The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival

Sir John Glubb, better known as Glubb Pasha, was born in 1897, and served in France in the First World War from 1915 to 1918. In 1926 he left the regular army to serve the Iraq Government.

From 1939 to 1956, he commanded the famous Jordan Arab Legion. Since retirement, he has published sixteen books, chiefly on the Middle East, and has lectured widely.

 

 

 

John Bagot Glubb was born in 1897, his father being a regular officer in the Royal Engineers.

At the age of four he left England for Mauritius, where his father was posted for a three-year tour of duty.

At the age of ten he was sent to school for a year in Switzerland. These youthful travels may have opened his mind to the outside world at an early age.

He entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich in September 1914, and was commissioned in the Royal Engineers in April 1915.

He served throughout the first World War in France and Belgium, being wounded three times and awarded the Military Cross.

In 1920 he volunteered for service in Iraq, as a regular officer, but in 1926 resigned his commission and accepted an administrative post under the Iraq Government.

In 1930, however, he signed a contract to serve the Transjordan Government (now Jordan).

From 1939 to 1956 he commanded the famous Jordan Arab Legion, which was in reality the Jordan Army.

Since his retirement he has published seventeen books, chiefly on the Middle East, and has lectured widely in Britain, the United States and Europe.

Introduction

As we pass through life, we learn by experience.

We look back on our behavior when we were young and think how foolish we were. In the same way our family, our community and our town endeavor to avoid the mistakes made by our predecessors.

The experiences of the human race have been recorded, in more or less detail, for some four thousand years. If we attempt to study such a period of time in as many countries as possible, we seem to discover the same patterns constantly repeated under widely differing conditions of climate, culture and religion.

Surely, we ask ourselves, if we studied calmly and impartially the history of human institutions and development over these four thousand years, should we not reach conclusions which would assist to solve our problems today?

For everything that is occurring around us has happened again and again before.

No such conception ever appears to have entered into the minds of our historians. In general, historical teaching in schools is limited to this small island. We endlessly mull over the Tudors and the Stewarts, the Battle of Crecy, and Guy Fawkes.

Perhaps this narrowness is due to our examination system, which necessitates the careful definition of a syllabus which all children must observe.

I remember once visiting a school for mentally handicapped children.
“Our children do not have to take examinations,” the headmaster told me, ”and so we are able to teach them things which will be really useful to them in life.”
However this may be, the thesis which I wish to propound is that priceless lessons could be learned if the history of the past four thousand years could be thoroughly and impartially studied.

In these two articles, which first appeared in Blackwood’s Magazine, I have attempted briefly to sketch some of the kinds of lessons which I believe we could learn.

My plea is that history should be the history of the human race, not of one small country or period.

The Fate of Empires

I. Learning from history
‘The only thing we learn from history,’ it has been said, ‘is that men never learn from history’,
…a sweeping generalization perhaps, but one which the chaos in the world today goes far to confirm.

What then can be the reason why, in a society which claims to probe every problem, the bases of history are still so completely unknown?

Several reasons for the futility of our historical studies may be suggested.
First, our historical work is limited to short periods – the history of our own country, or that of some past age which, for some reason, we hold in respect.

Second, even within these short periods, the slant we give to our narrative is governed by our own vanity rather than by objectivity.

If we are considering the history of our own country, we write at length of the periods when our ancestors were prosperous and victorious, but we pass quickly over their shortcomings or their defeats.

Our people are represented as patriotic heroes, their enemies as grasping imperialists, or subversive rebels. In other words, our national histories are propaganda, not well- balanced investigations.

Third, in the sphere of world history, we study certain short, usually unconnected, periods, which fashion at certain epochs has made popular.

Greece 500 years before Christ, and the Roman Republic and early Roman Empire are cases in point.

The intervals between the ‘great periods’ are neglected. Recently Greece and Rome have become largely discredited, and history tends to become increasingly the parochial history of our own countries.
To derive any useful instruction from history, it seems to me essential first of all to grasp the principle that history, to be meaningful, must be the history of the human race.

For history is a continuous process, gradually developing, changing and turning back, but in general moving forward in a single mighty stream.

Any useful lessons to be derived must be learned by the study of the whole flow of human development, not by the selection of short periods here and there in one country or another.

Every age and culture is derived from its predecessors, adds some contribution of its own, and passes it on to its successors.

If we boycott various periods of history, the origins of the new cultures which succeeded them cannot be explained.

Physical science has expanded its knowledge by building on the work of its predecessors, and by making millions of careful experiments, the results of which are meticulously recorded.

Such methods have not yet been employed in the study of world history. Our piecemeal historical work is still mainly dominated by emotion and prejudice.

II. The lives of empires

If we desire to ascertain the laws which govern the rise and fall of empires, the obvious course is to investigate the imperial experiments recorded in history, and to Endeavour to deduce from them any lessons which seem to be applicable to them all.

The word ’empire’, by association with the British Empire, is visualized by some people as an organization consisting of a home- country in Europe and ‘colonies’ in other continents.

In this essay, the term ’empire’ is used to signify a great power, often called today a superpower. Most of the empires in history have been large landblocks, almost without overseas possessions.

We possess a considerable amount of information on many empires recorded in history, and of their vicissitudes and the lengths of their lives, for example:

The nation

Assyria
Dates of rise and fall

859-612 B.C.
Duration in years

247
Persia
538-330 B.C.
208
(Cyrus and his descendants)

231
Greece
331-100 B.C.
231
(Alexander and his successors)

Roman Republic
260-27 B.C.
233
Roman Empire
27 B.C.-A.D. 180
207
Arab Empire
A.D. 634-880
246
Mameluke Empire
1250-1517
267
Ottoman Empire
1320-1570
250
Spain
1500-1750
250
Romanov Russia
1682-1916
234
Britain
1700-1950
250

This list calls for certain comments.

The present writer is exploring the facts, not trying to prove anything. The dates given are largely arbitrary.

Empires do not usually begin or end on a certain date. There is normally a gradual period of expansion and then a period of decline.

The resemblance in the duration of these great powers may be queried. Human affairs are subject to many chances, and it is not to be expected that they could be calculated with mathematical accuracy.

Nevertheless, it is suggested that there is sufficient resemblance between the life periods of these different empires to justify further study.

The division of Rome into two periods may be thought unwarranted. The first, or republican, period dates from the time when Rome became the mistress of Italy, and ends with the accession of Augustus.

The imperial period extends from the accession of Augustus to the death of Marcus Aurelius.

It is true that the empire survived nominally for more than a century after this date, but it did so in constant confusion, rebellions, civil wars and barbarian invasions.

Not all empires endured for their full life-span. The Babylonian Empire of Nebuchadnezzar, for example, was overthrown by Cyrus, after a life duration of only some seventy-four years.

An interesting deduction from the figures seems to be that the duration of empires does not depend on the speed of travel or the nature of weapons. The Assyrians marched on foot and fought with spears and bow and arrows. The British used artillery, railways and ocean-going ships. Yet the two empires lasted for approximately the same periods.

There is a tendency nowadays to say that this is the jet-age, and consequently there is nothing for us to learn from past empires. Such an attitude seems to be erroneous.

It is tempting to compare the lives of empires with those of human beings.

We may choose a figure and say that the average life of a human being is seventy years. Not all human beings live exactly seventy years. Some die in infancy, others are killed in accidents in middle life, some survive to the age of eighty or ninety.

Nevertheless, in spite of such exceptions, we are justified in saying that seventy years is a fair estimate of the average person’s expectation of life.

We may perhaps at this stage be allowed to draw certain conclusions:

In spite of the accidents of fortune, and the apparent circumstances of the human race at different epochs, the periods of duration of different empires at varied epochs show a remarkable similarity.

Immense changes in the technology of transport or in methods of warfare do not seem to affect the life-expectation of an empire.

The changes in the technology of transport and of war have, however, affected the shape of empires. The Assyrians, marching on foot, could only conquer their neighbors, who were accessible by land – the Medes, the Babylonians, the Persians and the Egyptians.

The British, making use of ocean-going ships, conquered many countries and sub- continents, which were accessible to them by water – North America, India, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand – but they never succeeded in conquering their neighbors, France, Germany and Spain.

But, although the shapes of the Assyrian and the British Empires were entirely different, both lasted about the same length of time.

III. The human yardstick

What then, we may ask, can have been the factor which caused such an extraordinary similarity in the duration of empires, under such diverse conditions, and such utterly different technological achievements?

One of the very few units of measurement which have not seriously changed since the Assyrians is the human ‘generation’, a period of about twenty-five years.

Thus a period of 250 years would represent about ten gene- rations of people. A closer examination of the characteristics of the rise and fall of great nations may emphasize the possible significance of the sequence of generations.

Let us then attempt to examine the stages in the lives of such powerful nations.

IV. Stage one – The outburst

Again and again in history we find a small nation, treated as insignificant by its contemporaries, suddenly emerging from its homeland and overrunning large areas of the world.

Prior to Philip (359-336 B.C.), Macedon had been an insignificant state to the north of Greece. Persia was the great power of the time, completely dominating the area from Eastern Europe to India. Yet by 323 B.C., thirty-six years after the accession of Philip, the Persian Empire had ceased to exist, and the Macedonian Empire extended from the Danube to India, including Egypt.

This amazing expansion may perhaps he attributed to the genius of Alexander the Great, but this cannot have been the sole reason; for although after his death everything went wrong – the Macedonian generals fought one another and established rival empires – Macedonian pre-eminence survived for 231 years.

In the year A.D. 600, the world was divided between two superpower groups as it has been for the past fifty years between Soviet Russia and the West. The two powers were the eastern Roman Empire and the Persian Empire.

The Arabs were then the despised and backward inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula. They consisted chiefly of wandering tribes, and had no government, no constitution and no army. Syria, Palestine, Egypt and North Africa were Roman provinces, Iraq was part of Persia.

The Prophet Mohammed preached in Arabia from A.D. 613 to 632, when he died. In 633, the Arabs burst out of their desert peninsula, and simultaneously attacked the two super-powers.

Within twenty years, the Persian Empire had ceased to exist. Seventy years after the death of the Prophet, the Arabs had established an empire extending from the Atlantic to the plains of Northern India and the frontiers of China.

At the beginning of the thirteenth century, the Mongols were a group of savage tribes in the steppes of Mongolia. In 1211, Genghis Khan invaded China.

By 1253, the Mongols had established an empire extending from Asia Minor to the China Sea, one of the largest empires the world has ever known.

The Arabs ruled the greater part of Spain for 780 years, from 712 A.D. to 1492 (780 years back in British history would take us to 1196 and King Richard Cœur de Lion.) During these eight centuries, there had been no Spanish nation, the petty kings of Aragon and Castile alone holding on in the mountains.

The agreement between Ferdinand and Isabella and Christopher Columbus was signed immediately after the fall of Granada, the last Arab kingdom in Spain, in 1492. Within fifty years, Cortez had conquered Mexico, and Spain was the world’s greatest empire.

Examples of the sudden outbursts by which empires are born could be multiplied indefinitely.

These random illustrations must suffice.

V. Characteristics of the outburst

These sudden outbursts are usually characterized by an extraordinary display of energy and courage.

The new conquerors are normally poor, hardy and enterprising and above all aggressive. The decaying empires which they overthrow are wealthy but defensive-minded. In the time of Roman greatness, the legions used to dig a ditch round their camps at night to avoid surprise.

But the ditches were mere earthworks, and between them wide spaces were left through which the Romans could counter-attack. But as Rome grew older, the earthworks became high walls, through which access was given only by narrow gates.

Counterattacks were no longer possible. The legions were now passive defenders.

But the new nation is not only distinguished by victory in battle, but by unresting enterprise in every field. Men hack their way through jungles, climb mountains, or brave the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans in tiny cockle-shells.

The Arabs crossed the Straits of Gibraltar in A.D. 711 with 12,000 men, defeated a Gothic army of more than twice their strength, marched straight over 250 miles of unknown enemy territory and seized the Gothic capital of Toledo.

At the same stage in British history, Captain Cook discovered Australia. Fearless initiative characterizes such periods.

Other peculiarities of the period of the conquering pioneers are their readiness to improvise and experiment. Untrammeled by traditions, they will turn anything available to their purpose. If one method fails, they try something else.

Uninhibited by textbooks or book learning, action is their solution to every problem.

