[Written by one of H. P. Blavatsky's teachers in 1881-82 to A. O. Hume, an Englishman interested in occult philosophy. K. H. addresses Hume's questions about God as well as commenting on a manuscript in which Hume argued strongly for the necessity of God as a "supreme, omnipotent, intelligent being"; condensed from The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, Letters 10 and 22. — Eds.]
Neither our philosophy nor ourselves believe in a God, least of all in one whose pronoun necessitates a capital H. Our philosophy falls under the definition of Hobbes. It is preeminently the science of effects by their causes and of causes by their effects, and since it is also the science of things deduced from first principle, as Bacon defines it, before we admit any such principle we must know it, and have no right to admit even its possibility. . . . We know there are planetary and other spiritual lives, and we know there is in our system no such thing as God, either personal or impersonal. Parabrahm is not a God, but absolute immutable law, and Iswar is the effect of Avidya and Maya, ignorance based upon the great delusion. The word "God" was invented to designate the unknown cause of those effects which man has either admired or dreaded without understanding them, and since we claim . . . the knowledge of that cause and causes, we are in a position to maintain there is no God or Gods behind them.
The idea of God is not an innate but an acquired notion, . . . But while we assign to all the phenomena that proceed from the infinite and limitless space, duration and motion, material, natural, sensible and known (to us at least) cause, the theists assign them spiritual, super- natural and unintelligible and un-known causes. The God of the Theologians is simply an imaginary power . . . Our chief aim is to deliver humanity of this nightmare, to teach man virtue for its own sake, and to walk in life relying on himself instead of leaning on a theological crutch, that for countless ages was the direct cause of nearly all human misery. . . . If people are willing to accept and to regard as God our one life, immutable and unconscious in its eternity, they may do so and thus keep to one more gigantic misnomer. But then they will have to say with Spinoza that there is not, and that we cannot conceive, any other substance than God . . . and thus become Pantheists. . . . If we ask the theist is your God vacuum, space or matter, they will reply no. And yet they hold that their God penetrates matter though he is not himself matter. When we speak of our One Life we also say that it penetrates, nay is the essence of every atom of matter; and that therefore it not only has correspondence with matter but has all its properties likewise, etc. — hence is material, is matter itself. . . . How could a highly intelligent humanity, man the crown of reason, be evolved out of blind unintelligent law or force! But once we reason on that line, I may ask in my turn, how could congenital idiots, non-reasoning animals, and the rest of "creation" have been created by or evoluted from absolute Wisdom, if the latter is a thinking intelligent being, the author and ruler of the Universe? . . . "God who hath made the eye, shall he not see? God who hath made the ear, shall he not hear?" But according to this mode of reasoning they would have to admit that in creating an idiot God is an idiot; that he who made so many irrational beings, so many physical and moral monsters, must be an irrational being. . . .
. . . our teaching respecting the one life is identical with that of the Adwaitee [nondualist Vedanta school of Hinduism] with regard to Parabrahm. And no true philosophically-brained Adwaitee will ever call himself an agnostic, for he knows that he is Parabrahm and identical in every respect with the universal life and soul — the macrocosm is the microcosm, and he knows that there is no God apart from himself, no creator as no being. . . .
. . . Intelligence as found in our Dyan Chohans [spiritually-evolved beings], is a faculty that can appertain but to organized or animated being — however imponderable or rather invisible the materials of their organizations. Intelligence requires the necessity of thinking; to think one must have ideas; ideas suppose senses which are physical material, and how can anything material belong to pure spirit? If it be objected that thought cannot be a property of matter, we will ask the reason why? We must have an unanswerable proof of this assumption, before we can accept it. Of the theologian we would enquire what was there to prevent his God, since he is the alleged creator of all — to endow matter with the faculty of thought; and when answered that evidently it has not pleased Him to do so, that it is a mystery as well as an impossibility, we would insist upon being told why it is more impossible that matter should produce spirit and thought, than spirit or the thought of God should produce and create matter.
. . . Rejecting with contempt the theistic theory we reject as much the automaton theory, teaching that states of consciousness are produced by the marshalling of the molecules of the brain; and we feel as little respect for that other hypothesis — the production of molecular motion by consciousness. Then what do we believe in? Well, we believe in matter alone, in matter as visible nature and matter in its invisibility as the invisible omnipresent omnipotent Proteus with its unceasing motion which is its life, and which nature draws from herself since she is the great whole outside of which nothing can exist. For as [d'Holbach] truly asserts "motion is a manner of existence that flows necessarily out of the essence of matter; that matter moves by its own peculiar energies; that its motion is due to the force which is inherent in itself; that the variety of motion and the phenomena that result proceed from the diversity of the properties of the qualities and of the combinations which are originally found in the primitive matter" of which nature is the assemblage and of which your science knows less than one of our Tibetan Yak-drivers of Kant's metaphysics.
The existence of matter then is a fact; the existence of motion is another fact, their self existence and eternity or indestructibility is a third fact. And the idea of pure spirit as a Being or an Existence — give it whatever name you will — is a chimera, a gigantic absurdity.
