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Theism compared to A-Theism and Pan-theism in the Mahatma Letters

Nov 15, 2002 07:43 AM
by Daniel H. Caldwell

On the subject of ATHEISM IN THE MAHATMA LETTERS, Bhakti Ananda 
Goswami writes the following about Master KH's comments on "God" in 
Mahatma Letter No. 10:


One needs to go beyond the words used in the letters and ponder on 
the meaning of the words and the concepts and ideas presented by the 

It is also important to keep in mind as one reads ML-10 what the 
Mahatmas KH and M write in their other letters on the SAME and 
related subjects.

Therefore I give BELOW a compilation of extracts from various Mahatma 
letters on "God", "spirit", "matter", "atman", Parabrahm, etc. 

One might also annotate all of these extracts with other extracts 
from HPB's SECRET DOCTRINE and her other works. 

One might also ponder on the words theism, a-theism and pan-theism 
and what they actually mean as one reads all these extracts.


Neither our philosophy nor ourselves believe in a God, least of all 
in one whose pronoun necessitates a capital G. . . . 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. . . .

. . . 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. . . .

. . . 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 . . . .

. . . 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. . . .

. . . 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. . . .

. . . 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 . . . 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. . . .

. . . 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? . . .

. . . 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. . . .

. . . 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. . . .

. . . Contrary in that to the finite, the "infinite mind," which we 
name so but for argument's sake, for we call it the infinite FORCE -- 
exhibits but the functions of its cerebellum, the existence of its 
supposed cerebrum being admitted as above stated, but on the 
inferential hypothesis deduced from the Kabalistic theory (correct in 
every other relation) of the Macrocosm being the prototype of the 
Microcosm. So far as we know the corroboration of it by modern 
science receiving but little consideration -- so far as the highest 
Planetary Spirits have ascertained (who remember well have the same 
relations with the trans-cosmical world, penetrating behind the 
primitive veil of cosmic matter as we have to go behind the veil of 
this, our gross physical world --) the infinite mind displays to them 
as to us no more than the regular unconscious throbbings of the 
eternal and universal pulse of Nature, throughout the myriads of 
worlds within as without the primitive veil of our solar system.

It is the peculiar faculty of the involuntary power of the infinite 
mind -- which no one could ever think of calling God, -- to be 
eternally evolving subjective matter into objective atoms (you will 
please remember that these two adjectives are used but in a relative 
sense) or cosmic matter to be later on developed into form. And it is 
likewise that same involuntary mechanical power that we see so 
intensely active in all the fixed laws of nature -- which governs and 
controls what is called the Universe or the Cosmos. There are some 
modern philosophers who would prove the existence of a Creator from 
motion. We say and affirm that that motion -- the universal perpetual 
motion which never ceases never slackens nor increases its speed not 
even during the interludes between the pralayas, or "nights of 
Brahma" but goes on like a mill set in motion, whether it has 
anything to grind or not (for the pralaya means the temporary loss of 
every form, but by no means the destruction of cosmic matter which is 
eternal) -- we say this perpetual motion is the only eternal and 
uncreated Deity we are able to recognise. To regard God as an 
intelligent spirit, and accept at the same time his absolute 
immateriality is to conceive of a nonentity, a blank void; to regard 
God as a Being, an Ego and to place his intelligence under a bushel 
for some mysterious reasons -- is a most consummate nonsense; to 
endow him with intelligence in the face of blind brutal Evil is to 
make of him a fiend -- a most rascally God. A Being however gigantic, 
occupying space and having length breadth and thickness is most 
certainly the Mosaic deity; "No-being" and a mere principle lands you 
directly in the Buddhistic atheism, or the Vedantic primitive 
Acosmism. What lies beyond and outside the worlds of form, and being, 
in worlds and spheres in their most spiritualized state -- (and you 
will perhaps oblige us by telling us where that beyond can be, since 
the Universe is infinite and limitless) is useless for anyone to 
search after since even Planetary Spirits have no knowledge or 
perception of it. If our greatest adepts and Bodhisatvas have never 
penetrated themselves beyond our solar system, -- and the idea seems 
to suit your preconceived theistic theory wonderfully, my respected 
Brother -- they still know of the existence of other such solar 
systems, with as mathematical a certainty as any western astronomer 
knows of the existence of invisible stars which he can never approach 
or explore. But of that which lies within the worlds and systems, not 
in the trans-infinitude -- (a queer expression to use) -- but in the 
cis-infinitude rather, in the state of the purest and inconceivable 
immateriality, no one ever knew or will ever tell, hence it is 
something non-existent for the universe. You are at liberty to place 
in this eternal vacuum the intellectual or voluntary powers of your 
deity -- if you can conceive of such a thing. . . . 