Poor, hardy, often half-starved and ill-clad, they abound in courage, energy and initiative, overcome every obstacle and always seem to be in control of the situation.

VI. The causes of race outbursts

The modern instinct is to seek a reason for everything, and to doubt the veracity of a statement for which a reason cannot be found.

So many examples can be given of the sudden eruption of an obscure race into a nation of conquerors that the truth of the phenomenon cannot be held to be doubtful. To assign a cause is more difficult.

Perhaps the easiest explanation is to assume that the poor and obscure race is tempted by the wealth of the ancient civilization, and there would undoubtedly appear to be an element of greed for loot in barbarian invasions.

Such a motivation may be divided into two classes. The first is mere loot, plunder and rape, as, for example, in the case of Attila and the Huns, who ravaged a great part of Europe from A.D. 450 to 453.

However, when Attila died in the latter year, his empire fell apart and his tribes returned to Eastern Europe.

Many of the barbarians who founded dynasties in Western Europe on the ruins of the Roman Empire, however, did so out of admiration for Roman civilization, and themselves aspired to become Romans.

VII. A providential turnover?

Whatever causes may be given for the overthrow of great civilizations by barbarians, we can sense certain resulting benefits.

Every race on earth has distinctive characteristics. Some have been distinguished in philosophy, some in administration, some in romance, poetry or religion, some in their legal system.

During the pre-eminence of each culture, its distinctive characteristics are carried by it far and wide across the world.

If the same nation were to retain its domination indefinitely, its peculiar qualities would permanently characterize the whole human race. Under the system of empires each lasting for 250 years, the sovereign race has time to spread its particular virtues far and wide.

Then, however, another people, with entirely different peculiarities, takes its place, and its virtues and accomplishments are likewise disseminated.

By this system, each of the innumerable races of the world enjoys a period of greatness, during which its peculiar qualities are placed at the service of mankind.

To those who believe in the existence of God, as the Ruler and Director of human affairs, such a system may appear as a manifestation of divine wisdom, tending towards the slow and ultimate perfection of humanity.

VIII. The course of empire

The first stage of the life of a great nation, therefore, after its outburst, is a period of amazing initiative, and almost incredible enterprise, courage and hardihood.

These qualities, often in a very short time, produce a new and formidable nation. These early victories, however, are won chiefly by reckless bravery and daring initiative.

The ancient civilization thus attacked will have defended itself by its sophisticated weapons, and by its military organization and discipline.

The barbarians quickly appreciate the advantages of these military methods and adopt them. As a result, the second stage of expansion of the new empire consists of more organized, disciplined and professional campaigns.

In other fields, the daring initiative of the original conquerors is maintained – in geographical exploration, for example: pioneering new countries, penetrating new forests, climbing unexplored mountains, and sailing uncharted seas.

The new nation is confident, optimistic and perhaps contemptuous of the ‘decadent’ races which it has subjugated.

The methods employed tend to be practical and experimental, both in government and in warfare, for they are not tied by centuries of tradition, as happens in ancient empires.

Moreover, the leaders are free to use their own improvisations, not having studied politics or tactics in schools or in textbooks.

IX. U.S.A. in the stage of the pioneers

In the case of the United States of America, the pioneering period did not consist of a barbarian conquest of an effete civilization, but of the conquest of barbarian peoples.

Thus, viewed from the outside, every example seems to be different. But viewed from the standpoint of the great nation, every example seems to be similar.

The United States arose suddenly as a new nation, and its period of pioneering was spent in the conquest of a vast continent, not an ancient empire.

Yet the subsequent life history of the United States has followed the standard pattern which we shall attempt to trace – the periods of the pioneers, of commerce, of affluence, of intellectualism and of decadence.

X. Commercial expansion

The conquest of vast areas of land and their subjection to one government automatically acts as a stimulant to commerce.

Both merchants and goods can be exchanged over considerable distances. Moreover, if the empire be an extensive one, it will include a great variety of climates, producing extremely varied products, which the different areas will wish to exchange with one another.

The speed of modern methods of transportation tends to create in us the impression that far-flung commerce is a modern development, but this is not the case.

Objects made in Ireland, Scandinavia and China have been found in the graves or the ruins of the Middle East, dating from 1,000 years before Christ.

The means of transport were slower, but, when a great empire was in control, commerce was freed from the innumerable shackles imposed upon it today by passports, import permits, customs, boycotts and political interference.

The Roman Empire extended from Britain to Syria and Egypt, a distance, in a direct line, of perhaps 2,700 miles. A Roman official, transferred from Britain to Syria, might spend six months on the journey.

Yet, throughout the whole distance, he would be travelling in the same country, with the same official language, the same laws, the same currency and the same administrative system.

Today, some twenty independent countries separate Britain from Syria, each with its own government, its own laws, politics, customs fees, passports and currencies, making commercial co-operation almost impossible. And this process of disintegration is still continuing.

Even within the small areas of the modern European nations, provincial movements demanding secession or devolution tend further to splinter the continent.

The present fashion for ‘independence’ has produced great numbers of tiny states in the world, some of them consisting of only one city or of a small island. This system is an insuperable obstacle to trade and cooperation.

The present European Economic Community is an attempt to secure commercial cooperation among small independent states over a large area, but the plan meets with many difficulties, due to the mutual jealousies of so many nations.

Even savage and militaristic empires promoted commerce, whether or not they intended to do so.

The Mongols were some of the most brutal military conquerors in history, massacring the entire populations of cities. Yet, in the thirteenth century, when their empire extended from Peking to Hungary, the caravan trade between China and Europe achieved a remarkable degree of prosperity – the whole journey was in the territory of one government.

In the eighth and ninth centuries, the caliphs of Baghdad achieved fabulous wealth owing to the immense extent of their territories, which constituted a single trade bloc.

The empire of the caliphs is now divided into some twenty-five separate ‘nations’.

XI. The pros and cons of empires

In discussing the life-story of the typical empire, we have digressed into a discussion of whether empires are useful or injurious to mankind.

We seem to have discovered that empires have certain advantages, particularly in the field of commerce, and in the establishment of peace and security in vast areas of the globe.

Perhaps we should also include the spread of varied cultures to many races.

The present infatuation for independence for ever smaller and smaller units will eventually doubtless be succeeded by new international empires.

The present attempts to create a European community may be regarded as a practical endeavor to constitute a new super-power, in spite of the fragmentation resulting from the craze for independence.
If it succeeds, some of the local independencies will have to be sacrificed.

If it fails, the same result may be attained by military conquest, or by the partition of Europe between rival super-powers.
The inescapable conclusion seems, however, to be that larger territorial units are a benefit to commerce and to public stability, whether the broader territory be achieved by voluntary association or by military action.

XII. Sea power

One of the more benevolent ways in which a super-power can promote both peace and commerce is by its command of the sea.

From Waterloo to 1914, the British Navy commanded the seas of the world. Britain grew rich, but she also made the Seas safe for the commerce of all nations, and prevented major wars for 100 years.

Curiously enough, the question of sea power was never clearly distinguished, in British politics during the last fifty years, from the question of imperial rule over other countries.

In fact, the two subjects are entirely distinct. Sea power does not offend small countries, as does military occupation.

If Britain had maintained her navy, with a few naval bases overseas in isolated islands, and had given independence to colonies which asked for it, the world might well be a more stable place today.

In fact, however, the navy was swept away in the popular outcry against imperialism.

XIII. The Age of Commerce

Let us now, however, return to the life- story of our typical empire.

We have already considered the age of outburst, when a little- regarded people suddenly bursts on to the world stage with a wild courage and energy.

Let us call it the Age of the Pioneers.

Then we saw that these new conquerors acquired the sophisticated weapons of the old empires, and adopted their regular systems of military organization and training. A great period of military expansion ensued, which we may call the Age of Conquests.

The conquests resulted in the acquisition of vast territories under one government, thereby automatically giving rise to commercial prosperity. We may call this the Age of Commerce.

The Age of Conquests, of course, overlaps the Age of Commerce.

The proud military traditions still hold sway and the great armies guard the frontiers, but gradually the desire to make money seems to gain hold of the public. During the military period, glory and honor were the principal objects of ambition.

To the merchant, such ideas are but empty words, which add nothing to the bank balance.

XIV. Art and luxury

The wealth which seems, almost without effort, to pour into the country enables the commercial classes to grow immensely rich.

How to spend all this money becomes a problem to the wealthy business community. Art, architecture and luxury find rich patrons. Splendid municipal buildings and wide streets lend dignity and beauty to the wealthy areas of great cities.

The rich merchants build themselves palaces, and money is invested in communications, highways, bridges, railways or hotels, according to the varied patterns of the ages.

The first half of the Age of Commerce appears to be peculiarly splendid.

The ancient virtues of courage, patriotism and devotion to duty are still in evidence. The nation is proud, united and full of self-confidence. Boys are still required, first of all, to be manly – to ride, to shoot straight and to tell the truth.

(It is remarkable what emphasis is placed, at this stage, on the manly virtue of truthfulness, for lying is cowardice – the fear of facing up to the situation.)

Boys’ schools are intentionally rough. Frugal eating, hard living, breaking the ice to have a bath and similar customs are aimed at producing a strong, hardy and fearless breed of men. Duty is the word constantly drummed into the heads of young people.

The Age of Commerce is also marked by great enterprise in the exploration for new forms of wealth.

Daring initiative is shown in the search for profitable enterprises in far corners of the earth, perpetuating to some degree the adventurous courage of the Age of Conquests.

XV. The Age of Affluence

There does not appear to be any doubt that money is the agent which causes the decline of this strong, brave and self-confident people.

The decline in courage, enterprise and a sense of duty is, however, gradual.

The first direction in which wealth injures the nation is a moral one. Money replaces honor and adventure as the objective of the best young men. Moreover, men do not normally seek to make money for their country or their community, but for them- selves.

Gradually, and almost imperceptibly, the Age of Affluence silences the voice of duty. The object of the young and the ambitious is no longer fame, honor or service, but cash.

Education undergoes the same gradual transformation. No longer do schools aim at producing brave patriots ready to serve their country. Parents and students alike seek the educational qualifications which will command the highest salaries.

The Arab moralist, Ghazali (1058-1111), complains in these very same words of the lowering of objectives in the declining Arab world of his time.

Students, he says, no longer attend college to acquire learning and virtue, but to obtain those qualifications which will enable them to grow rich.

The same situation is everywhere evident among us in the West today.

XVI. High Noon

That which we may call the High Noon of the nation covers the period of transition from the Age of Conquests to the Age of Affluence: the age,
of Augustus in Rome
of Harun al-Rashid in Baghdad
of Sulaiman the Magnificent in the Ottoman Empire
of Queen Victoria in Britain
Perhaps we might add the age of Woodrow Wilson in the United States…

All these periods reveal the same characteristics. The immense wealth accumulated in the nation dazzles the onlookers.

Enough of the ancient virtues of courage, energy and patriotism survive to enable the state successfully to defend its frontiers. But, beneath the surface, greed for money is gradually replacing duty and public service.

Indeed the change might be summarized as being from service to selfishness.

XVII. Defensiveness

Another outward change which invariably marks the transition from the Age of Conquests to the Age of Affluence is the spread of defensiveness.

The nation, immensely rich, is no longer interested in glory or duty, but is only anxious to retain its wealth and its luxury.

It is a period of defensiveness, from the Great Wall of China, to Hadrian’s Wall on the Scottish Border, to the Maginot Line in France in 1939.

Money being in better supply than courage, subsidies instead of weapons are employed to buy off enemies. To justify this departure from ancient tradition, the human mind easily devises its own justification. Military readiness, or aggressiveness, is denounced as primitive and immoral.

Civilized peoples are too proud to fight.

The conquest of one nation by another is declared to be immoral. Empires are wicked.

This intellectual device enables us to suppress our feeling of inferiority, when we read of the heroism of our ancestors, and then ruefully contemplate our position today.
‘It is not that we are afraid to fight,’ we say, ‘but we should consider it immoral.’
This even enables us to assume an attitude of moral superiority.

The weakness of pacifism is that there are still many peoples in the world who are aggressive. Nations who proclaim themselves unwilling to fight are liable to be conquered by peoples in the stage of militarism – perhaps even to see themselves incorporated into some new empire, with the status of mere provinces or colonies.

When to be prepared to use force and when to give way is a perpetual human problem, which can only be solved, as best we can, in each successive situation as it arises.

