Rosicrucian Writings Online
THOUGHT OF THE MONTH
THE GREAT WHITE BROTHERHOOD
By THE IMPERATOR
[Ralph M. Lewis]
[From The Rosicrucian Digest January 1943]
ALL the sources of the wisdom which mankind cherishes and preserves are not known. Some still remain a challenging and intriguing mystery. The threads of much of our knowledge are lost in the obscurity of antiquity. We can rightly presume that it is time alone which conceals their beginnings from us. It is, however, more than strange that paralleling general events of the past, the causes of most of which are clearly indicated, are also certain "sudden appearances" of a new wisdom, that is, an elaborately developed system of thinking, and even sciences. Why, for example, are kings of thousands of years ago, their dynasties, their rise and fall in power, often precisely chronicled, and, a transcendental wisdom of the same era seems to have a spontaneous, unheralded, unexplained origin?
Men, as history relates, have been often so endowed Cosmically with inner vision and encyclopedic minds that they, as individuals, have become virtual fountains of wisdom from which virgin ideas flow. Pharaoh Amenhotep IV, Plato, and Aristotle, are but a few of these geniuses of antiquity. The world is content to accept them as the authors of that which they expounded, since in comparatively modern times there have been others who, as individuals, have also greatly advanced learning by their singular efforts and intelligence. Such revelations may be explained physiologically by saying that the individuals had a peculiar configuration of the cortical areas of their brains, a special grouping of their brain neurons. Mystically, on the other hand, they may be heralded as recipients of an intuitive knowledge, that is, that they were channels through which the Consciousness of God flowed, to mingle with their mortal minds. Nevertheless, revelation or intuition does not explain the mysterious initial appearance of a great wisdom had by a people.
Wisdom may be said to be an applied knowledge, a knowledge which has been refined by usage amounting to a skill. Wisdom, therefore, is not revealed but is developed over a period of time from concepts which, in their simple form, may have originally flashed into the consciousness of man. There are numerous examples of such wisdom appearing like bright stars on the horizon of those civilizations which history records. However, such learning did not drop from heaven. Men somewhere, at some time, by the sweat of their brows, unearthed it in human experience, no matter how sudden its apparent appearance. It may have taken centuries or even ages to develop it to the degree of perfection it had when it first came to the attention of the masses of men. During such an interim, it was either secreted from most men, or else it was lost through some cataclysmic upheaval, to be rediscovered and disclosed in its perfected whole. Obviously, profane or general history knows not the source of such wisdom, or it would be factually related.
To cite a specific example, the Great Pyramid of Gizeh, generally conceded to have been erected during the reign of Pharaoh Cheops about 2900 B. C., is not alone a stupendous edifice but a monument, as well, to a tremendous learning possessed by its builders. It is, we may say, a symposium of numerous arts and sciences. It reveals, in its engineering and its precise measurements, a masterful knowledge of mathematics and of physics. Further, the location, or rather its orientation in relation to the land surface of the earth, shows a knowledge of the geography of the earth far beyond the borders of
Any school boy knows that the Egyptians are renowned for their learning in antiquity, but what is not often realized is that less than a century and a half before the Great Pyramid of Gizeh was begun, many of the arts and sciences used in its construction, and which it symbolizes, were unknown. There are no evidences that, 150 years before, the Egyptians had any knowledge of masonry which permitted them to quarry the hard stone, such as that of which the Great Pyramid was constructed, nor are there evidences of the variety of tools and instruments needed for such construction. Further, the precise exactitude as found in the measurements of the Great Pyramid is not to be found in any other structures previously erected. Certainly if higher mathematics was known previously, to the extent that it was commonly used in the construction of the Great Pyramid, it would have been employed in other enterprises.
