of rest, and therefore it must have always existed, i.e., its materials ever changing form, combinations and properties, but its principles or elements being absolutely indestructible.

(3) As to God — since no one has ever or at any time seen him or itunless he or it is the very essence and nature of this boundless eternal matter, its energy and motion, we cannot regard him as either eternal or infinite or yet self existing. We refuse to admit a being or an existence of which we know absolutely nothing; because (a) there is no room for him in the presence of that matter whose undeniable properties and qualities we know thoroughly well (b) because if he or it is but a part of that matter it is ridiculous to maintain that he is the mover and ruler of that of which he is but a dependent part (…)”

“…he who reads our Buddhist scriptures written for the superstitious masses will fail to find in them a demon so vindictive, unjust, so cruel and so stupid as the celestial tyrant upon whom the Christians prodigally lavish their servile worship and on whom their theologians heap those perfections that are contradicted on every page of their Bible.” (The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, chron. ed. pg., 271)

Matter itself, is not only indestructible, but eternal in its infinitesimal degrees of attenuation, including powers inherent to matter, in this philosophy. Theosophists disagreed with the physicalist position that is the current default in science, regarding the origin of consciousness.

[1] Matter inherently contained the power of intelligence;

[2] The palpable and visible state of matter, they taught, was perishable; but man could through consciousness and moral perfections enter into the enduring state of rest, dissociated from that transitory state of activity.

These doctrines are not the sudden inventions of the theosophists. What appears to us, to be a materialist position, is not hard to find in the Vedic schools and subsequently amongst the so-called “Pagans” (non-Christians) or the scientific amongst them, because the same thought is in the Hellenic, Pre-Socratic, and Pre-Hellenic Schools.

In the Sāṃkhya Philosophy (V.R. Gandhi, B.A., M.R.A.S., Barrister at Law, The Sankhya Philosophy of Hinduism), Kapila teaches the doctrine of evolution, and that no entity or thing has arisen out of nothing, as is taught and still ever perpetually argued by philosophers and theists. Matter (prakriti) Kapila teaches was existent before (pre-cosmic) the evolution of cosmos; and was never in a state of non-being, hence eternal. It is always in a constant state of change (a Proteus), i.e., ceaseless, eternal and co-existent with spirit (purusha). See David Reigle on “God’s Arrival in India.”

“It is Substance to OUR spiritual sight. It cannot be called so by men in their WAKING STATE; therefore they have named it in their ignorance ‘God-Spirit.’” (Helena Blavatsky)

References —

[1] Pratt, David. (Web, 2014). Laura Holloway, Theosophy, and the Mahatmas. Retrieved from http://www.davidpratt.info/holloway.htm
[2] What is Matter and What is Force? (Excerpts collated by David Reigle). PDF Retrieved from http://www.easterntradition.org/foundations%206.pdf
[3] Blavatsky, Helena. The Secret Doctrine abridged and annotated by Michael Gomes, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, New York, 2009.
[4] Sender, Pablo. Psychic Phenomena and the Early Theosophical Society. Quest Magazine (Summer 2012): pg. 95-97. Web version https://www.theosophical.org/publications/quest-magazine?id=2750


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