That of all the various nations of antiquity, there never was one which believed in a personal devil more than liberal Christians in the nineteenth century, seems hardly credible, and yet such is the sorrowful fact. Neither the Egyptians, whom Porphyry terms “the most learned nation in the world,” nor Greece, its faithful copyist, were ever guilty of such a crowning absurdity. We may add at once that none of them, not even the ancient Jews, believed in hell or an eternal damnation any more than in the Devil, although our Christian churches are so liberal in dealing it out to the heathen. Wherever the word “hell” occurs in the translations of the Hebrew sacred texts, it is unfortunate. The Hebrews were ignorant of such an idea; but yet the gospels contain frequent examples of the same misunderstanding. So, when Jesus is made to say (Matthew xvi. 18) “…and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it,” in the original text it stands “the gates of death.” Never is the word “hell” – as applied to the state of damnation, either temporary or eternal – used in any passage of the Old Testament, all hellists to the contrary, notwithstanding. “Tophet,” or “the Valley of Hinnom” (Isaiah lxvi. 24) bears no such interpretation. The Greek term “Gehenna” has also quite a different meaning, as it has been proved conclusively by more than one competent writer, that “Gehenna” is identical with the Homeric Tartarus.
In fact we have Peter himself as authority for it. In his second Epistle (ii. 2) the Apostle, in the original text, is made to say of the sinning angels that God “cast them down into Tartarus.” This expression too inconveniently recalling the war of Jupiter and the Titans, was altered, and now it reads, in King James’s version: “cast them down to hell.”
In the Old Testament the expressions “gates of death,” and the “chambers of death,” simply allude to the “gates of the grave,” which are specifically mentioned in the Psalms and Proverbs. Hell and its sovereign [i.e. the devil] are both inventions of Christianity, coeval with its accession to power and resort to tyranny.
– – Isis Unveiled, Vol. 2, p. 506-507
When dying on the cross, the martyred Man of Sorrows forgave his enemies. His last words were a prayer in their behalf. He taught his disciples to curse not, but to bless, even their foes. But the heirs of St. Peter, the self-constituted representatives on earth of that same meek Jesus, unhesitatingly curse whoever resists their despotic will. Besides, was not the “Son” long since crowded by them into the background? They make their obeisance only to the Dowager Mother, for – according to their teaching – again through “the direct Spirit of God,” she alone acts as a mediatrix. The Ecumenical Council of 1870 embodied the teaching into a dogma, to disbelieve which is to be doomed forever to the ‘bottomless pit.’
– – Isis Unveiled, Vol. 2, p. 8
Hades was quite a different place from our region of eternal damnation, and might be termed rather an intermediate state of purification. Neither does the Scandinavian Hel or Hela, imply either a state or a place of punishment; for when Frigga, the grief-stricken mother of Bal-dur, the white god, who died and found himself in the dark abodes of the shadows (Hades) sent Hermod, a son of Thor, in quest of her beloved child, the messenger found him in the inexorable region – alas! but still comfortably seated on a rock, and reading a book. The Norse kingdom of the dead is moreover situated in the higher latitudes of the Polar regions; it is a cold and cheerless abode, and neither the gelid halls of Hela, nor the occupation of Baldur present the least similitude to the blazing hell of eternal fire and the miserable “damned” sinners with which the Church so generously peoples it. No more is it the Egyptian Amenthes, the region of judgment and purification; nor the Onderah – the abyss of darkness of the Hindus; for even the fallen angels hurled into it by Shiva, are allowed by Parabrahma to consider it as an intermediate state, in which an opportunity is afforded them to prepare for higher degrees of purification and redemption from their wretched condition. The Gehenna of the New Testament was a locality outside the walls of Jerusalem; and in mentioning it, Jesus used but an ordinary metaphor. Whence then came the dreary dogma of hell, that Archimedean lever of Christian theology, with which they have succeeded to hold in subjection the numberless millions of Christians for nineteen centuries? Assuredly not from the Jewish Scriptures, and we appeal for corroboration to any well-informed Hebrew scholar.
