PREFACE TO THE FIFTH EDITION
"Make me to know the way wherein I should walk: for to Thee have I lifted up my soul. (...)
"Thy good Spirit shall lead me into the right land." (Psalm 143:8-10)
"I will give thee understanding, and will instruct thee in the way wherein thou shalt go." (Psalm 32:9)
"He that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve Me." (Psalm 101:6)
"Be ye therefore perfect." (Matt. 5:48)
"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, whence cometh my help." (Psalm 121:1)
lectures which constituted the First Edition of this book were delivered by Anna
Kingsford and Edward Maitland before a private audience, in the months of May,
June, and July 1881: and were, in the following winter, published anonymously
under the title of The
while yet in the body." (1) With such solution, these Lectures teach that "God is in the generation of the righteous"; (2) and they represent, as the full title of the book denotes, the doctrine that by "Christ" is designated neither a person merely historical nor one supernatural: but the type of the highest possibilities of humanity, the summit of the ladder of evolution where "the manhood" is taken "unto God," and man melts into, blends with, and becomes one with Divinity, and "God and Man is one Christ": (3) for the product of the union of the Divine Will in action (or Holy Ghost) and the Pure Soul in man (or Virgin Mary) is Christ, the God-Man and our Lord, (4) the attainment of the Divine Union, which alone constitutes perfection, being open to all persons. And it represents this supreme point of perfection as attainable through, and only through, the following of a perfect ideal of life in all things appertaining to Man in each department of his fourfold nature, namely, in body, mind, soul, and spirit. This great truth is symbolised by the Catholic Church in the Mass, when, at the offering up of the Bread and Wine, the Priest mixes a little Water (representing the Soul or Humanity) with the Wine (representing Spirit or Divinity) in the Chalice, the Water having been previously sanctified
and so made worthy to be taken up and lost in the substance of the Wine about to be consecrated; the Priest at the same time praying on behalf of himself and of the congregation that by the mystery represented or symbolised by this Water and Wine they may be made partakers of the Divinity of Jesus Christ who vouchsafed to become partaker of our Humanity. (1)
“The term 'Christ' has from the world's spiritual beginning denoted a definite and positive system of thought, which system alone interprets the nature of Being, making Christianity, properly understood, a philosophy and a science, as well as a religion and a morality, whose appeal is to the mind no less than to the feelings." For this reason, said Edward Maitland, "I feel sure that when the Christ is rightly 'lifted up' and expounded, the name will be hailed by all who are capable of thought as well as of feeling, and this all the more because hitherto it has been so grossly perverted and abused. Men will be eager to make amends for the misconduct of the Churches. For the world has passed beyond the stage at which an appeal to the emotions is sufficient to kindle enthusiasm. The evolution of its intellect has brought it to the stage wherein the whole humanity, of mind as well as heart, must be satisfied, and faith and love must be based on knowledge and understanding." (2)
The Perfect Way was "designed to exhibit the process of the interior perfectionment of the individual – the process, that is, whereby 'Christ' becomes 'Christ' – and thereby to interpret the Christ: it did not come within the scope of this book to elaborate the various practical applications of its doctrine, if only for the reason that, when once the spirit of the man is perfected, conduct will order itself accordingly." (1) Two practical applications, however, are emphasised, namely, as regards Vegetarianism and Vivisection. "The former is insisted on as essential to the full apprehension and realisation of the ideal implied by the term 'Christ' – among other reasons for its sensitising influence on the higher planes of the consciousness: and the latter is unsparingly denounced as constituting a total repudiation of that ideal by its suppression of the higher self in favour of the lower as the rule of conduct." (2) For –
"There is a path which no bird of prey knoweth,
And which the vulture's eye hath not seen:
The lion's whelps have not trodden it,
Nor the fierce lion passed by it." (3)
and "They are miserably deceived who expect eternal life, and restrain not their hands from blood and death." (4)
"That which The Perfect Way represents is in no sense a compilation, a selection, or an innovation, but a restoration, and this of a peculiar and twofold kind; for it is a restoration both of knowledge and of faculty – the knowledge being obtained through the faculty." For Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland it was “an original discovery,”
in that this knowledge was obtained “directly and at first hand through the faculty in question, and altogether independently of extraneous sources of information”: and, Edward Maitland says, it “proved, on subsequent research, to be, for the world, a recovery of the most momentous kind (...). The mode of the discovery, moreover, was such as to constitute, of itself, a verification of the fundamental doctrine involved.”
Revelation consists in the disclosure to man of himself by his own Divine Spirit; and Religion consists in the culture by man in himself of that Divine Spirit; which Spirit is not the less God because it is man's, nor the less man's because it is God.” (1) Anna Kingsford, being under Illumination, was told: “The Spirit within you is divine. It is God.” (2)
The Perfect Way represents and is the product of a Divine Revelation: (3) a Revelation in the direction of Mysticism: a Revelation which has restored to the World “that famous system of cosmogony which – known to initiates as the Hermetic Gnosis – has from the remotest antiquity been venerated as the one true divine revelation concerning the nature of man and the universe; and which
constituted the core and substance of all sacred scriptures, mysteries, and religions – Brahmanism and Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Osirisism, Mithraism, Hellenism, Judaism, (1) and Christianity, being in turn designed as vehicles for and expressions of it; but in each of which its true meaning became perverted, obscured, and finally lost to view behind the forms in which it was presented, and the religion degraded into an idolatry through the substitution, as the objects of worship, of its material symbols for its spiritual realities.” And the discovery included also “the interpretation of these forms – together with the spiritual facts to which they correspond – to the full explication of Christianity, its identification with the Gnosis, and, consequently, its vindication as constituting, when rightly apprehended, a true science of divine things, and therein a perfect system of thought and rule of life.” (2) It thus claims to be “both Christian and Catholic in their original and true sense.” (3) In fact, the Gnosis finds “its fullest and most perfect formulation by the mouth and in the dogmas of the Catholic Church.” (4) “The Initiate has no quarrel with the true Christian religion or with its symbolism, but only with the current orthodox interpretation of that religion and symbolism.” (5) For, while it is affirmed in these teachings
that Christianity has failed to regenerate the world as it was designed to do, it is affirmed also that the reason is not because Christianity is false, but because it has been falsified by its official formulators and exponents. (1)
“The Gnosis, while in the world, has never” (prior to the publication of The Perfect Way) “really been given to the world, or presented under a form which would render it comprehensible by the world; but has been reserved for initiates pledged to secrecy, and concealed under symbols to the interpretation of which they alone had the key. It is in part because this key has been lost, or so carefully concealed as to be no longer available – even for initiates themselves, as would appear to be the case – and because only by a new illumination could it be restored,” that such a Revelation as is represented by The Perfect Way became necessary. (2)
Edward Maitland says: “Our researches failed utterly to disclose to us as already existing in the world aught that was comparable to the revelations received by us, whether for fullness, profundity, coherence, lucidity, or beauty. So that it became manifest to us that we were obtaining in plenitude and perfection a sublime system of doctrine of which – if others had ever had it in full – only fragments and glimpses survive. And the very method, moreover, by which we were obtaining it constituted a practical demonstration of its truth, by reason of the process being that of psychic or intuitional recollection, and therein a demonstration of the reality and persistency of the Soul, and of her ability to recover, in a later incarnation, the knowledges
acquired by her in her past incarnations, and to communicate of them to her possessor.” (1)
Referring to "the approximations to Christianity preexisting in the older worships of Krishna, Osiris; Mithras, and the rest," Edward Maitland was inclined to believe that "while the fullest revelation to the world was that made in relation to 'Jesus Christ,’ there was a full revelation in the world from a period indefinitely remote, and that only the communication of it to the outside world was gradual, being given out in such measure as that world was deemed able to receive it, by its Divinely-appointed and directed guardians, the hierophants of the Sacred Mysteries." He points out that "owing to the materialistic tendencies of mankind at large, spiritual truth has always existed in the world as in an enemy's country," and that "there were truths that even the disciples of Jesus were unable to bear, and which were accordingly withheld from them": and, he says, “May it not be that that which is now seeking for recognition is a yet further instalment of the same truth, which differs from former instalments chiefly in the fact of its being more abstract and spiritual, and less concrete and personal?” and that “He is taking away the first (the letter or person) that He may establish the second (the spirit or abstract truth)” in order that men may at length come to “Worship God only?” (2) The fundamental principle of the Gnosis is "to show the divinity both of the human Soul and human Spirit, and through this of the man who being regenerate is constituted of them." (3)
In a recently published book, a well-known writer says that "the great need of today" is "a complete reformation
in Christian interpretation, a re-casting of popular exegesis, a re-moulding of Christian teaching in pulpit, school, and college.” (1) More than thirty years ago, Anna Kingsford expressed a similar opinion when she said: "It is not so much the revelation of a new religious system that is needed here, as a true interpretation of the religion now existing. (...) Orthodox Christianity, both in Catholic and in Protestant countries, is languishing on account of a radical defect in its method – to wit, the exoteric and historical sense in which, exclusively, its dogmas are taught and enforced.” (2) Edward Maitland was also in agreement. He said: “It is not a new Gospel that the world needs or that a new religion should be propounded, but a new interpretation, and one that, though new to this age, shall not be really new, but shall represent a recovery of that which is either so old as to have become forgotten, or so profound as to have escaped recognition by superficialists – a recovery of that, too, which was intended by its original formulators.” (3) The revelation contained in the pages of The Perfect Way supplies this great need of a true interpretation of the Christian religion. It represents “an actual re-delivery of religious doctrine from its original source,” made for the express purpose of rescuing religion from the perversion it had undergone at the hands of a materialising priesthood, by interpreting it, and re-establishing it as a verity purely spiritual and wholly reasonable, and so carrying on the spiritual consciousness of the race to a new and higher stage
of its evolution. (1) “The end in view is not denial, but interpretation; not destruction, but reconstruction, and this with the very materials hitherto in use.” (2) No new Gospel of Salvation was necessary or possible, but a new Gospel of Interpretation was indispensable. Anna Kingsford, being under illumination, was told as follows: –
“The days of the covenant of manifestation are passing away: the gospel of interpretation cometh.”
“There shall nothing new be told; but that which is ancient shall be interpreted.” (3)
“For the interpretation of hidden things is at hand; and men shall eat of the precious fruits of God.”