In fact, however, history seems to indicate that great nations do not normally disarm from motives of conscience, but owing to the weakening of a sense of duty in the citizens, and the increase in selfishness and the desire for wealth and ease.

XVIII.  The Age of Intellect

We have now, perhaps arbitrarily, divided the life-story of our great nation into four ages.

The Age of the Pioneers (or the Outburst), the Age of Conquests, the Age of Commerce, and the Age of Affluence. The great wealth of the nation is no longer needed to supply the mere necessities, or even the luxuries of life.

Ample funds are available also for the pursuit of knowledge.

The merchant princes of the Age of Commerce seek fame and praise, not only by endowing works of art or patronizing music and literature. They also found and endow colleges and universities. It is remarkable with what regularity this phase follows on that of wealth, in empire after empire, divided by many centuries.

In the eleventh century, the former Arab Empire, then in complete political decline, was ruled by the Seljuk sultan, Malik Shah.

The Arabs, no longer soldiers, were still the intellectual leaders of the world. During the reign of Malik Shah, the building of universities and colleges became a passion. Whereas a small number of universities in the great cities had sufficed the years of Arab glory, now a university sprang up in every town.

In our own lifetime, we have witnessed the same phenomenon in the U.S.A. and Britain. When these nations were at the height of their glory, Harvard, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge seemed to meet their needs. Now almost every city has its university.

The ambition of the young, once engaged in the pursuit of adventure and military glory, and then in the desire for the accumulation of wealth, now turns to the acquisition of academic honors.

It is useful here to take note that almost all the pursuits followed with such passion throughout the ages were in themselves good. The manly cult of hardihood, frankness and truthfulness, which characterized the Age of Conquests, produced many really splendid heroes.

The opening up of natural resources, and the peaceful accumulation of wealth, which marked the age of commercialism, appeared to introduce new triumphs in civilization, in culture and in the arts.

In the same way, the vast expansion of the field of knowledge achieved by the Age of Intellect seemed to mark a new high-water mark of human progress.

We cannot say that any of these changes were ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

The striking features in the pageant of empire are:
the extraordinary exactitude with which these stages have followed one another, in empire after empire, over centuries or even millennia

the fact that the successive changes seem to represent mere changes in popular fashion – new fads and fancies which sweep away public opinion without logical reason
At first, popular enthusiasm is devoted to military glory, then to the accumulation of wealth and later to the acquisition of academic fame.

Why could not all these legitimate, and indeed beneficent, activities be carried on simultaneously, each of them in due moderation?

Yet this never seemed to happen.

XIX. The effects of intellectualism

There are so many things in human life which are not dreamt of in our popular philosophy.

The spread of knowledge seems to be the most beneficial of human activities, and yet every period of decline is characterized by this expansion of intellectual activity.
‘All the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing’ is the description given in the Acts of the Apostles of the decline of Greek intellectualism.
The Age of Intellect is accompanied by surprising advances in natural science.

In the ninth century, for example, in the age of Mamun, the Arabs measured the circumference of the earth with remarkable accuracy.

Seven centuries were to pass before Western Europe discovered that the world was not flat. Less than fifty years after the amazing scientific discoveries under Mamun, the Arab Empire collapsed. Wonderful and beneficent as was the progress of science, it did not save the empire from chaos.

The full flowering of Arab and Persian intellectualism did not occur until after their imperial and political collapse.

Thereafter the intellectuals attained fresh triumphs in the academic field, but politically they became the abject servants of the often illiterate rulers.

When the Mongols conquered Persia in the thirteenth century, they were themselves entirely uneducated and were obliged to depend wholly on native Persian officials to administer the country and to collect the revenue. They retained as wazeer, or Prime Minister, one Rashid al-Din, a historian of international repute.

Yet the Prime Minister, when speaking to the Mongol II Khan, was obliged to remain throughout the interview on his knees.

At state banquets, the Prime Minister stood behind the Khan’s seat to wait upon him. If the Khan were in a good mood, he occasionally passed his wazeer a piece of food over his shoulder.

As in the case of the Athenians, intellectualism leads to discussion, debate and argument, such as is typical of the Western nations today. Debates in elected assemblies or local committees, in articles in the Press or in interviews on television –  endless and incessant talking.

Men are interminably different, and intellectual arguments rarely lead to agreement.

Thus public affairs drift from bad to worse, amid an unceasing cacophony of argument. But this constant dedication to discussion seems to destroy the power of action.

Amid a Babel of talk, the ship drifts on to the rocks.

XX. The inadequacy of intellect

Perhaps the most dangerous by-product of the Age of Intellect is the unconscious growth of the idea that the human brain can solve the problems of the world.

Even on the low level of practical affairs this is patently untrue.

Any small human activity, the local bowls club or the ladies’ luncheon club, requires for its survival a measure of self- sacrifice and service on the part of the members. In a wider national sphere, the survival of the nation depends basically on the loyalty and self-sacrifice of the citizens.

The impression that the situation can be saved by mental cleverness, without unselfishness or human self-dedication, can only lead to collapse.

Thus we see that the cultivation of the human intellect seems to be a magnificent ideal, but only on condition that it does not weaken unselfishness and human dedication to service.

Yet this, judging by historical precedent, seems to be exactly what it does do.

Perhaps it is not the intellectualism which destroys the spirit of self-sacrifice – the least we can say is that the two, intellectualism and the loss of a sense of duty, appear simultaneously in the life-story of the nation.

Indeed it often appears in individuals, that the head and the heart are natural rivals. The brilliant but cynical intellectual appears at the opposite end of the spectrum from the emotional self-sacrifice of the hero or the martyr.

Yet there are times when the perhaps unsophisticated self-dedication of the hero is more essential than the sarcasms of the clever.

XXI. Civil dissensions

Another remarkable and unexpected symptom of national decline is the intensification of internal political hatreds.

One would have expected that, when the survival of the nation became precarious, political factions would drop their rivalry and stand shoulder-to-shoulder to save their country.

In the fourteenth century, the weakening empire of Byzantium was threatened, and indeed dominated, by the Ottoman Turks. The situation was so serious that one would have expected every subject of Byzantium to abandon his personal interests and to stand with his compatriots in a last desperate attempt to save the country.

The reverse occurred…

The Byzantines spent the last fifty years of their history in fighting one another in repeated civil wars, until the Ottomans moved in and administered the coup de grâce.

Britain has been governed by an elected parliament for many centuries. In former years, however, the rival parties observed many unwritten laws. Neither party wished to eliminate the other.

All the members referred to one another as honorable gentlemen. But such courtesies have now lapsed.

Booing, shouting and loud noises have undermined the dignity of the House, and angry exchanges are more frequent. We are fortunate if these rivalries are fought out in Parliament, but sometimes such hatreds are carried into the streets, or into industry in the form of strikes, demonstrations, boycotts and similar activities.

True to the normal course followed by nations in decline, internal differences are not reconciled in an attempt to save the nation.

On the contrary, internal rivalries become more acute, as the nation becomes weaker.

XXII. The influx of foreigners

One of the oft-repeated phenomena of great empires is the influx of foreigners to the capital city.

Roman historians often complain of the number of Asians and Africans in Rome. Baghdad, in its prime in the ninth century, was international in its population – Persians, Turks, Arabs, Armenians, Egyptians, Africans and Greeks mingled in its streets.

In London today, Cypriots, Greeks, Italians, Russians, Africans, Germans and Indians jostle one another on the buses and in the underground, so that it sometimes seems difficult to find any British.

The same applies to New York, perhaps even more so. This problem does not consist in any inferiority of one race as compared with another, but simply in the differences between them.

In the age of the first outburst and the subsequent Age of Conquests, the race is normally ethnically more or less homogeneous. This state of affairs facilitates a feeling of solidarity and comradeship.

But in the Ages of Commerce and Affluence, every type of foreigner floods into the great city, the streets of which are reputed to be paved with gold.

As, in most cases, this great city is also the capital of the empire, the cosmopolitan crowd at the seat of empire exercises a political influence greatly in excess of its relative numbers.

Second- or third-generation foreign immigrants may appear outwardly to be entirely assimilated, but they often constitute a weakness in two directions.
First, their basic human nature often differs from that of the original imperial stock.

If the earlier imperial race was stubborn and slow-moving, the immigrants might come from more emotional races, thereby introducing cracks and schisms into the national policies, even if all were equally loyal.

Second, while the nation is still affluent, all the diverse races may appear equally loyal. But in an acute emergency, the immigrants will often be less willing to sacrifice their lives and their property than will be the original descendants of the founder race.

Third, the immigrants are liable to form communities of their own, protecting primarily their own interests, and only in the second degree that of the nation as a whole.

Fourth, many of the foreign immigrants will probably belong to races originally conquered by and absorbed into the empire. While the empire is enjoying its High Noon of prosperity, all these people are proud and glad to be imperial citizens.
But when decline sets in, it is extraordinary how the memory of ancient wars, perhaps centuries before, is suddenly revived, and local or provincial movements appear demanding secession or independence.

Some day this phenomenon will doubtless appear in the now apparently monolithic and authoritarian Soviet empire. It is amazing for how long such provincial sentiments can survive.

Historical examples of this phenomenon are scarcely needed.

The idle and captious Roman mob, with its endless appetite for free distributions of food – bread and games – is notorious, and utterly different from that stern Roman spirit which we associate with the wars of the early republic.

In Baghdad, in the golden days of Harun al-Rashid, Arabs were a minority in the imperial capital. Istanbul, in the great days of Ottoman rule, was peopled by inhabitants remarkably few of whom were descendants of Turkish conquerors.

In New York, descendants of the Pilgrim Fathers are few and far between. This interesting phenomenon is largely limited to great cities.

The original conquering race is often to be found in relative purity in rural districts and on far frontiers. It is the wealth of the great cities which draws the immigrants. As, with the growth of industry, cities nowadays achieve an ever greater preponderance over the countryside, so will the influence of foreigners increasingly dominate old empires.

Once more it may be emphasized that I do not wish to convey the impression that immigrants are inferior to older stocks.

They are just different, and they thus tend to introduce cracks and divisions.

XXIII.  Frivolity

As the nation declines in power and wealth, a universal pessimism gradually pervades the people, and itself hastens the decline.

There is nothing succeeds like success, and, in the Ages of Conquest and Commerce, the nation was carried triumphantly onwards on the wave of its own self-confidence. Republican Rome was repeatedly on the verge of extinction – in 390 B.C. when the Gauls sacked the city and in 216 B.C. after the Battle of Cannae.

But no disasters could shake the resolution of the early Romans. Yet, in the later stages of Roman decline, the whole empire was deeply pessimistic, thereby sapping its own resolution.

Frivolity is the frequent companion of pessimism. Let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. The resemblance between various declining nations in this respect is truly surprising.

The Roman mob, we have seen, demanded free meals and public games.

Gladiatorial shows, chariot races and athletic events were their passion. In the Byzantine Empire the rivalries of the Greens and the Blues in the hippodrome attained the importance of a major crisis.

Judging by the time and space allotted to them in the Press and television, football and baseball are the activities which today chiefly interest the public in Britain and the United States respectively.

The heroes of declining nations are always the same – the athlete, the singer or the actor.

The word ‘celebrity’ today is used to designate a comedian or a football player, not a statesman, a general, or a literary genius.

XXIV.  The Arab decline

In the first half of the ninth century, Baghdad enjoyed its High Noon as the greatest and the richest city in the world.

In 861, however, the reigning Khalif (caliph) Mutawakkil, was murdered by his Turkish mercenaries, who set up a military dictatorship, which lasted for some thirty years.

During this period the empire fell apart, the various dominions and provinces each assuming virtual independence and seeking its own interests.

Baghdad, lately the capital of a vast empire, found its authority limited to Iraq alone.

The works of the contemporary historians of Baghdad in the early tenth century are still available. They deeply deplored the degeneracy of the times in which they lived, emphasizing particularly the indifference to religion, the increasing materialism and the laxity of sexual morals.

They lamented also the corruption of the officials of the government and the fact that politicians always seemed to amass large fortunes while they were in office.

The historians commented bitterly on the extraordinary influence acquired by popular singers over young people, resulting in a decline in sexual morality. The ‘pop’ singers of Baghdad accompanied their erotic songs on the lute, an instrument resembling the modern guitar.

In the second half of the tenth century, as a result, much obscene sexual language came increasingly into use, such as would not have been tolerated in an earlier age.

