COSMOS AND MAN ΔΔ
by Geoffrey Farthing
has authorized the reproduction of this document
for purely non-commercial purposes only.
|Key to abbreviated titles|
|About Esoteric Science|
|The Scope and Framework of the Science|
|The Occult Constitution of Man and Cosmos|
|The Hierarchies of Being|
|Akasha and the Astral Light|
|Elements and Elementals|
|Law in Cosmos and Human Life|
|Death and Rebirth|
|Globes, Rounds and Races|
|Ever-Becoming - The Processes of Evolution|
|Spiritualism and Psychism|
|About Esoteric Science|
|The Scope and Framework of the Science|
|The Occult Constitution of Man and Cosmos|
|The Hierarchies of Be|
|Akasha and the Astral Light|
|Elements and Elementals|
|Law in Cosmos and Human Life|
|Death and Rebirth|
|Globes, Rounds and Races|
|Ever-Becoming - The Processes of Evolution|
|Spiritualism and Psychism|
BOOK -II -
In this second book, the chapters have been given the same numbers and titles as their counterparts in Book I. Here, however, the outline has been supplemented and illustrated by further quotations from the original literature. While it is hoped that a reasonably connected narrative will result, a mass of information has had necessarily to be omitted, and in spite of the additional material given here, we still have no more than the barest groundplan of Esoteric Science. The reader who wishes to understand more of its structure must turn to the classical works themselves. Even there the picture is not complete; although much has been made available, yet, as Mme Blavatsky advised her readers, it is relatively little, and that little is part allegorical.
Because of the primary intention of keeping the main thesis clear, little reference has been made to the esoteric element in the world's religious and philosophical systems. Yet the material relating to this aspect of the Science is abundant, and each reader will be able to study his particular interest in the light of Esotericism.
The writer hopes that it is not too much to assume that the reader, having come this far in the exploration of this outline of Occult Science, will have begun to turn to the source material on which this outline is based. This second part will, in addition to elaborating some of the information given in Book I, set up signposts leading to some of the more recondite aspects of the science. Having made himself familiar with the basic concepts and the vocabulary which their study entails, the reader will have no great difficulty in adding to the vocabulary required for this further exploration.
The use of special or technical terms has been kept to a minimum in this outline. In the principal literature, a temporary difficulty that confronts the student is the indiscriminate mixing of nomenclatures: Buddhist. Hindu, Tibetan, Kabalistic and so on. However, the difficulty will be overcome by perseverance and the growing familiarity with the terms encountered.
Esoteric Science is the synthesis of science, religion and philosophy. In Chapter 14, religion is discussed , in broad terms, in the light of Esotericism. Throughout the book, some aspects of philosophy are introduced, whereas little attention is given to the science of today. Yet Esoteric Science has a significant contribution to make both to the natural sciences and to the domain of psychology, as well as to metaphysics in such questions as the nature of matter, time, space and causation. Esoteric Science affirms the existence of invisible and subjective realms of being that are not yet within the purview of today's sciences. These inner, causative worlds are the "within" whence originates the "without", with all its divers substances, forms, qualities and modes of behaviour.
Beyond and behind these realms is THAT which ever is. This is the postulated great unknowable, the ABSOLUTE of Esotericism, the Parabrahm of the Hindus, the Causeless Cause behind the very first stirrings of that which is to be the root of all manifestation, the ONE. Neither the ever-existing THAT, nor the ONE, is 'in' space and time as we understand them. With the first signs of manifestation, at the beginning of a Cosmos, there arise the abstract roots of what will be space, substance and motion, to bring manifestation into being.
Modern science is now examining the idea that matter may originate from space. Esotericism endorses this view and in fact teaches it, adding, however, that there are two aspects of space, a 'visible' and an 'invisible' one. The invisible aspect is inner, subjective space - the space of mental pictures, dreams, ideal images, and so on; it is dimensionless, that is, it cannot be measured. Visible space is the room in which 'stuff' and things exist, and it originates with them. It is the space of physical existence, our physical universe. In the occult view, this space is material, that is, it is itself 'stuff' from which is ultimately derived the substance of all things. It can be regarded as an ethereal plasma; it is affected by magnetic fields and gravity which, together with what manifests to us as electricity, are aspects of it in their essential nature. It is to be noted that, according to the esoteric teaching, gravity is an "attraction" which things physical have for one another, a kind of affinity or sympathetic attraction stemming from within their inner natures. In the physical world such an attraction appears also in chemical affinities. In an attempt to understand how the ordinary notion of dimension does not apply to inner space, we can ask ourselves, for example, how big - by any physical yardstick - is any imagined thing, be it a world or an egg!
