Section XXVIII

[Feb. 26th, 1874.--At one of our circles we had had a piece of direct writing of which we could make nothing. It was written in curious hieroglyphics. I inquired about it.]

The writing, though unintelligible to you, was the work of a high intelligence, who on earth was incarnated amongst the nation who was then most spiritual, the great nation of the Egyptians. They had a more real belief in the existence and intervention of spiritual agencies than you now have. They cherished a firmer belief in immortality of the human spirit, and of the indestructibility of all spirits, than your wise men have yet attained to. Their civilisation you yourself know to be vast; their erudition such that they were the depository of the knowledge of their age.

Aye, verily; and they had knowledge which a material age has lost; knowledge which illumined the souls of Pythagoras and Plato, and which has filtered down to you only through their teachings. The ancient Egyptians were wise and erudite philosophers, and our friend may well teach you much of which you are ignorant. After and interval of three thousand years and over, who in his earth-life knew of God and the hereafter, comes to witness to the abiding nature of his faith. The time--so long in its seeming to your contracted vision--during which our friend has been a denizen of spirit-land, has served to open new vistas of truth, to remove old errors, to throw light on old speculations, but it has served also to deepen and confirm faith in the Supreme and in the immortal destiny of man's spirit.

[I suggested that I still did not see why he should write unintelligible hieroglyphics; and asked his name.]

You shall know him; but his earth identity is long lost, and you would know it no more than you know his signs on the paper. He knew even in the body that bodily life was but the first short stage of perpetuated existence; and he has gone onwards, as he believed, upwards to Ra, the source of light, to whom his gaze was turned.

[I inquired if he believed in absorption into the Godhead after a course of progress.]

The Egyptian faith was of some such sort. Their philosophers believed in gradual progress until the dross was purged away and the spirit completely purified. His religion was one of faith in future progress, and, for the present, of high morality in life. Duty to man and to self was not forgotten, and religion was made a business of daily life. We may touch on this again as we develop in you a wider knowledge. For the present it is enough that you know that the special peculiarities of the Egyptian theology--the sanctity of the body--had its true and false side.

The great God was to them represented by every living thing, and the human body was so sacred that it was preserved from natural decay as far as might be; and so well was this done, that some still exist among you. The undue care of the body was error, but the due preservation of bodily health was true and wise. When they saw God in everything, they did well; when they reduced Him to bodily form, their care for the body misled them. Their doctrine of transmigration through vast ages and cycles was an error which symbolised and typified eternal and unceasing progress. These errors, which led to the worship of animal life in all its forms, as symbolising the Creator, and as being the future home of the spirit in its manifold transmigrations, the spirit unlearns as it progresses. But it preserves the great truth of progressive development and growth in presence of the Great Creative Force, of which they were the outward symbols.

If it seem to you foolish and unwise to worship animal life, as needs it must, remember, too, that worship may be directed through and external symbolical manifestation to that spiritual essence which it typifies; and that errors which enshrine truths are husks which die in time and leave the kernel safe. Ideas, germs of truth, never die. They may be viewed through a distorted medium, and so take a disproportioned form; but when the distorted medium is removed, the true form is seen. So our friend and his brethren see now that all nature in your world is a phenomenal manifestation of the Supreme; and that if life in all its varied forms may not be held up as an object of adoration, still the groping spirit who strives to reach up through nature to its God is not to be visited with unreasoning blame. Do you not see this?

In a way. I can understand the use of all helps to realising God. But I thought that Egyptian theology was material and earthy compared with that of India. The communications which you wrote out as to the religions of the world left me with the impression that Egypt reacted from India. I suppose all error includes some truth, just as every truth has an admixture of error, both terms being relative and not absolute.

We do not now dwell on the characteristic points of Indian theology. What you say is true. We only desire now to show you how, under forms most repulsive to your present ideas, there was a lurking germ of truth, and that such truth, known to the ancients, has in many cases perished from among you. It is well that you learn to be modest in estimating both your own knowledge and that of the ancients.

Yes; I am not aware that I have any particular knowledge except of the prevalent ignorance touching these matters. And it is silly to laugh at any form of religion. Our friend lived long since. An Egyptian priest, was he?

He was one of the prophets of Osiris, and was in his time learned in the mysteries esoteric and unmentionable to the vulgar. Osiris, Isis, and Horus--this was the Trinity he worshipped. Osiris, the Supreme; Isis, the All-Mother; Horus, the Child, sacrifice for human sin. He knew God as your sacred historian revealed Him, in terms borrowed from Egypt--I am the I am--the Universal Essence; the Source of Life and Light. This title of Jehovah, Moses borrowed from the priests of Thebes.

