RE: Theos-World "THE ANCIENT WISDOM IN AFRICA"
Nov 24, 2001 03:16 AM
Saturday, November 24, 2001
I believe it is of great interest to provide our readership with
a view of this remarkable article.
You will find epitomized there the main tenets of the WISDOM
RELIGION -- The SECRET DOCTRINE It is also important to note the
implication that this system of Wisdom and of its impartation is
not only in Africa, but world-wide.
========= WISDOM RELIGION IN AFRICA ==============
The Ancient Religion in Africa - P. Bowen
SOURCE: THEOSOPHIST, Madras, India, August 1927
Theosophy in Ancient Africa
Outside of the records of the ancient Wisdom in Egypt, little is
known of its diffusion in the rest of Africa. Some evidence of
the continent-wide existence of the ancient doctrines and
movement can be had from the following narrative.
The THEOSOPHIST, Madras, for August 1927 published an article
entitled "The Ancient Wisdom in Africa" written by Patrick Bowen
who spent his childhood and early life there. He is, perhaps,
better known for the SAYINGS OF THE ANCIENT ONE which he
Mr. Bowen, seems to have been recognized early in life for some
special qualities by members of those who were among Initiates of
the Ancient Brotherhood of Wisdom living among the Zulu and the
descendants of the old Bantu race of South and South East of
Concerning some of this experience, Mr. Bowen wrote: "Many
years ago, when I, a boy of ten or twelve years of age, I
followed my father's wagon through the wild Bushlands of the
Northern Transvaal...I met and gained the friendship of many
natives--principally Zulus--of the class known as Isanusi, a term
popularly but improperly interpreted as "Witch-Doctor."
Why those men, who with Europeans and even with their own people
are always intensely reserved, should have favored me with their
confidence is something I do not, even now, clearly
understand...I recall a conversation with one of their number, by
name, Mankanyezi (The Starry One)...My father had declared his
intention of placing me in care of a Missionary, in order that I
might receive some education, and learn white man's ways.
I repeated his words to Mankanyezi, who shook his head mournfully
on hearing them and said: "Your teachers are doubtless learned
men. But why do they strive to force their beliefs on us without
first learning what our beliefs are?...To show you how ignorant
they are I shall tell you what we teach the Common Man...We teach
that he has a body; that within that body is a soul; and within
the soul is a spark or portion of something we call Itongo, which
the Common Man interprets as the Universal Spirit of the Tribe...
After Death States
After death the soul (Idhlozi) after hovering for a space near
the body departs to a place called Esilweni (Place of the
Beasts). This is a very different thing...from entering the body
of a beast.
In Esilweni, the soul assumes a shape, part beast and part human.
This is its true shape, for man's nature is very like that of the
beast, save for that spark of something higher...For a period
which is long or short, according to the strength of the animal
nature, the soul remains in Esilweni, but at last it throws aside
its beast-like shape and moves onward to a place of rest.
There it sleeps till a time comes when it dreams that something
to do or to learn awaits it on earth; then it awakes and
returns, through the Place of Beasts, to earth and is born again
as a child. Again and again does the soul travel...till at last
the Man becomes a True man, and his soul when he dies goes
straight to its rest, and thence, after a space, having ceased to
dream of earth, moves on and becomes one with
Universal Spirit--the Root of Universal Brotherhood
Then does the Man know that instead of being himself, apart, he
is truly all the tribe and the tribe is he...But the belief of
us, wiser Ones, is something far wider and greater, though
similar...We know that the Itongo is not the mere Spirit of the
Tribe, but is the Spirit within and above all men--even all
things; and at the end, all men being one in Spirit, all men are
brothers in the flesh.
The Great Lodge in Africa
Mr. Bowen, describes a later visit to Mankanyezi when he was on
the point of traveling into central and East Africa. The outcome
of his trip was correctly prophesied, even to unplanned detours
he would be making that were not originally on their program.
A meeting with one of Mankanyezi's "elder brothers" was foretold.