The universe, with all that is in it, is subject to cyclic law. All things come and go, all things are born and die. So too does all matter; like everything else, sub-atomic particles have a finite life. Although at sub-atomic levels a degree of uncertainty prevails, yet even here statistical probability applies, and the probability is that our world, and the entire Cosmos, will continue much as they are but subject to slow change. Everything throughout the Cosmos is living and intelligent in its own degree. Occultism regards the Cosmos as a Unity, all its innumerable components sharing its entire nature; the deepest mystery, truly! Everything, therefore, is both in it and of it, and everything must inevitably participate in its processes. (This fact justifies the view that the observer of an experiment necessarily affects what he observes.)
There are many questions confronting science today. Let us state a few of them. Whence the hydrogen that seems to be continuously created? What is life? Whence animation and consciousness? Whence the human form? How do the molecules, the cells and the organs that comprise it come to 'know' their special function? What and where ultimately is memory? Why does evolution appear punctuated? In Esoteric Science may be found explanations which will answer these and many other as yet unresolved problems of science - problems which cannot be resolved so long as scientists are limited to the use of physical instruments and partially developed senses. Yet, it must be repeated, the information so far made available is no more than the lifting of a corner of the veil. Nevertheless, the study of the little we have been given may provide insights and understanding of the world of our experience, and maybe an intimation (not obtainable anywhere else) of what lies beyond.
CHAPTER -I- [BOOK -II- ]
ABOUT ESOTERIC SCIENCE
In introducing the subject of Esoteric Science in Book I, several facts were briefly mentioned which it is now necessary to elaborate.
First of all, the antiquity of Theosophy has to be appreciated. Mme Blavatsky, acting as the amanuensis of her Teachers, had the particular task of making public some aspects of the archaic doctrine that had hitherto been reserved for the few to whom "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" had been made known. The knowledge communicated in those mysteries was no new thing, but to the general public - "them that are without" - it was concealed under parable and symbol [Matt. xiii 11; Mark iv 11; Luke viii 10]. This is made clear in the Preface to The Secret Doctrine, where the writer states:
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. For what is contained in this work is to be found scattered throughout thousands of volumes embodying the scriptures of the great Asiatic and early European religions, hidden under glyph and symbol, and hitherto left unnoticed because of this veil. What is now attempted is to gather the oldest tenets together and to make them one harmonious and unbroken whole. [The Secret Doctrine -I, vii / I, xix / I, 7]
The introductory section of The Secret Doctrine is in fact a presentation of the evidence of the existence of such a tradition in the ancient world. In an article published in the first number of The Theosophist, the monthly magazine which she founded in 1879 (and which continues in publication to this day), Mme Blavatsky explains:
There were Theosophists before the Christian era, notwithstanding that the Christian writers ascribe the development of the Eclectic theosophical system to the early part of the third century of their era. Diogenes Laertius traces Theosophy to an epoch antedating the Ptolomies; and names as its founder an Egyptian Hierophant called Pot-Amun, the name being Coptic and signifying a priest consecrated to Amun, the god of Wisdom. But history shows it revived by Ammonius Saccas, the founder of the Neo-Platonic School. He and his disciples called themselves "Philaletheians" - lovers of the truth; while others termed them the "Analogists", on account of their method of interpreting all sacred legends, symbolical myths and mysteries, by a rule of analogy or correspondence, so that events that had occurred in the external world were regarded as expressing operations and experiences of the human soul. It was the aim and purpose of Ammonius to reconcile all sects, peoples and nations under one common faith - a belief in one Supreme, Eternal, Unknown and Unnamed Power, governing the Universe by immutable and eternal laws. His object was to prove a primitive system of Theosophy, which at the beginning was essentially alike in all countries; to induce all men to lay aside their strifes and quarrels, and unite in purpose and thought as the children of one common mother; to purify the ancient religions, by degrees corrupted and obscured, from all dross of human element, by uniting and expounding them upon pure philosophical principles. [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -II, 88]
Evidence of the existence of an esoteric tradition in antiquity should not obscure the fact that the detailed information now presented in the writings of Mme Blavatsky and in the instructions given by her Teachers is unique: it is to be found nowhere else. For the first time, there is here offered to the student a comprehensive and consistent system, expressed as nearly as possible in plain terms in a European language. This modern exposition of Esoteric Science includes in its wide embrace the whole field of cosmic and human evolution, and specifically those areas indicated by the chapter headings of this book.
