1. The Writer of The Secret Doctrine
2. Scope, Structure and Method
3. Knowledge—Absolute and Relative
4. The World of Archetypes
5. Archetypal Knowledge
6. Revelation—True and False
7. Original Method, Original Teaching, Original Impulse
8. The Message for Today
9. The Message of H.P.B.
10. From Inspiration to Intuition
11. Metaphysics of The Secret Doctrine
12. Altruism of The Secret Doctrine
13. Be-ness, Becoming, Being
14. Deity, Law, Being
15. The Three Hypostases
16. Growth Through Self-Effort
17. The Yoga of The Secret Doctrine
The Writer of the Secret Doctrine
1. “[Theosophy is] the sub-stratum and basis of all the world-religions and philosophies taught and practised by a few elect ever since man became a thinking being.”—Theosophical Glossary, “Theosophia” (Original Edition, 328).
2. “The WISDOM-RELIGION was ever one, and being the last word of possible human knowledge, was, therefore, carefully preserved. It preceded by long ages the Alexandrian Theosophists, reached the modern, and will survive every other religion and philosophy.”—The Key to Theosophy (O.E., 7-8).
3. “Proofs of its diffusion, authentic records of its history, a complete chain of documents, showing its character and presence in every land, together with the teaching of all its great adepts, exist to this day in the secret crypts of libraries belonging to the Occult Fraternity.”—The Secret Doctrine (O.E., I, xxxiv).
4. “The members of several esoteric schools … claim to have in their possession the sum total of sacred and philosophical works in MSS. and type: all the works, in fact, that have ever been written, in whatever language or characters, since the art of writing began; from the ideographic hieroglyphs down to the alphabet of Cadmus and the Devanagari.”—The Secret Doctrine (O.E., I, xxiii).
5. “The work now submitted to public judgment is the fruit of a somewhat intimate acquaintance with Eastern adepts and study of their science.”—Isis Unveiled (O.E., I, v).
6. “The writer [H.P.B.] loves them too [Ancients], and therefore believes in the ancients, and the modern heirs to their Wisdom. And believing in both, she now transmits that which she has received and learnt herself to all those who will accept it.”—The Secret Doctrine (O.E., I, xxxvii).
7. “What I do believe in is (1) the unbroken oral teachings revealed by living divine men during the infancy of mankind to the elect among men; (2) that it has reached us unaltered; and (3) that the MASTERS are thoroughly versed in the science based on such uninterrupted teaching.”—Lucifer (October 1889, p. 157).
8. “The SECRET DOCTRINE is not a treatise, or a series of vague theories, but contains all that can be given out to the world in this century.”—The Secret Doctrine (O.E., I, xxxviii).
9. “No Master of Wisdom from the East will himself appear or send anyone to Europe or America … until the year 1975.”—Preliminary Memorandum: Quoted in THEOSOPHY, Vol. I, p. 455.
These nine statements are from the pen of a Russian woman who earned for herself the title of “the greatest impostor of the 19th century” and made “scientific researchers” declare that “The foundation of her whole Theosophical teaching is a mere lie.”
That was over a quarter of a century ago. More than ever her philosophy and teachings, for which she disclaimed all proprietary rights, crediting her Eastern Masters with their merit and wisdom, are in a greater demand.
That Russian woman bore the name of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. There is hardly any other name round which such storms raged from 1875 to this day. Not mere criticisms, not only attacks, but death-blows were levelled at her character, teachings and work, yet these have survived to inspire and illumine the hearts and minds of men, though she herself has become invisible to the eyes of flesh.
H. P. Blavatsky has written two large works each in two volumes comprising thousands of pages—Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine. They discuss outworn theology and modern science; they treat of philosophy, speculative and practical; of symbols, emblems, myths; of every branch of advancing “exact” science; of the birth and evolution of solar systems; of the origin and genesis of collective humanity; of races of mankind, ethnological and psychological; of man, physical and psychical and spiritual; of matter and mind and soul; of languages and crafts unknown or little known or wrongly known; of ancient traditions and modern culture; of gods and atoms; of solar physics and occult chemistry; of chronology and calendars, old and new; of the science of numbers; of Indian Puranas and Egyptian Pyramids; of lost continents and legends of surviving ones; of—glance at the Contents of these four Volumes and at the Index to each of the two works.
But something more: H. P. Blavatsky was a prodigious writer of magazine and newspaper articles in French and English besides in her own mother-tongue of Russian. Not only on spiritualism and mysticism, on occultism and occult arts, but also on magic and masonry; on yoga and yogis, on dying tribes of Todas and Mulakarambhas and modern movements like Arya and Brahmo Samaj; on Indian metaphysics and European hierophants; on dreams and facts, on phenomena, physical and psychical, on Jews and Gentiles and Heathens and Christians. Read by her, A Modern Panarion, The Caves and Jungles of Hindustan, turn over the numerous volumes of The Theosophist, Lucifer, The Path and several other periodicals and make note of the variety of subjects handled; their masterly treatment.
If you desire a connected, sequential, lucid presentation of her system of thought read The Key to Theosophy. Do not stop there. Procure a copy of The Voice of the Silence. This pocket book contains wisdom of priceless value. If it is too deep in its philosophy, ponder over its ethics. If these too are impossible or difficult of practical realization, read it as a literary production and be charmed by its rhythmic cadence and beauty of language. The poet’s heart, the philosopher’s mind, the prophet’s power reveal their beauty and acumen and energy.
“The greatest fraud of the 19th century!”—Oh! that we had more of them.
But those nine statements? How can an intelligent 20th-century person accept them? A system “which is as old as thinking man”; which is “the last word of possible human knowledge”; which has “reached us unaltered”; all via this Russian woman? “Impossible”—exclaims the modern man. How egotistic and ludicrous that a book of two volumes “contains all that can be given out to the world in this century,” and what a playing the prophet—“No Master of Wisdom from the East will himself appear or send anyone to Europe or America … until the year 1975”!
And yet—she talks of “proofs,” and “authentic records,” and “a complete chain of documents,” and the existence of “the teachings of all its great adepts.” Shall we not seek for all these? Shall we not demand the proofs and the records and the documents and the teachings which “exist to this day in the secret crypts of libraries belonging to the occult fraternity”?
H. P. Blavatsky would have us reject the view that her teachings are of the nature of revelations. She says: “These truths are in no sense put forward as a revelation; nor does the author claim the position of a revealer of mystic lore, now made public for the first time in the world’s history.” (S.D. I, Vol. I, Original Edition, p. vii.) In The Key to Theosophy it is further stated:—
Are we to regard Theosophy in any way as a revelation?
In no way whatever—not even in the sense of a new and direct disclosure from some higher, supernatural, or, at least, superhuman beings; but only in the sense of an “unveiling” of old, very old, truths to minds hitherto ignorant of them, ignorant even of the existence and preservation of any such archaic knowledge.
Thus H. P. Blavatsky’s system of thought, to quote her own words applied to spiritualism, “gives us facts that we may investigate, not assertions that we must believe without proof.”1 With a clarity and an emphasis which are unmistakable she says in her Key to Theosophy: “As all theosophists have to be judged by their deeds and not by what they write or say, so all Theosophical books must be accepted on their merits, and not according to any claim to authority which they may put forward.”2 And the S.D. itself says: “It is above everything important to keep in mind that no theosophical book acquires the least additional value from pretended authority.”3
Here is a somewhat novel position: we are offered proofs, are implored to examine and judge, to investigate and ascertain; not to believe in any revelations but to test and check and verify teachings on their own merit. If that is not a scientific attitude, what is?
Believers and sceptics become blind believers and unreasonable sceptics when they fall prey to fanaticism. Our task here is to study, to examine, to judge; to investigate relentlessly but honestly; to believe nothing unless the proof is found, but also not to reject anything when that proof is obtained. Not by the way of phenomena but by that of philosophy; not swayed by the personality but by adhering to principles; not by blind faith but by illumined reasoning; not by argumentation but by meditation; not by foolish credulity but by intelligent cooperation; not proceeding from the teacher to the teachings but examining the consistency, the logic, the inherent truth, the reasonableness and the completeness of the teachings themselves. Throw the light of all available knowledge on the teachings; throw the light of these teachings on all available knowledge; by mutual comparison and keen criticism judge the teachings of H. P. Blavatsky.
Truth is sacred and can therefore stand the attack, sacrilegious and severe. H. P. Blavatsky invites this searching examination. Blind believers do her a disservice when by example or precept they discourage the attitude of critical questioning. Ours the mission to examine and cross-examine this witness from the Occult World of Ancient Adepts; ours the task to endeavor to break her evidence and to encourage others to do so. If such statements as the nine quoted above are unprovable then as honest men and women we must reject this “messenger” and consign to consuming fire her falsehoods and frauds; for if these teachings are unprovable then on her own testimony, by her own standard, according to her own dicta she and her “synthesis of science, religion and philosophy” are worse than nonsense. As she herself wrote: “But this is the personal view of the writer; and her orthodoxy cannot be expected to have any more weight than any other ‘doxy,’ in the eyes of those to whom every fresh theory is heterodox until otherwise proved.” (S.D., Vol. II, Original Edition, p. 438.)
Knowledge and not belief is what H. P. Blavatsky offered. If today the world of knowledge does not to a greater extent examine her teachings it is because her many followers are denizens of the world of belief; alas! even a greater number, adopting the appellation of her system of thought, display crass ignorance of it.
An impartial and critical study of her system of thought, not with a desire either to prove that she is right or to prove that she is wrong, but to find out what her teachings are: that is what is wanted. Do they solve the intricate problems which confront us? Do they illuminate our intelligence? Do they satisfy the yearnings of the human heart? Do they inspire us to a noble life-struggle, to a greater altruism, to a grander selflessness? Above all are they in harmony with the established facts of ancient science, proven laws of ancient ethics, profound truths of ancient philosophy? Do they illumine the obscure and make known that which is unknown today but which has been fully known in the past? While performing such a miracle, do these teachings clearly convey through their innate and inherent nature that they have escaped the fault, and the degeneration it brings, of their teacher’s ahankara, egotism, which incarnates in the teachings? Richter, the German thinker, once wrote: “I have heard that some philosophers in seeking for Truth, to pay homage to her, have seen their own image in the water and adored it instead.” Has Mme. Blavatsky done this? These are the tests. Along such lines the proofs must be sought.
The method of such testing is shown to us by Mme. Blavatsky. In Lucifer, Vol. I, p. 431 she says:—
Theosophy is divine knowledge, and knowledge is truth; every true fact every sincere word are thus part and parcel of Theosophy. One who is skilled in divine alchemy, or even approximately blessed with the gift of the perception of truth, will find and extract it from an erroneous as much as from a correct statement. However small the particle of gold lost in a ton of rubbish, it is the noble metal still, and worthy of being dug out even at the price of some extra trouble. As has been said, it is often as useful to know what a thing is not, as to learn what it is.
Is she “the greatest impostor of the 19th century”?
Is she The Messenger of the Ancient Fraternity to the century which dawned in 1875?
The answer to these questions must not be sought in the incidents of her life, in the criticisms of her opponents or the praises of her followers, nor even in the opinions of the reviewers of her books, favourable or adverse, but in her teachings themselves.
If the answer is to be sought for, then listen to these words:—
To the mentally lazy or obtuse, Theosophy must remain a riddle; for in the world mental as in the world spiritual each man must progress by his own efforts. The writer cannot do the reader’s thinking for him, nor would the latter be any the better off if such vicarious thought were possible. (The Key to Theosophy, Preface.)
Scope, Structure and Method
The writings of H. P. Blavatsky constitute the latest incarnation of the Ageless Wisdom. The ever-recurring Impulse of Theosophy brings into expression one or more aspects of the Wisdom of the world of men. Re-embodiment of that Wisdom is like unto reincarnation of the human soul. Never fully and completely can the Fire of the Soul install itself in the temple of flesh, lest the latter be consumed; thus too only in part can the Wisdom of the Immemorial Fire descend from on high to this globe of earth.
The recurring Impulse of Theosophy produces the manifestation of its Mind on the one hand and its vehicle of matter on the other; that Impulse expresses a certain quantity of knowledge, and secondly manifests a body, an organization, a polity, an order, which in course of time invariably usurps and corrupts the first, producing a sect, a caste, a creed, a dogma.
Of all her writings The Secret Doctrine was regarded by H.P.B. as her best work. But to understand it to any appreciable extent we must bear in mind certain important factors.
The book is not written; it is recorded, as the dedication points out. In the Proem the recorder takes note that her volumes may be regarded (1) as a fairy tale; or (2) “at best as one of the yet unproven speculations of dreamers”; or (3) “at the worst, as an additional hypothesis to the many scientific hypotheses past, present and future, some exploded, others still lingering.” But, it is added, “It is not in any sense worse than are many of the so-called Scientific theories; and it is in every case more philosophical and probable.” (I:23-24.)
But to enjoy a fairy-tale one requires power of imagination; to appreciate a dreamer’s speculation one should be a philosopher to some extent; to understand a scientific hypothesis one should possess adequate knowledge. Next, it is said:
The reader can never be too often reminded that … the present work is a simple attempt to render, in modern language and in a phraseology with which the scientific and educated student is familiar, archaic Genesis and History as taught in certain Asiatic centres of esoteric learning. They must be accepted or rejected on their own merits, fully or partially; but not before they have been carefully compared with the corresponding theological dogmas and the modern scientific theories and speculations. (II:449.)
So far so good; but the reader’s enthusiasm does not find great encouragement as he keeps on perusing:
One feels a serious doubt whether, with all its intellectual acuteness, our age is destined to discover in each western nation even one solitary uninitiated scholar or philosopher capable of fully comprehending the spirit of archaic philosophy. (II:449.)
Can he himself ever hope to be that “one solitary uninitiated” individual?
The study of this book and the grasping of the teachings it contains, like those of any other volume, naturally depends on the capacity of the reader; but, just as the nature of the capacity differs according to the subject matter of study and investigation and the musical faculty is necessary for the appreciation of music, and the mathematical faculty for grasping mathematics, so also for the study of The Secret Doctrine a definite type of capacity and a particular faculty are essential.
Thus we are warned beforehand in the Introductory itself:
Every reader will inevitably judge the statements made from the stand-point of his own knowledge, experience, and consciousness, based on what he has already learnt. This fact the writer is constantly obliged to bear in mind: hence, also the frequent references in this first Book to matters which, properly speaking, belong to a later part of the work, but which could not be passed by in silence, lest the reader should look down on this work as a fairy tale indeed—a fiction of some modern brain. (I:xlvi.)
The Secret Doctrine is the name of a book and yet what book can express, if not fully even adequately, the truths of a system of thought which is not centuries but millenniums old? As the Preface to the first volume says, “It is needless to explain that this book is not the Secret Doctrine in its entirety.”
The complete system of thought, the Ageless Wisdom, the Secret Doctrine, is very different in bulk and profundity from the two volumes, bulky and profound as they are. The latter, “though giving out many fundamental tenets from the SECRET DOCTRINE of the East, raise but a small corner of the dark veil. For no one, not even the greatest living adept, would be permitted to, or could—even if he would—give out promiscuously, to a mocking, unbelieving world, that which has been so effectually concealed from it for long æons and ages.” (I:xvii.)
In pursuing our study, then, we should remember that we are contacting but a part of the mighty whole; that part deemed suited and worthy to be given out to this day and generation. In the process of giving out that which was esoteric and hidden and secret, it had to be clothed in the vestures of exotericism and publicity, and though a “silence of centuries is broken” it is broken along similar lines and in a similar way as on previous occasions, however far past. That is, the language of symbol and allegory has been often used, personification of principles has been resorted to for purposes of explanation, and names and forms are given as indicators of the nameless and formless. Suited to our civilization is the limited presentation in The Secret Doctrine of THE SECRET DOCTRINE—Imperishable, Eternal, Ancient, Constant and Consistent.
The part of the mighty whole held forth to the vision of the age has its horizon. In mid-ocean, on board a ship, an observer sees water bounded by sky on all sides; sandy shores and mountain ranges, rocky solitude and populated islands, emerge in the midst of ever-extending waters, but a radius imposes its circumscribing limit always. So also a student-voyager on the mighty waters of the Wisdom finds himself surrounded by his self-created horizon, the result of his own limitations, and is able to perceive the ever-green, luxurious Elysian foliage in the distance, now here, now there, as it comes within his field of vision—and no more; he catches glimpse of a distant peak of metaphysics or an inspiring but lonely island of foregone days that tells the tale of culture now forgotten.
The student of The Secret Doctrine should remember that the part of the whole is a part which had intimate relation to his own Aryan culture, his own racial mind, with their attendant defects of materialism in science, bigotry in religion and commercialism in all things. The book may be said to symbolize the mind of the incarnation of Immortal and Immemorial Theosophy—the latest link in the ever-lengthening chain of the Life of Truth.
The book is related to time and space, to our civilization, and contains within its covers facts which reveal to us our limitations, individual and racial, but also bring to the daring and the persistent the power to remove those limitations. To understand its contents, to discover its hidden powers and to utilize them we must endeavor to realize the scope of the book, its structure, and method of imparting knowledge. First then, its title-page indicates its scope: “The Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy.” It is neither “a synthesis,” nor “the synthesis of a particular science, a particular religion and a particular philosophy.” It is the unification of knowledge obtained by the use of senses physical and super-physical and their power of observation; by the experiences of soul-consciousness in its capacity of a perceiver of phenomena, a silent witness of the panorama of manifestation; and by the deductions and inferences which mental processes of reason and intuition imply. The result of this three-fold work throughout the ages has brought forth many sciences, innumerable religions, and numerous philosophies. The knowledge of all these, galvanized into a living and consistent whole, may rightly be regarded, from one point of view, as the synthesis referred to on the title-page of The Secret Doctrine. This is implied in the statement in the Preface: “What is now attempted is to gather the oldest tenets together and to make of them one harmonious and unbroken whole.” Such a process, however, implies elimination of innumerable factors belonging to particular schools and creeds, as also acceptance of certain definite principles and facts which constitute that synthesis. H. P. Blavatsky’s “Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy” is very different from Herbert Spencer’s Synthetic Philosophy which also is defined as “Unification of Knowledge.”4 The nature of the synthesis of H. P. Blavatsky can be understood by what is contained in the following extracts:
But it is perhaps desirable to state unequivocally that the teachings, however fragmentary and incomplete, contained in these volumes, belong neither to the Hindu, the Zoroastrian, the Chaldean, nor the Egyptian religion, neither to Buddhism, Islam, Judaism nor Christianity exclusively. The Secret Doctrine is the essence of all these. Sprung from it in their origins, the various religious schemes are now made to merge back into their original element, out of which every mystery and dogma has grown, developed, and become materialised. (I:viii.)
If coming events are said to cast their shadows before, past events cannot fail to leave their impress behind them. It is, then, by those shadows of the hoary Past and their fantastic silhouettes on the external screen of every religion and philosophy, that we can, by checking them as we go along, and comparing them, trace out finally the body that produced them. There must be truth and fact in that which every people of antiquity accepted and made the foundation of its religions and of faith. (II:794.)
Here we come across a view about synthesis and unification of knowledge which is different from the one ordinarily held in the modern world. Mme. Blavatsky’s synthesis has this advantage that the propositions of science, religion and philosophy brought together in her system do not clash with each other, but on the other hand blend together in a harmonious whole.
This synthesis is arrived at not by the method of putting details together, but, unlike so many modern syntheses, it proceeds from Universals to particulars. Parts do not lead to the whole; the whole reveals the parts. Thus the risks of the Inductive method are avoided and, from Principles and Fundamentals, applications are made and details are derived. From within without, Unity multiplying into diversity according to the Hermetic axiom of “As Above so Below”—the synthesis of The Secret Doctrine is like a burgeoning blossom; every petal of the bud stands revealed in its proper station and signifies its place, utility and value in the whole scheme of the flower.
From Universals to particulars has always been the process of teaching and exposition in the schools of esoteric science. We may mention in passing that care should be taken not to identify this old system with that of the Realists, the opponents of Nominalists who fought over a passage in a translation of Porphyry by Boethius. Nor should this procedure be mistaken for deductive or syllogistic inference in the science of Logic; for the prevailing use of deduction is practically identical with Aristotelian propositions which themselves have assumed different forms since they were brought before Western thought by Bacon. True Induction and Deduction are like spirit and matter—they exist and evolve together and are never separate. Pythagoras learnt to use them both correctly in connection with his Decad, and the intelligent student, if he is in earnest, will soon learn the art in the task that awaits him in The Secret Doctrine.
To comprehend this way of expounding teachings which are at once metaphysical and scientific, and to apply the two-fold process of deduction-induction to them for the purposes of a thorough understanding, is to grasp the real synthesis of The Secret Doctrine.
If synthesis and the processes of deduction and induction have undergone change for the worse, the law of analogy has met with a still sadder fate. Analogy which with the Ancients meant Correspondence on the side of life and principles, has, with the modern, become resemblance on the side of forms and appearances. The Law of Analogy used to provide indisputable facts; now one has to beware of “false analogy” all the time. In The Secret Doctrine, on the authority of a Master’s letter we are advised “to hold to the doctrine of analogy and correspondences.”5 In fact, without a clear understanding of what the Law of Analogy is in the conception of the Ancients, the study of The Secret Doctrine becomes very difficult indeed. “Analogy is the guiding law in Nature, the only true Ariadne’s thread that can lead us, through the inextricable paths of her domain, toward her primal and final mysteries.”6 One more quotation and we will pass on:
From Gods to men, from Worlds to atoms, from a star to a rush-light, from the Sun to the vital heat of the meanest organic being—the world of Form and Existence is an immense chain, whose links are all connected. The law of Analogy is the first key to the world-problem, and these links have to be studied co-ordinately in their occult relations to each other. (I:604.)
The Law of Analogy of The Secret Doctrine speaks of manifestation proceeding from within without, refers to the Hermetic axiom of “as Above so Below,” and in full measure correlates Cosmos to atom, and clearly shows the interdependence of Noumena to phenomena, archetypes to types.
In taking into consideration the scope of The Secret Doctrine we have dealt with its synthesis which is held forth for our study, and the laws employed to make clear to the reader abstruse doctrines and teachings. Why have we done this under the heading of scope? The Law of Analogy and Correspondence, the application of the Hermetic axiom, the correct use of induction-deduction, unmistakably bring the reader the opportunity of correlating knowledge in all its branches and aspects. By and under this treatment Astronomy and Embryology can be studied together; atoms and solar systems move by identical processes; human body and cosmos are closely knit; physics and physiology do not war against biology and psychology; theology, mysticism, ethics, become sane, practical and inspiring; mathematics and metaphysics, astrology and alchemy, blend in true harmony; science, religion, philosophy reveal themselves as languages sprung from a common root stock—the synthesis called the Wisdom-Religion—Theosophy.
Let the reader bear in mind that if he is desirous of making his study fruitful he must not be appalled by this prospect. The interdependence of subjects treated in the book is a feature which has its advantages. The Secret Doctrine, in its scope, is a whole in which several parts, most of them of fundamental importance, are so treated that it relieves the tension it causes. A man of ordinary intelligence would find it utterly impossible to tackle the problems of science, religion, and philosophy; it would be simply inconceivable that he could manage many sciences and religions and philosophies. Like the great Newton himself he would expect to find himself worsted on the ever-extending sands of knowledge when he could hold only a palmful. However, when he encounters these innumerable branches of science and schools of philosophy treated in the pages of The Secret Doctrine; their varying doctrines correlated, their faults shown and removed, their merits assigned proper places in the scheme of things universal—he gains confidence in his own power of intelligent perception.
It is the scope of the book that is the salvation of the reader. That salvation is the reward of the faithful student. If The Secret Doctrine was fragmentary, instead of complete in its very incompleteness; if principles were sacrificed to details or minor facts to fundamentals; if the all-roundness of the volumes had been disturbed, resulting in one-sidedness; then it would have become a mighty encyclopedia of ideas—a great and interesting book like the Dictionary, withal somewhat disconnected. We are not unaware that this very charge is laid at the door of The Secret Doctrine. Many years of earnest study has brought us the revelation that the synthesis is all-round and complete and can be so found if the laws by which the subjects are treated in the book are understood and used in the prosecution of its study.
Let us turn next to the structure. The synthesis may be compared to an Ancient Temple whose foundations are the tenets of Gupta Vidya, the Secret Knowledge, Esoteric Science. The edifice which raises its stately head thereon has its four sides built out of the material brought together from the four quarters of the globe: the matter of the Polar Region gives evidence of its strange existence in the north-east corner of the Temple; its eastern side, from low extending to high ceiling, tells the fascinating tale of Asia, modern and ancient; Europe and the Americas are there in the west; and the Lemurian wisdom of the southern seas is given its place. These walls are full of symbols and emblems, carved and painted, strange and even grotesque, with explanations accompanying each. The roof is a dome of mathematical exactitude, a perfect work of art, which covers in exoteric protection the secrets of the esoteric foundation.
The Foundations of the book are the Stanzas of Dzyan. What they are, whence they emanate, how Mme. Blavatsky came across them and how she used them make a fascinating tale—but that, as Kipling would say, is another story. These Stanzas are the Seed from which grows the Tree of The Secret Doctrine. They are not of the earth but are rooted high in the plane of the spirit—verily the Bij of the Ashwattha. Sweeter than music is their lucid meter. The ideas entombed in their language are of Fire-like mystery—they glow as they grow, they flare up as they subside; they are profound, of ocean depth, whence rise the clouds, which become harbingers of promised wind—beautiful to gaze upon, in their white purity on the arching blue, and useful and inspiring withal, for they bring the breeze and the gale which free the mind from the oppressive sultriness of petty and concrete thinking. Like the mighty ocean is their sweeping grandeur, the “glorious mirror where the Almighty’s form glasses itself … the image of eternity—the throne of the invisible.” How apt do the words of Byron fit, applied to this Ocean of Primeval Wisdom compared to the passing panorama of knowledge which pertains to the domain of the senses and the intellect:—
Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee—
Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they?
Thy waters washed them power while they were free,
And many a tyrant since; their shores obey
The stranger, slave, or savage; their decay
Has dried up realms to deserts; not so thou—
Unchangeable save to thy wild waves’ play—
Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow—
Such as Creation’s dawn beheld, thou rollest now.
According to Mme. Blavatsky the Stanzas “form the basis of the present work.”7 They “give an abstract formula which can be applied, mutatis mutandis, to all evolution: to that of our tiny earth, to that of the chain of planets of which that earth forms one, to the solar Universe to which that chain belongs, and so on, in an ascending scale, till the mind reels and is exhausted in the effort. The seven Stanzas given in this volume represent the seven terms of this abstract formula.”8 In the two volumes of The Secret Doctrine are given “their modern translated version”9 and it is added that this is being done “for the first time into a European language.”10 Further:—
It is almost unnecessary to state that only portions of the seven Stanzas are here given. Were they published complete they would remain incomprehensible to all save the few higher occultists. Nor is there any need to assure the reader that, no more than most of the profane, does the writer, or rather the humble recorder, understand those forbidden passages. (I:23.)
The basis of the book then is the Stanzas. These are followed by their recorder’s commentaries which form the first part in each volume. As these stanzas are formulae, abstract and algebraic, their signs or glyphs are special and strange. The second or middle portion of each volume deals with the symbolic language of ideas, pictures and myths and their influences in past civilizations and cultures. To connect the ancient to the modern and to enable the intelligent student to transform his beliefs into knowledge by the use of modern scientific theories, hypotheses and facts, the third part is devoted to comparison and criticism along the lines of science; let it not be understood, however, that it is devoid of teaching and instruction, information and inspiration.
It is important to recognize the fact, fundamental and palpable, that the book establishes interdependence of the various branches of knowledge. Therefore ancient and modern science and theology, philosophy and mythology elbow each other all the time and move in close embrace most of the time. Hence also scathing denunciation of the false is followed by just and generous appreciation of the true. Therefore in all its parts everything seems to be thrown in together, “helter-skelter,” but careful and prolonged study reveals to the reader the unmistakable rhythmic swing of the mind of the recorder; order emerges out of chaos, and “a land of promise spreads beneath his eye.”
A word about terms and terminology. There is a vagueness and confusion caused by the absence of precise definitions. Let it not be forgotten that Mme. Blavatsky undertook to expound to the Western world of the 19th century abstruse truths, not only strange and novel but of a nature diametrically opposed and entirely foreign to prevailing notions and views, and that on all subjects. Where they believed in history she put forward myths; when they were accepting lifeless matter she thundered forth the teaching of the Unity of life; when they said atoms she said gods, when they spoke of molecules she responded with monads. She was fighting a battle of ideas and did not wage a war of words. Hence it is essential that the earnest students take note that in reference to terms and terminology they must endeavour to grasp her ideas and not memorize her words, to repeat her thoughts and not her language, to understand her propositions and fundamentals and not be bothered by her un-methodic method and her planless plan.
And that brings us to her method of imparting knowledge. Note what she says—“Indeed it must be remembered that all these Stanzas appeal to the inner faculties rather than to the ordinary comprehension of the physical brain.”11 It is evident that as an Occultist taught by Occultists her way of teaching is closely related to the manner in and by which she herself learnt. The deeper layer of the human mind has to be brought into use if The Secret Doctrine is to be comprehended to any appreciable extent. To enable her readers to understand her ideas she brings them a gift—she presents the key to unlock the door of the higher mind. In this she proves herself a real educator: She draws forth from the hidden recesses of our being the instrument of intellection and in proportion that that is allowed to be done, comes the understanding of the profound teachings. With this purpose in view Mme. Blavatsky resorts to and makes peculiar use of typographical display. Footnotes come in as a handy device, and words, expressions, sentences and paragraphs are printed in italics or capitals to indicate their relative value and importance, and put the student on the track of how certain things unfold his faculties and enable him to grasp the rest of the writings. We evolve as we learn, not only knowing what is taught but gaining the faculty to know more, that which is not written or expressed—that which lies “between the lines and within the words.”
In the grasping of ideas put forward and of those which underlie, the first care should be taken not to mistake personifications for personalities or to materialize abstractions because the latter have already assumed a little of concreteness. Planes of consciousness are not spheres of matter; hierarchies of beings are not always individualized intelligences; Karma is an abstract force and not a personal devil, any more than Universal Self-consciousness is a personal God; the Absolute, the Logos and Logoi, and the Secret Doctrine Pantheon are concretized; and we may give several more instances. Suffice to say that the student is expected to read the book intelligently, bearing in mind what has been written earlier in this paper, to which one more important fact may be now added. There is a tendency to go into details, to shift the ground of study, which make us lose ourselves in the bewildering maze of facts, some of which are simply put while others are presented in pictorial or allegorical form. It is necessary to proceed from fundamental principles; the mastering of postulates and axioms should precede the attempt at solving problems and theorems.
Having thus given somewhat roughly a sketch of the task before the would-be student of this monumental work, let us invite him to his courageous enterprise. In one of the striking and inspiring passages of The Secret Doctrine comes to us the graphic and grand description of the spiritual realm as it opens to the trained vision of a true Seer. What is said there is true for us humble folk whose enthusiasm and aspiration brings us the vision splendid as we delve within the pages of the inspiring Volumes:—
Standing on an open plain, on a mountain summit especially, and gazing into the vast vault above and the spacial infinitudes around, the whole atmosphere seems ablaze with them, the air soaked through with these dazzling coruscations. At times, the intensity of their motion produces flashes like the Northern lights during the Aurora Borealis. The sight is so marvellous, that, as the Seer gazes into this inner world, and feels the scintillating points shoot past him, he is filled with awe at the thought of other, still greater mysteries, that lie beyond, and within, this radiant ocean. (I:633-634.)
Knowledge—Absolute and Relative
Outside of initiation, the ideals of contemporary religious thought must always have their wings clipped and remain unable to soar higher; for idealistic as well as realistic thinkers, and even free-thinkers, are but the outcome and the natural product of their respective environments and periods. The ideals of both are only the necessary results of their temperaments, and the outcome of that phase of intellectual progress to which a nation, in its collectivity, has attained. Hence, as already remarked, the highest flights of modern (Western) metaphysics have fallen far short of the truth. (S.D., Vol. I, Original Edition, pp. 326-327.)
A quiet reflection on the above brings the earnest student to these questions: Are there two types of psycho-mental evolution? What is the difference between the thinker who is the outcome and the natural product of his environment and period and the knower of Truth “initiated into perceptive mysteries,” referred to in the text which precedes the above quotation? Are there two fundamental classes of Knowledge? What is the difference between that which exists and is discovered, and that which the evolving intelligence of man invents in ever-renewed attempt which implies abandonment of that which was previously found and accepted?
… Otherwise—outside such initiation—for every thinker there will be a “Thus far shalt thou go and no farther,” mapped out by his intellectual capacity, as clearly and as unmistakably as there is for the progress of any nation or race in its cycle by the law of Karma. (S.D., Vol. I, Original Edition, p. 326.)
Are we to infer from the above that our very intellectual capacity is also a Karmic limitation? And if philosophers are limited and metaphysics fall “far short of the truth” what fate must befall the poor and humble seeker of the Wisdom—he who earnestly desires to pass on from this dungeon of ignorance into the light of Knowledge?
Let the reader meditate on this whole passage; let him read and re-read and then brood over the ideas as they emanate from between the lines and within the words. It is one of those passages in The Secret Doctrine which yields regular seasonal harvests in terms of the mental sowing done. It throws new light on the very intricate maze of human evolution, individual as well as racial, especially in reference to the development of the lower mind. It also brings some illumination on the problems of Karma, how it grows, how it weaves its fine web of life, imprisoning, and setting free to imprison again, the human soul. It affords opportunities, not only to conjecture but to understand, how ideas come to birth and die, how ideals live and decay, how knowledge, in its aspect of growth through perpetual change, comes to be regarded as ever-evolving. On the other hand, it most emphatically unveils that other and higher existence of Knowledge in its aspect of profound stability, wherein ideals and ideas are immortal and change not and which the human soul can discover, when it is “initiated into perceptive mysteries.”
Ours is the era of mind; this Aryan fifth root-race of ours is related to the fifth principle of our human constitution, the mind; intellectual achievements, therefore, dominate all other achievements. Knowledge grows from day to day.
Ours is the age of materialism. This growing and evolving knowledge ever abandoning the old of yesterday forges ahead to fresh fields and pastures new. Tremendous is the power of fecundation of the human mind; the productivity of matter is amazing, and these two beget branches of science, schools of philosophy, artistic expressions and religious sects, in such numbers as take our thoughts to that prodigious breeder—the queen of the white ants.
Intellectual materialism is the Source of our economic and industrial materialism; our materialistic politics are rooted in our materialistic philosophy; our materialistic sociology arises from our materialistic religions. The individuals of today who believe themselves to be beings of matter are “the outcome and the natural product of their environment and period.”
Ours is the epoch of experts. Mental materialism has produced the phenomenon where each class of scientist and scholar works for his own particular branch of science or subject. Physics and physiology, chemistry and psychology, embryology and astronomy, zoology and botany, philology and theology, are unrelated. We have experts ranging from embryologists, who deal with our bodies before they are born, to “mortologists” who deal with corpses. We have ophthalmologists, otologists, rhinologists, laryngologists and other experts innumerable.
Our age of mental materialism and its experts can be assigned their proper place in the scheme of things if we apply the teachings of the sentence in the above-quoted passage: “The ideals of both are only the necessary results of their temperaments, and the outcome of that phase of intellectual progress to which a nation, in its collectivity, has attained.”
But is there no way out of these ever-expanding and ever-deepening divisions of matter where knowledge continuously becomes ignorance and has to be set aside? The above extract from The Secret Doctrine opens a new vista for the thoughtful. Therein we find more than a hint of the existence of the Immortal Knowledge—ancient and unchanging, constant and consistent. This broad but very vital hint is like unto the illumination which must have been Galileo’s when the light dawned on him that the Earth was not at the center of the Universe and that it had a diurnal rotation. Let us pursue the hint which, for the intellectually faithful, the first Volume opens at pages 611-12:—
The exact extent, depth, breadth, and length of the mysteries of Nature are to be found only in Eastern esoteric sciences. So vast and so profound are these that hardly a few, a very few of the highest Initiates—those whose very existence is known but to a small number of Adepts—are capable of assimilating the knowledge. Yet it is all there,…
It is all there. That knowledge is “to be found only in Eastern esoteric sciences.” Who can find it? How can it be obtained? Eager, hasty, enthusiastic is the student as the great light dawns on him, and with what joy and deep contentment he continues reading: “…mysterious help is given to rare individuals in unravelling its arcana” (p. 612). At the first reading he even fails to take note of limiting provisos. Yes, “it is all there”; but “one by one facts and processes in Nature’s workshops are permitted to find their way into the exact Sciences” (p. 612); yes, “mysterious help is given to rare individuals,” but it is added, “It is at the close of great Cycles, in connection with racial development, that such events generally take place” (p. 612). Thus a change of feeling swiftly takes place and our mind flashes the signal “are we then doomed?” But depression gives place to elation as we read further: “We are at the very close of the cycle of 5,000 years of the present Aryan Kaliyuga; and between this time and 1897 there will be a large rent made in the Veil of Nature, and materialistic science will receive a death-blow.” Has that happened?
Let us avoid the pitfall into which so many students of The Secret Doctrine fall. When we are endeavoring to grasp a particular subject treated in this great book we are continuously tempted by other topics, equally important and even more fascinating than the one we are pursuing.
Our enquiry has been about the Imperishable Knowledge, not if we can have it for ourselves in this day and generation, not to whom and when and how it is given. We have yet to gain a clear perception of its very existence—what it is. In what form it exists and how it came to be there, are subjects of enquiry which should precede that other search—how can we obtain possession of it in this day and generation?
Here is a profound thought expressed in language which sounds not only assertive but dogmatic; and yet when we read the passages we feel like exclaiming—“Thou speakest as one having authority.”
The growth of Knowledge is generally accepted as a fact, and not without good reasons. We constantly speak of the evolution of ideas, of the advance of Science, of the progress of culture. This is very natural indeed, for such expressions are the legitimate result of every-day observation and experience as we contact the achievements of the human mind. We must not forget, however, that Western philosophers and metaphysicians are not all in agreement about the nature of issues involved in and raised by the above extracts of The Secret Doctrine and other similar ones, some of which we will quote as we proceed with our study. “Absoluteness” of knowledge as against relativity of knowledge is a persistent subject of enquiry and debate, and Western philosophy has not solved the problem, in fact, is far from it. In the hoary East the case may be found to be somewhat different.
Through the advent of Cartesian propositions in Western philosophy the relativity of knowledge became a subject of keen debate, though the factors involved therein were matters of lively discussion even among the Greeks, and antedating them, among the Asiatics. It was Immanuel Kant who put into modern currency the Greek term Noumenon and expounded the old doctrine of theThing-in-itself; he did so in a limited sense, for he was circumscribed by his environment and period and could go so far and no further for reasons advanced in the above quoted sentences. Kant’s world of the Noumena and Plato’s world of Ideas have much in common, but Plato, like Pythagoras and unlike Kant, was “initiated into perceptive mysteries” as H.P.B. informs us. Pythagoras also taught “absoluteness” of knowledge; as a fundamental proposition he put forward the fact of a permanent principle of unity beneath and behind the changing forms and phenomena of the universe. To this world of archetypal unity belong the Ideas of Plato and theThings-in-Themselves of Kant. The evolution (!) of European philosophy can be studied in the evolution of this very word “idea” from the days of Plato to those of Stout and Baldwin. In the Pythagorean philosophy absolute knowledge may be described as belonging to the unity underlying all forms; in the Platonic, as being composed of the Idea of Knowledge; in the Kantian, it may be regarded as the Knowledge of Things-in-Themselves. These concepts, however, should not be taken to mean that an acceptance of or a belief in the “absoluteness” of Knowledge destroys the possibility of our accepting at the same time the concept of the relativity of Knowledge. Modern science and Western philosophy have concerned themselves so much with phenomena that the world of Noumena—Archetype—Idea is not only forgotten but abolished from the Universe of discourse. The Secret Doctrine maintains that the two are not incompatible; that they do exist simultaneously.
One of the services rendered by The Secret Doctrine to modern thought is the re-introduction of this concept of the world of archetypes, implying “absoluteness” of Knowledge in that sphere of Ideas, as an eternally existing Reality “laid up in the mind of God” as it is said, of which the Knowledge by the senses, the knowledge by feelings, the knowledge by mind, are but reflections, which can and do bear resemblance to the Reality but which also can and do get corrupted. Knowledge in modern times is defined differently. To fully grasp the proposition of The Secret Doctrine that “the exact extent, depth, breadth and length of the mysteries of Nature are … there” (Vol. I, Original Edition, pp. 611-12), it is necessary for us to see what the term knowledge implies in modern culture.
Hobbes says that there are two kinds of knowledge; the one, knowledge original and remembrance of the same; the other, science or knowledge of the truth of proposition, derived from understanding. It is deduced that a blind man who cannot know light in the first sense can know about light in the second if he studies a treatise on optics. William James, however, would insist on feeling being part and parcel of understanding if the latter is to be complete, for he says: “A blind man may know all about the sky’s blueness, and I may know all about your toothache, conceptually; tracing their causes from primeval chaos, and their consequence to the crack of doom. But so long as he has not felt the blueness, nor I the toothache, our knowledge, wide as it is, of these realities will be hollow and inadequate.” Sense impression, and its assimilation by thought and feeling which constitutes understanding, are the two factors which make up knowledge as understood by the modern scholar.
In reference to these two categories of knowledge: (1) recognition and assimilation of impressions and (2) the result of intellectual comparison (in one or the other or both of which William James’s “feeling” must be respected), we encounter another difficulty. It was Reid who propounded that “when ten men look at the sun or the moon they all see the same individual object,” and thus in a way emphasized the value of the first category. Hamilton answered Reid that “each of these persons sees a different object…. It is not by perception but by a process of reasoning that we connect the objects of sense with the sphere of immediate knowledge.” Thus we come to the sphere of immediate knowledge to be perceived and assimilated by the senses, and the sphere of understanding to be contacted by intellectual reasoning—the world of senses and the world of mind.
