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Master KH on "God": Mahatma Letter No. 10

Nov 10, 2002 06:10 AM
by Daniel H. Caldwell

Mahatma Letter No. 10

[Transcribed from a copy in Mr. Sinnett's handwriting. -- Ed] 


Received at Simla, 1881-? '82. 

Neither our philosophy nor ourselves believe in a God, least of all 
in one whose pronoun necessitates a capital G. Our philosophy falls 
under the definition of Hobbes. It is preeminently the science of 
effects by their causes and of causes by their effects, and since it 
is also the science of things deduced from first principle, as Bacon 
defines it, before we admit any such principle we must know it, and 
have no right to admit even its possibility. Your whole explanation 
is based upon one solitary admission made simply for argument's sake 
in October last. You were told that our knowledge was limited to this 
our solar system: ergo as philosophers who desired to remain worthy 
of the name we could not either deny or affirm the existence of what 
you termed a supreme, omnipotent, intelligent being of some sort 
beyond the limits of that solar system. But if such an existence is 
not absolutely impossible, yet unless the uniformity of nature's law 
breaks at those limits we maintain that it is highly improbable. 
Nevertheless we deny most emphatically the position of agnosticism in 
this direction, and as regards the solar system. Our doctrine knows 
no compromises. It either affirms or denies, for it never teaches but 
that which it knows to be the truth. Therefore, we deny God both as 
philosophers and as Buddhists. We know there are planetary and other 
spiritual lives, and we know there is in our system no such thing as 
God, either personal or impersonal. Parabrahm is not a God, but 
absolute immutable law, and Iswar is the effect of Avidya and Maya, 
ignorance based upon the great delusion. The word "God" was invented 
to designate the unknown cause of those effects which man has either 
admired or dreaded without understanding them, and since we claim and 
that we are able to prove what we claim -- i.e. the knowledge of that 
cause and causes we are in a position to maintain there is no God or 
Gods behind them. 

The idea of God is not an innate but an acquired notion, and we have 
but one thing in common with theologies -- we reveal the infinite. 
But while we assign to all the phenomena that proceed from the 
infinite and limitless space, duration and motion, material, natural, 
sensible and known (to us at least) cause, the theists assign them 
spiritual, super-natural and unintelligible an un-known causes. The 
God of the Theologians is simply and imaginary power, un loup garou 
as d'Holbach expressed it -- a power which has never yet manifested 
itself. Our chief aim is to deliver humanity of this nightmare, to 
teach man virtue for its own sake, and to walk in life relying on 
himself instead of leaning on a theological crutch, that for 
countless ages was the direct cause of nearly all human misery. 
Pantheistic we may be called -- agnostic NEVER. 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. But then they will have to say with Spinoza that there is 
not and that we cannot conceive any other substance than God; or as 
that famous and unfortunate philosopher says in his fourteenth 
proposition, "practer Deum neque dari neque concepi potest 
substantia" -- and thus become Pantheists . . . . who but a 
Theologian nursed on mystery and the most absurd super-naturalism can 
imagine a self existent being of necessity infinite and omnipresent 
outside the manifested boundless universe. The word infinite is but a 
negative which excludes the idea of bounds. It is evident that a 
being independent and omnipresent cannot be limited by anything which 
is outside of himself; that there can be nothing exterior to himself -
- not even vacuum, then where is there room for matter? for that 
manifested universe even though the latter limited. If we ask the 
theist is your God vacuum, space or matter, they will reply no. And 
yet they hold that their God penetrates matter though he is not 
himself matter. 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. How 
can intelligence proceed or emanate from non-intelligence -- you kept 
asking last year. How could a highly intelligent humanity, man the 
crown of reason, be evolved out of blind unintelligent law or force! 
But once we reason on that line, I may ask in my turn, how could 
congenital idiots, non-reasoning animals, and the rest of "creation" 
have been created by or evoluted from, absolute Wisdom, if the latter 
is a thinking intelligent being, the author and ruler of the 
Universe? How? says Dr. Clarke in his examination of the proof of the 
existence of the Divinity. "God who hath made the eye, shall he not 
see? God who hath made the ear shall he not hear?" But according to 
this mode of reasoning they would have to admit that in creating an 
idiot God is an idiot; that he who made so many irrational beings, so 
many physical and moral monsters, must be an irrational being. . . . 

