The Monistic Theory

by Nhân Tử Nguyễn Văn Thọ

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Chapter 12

Rosicrucians and the Monistic Theory


When considering the history of the Rosicrucians, one must bear in mind that members of the body were, and are, pledged to secrecy, and that the paucity of their records is the proof of their sincerity and devotion. But it is permissible to give some data of the history of the Society since its foundation about the year 1420.

It is said to have been founded by Christian Rosenkreutz (Rosy Cross 1378-1484) about 1420, though, by some authorities, he is considered as a legendary figure. He is supposed to have received his wisdom and philosophy from ancient sources in the various places he visited: Palestine, Damascus, Egypt and Spain.

Now Rosicrucians considered themselves as descending from an Ancient Egyptian mystery school whose first Master was the Pharoah Akhnaton, and that a great number of the most enlightened minds of history have been counted among its members.

The Rosicrucians are now found in Europe, England, Scotland, South Africa, Australia, America, New Zealand, South America, India and elsewhere, and its secrets are very well kept.

What is, then, the etymology of Rosenkreuze? Some think that they derive from the Latin words Ros, dew, and Crux, cross. The argument in its favor may be fairly represented by the following quotation:-" Of all natural bodies, dew was deemed the most powerful dissolvent of gold; and the cross in chemical language, was equivalent to light; because the figure of the cross exhibits at the same time the three letters of which the word Lux, or Light is compounded. Now lux is called...the seed or menstruum of the red dragon, or in other words, that gross and corporeal light, which, when properly digested and modified, produced gold. Hence it follows, if this etymology be admitted, that a Rosicrucian (sic) philosopher is one by the intervention and assistance of the dew, seeks for light, or in other words, the substance called the Philosopher's Stone." [1]

But other people have different opinions. For them, it is the reunion of the Rose and the Cross. Eliphas Levi provides the following commentary on the Rosicrucian symbol:

"The Rose, which from time immemorial has been the symbol of beauty and life, of love and pleasure, expressed in a mystical manner all the protestations of the Renaissance. It was the flesh revolting against the oppression of the spirit, it was Nature declaring herself to be, like grace, the daughter of God, it was love refusing to be stifled by the celibate, it was life refusing to be no longer barren, it was humanity aspiring to a natural religion, full of love and reason, founded on the revelation of the harmonies of existence of which the Rose was for initiates the living and blooming symbol. The Rose, in fact, is a pentacle; its form is circular, the leaves of the corolla are heart-shaped and are supported harmoniously by one another; its color presents the most delicate shades of primitive hues; its calyx is purple and gold... the conquest of the Rose was the problem offered by initiation to science, which religion toiled to prepare and establish the universal, exclusive, and definitive triumph of the Cross.

"The reunion of the Rose and the Cross, such was the problem proposed by supreme initiation, and, in effect, occult philosophy, being the universal synthesis, should take into account all the phenomena of Being." [2]

In 1614, the town of Cassel in Germany was surprised by the appearance, from where no one knew, of a pamphlet entitled, The Fame of the Fraternity of the Meritorious Order of the Rosy Cross Addressed to the Learned in General and the Governors of Europe, usually called for short (it being written in Latin) the Fama Fraternitatis or Fama. It proposed that men of learning should band together to undertake a reformation of science comparable to that which religion had recently undergone, and that this should be done with the assistance of a hitherto hidden brotherhood of light - the Rosicrucians.

The Fama mentioned also about Christian Rosencreutz (Rosy Cross), his life and his death.

A year later another pamphlet, Confession of the Rosicrucian Fraternity, offered initiation to secret applicants. The Fama and Confessio soon came to be regarded by most as either hoaxes or fantasies. [3]

The movement attracted those of Kabbalistic tendencies, and concerned itself with Astrology, Alchemy and, to some extent, with the principles of Free Masonry. Its teachings combine elements of occultism reminiscent of a variety of religious beliefs and practices.

The two most substantial groups of Rosicrucians in the United States, are the Rosicrucian Fellowship, with its international headquarters at Mt. Ecclesia, Oceanside, California, and the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC) in San Jose, Rosicrucian Park. The latter is the best-known group. The older of the two groups, and the most influenced by Theosophy, is however, the Rosicrucian Fellowship, founded in 1917, by Carl Louis van Grasshoff, who used the pen name Max Heindel. This branch describes the Rosicrucian Philosophy as "a mystical philosophy, founded upon Christian principles and based upon the reality of Christ, and the work he came to earth to do". It believes in a sixth sense latent in man which, when developed, enables one to investigate the realm of the super-physical where dwell the dead. Its basic doctrine is common to Theosophy: World evolution, reincarnation, secret initiation, invisible helpers, and elder brothers. There is special emphasis on healing and on astrology. One who is admitted into the Fellowship gives up tobacco, liquor and meat... [4]

The AMORC, is far larger. It claims not to be a "religion", but a "worldwide fraternal organization" on the Masonic model which teaches philosophy and practices designed to enable the individual to use ordinary latent faculties for the sake of improving his abilities and leading a more satisfying life...

