isis unveiled, vol 2: chapter vi (the conflict between religion and science)

“The esoteric doctrine, then, teaches, like Buddhism and Brahmanism, and even the persecuted Kabala, that the one infinite and unknown Essence exists from all eternity, and in regular and harmonious successions is either passive or active. In the poetical phraseology of Manu these conditions are called the “day” and the “night” of Brahma. The latter is either “awake” or “asleep”. The Svâbhâvikas, or philosophers of the oldest school of Buddhism, (which still exists in Nepal), speculate but upon the active condition of this “essence”, which they call Svabhâvât, and deem it foolish to theorize upon the abstract and “unknowable” power in its passive condition. Hence, they are called atheists by both Christian theology and modern scientists; for neither of the two are able to understand the profound logic of their philosophy. The former will allow of no other God than the personified secondary powers which have blindly worked out the visible universe, and which became with them the anthropomorphic God of the Christians – the Jehovah, roaring amid thunder and lightning. In its turn, rationalistic science greets the Buddhists and the Svâbhâvikas as the “positivists” of the archaic ages.

If we take a one-sided view of the philosophy of the latter, our materialists may be right in their own way. The Buddhists maintain that there is no Creator but an infinitude of creative powers, which collectively form the one eternal substance, the essence of which is inscrutable – hence not a subject for speculation for any true philosopher. Socrates invariably refused to argue upon the mystery of universal being, yet no one would ever have thought of charging him with atheism, except those who were bent upon his destruction.

Upon inaugurating an active period, says the Secret Doctrine, an expansion of this Divine essence, from within outwardly, occurs in obedience to eternal and immutable law, and the phenomenal or visible universe is the ultimate result of the long chain of cosmical forces thus progressively set in motion. In like manner, when the passive condition is resumed, a contraction of the Divine essence takes place, and the previous work of creation is gradually and progressively undone. The visible universe becomes disintegrated, its material dispersed; and “darkness”, solitary and alone, broods once more over the face of the “deep”. To use a metaphor which will convey the idea still more clearly, an outbreathing of the “unknown essence” produces the world; and an inhalation causes it to disappear. This process has been going on from all eternity, and our present universe is but one of an infinite series which had no beginning and will have no end. Thus, we are enabled to build our theories solely on the visible manifestations of the Deity, on its objective natural phenomena.

To apply to these creative principles the term God is puerile and absurd. One might as well call by the name of Benvenuto Cellini the fire which fuses the metal, or the air that cools it when it is run in the mould. If the inner and ever-concealed spiritual, and to our minds abstract, Essence within these forces can ever be connected with the creation of the physical universe, it is but, in the sense, given to it by Plato. IT may be termed, at best, the framer of the abstract universe which developed gradually in the Divine Thought, within which it had lain dormant.”

H. P. Blavatsky


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