God and Religion
BCW H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Theosophical Publishing House (TPH), 1950-91 ET The Esoteric Tradition, G. de Purucker, Theosophical University Press (TUP), 2nd ed., 1940 FEP Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, G. de Purucker, TUP, 2nd ed., 1979 FSO Fountain-Source of Occultism, G. de Purucker, TUP, 1974 Isis Isis Unveiled, H.P. Blavatsky, TUP, 1972 (1877) Key The Key to Theosophy, H.P. Blavatsky, TUP, 1972 (1889) MiE Man in Evolution, G. de Purucker, TUP, 2nd ed., 1977 ML2 The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, TUP, 2nd ed., 1975 MLC The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, TPH, chron. ed., 1993 OG Occult Glossary, G. de Purucker, TUP, 2nd ed., 1996 SD The Secret Doctrine, H.P. Blavatsky, TUP, 1977 (1888) SRCW T. Subba Row Collected Writings, H.J. Spierenburg (comp.), Point Loma Publications (PLP), 2001/02 TG The Theosophical Glossary, H.P. Blavatsky, Theos. Co., 1973 (1892) WoH The Wisdom of the Heart, Katherine Tingley, PLP, 1978
‘There is no religion higher than truth.’ (Motto of the Theosophical Society)
‘Religion An operation of the human spiritual mind in its endeavor to understand not only the how and the why of things, but comprising in addition a yearning and striving towards self-conscious union with the divine All ... One phase of a triform method of understanding ... universal nature, and its multiform and multifold workings; and this phase cannot be separated from the other two phases (science and philosophy) if we wish to gain a true picture of things as they are in themselves.
‘Human religion is the expression of that aspect of man’s consciousness which is intuitional, aspirational, and mystical, and which is often deformed and distorted in its lower forms by the emotional in man.
‘It is usual among modern Europeans to derive the word religion from the Latin verb meaning “to bind back” – religare. But there is another derivation ... from a Latin root meaning “to select,” “to choose” ... [Derived] from the Latin religio, [religion] means a careful selection of fundamental beliefs and motives by the higher or spiritual intellect, a faculty of intuitional judgment and understanding, and a consequent abiding by that selection, resulting in a course of life and conduct in all respects following the convictions that have been arrived at. This is the religious spirit.
‘[B]ehind all the various religions and philosophies of ancient times there is a secret or esoteric wisdom given out by the greatest men who have ever lived, the founders and builders of the various world religions and world philosophies; and this sublime system in fundamentals has been the same everywhere over the face of the globe.
‘This system has passed under various names, e.g., the esoteric philosophy, the ancient wisdom, the secret doctrine, the traditional teaching, theosophy, etc.’ (OG 148-9)
‘The esoteric doctrine is the common property of mankind, and it has always been thus. In all the various great religions and philosophies of the world, the student will find fundamental principles in each which, when placed side by side and critically examined, are easily discovered to be identic ..., but usually expressed in exoteric form.
‘However, no one of these world religions or world philosophies gives in clear and explicit shape or form the entirety of the body of teachings which are at its heart; some religions emphasize one or more of such fundamental principles; another religion or philosophy will emphasize others of these principles; in either case others again of the principles remaining in the background. This readily accounts for the fact that the various world religions and world philosophies vary among themselves and often, to the unreflecting mind, superficially seem to have little in common, and perhaps even to be contradictory. The cause of this is the varying manner in which each such religion or philosophy has been given to the world, the form that each took having been best for the period in which it was promulgated. Each such religion or philosophy, having its own racial sphere and period of time, represents the various human minds who have developed it ...
‘These manners or mannerisms of exoteric thinking we may discard if we wish; but it is the fundamental principles behind every great religion or great philosophy which in their aggregate are the universal esoteric doctrine. In this universal esoteric doctrine lies the mystery-field of each great religion or philosophy ...
‘Exotericism – that is to say, the outward and popular formulation of religious and philosophic doctrines – reveils the truth; the self-assurance of ignorance, alas, always reviles the truth; whereas esotericism reveals the truth.’ (OG 46-7, 50)
‘[T]he multitudinous religious faiths that mankind, early and late, have professed, ... have all been derived from one primitive source. It would seem as if they were all but different modes of expressing the yearning of the imprisoned human soul for intercourse with supernal spheres. As the white ray of light is decomposed by the prism into the various colors of the solar spectrum, so the beam of divine truth, in passing the three-sided prism of man’s nature, has been broken up into vari-colored fragments called RELIGIONS. And, as the rays of the spectrum, by imperceptible shadings, merge into each other, so the great theologies that have appeared at different degrees of divergence from the original source, have been connected by minor schisms, schools, and off-shoots from the one side or the other. Combined, their aggregate represents one eternal truth; separate, they are but shades of human error and the signs of imperfection. ...
