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Let us compare with the commentary just cited the words of Hermes, the “thrice great”: —
“The creation of Life by the Sun is as continuous as his light; nothing arrests or limits it. Around him, like an army of Satellites, are innumerable choirs of genii. These dwell in the neighbourhood of the Immortals, and thence watch over human things. They fulfil the will of the gods (Karma) by means of storms, tempests, transitions of fire and earthquakes; likewise by famines and wars, for the punishment of impiety. . . . It is the sun who preserves and nourishes all creatures; and even as the Ideal World which environs the sensible world fills this last with the plenitude and universal variety of forms, so also the Sun, enfolding all in his light, accomplishes everywhere the birth and development of creatures.” . . . “Under his orders is the choir of Genii, or rather the choirs, for there are many and diverse, and their number corresponds to that of the stars. Every star has its genii, good and evil by nature, or rather by their operation, for operation is the essence of the genii. . . . All these Genii preside over mundane affairs, they shake and overthrow the constitution of States and of individuals; they imprint their likeness on our Souls, they are present in our nerves, our marrow, our veins, our arteries, and our very brain-substance . . . at the moment when each of us receives life and being, he is taken in charge by the genii (Elementals) who preside over births, and who are classed beneath the astral powers (Superhuman astral Spirits.) They change perpetually, not always identically, but revolving in circles. They permeate by the body two parts of the Soul, that it may receive from each the impress of his own energy. But the reasonable part of the Soul is not subject to the genii; it is designed for the reception of (the) God, who enlightens it with a sunny ray. Those who are thus illumined are few in number, and from them the genii abstain: for neither genii nor Gods have any power in the presence of a single ray of God. But all other men, both soul and body, are directed by genii, to whom they cleave, and whose operations they affect. . . . . . The genii have then the control of mundane things and our bodies serve them as instruments. . . . .”
The above, save a few sectarian points, represents that which was a universal belief common to all nations till about a century or so back. It is still as orthodox in its broad outlines and features among pagans and Christians alike, if one excepts a handful of materialists and men of Science.
For whether one calls the genii of Hermes and his “Gods,” “Powers of Darkness” and “Angels,” as in the Greek and Latin Churches; or “Spirits of the Dead,” as in Spiritualism or, again, Bhoots and Devas, Shaitan or Djin, as they are still called in India and Mussulman countries — they are all one and the same thing — illusion. Let not this, however, be misunderstood in the sense into which the great philosophical doctrine of the Vedantists has been lately perverted by Western schools.
All that which is, emanates from the absolute, which, from this qualification alone, stands as the one and only reality — hence, everything extraneous to this Absolute, the generative and causative Element, must be an illusion, most undeniably. But this is only so from the purely metaphysical view. A man who regards himself as mentally sane, and is so regarded by his neighbours, calls the visions of an insane brother — whose hallucinations make the victim either happy or supremely wretched, as the case may be — illusions and fancies likewise. But, where is that madman for whom the hideous shadows in his deranged mind, his illusions, are not, for the time being, as actual and as real as the things which his physician or keeper may see? Everything is relative in this Universe, everything is an illusion. But the experience of any plane is an actuality for the percipient being, whose consciousness is on that plane; though the said experience, regarded from the purely metaphysical standpoint, may be conceived to have no objective reality. But it is not against metaphysicians, but against physicists and materialists that Esoteric teachings have to fight, and for these Vital Force, Light, Sound, Electricity, even to the objectively pulling force of magnetism, have no objective being, and are said to exist merely as “modes of motion,” “sensations and affections of matter.”
Neither the Occultists generally, nor the Theosophists, reject, as erroneously believed by some, the views and theories of the modern scientists, only because these views are opposed to Theosophy. The first rule of our Society is to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. The Theosophists, therefore, are the first to recognize the intrinsic value of science. But when its high priests resolve consciousness into a secretion from the grey matter of the brain, and everything else in nature into a mode of motion, we protest against the doctrine as being unphilosophical, self-contradictory, and simply absurd, from a scientific point of view, as much and even more than from the occult aspect of the esoteric knowledge.