When he was asked for means of recognition of this "elder
brother," he was told:
"He is as you say, not my brother in the flesh...he is an Elder
in the Family (Society) to which I belong, whose members are the
guardians of the Wisdom-which-comes-from-of-old.
There are many of us--one at least in every tribe and
nation--throughout this great land. We are of many ranks, from
the learner to the Master, and to those Higher Ones whose names
may not be spoken...I am a common Brother; he of whom I speak is
my Elder...I know him because I have often seen him, though not
in the flesh. Often have we spoken together. Do you think the
mind of Man can travel only in the flesh?"
A year later, the travelers had been forced to make the
prophesied detour and reached in the land of the Masai in East
Africa a village East of Lake Nyassa. There they were greeted by
an old man as friends of his "brother Mankanyezi." It was
ascertained that these two had never actually met physically.
Their respective territories were separated by over a thousand
miles over which they had not traveled.
A Secret Community
In the course of his later work in South Africa, Mr. Bowen
wrote of his meeting from time to time in scattered places with
others of the Brotherhood, and even with some high up in its
He writes of a secret community in a remote and inaccessible
valley...of an African group quite different physically from
those tribes that surrounded it and with whom they lived in
harmony. He said that physically they resembled the Berbers of
North African and Mediterranean regions, 5,000 miles to the
north. They named themselves "Khabyles" [Kabiri ?]. There was
no way of accounting for their living so far from that area, nor
did they offer an explanation.
This will remind students of Theosophy of the mysterious Todas
of the Nilghery Mountains of South India, of which Mme. Blavatsky
wrote extensively in her book "THE PEOPLE OF THE BLUE MOUNTAINS."
In a recent issue of Lookout (THEOSOPHY, Vol. 81, p.24.) was
published an account of another mysterious tribe from the
mountains of Columbia in northern South America, called the Kogi.
It seems as though it had a unique mission in their area of the
The chief of this little community, Mandhlalanga (Strength of
the Sun), was at first reserved, but time and familiarity broke
this down. One day, speaking of news of distant events that
spread among the natives suddenly, Mandhlalanga offered to
explain to Bowen how this happened: "Thought is speedier that
the electric spark and needs no wires for its conveyance," he
said. "All it requires is a brain to dispatch it and another to
receive it. Would you believe if I told you that I and others of
the Brotherhood to which I belong can transmit our thoughts one
to the other, no matter how far apart our bodies may be?"
To Mr. Bowen's enquiry as to how that was to be explained,
Mandhlalanga stated that it might prove as difficult as
explaining calculus to one ignorant of simple addition. He then
offered to teach Bowen, but made no guarantees that he might
learn. This education continued for about a year until
circumstances forced Bowen to work elsewhere. Thereafter his
contact with his teacher Mandhlalanga was occasionally continued
through the intermediary of others of the Brotherhood. Copious
notes of the teachings were kept by him and this could well form
the subject of another issue in this magazine.
Mr. Bowen offers extracts made from his notes. "Mandhlalanga,"
I may explain, "is a Master, or Teacher in the Brotherhood
mentioned by Mankanyezi. He has traveled in Europe, Asia and
America. He speaks English and other European languages
perfectly, but his talks with me were conducted in the secret
Bantu tongue...the continued existence of which few Europeans are
aware of." Mandhlalanga deals as follows with:
The Riddle of Existence
"The Itongo (Universal Spirit) is ALL that was, is, or ever
shall be, conceivable or inconceivable. The Itongo is ALL
things, all things are of IT; but the sum of all things is not
the Itongo. [Similarly for all power, all wisdom, all
substance.] IT is in them and manifest through them, but IT is
also above them and beyond them, eternally unmanifest.
Man who is of the Itongo can never know the Itongo while he is
Man. All he can know of IT are certain manifestations which come
within the range of his perception.
The pupil is generally taught that the manifestations are three
in number. Namely:
1. Universal Mind,
2. Universal Force,
3. Universal Substance or Matter.
But really there are but two manifestations, Mind and Matter.
What we call Force is not a separate manifestation. It is simply
certain of the lowest, or grossest grades of Mind.