‘What has been contemptuously termed Paganism, was ancient wisdom replete with Deity; and Judaism, and its offspring, Christianity and Islamism, derived whatever of inspiration they contained from this ethnic parent. Pre-Vedic Brahmanism and Buddhism are the double source from which all religions sprung; Nirvana is the ocean to which all tend.’ (Isis 2:639)
‘[T]here is no more fertile source of hatred and strife than religious differences. When one party or another thinks himself the sole possessor of absolute truth, it becomes only natural that he should think his neighbor absolutely in the clutches of Error or the Devil. But once get a man to see that none of them has the whole truth, but that they are mutually complementary, that the complete truth can be found only in the combined views of all, after that which is false in each of them has been sifted out – then true brotherhood in religion will be established. ...
‘Each religion is thus a bit of the divine truth, made to focus a vast panorama of human fancy which claimed to represent and replace that truth.’ (Key 45-6, 58)
‘[R]eal evil proceeds from human intelligence and its origin rests entirely with reasoning man who dissociates himself from Nature. ... [T]he chief cause of nearly two thirds of the evils that pursue humanity ... is religion ... 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. ... Is not man ever ready to commit any kind of evil if told that his God or Gods demand the crime? ... [T]he sum of human misery will never be diminished until that day when the better portion of humanity destroys in the name of Truth, morality, and universal charity, the altars of their false gods.’ (ML2 57-8 / MLC 273-5)
‘Esoteric philosophy reconciles all religions, strips every one of its outward, human garments, and shows the root of each to be identical with that of every other great religion. It proves the necessity of an absolute Divine Principle in nature. It denies Deity no more than it does the Sun. Esoteric philosophy has never rejected God in Nature, nor Deity as the absolute and abstract Ens. It only refuses to accept any of the gods of the so-called monotheistic religions, gods created by man in his own image and likeness, a blasphemous and sorry caricature of the Ever-Unknowable.’ (SD 1:xx)
‘Theosophy is not a religion, but a philosophy at once religious and scientific; and [seeks] to revive in each religion its own animating spirit, by encouraging and helping enquiry into the true significance of its doctrines and observances. Theosophists know that the deeper one penetrates into the meaning of the dogmas and ceremonies of all religions, the greater becomes their apparent underlying similarity, until finally a perception of their fundamental unity is reached. This common ground is no other than Theosophy – the Secret Doctrine of the ages; which, diluted and disguised to suit the capacity of the multitude, and the requirements of the time, has formed the living kernel of all religions.’ (BCW 8:268-9)
‘[Theosophy] is the essence of all religion and of absolute truth, a drop of which only underlies every creed. ... Theosophy, on earth, is like the white ray of the spectrum, and every religion only one of the seven prismatic colours. Ignoring all the others, and cursing them as false, every special coloured ray claims not only priority, but to be that white ray itself, and anathematizes even its own tints from light to dark, as heresies. Yet, as the sun of truth rises higher and higher on the horizon of man’s perception and each coloured ray gradually fades out until it is finally re-absorbed in its turn, humanity will at last be cursed no longer with artificial polarizations, but will find itself bathing in the pure colourless sunlight of eternal truth. And this will be Theosophia.’ (Key 58)
‘[N]o human-born doctrine, no creed, however sanctified by custom and antiquity, can compare in sacredness with the religion of Nature.’ (SD 2:797) ‘[In] future times, a new and very beautiful Religion of Nature of a truly spiritual type will take the place of the present period of agnostic uncertainty, for it will not be a religion, but Religion, founded entirely ... on the facts of the Spiritual Universe.’ (ET 470)
Divinity and infinitude
‘[T]here are in religious thought three or four ideas as to how teachings concerning deity should be formulated. One is called deism, that is to say the doctrine accepted by those who believe that there is a personal God, but One who is apart from the world which He has created; that He takes no interest in it in particular; and that that universe which He created in some very mysterious manner runs itself.