Esoteric Science is recognized under a variety of names, one of them being the Wisdom-Religion. However, as was pointed out earlier, Theosophy is not a religion in any sectarian sense, nor is it to be identified with any of the historical religions. This is stated explicitly in the Preface to The Secret Doctrine in the following passage:
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 materialized. [The Secret Doctrine -I, viii /I, xx /I, 8]
In an article intended to clarify the use of the word "religion" in a theosophical context, Mme Blavatsky says repeatedly that Theosophy, although not a religion, is religion.
Theosophy is not a Religion, we say but RELIGION itself, the one bond of unity, which is so universal and all-embracing that no man, as no speck - from gods and mortals down to animals, the blade of grass and atom - can be outside of its light. Therefore any organization or body of that name must necessarily be a UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD ... It transmutes the apparently base metal of every ritualistic and dogmatic creed (Christianity included) into the gold of fact and truth, and thus truly produces a universal panacea for the ills of mankind ... Its doctrines, if seriously studied, call forth, by stimulating one's reasoning powers and awakening the inner in the animal man, every hitherto dormant power for good in us, and also the perception of the true and the real, as opposed to the false and the unreal. Tearing off with no uncertain hand the thick veil of dead-letter with which every old religious scripture was cloaked, scientific Theosophy, learned in the cunning symbolism of the ages, reveals ... the origin of the world's faiths and sciences. It opens new vistas beyond the old horizons of crystallized, motionless and despotic faiths; and turning blind belief into a reasoned knowledge founded on mathematical laws - the only exact science - it demonstrates to him under profounder and more philosophical aspects the existence of that which, repelled by the grossness of its dead-letter form, he had long since abandoned as a nursery tale. It gives a clear and well-defined object, and ideal to live for, to every sincere man or woman belonging to whatever station in Society and of whatever culture and degree of intellect. Practical Theosophy is not one Science, but embraces every science in life, moral and physical. It may, in short, be justly regarded as the universal "coach", a tutor of world-wide knowledge and experience, and of an erudition which not only assists and guides his pupils toward a successful examination for every scientific or moral service in earthly life, but fits them for the lives to come, if those pupils will only study the universe and its mysteries within themselves ... [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -X, 163]
It has been claimed that Esoteric Science is specific knowledge of universal facts. This knowledge has been acquired, as already pointed out, by methods comparable with those of the physical sciences, with the difference that the instruments used by its investigators were faculties developed within themselves. An important passage from which an extract was quoted in Part I is here given more fully:
The Secret Doctrine is the accumulated Wisdom of the Ages, and its cosmogony alone is the most stupendous and elaborate system .... 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 regarded 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.... the system in question is no fancy of one or several isolated individuals.... 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.... How did they do so?... 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 experience. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 272 /I, 293 /I, 316]
“The doctrine is barely sketched in our two volumes”, she wrote in the first issue of La Revue Théosophique, in which some parts of The Secret Doctrine were to appear in translation, “and yet the mysteries unveiled therein concerning the beliefs of prehistoric peoples, cosmogony and anthropology, have never been divulged until now. [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -XI, 126]
CHAPTER -2- [BOOK -II- ]
THE SCOPE OF THE SCIENCE
In Chapter 2 of Book I an outline of the principal aspects of Esoteric Science was given, each theme being further developed in the chapters that followed. That outline was intended to give a preliminary view of the scope of the science. Another way to the appreciation of the immense field of the study and the essential framework of Esoteric Science is suggested in a small compilation of extracts from the writings of H.P. Blavatsky. Its title, Foundations of Esoteric Philosophy, exactly describes its contents, for the extracts show the basic principles "which underlie and pervade the entire system of thought" designated by the name of Esoteric Science [The Secret Doctrine -I, 13 /I, 42 /I,79]. Until the student is ready to embark on the study of the major works, this small book is an almost indispensable companion to his explorations of that science. What we have here is a collection of summaries made from time to time by Mme Blavatsky herself, so that the essential teachings could be clearly discerned amid the mass of detail and explanatory material which might otherwise conceal them. Furthermore, in the Bowen Notes - teachings given by her only a few weeks before her death - specific advice is offered to the student on the method of approach to the study of The Secret Doctrine, the order in which the most important sections of the work should be studied and the attitude that should accompany the reader throughout his study.
