“A consideration of the subject from the standpoint of the ancients, affords us, it will be seen, a very different view from that taken by Professor Tyndall in his famous address.
“To super sensual beings”, says he, “which, however potent and invisible, were nothing but species of human creatures, perhaps raised from among mankind, and retaining all human passions and appetites, were handed over the rule and governance of natural phenomena.”
To enforce his point., Mr. Tyndall conveniently quotes from Euripides the familiar passage in Hume: “The gods toss all into confusion, mix everything with its reverse, that all of us, from our ignorance and uncertainty, may pay them the more worship and reverence.”
Although enunciating in Chrysippus several Pythagorean doctrines, Euripides is considered by every ancient writer as heterodox, therefore the quotation proceeding from this philosopher does not at all strengthen Mr. Tyndall’s argument.
As to the human spirit, the notions of the older philosophers and medieval kabalists while differing in some particulars, agreed on the whole; so that the doctrine of one may be viewed as the doctrine of the other. The most substantial difference consisted in the location of the immortal or divine spirit of man.
While the ancient Neo-platonists held that the Augoeides never descends hypostatically into the living man, but only sheds more or less its radiance on the inner man – the astral soul – the kabalists of the middle ages maintained that the spirit, detaching itself from the ocean of light and spirit, entered into man’s soul, where it remained through life imprisoned in the astral capsule. This difference was the result of the belief of Christian kabalists, more or less, in the dead letter of the allegory of the fall of man.
The soul, they said, became, through the fall of Adam, contaminated with the world of matter, or Satan. Before it could appear with its enclosed divine spirit in the presence of the Eternal, it had to purify itself of the impurities of darkness.
They compared “the spirit imprisoned within the soul to a drop of water enclosed within a capsule of gelatine and thrown in the ocean; so long as the capsule remains whole the drop of water remains isolated; break the envelope and the drop becomes a part of the ocean – its individual existence has ceased. So it is with the spirit.
As long as it is enclosed in its plastic mediator, or soul, it has an individual existence. Destroy the capsule, a result which may occur from the agonies of withered conscience, crime, and moral disease, and the spirit returns back to its original abode. Its individuality is gone.””
H. P. Blavatsky