The Writings of Revilo P Oliver 1908-1994


by Professor Revilo P. Oliver

(Liberty Bell, December 1986)

Many believe that, as is quite possible, a large population of mediocrities requires the spiritual sustenance of a religion that promises survival after death as a compensation for the inevitable disappointments and sorrows of human life. If that is so, a replacement must be found for the demoralizing cult of the Jew-god that has, for fifteen centuries, blighted our race and sapped its vital instincts. And if the substitute religion is not to impair our race's vitality, it must be in harmony with the Aryan psyche.

An attempt to design and launch such a religion is being made by a group who call themselves Reincarnation, Incorporated, with perhaps a gentle pun in the title. Their initial promotion is a forty-page tabloid paper, oddly but cleverly entitled What Is, of which seventy thousand copies are said to have been distributed from the new Delphi (P.O.Box 3009, Agoura Hills, California). A second printing of the same quantity is in prospect to recruit more "New Age Activists," as members of the cult like to call themselves.

The obvious basis for an Aryan religion is the doctrine of metempsychosis, which is congenial to our racial psyche and was a faith held wherever our race established its superiority, from India to Scandinavia. It reappears, with only a little modification, in Schopenhauer's doctrine of the palingenesis of the will.(1) It is foreign to all the Semitic religions, and appears among Mongolians only under the influence of Buddhism, which was exported from India to China.

(footnote 1. Schopenhauer drew inspiration for much of his philosophy from the fifty Upanisads that he read in the Latin translation by Anquetil Duperron (Strassburg, 2 vols., 1801-1802), of which he said (Parerga, II, 185), "It has been the most elevating reading which (with the exception of the original text) there can possibly be in the world. It has been the solace of my life, and will be of my death.")

Belief in the transmigration of souls is not inherently unreasonable. It is untainted by the trumpery 'revelations' and preposterously childish tales of the Jewish concoction called Christianity. Since souls are, by definition, invisible and impalpable, one cannot prove that they do not exist and do not act as a catalyst, so to speak, in initiating and maintaining the chemical and bio-electrical reaction called life. And if souls exist as a kind of subtle energy, the transfer of the undetectable spark from one organism to another would conform to a psychic law of the conservation of energy, and one could, of course, give the doctrine a now fashionable embroidery by discoursing on analogies with quantum mechanics. A soul thus conceived could be the real personality of an individual, and not entirely irrational explanations can be found for an incarnate soul's inability to remember its previous incarnations. Unlike other religions, a faith in metempsychosis need involve nothing that is demonstrably false.

The doctrine of metempsychosis was brought to its fullest and most logical form by the Aryans of India, who perfected it by combining with it the concept of karma (karman).(2) This produces a grandiose system of psychic evolution that neatly parallels the scientific fact of biological evolution. The individual soul is presumed to have begun with the lowest and simplest form of organic life and to have developed itself, through its experiences and actions in each incarnation, ascending gradually to ever higher forms of life and eventually to the higher mammals, who become capable of conscious moral activity. By the time that we become human beings (perhaps even before), the moral quality of an individual's actions automatically determine, by an unalterable natural law, his social status and his fate (i.e., what happens to him, as distinct from what he does voluntarily) in his next incarnation. If he discharges faithfully his moral obligations in the status in which he is born, he will have a higher (and morally more demanding) status in his next life; if, on the other hand, he violates the morality of the natural law, he will revert to a lower social status and suffer in it condign tribulations, or, if his guilt exceeds such demotion, he reverts to a subhuman mammal and has to progress to human form once more.

(footnote 2. When one cites Sanskrit nouns and adjectives, one does not give the nominative singular, as in Greek and Latin, but the special base, or 'pausa,' form that is used in dictionaries and in grammatical treatises, from which the inflected cases are derived.)

This is, of course, a rational religion. Karma is governed by a natural law inherent, like gravitation, in the structure of the universe. There is no need for a theodicy, the intellectual reef on which all monotheist religions are wrecked. There is no need for a creator of an eternal universe and no function for a god who intervenes in human affairs. One of the six orthodox religious philosophies of India, the Nirisvara-Samkhya, is frankly atheistic in the sense that it excludes a creating or governing god, although it does admit higher forms of life to which humans may evolve and thus become beings that are superhuman, just as we are supersimian.