Force is simply that portion of Mind which endows Matter with
Form. It is that portion of Mind which transmits the idea of
Form to the higher grades where Consciousness dwells. Let the
Pupil think and he must see that this is so.
Color, size, shape, what are they? Simply light vibrations which
when passed on to the Consciousness give the idea of Form. And
what is vibration? It is Force. Heat, cold, hardness, softness,
varieties of taste and smell are all vibrations, and therefore
also Force. If you make Force a separate manifestation, then
also must you make those planes of Mind which transfer ideas of
passion or emotion separate manifestations.
In the Beginning...
In the beginning of a Cosmic Cycle, the Itongo first manifested
in all the many grades of mind, downward into all the grades of
Matter. But at first both Mind and Matter were unindividualized.
When, how, or why, only the Itongo can know.
Individuality began in the highest planes of Mind--those planes
which touch on pure Spirit. Understanding of what occurred is
best gained by the following conception.
Think of the Cosmos, just before Individuality began, as a vast,
amorphous ocean of Mind and Matter, its surface ripples; and
upper reaches, those planes of Mind which touch on Spirit,
growing denser and denser, downwards till Matter in Etheric form,
is reached; downward till Ether becomes Gas, which may be
likened to the mineral-charged lower strata of the ocean;
downward till gases become liquids (muddy water); finally into
solids (thick mud).
The beginning of Individuality in this Cosmic Ocean may be
likened to the starting of myriads of tiny "whirlpools" among the
ripples of the surface (the Spiritualized Mind). These
"whirlpools" under the force of a growing flood-tide, extended
deeper and deeper, till at last all strata were involved in the
Thus we have Individuality set up, extending from Spiritual Mind
to the Physical Plane. The "whirlpool" on the surface represents
the birth of the Soul. Its extension to the muddy depths
represents the Soul's descent into matter.
In matter the Soul has reached the aphelion of its cycle, and now
it begins its long, slow return journey. By the process of
evolution it climbs slowly upward, from mineral to plant, from
plant to animal, from animal to man; through all grades and
states of human development, shaking off, slowly and painfully as
it climbs, the gross accretions gathered during its descent; up
through the lower mind to the higher, it climbs, till at last,
its cycle complete, it merges with its source, the Itongo, and
ceases to be Individual, being one with the ALL.
Man and his Destiny
Man is an individual having in him, as has everything on the
physical plane, all the attributes of the Cosmic Ocean of which
he is an individualized portion. He has reached on his upward
journey the stage of personal consciousness. I speak of Man in
general. There are undeveloped men, whose personal consciousness
is but rudimentary as there are others who have transcended
personality and know their real Selves--that immortal portion
first individualized from the lofty planes of the Spiritual Mind.
Man is on a journey, the goal of which is union with the source
of his being--the Itongo.
To reach that goal he must first pass through all experience the
Cosmos affords, and must shake off all accretions accumulated on
his descent from individualizes Spiritual Mind into grossest
Matter. To do this, he is born again, for his physical body
dies, as do his power mental principles; only his higher mental
principles which are akin with the Itongo survive from age to
age, retaining throughout the Cosmic Cycle the individuality
bestowed upon them at its opening.
These are the Principles of Man
1. The Physical Body (Umzimba).
2. The Etheric [Astral] Body (Isitunzi)...etheric counterpart of
the physical body, and not really a separate principle, normally.
But in certain abnormal states it is partially separable from
the physical body. It is the medium through which the Lower Mind
(or Force) functions.
3. Lower Mind (Amandhla)...That portion of the Mind which shows
little Life-force and other forms of what we call Energy.
4. The Animal Mind (Utiwesilo)...The planes of Mind which
manifest as passion, emotions and instincts.
5. Human Mind (Utiwomuntu)...The planes of Mind which manifest
as human consciousness, intellect, higher emotions, etc...
6. Spiritual Mind (Utiwetongo)...The higher planes manifesting
7. ITONGO...The Ray, or spark of Universal Spirit which informs
all lower manifestations.