‘The second theory, which fundamentally is the same in principle, is called theism. This is the doctrine of those who accept a personal God transcending the physical universe, yet a God who takes a most lively interest in the universe which He has created, and in the beings which He created to inhabit that universe.
‘The third specimen of belief, or disbelief, as regards deity is what is called atheism, which is the belief held by those who say that there is no God at all.
‘The fourth belief ... is called pantheism. This is the doctrine of those who say that the universe is inspirited with an impersonal life comprising universal consciousness and which exists in every particle, infinitesimal or cosmic, of that universe, and which universal life is the background of that universe; that this universal life is the source and also the ultimate destiny of every one of such infinitesimal or cosmic entities.
‘Theosophists may be called pantheists ... in the sense that we recognize a universal life infilling, inspiriting everything ...’ (MiE 250-1)
‘The divine can be understood by looking within, ... for the very root of man’s spiritual nature is that divine itself, our spiritual origin, our impersonal parent, the source of our essence. From it we sprang in the far distant aeons of the illimitable past on our cycling journey downwards into matter; and to it shall we return in the far distant cycles of the future – but then as ... fully-developed spiritual monads. Having left it in the morning of time as unself-conscious god-sparks, we shall return to it as self-conscious divinities. It is we, and we are it. It is the inmost self living at the core, at the heart, of each one of us; and at the heart of all that is, of all entities that are, because fundamentally it is everything.’ (MiE 252)
‘Not only is every being an expression of an individualized divinity, its inner god, but all these inner gods are under the sway of, and living in and forming a part of, some greater divinity, itself a part of a superior host collectively aggregated within the life-sphere of some divinity still more sublime; and so on ad infinitum. At every step we may say with Paul of the Christians: “In It we live and move and have our being.” ’ (FSO 383)
The first fundamental proposition of the secret doctrine is: ‘An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable PRINCIPLE on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception and could only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude. ...
‘[T]here is one absolute Reality which antecedes all manifested, conditioned, being. This Infinite and Eternal Cause ... is the rootless root of “all that was, is, or ever shall be.” It is of course devoid of all attributes and is essentially without any relation to manifested, finite Being. It is “Be-ness” rather than Being (in Sanskrit, Sat), and is beyond all thought or speculation. ...
‘It is the ONE LIFE, eternal, invisible, yet Omnipresent, without beginning or end, yet periodical in its regular manifestations, between which periods reigns the dark mystery of non-Being; unconscious, yet absolute Consciousness; unrealisable, yet the one self-existing reality ... Its one absolute attribute, which is ITSELF, eternal, ceaseless Motion, is called in esoteric parlance the “Great Breath,” which is the perpetual motion of the universe, in the sense of limitless, ever-present SPACE.’ (SD 1:14, 2)
‘The fundamental Law [of the secret doctrine] ... is the One homogeneous divine SUBSTANCE-PRINCIPLE, the one radical cause ...
‘It is called “Substance-Principle,” for it becomes “substance” on the plane of the manifested Universe, an illusion, while it remains a “principle” in the beginningless and endless abstract, visible and invisible SPACE. It is the omnipresent Reality: impersonal, because it contains all and everything. Its impersonality is the fundamental conception of the System. It is latent in every atom in the Universe, and is the Universe itself.’ (SD 1:273)
‘We reject the idea of a personal, or an extra-cosmic and anthropomorphic God, who is but the gigantic shadow of man, and not of man at his best, either. The God of theology ... is a bundle of contradictions and a logical impossibility. [If God is] infinite – i.e., limitless – and especially if absolute, how can he have a form and be a creator of anything? Form implies limitation, and a beginning as well as an end; and, in order to create, a Being must think and plan. How can the ABSOLUTE be supposed to think – i.e., to have any relation whatever to that which is limited, finite, and conditioned? This is a philosophical, and a logical absurdity. ...
‘We believe in a Universal Divine Principle, the root of ALL, from which all proceeds, and within which all shall be absorbed at the end of the great cycle of Being. ... When we speak of the Deity and make it identical, hence coeval, with Nature, the eternal and uncreate nature is meant, and not [the] aggregate of flitting shadows and finite unrealities. We leave it to the hymn-makers to call the visible sky or heaven, God’s Throne, and our earth of mud His footstool. Our DEITY is neither in a paradise, nor in a particular tree, building, or mountain: it is everywhere, in every atom of the visible as of the invisible Cosmos, in, over, and around every invisible atom and divisible molecule; for IT is the mysterious power of evolution and involution, the omnipresent, omnipotent, and even omniscient creative potentiality. ...