“They shall eat manna from heaven; and shall drink of the
“The Lord maketh all thinks new: He taketh away the letter to establish the spirit.” (4)
In the recognition, application, and adoption of the method of the interpretation set forth in The Perfect Way lies the best hope for the rehabilitation of religious faith and its reconciliation with science; for, “by exchanging the current materialistic, and therein idolatrous, presentation of divine things, for their spiritual and true one” – as does this book – “religion will be at once emancipated from the bondage of the letter and the form, and lifted to a level, inaccessible alike to the ravages of time, the assaults of scepticism, and the fluctuations of opinion, remaining, meanwhile, eternally verifiable by, and satisfying the
loftiest aspirations of, the soul, to which alone it is addressed.” (1)
From this it will be seen that Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland sought, not
the abolition of the
In her Presidential Address to the British Theosophical Society, on the 17th July, 1883, Anna Kingsford said: "We Theosophists understand by the word Divine, the hidden, interior, and primal quality of existence; the noumenal as opposed to the phenomenal. Our relations to the Divine we hold to be relations, not to the exterior, but to the within; not to that which is afar off, but to that which is at the heart of all Being, the very core and vital point of our own true self. To know ourselves is, we hold, to know the Divine. And, renouncing utterly the vulgar
exoteric, anthropomorphic conception of Deity, we renounce also the exoteric acceptation of all myths and legends associated therewith, replacing the shadow with the substance, the symbol by the significance, the quasi-historical by the ideal. (...) We proffer an Eirenicon to all Churches, claiming, that once the veil of symbolism is lifted from the divine face of Truth, all Churches are akin, and the basic doctrine of all is identical (...). Greek, Hermetic, Buddhist, Vedantist, (1) Christian – all these Lodges of the Mysteries are fundamentally one and identical in doctrine. (...) We hold that no single ecclesiastical creed is comprehensible by itself alone, uninterpreted by its predecessors and its contemporaries. Students, for example, of Christian theology will only learn to understand and to appreciate the true value and significance of the symbols familiar to them, by the study of Eastern Philosophy and Pagan Idealism. For Christianity is the heir of these, and she draws her best blood from their veins. And, forasmuch as all her great ancestors hid beneath their exoteric formulas and rites – themselves mere husks and shells to amuse the simple-minded – the esoteric or concealed verities reserved for the initiate, so also she reserves for earnest seekers and deep thinkers the true interior Mysteries which are one and eternal in all creeds and Churches from the foundation of
the world. This true, interior, transcendental meaning is the Real Presence, veiled in the Elements of the Divine Sacrament: the mystical Substance and Truth figured beneath the Bread and the Wine of the ancient Bacchic orgies, and now of our own Catholic Church. To the unwise, the unthinking, the superstitious, the gross Elements are the objects of the rite; to the initiate, the seer, the son of Hermes, they are but the outward and visible signs of that which is ever and of necessity, inward, spiritual, and occult.” (1)
That upon which Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland were bent, was, “not the support of any existing presentation or system, but the actual truth respecting the nature of existence, and this at first hand and independently of any existing system whatever.” (2) The line of thought introduced by The Perfect Way, therefore, “is not more friendly to the popular presentation of orthodox Church doctrine than to the fashionable agnosticism of the hour. It represents, indeed, a revolt against all conventional forms of belief, whether ecclesiastical or secular, and a conviction that the rehabilitation of religion on reasonable and scientific grounds is not only possible to the human mind, but is essential to human progress and development.” (3) “Of one thing,” said Anna Kingsford, “I am sure, and that is, that there is not, and cannot be, any half-way house between Atheism and that doctrine which I have.” (4)
It is necessary to understand what is meant by “Mysticism.” In its true sense “Mystery” denotes, not something
that transcends and contradicts reason and exalts authority in the place of understanding, but that which, being interior, hidden, and spiritual, requires the application of reason to a higher plane than the exterior, phenomenal, and sensible. (1) Mysticism is Substantialism, and is the opposite to Materialism. The true plane of religious belief is subjective and spiritual, not objective and physical. Mystics speak from within, which implies experience of that which is within, and not, as do the multitudes, from without, as spectators merely. Mystics are “those who, in virtue of their own spiritual maturity and development, have been enabled to transcend the outer and lower spheres of the consciousness, the material and the astral, and to attain to the inner and upper, the kingdom within of the soul and spirit, and who are able, therefore, to discern the principles of things, where others can discern things only, and thus know the realities of which things are the appearance.” (2) Edward Maitland says: “Divine Revelation is a reality, and so far from being supernatural in the sense ordinarily supposed, and contravening or transcending reason, it is a natural prerogative of man, and the crown and completion of reason; in that it represents the extension of reason to a region which, although divine, is within and belongs to man: a region to attain to the full consciousness of which is to become an instrument of perception competent for the infallible discernment of truth.” (3) “I have heard of Thee by the hearing
of the ear; but now mine eye seeth Thee,” said pious Job: (1) and it was as a Mystic that David spoke, when he said: “The uncertain and hidden things of Thy wisdom Thou hast made manifest unto me”; (2) and he called upon all those who dwelt “in the world” – or outer consciousness – to open their hearts unto Wisdom. (3)
“To discern the inner sense and true meaning of the terms enunciating Divine
knowledges – to recognise through the letter which
kills the spirit which gives life – requires the hearing ears and seeing eyes so
constantly insisted on by Jesus. ‘To these it is given
to know the mysteries of the
and fix the polaric point of thy mind in the central and substantial.” (1)
To a correspondent who ascribed to "Mysticism" in Christianity the failure – in so far as it has been a failure – of that religion, and the numerous abuses which have prevailed under its name, Edward Maitland replied: “It is not ‘Mysticism’ at all, but its negation and opposite materialism, that is responsible for the evils in question. The Founder, Himself, of Christianity, is credited by His biographers with positively asserting the mystical character of His doctrine. For the saying, ‘My kingdom is not of this world’, implies that it has no reference to persons or events which are physical and historical and of the senses, but deals only with those realities which are spiritual, eternal, and of the soul. And the mystic, and the mystic alone, is he who receives Christianity in this sense, and accordingly devotes himself to the culture, not of the things of sense, but of the things of the soul, using persons and events as but symbols and parables to express these. And it is precisely because mysticism has been dethroned in favour of materialism in things religious, and the worship of Principles superseded by that of Persons, and the Spirit ignored in favour of the Letter, that Christianity has been degraded to the monstrous fetish it has become. (...) Only by a return to mysticism is the true Christianity to be realised.” (2) The central and supreme object of mysticism is that which is the central and supreme element in man, namely, the Soul. The failure, also, to recognise the distinction between the mystical and the occult has been and is productive of a vast amount of confusion. “The two
terms are, it is true, etymologically identical, being respectively the Greek and the Latin for the same thing. But, actually, they differ, and the difference is one of first-rate importance, inasmuch as they refer to totally distinct spheres of being and activity. Occultism implies transcendental physics, and belongs to the domain of science. Mysticism implies transcendental metaphysics, and belongs to the domain of religion. Or, to put it yet more plainly, Occultism deals with the region which, being exterior to the soul, constitutes the soul's magnetic environment. And Mysticism deals with principles and processes which, being interior to the soul, determine its progress and state. (...) In the difference between the Occultist and the Mystic, we have the secret of the difference between the Adept and the Christ.” (1)
Anna Kingsford defined “Mysticism” as “experiential Theosophy.” She said:
“While Theosophy, in its broader signification, represents and includes the
entire range of Transcendentalism, the science of the Mystic is strictly and
spiritual. It is the science of the Saint rather than of the Adept, and
occupies itself immediately and concentratively with
the interests of the Soul, and the aspirations of the Heart. It takes scant
account of occult physics and dynamics, or of the intellectual ceremonials of
spiritual, and all its articles relate to interior conditions, principles, and processes. It is based upon experimental knowledge, not on authority, and its central figures are attributes, qualities, and sacraments (mysteries), not persons nor events, however great or remarkable. These latter, with all the material accessories and accidents they imply, are by the Mystic regarded as constituting the Vehicle, not the essential element of religion, since they are not, and cannot be, noumena or absolutes." (1)
Just as there were many who saw no necessity for the further
of the spiritual consciousness represented by Christianity, and resented the
introduction of that religion; so there are, and must be, many who similarly
object to the further unfoldment of Christianity,
represented by a movement in the direction of Mysticism.
It is necessary, therefore, again to emphasise the
fact that this book of “the Mysteries of the
it on the authority of an Order, such as the Sacerdotal.” (1) In her Presidential Address to the British Theosophical Society, before referred to, Anna Kingsford said: "Ours may be indeed the religion of the poor, but it cannot be that of the ignorant. For we disclaim alike authority and dogma, we appeal to the reason of humanity, and to educated and cultivated thought. Our system of doctrine does not rest upon a remote past; it is built upon no series of historical events assailable by modern criticism; it deals not with extraneous personalities or with arbitrary statements of dates, facts, and evidence; but it relates, instead, to the living to-day, and to the ever-present testimony of nature, of science, of thought, and of intuition. That which is exoteric and extraneous is the evanescent type, the historical ideal, the symbol, the form, and these are all in all to the unlearned. But that which is esoteric and interior is the permanent verity, the essential meaning, the thing signified; and to apprehend this, the mind must be reasonable and philosophic, and its method must be scientific and eclectic.” (2)
To one who objected to an appeal to the "reason of humanity," on the ground that " there is an infinity of truth beyond the reach of human reason," Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland replied as follows: – "As all things proceed from mind, mind is necessarily competent for the comprehension of all things. So that there is not ‘an infinity of truth beyond the reach of human reason.’ But all that that reason has to do is so to purify and expand itself as
to become one with the infinite reason which has produced all things. It is not that truth is not infinite, but that reason, when perfected, is also infinite. There is nothing that is incomprehensible or cannot be understood. The doctrine of the ‘incompetence of the human reason to comprehend the truth’ has ever been the stronghold of superstition, and worst enemy of the faith that is based on the ‘rock’ of the understanding, the only faith that ‘saves’. (1)
“I rarely” said Edward Maitland, “see any question raised which, for those who are spiritually intelligent, has not been adequately treated in The Perfect Way.” (2) It is “especially valuable for the genuine student of things spiritual, because, instead of representing foregone conclusions mechanically adopted or hastily formed, or conclusions rested on a narrow range of observation, or consisting of mere speculations and theories, or being a compilation of the opinions of others, it represents the actual experiences, perceptions, and recollections of its own writers, concerning orders of beings and spheres of activity at once including and transcending those familiar to Spiritualists, while its conclusions have the further advantage of coinciding with and receiving confirmation from those of the most advanced souls known to our planet, whether as formulated in the sacred mysteries of antiquity, or as since discerned by all who have, by ‘living the life,’ specially qualified themselves to be instruments of spiritual perception.” (3) In the case of Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland, that life consisted, “not in the search for phenomenal experiences – though these would sometimes occur –
but in the intense direction of the will and desire towards the highest, and an unchanging resolve to be satisfied with nothing less than the highest, namely, the inmost and central idea of the fact or doctrine to be interpreted; the motive also being the highest, namely, the emancipation, satisfaction, and benediction of souls, our own and those of others.” (1) Edward Maitland says: “I have continually insisted that, in order to have cognisance of things interior, mystic, spiritual, men must direct their minds forcibly and reverently to the region of the consciousness within themselves, leading meanwhile the life which accords with such high thought. (...) In order to appreciate the solution of any problem, man must first be conversant with the elements of that problem, and for this he must be sensitive and vitalised in that plane of the consciousness to which the problem is related.” (2)
In the Preface to the Second Edition, reference is made to certain “experiences” of which this book is the result. Since the publication of that Edition, Edward Maitland has related (shortly), in The Story of the New Gospel of Interpretation, (3) and (fully) in his great and final work, The Life of Anna Kingsford, (4) these experiences, and the following facts are derived mainly from these sources. In telling the tale of The Perfect Way, I have endeavoured as far as possible – and even at the risk of some repetition – to tell it in the words of the participants, so as to give to this Preface the additional value that must attach to ipsissima verba.