Come to the The Secret Doctrine - (she says) without any hope of getting the final Truth of existence from it, or with any idea other than seeing how far it may lead TOWARDS the Truth. See in study a means of exercising and developing the mind never touched by other studies. [Madame Blavatsky on how to study theosophy -, 8]
The basic principle of the system, as we have seen, is that of Unity, the One, the everlasting and unchanging Reality from which emerges periodically, according to inherent, ceaseless Law, a manifested universe. Within it are all things, the expressions in time and space of the inexhaustible potencies of the One Spirit, the ever activating Principle of the whole. The teaching of an originating and essential Oneness is expressed in various ways. (Note that, unless otherwise indicated, all the quotations that follow in this chapter are taken from Foundations of Esoteric Philosophy, where precise references to the source of each passage are given.) For example:
The radical unity of the ultimate essence of each constituent part of compounds in Nature ... is the one fundamental law in Occult Science. [p.13]
The FUNDAMENTAL UNITY OF ALL EXISTENCE. This unity is a thing altogether different from the common notion of unity ... it is that existence is ONE THING, not any collection of things linked together. Fundamentally there is ONE Being. [p.17]
The essential unity of all manifested things is due to the originating Reality, the One Principle:
An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless and Immutable PRINCIPLE, on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception and could only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude. It is beyond the range and reach of thought ... [p.21]
The fundamental law in that system, the central point from which all emerges, around and towards which all gravitates, and upon which is hung all its philosophy, is the One Homogeneous Divine SUBSTANCE-PRINCIPLE, the One Radical Cause. [p.30]
In the various lists of basic ideas collected here, the principle of unity is - with two exceptions - placed first. These exceptions are a) the summary at the end of Isis Unveiled, which was Mme Blavatsky's first attempt to place the teachings of the esoteric philosophy before the public; here she puts first the principle of Universal Law:
There is no miracle. Everything that happens is the result of law - eternal, immutable, ever active. [p.57]
and b) the Recapitulation of the first part of Volume I of The Secret Doctrine, where the list of Six Numbered Items begins, not with basic principles, but with a summary of the Introductory section of the work, the evidence of a universal esoteric tradition. With these exceptions, the lists of basic ideas give first place to the principle of unity, for in fact all other principles are but corollaries of this fundamental truth. This will become evident as the statements in each of the summaries are studied. For instance, if there is but ONE OMNIPRESENT LIFE, it must follow that "there is no dead matter, every thing is itself a life, living". [p.17]. If there is but ONE LIFE, "the fundamental identity of all Souls with the Universal Over-Soul" must also be true [p.24]. If there is but ONE LIFE, all things must have come from it: "The universe is the periodical manifestation of this unknown Absolute Essence" [p.30]. If there is but ONE LIFE, as the Esoteric Science affirms, then that same Science cannot at the same time deny that ONE originating PRINCIPLE: "The Secret Doctrine teaches no Atheism" [p.39].
Again, an examination of the summaries collected in Foundations of Esoteric Philosophy will make clear what, according to Esoteric Science, is the nature of man and his central place in the total scheme. All the grand processes of evolution involve man, for he is their model and the goal, in our System, of the whole process of universal Becoming. Physically, psychically, mentally and spiritually, he is in it and of it. His emergence as a self-conscious being is what the whole process is about. His evolutionary history recapitulates the movement of life through all the forms of the kingdoms of Nature. These forms are the instruments through which consciousness is constantly and increasingly expressed, until from simple responsiveness in the lowest kingdom it becomes self-consciousness in man. Now a new element is introduced into the evolutionary process, the power of self-determination. While nothing can happen outside the Law, man, alone of all the creatures on our planet, can exercise choice in his observation of the Law.