‘[The Absolute does not think] for the simple reason that it is Absolute Thought itself. Nor does it exist, for the same reason, as it is absolute existence, and Be-ness, not a Being. ... In short, our Deity is the eternal, incessantly evolving, not creating, builder of the universe, that universe itself unfolding out of its own essence, not being made. It is a sphere, without circumference ... It is the one law, giving the impulse to manifested, eternal, and immutable laws, within that never-manifesting, because absolute LAW, which in its manifesting periods is The ever-Becoming.’ (Key 61-5)
‘The one prevailing, most distinct idea – found in all ancient teaching, with reference to Cosmic Evolution and the first “creation” of our Globe ... – is that the whole Kosmos has sprung from the DIVINE THOUGHT. This thought impregnates matter, which is co-eternal with the ONE REALITY; and all that lives and breathes evolves from the emanations of the ONE Immutable – Parabrahm = Mulaprakriti, the eternal one-root.’ (SD 1:339-40)
‘Parabrahman means “beyond” Brahman, and Brahman is the Absolute, the hierarch of a universe, in other words, the highest divine-spiritual entity of a universe or cosmos. Thus, Parabrahman is no entity; it is Infinitude, THAT, the incomprehensible All ...
‘Absolute is a relative term. It is the philosophic One, the cosmic Originant ...; but it is not the mystic Zero, representing Infinitude. Consequently the Zero contains ... an infinite number of cosmic Ones, otherwise cosmic monads, and the multitudes of minor monads which are derivatives of any such cosmic One. ...
‘Every Absolute is the hierarch of its own hierarchy, the One from which all subsequent differentiations thereafter emanate to the limit of that hierarchy. Each such Absolute is a cosmic jivanmukta, signifying an entity which has reached a condition of relatively perfect liberation – the moksha or mukti of Brahmanism and the Latin word absolutum, both meaning set free, free from servitude to all the lower planes because master or originant thereof. Thus the Absolute is the highest divinity or Silent Watcher of the Hierarchy of Compassion which forms the light side of a universe or cosmic hierarchy. ...
‘If we miscall Infinity the Absolute, we immediately create a mental picture of a finite Being, however high. ... The misuse of the word Absolute arose out of the Christian psychology of a personal God, an infinite Person, which European philosophers could not shake off. ... A person cannot be infinite: this is a contradiction in terms. Although there can be an absolute person, the summit of a hierarchy, this hierarch is only one of an infinite number of other hierarchs; but the Infinite, without number, attribute, qualification or form, is nonabsolute. This strikes at the roots of old theological and philosophical superstitions. Although H.P.B. frequently employed the word Absolute in its ordinary and mistaken significance, she was keenly aware of its proper grammatical and logical use [see TG 4].
‘[M]ulaprakriti ... is the other side of Parabrahman, but more particularly the root-matter of every hierarchical system. A universe is both; in its essence it is mulaprakriti as well as Parabrahman, because it is formed of hosts of individual monads. The heart of a monad is boundless Space; and boundless Space has two aspects, life or energy, and substance or form. You cannot separate the one from the other. Life or energy is what we may call Parabrahman; the substance side or vehicular side is mulaprakriti. ...
‘Every atom has its home in a molecule; every molecule has its home in a cell; every cell in a body; every body in a greater body; the greater body, in this case our earth, has its habitat in the solar ether; the solar system has its home in the galaxy; the galaxy in the universe; the universe has its home in a vaster universe; and so on, ad infinitum. And that ad infinitum is our way of saying Parabrahman – with this profound and radical difference, however, that the root-idea is the inner, invisible, spiritual worlds, which Western thought almost universally ignores.
‘Everything exists in something else greater than itself, and contains hosts of beings inferior to itself.’ (FSO 89-91; also OG 1-2)
‘Try and form some simple concept of the meaning of the endless and beginningless eternity and of the Boundless, and drop it there: unceasing life, endless activity, never-ending life and consciousness in unceasing motion everywhere. ... The wise ancients never bothered their heads much about any foolish attempt to fathom the Boundless or the limitless Eternal. They recognised the reality of being, and let it go at that, knowing well that an ever-growing knowledge of the universal life was and is all that human intelligence could ever attain to by an ever-expanding consciousness.’ (FEP 216)
A personal God
‘We reject as unworthy ... any conception of the divine less in grandeur than man’s inmost intuition of boundless infinitude; therefore we reject the idea usually passing under the term of a “personal God.” ... [T]he divine is boundless, it is subject to no places of limitation, is nowhere, because everywhere – nowhere in particular because everywhere generally.’ (MiE 247-8)
‘Christians call God an Infinite Being, and then endow Him with every finite attribute, such as love, anger, benevolence, mercy! They call Him All-Merciful, and preach eternal damnation for three-fourths of humanity in every church; All-Just, and the sins of this brief span of life may not be expiated by even an eternity of conscious agony. ...