The collaboration between the late Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland, of which
this book was the chief product, (1) may be said to have commenced in
February, 1874, when Edward Maitland first visited Anna Kingsford at her
husband's rectory at Pontesbury, Salop, in
not from any Church or a section of any Church visible, terrestrial, and corrupt, but “from the Church invisible, celestial, and incorruptible.” (1) Prior to the publication of The Perfect Way, there was not any satisfactory work in existence enunciatory of the true spiritual interpretation of the allegories of the Bible, (2) but therein the key has been restored which unlocks the meaning of the symbols in which the doctrines of all the Churches, pre-Christian as well as Christian, has been at once concealed and revealed “to the elucidation of all the problems which have so sorely perplexed the world, and the verification, by actual experience, of the truth contained in them.” (3)
It is a remarkable fact that, precisely at the moment when Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland were entering upon the collaboration which had for its aim the restoration, interpretation, and vindication of the great mystical system of the West which underlay all its ancient religions and sacred Scriptures, Colonel Olcott and Madame Blavatsky – the founders of the Theosophical Society – were preparing,
on the other side of the Atlantic, to do precisely the same thing for the corresponding system of the East; and it is remarkable that the whole movement comprising these two events, had its rise precisely at the time for which it had been announced in numerous predictions from before the Christian Era to the latter Middle Age, and partook of precisely the characteristics then prescribed. (1)
Their method of procedure consisted in “the forcible projection of their mind's perceptive point inwards and upwards to its central and radiant point in search of the informing idea of any phenomenal fact, following meanwhile the mode of life which always has been found essential to
such intro-vision, one indispensable condition being the renunciation of flesh as food.” (1) The inward and upward direction of the mind, and the knowledges thereby received, constitute the Intuition, which faculty, Edward Maitland says, “consists in such polarisation – by means of intense concentration – of the consciousness to its innermost and highest point, as brings the man into open relations with his central, essential, permanent ego, the Soul, and makes him a participator in the knowledges concerning God and the universe which, in the long ages of its past as an individualised entirety, the Soul has acquired by experience. This condition constitutes for the subject of it Spiritual Illumination, and its products are Divine Knowledges. It may be attained both through the act of the man from below and of the Spirit from above. Either may take the initiative. But the Spirit must be willing. The Spirit may
coerce the man, withdrawing him from the most engrossing preoccupations, or no less vividly impressing him when sunk in slumber – according to the meaning of the expression, ‘He giveth to His beloved in sleep.’” (1)
In 1876, Edward Maitland was writing a book having for its text and title The Finding of Christ, the Completion of the Intuition, and the Restoration of the Ideal. “This Book,” Edward Maitland said, “I was allowed neither to complete nor yet to abandon. Through some compulsion, the source and reason of which I was at the time unable to discern, the writing of it was suspended; but only – as the event proved – to be resumed, in another form, after the course of education, experience, and unfoldment necessary for its due accomplishment.” (2)
Two years later, he was engrossed with a task he had set himself of elaborating out of his own consciousness a key to the interpretation especially of the initial chapters of Genesis, and on this behalf he had “written enough to make a moderate volume,” defining the principles on which, as it appeared to him, the Bible, in order to be a book of the Soul, must be constructed, and on which, therefore, it must be interpreted. (3) What he had written was not intended for publication. But, though he had consciously been assisted in his work by light from interior sources, it was still incomplete, and he “had come to a complete standstill, being unable to obtain a glimmer of a fresh idea.” (4) He had no books to help him, nor the knowledge of any which could help him. He did not speak of the direction of his thought, or of his difficulties to Anna
Kingsford (with whom he was then staying in Paris), partly because he wished to exhaust his own resources first, partly because he did not wish to take her mind off her medical studies in which she was then engrossed, (1) and partly because he knew that, unaided by illumination, she could not help him; and, at that time, she had not received any special illumination for many months. (2)
In this state of affairs, Edward Maitland says: “It was near midnight on June 4th, 1878, when, having retired to my sleeping-room, I stood by the open window gazing on the brilliantly starred sky, and the impulse came upon me to address a mental request for aid to the unseen agents of our past illuminations, whom we were wont to call the Gods. It was without any definite idea of a practical result that I did this, and rather as an expression of impatience and despair than of hope. ‘If I really am to carry on this work, I must have help. I have gone as far as I can go of myself, and must stop and give it up unless I receive correction, confirmation, or extension. For my own resources are exhausted.’ Having thus silently formulated my needs to the rulers of the starlit expanse, I went to bed.” (3) Two mornings after this, Anna Kingsford, not knowing anything of Edward Maitland's request, handed him a manuscript, containing about 800 words, written in pencil, saying it was something she had read in her sleep during the night and written down immediately on waking, so far as she could recollect it; and she wanted to know if it was anything that he wanted – for she hardly knew what it was about, having written it down so rapidly, and not having had time to read it over and think about it. “Eagerly perusing it,” Edward
Maitland says, “I found it to be a direct answer to my appeal, which for fullness and lucidity surpassed the most sanguine expectations I could have formed, and affording at once precisely the correction, the confirmation, and the amplification I had asked for.” (1) They read and re-read this wonderful instruction with amazement and delight, and found that it gave the key which related the initial chapters of Genesis to the whole Bible, even to the Apocalypse, and shed on the Bible a light which rendered it luminous from beginning to end, disclosing it as pervaded by a system of thought which, when once seen, was as obvious as it had previously been unsuspected. But, to their disappointment, the communication was incomplete, leaving off in the middle of a sentence. Anna Kingsford then told Edward Maitland that she had received this exposition under the following circumstances: she had dreamt that she was in an old-fashioned library, in which sat an elderly couple, at whose invitation she mounted a ladder and took down a book the appearance of which had attracted her. “On opening it, she found that the leaves consisted of plates of silver, thick and massive, and every page reflected herself, and that which she wrote down on waking was what she had read in this book. At the point where the exposition broke off, the writing had disappeared from the book and its pages became mirrors in which she beheld only her own image.” (2) They both longed for the exposition to be completed;
and, in due course, it was; for, two mornings afterwards, Anna Kingsford gave to Edward Maitland a further manuscript of a like character, and in continuation of the former one, the information contained in which, she said, she had received also in sleep – it having been “delivered as a lecture by a man in priestly garb to a numerous class of neophytes,” of whom she was one, “as they sat in an amphitheatre of white stone.” In her dream she had taken notes of this lecture. Her notes, of course, disappeared with her dream; but she was able, on waking, to reproduce the lecture from memory, when she wrote it down, her memory having been “abnormally enhanced” – for “the words presented themselves again to her as she wrote, and stood out luminously to view.” (1) Speaking of these Illuminations, Edward Maitland says: "We felt that we had indeed been permitted to tap – so to speak – a reservoir of boundless wisdom and knowledge, and were filled with joy and thankfulness accordingly, for we saw that we had obtained access to a sphere where all memories of the world's past were indelibly preserved and stored up, so that no part of its history, however remote and lost so far as men are concerned, is beyond recovery, and where also are the solutions of all problems.” (2)
Soon after this, Anna Kingsford had “a terrible illness, lasting several weeks, which threatened to break her down
altogether, and, for a long time, quite destroyed her psychic memory”; but, in the following September, her faculty began to recover its power, and, for the next year and a half, she continued to receive similar instructions, most of them being so timed as to come when, having exhausted his own power of interpretation, Edward Maitland stood in need of help, and this generally without Anna Kingsford knowing his need, and always without her being able to supply it had she known it – for, Edward Maitland says, ”the knowledges were far beyond us both, as also was the language in which they were expressed, and they equally excited her wonder and admiration and mine." (1)
In March 1880, Anna Kingsford found herself again in the Library where she had received the Chapter “Concerning the Interpretation of the Mystical Scriptures,” and was told by the same old gentleman who had received her on the former occasion, and whom she again saw, that “he desired to communicate with Mr. Maitland on a matter too delicate to be entrusted to a third person, but that he had a difficulty in doing so, as he (Mr. Maitland) had not been able to find his way to his (the old gentleman's) house.” Neither Anna Kingsford nor Edward Maitland, at that time, had any idea as to who the old gentleman was. Soon after this, Edward Maitland, while sitting at his work, “received a sudden vivid impression” to the effect that the book which he was writing – The Finding of Christ – which was then nearly complete, “had better be published anonymously, in order to prevent the consideration of it from being impaired by association with the name of any person.” Under date of 13th March, 1880, Edward Maitland, writing of this in
his Diary, says: "There was at the time a question about the book which exercised me, and does so still. It is not that of putting my name to it. I have had no idea of withholding that. It is as to how far I am at liberty to use our chapters on the interpretation of Scripture. I can neither assume the authorship of them, nor can I avow their derivation; and I have been greatly perplexed accordingly. The impression above mentioned was accompanied by another which caused me to exclaim to myself that there was but one person from whom it could justly proceed, this being Emanuel Swedenborg. For the impression was to the effect that he (Swedenborg) hoped by our means to correct and complete his work." Edward Maitland made no mention to Anna Kingsford of this occurrence, nor had either of them thought of connecting Swedenborg's name with the owner of the Library that Anna Kingsford had visited in sleep. “But" (Edward Maitland's Diary continues) "yesterday evening, having been prompted to sit for some writing, the instrument (1) wrote the words 'Mr. Maitland.' As this was the first time that I had ever been thus designated by it, or by any of our invisible visitants, and as it was also the name by which the occupant of the Library had spoken of me, I concluded that it was he who was writing, and, accordingly, inquired whether I was correct in my idea as to what it was that he wanted to say to me. In reply to this he wrote, ‘Not quite,’ and presently added, 'It is not considered desirable in our circle that you should produce the book in your name. I will suggest to Mrs. Kingsford what should be done. Good night. – E. S.” These being the initials of Swedenborg, I referred to Carpenter's Life of him, of which I have lately obtained a copy, and found that the specimen there given of his handwriting closely resembled that of our
message; while Mary (1) declared that the portrait of him in the book, which she now saw for the first time, was exactly that of the tenant of the Library, showing him as the same placid-looking, smooth-shaven, courtly man, she had described to me. In short, every particular corresponded, even to his formal and measured mode of address, making it impossible to doubt that it was indeed the famous Swedish seer himself who had quitted the earth-life close on a century ago, and that he was now interesting himself in the work of the New Gospel of Interpretation, of which he had been the forerunner.” (2)
Edward Maitland's Diary continues – “March 14th – This evening Swedenborg came to us again, and, in reference to the change of plans recommended to me, wrote: (3) ‘You may probably have a good deal of recasting to do; but do not let that discourage you. You will be repaid.
In fact, the book
should not see the light until the campaign has been opened at Mrs. Kingsford's
house by a few parlour addresses from her lips. But do
not be too kind to the Christians.' On this we asked what precisely he meant by
this caution, when he wrote: 'I use the word in its popular, not in its eclectic
sense. You are emphatically Perfectionists. Since I have had my library, I have
occupied myself much with pre-Nazarene eclecticism; and I find it much richer
and more profound than that of the comparatively uncultivated
On the night of 22nd March, 1880, Anna Kingsford dreamt that she and Edward Maitland had a conversation with Swedenborg, who said: "The general plan of your book is good, but you are recommended to avoid identifying the writer with the author of any former work. (2) Use the first personal pronoun in writing if this facilitates the expression, and as in effect you have used it largely. Let that form stand, but avoid recognition as Edward Maitland. You are recommended to introduce a chapter on the prophetic faculty as the product of Memory, and to cite such passages as occur to you in support of this doctrine. Let this chapter or paragraph introduce the citations you give from the prophetic explanations of the esoteric books of the Bible, and quote them as fragmentary specimens of this recollection occurring to one now a woman, but formerly an Initiate, who is beginning to recover this power by slow degrees." (3)
The question was, how best to make known to the World the Truth of which they were the Guardians – their Holy
Evangel? Their idea, of which their Illuminators approved, was to begin their campaign with some lectures, but on the 20th December, 1880, while under Illumination, Anna Kingsford said: "My Genius says that nothing of much importance can be done by us before the Spring, on account of the state of the Earth's magnetic currents. (1) So that we must work on without being disappointed at the smallness of the results. They repeat several times that we must wait till the Spring. In the meantime we should seek publicity, but must depend on ourselves, and make ourselves known in our own way. (2)
On the night of the 13th January, 1881, Anna Kingsford, in her sleep, had a conversation with one whom she “recognised as William Lilly, the Astrologer,” who had their “Bible of Interpretation,” which he refused to communicate to others. On her asking him the reason for his refusal, fixing his eyes upon her intently, he replied, “I will communicate them” (these Scriptures), “when I can find Seven Men who for forty days have tasted no flesh, whose hands have shed no blood, and whose tongues have tasted of none.” (3)
Shortly after this, Anna Kingsford, speaking under Illumination, said: "It seems that we cannot do anything to facilitate the reception of the new Revelation, but my Genius wants me to lecture during the coming season. (...) We may tell all we know, but only to the persons of the kind described in my interview with Lilly. If we attempt to speak to others, it will be made impossible for us; we
stopped. (1) This prohibition applies only to the Greater Mysteries. We
may speak to others of things historical or interpretative, such as explain or
reconcile the religions. He says, I must not lecture under my own name.”
Subsequently, she said: “My Genius tells me that my addresses are to begin at
drawing-room meetings, where, as they will be private, there will be no need to
conceal my name. It is otherwise in the case of public assemblies, lectures, and
publications. The name must be suppressed for the sake of husband and relatives,
and a synonym or an assumed name used. (...) My lectures are to begin with the
beginning of our work and the earlier truths given to us. The Greater Mysteries
are to be reserved until we have a circle of pure livers, in number, if even, of
40, 12, or 10; and, if uneven, of 9, 7, 5, or
Edward Maitland says: “In such manner was knowledge poured in upon us, in a steady and abundant stream, until the time came when it was necessary to prepare for the promulgation which, by accomplishing the doom of the 'evil and adulterous generation,' which has been in possession ever since the Fall, was to be the 'end of the world' as it has hitherto been; and the inauguration of that new and better order of things variously implied in Scripture under the images of the reign of Michael, the fall of Lucifer and Satan, the breaking of the seals and opening of the books, the budding of the fig-tree, the resurrection and
ascent of the two witnesses, the flight of the angel in mid-heaven having an eternal gospel to proclaim, the exaltation and illumination of the woman, the battle of Armageddon, the second coming of Christ, and the revelation and destruction of ‘that wicked one,’ the controlling evil spirit of the world's selfish sacrificial system in Church, State, and Society, and the coming of the Kingdom of God with power, the whole stupendous program of which was to be accomplished by the simple means of a new ‘Gospel of Interpretation,’ such as was being vouchsafed to us, and the time for the promulgation of which was now at hand.” (1)
“The materials for our coming lectures were in our possession and in abundance, and there was no doubt that more would be forthcoming as we proceeded with the preparation of them ; but the task was a vast one, and not only was the time at our disposal short, if we were to take advantage (as we proposed) of the London season – for it was no ordinary quality of workmanship that would serve as the fitting expression for the teaching committed to us – but our own physical condition was still such that, had we only ourselves to trust to, we should have despaired of success. The plan in view comprised the writing and delivery of nine compendious lectures in about as many weeks, and while Mary's health was as variable as ever, comprising rapid alternations from the summits of spiritual insight and power to the lowest depths of disability from pain and weakness, mine – though the ‘broken link in the golden chain' had been repaired, as promised, as the Spring advanced and the sun waxed in strength – showed but little abatement of the physical distress, which seemed to have become chronic, and, if curable at all, to require a term of
than of weeks or months, and this combined with absolute cessation of mental
work. So deep-seated were the effects of the nervous strain and depletion to
which I had been subjected during the years passed in
“The manner of our collaboration in The Perfect Way – for such was the title determined on – was in this wise. Having arranged the order of the exposition and ascertained the number of its main sections, we selected each the subjects which we felt the best able to treat, but not with any intention of confining ourselves exclusively to the subjects thus chosen. It was necessary that our collaboration be particular as well as general, and extend to every sentence and detail, however minute, so that no single word go forth which did not represent the full light of our combined perception. Accordingly, whatever was written by either of us was passed to the other to be dealt with freely, and then passed back again to be similarly dealt with anew – a process the result of which was sometimes the complete disappearance of the original draft. Not that there was anything tentative about the doctrine to be expounded. We were both masters of that. The question was of selection, arrangement, and expression, and the restriction of the exposition to the essential and fundamental, the primary and the interior, to the exclusion of the accidental and superficial, the secondary and the exterior. Thus seeking always inwards and upwards to the highest, resolved to be content with nothing short of the highest, it would sometimes happen that what had at first presented itself would vanish in favour of something far superior, of which the former had been the suggestion only, essentially identical, but connoting rather an exterior orbit of the systems of which the latter was the true centre. This was a process which frequently reminded me of the motto of my once favourite pastime, archery – for proficiency in
which I had gained the champion's medal in 1878 – the phrase ‘Centrum Pete,’ and led me to see in that art a training for the lofty work in store for me, while Mary would remark that it was like mounting to a height by climbing alternately on one another's shoulders. And sometimes what we had thus conjointly written would serve as a platform from which she would spring, as it were, into the infinite, so exalted would be the truth suggested, which from such level she was able to discern.