Locke furnishes the view that the conscious experience of the individual is the result of interaction between the individual mind and the universe of things, but he holds, as does Hume, that the work of the mind was unreal because it was “made by” man and not “given to” man. The work of mind thus represents “a subjective creation, not an objective fact.” The logical deductions from the teachings of Locke and Hume drawn by a writer in the Encyclopaedia Britannica (Vol. XII, p. 535) are of more than passing interest for us. He refers to the universally recognized distinction “between the real and ‘mere ideas’” and adds that “This (obviously valid) distinction logically involves the consequence that the object, or content, of knowledge, viz., reality, is an intelligible ideal reality, a system of thought relations, a spiritual cosmos. How is the existence of this ideal whole to be accounted for? Only by the existence of some ‘principle which renders all relations possible and is itself determined by none of them’; an eternal self-consciousness which knows in whole what we know in part. To God the world is, to man the world becomes. Human experience is God gradually made manifest.”
Let us not forget, however, that Western philosophy is more speculative than practical and that the scientific expert prefers “mere ideas” to the “Real,” and deals with that which is “becoming”; considers it highly superstitious to take into account the world which“is,” and regards the individual who thinks or talks about the “eternal self-consciousness which knows in whole what we know in part,” as one hovering near the borders of the world of lunacy. Where is the Psychiatrist who will not regard it as an acute symptom of approaching insanity in the friend who desires to discuss how human and God experiences are intimately related in every son of man?
The modern philosopher admits that our knowledge of things is conditioned by our perceptive faculties and regards as quite unphilosophical one who assumes that a rose as he sees it is identical with the rose as it is in itself, or even as it is for others. Says the philosopher to the man in the street, “Thou canst not know what the rose is in itself any more than the insect which is eating away its fragrant heart. Thou canst not know the rose in itself any more than the poor blind boy who inhales its scent; thou knowest differently from them, that is all; but neither thou, nor the insect, nor the blind boy can ever know the rose in itself.” When asked by the man in the street how is he different from the insect or the blind boy he receives the answer that the insect knows the rose in terms of his sense-impressions while he, being a possessor of mind, knows it by an understanding arising out of the sense-impressions. As sense-impressions and also understanding are different in different individuals, the knowledge of the rose differs as it is evidenced in him or the blind boy or the sage-speaker himself. Thus far modern philosophy.
The tale which modern science tells is somewhat different. It says, “I am exact. I can tell you the exact composition of the rose chemically, its exact type botanically. I can also tell you about the insect pests, formidable and otherwise which destroy the blossom, how they can be checked by spray and solution. I can tell you about blindness; its causes and cures, its symptoms and varieties. I can tell you about the average man in the language of statistics, temperament, capacity—whence he came, what he is, whither he is going. I can tell you all about my friend the philosopher, better than he can tell about himself. He is a phenomenon like yourself, like the blind boy, like the insect, like the rose. My telescope and microscope, my test tube and retort, my exquisite balance which can almost weigh life itself, have found no Noumenon.”
Thus in our age of experts even materialistic science and materialistic philosophy cannot be correlated.
What does The Secret Doctrine say?
Science cannot, owing to the very nature of things, unveil the mystery of the universe around us. Science can, it is true, collect, classify, and generalize upon phenomena; but the occultist, arguing from admitted metaphysical data, declares that the daring explorer, who would probe the inmost secrets of Nature, must transcend the narrow limitations of sense, and transfer his consciousness into the region of noumena and the sphere of primal causes. To effect this, he must develop faculties which are absolutely dormant—save in a few rare and exceptional cases—in the constitution of the off-shoots of our present Fifth Root-race in Europe and America. He can in no other conceivable manner collect the facts on which to base his speculations. Is this not apparent on the principles of Inductive Logic and Metaphysics alike? (S.D., Vol. I, Original Edition, pp. 477-8.)
We are advised to transfer our consciousness into “the region of noumena and the sphere of primal causes”; therefore it is but natural to infer that in that region lie embedded “Eastern esoteric sciences” in which only are to be found “the exact extent, depth, breadth, and length of the mysteries of Nature.” The world of Noumena or of Things-in-Themselves, or of archetypes or of equity (Pythagorean) or of Ideas (Platonic) need not be regarded as a mere background to be posited in thought and language for the purposes of understanding and discussion of philosophical propositions. It is a reality and a substantial reality at that. This sphere of noumena is not a metaphysical concept, it is a scientific fact. Those who regard it as the first can find out the second as their ancient predecessors did. How? “The philosophers themselves had to be initiated into perceptive mysteries” and thus they contacted the Knowledge—Immortal, Imperishable, Eternal and Constant.
The contrast of the absolute and relative knowledge is shown in The Secret Doctrine. The modern scientist rejects the first and accepts the second; the ancient scientists accepted the eternal, constant and consistent knowledge, whose teachings he attained through the mysteries of Initiation; for him all else was illusion, but of that illusion he took note and did not deny its existence. SaysThe Secret Doctrine (Vol. I, Original Edition, p. 108):
Dzyu is the one real (magical) knowledge, or Occult Wisdom; which, dealing with eternal truths and primal causes, becomes almost omnipotence when applied in the right direction. Its antithesis is Dzyu-mi, that which deals with illusions and false appearances only, as in our exoteric modern sciences. In this case, Dzyu is the expression of the collective Wisdom of the Dhyani-Buddhas.
The World of Archetypes
We have made more than one reference to absoluteness of knowledge as distinctive from its relativity. The Absolute as a basic fundamental, as a positive principle, still remains an unsolved conundrum in western metaphysics and philosophy. As a prefix “absolute” is used to denote that aspect which is other than all covered by the term relativity; but even in this the nature of the differences which exist is more than verbal. Ours is not a philosophical age, and ordinary folk are apt to use terms and expressions very loosely, thus the confusion of debate growing worse confounded.
As an expression, “Absolute Knowledge” is bound to confuse students. In The Secret Doctrine, the term Absolute is used as a Fundamental Principle, which is beyond all pairs of opposites and is not one of any pair. It is neither rest nor motion, neither light nor darkness, neither spirit nor matter, neither being nor non-being. It is therefore neither knowledge nor nescience. As the Commentary quoted clearly shows: “The Absolute is not to be defined, and no mortal or immortal has ever seen or comprehended it during the periods of Existence. The mutable cannot know the Immutable, nor can that which lives perceive Absolute Life.” (Vol. II, p. 34.) Therefore, when we speak of Absolute Knowledge, we do not mean knowledge of or about the Absolute; nor do we imply the knowledge hidden in the Absolute; nor Knowledge which is Absolute Beness. Of that Absolute-Beness-Knowledge-Nescience it is futile to talk; from that “all speech with the mind turns away, unable to reach it,” as the Taittiriya Upanishad has it; all that we can say of That is, “Naiti, naiti,” “not this, not this”–
“Who asks doth err,
Who answers, errs. Say naught!”
The Secret Doctrine accepts the relativity of the universe of phenomena.
Everything is relative in this Universe, everything is an illusion. But the experience of any plane is an actuality for the percipient being, whose consciousness is on that plane; though the said experience, regarded from the purely metaphysical standpoint, may be conceived to have no objective reality. But it is not against metaphysicians, but against physicists and materialists that Esoteric teachings have to fight,… (Vol. I, pp. 295-296.)
This universe of phenomena, illusions, maya, is the universe of relativity. Mathematicians and metaphysicians, however, posit a universe other than and beyond that of relativity and which is sometimes mistaken by Theosophical students for the Absolute of The Secret Doctrine. This other universe, as opposed to and distinct from that of relativity, is the world of noumena, of unity of ideas, of things-in-themselves, about which we have been speaking. The Absolute is neither the universe of noumena nor of it; nor is It the universe of phenomena or of it;—THAT is above and beyond and behind absoluteness and relativity, of knowledge, of ethics and of everything else.
The worlds of noumena and of phenomena constitute a pair like spirit-matter, light-darkness, day-night, rest-motion, cause-effect and all others, and they are aspects or phases in manifestation which enable us to posit the Absolute-Beness. Knowledge-nescience is also one such pair.
In the condition of pralaya “the seven ways to bliss were not” and “the seven sublime lords and the seven truths had ceased to be”;12 at the dawn of Manvantara the “Primordial Seven, the First Seven Breaths of the Dragon of Wisdom”13 take their place in manifestation. Thus knowledge as a factor in manvantaric manifestation and pralayic rest is recognized by The Secret Doctrine.
We must be clear in our grasp of the fact that Absoluteness of Knowledge is not knowledge of the Absolute. Absoluteness of Knowledge spoken of in modern philosophy and metaphysics (e.g., “Absolute Ethics” of Herbert Spencer in his Data of Ethics), is not the Absolute of The Secret Doctrine. Absoluteness of Knowledge is what is described in The Secret Doctrine as Dzyu, and its “antithesis is Dzyu-mi, that which deals with illusions and false appearances only,”14 which is what we term relative knowledge.
In considering the double aspect of knowledge we referred to the world of Unity of Pythagoras, to that of Ideas of Plato, to that of Things-in-themselves of Kant. In the very nature of things relativity of knowledge implies a plurality of worlds, two of which modern philosophy accepts, if not for purposes of practical application, at least for those of speculation and debate. These are the worlds (1) of senses and sense-impressions, and (2) of mind and understanding. The inter-relationships of these two worlds—which one gave birth to the other, which is of more value to the advancement of knowledge, in the processes of experience, for the growth in learning, etc.—are all subjects of vital interest; but while these problems are being discussed and the worlds of sense- and mind-phenomena are being investigated, the world of noumena has ceased to exist for scientist and philosopher alike as far as practical application is concerned. We must leave them to settle their differences as to the relative values of senses and reason. In their exact wisdom they have not even approached the point which the Stoics had reached when Carneades attacked them with his persistent criticism. In establishing the criteria of knowledge the Stoics and their opponents sometimes forgot and more often misunderstood the world of noumenon. What has been twenty-four centuries ago again is and the depth reached is a profounder one, such is the mysterious recurrence of ideas in civilizations, especially in our Kali Yuga. As men return to earth they are accompanied by their thoughts and arguments. From the world of relativity to the world of relativity they ever go.
Let us turn our thoughts to the absoluteness of knowledge and the world of noumenon. Pythagoras conceived the Unity underlying diversity and the knowledge of that Unity was the objective of those who were guided by his wisdom. Following him, Plato described the World of Ideas from which all forms proceed. These two, we are informed, were initiated into “perceptive mysteries,” and while the influence of the former on European civilization is not so well known as that of Plato, we must not overlook the fact of Pythagoras being the Father of European Esotericism. The abstruse metaphysics, the philosophy of numbers, the science of music and forms, the symbolism of virtues, forces and gods, which Pythagoras taught in the silence of the sanctuary, have naturally escaped the attention of the concrete mind of the race to which we belong. Plato, however, fortunately for the West, does not share the same fate and his influence on European civilization has not only been immense and lasting but is also traceable and recognized.
“Out of Plato come all things that are still written and debated among men of thought,” wrote Emerson, an intuitive seer greatly influenced by Asiatic and especially Indian thought. Kant’s world of things-in-themselves, Spencer’s Absolute Ethics as distinguished from relative ethics, are the outcome of the influence which Plato’s Ideas exerted and still continue to exert on modern thought.
For the old Grecian Sage [Plato] there was a single object of attainment: REAL KNOWLEDGE. He considered those only to be genuine Philosophers, or students of truth, who possess the knowledge of the really-existing, in opposition to mere objects of perception; of the always-existing, in opposition to the transitory; and of that which exists permanently, in opposition to that which waxes, wanes, and is alternately developed and destroyed.15
The Secret Doctrine teaches that all phenomena are rooted in noumena. Every phenomenon has its noumenal counterpart. The entire phenomenal world is a reflection of the noumenal world. The world of noumena is the world of Pythagorean Unity which underlies all diversity of the world of phenomena; nay, makes it possible. It is the world of Platonic Ideas from which all forms in the world of phenomena proceed. It is the world of Kant’s Things-in-Themselves which makes possible the world of things-as-they-seem, i.e., phenomena.
The knowledge of this world of noumena is the Absolute Knowledge referred to above—spoken of as Dzyu in The Secret Doctrine.The knowledge of the world of phenomena is relative and is spoken of as Dzyu-mi in The Secret Doctrine. We want to understand the World of the Real, the world of Dzyu.
The Theosophical teachings about planes, worlds, globes, and spheres, have been often misunderstood. Tendencies begotten of theological creeds and beliefs are inherent in most of us and these unconsciously to ourselves color our imagination, our image-making faculty, which is an aid in our understanding of Theosophical truths about worlds—physical, psychical, spiritual. We are very apt to picture hell beneath our feet and heaven on the other side of the blue sky though we name them Kama-loka and Devachan. Our theological and Theosophical geographies get mixed. Next, our scientific education inoculates us with the serum of materialism and although we do not know it we have a strong tendency in the direction of materializing Theosophical teachings, so that we may be “able to sense the meaning of it all,” as people so often put it. Metaphysical concepts are not to be sensed—they cannot be seen either by telescope or microscope; they have to be conceived in the womb of mind and what is conceived must be reflected upon. The conception of truths followed by a reflection upon them are two definite steps in the process of understanding Theosophical teachings. Reflecting upon what is conceived is a difficult practice; conceiving is a process which involves the thinker and his instrument of thought, the man and his mind, and it produces a definite relationship between them. Conception takes place in the womb of mind and reflection is the energizing power of the man himself, who feeds, nourishes and sustains what has been conceived.
We have thought it necessary to digress a little and refer to this because we are aware of the difficulty in the way of the earnest student of The Secret Doctrine. Its teachings cannot be sensed—that is, that part of our cerebral hemisphere which learns from impressions from without and by its powers of co-ordination of impressions makes sense out of it all, if used in grasping of theSecret Doctrine truths, is bound to materialize and thus distort them. Many so-called Theosophical teachings are such materializations and distorted materializations at that. In the case of worlds and planes, globes and chains of globes, such materializations tinged with theological complexes have produced geographical localities, measured and mapped, minutely described, whose inhabitants are classified according to the color of their astral-skins (named auras) and who live in purgatory and paradise. The metaphysical concepts of states of consciousness and subjective processes which take place therein are misunderstood and wrongly explained. Let us not forget that that is not the Path of Wisdom which takes us from matter physical to matter super-physical, but that is the true one which takes us from matter to spirit, from form to life, from consciousness to self-consciousness, from self-consciousness to All-Self-Consciousness.
With this necessary warning, let us proceed with our study.
There are two worlds—the world of noumenon and that of phenomena. Theologians, scientists and philosophers from time immemorial have classified and explained them in many ways, sometimes rightly, more often incorrectly. Mystics, occultists and Theosophists of all ages and every clime have solved their mystery and have taught in parables and by emblems and symbols the earnest in heart and mind.
The principle underlying this teaching is clearly set forth in the following:
Two contrary Forces … transfers Kosmos from the plane of the Eternal Ideal into that of finite manifestation, or from theNoumenal to the phenomenal plane. Everything that is, was, and will be, eternally IS, even the countless forms, which are finite and perishable only in their objective, not in their ideal Form. They existed as Ideas, in the Eternity, and, when they pass away, will exist as reflections. (Vol. I, p. 282.)
A footnote to the above says:
Occultism teaches that no form can be given to anything, either by nature or by man, whose ideal type does not already exist on the subjective plane. More than this; that no such form or shape can possibly enter man’s consciousness, or evolve in his imagination, which does not exist in prototype, at least as an approximation.
Now, Theosophy or the Wisdom-Religion, has divided the world of phenomena in seven divisions, each of which is a counterpart-reflection of the world of noumena. These seven divisions are further subdivided by seven in almost endless directions. Let not the student be disturbed by the presentation in The Secret Doctrine of classifications which are other than sevenfold. While emphasizing and adhering to the sevenfold scheme of manifestation and evolution, the book examines other schemes and systems, points out their errors or their merits and unveils truths, half-truths and falsehoods.
The world of noumena may be described as the subjective aspect of the world of phenomena which is objective. The chief characteristic of the former is its basic and fundamental unity, as diversity is that of the latter. Many similar things are reflections of the same being, just as many thoughts flow from a single ideation. These two worlds are not geographical areas, one lying within or above the other. An insignificant-looking but important footnote says:
A world when called “a higher world” is not higher by reason of its location, but because it is superior in quality or essence. Yet such a world is generally understood by the profane as “Heaven,” and located above our heads. (Vol. I, p. 221.)
The world of noumena, of unity, of ideas, of things-in-themselves, and that of phenomena, diversity, forms and things, are like spirit-matter: the latter does not exist without the former. Even a short reflection on the following extract will reveal the true relationship subsisting between them:
The life-principle, or life energy, which is omnipresent, eternal, indestructible, is a force and a PRINCIPLE as noumenon, atoms,as phenomenon. It is one and the same thing, and cannot be considered as separate except in materialism. (Vol. II, pp. 672-673; also compare Vol. I, p. 177.)
There are two conditions or states at every point of space and at every second of time throughout manifestation and they are designated worlds. The term plane is often misused and the impression is given and accepted by many that a plane is a material locality, while, truly speaking, it is a state of consciousness. If we keep this explanation in our thoughts, the true meaning of the two worlds of noumena and phenomena will become clear. Reaching or living in the world of noumena, therefore, is a condition of consciousness to be realized, not a movement in matter. The two states—noumenal and phenomenal—are everywhere present all the time.
Just as the Absolute is sometimes spoken of for purposes of explanation as the World of the Absolute, so also the world of primal subjective differentiation is described as the archetypal world in and from which all beings and all things are conceived and formed.
Some confusion exists in the minds of many students because the world of noumena is sometimes spoken of as the archetypal world. That expression has been used in more than one sense, and it is necessary in the pursuit of our study to clear our minds of that confusion.
The archetypal world is an expression of Platonic philosophy—the world as it exists in the mind of the Deity.16 The world, the mind and the Deity are different aspects of one and the same Principle-Substance. The Deity conceives in Its mind a world by reflecting Itself therein. Deity is the creator, Its mind is the retainer, sustainer, preserver, of ideas or archetypes which are objective (or a world) to their creator. This mind of Deity which holds in its embrace the ideas is the first Mother—the primal womb, in which the Father begets the Son—the world. The son has in him embedded father-mother; the mother has in her womb father-son; the father has in his ideation mother-son. The world has in it embedded the Deity and Its mind; the mind has in its womb the Deity and the world; the Deity has in Its ideation Its mind and world. The archetypal world is the world in which the three states or conditions or planes manifest and are still one.
A note of warning and explanation as to the word mind, in the expression, “the world as it existed in the mind of the Deity”: Elsewhere, for instance in one of the most important passages in Vol. I, p. 328, a different terminology is used. In passing we may point out that Cosmic Ideation, Cosmic Energy and Cosmic Substance correspond to Deity, mind and world of the equally important footnote on p. 200 of Vol. I.
This world in the mind of the Deity, this cosmic substance which is energized by cosmic ideation, is the world of noumena, in which inheres, in which lives, the world of phenomena, in its abstract and archetypal aspects.
In Shankara’s metaphysical system of thought Ishvara, Shakti and Maya are the Deity-Father, Mind-Mother and World-Son. As our Theosophical students are more familiar with the Gita let us draw their attention to the seventh discourse, where Sri Krishna (Deity-Father-Ishvara) speaks of His dual nature—inferior and superior—and describes the latter as the “womb” in which “creation springs” (Mind-Mother-Shakti) and the lower, the source of matter (World-Son-Maya). This latter is Mulaprakriti as the higher (Mind-Shakti) is the “Daiviprakriti, the Light of the Logos” of which The Secret Doctrine speaks ever and anon. It is also Fohat and the female-side of manifestation, Virgin who becomes Mother and yet remains Virgin. It is Sophia wedded to Theo, Bodhi wedded to Bodha, whose progeny is the Christ and the Buddha, the Anointed One and the Enlightened One. This digression has been necessary in our attempt to show how the world of noumena—archetypes—is the world of Absolute-Knowledge and enables us to draw the logical conclusion that the world of phenomena gives knowledge which is relative.
We need not attempt here to expound and discuss or describe and explain the origin of this world or state; nor to compare and differentiate between the first, or World of the Absolute, and the second, or archetypal world. We must leave the student to study the teachings and see the picture which emerges from the diagram and description on p. 200 of Vol. I. Suffice it to point out that the archetypal world mentioned in the diagram is not the world of noumena—the archetypes of which we have been speaking. That world is the second of “the three higher planes of the Septenary Kosmos”; and that brings us to the second meaning of the expression, archetypal world. The builders build models after the patterns in the mind of the Deity. The world of models is also the model world; it is made up of models and is in itself the model of succeeding worlds in or on which forms succeed models. This model world is called archetypal world and all models on it or in it are called archetypes. The same footnote quoted above speaks of “a world made as a first model, to be followed and improved upon by the worlds which succeed it physically—though deteriorating in purity.” The diagram on the same page indicates the position of this archetypal world.
The relation existing between these two, the first of which we shall call the noumenal world and the second the archetypal world, will become clear to the thoughtful student of the following extracts:
For, as soon as DARKNESS—or rather that which is “darkness” for ignorance—has disappeared in its own realm of eternal Light, leaving behind itself only its divine manifested Ideation, the creative Logoi have their understanding opened, and they see in the ideal world (hitherto concealed in the divine thought) the archetypal forms of all, and proceed to copy and build or fashion upon these models forms evanescent and transcendent.
At this stage of action, the Demiurge is not yet the Architect. Born in the twilight of action, he has yet to first perceive the plan, to realise the ideal forms which lie buried in the bosom of Eternal Ideation, as the future lotus-leaves, the immaculate petals, are concealed within the seed of that plant…. (Vol. I, p. 380.)17
Many will probably read all that is said with an air of abstraction and regard the noumena and archetypes as cold and distant, and abstruse metaphysical concepts, beyond their mortal minds. Let us try to vitalize them and make them living.
It is said, as above, so below, and to make an application of the axiom would be a profitable task in the study of our subject. Ideas in archetypal regions produce idols in concrete worlds. Tables are seen and used on earth because tabularity exists in its archetypal counterpart. Manifestations on this plane are reflections of their archetypes on a subtler plane. Suicides and murders on the physical plane are symbols of those on higher ones with which “lost souls” are related; maternal love typifies the compassionate love of the Great Ones for the child humanity; conjugal love represents the union of the lower and higher selves; day and night signifymanvantara and pralaya; birth and death indicate manifestation and disintegration of atoms and systems; earthly man stands for Heavenly Man; private societies and secret fraternities betoken the sacred and little-known Brotherhood, as ceremonial entrance into the former copies the Great Initiations in the latter; the frauds and charlatans of Occultism point silently to the existence of the White Magician; and so in all departments and provinces of Nature in an endless range of succession, till we feel overpowered by and bewildered at the plumbless depth and unscalable height and marvelous expansion on every side.
In the preceding studies we have tried to present certain definite ideas: first, that Absolute Knowledge is a condition or a state which actually exists and is designated the world of Noumena, in contradistinction to the relative knowledge, which is the world of phenomena. Therefore, Absolute Knowledge exists everywhere, as the hidden soul of every phenomenon.
Next, we tried to show the triple aspect of this Absolute Knowledge or the World of Noumena. The World in the Mind of the Deity; Maya produced through Shakti by Ishvara; Son begotten in the primal womb of Mother Wisdom by the Father; other expressions were used and an attempt was made to show the triple aspect of Absolute Knowledge.
To understand a little more accurately and a little more fully this triple aspect, let us point to the threefold relationship of Sophia, as daughter, wife and mother18—“the one instrument with which the Logos [Deity] works.”19 Sophia, like Eve, is the daughter of Adam, having been formed from his rib; not satisfied with that, she becomes his wife and the mother of his progeny. Sophia is the daughter of the One Knower, Ishvara; as His consort she is the Shakti-power, Daiviprakriti, the Light of Knowledge; the Knower and the Knowledge beget the Word to be known. Thus the Knower, Knowledge, Known; the Teacher, Teaching, Taught, are three in one. In Brahmanical tradition we are told that Gayatri is the mother of the Vedas, and in the Gita Sri Krishna says that He is the Pranava (the sacred word, Aum) in all the Vedas. The single syllable Aum becomes the metre Gayatri and her progeny are the Four Gospels, called Vedas in Brahmanical lore.
In the Avesta, the Ahuna-vairya, the twenty-one-word prayer, is the same as Gayatri, which Zarathustra, the prophet, uses to overthrow Ahriman or Angra-mainyu, and it is said to be the Word proclaimed by Mazda.
Thirdly, we spoke in our last study of the two worlds of Noumena and of Archetypes, and hinted at the natural conclusion to be drawn of the existence of the two types of Absolute Knowledge—Noumenal and Archetypal. In other words, Absolute Knowledge has a double aspect. Just as in the Noumenal world ideas exist in the mind of the Deity which at a later stage of the manifesting process are built into the model-archetypal world, so also Sophia, who ever exists everywhere, is transformed into Theosophy, or Wisdom-Religion, or Gnosis. In its aspect of Noumenal Knowledge, it is ever present everywhere; at all points of space and at each moment of time it exists, the soul of every body, the energy of every force, the life of every form. Its manifestation as a synthetic system of learning is an incarnation of Noumenal Knowledge, which may be named Archetypal Knowledge; and this latter is Theosophy—the Wisdom-Religion, Gnosis.
Paul, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, draws a distinction between “enticing words of man’s wisdom” and the “wisdom among them that are perfect” and the latter is called “the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world.”20 Here we have the difference pointed out between Absolute and Relative Knowledge.
In the early Christian church much wrangling took place about the masculine and feminine aspect of Wisdom. Sophia and Gnosis are a pair and they are sometimes mistaken for synonyms, at others, for antonyms; votaries of the rival sects of the Female Logos, Sophia, and of the Male Logos, Christ, fought like their brothers of India, who quarreled about the superior nature of the masculine Shiva and the feminine Shakti. Thus in Proverbs (9:4-5) the Hebrew Sophia says to “him that wanteth understanding”—“Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine which I have mingled,” which in the New Testament are made the gifts of Christ to his apostle-disciples.
Thus we have the “enticing words”—relative knowledge; Sophia—Noumenal Knowledge, and Gnosis—Archetypal Knowledge.
In Brahmanical esotericism four terms are used, Avidya, Apara Vidya, Para Vidya and Gupta Vidya. Their translated equivalents are Nescience, Lower Knowledge, Higher Knowledge and Secret Knowledge. A score of other Vidyas or branches of knowledge are spoken of, but all of them can be classified under these four main headings. Avidya has been a stumbling-block for students of Indian philosophy. Avidya is knowledge of the non-existent non-self and thus understood as a synonym of Maya becomes “Agnosticism and Nescience rather than ignorance.”23 An agnostic is not an ignoramus, but his knowledge is not Gnosis and hence illusory. Death is the loss of the knowledge of our unity with the Universal Consciousness and is produced by this Avidya—Knowledge of the non-existent non-self. All materialists in this sense are dead, as H.P.B. points out. They may be described as breaking up (or having completed that process) their spiritual unit of self-consciousness into numerous units, not self-consciousness. Denying the existence of the Soul, they assert the existence of diversified material organisms as the Self.Isavasyopanishad speaks of overcoming death by Avidya, provided Vidya is made use of at the same time,24 and therein confirms one of the very mysterious teachings of The Secret Doctrine and The Voice of the Silence, viz., the connection of the spiritual man with the physical man in the treading of the Path recommended in the second of the fragments of the latter.
Let us turn our attention to the pair of Para and Apara Vidyas of which the Mundakopanishad25 speaks. Apara Vidya or the Lower Knowledge contains “the four Vedas, the Sciences of phonetics, ritual, grammar, philosophy, metrics and astrology.” The Higher Knowledge is “that by which the Imperishable Akshara is realized.” Akshara is the syllable Aum—the Pranava—the Sacred Word; “by taking refuge in it the Gods became immortal and fearless.”26
From this it will become clear that Para Vidya, the Higher Knowledge, is the Noumenal aspect of the Absolute Knowledge about which we have been writing. The Apara Vidya, the lower, is the relative knowledge. Remains Gupta Vidya—the secret or esoteric Knowledge—that is the Archetypal aspect of Absolute Knowledge or Wisdom-Religion which we call Theosophy.
Thus it will be seen that Sophia and Gnosis, Para Vidya and Gupta Vidya, have been often misunderstood. They are closely allied and yet they are distinct; hence the same names and titles have been interchangeably used for both of them. Bearing this in mind, let the student proceed with his enquiry.
Sophia, the Mother-Wisdom, has seven sons or a sevenfold reflection in manifestation. She is “the mother of the seven planetary powers.”27 In ancient and occult astrology she is the mother28 of Kanya, the Virgin, whose progeny are the six Forces of the six Hierarchies, “synthesized by their Primary, the seventh, who personify the Fifth Principle of Cosmic Nature, or of the ‘Mother’ in its Mystical Sense.”29 The six schools of Indian philosophy (Shat-Darshanani) and the six systems of Indian science (Shad-Anganani) are the phenomenal manifestations of Absolute Knowledge. The six are the progeny of the Invisible Mother. The triple manifestation of each of these six manifestations of Sophia forms the subject of the eighteen discourses of the Bhagavad-Gita; the Great War on Kurukshetra lasted for eighteen days and the contending armies were divided into eighteen army corps; its description in theMahabharata takes eighteen parvas or volumes.
The knowledge of the phenomenal universe in reference to its origin, evolution and disintegration is the lower Knowledge (Apara Vidya);30 the Realization of the Self as the one and only Knower is the Higher Wisdom (Para Vidya)—the Way from the former to the latter is the Gupta Vidya, the Secret Path. The Indian Upanishads deal with the Higher Wisdom (Para Vidya) and they are said to attain “the conquest of ignorance by the revelation of secret, spiritual knowledge.” Let it be clearly understood that the Gupta Vidya, the Secret and Sacred Knowledge of the Spirit, is absent in the pages of the “priceless thesaurus” which “require now the additional possession of a Master-key to enable the student to get at their full meaning.”31 Adds The Secret Doctrine: “TheyCONTAIN the beginning and the end of all human knowledge, but they have now ceased to REVEAL it, since the day of Buddha.” (Volume I, p. 270.)
Though the secret and spiritual Knowledge is not “revealed,” it has not ceased to exist.
Gupta Vidya, the Secret Knowledge that leads to Para Vidya, is like the way to Mount Everest; the latter in all its beauty, grandeur and dignity causes awe and reverence in mortal minds and inspires the few earnest hearts to the perilous adventure of climbing its steep ascents, the necessary knowledge whereof is lost. Thus Para Vidya, the Knowledge of the Self, stands guard over all arts, sciences, philosophies and religions, but the hazardous journey to Self-Realization is only accomplished by the daring soul who wills to seek the Hidden Light and, having sought, knows the Secret Art. Shiva, the patron-saint of Yogis and Sannyasis, is supposed to be sitting in silent tapas in company of His consort, Shakti-Parvati, on Mount Kailasa (Heaven); children of mortality behold the picture of the Couple in awesome dread, as for them Shiva is the destroyer, and they make obeisance to Him from the far distance which separates their earth from His high heaven. The immortal sons of Yoga, however, confident of their soul-strength and bent on reaching Home where the parents dwell in eternal felicity, hasten and climb the steep ascents.
Thus it will be perceived that, like Absolute Knowledge, Relative Knowledge also is twofold; Noumenal and Archetypal are the aspects of the former; the phenomenal which is the reflection of the Noumenal and the definite types of learning which emanate from the Archetypal is the first aspect of Relative Knowledge, Avidya or Agnosticism being the second.
Perhaps it will be a help for some to approach the problem in terms of our human constitution.
Noumenal Knowledge is Atma—Para Vidya.
Archetypal Knowledge is Buddhi—Gupta Vidya.
Typal Knowledge is Manas—Apara Vidya.
Nescience or No-Knowledge is the lower Quaternary—Avidya.
Here, too, “mind is the slayer of the Real.” It is the fall of Apara Vidya into the abyss of separation, instead of remaining faithful to its parent-source of Absolute Knowledge.
Four Vedas and six Vedangas (limbs of the Vedas) make the perfect number ten, and they constitute Apara-Vidya, the Lower Knowledge, as shown by the above quotation of the Mundakopanishad. These ten are organized orifices in the body of Akshara—the Imperishable Aum; the substance composing that body is manasic or mahatic.
The Brahmanical system further lays down six additional limbs (shad-upangani) of the Vedas which are designated the six points of view (shat-darshanani) ordinarily known as the six schools of Indian philosophy.
Apara Vidya contacts the Gupta Vidya by its additional, inner limbs. Its six primary limbs (quoted above) correspond to the five senses with the lower mind as the sixth, which are all turned to “This”—the world without. Its six additional or inner limbs are the six outlooks of the Higher Mind—East, West, South, North, Nadir and Zenith, in the directions of “That”—the Imperishable Akshara. The last of these six inner limbs is Vedanta—the end of Knowledge. The world-famous Upanishads belong to these inner limbs of the Vedas.
Thus these six schools constitute a bridge between Apara Vidya (of which they are a part) and Gupta Vidya—between Manas (of which Manas Taijasi is an aspect) and Buddhi. These six inner limbs may be profitably compared to “the spiritual efflorescence ofManas” spoken of in The Secret Doctrine, which uniting with Buddhi makes Manas spiritual.32
But what has all this to do with our approach to Theosophy? the reader may well ask. Let him note that the Brahmanical esoteric tradition, however curtailed, distorted out of shape, and even corrupted in a great measure, has left enough material for us to understand universal facts known to the entire ancient world. The teaching about the Four Vidyas prevailed everywhere in the days of yore and if we have utilized the Brahmanical aspect of it we have done so because The Secret Doctrine has adopted it.33
Theosophy is neither the Vedanta of the Hindus, nor the teachings of the Upanishads and other writings of the six schools of Indian philosophy. Theosophical views, teachings and ideas may be, nay, will be found in these, as also in the Vedas and its six outer or primary limbs; but so will they be found in the Egyptian Puranas known as the Book of the Dead, or in the Greek Itihasas of Iliad and Odyssey, or in the Hebraic Smriti of Moses. But in all these which exist everywhere as Apara Vidya, lower knowledge, distortions and corruptions abound; not only has Avidya-Agnosticism made inroads in Apara Vidya, but priestcraft has attacked it, making it worse than useless—maleficent.
In the modern world, therefore, Theosophy comes as a body of teaching which is beyond the Apara Vidya, which is first of the chapters of Gupta Vidya and which cannot be found in full anywhere. The Message of H. P. Blavatsky constitutes that first chapter; “however incomplete and feeble as an exposition” it may be, however inadequate the daring attempt to write it in a human language—that Message is the first of the seven chapters of the Esoteric Science—Gupta Vidya—of which its bearer says this:
As a whole, neither the foregoing nor what follows can be found in full anywhere. It is not taught in any of the six Indian schools of philosophy, for it pertains to their synthesis—the seventh, which is the Occult doctrine. It is not traced on any crumbling papyrus of Egypt, nor is it any longer graven on Assyrian tile or granite wall. The Books of the Vedanta (the last word of human knowledge) give out but the metaphysical aspect of this world-Cosmogony; and their priceless thesaurus, the Upanishads—Upa-ni-shad being a compound word meaning “the conquest of ignorance by the revelation of secret, spiritual knowledge”—require now the additional possession of a Master-key to enable the student to get at their full meaning. The reason for this I venture to state here as I learned it from a Master. (Volume I, p. 269.)
Scepticism and superstition alike are the fruits of corruption of the Apara Vidya, the lower knowledge, whose thread of life, Gupta Vidya, connected it to its Spirit, Para Vidya, in the days of yore. The eternal enemies of the Wisdom—human credulity and its progeny, priestcraft—ever cut that thread of life, begetting death, and, to perpetuate themselves, vitalize the corpse and call it angel and God. Says The Secret Doctrine:
…all exoteric religions [can] be shown the falsified copies of the esoteric teaching. It is the priesthood which has to be held responsible for the reaction in favour of materialism of our day. It is by worshiping and enforcing on the masses the worship of the shells—personified for purposes of allegory—of pagan ideals, that the latest exoteric religion has made of Western lands a Pandemonium, in which the higher classes worship the golden calf, and the lower and ignorant masses are made to worship an idol with feet of clay. (Volume I, p. 578.)
And again it speaks of how the Rays of Gupta Vidya
became necessarily weakened as they were diffused and shed upon an uncongenial, because too material soil. With the masses they degenerated into Sorcery, taking later on the shape of exoteric religions, of idolatry full of superstitions, and man-, or hero-worship. (Volume II, p. 281.)
and refers to the “systematic persecution of the Prophets of the Right Path by those of the Left” and adds:
The latter, having inaugurated the birth and evolution of the sacerdotal castes, have finally led the world into all these exoteric religions, invented to satisfy the depraved tastes of the “hoi polloi” and the ignorant for ritualistic pomp and the materialization of the ever-immaterial and Unknowable Principle. (Volume II, p. 503.)
In none of the exoteric religious philosophies, much less in creeds and less still in priest-ridden places of worship is to be found the pristine Light of Wisdom which can illumine the mind of man, transforming it into Manas-Taijasi. In East and West alike corruption prevails, expressing itself in scientific scepticism, religious superstition, and the strange mixture of blind faith and false learning which gives birth to hydra-headed Psychism.
The approach of Theosophy, in this day and generation, has to be, therefore, through the clear Message of our era. Once its great Teachings are grasped, religions, sciences, arts and philosophies, show forth the grandeur of what is truly good and beautiful in all of them. Theosophy provides the common basis which unifies them all and co-ordinates what seems contradictory in each.
Revelation—True and False
We have seen that The Secret Doctrine establishes two kinds of Knowledge, Absolute and Relative, and bridges the chasm between these by Esoteric Knowledge; on the other hand Agnosticism (in its true sense of course) obscures all Knowledge and plunges relative Knowledge in the depths of Nescience. Avidya, Apara Vidya, Gupta Vidya and Para Vidya have been the four factors of study for us.
Leaving aside Agnosticism, Nescience, Avidya, let us say a word or two about Relative Knowledge, Apara Vidya. It is said to deal with illusions, non-realities. Hasty inferences are very commonly indulged in, and we should guard ourselves against them. The Doctrine of Maya has worked havoc among the followers of the Brahmanical creed: it has been misunderstood and wrongly applied, with the result that individual, national and racial catastrophes have resulted. This highly philosophical doctrine can be truly comprehended by the mystic, but to do so he must possess the necessary adequate knowledge of several propositions of the Esoteric Science, one of which pertains to the subject-matter now under consideration.
Maya or Illusion caused by Avidya or Agnosticism is very different from that caused by Apara Vidya or Relative Knowledge.
The illusion of Agnosticism and that of Relative Knowledge are clearly referred to in The Secret Doctrine. It speaks of how the doctrine of illusion is misunderstood and “perverted by Western schools” and says:
All that which is, emanates from the ABSOLUTE, which, from this qualification alone, stands as the one and only reality—hence, everything extraneous to this Absolute, the generative and causative Element, must be an illusion, most undeniably. But this is only so from the purely metaphysical view…. Everything is relative in this Universe, everything is an illusion. But the experience of any plane is an actuality for the percipient being, whose consciousness is on that plane; though the said experience, regarded from the purely metaphysical standpoint, may be conceived to have no objective reality. (Volume I, 295-6.)
Alongside with this let us ponder over the following:
The Universe is called, with everything in it, MAYA, because all is temporary therein, from the ephemeral life of a fire-fly to that of the Sun. Compared to the eternal immutability of the ONE, and the changelessness of that Principle, the Universe, with its evanescent ever-changing forms, must be necessarily, in the mind of a philosopher, no better than a will-o’-the-wisp. Yet, the Universe is real enough to the conscious beings in it, which are as unreal as it is itself. (Volume I, 274.)
When The Secret Doctrine says that the “spark journeys through the Seven Worlds of Maya,” it does not refer to the illusions of Nescience but to the unfoldment of the spark into the Flame by the very necessary illusions of relative knowledge. It is said:
Maya or illusion is an element which enters into all finite things, for everything that exists has only a relative, not an absolute, reality, since the appearance which the hidden noumenon assumes for any observer depends upon his power of cognition…. Nothing is permanent except the one hidden absolute existence which contains in itself the noumena of all realities. The existences belonging to every plane of being, up to the highest Dhyan-Chohans, are, in degree, of the nature of shadows cast by a magic lantern on a colourless screen; but all things are relatively real, for the cogniser is also a reflection, and the things cognised are therefore as real to him as himself…. Whatever plane our consciousness may be acting in, both we and the things belonging to that plane are, for the time being, our only realities. As we rise in the scale of development we perceive that during the stages through which we have passed we mistook shadows for realities, and the upward progress of the Ego is a series of progressive awakenings, each advance bringing with it the idea that now, at last, we have reached “reality;” but only when we shall have reached the absolute Consciousness, and blended our own with it, shall we be free from the delusions produced by Maya. (Volume I, 39-40.)
From this we see that the worlds of Maya are the worlds of relative knowledge. Our experiences are “inextricably bound up with the relativity of human knowledge.” This is the “Maya of phenomenal existence.” Says The Secret Doctrine:
…according to our teaching which regards this phenomenal Universe as a great Illusion, the nearer a body is to the UNKNOWNSUBSTANCE, the more it approaches reality, as being removed the farther from this world of Maya. (Volume I, 145-6.)