The passages that follow illustrate the teachings of Esoteric Science in relation to man:
Nature is triune: there is 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
In the Third Fundamental Proposition given in the Proem of The Secret Doctrine, after the affirmation of "the fundamental identity of all Souls with the Universal Over-Soul", there is outlined the age-long pilgrimage of man through the worlds of form, with this significant addition:
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. [p.24]
Man's relationship to the rest of the cosmic process is further shown in paragraph 6 of the Recapitulation; for man is shown to be an inevitable stage in that process. Of the Hierarchies of Beings mentioned earlier, each individual
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 ... [p.32]
In sober truth, as just shown, every so-called "Spirit" 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. [p.34]
(Clearly the term "man" must not be understood to be necessarily a being with "two arms, two legs and a head", but rather as a stage in the evolution of consciousness.)
Humanity constitutes one of the "almost endless series of Hierarchies of sentient Beings", and, together with all the others, it has its own mission to perform in its progress towards the next stage in the evolutionary scheme [p.32]. That stage is one in which the consciousness of the individual becomes merged with that of the whole human race: the sense of separateness characteristic of earlier stages gives place to the experience of unity with all mankind. That stage is reached when an individual is able to respond affirmatively to the question, "Hast thou attuned thy heart and mind to the great mind and heart of all mankind? ... Hast thou attuned thy being to humanity's great pain?" [The Voice of the Silence -, Frag.3, v 225, v 228]
To reach that goal - one which can be attained by each individual unit - there
is a long and painful route (but which at the same time engenders great joy)
to be followed, for much that was useful in adolescence has to be sacrificed
on the way to maturity. This is the lesson of the great spiritual teachers,
made explicit in the occult injunction, "Give up thy life, if thou would'st
live" [The Voice of the Silence -, Frag.1, v 21].
Before leaving the review of Foundations of Esoteric Philosophy, it should be pointed out that the Conclusion given there does not appear to be the one intended by Mme Blavatsky when she recommended to her London group the study of the "Conclusion (Vol.II)". She had used the word Conclusion as the heading to the final portion of Part I of Volume II of The Secret Doctrine. It is here, rather than in the concluding pages of the whole work, that she writes of "the times of coming of the Races and Sub-Races". Both Conclusions are highly instructive and give the reader a sense of the immensity of the scheme in which he, like the whole human race, is involved.
CHAPTER -3- [ BOOK -II- ]
THE OCCULT CONSTITUTION OF COSMOS AND MAN
In a system that functions as a single unit - a true unity - everything is related to everything else. Divisions are made for purposes of presentation and study must inevitably be arbitrary, and in treating the parts as though they were separate, some repetition will also be inevitable. The understanding of the Hermetic axiom - "as above, so below" - is of paramount importance in this instance. The universe is sevenfold, and man likewise is sevenfold, each of his principles or aspects having its correspondence with the planes of the Cosmos; hence the insistence on the law of analogy, as is shown in the following paragraphs.
There is an eternal concatenation of causes and effects, and a perfect analogy which runs through, and links together, all the lines of evolution. One begets the other - globes as personalities .. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 171 /I, 194 /I, 224]
Everything in the Universe follows analogy. "As above, so below"; Man is the Microcosm of the Universe. That which takes place on the spiritual plane repeats itself on the Cosmic plane. Concretion follows the lines of abstraction; corresponding to the highest must be the lowest; the material to the spiritual. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 177 /I, 200 /I, 230]
It thus becomes apparent how perfect is the analogy between the processes of Nature in the Kosmos and in the individual man. The latter lives through his life-cycle, and dies. His "higher principles", corresponding in the development of a planetary chain to the cycling Monads, pass into Devachan, which corresponds to the "Nirvana" and states of rest intervening between two chains. The Man's lower "principles" are disintegrated in time and are used by Nature again for the formation of new human principles, and the same process takes place in the disintegration and formation of Worlds. Analogy is thus the surest guide to the comprehension of the occult teachings. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 173 /I, 196 /I, 226]
This chapter elaborates the information given in Book I and introduces further aspects of the subject. However, because of the vastness and the intricacies of the scheme, it is possible to give only pointers towards these further aspects - a syllabus for study rather than a complete exposition. One of the principal sources of this information requires a word of explanation. At the end of the second volume of The Secret Doctrine Mme Blavatsky refers to "a third and even a fourth volume", yet no material seeming to constitute such volumes was discovered after her death. There was indeed a good deal of unpublished manuscript, which was collected and edited by Annie Besant and published in 1897 under the title The Secret Doctrine Vol.III. (In the 6-volume Adyar edition of 1938, this became Vol.V.) Included here are a number of Papers of Instruction circulated privately by Mme Blavatsky among her pupils constituting an inner group in the Esoteric Section which she had established in 1888. The same material has since been published separately under the title The Esoteric Writings of H.P.Blavatsky, while the papers of instruction also appear in Volume XII of the Collected Writings. The page references given here are to the 1897 Vol.III and the Adyar edition Vol.V.