The only designation of something approaching hell in the Bible is Gehenna or Hinnom, a valley near Jerusalem, where was situated Tophet, a place where a fire was perpetually kept for sanitary purposes. The prophet Jeremiah informs us that the Israelites used to sacrifice their children to Moloch-Hercules on that spot; and later we find Christians quietly replacing this divinity by their god of mercy, whose wrath will not be appeased, unless the Church sacrifices to him her unbaptized children and sinning sons on the altar of “eternal damnation”!
– – Isis Unveiled, Vol. 2, p. 11
John gives to his Word [i.e. the “Word” or “Logos” referred to in John’s Gospel] a purely kabalistic significance, which no “Fathers,” except those who had belonged to the Neo-platonic school, were able to comprehend. Origen understood it well, having been a pupil of Ammonius Saccas; therefore we see him bravely denying the perpetuity of hell-torments. He maintains that not only men, but even devils (by which term he meant disembodied human sinners), after a certain duration of punishment shall be pardoned and finally restored to heaven. In consequence of this and other such heresies Origen was, as a matter of course, exiled.
– – Isis Unveiled, Vol. 2, p. 13
We have weighed [Christianity and its theology] in the balance of history, of logic, of truth, and found them wanting. Their system breeds atheism, nihilism, despair, and crime: its priests and preachers are unable to prove by works their reception of divine power. If both Church and priest could but pass out of the sight of the world as easily as their names do now from the eye of our reader, it would be a happy day for humanity. New York and London might then soon become as moral as a heathen city unoccupied by Christians; Paris be cleaner than the ancient Sodom. When Catholic and Protestant would be as fully satisfied as a Buddhist or Brahman [i.e. Hindu] that their every crime would be punished, and every good deed rewarded, they might spend upon their own heathen what now goes to give missionaries long picnics, and to make the name of Christian hated and despised by every nation outside the boundaries of Christendom.
– – Isis Unveiled, Vol. 2, p. 585-586
If we do not admit of any punishment outside of this earth, it is because the only state the Spiritual Self knows of, hereafter, is that of unalloyed bliss. …crimes and sins committed on a plane of objectivity and in a world of matter, cannot receive punishment in a world of pure subjectivity. We believe in no hell or paradise as localities; in no objective hell-fires and worms that never die, nor in any Jerusalem with streets paved with sapphires and diamonds. What we believe in is a post-mortem state or mental condition, such as we are in during a vivid dream. We believe in an immutable law of absolute Love, Justice, and Mercy.
– – The Key to Theosophy, p. 138
…the fallacy of the christians – who would burn immaterial souls in a material physical hell …
– – Mahatma K.H.
The occultists say the hell means simply the human body, and there is no other hell than earth. The fact that Christ and so many other solar gods – Hercules, etc. – descended into hell is an allegory pointing to just such imprisonment in the physical body. … St. John’s Revelation is not a Christian work, but is simply the Christianized form of prophecy, which is universal – and I can assure you it is one of the most occult things for anyone who understands it. … The “Dragon” symbolized the sons of wisdom incarnating in humanity, and thus hurled into the Hell of matter, which is our bodies, because there is no Hell outside of our own dear persons here. It is humanity, and on this earth, that is Hell, and nowhere else.
– – The Secret Doctrine Dialogues, p. 483, 491
The metaphorical FALL, and as metaphorical atonement and crucifixion, led Western Humanity through roads knee-deep in blood. Worse than all, they led it to believe in the dogma of the evil spirit distinct from the spirit of all good, whereas the former lives in all matter and pre-eminently in man. Finally it created the God-slandering dogma of Hell and eternal perdition; it spread a thick film between the higher intuitions of man and divine verities; and, most pernicious result of all, it made people remain ignorant of the fact that there were no fiends, no dark demons in the Universe before man’s own appearance on this, and probably on other earths. Henceforth the people were led to accept, as the problematical consolation for this world’s sorrows, the thought of original sin.