Absolute knowledge also is Absolute Reality. That which lies buried and hidden in the silence of Gupta Vidya is a mystery. Under the guidance of Nature and her laws we are initiated into the mysterious workings of her being, and from one aspect and factor of Relative Knowledge we go to a succeeding one. To make a deliberate and conscious effort to realize what is hidden is to be a practical Theosophist—an earnest student of Gupta Vidya; is to be initiated into Perceptive Mystery to which The Secret Doctrinerefers as shown in our third study.
Manifestations of Noumenal Knowledge produce phenomenal knowledge which we have designated relative. It may be called Typal Knowledge and is comparable to the shadows of the One Noumenal Reality—Absolute Knowledge. The shadows resemble, and in a sense represent, the substance. But typal-knowledge is begotten of Archetypal Knowledge, which may be compared to an Image. Noumenal or Absolute Knowledge reproduces itself, as an image—Archetypal or Esoteric Knowledge, and the latter reflects itself causing shadows of phenomenal knowledge.
When we busy ourselves with shadows regardless of the image in which they are rooted, we mistake them for substance, invest them with spurious values, and generally lose ourselves in the mazes of phenomenalism, falling into the pit of Avidya—Agnosticism. On the other hand when we discriminate between aspects and factors of Relative Knowledge, in terms of different and successive phases of evolution through which we pass, we are able to recognize them as valuable helps, leading towards the Image-Source, and finally to the Ultimate Reality referred to in one of the above quotations from The Secret Doctrine.
This valuable help is always available for the earnest and sincere man who seeks for Truth and is not satisfied with a creed, who demands Knowledge and rejects mere belief, who follows the faith of his Inner God and not of the father of his body. It is said that the Word of the Wisdom and the Voice of the Masters always abide in the world.
We have compared Apara Vidya or Relative Knowledge to Manas, but, like Manas in the human constitution, Relative Knowledge, has a triple aspect—(1) Higher, (2) Lower, and (3) Antaskarana, or the bridge between the two. This bridge is Apara Vidya distinct from Avidya which is Manas influenced, energized and ensouled by Kama, or lower Manas. Antaskarana has a relation to Higher Mind—the Word of the Wisdom to be seen in the world, the Voice of the Master to be heard in the world, the ray of the Sun of Gupta Vidya—Archetypal Knowledge which we have compared to Buddhi.
Thus between Relative Knowledge and Archetypal Knowledge is Theosophy, written, spoken, made public—the Exoteric Wisdom-Religion. It is from the same source as the Heart Doctrine of the Buddha, the Parables of the Christ, the secret teachings spoken by guru to chelas, the real and true Revelations or Shruti.
H.P.B. reiterates the fact of the existence of the Original Doctrines from which all others emanate. The Tree of Knowledge has many branches with manifold leaves, buds, blooms, flowers and fruits—but the Root is one. To this she gives the name of Bodhism, “which by many ages antedates the metaphysical philosophy of Siddhartha Sakyamuni”; nay, antedates the Vedas themselves. (Isis Unveiled, II, 143.) Says The Secret Doctrine:
But it is perhaps desirable to state unequivocally that the teachings, however fragmentary and incomplete, contained in these volumes, belong neither to the Hindu, the Zoroastrian, the Chaldean, nor the Egyptian religion, neither to Buddhism, Islam, Judaism nor Christianity exclusively. The Secret Doctrine is the essence of all these. Sprung from it in their origins, the various religious schemes are now made to merge back into their original element, out of which every mystery and dogma has grown, developed, and become materialised. (Volume I, viii.)
A little more definite information about the Wisdom-Religion or Bodhism is conveyed in the following passage:
We can assert, with entire plausibility, that there is not one of all these sects—Kabalism, Judaism, and our present Christianity included—but sprung from the two main branches of that one mother-trunk, the once universal religion, which antedated the Vedic ages—we speak of that prehistoric Buddhism which merged later into Brahmanism. (Isis Unveiled II, 123 and 142.)
A careful study of Mme. Blavatsky’s views on the subject reveals to us the important fact that there is sufficient material extant in sacred works, little studied and less understood, to prove a universal basic system of thought which gave birth to all true religious philosophies, which explains all phenomena of a mystical and occult nature, and which is man’s only true and reliable guide in this world of Agnosticism and relative knowledge. His real salvation lies in being initiated into that Perceptive Mystery which is now forgotten, and which is the Soul of that basic system of thought. An illuminating passage on the subject will be found in Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, p. 99.
Thus we begin to realize the significant and important fact that in relative knowledge can be found sure indicators to the Gupta Vidya or Archetypal Knowledge. If we clear away the debris of Avidya-Agnosticism and cleanse the Apara Vidya, Relative Knowledge, of the forgeries, vandalism and general craftiness of priesthoods and their victims, human ignorance, superstition and credulity, we arrive at a basic and fundamental Revelation or Shruti in the light of which all Laws and Traditions or Smriti assume a universal and true aspect. These are the types whose parent and source is the Esoteric Science, Gupta Vidya or Archetypal Knowledge, to be obtained by initiation into the Perceptive Mystery.
Spiritual exploitation has taken place in reference to this fact of the existence of a true Shruti or Revelation. Like other sacred truths this one also has been distorted. Priests are exploiters of spiritual patriotism as politicians are of national, and that has been so for ages past from China to Peru. Sri Krishna’s injunction in the Gita (XVI, 34) to act according to “what is declared in Holy Writ” has been wrongly interpreted by the orthodox Brahmanical priesthood, as the Western Church has exploited for its own purposes verses 18-19 of Revelation about adding to “the prophesy of this book” or taking away from “the book of this prophesy.” In more than one Upanishad serious injunction is issued to study the Vedas, to follow their advice, to practise their teachings, to obey their doctrines. In the Svetasvataropanishad (VI, 18) it is said that He who creates Brahma also delivers the Vedas to Brahma, and thereforeMaitriopanishad (VII, 10) issues a warning against the state of false or non-Vedic doctrine, and points out the necessity of studying the right Vedas. What is meant thereby is of course this real Shruti-Revelation of the universal basic Wisdom-Religion to which we have referred.
Similarly, the Laws of the Prophets and Traditions or Smriti have a universal aspect and basis. That is why theChhandogyopanishad says that the pure nature of the Soul arises out of pure nourishment and in the pure nature Smriti34 becomes firmly fixed. Race Memory in the form of immemorial tradition is the Reminiscence of which The Key to Theosophy speaks.
This universality and impersonality make the Vedas—Shruti-Revelation, constant and consistent. It is said that the Vedas aresvatah-pramana, that is, self-evident, and Apurushya, universal, in the sense that they are not the inventions of any particular persons and therefore are also impersonal. Every Spiritual Teacher of the Wisdom from Sri Krishna to Muhammad has affirmed—“Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am not come to destroy but to fulfil.” From the Vedas of ancient Aryavarta down to H.P.B.’s Secret Doctrine, all proclaim the existence, immortal and immemorial, of “the same ancient wisdom-doctrine, one and identical.”35 But priests are the enemies of the prophets, advocates and upholders of the letter that killeth and destroyers of the Spirit that giveth life.
We find ourselves between the Scylla of believing fanaticism in distorted scriptures which are put forward as Shruti-Revelation, and the Charybdis of modern and existing priesthoods now engaged in the distortion of the ancient Secret Doctrine; the former evoke the authority of immemorial traditions while the latter claim, in the name of tolerance and advancing knowledge, acceptance of false doctrines, whose genesis and origin is allegorically described in the Maitriopanishad (VII, 10). Let us protect ourselves from that “very different doctrine” upon which “fools here live their life … destroying the saving raft and praising what is false. They see the false as if it were true as in jugglery.”
In the light of the above the reader is invited to peruse with care the following extracts from an article entitled “What is Truth,” inLucifer, Vol. I, February, 1888, p. 625:
Is there such a thing as absolute truth in the hands of any one party or man? Reason answers, “there cannot be.” There is no room for absolute truth upon any subject whatsoever, in a world as finite and conditioned as man is himself. But there are relative truths, and we have to make the best we can of them.
In every age there have been Sages who had mastered the absolute and yet could teach but relative truths. For none yet, born of mortal woman in our race, has, or could have given out, the whole and the final truth to another man, for every one of us has to find that (to him) final knowledge in himself. As no two minds can be absolutely alike, each has to receive the supreme illumination through itself, according to its capacity, and from no human light. The greatest adept living can reveal of the Universal Truth only so much as the mind he is impressing it upon can assimilate, and no more. Tot homines, quot sententiae —is an immortal truism….
…though absolute truth is not on earth and has to be searched for in higher regions … there still are, even on this silly, ever-whirling little globe of ours, some things that are not even dreamt of in Western philosophy.
To return to our subject. It thus follows that, though “general abstract truth is the most precious of all blessings” for many of us, as it was for Rousseau, we have, meanwhile, to be satisfied with relative truths. In sober fact, we are a poor set of mortals at best, ever in dread before the face of even a relative truth, lest it should devour ourselves and our petty little preconceptions along with us. As for an absolute truth, most of us are as incapable of seeing it as of reaching the moon on a bicycle. Firstly, because absolute truth is as immovable as the mountain of Mahomet, which refused to disturb itself for the prophet, so that he had to go to it himself. And we have to follow his example if we would approach it even at a distance. Secondly, because the kingdom of absolute truth is not of this world, while we are too much of it….
To sum up the idea, with regard to absolute and relative truth, we can only repeat what we said before. Outside a certain highly spiritual and elevated state of mind, during which Man is at one with the UNIVERSAL MIND—he can get nought on earth but relative truth, or truths, from whatsoever philosophy or religion. Were even the goddess who dwells at the bottom of the well to issue from her place of confinement, she could give man no more than he can assimilate. Meanwhile, every one can sit near that well—the name of which is KNOWLEDGE—and gaze into its depths in the hope of seeing Truth’s fair image reflected, at least, on the dark waters. This, however, as remarked by Richter, presents a certain danger. Some truth, to be sure, may be occasionally reflected as in a mirror on the spot we gaze upon, and thus reward the patient student. But, adds the German thinker, “I have heard that some philosophers in seeking for Truth, to pay homage to her, have seen their own image in the water and adored it instead.”
In the above we decipher the several aspects of Knowledge or Vidya we have been studying. Absolute Knowledge is a matter of illumination, which follows the search in higher regions, and during which “man is at one with the Universal Mind,” which as we have seen before is Sophia, Shakti, Daiviprakriti. On the other hand there is the danger of our being caught up in the maze of Avidya and worshiping the wisdom of our own creation.
The earnest student will do well to ponder the extracts which follow in connection with those which have gone before. If in the above are to be found references to Noumenal Knowledge and typal Knowledge and Agnosticism, in what follows will be found traces of Archetypal Knowledge in both its aspects, exoteric and esoteric.
What constitutes real knowledge? The question lies at the very threshold of occult study. It is, in actual practice, the first put before a regular student of occultism who is taken in hand by the teachers of the occult world. And the student is taught—or is led to see—that there are two kinds of knowledge, the real and the unreal; the real concerned with eternal verities and primal causes, the unreal with illusory effects. … there is but one eternal verity, and, in pursuit of that, thought is forced to travel along one road…. But can the eternal verity be reached? Even if hard facts be acknowledged as illusion so far as they are transitory, is not that which is exempt from change removed from observation? Must we not follow up the theoretical admission of the possibility of real knowledge, by the practical admission that no human being can ever have anything to do with it? … Who possesses the real knowledge as contradistinguished from the unreal? the student of occultism is asked, and he is taught to reply—that which we have shown to be the only possible reply—“The adepts alone possess the real knowledge, their minds alone being en rapport with the universal mind.”36
The Knowledge of the Adepts is Archetypal Knowledge—Gupta Vidya, the Buddhi, which is the Vehicle of Atma—Para Vidya. This Archetypal Knowledge has a revealed aspect—the Universal and Impersonal Wisdom-Religion, and an esoteric one into the mysteries of which one has to be initiated.
“He whom the Eternal Word condescendeth to teach is disengaged at once from the labyrinth of human opinions.”
Original Method, Original Teaching, Original Impulse
True Shruti or Revelation or Revealed Wisdom-Religion is immemorial, universal and impersonal—immemorial in time, universal as to space and impersonal in the sense that it is neither the invention of any individual or individuals, and though guarded, preached, proclaimed, and promulgated in different parts of the world at different periods of human growth, by individuals, it is done by a special method wherein impersonality plays the most prominent part. In this world of name and form (Nama-Rupa) personalities abound, and so the Impersonal Message proclaimed by an Impersonal Method, by Impersonal Individualities comes to be endowed with name and form, and the proclaimers get transformed, in the minds of the non-mystical, into individualized personalities.
In the light of our last study, Shruti, Vedas, Revelations, the Sacred Knowledge ceases to be Brahmanical, Christian or Masonic; they are different names for the same principle. Once grasp this important idea, and with it as a telescope stand on the vantage ground of observation to examine creeds and religions, philosophies and sciences, emblems and rituals, in any country at any particular period, and they show a universal basis, an impersonal background and a consistent phase, related to other equally consistent phases. That which is not to be found manifested or implied at all places and at all times, that claiming special and privileged existence for itself, that which cannot stand on its own inherent impersonality and veracity, but demands for its continued existence the strength of personalities—that is not Revelation though Christians may call it so, nor Vedas though Brahmans may name it so, nor the Word of Allah though Muslims may believe it so. Truth alone is the Word of Allah as also the Vedas that were heard, and the Revelation that came from God, and is the common property of the human race. In that way, and that alone, religion becomes a Force that unites. The Mahabharata defines religion thus: “That which supports, that which holds together the peoples everywhere, that is Dharma.” The temple, the church, the mosque in reality ought to be the meeting-place of all students who seek for Truth; these places have become in every age instruments of discrimination against seekers, for they have welcomed only blind believers.
The Secret Doctrine teaches the continued, unimpaired and thorough existence of Shruti-Revelation, in the correct sense of the term. Said Madame Blavatsky:
What I do believe in is (1) the unbroken oral teachings revealed by living divine men during the infancy of mankind to the elect among men; (2) that it has reached us unaltered; and (3) that the MASTERS are thoroughly versed in the Science based on such uninterrupted teaching.37
This stupendous claim has not been made for the first time in the history of human thought. The student will do well to reflect over this statement which finds corroborative testimony in many an ancient scripture. In fact the real Revelation, universal and impersonal, about which we have been writing, has been an object of exposition by great Teachers in a very long line of succession, and equally also an object of enquiry and search by a large number of earnest and devoted students of Truth which is Wisdom. Many claim the privilege of teaching; all true teachers, however different their personal ways of imparting knowledge, teach the one ancient and universal truth. As the Brahmabindopanishad has it: “Cows are many coloured; but the milk of all has but one colour. Look on knowledge as the milk, and on the teacher as the cows.” Herein we find the means whereby students can determine for themselves between false and true teachers.
Let us here quote a few significant statements from scriptural authorities. They become authorities not because they are scriptural in the ordinary sense of the word, but because they manifest the universal and impersonal inherent in them, and thus become Authoritative Scripture. They cease to be Christian or Brahmanical, narrow and particular and personal; they assume a universal significance, objects of inquiry and not of belief, to be accepted after understanding on the basis of their inherent but self-evident strength. They reveal themselves to the one who is ready to see; they are heard by the one who is ready to hear.
In the Bhagavad-Gita Sri Krishna, the Incarnation of the Universal Self, speaks of one of the Pedigrees of the Wisdom-Religion. In the Mundakopanishad is to be found another aspect traced. In the Matsya Purana we come across a different phase of the same subject. It is not our purpose here to endeavor to grasp the inner meaning and precise significance of beings and subjects treated of in these passages. What we are desirous of is to point out the singular fact of the existence of a system of thought, a body of knowledge, ancient and consistent and which in unbroken continuity is transmitted by one generation of Knowers of the Wisdom to another, by a unique impulsion and method. These three references selected from the Brahmanical Scriptures are only examples; such can be multiplied from the same and other scriptural lore.
To begin with the Bhagavad-Gita: Sri Krishna says that He himself taught it to Vivasvat and it is described as a “yoga” which is imperishable. This Vivasvat is correspondentially related to the Sun; Vivasvat is Hiranyagarbha Brahma in another text; and both stand for the Deity manifesting this Solar Universe of ours. Manu, the Heavenly Man, is next named and the implication is that just as the imparting of the Yoga by the Kosmic Deity to Vivasvat enabled the latter to manifest Himself as the Solar Deity and create and become the Solar system, so also He in turn imparting it to Manu enables the latter to manifest Himself as the Deity of the Human Race and create and become Earth-humanity. A further subdivision is reached when the Deity of the Race imparts the yoga to His own son, Ikshvaku, the founder of the Indian Solar Dynasty, who leaves the inheritance to a line of Divine Kings, until in the course of time it was forgotten. It may be asked—why? The Gita verse contains the answer for the careful student; for in it Arjuna’s name is Parantapa—“harasser of foes.” Arjuna is the human soul whose foes are of his own household, the senses and all that emanate from them. When the human Ego begins to harass his foes then only he begins to tread the Inner Path, and subduing the outer, he unfolds the inner eye to see what is Revealed, the inner ear to hear the Word spoken, the Vedas chanted, the Gayatri sung, the Ahuna-Viaryo uttered.
What is taught and handed down is a yoga—a process of union which results in a manifestation. Here is the Original Method whereby the Original Impulse is worked and which produce the Original Teaching. “Even though myself unborn, of changeless essence, and the Lord of all existence, yet in presiding over Nature—which is mine—I am born but through my own Maya, the mystic power of self-ideation.” In the Tenth Discourse Arjuna, addressing Krishna as a Yogi who is appealed to by all people, enquires about the details of the Yoga and Vibhuti (power of union and glory) of the Lord and elicits an answer, descriptive in character of the nature of the Lord; but in the following discourse Arjuna addresses Him not as yogi but as yogeshwara, Lord of yoga, and prays for a Vision of the Universal Self which lies hidden “enveloped in my yogamaya” (VII, 25)—the maker of Vivasvat of the fourth discourse. The Vision vouchsafed to Arjuna is of Krishna, the unborn and the imperishable. Thus the Bhagavad-Gitaspeaks of handing down the Method whereby the Wisdom of the Self is attained.
Turn now to the Mundakopanishad. Here we find another type of pedigree; not of yoga, method or process, but of the Vidya, the Knowledge—the System of thought. That which is handed down is Brahma-Vidya, the Wisdom of the Self Divine or Theo-sophia. Says the Upanishad that Brahma, the first of the Shining Ones, arose as the maker and the protector of the world, and immediately proceeds to inform us that it was He who told of Brahma-Vidya, which is the foundation and resting place of all other Vidyas or Knowledge, to His own eldest son Atharva, just as the imperishable yoga of the Gita was taught by Manu to His eldest son Ikshvaku. Atharva in his turn told it to Angir in ancient times and Angir imparted the knowledge to one whose name was Satyavaha of the Bharada Vaja family; the last named to Angiras, and so the Vidya descended and in the process, proceeding from Teachers to pupils, the Lower Knowledge emanated from the Higher and deteriorated into Avidya-Agnosticism. Here once again we meet with the idea of the Gita as to how the exhaustless Doctrine was forgotten till Krishna declared it “this day” to His Bhakta and Sakha—Devotee and Friend. Thus also in this Upanishad Saunaka of Maha-salah of the Great House (i.e., the Great Lodge), Devotee and Friend in knowledge and service, approaches Angiras, with proper rite, and addresses him as Bhagavan (Lord) and asks, “What is that through which, if known, everything becomes known?” The answer is Para and Apara Vidya, the Higher and the Lower Knowledge, the latter composed of the Four Vedas and its six limbs, of which we have already written. Here we get not only the relationship between Absolute and Relative Knowledge, but an indication of the pedigree of the expounders of the true Revelation-Shruti.
In the Matsya Purana a still different phase of this doctrine emerges. It speaks of the Manus and Rishis who live and work to maintain unbroken the Arya Dharma (the Noble Law) from falling into decay and ruin and this is done by Them through the constant instruction which They impart to new Egos. They are spoken of as Shistha—those who remain behind to instruct. They have in Their own constitution the Dharma in the form of memory—this is Smriti. The knowledge of the Shishta is Shishtachara. The memory gives the Impulse to Knowledge to manifest itself. In this aspect Masters as Embodiments of the Wisdom, Teachers who are in a very real sense Their own Teaching, come to the fore. It is this Original Impulse of Smriti, Memory of the Great Teachers of the Wisdom-Religion, to which The Secret Doctrine refers:
Events which were never written outside the human memory, but which were religiously transmitted from one generation to another, and from race to race, may have been preserved by constant transmission “within the book volume of the brain,” and through countless æons, with more truth and accuracy than inside any written document or record.38
From all this it will be evident to the student that real Shruti-Revelation is not a matter of the past but it exists today; further, that such true Revelation, in course of time, falls into the mire of decay, and that from time to time its existence is made known and the subject-matter of its contents freshly explained. Thus arises the strange phenomenon of the co-existence of the true and the false Revelation in many an age, and in our own Theosophical Movement this phenomenon can be contacted, in more than one direction, in the days of H.P.B. herself, as also since her passing away in 1891.
In the Pistis Sophia a very pregnant passage brings a valuable lesson on this subject and we draw the attention of our readers especially to the necessity pointed out about the words fitting and harmonizing in the whole gnosis:
When then Jesus had said this, Mary answered and said: “My Lord, if men go to seek and they come upon the doctrines of error, whence then are they to know whether they belong to thee or not?”
The Savior answered and said unto Mary: “I have said unto you aforetime: ‘Be ye as skillful money-changers. Take the good, throw the bad away.’
“Now, therefore, say unto all men who would seek the godhead: ‘If the north wind cometh, then ye know that there will be cold; if south wind cometh, then ye know that there will be burning and fervent heat.’ Now, therefore, say unto them: ‘If ye have known the face of the heaven and of the earth from the winds, then know ye exactly, if then any come now unto you and proclaim unto you a godhead, whether their words have harmonized and fitted with all your words which I have spoken unto you through two up to three witnesses, and whether they have harmonized in the setting of the air and of the heavens and of the circuits and of the stars and of the light-givers and of the whole earth and all on it and of all waters and all in them.’ Say unto them: ‘Those who shall come unto you, and their words fit and harmonize in the whole gnosis with that which I have said unto you, I will receive as belonging unto us.’ This is what ye shall say unto men, if ye make proclamation unto them in order that they may guard themselves from the doctrines of error.”
Herein the student receives an answer to the question so often asked—how shall we know what teaching is genuinely Theosophical? Any teaching that does not dovetail with the “whole gnosis” must be rejected as non-Theosophical.
Thus the three facets of the Secret Doctrine or Wisdom-Religion are Teaching, Method, Impulse. When Emerson wrote that “the reverence for the Scriptures is an element of civilization, for thus has the history of the world been preserved and is preserved,” he must have had in mind the inner significance of the true Revelation. From “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not” of the formal creeds of man-made scriptures we must learn to appeal to the Nature-Laws, more ancient, more majestic, more enduring, as Sophocles’ heroine, Antigone, did; she defying the laws of her state, appealed to
The unwritten laws divine, immutable,
That are not of today or yesterday,
But abide forever, none knowing whence they sprang.
This is not the poetic imagination of Sophocles who himself was inspired by the words of an Attic orator, perhaps Pericles himself—“Not only the written laws, but also those unwritten laws—which no man ever yet had the power to abrogate, or dared to contradict—whoso violates them must pay the penalty not only to man but to the gods.”
H.P.B.’s Message is of the nature of Shishtachara for a sub-cycle and therefore she speaks of the necessity of living true “to its original impulses through the next hundred years.”39
The Method whereby that impulse is given and should be sustained is hinted at and indicated. H.P.B. claims to be a transmitter, not an originator or author, and that which is transmitted is neither new nor a “revelation” but is “as old as thinking man.” The Secret Doctrine employs the Original Method, imparts the Original Teaching, introduces in our time the Original Impulse. Therefore it is of the nature of Shruti.
The Message For Today
In our last study we were able to draw the conclusion that H.P.B.’s Message was of the nature of Shruti for our civilization. We will now proceed to quote from her writings and show that she herself regarded it as such.
The SECRET DOCTRINE is not a treatise, or a series of vague theories, but contains all that can be given out to the world in this century. (S.D. I, xxxviii.)
Here is a definite period mentioned, and the explanation thereof is to be found in the following:
Every century an attempt is being made to show the world that Occultism is no vain superstition. Once the door permitted to be kept a little ajar, it will be opened wider with every new century. (S.D. I, xxxvii, fn.)
But I must tell you that during the last quarter of every hundred years an attempt is made by those “Masters”, of whom I have spoken, to help on the spiritual progress of Humanity in a marked and definite way. Towards the close of each century you will invariably find that an outpouring or upheaval of spirituality—or call it mysticism if you prefer—has taken place. Some one or more persons have appeared in the world as their agents, and a greater or less amount of occult knowledge and teaching has been given out. If you care to do so, you can trace these movements back, century by century, as far as our detailed historical records extend. (The Key to Theosophy, p. 306.)
The messengers sent out periodically in the last quarter of every century westward—ever since the mysteries which alone had the key to the secrets of nature had been crushed out of existence in Europe by heathen and Christian conquerors…. (Lucifer,March, 1890—“The Cycle Moveth.” Reprinted in THEOSOPHY, February, 1916.)
Thus it becomes clear that within what are called historical times in the last quarter of every century an effort has been made by the Custodians of the Original Teachings to give some direction to the Original Impulse by means of the Original Method, and to keep the Fire of the Wisdom burning. An accredited messenger charged with a message, whose extent and influence was properly determined, appeared in the world, though often he was not seen and his message was not heard nor heeded.
H.P.B. and Theosophy were the Messenger and the Message, and they appeared in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. In more than one place she has said that in the twentieth century more knowledge will be given out, and some misguided people, in their haste and carelessness have misunderstood and misinterpreted her carefully worded sentences. Thus:
In Century the Twentieth some disciple more informed, and far better fitted, may be sent by the Masters of Wisdom to give final and irrefutable proofs that there exists a Science called Gupta-Vidya; and that, like the once-mysterious sources of the Nile, the source of all religions and philosophies now known to the world has been for many ages forgotten and lost to men, but is at last found. (S.D. I, xxxviii.)
If the present attempt, in the form of our Society, succeeds better than its predecessors have done, then it will be in existence as an organized, living and healthy body when the time comes for the effort of the XXth century. (The Key to Theosophy, pp. 306-307.)
These and similar statements of H.P.B.’s have confused the minds which had in them the capacity of confusion. First, let us point out that in this as in all processes of Nature, the great law of demand and supply, of action and re-action, works. The aspect of contract of the Law of Karma has to be applied for a proper grasp of the method by which the Masters operate in the last quarter of every century. The work of the century is divided into two parts: first, the Masters supply the demand and then wait to see what happens; second, humanity’s response to Their Work, the use the Message is put to, becomes the object of observation on Their part. We do not think we will be wrong in saying that a quarter of the time is utilized by Them in Their Labor of Love, and that for the remaining seventy-five years of the century humanity is left alone to learn, mark and inwardly digest what has been given out, what it has been taught. The Message impels—for it has the nature of the Original Impulse in it—the mind of the race to seek for corroborative testimony on the physical plane for the metaphysical truths conveyed in the Message. This is really what underlies such statements as these:
In the twentieth century of our era scholars will begin to recognize that the Secret Doctrine has neither been invented nor exaggerated, but on the contrary, simply outlined; and finally, that its teachings antedate the Vedas…. This is no pretension toprophecy, but simply a statement based on the knowledge of facts. (S.D. I, xxxvii.)
After manifesting what was essential, the direct action of the force of the Impulse stops and an indirect line is followed, the nature of which is difficult for the lay mind to comprehend. The direct action may be likened to the discovery of the Electric Power, which once understood enabled many people to invent an hundred devices to use that power; this second may be compared to the indirect line which the Masters adopt in Their continuous work. But just as all inventions for the use of electric power are rooted in the original discovery, so also all that comes forth as a result of this indirect work must be based on the direct action manifestation.
In leaving this subject we will quote another pregnant sentence of H.P.B.’s from the Preliminary Memorandum quoted in THEOSOPHY, Vol. I, p. 455. This sentence should be read as supplementing the assertion that all that can be given out in this century has already been given out. Here it is:
No Master of Wisdom from the East will himself appear or send anyone to Europe or America … until the year 1975.
This will be regarded as sufficient to show the Shruti-nature of H.P.B.’s writings. It is likewise necessary to draw the reader’s attention to the fact which emerges in the following two statements that what has been given out is ancient and is regarded as very precious.
The outline of a few fundamental truths from the Secret Doctrine of the Archaic ages is now permitted to see the light, after long millenniums of the most profound silence and secrecy. (S.D. I, xxii.)
Think you the truth has been shown to you for your sole advantage? That we have broken the silence of centuries for the profit of a handful of dreamers only? (Letters from the Masters of Wisdom.)
Add to these the quotation from H.P.B. in our last study, to the effect that the unbroken oral teachings have reached her unaltered, and this part of our study is completed.
This completion, however, brings us to the subject of the Messenger. The nature and character of the Messenger are inseparable from those of the Message. They stand or fall together. H.P.B. claims for herself the place of neither an author, nor the inventor, nor even the full discoverer of the Message; she is a transmitter. It is unnecessary in these studies to examine the status and the claims of H.P.B. It has been done such justice as this magazine is capable of in the History of the Theosophical Movement, in Vols. VIII to X. The opening sentence of Isis Unveiled refers to her “somewhat intimate acquaintance with Eastern Adepts and study of their science.” The Preface of The Secret Doctrine says: “The sole advantage which the writer has over her predecessors, is that she need not resort to personal speculations and theories. For this work is a partial statement of what she herself has been taught by more advanced students, supplemented, in a few details only, by the results of her own study and observation”; and the Introductory says that “she now transmits that which she has received and learnt herself to all those who will accept it.”
The above dovetails with and corroborates the thoughts expressed in the Bhagavad-Gita and in the Mundakopanishad which we examined in our last study. The decay of the Original Teachings in course of time continued to take place, and for their restoration periodic attempts are made by the Great Lodge of Masters. This periodic attempt is spoken of as taking place in the last quarter of every century—it takes place in that quarter in accordance with the law of cycles. Just as what we call winter takes place at a particular period in the revolution of the earth around the sun, so also the psychical and spiritual revolution of our humanity around the spiritual sun causes a cycle whose duration in terms of human time is a century. The beginning of this cycle of a hundred years coincides with the last quarter of what is called the Christian era. Human mind is prone to see Nature adjusting her phenomena to our local arrangements. Seasons change not, though human calendars do. It is very probable, for instance, that the Iranian New Year at one time in the faraway past fell on the 21st of March—i.e., on the day of the Spring Equinox. Such is not the case now with the descendants of the old Iranians, though unchanging Nature celebrates her periodic birth on that very day every year. Some have naively asked why the Great Custodians of the White Lodge did not begin in a methodic order in the first quarter of every century! It does not seem to have occurred to them that the Lodge and its work have been in existence for more than two thousand years; that the Christian and other eras are men-made phenomena while the Lodge follows Nature-Plans; that the Masters did not choose to initiate and engender spiritual movements in terms of the Christian era, but that when that era came into being, ithappened to fall in a particular part of that Cycle of Nature which the Lodge was observing and working with. Therefore, if instead of taking a “Christian Century” we were to take, say, a “Muslim” one, the period of the spiritual activity would not fall in its last quarter, but in altogether another quarter.
The Original Impulse manifests itself as recurrent impulses, and this manifestation is aided and assisted by the Masters. Perhaps for some it would be a helpful suggestion if we say that the Impulse uses the Masters—Impulse is the Spirit which so energizes the Minds of the Masters that They have to work for It. Along this line of thought will be found the explanation of the theory of Avataras or Incarnations. The very mysterious and occult doctrine of Incarnations of great forces—good and bad, Christ and anti-Christ—has never been fully explained. For the intuitive student, however, a careful reflection on the doctrine of Original Impulse recurrently manifesting itself will open more than one avenue of understanding and interpretation thereof. Extraordinary incarnations of human impulses and instincts and thoughts and desires are the makers of history; but the student should differentiate between these and the Word made Flesh, the Great Incarnations of the Wisdom which is Love and the Sacrifice which is Bliss. That Wisdom-Sacrifice is a Mighty and Intelligent Force which energizes and ultimately ensouls emancipated Beings who become embodiments of It. This energizing and ensouling process is the Original Method whereby that Force of Original Impulse manifests the Wisdom-Sacrifice which makes up the Original Teachings, of which we spoke in our last study.
From all this the preliminary work of the earnest student becomes clear. Let him prove to himself (he can hardly prove it to others unless they, like him, are willing to take pains) that periodic incarnations of the Wisdom-Sacrifice, however varied and different in their manifestations, emanate from One Source, are rooted in One Soul. These incarnations, being not of an imperfect science, but of a perfect system of thought, are like the Avatars of Vishnu, and are not the incarnations of Mr. Jack Black who became John Brown and Mary Green and Tom White, and evolved into a great scientist or pious preacher—still evolving. Let the student note that the diversity of manifestation is immense: Vishnu as the Fish, the Tortoise, the Boar, the Man-Lion, the Dwarf, Parshurama, Ramachandra, Krishna, Buddha are more different from one another than Mr. Jack Black is different from Charles Darwin. On the other hand, in the many incarnations of the Perfect Vishnu there is a constancy and a consistency—a working out of plan, an harmonious unfolding of a perfect scheme which takes place.
As students our task is not to be misled by the apparent diversity, and secondly, to perceive the constancy and the consistency, the harmony and the dovetailing of all incarnations of the Wisdom-Sacrifice.
Let us prove to ourselves: (1) that the component parts which make up the manifestation of the Original Impulse in our day and generation are constant and consistent; (2) that this manifestation is in full accord and harmony with all previous manifestations; which means that we have been able to perceive not only the pearls, each one in itself, but the string on which they were all threaded together.
Sometimes it is said that it is impossible to prove this second consistency, as there exist in the world many philosophies and systems of thought. It is very difficult, we admit, but not impossible; further, we opine that at one time or another in his career each student of the Wisdom-Religion will have to undertake this task. What has to be done is to study ancient and modern religions, philosophies and sciences, and to sort out doctrines, propositions, teachings which when put together make a complete synthesis—a veritable mosaic. When this attempt is made it will be found that the Original Teachings under the influence of recurrent impulses of the Original Impulse incarnate by definite and purposeful method; further, that the structure of the synthesis is indicative of what should be and must be accepted as true and genuine and what has to be rejected as false.
This work will lead us to the Source, the Soul, the Original Teachings.
What is it? In a clear and unequivocal style H.P.B. has put it forward in The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, and with that we will close this series. We set out to inquire if there was Absolute Knowledge, and examining the proposition of Relative Knowledge found ourselves entering the world of archetypes wherein we found sitting in patient serenity the Goddess of Secret Wisdom, who from time to time for the establishment of Dharma unveiled her Sacred Face and revealed the blessing of Its Memory which has so often been defiled. We found the existence of that Absolute Knowledge, of the Pathway of the Archetypal which leads to it; we found that in our day and generation the treading of that Path has been made possible, and it remains for us to follow the Guide of the Secret Doctrine and come to the “uninterrupted record covering thousands of generations of Seers.” Says The Secret Doctrine (I, 272-273):—
The Secret Doctrine is the accumulated Wisdom of the Ages, and its cosmogony alone is the most stupendous and elaborate system: e.g., even in the exotericism of the Purânas. But such is the mysterious power of Occult symbolism, that the facts which have actually occupied countless generations of initiated seers and prophets to marshal, to set down and explain, in the bewildering series of evolutionary progress, are all recorded on a few pages of geometrical signs and glyphs. The flashing gaze of those seers has penetrated into the very kernel of matter, and recorded the soul of things there, where an ordinary profane, however learned, would have perceived but the external work of form. But modern science believes not in the “soul of things,” and hence will reject the whole system of ancient cosmogony. It is useless to say that the system in question is no fancy of one or several isolated individuals. That it is the uninterrupted record covering thousands of generations of Seers whose respective experiences were made to test and to verify the traditions passed orally by one early race to another, of the teachings of higher and exalted beings, who watched over the childhood of Humanity. That for long ages, the “Wise Men” of the Fifth Race, of the stock saved and rescued from the last cataclysm and shifting of continents, had passed their lives in learning, not teaching. How did they do so? It is answered: by checking, testing, and verifying in every department of nature the traditions of old by the independent visions of great adepts; i.e., men who have developed and perfected their physical, mental, psychic, and spiritual organizations to the utmost possible degree. No vision of one adept was accepted till it was checked and confirmed by the visions—so obtained as to stand as independent evidence—of other adepts, and by centuries of experiences.
The Message of H.P.B.
In the first series of these studies an attempt was made to draw the attention of the reader to the important fact that the message of H.P.B.’s Secret Doctrine was not new, nor did it stand alone. This is a basic principle; without a clear understanding of it, the student of Theosophy is bound to go astray.
If history has taught any lesson it has certainly taught this: every genuine spiritual Message has suffered corruption at the hands of well-meaning but non-intuitive and therefore non-spiritual followers of the Messenger. Such have blundered into separating the Message and the Messenger; in proceeding from the latter to the former; in examining the former in the light of the life-activities of the latter, instead of studying these life-activities in terms of the Message. In the Theosophical Movement of our age history repeats itself and anyone who cares to do so can draw the parallel of its events in the early centuries of the Christian era. The pure teachings of Jesus, which influenced the three cultures of Egypt, Greece and Judea, met the ancient enemy very soon after the passing of the Teacher. The quarrels of Peter and Paul, compromises fatal to the pure Teachings, the hunt for heretics, the rise of Ammonius Saccas and his school are all reproduced in our own Theosophical Movement. What then took more than three hundred years has now been repeated on a higher spiral within half a century. The same story can be told of other Theosophic impulsions; the same drama can be seen enacted elsewhere in other eras.
To make adequate use of that lesson of history in the interests of the pure Teachings of H.P.B., for the preservation in as complete an integrity as is possible for imperfect human nature, no better course can be adopted than to point out reiteratedly this basic principle, to warn ourselves and our co-students against the pitfalls and dangers hinted at above.
The aim of the first series of studies was to show the Message of The Secret Doctrine as ancient and eternal—the latest link in a chain, ever lengthening from the far-off, immemorial past, to a far-off inconceivable future. Its predecessors were links in the chain and all the links were composed of the same substance, however different the outer form and shape of each link. The purpose was to make clear beyond doubt that the Wisdom-Religion is the immortal ego reincarnating periodically in the world of matter, and that it is fatal to mistake the garment of flesh for the pure soul.
The book, The Secret Doctrine, is a ray of the SECRET DOCTRINE, eternal and unevolving, constant and unchanging, consistent and unvarying. The soul and substance of the SECRET DOCTRINE have to be looked for in the body of The Secret Doctrine, with its material organs and organisms. Not the soul in its completion, nor the substance in its entirety have incarnated in the book. Further, let the student make note of the very important fact that the Message of H.P.B.’s Secret Doctrine is not her whole message. Four eternal basic principles have come into incarnation in Isis Unveiled, The Secret Doctrine, The Key to Theosophy, and The Voice of the Silence. The first is like the human voice of conscience, warning and advising us to beware of the dangers of the lower self of the world of matter; then came the monumental volumes which enlighten the human head to think spiritually. The Key to Theosophy enables our hands to act in terms of that thinking, and, lest one-sided activity engendered should push the student into exaggerations, The Voice of the Silence was given.
A proper study of the soul and substance of these four works will not only enable the student to assign proper valuations to the material in which they clothe themselves, but will also help him to appraise H.P.B.’s innumerable articles, descriptive narratives of strange happenings in strange caves and jungles of this world, and thrilling reports of nightmares in the world of dreams. Just as to understand the nature of the soul of one life is to understand the nature of the same soul in other lives, so also a proper valuation of the soul and substance of H.P.B.’s Message brings a correct appreciation of the nature of the Wisdom-Religion—the undying SECRET DOCTRINE.
It is necessary to emphasize the fact of the coherent kinship existing between the different writings of H.P.B. A ludicrous view prevails that there are serious mistakes and significant omissions in Isis Unveiled. On the other hand how many are there who, in studying or applying the golden precepts of The Voice of the Silence, bear in mind the serious and significant fact divulged in the preface of that little volume, that less than half of these deep and profound sayings have been sung? The student of today has to guard himself against certain disadvantages under which he is laboring. During the lifetime of H. P. Blavatsky, and especially after her passing, false notions, wrong thoughts and incorrect teachings—all inconsistent in themselves—have sprung up. Exactly as we suffer from wrong habits contracted in childhood, modern students of Theosophy labor in an atmosphere charged with notions and innovations. One of these is the peculiar heresy of separateness between the component parts of a complete whole—the division made between the books of H.P.B. The process leads to its inevitable nemesis—division between the Message and the Messenger, and then, alas! between different sets of life-activities of the Messenger herself, so that by turn Isis “full of mistakes” is pitted against The Secret Doctrine which is found “inconsistent,” and H.P.B. is parceled into white, grey and black—the spiritual teacher, the questionable medium and the fraudulent trickster, rolled into one.
Therefore, it is essential to strike a note of warning against this prevailing heresy. H.P.B.’s Message is consistent in itself, provided, of course, that the whole Message is taken as a unit; secondly, between that Message and the Messenger, there subsists a consistency. In the first series was labored the point of H.P.B.’s Message being an incarnation of the Ageless Wisdom, in harmony with its previous incarnations. The object of the present series is to show the dovetailing of the teachings of all the writings of H.P.B.The Secret Doctrine cannot be comprehended without an adequate understanding of Isis Unveiled and other writings from the same pen.
Isis Unveiled is a much neglected study. If for many The Secret Doctrine has remained a sealed mystery, or if, for an equally large number of readers, it is but an abracadabra, one of the chief reasons is this neglect of the previous work—a veritable Forerunner, a magnificent “attempt to aid the student to detect the vital principles which underlie the philosophical systems of old.”