If you must have a god, the alternate (Sesvara) system will give you one who is like the god in Plato's Politicus: he designed and fashioned the perfect mechanism of the universe and, after setting it in motion, left it to function automatically, giving no further attention to it and its inhabitants. Only fools would try to attract his attention by performing childish rites or whimpering prayers, but by the moral law of the universe austerities and self-mortification automatically (and regardless of an individual's intent in performing them) release the cosmic energy of tapas and thus confer psychic powers that may be exerted in this or in subsequent lives.

You will have seen that this is also a socially perfect religion. However disagreeable may be your present status in life and however great may be the injustice and suffering that you must endure, you are thus expiating your moral errors in a preceding life, while your fortitude in accepting without protest the consequences of your past immorality automatically generates the moral quality that will raise you to a higher status in your next life. The doctrine even reconciles the races: a nigger is assured that by good conduct he can ascend racially and eventually be born an Aryan.(3) A society that fully accepts the belief in karma is one in which discontent, social agitation, political conflict, and revolutions are all impossible.

(footnote 3. The stages of transition from the Vedas to the doctrine of the later Upanisads is obscure, but one conjecture, drawn from the term dvija ('born again'), applied only to Aryans, is that originally only Aryans were thought capable of reincarnation, while black-skinned Dravidians and apes were thought to perish like all other lower mammals. That was a biologically wholesome attitude, and an historian may regret that it was superseded by formulation of the complete scheme of spiritual evolution called karma. By another conjecture, one regarding the origin of the caste system, one can suppose that the civilized white race that preceded the Aryans in the Indus Valley was included among the 'born again.')

Such is the perfectly logical and coherent religion that the Aryans in India fashioned from the religion of the Rg-veda that was theirs when they invaded that sub-continent and which they never formally repudiated, despite the implications of the doctrine I set forth above.(4) The older religion and its analogues naturally dominated the great literature in Sanskrit. All belief in hyper-physical phenomena was, for a time, challenged by the strictly rational and materialistic (i.e., scientific) conception of the universe and life called Lokayata.(5) The religious conceptions of India were profoundly perturbed and altered by the disastrous and egalitarian heresy called Buddhism, a religion that had been fashioned from gross perversion of the austere and profoundly pessimistic philosophy of Gautama. And the common people, increasingly mongrelized by miscegenation in defiance of the Aryan Laws of Manu, while never doubting metempsychosis, sought to evade natural law by magic, that is, by invoking the intervention of a god (e.g., Krishna) or goddess (e.g, Kali) whom they pleased and flattered by sacrifices and other acts of special devotion.

(footnote 4. I have given a concise, perhaps too concise, summary of Hindu religions and religious philosophies in Appendices A, B, and C to my translation of the Mrcchakatika (Little Clay Cart); cf. Appendices D, E, and L. The essentials can be learned from any good reference work.)

(footnote 5. In a very early article, written with Spenglerian fatalism, I wrote: "We need not be astonished that Hindu skepticism enjoyed only a relatively brief existence: no malism was ever more than transitory, for in philosophy, as in daily life, men are naturally cowards and optimists. "Skepsis" always consumes itself; it is a brilliant flame that, like a magnesium flare, bursts forth for a moment in the tenebrous night, and then vanishes, leaving the darkness more impenetrable than ever." According to Spengler, gerontic civilizations enter a period of "second religiosity" before they die; we may now have reached that stage. Other and perhaps better explanations are possible, such as the observed decline of the level of intelligence in proletarian and multiracial societies, or the necessary effect of a civilization that contravenes the innate instincts of our species. (I am thinking of an extremely important article by Alan McGregor that will appear in a coming issue of the Mankind Quarterly; I plan to consider it in connection with the phenomena of sexual perversion.))