“All that portion of the work which consisted in selecting and arranging the
teachings received fell to me, Mary desiring rather to reserve herself for the
fresh illuminations which might be in store as we proceeded. (1)
And, moreover, I was the more familiar of the two with what had been received,
having, as their copyist, committed them largely to memory, while for her they
had become somewhat dimmed. Among the sources of my satisfaction, while thus
engaged, was the discovery that much of what I had written while in
When the time came for the delivery of the lectures, there was no lack of persons who were willing and eager to attend them; but, owing chiefly to the conditions, to which reference has been made, imposed on them, Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland were much exercised about the composition of their audience. Finally, an audience of more than average intelligence and culture of the kind required for the appreciation of the message to be delivered was
selected. Among those present, there were several whose names are well known as those of persons who have been leaders in the spiritual movement of the age. (1)
The lectures, which were largely written from week to week while in actual course of delivery, were, in the months of May, June, and July, 1881, delivered by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland in a “little drawing-room” at No.11 Chapel Street, Park Lane, London, (2) each lecture being followed by a discussion, and a frank and marked recognition was shown of the value and beauty of the teachings received by them.
The lectures having been duly delivered, the remainder of the year was spent in preparing them for publication. The revision, first of the text and next of the proofs, was "a task of infinite toil" to them both; but they were “all the time conscious of close supervision.” (3) They were anxious to complete the book in time for it to be published during the year 1881, but, owing partly to the “constant reception of fresh points of light, which required to be added in,” (4) they were unable to do it. The other hindering cause was of a very different nature. Edward Maitland says: "We were determined that the printer's part of the work should be as perfect as our own, and it was as if there was
a no less resolute endeavour on the other side to baffle us, so persistent were the compositors in making fresh mistakes when in the act of correcting previous ones. Never, probably, was there a book which required so many revises. It seemed to us that a ‘printer's devil’ of exceptional malignance had been charged to baffle and spoil our work.” (1)
The cover of the book was designed by Anna Kingsford. It had "in the centre a figure of the ‘woman clothed with the sun,’ to denote the Soul and her full illumination by the Spirit; at the corners the symbols of the four evangelists and elemental divinities, which signify the four divisions of existence, both within man and without him; and round the borders the texts, ‘The Path of the Just is as the shining Light, that shineth more and more unto the Perfect Day!’ and ‘Arise, shine, for thy Light is come, and the Glory of the Lord is risen upon thee!’ Mary was very proud of this design. (…) The design on the back cover was the symbol of the double triangle, interlaced, which denotes the interlinking of the worlds unmanifest and manifest; and a monogram composed of the letters A, E, and M, being the initials of our Christian names and that of Lady Caithness, which was added to our own in token of her part in the enterprise.” (2)
On the 4th November, 1881, Anna Kingsford, writing to Lady Caithness, said: “I doubt not that Mr. M. keeps you ‘posted up’ in the progress of the Book, which we are doing our utmost to get out as a Christmas present to the world. You can have no idea what a labour it has been, and, I may say, still is: for not only has it been exceedingly difficult to compress into moderate dimensions, and to express clearly in popular language, the enormous mass of truth we have to put forth, but we have also found it necessary to elucidate the text by means of woodcuts, the designing, copying, and perfecting of which, having been exclusively assigned to me, have occupied a considerable amount of time. The Triangle, which occupies so large a part in your own symbolic system of thought, is now newly exemplified in the threefold united effort by means of which our book is to be introduced to the world. And it seems to be somewhat significant that the trio thus chosen represents, respectively, three distinct powers, with none of which we could have dispensed. (...) As regards the Book, I am anxious only that it should become known. Once known, I am confident of its success on every plane. (...) I regard the prophecy concerning this year as already fulfilled in the production of our book, which will, for the first time in the world's history, ‘make straight the way of the Lord,’ – the Perfect Way.” (1)
The work accomplished in the production of The Perfect Way, was, Edward Maitland says, “accomplished only at that maximum cost, physical, mental, and other, which seemed to be the appointed condition of all our work; and,
indeed, it sometimes seemed as if the two things were in inverse ratio to each other, and that the greater the cost and suffering, the greater the results to the work, and the more the sowing had been in tears, the more the reaping was in joy”: (1) but, he says, “Since we had neither sought nor obtained the revelation in it for our own exclusive benefit – but for the world's salvation from the abyss of Materialism and Negation in which it was being rapidly engulfed – we were prepared and ready to undertake it at any sacrifice to ourselves.” (2)
The Perfect Way was actually published in February, 1882; and, in accordance with the directions given to the Writers, it was published anonymously; and it was “bound in the nearest colour to purple that was to be had, namely, a peacock blue,” in order – while symbolically including the Seven Spirits of God – to combine Anna Kingsford's and Edward Maitland's own colours, the red and the blue. (3)
On the publication of the book, a copy was sent to – among others – the Editor of The Theosophist, for review; Anna Kingsford, at the same time, but without disclosing her name, writing to Madame Blavatsky (who was then known to her only by repute) a letter as follows: –
To Madame Blavatsky.
“Madam, – It is probable that about the same time that this letter reaches your hands, you will receive, addressed to the Editors of The Theosophist, a book entitled The Perfect Way.
“The history of the production of that book is so strange that, feeling you may not improbably be at a loss to account for its raison d’être, I write you these lines. Do not think it is the work of one (or of more than one) versed in any occult literature, or having been initiated into any occult Society. I, who write to you, am the recipient of all it contains, but none of these things have been taught me by men, nor have I anywhere read them. But now that the book sees the light, I am reading The Theosophist and find in its pages a perfect agreement with all that I have been shown. When I say “shown,” do not suppose that I have any dealings with “spirits.” I am no “medium” nor have I any mediumistic “powers.” Neither can I produce “raps” nor “writing” nor signs of any kind, nor do I desire these things. But for twelve years I have abstained from all flesh meats, and have desired, as much as is possible to me, to do the Divine Will. Not wholly have I succeeded, for the way of my path is not an easy one, nor a level, and both the “world” and the “flesh” are against me. But I think I have at least seen clearly, and never have I transgressed when I plainly understood.
“It would not have been in my mind to write thus to you, but that I find in The
Theosophist for February (on p. 114), certain words concerning
"Initiates" which cause me to desire you should know something of the genesis of
the book of which I have spoken. I have said that all that
book contains came forth from my heart and lips. Yet I know nothing of your
literature, – and between you and me there is nevertheless perfect agreement and
accord. Steadily, and not once nor twice, have I refused invitations to join the
Theosophical Society in
“See then, that it is possible to be initiated of one’s own interior Spirit, through whom the voice of the Gods speaks to a man, if but his life be pure and free from lust. You, who are initiated, will know whether I have the truth. There is more – far more – that I am straitly forbidden to publish. If, in what is written, there be any error, that is the fault of the writer or of the seer, but not of that which was seen.
“Madam; I pray you to ask your Brothers (1) whether I have the truth. Tell them; if they need to be told, how it came to me, and whence I obtained it; and on what conditions.
“You are doing a splendid work in
“The first knowledge I had of you was from the Author of The Occult World, (2)
who came to see me in
‘I wish, that is, in my outer will, to tell you certain things which would prove to you that I know, and that I have seen and do see. But if I should tell these things, or should interiorly desire to tell them, either they could not be told, or I should suddenly cease to know them.
‘Do me the favour to destroy this letter. But forget not to show the book of which I speak to your Chiefs, and to ask that question.
