Theosophy and Love: A Rejoinder
Supplement to Theosophist, March, 1884
[The current article is a continuation of a series between Damodar and the Epiphany, beginning with Damodar’s “Oxford Mission Shots at Occultism”. The Epiphany’s reply was published in the Theosophist, March, 1884, under the title “Theosophy and Love”, and the following is Damodar’s reply]
I shall briefly reply to the remarks of the Epiphany. I am sorry I failed to gather from the words, “the power of Supreme wisdom or of working what men call miracles,” even in the light of the parallel phrase “the power of the invisible worlds,” that by “what men call miracles,” was not meant “simply physical marvels, but marvels both physical and psychical,” as, otherwise some waste of words would have been prevented.
We maintain that the highest ideal of love is to be found only in Brahmavidya or Esoteric Theosophy; our ideal of love being a perfect union with the ALL by an utter abnegation of the self and by ardent sleepless endeavours for the good of all sentient beings—even the brute creation, whose sufferings, and wholesale slaughter, are made entirely subservient to the pleasure of Christians and Mahomedans. If the ideal of the Christians is different,—they are welcome to it; only let them not place it higher than ours, unless they are prepared to support their action by the force of arguments. I am glad to find an attempt has been made in this direction by my friendly critic, and proceed to examine it with the attention it deserves.
“It is in no spirit of pride” says the Epiphany, “that we state it as a part of our Creed that, however unloving nominal Christians may be, perfect love is only attainable by man through union with Christ, nay, the very gateway to love for the mass of men must be in Christ’s love for us. Such a theory has nothing to do with any estimate of persons, but is a necessary corollary of our belief that God became incarnate for love of us. For, if that be a true doctrine, the recognition of the fact of such tremendous love must be the natural preliminary to being intoxicated and transformed by it, the first step in the true Yoga.”
The great incentive to love among Christians is, we are told, the realisation of the fact that Christ, or, in other words, the perfect God, incarnated himself, moved by love, for the redemption of man. Without stopping to question the necessity of such a step in one who, if God, might have avoided it by suppressing the original act of injustice—namely, the “apple incident,”—we may here say that there are other doctrines in the Christian faith, and regarded as equally true, which are calculated to weaken if not to completely neutralize the force of this argument. How can we say the Christian “God is love,” when he delivers up helpless Humanity, brought into existence without its consent, to the mangling tooth of sin and suffering for a small transgression of its first parents? Even human justice does not hold a son liable for the debts of his father beyond the extent of that father’s assets. And how is it that not even the blood of Jesus could restore man to the “blissful seat” from which he had fallen? It may here be urged that the all-Merciful Father has ordained evil but for the ultimate good of man. But the other side may with equal justice contend that an Omnipotent cruel Ahriman has created all apparent good for the ultimate destruction of his creatures, not unlike the Satan of the Middle Ages, granting a short festive season to his servants as a prelude to the eternal damnation of their souls. The real fact is, that our inner self perceives, although the perception in very many cases is clouded by preconceived notions, that love and charity are but the law of our being, and that the violation of the law is always attended with suffering. It is no argument against this proposition that the general mind is not conscious of such being the case, any more than it is necessary for the miser to be aware of the true worth of riches when counting his unsunned hoards with a greedy eye.
Our friendly critic then charges me with a petitio principii:—
If you then require “unselfish philanthropy” as a “guide to the acquisition of Brahmavidya,” you are from the point of view of the positive experience of millions, indulging in a petitio principii.
Nothing of the kind. It is enough if I am supported by the “positive experience” of one man—and such a man is always to be found in the person of the Great Beggar Prince of Kapilavastu. The only logical misdemeanour committed in the present transaction is that of hasty generalisation chargeable on the critic himself, in deriving a general proposition from a particular one, however extensive that particular proposition may absolutely be.
The subordination of love to power, attributed to Theosophy, is due to the learned critic’s misconception of what is said in the Elixir of Life, has not been properly considered. There it is distinctly said:—
Inactivity of the physical body (Sthula sarira) does not indicate a condition of inactivity either on the astral or physical plane of action. The human spirit is in its highest state of activity in Samadhi, and not, as is generally supposed, in a dormant quiescent condition. And, moreover, it will be seen by any one who examines the nature of Occult dynamics, that a given amount of energy expended on the spiritual or astral plane is productive of far greater results than the same amount expended on the physical objective plane of existence. When an adept has placed himself en rapport with the Universal Mind, he becomes a real power in nature. Even on the objective plane of existence, the difference between brain and muscular energy, in their capacity of producing wide-spread and far reaching results, can be very easily perceived. The amount of physical energy expended by the discoverer of the steam engine might not have been more than that expended by a hardworking day-labourer. But the practical results of the cooly’s work can never be compared with the results achieved by the discovery of the steam engine. Similarly, the ultimate effects of spiritual energy are infinitely greater than those of intellectual energy.
To pass to the concluding remarks of the Epiphany. My arguments with reference to Hindu idolatry have been misunderstood by the critic. What I mean is this:—That, as no idolatry is sanctioned by the Hindu Scriptures, it is quite unjust to condemn the symbols of Hindu Religion, which are not without a certain similarity in principles to the Christian Eucharist, simply on the ground that the ignorant masses cannot always perceive the underlying spiritual truth. It would be as reasonable to charge the grotesque eccentricities of the Salvation Army on the purity of the Christian faith.
D. K. M.