The literature of Rosicrucianism speaks of the golden secret, which is that man has two natures, a "duality of self." Besides the physical body, there is a "greater inner self" . This secret is the key to the Rosicrucian understanding of the question of death and the development of psychic powers, including the projection of consciousness out of the body. These techniques and the philosophy which go with them are obtained in lessons sent out from the headquarters in San Jose, which the individual may study at home or with a local lodge. [5]

It tries to develop the intuitive knowledge, that is, a part of a Universal Cosmic Intelligence which pervades the entire universe and every cell of our being, and that we can command it to serve us, that we can draw upon it as we will... Psychologists today say that man uses only a fraction of the inherent power with which he is imbued as a human being. The secret brotherhoods have known for centuries how to command and use much more of this power to round up and enjoy an enriched life. Hundreds of the so-called mysteries are understandable and workable laws of the universe to those who master this esoteric (inner) knowledge... The oldest of these humanitarian societies, worldwide in extent and not a religion, is the Rosicrucians. It offers you this knowledge, as old as time, for the fullness of life, free of any religious intolerance or political or other prejudices or biases. [6]

As in the earliest time, the Rosicrucians not only studied, but went about ministering to those in distress... They believe that this world and indeed the whole universe is permeated with the essence of the Creator, that every rock is instinct with life, that every plant and every tree is imbued with a sense derived from the Master Mind that caused it to exist, and that each living thing moves, acts and thinks in accordance with the supreme design by which all things were made, by which all things exist, and by which they will continue to function till the end of time. At no period did the Rosicrucians declare the transmutation of metals to be a part of their practice, nor did they ever promise indefinite prolongation of life by mysterious drugs, but they did speak of these in parables with the full and complete knowledge that all things are possible, and that with the forces of nature under their control, they could do even these. They were content to act and to trust to the future, when the mind of men having been cleansed, the redemption and absorption should be accomplished. [7]

Rosicrucians declared that they follow the tradition of Neo-Platonic philosophy. "The traditions of the Neo-Platonic philosophy, with its elaborate theurgical system, said Arthur Edward Waite, were to some extent perpetuated through the whole period of the Middle-Ages, for beside the orthodox theology of the great Latin Church, and amidst the clamor of scholastic philosophy, we find the secret theosophy of the magician, the Kabbalist, and the alchemical adept borrowing, directly or indirectly from this prolific fountain of exalted mysticism... At this time, Germany was a stronghold of mysticism, which according to Ueberweg, was at first chiefly developed in sermons by monks of the Dominican Order; its aim was to advance Christianity by edifying speculation, and to render it comprehensible by the transcendent use of the reason. "The author and perfector of this entire development was Master Eckart, "who taught that the creature apart from the Absolute, that is, from God, was nothing that "time, space, and the plurality which depends on them', are also nothing in themselves, and that "the duty of man as a moral being is to rise beyond this nothingness of the creature, and by direct intuition to place himself in immediate union with the Absolute." [8]

We know also that Rosicrucians embraced all the Hermeticist Sciences, such as Neo-Platonism, Kaballah, Alchemy, Free Masonry, Theosophy, and that all these cults professed the Monistic Theory. In that case, even if we find nothing or almost nothing pertaining to the Monistic Theory, in the writings of some modern Rosicrucians, we must infer that in the repertory of their lodges, we can find these documents.

When studying the Rosicrucians, I am convinced that they like to be pioneers in the domain of teaching. If in the Middle Ages, many of them were learned in Alchemy, now they like to teach people how to develop their latent potentialities, and to achieve psychic development.

We know also that the Monistic Theory was always considered as a heresy by the Roman Catholic Church. The proof of that is the case of Meister Johannes Eckhart. Eckhart, a Dominican monk, spent his life (1260-1327) preaching The Monistic Theory or The Emanation Theory, the essence of which is: The divine essence imbues all beings; each human soul contains, then, a divine spark: by the knowledge and by the mystical experience, it can be united to the Godhead, which is the goal toward which it tends. His mysticism was considered as an emanationist pantheism, and in 1329 some of his doctrines were condemned by the Pope. [9]

Therefore, in the Middle Ages, many societies became secret, so that they could keep intact this monistic tradition of humanity.

[1] The Real History of the Rosicrucians, by Arthur Edward Waite, Mokelumne Hill, California, 1960, p. 9.

[2] Ibidem, p. 23.

[3] Robert S. Ellwood, Jr. Religious and Spiritual Groups in Modern America, Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1973, pp. 60-61.

[4] Religious and Spiritual Groups in Modern America, Robert's Ellwood, Jr., Prentice-hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1973, p. 111.- An Encyclopedia of Religion, Vergilius Ferm, The philosophical Library, New York, 1945, p. 671.

[5] Religious and Spiritual Groups in Modern America, Robert's ellwood, Jr., Prentice Hall, inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1973, p. 112.

[6] Ib, p. 114.- Wisdom of the Mystic Masters, by Joseph J. Weed. Parker Publising Company, Inc. West Nyack, New York. 1968, pp. 1-8.

[7] Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, Edited by James Hastings, New York, Charles Scriber's Sons, Printed in Great Britain, Vol. X, p. 856-857, Article Rosicrucians.

[8] The Real History of the Rosicrucians, Arthur Edward Waite, 1960, p. 25.

[9] Dictionnaire des Religions, E. Royston Pike, Presses Universitaires de France, 1954, p. 116.

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