. . . There are some modern philosophers who would prove the existence of a Creator from motion. We say and affirm that that motion — the universal perpetual motion which never ceases, never slackens nor increases its speed, not even during the interludes between the pralayas, or "nights of Brahma," but goes on like a mill set in motion, whether it has anything to grind or not (for the pralaya means the temporary loss of every form, but by no means the destruction of cosmic matter which is eternal) — we say this perpetual motion is the only eternal and uncreated Deity we are able to recognise. To regard God as an intelligent spirit, and accept at the same time his absolute immateriality, is to conceive of a nonentity, a blank void; to regard God as a Being, an Ego, and to place his intelligence under a bushel for some mysterious reasons — is a most consummate nonsense; to endow him with intelligence in the face of blind brutal Evil is to make of him a fiend — a most rascally God. A Being however gigantic, occupying space and having length, breadth and thickness, is most certainly the Mosaic deity; "No-being" and a mere principle lands you directly in the Buddhistic atheism, or the Vedantic primitive Acosmism. What lies beyond and outside the worlds of form and being, in worlds and spheres in their most spiritualized state (and you will perhaps oblige us by telling us where that beyond can be, since the Universe is infinite and limitless) is useless for anyone to search after . . .
Meanwhile we may say that it is motion that governs the laws of nature; and that it governs them as the mechanical impulse given to running water, which will propel them either in a direct line or along hundreds of side furrows they may happen to meet on their way and whether those furrows are natural grooves or channels prepared artificially by the hand of man. And we maintain that wherever there is life and being, and in however much spiritualized a form, there is no room for moral government, much less for a moral Governor — a Being which at the same time has no form nor occupies space! . . . If you ask me "Whence then the immutable laws? — laws cannot make themselves" — then in my turn I will ask you — "and whence their supposed Creator? — a creator cannot create or make himself." If the brain did not make itself, for this would be affirming that brain acted before it existed, how could intelligence, the result of an organized brain, act before its creator was made.
. . . Look around you and see the myriad manifestations of life, so infinitely multiform; of life, of motion, of change. What caused these? From what inexhaustible source came they, by what agency? Out of the invisible and subjective they have entered our little area of the visible and objective. Children of Akasa, concrete evolutions from the ether, it was force which brought them into perceptibility and Force will in time remove them from the sight of man. . . . Given a perfect monotony of activities throughout the world, and we would have a complete identity of forms, colours, shapes and properties throughout all the kingdoms of nature. It is the motion with its resulting conflict, neutralization, equilibration, correlation, to which is due the infinite variety which prevails. . . .
The difficulty of explaining the fact that "unintelligent Forces can give rise to highly intelligent beings like ourselves," is covered by the eternal progression of cycles, and the process of evolution ever perfecting its work as it goes along. . . . The conception of matter and spirit as entirely distinct, and both eternal, could certainly never have entered my head, however little I may know of them, for it is one of the elementary and fundamental doctrines of Occultism that the two are one, and are distinct but in their respective manifestations, and only in the limited perceptions of the world of senses. . . . Spirit is called the ultimate sublimation of matter, and matter the crystallization of spirit. And no better illustration could be afforded than in the very simple phenomenon of ice, water, vapour and the final dispersion of the latter, the phenomenon being reversed in its consecutive manifestations and called the Spirit falling into generation or matter. . . . Without spirit or Force, even that which Science styles as "not living" matter, the so-called mineral ingredients which feed plants, could never have been called into form. There is a moment in the existence of every molecule and atom of matter when, for one cause or another, the last spark of spirit or motion or life (call it by whatever name) is withdrawn, and in the same instant with the swiftness which surpasses that of the lightning glance of thought the atom or molecule or an aggregation of molecules is annihilated to return to its pristine purity of intra-cosmic matter. It is drawn to the mother fount with the velocity of a globule of quicksilver to the central mass. Matter, force, and motion are the trinity of physical objective nature, as the trinitarian unity of spirit-matter [spirit, matter, and their underlying unity] is that of the spiritual or subjective nature. Motion is eternal because spirit is eternal. But no modes of motion can ever be conceived unless they be in connection with matter.
And now to your extraordinary hypothesis that Evil with its attendant train of sin and suffering is not the result of matter, but may be perchance the wise scheme of the moral Governor of the Universe. Conceivable as the idea may seem to you trained in the pernicious fallacy of the Christian — "the ways of the Lord are inscrutable" — it is utterly inconceivable for me. Must I repeat again that the best Adepts have searched the Universe during millenniums and found nowhere the slightest trace of such a Machiavellian schemer — but throughout, the same immutable, inexorable law. . . .
You say it matters nothing whether these laws are the expression of the will of an intelligent conscious God, as you think, or constitute the inevitable attributes of an unintelligent, unconscious "God," as I hold. I say, it matters everything, and since you earnestly believe that these fundamental questions (of spirit and matter — of God or no God) "are admittedly beyond both of us" — in other words that neither I nor yet our greatest adepts can know no more than you do, then what is there on earth that I could teach you?
(From Sunrise magazine, October/November 2005; copyright © 2005 Theosophical University Press)