Several khalifs issued orders banning ‘pop’ singers from the capital, but within a few years they always returned.

An increase in the influence of women in public life has often been associated with national decline. The later Romans complained that, although Rome ruled the world, women ruled Rome.

In the tenth century, a similar tendency was observable in the Arab Empire, the women demanding admission to the professions hitherto monopolized by men.
‘What,’ wrote the contemporary historian, Ibn Bessam, ‘have the professions of clerk, tax-collector or preacher to do with women? These occupations have always been limited to men alone.’
Many women practiced law, while others obtained posts as university professors.

There was an agitation for the appointment of female judges, which, however, does not appear to have succeeded. Soon after this period, government and public order collapsed, and foreign invaders overran the country.

The resulting increase in confusion and violence made it unsafe for women to move unescorted in the streets, with the result that this feminist movement collapsed.

The disorders following the military take-over in 861, and the loss of the empire, had played havoc with the economy.

At such a moment, it might have been expected that everyone would redouble their efforts to save the country from bankruptcy, but nothing of the kind occurred. Instead, at this moment of declining trade and financial stringency, the people of Baghdad introduced a five-day week.

When I first read these contemporary descriptions of tenth-century Baghdad, I could scarcely believe my eyes.

I told myself that this must be a joke! The descriptions might have been taken out of The Times today.

The resemblance of all the details was especially breathtaking:
the break-up of the empire
the abandonment of sexual morality
the ‘pop’ singers with their guitars
the entry of women into the professions
the five-day week…
I would not venture to attempt an explanation!

There are so many mysteries about human life which are far beyond our comprehension.

XXV. Political ideology

Today we attach immense importance to the ideology of our internal politics.

The Press and public media in the U.S.A. and Britain pour incessant scorn on any country the political institutions of which differ in any manner from our own idea of democracy.

It is, therefore, interesting to note that the life-expectation of a great nation does not appear to be in any way affected by the nature of its institutions.

Past empires show almost every possible variation of political system, but all go through the same procedure from the Age of Pioneers through Conquest, Commerce, Affluence to decline and collapse.

XXVI. The Mameluke Empire

The empire of the Mamelukes of Egypt provides a case in point, for it was one of the most exotic ever to be recorded in history.

It is also exceptional in that it began on one fixed day and ended on another, leaving no doubt of its precise duration, which was 267 years.

In the first part of the thirteenth century, Egypt and Syria were ruled by the Ayoubid sultans, the descendants of the family of Saladin. Their army consisted of Mamelukes, slaves imported as boys from the Steppes and trained as professional soldiers.

On 1st May 1250, the Mamelukes mutinied, murdered Turan Shah, the Ayoubid sultan, and became the rulers of his empire.

The first fifty years of the Mameluke Empire were marked by desperate fighting with the hitherto invincible Mongols, the descendants of Genghis Khan, who invaded Syria.

By defeating the Mongols and driving them out of Syria, the Mamelukes saved the Mediterranean from the terrible fate which had overtaken Persia. In 1291, the Mamelukes captured Acre, and put an end to the Crusades.

From 1309 to 1341, the Mameluke Empire was everywhere victorious and possessed the finest army in the world.

For the ensuing hundred years the wealth of the Mameluke Empire was fabulous, slowly leading to luxury, the relaxation of discipline and to decline, with ever more bitter internal political rivalries.

Finally the empire collapsed in 1517, as the result of military defeat by the Ottomans.

The Mameluke government appears to us utterly illogical and fantastic. The ruling class was entirely recruited from young boys, born in what is now Southern Russia.

Every one of them was enlisted as a private soldier. Even the sultans had begun life as private soldiers and had risen from the ranks.

Yet this extraordinary political system resulted in an empire which passed through all the normal stages of conquest, commercialism, affluence and decline and which lasted approximately the usual period of time.

XXVII.  The master race

The people of the great nations of the past seem normally to have imagined that their pre-eminence would last for ever. Rome appeared to its citizens to be destined to be for all time the mistress of the world.

The Abbasid Khalifs of Baghdad declared that God had appointed them to rule mankind until the day of judgment.

Seventy years ago, many people in Britain believed that the empire would endure for ever. Although Hitler failed to achieve his objective, he declared that Germany would rule the world for a thousand years.

That sentiments like these could be publicly expressed without evoking derision shows that, in all ages, the regular rise and fall of great nations has passed unperceived.

The simplest statistics prove the steady rotation of one nation after another at regular intervals.

The belief that their nation would rule the world forever, naturally encouraged the citizens of the leading nation of any period to attribute their pre-eminence to hereditary virtues.

They carried in their blood, they believed, qualities which constituted them a race of supermen, an illusion which inclined them to the employment of cheap foreign labour (or slaves) to perform menial tasks and to engage foreign mercenaries to fight their battles or to sail their ships.

These poorer peoples were only too happy to migrate to the wealthy cities of the empire, and thereby, as we have seen, to adulterate the close-knit, homogeneous character of the conquering race.

The latter unconsciously assumed that they would always be the leaders of mankind, relaxed their energies, and spent an increasing part of their time in leisure, amusement or sport.

In recent years, the idea has spread widely in the West that ‘progress’ will be automatic without effort, that everyone will continue to grow richer and richer and that every year will show a ‘rise in the standard of living’.

We have not drawn from history the obvious conclusion that material success is the result of courage, endurance and hard work – a conclusion nevertheless obvious from the history of the meteoric rise of our own ancestors.

This self-assurance of its own superiority seems to go hand-in-hand with the luxury resulting from wealth, in undermining the character of the dominant race.

XXVIII.   The welfare state

When the welfare state was first introduced in Britain, it was hailed as a new high-water mark in the history of human development.

History, however, seems to suggest that the age of decline of a great nation is often a period which shows a tendency to philanthropy and to sympathy for other races. This phase may not be contradictory to the feeling described in the previous paragraph, that the dominant race has the right to rule the world.

For the citizens of the great nation enjoy the role of Lady Bountiful.

As long as it retains its status of leadership, the imperial people are glad to be generous, even if slightly condescending. The rights of citizenship are generously bestowed on every race, even those formerly subject, and the equality of mankind is proclaimed.

The Roman Empire passed through this phase, when equal citizenship was thrown open to all peoples, such provincials even becoming senators and emperors.

The Arab Empire of Baghdad was equally, perhaps even more, generous. During the Age of Conquests, pure-bred Arabs had constituted a ruling class, but in the ninth century the empire was completely cosmopolitan.

State assistance to the young and the poor was equally generous. University students received government grants to cover their expenses while they were receiving higher education.

The State likewise offered free medical treatment to the poor.

The first free public hospital was opened in Baghdad in the reign of Harun al-Rashid (786-809), and under his son, Mamun, free public hospitals sprang up all over the Arab world from Spain to what is now Pakistan.

The impression that it will always be automatically rich causes the declining empire to spend lavishly on its own benevolence, until such time as the economy collapses, the universities are closed and the hospitals fall into ruin.

It may perhaps be incorrect to picture the welfare state as the high-water mark of human attainment. It may merely prove to be one more regular milestone in the life-story of an ageing and decrepit empire.

XXIX.  Religion

Historians of periods of decadence often refer to a decline in religion, but, if we extend our investigation over a period covering the Assyrians (859-612 B.C.) to our own times, we have to interpret religion in a very broad sense.

Some such definition as,
‘the human feeling that there is something, some invisible Power, apart from material objects, which controls human life and the natural world’.
We are probably too narrow and contemptuous in our interpretation of idol worship.

The people of ancient civilizations were as sensible as we are, and would scarcely have been so foolish as to worship sticks and stones fashioned by their own hands.

The idol was for them merely a symbol, and represented an unknown, spiritual reality, which controlled the lives of men and demanded human obedience to its moral precepts.

We all know only too well that minor differences in the human visualization of this Spirit frequently became the ostensible reason for human wars, in which both sides claimed to be fighting for the true God, but the absurd narrowness of human conceptions should not blind us to the fact that, very often, both sides believed their campaigns to have a moral background.

Genghis Khan, one of the most brutal of all conquerors, claimed that God had delegated him the duty to exterminate the decadent races of the civilized world. Thus the Age of Conquests often had some kind of religious atmosphere, which implied heroic self-sacrifice for the cause.

But this spirit of dedication was slowly eroded in the Age of Commerce by the action of money. People make money for themselves, not for their country.

Thus periods of affluence gradually dissolved the spirit of service, which had caused the rise of the imperial races.

In due course, selfishness permeated the community, the coherence of which was weakened until disintegration was threatened.

Then, as we have seen, came the period of pessimism with the accompanying spirit of frivolity and sensual indulgence, by- products of despair. It was inevitable at such times that men should look back yearningly to the days of ‘religion’, when the spirit of self-sacrifice was still strong enough to make men ready to give and to serve, rather than to snatch.

But while despair might permeate the greater part of the nation, others achieved a new realization of the fact that only readiness for self-sacrifice could enable a community to survive.

Some of the greatest saints in history lived in times of national decadence, raising the banner of duty and service against the flood of depravity and despair.

In this manner, at the height of vice and frivolity the seeds of religious revival are quietly sown.

After, perhaps, several generations (or even centuries) of suffering, the impoverished nation has been purged of its selfishness and its love of money, religion regains its sway and a new era sets in.
‘It is good for me that I have been afflicted,’ said the psalmist, ‘that I might learn Thy Statutes.’

XXX. New combinations

We have traced the rise of an obscure race to fame, through the stages of conquest, commercialism, affluence, and intellectualism, to disintegration, decadence and despair.

We suggested that the dominant race at any given time imparts its leading characteristics to the world around, being in due course succeeded by another empire.

By this means, we speculated, many successive races succeeded one another as super- powers, and in turn bequeathed their peculiar qualities to mankind at large.

But the objection may here be raised that some day the time will come when all the races of the world will in turn have enjoyed their period of domination and have collapsed again in decadence.

When the whole human race has reached the stage of decadence, where will new energetic conquering races be found?

The answer is at first partially obscured by our modern habit of dividing the human race into nations, which we seem to regard as water-tight compartments, an error responsible for innumerable misunderstandings.

In earlier times, warlike nomadic nations invaded the territories of decadent peoples and settled there. In due course, they intermarried with the local population and a new race resulted, though it sometimes retained an old name.

The barbarian invasions of the Roman Empire probably provide the example best known today in the West.

Others were,
the Arab conquests of Spain, North Africa and Persia
the Turkish conquests of the Ottoman Empire
the Norman Conquest of England
In all such cases, the conquered countries were originally fully inhabited and the invaders were armies, which ultimately settled down and married, and produced new races.

In our times, there are few nomadic conquerors left in the world, who could invade more settled countries bringing their tents and flocks with them.

But ease of travel has resulted in an equal, or probably an even greater, intermixture of populations.

The extreme bitterness of modern internal political struggles produces a constant flow of migrants from their native countries to others, where the social institutions suit them better.

The vicissitudes of trade and business similarly result in many persons moving to other countries, at first intending to return, but ultimately settling down in their new countries.

The population of Britain has been constantly changing, particularly in the last sixty years, owing to the influx of immigrants from Europe, Asia and Africa, and the exit of British citizens to the Dominions and the United States.

The latter is, of course, the most obvious example of the constant rise of new nations, and of the transformation of the ethnic content of old nations through this modern nomadism.

XXXI.  Decadence of a system

It is of interest to note that decadence is the disintegration of a system, not of its individual members.

The habits of the members of the community have been corrupted by the enjoyment of too much money and too much power for too long a period. The result has been, in the framework of their national life, to make them selfish and idle.

A community of selfish and idle people declines, internal quarrels develop in the division of its dwindling wealth, and pessimism follows, which some of them Endeavour to drown in sensuality or frivolity.

In their own surroundings, they are unable to redirect their thoughts and their energies into new channels.

But when individual members of such a society emigrate into entirely new surroundings, they do not remain conspicuously decadent, pessimistic or immoral among the inhabitants of their new homeland.

Once enabled to break away from their old channels of thought, and after a short period of readjustment, they become normal citizens of their adopted countries.

Some of them, in the second and third generations, may attain pre-eminence and leadership in their new communities.

This seems to prove that the decline of any nation does not undermine the energies or the basic character of its members. Nor does the decadence of a number of such nations permanently impoverish the human race.