What was the original name?


He who inspires this communication was Prophet of Ra, at On, the City of Light, which the Greeks call Heliopolis, City of the Sun, and he lived sixteen hundred and thirty years before the era which you call Christian. His name was Chom, and he speaks to you a witness for immortality from the ages that have long passed. And I bear him witness that his testimony is true.


[I inquired if there were any available records of Egyptian theology to which I could get access.]

It is not necessary. All that remains of the old Hermaic books is little. The writings in the mummy cases from the Ritual of the Dead are excerpts from them. The care for the body, we have said, was the distinguishing mark of Egyptian religion. The funeral ceremonies were very long and minute, and the writings on the tombs and on the caskets which enshrined the bodies of the departed are the earliest records of Egyptian faith.

You will not need to dive into these matters. It is needful only that you see and grasp this great truth, and the despised knowledge of the past had its germ of truth.

Nay, more. Religion was to the Egyptian the master principle of daily life, to which all else was subservient. Art, literature, science, were the handmaids of religion, and the daily life itself was an elaborate ritual. The faith in which he lived was incorporated in every act. The Sun-God, as it arose and set, typified the life which was then but beginning and which in the twin Sothriac cycles would return again after three thousand years of progressive education to earth, only to be absorbed at last in the pure beams of Ra, the source and spring of life and light.

The ceremonial purifications of worship pervaded his daily work, and gave a tone of spirituality to the businesses of life. All that the Egyptian did had reference to the life hereafter on which his steadfast gaze was fixed. Every day had its special presiding spirit, or deity, under who protection it was placed. Every temple had its great staff of prophets, priests, pontiffs, judges, scribes. These were versed in mystic lore, and spent lives of purity and chastity in penetrating into nature's hidden secrets and the mysteries of spirit intercourse. They were a pure, learned, spiritual race, albeit their knowledge of some things known to men now was but slight. But we may say to you that in deep, philosophical knowledge, in clearness of spiritual perception, your wise men have no claim to rank with them.
Nor in practical religion can your people equal the old Egyptians. We have learned long since to estimate man's religion by acts rather than by words; and we pay little heed to the character of that ladder by which man climbs heavenward. False faiths abound still. Man now, as heretofore, befogs himself with foolish imaginings which he calls Divine Revelation. And though the faith of Egypt was erroneous in much, it possessed that which redeemed its errors and ennobled the lives of its professors. They at least had not clothed their lives with a dead materialism. They had not closed every avenue to the higher life of spirit. They recognised their god in every act of daily life, even though their idea of the god-principle was crude. They would not buy and sell and trade with the deliberate purpose to defraud and overreach. They would not ignore all else but dead matter, even though they did pay undue reverence to the perishable and material.

You know how far it is true of your age, that it is material, earthy, grovelling; that its thoughts and aspirations have been earth-bound; that it is unspiritual, without lofty aspirations, without deep spiritual insight, without active faith in spirit-life and intercourse. You can draw the contrast yourself. In pointing it out we do not exalt Egyptian religion, save to show you that what seems to you earthy and vile was, in some of its aspects, a living faith, powerful in daily life, and possessing deep spiritual wisdom.

Yes, in a way, no doubt. It seems that so much may be said for every form of faith. They are all man's groping after immortality, and vary in degree of truth according to his enlightenment. But you are hardly fair to this age. No doubt there is a deal of Materialism, but there is also a deal of striving to avoid it. Few are Materialists from choice. And if ever there was a time when thought about religion and God, and the hereafter, might be said to be rife, it is now. It seems to me that your strictures would suit better a bygone age of apathy than one which is at least awake and alive to the momentous questions on which you speak.

It may be. There is, as you say, much tendency to look into these matters; and where that exists there is hope. But there is also a strong desire to exclude all reference to spirit as a factor in human existence: to refer all to matter, and crush out all seeking into spirit intercourse and the spirit life as at least unpractical, if not unreal and delusive. It is, perhaps, necessary that the temper of your age should take its tone from the peculiar religious epoch through which you are passing. The transition state that intervenes between one form of faith and its successor is necessarily one of convulsion. The old is fading, and the new is not yet clear. Man must pass through this, and it has a tendency to distort his vision.

Yes. Things seems in a fluidic state, shifting and obscure. Then, of course, there are many who do not want to be disturbed. They resent being roused from their dreams. And some have dealt with matter so long that they cannot bear to think that after all it is only the veil of spirit. But this does not affect my belief that no age that I know of, short of that grand era in old Greece, shows anything like the same active and intelligent seeking into deep spiritual and natural truths.

It is well that you think so; nor do we desire to shake that opinion. We have but striven to show you by a typical instance that there are truths hidden even in those faiths which to you seem most gross and earthy.