The principles of man are variously classified according to different systems (see the table given in The Secret Doctrine -I, 157 and Key Ch.VI, 91/2). The esoteric Instructions offer further classifications, with one demonstrating the correspondence in the Cosmos. Here the seventh principle is given as the Auric Egg or Auric Envelope, that which demarks him as an individual from the whole, as a drop of water from the ocean. It is thus called because
the substratum of the Aura around man is the universally diffused primordial and pure Akasha, the first film on the boundless and shoreless expanse of Jiva, the immutable Root of all. [--- The Secret Doctrine -III, 493 /V, 471 /The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -XII, 607 /The esoteric writings of H.P.Blavatsky -, 392]
Although it is now referred to as "the chief 'principle' of all", the Auric Egg was not mentioned in the earlier published literature. Such mention "was not permitted .. on account of its being so sacred" [--- The Secret Doctrine -III, 446 /V, 427 /The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -XII, 526 /The esoteric writings of H.P.Blavatsky -, 356]. The "Luminous Egg" is described as "the invisible magnetic sphere in which every man is enveloped" - to which statement a footnote adds, "so are the animals, the plants, and even the minerals" [--- The Secret Doctrine -III, 445 /V, 427 fn /The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -XII, 526 /The esoteric writings of H.P.Blavatsky -, 356]. In this way all units of life, simple or complex, are entities.
If we bear in mind what has already been learned of the Astral Light, the lowest regions of the Akasha, the function of the Auric Egg will be more readily understood. We learn that it reflects all the thoughts, words and deeds of the individual; it preserves every karmic record; it is "the storehouse of all the good and evil powers of man, receiving and giving out at his will - nay, at his very thought - every potentiality, which becomes, then and there, an acting potency"; furthermore, "it furnishes man with his Astral Form, around which the physical entity models itself, first as a foetus, then as a child and man." [--- The Secret Doctrine -III, 495 /V, 472 /The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -XII, 608 /The esoteric writings of H.P.Blavatsky -, 394]
An aspect of the correspondence between man and his world is summarized in the statement, "The Auric Egg is to the Man as the Astral Light is to the Earth" [--- The Secret Doctrine -III, 539 /V, 512 /The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky - omitted]. There is a similar correspondence with the total manifested Kosmos, represented diagrammatically as the six kosmic planes within the seventh, the Auric Egg. As with the Auric Egg of the individual, so "in the Kosmic Auric Envelope is all the Karma of the manifesting Universe" [--- The Secret Doctrine -III, 555 /V, 528 /The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -XII, 657 /The esoteric writings of H.P.Blavatsky -, 436].
To help us to understand the way in which each human principle reflects the
cosmic principles, and similarly the way in which each plane reflects the sevenfold
Kosmos, we may think of the label that used to appear on bottles of coffee essence.
It showed a man holding a bottle with a label showing a man holding a bottle
with a label ... and so on, theoretically ad infinitum. This is indeed the Hermetic
axiom: as the Kosmos exists on seven planes, of which the lowest is called (in
the Instructions) the terrestrial or Prakritic, this Kosmic Prakritic is similarly
divided into seven, of which the lowest only is the objective terrestrial plane
sensed by the five physical senses. Likewise this, "the lowest plane of Prakriti,
or the true terrestrial", is "divisible into seven planes, and these again into
seven, making the forty-nine" [--- The Secret Doctrine -III,
551 /V, 524 /The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky - omitted].
There is a warning, repeated here and there in different words, against interpreting the teachings concerning the superphysical, suprasensuous worlds in terms of our sensory experience of a three-dimensional time-bound world.