We call our Brotherhood...using the ancient Bantu speech which
is the mother-tongue of the most wide- spread group of languages
in the Continent [of Africa]. It may be rendered in English as
The Brotherhood of the Higher Ones of Egypt.
The Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in the reign of the Pharaoh
Cheops; its founder being a Priest of Isis. It has as its
objects the spreading of the Wisdom-which-comes-from-of-Old among
all races and tribes in Africa, and the study and practice by its
members of what we call...that Science which depends on the power
of Thought. it is the only true Science there is.
These are the grades of the brotherhood and some of the powers
and functions they exercise.
1. The Pupil...is one under probation which lasts from one to
three years. During this time he is under instruction by a
Master and subjects himself to certain disciplines. If found
worthy he enters the brotherhood as a Disciple, at the end of his
period of probation. if unworthy he is dismissed back to the
2. The Disciple...is an avowed member of the Brotherhood and
subject to its disciplines. Under instruction he develops
certain powers..."Mesmerism," is usually one of the earliest to
3. The Brother...A full member of the Order with many developed
powers, of which I may mention, only, power of communication by
thought with those of equal or higher development...what
European Occultists term Astral Consciousness.
4. The Elder... an advanced Brother.
5. The Master...The Teacher of all lower grades...has many
6. Those who Know (Isangoma)...Of these it is not permitted to
speak save to say that they have attained Consciousness on the
plane of the Real Self.
Besides the above, we have lay Disciples and lay Brothers. They
are men who are prevented by circumstances from becoming vowed to
the Brotherhood. They are subject only to self-imposed
disciplines and receive but such teaching as can be given from
afar. We have many lay Disciples, not merely in Africa but in
Asia, Europe and America.
Lay Brothers, however, are but few, for without direct
instruction from a Master few can reach this grade without
incurring grave dangers. We constantly warn all unavowed
Disciples against the danger of attempting to attain a brother's
powers, unaided by the direct instruction of a Master.
Let it not be though that our Isangoma, elevated though they be,
represent the supreme development possible to Man on the Physical
Plane. It is not so. There are others, not of any Brotherhood,
save the brotherhood of All. We call them...(that is Supreme
Ones, or Perfect Men). These are men for whom the necessity for
rebirth has ceased. They dwell on earth in physical form by
their own will, and can retain or relinquish that form as they
choose. I speak of them but to assure the Pupil of their
existence. Few below the grade of Master, have ever seen one in
the flesh, though all, from Disciple upward may meet them in the
The Source of Power
"Of the source of power we wield," continues Mandhlalanga, "the
Pupil can learn but little until he attains Discipleship. But
let him ponder this much.
I have likened Individuality to whirlpools in the Cosmic Ocean.
But all that Ocean has not been cast into individuality. Between
the "whirlpools," myriad though they be, stretch wide, smooth
spaces, identical with them in comparison. Now it can well be
conceived that a "whirlpool" by setting up minor vibrations
within itself may send out ripples through the smooth spaces
which will strike upon and affect in some degree other
All the "whirlpools" are constantly doing this.
Now suppose a "whirlpool" to have gained power to control its
internal vibrations and to send them pulsating through the Ocean
towards whatever objective it desires, can you not see that it
may produce upon that objective whatever effect it desires ?
Now think of the "whirlpool" as being a Man. Is it not clear
that by getting full control of the vibrations of his higher
planes, he may dispatch though the Cosmic Ocean of which he is a
part, ripples of various kinds and intensities, which, according
to their nature and strength, will produce effects on all strata,
from the highest, which is of course the most sensitive, even
down to the "slime" and "mud" of the depths. I give you this as
food for thought, and bid you digest it well.
-- Patrick Bowen.
Sent: Thursday, November 22, 2001 10:08 PM
Subject: "THE ANCIENT WISDOM IN AFRICA"
"The Ancient Wisdom in Africa", a 3-part series of articles found
bottom of this Index page of the "Ancient Landmarks" 59-part
be useful to some readers here:
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