I suppose the Jewish Lawgiver, "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," incorporated a good deal of it into his code?

Yes, indeed. The ceremony of circumcision was borrowed from the Egyptian mysteries. All the ceremonial purifications of the Jewish temple were borrowed from Egypt. From the same source came the linen dresses of the priests; the mystic cherubim that guarded the mercy- seat: nay, the very idea of the Holy place and the Holy of Holies, was but an adaptation of the plan of Egyptian temples. But Moses, skilled as he was in the learning of the priests by whom he was trained, did not in borrowing ritual borrow also the spiritual ideas which it typified. The grand doctrines of immortality and spirit agency find no real place in his writings. The destiny of spirit, as you know, he never alluded to. The appearances of spirits are mere phenomenal manifestations incidentally introduced, and the great doctrine is untouched.

Yes. The rite of Circumcision existed in Egypt before the time of Moses?

Oh, yes. Bodies which were so religiously preserved by them at a date previous to Abraham, and which still exist among you, prove that, if you need proof.

I did not know that. Did he borrow any articles of faith?

The doctrine of the Trinity existed in Egypt as well as in India. The Mosaic code reproduced much of the minute character of the Egyptian ritual without its spirituality.

How comes it that such mines of knowledge as Egypt had should be closed to us? Confucius, Buddha, Moses, Mohammed live. Why not Manes?

He lives only in the effect he had on others. The religion of Egypt was confined to a favoured class, and was not sufficiently extended beyond the country to be permanent. It was a religion confined to a priestly sect, and it died with them. Its effects are seen in other faiths.

The idea of the Trinity, was it Indian or Egyptian?

The Trinity of Creative Power, Destructive Power, and Mediatorial Power existed in India as Brahm, Siva, Vishnu; in Egypt as Osiris, Typhon, Horus. There were many Trinities in Egyptian theology. The same existed in Persia as Ormuzd, Ahriman, Mithra (the Reconciler).

Different parts of Egypt had their different theologies. Pthah, the Supreme Father: Ra, the Sun-God, manifestation of the Supreme: Amun, the Unknown God, were all various manifestations of the God-idea.

I thought you said that Osiris, Isis, Horus made the Egyptian Trinity?

We did but put in Isis as the Productive principle--Osiris, Creator; Isis, Principle of Fecundity; Horus, son of Osiris and Isis. There were many developments of the idea of the Trinity. It is not important, save that it bears upon the broad question.

Then did Egypt get its religion from India?

Partly: but on that point we have no one who can speak.


[The foregoing was written February 28th, 1874. On April 8th, the answer was written, much other matter having been given in the meantime.]

You inquired as to the connection between India and Egypt. The religion of Egypt was essentially a religion of body, as that of India was of spirit. Egypt had multifarious acts of external ritual; India cultivated contemplation. God to the Hind– was an undiscoverable essence; to the Egyptian he was manifested in every type of animal existence. To the Hind– time was nothing; eternity, all. To the Egyptian every passing moment had its consecrated work. Egypt was the antipodes of India. Nevertheless, it is true that Egypt received its first religious inspiration from India, even as did Zoroaster in Persia.

We have told you before that the special grandeur of Egypt's faith was the consecration to religion of daily life. It was a faith which influenced daily acts. Therein lay its power. It was a faith which recognised God in all nature, and especially in all animal life. It was the mystery of existence, the highest manifestation of Divine power that the Egyptian worshipped, when, as you imagine, he bowed down before and idol graven in the image of an ox....It would be well that the same care for the body, the same present view of religious duty, the same perception of an all-pervading Deity which formed the creed of ancient Egypt, and which enters so largely into ours, should be again prevalent among you.

I suppose, in effect, that Egyptian theology was a reaction from Hind– mysticism. You speak as if that elaboration of ritual was a good thing. I should have thought that the Egyptian priest wasted a deal of time, and that his punctilious washings and shavings were merely silly.

Not so. The ritual was necessary for the age and people. We are not concerned with anything but the underlying idea. Art, literature, and science laboured for religion: and so far from worship absorbing the work of life, it was rather that every act of common life was raised to the dignity of an act of worship. In this sense only is it true: and a nobler truth can hardly be declared. To live in the presence of Deity--to see His image all around, to consecrate every act to His service, to keep mind, spirit, body, pure as He is pure, consecrated to Him, and to Him alone--this is to lead the godlike life, even though it contain mistaken details.

No doubt prejudice hampers us greatly. But you would not say (would you?) that a man's faith is entirely indifferent in its substance, so he honestly professes it. For instance, Egypt reproduced now would not be the ideal you seem to paint.