My chief and only object was to bring into prominence that the basic and fundamental principles of every exoteric religion and philosophy, old or new, were from first to last but the echoes of the primeval “Wisdom-Religion.” (“Mistaken Notions on the ‘Secret Doctrine’” by H.P.B., Lucifer, June, 1890.)
Though the very opening sentences of Isis clearly indicate the real source from which its contents were derived, though the Volumes are replete with equally clear testimony of the part of the Adepts in its composition, the facts have been ignored or overlooked by students. Consider the following statements:
We may well be taxed with too loose and careless a mode of expression, with a misuse of the foreign language in which we write, with leaving too much unsaid and depending unwarrantably upon the imperfectly developed intuition of the reader. But there never was, nor can there be, any radical discrepancy between the teachings in “Isis” and those of this later period, as both proceed from one and the same source—the ADEPT BROTHERS. (“Seeming ‘Discrepancies’”, The Theosophist, June, 1882.)
While writing Isis, we were not permitted to enter into details; hence—the vague generalities. We are told to do so now—and we do as we are commanded. (“‘Isis Unveiled’ and the ‘Theosophist’ on Reincarnation,” by H.P.B., The Theosophist, August, 1882.)
Although, in view of the later more minute renderings of the esoteric doctrines, it is quite immaterial what may have been written in Isis—an encyclopedia of occult subjects in which each of these is hardly sketched—let it be known at once, that the writer maintains the correctness of every word given out upon the subject in my earlier volumes. (“Theories about Reincarnation and Spirits,” by H.P.B., The Path, November, 1886.)
And what I say and maintain is this: Save the direct quotations and the many afore specified and mentioned misprints, errors and misquotations, and the general make-up of Isis Unveiled, for which I am in no way responsible, (a) every word of information found in this work or in my later writings, comes from the teachings of our Eastern Masters; and (b) that many a passage in these works has been written by me under their dictation. In saying this no supernatural claim is urged, for nomiracle is performed by such a dictation. (“My Books,” by H.P.B., Lucifer, May, 1891.)
These statements ought to urge any reader on to a vigorous study of Isis Unveiled. The same in reference to the Key, which is a book of practical application, as it deals with principles in the light of which our own actions can be directed along the lines laid down. Similarly, in reference to the Voice. The Secret Doctrine cannot be comprehended unless the life is lived according to the golden precepts. Let us see if a system cannot be elaborated for such a study, as recommended by her in “Mistaken Notions on the ‘Secret Doctrine,’” to find out the relationship which exists between Isis and The Secret Doctrine. The former clears the ground of the weeds and dead roots of science and theology. It hints at, suggests and in several places conclusively shows the danger which awaits their sickly and deformed child—spiritualistic and psychical research which inherits the bigotry, conceit and materialism of its father, science, the fanaticism, credulity and superstition of its mother, “revealed” religion. Isis Unveiled is written on the basis that “the next best thing to learning what is true is to ascertain what is not true.” These Volumes show what is false in science, in religion, in psychical phenomena, and thus uncover what is genuine and noble and true. It prepares us to receive “all that can be given out to the world in this century,” which is done in The Secret Doctrine. Just as in Isis exposure of mistakes and falsehoods unveils some wonderful truths, so also in The Secret Doctrine, through the constructive and positive teachings are laid bare the fictions and defects of all three—science, religion and spiritualism. Science deals with Nature primarily; theology with man; each deals partially with both nature and man. Thus science deals with matter and makes man its product. Theology deals with soul, unrelated to material evolution. The psychical creeds are superphysical in their materialism, and unscientific in their dogmatic belief. The cosmogenesis and the anthropogenesis of The Secret Doctrine remove these absurdities and teach how man is part of Nature—which is material, intellectual and spiritual—matter which is living, intelligence which is evolving and spirit which is ensouling—these three making the substance of space, beginningless and endless in manifestation which is periodic. The higher science of living matter, the true psychism of man, the Thinker, the noble religion of Universal Immortality, to which man and matter alike are subservient—these are the sacred themes of the Message of H.P.B.
To study with her these holy subjects so that our minds may be knit closer together and all feel the beneficence and the grace of our common immortality, and realize, however dimly, that within us is the Secret Doctrine—to that great task and noble enterprise all are invited. To learn from the Message of H.P.B. is possible only as we serve it and the present task is, then, to inspire as many as possible to participate in the vindication and recognition of The Secret Doctrine. This can only be done as earnest minds ponder over its contents, and earnest hearts grow aflame to serve.
From Inspiration to Intuition
The writings of H.P.B. convey information and impart knowledge, but that was not the purpose of her mission. Because of her presence in their midst several earnest individuals availed themselves of the opportunity to tread that Path of Holiness leading to theSanctum Sanctorum on the Mount Olympus wherein sages worship the Pure Spirit, omnipresent and impersonal, but her advent and stay in the world of mortality was not aimed at such an accomplishment. Many and wonderful were the phenomena she performed; great and staggering were the powers she possessed; grand and awe-inspiring was her life of unique sacrifices and marvelous wanderings, but even these do not fully reveal the objective of her toil.
What and how she taught, how and for what she toiled—these both examined together aid us to fathom the true purpose of her mission. The world to which she came, the age in which she appeared, the readjustment which her wisdom and activities produced, inaugurating a new era in this fifth Mind-Race, adequately studied and carefully reflected upon lead us to understand and help our humanity in whose spiritual service her labors and her love were devoted.
When the closing pages of Isis Unveiled are read as a preface to the Introductory and Proem of The Secret Doctrine; when the preface of Isis is related to the closing section of The Key to Theosophy; when solemn warnings of the Five Messages to the American Theosophists (perhaps uttered because the pointed hints of the last chapter of Isis had gone unheeded), in reference to the growth of psychism, are taken in conjunction with The Voice of the Silence—then and then only we are able to see, however dimly, the purpose and the plan of her mission.
Isis Unveiled exposed the errors of materialistic science and condemned the sins of corrupt theology. It did something more:
…we have reinforced our argument with descriptions of a few of the innumerable phenomena witnessed by us in different parts of the world…. Having laid a foundation by elucidating the philosophy of occult phenomena, it seems opportune to illustrate the theme with facts that have occurred under our own eye, and that may be verified by any traveller. Primitive peoples have disappeared, but primitive wisdom survives, and is attainable by those who “will,” “dare,” and can “keep silent.” (Isis, Vol. II, p. 586.)
Then follows what in several respects may be regarded as the most vital, important and highly practical closing chapter twelfth. After fulfilling in ample measure her promise, H.P.B. writes:
By those who have followed us thus far, it will naturally be asked, to what practical issue this book tends; much has been said about magic and its potentiality, much of the immense antiquity of its practice. Do we wish to affirm that the occult sciences ought to be studied and practiced throughout the world? Would we replace modern spiritualism with the ancient magic? Neither; the substitution could not be made, nor the study universally prosecuted, without incurring the risk of enormous public dangers…. We would have neither scientists, theologians, nor spiritualists turn practical magicians, but all to realize that there was true science, profound religion, and genuine phenomena before this modern era. We would that all who have a voice in the education of the masses should first know and then teach that the safest guides to human happiness and enlightenment are those writings which have descended to us from the remotest antiquity; and that nobler spiritual aspirations and a higher average morality prevail in the countries where the people take their precepts as the rule of their lives…. The world needs no sectarian church, whether of Buddha, Jesus, Mahomet, Swedenborg, Calvin, or any other. There being but ONE Truth, man requires but one church—the Temple of God within us, walled in by matter but penetrable by any one who can find the way;the pure in heart see God.
The trinity of nature is the lock of magic, the trinity of man the key that fits it. (Isis, Vol. II, p. 634-635.)
Thus the unequivocal deduction at the end of the two volumes. These are replete with facts, hitherto unknown or little known, a wonderfully reasoned co-ordination of the same. She draws conclusions by a flawless logic and points a sure direction, which would take us out of the labyrinth of a dark civilization. The voice “raised for spiritual freedom and our plea made for enfranchisement from all tyranny, whether of Science or Theology,” in the fore pages of the first volume entitled “Before the Veil,” has not only succeeded in removing the doubts of the honest and intelligent seeker of the Truth and thus removed his bondage; it has also brought the conviction that the track she pointed out led to the Stream, which crossed, brought him to that Other Shore, where breaks that Other World, facing which he is able to affirm—“we pass from what we see to that which is invisible to the eye of sense.” The last sentence of Isis follows the above words: “Our fervent wish has been to show true souls how they may lift aside the curtain, and, in the brightness of that Night made Day, look with undazzled gaze upon the UNVEILED TRUTH.”
The thread is taken up in The Secret Doctrine.
It has been shown in the first series of studies how the modern student of the Ancient Wisdom suffers from the Karmic limitations of our age. H.P.B.’s earlier volumes offer a thousand mortifying rebuffs to an honest intelligence, but succeed in opening his reason and intuition in some measure, preparing him to receive the instruction recorded in The Secret Doctrine which “embrace the esoteric tenets of the whole world since the beginning of our humanity.” (Vol. I, xx.) For a proper appreciation of this instruction something more than ordinary comprehension is needed. It was pointed out how a latent spiritual faculty is unfolded by the right study of the book. Now, the full understanding of all its contents is possible only with a complete unfoldment of that faculty. The understanding of the contents of The Secret Doctrine and the unfoldment of the faculty which is attained thereby react on each other. The more we study, the greater the unfoldment; the more the unfoldment of the faculty, the greater the understanding of the instruction. The deliberate and conscious attempt on our part to accelerate the force of this interplay is essential to transform the intellectual recognition of the teachings into spiritual realization. Thus The Secret Doctrine becomes a living book and a book to live by; do not live by it and the volumes remain cold and dead, a mass of confusing issues, a veritable jungle of details of some interest but of no value.
The book sets out to attempt this unfoldment because its possibility exists. The time is ripe. “An era of disenchantment and rebuilding will soon begin—nay, has already begun. The cycle has almost run its course; a new one is about to begin.” (Isis, Vol. I, p. 38.) The operation of this faculty is subject to the Karma of the cycle under which we are. It is, therefore, accompanied by great disabilities and grave dangers, both of which are pointed out and reiterated by H.P.B. In thus speaking, a clear picture of the modes and ways of higher unfoldment is presented.
H.P.B. endeavors to protect the mind of the individual and the race against the recrudescence of lower psychism by giving “philosophical deduction instead of unverifiable hypothesis, scientific analysis and demonstration instead of undiscriminating faith.” (Isis II, p. 636.) The Secret Doctrine goes further. Its structure and the method of presentation bring about an inner mental change, which makes the appreciation of a higher ethics imperative and an application thereof gives birth to a new and nobler morality. Thus comes before our vision the true purpose of the mission of H.P.B., the true inwardness of her message: to introduce the force of an unknown knowledge in the mind of the Race and thus to purify it from the dross and the dregs and the taint of set notions and blind belief; thence to reconstruct that mind, first by a daring iconoclasm and then by a persuasive creative force. For their fulfillment both these processes depend on the student. Material is provided by H.P.B. and the method of using it has also been shown; but correction must be self-correction; Individual effort for a man, an association, a church, a nation, a community or a race, must be self-induced and self-devised. The principles are put forward and they are all the direction and guidance we really need; the applying of those principles in pursuing a definite course of action is what we should aspire to.
Ethical and moral was the prime purpose of H.P.B.’s mission: to engender a new vision in the heart of man; to bring him to a recognition of his own divinity; to convince him of his own latent spiritual energies; to make him utilize those energies, to transform him into a self-reformer before he became a reformer of his fellows; to learn before teaching; to live by the higher morality of a loftier ethics which in itself would be an introduction of that morality and ethics in the body politic of his family, tribe, community, nation and race. In a very real sense H.P.B.’s work was with individuals, for, to her, individuals are the units who make up humanity. Self-correction and self-reformation is what her writings induce us to undertake; then follows the capacity (1) to see clearly; (2) to discern intelligently; (3) to be inspired by the vitality of the spiritual Will; (4) to create by right speech; (5) right energy; and (6) action which is sacrifice.
Thus her writings perform a two-fold miracle: By a purificatory rite the student gains clear vision, discernment, inspiration, and makes with their help the gift of wisdom and compassion through holy living and by performance of sacred service.
This double duty The Secret Doctrine faithfully discharges. In doing so, however, it encounters two difficulties: One is related to the limitations imposed by cyclic law on the mass of mankind; the other is the self-engendered and self-imposed limitations of the student himself. We have to reconcile ourselves with the first, by an appreciation of the causes thereof. In “Answers to an English F.T.S.” the following appears:
This seeming unwillingness to share with the world some of nature’s secrets that may have come into the possession of the few, arises from causes quite different from the one generally assigned. It is not SELFISHNESS erecting a Chinese wall between occult science and those who would know more of it, without making any distinction between the simply curious profane, and the earnest, ardent seeker after truth. Wrong, and unjust are those who think so; who attribute to indifference for other people’s welfare a policy necessitated, on the contrary, by a far-seeing universal philanthropy; who accuse the custodians of lofty physical and spiritual though long rejected truths, of holding them high above the people’s heads. In truth, the inability to reach them lies entirely with the seekers. Indeed the chief reason among many others for such a reticence, at any rate, with regard to secrets pertaining to physical sciences—is to be sought elsewhere. It rests entirely on the impossibility of imparting that the nature of which is, at the present stage of the world’s development, beyond the comprehension of the would-be learners, however intellectual and however scientifically trained may be the latter. This tremendous difficulty is now explained to the few, who, besides having read Esoteric Buddhism, have studied and understood the several occult axioms approached in it. It is safe to say that it will not be even vaguely realized by the general reader, but will offer the pretext for sheer abuse. Nay, it has already.
It is simply that the gradual development of man’s seven principles and physical senses has to be coincident and on parallel lines with Rounds and Root-races. Our fifth race has so far developed but its five senses. Now, if the Kama or Will-principle of the “Fourth-rounders” has already reached that stage of its evolution when the automatic acts, the unmotivated instincts and impulses of its childhood and youth, instead of following external stimuli, will have become acts of will framed constantly in conjunction with the mind (Manas), thus making of every man on earth of that race a free agent, a fully responsible being—theKama of our hardly adult fifth race is only slowly approaching it. As to the sixth sense of this, our race, it has hardly sprouted above the soil of its materiality. It is highly unreasonable, therefore, to expect for the men of the fifth to sense the nature and essence of that which will be fully sensed and perceived but by the sixth—let alone the seventh race—i.e., to enjoy the legitimate outgrowth of the evolution and endowments of the future races with only the help of our present limited senses. The exceptions to this quasi universal rule have been hitherto found only in some rare cases of constitutional, abnormally precocious individual evolutions; or, in such, where by early training and special methods, reaching the stage of the fifth rounders, some men in addition to the natural gift of the latter have fully developed (by certain occult methods) their sixth, and in still rarer cases their seventh, sense. (The Theosophist, Vol. IV, p. 296.)
The second difficulty inheres in us. In the Preface to The Key to Theosophy and in the Introductory (S.D., Vol. I, p. xlvi) this is clearly pointed out. Therefore, the approach to The Secret Doctrine implies some activity, however rudimentary, of Buddhi—“the faculty of cognizing the channel through which divine knowledge reaches the ‘Ego,’ the discernment of good and evil, ‘divine conscience’ also” (S.D., Vol. I, p. xix). Anyone in whom Buddhi has not begun its operation can but be devoid of the spirit of enquiry about the soul and its science. If the Secret Doctrine makes of man a Superman—“the Initiate, rich with the lore acquired by numberless generations of his predecessors” (S.D., Vol. I, p. 45)—H.P.B.’s Secret Doctrine unfolds in its sincere and persistent study “the faculty of spiritual intuition, through which direct and certain knowledge is obtainable” (p. 46 fn.). Spiritual Intuition “is not clairvoyance as ordinarily understood, i.e., the power of seeing at a distance,” but the power of evaluating objects and subjects near at hand. The supernal beauty of a sunset which inspires a painter to superb creation is passed by unnoticed by an ordinary man. Not in seeing more things, but in understanding those we see; not in amassing more wealth, but in using that which we possess; not in gathering more facts but in the gaining of the faculty to utilize those already gathered—such is the task before us. Therefore The Secret Doctrine speaks of clairvoyance as an aspect of Janasakti (Vol. I, p. 292).
The aim of the Volumes is to enable the student to so cleanse his mind of Kama that the flow of Buddhi or the radiance of Intuition may take place, his reason become pure and compassionate. Under Karma manasic evolution is ripe for a stimulus from without, an aid to nature which unaided fails. The sands of Time have run their course and the war between the dual intelligence in man will come to a close—at least for those who are ready and willing to profit by the wisdom of the Ancients.
“‘Manas is dual—lunar in the lower, solar in its upper portion,’ says a commentary. That is to say, it is attracted in its higher aspect towards Buddhi, and in its lower descends into, and listens to the voice of its animal soul full of selfish and sensual desires.” (The Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, 495-496.)
What we cannot accomplish unaided, is possible with the help which the writings of H.P.B. offer; the higher faculty of Buddhi begins to fecundate our intelligence and from within illumines our mind. To enable The Secret Doctrine to perform this miracle we must learn that primarily the study of its metaphysical propositions has to be undertaken. Our perception of universals is intuitional perception: to gain a perception of universals is to gain intuitional perception: the effort to understand and apply the propositions of the universals is to operate the faculty of intuitional perception: therefore “outside of metaphysics no occult philosophy, no esotericism is possible.”
Metaphysics of the Secret Doctrine
The Stanzas of Dzyan, on which The Secret Doctrine is based, belong to the same series as the fragments published under the title,The Voice of the Silence. This information conveyed in the preface to the latter should be made a subject for meditation, for it is a practical hint with an occult significance which students of The Secret Doctrine ought not to miss.
Wisdom and Compassion are inherent in Law and manifested in Nature. They are not two distinct qualities but two phases of one quality. In man the head and the heart are regarded as two different organisms. All our struggles and sufferings arise from this fundamental misconception. Once recognized that head and heart are but two aspects of one nature, there opens for us the way of the inner life. What follows is the removal of the obstacles which have covered over and obscured the narrow bridge between head and heart; then the establishment of communication; and finally the coadunition of both.
These two aspects of Wisdom and Compassion are the soul of the Stanzas of Dzyan and The Voice of the Silence. The treatises conjointly used will help to remove the barrier, to bridge the two worlds—to make our reason compassionate and our love intelligent. The Bhagavad-Gita performs this double task within its eighteen discourses, as does the Dhammapada and the very first sermon Gautama, the Buddha, delivered on the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.
In the present cycle our minds are separated from compassion, and our ethical impulses prompted more by our psychic than by our spiritual nature. The study of H.P.B.’s writings uncovers the foundation-principles, intellectual and philosophic, for our ethical beliefs and views; shows us where and how we are mistaken and by what method correction can take place; endows with a living and vital soul our mental perceptions and speculations and indicates how our general knowledge can be practically applied for self-improvement and the service of others.
Purification of the mind, the removal from it of psychic impressions and Kamic influences, is the first task; only then can follow its illumination by Buddhi, the ray of Atma. Towards this first task the understanding of the physical universe metaphysically—in other words the perceiving of the causes of effects, the seeing of the relation between Reality and Illusion—becomes necessary. Herein lies the reason of the reiterated insistence in The Secret Doctrine not to separate man from deity, or divide matter into animate and inanimate, or make a distinction between natural and supernatural. Man is divine; matter is living; all nature is one. Having established this proposition, The Secret Doctrine proceeds to show the true compartmenting of the phases and aspects of the One Life, viz., Microcosm and Macrocosm, Spirit and Matter, normal and abnormal. The world of the within and that of the without; the reflecting of the above in the below; the shadowing of spirit-substance as material forms—these are explained, not as a speculative theory of cold philosophy, but as the doctrine of the practical science of life.
By fecundating that spiritual faculty of intuition referred to in the last study, we are shown how man and nature are governed by the same Law—they are but parts of the one whole. That clear vision or understanding, that power of knowledge, Jnana-shakti—is acquired through a comprehension of the universals of which all particulars are but expressions. Man cannot know himself save through his own shadows cast on the Nature around him; conversely, by the apperception of reflections which Nature projects in and on him. What else is ignorance but the result of dividing an indivisible whole? A metaphysical vision of the unity of all Nature from star dust to sea sand, from atom to universe, from the erratic movement of a comet to the rhythmic beat of the human heart, leads us to the practice of brotherhood without distinction of sex, caste, creed, colour or race. Without that metaphysical vision the Law of Brotherhood cannot be fully or truly grasped, and cannot be completely or correctly applied in life. All parties, all sects, all nations preach brotherhood—they are unable to live it or promulgate it for the simple reason that the metaphysical soul of brotherhood has not been taken note of; nay, has not been noticed at all.
When we have been able to see the basis of the One Life Principle, we will be ready to see the duality of Self and not-self, of the “I” and the universe other than the “I,” of God and Satan in us, of the light and the dark sides of Nature, of the manifestation of the Law of Cycles or Periodicity. Once this duality is taken note of, we are fitted to tread the ancient road of Immortality—the realization of the Self, the growing of the universe into the “I,” the inversion of Satan into God, the mergence of the dark into the never-fading glory of Light Eternal, of cycles and periods becoming Timeless Bliss. In these three processes lie all the practices of the Secret Doctrine —they are the beginning and end of all knowledge. Thus are to be cognized the three fundamental propositions of The Secret Doctrine.
The workings of the Law of Cycles are to be observed in the rest of deep sleep and in the restlessness of waking conscious existence; in the growth of spring, the fruition of summer, in the shedding of autumnal leaves and in the dreary winter months of the years of our incarnation; through birthdays and anniversaries; and in numerous other ways. Manifestation and non-manifestation, paths of forthgoing and return are to be seen within ourselves; between two beats of the human heart is the same silence of pralaya —reflection of the Sublime Silence of Mahapralaya. Between those two heartbeats, which are throbs of life, we experience the silence of separation, of death. Thus the ebb and flow of motion and rest are but our experiences; and to harmonize them in one rhythmic whole of activity without motion, of activity which is rest, is to realize the Bliss of Nirvana.
First, then, to see ourselves as a part of Nature in which Light and Darkness, Bliss and Misery, Knowledge and Nescience inhere; secondly, to see that all pairs of opposites are but manifestations of the Law of Cycles; thirdly, that there is an underlying substratum of unity in which all pairs of opposites are dissolved, and Bliss—timeless and spaceless and motionless—alone is.
The self-evident nature of the first item is our starting point. Which of the two directions shall we follow—the Path of Light, Bliss and Knowledge or that of Darkness, Misery and Nescience? Here are the origins of materialism and spirituality, of black and white magic, of mediumship and adeptship, leading to Avitchi—annihilation—and Nirvana—emancipation.
Sometimes people have asked why The Secret Doctrine establishes the three fundamental propositions in abstruse terms of metaphysics and high philosophy. Why not give, it is suggested, the basic principles in simple and easily understandable language of religious morality? If all things in this objective universe, and the latter itself, rests in and on these fundamentals, why define and describe them in brain-wrecking terminology and mind-perplexing phraseology? Give us three simple words; if not words, then phrases; if not phrases, then sentences; at least limit them to three short paragraphs—let the preliminaries be gone through and done with!
Morality and ethics separated from philosophy and metaphysics would land us into that dire heresy of separateness referred to above—to divide wisdom from compassion, head from heart, the Stanzas of Dzyan from the Voice of the Silence. The tendency to dissociate metaphysics from science, morality, art, etc., is natural to our civilization. During the last several centuries metaphysical philosophy has been a very useless kind of speculative hair-splitting all over Europe. The western world has first to be trained in the idea that the philosophy of the Ancients is far from speculative and that Eastern metaphysics is a science that is highly practical. The writings of H.P.B. go to make this amply clear. In our own Theosophical Movement we have suffered through the obtuseness of many early students who failed to see the reasons for viewing, studying and examining the teachings of the Masters through H.P.B. in their true setting and perspective, viz., metaphysical and philosophical.
In the first volume of The Secret Doctrine H.P.B. has gone to the trouble of pointing this out. Correcting errors in early books, she embraces the opportunity of putting us on our guard against a similar blunder. Facts and teachings of Cosmogenesis and Anthropogenesis, if they are to be fully understood,
…must be examined far more from their metaphysical aspect than from what one might call a statistical standpoint, involving figures and numbers which are rarely permitted to be broadly used. Unfortunately, there are few who are inclined to handle these doctrines only metaphysically. (Vol. I, p. 169.)
We must guard against the tendency of neglecting metaphysics. About such a tendency the Master once said:
“Why this preaching of our doctrines, all this uphill work and swimming in adversum flumen? Why should the West … learn … from the East … that which can never meet the requirements of the special tastes of the æsthetics?” And he draws his correspondent’s attention “to the formidable difficulties encountered by us (the Adepts) in every attempt we make to explain our metaphysics to the Western mind.” (Ibid.)
The student of The Secret Doctrine has to learn at the very start that “outside of metaphysics no occult philosophy, no esotericism is possible. It is like trying to explain the aspirations and affections, the love and hatred, the most private and sacred workings in the soul and mind of the living man, by an anatomical description of the chest and brain of his dead body.” The desire to become practical occultists, if pure and genuinely unselfish, will bring the realization that practical occultism is but the lowest form of applied metaphysics.
Psychic and spiritual teachings are not more fully understood because their metaphysical basis is not contemplated upon. Is it to be wondered at, then, that the fundamentals of the esoteric science are metaphysical in character, and that the books of H.P.B. abound in lengthy and many-sided considerations of metaphysical propositions? The Secret Doctrine is full of metaphysical universals and particulars, of philosophical principles and details for the same reason that the Vedas and the Upanishads, the six points of view of the six Indian Schools are also full of them. The Gnostics and the Neo-Platonists, the Pythagoreans and Essenes before them also taught metaphysically. Every attempt to dissociate metaphysics from science, philosophy from psychology, has resulted in the degradation of the omnipresent omniscience into a personal god, of man’s divinity into carnal bestiality, of Wisdom-Religion into a religious creed.
To guard us against falling prey to that old tendency inherent in humanity, the Masters of H.P.B. sent us a noble warning. In the first volume of The Secret Doctrine H.P.B. publishes verbatim the following letter to which we should always turn when meditation on the three fundamental propositions looks to us barren and dry and unpractical. We reproduce it here (S.D. I, 167):—
“Lead the life necessary for the acquisition of such knowledge and powers, and Wisdom will come to you naturally. Whenever you are able to attune your consciousness to any of the seven chords of ‘Universal Consciousness,’ those chords that run along the sounding-board of Kosmos, vibrating from one Eternity to another; when you have studied thoroughly ‘the music of the Spheres,’ then only will you become quite free to share your knowledge with those with whom it is safe to do so. Meanwhile, be prudent. Do not give out the great Truths that are the inheritance of the future Races, to our present generation. Do not attempt to unveil the secret of being and non-being to those unable to see the hidden meaning of Apollo’s HEPTACHORD—the lyre of the radiant god, in each of the seven strings of which dwelleth the Spirit, Soul and Astral Body of the Kosmos, whose shell only has now fallen into the hands of Modern Science…. Be prudent, we say, prudent and wise, and above all take care what those who learn from you believe in; lest by deceiving themselves they deceive others … for such is the fate of every truth with which men are, as yet, unfamiliar…. Let rather the planetary chains and other super- and sub-cosmic mysteries remain a dreamland for those who can neither see, nor yet believe that others can….”
Altruism of the Secret Doctrine
In the previous studies we saw how a right contact with H.P.B.’s writings develops the intuitive faculty and also unfolds that mental perception which enables us to see universal principles hidden in, and underlying a myriad particulars. The Secret Doctrine teaches its students to make the right use of their hearts as well as their heads. The purification and illumination of both heart and mind result from the correct study of the book, but not until a third factor also is brought into play.
We have already emphasized in the very first study of this series how we should take H.P.B.’s message as a whole without discarding any of her writings. Similarly the message of The Secret Doctrine can only be received by a threefold exercise which brings into play the energies of the whole man.
By the lower analytical and reasoning mind the hundred facts and the thousand details of the book can be understood; but it is the higher synthetic mind only which can have the understanding of the universals. Even that higher mind does not succeed in its task if it is unaided by the apperception of the intuition, which is the energy of the Heart. Even this heart faculty has to be further energized into Action, and then only the contents of The Secret Doctrine in all their glory stand revealed. With the forces of intuition in operation our kamic nature gets purified as well as transformed. Passion becomes love—that higher love which is devotion, truebhakti, free from sentimentality. Just as love is different from infatuation, so is devotion distinct from religious fervour. The range of this lower type of devotion is somewhat wide. The religious ritualist, the pujari, the image-maker and image-worshiper superior to the mere idol-worshiper, have planted themselves on this path and flower as the Lovers of the Self, which is themselves. Freeing themselves from the trammels of Karma, seeking Peace, they go to the sleep of peace, to awake at daybreak, and suffer the disturbances of the day. The message of H.P.B. warns us against the insidious temptations of this path. The history of occultism is very full of instances of the lofty failures on the Path of the Spirit caused by the development of higher understanding, and of the intuition which saw the universals, but in the attainment of this the world of humanity was left behind. Understanding by the higher mind and apperception by intuition are not sufficient unless these produce the action which is altruism.
The lower four-fold man, the quarternary, has to become triune, and The Secret Doctrine, which is a book of practical occultism, helps us to achieve this task. The higher triad has to be transformed into the Sacred Tetractys—that is the goal taught in the message of H.P.B. The single energy of altruism unifies all actions which are undertaken in terms of the understanding of the universals and executed in terms of the intuitive apperception of the Heart.
“Great intellect and too much knowledge are a two-edged weapon in life, and instruments for evil as well as for good.” (The Secret Doctrine, II, 163). In the Spirit-Life the same can be said of the Heart-quality of Devotion. Heart can and does save mind, but it, in its turn, has to be saved. From the ashes of its own dead past arises the Phoenix-soul—the bird of life, and instead of desiring the life of passion, wherein it struggled and learnt, it now thirsts for the Life of Peace and Rest, of Emancipation or Mukti. Still it remains the child of Kama, still it is the first-born of Eros. This higher passion, this spiritual tanha, this mumuksha, this desire for liberation is the supreme test of the Devotee, the Bhakta, who has seen the transitoriness of desire-built forms of life, but who has yet to see the littleness of the life of Desire-built Forms of Mukti or Salvation. The desire for life in form has given place to desire for life without form; the dreamer wants now to sleep dreamlessly, in the Bliss of Introspection, while millions suffer the woes of existence.
The Secret Doctrine drives home this stupendous lesson. The Stanzas of Dzyan and the golden precepts of the Voice of the Silencebelong to the same series of Occult Instructions, and if they emphasize one teaching more than any other it is the dangers of a life of knowledge and devotion, of wisdom and purity which is at the same time devoid of positive and active altruism.
Without hesitation it can be asserted that the teachings contained in The Secret Doctrine will not be thoroughly understood by one who is not actively altruistic. It will remain a sealed book in spite of higher understanding and intuitive perceptions, unless these two are made use of on the plane of action. What distinguishes a Theosophist from a student of Theosophy is this altruism. In The Key to Theosophy it is said, “Theosophist is, who Theosophy does,”—not thinks, not studies, not feels, but does. Speaking of the pledged member of her esoteric school, H.P.B. said that he “has to become a thorough altruist.” (Key, p. 20.) Her writings are full to the brim of this teaching concerning altruism, and it is unnecessary here to quote her further on the subject. “…the only palliative to the evils of life is union and harmony—a Brotherhood IN ACTU, and altruism not simply in name.” (S.D., I, 644.) Let it be clearly understood, however, that this altruism must be founded on the rock of knowledge of the universals, and devotion to the Law of which they are the manifested aspects. If there is danger in head learning, if there are risks involved in the lower devotion to which reference has been made, so also there is a peculiar glamour which the life of charity and service throws on the Soul. Altruism engendered by the lower mind and energized by the lower devotion is not true altruism. Activities of the lower mind vitalize our passional nature—not always and necessarily evil—and they impel us to actions which under the impacts of civilization very often become philanthropic and altruistic. The mind free from attacks of kama is energized by the compassionate reason or Buddhi, and thus wedded is ensouled by the Self of Creative-Power, which is the true doer of deeds. Then comes into manifestation the higher altruism in which charity is just and not merely kind, altruism which enables man to discard the crutch of dependence and to stand on his own feet in self-trust. From this it will be seen how all three powers of the Spirit must work conjointly if spirit-life is to prevail.
To explore the Sacred Land of The Secret Doctrine we must arm ourselves with the weapons of altruism, intuition, and perception of universals. He in whom these three do not exist will not likely be attracted to this adventure, but should he take up the book, he will not be energized and ensouled by it, though it might charm and entice his mind. Those who have these faculties in some measure and are desirous of exercising them, or those who are earnestly wishful of unfolding them are welcome to take part in this expedition, and such can be promised a rich reward.
In our first article we remarked on the method for study advised by H.P.B. in her “Mistaken Notions on the ‘Secret Doctrine’”. In the subsequent studies we have arrived at the bases required. If we decide to acquire the knowledge about universals, which is the one sure way to free our mind from the hooks of kamic particulars, we are bound to touch the plane of intuition in due season, and then naturally our Creative Will will work altruistically. But we must not wait for compassion to express altruism and only ponder over the cosmic ultimates, determined to see the one in the many; while thus occupied we must devote time in paying attention to The Voice of the Silence and making use of The Key to Theosophy, so as to help the awakening intuition and the awakening altruism.
Thus equipped we are ready to attack the book, and under our scheme, naturally, the very first thing to grapple with is the Three Fundamental Propositions which the SECRET DOCTRINE has established and of which The Secret Doctrine treats. They are axioms, and need not be taken as postulates. They are self-evident Truths—Truths evident to the Self. The Universal Self through its apperception knows, realizes, nay, is these Truths. We human beings see them but partially and our growth is but the growth in realization of these three Truths. Let it be clearly understood that in reference to them there is no order of importance, or of sequence, or even of understanding. In just that proportion that we understand one we understand the other two. These Fundamental Propositions constitute the original, archetypal Ideal Triangle, with three equal sides—Immortal Spirit, Indestructible Matter, Ever-conserved Energy; with three equal angles of Ideation, Form, Motion. They also may be viewed as the Circle, the Sphere, the Plenum, which result from the Point and are made up of points. As space and as location, great or small; as duration and as time, long or short; everywhere is the One Unmanifested and its triple manifestation; all the while is the One Impartite Triune Nature becoming endless trinities. Therefore Devi Bhagavat says: “Grains of sand are numerable, but of universes there is no counting”; and in one of the less known Upanishads it is said:
All around this Brahmanda (Egg of Brahma, i.e., a solar system) there blaze infinite millions of Brahmandas; each has its own shell (or envelope; each self with its sphere) four-faced, five-faced, successively up to a thousand-faced portions of Narayana, in whom Rajoguna is predominant, each the unfolder of one world-system, each its presiding deity. Aspects of Narayana, called Vishnu and Maheshvara, in whom Sattva and Tamo gunas predominate, also are there, performing the work of preservation and destruction, of sustaining and regenerating. These Brahmandas swim like shoals of fishes in the Ocean of Existence; these Brahmandas blow up and burst like bubbles on the Face of the Deep that ever is.
It is said above that those propositions are axioms, but they are not self-evident to all, any more than the axiom that a line is length without breadth is evident to all beginners of the study of Euclid. As in any other science or philosophy, the student of Theosophy has to learn these Three Fundamental Propositions and if his capacities fail to reveal their axiomatic nature, he must begin by postulating them. It does not mean that he who postulates will never see for himself the axiomatic nature of these propositions, any more than the boy who postulates that point has position but no magnitude, remains blind to the axiom.
Let us throw for a moment a cursory glance on these propositions treated of on pp. 14 to 18 of Vol. I, so that we may relate them to what has been said above. “The impersonal reality pervading the Kosmos” (pp. 14-15) is the Universal Parent of all particular personalities. Each one of us is rooted in It. Here is a proposition to be reflected upon till it fecundates the mind, and the mind conceives the reality it holds within itself. Forgetfulness and memory of this Reality alternate in us, producing “the Eternity of the Pilgrim” which is “like a wink of the Eye of Self-Existence” (pp. 16-17) which Eye is not of a Being, nor is it a thing, but in itself is a condition, state or plane which is the Impersonal Reality. Thus arise our waking and sleep, our day and night, our life and death, our involution and evolution, the “tidal ebb of flux and reflux” (p. 17). Here is the second proposition to be contemplated and seen by the eye of the heart which is intuition—the mystery of the diastole and the systole of the spiritual heart, which in expanding remembers and in contracting forgets the Truth of truths—its own impersonal ever-existing state. This forgetfulness is left behind, the robe of memory is donned when that heart, through “self-induced and self-devised efforts” (p. 17) acts altruistically for the whole of which it is but a part. Altruism is the result of sure memory of the truth of “the fundamental identity of all Souls with the Universal Over-Soul” (p. 17). Here is the third proposition to be cognized by and through action—“through personal effort and merit” (p. 17)—through the labour of love, through drudgery made divine.
To perceive the interrelation and interdependence of man and nature; to correlate the correspondence subsisting between universals and particulars; to cognize our minds as the playground of the energies of the Spirit and of the shadows cast by the movements of Matter; to practice the doctrine of Universal Brotherhood—all these are the descriptions of one and the same process, in different tongues, of metaphysics or of ethics. The same identical truth is expressed in the two following quotations—the first is metaphysical, the second an ethical presentation.
He who would be an occultist must not separate either himself or anything else from the rest of creation or non-creation. For, the moment he distinguishes himself from even a vessel of dishonour, he will not be able to join himself to any vessel of honour. He must think of himself as an infinitesimal something, not even as an individual atom, but as a part of the world-atoms as a whole, or become an illusion, a nobody, and vanish like a breath leaving no trace behind. As illusions, we are separate distinct bodies, living in masks furnished by Maya. Can we claim one single atom in our body as distinctly our own? Everything, from spirit to the tiniest particle, is part of the whole, at best a link. Break a single link and all passes into annihilation; but this is impossible. (Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge, p. 138.)
He who does not practice altruism; he who is not prepared to share his last morsel with a weaker or poorer than himself; he who neglects to help his brother man, of whatever race, nation, or creed, whenever and wherever he meets suffering, and who turns a deaf ear to the cry of human misery; he who hears an innocent person slandered, whether a brother Theosophist or not, and does not undertake his defence as he would undertake his own—is no Theosophist. (Lucifer, Vol. I, p. 169.)
The advice and instruction so often given that helpfulness ought to be a matter of habit with all students of the Wisdom and all aspirants to spirituality, is rooted in this fact of unity which exists in the whole of Nature. The action aspect of Spirit manifests as the power to unite inherent in chemical elements or in human hearts. “The river mingles with the ocean,” “the mountains kiss high heaven,” “the sunlight clasps the earth, and the moonbeams kiss the sea,” and
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one another’s being mingle.
This Brotherhood in Nature is felt by poets and mystics however dimly, as for instance, by Shelley:—
Earth, ocean, air, beloved brotherhood!
If our great mother have embued my soul
With aught of natural piety to feel
Your love, and recompense the boon with mine;
. . . . . . .
If no bright bird, insect, or gentle beast
I consciously have injured, but still loved
And cherished these my kindred; then forgive
This boast, beloved brethren, and withdraw
No portion of your wonted favour now!
While the poet mystically feels this the Sage of Occult Wisdom perceives the fact and the student of The Secret Doctrine is made to learn it. The Three Fundamental Propositions to be known by altruism, intuition and the perception of the Universals are presented thus in the Gita:
I will now tell thee what is the object of wisdom, from knowing which a man enjoys immortality; it is that which has no beginning, even the supreme Brahma, and of which it cannot be said that it is either Being or Non-Being. It has hands and feet in all directions; eyes, heads, mouths, and ears in every direction; it is immanent in the world, possessing the vast whole. Itself without organs, it is reflected by all the senses and faculties; unattached, yet supporting all; without qualities, yet the witness of them all. It is within and without all creatures animate and inanimate; it is inconceivable because of its subtlety, and although near it is afar off.
As a single sun illuminateth the whole world, even so doth the One Spirit illumine every body, O son of Bharata.
These which follow are from the Upanishads:
It shines and therefore doth everything shine; by That Light all This shines forth. (Katha, V. 15.)
The Light which is behind all, which shines behind this high heaven, which shines behind everything in the highest world beyond which there are no other worlds—that same Light is within man. (Chhandogya, III. 13. 7.)
Behold the Truth—as from a blazing Fire arise a thousand sparks, so from the Imperishable, manifold beings awake; and O friend, therein they return to sleep. (Mundaka, II. i. 1.)
The Light within man is that of the Spark from the Eternal Fire which always blazes forth, and to which the ancient Iranians and their modern descendants the Parsis pay homage and reverentially invoke thus:
Mayest Thou burn bright in this home! Mayest Thou ever blaze forth therein! Mayest Thou grow and increase in this home, even unto the distant Day when Restoration of Power takes place in the World, till the time of the good, powerful Renovation of the World. (Atash-Nyaish.)
Numerous quotations can be made but let us give the Source of these all “in the mysterious language of the old Stanza,” in which the Three Fundamental Propositions are taught in terms of the Universals and the Particulars, to be reflected upon till by Intuition we perceive them, and by Altruism we break the illusion of “Thy Soul and My Soul.” (The Secret Doctrine, I, 120.)
“Lift thy head, oh Lanoo; dost thou see one, or countless lights above thee, burning in the dark midnight sky?”
“I sense one Flame, oh Gurudeva, I see countless undetached sparks shining in it.”
“Thou sayest well. And now look around and into thyself. That light which burns inside thee, dost thou feel it different in anywise from the light that shines in thy Brother-men?”