“You will know the sign on this paper: – who are the Lady and the Child and the Seven Doves. (3)
“Yours, Madam, with great respect and admiration:
“One of the Writers of The
The book received a reception that its Writers, while not taken by surprise, could hardly have looked for, as the following extracts from two letters, written by Anna Kingsford to Lady Caithness, soon after its publication, show. “Strange indeed it would be,” she said, “if our Book should find universal acceptation in a world which rejected Christ! But those who do recognise our teachings do so not warmly only, but enthusiastically,” (1) and, in a further letter written to the same lady, after referring to the review of the book which had then recently appeared in The Theosophist, and which amounted to a misrepresentation “so gross and palpable” that she found it hard to believe that it had been committed innocently, she said: “After all this reviewing and fault-finding on the part of critics having but a third of the knowledge which has been given to us, there is not a line in The Perfect Way which I would alter were the book to be reprinted. (...) I have no fear that the Immortals will deceive me, nor am I in the least disconcerted by adverse criticism. That others do not see, and cannot understand, proves only how greatly our work is needed in the world, and how far it surpasses all minor labours and teaching. Let no one, dear friend, shake your constant mind from the great doctrines which we have of the Holy Powers themselves. For all other teaching, save that which is based on Justice, shall come to nothing. ‘The just Lord loveth justice; His countenance beholdeth the thing that is just.’ Try all the doctrine of The Perfect Way by this supreme test, and see if it does not in all things satisfy and fulfill it as does no other under the sun. All are broken lights, – lights indeed, but fragmentary merely; one teaching including some stray beams, and others more. But to us
the Gods have given without measure, a perfect and glorious orb of complete glory, and if we be but faithful, there is nothing we may not know.” (1)
Edward Maitland, writing at a subsequent period, summed up the position as follows. He says: “Had we been sanguine about the reception of this book by the general press, secular or religious, the event would have been a grievous disappointment, but we were spared this by our knowledge of the world's spiritual state. With a press one half of which was inveterately Sadducee, and the other half inveterately Sacerdotal and wedded to traditions which make the Word of God as revealed by the pure intuition of none effect, and with the spiritual consciousness flesh-eaten out of existence, the audience to which we appealed had yet to be created. In most of the few cases where our book was valued at all, we were taunted with superstition for believing in a spiritual world! As if the real superstition was not the worship of matter, and the crediting of it with being the substance of the universe.” (2)
On the other hand, The Perfect Way was quickly recognised and enthusiastically welcomed by many of the profoundest students and most advanced souls of the time, irrespective of creed, nationality, or race, as being a full and faithful exposition of the nature of existence such as had never before been given to the world, and “as representing the recovery, under celestial guidance, of the original revelation
which constituted the Gnosis, or Knowledge, which belonged to the sacred mysteries of antiquity, and of which their various Scriptures and religions were expressions, and with the taking away and withholding of the key to which Jesus so bitterly reproached, in the ecclesiasticism of His time, that of all time.” (1) To name a few only of those who received the Revelation with gladness. Dr. Ernst Gryzanowsky – who has been described as “a man of the rarest order of intelligence and width of culture” – after reading The Perfect Way, wrote to Edward Maitland: “I fully acknowledge the fundamental truths of your philosophy, which is, without a doubt, the noblest and purest form of spiritualism I have yet met with. It is, at the same time, the most comprehensive form of spiritualism, containing or implying all that is worth having in the so-called mystic lore of ancient and modern times.” (2) Lady Caithness, after reading the book, wrote of it: “I have got another Bible,” and “I can literally read no other book now,” and she declared it to be “the most complete Revelation, certainly, that has yet been given to man on this Planet (3) and she described it as “that most admirable book which embodies the latest, highest, and most important revelations given to humanity, constituting a new Gospel which thousands would thankfully receive could the work in question be brought to their notice; for thousands are at this time literally starving for want of the spiritual food adequate to the needs of their present spiritual growth”; and she said, “I have no hesitation whatever in pronouncing it to be the new Gospel of Interpretation of the Mysteries
of God kept secret from the beginning.” (1) “It is a noble book, breathing inspiration in every word.” (2) The late Reverend G.J.R. Ouseley, M.A., who, at one time, was a priest in the Catholic Apostolic Church, but who afterwards joined the Roman Catholic Church, and who was well known as a Christian Mystic and as having considerable knowledge of occult things, said of The Perfect Way that it was “the brightest and best of all revelations that had ever been given to the world,” and that “the Church of the future would be the Church of The Perfect Way”; (3) and, when writing of the book shortly after its publication, he described it as “that most wonderful of all books which have appeared since the beginning of the ‘Christian Era,’ – a book that no student can be without if he will know the truth on these matters. It furnishes us with a master-key to the phenomena which so perplex the minds of inquirers, and it gives a system of which the like has not been for eighteen centuries. Swedenborg was great indeed, but here we find a greater, without the prolixity and voluminousness of the Swedish seer and with a clearness which is wanting in his writings.” (4)
In May, 1886, Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland were “very busy getting ready the revised edition of The Perfect Way,” which was to contain “a new lecture and many alterations and improvements”; (5) and, in the following October, it was in the press; but, owing to fresh matter
which had to be included in it having been imparted to Anna Kingsford at the last moment, the publication was delayed until the following January. (1) The alterations involved "no change or withdrawal of doctrine, but only extension of scope, amplification of statement, or modification of expression.” (2) As it was impossible for Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland to keep their names as the writers of the book secret, the Second (revised) Edition was not, like the First Edition, published anonymously. The new lecture referred to was Lecture V., on “The Nature and Constitution of the Ego,” which was written by Edward Maitland – almost entirely from revelations received by Anna Kingsford – in substitution for the corresponding lecture on "The Constitution of Existence: Its Nature and Unity,” in the First Edition. (3)
Anna Kingsford did not live to see the publication of the Third Edition of The Perfect Way but, a few weeks before her death, which took place in her forty-second year, on the 22nd February, 1888, she read the book for the last time – for she “gloried in it” to the end, and considered it "the supreme privilege of her life to have been a sharer in its production”; (4) and, on her death-bed, “she received from time to time Illuminations which she described rapturously as being most glorious, confirming and amplifying” all that she and Edward Maitland had been taught, and “disclosing vista after vista of the divinest truth and beauty beyond.” But to her great regret, she was then too weak
the particulars so as to tell Edward Maitland or to write them down. She was,
nevertheless, able, partly by the light of these Illuminations, to give to
Edward Maitland some suggestions for adoption in the next Edition when the time
should come for issuing a new Edition. (1) The most important, of these
suggestions was with reference to paragraphs 27-41 inclusive of Lecture VIII.,
which she considered were “capable of improvement chiefly by means of
amplification and extension”; and, being desirous only of leaving the book in
the highest state of perfection, she advised that “in order to obtain the space
requisite for the new matter – the book being stereotyped – several pages –
about eighteen – be omitted. Not that she regarded their contents in any way as
erroneous, but she considered the proposed new matter as of superior value.” (2)
Edward Maitland undertook, and regarded it as “a sacred duty” to carry out Anna
Kingsford's last wishes; (3) and, after her death, he revised
Perfect Way accordingly and finally settled the text of the book; and
the Third Edition, so revised and settled, was published in
were “made in accordance with Mrs. Kingsford's last wishes and suggestions.”
A little over a year after Anna Kingsford's death, when Edward Maitland was considering the publication of “a cheap edition” of The Perfect Way, he received from her a message that she “fully approved the idea” (1) showing
thereby her continued interest in and desire to make generally known the teaching of the Book which during her life she had so greatly prized.
I have regarded the text of The Perfect Way, as finally settled by Edward Maitland, as sacred; and the nine lectures which comprise the present Edition are a reprint of the nine lectures which comprised the Third Edition. Nothing has been added to and nothing has been abstracted from these lectures, or any of them. In the Appendices to the present Edition, I have, as already mentioned, included Lecture No. V. of the First Edition (which in the following Editions was superseded by the present Lecture No. V.), and paragraphs 27-41 of Lecture No. VIII. of the Second Edition (which in the Third Edition were superseded by the corresponding paragraphs of the present Lecture No. VIII.), and I have included some joint letters on “The Perfect Way and its Critics,” which were written by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland to The Theosophist and to Light respectively, as being of great interest and value. The addition of this new matter has made it impossible to retain the Appendices – which consisted of some of Anna Kingsford's Illuminations or portions thereof – to the Third and prior Editions; but, as all these Illuminations are included in Clothed With the Sun, which was published in 1889, their omission is of no consequence. I have also included in the present Edition the ten illustrations (“plates”) that were in the First Edition, three only of which were in the Second Edition, and none of which were
in the Third Edition. The present Edition, with the above-mentioned additions, is thus a complete edition of The Perfect Way, comprising, as it does, all the lectures and illustrations that have been included in the first three Editions.
Anna Kingsford's share in writing The Perfect Way, alone, and apart from her other writings, has gained for her the reputation of being “a seer and prophet of unsurpassed lucidity and inspiration,” (1) for, as has been shown, the doctrine of The Perfect Way was received not from any “extraneous or obsessing spirit or control”; nor, indeed, from any outside source whatever, but from the divine and interior spirit; and it was discovered only subsequently that the revelation thus made was not new, but was contained and formulated in the Hebrew Kabala, in Hindu philosophy, and not less clearly in the mysteries of Egypt and Greece. (2)
Regarding the process by which the revelation represented by The Perfect Way came to Anna Kingsford – Edward Maitland was by their illuminators told that the method was “entirely interior.” Anna Kingsford was “not
a medium,“ nor was she even “a seer” as some would understand the word; they said: “She is a prophet. By this we mean that all that she has ever written, or will write, is from within, and not from without. She knows; she is not told. Hers is an old, old spirit. (...) Do not think that spirits other than her own are to be credited with the authorship of the new Gospel.” (1) The Soul is the one organ possessed by us that is competent for the apprehension, comprehension, and reception of God, (2) and The Perfect Way constitutes nothing less than a re-delivery from or through the Soul – the source whence it originally came – of that Divine Gnosis, to which reference has been made, which underlay and controlled all the world's great Religions and Bibles, and by the aid of which alone these can be interpreted. And this was given to Anna Kingsford "not in suggestions and ideas only, but in language clear, precise, and exquisite, wholly beyond her own power of composition, and accompanied by dramatic experiences of the most striking kind.” (3) For just as the original and ancient Revelation was derived from or through the divine part of man's nature, so the recovery of it was thence derived, that part of his nature being always accessible to those who lead the requisite life, and direct the force of their minds inwards and upwards in search of it. The method of Divine Revelation is always the same, namely,
the soul of the recipient operating under spiritual illumination. (1) And not only was this revelation not due to “guides” in the ordinary sense, it was not – as some have supposed – made solely to or through Anna Kingsford. “It was,” said Edward Maitland, “made to us both, and this, not by extraneous spirits, but by our own souls directly and through our own consciousnesses.” (2) For “Divine Revelation consists in the communication of its knowledges by the soul to its exterior personality,” and the ascription of Divine Revelation to “a voice from Heaven” is a true ascription; because “the Heaven from which the voice speaks is that of the Kingdom within the soul; and the voice is that of the Divine Spirit speaking from the holy of holies of this kingdom.” (3) The Perfect Way, therefore, represents “the attainment of communion with the innermost and highest in man himself, his own Central and Divine Spirit, the God within, than whom there is no higher source accessible of light and life, seeing that the God within is one with the God without, and that only through the God within can the God without be approached.” (4) Edward Maitland says: "The revelation made to us was identical in source, method, and kind with that delivered to the inspired of old, and of which the Bible is the chief surviving depository, being described by the Rabbins of the Kabbala as given by God to Adam in Paradise, and to Moses on Sinai, expressions which denote the state of illumination. (5)
Respecting the nature and range of the marvelous
faculty by the possession of which Anna Kingsford was so far removed from the category of ordinary “mediums” and inquirers into esoteric science, the following passage (written by Edward Maitland) from a pamphlet-letter, dated 18th March 1884, addressed by her and Edward Maitland to the Fellows of the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society, is of considerable interest and importance. Edward Maitland says: “This, she wishes it to be clearly understood, is not an occult faculty in the common acceptation of the term. It involves no abnormal powers voluntarily directed, or acquaintance with any method requiring to be imparted by initiation of the secondary intellectual principles. Nor, again, does the condition in which it is exercised resemble the trance of ordinary clairvoyance. She is, therefore, neither a 'trained occultist' nor a natural clairvoyante. The faculty she possesses is one with which she was born, and it has been developed by a fourteen years' abstinence from flesh-food, and by a series of experiences and a manner of life not altogether at first the result of choice. Students of the Platonic Philosophy will recognise the condition in question as one of illumination affecting the soul rather than the mind. It is believed by her to be the result of psychic reminiscence, through which the gnosis acquired by initiation in a previous birth is revived and unfolded to her perception. (1) She has strong
reason for the conviction that the school, in virtue of her initiation into which these illuminations occur, was the Greco-Egyptian. The state during which they present themselves is one of intense and breathless concentration. The whole outer personality appears to be superseded and transcended, and knowledges are vividly borne in on the interior understanding as a vision, often of symbolic character. It has been shown by means of these very illuminations that this condition, described as the result of psychic reminiscence, is, in her, exceptionally developed in consequence of the period now reached by her interior selfhood in its planetary evolution. Hers is represented to be an advanced Ego, which, having returned to definite existence more rapidly and persistently than is the normal case, has thus got ahead of the race generally, and thereby developed a faculty which will in time be attainable by all souls who have been really initiated in a former birth. But this reminiscence is possible only in respect of the religious gnosis dealing with principles and metaphysical truth, not in respect of that which, being intellectual and dealing with the condition and exercise of occult power, affects the physiological memory, and cannot be transferred from one birth to another in the manner described.” (1)
In a letter dated 11th March, 1884, to Lady Caithness, Anna Kingsford, referring to her faculty, says: “I have no occult powers whatever, and have never laid claim to them. Neither am I, in the ordinary sense of the word, a clairvoyante. I am simply a ‘prophetess’ – one who sees and knows intuitively, and not by the exercise of any trained faculty. All that I receive comes to me by ‘Illumination,’ as to Proclus, to lamblichus, to all those who follow the
Platonic method. And this ‘gift’ (1) was born with me, and has been developed by a special course and rule of life. It is, I am told, the result of a former initiation in a past birth, and the reason that I am enabled to profit by it is, that I am an ‘old spirit’ having, by ‘thirst of life,’ pushed myself on to a point of spiritual evolution somewhat in advance of the rest of my race, but to which all can attain in time who have really been once initiated. My initiation was Greco-Egyptian, and therefore I recall the truth primarily in the language and after the method of the Bacchic mysteries, which are indeed, as you know, the immediate source and pattern of the mysteries of the Catholic Christian Church.” (2)
Edward Maitland died on the 2nd October, 1897, at the
close of his seventy-third year, a little more than nine years after the death of his colleague.