. . . 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 -- a Being which at the 
same time has no form nor occupies space! Verily if light shineth in 
darkness, and darkness comprehends it not, it is because such is the 
natural law, but how more suggestive and pregnant with meaning for 
one who knows, to say that light can still less comprehend darkness, 
nor ever know it since it kills wherever it penetrates and 
annihilates it instantly. Pure yet a volitional Spirit is an 
absurdity for volitional mind. The result of organism cannot exist 
independently of an organized brain, and an organized brain made out 
of nihil is a still greater fallacy. If you ask me "Whence then the 
immutable laws? -- laws cannot make themselves" -- then in my turn I 
will ask you -- and whence their supposed Creator? -- a creator 
cannot create or make himself. If the brain did not make itself, for 
this would be affirming that brain acted before it existed, how could 
intelligence, the result of an organized brain, act before its 
creator was made. . . . 

Yes: there is a force as limitless as thought, as potent as boundless 
will, as subtile as the essence of life so inconceivably awful in its 
rending force as to convulse the universe to its centre would it but 
be used as a lever, but this Force is not God, since there are men 
who have learned the secret of subjecting it to their will when 
necessary. Look around you and see the myriad manifestations of life, 
so infinitely multiform; of life, of motion, of change. What caused 
these? From what inexhaustible source came they, by what agency? Out 
of the invisible and subjective they have entered our little area of 
the visible and objective. Children of Akasa, concrete evolutions 
from the ether, it was force which brought them into perceptibility 
and Force will in time remove them from the sight of man. Why should 
this plant in your garden to the right, have been produced with such 
a shape and that other one to the left with one totally dissimilar? 
Are these not the result of varying action of Force -- unlike 
correlations? Given a perfect monotony of activities throughout the 
world, and we would have a complete identity of forms, colours, 
shapes and properties throughout all the kingdoms of nature. It is 
the motion with its resulting conflict, neutralization, 
equilibration, correlation, to which is due the infinite variety 
which prevails. You speak of an intelligent and good -- (the 
attribute is rather unfortunately chosen) -- Father, a moral guide 
and governor of the universe and man. A certain condition of things 
exists around us which we call normal. Under this nothing can occur 
which transcends our every-day experience "God's immutable laws." But 
suppose we change this condition and have the best of him without 
whom even a hair of your head will not fall, as they tell you in the 
West. A current of air brings to me from the lake near which, with my 
fingers half frozen I now write to you this letter -- I change by a 
certain combination of electrical magnetic odyllic or other 
influences the current of air which benumbs my fingers into a warmer 
breeze; I have thwarted the intention of the Almighty, and dethroned 
him at my will! I can do that, or when I do not want Nature to 
produce strange and too visible phenomena, I force my nature-seeing, 
nature-influencing self within me, to suddenly awake to new 
perceptions and feelings and thus am my own Creator and ruler. 

But do you think that you are right when saying that "the laws 
arise." Immutable laws cannot arise, since they are eternal and 
uncreated, propelled in the Eternity and that God himself if such a 
thing existed, could never have the power of stopping them. And when 
did I say that these laws were fortuitous per se. I meant their blind 
correlations, never the laws, or rather the law -- since we recognise 
but one law in the Universe, the law of harmony, of perfect 
EQUILIBRIUM. Then for a man endowed with so subtle a logic, and such 
a fine comprehension of the value of ideas in general and that of 
words especially -- for a man so accurate as you generally are to 
make tirades upon an "all wise, powerful and love-ful God" seems to 
say at least strange. I do not protest at all as you seem to think 
against your theism, or a belief in an abstract ideal of some kind, 
but I cannot help asking you, how do you or how can you know that 
your God is all wise, omnipotent and love-ful, when everything in 
nature, physical and moral, proves such a being, if he does exist to 
be quite the reverse of all you say of him? Strange delusion and one 
which seems to overpower your very intellect. . . . 