Decadence is both mental and moral deterioration, produced by the slow decline of the community from which its members cannot escape, as long as they remain in their old surroundings.

But, transported elsewhere, they soon discard their decadent ways of thought, and prove themselves equal to the other citizens of their adopted country.

XXXII. . Decadence is not physical

Neither is decadence physical.

The citizens of nations in decline are sometimes described as too physically emasculated to be able to bear hardship or make great efforts. This does not seem to be a true picture.

Citizens of great nations in decadence are normally physically larger and stronger than those of their barbarian invaders.

Moreover, as was proved in Britain in the first World War, young men brought up in luxury and wealth found little difficulty in accustoming themselves to life in the front-line trenches.

The history of exploration proves the same point.

Men accustomed to comfortable living in homes in Europe or America were able to show as much endurance as the natives in riding camels across the desert or in hacking their way through tropical forests.

Decadence is a moral and spiritual disease, resulting from too long a period of wealth and power, producing cynicism, decline of religion, pessimism and frivolity.

The citizens of such a nation will no longer make an effort to save themselves, because they are not convinced that anything in life is worth saving.

XXXIII.   Human diversity

Generalizations are always dangerous. Human beings are all different. The variety in human life is endless.

If this be the case with individuals, it is much more so with nations and cultures. No two societies, no two peoples, no two cultures are exactly the same.

In these circumstances, it will be easy for critics to find many objections to what has been said, and to point out exceptions to the generalizations.

There is some value in comparing the lives of nations to those of individuals. No two persons in the world are identical.

Moreover their lives are often affected by accidents or by illness, making the divergences even more obvious. Yet, in fact, we can generalize about human life from many different aspects.

The characteristics of childhood, adolescence, youth, middle and old age are well known. Some adolescents, it is true, are prematurely wise and serious. Some persons in middle age still seem to he young.

But such exceptions do not invalidate the general character of human life from the cradle to the grave.

I venture to submit that the lives of nations follow a similar pattern. Superficially, all seem to be completely different.

Some years ago, a suggestion was submitted to a certain television corporation that a series of talks on Arab history would form an interesting sequence.

The proposal was immediately vetoed by the director of programs with the remark,
“What earthly interest could the history of medieval Arabs have for the general public today?”
Yet, in fact, the history of the Arab imperial age – from conquest through commercialism, to affluence, intellectualism, science and decadence – is an exact precursor of British imperial history and lasted almost exactly the same time.

If British historians, a century ago, had devoted serious study to the Arab Empire, they could have foreseen almost everything that has happened in Britain down to 1976.

XXXIV.   A variety of falls

It has been shown that, normally, the rise and fall of great nations are due to internal reasons alone.

Ten generations of human beings suffice to transform the hardy and enterprising pioneer into the captious citizen of the welfare state.

But whereas the life histories of great nations show an unexpected uniformity, the nature of their falls depends largely on outside circumstances and thus shows a high degree of diversity.

The Roman Republic, as we have seen, was followed by the empire, which became a super-state, in which all the natives of the Mediterranean basin, regardless of race, possessed equal rights.

The name of Rome, originally a city-state, passed from it to an equalitarian international empire.

This empire broke in half, the western half being overrun by northern barbarians, the eastern half forming the East Roman or Byzantine Empire.

The vast Arab Empire broke up in the ninth century into many fragments, of which one former colony, Moslem Spain, ran its own 250-year course as an independent empire. The homelands of Syria and Iraq, however, were conquered by successive waves of Turks to whom they remained subject for 1,000 years.

The Mameluke Empire of Egypt and Syria, on the other hand, was conquered in one campaign by the Ottomans, the native population merely suffering a change of masters.

The Spanish Empire (1500-1750) endured for the conventional 250 years, terminated only by the loss of its colonies. The homeland of Spain fell, indeed, from its high estate of a super-power, but remained as an independent nation until today.

Romanov Russia (1682-1916) ran the normal course, but was succeeded by the Soviet Union.

It is unnecessary to labour the point, which we may attempt to summarize briefly. Any regime which attains great wealth and power seems with remarkable regularity to decay and fall apart in some ten generations.

The ultimate fate of its component parts, however, does not depend on its internal nature, but on the other organizations which appear at the time of its collapse and succeed in devouring its heritage.

Thus the lives of great powers are surprisingly uniform, but the results of their falls are completely diverse.

XXXV.   Inadequacy of our historical studies

In fact, the modern nations of the West have derived only limited value from their historical studies, because they have never made them big enough.

For history to have meaning, as we have already stated, it must be the history of the human race.

Far from achieving such an ideal, our historical studies are largely limited to the history of our own country during the lifetime of the present nation. Thus the time- factor is too short to allow the longer rhythms of the rise and fall of nations even to be noticed.

As the television director indicated, it never even crosses our minds that longer periods could be of any interest.

When we read the history of our own nation, we find the actions of our ancestors described as glorious, while those of other peoples are depicted as mean, tyrannical or cowardly.

Thus our history is (intentionally) not based on facts. We are emotionally unwilling to accept that our forbears might have been mean or cowardly.

Alternatively, there are ‘political’ schools of history, slanted to discredit the actions of our past leaders, in order to support modern political movements.

In all these cases, history is not an attempt to ascertain the truth, but a system of propaganda, devoted to the furtherance of modern projects, or the gratification of national vanity.

Men can scarcely be blamed for not learning from the history they are taught.

There is nothing to learn from it, because it is not true.

XXXVI.   Small nations

The word ’empires’ has been used in this essay to signify nations which achieve the status of great powers, or super-powers, in the jargon of today – nations which have dominated the international scene for two or three centuries.

At any given time, however, there are also smaller states which are more or less self-contained. Do these live the same ‘lives’ as the great nations, and pass through the same phases?

It seems impossible to generalize on this issue. In general, decadence is the outcome of too long a period of wealth and power.

If the small country has not shared in the wealth and power, it will not share in the decadence.

XXXVII.   The emerging pattern

In spite of the endless variety and the infinite complications of human life, a general pattern does seem to emerge from these considerations.

It reveals many successive empires covering some 3,000 years, as having followed similar stages of development and decline, and as having, to a surprising degree, ‘lived’ lives of very similar length.

The life-expectation of a great nation, it appears, commences with a violent, and usually unforeseen, outburst of energy, and ends in a lowering of moral standards, cynicism, pessimism and frivolity.

If the present writer were a millionaire, he would try to establish in some university or other a department dedicated solely to the study of the rhythm of the rise and fall of powerful nations throughout the world.

History goes back only some 3,000 years, because before that period writing was not sufficiently widespread to allow of the survival of detailed records.

But within that period, the number of empires available for study is very great.

At the commencement of this essay, the names of eleven such empires were listed, but these included only the Middle East and the modern nations of the West.

India, China and Southern America were not included, because the writer knows nothing about them.

A school founded to study the rise and fall of empires would probably find at least twenty-four great powers available for dissection and analysis.

The task would not be an easy one, if indeed the net were cast so wide as to cover virtually all the world’s great nations in 3,000 years.

The knowledge of language alone, to enable detailed investigations to be pursued, would present a formidable obstacle.

XXXVIII.    Would it help?

It is pleasing to imagine that, from such studies, a regular life-pattern of nations would emerge, including an analysis of the various changes which ultimately lead to decline, decadence and collapse.

It is tempting to assume that measures could be adopted to forestall the disastrous effects of excessive wealth and power, and thence of subsequent decadence.

Perhaps some means could be devised to prevent the activist Age of Conquests and Commerce deteriorating into the Age of Intellect, producing endless talking but no action.

It is tempting to think so.

Perhaps if the pattern of the rise and fall of nations were regularly taught in schools, the general public would come to realize the truth, and would support policies to maintain the spirit of duty and self-sacrifice, and to forestall the accumulation of excessive wealth by one nation, leading to the demoralization of that nation.

Could not the sense of duty and the initiative needed to give rise to action be retained parallel with intellectual development and the discoveries of natural science?

The answer is doubtful, though we could but try.

The weaknesses of human nature, however, are so obvious, that we cannot be too confident of success. Men bursting with courage, energy and self-confidence cannot easily be restrained from subduing their neighbors, and men who see the prospect of wealth open to them will not readily be prevented from pursuing it.

Perhaps it is not in the real interest of humanity that they should be so prevented, for it is in periods of wealth that art, architecture, music, science and literature make the greatest progress.

Moreover, as we have seen where great empires are concerned, their establishment may give rise to wars and tragedies, but their periods of power often bring peace, security and prosperity to vast areas of territory.

Our knowledge and our experience (perhaps our basic human intellects) are inadequate to pronounce whether or not the rise and fall of great nations is the best system for the best of all possible worlds.

These doubts, however, need not prevent us from attempting to acquire more knowledge on the rise and fall of great powers, or from endeavoring, in the light of such knowledge, to improve the moral quality of human life.

Perhaps, in fact, we may reach the conclusion that the successive rise and fall of great nations is inevitable and, indeed, a system divinely ordained. But even this would be an immense gain. For we should know where we stand in relation to our human brothers and sisters.

In our present state of mental chaos on the subject, we divide ourselves into nations, parties or communities and fight, hate and vilify one another over developments which may perhaps be divinely ordained and which seem to us, if we take a broader view, completely uncontrollable and inevitable.

If we could accept these great movements as beyond our control, there would be no excuse for our hating one another because of them.

However varied, confusing and contradictory the religious history of the world may appear, the noblest and most spiritual of the devotees of all religions seem to reach the conclusion that love is the key to human life.

Any expansion of our knowledge which may lead to a reduction in our unjustified hates is therefore surely well worth while.

XXXIX.   Summary

As numerous points of interest have arisen in the course of this essay, I close with a brief summary, to refresh the reader’s mind.
We do not learn from history because our studies are brief and prejudiced.

In a surprising manner, 250 years emerges as the average length of national greatness.

This average has not varied for 3,000 years. Does it represent ten generations?

The stages of the rise and fall of great nations seem to be:
The Age of Pioneers (outburst)
The Age of Conquests
The Age of Commerce
The Age of Affluence
The Age of Intellect
The Age of Decadence.
Decadence is marked by:
Defensiveness
Pessimism
Materialism
Frivolity
An influx of foreigners
The Welfare State
A weakening of religion
Decadence is due to:
Too long a period of wealth and power Selfishness

Love of money

The loss of a sense of duty.
The life histories of great states are amazingly similar, and are due to internal factors.

Their falls are diverse, because they are largely the result of external causes.

History should be taught as the history of the human race, though of course with emphasis on the history of the student’s own country.
Source :  http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia2/historia_humanidad131.htm

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The Twelve Powers of Man

by Charles Fillmore

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction………………………………………. 3
Chapter 1 – The Twelve Powers of Man…………………. 7
Chapter 2 – The Development of Faith………………… 11
Chapter 3 – Strength–Stability–Steadfastness……….16
Chapter 4 – Wisdom–Judgment………………………… 19
Chapter 5 – Regenerating Love……………………….. 24
Chapter 6 – Power–Dominion–Mastery………………….28
Chapter 7 – The Work of the Imagination in Regeneration… 33
Chapter 8 – Understanding…………………………… 38
Chapter 9 – The Will Is the Man……………………… 45
Chapter 10 – Spiritual Law and Order……………….51
Chapter 11 – Zeal–Enthusiasm……………………….. 60
Chapter 12 – Renunciation…………………………… 66
Chapter 13 – Generative Life………………………… 74

Introduction

JESUS prophesied the advent of a race of men who would sit with Him on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. This book explains the meaning of this mystical reference, what and where the twelve thrones are, and what attainments are necessary by man before he can follow Jesus in this phase of his regeneration. Regeneration follows generation in the development of man. Generation sustains and perpetuates the human; regeneration unfolds and glorifies the divine.

It is not expected that beginners in the study of metaphysical Christianity will understand this book. It deals with forces that function below and above the field of the conscious mind. The average religious thinker knows nothing about the subconscious mind and very little about the superconscious; this book presupposes a working knowledge of both. This book aims to clear up the mystery that ever envelops the advent, life, and death of Jesus. To the superficial reader of the Gospels His life was a tragedy and, so far as concerns the kingly reign that was prophesied, it was a failure. Yet those who understand the subtlety of the soul and supremacy of Spirit see that Jesus was conqueror of a psychic force that was destroying the human race.