. . . We are not Adwaitees, but our teaching respecting the one life 
is identical with that of the Adwaitee with regard to Parabrahm. And 
no true philosophically brained Adwaitee will ever call himself an 
agnostic, for he knows that he is Parabrahm and identical in every 
respect with the universal life and soul -- the macrocosm is the 
microcosm and he knows that there is no God apart from himself, no 
creator as no being. Having found Gnosis we cannot turn our backs on 
it and become agnostics. 

. . . . Were we to admit that even the highest Dyan Chohans are 
liable to err under a delusion, then there would be no reality for us 
indeed and the occult sciences would be as great a chimera as that 
God. If there is an absurdity in denying that which we do not know it 
is still more extravagant to assign to it unknown laws. 

According to logic "nothing" is that of which everything can truly be 
denied and nothing can truly be affirmed. The idea therefore either 
of a finite or infinite nothing is a contradiction in terms. And yet 
according to theologians "God, the self existent being is a most 
simple, unchangeable, incorruptible being; without parts, figure, 
motion, divisibility, or any other such properties as we find in 
matter. For all such things so plainly and necessarily imply 
finiteness in their very notion and are utterly inconsistent with 
complete infinity." Therefore the God here offered to the adoration 
of the XIXth century lacks every quality upon which man's mind is 
capable of fixing any judgment. What is this in fact but a being of 
whom they can affirm nothing that is not instantly contradicted. 
Their own Bible their Revelation destroys all the moral perceptions 
they heap upon him, unless indeed they call those qualities 
perfections that every other man's reason and common sense call 
imperfections, odious vices and brutal wickedness. Nay more 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. Truly 
and veritably your theology has created her God but to destroy him 
piecemeal. Your church is the fabulous Saturn, who begets children 
but to devour them. 

(The Universal Mind) -- A few reflections and arguments ought to 
support every new idea -- for instance we are sure to be taken to 
task for the following apparent contradictions. (1) We deny the 
existence of a thinking conscious God, on the grounds that such a God 
must either be conditioned, limited and subject to change, therefore 
not infinite, or (2) if he is represented to us as an eternal 
unchangeable and independent being, with not a particle of matter in 
him, then we answer that it is no being but an immutable blind 
principle, a law. And yet, they will say, we believe in Dyans, or 
Planetaries ("spirits" also), and endow them with a universal mind, 
and this must be explained. 

Our reasons may be briefly summed up thus: 

(1) We deny the absurd proposition that there can be, even in a 
boundless and eternal universe -- two infinite eternal and omni-
present 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 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. 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 and (c) because if they tell us that God is a self 
existent pure spirit independent of matter -- an extra-cosmic deity, 
we answer that admitting even the possibility of such an 
impossibility, i.e., his existence, we yet hold that a purely 
immaterial spirit cannot be an intelligent conscious ruler nor can he 
have any of the attributes bestowed upon him by theology and thus 
such a God becomes again but a blind force. Intelligence as found in 
our Dyan Chohans, is a faculty that can appertain but to organized or 
animated being -- however imponderable or rather invisible the 
materials of their organizations. Intelligence requires the necessity 
of thinking; to think one must have ideas; ideas suppose senses which 
are physical material, and how can anything material belong to pure 
spirit? If it be objected that thought cannot be a property of 
matter, we will ask the reason why? We must have an unanswerable 
proof of this assumption, before we can accept it. Of the theologian 
we would enquire what was there to prevent his God, since he is the 
alleged creator of all -- to endow matter with the faculty of 
thought; and when answered that evidently it has not pleased Him to 
do so, that it is a mystery as well as an impossibility, we would 
insist upon being told why it is more impossible that matter should 
produce spirit and thought, than spirit or the thought of God should 
produce and create matter. 