The conception of matter and spirit as entirely distinct, and both 
eternal could certainly never have entered my head, however little I 
may know of them, for it is one of the elementary and fundamental 
doctrines of Occultism that the two are one, and are distinct but in 
their respective manifestations, and only in the limited perceptions 
of the world of senses. Far from "lacking philosophical breadth" 
then, our doctrines show, but 
one principle in nature, -- spirit-matter or matter-spirit, the third 
the ultimate Absolute or the quintessence of the two, -- if I may be 
allowed to use an erroneous term in the present application -- losing 
itself beyond the view and spiritual perceptions of even the "Gods" 
or Planetary Spirits. This third principle say the Vedantic 
Philosophers -- is the only reality, everything else being Maya, as 
none of the Protean manifestations of spirit-matter or Purusha and 
Prakriti have ever been regarded in any other light than that of 
temporary delusions of the senses. Even in the hardly outlined 
philosophy of Isis this idea is clearly carried out. In the book of 
Kiu-te, Spirit is called the ultimate sublimation of matter, and 
matter the crystallization of spirit. And no better illustration 
could be afforded than in the very simple phenomenon of ice, water, 
vapour and the final dispersion of the latter, the phenomenon being 
reversed in its consecutive manifestations and called the Spirit 
failing into generation or matter. This trinity resolving itself into 
unity, -- a doctrine as old as the world of thought -- was seized 
upon by some early Christians, who had it in the schools of 
Alexandria, and made up into the Father, or generative spirit; the 
Son or matter, -- man; and into the Holy Ghost, the immaterial 
essence, or the apex of the equilateral triangle, an idea found to 
this day in the pyramids of Egypt. Thus once more it is proved that 
you misunderstand my meaning entirely, whenever for the sake of 
brevity I use a phraseology habitual with the Western people. But in 
my turn I have to remark that your idea that matter is but the 
temporary allotropic form of spirit differing from it as charcoal 
does from diamond is as unphilosophical as it is unscientific from 
both the Eastern and the Western points of view, charcoal being but a 
form of residue of matter, while matter per se is indestructible, and 
as I maintain coeval with spirit -- that spirit which we know and can 
conceive of. Bereaved of Prakriti, Purusha (Spirit) is unable to 
manifest itself, hence ceases to exist -- becomes nihil. Without 
spirit or Force, even that which Science styles as "not living" 
matter, the so-called mineral ingredients which feed plants, could 
never have been called into form. There is a moment in the existence 
of every molecule and atom of matter when, for one cause or another, 
the last spark of spirit or motion or life (call it by whatever name) 
is withdrawn, and in the same instant with the swiftness which 
surpasses that of the lightning glance of thought the atom or 
molecule or an aggregation of molecules is annihilated to return to 
its pristine purity of intra-cosmic matter. It is drawn to the mother 
fount with the velocity of a globule of quicksilver to the central 
mass. Matter, force, and motion are the trinity of physical objective 
nature, as the trinitarian unity of spirit-matter is that of the 
spiritual or subjective nature. Motion is eternal because spirit is 
eternal. But no modes of motion can ever be conceived unless they be 
in connection with matter. . . .

. . . And thus according to Mr. Massey's philosophical conclusion we 
have no God? He is right -- since he applies the name to an extra-
cosmic anomaly, and that we, knowing nothing of the latter, find -- 
each man his God -- within himself in his own personal, and at the 
same time, -- impersonal Avalokiteswara. . . . 