Such is the history of The Perfect Way which has restored to the world the long lost system, which alone has ever been able to grapple with and overcome the "dragon" of Materialism, and which is none other than the Esoteric Christianity of the Catholic Church, (1) and it has thus afforded a full demonstration of the truth of that system, inasmuch as the knowledges contained in it were recovered, as they alone could be recovered, by means of the Intuition, and in the pages of which, Edward Maitland said, “the very life-blood of our souls” was “shed for the world’s redemption.” (2) Without doubt, The Perfect Way “is destined largely to control the faith, worship, and practice of the future.” (3) In a letter dated 5th April, 1882, to Lady Caithness, Anna Kingsford says: "Of one thing I
am sure; which is, that the Doctrine of which our Book is the first Apostle will sooner or later become the headstone of the corner; for it is the only doctrine capable of explaining the otherwise insoluble enigmas of the universe, and embodying a philosophy in which are united all the elements of every divine revelation vouchsafed to mankind. By it Christian and Buddhist, Parsee and Hebrew, Greek and Egyptian, are brought into harmony, and shown to be only so many different dialects of one Catholic language. The Perfect Way is thus an eirenicon, and ‘the Peace-maker is the Child of God.’” (1)
As the faculty employed by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland in the production of The Perfect Way was the Intuition operating under Spiritual Illumination, the doctrine of The Perfect Way cannot be regarded as mere speculation, for "the intuition is not a creative, but a perceptive and recollective faculty; (2) and, therefore, its results are not surmises or opinions, but knowledges, inasmuch as they are
formulated in actual experience acquired” (by the Soul) “either in the present or in past lives." (1) Edward Maitland says that the doctrine is no mere matter of opinion, but truth as clear, as certain, as impossible to be otherwise, as the demonstration of any mathematical proposition: so that any divergence from it must represent false teaching:" (2) for the truths disclosed to Anna Kingsford are "every whit as necessary and self-evident to the spiritual apprehension as those of Geometry to the intellectual.” (3) But while Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland found that the system given to them was “an infallible touchstone” whereby to test all others, (4) they did not accept it on the strength of their having been told it, – for, as Edward Maitland says, "one does not know a thing for being told it"; nor did they accept it on the strength of the manner of its communication. They accepted it on the strength of their recognising and discerning it as necessary truth, founded in the nature of existence, and incapable of being otherwise, just as two and two are incapable of being anything but four. And, it was precisely because they spoke of their own personal knowledge, and not from hearsay, that they were not open to the charge of dogmatism any more than is a person who describes a country he has visited and seen with his own eyes. (5) And for this reason they did not rest their teaching on authority – whether of Book, Person, Order, Institution, Tradition, or Convention – but relied
the strength of experience, and (as stated in the Preface to the First Edition) appealed to the understanding as the
basis of belief. (1) The
“Blessed is the man that shall meditate in wisdom,
And that shall discourse by his understanding.
He that considereth her ways in his heart
Shall also have knowledge in her secrets.
Go forth after her as one that tracketh,
And lie in wait in her ways.
He that prieth in at her windows
Shall also hearken at her doors.
He that lodgeth close to her house
Shall also fasten a nail in her walls.
He shall pitch his tent nigh at hand to her,
And shall lodge in a lodging where good things are.
He shall set his children under her shelter,
And shall rest under her branches.
By her he shall be covered from heat,
And shall lodge in her glory.
He that feareth the Lord will do this;
And he that hath possession of the law will obey her.
And as a mother shall she meet him,
And receive him as a wife married in her virginity.
With bread of understanding shall she feed him,
And give him water of wisdom to drink.
He shall be stayed upon her, and shall not be moved;
And shall rely upon her, and shall not be confounded.
And she shall exalt him above his neighbours;
And in the midst of the congregation shall she open his mouth.
He shall inherit joy, and a crown of gladness,
And an everlasting name.
Foolish men shall not obtain her;
And sinners shall not see her.
She is far from pride;
And liars shall not remember her.
* * * * * * *
Before man is life and death;
And whichsoever he liketh, it shall be given him." (1)
In conclusion, I ask the reader to consider the following passage, taken from the Christian Scriptures, (2) in conjunction with the interpretation put upon it by Anna Kingsford: –
“And it came to pass that when the multitudes pressed upon Him to hear the Word of God, He stood by the Lake of Genesareth, and He saw two ships standing by the Lake; but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And going into one of the ships that was Simon's, He desired him to draw back a little from the land. And sitting, He taught the multitudes out of the ship. Now when He had ceased to speak, He said to Simon: Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering, said to Him: Master,
we have laboured all the night, and have taken nothing: but at Thy word I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes, and their net broke. And they beckoned to their partners who were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they were almost sinking. Which, when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus's knees, saying: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was wholly astonished, and all who were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken. And so were also James and John the sons of Zebedee, who were Simon's partners. And Jesus saith to Simon: Fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men.”
Anna Kingsford, writing as “a Toiler in the Ship of Peter,” says: –
“In this Parable the Christ standing up, by the water-side is the Logos, the
Word of God, and the Lake by which he stands is the Psychic Element, the Soul of
the Macrocosm and Microcosm (Genesareth, the
“And the Christ, the Word, entered into one of them, which was Peter's, and
desired him to thrust out a little from the land. The ship into which the
Christian Logos thus entered at its outset was undoubtedly the
"Peter is the universally accepted representative of the Genius of Rome. Peter's ship is the Roman Church of this day, even as the ship of Janus was in pre-Christian times the appropriate symbol of Pagan Rome. Peter is the opener and shutter of the Gates of the Church, even as Janus was of the portals of heaven. (1) It is, therefore, into this Pagan Church of Rome that the Logos enters, and prays its Genius to thrust out a little from the land. Now, in sacred allegory, the 'land' or earth is always a figure for the bodily element, as opposed to water, or the soul. It represents Matter, and the material plane and affinities.
"We see, then, that the Word, or "Christ" demanded in this first age of the Christian dispensation the partial spiritualisation of the existing Church, – demanded the basis of doctrine and dogma to be shifted from the mere dry earthy bottom of materialism and hero-worship on which it had become stranded, to the more appropriate element of ethical religion, the province of the soul, – not yet, however, far removed from the shallows of literalism and dogma.
This done, the Word abides in the renovated Church and, for a time, teaches the people from its midst.
“Then comes the age which is now upon us, the age in which the Logos ceases to speak in the Christian Church; and the injunction is given to the Angel of the Church: Launch out into the deep and let down your net for a draught. Quit the very shores and coasts of materialism; give up the accessories of human tradition which, in this era of science, are both apt to offend and so to narrow your horizon as to prevent you from reaping your due harvest of truth; abandon all appeals to mere historical exegesis, and launch out into the deeps of a purely spiritual and metaphysical element. Recognise this, and this alone henceforward, as the true and proper sphere of the Church.
"And the Apostle of the Church answers, Master, all through the dark ages, the mediaeval times in which superstition and sacerdotalism reigned supreme and unquestioned – the night of Christendom, – we toiled in vain; the Church acquired no real light, she gained no solid truth or living knowledges. But now, at last, at Thy word, she shall launch out into the deep of thought, and let down her net for a draught.
"And a mighty success is prophesied to follow this change in the method and
system of religious doctrine. The net of the Church encloses a vast multitude of
mystic truths and knowledges, – more even than a single Church is able to deal
with. Their number and importance are such that the Apostles or Hierarchs of the
Christian Church find themselves well-nigh overwhelmed by the wealth of the
treasury they have laid open. They call in the aid of the ancient
esoteric Religion. Henceforth the toilers in the two Churches of East and West
are partners; the Vedas and the Tripitakas find their
interpretation in the same language and by the same method as the Christian
“From that day forth, the Church Catholic and Christian need have no fear, for she shall indeed ‘catch men.’” (1)
SAMUEL HOPGOOD HART.
CROYDON, Ascension Day, 1922.
(ii:1) Life of A.K., vol. i., p. 108.
(ii:2) Psalm xiv, 9.
(ii:3) Creed of St Athanasius. See also C.W.S., Pref., p. xxxviii; E.M.’s Lecture on “Some Needed Definitions in Spiritual Science,” Light, 1890, p. 222; and App. Nº. III.
(ii:4) C.W.S., part. i., Nº. xlviii. (2), p. 200; letter of E.M. in Light, 1891, p. 563; and Light, 1893, pp. 283-285. "Christ Jesus – the perfected spiritual, not physical, man – is the culmination of the human stream which flows upwards into the bosom of God. Man, arising by evolution from the lowest, finds his highest development, as man, in the Christ" (C.W.S. part i., Nº. xxv., pp. 111-112). "Such a man is called a God-Man, being man in virtue of the humanity of his Soul, and God in virtue of the divinity of the Spirit actuating that Soul" (E.M., letter in Light, 1890, p. 291).
(iii:1) Concerning "The Lord's Supper," E.M. says: "The two elements, the Bread and the Wine, represent the two constituent principles of the Man Spiritual – the 'Christ within' – viz. the Soul and Spirit, which are respectively the Substance and the Force, and, so, his parents, the Virgin Mary and Holy Ghost, these being the elements of the regenerated selfhood (...) so that there is no reference to the physical man Jesus in the matter" (Letter dated 11th April 1893, to the Rev. G.J.R. Ouseley; see also correspondence in Light, 1883, pp. 374, 394, 404; and E.M.'s letter in Light, 1890, p. 612).
(iii:2) E.M., letter dated 18th December, 1892, to S.
(iv:1) E.M., letter to Literary Guide, 15th October, 1890. See also Obituary Notice of A.K. in Light, 1888, p. 116, reprinted in Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 370.
(iv:2) E.M., letter to Literary Guide, 15th October, 1890.
(iv:3) Job xxviii. 7, 8.
(iv:4) C.W.S., part ii., Nº. xii. (2), 21; and see Addresses and Essays in Vegetarianism, by A.K. and E.M.
(v:1) E.M.'s MS. Preface, dated March, 1885, to an American Edition of P.W.
(v:2) C.W.S., part i., Nº. xv. (1), 71.
(v:3) In his Preface to Clothed With the Sun: being the Book of the Illuminations of Anna (Bonus) Kingsford (Second Edition, 1906), Edward Maitland, writing of Anna Kingsford's "priceless insights and illuminations," says that by far the greater number of them were received during the period in which it was his privilege to collaborate with her in the work principally represented by this book, they having been expressly vouchsafed, first, to bring about their association in this work, and, next, to aid them in its accomplishment. Many of them were accordingly used, either in whole or in part, in The Perfect Way (p. xix). They were received by Anna Kingsford chiefly during natural sleep (pp. xxi, xxii; and see The Story of A.K. and E.M., p. 163; Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 370, 389).
(vi:1) The accordance of the doctrine of The Perfect Way with that of the Kabala – though obtained by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland entirely from interior sources, and in complete ignorance of the Kabala – was subsequently testified to by Mr. S.L. Macgregor Mathers, the Author of The Kabala Unveiled (Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 31, 169; and see pp. Ixxviii-lxxx, post).
(vi:2) E.M.'s MS. Preface, dated March 1885, to an American Edition of P.W.; and see article in Light, 1893, p. 104.
(vi:3) Lect. I., 42.
(vi:4) The Credo of Christendom, p. 226.
(vi:5) A.K., letter dated 31st October, 1883, to President of T. S. (Madras), reprinted in Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 140-146; and see E.M.'s letter in Light, 1892, p. 620; and C.W.S., p. 198, n. (5).
(vii:1) Light, 1893, p. 103.
(vii:2) E.M.'s MS. Preface, dated March, 1885, to an American Edition of P.W.; E.M.'s letters in Light, 1892, p. 620; 1894, p. 477; and see Lect. II., 12; VII., 49.
(viii:1) Life of A.K., vol. i., p. 437.
(viii:2) Letter in Light, 1888, p. 609. See also E.M.'s letter in Light, 1889, p. 230.
(viii:3) E.M., letter dated 29th August, 1891, to Lady C.
(ix:1) Deep Breathing, by Arthur Lovell, p. 28.
(ix:2) Letter dated 31st October, 1883,
to President of T. S. (
(ix:3) Lecture on "Some Needed Definitions in Spiritual Science," Light, 1890, pp. 223, 224; and see letters of E.M. in Light, 1891, p. 416, and Light, 1892, p. 620.
(x:1) E.M., letter dated 3rd May, 1891, to R. For an excellent statement of the terms and conditions of "an ideally perfect religion," as conceived of by Edward Maitland, see Story of A.K. and E.M., pp. 23, 24; and Life of A.K., vol. i., pp. 41, 42.
(x:2) Lect. I., 56.
(x:3) C.W.S., part i., Nº. ii. (2), 10, 11.
(x:4) Ibid., Part ii., Nº. xiii. (1), 25-27.
(xi:1) E.M., MS. (Nº. 3) on "A Forgotten View of Genesis," p. 36.
(xi:2) E.M., letter in Light, 1894, p. 71.
(xi:3) E.M., letter dated 15th January, 1895, to T. M.
(xii:1) A careful and an erudite student of the Hindû Scriptures said that The Perfect Way contained "passages identical with some which he had rendered from the Upanishads, but of which no translation had ever been published; and he accounted for the coincidence by supposing an identical illumination of both" (Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 310). Edward Maitland says: "Whenever the highest plane of consciousness has been attained, and entrance won to the 'kingdom within,' the doctrine discerned has been one and the same – to the mind a necessity, and to the soul a reality: and has always been that of the Gnosis, variously termed, by the Gentiles, Hermetic, and by Hebrews, Kabbalistic" (E.M.'s MS. Preface, dated March, 1885, to an American Edition of the P.W.).
(xiii:1) Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 123, 124.
(xiii:2) Ibid., vol. i., p. 114.
(xiii:3) A.K., letter in Pall Mall Gazette, 1884, reprinted in Life of A.K., vol. ii pp. 206-207.