Jesus was the star actor in the greatest drama ever played on earth. This drama was developed in the celestial realm, its object being to inject new life into perishing men. The full significance of this great plan of salvation cannot be understood by man until he awakens faculties that relate him to the earth beneath and the heavens above.

It had long been prophesied that the time was ripe for the advent on this planet of a new race, and there had been much speculation as to the character and advent of the superman. Herein is set forth the metaphysical idea of the spiritual quickening of man on the human plane and his transformation into the divine: not by a miracle or the fiat of God, but by the gradual refinement of the man of flesh into the man of Spirit. As Paul taught, “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”

Jesus was the “first-fruits” of those who are coming out of the mortal into the immortal. He was thetype man, the Way-Shower, and, through following His example and taking on His character as a spiritual-minded man, we shall come into the same consciousness.

Spiritual discernment always precedes demonstration, consequently more is taught in this book as a possibility of attainment by man than has been demonstrated by any man save Jesus. Those who feel that they are ready for the great adventure in the attainment of eternal life in the body here and now should not be deterred because there are no outstanding examples of men who have risen to this most exalted degree. Through mental energy, or the dynamic power of the mind, man can release the life of the electrons secreted in the atoms that compose the cells of his body. Physical science says that if the electronic energy stored in a single drop of water were suddenly released its power would demolish a six-story building. Who can estimate the power stored in the millions of cells that compose the human body? The method of release of this body energy and its control are mystically taught by Jesus. He was transfigured before His apostles, “and his face did shine as the sun, and his garments became white as the light.

Read the book at  http://www.surrenderworks.com/newthoughtlibrary/Charles%20Fillmore/The%20Twelve%20Powers%20of%20Man.pdf

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The Psychonaut Field Manual

A post by eisegesis at ATS.
WARNING: This thread is for educational purposes only.
This manual is “theology free” and explains how to “hack” one’s mind. It’s a great introduction for beginners and those interested in esoteric mysticism. It’s written in plain language and the art style is similar to that of Gorillaz co-creator, Jamie Hewlett.

Regardless of your beliefs, DO NOT attempt to practice the more advanced techniques without fully understanding the consequences. Irreversible hallucinations, damage to the nervous system, outright madness and permanent disorder are all VERY REAL dangers.

Attempt at your own risk!!

Low-Res PDF (12 MB): Download with preview
Hi-Res PDF (148 MB): Download without preview

If you wish to interact with the only other intelligent life that we know of, as strange as it all sounds, this guide will show you the basic knowledge required to make contact. So please… stay in your circle, never “let them in,” and always remember to banish!!

Thanks

Link to Thread – http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread1186122/pg1

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The ‘mysteries’ of CERN.

Here’s an interesting post by  Joneselius at ATS in this post he said  ……  ” a thread on the strange things about CERN, and some recent events that I find rather troubling.

The ULO! I made a thread a while back where I discussed an object that was said to be ‘lying’ in one of the compression tubes on the LHC. I sent 3 e-mails to various scientists at CERN to clarify what they meant when they used the term “lying object”. I did not receive a reply form anyone at CERN. Here’s the original snippet, with the guy I e-mailed being quoted.

“It will take only one significant deviation in the data to change everything,” De Roeck said. “The upgraded machine works. Now we have to get to the real operation for physics.” But work remains to be done. One issue the accelerator physicists remain cautiously aware of, he said, is an “Unidentified Lying Object” in the beam pipe of the LHC’s 17-mile underground tunnel, a vacuum tube where proton beams collide and scatter particles that scientists then analyze for keys to unlock the mysteries of the Big Bang and the cosmos.”

He did not respond. It’s a shame because the ULO is STILL there. I’m starting to think it’s more than we’re being led to believe. Like some kind of dormant entity or something that, as long as it’s not disturbed, wont be a problem for them. Or maybe it’s a screw? Why not just clarify this with me though? Weird.

The Ritual
Now I’m sure we’ve all seen this video but I’m posting it anyway as the story behind it simply doesn’t add up.

Assume this is organized and a fake. Those people doing the ritual HAVE to be scientists/employees as you need a security clearance to get into that courtyard.. I feel there is some sort of creepy legitimacy to this video. Why even fake this, no one’s around or capable of access. WHO are they ‘faking’ it for? It just doesn’t add up to me at all, also, who finds mock human sacrifices funny?

Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin This is VERY strange indeed, and if true, should awaken most Christians as to how dire the situation has become over there at both CERN and Bilderberg.

(For some reason I can’t get link to work!) The video
This is NOT confirmed, but if it is then holy hell.
The meaning of the message is “You have been weighed and found wanting”. Imagine hearing that from God. Wow.

The drowned scientists.

At around 1 a.m. on Sunday, April 26th, two doctoral students at the Louisiana State University (LSU) were mysteriously found dead at the bottom of a local swimming pool. 28-year-old I#a Maity and 25-year-old Anton Joe were with the schools physics and astronomy department with Maity studying theoretical astrophysics while Anton was a 3rd-year graduate student studying theoretical gravity. Maity was an author of one of the journal ‘New Astronomy’s’ most popular recent papers entitled “Black hole spin dependence of general relativistic multi-transonic accretion close to the (event) horizon”; Joes’ most recent paper was called “Kantowski-Sachs spacetime in loop quantum cosmology: bounds on expansion and shear scalars and the viability of quantization prescriptions.” Over a year ago, Joe uploaded a paper to Academia.edu called ‘Search For Three-Jet Resonances in pp Collisions at s+7TeV’, the paper was written for the European Organization For Nuclear Research, also known as CERN.

Back on March 20, 2015, Susan Duclos wrote a story in which members of the scientific community talked about CERN and the possibility of it creating black holes and parallel universes, warnings not given by ‘conspiracy theorists’ but experts, members of the same fields of study as I#a Maity and Anton Joe, warnings that we should all be concerned about as we do all live upon the same planet. Did Maity and/or Joe discover something that they were not supposed to know which led to their mysterious deaths? Both of them were considered stunningly intelligent with brilliant minds.

How strange that two men, who could have spoken out about black holes being formed, in a much smarter way then we could, instead drowning in a pool? I find this incredibly hard to believe, people of ‘stunning intellect’ seldom jump in pools if they’re proficient at swimming.

Oh Hi Apollo
The town in France where CERN is partially situated is called “Saint-Genus-Poilly.” The name Pouilly comes from the Latin “Appolliacum” and it is believed that in Roman times a temple existed in honor of Apollo, and the people who lived there believed that it is a gateway to the underworld. It is interesting to note that CERN is built on the same spot.

Religious leaders – always suspicious of the aims of the scientific world – drew a connection to a verse straight out of Revelations (9:1-2, 11), which makes reference to the name ‘Apollyon.’ The verse states: “To him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit… And they had a kind over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.”

Again, just ANOTHER strange coincidence right? I mean, it’s not like anything else strange has happened here right?

WHY THAT NAME!?
This brings us to the name CERN itself. Cern is actually just short for Cernunnos who was the Celtic horned god of the underworld.
Why, oh why, would you choose a name that forms the acronym of the God of the underworld? They also have Shiva outside their center, the God of destruction.

I believe that CERN are hiding their true intent from the people, and they’re keeping all the aspects of their experimentation completely compartmentalized from one another to hide their true intent.
I truly believe that CERN is seeking, desperately to open a doorway and look into another dimension, if not invite something into ours, even if it’s tiny.
The use use of SO MUCH religiously orientated language and symbology at CERN leads me to believe that the people who run CERN have a spiritual motive for doing so. They focus on the ‘destructive’ aspect a LOT. Also, the ritualistic nature of CERN is utterly counter intuitive to a scientific mind – for the most part – and yet this is not questioned. ”

Replies on this thread of note:

Caver78 –

CERN is an acronym for

Organisation Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire (renamed from Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, but acronym was retained)

www.google.com… .0….0…1.1.64.psy-ab..0.14.2328.0..0i131k1j0i67k1.lr58_QJmkFs

It’s from the French name for the facility, not Cernunnos who IIRC is also an aspect of the Green Man. The Celtic horned god of fertility, animals and the underworld.

As to what they are doing at Cern? Firstly they are using one heck of a lot of electricity. Secondly Research and the collider is used to smash particles. Not so much to make particles at least that’s my understanding. Last I heard they also have been having QUITE a time with rodents getting in and chewing wiring. Which I found hilarious.

It’s unfortunate about those two students, I don’t believe for an instant there are any rituals going on but I do think we don’t understand most of the experiments being run not because of nefarious reasons but I’m guessing there are about 100 people on the planet that DO understand things at that level.

I’m not one of them. Most people aren’t.

Will give you a bigger thing to freak about, a few years back in Iceland I believe? They were going to drill into the magma core and try to tap it for geothermal energy. Anyone here think once they pop that pimple they’d be able to contain it? Nope…didn’t think so!

There are way more scarier things to worry about than CERN.

Currently Elon Musk is bloviating about running his tube thingy eventually to the east coast. Wanna bet that’s going to play the devil running under fracking areas and create mayhem? Just saying’

—-

Disturbinatti –

Your op is long so before I forget…

Appollyon is the Greek rendering of Abbadon. I don’t know why it’s Appollyon in Revelation as Abbad and Appollo aren’t equal in translation. Abba-don is probably a city like Har Meggido is a geographical location people assume means the end of the world or Armageddon.

Abba is Father, don is probably a reference to Dan.

Isn’t Dan unmentioned in the list of 12 tribes?

Abba-don is probably the Father(s) of Dan.

Abbad-on, on the other hand, I don’t know what would mean. Probably it’s Ava as Vav gets transliterated to B often (Ya’akov to Jacob).

City of Abbad? I should know this, too.

CERN is a creepy place. Whatever they say they are doing is the least to be concerned about, what they don’t is problematic.

They are playing God trying to recreate a miniature (theoretical) big bang?

I doubt that. It’s theory, people just believe it is true like a religous person believes in God, but with less evidence. Ex Nihilo is an impossible way to explain creation unless God exists and caused it.

Otherwise nothing would have remained nothing. It was long before Europeans took credit for saying ever action has a reaction of proper proportion that it was actually said, but who said it isn’t important.

That it’s true is.

Likewise every action has a cause, every cause a First Cause called God in religion, unless you have a demiurgic belief system, either way…

There is nothing to be gained from trying to recreate a theoretical explanation of existence. Something else is going on.

The footage was obviously leaked as a distraction from what is actually going on, they always leak b.s. to cover up seriously effed up ish.

Like the story they are trying to free the Watchers and Rephaim from their subterranean prison and habitat. The Rephaim are as old as Ugaritic mythology, Canaanite/Phoenician/Carthaginian and Hebrew/Semitic legends of old all have this belief that giants dwell in the earth. Rephaim that is.

The Messiah ben Ephraim might really be an anagram for the Messiah ben Rephaim as Ephraim is plural, unusual for a man’s name.

Re/a means evil in Hebrew. Resh(R) with an Aleph spelled out “Resha” means wicked.

Anyway it’s a matter of moving one letter and the 2 Messiah thing is shady sounding as they say one will be killed by Armilus, son of Satan/Samael, ressurected by ben David or “King Maschiach.”

Sorry I don’t know ish about science, but religion I do. I am going to look up Abbadon.

—-
Disturbinatti –

Regarding the name, “CERN.”

Just speculating but I believe as A/E are the same in Hebrew that it could an occult meaning that is for (in)CARN(ate)…

Like they are trying to incarnate something demonic or RE(evil in Hebrew)inCARNate.

CERN is Evil, RA inCARNate.

—-
Disturbinatti
  

Interesting information…

Abbadon IS a place in the Tanakh, meaning place of destruction and is usually mentioned with Sheol, the pit of destruction would be Abbadon, a place in Sheol, also Gehenom is mentioned, these are the bad places.

Must be due to misunderstanding of some sort that Abbadon is considered a name for an angel in Revelation 9:11, the destroying angel.

Hmm…. Appollyon. N Apolean…

Strange coincidence their. Napoli-on.

I wonder if Naples/Napoli is Abbadon! It looks like it could be hell!

Joneselius –

Indeed it does.

It does say the angel was given the ‘key’ to the bottomless pit.

Could this be CERN?