It has often been explained that neither the cosmic planes of substance nor even the human principles - with the exception of the lowest material plane or world and the physical body, which as has been said, are no 'principles' - can be located or thought of as being in Space and Time. As the former are seven in ONE, so are we seven in ONE - that same absolute Soul of the World, which is both Matter and non-Matter, Spirit and non-Spirit, Being and non-Being. Impress yourselves well with this idea, all those of you who would study the mysteries of SELF. [--- The Secret Doctrine -III, 447 /V, 428 /The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -XII, 528 /The esoteric writings of H.P.Blavatsky -, 357]
A similar warning against the misuse of diagrams is given in Instruction III:
The Diagrams and Plates are intended to familiarize students with the leading ideas of occult correspondences only, the very genius of metaphysical, or macrocosmic and spiritual Occultism, forbidding the use of figures or even symbols further than as temporary aids. Once define an idea in words, and it loses its reality; once figure a metaphysical idea, and you materialize its spirit. Figures must be used only as ladders to scale the battlements, ladders to be disregarded once the foot is put upon the rampart.
Let the Esotericists, therefore, be very careful to spiritualize the Instructions and avoid materializing them; let them always try to find the highest meaning possible, confident that in proportion as they approach the material and visible in their speculations on the Instructions, so far are they from the right understanding of them. This is especially the case with these first Instructions and Diagrams, for as in all true arts, so in Occultism, we must first learn the theory before we are taught the practice. [--- The Secret Doctrine -III, 486 /V, 464 /The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -XII, 600 /The esoteric writings of H.P.Blavatsky -, 387]
The sevenfold pattern is found again in the human organism and in the Auric Envelope. Potentially, man has seven senses, two of which are latent and therefore remain unrecognized.
seven senses of ours correspond with every other septenate in nature and in ourselves. Physically, though invisibly, the human Auric Envelope (the amnion of the physical man in every age of life) has seven layers, just as Cosmic Space and our physical epidermis have. It is this Aura which, according to our mental and physical state of purity or impurity, either opens for us vistas into other worlds, or shuts us out altogether from anything but this three-dimensional world of Matter.
Each of our seven physical senses (two of which are still unknown to profane Science), and also of our seven states of consciousness - viz.: (1) waking; (2) waking-dreaming; (3) natural sleeping; (4) induced or trance-sleep; (5) psychic; (6) super-psychic; (7) and purely spiritual - corresponds with one of the seven Cosmic Planes, develops and uses one of the seven super-senses, and is connected directly, in its use on the terrestro-spiritual plane, with the cosmic and divine centre of force that gave it birth, and which is its direct creator. Each is also connected with, and under the direct influence of, one of the seven sacred Planets. [--- The Secret Doctrine -III, 448 /V, 429 /The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -XII, 528 /The esoteric writings of H.P.Blavatsky -, 357]
This passage is preceded by a warning against misplaced reliance on either the physical or the psychic senses in what concerns the higher planes.
Remember that with our physical senses alone at our command, none of us can hope to reach beyond gross Matter. We can do so only through one or another of our seven spiritual senses, either by training, or if one is a born Seer. Yet even a clairvoyant possessed of such faculties, if not an Adept, no matter how honest and sincere he may be, will, through his ignorance of the truths of Occult Science, be led by the visions he sees in the Astral Light, only to mistake for God or Angels the denizens of those spheres of which he may occasionally catch a glimpse, as witness Swedenborg and others. [--- The Secret Doctrine -III, 448 /V, 429 /The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -XII, 528 /The esoteric writings of H.P.Blavatsky -, 357]
The inter-relatedness of the evolution of the senses, the Elements and the Root-Races, is shown in the story of Anthropogenesis, where it is stated that
... with the Ancients, the evolution of man, and the growth and development of his spiritual and physical senses, were subordinate to the evolution of the Elements on the Cosmic plane of this earth. [The Secret Doctrine -II, 107 /II, 113 /III, 116]
As each Element evolves, it "adds to its own characteristics those of its predecessor", and similarly, as each Root-Race evolves, it "adds the characterizing sense of the preceding Race". Thus man is seen to evolve "gradually in seven stages, and on the same principles". The relevant information is outlined in a brief table:
The following table on parallel lines may be found in the evolution of the Elements and the Senses; or in Cosmic Terrestrial "Man" or "Spirit", and mortal physical man:
|Air||.. Touch||... Sound and Touch|
|Fire, or Light||.. Sight|| ..