– – The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 2, p. 484
Hence the Bible is not the “Word of God,” but contains at best the words of fallible men and imperfect teachers. … the Christian canon, especially the Gospels, Acts, and Epistles, are made up of fragments of gnostic wisdom, the ground-work of which is pre-Christian and built on the MYSTERIES of Initiation. It is the mode of theological presentation, and the interpolated passages – such as in Mark xvi, from verse 9 to the end – which make of the Gospels a “magazine of (wicked) falsehoods,” and throw a slur on CHRISTOS. But the occultist who discerns between the two currents (the true gnostic and the pseudo-Christian) knows that the passages free from theological tampering belong to archaic wisdom…
– – The Esoteric Character of the Gospels, Part I
The Churches will have to part with their cherished dogmas, or the 20th century will witness the downfall and ruin of all Christendom, and with it, belief even in a Christos, as pure Spirit. The very name has now become obnoxious, and theological Christianity must die out, never to resurrect again in its present form. This, in itself, would be the happiest solution of all, were there no danger from the natural reaction which is sure to follow: crass materialism will be the consequence and the result of centuries of blind faith, unless the loss of old ideals is replaced by other ideals, unassailable, because universal, and built on the rock of eternal truths instead of the shifting sands of human fancy. Pure immateriality must replace, in the end, the terrible anthropomorphism of those ideals in the conceptions of our modern dogmatists. …why should Christian dogmas – the perfect counterpart of those belonging to other exoteric and pagan religions – claim any superiority? ….
Surely, no man, once he devotes himself to such comparative studies, can regard the religion of the West in any light but that of a pale and enfeebled copy of older and nobler philosophies.
– – The Esoteric Character of the Gospels, Part III
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I sent my soul through the invisible, some letter of the afterlife to spell. And by and by, my soul returned to me and said: “I, myself, am heaven and hell.”
– from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam –
You may also like the articles on this site titled The True Nature of Jehovah, Dismantling the Christian Edifice, Blavatsky on Vicarious Atonement, Reincarnation and Christianity, Salvation from Christianity, Greetings from “Lucifer” to the Archbishop of Canterbury!, Death and The Afterlife, Responding to Lies about H.P. Blavatsky and Praise for H.P. Blavatsky and Theosophy.
2 thoughts on “Blavatsky on Hell and Christianity”
Most people who have NDE’s, Near Death Experiences, have “heavenly” ones. They see brightness, hear beautiful music, see angelic beings and etc. But a few have “hellish” experiences. They see darkness and demons. How does Theosophy explain the “Hell” that they go through before they return to their physical bodies?
At the time the Theosophical literature was produced (i.e. the end of the 19th century) the now quite common phenomenon of Near Death Experiences had not yet arisen. No-one was talking about tunnels of light, beings of light, etc. This only really started to come about around the 1960s and 1970s.
Hence Theosophy itself doesn’t offer any explanations as to why a few people have hellish and unpleasant NDEs but a few individual Theosophists (as well as non-Theosophists) have. Dr Jean-Louis Siémons of the United Lodge of Theosophists in Paris published a very good booklet in 1989 titled titled “A nineteenth century explanatory scheme for the interpretation of near-death experience: The transpersonal model of death as presented in Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophy.” It was aimed primarily at psychologists and the academic community and can be read online at http://www.blavatsky.net/index.php/near-death-experiences/36-topics/reincarnation/near-death-exp/62-what-is-death.
On p. 10 of that he suggests that the minority who reported hellish experiences may have “consciously tasted something of the intermediary levels”…i.e. those levels or planes of existence and consciousness between the physical and the “heavenly” such as lower aspects of the astral/psychic plane or Kama Loka. This must have been in accordance with their own Karma.
We always have to recall that Near Death Experiences are only “Near” Death Experiences. They’re not ACTUAL Death Experiences and thus do not provide an accurate or exact overview of the real after-death process. Once the latter is truly entered upon, there is no possibility of returning to the body to tell people about it.
The articles “When We Die” (https://blavatskytheosophy.com/when-we-die/), “Death and the Afterlife” (https://blavatskytheosophy.com/death-and-the-afterlife/), and “What happens to people who commit Suicide?” (https://blavatskytheosophy.com/what-happens-to-people-who-commit-suicide/) are recommended.
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