Surely not. The world progresses, and gains higher knowledge. It may not recur to that which was fitted for another people in an earlier stage of development. But though the world has gained, it has lost also; and among the things which it has lost is that which may belong equally to all forms of faith, the devotion of self to duty and to God. This is no inseparable quality of Egyptian faith. Rather was it amplified and exemplified in a higher degree in the life and teaching of the Christ. But you have forgotten it--you have lost that mark of true religion. It needs that you see that in this point you were surpassed by those whom you despise and contemn.

We do say, we have always said, that man's responsibility is in proportion to the light which is in him; that man's duty is not lessened but increased by the quality of the revelation of which he is the recipient. We tell you that many a soul has progressed in spite of its creed by honesty and sincerity and singleness of purpose; and that many a soul has been dragged down by the very load of that faith in which its hopes were centred. We know that it is so, and that man's faith in its external presentment--the outer shell which alone you can see--is of comparatively little moment. He must perforce take that which falls to his lot, and according to the use he makes of it is his progress. It is an accident whether an incarnated soul be Jew or Turk, Mahommedan, Christian, Brahmin, or Parsee; but it is of the essence of that soul's progress whether it so uses its opportunities as to progress, or so abuses them as to retrograde. Souls have different opportunities here, and according as they use them they have increased or diminished capacity for progress in the after state for which they have fitted themselves. This you know; and the chance of progress may be as great with the despised and humble soul on whom the Pharisaical Christian looks down with contempt as with one incarnated amidst every influence of good and ever opportunity of progress. It is a pure question of spirit, into which you cannot yet enter. You are concerned with the husk here; you have not reached the kernel.

But surely one who acts up to his knowledge as a Christian, that knowledge being high, and the acts good and complete, according to capacity and opportunity, gets a long start of the barbarous fetish-worshipper, however honest he may be.

In this small fragment of existence it is not possible that any gain be snatched which may not be readily made up in another state. You are hampered by the limited nature of your vision and knowledge. The accidents which seem to you such bars may be but the means selected to bring out some needed quality--endurance, patience, trust, or love; whilst the luxurious surroundings, the poisonous flattery, the complacent self-satisfaction may be the engines of the adversaries who are dragging down and stifling a soul.

You judge too hastily and imperfectly, and from external signs only. Nor are you able to see what the guardians intend, nor to make due allowance for temptation and its results. These are questions which now are beyond your judgment.

Further, as to your question, it is a bounden duty in each to accept and act up to the highest view of Divine Truth which is revealed in him, and which he is able to accept. By this his progress will be judged.

Do you teach a General Judgement?

No. The judgment is complete when the spirit gravitates to the home which it has made for itself. There can be no error. It is placed by the eternal law of fitness. That judgment is complete, until the spirit is fitted to pass to a higher sphere, when the same process is repeated, and so on and on until the purgatorial spheres of work are done with, and the soul passes within the inner heaven of contemplation.

Then, in fact, there are many judgments?

Yes and no. Many and none. Judgment is ceaseless, for the soul is ever fitting itself for its change. No such arraignment before the assembled universe as is in your mind. That is an allegory.

In each stage of probation the spirit builds up a character by its constant acts, which fits it for a certain position. To that position it goes of necessity, without what you mean as judgment. Sentence results at once; just as the total of a number of items is ascertained without argument or judgment. There is no need for the process of a court of justice as you understand it on earth. The soul is the arbiter of its own destiny; its own judge. This is so in all cases of progress or retrogression.

Is each entry into a new sphere or state marked by a change analogous to death?

Analogous, in that there is a gradual sublimation or refinement of the spirit-body, until by degrees all gross elements are purged away. The higher the sphere the more refined and ethereal the body. The change is not so material as that which you call death, for there is no corporeal envelope to lay aside, but it is analogous to it in that it is a process of development, the entry of the spirit into a higher state of existence.

And when all the gross elements are gone, the spirit enters the spheres of contemplation, and is refined till all may be refined away?

Not so. It is refined until the dross is gone, and the pure spiritual gold remains. We know not of its life in the inner heaven. We only know that it grows liker and liker to God, nearer and nearer to His image. It may well be, good friend, that the noblest destiny of the perfected spirit may be union with the God into whose likeness it has grown, and whose portion of divinity, temporarily segregated during its pilgrimage, it so renders up to Him who gave it. These to us, as to you, are but speculations. Leave them and be content to know that which is alone worth knowing. Could you penetrate all mysteries there would be no longer occupation for your mind. You know but little here; but you can aspire, and in aspiring, raise your spirit above the sordid cares of earth to it truer home. May the blessing of the Blessed One rest on you!