It would be pointless to mention here the wild variety of grotesque sects, each with its gang of holy men intent on exploiting the superstitions of the populace, that flourish in modern India, but it may be relevant to give a glimpse of the corruption of the old Aryan conception of reincarnation and karma among the most highly cultivated Hindus of the age that followed the rise of Buddhism in India. A good example is one of the great works of Sanskrit literature, the Kadambari of Bana (completed after his death, c. A.D. 650, by his less talented son). It is written in the ornate and alembicated prose that is esteemed as more poetic than verse -- a mannered and artificial style that reminds one of Euphuism, but paradoxically also reminds one of the German style of Kant, for, given the incomparable lexical and syntactical suppleness of Sanskrit, it can be said of Bana, as it was of Kant, that he often dives into a sentence and comes up, several pages later, with the verb in his mouth. The Kadambari is a work that was accessible only to the most highly cultivated readers.(6)

(footnote 6. If you have sufficiently mastered Sanskrit to read the Mahabharata or the Kathasaritsagara without difficulty, you will find that reading Bana is like breaking trail in three feet of snow. There is an English translation by C. M. Ridding (1906), which I have not seen. Aside from the inimitably ornate and poetic diction, Bana's work has a considerable charm in its sensitivity to the beauties of nature, but the late Arthur Berriedale Keith, the foremost authority on Sanskrit literature, was certainly right in saying that it will seem fantastic, uninteresting, and tedious to readers who have no settled belief in metempsychosis.)

The story opens at the court of a famous king and dramatist, Sudraka, whose very name shows that he was not a true Aryan. (He cannot have been a Sudra, but he probably was a hybrid like Dumas, his father's Aryan blood mingled with that of a woman of lower race.) To him comes a Candala, a maiden of wondrous beauty, although she belongs to the very lowest and most despised caste.(7) (Don't worry: you will eventually discover she is the goddess Lakshmi in disguise.) She presents to the king a learned and eloquent parrot, who, after composing verses in the king's honor, narrates a long and intricate romance, inset with subordinate stories, which is the body of the work but need not be outlined here. The wise parrot's discourse causes the "veil of ignorance" to fall from before the king's eyes, and he learns of his earlier incarnations on earth and, at the behest of the disguised Lakshmi before she ascends to heaven, he dies and eventually discovers that he is really Lord of the Night, Regent of the Moon. His terrestrial sufferings have atoned for the moral lapse that brought upon him the curse that sent him to earth, so he rejoins his favorite wife and wins Kadambari, the maiden whom he especially loves and long desired in vain. The three thereafter dwell in his lunar orb, together with their friends and associates, but from time to time revisit the two terrestrial kingdoms that belong to them.

(footnote 7. The offspring of a white woman of the highest primary caste by a brown-skinned male of the lowest is the result of miscegenation so monstrous that he (or she) is particularly accursed. The descendants of such persons are Candalas; they are legally dead and must carry rattles to warn of their approach so that decent persons can avoid the loathesome sight. They serve as executioners and porters of corpses, since they cannot be more polluted than they are by birth. They are, however, morally superior to Englishmen and Americans, who commit the heinous crime of eating beef and will therefore be reborn as pigs or worse.)

You will not need to be shown how drastically this story departs from the basic simplicity and rationality of the Aryan doctrine of karma that I outlined above. I have mentioned it expressly to show how the pure doctrine of karma can survive contamination by notions of deities who intervene in earthly affairs, incarnate divinities, and even the mystical efficacy of curses.(8) That should make us cautious in criticizing modern adaptations of the doctrine that are designed for popularity today.

(footnote 8. The parrot is an estimable young man who was reborn as a parrot because he was cursed, not by a holy man as is so common in Hindu story, but only by a maiden whom he had wearied with protestations of love.)

The concept of a transmigration of souls is, as I have said, native to our race. It reappeared frequently in the literature of the Nineteenth Century (e.g., in two of Edgar Allan Poe's most memorable short stories or Theophile Gautier's Avatar). Langdon Smith spontaneously saw the parallel between metempsychosis and biological evolution in his one well-known poem, "When you were a tadpole and I was a fish,/ In the Paleozoic time." In our century, the concept has been popularized by the "memories" of "Bridey" Murphy, Joan Grant, "Taylor Caldwell" (Mrs. Marcus Reback), and others. The doctrine, furthermore, is susceptible of a kind of "proof."