. . . Avalokita Isvar literally interpreted means "the 
Lord that is seen." "Iswara" implying moreover, rather the adjective 
than the noun, lordly, self-existent lordliness, not Lord. It is, 
when correctly interpreted, in one sense "the divine Self perceived 
or seen by Self," the Atman or seventh principle ridded of its 
mayavic distinction from its Universal Source -- which becomes the 
object of perception for, and by the individuality centred in Buddhi, 
the sixth principle, -- something that happens only in the highest 
state of Samadhi. This is applying it to the microcosm. In the other 
sense Avalokitesvara implies the seventh Universal Principle, as the 
object perceived by the Universal Buddhi "Mind" or Intelligence which 
is the synthetic aggregation of all the Dhyan Chohans, as of all 
other intelligences whether great or small, that ever were, are, or 
will be. Nor is it the "Spirit of Buddhas present in the Church," but 
the Omnipresent Universal Spirit in the temple of nature -- in one 
case; and the seventh Principle -- the Atman in the temple -- man -- 
in the other. Mr. Rhys Davids might have, at least remembered, the 
(to him) familiar simile made by the Christian Adept, the Kabalistic 
Paul: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit 
of God dwelleth in you" -- and thus avoided to have made a mess of 
the name. Though as a grammarian he detected the use of the "past 
particle passive" yet he shows himself far from an inspired "Panini" 
in overlooking the true cause and saving his grammar by raising the 
hue and cry against metaphysics. And yet, he quotes Beale's [Beal] 
Catena as his authority, for the invention, when, in truth, this work 
is perhaps the only one in English that gives an approximately 
correct explanation of the word, at any rate, on page 374. "Self-
manifested" -- How? it is asked. "Speech or Vach was regarded as the 
Son or the manifestation of the Eternal Self, and was adored under 
the name of Avalokitesvara, the manifested God." This shows as 
clearly as can be -- that Avalokitesvara is both the unmanifested 
Father and the manifested Son, the latter proceeding from, and 
identical with, the other; -- namely, the Parabrahm and Jivatman, the 
Universal and the individualized seventh Principle, -- the Passive 
and the Active, the latter the Word, Logos, the Verb. Call it by 
whatever name, only let these unfortunate, deluded Christians know 
that the real Christ of every Christian is the Vach, the "mystical 
Voice," . . .

. . . [Do you] know the meaning of the white and black interlaced 
triangles, of the Parent [Theosophical] Society's seal . . . ? 
Shall I explain? -- the double triangle viewed by the Jewish 
Kabalists as Solomon's Seal, is, as many of you doubtless know the 
Sri-antara of the archaic Aryan Temple, the "mystery of Mysteries," a 
geometrical synthesis of the whole occult doctrine. The two 
interlaced triangles are the Buddhangums of Creation. They contain 
the "squaring of the circle," the "philosophical stone," the great 
problems of Life and Death, and -- the Mystery of Evil. . . .Of 
course you know that the double-triangle -- the Satkiri Chakram of 
Vishnu -- or 
the six-pointed star, is the perfect seven. In all the old Sanskrit 
works -- Vedic and Tantrik -- you find the number 6 mentioned more 
often than the 7 -- this last figure, the central point being 
implied, for it is the germ of the six and their matrix . . . the 
central point standing for seventh, and the circle, the Mahakasha -- 
endless space -- for the seventh Universal Principle. In one sense, 
both are viewed as Avalokitesvara, for they are respectively the 
Macrocosm and the microcosm. The interlaced triangles -- the upper 
pointing one -- is Wisdom concealed, and the downward pointing one -- 
Wisdom revealed (in the phenomenal world). The circle indicates the 
bounding, circumscribing quality of the All, the Universal Principle 
which, from any given point expands so as to embrace all things, 
while embodying the potentiality of every action in the Cosmos. As 
the point then is the centre round which the circle is traced -- they 
are identical and one, and though from the standpoint of Maya and 
Avidya -- (illusion and ignorance) -- one is separated from the other 
by the manifested triangle, the 3 sides of which represent the three 
gunas -- finite attributes. In symbology the central point is Jivatma 
(the 7th principle), and hence Avalokitesvara, the Kwan-Shai-yin, the 
manifested "Voice" (or Logos), the germ point of manifested 
activity; -- hence -- in the phraseology of the Christian 
Kabalists "the Son of the Father and Mother," and agreeably to ours --
"the Self manifested in Self -- Yih-sin, the "one form of 
existence," the child of Dharmakaya (the universally diffused 
Essence), both male and female. Parabrahm or "Adi-Buddha" while 
acting through that germ point outwardly as an active force, reacts 
from the circumference inwardly as the Supreme but latent Potency. 
The double triangles symbolize the Great Passive and the Great 
Active; the male and female; Purusha and Prakriti. Each triangle is a 
Trinity because presenting a triple aspect. The white represents in 
its straight lines: Gnanam -- (Knowledge); Gnata -- (the Knower); and 
Gnayam -- (that which is known). The black-form, colour, and 
substance, also the creative, preservative, and destructive forces 
and are mutually correlating, etc., etc. . . . 