“It is in no way different, though the prisoner is held in bondage by Karma, and though its outer garments delude the ignorant into saying, ‘Thy Soul and My Soul.’”
Be-Ness, Becoming, Being
All truths harmonize and make a complete system of thought. This is axiomatic, and therefore, though not provable, is realizable. Among scientists and philosophers prevails a strong tendency, due to their desire to conform as much as possible to the dictates of Logic, to postulate that all truths harmonize; but in this era of specialization who dares the attempt to master all truths of the many branches of knowledge? Much less is there a chance of our finding a person audacious enough to assert that through such mastery he has reduced his mass of data and information to a complete and consistent system of knowledge. But such is the claim made on behalf of Theosophy. It is a synthesis of science, religion and philosophy, consistent in all its parts and therefore a harmony, and withal so beautiful that it is a symphony.
There are two ways out of the difficulty in which people find themselves when they face this problem of Absolute and Relative Knowledge, some aspects of which were examined in the first series of these studies: (1) to assume the honest position of the true scientist and plead limitation of knowledge and confess that inconsistency obtains; (2) to resort to the ways of the sectarian religionist and plead the miraculous intervention of God and Gods, the Devil and his hosts, for things not understood or happenings which contradict pet notions and accepted theories.
With the first, Theosophy has little quarrel. It recognizes the state of unfolding consciousness which is that of the civilized crowd, many of whom forgetful of this state, repeat in pride, “Behold, I know.” To this attitude it gently responds with the impersonal reminder: Hominum Sententia fallax. Our one effort with science is to point out that its very claim of exactness is inconsistent with its progressive development, year after year, whereby one “exact” position is abandoned in favor of another and new “exactness” which presently meets with the same fate. In this respect the true science of Theosophy can be rightly called exact, for its fundamentals and principles, as well as its many details and myriad particulars are static, always and everywhere, in their consistency, constancy and immortality.
With the second position, Theosophy has a war to wage. Theosophy does not believe in miracles, and therefore in no era of miracles. It affirms, because it knows, the unerring working of Law, and therefore rejects the existence of miracle-workers and of their parent the Miracle-Worker named God. With us God is Law, and beings high and low, from Shining Lords and Super-Men to elementals and elementaries are creatures born under Law, live and serve by Law, change and unfold because of the Law. For Theosophy there are no unsolved mysteries, necessitating either of the two positions mentioned above.
The Three Fundamental Propositions which are the subject of our study in the current series deal with the nature of Law, in cosmos and in man. In our last we indicated their nature in examining the threefold approach to them in the moral world within, and the world of living stars, “Sparks of Eternity,” without. In Isis Unveiled (II, pp. 587-88) the Three Fundamentals are taught in the second and third items of the ten, thus:
Nature is triune: there is a visible, objective nature; an invisible, indwelling, energizing nature, the exact model of the other, and its vital principle; and, above these two, spirit, source of all forces, alone eternal, and indestructible. The lower two constantly change; the higher third does not.
Man is also triune: he has his objective, physical body; his vitalizing astral body (or soul), the real man; and these two are brooded over and illuminated by the third—the sovereign, the immortal spirit. When the real man succeeds in merging himself with the latter, he becomes an immortal entity.
The first item of Isis Unveiled deals with the subject of which we were speaking and unequivocally asserts:
There is no miracle. Everything that happens is the result of law—eternal, immutable, ever active.
In the study of The Secret Doctrine the effort of the student should be to apply to the full what is implied in this first postulate of Isis Unveiled. The philosophy of The Secret Doctrine is not speculative but can be practically realized and demonstrated by each one for himself. Its science is exact—the “mathematics of the Soul” as pointed out by William Q. Judge, and its doctrine is single in the sense that any one factor discarded, the whole system crumbles to nothingness. In this lies the power as well as the proof of Theosophy, as a system of synthetic knowledge.
Humanity suffers more from the obsession of a miracle-complex than is generally recognized. The student of Theosophy is apt to come under its pernicious influence, however unwittingly. In place of a wonder-working God of inscrutable disposition we are apt to install wonder-working Masters, and substitute The Secret Doctrine or The Ocean of Theosophy for the Quran and the Bible. Since “there is no miracle” there is none in Theosophy—either in its philosophy or in any of its organizations, whatever the form of philosophy and whatever the era of organization. The illusion of this miracle-current is so mighty that we are apt to say with Huxley:
If some great Power would agree to make me always think what is true and do what is right, on condition of being turned into a sort of clock and wound up every morning before I got out of bed, I should instantly close with the offer.
Would it be exaggeration to say that nine-tenths of civilized humanity have struck such a bargain, through the agency of creeds and the craft of priests—only, they neither think true, nor always do right? It was the same Huxley who warned his pupils—“Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors,” and there is a lesson for us all in the statement.
In studying the Three Fundamentals of The Secret Doctrine we should continuously bear in mind—“There is no miracle.” These propositions have to be perceived by us and ultimately realized. Vision is neither of argument, nor of analysis, and realization is not provable. Each student of this great book has to make his own effort at this realization, through an intuitive vision of universals and the altruistic service of its reflected particulars. These Fundamental Propositions have inherent in them the strength of universality and eternity. They are the very Soma Juice—essence of all Wisdom; they are in truth Omar’s mystic grape
…that can with Logic absolute
The two-and-seventy jarring sects confute.
To try to get this Logic absolute of the three Propositions is the primal task before the student. For this the first item of Isis Unveiledis the first means—“There is no miracle.”
Theosophy does not believe in Divine license, but in Divine Law and therefore accepts Hume’s definition of miracle as a “violation of the laws of nature.” The study of Divine Law—its operations in Rest or restlessness, in Motion or inertia, in Monad, in Man, in Atom, in Cosmos, has for its axioms these Three Fundamental Propositions. They have therefore to be taken, from the very start, as expressions of Knowledge under Law and not as transcendent revelations born of miracle; therefore, they should not be dicta for belief, but subjects of enquiry and reflection, thought and visualization, leading to Knowledge. They are the basis for all real magic, which is “the higher study of divine, and yet not supernatural law.” (A Modern Panarion, p. 203.) In this connection it is necessary to understand the following on pp. 168-69 of The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I:
Of the four Vidyas—out of the seven branches of Knowledge mentioned in the Purânas—namely, “Yajna-Vidya” (the performance of religious rites in order to produce certain results); “Maha-Vidya,” the great (Magic) knowledge, now degenerated into Tantrika worship; “Guhya-Vidya,” the science of Mantras and their true rhythm or chanting, of mystical incantations, etc.—it is only the last one, “Atma-Vidya,” or the true Spiritual and Divine wisdom, which can throw absolute and final light upon the teachings of the three first named. Without the help of Atma-Vidya, the other three remain no better than surface sciences, geometrical magnitudes having length and breadth, but no thickness. They are like the soul, limbs, and mind of a sleeping man: capable of mechanical motions, of chaotic dreams and even sleep-walking, of producing visible effects, but stimulated by instinctual not intellectual causes, least of all by fully conscious spiritual impulses. A good deal can be given out and explained from the three first-named sciences. But unless the key to their teachings is furnished by Atma-Vidya, they will remain for ever like the fragments of a mangled text-book, like the adumbrations of great truths, dimly perceived by the most spiritual, but distorted out of all proportion by those who would nail every shadow to the wall.
Atma-Vidya, the Science of the Self, is founded on these three Propositions. They verily are the three dimensions of Atma-Vidya. Their activity and operation in cosmos and in man are itemized as numbers 2 and 3 of the 10 items in Vol. II of Isis Unveiled; but these are acceptable to and accepted by orthodox theologies, provided they are given the right of private interpretation of the items; however, in conjunction with item 1, they cannot but be rejected by believers in special creations and revelations, miracles and magic. On the other hand modern science will readily accept that “there is no miracle” but—in conjunction with items 2 and 3? Theosophy alone accepts both the groups and to make that acceptance rational and practical The Secret Doctrine begins where Isis Unveiled ends and puts forward the Three Fundamentals.
To study these Fundamentals in terms of Atma-Vidya, Self-Knowledge, is to see them as parts of ourselves; but it is the Universal Self and not its particular reflection-aspect which is the human “I.” The attempt, therefore, should be to see their universal application first and then all else. As a matter of fact when the Three Fundamentals are perceived metaphysically in terms of cosmic ultimates their presence and workings become clear everywhere and always in the phenomenal worlds. It is this which The Secret Doctrine (Vol. I, pp. 14-18) demonstrates.
The most obvious of human experiences is that we exist—we are. We can never conceive, imagine or even fancy that we do not exist, that we are not. In the Mandukyopanishad, verse 7, it is indicated that the one sure proof of the Self is Itself.
It is the problem and process of Existence which our intellect has first to perceive and then to realize. To aid this perception The Secret Doctrine puts forward the Three Fundamentals in terms of Life, Existence, which is through changes and mobility as well as through stability and inertia. Be-ness, Becoming, Being—such is the first, the primal, the parent trinity, the Source of all trinities of consciousness-substance, the Trinity of Principles—the one Principle.
As a first glimpse of the Vision of this Reality it will be enough if we see that Be-ness always is, that Becoming always is, that Being always is.
Be-ness does not become; Be-ness IS.
Becoming always is—it does not begin or end. It may be on the Pravritti-marga, the Path of Forthgoing, or on the Nivritti-marga, the Path of Return, but it always and always is becoming. From the state of manvantara-manifestation to that of pralaya-non-manifestation, or vice versa, it is always Becoming. Becoming does not become Be-ness, any more than Be-ness Becoming. Nor is Becoming at any moment Being.
Being always is, whether asleep or awake, turned within or looking without. Its states or conditions alternate but It always persists. It may be on the plane of realization of unity with the All-whole, Atma-dasa, or on the plane of phenomenon, where such realization is absent, Ahankara-dasa—but it is.
These three, Be-ness, Becoming, Being, are one; human intellect perceives them, examines them, understands them for the sole purpose of realizing that they are one. This one in its threefold aspect is the foundation and the basis of Life, Unfoldment, Realization—Life is, Unfoldment is progressive, Realization is attained.
In Ancient Indian philosophy these are named Sat, Chit, Ananda which are translated as Existence, Ideation, Bliss. The trinity as the unit is named Sat-chit-ananda-Ghana. Why Being is of the nature of Bliss, how Ideation is Becoming, what Existence is Be-ness, are the primal, most intimate and highly practical questions, for in answers to them are found the meaning and purpose of our own life, growth and ultimate regeneration.
Therefore says Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, page 511:
This “secret doctrine” contains the alpha and the omega of universal science; therein lies the corner and the keystone of all the ancient and modern knowledge; and alone in this “unphilosophical” doctrine remains buried the absolute in the philosophy of the dark problems of life and death.
In The Key to Theosophy (p. 65), in answer to the query “Then your Absolute thinks?” it is said:—
No, IT does not; for the simple reason that it is Absolute Thought itself. Nor does it exist, for the same reason, as it is absolute existence, and Be-ness, not a Being. Read the superb Kabalistic poem by Solomon Ben Jehudah Gabirol, in the Kether-Malchut, and you will understand:— “Thou art one, the root of all numbers, but not as an element of numeration; for unity admits not of multiplication, change, or form. Thou art one, and in the secret of Thy unity the wisest of men are lost, because they know it not. Thou art one, and Thy unity is never diminished, never extended, and cannot be changed. Thou art one, and no thought of mine can fix for Thee a limit, or define Thee. Thou ART, but not as one existent, for the understanding and vision of mortals cannot attain to Thy existence, nor determine for Thee the where, the how and the why,” etc., etc. In short, our Deity is the eternal, incessantly evolving, not creating, builder of the universe; that universe itself unfolding out of its own essence, not beingmade. It is a sphere, without circumference, in its symbolism, which has but one ever-acting attribute embracing all other existing or thinkable attributes—ITSELF. It is the one law, giving the impulse to manifested, eternal, and immutable laws, within that never-manifesting, because absolute LAW, which in its manifesting periods is The ever-Becoming.
Deity, Law, Being
“Some call it Evolution and others call it God,” but neither the evolutionists nor the theists seem to be sure of their ground. It is shifting sand with the former and a terra incognita with the latter. John Morley in his Compromise said that “Evolution is not a force but a process; not a cause but a law,” with which Theosophy agrees; but does the evolutionist know much or even anything with certainty about the unerring nature of that law? The one great thing about the evolutionist is that in his opinion this law is so foreign to the religious conception of God that he has not even contemplated that perchance some intimate relation between the two may exist; nay more, that in reality these two, God and Law, may be one and the same. We cannot blame him much. The theologian has made such blasphemous mockery of the Divine Law which is God, by transforming It into a personal being, and then investing him with powers and faculties and belongings that men of knowledge, even scanty knowledge, cannot but brush it all aside. Those who have some reverence left in their hearts in this twentieth-century civilization rightly look upon this God of the theologian as a rank and intolerable blasphemy. Those on whom the curse of priestcraft hangs heavy have carnalized the Divine Law, transforming it into a masculine being and when the caricature of the old type did not satisfy them, they made him an ever-youthful person, attractive and charming!
We are aware of such an absurd presentation on the part of one calling himself a Theosophist—who says he has seen the glorious vision of the God of the Solar System, a youth, handsome beyond description, who eternally sits on a lotus-seat, governing the destinies of all his subjects! Let students of true Theosophy note the fact once for all that there is no essential difference between an aged gentleman sitting on a golden throne and a youthful person adorning a lotus-seat. Both are concepts of God, the presiding power of the Solar System, concepts absurd and contrary to the teachings of the Theosophy of the Upanishads and the Gita, of the Gnostics and the Neo-Platonists, as well as of H. P. Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine and her other writings. Therefore has H. P. Blavatsky said that the Initiates and Adepts “believe in ‘gods’ and know no ‘God’ but one universal unrelated and unconditioned Deity.” (S.D. I, 295 fn.) Mahatma K.H. once wrote: “Neither our philosophy nor ourselves believe in a God, least of all in one whose pronoun necessitates a capital H.” In this connection The Secret Doctrine carefully and completely establishes the fact that “there is nothing profane in the Universe,” and adds:
Thus can all exoteric religions be shown the falsified copies of the esoteric teaching. It is the priesthood which has to be held responsible for the reaction in favour of materialism of our day. It is by worshiping and enforcing on the masses the worship of the shells—personified for purposes of allegory—of pagan ideals, that the latest exoteric religion has made of Western lands a Pandemonium, in which the higher classes worship the golden calf, and the lower and ignorant masses are made to worship an idol with feet of clay. (S.D. I, 578.)
This is substantiated by the Master K.H.:
I will point out the greatest, the chief cause of nearly two-thirds of the evils that pursue humanity ever since that cause became a power. It is religion under whatever form and in whatever nation. It is the sacerdotal caste, the priesthood and the churches. It is in those illusions that man looks upon as sacred, that he has to search out the source of that multitude of evils which is the great curse of humanity and that almost overwhelms mankind. Ignorance created Gods and cunning took advantage of the opportunity. Look at India and look at Christendom and Islam, at Judaism and Fetichism. It is priestly imposture that rendered these Gods so terrible to man; it is religion that makes of him the selfish bigot, the fanatic that hates all mankind out of his own sect without rendering him any better or more moral for it. It is belief in God and Gods that makes two-thirds of humanity the slaves of a handful of those who deceive them under the false pretence of saving them.
Personifications, allegories, metaphors used by great minds to explain and expound the mysterious nature of Universal Law have been misunderstood, twisted, wrongly explained and misapplied everywhere for many centuries. The ignorance and credulity of masses of mankind is such that one is not at a loss to appreciate the humour underlying the statement of Voltaire—“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him!”
The God of modern science and philosophy hovers between the unknown and the “unknowable.” One great service Science has already rendered to the cause of Truth, viz., it has ushered in the reign of Law in the domain of belief and knowledge. It has destroyed the notion of a lawless universe and has demonstrated the supremacy of Law which works everywhere and always. Modern Knowledge is not in a position to define, describe or expound the nature of that Law which is at once the Deity and the Universe—for the two are one. It is not in a position to do so because it deals mainly with one of the aspects, the material universe, and is therefore contacting the effect side of the Law. When it emphasizes the research of Living Forms and Conscious Intelligences instead of forms of life and modes of motion it will touch the causal aspect of the Law which is Deity, universal, impersonal, ever-Becoming, rooted in Be-ness and the basis and playground for the birth and death of all Beings—atoms or gods or intelligences.
Meanwhile it falls to the lot of Theosophy to enlighten our generation on the subject of God, and this the Fundamental Propositions of The Secret Doctrine do. There is no Personal God anywhere and that is why there is no miracle anywhere. Having indicated what God is not, let us resolve to discard this word which through its usage has become a source of great confusion and a pitfall for the unwary whose name is legion. Let us substitute the word Deity; therefore it is of Deity that the First Fundamental Proposition speaks. To protect ourselves in advance against the charge of Atheism we quote the clear statement of the S.D. (I, 279):
The Secret Doctrine teaches no Atheism, except in the Hindu sense of the word nastika, or the rejection of idols, including every anthropomorphic god. In this sense every Occultist is a Nastika.
The goal of all philosophical enquiry is Deity; the base of all scientific research is Law; the longing of all art-endeavour is Life; the yearning of all human hearts is the Self. Behind and beyond Space, Time and Causality is the Principle in and on which these categories manifest themselves—and philosophers are seeking that Principle. Underlying all forms, combinations of cells, themselves combinations of minuter forms, is the Principle which brings them into being—and scientists are looking for the nature of that Principle. Hidden in all expression of beauty is the creative intelligence which is the mystery, the soul of what is seen, heard, smelt, tasted or touched—and artists are pining to know what that Principle is. Beyond all known and noted processes of feeling, thought and will is the Principle which co-ordinates them all—and all men want to cognize that Principle.
The Deity, the Law, the Life, the Self, is that Principle. Other names are given according to the temperament, effort and knowledge of the namer. But because this concordance of knowledge as a whole is not accepted by people, and the key it affords is not used, they fail to see that the Principle is one, and the search for it is along many paths, each leading to partial and therefore non-satisfying results.
The path of synthesis—of Deity, Law, Life, Self, and all other names, whatever they be—is the path of Theosophy. The Secret Doctrine deals with the Principle first and studies only in the second place its varied manifested powers and personalities; always, however, in terms of and in the light of the parent Principle.
At the present stage of evolution our lower mind aided by the five senses is in a position to ask five primary questions, which, in a real sense, are only one question of a five-fold nature. Just as mind, the unit, co-ordinates and synthesizes the activity of the five senses, so also the true seeker and enquirer, the man himself, is in a position to synthesize the answers to these five questions, because of the inter-relationship which subsists between them. All our enquiries arise from one single interrogation—What is this? All objects are effects, and the primary question about them pertains to their objectivity. To obtain a fuller answer than the one which sense-impressions give, we proceed to ask—How it happened to be, Where it happened to be, and When it happened to be. The manner, place and time of its happening are enquired into because we desire to know what it is. But when we have obtained informative answers we find that these are not satisfactory, for however full the information, the question of questions is still to be put—Why? Why did the object happen to be what it is, by this process, in this place, at this time? What, How, Where, When, are related to Effect, Motion, Space, Time, but the existence of the object is not completely understood until and unless the Why related to Cause is cognized. What an object is, is rooted in how it became so; how it became so is due to the interaction of where and when it became what it is; but the reason for its becoming there, then and thus, i.e., in a particular place and at a particular time and by a particular process, lies hidden in the answer to—Why? What caused it to become what it is in this manner, at this place, at this time?
The universe and man exist. The Fundamental Propositions answer these primary questions: What are the universe and man, how, where and when did these become? Why did they become what they are?
The Third Proposition deals with what man and the universe are; the Second with how, where and when they came to be what they are; the First with why. The interrelation between man and the universe, the microcosm and the macrocosm, is a mystery so profound that we have not a sixth appropriate interrogative word even to formulate a direct question. Further, the mystery within and behind the Causal Interrogation, Why, is also so profound that we have not got a seventh interrogative word to deliberately enquire about it.
The Three Fundamentals deal with Seven problems and give a sevenfold answer to seven Primary Questions. Humanity in its evolution has reached a stage when it is capable of asking only five questions and it does not know how to ask the two remaining questions—nay, for the most part it does not know that there are more than five to be enquired into. Therefore the Law of Cycles and the Law whereby the Soul merges into the Over-Soul or the Over-Soul empties itself in the Soul, are reported to be mysteries of Initiation. Reverently let us withdraw from their Presence and try to gain for ourselves illumination on subjects on which we are capable of formulating questions.
What our universe is, how and when and where it came to be, and why—is the study of Cosmogenesis.
What we ourselves are, how and when and where we came to be, and why—is the study of Anthropogenesis.
Both are Boundless; both are Immutable, Eternal, and Omnipresent; both are what they are because of the Law of Cycles; the two are one because they cannot be different; to divide them would be to perform a miracle, but there is no miracle; to know them as one, the study of magic is to be pursued.
The reader is invited to note in the above paragraph the applications of the Three Fundamental Propositions of The Secret Doctrine(especially the opening sentence) and the first four items of Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, pp. 587-88.
Lest the reader regard all this as cold metaphysical abstractions it is necessary to reiterate what has been said so often before that the study of metaphysics is the beginning of the practical application of the Heart-Doctrine. “Alas, alas, that all men should possess Alaya, be one with the Great Soul, and that possessing it, Alaya should so little avail them!” Therefore let us dwell on the sage advice contained in the following:—
The ever unknowable and incognizable Karana alone, the Causeless Cause of all causes, should have its shrine and altar on the holy and ever untrodden ground of our heart—invisible, intangible, unmentioned, save through “the still small voice” of our spiritual consciousness. Those who worship before it, ought to do so in the silence and the sanctified solitude of their Souls; making their spirit the sole mediator between them and the Universal Spirit, their good actions the only priests, and their sinful intentions the only visible and objective sacrificial victims to the Presence. (S.D. I, 280.)
The Three Hypostases
Just as milliards of bright sparks dance on the waters of an ocean above which one and the same moon is shining, so our evanescent personalities—the illusive envelopes of the immortal MONAD-EGO—twinkle and dance on the waves of Maya. They last and appear, as the thousands of sparks produced by the moon-beams, only so long as the Queen of the Night radiates her lustre on the running waters of life: the period of a Manvantara; and then they disappear, the beams—symbols of our eternal Spiritual Egos—alone surviving, re-merged in, and being, as they were before, one with the Mother-Source. (The Secret Doctrine I, 237.)
Thus are imaged for us the three Hypostases or Avasthas of the One Life. Whether we study the Three Fundamentals of The Secret Doctrine in a universal or an individual sense, as seemingly separate entities in manifestation or in their static condition of perfect equilibrium in pralaya, it is necessary for us to decipher the three factors involved therein.
The first Fundamental deals with the Principle which is the One Life undivided and indivisible. The second treats of Its manifestation—the appearance and disappearance of the reflection which It casts and which we call the universe in cosmology and man in anthropology. The third asserts the identity of nature between the One Life and the Universe—Man, between the rays and the Luminary and, in doing so, logically takes notice of the reflections cast on the waters of space by the innumerable beams which emanate from the Universal Man—Maha-Purusha or Narayana, the Container of all men, Naras. In other words: Each human being is an incarnation or manifestation of Deity. It is said—so many men on earth, so many gods in heaven; and yet these gods are in reality One, like the rays of the moon, they are withdrawn into the parent luminary, which in its turn is merged in the One Absolute.
A proper understanding of the Three Fundamentals reveals this great fact: in his innermost nature man is the Absolute. Says The Secret Doctrine: “…the Monad or Jiva per se cannot be even called spirit: it is a ray, a breath of the ABSOLUTE, or the Absoluteness rather, …” (I, 247.) And because of this there exists for man certainty of final emancipation from the limitations of concreteness, however expansive or exalted. “…it is only the spiritual potentiality in man which can lead him to become one with the INFINITE and the ABSOLUTE” (II, 79 fn.); or “At the threshold of Paranirvana it [the Monad] reassumes its primeval Essence and becomes the Absolute once more” (I, 135).
This Absolute One Life is the Perfect Bliss of Equipoise in which lie forever concealed Motion, Space and Duration, absolute and abstract. These three project radiations—“the unconscious and spontaneous shooting forth”40—which result in manifestation. Absolute Motion or Abstract Space or Boundless Time are the Unknowable. The Great Breath which is the radiation above mentioned of Absolute Motion, Matter which is that of Space, and that which joins them producing the illusion of past, present, future, named Fohat, are the knowable—though unknown to all save the emancipated beings who are called Mahatmas or Great Souls.
Thus there are four factors: (1) Absolute One Life called Be-ness and (2) Its radiation, the Great Breath, which is “Its one absolute attribute, which is ITSELF, eternal, ceaseless Motion” (I, 2); this Great Breath or Absolute Abstract Motion “is one of the three aspects of the Absolute—Abstract Space and Duration being the other two” (I, 43). Therefore we have to take cognizance of (3) Space-Matter and (4) Fohat, the bridge between Spirit and Matter, the dynamic energy which links the one to the other.
Let us apply this to the image pictured for us in the extract with which we began: There are the “milliards of bright sparks;” there is the “one and the same moon;” there are the beams “one with the Mother-Source”; and the moon in its turn is merged in the Light which is Darkness—the Absolute. The moon, the luminary is but an appearance—“the plane on the surface of the Circle” (I, 18). This circle is the plane of the sphere whose length and breadth and thickness are coeval and equal and are named as above Motion-Space-Duration.
It is the same truth which Sri Krishna puts forth in the Seventh Discourse where he speaks of himself and his two natures, lower and higher nature, apara and para prakriti. Krishna is the Great Breath whose higher nature is Daiviprakriti or Fohat, his Light, while his lower nature is Mulaprakriti, from and in which all material manifestations take place. As the Great Breath he is the one “attribute” of the Absolute; that is why he is named Aja, Unborn. With the power of his two natures he manifests himself—“establishes this whole universe with a single portion of himself”—and in the non-manifested state “remains separate” from manifestation.
The Absolute and Its primeval triune differentiation are symbolized by the 4 or the Tetraktis for the same reason that Brahma is Chatur-mukha, four-faced. Says The Secret Doctrine (I, 18):
Hiranyagarbha, Hari, and Sankara—the three hypostases of the manifesting “Spirit of the Supreme Spirit” (by which title Prithivi—the Earth—greets Vishnu in his first Avatar)—are the purely metaphysical abstract qualities of formation, preservation, and destruction, and are the three divine Avasthas (lit. hypostases) of that which “does not perish with created things” (or Achyuta, a name of Vishnu); …
Note once again the four factors—the three Hypostases of the manifesting Spirit of the Supreme Spirit as the fourth which does not perish for it never is born—achyuta and aja, imperishable and unborn.
We are now to view the processes of will, thought and action from the three angles of the personal, individual, and universal self or atma, in accordance with the law of correspondence and the law of analogy; and it is necessary to remind ourselves of the fact that there exist grave complexities of classification and division of human principles, a thorough exposition of which is beyond the scope of these studies. Therefore, what is said is but an analogical indication and no more.
Let us then see this four-foldness in ourselves. We are triune; in our personal aspect we are the reflections, the milliards of bright sparks; they are produced by the Manas-Ego, which is our second aspect, that of individuality; this Manas-Ego is a ray from the Parent Sun which is our Monadic aspect as Atma-Buddhi; beyond the last named is Atma, universal, the Light which by a transcendental process inherent in its own self-nature, svabhava, comes to a focal point called the Sun. Sun, Ray, Reflection, are the three Hypostases of the manifesting Light, which is Darkness. Or we can notice them in the processes of our lower personal self: Memory is the moon whose beam is the thirst for life, tanha, which begets the reflection called the body, but behind the body, desire and memory is the “I”—the ahankara which is the womb of the three. Body, Desire, and Memory are the three Hypostases of the manifesting “I” which is present in them all perpetually. The universal “I,” the individual “I,” the personal “I,” are the three Hypostases of that Absolute Life which is the SELF.
There is another way in which these three Hypostases or Avasthas have to be studied: the formative or creative, the preservative or sustaining, and the destructive or regenerative aspects of the One Life. Consciousness manifests as a triple process—by the power of action (Kriya) it creates, by that of Love-Wisdom (Gnyan) it preserves, and by that of Will (Ichcha) it regenerates. Therefore in the Hindu Pantheon the universal manifester Brahma is the creator, the universal preserver Vishnu, the Mighty Lover, the universal regenerator Shiva, the Destroyer. Within us as personal-ahankaric beings, or as individual-atmic beings, or as universal parmatmic beings, is the triple process of Will, Thought, and Action, material, psychical, and spiritual.
Because consciousness is triple the path to perfection is threefold: of Karma which deals with the Kriya-action aspect; of Gnynan which deals with the thought aspect; of Bhakti which deals with the will aspect. By Karma we create, by knowledge we preserve, by devotion we regenerate. Karma begets Tamas—inertia, which knowledge sustains as Rajas—mobility, and which devotion transforms into Sattva—harmony. Sattva is Existence—Sat, which Knowledge recognizes through Ideation—Chit, and which devotion realizes in immortal Bliss—Ananda.
Within us as without us matter, force, spirit, are but the triple hypostases of the fourth, the One Life. The material manifestation of the One Life is self-ish-ness, its psychical manifestation is self-hood-ness, and its spiritual is self-less-ness—the fourth is the common factor of the three, Self-ness or Be-ness. Therefore, says The Secret Doctrine (I, 276):
…by paralyzing his lower personality, and arriving thereby at the full knowledge of the non-separateness of his higher SELF from the One Absolute SELF, man can, even during his terrestrial life, become as “One of Us.”
The practical, which is the ethical, application for this mighty achievement is to be found in The Voice of the Silence in the teaching about the three Halls, the three states through which the aspirant passes—“beyond which stretch the shoreless waters of AKSHARA”—the Absolute. These halls correspond to the Jagrat, Svapna and Sushupti states of consciousness—beyond which is Turiya.
But for the ahankaric-I there would be no memory, no thirst for separate life and no body; but for the Turiya state, we would not have the refreshment of deep sleep, or the disturbance of dreams, or the waking life; from the Fount of Omniscience spring Wisdom and Learning and Ignorance as from Akshara-Letter, come Shabda-Word, Shloka-Verse and Katha-Narrative; and finally, but for the Absolute there would be neither the Monadic, Egoic or Personal existence—the Eternal, the Divine, and the lower Self. Says The Voice of the Silence:
Restrain by thy Divine thy lower Self.
Restrain by the Eternal the Divine.
Growth Through Self-Effort
Life is substantial as Spirit or as Matter, as the noumenal principle or as the phenomenal personality, as monads or as atoms. In pralayic non-manifestation or in manvantaric manifestation that LIFE is the “One homogeneous divine SUBSTANCE PRINCIPLE,…” (S.D. I, 273.) IT is Be-ness.
Involution of Spirit and evolution of Matter is one process, though it appears dual. That process can best be described as perpetual motion which never ceases, never slackens or increases its speed, not even during the interludes between the pralayas, but goes on like a mill set in motion, whether it has anything to grind or not. This is Be-coming.
The never-ending (for it never began) stream of conditioned existence is conscious; from within the dark depths of Be-ness it issues forth to show itself as the without which is the universe. That stream is composed of Beings—collectively Being—these as units oren masse are finite while the stream as a process is infinite, beginningless and endless. These finite beings, be they atoms or monads, are identical with the ever becoming Universal Over-Soul, which itself is an aspect of the Unknown Root—or the one “absolute attribute” of Be-ness (S.D. I, 2). These beings vary infinitely in their respective degrees of consciousness and intelligence. Each of them either was or prepares to become a man; therefore there are three basic types of beings: (1) Incipient men; (2) Men; and (3) Perfected men (S.D. I, 275).
The incipient monads, having never had terrestrial bodies yet, can have no sense of personality or EGO-ism…. they have no individuality in the sense in which a man says, “I am myself and no one else;” in other words, they are conscious of no such distinct separateness as men and things have on earth. Individuality is the characteristic of their respective hierarchies, not of their units;… (S.D. I, 275.)
These incipient entities evolve into self-conscious individuals, intelligent enough to exert and make use of their Will, only in the human kingdom. They can have no independent conscious existence before they pass through a long line of evolution in the kingdoms of nature below the human; therein states of consciousness are unfolded leading to self-consciousness which is the birth of man. Individuality thus acquired further evolves in the human kingdom by self-induced and self-devised efforts, in which intelligent will-power and the compensating or reacting Law of Karma play the most important parts. The self-conscious individual by self-effort, co-operating with the Law of Karma by the help of his Will-full Intelligence, and receiving opposing reactions when through ignorance that intelligence fails to co-operate with the Law, ascends through the gamut of manasic-evolution which takes him out of the condition of man into the kingdom of the super-man. Thus the third stage is reached.
Here we are concerned with the middle or second stage of the three, viz., of man.
The first and the most important idea to understand in reference to evolution in this our kingdom is the following:
The pivotal doctrine of the Esoteric philosophy admits no privileges or special gifts in man, save those won by his own Ego through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations. (S.D. I, 17.)
In the philosophy of Theosophy this fundamental plays the leading role. Every enquirer is told of it at the very start. Every tyro in Theosophy speaks about it. It is not a difficult proposition to understand, and yet, without doubt, it is the most difficult one to practise, and because of that, very often it is the least understood of the teachings. This is not paradoxical but the fact is that this teaching cannot be grasped by mind alone—however mighty the mind. No amount of theoretical knowledge of it will produce necessary effects. To know it thoroughly the teaching has to be applied, has to be practised, many a time, in many a situation, till dimly its activity stands revealed to our perception. It is not a mental process, hence mind alone cannot fathom its mystery; it is amanasic process, in which our mind is only a learner. Ordinarily our minds are the enlightening influence in our lives; but what has given it its enlightening power? Manas, the Thinker, is the teacher of mind; he lights the mind; from him our minds gain their power to illumine, their capacity to shine. Only when Manasic action of the Thinker, the Manushya, the Real Man, begins to operate does this teaching, through application, become clear.
The “mind is like a mirror; it gathers dust while it reflects,” says The Voice of the Silence. But Manas is the Light of Buddhi which is fed by the Energy of Atma; it is the flame, radiant and luminous, which all the time performs the sacrificial action of consuming dust to make it shine in splendour. The energy of Atma is the Will, free and impersonal; the Light of Buddhi is the Intelligence which utilizes it because it is energized by that Will.
Will is the creative power in man—the maker of super-man. By our will we are the fashioners of that which is divine in us but which now is asleep, dormant, latent. Conscious, intelligent Will is the faculty par excellence of man, and this is the moulder of Individuality itself. Manas gains mastery over his mind and the other lower instruments by the power of Will and the faculty of intelligent discernment.
The human kingdom is the balance between non-humanity and super-humanity. Hence the human kingdom is the plain of Kurukshetra—the plane of struggle and war. The hell of non-self-consciousness is behind, the heaven of all-self-consciousness is in front of man—in his present state the purgation of matter has to be undertaken by him. This means that leaving behind his stateor condition of self-consciousness he has to make of himself a Self-Conscious Being. The personality has to lose its animal nature, its vegetative tendencies, its inert earthiness and become pure; then only can that purified personality be handled by Manas, the Thinker, who running with it, through the seven-fold upward course assimilates to himself the eternal life-power of Atma, and blends it, himself and that Atma into one and becomes a Self-Conscious Pure-Buddhi-Being—Wisdom-Incarnate, Lord of Contemplation.
The Third Fundamental Proposition foreshadows in that one sentence quoted above the entire evolution-process of the human kingdom, a few salient factors of which we have tried to indicate above, and which in conjunction with the following extract from the Second Volume (pp. 109-110) will afford light to the student:
That which propels towards, and forces evolution, i.e., compels the growth and development of Man towards perfection, is (a) the MONAD, or that which acts in it unconsciously through a force inherent in itself; and (b) the lower astral body or the personalSELF. The former, whether imprisoned in a vegetable or an animal body, is endowed with, is indeed itself, that force. Owing to its identity with the ALL-FORCE, which, as said, is inherent in the Monad, it is all-potent on the Arupa, or formless plane. On our plane, its essence being too pure, it remains all-potential, but individually becomes inactive: e.g., the rays of the Sun, which contribute to the growth of vegetation, do not select this or that plant to shine upon. Uproot the plant and transfer it to a piece of soil where the sunbeam cannot reach it, and the latter will not follow it. So with the Atman: unless the higher Self or EGO gravitates towards its Sun—the Monad—the lower Ego, or personal Self, will have the upper hand in every case. For it is this Ego, with its fierce Selfishness and animal desire to live a Senseless life (Tanha), which is “the maker of the tabernacle,” as Buddha calls it in Dhammapada (153 and 154)…. the Atman alone warms the inner man; i.e., it enlightens it with the ray of divine life and alone is able to impart to the inner man, or the reincarnating Ego, its immortality…. it is the Higher Ego, or incarnating principle, the nous or Mind, which reigns over the animal Ego, and rules it whenever it is not carried down by the latter. In short, Spirituality is on its ascending arc, and the animal or physical impedes it from steadily progressing on the path of its evolution only when the selfishness of the personality has so strongly infected the real inner man with its lethal virus, that the upward attraction has lost all its power on the thinking reasonable man. In sober truth, vice and wickedness are an abnormal, unnatural manifestation, at this period of our human evolution—at least they ought to be so. The fact that mankind was never more selfish and vicious than it is now, civilized nations having succeeded in making of the first an ethical characteristic, of the second an art, is an additional proof of the exceptional nature of the phenomenon.
The initial steps of this momentous journey have to be taken now and here by every earnest student of the Wisdom.
The first of these is to reject, without any mental reservation, without any equivocation whatever, all religious, philosophic or scientific creeds which teach the existence of an Intelligent Ruler of men, Father of His children; which teach dependence on power, force or law outside of man himself; which inculcate the practice of ceremonial and ritual for appeasing powers sub- or super-human; or which encourage the notion of man becoming a ministering angel or deva with a view to propitiate the desires of mortals. To all who are in churches or mosques or schools where either or all of the above doctrines are taught, East or West, Theosophy says—“Come out from among them and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing.” (II Corinthians vi:17.)
That is the first step—the complete rejection of orthodox creeds which have to be blindly believed, or which encourage dependence on outer agencies, personal or institutional.
The next is to practise every day and in all circumstances self-reliance, to gain the habit of moving from the centre within, to energize by the power of self-determination, to make use of Will-Force to think and reason, to feel and imagine and finally to perform action. This is to save ourselves from mental darkness, though it is inflicting upon ourselves the tortures of responsibility. Through this, however, self-redemption is attained and to this reference is made in the following:
There is one eternal Law in nature, one that always tends to adjust contraries and to produce final harmony. It is owing to this law of spiritual development superseding the physical and purely intellectual, that mankind will become freed from its false gods, and find itself finally—SELF-REDEEMED. (S.D. II, 420.)
That is the second step—a sincere and persistent effort at Self-energization through the perception of the Great-Sacrifice of the Master-Soul, who is the Lord of Consuming Fire, who brings not peace but a sword of flame called Responsibility.
The next step is the recognition of the very important factor that the same Master-Soul has sacrificed for others. It is not often realized that to enable others “to come out from among them” and to help them shoulder the burden of self-responsibility and achieve self-redemption through self-correction is to prove to ourselves the measure of our own achievement. By our life and work we become channels of service to others; this in proportion as we practise the second of the rules, just as the strength and completeness of that second lies in the observance of the first rule.
That is the third step—the spiritual service of the human kingdom by assisting its members to live the Wisdom-Religion of Responsibility leading to Freedom immutable and Joy eternal.
The Third Fundamental Proposition of The Secret Doctrine teaches us first to be warriors and fight the powers of darkness—blind-belief, credulity, superstition; secondly, to be energized by the powers of light—Responsibility and Sacrifice; thirdly, to live the Law of Brotherhood which springs from the vision that we and our fellows live in the One Master-Soul, and that between these three complete identity subsists.
This triple lesson is as profound as it is difficult. The words of Mercury sound harsh after the melodies of Pan. But for every human soul comes the moment of realization in which the fantasies of matter-beauty, prakriti-maya, are seen as such and cause poignant grief. Very near, however veiled, is the simple glory, the simple beauty, the simple grandeur, of the Single-Eyed Self, who works strenuously to take us away from the realm of past, present, future into that of the Eternal Now. The bridge each human soul has to cross is that of Intelligent Responsibility and Sacrifice, through self-induced and self-devised efforts.
The Yoga of the Secret Doctrine
The most palpable and therefore noticeable characteristic of the universe is differentiation. The visible nature is composed of forms no two of which are exactly alike; these have evolved from within the depths of invisible because incorporeal nature made of forces, constructive and destructive. The universe of forces and that of forms are not two but one—forms cannot be built or preserved without forces; nor can forces exist without constructing and evolving forms. The variegated forces which ceaselessly build but to destroy and incessantly kill but to regenerate the myriads of forms, exist. These forces and their progeny, forms, exist—somewhere, somehow. That wherein and whereby they exist as phenomena is Existence Itself, the Noumenon.
Each one of us is different from every other human being—bodily, morally, intellectually. Yet a greater similarity subsists between individual members of the human kingdom than that which exists between the different organisms of the human body or those of the moral nature or of the mind. For example the human body of a savage is more like that of a scientist than is our brain like our heart, or our spleen like our lungs. A greater difference, because it is one of kind, exists between our sensuous perceptions and our reasoning faculties than between the sensuous perceptions of a barbarian and of an artist, which is one of degree. But all human bodies are composed of certain material elements; they all are built out of cells which function similarly in the body of an athlete or a philosopher. The properties of flesh and blood and nerve are the same just as the properties of oxygen or carbon or iron are the same wherever these differing elements are found. The purpose of the Third fundamental of The Secret Doctrine is to bring the true vision of the identity which exists in the midst of differentiation.