‘[W]e believe that there is but one indefinable principle in the whole universe, which being utterly incomprehensible by our finite intellects, we prefer rather to leave undebated, than to blaspheme its majesty with our anthropomorphic speculations. We believe that all else which has being, whether material or spiritual, and all that may have existence, actually or potentially in our idealism, emanates from this principle. That everything is a correlation in one shape or another of this Will or Force ...’ (BCW 1:333-4)
‘The belief in a personal god may do some good under certain circumstances, but it may also do a great deal of harm according to the attributes which we give to that personal god. ... If we believe that such a god is passionate, revengeful and changeable, if we believe that he favours some and condemns others, that he can be persuaded to forgive our sins and thereby act contrary to the law of justice, such a belief not only impedes our own progress, but is highly pernicious.’ (SRCW 2:285-6)
‘The God of the Theologians is simply an imaginary power ... Our chief aim is to deliver humanity of this nightmare, and 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. ... [W]ho but a Theologian nursed on mystery and the most absurd supernaturalism can imagine a self-existent being of necessity infinite and omnipresent outside the manifested boundless universe? ... [The] One Life ... is the essence of every atom of matter ...’ (ML2 53 / MLC 270-1)
In a letter to The Theosophist, a correspondent wrote of an incident in which someone was saved from being bitten by a snake because he awoke and leaped out of bed just in time. He claimed that this ‘extraordinary phenomenon’ showed that there was a personal God watching over people.
HPB replied: ‘To call the occurrence an “extraordinary phenomenon” and see in it the “protecting hand of God,” is positively childish. It would be far more extraordinary, if, granting for the sake of argument, the existence of a personal God, we should be attributing to him no better occupation than that of a body-guard for every man, woman and child, threatened with danger, when he might by a simple exercise of his will, either have kept the snake away without disturbing the poor man’s rest, or, what would have been still better, not to have created snakes at all. ...
‘Why does not our correspondent refer to cases where poor innocent children were bitten and died? What had they done not to have been equally protected? Is he prepared to maintain that the thousands that are yearly bitten and killed by snakes in India have offended the deity ...?’ (BCW 5:319-20)
‘Theosophists ... believe in the Great ALL, in Sat, i.e., absolute and infinite existence, unique and with nothing like unto it, which is neither a Being nor an anthropomorphic creature, which is, and can never not be. ... They preach against every dogmatic and infallible religion and recognize no other deity, which dispenses suffering and recompense, than Karma, an arbiter created by their own actions. The only God they worship is TRUTH; the only devil which they recognize and which they fight against ... is the Satan of egotism and human passions.’ (BCW 8:79-80)
‘Karma is a highly philosophical truth, a most divine noble expression of the primitive intuition of man concerning Deity. It is a doctrine which explains the origin of Evil, and ennobles our conceptions of what divine immutable Justice ought to be, instead of degrading the unknown and unknowable Deity by making it the whimsical, cruel tyrant, which we call Providence.’ (SD 2:305-6fn)
‘[Atonement] has proved one of the most pernicious and demoralizing of doctrines.
‘The clergy say: no matter how enormous our crimes against the laws of God and of man, we have but to believe in the self-sacrifice of Jesus for the salvation of mankind, and His blood will wash out every stain. ... Though the offender wait until the last minute of the last hour of the last day of his mortal life, before his blanched lips utter the confession of faith, he may go to Paradise ...
‘But if we step outside the little circle of creed and consider the universe as a whole balanced by the exquisite adjustment of parts, how all sound logic, how the faintest glimmering sense of Justice revolts against this Vicarious Atonement! ... [T]o maintain that one may wrong his fellow-man, kill, disturb the equilibrium of society, and the natural order of things, and then – through cowardice, hope, or compulsion, matters not – be forgiven by believing that the spilling of one blood washes out the other blood spilt – this is preposterous! Can the results of a crime be obliterated even though the crime itself should be pardoned? ... Every good as well as evil action has its effects, as palpably as the stone flung into a calm water. ...