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? Well, we believe in the much laughed at phlogiston (see 
article "What is force and what is matter?" Theosophist, September), 
and in what some natural philosophers would call nisus the incessant 
though perfectly imperceptible (to the ordinary senses) motion or 
efforts one body is making on another -- the pulsations of inert 
matter -- its life. The bodies of the Planetary spirits are formed of 
that which Priestley and others called Phlogiston and for which we 
have another name -- this essence in its highest seventh state 
forming that matter of which the organisms of the highest and purest 
Dyans are composed, and in its lowest or densest form (so impalpable 
yet that science calls it energy and force) serving as a cover to the 
Planetaries of the 1st or lowest degree. In other words 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. For as Bellinger truly asserts "motion is a manner of 
existence that flows necessarily out of the essence of matter; that 
matter moves by its own peculiar energies; that its motion is due to 
the force which is inherent in itself; that the variety of motion and 
the phenomena that result proceed from the diversity of the 
properties of the qualities and of the combinations which are 
originally found in the primitive matter" of which nature is the 
assemblage and of which your science knows less than one of our 
Tibetan Yak-drivers of Kant's metaphysics. 

The existence of matter then is a fact; the existence of motion is 
another fact, their self existence and eternity or indestructibility 
is a third fact. And the idea of pure spirit as a Being or an 
Existence -- give it whatever name you will -- is a chimera, a 
gigantic absurdity. 

Our ideas on Evil. Evil has no existence per se and is but the 
absence of good and exists but for him who is made its victim. It 
proceeds from two causes, and no more than good is it an independent 
cause in nature. Nature is destitute of goodness or malice; she 
follows only immutable laws when she either gives life and joy, or 
sends suffering [and] death, and destroys what she has created. 
Nature has an antidote for every poison and her laws a reward for 
every suffering. The butterfly devoured by a bird 
becomes that bird, and the little bird killed by an animal goes into 
a higher form. It is the blind law of necessity and the eternal 
fitness of things, and hence cannot be called Evil in Nature. The 
real evil proceeds from human intelligence and its origin rests 
entirely with reasoning man who dissociates himself from Nature. 
Humanity then alone is the true source of evil. Evil is the 
exaggeration of good, the progeny of human selfishness and 
greediness. Think profoundly and you will find that save death -- 
which is no evil but a necessary law, and accidents which will always 
find their reward in a future life -- the origin of every evil 
whether small or great is in human action, in man whose intelligence 
makes him the one free agent in Nature. It is not nature that creates 
diseases, but man. The latter's mission and destiny in the economy of 
nature is to die his natural death brought by old age; save accident, 
neither a savage nor a wild (free) animal die of disease. Food, 
sexual relations, drink, are all natural necessities of life; yet 
excess in them brings on disease, misery, suffering, mental and 
physical, and the latter are transmitted as the greatest evils to 
future generations, the progeny of the culprits. Ambition, the desire 
of securing happiness and comfort for those we love, by obtaining 
honours and riches, are praiseworthy natural feelings but when they 
transform man into an ambitious cruel tyrant, a miser, a selfish 
egotist they bring untold misery on those around him; on nations as 
well as on individuals. All this then -- food, wealth, ambition, and 
a thousand other things we have to leave unmentioned, becomes the 
source and cause of evil whether in its abundance or through its 
absence. Become a glutton, a debauchee, a tyrant, and you become the 
originator of diseases, of human suffering and misery. Lack all this 
and you starve, you are despised as a nobody and the majority of the 
herd, your fellow men, make of you a sufferer your whole life. 
Therefore it is neither nature nor an imaginary Deity that has to be 
blamed, but human nature made vile by selfishness. Think well over 
these few words; work out every cause of evil you can think of and 
trace it to its origin and you will have solved one-third of the 
problem of evil. And now, after making due allowance for evils that 
are natural and cannot be avoided, -- and so few are they that I 
challenge the whole host of Western metaphysicians to call them evils 
or to trace them directly to an independent cause -- I will point out 
the greatest, the chief cause of nearly two thirds of the evils that 
pursue humanity ever since that cause became a power. It is religion 
under whatever form and in whatsoever nation. It is the sacerdotal 
caste, the priesthood and the churches; it is in those illusions that 
man looks upon as sacred, that he has to search out the source of 
that multitude of evils which is the great curse of humanity and that 
almost overwhelms mankind. Ignorance created Gods and cunning took 
advantage of the opportunity. Look at India and look at Christendom 
and Islam, at Judaism and Fetichism. It is priestly imposture that 
rendered these Gods so terrible to man; it is religion that makes of 
him the selfish bigot, the fanatic that hates all mankind out of his 
own sect without rendering him any better or more moral for it. It is 
belief in God and Gods that makes two-thirds of humanity the slaves 
of a handful of those who deceive them under the false pretence of 
saving them. Is not man ever ready to commit any kind of evil if told 
that his God or Gods demand the crime?; voluntary victim of an 
illusionary God, the abject slave of his crafty ministers. The Irish, 
Italian and Slavonian peasant will starve himself and see his family 
starving and naked to feed and clothe his padre and pope. For two 
thousand years India groaned under the weight of caste, Brahmins 
alone feeding on the fat of the land, and to-day the followers of 
Christ and those of Mahomet are cutting each other's throats in the 
names of and for the greater glory of their respective myths. 
Remember the sum of human misery will never be diminished unto that 
day when the better portion of humanity destroys in the name of 
Truth, morality, and universal charity, the altars of their false 