. . . every thought of man upon being evolved passes into the inner 
world and becomes an active entity by associating itself -- 
coalescing, we might term it -- with an elemental; that is to say 
with one of the semi-intelligent forces of the kingdoms. It survives 
as an active intelligence, a creature of the mind's begetting, for a 
longer or shorter period proportionate with the original intensity of 
the cerebral action which generated it. Thus, a good thought is 
perpetuated as an active beneficent power; an evil one as a 
maleficent demon. And so man is continually peopling his current in 
space with a world of his own, crowded with the offsprings of his 
fancies, desires, impulses, and passions, a current which reacts upon 
any sensitive or and nervous organisation which comes in contact with 
it in proportion to its dynamic intensity. The Buddhist calls this 
his "Skandha," the Hindu gives it the name of "Karma"; the Adept 
evolves these shapes consciously, other men throw them off 
unconsciously. . . .

. . . The human brain is an exhaustless generator of the most refined 
quality of cosmic force, out of the low, brute energy of nature; and 
the complete adept has made himself a centre from which irradiate 
potentialities that beget correlations upon correlations through 
Aeons to come. This is the key to the mystery of his being able to 
project into and materialise in the visible world the forms that his 
imagination has constructed out of inert cosmic matter in the 
invisible world. The adept does not create anything new, but only 
utilises and manipulates materials which nature has in store around 
him; a material which throughout eternities has passed through all 
the forms; he has but to choose the one he wants and recall it into 
objective existence. . . . 

What have we, the disciples of the true Arhats, of esoteric Buddhism 
and of Sang-gyas to do with the Shasters and Orthodox Brahmanism? 
There are 100 of thousands of Fakirs, Sannyasis and Saddhus leading 
the most pure lives, and yet being as they are, on the path of error, 
never having had an opportunity to meet, see or even hear of us. 
Their forefathers have driven away the followers of the only true 
philosophy upon earth away from India and now, it is not for the 
latter to come to them but to them to come to us if they want us. 
Which of them is ready to become a Buddhist, a Nastika as they call 
us? . . . Faith in the Gods and God, and other superstitions attracts 
millions of foreign influences, living entities and powerful agents 
around them, with which we would have to use more than ordinary 
exercise of power to drive them away. We do not choose to do so. We 
do not find it either necessary or profitable to lose our time waging 
war to the unprogressed Planetaries who delight in personating gods 
and sometimes well known characters who have lived on earth. There 
are Dhyan-Chohans and "Chohans of Darkness," not what they term 
devils but imperfect "Intelligences" who have never been born on this 
or any other earth or sphere no more than the "Dhyan Chohans" have 
and who will never belong to the "builders of the Universe," the pure 
Planetary Intelligences, who preside at every Manvantara while the 
Dark Chohans preside at the Pralayas. . . . as all in 
this universe is contrast . . . so the light of the Dhyan Chohans and 
their pure intelligence is contrasted by the "Ma-Mo Chohans" -- and 
their destructive intelligence. These are the gods the Hindus and 
Christians and Mahomed and all others of bigoted religions and sects 
worship; and so long as their influence is upon their devotees we 
would no more think of associating with or counteracting them in 
their work. . . . 

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