The study of The Secret Doctrine proves unprofitable unless the student sees at his own stage of evolution, in his own life, in the activity of his own complex nature, the unity which is basic from which differentiation springs and on which diversity manifests. Meta-physics is not a subject for consideration by the mind only. Therefore there is no possibility of anyone fully grasping the meaning of the Three Fundamentals by the power of intellect alone. True science is not solely of the senses, however prominent the part sense-perceptions play in its vocation. Thus, unless a serious attempt is made by the student to see the activity of the Three Fundamentals in the function and the process of his own individual life, they must remain mysterious and confusing and fail to inspire him to better life or nobler labours.
Within our own bodies, in our own being, work the laws which The Secret Doctrine teaches in the Three Fundamental Propositions. In us forces and forms exist. Each one of us is a universe of Existence which is LIFE, which projects forces and evolves forms. Each one of us is the perceiver of forces; each one of us is builder and destroyer of forms. At one time of our long evolution we do not see either of these facts; at the present stage of human growth most people do not see them. The greatest mission of Theosophy, the profoundest message of The Secret Doctrine which is the teacher par excellence of the Wisdom-Religion to our civilization, is to bring the conviction that man is a universe brought into being, maintained and governed by laws which are identical with those which manifest and sustain the atom and the cosmos. Therefore man is not only a universe but The Universe: man is a microcosm created, preserved, destroyed to be regenerated, exactly as atoms and worlds are; as atoms are dependent on him so is he dependent on worlds, and vice versa. Each and every microcosm is a macrocosm: our body is the macrocosm to our brain, heart, spleen; our brain is the macrocosm to the cerebellum, the cerebrum, etc., etc.; and so on, from the great to the small, from the small to the minute. On the other hand our whole body is part of the physical earth, a microcosm of the macrocosm, and that earth but a microcosm of the greater solar system which as a unit is like a tiny cell in the sidereal body. To see within ourselves the working of the law which reveals the truth that each atom is a macrocosm, that each universe is a microcosm is to perceive the identity of all forms—this means the realization that there is but One Form. There is neither micro- nor macro-cosmos, but only Kosmos—the Great Order. This is the supreme vision, the summation of all visions. This is what Arjuna beheld as described in the Eleventh Discourse of the Bhagavad-Gita. At present, material science senses this stupendous truth, speculative philosophy conceives it dimly, creative art feels it spasmodically and feebly; religious mysticism brings it as a belief; abnormal psychism crudely anthropomorphizes it; Theosophy and Theosophy alone enables us to visualize by intelligence the triple truth—Matter is indestructible, Matter is unchanging, Matter is Life. Thus we see that forms of matter die but the Form of Matter always and eternally is. Bodies die, because their organs and organisms die but the Design dies not because of the disintegration of organs and organisms. Thoughts come to birth and perish, but Ideation always lives. The earth, the solar system, the sidereal universe disintegrates but the Power which made them is always an integral whole and brings forth another sidereal universe composed of other solar systems in which other earths inhere.
Thus when we see in our own selves the great and the small cosmos as passing and the Kosmos as always prevailing, we also see the operation of the Law of Periodicity. Is not the cycle of day and night the alternate function of two sets of brain organisms? Is not the cycle of birth and death working, with breathless speed, in every throb of the human heart? If every throb speaks life, does not that which preceded and succeeds every throb spell death? Is not every year of twelve months but a microcosmic bodily registration of the twelve links in the chain of nidanas which produce the phenomenon of each human incarnation—aye, of even all Divine Ones? Does not the spring of every year produce in every human being, however aged, its joys? Does not every winter affect the hardiest of youths? Cycles great and small are not to be seen outside but are to be registered within. If the golden age of Truth, Satya Yuga, is pleasant, is it not because during that period the pains are distributed over a longer duration of time? Is not the hard iron age, black with sin, called Kali Yuga, fearsome because we crowd eternity of pain into an hour? Do not all children born in this very Kali Yuga enjoy the innocence of Satya Yuga? Is not the savage Africander basking in his sun experiencing the freedom of an earlier yuga while this civilization is steeped in the black sufferings of the cycle of Kali? Can a Mahatma be affected by either, though he lives to serve the same earth on which the savage and the civilized live? Each one of us is the maker of his cycles—circular, or elliptical. We make our own days and nights; we make our own seasons and yugas.
We know ourselves as existing, day and night, and throughout the seasons. The passage of months and years sees changes in body, feelings, thoughts, perceptions, aspirations; hopes realized bring forth other hopes; the wild fancies of youth remain as childish memories, as the dreams of today become facts of tomorrow. Through changing forms and forces we know the reality of that which is behind and beyond them and which changes not. The Law of Periodicity or Cycles reveals the union of the dual universe of forces and forms, of the world of images and of shadows; through these we come to realize the activity of the Law of Unity which is the subject-matter of the First Fundamental Proposition.
Just as the organ which sees—the eye—cannot see itself, so also we cannot see ourselves. The Atman-Self can see its images or its shadows; it can not see itself. It knows that it exists because it sees images and shadows. Because we think, because we sense, therefore we know that the thinker is, we realize that the perceiver exists. The First Fundamental refers to Existence, beginningless and endless, which sees the birth and death of Its images and shadows. He who sows also reaps, and because he wants to reap, again sows; he sows and reaps at different seasons. Above, beyond, behind the seasons is the Farmer-Existence.
To see this Unit—the same Unit—at the back of the duality which expresses itself in the Law of Periodicity, also behind the diversity which is the main factor of the Law of Differentiation, is the aim of the true student. In all diversity must first be seen the duality of force and form. The common factor of all differentiation is that something is known by the fact of something which remains to be known. But the basis and playground of these dual forces of action-reaction, of day-night, of manvantara-pralaya, is Existence. Yoga, union with the Divine, is the realization of the same Life manifesting in all forces, energizing all forms. This Life, therefore, manifests in our own faculties and energizes our own functions. The vision which leads to this Supreme Realization is the real Clairvoyance, which is not “the power of seeing at a distance, but rather the faculty of spiritual intuition, through which direct and certain knowledge is obtainable.” (S.D. I, 46 fn.)
The student of The Secret Doctrine has to undertake the practice of this yoga, this union with the Divine. There is no one within whose reach the beginnings of this higher life do not lie. Theosophy is for all, but everyone must want it for himself; therefore is it only for those who want it. In proportion as each wants it, he takes it, and in that measure gains the clear vision of true understanding and the unmistakable realization of the Unknowable Self. Very different from the so-called yoga-practices is this simple life which is strenuous, this hourly living which is heroic. And what is it?
When we see the matrix of pralayic space in the bed in which our body sleeps and on waking recognize its potency to refresh and build that body; when we see the water with which we bathe the body as the purifying nature with which consciousness rejuvenates itself; when in every morsel of food eaten, every drop of water drunk, every breath of air inhaled, every affection absorbed, every word of knowledge assimilated, we see the “mighty magic of prakriti” strong to devour as to regenerate; when in every idea put forth, and every word spoken, and every love given, and in every deed done, we see the creative power of consciousness; when in every child we see the Divine Babe, in every woman Devaki, the mother of Krishna, in every father the mighty Prajapati, in every faithful wife the peerless Sita; when in every melody we hear the music of Orpheus and in every movement perceive the grace of Terpsichore; when in every enlightened mind we see Hermes, in every virile body Herakles, and in every Nara, man—Narayana, god, aye, even in the sick and infirm, that which is named Daridra-Narayana, the God who elevates through illness; when in our every virtue we see the incarnation of Vishnu, and in every vice that of Ravana, and in every overcoming and change that of Shiva—then only do we raise the self by the Self unto the SELF.
In the light of what is written above let the student peruse with care and consider with all the intuition at his command the following from the S.D. (I, 267-68):—
As expressed in the Stanza, the Watchers descended on Earth and reigned over men—“who are themselves.” The reigning kings had finished their cycle on Earth and other worlds, in the preceding Rounds. In the future manvantaras they will have risen to higher systems than our planetary world; and it is the Elect of our Humanity, the Pioneers on the hard and difficult path of Progress, who will take the places of their predecessors. The next great Manvantara will witness the men of our own life-cycle becoming the instructors and guides of a mankind whose Monads may now yet be imprisoned—semi-conscious—in the most intellectual of the animal kingdom, while their lower principles will be animating, perhaps, the highest specimens of the Vegetable world.
Thus proceed the cycles of the septenary evolution, in Septennial nature; the Spiritual or divine; the psychic or semi-divine; the intellectual, the passional, the instinctual, or cognitional; the semi-corporeal and the purely material or physical natures. All these evolve and progress cyclically, passing from one into another, in a double, centrifugal and centripetal way, one in their ultimate essence, seven in their aspects. The lowest, of course, is the one depending upon and subservient to our five physical senses. Thus far, for individual, human, sentient, animal and vegetable life, each the microcosm of its higher macrocosm. The same for the Universe, which manifests, periodically, for purposes of the collective progress of the countless lives, the outbreathings of the OneLife; in order that through the Ever-Becoming, every cosmic atom in this infinite Universe, passing from the formless and the intangible, through the mixed natures of the semi-terrestial, down to matter in full generation, and then back again, reascending at each new period higher and nearer the final goal; that each atom, we say, may reach through individual merits and efforts that plane where it re-becomes the one unconditioned ALL. But between the Alpha and the Omega there is the weary “Road” hedged in by thorns, that “goes down first, then—
Winds up hill all the way
Yes, to the very end….”
Starting upon the long journey immaculate; descending more and more into sinful matter, and having connected himself with every atom in manifested Space —the Pilgrim, having struggled through and suffered in every form of life and being, is only at the bottom of the valley of matter, and half through his cycle, when he has identified himself with collective Humanity. This, he has made in his own image. In order to progress upwards and homewards, the “God” has now to ascend the weary uphill path of the Golgotha of Life. It is the martyrdom of self-conscious existence. Like Visvakarman has to sacrifice himself to himself in order to redeem all creatures, to resurrect from the many into the One Life. Then he ascends into heaven indeed; where, plunged into the incomprehensible absolute Being and Bliss of Paranirvana, he reigns unconditionally, and whence he will re-descend again at the next “coming,” which one portion of humanity expects in its dead-letter sense as the second advent, and the other as the last “Kalki Avatar.”
The Right Approach
IN the two former series of Studies an attempt was made to show that The Secret Doctrine and other writings of H.P.B. are portions of the immemorial and imperishable Record of Knowledge. Theosophy as presented by her and her Predecessors is a system of thought neither progressive nor evolving. When they study Theosophy men learn today what always has been known. All that we can gain of instruction in this age has been suitably epitomized for us in the works of H.P.B. That which humanity learns and forgets is relative knowledge; it changes and grows. That which is learnt once for all and is embodied in the heart of the race is Truth, Absolute Knowledge.
Another fact brought out is that true appreciation of The Secret Doctrine depends on correct assimilation of its contents through the unfoldment of that spiritual faculty which follows the purification of mind by study of metaphysics. This faculty is Buddhi conjoined with Manas. Further, an attempt was made to examine the Three Fundamental Propositions which are the veritable foundations of her monumental volumes.
The end in view is to provoke thought. No one could translate the weighty contents of the two volumes into language which the man in the street can grasp without effort. It is necessary to point this out because of criticisms which have come to our notice.
The great function of H.P.B.’s writings is to evolve in the student a new perception of Nature—a perception which is synthetic, universal, impersonal. This is Buddhi-Manas “incarnated” in the individual. Different people read in The Secret Doctrine different things. It has been said that it all depends on what interpretation each puts on its expositions. This is not so. The volumes are not capable of diverse and conflicting interpretations. Each tenet, each teaching, each doctrine has but one interpretation, and no more. The applications of the true interpretation can be varied and many; they ought to be. As the grasp of the teachings is profound so will the applications be numerous. The completeness of understanding is related to that of applications. The true test that a teaching is correctly interpreted lies in the student’s ability to make applications. When our interpretation is correct our applications fit in with our understanding of other and related teachings. The sincere and earnest student persists in getting at the whole philosophy, all the correlated teachings, in patience and perseverance. He is not satisfied with piecemeal understanding of a tenet here and a doctrine there. True interpretation of one tenet dovetails with true interpretation of all other tenets; a false interpretation does not agree with either a true interpretation of any tenet or false interpretations of several tenets.
This third series is a consideration of the steps leading to Buddhi-Manasic unfoldment—transformations which must take place in the student if with intellectual honesty and sincere courage he proceeds with his task of mastering The Secret Doctrine. This race and civilization are under the dominance of Kama-Manas, the Passion-Mind. Most students are aware of this. But when we endeavour to purify our lower nature and eradicate our moral blemishes and introduce moral excellencies therein we are made painfully aware of the machinations and strength of Kama-Manas in ourselves. Its vagaries and mischievous tendencies come to the fore when the student sits down to read and reflect on The Secret Doctrine or to study and contemplate its specific teachings. This fact is generally overlooked.
Not all students apply to themselves the remarks in the Introductory, which are significant and important:
Every reader will inevitably judge the statements made from the stand-point of his own knowledge, experience, and consciousness, based on what he has already learnt. (I, xlvi.)
The active centre of consciousness in this age is Kama-Manasic. It is built up of experiences which fluctuate between the pairs of opposites—cold and heat, pleasure and pain, fame and ignominy. The knowledge which such experience yields is relative, therefore unstable. It is very necessary that each student meditate for a while on his own “knowledge, experience, and consciousness,” for thus will he protect himself by noting in advance his proclivities and tendencies. The Secret Doctrine is altogether sui generis. It is necessary therefore for the student to refrain from arguing that the statements made by H.P.B. are not in accordance with what other people have said or written, or with his own ideas upon the subject, or that, again, they are apparently contrary to any accepted system of thought or philosophy. The student must endeavour as much as possible to free his mind while studying from all ideas which he may have derived by heredity, from education, from surroundings, or from other “authorities.” His mind should be made perfectly free from all other thoughts so that the true interpretation of the statements of The Secret Doctrine is arrived at. Otherwise there is a constant risk of his ideas becoming as coloured with preconceived notions as those of so many early students of H.P.B. who have made the occult tenets subservient to modern science or have degraded them by pulling them down to the level of religious creeds.
Now there are three outstanding characteristics of Kama-Manas or Passion-Mind. It is confused; it is infatuated; it is wild and wandering. However powerful our Kama-Manas, so long as it is Kama-Manas, it will show forth these three traits. When the student contacts The Secret Doctrine he comes to it with this Passion-Mind. That mind is confused as to its owner’s place in the scheme of things; being infatuated with its and its possessor’s self-importance, it flies fast and faster from object to object in the world of things, and from subject to subject in the world of thoughts. It is really trying to justify itself in conflict with other wandering Passion-Minds. Through conquests and defeats, through exhilaration, but more through suffering, it is slowly moving in the direction of one objective: it is becoming one-pointed; it is coming together to establish its new centre of gravity and evolve its perception proper.
When the student begins his study of The Secret Doctrine this Passion-Mind carries him away to distant fields of speculation. That mind joys in its own creations and in multiplying itself. Thus the tendency of the student is not so much to try to understand what The Secret Doctrine teaches as to fly off at a tangent, struck by a single solitary thought and speculate thereon in terms of his “knowledge, experience, and consciousness.” In her Preface to The Secret Doctrine H.P.B. says:
The publication of many of the facts herein stated has been rendered necessary by the wild and fanciful speculations in which many Theosophists and students of mysticism have indulged, during the last few years, in their endeavour to, as they imagined, work out a complete system of thought from the few facts previously communicated to them. (I, viii.)
If such was the case with the early students who surrounded H.P.B. herself, equally if not more liable must be the present generation of students to err in the same direction. It is essential, therefore, to learn to eschew the tendency to hastily interpret what we read. To understand a statement is very different from interpreting it or speculating on it. Interpretation demands understanding. Right interpretation requires coordination of all phases and aspects of the teaching.
The tendency to confusion shows itself in the equally hasty attempt at reconciliation of what appear as conflicting and contradictory statements of teachings. It also manifests itself in discriminating in favour of one set of ideas and teachings because our own interpretation of them satisfies us as against others which we dub unimportant and even incorrect. In terms of the second tendency of the Passion-Mind, it is so egotistically infatuated with itself and its processes that what it does not perceive is considered full of flaws—“I do not see that way, therefore it must be wrong.”
Steadfast and constant application at understanding a few metaphysical ideas which are basic and foundational is essential; for thus we steadily grow. “True knowledge comes slowly and is not easily acquired,” says H.P.B., and the Bhagavad-Gita:
There is no purifier in this world to be compared to spiritual knowledge; and he who is perfected in devotion findeth spiritual knowledge springing up spontaneously in himself in the progress of time. (Discourse IV.)
True understanding purifies the Passion-Mind; the perception of the universal principles slowly makes it pure by eradicating these three tendencies. Then Manas or mind, having arrived at its own centre (true concentration) begins to see itself in the light of the philosophy. The student can now examine his own “knowledge, experience, and consciousness” in terms of those fundamentals. Months, nay years, must elapse before such perception and examination unfolds that detachment of and in the mind which reveals to the student that himself and the Science are not different, but that the two are one. He sees his own life-problems and life-actions reflected in the Wisdom, and the light of the Wisdom is constantly being reproduced within himself. It is for this reason and with this in view that emphasis was laid in the second series on the altruism of The Secret Doctrine.
In our continuing quest of the Wisdom we need to hold firmly the definite idea that The Secret Doctrine “is written for the instruction of students of Occultism” (I, 23)—not forgetting that the same is equally true of all the other writings of H.P.B.
Many students take it for granted that in The Secret Doctrine there are some gems buried in a heap of rubbish which their intelligence and discernment will have to unearth. Some arrogate to themselves the power to conclude that these volumes show H.P.B.’s wonderful sweep of vistas of knowledge, to admire which we must overlook many errors of detail. Others equally arrogant opine that some priceless information about a great number of odds and ends is to be gathered from the book, with care and tact. They say that The Secret Doctrine is not a treatise on occult philosophy and science but merely a book of reference. Then there is a class of “intelligensia” who endeavour to find justification for their own pet theories and notions. Their desire is to gain from H.P.B. corroboration for modern science and philosophy, for up-to-date creeds and suitable religions. All such Kama-Manasic students as these will gain little from the work.
These students, often unconsciously to themselves, have estimated the value of the contents in terms of their own “knowledge, experience, and consciousness.” In this age of egotism and conceit these forces so overpower human nature that many men notice not that they are egocentric and conceited.
That student whose Kama-Manas has been purified by past efforts, in this or other lives, whose mentality is afire to gain knowledge for its own sake, who is searching answers to his unsolved problems, and whose sincerity is genuine, evinces a different attitude very early in his contact with The Secret Doctrine. A careful examination of the Table of Contents and the structure of the book, some thought bestowed on the Preface, Introductory, the Proem of the first volume and the Preliminary Notes of the second, and a comparison of these with the Table of Contents of the two volumes of Isis Unveiled, together with what is written in their Prefaces, will convince him that in the writings of H. P. Blavatsky there is a fullness, nay a completeness which is unique; that her books are not like other books. More of this careful study in a truly reverent attitude, and there dawns on his mind the idea that in her writings the end of knowledge is attained. The process continued, and the sun of his ideation reaches the zenith of conviction. Not only is there end of knowledge attained in these volumes, but it is proven and therefore provable knowledge. As Mr. William Q. Judge rightly points out in The Path for March, 1892, p. 382:
If any authority pertains to The Secret Doctrine, it must be sought inside, not outside. It must rest on its comprehensiveness, its completeness, its continuity and reasonableness; in other words, on its philosophical synthesis, a thing missed alike by the superficial and the contentious, by the indolent, the superstitious, and the dogmatic.
The end of knowledge! It is an almost unthinkable conception. Yet the phrase is a very ancient one in the history of human thought. Vedanta means the end of knowledge. It is necessary to catch a clear glimpse of this idea of a completed and codified system of knowledge which informs us of the genesis, evolution, death and rebirth of cosmos—of which man and all else is a part. This knowledge is based on the experimentation and realization of a large number of fully trained individuals, equipped with reliable apparatus and machinery in the realms of consciousness—such is the view we have to keep ever before us.
Vedanta implies that there are beings who have systematized knowledge and codified all its items and factors. Such Codifiers are recognized in every presentation of Theosophy from the most ancient times. This was shown in our previous Studies. It was also indicated how such Codifiers are in a position to affirm that nothing remains for them to learn of principles and fundamentals of the evolution of atoms, planets, solar systems, cosmos, as an ever-moving Impulse of LIFE, in which changes take place eternally but which in Itself changes not.
In ancient India such Codifiers were called Siddhas—men who have proven for themselves the truths of Vedanta. Between a Vedantin and a Siddha there is a mighty difference. The former recognizes the facts of the Eternal Code of Knowledge by an intellectual process, which is comparative and contrastive of the phenomena of the universe. By the height of mountains he sees the depth of valleys; by the length of shadows he guesses the position of the orb of light in the sky; by the struggles of and in the lower self he is able to posit the existence of the Higher Self. But his knowledge is as yet an intellectual recognition of the facts, most of which remain to be proven by himself to himself—yet to be realized. But a Siddha sees the million things of the phenomenal universe with the Single Eye of Truth, which knows the common origin of mounts and vales, of light and shade, of soul and body, and how they come to be what they are and where they are. With him it is no more a matter of intellectual recognition, but of intimate, first-hand, spiritual realization.
Our student of The Secret Doctrine has to come to the perception that the teachings of H.P.B. are not the fruit of the outer study of Vedanta, but the inner realization of Siddhanta. It is
the wisdom imparted by the “Divine Ones”—born through the Kriyasakti powers of the Third Race before its Fall and Separation into sexes—to the adepts of the early Fourth Race, [which] has remained in all its pristine purity in a certain Brotherhood. The said School or Fraternity being closely connected with a certain island of an inland sea, believed in by both Hindus and Buddhists, but called “mythical” by geographers and Orientalists, the less one talks of it, the wiser he will be.” (II, 636-37.)
Further it is stated:
The Secret Doctrine teaches us that the arts, sciences, theology, and especially the philosophy of every nation which preceded the last universally known, but not universal Deluge, had been recorded ideographically from the primitive oral records of the Fourth Race, and that these were the inheritance of the latter from the early Third Root-Race before the allegorical Fall. (II, 530.)
Unless the student by repeated study and continued contemplation comes to the conclusion that The Secret Doctrine is a fragment of Siddhanta—that therefore in it there are neither errors or mistakes, nor superfluous rubbish or strange contradictions, but that all is purposefully and deliberately put together—he will grope in the dark. This attitude towards the contents of the book is essential if real benefit is to be derived from its study. He has to arrive at the recognition of this stupendous fact: every planet and mineral that exists in space or inside the earth was known and recorded in the books of the Siddhas thousands of years ago, and that those sacred Records are worthy of trust. The Secret Doctrine contains full information on every conceivable subject necessary for the progress of man individually and of humanity en masse. It is this attitude, once reached, which transforms the mind and gives it the tone to truly understand the Message.
The Eternal Pilgrim
Let us study Man; but if we separate him for one moment from the Universal Whole, or view him, in isolation from a single aspect, apart from the “Heavenly Man”—the Universe symbolized by Adam Kadmon, Purushottama, or their equivalents in every philosophy—we shall fail most ingloriously in our attempt. Further, be it noted that unforeseen and unexpected dangers lie that way if and when the student in his earnestness and enthusiasm begins to make applications to himself and in his life arising out of such separative study. Let every single student be thoroughly impressed with an idea, which the Masters have endeavoured to impart to Theosophists at large, namely, the great axiomatic truth that the only eternal and living reality is that which the Hindus call Paramatma and Parabrahman.
What is Man? As the student begins to reflect on this question and make use of the material at his disposal to formulate an answer, he encounters a somewhat strange and an unexpected difficulty. Man is a different entity for different classes of people: to the modern scientist he is a bundle of atoms which combine in definite ways to disintegrate in course of time; to the modern psychologist and so-called philosopher man is a collection of sensation-impressions and their reflexes which combine to give birth to mind which also may be named soul; to the psycho-analyst he is a bundle of complexes; to the spiritualist and the psychical researcher he is a ghost or spirit, embodied or disembodied; to the theologian he is a soul fashioned by God to be saved by prayer, as to the surgeon he is a body made by Nature to be saved by the lancet.
How does Theosophy define Man? He is a composite being and at different stages of his evolution shows forth differing powers and capacities. He is “a compound of the essences of all those celestial Hierarchies,” (S.D. I, 276), which contribute the several principles which build him into a being as well as a form, besides endowing him with self-consciousness and intelligence. As pointed out (S.D. I, 189): “Karma and evolution have—
‘…centred in our make such strange extremes!
From different Natures marvellously mixed….’”
By “Natures” is meant “the seven hierarchies or classes of Pitris and Dhyan Chohans which compose our nature and Bodies.”
As Isis Unveiled (I, 309) points out: “Man is a correlation of chemical physical forces, as well as a correlation of spiritual powers.” It is this complex nature of man that necessitates, for the purpose of study and understanding, our dividing and sub-dividing him. In different philosophies and systems of thought man is divided into different principles or sets of factors. The Secret Doctrine shows this very clearly. This has led to a great confusion and misunderstanding; ideas and suggestions have been materialized; principles have been personified; abstractions have been made concrete; allegories have been taken as facts; and Absoluteness itself has been anthropomorphized.
It is absolutely necessary, therefore, that we devote some time to the comprehension of the basic idea that all these different factors which combine to make up Man are but aspects of ONE LIFE. As H.P.B. points out in the Transactions (39):
…we divide man into seven principles, but this does not mean that he has, as it were, seven skins, or entities, or souls. These principles are all aspects of one principle, and even this principle is but a temporary and periodical ray of the One eternal and infinite Flame or Fire.
Within man are all the gods and angels as well as devils and satans; he himself is Sura and Asura; in him are maya-illusion, avidya-ignorance, and their opposite mukti-liberation and Nirvana-emancipation. In him are the old seeds of animal, plant and mineral beings which first become atrophied and then get transformed; in him too are the seeds of Dhyanis-Angels, Nirvanis-Freed Beings which have first to be recognized and then to be fructified. Says The Secret Doctrine:
No Occultist would deny that man—no less than the elephant and the microbe, the crocodile and the lizard, the blade of grass or the crystal—is, in his physical formation, the simple product of the evolutionary forces of nature through a numberless series of transformations;… (I, 636.)
There is but one indivisible and absolute Omniscience and Intelligence in the Universe, and this thrills throughout every atom and infinitesimal point of the whole infinite Kosmos which hath no bounds, and which people call SPACE, considered independently of anything contained in it. (I, 277.)
The radical unity of the ultimate essence of each constituent part of compounds in Nature—from Star to mineral Atom, from the highest Dhyan Chohan to the smallest infusoria, in the fullest acceptation of the term, and whether applied to the spiritual, intellectual, or physical worlds—this is the one fundamental law in Occult Science. (I, 120.)
“The worlds, to the profane,” says a Commentary, “are built up of the known Elements. To the conception of an Arhat, these Elements are themselves collectively a divine Life; distributively, on the plane of manifestations, the numberless and countless crores of lives. Fire alone is ONE, on the plane of the One Reality: on that of manifested, hence illusive, being, its particles are fiery lives…. From the ONE LIFE formless and Uncreate, proceeds the Universe of lives.” (I, 249-50.)
…the ONE LIFE … manifests in seven states, which, with their septenary subdivisions, are the FORTY-NINE Fires mentioned in sacred books…. (I, 291.)
In our Solar world, the One Existence is Heaven and the Earth, the Root and the flower, the Action and the Thought. It is in the Sun, and is as present in the glow-worm. Not an atom can escape it. (I, 292.)
It is very necessary that the student memorize this stupendous fact: As souls, minds, bodies we are aspects of the One Life; our powers and faculties, reasoning, emotional, instinctual or sensuous, are also aspects of that same One Life; the One Life in differing degrees of density assumes differing characteristics and, in spite of the very evident fact that in us and in Nature conflicting and opposing forces operate through a variety of forms, they all, forces and forms alike, are but the manifestation of the One Life.
Having thus emphasized the unity subsisting between the component parts of man, as also between man, this planet, and the Cosmos of which they are but portions, let us turn to the consideration of the differentiating element.
First let us see man as a duality—the immortal and the mortal, the subjective and the objective.
A dual process is in evidence everywhere: (1) The non-manifested and the manifested; (2) centripetal and centrifugal; (3) pravritti-involution and nivritti-evolution; (4) arupa-formless and rupa-form; (5) macrocosm and microcosm; (6) good and evil; (7) Nirvana-compassion and avitchi-isolation. These and all variants are but aspects of the primal pair of opposites, of the “Dual Force emanating from the Eternal Essence.” (S.D. I, 353.)
…the Occultists … see … in these two opposite Forces only the two aspects of the universal unit, called “MANIFESTING MIND”; in which aspects, Occultism, through its great Seers, perceives an innumerable Host of operative Beings: Cosmic Dhyan-Chohans, Entities, whose essence, in its dual nature, is the Cause of all terrestrial phenomena. For that essence is co-substantial with the universal Electric Ocean, which is LIFE; and being dual, as said—positive and negative—it is the emanations of that duality that act now on earth under the name of “modes of motion”; even Force having now become objectionable as a word, for fear it should lead someone, even in thought, to separate it from matter! It is, as Occultism says, the dual effects of that dual essence, which have now been called centripetal and centrifugal forces, negative and positive poles, or polarity, heat and cold, light and darkness, etc., etc. (S.D. I, 604.)
From this original duality springs what man recognizes in himself as his dual nature—lower and higher mind, good and bad moral nature, the mortal body and the immortal Self. Further, the student of Occultism traces to this prototypal Dual Force, the dual power of the Secret Wisdom, the white and black magic. (Cf. II, 364.) When we begin to analyse the content of our own brain, mind, and consciousness, we come to recognize that there is in us that which is ourself, which is indestructible because indivisible. In reference to the body itself we know that we can exist without arms and legs, without the ratiocination and memory of the brain, without eyes, ears, nose, deprived of touch and taste; that if only the heart kept on functioning and retained its slender connection with the brain on the one hand and the solar plexus on the other, the body could live on. In the body itself there are parts which in perishing kill not the body, but there are others—in fact three connected with three primary centres—any one of which destroyed would result in the destruction of the whole. Divide the heart and the heart is destroyed and the body dies. Take another aspect: in spite of the constant changes which are continuously taking place in the body, the identity of the body, its design and structure, survives; death, the great Change, differs from the millions of bodily changes in this that it changes the mould and the design of the body. Turn for a moment to our psychological transformations: in feelings and emotions we notice changes and differences; we love and hate by turn; we love and cease loving the same person in course of time; our sympathies and antipathies act in a similar fashion. Further, in knowledge and ignorance, in our ideas and thoughts on men and things, changes occur; still more, moods of aspiration and exaltation as of depression alternate. Now, like the heart in the body, we find that through all the changes of feeling and thought, the man who feels and thinks remains intact. However great the identification between himself and these processes, it is temporary; soon or late man knows himself other and higher than his thoughts, feelings, actions, his head, heart and hands. That which in the midst of all changes, changes not, that is the Self, immortal, indestructible, indivisible.
Man is certainly no special creation, and he is the product of Nature’s gradual perfective work, like any other living unit on this Earth. But this is only with regard to the human tabernacle. That which lives and thinks in man and survives that frame, the masterpiece of evolution—is the “Eternal Pilgrim,” the Protean differentiation in space and time of the One Absolute “unknowable.” (S.D. II, 728.)
When we try to apply the various teachings of Theosophy on the human constitution we get somewhat confused. As a first stage toward clarifying our thoughts let us emphasize this supreme duality in the individual. There is in us that which is immortal—the one witness of the many changes of sense, feeling and thought in and around us. In the sublime words of the Bhagavad-Gita—
The spirit in the body is called Maheswara, the Great Lord, the spectator, the admonisher, the sustainer, the enjoyer, and also the Paramâtma, the highest soul. (13th Discourse.)
There dwelleth in the heart of every creature, O Arjuna, the Master—Ishwara —who by his magic power causeth all things and creatures to revolve mounted upon the universal wheel of time. Take sanctuary with him alone, O son of Bharata, with all thy soul; by his grace thou shalt obtain supreme happiness, the eternal place. (18th Discourse.)
This Great Spectator has been observing the drama of evolution. It witnesses at one time the mighty cohesion in the homogeneous root-matter which begets aeriform radiance; then sees it condense into curd-like nebula which moves, making star-dust and causing friction, settles down to become many suns and planets and satellites. It sees the birth of elemental forces in and on these spheres which beget crystals and minerals and then observes the growth of sprouting shrubs and creepers and plants which become giant trees; it watches the cradle of insect and then worm, and bird, and beast and at last bipeds, after many aeons of vicissitudes and patient climbing. Then comes man who from the savagery of migratory tribes settles down to the citizenship of community and nation, and through wars and sufferings is learning to become cosmopolitan and labour for the Brotherhood of Humanity.
This teaching the Kabalist and the Sufi have epitomized thus:
“A stone becomes a plant; a plant, a beast; the beast, a man; a man, a spirit; and the spirit a god.”
“I died as a stone and became a plant; I died as a plant and became an animal; I died as an animal and became a man; when did I grow less by dying? I will die as a man to give birth to an angel.”
But three distinct streams of evolution representative of the three basic aspects of the One Life come to confluence in Man. The stone, the plant, the animal give birth to the physical man—the Adam of Dust. The Mighty Witness is a ray, a breath of the Absoluteness. These two need an intelligent consciousness which is provided by the third stream of the Life-Impulse. The Secret Doctrine is the text of the Mighty Drama of Evolution in which the Spectator and the many actors are One. In affirming this fact, it reiterates that the process of differentiation is complex and takes place by a manifoldness which at the root is seven-fold but which ramifies endlessly.
The matter-moving Nous, the animating Soul, immanent in every atom, manifested in man, latent in the stone, has different degrees of power; and this pantheistic idea of a general Spirit-Soul pervading all Nature is the oldest of all the philosophical notions. (S.D. I, 51.)
The idea to get hold of and retain in our memory is that there is a Witness in us of the panorama of growth, who has watched in the beginningless past as he is watching today and as he will watch in the endless future. This is Atma, the One Life, mirrored in Buddhi, the unbreakable vehicle—the Eternal Spectator.
Next, there is that in us which is the experiencer, the sufferer, the enjoyer who learnt in the mineral and grew in the vegetable and moved in the animal and acts, feels, thinks, wills in the human. This is Atma-Buddhi-Manas, the immortal Triad, the individualization of the Supreme Spirit—the Eternal Pilgrim.
Thus from the concept of Duality we come to perceive the Trinity, which is the next step to grasp in our study.
What Is Man?
The ancient occult axiom, “Man, know thyself,” is familiar to all; but very few have apprehended the real meaning of the Delphic Oracle. We think we know our earthly pedigree when we have looked at the genealogical family-tree; science thinks it knows the physical pedigree of man and humanity, having traced his form from the protoplasm, and its growth from savagery. Neither the modern philosopher, nor the scientist, has traced the links of heredity, psychic, intellectual and spiritual; in the absence of that knowledge, it is not surprising and is very natural, that the modern estimate of the human form is altogether a mistaken one.
For all practical purposes, either of self-growth or of altruistic service, such knowledge is absolutely requisite. The intimate connection between the body, mind-soul and spirit of man has to be perceived; for then only can follow the perception of the relationship, nay the identity, which subsists between him and the triple Universe of Spirit, Intelligence, and Matter. There is an indissoluble union between man and the universe. The two are but the dual aspects of the One Substance-Principle—Absoluteness in its non-manifested aspect and Eternal Motion of the Great Breath in manifestation.
The universe is the macrocosm; man the microcosm; man, the Spirit, is the macrocosm; man, the Thinker, is the microcosm, and that Thinker in turn becomes the macrocosm to the material form in and through which he operates; thus also man becomes the macrocosm for the three lower kingdoms under him. (Cf. S.D. II, 169.)
Life is consciousness but is not self-conscious in every form; only in man it attains the state, plane or condition of self-consciousness, and when by self-induced and self-devised efforts it becomes a Self-Conscious Being, it gains for itself the greatest of all opportunities, the attainment of Universal Self-Consciousness. Then man has become divine, the Atma has become Paramatma, the Purusha has become Purushottama. Such a Being is the “Vasudeva, who is all this, the Mahatma difficult to meet” of the seventh discourse of the Bhagavad-Gita. Of his birth The Voice of the Silence sings:
The silver star now twinkles out the news to the night-blossoms, the streamlet to the pebbles ripples out the tale; dark ocean waves will roar it to the rocks surf-bound, scent-laden breezes sing it to the vales, and stately pines mysteriously whisper: “A Master has arisen, a MASTER OF THE DAY.”
What a sublime goal! Not from star-dust to star-dust; but from star-dust to the manifestor, nourisher, and regenerator of the never-ending stream of conditioned existence—such is the destiny of Man.
Life is universal consciousness, one and impartite. The consciousness of any universe is unitary and therefore is termed monadic. This aspect of the One Life is defined as Spirit. The second of the primal duality, Matter is the same One Life visualized as the many. To quote the words of the Mahatma K.H.:
It is one of the elementary and fundamental doctrines of Occultism that the two are one, and are distinct but in their respective manifestations, and only in the limited perceptions of the world of senses.
Says The Secret Doctrine:
“Spirit is the first differentiation of (and in) SPACE; and Matter the first differentiation of Spirit. That, which is neither Spirit nor matter—that is IT—the Causeless CAUSE of Spirit and Matter, which are the Cause of Kosmos. And THAT we call the ONE LIFE or the Intra-Cosmic Breath.” (Commentary) (I, 258).
Though one and the same thing in their origin, Spirit and Matter, when once they are on the plane of differentiation, begin each of them their evolutionary progress in contrary directions—Spirit falling gradually into matter, and the latter ascending to its original condition, that of a pure spiritual substance. Both are inseparable, yet ever separated. In polarity, on the physical plane, two like poles will always repel each other, while the negative and the positive are mutually attracted, so do Spirit and Matter stand to each other—the two poles of the same homogeneous substance, the root-principle of the universe. (I, 247.)
Spirit fails to know matter because it does not know itself. Matter is inert though animate, because that which lives and energizes and is conscious in it is not conscious of itself. That is why in the Sankhya Darshana—one of the six points of view of the Indian philosophy—Purusha-Spirit is represented as having eyes but no feet, while Prakriti-Matter has feet to move but is blind; the former mounts on the shoulders of the latter and, thus conjoint, the march of evolution of the One Life becomes possible. But only for a while. For matter has no ear to listen and the spirit has no power of speech. Time comes when the pair, even in close embrace, is lost in the slums of space. Each has to acquire knowledge of itself—its limitations and capacities, and learn the art of co-operation to seek and tread the Great Highway of the Heavens.
Thus Theosophy brings us to the third element, “at present unknown to Western speculation.” (S.D. I, 16.) Modern science sees nothing beyond the ever changing forms of matter caused by modes of motion and variety of Force. Modern religion, east and west alike, believes in that which does not exist—Spirit divorced of matter, or God beyond the earth—because it cannot understand and explain that which does exist, the phenomenal universe. “Between degrading superstition and still more degrading brutal materialism, the White Dove of Truth has hardly room whereon to rest her weary unwelcome feet. It is time that Theosophy should enter the arena”—thus a Master of Masters.
In every universe, atomic or solar or sidereal, and in every personification of it, as Heavenly Man or Adam-Kadmon, threefold is the process always going on. The world-process is triune—macrocosmically as microcosmically. In the metaphysics of India, Sat-Chit-Ananda is the macrocosmic triad as Ichcha, Gnyan and Kriya is the microcosmic. In the Bhagavad-Gita (seventh discourse) the same basic idea is put forward—Shri Krishna and his two natures—para and apara prakriti, the eightfold inferior and the superior by which “the universe is sustained.” “The trinity in unity is an idea which all the ancient nations held in common,” wrote H.P.B. inIsis Unveiled (I, 160) and proceeded to enumerate the same. The Three Fundamental Propositions of The Secret Doctrine deal with the archetypal trinity. From the standpoint of the ever-flowing Life-Wave of Evolution The Secret Doctrine (I, 181) shows:
…that there exists in Nature a triple evolutionary scheme, … or rather three separate schemes of evolution, which in our system are inextricably interwoven and interblended at every point. These are the Monadic (or spiritual), the intellectual, and the physical evolutions. These three are the finite aspects or the reflections on the field of Cosmic Illusion of ATMA, the seventh, the ONE REALITY.
1. The Monadic is, as the name implies, concerned with the growth and development into still higher phases of activity of the Monad in conjunction with:—
2. The Intellectual, represented by the Manasa-Dhyanis (the Solar Devas, or the Agnishwatta Pitris) the “givers of intelligence and consciousness” to man and:—
3. The Physical, represented by the Chhayas of the lunar Pitris, round which Nature has concreted the present physical body. This body serves as the vehicle for the “growth” (to use a misleading word) and the transformations through Manas and—owing to the accumulation of experiences—of the finite into the INFINITE, of the transient into the Eternal and Absolute.
Each of these three systems has its own laws, and is ruled and guided by different sets of the highest Dhyanis or “Logoi.” Each is represented in the constitution of man, the Microcosm of the great Macrocosm; and it is the union of these three streams in him which makes him the complex being he now is.
This is an amplification of the teaching of Isis Unveiled which, after affirming (II, 587) that there is no miracle and that everything that happens is the result of Law, eternal, immutable, ever-active, proceeds to lay down the basic ideas of the philosophy:
Nature is triune: there is a visible, objective nature; an invisible, indwelling, energizing nature, the exact model of the other, and its vital principle; and, above these two, spirit, source of all forces, alone eternal, and indestructible. The lower two constantly change; the higher third does not. (II, 587-88.)
