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On Personal Gods

Jul 26, 2009 02:58 PM
by robert_b_macd

Hi All,

I wonder if Anand understands what a personal god is. What exactly is theosophy denying when it argues that there can exist no personal god.  The idea of a personal god is at the heart of the Christian religions.  The Maha Chohan writes the following on this idea of the personal god: "The world in general and Christendom especially, left for two thousand years to the regime of a personal God as well as its political and social systems based on that idea, has now proved a failure."   (Maha Chohan, Masters of the Wisdom)  This particular idea of a personal god working through the popes, priests, etc of the world is a bankrupt idea.  The violence perpetrated by the Church has proven it beyond a doubt.

A personal god takes notice of human affairs, gets angry when Man misbehaves, and generally shows the emotional scale of a less advanced member of the human race.  This is what Christians and others who follow a personal god worship, an emotionally crippled entity not wise enough to deal with the growing pains of an adolescent humanity.  The Mahatma Letters refer to a different origin for humanity.  There we read: "The cycle of intelligent existences commences at the highest worlds or planets ? the term "highest" meaning here the most spiritually perfect. Evolving from cosmic matter ? which is akasa, the primeval not the secondary plastic medium, or Ether of Science instinctively suspected, unproven as the rest ? man first evolutes from this matter in its most sublimated state, appearing at the threshold of Eternity as a perfectly Etherial ? not Spiritual Entity, say ? a Planetary Spirit. He is but one remove from the universal and Spiritual World Essence ? the Anima Mundi of the Greeks, or that which humanity in its spiritual decadence has degraded into a mythical personal God. Hence, at that stage, the Spirit-man is at best an active Power, an immutable, therefore an unthinking Principle  (the term "immutable" being again used here but to denote that state for the time being, the immutability applying here but to the inner principle which will vanish and disappear as soon as the spark of the material in him will start on its cyclic work of Evolution and transformation). In his subsequent descent, and in proportion to the increase of matter he will assert more and more his activity."  (ML 18)

The Anima Mundi is not a personal God.  It is an impersonal spirit unable to receive the prayers of Mankind and hence personal in no sense.  Blavatsky explains as early as Isis: 

The existence of spirit in the common mediator, the ether, is denied by materialism; while theology makes of it a personal god, the kabalist holds that both are wrong, saying that in ether, the elements represent but matter ? the blind cosmic forces of nature; and Spirit, the intelligence which directs them.  The Hermetic, Orphic, and Pythagorean cosmogonical doctrines, as well as those of Sanchoniathon and Berosus, are all based upon one irrefutable formula, viz.: that the ether and chaos, or, in the Platonic language, mind and matter, were the two primeval and eternal principles of the universe, utterly independent of anything else.  The former was the all-vivifying intellectual principle; the chaos, a shapeless, liquid principle, without "form or sense," from the union of which two, sprung into existence the universe, or rather, the universal world, the first androgynous deity ? the chaotic matter becoming its body, and ether the soul.  According to the phraseology of a Fragment of Hermias, "chaos, from this union with spirit, obtaining sense, shone with pleasure, and thus was produced the Protogonos (the first-born) light."*  This is the universal trinity, based on the metaphysical conceptions of the ancients, who, reasoning by analogy, made of man, who is a compound of intellect and matter, the microcosm of the macrocosm, or great universe. (IU I, 341)

Very clearly we read above that Blavatsky does not accept that Spirit as described by the ancients is or could ever be a personal god.  It is a principle, not an existing entity.  Combined with Matter it produces the primordial light of the World.

There is a sense of personal god that HPB sometimes uses.  She writes:

 "May we be allowed a comparison, the best we can find, between the concrete and the abstract; between what our critic calls "the triple hypostasis" and we "the tetraktys"? Let us compare this philosophic quaternary, composed of the body, the périsprit, the soul and the spirit?to the ether?so well foreseen by science, but never defined?and its subsequent correlations. The ether will represent the spirit for us; the dead vapor that is formed therein?the soul; water?the périsprit; ice?the body. The ice melts and for ever loses its shape, water evaporates and is dispersed in space; the vapor is liberated from its grosser particles and finally reaches that condition in which science cannot follow it. Purified from its last defilements, it is entirely absorbed into its first cause, and becomes a cause in its turn. With the exception of the immortal nous?the soul, the périsprit and the body, all having been created and having had a beginning, must all have an end. 

"Does that mean that the individuality is lost in that absorption? Not at all. But between the human Ego and the wholly divine Ego, there is an abyss that our critics fill in without knowing it. As to the périsprit, it is no more the soul than the delicate skin that surrounds the almond is the kernel itself or even its temporary husk. The périsprit is but the simulacrum of the man. 

"It follows that Theosophists understand the hypostasis, according to the old philosophers, in a very different way from the Spiritualists. For us, the Spirit is the personal god of each mortal, and his only divine element. The dual soul, on the contrary, is only semidivine. Being a direct emanation from the nous, everything it has of immortal essence, once its earthly cycle is accomplished, must necessarily return to its mother-source, and as pure as when it was detached; it is that purely spiritual essence which the primitive church, as faithful as it was rebellious to the Neo-Platonic traditions, thought it recognized in the good daïmon and made into a guardian angel; at the same time justly blighting the "irrational" and fallible soul, the real human Ego (from which we get the word Egoism), she called it the angel of darkness, and afterwards made it into a personal devil. The only error was in anthropomorphizing it and in making it a monster with tail and horns. Otherwise, abstraction as it may be, this devil is truly personal because it is identical with our Ego. It is this, the elusive and inaccessible personality, that ascetics of every country think they chastise by mortifying the flesh. The Ego then, to which we concede only a conditional immortality, is the purely human individuality. Half vital energy, half an aggregation of personal qualities and attributes, necessary to the constitution of every human being as distinct from his neighbor, the Ego is only the "breath of life" that Jehovah, one of the Elohim or creative gods, breathed into the nostrils of Adam; and, as such, and apart from its higher intelligence, it is but the element of individuality possessed by man in common with every creature, from the gnat that dances in the rays of the sun to the elephant, the king of the forest. It is only by identifying itself with that divine intelligence that the Ego, soiled with earthly impurities, can win its immortality. 

"In order to express our thought more clearly, we will proceed by a question. Though matter may be quite indestructible in its primitive atoms?indestructible, because, as we say, it is the eternal shadow of the eternal Light and co-exists with it?can this matter remain unchangeable in its temporary forms or correlations? Do we not see it, during its ceaseless modifications, destroy today what it created yesterday? Every form, whether it belongs to the objective world or to that which our intelligence alone can perceive, having had a beginning, must have an end. There was a time when it did not exist; there will come a day when it will cease to be. Now, modern science tells us that even our thought is material. However fleeting an idea may be, its conception and its subsequent evolutions require a certain consumption of energy; let the least cerebral motion reverberate in the ether of space and it will produce a disturbance reaching to infinity. Hence, it is a material force, although invisible."

Here HBP states very clearly what she call the personal god.  It is our Atma or Nous, personal in the sense that it is our individual personal spark or connection with the impersonal Spiritual World Essence.

Do not put words into HPBs mouth.  Understand what she writes before you begin accusing her of anything.  Chances are the confusion is not in what she writes, but rather in your understanding of it.  God and Devil do not exist for theosophists except in this narrow sense of Nous and Ego.

This is how I read it,

Robert Bruce

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