If it is objected that we too have temples, we too have priests and 
that our lamas also live on charity . . . let them know that the 
objects above named have in common with their Western equivalents, 
but the name. Thus in our temples there is neither a god nor gods 
worshipped, only the thrice sacred memory of the greatest as the 
holiest man that ever lived. If our lamas to honour the fraternity of 
the Bhikkhus established by our blessed master himself, go out to be 
fed by the laity, the latter often to the number of 5 to 25,000 is 
fed and taken care of by the Samgha (the fraternity of lamaic monks) 
the lamassery providing for the wants of the poor, the sick, the 
afflicted. Our lamas accept food, never money, and it is in those 
temples that the origin of evil is preached and impressed upon the 
people. There they are taught the four noble truths -- ariya sakka, 
and the chain of causation, (the 12 nid[ci]anas) gives them a 
solution of the problem of the origin and destruction of suffering. 

Read the Mahavagga and try to understand not with the prejudiced 
Western mind but the spirit of intuition and truth what the Fully 
Enlightened one says in the 1st Khandhaka. Allow me to translate it 
for you. 

"At the time the blessed Buddha was at Uruvella on the shores of the 
river Nerovigara as he rested under the Boddhi tree of wisdom after 
he had become Sambuddha, at the end of the seventh day having his 
mind fixed on the chain of causation he spake thus: 'from Ignorance 
spring the samkharas of threefold nature -- productions of body, of 
speech, of thought. From the samkharas springs consciousness, from 
consciousness springs name and form, from this spring the six regions 
(of the six senses the seventh being the property of but the 
enlightened); from these springs contact from this sensation; from 
this springs thirst (or desire, Kama, tanha) from thirst attachment, 
existence, birth, old age and death, grief, lamentation, suffering, 
dejection and despair. Again by the destruction of ignorance, the 
Sankharas are destroyed, and their consciousness name and form, the 
six regions, contact, sensation, thirst, attachment (selfishness), 
existence, birth, old age, death, grief, lamentation, suffering, 
dejection, and despair are destroyed. Such is the cessation of this 
whole mass of suffering." 

Knowing this the blessed one uttered this solemn utterance. "When the 
real nature of things becomes clear to the meditating Bikshu, then 
all his doubts fade away since he has learned what is that nature and 
what its cause. From ignorance spring all the evils. From knowledge 
comes the cessation of this mass of misery, and then the meditating 
Brahmana stands dispelling the hosts of Mara like the sun that 
illuminates the sky." 

Meditation here means the superhuman (not supernatural) qualities, or 
arhatship in its highest of spiritual powers. 

Copied out Simla, Sept. 28, 1882. 

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