All Religions are One is a series of philosophical aphorisms by William Blake, written in 1788. Following on from his initial experiments with relief etching in the non-textual The Approach of Doom (1787), All Religions are One and There is No Natural Religion represent Blake's first successful attempt to combine image and text via relief etching, and are thus the earliest of his illuminated manuscripts. As such, they serve as a significant milestone in Blake's career; as Peter Ackroyd points out, "his newly invented form now changed the nature of his expression. It had enlarged his range; with relief etching, the words inscribed like those of God upon the tables of law, Blake could acquire a new role.
|One of two known impressions of the title page from All Religions are One, printedc1795|
All Religions are One
ALL RELIGIONS ARE ONE
The Voice of one crying in the Wilderness
As the true method of Knowledge is Experiment, the true faculty of knowing must be the faculty which experiences. This faculty I treat of:
That the Poetic Genius is the True Man, and that the Body or Outward Form of Man is derived from the Poetic Genius. Likewise that the Forms of all things are derived from their Genius, which by the Ancients was call'd an Angel and Spirit and Demon.
In the first principle Blake introduces the fundamental current in all his poetry, the two fold existence of man: either spirit or matter. He uses poetic genius as the man of spirit and the body as the material life we so often identify with.
As all men are alike in Outward Form; so, and with the same infinite variety, all are alike in the Poetic Genius.
Here he points our that body and spirit are present in all people.
No man can think, write, or speak from his heart, but he must intend Truth. Thus all sects of Philosophy are from the Poetic Genius, adapted to the weaknesses of every individual.
Heart and Truth are facets of the Poetic Genius. In the poetic genius there is no deceit.
As none by travelling over known lands can find out the unknown; so, from already acquired knowledge, Man could not acquire more; therefore an universal Poetic Genius exists.
This is a hard one; he seems to be saying that sticking to the known, the conventional won't discover any Truth.
The Religions of all Nations are derived from each Nation's different reception of the Poetic Genius, which is everywhere call'd the Spirit of Prophecy.
Different peoples certainly have different ideas, customs, etc, but the creative exists in that form.
The Jewish and Christian Testaments are an original derivation from the Poetic Genius. This is necessary from the confined nature of bodily sensation.
As all men are alike, tho' infinitely various; so all Religions: and as all similars have one source the True Man is the source, he being the Poetic Genius.
We are infinitely various, as is our Religion and all that goes with it, the Truth of which is the Poetic Genius.in
The central concern in All Religions are One is the notion of the "Poetic Genius", which is roughly analogous to the imagination. Blake argues that the Poetic Genius is greater than all else and "is the true man." The Poetic Genius thus replaces traditional concepts of divinity insofar as "The body or outward form of Man is derived from the Poetic Genius [...] the forms of all things are derived from their Genius. which by the Ancients was call'd an Angel & Spirit & Demon." Thus, the Poetic Genius supplants theological belief. This Poetic Genius is universal, common to all Mankind; "as all men are alike in outward form [...] all men are alike in the Poetic Genius." Similarly, all philosophies are derived from the Poetic Genius; "all sects of Philosophies are from the Poetic Genius adapted to the weaknesses of every individual", and so too are all religions, which are merely expressions of the Poetic Genius; "the Religions of all Nations are derived from each Nations different reception of the Poetic Genius which is everywhere call'd the Spirit of Prophecy," again emphasising the theological character of the Poetic Genius. Even the Bible originates with the Poetic Genius; "The Jewish & Christian Testaments are An original derivation from the Poetic Genius." Thus, as all Men are alike in their Poetic Genius, and as all religions originate with the Poetic Genius, so too must all religions be alike, thus all religions are one.