(xiii:4) A.K., Diary, 13th November, 1881. See Life of A.K. vol. ii, p. 40.
(xiv:1) E.M., letter in Light, 1892, p. 620; and 1893, pp. 284, 371, 418. See also definition of "mysticism" in C.W.S., App., p. xxxvii. Neither, therefore, does “mystical” denote that which is merely “unexplained” – for “it does not cease to be mystical because perceived and explained” (E.M., Light, 1894, p. 363).
(xiv:2) E.M., letter in Light, 1894, p. 477, and Lect. V., 29, and C.W.S., part i., Nº. xlvii. (1), pp. 193, 194.
(xiv:3) E.M.'s MS. Preface, dated March, 1883, to American Edition of P.W.
(xv:1) Job xlii, 5.
(xv:2) Psalm l. 7.
(xv:3) Psalm xlix, 1-4, and see Psalm xxxvii, 33, 34.
(xv:4) E.M., letter in Light, 1887, p. 171.
(xvi:1) Illumination "Concerning the Substantial Ego" (C.W.S., Part i., Nº. xlvii. (1), pp. 193-191.
(xvi:2) E.M., letter in Light, 1888, p. 447.
(xvii:1) E.M., letter in Light, 1888, p. 474.
(xviii:1) The Credo of Christendom, p. 226; and see letter, dated 31st October, 1883, to President of T. S. (Madras), reprinted in Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 140-146.
(xviii:2) E.M., letter dated 28th April, 1890, to J.S.C.; and see extract from letter from Lady Caithness, Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 69.
(xviii:3) See pp. Ixxvi, Ixxvii, post.
(xix:1) E.M., letter dated 28th April, 1890, to J.S.C.; and see Light, 1888, p. 151, where E.M. says that what The Perfect Way really does is to expound the intellectual concepts that are implicit in the Church dogmas.
(xix:2) Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 125. See also C.W.S., part i., Nº. xlvii. (1), pp. 193, 194, and App. Nº. III.
(xx:1) Joint letter in Light, 1883, p. 475.
(xx:2) Letter in Light, 1890, p. 494. See also Light, 1884, p. 419.
(xx:3) Ibid., p, 507.
(xxi:1) E.M., Preface, C.W.S., p. xxii.
(xxi:2) Letter in Agnostic Journal, 8th September, 1894.
(xxi:3) Published in
(xxi:4) Published in
(xxii:1) Life of A.K., vol. i., p. 103.
(xxii:2) Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 389; Light, 1893, p. 103. As to Edward Maitland’s mental and religious standpoint at the time of their meeting, see Life of A.K., vol. i., pp. 41, 42, and 52.
(xxii:3) Story of A.K. and E.M., pp. 1, 2, 37.
(xxii:4) Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 16.
(xxii:5) Story of A.K. and E.M., pp. 2, 15, 16, 37; Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 20.
(xxiii:1) Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 309. Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland did not claim the teaching as their own. When disclaiming the teaching received by them as being his teaching, Edward Maitland said: "It is of the Gods, or as I am wont to express it to myself, of the Church Invisible. And it is one and the same doctrine, whoever may be the immediate instrument of its reception“ (Letter dated 9th July, 1891, to Lady C.).
(xxiii:2) In response to an enquiry as to the best works enunciatory of the true spiritual interpretation of the allegories of the Bible, Edward Maitland, in recommending The Perfect Way, said: "The difference between this book and others kindred to it, is that while they, one and all, whether anterior or posterior to it, content themselves with interpretations which are not purely spiritual and therefore not mystical, The Perfect Way insists on the purely spiritual as alone representing the intention of the allegories in question” (Light, 1888, p. 474); and, he said, "it is only the interpretation that I am giving that will save the Bible and at the same time abolish the supposed antagonism between religion and science." (Letter to R., 3rd May, 1891).
(xxiii:3) Story of A.K. and E.M., p. 139.
(xiv:1) Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 15, 16, 32, 168, 161); The Story of A.K. and E.M., pp. 191-193; C.W.S., Pref., p. xxvi. See article of E.M. in Light, 1890, p. 522. While this was so, The Perfect Way is the outcome of a work that was commenced prior to the formation of the Theosophical Society, which was formed towards the close of 1875, and carried out in complete independence of that Society and its teaching. In fact, when The Perfect Way was written, neither Anna Kingsford nor Edward Maitland had any knowledge of the existence of the Theosophical Society (Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 393). Any similarity between the teachings must be ascribed to the correspondence originally subsisting between the Christian and Buddhist religions. ”One of the objects of The Perfect Way was to show that while, up to a certain point, the two religions are, in their esoteric and mystical sense, substantially identical, Christianity represents a further development of their common doctrine to a higher, because more interior, region of the consciousness, than Buddhism; the two systems being to each other, respectively, as head and heart, mind and soul – both of which are as indispensable to a complete religion as to a complete individual – so that the two together are really as different divisions of one and the same system." (Letters of E.M., dated 4th August, 1891, to The Pioneer Mail, and 28th August, 1891, to The Tablet).
On the arrival of The Perfect Way in India, in the Spring of 1882, the chief of the Theosophical Society invited Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland, who were not then members of it, to join that Society in the capacity of President and Vice-president respectively of their British Branch, saying that "they recognised in that book knowledges of which the Eastern Adepts had believed themselves to be the exclusive possessors, having been safeguarded by them from the remotest ages" (Light, 1893, p. 104; Letter from E.M. to The Daily Chronicle, September, 1891; and see Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 138, 161): and in January 1883, Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland, on the nomination of C.C. Massey, were elected President and Vice-President respectively of the British Theosophical Society; but, in 1884, owing to the opposition from certain Members of that Society (then known as the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society) to their introduction of Christian Theosophy, they withdrew from the Lodge, and sought an independent platform for their teaching in the Hermetic Society, which they then formed. This Society, owing to the ill-health of Anna Kingsford, after two years fell into abeyance. After Anna Kingsford's death, Edward Maitland became the President of The Esoteric Christian Union, which was then formed, but which, on his death, also fell into abeyance. Happily, owing to the subsequent change of attitude on the part of the Theosophical Society, the causes which forced Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland to withdraw from the London Lodge have long ceased to exist. Reports of Anna Kingsford's Lectures on "The Credo of Christendom," given to the Hermetic Society, are reprinted in The Credo of Christendom which was published in 1916.
(xxv:1) Light, 1893, p. 103; and see C.W.S., Pref., p. xxii, and Nº. xxvii., p. 115. As to the necessity for a pure and bloodless diet, see Addresses and Essays on Vegetarianism, by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland, which was published in 1912.
(xxvi:1) E.M.’s MS., Preface dated March, 1885, to an American Edition of P.W. See further as to this, C.W.S., Pref., pp. xxi to xxvi.
(xxvi:2) Life of A.K., vol. i., pp. 96, 97.
(xxvi:3) Ibid., p. 256.
(xxvi:4) Ibid., p. 257, and see E.M.’s article in Light, 1888, p. 127.
(xxvii:1) Anna Kingsford was then on the eve of her second Doctorat examination.
(xxvii:2) Life of A.K., vol. i., pp. 256, 257.
(xxvii:3) Ibid., p. 257.
(xxviii:1) Life of A.K., vol. i., p. 258; Story of A.K. and E.M., pp. 142-147.
(xxviii:2) This was intended to denote the intuitional nature of the teaching. Anna Kingsford was subsequently told that "a portion of Swedenborg is still in this sphere, by means of which he can still communicate with those with whom he is in affinity," and that she had been enabled, under Swedenborg's magnetism, to visit this Library, and had thus "recovered a memory of no small value," namely, the knowledges contained in the communications received. Though associated with Swedenborg, and working on the same lines, Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland were neither indebted to him for their teaching, nor restricted by his limitations (Life of A.K., vol. i., pp. 260, 319, 346, 347, 350; and see E.M.'s article in Light, 1888, p. 128; and p. xxxii, n., post).
(xxix:1) Life of A.K., vol. i., pp. 260, 261; Story of A.K. and E.M., pp. 147-150. For the full text of these two Illuminations, “Concerning the Interpretation of the Mystical Scriptures,” see C.W.S., part i., Nº. v., pp. 16-22.
(xxix:2) Life of A.K., vol. i., p. 260; Story of A.K. and E.M., p. 149.
(xxx:1) E.M., letter in Light, 1888, pp. 127, 128; Story of A.K. and E.M., p, 92.
(xxxi:1) A planchette.
(xxxii:1) “Mary” was the initiation name given to Anna Kingsford.
(xxxii:2) Life of A.K., vol. i., pp. 344, 345. The doctrine of the communications received by Anna Kingsford "Concerning the Interpretation of the Mystical Scriptures" proved to be identical with that of Swedenborg, saving in some particulars which were of such a kind as to show that Swedenborg had advanced to more correct views since his death. The teaching was that of Swedenborg, but without his limitations (E.M., article in Light, 1888, p. 128). George Trobridge, in his book Emanuel Swedenborg: His Life, Teaching, and Influence, says that Swedenborg, appalled at the materialism of his time, addressed his writings to those “who never believe anything but what they can receive with the intellect" (pp. 33, 34), and declared that he had been "chosen to explain to men the spiritual sense of the Scripture" (p. 49), and that he was the herald of Christ's Second Coming – which consisted in “a new revelation of Divine Truth from out of the mists and clouds of the letter of the Word” (p. 62): and, Mr. Trobridge asks, “Are there not circumstances in our own times that seem to point to the necessity of some further revelation to prevent the extinction of faith?” (p. 79).
(xxxii:3) Through the planchette, as on the previous occasion. Some few days after the receipt of this message, Anna Kingsford dreamt that Swedenborg told her that he was, in future, forbidden to use the planchette, since, by its use, deception was courted through the facility with which the lower spirits could use it. (Life of A.K., vol. i., p. 347).
(xxxiii:1) Life of A.K., vol. i., p. 345; Story of A.K. and E.M., p. 99.
(xxxiii:2) Edward Maitland was then well known as the author of several books.
(xxxiii:3) Life of A.K., vol. i, pp. 347, 348; Story of A.K. and E.M., p. 98; and see n. (79), p. xxviii ante.
(xxxiii:1) It was then just before Christmas, when the Earth is like one vast charnel-house, and Anna Kingsford was told that at such time “the atmosphere is thick with the blood shed for the season's festivities,” whereby “the magnetism is intercepted,” the blood strengthening the bonds between the Astrals and the Earth (Life of A.K., vol. i., p. 414).
(xxxiv:2) Life of A.K., vol. i., pp. 412, 413.
(xxxiv:3) Ibid., pp. 418, 423; Story of A. K. and E.M., pp. 131, 132.
(xxxv:1) Both Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland had on several occasions been stopped in a very unpleasant though effectual manner from disclosing certain teachings received by them to people to whom their Illuminators did not wish them to disclose them (Life of A.K., vol. i., pp. 255, 296; Story of A.K. and E.M., pp. 116, 117). As to the necessity for certain interior mysteries belonging to the Celestial being kept secret, and not told openly, see Anna Kingsford's Illumination “Concerning God,” C.W.S., part i., Nº. xlii., p. 169.
(xxxv:2) Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 4, 5.
(xxxvi:1) Life of A.K., vol. ii, pp. 5, 6. See also Story of A.K. and E.M., pp. 130-141.
(xxxviii:1) Anna Kingsford received instructions and illuminations while she was preparing, and in connection with the subject-matter of her lectures (Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 12, 14; and see Lects. III., 52 n., and IV., 14).
(xxxviii:2) Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 10-12.
(xxxvix:1) Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 15, 16.
(xxxvix:2) Ibid., vol. i., p. 374;
vol. ii., p. 17. The name of this street was, in 1886, changed to, and now is,
(xxxvix:3) All the italicised parts of the book – except where the context shows otherwise – were verbal revelations to Anna Kingsford (Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 33).
(xxxvix:4) Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 28, 29. The latter part of the Illumination “Concerning the ‘Great Work,’ the Redemption, and the share of Christ Jesus therein” (see C.W.S., part ii., Nº. v., p. 224), was received by Anna Kingsford during the preparation of the lectures for the printers “expressly for inclusion in the book” (Life of A.K., vol. i., p. 280. See also Lect. VI., 42).
(xl:1) Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 27.
(xl:2) Ibid. pp. 34, 424. Article in Light, 1895, pp. 32. Lady Caithness, who had taken great interest in Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland and their work, had undertaken to bear the expense of the publication of The Perfect Way, which was “a costly book to publish,” under the conviction that she had been “divinely charged with the duty” (Life of A.K., vol. I., p. 372; vol. ii., pp. 27, 28). It will be noticed that the letters A, E, and M, spell the French word AME (Soul). In 1889, Lady Caithness published in her magazine L'Aurore, the first instalment of a French translation of The Perfect Way, which was to be continued monthly until completed, and then issued in book form (Light, 1889, p. 523); and in 1891, it was so issued in response to urgent requests from Catholic Priests in France, who recognised in it the interpretation they had long sought of their own religious mysteries (see Light, 1890, p. 555, and letters from E.M. to R., dated 3rd May, 1891, and to The Tablet, dated 28th August, 1891).