Most literate persons read in their youth vivid tales set in ancient or transcendentally exotic cultures, such as Ryder Haggard's She, Flaubert's Salammbo, Georg Ebers' Der Kaiser, Merejkowski's Tutenchamon auf Kreta, Maseras' Ildaribal, Pierre Louys' Aphrodite, or any of a hundred others. Such stories, set in a panorama of a vanished civilization, make a deep impression on the minds of youthful readers, but fade from the conscious mind in subsequent decades. As the readers, especially if they are female, approach or enter middle age, their youthful impressions can be recalled in hypnosis; they may spontaneously mistake them for memories of a past incarnation, and they will almost certainly do so, if they have been prepared for a "past life regression" by a skilled hypnotist.

There should, therefore, be a large and active market for a new religion based on metempsychosis and karma, now that Mme. Blavatsky's Theosophy is quite worn out. It is not easy, however, to estimate the potential of Reincarnation, Incorporated.

The forty pages of its tabloid, half of them written by one man, are chiefly devoted to glowing descriptions of how wonderful it is to be a "New Age Activist," and they have comparatively little to say about a specific metaphysical doctrine. One principal theme is a vehement but entirely justified polemic against the Jesus-jerks of the "Moral Majority" and "New Christian Right," who are so lavishly promoted by the Jews' boob-tubes and have already excited such mindless fanaticism that one of the chief hokum-peddlers has set himself up as a candidate for the Presidency, and the Revolutionary Tribunal in Washington has shown ominous signs of coming to a working agreement with the crude communism of early Judaeo-Christian cults. One can only applaud the polemic, which gives the new religion a present utility.

The bits of doctrine that one can gather from obiter dicta scattered through the forty pages indicate that the basic doctrines of karma have been incorporated in an odd mishmash. The sect teaches acceptance of the world as it is, and that is good, but then we encounter a blob of Christian sentimentality in the strange affirmation that "the Law of Grace supersedes the Law of Karma... All your positive and loving thoughts and actions go to cancel out your stored-up bad karma." Now this directly contravenes the basic doctrine, according to which sentiments and thoughts have no effect in themselves, and actions are all that count. The word karman means 'an act, deed,' and is in some writings taken as an antithesis to belief and the kind of thought that does not result in physical action. Thus karmanurupa may designate what is in accord with a constant action or function, such as a chemical reaction, as well as the conduct and fate of a man that are in accord with his actions in a previous life. It is the latter conception, of course, that is fundamental to the religio-philosophical doctrine that takes its name from karman.

Then we are told "everyone is here on earth to fulfill their [sic] dharma and to resolve their karma by rising above fear and learning to express unconditional love." I am not sure what this means. Dharma is 'duty, propriety, justice,' and hence the prescribed conduct of a man (or woman) in the social status and position to which he (or she) has been born. Fulfilling those obligations faithfully advances one spiritually; violation of that duty will result in rebirth in a lower and more unpleasant status. It is the dharma of a slave to serve his master loyally; the dharma of a soldier, to slay the enemies of his king; and the dharma of a king (as is so clearly stated in the famous Arthasastra ), to be merciless toward criminals and subversives, and to root them out, even by using a corps of "agents provocateurs." There isn't a word about bubbling with love, conditional or unconditional.

The "New Age Activists," we are told, "will be an army of people armed with love" and they will "replace repression and fear with peace and light." So we end with more of the old buncombe. Such pie may be served in the sky, but it will never be found on earth, and it is a great disservice to arouse an appetite for an imaginary confection. I suppose this nonsense was put in to stimulate the glands of compulsive do-gooders.

I refrain from commenting on the two-page spiel by a certain Joseph Goldstein, who twice assures us that "Sexual misconduct can most easily be understood as refraining [!] from those actions of sensuality which cause pain and harm to others." If he means what he says, he should laud the famous Marquis de Sade, who was most emphatically not guilty of such misconduct.

