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Letter No. 88 - Copied by APS Sept. 28, 1882

Jun 17, 2007 12:30 PM
by Sveinn Freyr

Letter No. 88 
1                              (ML-10) Copied by APS Sept. 28, 1882

Now we come to what is probably the most 
controversial letter in the volume. Actually, it 
is not a letter but some notes made by the 
Mahatma K.H. on what Hume called a ?Preliminary 
Chapter on God,? intended as a preface to a book 
he was writing on Occult Philosophy. The copy in 
the British Museum is in Sinnett?s handwriting.
These ?Notes? have caused some people to reject 
the whole occult philosophy because of the denial 
of the traditional concept of God. The student is 
therefore asked to withhold judgment.


Received at Simla, Sept. 1882.

Neither our philosophy nor ourselves believe in a 
God, least of all in one whose pronoun 
necessitates a capital H. 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 uncommon 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) causes, the theists assign them 
spiritual, super-natural and unintelligible and 
un-known causes. The God of the Theologians is 
simply an 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, ?praeter Deum neque dari 
neque concipi potest substantia? ? and thus 
become Pantheists . . . who 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 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 [be] 
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 
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 trained 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 
Dhyan 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 perfections 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 Dhyans, 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 omnipresent 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 Dhyan 
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 Dhyans 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 Bilfinger 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 dies 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. It 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 gods.

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 sacca, and the chain of the 
causation, (the 12 nid~nas) 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 Uruvela on 
the shores of the river Neranjara as he rested 
under the Bodhi 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 samkharas 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 Bhikshu, 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.

1 Transcribed from a copy in Mr. Sinnett?s handwriting. ? ED.

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