(xli:1) Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 41, 42.
(xlii:1) Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 72.
(xlii:2) E.M., letter in Light, 1895, p.
(xlii:3) Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 34. The Seven Spirits of God are represented in the seven colours of the prism, the first and last of which are red and violet respectively; and the co-operation of all these Divine Potencies was indispensable to their work (Story of A.K. and E.M., pp. 109, 110).
(xliv:1) The reputed "Mahatmas" or "Masters" of the Theosophical Society.
(xliv:2) A.P. Sinnett.
(xliv:3) The sign referred to was an outline drawing of the Virgin standing, with a crown upon her head, and with the Child Jesus in her arms, the heads of each being surrounded by a nimbus, and of both together by seven doves – three on each side and one overhead – all flying towards the Virgin and Child.
(xlv:1) Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 56. See also App. Nº. III.
(xlvi:1) Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 74, and see pp. 64-68. The Review referred to in this letter, which had been written by A.P. Sinnett, appeared in The Theosophist of May and June, 1882, pp. 207-210 and 232-235. It was replied to by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland in two letters to The Theosophist which are reprinted in App. III.
(xlvi:2) Life of A.K. vol. ii., pp. 49, 370; and vol. i., Pref., pp. x, xi; and see Story of A.K. and E.M., pp. 187, 188.
(xlvii:1) E.M., letters in Light, 1893, p. 103, and 1894, p. 477; and Obituary Notice of A.K. in Light, 1888, p. 116 (reprinted in Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 369-371), and p. Ixxviii post.
(xlvii:2) Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 112, 113.
(xlvii:3) Ibid., pp. 52, 53, and 54.
(xlviii:1) Letter in Light, 1882, p. 378. This letter gave rise to a discussion in the columns of Light, which continued for some months, and which compelled Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland to intervene in order to correct erroneous conceptions and elucidate still further the teaching of The Perfect Way (Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 75. See App. III.).
(xlviii:2) Ibid., 1895, p. 32.
(xlviii:3) See article in Light, 1907, p. 4.
(xlviii:4) Letter in Light, 1882, p. 475.
(xlviii:5) A.K., letter to Lady Caithness; Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 258.
(xlix:1) Light, 1886, p. 310; Life of A.K., vol. ii. pp. 282, 283.
(xlix:2) Advertisement to Second Edition.
(xlix:3) This lecture is reprinted in and forms Appendix Nº. 1. of the present Edition.
(xlix:4) Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 389, 393. Shortly before her death, she drew up what might be termed a confession of faith, in which, referring to The Perfect Way, she said: “In the faith and doctrine set forth in that book I desire to die” (Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 328).
(l:1) Life of A.K.., vol. ii., pp. 360, 389, 393; E.M., letter in Light, 1891. pp. 416, 417.
(l:2) Life of A.K. vol. ii., pp. 34, 389, 393, 404. These paragraphs, 27-41 of Lecture VIII. of the Second Edition, are reprinted in and form Appendix Nº. II. of the present Edition. The "plates" also are reprinted in the present Edition.
(l:3) Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 396.
(li:1) The date was 5th June, 1889. See Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 421. It was not until long after Edward Maitland's death that his idea of a Cheap Edition of The Perfect Way could be carried out. The circumstances under which this became possible were as follows: – It was early in 1909, just after the publication of the Fourth Edition, when I received from the Publisher a letter asking me if I wished to have any more copies of the book struck off, because, if not, the Printers would be instructed to disperse the type – otherwise I should be charged a rent for keeping the type standing. I could not then, for want of means, see my way to order more copies, and I put the Publisher's letter into my pocket intending, as soon as might be, to reply thereto accordingly; but, soon after the receipt of such letter – I think it was on the following day – I received from a gentleman who was then a complete stranger to me, a letter informing me that he was to put £100 into my hands “if I could make good use of the money” and requesting an interview. I replied, fixing an appointment to see him, and, in the meantime, refrained from answering the Publisher's letter. On his coming to see me, and having introduced himself, he said he was “a business man”' and supposed I had been surprised to receive his letter, but “it was a perfectly genuine offer” and all he wanted to know was, if £100 were put into my hands, what should I do with the money? That, I said, depended upon the conditions upon which it was given. Was I to be in any way responsible or accountable for it? He replied that the gift, if made, would be absolute and I should be free to do with the money whatever I pleased. I should never be asked for any account. I then explained the position regarding the new edition of The Perfect Way, and read to him the Publisher’s letter, which I had in my pocket, and said that if £100 were given to me to do what I liked with, I should have as many copies of The Perfect Way printed as the money would pay for, and sell them as a Cheap Edition without regard to profits. He then said that he knew the book, and he did not think I could put the money to better use, and he was satisfied that I should have it, and as soon as I required it, it would be given to me. I desired to know to whom I was indebted for such a generous gift, but he declined to say, and told me I must not inquire. It was not anybody whom I knew. It was a lady who desired to remain anonymous. I suggested that she had been influenced by Anna Kingsford, who knew the position, to do this, and he said that that was so. In due course I received the money, and thus Edward Maitland's wish became fulfilled, for the result of this gift was the publication of the cheap Popular Edition of The Perfect Way, which was forthwith brought out, and which was the cause of so much wonder to those who bought it – for they could not understand how such a book could be brought out and sold at such a price – the price being the sum of one shilling! The edition was quickly sold out.
(liii:1) Light, 1888, p. 116. See Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 370; and “Dedication” in C.W.S.
(liii:21) See Life of A.K., vol. i., pp. 339, 340; Story of A.K. and E.M., pp. 92, 93, 94; C.W.S., Pref., pp. xxvi, xxvii; E.M.'s Ietter in Light, 1893, pp. 405, 406. Some Theosophists having ascribed the teaching of The Perfect Way to the inspiration of Thibetan "Mahatmas," Edward Maitland – while admitting the possibility of the existence of such persons – disclaimed any relation with or obligation towards them. Similarly, with regard to the “Spiritualistic” hypothesis, which makes departed souls the agents of inspiration – while admitting the possibility of the intercourse involved – he denied it to be the source of such teaching. He "objected to both assumptions” as disparaging to men generally – by denying them their proper capacity for transcendental introvision – and as tending to an idolatrous substitution of extraneous and merely human entities for interior and Divine Principles" (MS. Preface, dated March 1885, to an American Edition of P.W.).
(liv:1) Life of A.K., vol. i., p. 340; Story of A.K and E.M., p. 94; E.M., article in Light, 1888, p. 128; and 1894, p. 442.
(liv:2) E.M., Lecture on "Some Needed Definitions in Spiritual Science," Light, 1890, pp. 214, 316.
(liv:3) E.M., Obituary Notice of A.K., Light, 1888, p. 116; Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 370, 389. There is a distinction, which must be borne in mind, between voices which come from an extraneous source and are heard by the physical ears, and those which come from within and are audible only to an interior sense, and also between knowledge which is obtained by telling and that which is obtained by discernment (see E.M.'s letter in Light, 1887, p. 54).
(lv:1) See also C.W.S., Pref., pp. xxiii, xxiv.
(lv:2) E.M., letter dated 10th July 1891, to Mad. de M.; and see Light, 1893, p. 103.
(lv:3) E.M., Lecture on “Some Needed Definitions in Spiritual Science,” Light, 1890, pp. 214, 215.
(lv:4) E.M.'s MS. on The Perfect Way; and see App, Nº. III.
(lv:5) Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 31.
(lvi:1) Story of A.K. and E.M., p. 98, Edward Maitland, speaking of Anna Kingsford, says: “She knew positively both by means of her own psychic recollections, and by assurance of her own indwelling spirit, that in one of the numerous incarnations which qualified her for the great work of her life, she had been a male initiate of the Greco-Egyptian Mysteries, in times long anterior to the days of Moses. And it was in virtue of the knowledge then and there acquired that she was able, under Divine Illumination (...) to reveal the sources from which the Bible writers largely derived both their doctrine and their diction” (Light, 1894, pp. 419, 442).
(lvii:1) Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 162, 163. See also C.W.S., Pref., p. xxv, note (3).
(lviii:1) The reference is to a term used by Madame Blavatsky, who had written referring to Anna Kingsford's psychic faculty and powers as her “gifts.”
(lviii:2) Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 167. The dogmas of the Catholic Church are not “the
product of Official Ecclesiasticism.” “Rather,” says Edward Maitland, “were they
derived direct from the Church Celestial, and belong to the original revelation
which in times pre-historical was committed to the keeping of the Sacred
Mysteries, successively, of
(lix:1) Anna Kingsford regarded the Catholic Church as the principal and completest exponent of the Christian tradition (Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 207): and she insisted that the teaching of The Perfect Way was the real doctrine of the Church, although unauthorised by its official representatives (ibid., pp. 391, 393; and see letter of E.M. in Light, 1893. p. 321): she believed that the Church had all the truth, but the priests had materialised it, making it idolatry. In this connection Edward Maitland pointed out that Pope Leo XIII, officially reinstated – as indispensable to the maintenance of religion – the teaching of St Thomas Aquinas in its former position of pre-eminence, ordaining that it be henceforth made the basis of education in the Catholic Church; a measure, the importance of which in its bearing on the future of Christianity, he considered, could not be over-estimated: for the teaching of St Thomas Aquinas was derived in part from inward illumination, and in part from St Dionysius the Areopagite, whose mission it had been to be the first – though only partial – formulator of the Gnosis in accordance with the Christian presentation. The teaching of both was recognised and accepted by the Church, and the two instruments thereof were canonised, "no exception being taken to the admittedly Hermetic character of their doctrine" (E.M.'s MS. Preface, dated March, 1888, to an American Edition of the P.W.).
(lix:2) Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 379.
(lix:3) lbid., p. 389.
(lx:1) Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 56. See also App. Nº. III. Bearing in mind that the Theosophy of the East stands for the same truth as does that of the West, the case of Annie Besant provides a notable example of the power of Esoteric Christianity to overcome Materialism: for, Annie Besant, in her Autobiography (Third Impression, 1908), tells us that, having rejected Orthodox Christianity for an Atheistic Philosophy, she was, in 1889, led by a “flash of illumination,” when reading The Secret Doctrine (which primarily represents the Theosophy of the East), to embrace Theosophy – “Theosophy rendering rational, and therefore acceptable, the loftiest spirituality that the human mind can as yet conceive” (p. 140); and it was then, and not till then, that she knew that the weary search was over and the very Truth was found” (p. 340). The Materialism from which she hoped all, failed her! But Theosophy has not failed her (p. 357). In Theosophy, she says, “more than all I hoped for in that first plunge has been realised, and a certainty of knowledge has been gained on doctrines seen as true in that swift flash of illumination” (p. 345). Thus was this great Truth-seeker led “through storm to peace (…) an inner peace which belongs to the eternal, not to the transitory; to the depths, no to be shallows of life” (pp. 363-4).
(lxi:1) Letter dated 10th July, 1882, from “The Writers of The Perfect Way” to The Theosophist. See also letters of E.M. in Light, 1893, p. 405; and The Agnostic Journal, 25th August, 1894.
(lxi:2) E.M., letter dated 9th July, 1891, to Lady C.
(lxi:1) E.M., letter dated 21st March, 1888, to The Tablet; and see Light 1888, p. 151; and Story of A.K. and E.M., p. 91.
(lxi:3) Life of A.K., vol. ii., p. 225.
(lxi:4) E.M., letter dated 10th July, 1891, to Mad. de M., and see C.W.S., Pref., p. xxii; Story of A.K. and E.M., p. 84.
(lxii:5) E.M., letter in Light, 1892, p. 620; and see Lect. I., 23-25, 51, 52; and C.W.S., Pref., pp. xxii, xxiii. “There is a knowledge of things moral and spiritual every whit as ‘exact’ – and therefore ‘scientific’ – as of things physical” (E.M.'s MS. Preface, dated March, 1885, to American Edition of P.W.).
(lxii:2) E.M., letter to Literary Guide, 15th October, 1890.
(lxiii:1) Eccles., xiv. 20-27; xv. 1-17.
(lxiii:2) Luke, v. 1-10.
(lxv:1) See Lect. I., 21.
(lxvii:1) A.K., letter dated 31st October 1883, to the President of the T.S.; Life of A.K., vol. ii., pp. 144-146.