What is most disturbing is that Reincarnation, Incorporated, carries with it a whole passel of fakirs and mystery-mongers, all eager to perform magic if you cross their palms with silver. One female will bang a Tibetan gong (probably made in Brooklyn) to help you remember your past lives in Tibet and to "facilitate...the rising of the Kundalini." I forbear asking about her qualifications, but in my quite limited reading in the sources, if memory does not deceive me, it was implied that only males have a kundalini, a cute psychic snake that issues from the sexual organs, climbs up the spine, and enters the brain to fill it with transcendence.

There are "psychics" who will read your destiny from tea leaves, from quartz crystals (giving you "crystal energetics"), from the palms of your hands, just as they used to do in the tents of the old carnivals. "International authorities" will teach you how to raise your "vibrational level" and will introduce you to "spirit guides," just waiting to act as your unseen (but not unpaid) cicerone and show you the sights of spookland; how to have fun in trances, even if you don't know what you are doing; how to work up enough "psychic ability" to remember at least three of your past lives; and how to get such a big dose of awareness that you will be "attuned to the awesome power that guides the universe" and make "love's psychic dimensions" work for you. "Top parapsychologists" will teach you how to have "extra-sensory perception" and "nurture your ESP ability," to the astonishment of your friends. (That should be lots of fun, but my guess is that any card-shark could teach you more about stacking a deck of cards and would do it for less.) And to complete the show, there are astrologers all over the lot, and all of them have got computers now and can tell you with scientific accuracy just what the planets, including Pluto and, I suppose, the larger asteroids, such as Vesta, Ceres, and Pallas, are going to do to you tomorrow. One wizard, who has the same address as Reincarnation, Incorporated, will, for only $16.00, jiggle his "IBM System 36" computer for you and give you a print-out to "bring energy to each part of your personality" and, you know, a big computer like that just couldn't make a mistake.

Now I am sure that some prospective customers will be repelled by some or all of those side-shows and turn away from the main tent, and others will be displeased by the somewhat inept collocation on page 9 of "the liberal leadership, New Age practitioners, homosexuals (estimated at over 40 million)" as three groups, presumably equally precious, who will be run into "Nazi death camps," if the awful "Fascists" get control after the impending collapse of this ruined and bankrupt country. What I do not profess to know is what percentage of potential customers will be alienated by such ingredients in the mishmash.

The potentiality of Reincarnation, Incorporated, furthermore, is delimited by the fact that if a new religion is to attract multitudes, it must exhibit a great novelty and seem to be radically new. It must differ drastically from all religions in vogue when it is introduced. The new cult, however, offers only crambe repetita, warmed-over cabbage. The chatter about "love" and "higher consciousness" and "transcendental values" that Theosophy peddled in its hey-day, when such figments of the imagination differed attractively from the dreary quibbles of Christian theology, are now stale and tedious; they are offered today by a hundred competing sects and with only slight variations.

To give a specific example: What does Reincarnation, Incorporated, offer that is not also offered by the Stelle Group, which I mentioned obiter in Liberty Bell, August 1984, p. 13? The differences are only in the trimmings of the worn-out garments.

If a new religion based on metempsychosis and karma is to command wide adherence, it must offer some doctrine that is not now tediously familiar to everyone who has gone shopping in the salvation-marts.

In sum, then, I am inclined to believe that the new religion is perhaps fatally flawed as it comes from its makers, and I should suppose that it has little chance of becoming more than just another weird cult for people who want to believe whatever is incredible. But when I remember the jumble of inconsistent and even antithetical ideas in all of the most popular cults in India, of which the best is illustrated by the Kadambari, I prudently refrain from categorical predictions about what Weishaupt's "marvellous mind of man" cannot be made to believe.

This article originally appeared in Liberty Bell magazine, published monthly by George P. Dietz from September 1973 to February 1999. For reprint information please write to Liberty Bell Publications, Post Office Box 21, Reedy WV 25270 USA.

Copyright ©1999 Kevin Alfred Strom.  Back to Revilo P. Oliver Index