Man is also triune: he has his objective, physical body; his vitalizing astral body (or soul), the real man; and these two are brooded over and illuminated by the third—the sovereign, the immortal spirit. When the real man succeeds in merging himself with the latter, he becomes an immortal entity. (II, 588.)
The trinity of nature is the lock of magic, the trinity of man the key that fits it. (II, 635).
A Triune Process begets, sustains, regenerates man and heavenly man, atom and monad, alike. In the great drama of unfoldment one does not become the other, nor does one yield place to another. The never-to-be divided Spiritual Monad and its numberless rays called human monads; the incorruptible human monad and its numerous incarnations in matter; the material monad (named the mineral monad) and its countless physical atoms—thus three-fold is the view which we have to examine. (Cf. S.D. I, 177-79.) These three Monads are not three but the three facets of a Single One. Spiritual monad is abstract spirit; human monad is embodied spirit; material monad is differentiated spirit. On the matter side, spiritual monad may be compared to the nucleolus, the human monad to the nucleus and the material monad to the cell. But the three aspects of spirit are as distinctive in nature, make-up and function as are the nucleolus, nucleus and the cell. Therefore Van Helmont said, “Man is the mirror of the universe, and his triple nature stands in relationship to all things.”
Isis Unveiled also quotes Paracelsus and says (I, 212-13):
“Three spirits live and actuate man,” teaches Paracelsus; “three worlds pour their beams upon him; but all three only as the image and echo of one and the same all-constructing and uniting principle of production. The first is the spirit of the elements (terrestrial body and vital force in its brute condition); the second, the spirit of the stars (sidereal or astral body—the soul); the third is the Divine spirit (Augoeidés).”…
Man is a little world—a microcosm inside the great universe. Like a foetus, he is suspended, by all his three spirits, in the matrix of the macrocosmos; and while his terrestrial body is in constant sympathy with its parent earth, his astral soul lives in unison with the sidereal anima mundi. He is in it, as it is in him, for the world-pervading element fills all space, and is space itself, only shoreless and infinite. As to his third spirit, the divine, what is it but an infinitesimal ray, one of the countless radiations proceeding directly from the Highest Cause—the Spiritual Light of the World? This is the trinity of organic and inorganic nature—the spiritual and the physical, which are three in one, and of which Proclus says that “The first monad is the Eternal God; the second, eternity; the third, the paradigm, or pattern of the universe;” the three constituting the Intelligible Triad. Everything in this visible universe is the outflow of this Triad, and a microcosmic triad itself. And thus they move in majestic procession in the fields of eternity, around the spiritual sun, as in the heliocentric system the celestial bodies move round the visible suns. The Pythagorean Monad, which lives “in solitude and darkness,” may remain on this earth forever invisible, impalpable, and undemonstrated by experimental science. Still the whole universe will be gravitating around it, as it did from the “beginning of time,” and with every second, man and atom approach nearer to that solemn moment in the eternity, when the Invisible Presence will become clear to their spiritual sight. When every particle of matter, even the most sublimated, has been cast off from the last shape that forms the ultimate link of that chain of double evolution which, throughout millions of ages and successive transformations, has pushed the entity onward; and when it shall find itself reclothed in that primordial essence, identical with that of its Creator, then this once impalpable organic atom will have run its race, and the sons of God will once more “shout for joy” at the return of the pilgrim.
Having reflected on this extract the students’ attention is invited to the following from The Secret Doctrine (I, 246-47):
The Monad or Jiva … is, first of all, shot down by the law of Evolution into the lowest form of matter—the mineral. After a sevenfold gyration encased in the stone … it creeps out of it, say, as a lichen. Passing thence, through all the forms of vegetable matter, into what is termed animal matter, it has now reached the point in which it has become the germ, so to speak, of the animal, that will become the physical man. All this, … is formless, as matter, and senseless, as consciousness. For the Monad or Jiva per se cannot be even called spirit: it is a ray, a breath of the ABSOLUTE, or the Absoluteness rather, and the Absolute Homogeneity, having no relations with the conditioned and relative finiteness, is unconscious on our plane. Therefore, besides the material which will be needed for its future human form, the monad requires (a) a spiritual model, or prototype, for that material to shape itself into; and (b) an intelligent consciousness to guide its evolution and progress, neither of which is possessed by the homogeneous monad, or by senseless though living matter.
The gyrations of the Monad or Jiva form the first of the three lines of evolution; the second and third, respectively, are connected with the Intelligent Consciousness and the model round which the body builds itself.
Man is composed of three men—man of dust, of thought, of light; “he is body, soul and spirit” (Isis Unveiled II, 223); he is chhaya, manas-putra and jiva; he is of earth (prithivi), fire (agni) and æther (akasha); he is the lower, the divine, and the eternal selves (The Voice of the Silence) on the one side, and hands, head and heart of the body on the other.
Says our text-book:
No one will deny that the human being is possessed of various forces: magnetic, sympathetic, antipathetic, nervous, dynamical, occult, mechanical, mental—every kind of force; and that the physical forces are all biological in their essence, seeing that they intermingle with, and often merge into, those forces that we have named intellectual and moral—the first being the vehicles, so to say, the upadhi, of the second. No one, who does not deny soul in man, would hesitate in saying that their presence and commingling are the very essence of our being; that they constitute the Ego in man, in fact. (S.D. I, 469-70).
It is necessary for the student to ask: How do these three different basic natures come to be what they are? Whose progeny are they? What destiny awaits them and their macrocosmic parent? As we seek the answers we are forced to enquire if man is the central plank of the entire scheme of evolution; further, in Nature which is governed by Law, what specific expression thereof should be first mastered to understand the whole process? To the first a reply is given—the final evolution of everything in terrestrial nature into Man is a fact; as to the second, the rise and fall of Nature due to karma occurs in cycles. A consideration of these problems is now due and as a preparation we may offer the following extract for the purposes of meditation (S.D. II, 261):
The occult doctrine … teaches a cyclic, never varying law in nature, the latter having no personal, “special design,” but acting on a uniform plan that prevails through the whole manvantaric period and deals with the land worm as it deals with man. Neither the one nor the other have sought to come into being, hence both are under the same evolutionary law, and both have to progress according to Karmic law. Both have started from the same neutral centre of Life and both have to re-merge into it at the consummation of the cycle.
Deity in Nature
The Secret Doctrine rejects the notion that in any part of Nature God exists. Deity and Nature are not separate but the One Reality. God is neither male nor female; it is not a person, nor even a personality. Deity is the One universal principle—LIFE, immutable and “unconscious” in its eternity. It is the essence of every atom of matter, nay more, it is substantial, is substance itself. Says Mahatma K.H.:
The God of the theologians is simply an imaginary power…. Our chief aim is to deliver humanity of this nightmare, to teach man virtue for its own sake, and to walk in life relying on himself instead of leaning on a theological crutch, that for countless ages was the direct cause of nearly all human misery,
and we might add is so today.
In its ignorance mankind falls a prey to the machinations of an exploiting priesthood; because, though ignorant, it is craving for a “beyond” and cannot live without an ideal of some kind, as a beacon and a consolation. It is sometimes said that the belief in the existence of a personal God is so universal that there must be some basis of truth underlying that conception. That is so. It lies in this noble aspiration, this unintelligent but instinctive craving on the part of man for the perception of order in chaos, and for the knowledge that “the Heart of being is Celestial Rest.” Because man is god, and because he has forgotten, and is made to forget, that stupendous and sublime fact, there have come into existence the false substitutes of a personal god and an extra-cosmic deity. “To deliver humanity of this nightmare” it is necessary to restore to the individual an unshakable faith in his own powers, and the God within himself—nay, bring him to the conviction that he is deity, now in latency and can realize himself as such in the progress of time.
Faith and conviction are born of knowledge and experience. Thus they differ from belief and fanaticism. Man has forgotten his divinity and immortality and all that remains with him is a vague, dim, misty, instinctive remembrance that somehow, somewhere, they must be. On the other hand an equally universal belief has taken hold of man’s fancy and imagination, viz., that himself and the world are but the ephemeral shadows which in his inscrutable will and pleasure God, who is above and beyond them both, has created and fashioned into existence. This notion, also universal, has a substratum of fact. It lies in the ever-changing nature of the One Life; if real life is in the spiritual consciousness of that life, real death is the limited perception of life. Conscious existence in Spirit is immortality; unconscious existence in matter is annihilation. There are two mighty possibilities for Man, in whom Spirit and Matter are properly equilibrized: (1) Immortality; (2) Annihilation. There is no power anywhere save in Man himself by which he can escape the second and attain the first; there is neither god in heaven to bestow the gift of immortality, nor a devil in hell to tempt him to destruction. In man, and only within himself, is the dual possibility.
It is necessary for us to recognize this one clear purpose of Nature, which Nature is the manifestation of the one substance-principle—LIFE. The aim of evolution is the attainment and retainment of Immortality by Man. In the human kingdom that possibility arises. The whole flow of Life-Impulse directs itself for the begetting of Man. In him alone the triple unfoldment shows itself—Spirit wedded to Matter has at last given birth to Intelligence, to Self-consciousness. What is man going to do with himself?—that is the mighty question which Mother Matter and Father Spirit discuss between themselves. Says the parent:
I bid you but be;
I have need not of prayer;
I have need of you free
As your mouths of mine air;
That my heart may be greater within me,
Beholding the fruits of me fair.
Man is the one free agent in Nature. His intelligence makes him free. Will is not directly free elsewhere in Nature; the law of Karma adjusts the encroachment of matter on the flow of Will which is the power of the spirit. Only in the human kingdom, with the birth of intelligence, Will becomes free; and thus at last Karma finds the aid of an agent independent of itself instead of a passive instrument for its compensating operations. Thus even that Law of laws offers itself to become the Servant of Man. “Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance,” says The Voice of the Silence.
All Nature, except human nature, is non-conscious though animate, sensitive and vital. The human kingdom, of all her kingdoms, has acquired intelligence, and for the rest Nature is the assemblage of the resultant factors of the diverse properties of the qualities(Gunas), and of the combinations of primitive matter. Therefore outside of her human kingdom, Nature is neither moral nor immoral, and is destitute of malice, cruelty or their reverse, affection. She is only just, and that because she is blind. Therefore with the ancients the Goddess of Justice was blind-folded. Good and evil are, truly speaking, absent in Nature and only make their appearance in the Kingdom of Man. Nature, says Mahatma K.H.,
follows only immutable laws when she either gives life and joy, or sends suffering and death, and destroys what she has created…. The real evil proceeds from human intelligence and its origin rests entirely with reasoning man who dissociates himself from Nature. Humanity then alone is the true source of evil.
In the varied transformations of evolution there is a particular stage where two opposing energies are so balanced that friction results, and the yield is a third energy which has in it the properties of both and yet it is different from either of them. This Plane of Balance is the Human Kingdom; it also is this earth. In the vast spheres of the starry-world, as in minute ones of atoms, it has its place; it manifests in the majestic march of hosts of hierarchies, as in the moral law which governs the heart of man.
We have to learn to define Man differently. In whatever corner of this ever-expanding Universe-Brahamanda, whenever Spirit-Purusha and Matter-Prakriti come to the point of equilibrium, there and then the One Life has reached its humanity, and Man-Manushya is born. In the universe Spirit and Matter, Purusha and Prakriti, each pass through the Student-stage (Brahmacharya) to male-hood and female-hood, seek each other, court and love and through marriage enter the Householder-stage, Grihastha-Ashrama, and out of that primal holy wedlock the Thinker is born; then the Father devotes himself to the instruction and guidance of the Son, while the Mother nourishes and protects him. Since the birth of the Son the parents do not live so much for each other—as they used to—but devote themselves to their progeny. The Son is superior to both his parents whose energy, centripetal and centrifugal alike, he has inherited. That is what is implied in the significant statement of The Secret Doctrine (I, 276): “Man … being a compound of the essences of all those celestial Hierarchies may succeed in making himself, as such, superior, in one sense, to any hierarchy or class, or even combination of them,” and let it be pointed out that he may also not succeed.
The whole Kosmos is guided, controlled, and animated by almost endless series of Hierarchies of sentient Beings, each having a mission to perform, and who—whether we give to them one name or another, and call them Dhyan-Chohans or Angels—are “messengers” in the sense only that they are the agents of Karmic and Cosmic Laws. They vary infinitely in their respective degrees of consciousness and intelligence; and to call them all pure Spirits without any of the earthly alloy “which time is wont to prey upon” is only to indulge in poetical fancy. For each of these Beings either was, or prepares to become, a man, if not in the present, then in a past or a coming cycle (Manvantara). They are perfected, when not incipient, men;… (S.D. I, 274-275.)
In sober truth, as just shown, every “Spirit” so-called is either a disembodied or a future man. As from the highest Archangel (Dhyan Chohan) down to the last conscious “Builder” (the inferior class of Spiritual Entities), all such are men, having lived aeons ago, in other Manvantaras, on this or other Spheres; so the inferior, semi-intelligent and non-intelligent Elementals—are all future men. That fact alone—that a Spirit is endowed with intelligence—is a proof to the Occultist that that Being must have been a man, and acquired his knowledge and intelligence throughout the human cycle. There is but one indivisible and absolute Omniscience and Intelligence in the Universe, and this thrills throughout every atom and infinitesimal point of the whole infinite Kosmos which hath no bounds, and which people call SPACE, considered independently of anything contained in it. But the first differentiation of its reflection in the manifested World is purely Spiritual, and the Beings generated in it are not endowed with a consciousness that has any relation to the one we conceive of. They can have no human consciousness or Intelligence before they have acquired such, personally and individually. This may be a mystery, yet it is a fact, in Esoteric philosophy, and a very apparent one too. (S.D. I, 277.)
The Doctrine teaches that, in order to become a divine, fully conscious god,—aye, even the highest—the Spiritual primeval INTELLIGENCES must pass through the human stage. And when we say human, this does not apply merely to our terrestrial humanity, but to the mortals that inhabit any world, i.e., to those Intelligences that have reached the appropriate equilibrium between matter and spirit, as we have now, since the middle point of the Fourth Root Race of the Fourth Round was passed. Each Entity must have won for itself the right of becoming divine, through self-experience. Hegel, the great German thinker, must have known or sensed intuitionally this truth when saying, as he did, that the Unconscious evolved the Universe only “in the hope of attaining clear self-consciousness,” of becoming, in other words, MAN; for this is also the secret meaning of the usual Purânic phrase about Brahmâ being constantly “moved by the desire to create.” … The Mind-born Sons, the Rishis, the Builders, etc., were all men—of whatever forms and shapes—in other worlds and the preceding Manvantaras.
This subject, being so very mystical, is therefore the most difficult to explain in all its details and bearings; since the whole mystery of evolutionary creation is contained in it. …every atom in the Universe has the potentiality of self-consciousness in it, and is, like the Monads of Leibnitz, a Universe in itself, and for itself. It is an atom and an angel. (S.D. I, 106-107.)
The Eternal Motion of the Great Breath creates as well as kills. It brings manifestation into being, but it also dissolves it. As a mighty wave in the shoreless Ocean of Absoluteness it arises to fall back into It and arise again, and so go on for ever and ever and ever.
Change, constant, continuous, is its one characteristic. That very characteristic gives birth to Spirit-Matter-Man but it also destroys all three—and to that destructive-regenerative process, there can be but one exception: MAN. Endowed with Will which becomes free and Intelligence which is controllable, mortal man can handle that characteristic of change, and harnessing it in his service so utilize it that he survives its rises and its falls. Otherwise man like all else is pulverized to primal ashes and to fiery mist. Such survival makes man a Master, a Maha-Atma—a God indeed. To this mysterious attainment the Gita makes reference:
Among thousands of mortals a single one perhaps strives for perfection, and among those so striving perhaps a single one knows me as I am. (Seventh Discourse.)
It is of the stupendous achievement that a hint more valuable than many a treatise comes from the Mahatma M.:
The Individuality … to run successfully its sevenfold downward and upward course has to assimilate to itself the eternal life-power residing but in the seventh [Atma] and then blend the three (fourth, fifth and seventh) [Kama, Manas and Atma] into one—the sixth [Buddhi]. Those who succeed in doing so become Buddhas, Dhyan Chohans, etc. The chief object of our struggle and initiations is to achieve this union while yet on this earth. Those who will be successful have nothing to fear of during the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. But this is a mystery.
The struggles of the human kingdom are beset with the curse of its individualistic nature. But that curse is a blessing in disguise. Individual man has to attain universal self-consciousness by following the path of responsibility. Reverence of and Reliance on the Self within, his Rex Lux, the Lord of Splendour and of Light, leads man on to the goal where the Great Cry is heard—“Aham eva param Brahman: I am verily the Supreme Brahman.” That Impersonal Principle has to be embodied by us. Human intelligence and self-consciousness make that a possibility.
While Nature aims at this and brings that mightiest of possibilities within the range of man, she moves on undisturbed, like the Ganga and the Nile, to her Ocean of Absoluteness, to empty herself in the peace of pralaya. The appointed hour of Nature!—she observes that with uttermost fidelity. The Time element of her being is crushing; it is that because it is compassionate. Nature’s superb gift to man is her most profound sacrifice and when man fails to accept it, that compassionate sacrifice assumes another aspect and puts man to aeons of pralayic sleep. Mother-Nature sings, “Sleep thou on; time will come again; what thou hast lost now of my offering will recur for thee in the hereafter.”
Nara-Man has to know himself as Narayana-God in a given cycle. Impersonality has to become embodied; Wisdom-Bodha has to incarnate in the Lord of Wisdom-Buddha in a given time. Nature or the One Life works on and on, through success when man becomes Master and through failure when men remain slaves to her gyrating cycles.
In spatial depths there exists a mysterious Principle which contains the seed of Divine Incarnations and is the potency and cause of all Avataras. That Seed is the Jewel of Jewels in all Nature. It has within it, in collectivity, the experienced realizations of all men who have become Super-Men, Mahatmas, Buddhas. In the esotericism of the Gita, Krishna, in one of His aspects, represents that Seed; in that of the Puranas it is spoken of as Maha Vishnu, which is an Impersonal Principle and not the being of a personal God. It is sometimes called the Cerebrum of Adam Kadmon in Kabalistic phraseology. Such is the Teaching.
Perfected Men or Mahatmas as a Fraternity and a Hierarchy are the positive aspect of the Law of Cycles. Such a Fraternity is in a real sense the Father aspect of the Great Breath and the rest in manifestation is Mother Nature. This Fraternity is symbolized in Buddhist esotericism as Sanghai Dag-po, the Concealed Lord, “the one merged with the Absolute.”
To become one of that Fraternity is the special opportunity and privilege which comes to man, in accordance with Karmic and cyclic law. If the Human Kingdom is the Kingdom of Balance, if this earth is the globe of balance, so is there the hour of balance for the soul of man in the course of his earthly incarnations. The plane of balance is the field of Kurukshetra. Theosophy, the Wisdom-Religion, offers that opportunity to the courageous seeker and the self-reliant man. It says to him:
Thou has to saturate thyself with pure Alaya, become as one with Nature’s Soul-Thought. At one with it thou art invincible; in separation, thou becomest the playground of Samvritti, origin of all the world’s delusions.
All is impermanent in man except the pure bright essence of Alaya. Man is its crystal ray; a beam of light immaculate within, a form of clay material upon the lower surface. That beam is thy life-guide and thy true Self, the Watcher and the silent Thinker, the victim of thy lower Self. Thy Soul cannot be hurt but through thy erring body; control and master both, and thou art safe when crossing to the nearing “Gate of Balance.”
Be of good cheer, O daring pilgrim “to the other shore.”
The Basic Law of Brotherhood
Nature and man are one in their divine consubstantiality, but each has a dual aspect—its Non-manifested and manifested. Again, both the Non-manifested and the manifested have a triple characteristic, which in the case of the former is forever concealed while in the latter the triplicity unfolds itself in manifestation. The forever concealed, primeval triune differentiation, not from, but in the ONE ABSOLUTE is therefore symbolized by 4, or the Tetraktis, in the metaphysical world. In the Indian system, the Sacred Word Aum is composed of four factors—the three letters A, U, and M and the half-metre, Ardha-Matra, for the fourth. Similarly, man is not only Atma-Buddhi and Manas but also is that which binds the immortal Triad, to the One Life, the Universal Spirit Paramatma, which enfolds all.
Metaphysically speaking, the manifested universe is triune. The Absolute Space, parentless, but parent of all, ever is; the Absolute Space, the Germ in the Root that sprouts and grows as the Tree of Evolution, ever was; the Absolute Space that is ever becoming ever will be; and these three are ever concealed as one in Absoluteness. (cf. I, 11.) Through That, in That, from That arises the metaphysical trinity of Motion, Duration and Matter, as also the psychological one of Spirit, Soul and Body. The reader is requested to note the four factors involved in these two trinities in the following from The Secret Doctrine:
The “Breath” of the One Existence is used in its application only to the spiritual aspect of Cosmogony by Archaic esotericism; otherwise, it is replaced by its equivalent in the material plane—Motion. The One Eternal Element, or element-containing Vehicle, is Space, dimensionless in every sense; co-existent with which are—endless duration, primordial (hence indestructible) matter, and motion—absolute “perpetual motion” which is the “breath” of the “One” Element. This breath, as seen, can never cease, not even during the Pralayic eternities. (I, 55.)
… Life we look upon as “the one form of existence,” manifesting in what is called matter; or, as in man, what, incorrectly separating them, we name Spirit, Soul and Matter. Matter is the vehicle for the manifestation of soul on this plane of existence, and soul is the vehicle on a higher plane for the manifestation of spirit, and these three are a trinity synthesized by Life, which pervades them all…. (I, 49.)
The one and only Macrocosmos is for ever hidden in Absoluteness. The universe in toto is itself a microcosmic projection of that one and only Macrocosmos. The study of the manifested is the study of innumerable reflections of the One Life. Every microcosmos, following its parent, projects itself, thus becoming macrocosmos to its progeny. It is necessary to understand this.
The manifested universe is called in The Secret Doctrine the Son of Necessity. Every microcosmos is a Son of Necessity. The rising of the Wave—the universe—in the Ocean of Absoluteness is under Law. Says The Secret Doctrine:
… Stepping out of the Circle of Infinity, that no man comprehendeth, Ain-Soph (the Kabalistic synonym for Parabrahm, for the Zeroana Akerne, of the Mazdeans, or for any other “UNKNOWABLE”) becomes “One”—the ECHOD, the EKA, the AHU—then he (or it) is transformed by evolution into the One in many, the Dhyani-Buddhas or the Elohim, or again the Amshaspends, his third Step being taken into generation of the flesh, or “Man.” … (I, 113.)
In the Circle of Infinity arises, under and as Law, the Circle of Necessity or finiteness. This Law has three aspects corresponding to the three in the Ever Concealed Unity—the Law of Karma (Action), of Cycles (Yugas) and of Yagna (Sacrifice-Compassion).
Under the Law of Karma beings, cosmic or human, wake up or fall asleep as cyclic processes go on, in differing periods of time (cycles), according to their acquired capacities and powers inherent in them, but the Law of Cycles runs its course evenly and uniformly, putting the universe to sleep through its manvantaric activities, awakening it to manifestation through its pralayic movements. By the Law of Yagna or Sacrifice all these beings act as builders, preservers, regenerators, giving of their own life-power to those who are in need of it, and receiving from others what they themselves require, some will-fully, others unconsciously. This threefold function of the One Law is not outside of man or the universe. It is within each.
Thus the Spiritual-man sacrifices himself for the benefit of the mental-man, as the latter for the man of flesh in whom he incarnates. Under the Law of Compensation suitable adjustments, skandhaic or personal, egoic or individual, and monadic or universal take place. To offer sacrifice and receive it and thus produce readjustment, the time-element, the due and proper season, is a necessity. The unfoldment of principle’s, cosmic or human, the growth of body, mind or soul in man or of the Kingdoms in Nature, in short, evolution generally, is dependent on the threefold function of the One Law.
Why are we what we are?—it is often asked, and the answer, because we made ourselves so, brings the sequential query—“how?” In our being we have come to this particular readjustment of cosmic principles, some of which we have assimilated and made our own, while others remain to be so assimilated; and further, only portions and aspects of some of these have been assimilated and more of their assimilation has yet to take place; this process is dependent on the activity of the Law of Yagna-sacrifice—to give to and receive from other beings. This explanation makes us enquire why we enjoy or suffer from the capacity or the limitation to offer and to accept, and to it the reply comes—The Law of Cycles: each one of us is moving in a particular age or yuga and according to the season is the fruit of our labours. Each being in the universe is a portion of Space, assimilating other portions by action (Karma) thus producing cause, and facing in time the reaction which is its effect; in this assimilation it affects and is affected by all other portions till it learns the truth of Brotherhood, of Union, nay of Unity Itself. Note the triple action of the One Law in the following:
… the one absolute, ever acting and never erring law, which proceeds on the same lines from one eternity (or Manvantara) to the other—ever furnishing an ascending scale for the manifested, or that which we call the great Illusion (Maha-Maya), but plunging Spirit deeper and deeper into materiality on the one hand, and then redeeming it through flesh and liberating it—this law, we say, uses for these purposes the Beings from other and higher planes, men, or Minds (Manus), in accordance with their Karmic exigencies. (II, 87-8.)
Thus the reader will see that the Law of laws is the Law of Brotherhood—Alaya. Its triple expression is karma, yuga, and yagna—compensation, cycles, and sacrifice. This Brotherhood includes not only man, but all Nature—Spiritual or Atmic, Intellectual or Manasic, Psychical or Kamic, and Bodily or Shariric; its unity extends beyond the human kingdom and enfolds bird and beast, shrub and tree, metal and stone, all the invisible elemental kingdoms of nature-spirits, fairies and devatas, collective hosts of archangels, shining ones and devas, and the crown of them all—Perfected Men, Mahatmas, Buddhas, Dhyanis. In its basic or upadhic formlessness Nature is coeval with Deity. Says H.P.B. in The Key to Theosophy:
When we speak of the Deity and make it identical, hence coeval, with Nature, the eternal and uncreate nature is meant, and not your aggregate of flitting shadows and finite unrealities. We leave it to the hymn-makers to call the visible sky or heaven, God’s Throne, and our earth of mud His footstool. Our DEITY is neither in a paradise, nor in a particular tree, building, or mountain; it is everywhere, in every atom of the visible as of the invisible Cosmos, in, over, and around every invisible atom and divisible molecule; for IT is the mysterious power of evolution and involution, the omnipresent, omnipotent, and even omniscient creative potentiality.
If Deity and Nature are one, so are these two one with Law. Says The Secret Doctrine, “… It is idle to speak of ‘laws arising when Deity prepares to create’ for (a) laws or rather LAW is eternal and uncreated; and (b) that Deity is Law, and vice versâ.” And it adds, “… the one eternal LAW unfolds everything in the (to be) manifested Nature …” (I, 152.)
The interplay of these three laws takes place in terms of analogy-correspondence and continuity. Deity, Nature, Law, never stops but moves on uniformly and there is neither a gap nor a chasm anywhere; all are connected in a harmonious whole. The Law of correspondence and analogy comes to the rescue of the intelligent seeker and unveils the mystery which the magic of prakriti causes. Says The Secret Doctrine:
The Worlds are built “in the likeness of older Wheels”—i.e., those that existed in preceding Manvantaras and went into Pralaya, because the LAW for the birth, growth, and decay of everything in Kosmos, from the Sun to the glow-worm in the grass, is ONE. It is an everlasting work of perfection with every new appearance, but the Substance-Matter and Forces are all one and the same. But this LAW acts on every planet through minor and varying laws…. (I, 144-5.)
Modern science also teaches that the universe is guided by Law, but in its observations exist chasms broad and deep; hence the numerous “missing links”; when modern science learns to use the law of correspondence and analogy the gaps in its knowledge will begin to disappear.
… It is a fundamental principle of the Occult philosophy, this same homogeneity of matter and immutability of natural laws, which are so much insisted upon by materialism; but that unity rests upon the inseparability of Spirit from matter, and, if the two are once divorced, the whole Kosmos would fall back into chaos and non-being…. (I, 640.)
… evolution—viewed from its several standpoints—i.e., as the universal and the individualized Monad; and the chief aspects of the Evolving Energy, after differentiation—the purely Spiritual, the Intellectual, the Psychic and the Physical—may be thus formulated as an invariable law; a descent of Spirit into Matter, equivalent to an ascent in physical evolution; a re-ascent from the depths of materiality towards its status quo ante, with a corresponding dissipation of concrete form and substance up to the LAYA state, or what Science calls “the zero-point,” and beyond. (I, 620.)
The Key to the use and application of the law of analogy and correspondence lies in an understanding of the real Nature of Brotherhood and its triple expression referred to above.
The first idea which has to be grasped in reference to the law of correspondence-analogy is that there is no qualitative difference between Macro and Micro Cosmos. Every creature in every kingdom is a microcosmic reflection of the One Life—the Macrocosm. Atoms, Monads, Gods are but the reflected images of and in the One Life. The difference is a difference of degree but not of kind—the same One Life reflects itself in and with varied strength thus producing differentiation, the endless variety of Nature. Nature is varied because Life is One.
The second idea to understand is that this difference is only seeming—is an ever-changing appearance. Those who perceive its apparent nature call it illusory or mayavic, but it is intensely real to all who have not caught a glimpse of its illusionary Nature. What makes this illusion? The One Life in its perpetual motion, acting and re-acting, or causing effects, produces cycles—circles, ellipses, epicycles—Yugas, Wheels or Rings of Time. This causal-effectual-cyclic movement begets permutations and combinations. Thus there is the original Motion of the on-sweep of the One Life—the Great Breath of Brahma—which makes every point of space different from every other point and these reacting on one another work the mighty magic of prakriti. Thus there arises Nature’s manifoldness. The three aspects of the One Life casting their own reflections become six and with the original parent make the First Septenate. Therefore there are seven Archangels, Sapta-Rishis, seven Ameshaspentas in exoteric religions, the souls or units of seven hierarchies in esotericism. Each of these has a seven-fold consciousness functioning in seven-fold matter and therefore there are seven forces or faculties resulting from the contact of consciousness and matter. He who knows himself above the triple attributes or gunas of matter,—inertia, mobility, rhythm, or tamas, rajas, sattva—above the triple aspects or faculties of consciousness—thought, feeling, will, or gnyan, ichcha, kriya—knows himself as the One Life.
The third idea to get hold of is this: in differentiated Nature the differences are in terms of what has become patent and of what still remains latent. As the flow of the One Life progresses, its aspects, faculties, characteristics, show themselves. These unfold in an unbroken continuity, ever growing, what is latent in one kingdom today becoming patent in another kingdom tomorrow. The variety of Nature should be examined in terms of its latency and its patency—one belongs to the aspect of the future, as the other to that of the past and the two come together in that of the present. And each creature of Nature, which is part and parcel of it, sees the latency and patency of every other creature in terms of its own. According to what has unfolded in us of the Mother Nature or the One Life as also what lies dormant and asleep, is our power to perceive, to understand, to serve all other creatures in all kingdoms.
This brings us to the fourth idea: the One Life impregnates the entire manifested universe, as the sunlight falls on the just and unjust alike. A perfect reflection is a veritable reproduction. Sunlight falls over the entire surface of a lake but reproduces itself as a reflected image in a particular spot of the quiet lake to each observer. The One Life is becoming patent or is reflecting itself in and from the different kingdoms differently. It casts its perfect shadow, or it causes its exact reproduction in the human kingdom only. Man is the photograph of the universe—the Microprosopus of the One Life which is the Macroprosopus. In man alone the primal pair of opposites, with its sixfold manifestation, combines to make him the sevenfold being he is. It is in this fact of the unique nature of man which The Secret Doctrine unveils that we have to look for the understanding of its two ugly distortions. We are all aware of the Egocentric tendency of all mankind; this is a distorted shadow of the reality of the teaching we are considering. For the same reason that the stage of man is unique in Nature, is this earth of ours—the fourth globe in the planetary chain—the real field of battle—the true Kurukshetra. This idea again was distorted by early European astronomers, under the influence of the church, and the geocentric solar system was preached. Pythagoras and his Teachers of the East knew and taught the heliocentric system astronomically, as well as the doctrine of Man being an exact miniature copy of Nature and the One Life, illusory as body, reality as Spirit.
It is this great fact of perfected man being a complete reproduction, a perfect reflection of Nature, of his being the true microcosm of the Macrocosm, of the real identity which subsists between them, that enables him to perceive, understand and serve the Law of Brotherhood. In knowing himself he knows the universe; what is latent in him is also dormant in nature; what manifests in him brings him in contact and unison with what has manifested in Nature. Perception of the Universe by the Man of Sense, understanding of the Universe by the Man of Mind, service of the Universe by the Man of Spirit are interrelated. Man lives in a triple universe—tri-loka—because he is triple; he affects it in a sevenfold manner because he is septenary; but he perceives the triple universe in a sevenfold way partially, therefore understands it partially, therefore serves partially—is only a half brother to Nature. But in him lies the opportunity to grow and become an Elder Brother in the vast family of Nature. To rise to that glorious height is difficult in our age:
In our race and generation the one “temple in the Universe” is in rare cases—within us; but our body and mind have been too defiled by both Sin and Science to be outwardly now anything better than a fane of iniquity and error…. (II, 651.)
But what men have done, that man can do—control and pacify the warring younger brothers within himself, establish the brotherhood in his own bodily, psychic, mental and spiritual natures and thus become the servant of the Great Mother. The Secret Doctrine has described in a memorable passage (I, 268) the sequential unfoldment of the powers and aspects of the One Life and the place of Man in that scheme to which the readers’ attention is specially called and from which a short extract follows:
Starting upon the long journey immaculate; descending more and more into sinful matter, and having connected himself with every atom in manifested Space —the Pilgrim, having struggled through and suffered in every form of life and being, is only at the bottom of the valley of matter, and half through his cycle, when he has identified himself with collective Humanity. . . .
The Law of Karma
The Universe of Law is accepted as a basic truth by all. The most superstitious slave of priestcraft, the believer in chance, coincidence, the “psychological moment,” fatalism, and also the most abject materialist reared by modern science—all avow that the universe, physical, moral, mental, is—must be—governed by law. Law, however, assumes the aspect of a whimsical and mysterious personal god with some; with others, is locked up in the power of thought exerted by human free will; is the code of the partly discovered and the partly to be discovered “facts” of modern “exact science” with a third class. The truth that the “infallible laws” of materialistic science break down in conflict with moral problems does not disturb the upholders of those “laws”; on the other hand the advance of knowledge which has overthrown the “revealed will of God” makes little difference to the blind believer in the non-existent “Almighty.”
That all humanity feels the presence of an unfailing power which works incessantly, and unmistakably producing results, is in itself the evidence that the universe is governed by Law. Further, in the material world, cause and effect have been related so often and with such unfailing resultants that instinctive human belief has taken a more substantial form and has become an intellectual belief with many. The nefarious influence of exoteric creeds and religions is so great that in spite of that intellectual perception, men and women fail to apply its lessons when confronted with moral problems and perplexities. For example, the intelligent person who utilizes the knowledge of medicine to cure a bodily ailment will forget that every cause is related to its effect and pray to the mysterious god who “in his infinite wisdom called home through the gateway of death” the ailing friend or relative!
Since the days of Plato the correct understanding of the laws of Nature has been obscured till their very existence has become forgotten and unknown. The tyranny of the church drove men to unbelief and modern science gradually uncovered the fact that the laws of nature are infallible while the gods of the temples, the churches and the mosques are fragile and breakable idols. It was, however, left to Theosophy to proclaim the interdependence of the worlds of Spirit and Matter, to assign to the soul its proper place, from which both religion and science had dethroned it, and to give to the body its right position in the scheme of things—the lowest, most shadowy and transient of coverings, in which the immortal soul of man is sheathed, but which can be transformed into a veritable Temple of God, i.e., of Man who has reached the Stature of Perfection. Through the channel of the greatest Theosophist of the modern age was once again the message given:
… it suffices to ask these pretended agents of the three gods of the Trinity, how they reconcile it with the most rudimental notions of equity, that if the power to pardon sinners for sinning has been given them, they did not also receive the ability by miracle to obliterate the wrongs done against person or property. Let them restore life to the murdered; honor to the dishonored; property to those who have been wronged, and force the scales of human and divine justice to recover their equilibrium. Then we may talk of their divine commission to bind and loose. Let them say, if they can do this. Hitherto the world has received nothing but sophistry—believed on blind faith; we ask palpable, tangible evidence of their God’s justice and mercy. But all are silent; no answer, no reply, and still the inexorable unerring Law of Compensation proceeds on its unswerving path. If we but watch its progress, we will find that it ignores all creeds, shows no preferences, but its sunlight and its thunderbolts fall alike on heathen and Christian. No absolution can shield the latter when guilty, no anathema hurt the former when innocent.
Away from us such an insulting conception of divine justice as that preached by priests on their own authority. It is fit only for cowards and criminals! If they are backed by a whole array of Fathers and Churchmen, we are supported by the greatest of all authorities, an instinctive and reverential sense of the everlasting and ever-present law of harmony and justice. (Isis Unveiled, II, 544-45.)
… There is no “chance” in Nature, wherein everything is mathematically co-ordinate and mutually related in its units. “Chance,” says Coleridge, “is but the pseudonym of God (or Nature), for those particular cases which He does not choose to subscribe openly with His sign manual.” Replace the word “God” by that of Karma and it will become an Eastern axiom…. (The Secret Doctrine, I, 653.)
… we consider it [Karma] as the Ultimate Law of the Universe, the source, origin and fount of all other laws which exist throughout Nature. Karma is the unerring law which adjusts effect to cause, on the physical, mental and spiritual planes of being. As no cause remains without its due effect from greatest to least, from a cosmic disturbance down to the movement of your hand, and as like produces like, Karma is that unseen and unknown law which adjusts wisely, intelligently and equitablyeach effect to its cause, tracing the latter back to its producer. Though itself unknowable, its action is perceivable. (The Key to Theosophy, p. 201.)
… Learn that no efforts, not the smallest—whether in right or wrong direction—can vanish from the world of causes. E’en wasted smoke remains not traceless. “A harsh word uttered in past lives is not destroyed, but ever comes again.” … (The Voice of the Silence, p. 37.)
Man is a triple being—he is the energizing spiritual Monad, plus the guiding intelligence (Manas), plus the gyrations of Matter (Karma). The impartite One Self or Atman energizes the Self-conscious Intelligence to gain knowledge and experience, to garner wisdom out of it, and thus to master the universe of matter. This triple work of (1) mastering matter, (2) by understanding its laws, so that (3) the march of the Monad continues, is neither the work of a designing God nor the result of a designless concurrence of atoms, as theology and science assert. The Secret Doctrine says:
The ONE LIFE is closely related to the one law which governs the World of Being—KARMA. Exoterically, this is simply and literally “action,” or rather an “effect-producing cause.” Esoterically it is quite a different thing in its far-fetching moral effects. It is the unerring LAW OF RETRIBUTION. To say to those ignorant of the real significance, characteristics and awful importance of this eternal immutable law, that no theological definition of a personal deity can give an idea of this impersonal, yet ever present and active Principle, is to speak in vain. Nor can it be called Providence. For Providence, with the Theists (the Christian Protestants, at any rate), rejoices in a personal male gender, while with the Roman Catholics it is a female potency, “Divine Providence tempers His blessings to secure their better effects,” Wogan tells us. Indeed “He” tempers them, which Karma—a sexless principle—does not. (I, 634.)
… This Law—whether Conscious or Unconscious—predestines nothing and no one. It exists from and in Eternity, truly, for it is ETERNITY itself; and as such, since no act can be co-equal with eternity, it cannot be said to act, for it is ACTION itself. … Karma creates nothing, nor does it design. It is man who plans and creates causes, and Karmic law adjusts the effects; which adjustment is not an act, but universal harmony, tending ever to resume its original position, … KARMA is an Absolute and Eternal law in the World of manifestation; and as there can only be one Absolute, as One eternal ever present Cause, believers in Karma cannot be regarded as Atheists or materialists—still less as fatalists: for Karma is one with the Unknowable, of which it is an aspect in its effects in the phenomenal world. (II, 304-6.)
Karma is Action and, from the standpoint of the metaphysician as well as that of the student of Occultism and Esotericism, that Action is devoid of any personality. Karma gives birth to beings but its movement is sui generis, and it is above its creatures. Its intelligence is like that of a river—its waters find their own levels, make their own channels, and, however weary their journey, they wind surely to their destined sea. Its justice “knows not wrath nor pardon,” and is exhaustless in nature. Says The Secret Doctrine:“Karma is a mysterious law and no respecter of persons.”
Karma is the perpetual motion in the Absolute and its character is dual—cause and effect, Spirit-Matter, the primal pair in the manifestation of the One Life. There is no such thing as a causeless effect; there is no effect which does not become in its turn a cause; no Spirit without Matter and no Matter without Spirit. Thus we come to the third element of Karma—Fohat, the relation between Cause and Effect, Spirit and Matter. This is the totality of the beings which compose “Nature.” Says The Secret Doctrine:
The whole order of nature evinces a progressive march towards a higher life. There is design in the action of the seemingly blindest forces. The whole process of evolution with its endless adaptations is a proof of this. The immutable laws that weed out the weak and feeble species, to make room for the strong, and which ensure the “survival of the fittest,” though so cruel in their immediate action—all are working toward the grand end. The very fact that adaptations do occur, that the fittest do survive in the struggle for existence, shows that what is called “unconscious Nature” is in reality an aggregate of forces manipulated by semi-intelligent beings (Elementals) guided by High Planetary Spirits (Dhyan Chohans), whose collective aggregate forms the manifested verbum of the unmanifested LOGOS, and constitutes at one and the same time the MIND of the Universe and its immutable LAW. (I, 277-8.)
