Victims of Words
Theosophist, February, 1884
The saying has become trite that we are oftener victims of words than of facts. The Theosophical Society has been credited with atheism and materialism, because the philosophical system, to which the Founders of the Society and many of their fellow-students owe allegiance, refuses to recognize what is popularly called a “Personal God.” We have maintained and shall continue to maintain until our dying day that a being possessing the range of associations, or to speak more learnedly, the connotations of the word “God” does not exist anywhere in the Universe or beyond it—if a beyond were possible. This is the negative side of our knowledge. The positive side of it may be formulated in the words of the Upanishad:—“That from which all forms of existence emanate, in which they endure and into which they return and enter, is Brahma.” This Brahma when viewed as the fons et origo of the Substance of the Universe is, as has been repeatedly said in these columns, Mulaprakriti—a term which, in the poverty of English metaphysical vocabulary, has been translated as “undifferentiated cosmic matter.” It has also been said that the differentiation of Mulaprakriti produces infinite forms of being. The utter absence of God-Idea from our philosophical creeds with which we are charged, is due entirely to the misconception of the single word “differentiation.” It is this which has given rise to a perfect deluge of controversy. “Brahma”—our opponents argue,—“the Mulaprakriti, is made to undergo a differentiation, like matter, of which we have a physical conception, to form the visible universe. Therefore, Brahma is subject to change and exists only in a state of latency during the period of Cosmic activity. Therefore their (our) philosophy is merely the gospel of the apotheosis of dead brute matter and they are refined materialists.” But would our critics remember that Mulaprakriti or Brahma is absolutely subjective, and, therefore, the word “differentiation” is to be transferred to the purely subjective, or as it is more commonly called, spiritual, plane before its significance can be properly comprehended. It must not for a single moment be supposed that Mulaprakriti or Brahma (Parabrahm) can ever undergo change of substance (Parinama). It is the Absolute Wisdom, the Only Reality, the Eternal Deity—to dissociate the word from its vulgar surroundings. What is meant by the differentiation of Mulaprakriti is that the primordial essence of all forms of existence (Asat) is radiated by it, and when radiated by it becomes the centre of energy from which by gradual and systematic processes of emanation or differentiation the universe, as perceived, springs into existence. It is from our opponents’ incapacity to grasp this highly metaphysical conception that all the evil flows.
Brahma is the Holy of Holies, and we cannot blaspheme against it by limiting it by our finite conceptions. It is, as the Vedic Rishis sang, Suddhi apapaviddha, the stainless One Element, untouched by any change of conditions. We feel the majesty of the idea so strongly, and it is so far above the highest flight of intellect, that we are too awe-struck to make it the foot-ball of discussion. Well have the Brahmavadis of yore chanted:
Yato vacho nivartante
Aprapya manasa saha.
“From which words rebound with the mind not finding it.”
Ya schandra tarake tisthan
Ya schandra tarakadan tarah.
“It permeates the Moon and Stars, and is yet different from the Moon and Stars.”
It is no such absurdity as an extra-Cosmic Deity. It is like the space in which a visible object lies. The space is in the object and is yet different from it, though the spirit of the object is nothing but the space.
It is manifest from this that “Mulaprakriti” never differentiates but only emanates or radiates its first born Mahattattva, the Sephira of the Kabalists. If one would carefully consider the meaning of the Sanskrit word Srishti, the point would become perfectly clear. This word is usually translated “creation,” but as all Sanskritists know, the root Srij, from which the word is derived, means “to throw off” and not “to create.”
This is our Deity of the Ineffable and of no—name. If our brothers after this explanation seek admission into the grand old temple in which we worship, they are welcome. But to those, who after this will still misunderstand us and mistake our views—we have nothing more to say.