‘These red-handed murderers ... slew their victims, in most cases, without giving them time to repent, or call on Jesus to wash them clean with his blood. They, perhaps, died sinful, and, of course, – consistently with theological logic – met the reward of their greater or lesser offenses. But the murderer, overtaken by human justice, is imprisoned, wept over by sentimentalists, prayed with and at, pronounces the charmed words of conversion, and goes to the scaffold a redeemed child of Jesus! Except for the murder, he would not have been prayed with, redeemed, pardoned. Clearly this man did well to murder, for thus he gained eternal happiness? And how about the victim, and his or her family, relatives, dependants, social relations – has justice no recompense for them? Must they suffer in this world and the next, while he who wronged them sits beside the “holy thief” of Calvary and is forever blessed?’ (Isis 2:542-3)
Gods and creative powers‘The One is infinite and unconditioned. It cannot create, for It can have no relation to the finite and conditioned. If everything we see, from the glorious suns and planets down to the blades of grass and the specks of dust, had been created by the Absolute Perfection and were the direct work of even the First Energy that proceeded from It, then every such thing would have been perfect, eternal, and unconditioned like its author. The millions upon millions of imperfect works found in Nature testify loudly that they are the products of finite, conditioned beings – though the latter were and are Dhyani-Chohans, Archangels, or whatever else they may be named. In short, these imperfect works are the unfinished production of evolution, under the guidance of the imperfect Gods. ... This imperfection is one of the arguments of the Secret Science in favour of the existence and activity of these “Powers.” ’ (BCW 14:216-7)
‘ “Nature” is imperfect, hence of necessity makes “mistakes,” because its action derives from hosts of entities at work – what we see around us all the time is proof of it. ... If [nature] had sprung from the “hands of the immutable Deity,” ... it would be a perfect work. It is much to the contrary, as we know, and its imperfections or “mistakes” arise from the fact that the beings existing in and working in and controlling and making nature extend in endless hierarchies from the Inmost of the Inmost, from the Highest of the Highest, downwards for ever, upwards for ever, in all degrees of imperfection and of perfection ...’ (FEP 57)
‘The Universe is worked and guided from within outwards. ... The whole Kosmos is guided, controlled, and animated by almost endless series of Hierarchies of sentient Beings, each having a mission to perform, and who – whether we give to them one name or another, and call them Dhyan-Chohans or Angels – ... are the agents of Karmic and Cosmic Laws. They vary infinitely in their respective degrees of consciousness and intelligence ... For each of these Beings either was or prepares to become, a man, if not in the present, then in a past or a coming cycle (Manvantara).’ (SD 1:274-5)
‘The whole order of nature evinces a progressive march towards a higher life. There is design in the action of the seemingly blindest forces. The whole process of evolution with its endless adaptations is a proof of this. ... [W]hat is called “unconscious Nature” is in reality an aggregate of forces manipulated by semi-intelligent beings (Elementals) guided by High Planetary Spirits, (Dhyan Chohans), whose collective aggregate forms the manifested verbum of the unmanifested LOGOS, and constitutes at one and the same time the MIND of the Universe and its immutable LAW.’ (SD 1:277-8)
‘The Secret Doctrine teaches no Atheism, except in the Hindu sense of the word nastika, or the rejection of idols, including every anthropomorphic god. ...
‘It admits a Logos or a collective “Creator” of the Universe; a Demi-urgos – in the sense implied when one speaks of an “Architect” as the “Creator” of an edifice, whereas that Architect has never touched one stone of it, but, while furnishing the plan, left all the manual labour to the masons; in our case the plan was furnished by the Ideation of the Universe, and the constructive labour was left to the Hosts of intelligent Powers and Forces. But that Demiurgos is no personal deity, – i.e., an imperfect extra-cosmic god, – but only the aggregate of the Dhyan-Chohans and the other forces. ...