The “Great Breath” in which the triune differentiation lies concealed in latency is the Law of Attraction-Repulsion, of Cause-Effect. As its ideative or spiritual tendency impels, through its Fohatic or energic nature (daiviprakriti), its substantial or material nature (mulaprakriti), manifestation (manvantara) occurs; when it withdraws the impulsion, the material nature is absorbed, and pralaya ensues.
In the long series the same law produces reflections of reflections and shadows of shadows—the innumerable sub-manvantaras, followed by equally innumerable sub-pralayas. Sleep, death, pralaya of man and of nature, materially, mentally and spiritually, is by and under the one unvarying law of attraction-repulsion, of cause-effect, which is called the Law of Karma or Compensation.
By this Power sidereal universes, each with its many solar systems and each of the latter with its planets, come into being; they all are held together in their movements by this Power inherent in them; this same Power will in process of time and motion bring them back to a higher homogeneity. (Cf. The Secret Doctrine, I, 101-103.)
The Kingdoms of Nature on earth are formed by this Law of the triple nature of the One Life—elementals and elements, vegetables and animals, and ultimately Man—with his unique opportunity and possibility.
Thus Monads or Atma-Buddhis of varied degrees of unfoldment gain for themselves the power of an independent conscious existence; having passed through every elemental form, each has acquired individuality, the root, seed, or germ of self-consciousness which sprouts, grows and evolves into the state or condition of Self-consciousness. This is the axial point in evolution, the arrival at the human stage.
… It is the sphere of final evolutionary adjustments, the world of Karmic scales, the Hall of Justice, where the balance is struck which determines the future course of the Monad during the remainder of its incarnations in the cycle…. (I, 182.)
… Evolution is an eternal cycle of becoming, we are taught; and nature never leaves an atom unused. Moreover, from the beginning of the Round, all in Nature tends to become Man. All the impulses of the dual, centripetal and centrifugal Force are directed towards one point—MAN…. (II, 170.)
This individual or entity in whom the germ of self-consciousness was unfolding is a “good rupa,” which “could stand, walk, run, recline and fly. Yet it was still but a chhaya, a shadow with no sense,” says the Stanza. (II, 102.)
… It has already been stated that, to become a Self-Conscious Spirit, the latter must pass through every cycle of being, culminating in its highest point on earth in Man. Spirit per se is an unconscious negative ABSTRACTION. Its purity is inherent, not acquired by merit; hence, as already shown, to become the highest Dhyan Chohan it is necessary for each Ego to attain to full self-consciousness as a human, i.e., conscious Being, which is synthesized for us in Man…. (I, 192-3.)
The process which is so graphically described by Mr. Judge as the lighting up of Manas follows. The Secret Doctrine repeatedly speaks of the gift of the Rebels or Fallen Angels—the Luciferian Host. These “mind-born sons of Brahma” project their radiant shadow or spark and give birth to the future inner man, who is described as the Conscious Entity; this radiance projected “later on becomes the Human Higher Self owing to the personal exertion of the individual;…” (II, 95.)
… This “Conscious Entity” Occultism says, comes from, nay, in many cases is, the very entire essence and esse of the high Intelligences condemned, by the undeviating law of Karmic evolution, to reincarnate in this manvantara. (II, 248.)
… Rudimentary man … becomes the perfect man … when, with the development of “Spiritual fire,” … he acquires from his inner Self, or Instructor, the Wisdom of Self-Consciousness, which he does not possess in the beginning…. (II, 113.)
Thus the Law of Karma or Action comes into a new phase in its operation. Its blind intelligence adjusts the disturbed equilibrium in kingdoms other than human. The relation between Cause and Effect is neither accidental, nor the result of deliberate conscious planning, but, so to speak, happens. In what happens, however, there is not an error or a mistake, nor any miscarriage of any kind whatever, for the Fohatic Will works without the aid of reasoning intelligence. Hence is there no moral “evil” in non-human kingdoms.
… There is no Devil, no Evil, outside mankind to produce a Devil. Evil is a necessity in, and one of the supporters of the manifested universe. It is a necessity for progress and evolution, as night is necessary for the production of Day, and Death for that of Life—that man may live for ever. (II, 389.)
If man perceives evil, cruelty and wastage—in short, Nature red in tooth and claw—it is because man is ignorant of the Fohatic aspect of the One Life. Human mind views the activity of consciousness in other forms in terms of its own powers and knowledge, imposes its own limitations and also its modes and processes on other grades of conscious life. The Emancipated Soul of the Master, through a definite development of his self-conscious intelligent nature, does not see the universe as mortals do who cast their own gigantic shadow on the screen of the universe and behold it as a glorified reflection of themselves. The Mahatma sees the universe as it is; it is reflected in Him; He is it; as an ancient verse has it, He has become “the Supreme Purusha who pervades the universe of the moving and the non-moving and whose form is a sphere.”
The attainment of this master-hood is possible for every son of man. This possibility lies in the right use of Karma. With the birth of self-consciousness cause and effect do not “happen”; Will is now joined to Intelligence; instinct and impulse have made room for reason. The creative power of Will has become active, when hitherto it worked passively. Having received the gift of the gods, the Creative Fire of Intelligence, man comes under a new phase of Karmic operations: that creative fire has to energize him, to induce him, to Action or Karma. Now, man has to find ways and means, to devise efforts, to move from within. Hence the following:
… The pivotal doctrine of the Esoteric philosophy admits no privileges or special gifts in man, save those won by his own Ego through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations…. (I, 17.)
… there are no such privileged beings in the universe, whether in our or in other systems, in the outer or the inner worlds, as the angels of the Western Religion and the Judean. A Dhyan Chohan has to become one; he cannot be born or appear suddenly on the plane of life as a full-blown angel. … Gods, created as such, would evince no personal merit in being gods. Such a class of beings, perfect only by virtue of the special immaculate nature inherent in them, in the face of suffering and struggling humanity, and even of the lower creation, would be the symbol of an eternal injustice quite Satanic in character, an ever present crime. It is an anomaly and an impossibility in Nature…. (I, 221-222.)
This is the martyrdom of Self-conscious existence with which the problem of human evil and human suffering—one the cause, the other the effect—is related. Buddhi per se is a passive and latent principle, and only in conjunction with Manasic Self-consciousness it becomes the Higher Self in Man. (Cf. The Secret Doctrine, II, 231.) To live the Religion of Responsibility—the one and only true religion for any man—one has to become convinced of the existence of a personal spiritual entity within the personal physical man. He has to recognize that there are external and internal conditions, which affect the determination of his will upon his actions. Further, he must reject fatalism which implies a blind course of some still blinder power, and perceive the fact that from birth to death he is weaving, thread by thread around himself, his own destiny, as a spider does his cobweb.
The conscious and will-full actor is Man. As such he is at the starting of a new path of evolution. Action or Karma guided by intelligence and energized by will is his special prerogative. The indulgence and use of it begets the sense of duty in him. Dharma,which is the characteristic property on the plane of effects in non-human kingdoms, becomes the sense of duty. When in the progress of evolution through the performance of duty, man comes to glimpse that self-consciousness means not the consciousness of one’s self but that of the One Self, dharma assumes for him the still higher phase of yagna or sacrifice. Performance of one’s own duty leads to family-dharma, to nation-dharma, to race-dharma with their respective virtues of protection, patriotism, humanitarianism—the giving of one’s self to others. Thus the human soul grows. It will be seen that our individual Karma affects and is affected by family, nation and race Karma. Causes generated by a group of individuals, and in which all of them have concern, because of their complex nature, take a longer period of time to produce their due effects. Thus cycles are formed in which reactions take place to previous actions, and a return of effects to the centre of causation marks the completion. Hence the human soul has to free itself not only from cycles of individual Karma but also of group Karma. Freedom, salvation, liberation, mukti, is dependent on the knowledge of the workings of cycles. There are voluntary incarnations and avataras of emancipated beings as there are Karmic returns of nirvanees of long ago. When through the knowledge of the Law of Cycles and Yugas an individual learns to apply the Law of Sacrifice and Yagna to his own growth he acquires the true virtues of tyaga-renunciation and vairagya-dispassion; he knows himself not as one of the many who perform action but as the One Actor. In the Esotericism of the Bhagavad-Gita this is called Krishna-yoga.
Thus there are three stages of the path of the Human Soul—(1) the living of his individual life through and till the payment of debt incurred by himself; (2) the living of his corporate life through and till the payment of debt incurred by him and all those souls he directly contacted, without shouldering the burden of universal suffering; (3) the living of his universal life through all manifested Nature. In the first two instances the Intelligence is drawn into the vortex of evolution caused by cycles. In the third the Individual remains the Servant and therefore the Master of the revolving wheel of time. Therefore it is that we have (1) Pratyeka Buddhas or Buddhas of Selfishness, (2) Buddhas of Liberation and (3) Buddhas of Renunciation to whom reference is made in The Voice of the Silence.
Theosophy advocates the Great Path of Renunciation. The discipline of the Path lies through self-learning, self-correction, self-realization and self-expression; to educate, to energize ourselves, so that ultimately we come to know ourselves as the One Self-Actor whose service is Perpetual. In the Bhagavad-Gita this path of Karma, which sets man free from the bondage of Karma, is fully taught. Enough for our purpose to quote a few words:
… All actions are effected by the qualities of nature. The man deluded by ignorance thinks, ‘I am the actor.’ But he, O strong-armed one! who is acquainted with the nature of the two distinctions of cause and effect, knowing that the qualities act only in the qualities, and that the Self is distinct from them, is not attached in action. (p. 26.)
Five thousand years after Krishna repeated these words on the same battlefield of Kurukshetra, H.P.B. once again spoke them thus in The Voice of the Silence (p. 55-6):
Thou hast to be prepared to answer Dharma, the stern law, whose voice will ask thee at thy first, at thy initial step:
“Hast thou complied with all the rules, O thou of lofty hopes?
“Hast thou attuned thy heart and mind to the great mind and heart of all mankind? For as the sacred River’s roaring voice whereby all Nature-sounds are echoed back, so must the heart of him ‘who in the stream would enter’, thrill in response to every sigh and thought of all that lives and breathes”.
The Law of Cycles
The illusory nature of time is the commonest of human experiences. The man in the street is aware of the fact that some hours of his life are longer than other hours; some fortnights pass like a day, while some moments seem an eternity. Reflection on these factors will enable the student to draw two conclusions (1) beyond the illusion of time there is a Reality; (2) the illusion of time is caused by man himself. That which underlies every passing moment and endures for ever though millennium follow millennium cannot but be the One Reality. Says The Secret Doctrine:
Time is only an illusion produced by the succession of our states of consciousness as we travel through eternal duration, and it does not exist where no consciousness exists in which the illusion can be produced; but “lies asleep.” The present is only a mathematical line which divides that part of eternal duration which we call the future, from that part which we call the past. Nothing on earth has real duration, for nothing remains without change—or the same—for the billionth part of a second; and the sensation we have of the actuality of the division of “time” known as the present, comes from the blurring of that momentary glimpse, or succession of glimpses, of things that our senses give us, as those things pass from the region of ideals which we call the future, to the region of memories that we name the past…. (I, 37.)
… Our ideas, in short, on duration and time are all derived from our sensations according to the laws of Association. Inextricably bound up with the relativity of human knowledge, they nevertheless can have no existence except in the experience of the individual ego, and perish when its evolutionary march dispels the Maya of phenomenal existence. What is Time, for instance, but the panoramic succession of our states of consciousness? In the words of a Master, “I feel irritated at having to use these three clumsy words—Past, Present, and Future—miserable concepts of the objective phases of the subjective whole, they are about as ill-adapted for the purpose as an axe for fine carving.” … (I, 43-44.)
Time, like everything else in manifestation, is triune. (Cf. The Secret Doctrine, I, 19.) The three aspects of Time are Past, Present and Future. The present hour, day, life, manvantara, is caused by the past and itself is the cause of the future cycles. The anticipation of the future makes us work in the present in terms of the memory of the past. Memory-gnyan is of the past; anticipation-ichcha is of the future; these two are linked by the active kriya-present. We think we are living in the past; we imagine we are living in the future; we believe we are living in the present—while as a matter of fact, we are living in the Eternal Now and know it not.
… For, in the words of a Sage, known only to a few Occultists:— “THE PRESENT IS THE CHILD OF THE PAST; THE FUTURE, THE BEGOTTEN OF THE PRESENT. AND YET, O PRESENT MOMENT! KNOWEST THOU NOT THAT THOU HAST NO PARENT, NOR CANST THOU HAVE A CHILD; THAT THOU ART EVER BEGETTING BUT THYSELF? BEFORE THOU HAST EVEN BEGUN TO SAY ‘I AM THE PROGENY OF THE DEPARTED MOMENT, THE CHILD OF THE PAST,’ THOU HAST BECOME THAT PAST ITSELF. BEFORE THOU UTTEREST THE LAST SYLLABLE,BEHOLD! THOU ART NO MORE THE PRESENT BUT VERILY THAT FUTURE. THUS, ARE THE PAST, THE PRESENT, AND THE FUTURE, THE EVER-LIVING TRINITY IN ONE—THE MAHAMAYA OF THE ABSOLUTE IS.” (II, 446.)
The illusion of time is within our own complex constitution. We ourselves are the makers of cycles—time-limits; the cycles of time run their course within ourselves; the circulation of blood in the human body is a cyclic process; the heart-beat and the pulse-beat are cyclic; cravings of the appetites and their satisfaction are cyclic; sickness and convalescence are cyclic; sleep and waking are cyclic; so are birth and death; prenatal life is cyclic; life on earth is cyclic—the four ashrama-stages, of (1) student-brahmacharya, (2) householder-grihashta, (3) contemplator-vanaprastha and (4) active altruist-sannyasin, were the device of the wise ancients who utilized the cyclic laws by making proper use of the four seasons of the human incarnation, which wise arrangement our civilization has set at nought. According to the teachings of the esoteric science, the commonly used definition for the age of man —”three score years and ten”—bespeaks an inner truth. The seventy years from one point of view indicates the perfect cycle for the development of the mahatmic being in seven decades in every new incarnation, which at a higher phase of development produces the unfoldment of the tenfold Dhyanic-avatara in cycles of seven years each. The same seventy year cycle works for the present stage of human evolution thus: the period is divided into halves, one of birth and growth, the other of decay and death. Each half is further divided into five periods of seven years each: (1) Birth of the human body, (2) the taking charge of his body by the Egoic consciousness at the age of seven, (3) the kamic change which matures the boy or the girl at fourteen, (4) the manasic fecundation which makes twenty-one the age of discrimination, (5) the spiritual unfoldment resulting from experience and suffering from the earlier stages at twenty-eight. Then the return of the cycle, also in five periods but in the reverse order, during which effectual maturing can take place: thus between thirty-five and forty-two the unfolded spirituality (on the corresponding cycle of the first half,i.e., between twenty-eight and thirty-five) is matured and perfected, and so on till the second childhood of innocence but not of ignorance, child-like but not childish, is shown forth between sixty-three and seventy. Just as the four stages of life are not observed by our civilization, just as there is caste-confusion in this Kali-yuga, so also is there dislocation, through ignorance, of the law above referred to, in our modern days, to the grave disadvantage of the individual and therefore to the race as a whole. In the light of what is said above, the student’s attention is called to the extracts from The Secret Doctrine which now follow:
When the Western Orientalists have mastered the real meaning of the Rig Vedic divisions of the World—the two-fold, three-fold, six and seven-fold, and especially the nine-fold division, the mystery of the cyclic divisions applied to heaven and earth, gods and men, will become clearer to them than it is now. … more than one physician has stood aghast at the periodicalseptenary return of the cycles in the rise and fall of various complaints, and naturalists have felt themselves at an utter loss to explain this law…. (II, 622.)
To demonstrate more clearly the seven in Nature, it may be added that not only does the number seven govern the periodicity of the phenomena of life, but that it is also found dominating the series of chemical elements, and equally paramount in the world of sound and in that of colour as revealed to us by the spectroscope…. (II, 627.)
Lest there be any misunderstanding, let it be noted that these periods are not arbitrary. There are children who are born before the nine-month period assigned to gestation is over, which means that for them the functions of that period are accomplished quicker. Similarly there are egos who take charge of their bodies before seven and others after; there are boys and girls who mature before or after fourteen and so on; men and women die before or live longer than their seventieth year. What is necessary for us to understand is the fact that each human incarnation is a cycle of ten stages, five on the ascending and five on the declining arc.
All this will clearly show, let us hope, that the Law of Cycles operates within man. Both cause and effect are psychological processes in the consciousness of the being and the period entailed forms a cycle in itself. Thus Kalpas are divided and sub-divided to the minutest divisions on the one hand, while on the other they multiply and expand till eternity itself is embraced. “Being is an endless cycle within the one absolute eternity, wherein move numberless inner cycles finite and conditioned.” (I, 221.)
These many cycles are interlaced, so that chemical changes in a molecule affect the physical cosmos as a whole and vice versa;the movements of the heavenly bodies have their reflections on earth and on the activity of the human jiv-atmas. In Isis Unveiled we are given a picture of the interlaced cycles which form the Great Circle:
… An Eastern artist has attempted to give pictorial expression to the kabalistic doctrine of the cycles. The picture covers a whole inner wall of a subterranean temple in the neighborhood of a great Buddhistic pagoda, and is strikingly suggestive. Let us attempt to convey some idea of the design, as we recall it.
Imagine a given point in space as the primordial one; then with compasses draw a circle around this point; where the beginning and the end unite together, emanation and reabsorption meet. The circle itself is composed of innumerable smaller circles, like the rings of a bracelet, and each of these minor rings forms the belt of the goddess which represents that sphere. As the curve of the arc approaches the ultimate point of the semi-circle—the nadir of the grand cycle—at which is placed our planet by the mystical painter, the face of each successive goddess becomes more dark and hideous than European imagination is able to conceive. Every belt is covered with the representations of plants, animals, and human beings, belonging to the fauna, flora, and anthropology of that particular sphere. There is a certain distance between each of the spheres, purposely marked; for, after the accomplishment of the circles through various transmigrations, the soul is allowed a time of temporary nirvana, during which space of time the atma loses all remembrance of past sorrows. The intermediate ethereal space is filled with strange beings. Those between the highest ether and the earth below are the creatures of a “middle nature;” nature-spirits, or, as the kabalists term it sometimes, the elementary.
This picture is either a copy of the one described to posterity by Berosus, the priest of the temple of Belus, at Babylon, or the original. We leave it to the shrewdness of the modern archæologist to decide…. (I, 348-49.)
To enable us to understand the interrelationship between man and the solar universe in which he lives and of which he is a part, let us consider—without going into particulars—the correspondence between the movements of both.
Our earth as a planet of this solar system has three movements—it rotates on its own axis, completing it in 24 hours; it revolves around the sun, completing it in 365 days; it participates in the movement of the whole solar system as it goes through the sidereal cycle of a little over 25,800 years.
The diurnal cycle may be regarded as corresponding to the daily experiences of the lower personal self. The routine of waking and sleeping is, of all of them, the most fixed for the human body, which has to be fed, exercised, cleansed periodically. Habits may vary but the sleep and waking periods are almost the same for same classes of human intelligences. The weeks of seven days, each forming the Lunar and the Solar months, affect the personality. Just as tides and ebbs of the ocean on earth are affected by the movements of the moon, so is our lunar body affected by the lunar cycle. Then there are the lunar and the solar years, with their seasons. The yearly cycle may be regarded as corresponding with one incarnation of the Individual Ego, every new birth being analogous to a new year. Lastly there is the sidereal cycle which may be regarded as corresponding to the whole cycle of evolution of the human jivatma. These physical cycles are reflections of psychological cycles. In this connection we might profitably extract from The Secret Doctrine its reference to the knowledge of the ancient Egyptians on the subject:
They had it; and it is on this “knowledge” that the programme of the MYSTERIES and of the series of Initiations was based: thence, the construction of the Pyramids, the everlasting record and the indestructible symbol of these Mysteries and Initiations on Earth, as the courses of the stars are in Heaven. The cycle of Initiation was a reproduction in miniature of that great series of Cosmic changes to which astronomers have given the name of tropical or sidereal year. Just as, at the close of the cycle of the sidereal year [25,868 years], the heavenly bodies return to the same relative positions as they occupied at its outset, so at the close of the cycle of Initiation the inner man has regained the pristine state of divine purity and knowledge from which he set out on his cycle of terrestrial incarnation.
Moses, an Initiate into the Egyptian Mystagogy, based the religious mysteries of the new nation which he created, upon the same abstract formula derived from this sidereal cycle, which he symbolised under the form and measurements of the tabernacle, that he is supposed to have constructed in the wilderness. On these data, the later Jewish High Priests constructed the allegory of Solomon’s Temple—a building which never had a real existence, any more than had King Solomon himself, who is simply, and as much a solar myth as is the still later Hiram Abif, of the Masons, as Ragon has well demonstrated. Thus, if the measurements of this allegorical temple, the symbol of the cycle of Initiation, coincide with those of the Great Pyramid, it is due to the fact that the former were derived from the latter through the Tabernacle of Moses. (I, 314-15.)
How analogous this theory is to the law of planetary motion, which causes the individual orbs to rotate on their axes; the several systems to move around their respective suns; and the whole stellar host to follow a common path around a common centre. Life and death, light and darkness, day and night on the planet, as it turns about its axis and traverses the zodiacal circle representing the lesser and the greater cycles. Remember the Hermetic axiom: “As above, so below; as in heaven, so on earth.” (Isis Unveiled, I, 294.)
Humanity is made up of individual units. If the Law of Cycles operates in reference to individuals, it equally works for groups: the tribe-races, family-races, sub-races, root-races, globe-rings, rounds, planetary-chains, solar-systems, sidereal-systems, are “the innumerable small circles” which compose the one Great Circle of the Universe referred to in that wondrous picture described in the extract from Isis Unveiled given above. From the same great book come the following:
They divided the interminable periods of human existence on this planet into cycles, during each of which mankind gradually reached the culminating point of highest civilization and gradually relapsed into abject barbarism. (I, 5.) … These cycles,according to the Chaldean philosophy, do not embrace all mankind at one and the same time…. (I, 6.)
… Plato divides the intellectual progress of the universe during every cycle into fertile and barren periods. In the sublunary regions, the spheres of the various elements remain eternally in perfect harmony with the divine nature, he says; “but their parts,” owing to a too close proximity to earth, and their commingling with the earthly (which is matter, and therefore the realm of evil), “are sometimes according, and sometimes contrary to (divine) nature.” When those circulations … in the universal ether which contains in itself every element, take place in harmony with the divine spirit, our earth and everything pertaining to it enjoys a fertile period. … But during the barren periods … the spiritual sight of the majority of mankind is so blinded as to lose every notion of the superior powers of its own divine spirit…. (I, 247.)
Applying the law of correspondence-analogy we can conceive that the Karmic Cycle of the human kingdom on earth has its rotatory, revolutionary and sidereal sub-cycles, under which (a) one class of self-conscious intelligences is evolving by constant reincarnations; (b) a second class of beings, coming only on the crestwave of human civilizations, is the revivifier of the innate ideas which are to be embodied by the race as a whole, as cycles run their course; (c) a third class who are the great Avatara-Incarnations who strike the key-note of an opening Cycle of Construction on the eve of earthly, intellectual or ethical cataclysms resulting from the activity of the Cycle of Destruction. The Secret Doctrine, Volume I, quotes and comments (pp. 640-41) on the following very significant passage in Isis Unveiled:
As our planet revolves once every year around the sun and at the same time turns once in every twenty-four hours upon its own axis, thus traversing minor circles within a larger one, so is the work of the smaller cyclic periods accomplished and recommenced, within the Great Saros.
The revolution of the physical world, according to the ancient doctrine, is attended by a like revolution in the world of intellect—the spiritual evolution of the world proceeding in cycles, like the physical one.
Thus we see in history a regular alternation of ebb and flow in the tide of human progress. The great kingdoms and empires of the world, after reaching the culmination of their greatness, descend again, in accordance with the same law by which they ascended; till, having reached the lowest point, humanity reasserts itself and mounts up once more, the height of its attainment being, by this law of ascending progression by cycles, somewhat higher than the point from which it had before descended.
The division of the history of mankind into Golden, Silver, Copper and Iron Ages, is not a fiction. We see the same thing in the literature of peoples. An age of great inspiration and unconscious productiveness is invariably followed by an age of criticism and consciousness. The one affords material for the analyzing and critical intellect of the other.
Thus, all those great characters who tower like giants in the history of mankind, like Buddha-Siddârtha, and Jesus, in the realm of spiritual, and Alexander the Macedonian and Napoleon the Great, in the realm of physical conquests, were but reflexed images of human types which had existed ten thousand years before, in the preceding decimillennium, reproduced by the mysterious powers controlling the destinies of our world. There is no prominent character in all the annals of sacred or profane history whose prototype we cannot find in the half-fictitious and half-real traditions of bygone religions and mythologies. As the star, glimmering at an immeasurable distance above our heads, in the boundless immensity of the sky, reflects itself in the smooth waters of a lake, so does the imagery of men of the antediluvian ages reflect itself in the periods we can embrace in an historical retrospect.
“As above, so it is below. That which has been, will return again. As in heaven, so on earth.” (I, 34-35.)
Two outstanding conclusions of this study on the Law of Cycles may be summed up thus: (1) We are the makers of cycles; through individual karma we draw the circle of individual reincarnations; through collective action we draw the narrowing or expanding cycles of communal and national decline or rise; through spiritual Karma we slowly but steadily contact the Primal Circle—which is Nirvana when it is entered self-consciously, pralaya when entered unconsciously. (2) Each human being lives in the close embrace of Nature, moves in that Nature, and has to realize that his Being is Nature. Wheel within wheel, cycle within cycle, the One Life in manifestation is the Circle of Time in Abstract Space, which is Duration. Says The Voice of the Silence:
Would’st thou become a Yogi of “Time’s Circle”? Then, O Lanoo:
Believe thou not that sitting in dark forests, in proud seclusion and apart from men; believe thou not that life on roots and plants, that thirst assuaged with snow from the great Range—believe thou not, O Devotee, that this will lead thee to the goal of final liberation.
Think not that breaking bone, that rending flesh and muscle, unites thee to thy “silent Self.” Think not that when the sins of thy gross form are conquered, O Victim of thy Shadows, thy duty is accomplished by nature and by man.
The blessed ones have scorned to do so. The Lion of the Law, the Lord of Mercy, perceiving the true cause of human woe, immediately forsook the sweet but selfish rest of quiet wilds. From Aranyaka He became the Teacher of mankind. After Julai had entered the Nirvana, He preached on mount and plain, and held discourses in the cities, to Devas, men, and Gods.
Sow kindly acts and thou shalt reap their fruition. Inaction in a deed of mercy becomes an action in a deadly sin.
Thus saith the Sage.
Shalt thou abstain from action? Not so shall gain thy soul her freedom. To reach Nirvana one must reach Self-Knowledge, and Self-Knowledge is of loving deeds the child.
Have patience, Candidate, as one who fears no failure, courts no success. Fix thy Soul’s gaze upon the star whose ray thou art, the flaming star that shines within the lightless depths of ever-being, the boundless fields of the Unknown. (32-34.)
The Law of Sacrifice
Sacrifice is a much misunderstood word. Its association with religious and ascetic notions has given it a wrong significance. In the East the conception has deteriorated till yagna or yajna for some is akin to animal-sacrifice at the altar of the gods; for others, sundry ritualistic performances. In Christendom “the sacrifice of Christ who died on the Cross for our salvation,” with its attendant vicious belief in vicarious atonement, is the corrupted expression of a sublime truth known to the world centuries before the Christian era. What the significance of Yagna-Sacrifice is for the student of the esoteric philosophy can well be gathered from the Note on Yajna in H. P. Blavatsky’s Theosophical Glossary.
The Self-energized, will-full and thought-full offering which Wisdom makes for the growth of the weak and the ignorant, joyously because with a purpose, is Sacrifice or Yagna. Mother Nature bountifully emptying herself in her milliards of forms makes such a sacrifice. With full knowledge the Masters follow that Example, who draw from the Night of mortal existence Their Disciples, one by one, into the Light of Immortality. The gratitude-expression of the chela of old was this:
Salutations to the glorious Guru. He opened, with his collyrium-stick, my sight blinded by the darkness of ignorance and restored to me the Light of Wisdom. Salutations to the glorious Guru.
The milliards of forms in and of Nature are but the expressions of her One Life. The child is formed of the mother-substance—bone of her bone and flesh of her flesh. The disciple embodies the indivisible One Wisdom of the Master—and every chela-follower has his guru-predecessor, in one Holy chain spoken of as Guruparampara.
Because Nature is one, beings in Nature act and react on each other; thus circles and cycles are formed; the larger circle narrowing itself to meet and mingle with the smaller, and the latter expanding and becoming one with the former, produce the phenomenon, Sacrifice. It is necessary, therefore, at the very outset of this study to examine the following in the light of what has been said:
The Secret Doctrine points out, as a self-evident fact, that Mankind, collectively and individually, is, with all manifested nature, the vehicle (a) of the breath of One Universal Principle, in its primal differentiation; and (b) of the countless “breaths” proceeding from that One BREATH in its secondary and further differentiations, as Nature with its many mankinds proceeds downwards toward the planes that are ever increasing in materiality. The primary Breath informs the higher Hierarchies; the secondary—the lower, on the constantly descending planes. (II, 492.)
Just as all human beings, however ignorant of Reincarnation and Karma, are reborn again and again to work out the effects of causes which they generated in former lives; just as all human beings suffer as well as profit from the age-yuga in which they are evolving, though most of them are not aware of the workings of the Law of Cycles; so also all human beings, however unrecognizant of the fact, benefit from the sacrifices of the hosts of higher intelligences, and also sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the hosts of lower intelligences. Says The Secret Doctrine:
… The AH-HI (Dhyan-Chohans) are the collective hosts of spiritual beings … who are the vehicle for the manifestation of the divine or universal thought and will. They are Intelligent Forces that give to and enact in Nature her “laws,” while themselves acting according to laws imposed upon them in a similar manner by still higher Powers; but they are not “the personifications” of the powers of Nature, as erroneously thought. This hierarchy of spiritual Beings, through which the Universal Mind comes into action, is like an army—a “Host,” truly—by means of which the fighting power of a nation manifests itself, and which is composed of army corps, divisions, brigades, regiments, and so forth, each with its separate individuality or life, and its limited freedom of action and limited responsibilities; each contained in a larger individuality, to which its own interests are subservient, and each containing lesser individualities in itself. (I, 38.)
Stanza IV shows the differentiation of the “Germ” of the Universe into the septenary hierarchy of conscious Divine Powers, who are the active manifestations of the One Supreme Energy. They are the framers, shapers, and ultimately the creators of all the manifested Universe, in the only sense in which the name “Creator” is intelligible; they inform and guide it; they are the intelligent Beings who adjust and control evolution, embodying in themselves those manifestations of the ONE LAW, which we know as “The Laws of Nature.” (I, 22.)
The human constitution is a composite one. Man’s highest or Spirit-pole is a portion of the One Life, universal and unitary. It emerges from its state of spiritual unconsciousness and migrates to the plane of mentality still intellectually unconscious and from there its inherent energizing power functions. Like the grub which becomes chrysalis and butterfly, Man, or rather that which becomes man, passes through all the forms and kingdoms and human shapes, till self-consciousness comes to birth. Then progressing onward through savagery to citizenship and beyond to perfect sageship, the Mahatma is born. But all the time it is one and the same Being. That pole of our being which is the lower-material enjoys the sacrificial offering of the higher-spiritual. Thus Buddhi comes to be because Atma limits Itself, by its own inherent power. Body is formed because Prana sacrifices itself as a connecting, nourishing link holding in unison the countless lives who make the form-rupa. Manas sacrifices itself to redeem the Kamic nature by the same Law of Yagna which joins Buddhi to Manas.
Men are different but Man is one. The human principles elude enumeration, because every man differs from every other, just as there are no two leaves or blades of grass on the whole earth absolutely alike. With one man it is Buddhi that is predominant and stands as number one; with another the Lower Manas; with another Prana; and so on. But all men, without exception, are alike in this, that every principle of their natures is but a part of Nature itself. Every Jiva-atma is but a portion of the Pratyag-Atma; buddhi in man is but a part of Maha-buddhi in Nature; manas comes from Mahat; body is of the earth; its design is part of the Design of Nature; the prana which works with the corpus and its design is like a drop of water from the Ocean of Jiva; Kama, the middle principle, between the two triads of Atma-Buddhi-Manas and Prana, Linga-sharira, and Sthula-deha is but a portion of the universal Kama-Eros, which becomes the blind Cupid functioning on the plane of the lower.
Man is the small copy of Nature, and contains in himself centres through which all the great forces of Nature may be operated. Nay more—man is identical with the Absolute unmanifested, and also with the Deity as we see it manifested in Nature. Man and Nature are one. It is on the acceptance or rejection of the teaching of the Unity of all in Nature, in its ultimate Essence, that a real comprehension of the cosmogenesis and anthropogenesis of The Secret Doctrine depends.
It comes to this: Mankind in its first prototypal, shadowy form, is the offspring of the Elohim of Life (or Pitris); in its qualitative and physical aspect it is the direct progeny of the “Ancestors,” the lowest Dhyanis, or Spirits of the Earth; for its moral, psychic, and spiritual nature, it is indebted to a group of divine Beings, … Collectively, men are the handiwork of hosts of various spirits; distributively, the tabernacles of those hosts; and occasionally and singly, the vehicles of some of them…. (I, 224.)
The teaching about the Hierarchies of Intelligences of differing degrees has to be grasped to gain a clearer comprehension of the sacrifice made by those who possess higher forms for the benefit of those who are lower in the scale of evolution. The Law of Yagna is the foundation of manifestation itself, say the ancient scriptures. We fail to perceive the intimate connection existing between Nature and Man because we do not see that of the conflicting principles in us. Differences in Unity is the programme of manifestation and, similarly, harmony in the midst of conflict is that of the human stage of evolution. Through the Law of Sacrifice man succeeds in paying his own Karmic debts; through it he learns that the cause and effect aspects of Karma are not to be separated, as they are one in reality; thus man recognizes that pleasure and pain are not to be regarded in the light of reward and punishment but both have to be taken as avenues to experience. When action is performed as sacrifice its reaction is altruistic. Says the Gita (pp. 24-25):
But the man who only taketh delight in the Self within, is satisfied with that and content with that alone, hath no selfish interest in action. He hath no interest either in that which is done or that which is not done; and there is not, in all things which have been created, any object on which he may place dependence. Therefore perform thou that which thou hast to do, at all times unmindful of the event; for the man who doeth that which he hath to do, without attachment to the result, obtaineth the Supreme….
Altruism and selfishness work within our constitution. The lower nature in man, failing to appreciate the sacrifice made for it and on its behalf by the higher, wars with other lower natures. Our mentality sharpened in devising tactics and strategy to dodge the voice of conscience and to hide the activity of the Kamic nature competes with other mentalities by the same tricks. Failing to listen to the voice of Buddhi in him, man fails to hear the music of Nature. Permitting Kama to pollute his body of senses, he uses that body to corrupt the bodies of others. When war rages within us we cannot but see confusion abroad. The conflict of human principles pushes the individual to compete with his neighbour. Because of this war and conflict within, even man’s virtues often cause him anguish—love producing jealousy, the sense of justice resulting in anger, the ardency of service causing impatience, and spiritual progress itself engendering pride.
If there are barren and fertile periods for human civilization so are there for soul culture. During the barren periods the sympathy orrapport existing between all Nature and man is at a low ebb. When that kinship asserts itself man tends towards soul-culture. In the emergence of such kinship the instrument of Theosophy and theosophists plays its part. But every such arousal has to be sustained by self-energization, persevered in by constant effort and heedfulness. The maintenance of the right attitude and its unbroken expression through continuous right approach to all the problems of life compel man to recognize his own individual responsibility to all beings of all kingdoms, to Nature herself. The prolific mother earth, the cleansing waters, the vitalizing fire, the health-giving air, the constructive and regenerating electrical and magnetic forces—to all these is due a great debt. The colour and fragrance of flowers on earth, the brilliance of distant orbs in heaven, the nourishment which plant life bestows on our bodies, that which the beauty and majesty of space bestow on our minds—to them we owe a mighty acknowledgement. Men recognize obligations for kindness done and service rendered by fellow men; we have not yet begun to realize our responsibility and our duty to all the kingdoms of Nature. It is necessary for us to contemplate how invisible and visible aspects of all Nature flow into us and how from us radiate beneficent or baneful influences to every kingdom and literally to the four quarters of space itself. “He who enjoyeth what hath been given unto him by the gods, and offereth not a portion unto them, is even as a thief,” says the Gita.
A clear perception of the Compassion of Nature which is the energy of Sacrifice-Yagna arises from the study of the metaphysics ofThe Secret Doctrine. The impersonal principles embodying themselves in personalities, their return to those ultimate principles as Perfected Individualities results from that study. The book is for the student of Occultism. These really esoteric tenets are not for any other than the quiet, contemplative student who, putting aside Kamic excitements of the lower mind, will brood and ponder over them with the aid of Buddhi-manas or Intuitional Intelligence. Such a study alone destroys the inner conflict and the lustful propensity to live in the objects of the senses. Says The Voice of the Silence:
There Klesha is destroyed for ever, Tanha’s roots torn out. But stay, Disciple. … Yet one word. Canst thou destroy divine COMPASSION? Compassion is no attribute. It is the Law of LAWS—eternal Harmony, Alaya’s SELF; a shoreless universal essence, the light of everlasting right, and fitness of all things, the law of Love eternal.
The more thou dost become at one with it, thy being melted in its BEING, the more thy Soul unites with that which Is, the more thou wilt become COMPASSION ABSOLUTE.
H.P.B. defines this Compassion as “an abstract impersonal law whose nature, being absolute Harmony, is thrown into confusion by discord, suffering and sin.” In Buddhist esotericism this Compassion is the prime attribute of Adi-Buddha and is sometimes called Adi-Bodha, the former embodying in himself the latter or the latter incarnating as the former. This Compassion is the positive characteristic of Paramartha-Satya—the Spirit and Essence of philanthropy, altruism and self-less-ness. The philanthropist is known as Parmarthi, but like so many other sacred words this one also has been used somewhat loosely.
Energizing himself by this Compassion—Paramartha-Satya—the Emancipated Soul on the threshold of final Nirvana performs the supreme Sacrifice of remaining with the darkness of the world and radiating the Light of Wisdom of his own Diamond-Heart. He sacrifices himself for the sake of mankind, though but a few elect may profit by the Great Sacrifice. Not only does such an one remain with the world but incarnates among the children of men; free, He assumes the bondage of flesh; above Karma, He shoulders the responsibility of contacting causes and effects; beyond the influences of yugas and cycles, age by age He is one with their vicissitudes. Says Sri Krishna:
I produce myself among creatures, O son of Bharata, whenever there is a decline of virtue and an insurrection of vice and injustice in the world; and thus I incarnate from age to age for the preservation of the just, the destruction of the wicked, and the establishment of righteousness.
In these verses of the Gita (Fourth Discourse) the student should note the triple law of compensation, cycle and sacrifice in unison. In another place Sri Krishna declares that “Adhiyajna is myself in this body, O best of embodied men.”
Contemplation on such Sacrifice-Yagna kindles the Fire of Devotion in the human heart. As the child’s first feeling is for its mother, so the first spiritual aspiration of the awakening inner nature is for the Man of Fire, who embodies and expresses that Devotion through his Sacrifice. At his Flame we kindle our little lamp and, protecting it against the winds of impurity, the fogs of superstition, the mists of sense-attractions, the biting snows of selfishness, we march forward to the Holy of Holies.
1. Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, p. xi.
2. The Key to Theosophy, p. 300.
3. S.D., Vol. I, p. xix.
4. Cf. “The Synthesis of Occult Science” by Mr. Judge; reprinted in THEOSOPHY, October and November, 1913.
5. S.D., Vol. I, p. 187.
6. S.D., Vol. II, p. 153.
7. S.D., Vol. I, p. 13.
8. S.D., Vol. I, pp. 20-21.
9. S.D., Vol. I, p. 22.
10. S.D., Vol. I, p. 23.
11. S.D., Vol. I, p. 21.
12. S.D., Vol. I, p. 27.
13. S.D., Vol. I, p. 31.
14. S.D., Vol. I, p. 108.
15. H.P.B. in Lucifer, July, 1892; see THEOSOPHY, Vol. V., p. 105, January, 1917.
16. Cf. S.D., Vol. I, p. 200.
17. Compare also Vol. II, p. 36.
18. Cf. The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 136.
19. The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 137 fn.
20. I Corinthians: 2: 4-7.
21. The Theosophical Glossary, p. 305.
22. Ibid., p. 129.
23. The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 7.
24. Isavasyopanishad, II
25. Mundakopanishad, I, 4-5.
26. Chhandogyopanishad, I, 4-4.
27. The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 72. Cf. “Seven sons of the divine Sophia” in Ibid., p. 430.
28. Sometimes referred to as Uma-Kanya, the Virgin of Light, or better, Virgin-Light.
29. The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 293.
30. Cf. Mundakopanishad, I, 4-5.
31. The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 269.
32. The Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, p. 230.
33. See The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, pp. 269 to 272.
34. Max Müller and more than one Hindu translator have rendered Smriti as Memory. Dr. Robert Hume seems to us to have caught the real spirit of the original in rendering it as “the traditional doctrines.”
35. Isis Unveiled, II, p. 99.
36. A Modern Panarion, pp. 450-452.
37. Lucifer, October, 1889, p. 157.
38. S.D., Vol. II, p. 424.
39. The Key to Theosophy, p. 243.
40. Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge, 94.