Posted in ATS Threads, Mystery, Science, Warnings | Leave a comment

The Kybalion

Day and the Dawn Star, by Herbert Draper (detail) [1906] (Public Domain Image)
Day and the Dawn Star, by Herbert Draper (detail) [1906] (Public Domain Image)

The Kybalion

by Three Initiates

[1912]


Contents    Start Reading    Text [Zipped]


This concise work on ‘The Hermetic Philosophy’ outlines seven universal principles: Mentalism, Correspondence, Vibration, Polarity, Rhythm, Cause and Effect, and Gender. Rather than the actual Kybalion, this is purportedly an exegesis on that text. While this was probably one of the books which William Walker Atikinson wrote for the Yogi Publication Society under a pseudonym, it probably bears a closer read than most.


Title Page
Table of Contents
Introduction
Chapter I. The Hermetic Philosophy
Chapter II. The Seven Hermetic Principles
Chapter III. Mental Transmutation
Chapter IV. The All
Chapter V. The Mental Universe
Chapter VI. The Divine Paradox
Chapter VII. ”The All” in All
Chapter VIII. Planes of Correspondence
Chapter IX. Vibration
Chapter X. Polarity
Chapter XI. Rhythm
Chapter XII. Causation
Chapter XIII. Gender
Chapter XIV. Mental Gender
Chapter XV. Hermetic Axioms

 

 

THE SEVEN HERMETIC PRINCIPLES

“The Principles of Truth are Seven; he who knows these,
understandingly, possesses the Magic Key before whose
touch all the Doors of the Temple fly open.”–The Kybalion.

The Seven Hermetic Principles, upon which the entire Hermetic Philosophy is based, are as follows:

1. The Principle of Mentalism.
2. The Principle of Correspondence.
3. The Principle of Vibration.
4. The Principle of Polarity.
5. The Principle of Rhythm.
6. The Principle of Cause and Effect.
7. The Principle of Gender.

These Seven Principles will be discussed and explained as we proceed with these lessons. A short explanation of each, however, may as well be given at this point.

1. The Principle of Mentalism

“THE ALL IS MIND; The Universe is Mental.”–The Kybalion.

This Principle embodies the truth that “All is Mind.” It explains that THE ALL (which is the Substantial Reality underlying all the outward manifestations and appearances which we know under the terms of “The Material Universe”; the “Phenomena of Life”; “Matter”; “Energy”; and, in short, all that is apparent to our material senses) is SPIRIT which in itself is UNKNOWABLE and UNDEFINABLE, but which may be considered and thought of as AN UNIVERSAL, INFINITE, LIVING MIND. It also explains that all the phenomenal world or universe is simply a Mental Creation of THE ALL, subject to the Laws of Created Things, and that the universe, as a whole, and in its parts or units, has its existence in the Mind of THE ALL, in which Mind we “live and move and have our being.” This Principle, by establishing the Mental Nature of the Universe, easily explains all of the varied mental and psychic phenomena that occupy such a large portion of the public attention, and which, without such explanation, are non-understandable and defy scientific treatment. An understanding of this great Hermetic Principle of Mentalism enables the individual to readily grasp the laws of the Mental Universe, and to apply the same to his well-being and advancement. The Hermetic Student is enabled to apply intelligently the great Mental Laws, instead of using them in a haphazard manner. With the Master-Key in his possession, the student may unlock the many doors of the mental and psychic temple of knowledge, and enter the same freely and intelligently. This Principle explains the true nature of “Energy,” “Power,” and “Matter,” and why and how all these are subordinate to the Mastery of Mind. One of the old Hermetic Masters wrote, long ages ago: “He who grasps the truth of the Mental Nature of the Universe is well advanced on The Path to Mastery.” And these words are as true today as at the time they were first written. Without this Master-Key, Mastery is impossible, and the student knocks in vain at the many doors of The Temple.

2. The Principle of Correspondence

“As above, so below; as below, so above.”–The Kybalion.

This Principle embodies the truth that there is always a Correspondence between the laws and phenomena of the various planes of Being and Life. The old Hermetic axiom ran in these words: “As above, so below; as below, so above.” And the grasping of this Principle gives one the means of solving many a dark paradox, and hidden secret of Nature. There are planes beyond our knowing, but when we apply the Principle of Correspondence to them we are able to understand much that would otherwise be unknowable to us. This Principle is of universal application and manifestation, on the various planes of the material, mental, and spiritual universe–it is an Universal Law. The ancient Hermetists considered this Principle as one of the most important mental instruments by which man was able to pry aside the obstacles which hid from view the Unknown. Its use even tore aside the Veil of Isis to the extent that a glimpse of the face of the goddess might be caught. Just as a knowledge of the Principles of Geometry enables man to measure distant suns and their movements, while seated in his observatory, so a knowledge of the Principle of Correspondence enables Man to reason intelligently from the Known to the Unknown. Studying the monad, he understands the archangel.

3. The Principle of Vibration

“Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates.”–The
Kybalion.

This Principle embodies the truth that “everything is in motion”; “everything vibrates”; “nothing is at rest”; facts which Modern Science endorses, and which each new scientific discovery tends to verify. And yet this Hermetic Principle was enunciated thousands of years ago, by the Masters of Ancient Egypt. This Principle explains that the differences between different manifestations of Matter, Energy, Mind, and even Spirit, result largely from varying rates of Vibration. From THE ALL, which is Pure Spirit, down to the grossest form of Matter, all is in vibration–the higher the vibration, the higher the position in the scale. The vibration of Spirit is at such an infinite rate of intensity and rapidity that it is practically at rest–just as a rapidly moving wheel seems to be motionless. And at the other end of the scale, there are gross forms of matter whose vibrations are so low as to seem at rest. Between these poles, there are millions upon millions of varying degrees of vibration. From corpuscle and electron, atom and molecule, to worlds and universes, everything is in vibratory motion. This is also true on the planes of energy and force (which are but varying degrees of vibration); and also on the mental planes (whose states depend upon vibrations); and even on to the spiritual planes. An understanding of this Principle, with the appropriate formulas, enables Hermetic students to control their own mental vibrations as well as those of others. The Masters also apply this Principle to the conquering of Natural phenomena, in various ways. “He who understands the Principle of Vibration, has grasped the scepter of power,” says one of the old writers.

4. The Principle of Polarity

“Everything is Dual; everything has poles; everything has its
pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are
identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet;
all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be
reconciled.”–The Kybalion.

This Principle embodies the truth that “everything is dual”; “everything has two poles”; “everything has its pair of opposites,” all of which were old Hermetic axioms. It explains the old paradoxes, that have perplexed so many, which have been stated as follows: “Thesis and antithesis are identical in nature, but different in degree”; “opposites are the same, differing only in degree”; “the pairs of opposites may be reconciled”; “extremes meet”; “everything is and isn’t, at the same time”; “all truths are but half-truths”; “every truth is half-false”; “there are two sides to everything,” etc., etc., etc. It explains that in everything there are two poles, or opposite aspects, and that “opposites” are really only the two extremes of the same thing, with many varying degrees between them. To illustrate: Heat and Cold, although “opposites,” are really the same thing, the differences consisting merely of degrees of the same thing. Look at your thermometer and see if you can discover where “heat” terminates and “cold” begins! There is no such thing as “absolute heat” or “absolute cold”–the two terms “heat” and “cold” simply indicate varying degrees of the same thing, and that “same thing” which manifests as “heat” and “cold” is merely a form, variety, and rate of Vibration. So “heat” and “cold” are simply the “two poles” of that which we call “Heat”–and the phenomena attendant thereupon are manifestations of the Principle of Polarity. The same Principle manifests in the case of “Light and Darkness,” which are the same thing, the difference consisting of varying degrees between the two poles of the phenomena. Where does “darkness” leave off, and “light” begin? What is the difference between “Large and Small”? Between “Hard and Soft”? Between “Black and White”? Between “Sharp and Dull”? Between “Noise and Quiet”? Between “High and Low”? Between “Positive and Negative”? The Principle of Polarity explains these paradoxes, and no other Principle can supersede it. The same Principle operates on the Mental Plane. Let us take a radical and extreme example–that of “Love and Hate,” two mental states apparently totally different. And yet there are degrees of Hate and degrees of Love, and a middle point in which we use the terms “Like or Dislike,” which shade into each other so gradually that sometimes we are at a loss to know whether we “like” or “dislike” or “neither.” And all are simply degrees of the same thing, as you will see if you will but think a moment. And, more than this (and considered of more importance by the Hermetists), it is possible to change the vibrations of Hate to the vibrations of Love, in one’s own mind, and in the minds of others. Many of you, who read these lines, have had personal experiences of the involuntary rapid transition from Love to Hate, and the reverse, in your own case and that of others. And you will therefore realize the possibility of this being accomplished by the use of the Will, by means of the Hermetic formulas. “Good and Evil” are but the poles of the same thing, and the Hermetist understands the art of transmuting Evil into Good, by means of an application of the Principle of Polarity. In short, the “Art of Polarization” becomes a phase of “Mental Alchemy” known and practiced by the ancient and modern Hermetic Masters. An understanding of the Principle will enable one to change his own Polarity, as well as that of others, if he will devote the time and study necessary to master the art.

5. The Principle of Rhythm

“Everything flows, out and in; everything has its tides;
all things rise and fall; the pendulum-swing manifests in
everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the
measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates.”–The
Kybalion.

This Principle embodies the truth that in everything there is manifested a measured motion, to and fro; a flow and inflow; a swing backward and forward; a pendulum-like movement; a tide-like ebb and flow; a high-tide and low-tide; between the two poles which exist in accordance with the Principle of Polarity described a moment ago. There is always an action and a reaction; an advance and a retreat; a rising and a sinking. This is in the affairs of the Universe, suns, worlds, men, animals, mind, energy, and matter. This law is manifest in the creation and destruction of worlds; in the rise and fall of nations; in the life of all things; and finally in the mental states of Man (and it is with this latter that the Hermetists find the understanding of the Principle most important). The Hermetists have grasped this Principle, finding its universal application, and have also discovered certain means to overcome its effects in themselves by the use of the appropriate formulas and methods. They apply the Mental Law of Neutralization. They cannot annul the Principle, or cause it to cease its operation, but they have learned how to escape its effects upon themselves to a certain degree depending upon the Mastery of the Principle. They have learned how to USE it, instead of being USED BY it. In this and similar methods, consist the Art of the Hermetists. The Master of Hermetics polarizes himself at the point at which he desires to rest, and then neutralizes the Rhythmic swing of the pendulum which would tend to carry him to the other pole. All individuals who have attained any degree of Self-Mastery do this to a certain degree, more or less unconsciously, but the Master does this consciously, and by the use of his Will, and attains a degree of Poise and Mental Firmness almost impossible of belief on the part of the masses who are swung backward and forward like a pendulum. This Principle and that of Polarity have been closely studied by the Hermetists, and the methods of counteracting, neutralizing, and USING them form an important part of the Hermetic Mental Alchemy.

6. The Principle of Cause and Effect

“Every Cause has its Effect; every Effect has its Cause;
everything happens according to Law; Chance is but a name
for Law not recognized; there are many planes of causation,
but nothing escapes the Law.”–The Kybalion.

This Principle embodies the fact that there is a Cause for every Effect; an Effect from every Cause. It explains that: “Everything Happens according to Law”; that nothing ever “merely happens”; that there is no such thing as Chance; that while there are various planes of Cause and Effect, the higher dominating the lower planes, still nothing ever entirely escapes the Law. The Hermetists understand the art and methods of rising above the ordinary plane of Cause and Effect, to a certain degree, and by mentally rising to a higher plane they become Causers instead of Effects. The masses of people are carried along, obedient to environment; the wills and desires of others stronger than themselves; heredity; suggestion; and other outward causes moving them about like pawns on the Chessboard of Life. But the Masters, rising to the plane above, dominate their moods, characters, qualities, and powers, as well as the environment surrounding them, and become Movers instead of pawns. They help to PLAY THE GAME OF LIFE, instead of being played and moved about by other wills and environment. They USE the Principle instead of being its tools. The Masters obey the Causation of the higher planes, but they help to RULE on their own plane. In this statement there is condensed a wealth of Hermetic knowledge–let him read who can.

7. The Principle of Gender

“Gender is in everything; everything has its Masculine
and Feminine Principles; Gender manifests on all
planes.”–The Kybalion.