‘[The dhyan-chohans] are dual in their character; being composed of (a) the irrational brute energy, inherent in matter, and (b) the intelligent soul or cosmic consciousness which directs and guides that energy, and which is the Dhyan-Chohanic thought reflecting the Ideation of the Universal mind. This results in a perpetual series of physical manifestations and moral effects on Earth, during manvantaric periods, the whole being subservient to Karma. As that process is not always perfect; and since, however many proofs it may exhibit of a guiding intelligence behind the veil, it still shows gaps and flaws, and even results very often in evident failures – therefore, neither the collective Host (Demiurgos), nor any of the working powers individually, are proper subjects for divine honours or worship. All are entitled to the grateful reverence of Humanity, however, and man ought to be ever striving to help the divine evolution of Ideas, by becoming to the best of his ability a co-worker with nature in the cyclic task. The ever unknowable and incognizable Karana alone, the Causeless Cause of all causes, should have its shrine and altar on the holy and ever untrodden ground of our heart – invisible, intangible, unmentioned, save through “the still small voice” of our spiritual consciousness. Those who worship before it, ought to do so in the silence and the sanctified solitude of their Souls; making their spirit the sole mediator between them and the Universal Spirit, their good actions the only priests, and their sinful intentions the only visible and objective sacrificial victims to the Presence.’ (SD 1:279-80)
‘The more one studies their Hierarchies and finds out their identity, the more proofs one acquires that there is not one of the past and present personal gods, known to us from the earliest days of History, that does not belong to the third stage of Cosmic manifestation. In every religion we find the concealed deity forming the ground work; then the ray therefrom, that falls into primordial Cosmic matter (first manifestation); then the androgyne result, the dual Male and Female abstract Force, personified (second stage); this separates itself finally, in the third, into the seven Forces, called the creative Powers by all the ancient Religions ...’ (SD 1:437)
‘Nowhere and by no people was speculation allowed to range beyond those manifested gods. The boundless and infinite UNITY remained with every nation a virgin forbidden soil, untrodden by man’s thought, untouched by fruitless speculation. ...
‘In every Cosmogony, behind and higher than the creative deity, there is a superior deity, a planner, an Architect, of whom the Creator is but the executive agent. And still higher, over and around, within and without, there is the UNKNOWABLE and the unknown, the Source and Cause of all these Emanations.’ (SD 2:42-3)
‘[T]he incognizable Cause does not put forth evolution, whether consciously or unconsciously, but only exhibits periodically different aspects of itself to the perception of finite Minds. Now the collective Mind – the Universal – composed of various and numberless Hosts of Creative Powers, however infinite in manifested Time, is still finite when contrasted with the unborn and undecaying Space in its supreme essential aspect. That which is finite cannot be perfect. Therefore there are inferior Beings among those Hosts ...’ (SD 2:487)
‘Belief in “Spirits” is legitimate, because it rests on the authority of experiment and observation; it vindicates, moreover, another belief, also regarded as a superstition: namely, Polytheism. The latter is based upon a fact of nature: Spirits mistaken for Gods, have been seen in every age by men – hence, belief in many and various Gods. Monotheism, on the other hand, rests on a pure abstraction. Who has seen GOD, that God we mean, the Infinite and the Omnipotent, the one about whom Monotheists talk so much? Polytheism ... is logical and consistent with the philosophies of the East, all of which, whether Pantheistic or Deistic, proclaim the ONE an infinite abstraction, an absolute Something which utterly transcends the conception of the finite. Surely such a creed is more philosophical than that religion, whose theology, proclaiming in one place God, a mysterious and even Incomprehensible Being, whom “no man shall see and live” (Exodus, xxxiii, 20), shows him at the same time so human and so petty a God as to concern himself with the breeches* of his chosen people, while neglecting to say anything definite about the immortality of their souls, or their survival after death! [*“And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach” (Exodus, xxviii, 42). GOD a linendraper and a tailor!!]
‘Thus, belief in a Host and Hosts of Spiritual entities, dwelling on various planes and spheres in the Universe, in conscious intra-Kosmic Beings, in fact, is logical and reasonable, while belief in an extra-Kosmic God is an absurdity.’ (BCW 12:199-200)
‘[E]ven the Greek and Roman Catholic Christians, are wiser in believing, as they do – even if blindly connecting and tracing them all to an anthropomorphic god – in Angels, Archangels, Archons, Seraphs, and Morning Stars: in all those theological Deliciae humani generis [delightful human creations], in short, that rule the cosmic elements, than Science is, in disbelieving in them altogether, and advocating its mechanical Forces. For these act very often with more than human intelligence and pertinency. Nevertheless, that intelligence is denied and attributed to blind chance.’ (SD 1:604)
‘The gods are the higher inhabitants of nature ... its informing principles. They are as much subject to the wills and energies of still higher beings – call these will and energies the “laws” of higher beings, if you will – as we are, and as are the kingdoms of nature below us.