It is not explanatory to state that such knowledge could have been conceived within the period of a century and a half preceding the Great Pyramid, because we have been able to accomplish seeming miracles in a like time during our period. All that we have and are now doing today is founded upon those basic principles or points of knowledge that have come down to us. Certainly we will admit that it is easier to evolve the use of fractions in arithmetic from simple addition and multiplication than it is or must have been to conceive and develop arithmetic from a very beginning. It is far easier, for further example, to be able to expand into a beautiful literature from a simple vocabulary than to begin to relate human ideas to vocal sounds for the first time. It was, therefore, impossible for the Egyptians to have conceived and developed the knowledge and wisdom employed in the building of the Great Pyramid in 150 years.
Such wisdom must have spread to
However, wherever such great wisdom may have originated, it is certain that those who knew it and were accustomed to it would make every sacrifice to preserve it. Men may be diverse in character and in many things of which they and their lives are composed, but there is usually something, some influence or interest, that will bind them into groups. Love of such wisdom, and the desire to preserve it, would be a bond. Moreover, they would revel in expounding it. They would thus be inclined to exclude themselves from the profane, disinterested world, and build themselves an environment conducive to their great love, and there work in an atmosphere of culture.
Such a place for such a society or brotherhood of men has often been an ideal as well as a fact in history. Sir Francis Bacon in his book "The New Atlantis" refers to a "House of Wisdom" on a remote island where thinkers congregated in secrecy to dedicate themselves to the search for truth and the furtherance of knowledge. In the "Fama Fraternitatis," great historical epistle of the Rosicrucians, the allegorical legend therein relates that Christian Rosenkreutz and his associates erected a "Domus Spiritus Sancti" (House of Holy Spirit) in which they could elaborate on and prepare for dissemination the knowledge which they had acquired in their journey eastward. Consequently, it is not just presumption to say that this wisdom reached
The Hebrews have such a tradition, and in fact, an actual literary work which they profess is of that secret wisdom. It is known as the Kabbalah. Kabbalah is a Hebrew word meaning "tradition." There still are a great many among the Hebrews who maintain that beside the written law, the Bible, or the spoken law, the Talmud and Midrash, the Hebrews also possessed an equally divine and secret teaching of great antiquity. Such teaching must never be written down or spoken except to those initiated. It is declared by them that the Lord told Moses, "These things shalt thou disclose, and these shalt thou hide." The Kabbalah, therefore, is to them the voice of the secret wisdom. It may strain the credulity of some to believe that God imparted such wisdom direct from Moses; but that the ancient Hebrews were a repository for such a secret wisdom is not to be disputed, and the true Kabbalah is excellent evidence.
The Kabbalah, during the middle ages, was perverted into a gibberish of symbols and words purporting to give man some magical control of nature, the power to perform miracles, in fact. Even today, much of what is issued as the Kabbalah is of that nature. However, the main doctrines of the true Kabbalah attempt to explain the relation of God to His world. It may be emphatically said that the authentic Kabbalah is a work of philosophy trying to explain the origin of things. The oldest book of the Kabbalah is the "Sepher Yetzirah" or Book of Creation. It is said that its author, that is, its compiler really, was Abraham. There is no reason to doubt this, since so many of the Hebrew legends that have persisted have eventually been corroborated by archaeological discoveries.
The most important Kabbalah book which seeks to explain the secret wisdom is the "Sepher Dizeniantha," the Book of Concealed Mystery. It opens with the words, "This is the book of the equilibrium of balance." Philosophically, this means that the work seeks to reconcile the contraries, to harmonize the differences between the various conditions in nature or within man, thereby producing harmony. Equilibrium or balance is, after all, a mitigating of imposing stresses or strains, and in balance is found perfect living and understanding. There is also reason to believe that this secret wisdom of the Hebrews emanated from the same source as that possessed by the Egyptians. However, the Hebrews emphasized certain aspects of it to those whom they initiated in their brotherhood.
Among the Israelites the belief prevailed that before the conquest of
According to Biblical literature and historical fact, after the fall of
Tradition relates that some of the tribes were lost, and some found their way into
Native Afghans, nevertheless, identify themselves with the lost ten tribes. They declare that Nebuchadnezzar, Chaldean king who destroyed
According to further arcane records, slowly some of the wandering tribes migrated northeastward from
Early Spanish travellers claimed that in
(To Be Continued)
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