This Principle embodies the truth that there is GENDER manifested in everything–the Masculine and Feminine Principles ever at work. This is true not only of the Physical Plane, but of the Mental and even the Spiritual Planes. On the Physical Plane, the Principle manifests as SEX, on the higher planes it takes higher forms, but the Principle is ever the same. No creation, physical, mental or spiritual, is possible without this Principle. An understanding of its laws will throw light on many a subject that has perplexed the minds of men. The Principle of Gender works ever in the direction of generation, regeneration, and creation. Everything, and every person, contains the two Elements or Principles, or this great Principle, within it, him or her. Every Male thing has the Female Element also; every Female contains also the Male Principle. If you would understand the philosophy of Mental and Spiritual Creation, Generation, and Re-generation, you must understand and study this Hermetic Principle. It contains the solution of many mysteries of Life. We caution you that this Principle has no reference to the many base, pernicious and degrading lustful theories, teachings and practices, which are taught under fanciful titles, and which are a prostitution of the great natural principle of Gender. Such base revivals of the ancient infamous forms of Phallicism tend to ruin mind, body and soul, and the Hermetic Philosophy has ever sounded the warning note against these degraded teachings which tend toward lust, licentiousness, and perversion of Nature’s principles. If you seek such teachings, you must go elsewhere for them–Hermeticism contains nothing for you along these lines. To the pure, all things are pure; to the base, all things are base.

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The Vision of Hermes Trismegistus (Thoth)

[Occult Lecture] The Vision of Hermes Trismegistus (Thoth), Alchemy, Hermeticism, Kybalion, Esoteric Initiation, Esotericism by Manly P. Hall.

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Jesuits, Rosicrucions, and Masons, Oh My! Sinister Sites: Sansevero Chapel

A post by FauxMulde at ATS.

This one has it all. Adultery, murder, alchemy, castrations, secret societies, real decaying corpses, amazing (almost impossible) marble sculptures, and more. This is the Sansevero Chapel in Italy.

Before getting into the chapel itself lets take a look at the man who designed it all. He has the conspiracy trifecta. A Jesuit, Rosecrucian, and a Mason. Raimondo di Sangro, the “Sorcerer Prince”

From the age of 10, di Sangro was educated at the Jesuit College of Rome. In 1730, at age 20, he came back to Naples using the title “Prince of Sansevero”. He soon joined the ranks of occult secret societies.

In spite of the religious training that he had received with the Jesuits, the young man soon joined the secret brotherhood of the Rosicrucians, where he was initiated into ancient alchemic rituals, the so called “sacred art” or “king’s art” which had been handed down through the centuries from Egyptian priest to their disciples. Don Raimondo had found his life calling. While maintaining the outmost silence about “his brothers” and the teachings he was receiving (he left no documents whatsoever on the activities of the mysterious sect) the Prince radically changed his life and devoted all his time to alchemy. Vials, ovens and alembics filled the cellar of his palace and at nighttime it was not rare to see strange, colored vapors and disgusting smells coming out of the barred windows of his cellar. It was at that time that Neapolitans started labeling him a sorcerer.”
– Rino Di Stefano, Raimondo de Sangro,
the “Sorcerer” Prince

Di Sangro introduced Freemasonry to his city as he became the head of the Neapolitan Masonic Lodge. This fact, combined with his knack for presenting peculiar inventions, such as an “eternal flame” made from a chemical compound of his creation and human skull bones, only grew the legend surrounding Di Sangro.

This guy was obsessed with alchemy, some even say he could create blood out of water or out of thin air. He dabbled with human sacrifice and human experimentation.

Prince Raimondo di Sangro was known as an eccentric, enigmatic, and mystical man. He was the head of the Neapolitan Masonic lodge, the symbols of which are interspersed throughout the chapel, and was a student of numerous areas of the sciences, as well as alchemy and other mystical disciplines. He also spoke several exotic languages such as Hebrew and Arabic and was an inventor, some of his inventions of which were rather bizarre, such as a mechanized carriage with wooden horses that was said to be able to travel over both land and water.

These eccentricities led to the Prince garnering a reputation as a practitioner of wizardry and black magic, and rumors abounded that he performed sinister magical rituals, human sacrifices, and curses. It was also said that he could perform great feats of alchemy, such as creating blood out of water or even thin air, and that he used the various body parts of his sacrificed victims in his odious spells and potions. The Prince was said to lock himself away for days on end and perform demented experiments on human beings, such as reanimating the dead. These dark rumors and legends that swirled around the Prince made him into a man to be feared and avoided; a larger than life black sorcerer who could bend magical and natural forces to his will. The Prince did little to deny these rumors and it is thought that he even encouraged them.” – Brent Swancer, The Bizarre Anatomical Machines of Italy

But that isn’t the worst of it. This next part is truly disgusting human behavior.

One of di Sangro’s many “hobbies” was Bel Canto, which means “beautiful singing”. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Who doesn’t appreciate beautiful singing?

However, for di Sangro, “Bel Canto” means buying little boys from impoverished parents, castrating them and forcing them to sing.

In spite of his being acquainted with the pleasures of family life and having children (…), the Prince enjoyed going around his many estates looking for young boys with beautiful voices. Usually he would find them in the church choir. Then he would “buy” them from their parents (usually poor, illiterate peasants who had many children) and had his personal physician, don Giuseppe Salerno, castrate them. He would then lock them up in the Conservatory of Jesus Christ’s Poor in Naples, where these young castrated boys started their careers as “sopranist”.

Now for the temple.

Before it was transformed by Raimondo di Sangro, the Sansevero Chapel was already the subject of bizarre rumors. It was said to have been constructed on an old temple of Isis and, to prove this fact, locals point to a massive Statue of the God of the Nile, located just around the corner from his home.

Adding to the sinister factor, the Palazzo Sansevero was the scene of a brutal murder at the end of the 16th century, when the composer Carlo Gesualdo caught his wife and her lover together and hacked them to death in their bed. Up until 1888, a passageway connected Palazzo Sansevero to the Sansevero chapel.

The marble statues contained are amazing. They are so well done that some people including art buffs and art media have been fooled by the work. Some say it is impossible to chisel such things in marble and say it must have been done through and alchemy process. Regardless, I find these statues amazing.

The Veiled Christ.

The works of art in the Sansevero Chapel are indeed unique, powerful and unsettling, forcing visitors to ask: “How did he do that”? And, when one knows the esoteric and alchemical background of the Prince, observing them leads to the question: “Was this done through an occult process?” The most compelling example of this is The Veiled Christ. Set in the middle of the chapel, this sculpture of Christ covered by a thin veiled has an unnerving quality: How was this marble sculpture made using a block of stone and a chisel? The veil is too … real.

“Completed in 1753 by Giuseppe Sanmartino and commissioned by Raimondo di Sangro, it portrays Christ deposed after crucifixion, covered by a transparent veil. This veil is rendered with such subtlety as to be almost deceiving to the eye, and the effect seen in person is really striking: one gets the impression that the “real” sculpture is lying underneath, and that the shroud could be easily grabbed and lifted.

It’s precisely because of Sanmartino’s extraordinary virtuosity in sculpting the veil that a legend surrounding this Christ dies hard – fooling from time to time even specialized magazines and otherwise irreproachable art websites.

Legend has it that prince Raimondo di Sangro, who commissioned the work, actually fabricated the veil himself, laying it down over Sanmartino’s sculpture and petrifying it with an alchemic method of his own invention; hence the phenomenal liquidness of the drapery, and the “transparence” of the tissue.” – Bizarrobazar, The Mystery of Chapel Sansevero

 

For centuries, a “black legend” surrounded this sculpture and others in the chapel that held that the Prince used a mysterious alchemical process to “marbelize” a fine cloth placed over the sculpture.

Some observers noticed a troubling detail about that sculpture: Christ appears to still be breathing.

“There may be another small “anomaly” in this Veiled Christ, as there is a slight indentation over the nostril, as if the shroud is being sucked in by breath – is this “dead Jesus” alive? Did di Sangro believe that Jesus had not died on the Cross? If so, perhaps he was not only a Mason, but a member of another, even more mysterious, order?

This isnt the only sculpture with the amazing veil work. Next to it is The Chastity.

On the left of Veiled Christ is The Chastity, a sculpture modeled after di Sangro’s mother Cecilia Caetani d’Aragona. The naked woman is covered from head to toe by a thin veil which reveals her forms in every detail. This work of art is, once again, another “supernatural” feat of sculpture. How can this effect be achieved using marble?

“The Chastity (La Pudicizia) by Corradini, with its drapery veiling the female character as if it was transparent, is another “mystery” of sculpting technique, where the stone seems to have lost its weight, becoming ethereal and almost floating. Imagine how the artist started his work from a squared block of marble, how his mind’s eye “saw” this figure inside of it, how he patiently removed all which didn’t belong, freeing the figure from the stone little by little, smoothing the surface, refining, chiselling every wrinkle of her veil.” – Op. Cit, Bizarrobazar.

Get ready for some Freemasonry.

Although the statue was modeled after di Sangro’s mother, it is clearly a tribute to the most important figure in Freemasonry: Veiled Isis.

“The veiled woman can be interpreted as an allegory of Wisdom, and the reference to the veiled Isis, special divinity of the science of initiation.” – Made in South Italy,

The Alchemist Chapel Indeed, in occult symbolism, Veiled Isis is the ultimate representation of occult mysteries where the truth is veiled to the profane until true esoteric initiation.

To the modern seeker she is the epitome of the Great Unknown, and only those who unveil her will be able to solve the mysteries of life, death, generation, and regeneration.”
– Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Maybe some of out resident Masons can comment on those statements.

Locals claim the location of The Chastity is exactly where the Isis statue was when the temple was an Isis temple.

Accross from The Chastity is yet another amazing work called Disillusionment.

Another perplexing sculpture infused with profound symbolism. Modeled after the Prince’s father Antonio di Sangro, it depicts a man struggling to free himself from a net as he is being helped by a winged youth.

Once again, a mystery surrounds this sculpture: How can a net be sculpted over a body that appears to have been already sculpted underneath? Was an alchemical process used to achieve this astonishing result?

Not unlike The Chasity, this sculpture is an allegory for a fundamental Masonic concept: The freeing of Man using the intellect.

“Its allegorical meaning is that man is intent on freeing himself from false beliefs (the net) with the aid of the intellect (the young man).” – Rino Di Stefano, “San Severo”

Put the three together and what do you get?

these three sculptures constitute an “esoteric triangle”. With The Chastity on the left (representing the female principle), Disillusionment on the right (representing the male principle) and Veiled Christ in the middle (representing the “perfected man”), the sculptures esoterically represent the most fundamental hermetic principle: Duality merging to create a perfected being.

In occult circles, this concept is personified by Isis and Osiris uniting to create Horus – the perfect being.

Now we get creepy! Adam and Eve.

What the heck are those things might you ask? Well, they’re exactly what you’re hoping they are not. And maybe worse. This exhibit consists of two actual skeletons of a mature male and a pregnant woman. Their entire nervous system is exposed, where the arteries are colored red and the veins are colored blue.

The fetus of the pregnant woman was on also originally on display but the specimen mysteriously disappeared.

How did Raimondo di Sangro preserve the nervous system of these human remains? Well, that’s a mystery that keeps on being mysterious. And, once again, a “dark legend” surrounds these “anatomical machines”. It was indeed rumored that “Adam and Eve” were two servants of di Sangro who were injected with a substance that crystallized their nervous system – killing them in the process. Here’s a dramatic account of the legend:

Not for the squeamish:

“The Prince, just like a sorcerer, is stirring the preparation in a big cauldron. Eventually, the long-awaited reaction takes place: a mysterious liquid is ready. On the other side of the room, the two bound and gagged servants can’t even scream anymore. The man is sobbing, while the woman, even immobilized, stays vigilant and alert — perhaps the new life she carries in her womb prevents her from giving in to fear, commanding an already impossible defense. The Prince hasn’t got much time, he has to act quickly. He pours the liquid down a strange pump, then he gets close to his victims: in their eyes he sees an unnameable terror. He starts with the man, puncturing the jugular vein and injecting the liquid right into his bloodstream with a syringe. The heart will pump the preparation throughout the body, and the Prince watches the agonizing man’s face as the dense poison begins to circulate. There, it’s all done: the servant is dead. It will take two to three hours for the mixture to solidify, and surely more than a month for the putrified flesh to fall off the skeleton and the network of veins, arteries and capillaries the process turned into marble. Now it’s the woman’s turn.” – bizzarrobazar, The mysteries of Sansevero Chapel

There is plenty that I left out here. Please check out this conveniently clickable link to read more about this mysterious temple.

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