‘The ancients put realities, living beings, in the place of laws which, as Occidentals use the term, are only abstractions – an expression for the action of entities in nature; the ancients did not cheat themselves so easily with words. They called them gods, spiritual entities. Not one single great thinker of the ancients, until the Christian era, ever talked about laws of nature, as if these laws were living entities, as if these abstractions were actual entities which did things. Did the laws of navigation ever navigate a ship? Does the law of gravity pull the planets together? Does it unite or pull the atoms together? This word law is simply a mental abstraction signifying unerring action of conscious and semi-conscious energies in nature.’ (OG 53-4)
‘[T]he boundless All is totally instinct with consciousness and life, an infinitely immense and swarming multitude, endless and beginningless, of beings who form not merely the heart of the pulsating life of all that is, but provide the very consciousnesses which govern and control the innumerable universes of and in the boundless All. ...
‘No theosophist ... has ever denied Deity, i.e., limitless life in the boundless All; but this Deity is nothing like, nor in any sense can it be compared with, a finite creator ... There is a host, a multitude, a hierarchy, of intelligent and of thinking and of highly spiritualized beings, from which the planetary chain sprang forth, but it is not our god, nor do we worship any such. Those beings are our progenitors, our elder brothers in a very exalted sense, for they were men in former manvantaras long since past; but our “god,” never, not even when considered as a unity and called the Logos. Our “deity,” if it is anything, is that indescribable, boundless life, in its highest aspects, back of everything, forming a background of all manifested being on whatever plane, ... indescribable, unthinkable, and therefore ineffable.’ (FEP 505-7)
‘[T]o be [a theosophist] one need not necessarily recognize the existence of any special God or a deity. One need but worship the spirit of living nature, and try to identify oneself with it. To revere that Presence, the invisible Cause, which is yet ever manifesting itself in its incessant results; the intangible, omnipotent, and omnipresent Proteus: indivisible in its Essence, and eluding form, yet appearing under all and every form; who is here and there, and everywhere and nowhere; is ALL and NOTHING; ubiquitous yet one; the Essence filling, binding, bounding, containing everything; contained in all. ...
‘[T]his recognition is tantamount to admitting that not only humanity – composed as it is of thousands of races – but everything that lives and vegetates, in short, everything that is, is made of the same essence and substance, is animated by the same spirit, and that, consequently, everything in nature, whether physical or moral, is bound in solidarity.’ (BCW 2:102, 11:128)
‘Theosophy ... was never synonymous with belief in God – i.e., a personal Being. Our “God” is not even an intra-comic deity but the COSMOS itself, the soul of nature, its spirit and its body; our creed being therefore transcendental PANTHEISM. ... Our Deity is a universal, absolute Principle manifesting in Humanity as in Nature, the Spirit in both being one and inseparable – hence the true Spiritual Brotherhood of Man. With us, man is the offspring of the GODS (not of God), and the forefather in the present cycle of still greater gods, in a future cycle.’ (BCW 11:409-10)
‘If there is a still greater absurdity than to speak of a cruel God: it is to admit that God, the Great, Absolute Whole, could ever interfere in terrestrial or human affairs. The infinite cannot associate with the finite; the unconditioned ignores the conditioned and the limited. The absolute “Intelligence-Wisdom” cannot act in the restricted space of a small globe. It is omnipresent and latent in the Kosmos, infinite as itself. We find its only truly active manifestation in humanity as a whole, composed as it is of stray sparks, finite in their objective duration, eternal in their essence, issuing from that Heart without beginning or end. Therefore, the only God whom we should serve is Humanity, and our only cult should be the love of our fellow man.’ (BCW 8:88)
‘Deity pervades the whole Universe: it is impersonal, unknowable, no matter how near we may draw to the light of it. It is the absolute, the Goal which we climb towards forever, forever learning and growing in the will and power to serve; forever acquiring new and grander ideals of That towards which we climb. ...
‘[T]he religion which alone will fitly correspond to our innate religious nature will be a universal system of human brotherhood based on the knowledge that we are essentially divine; a system that will warm our hearts with the knowledge that there is nothing outside ourselves that can save or damn us; that it is we ourselves who alone must and can work out our own salvation.’ (WoH 78-9)
Compiled by David Pratt. May 2003. Last updated Nov 2009.