Sound, Touch and Colour
|Water||.. Taste||... Sound, Touch, Colour and Taste|
... Sound, Touch, Colour, Taste and Smell
|[The Secret Doctrine -II, 107 /II, 113 /III, 116]|
In the simple analysis of the constitution of man as a Triad (the three higher principles) and a Quaternary (the four lower ones), mention was made of Antahkarana, sometimes described as a bridge between Upper and Lower Manas. Antahkarana is defined more fully in the Instructions as "that path or bridge of communication which serves as a link between the personal being whose physical brain is under the sway of the lower animal mind, and the reincarnating Individuality, the spiritual Ego, Manas, Manu, the "Divine Man"." [--- The Secret Doctrine -III, 511 /V, 487 /The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -XII, 623 /The esoteric writings of H.P.Blavatsky -, 406] A further elaboration of the teaching emphasizes the fact that in incarnation there are effectively two Egos, the Divine and the human, which rebecome one in Devachan or Nirvana. Here Mme Blavatsky makes use of a practical illustration: using a lamp to represent the Divine Ego, the light it throws out to be the lower Manas, and the wall on which the light falls to be the man in his physical body, the Antahkarana is then seen as "that portion of the atmosphere which transmits the ray from the lamp to the wall" [--- The Secret Doctrine -III, 519 /V, 495 /The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -XII, 631 /The esoteric writings of H.P.Blavatsky -, 412]. The illustration is carefully developed to show not only the importance of the "imaginary bridge" between the human and the Divine Ego but also the power of the human Ego to ensure the maintenance of the connection. In the Key, discussion of the question of immortality makes it clear that "man and soul have to conquer their immortality", a teaching that is found again here in the statement that the human Soul becomes immortal by being "grafted on" the Monad - and in no other way. The Voice of the Silence, which was published in the same year as the Key, speaks of the merging of "the two into the One" and the consequent destruction of Antahkarana. In the Instructions, Mme Blavatsky refers to the Glossary of the Voice, in which this definition is given:
Antahkarana is the lower Manas, the Path of commmunication or communion between the personality and the higher Manas or human Soul. At death it is destroyed as a Path or medium of communication, and its remains survive in a form as the Kamarupa - the "shell". [The Voice of the Silence -, Frag.3, v 222, note 9]
Ultimately, then, the bridge is to be transcended with the merging of the individual with the Universal Soul; nevertheless it is a mistake to attempt to achieve that end by ignoring the Higher Mind.
No single rung of the ladder leading to knowledge can be skipped. No personality can ever reach or bring itself into communication with Atma, except through Buddhi-Manas; to try to become a Jivanmukta or a Mahatma before one has become an Adept or even a Narjol (a sinless man) is like trying to reach Ceylon from India without crossing the sea. Therefore we are told that if we destroy Antahkarana before the personal is absolutely under the control of the impersonal Ego, we risk to lose the latter and be severed for ever from it, unless indeed we hasten to re-establish the communication by a supreme and final effort. It is only when we are indissolubly linked with the essence of the Divine Mind, that we have to destroy Antahkarana. [--- The Secret Doctrine -III, 522 /V, 497 /The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -XII, 634 /The esoteric writings of H.P.Blavatsky -, 414]
CHAPTER -4- [BOOK -II- ]
THE HIERARCHIES OF BEINGS
All existence is ONE THING: the universe is a living Entity composed of hosts of living beings. These hosts, which provide the structure, qualities and governance of the universe according to everlasting law, are divisible into seven main types according to their characteristic qualities, these in turn having their correspondences at every level of being. Although distinctively named and described in the literature, these various groups of living beings constitute a Unity in which every component is intimately related to every other. Each Hierarchy is composed of those below it, while in its turn it is a component of the one above it. There are therefore Hierarchies of Beings superior to man, from among whom came the guides and teachers of the early races, and from whom also man has derived the very qualities of his being. There are also Hierarchies of the kingdoms below man, those of the Elementals.
The great religious traditions recognize these Hosts under a variety of names - Spirits, Angels and Archangels, the Elohim and Sephiroth, Amshaspends, Cosmocratores and Prajapatis of the different systems. In The Secret Doctrine also many names are used to refer to these lofty powers, the designation of each often signifying the function of the particular Order or Hierarchy or its place in the total scheme. Thus we find Lipika, Ah-hi, Dhyani-Chohans, Mind-born Sons, Sons of Light, Builders, Planetary Spirits, and so on. Their origination in the One Life is first indicated in the Summary of the Seven Stanzas given at the end of the Proem, where each Stanza is shown to refer to one of the seven stages in the process of cosmic becoming. Stanza IV, describing the stage known in Hindu mythology as "the 'Creation of the Gods'", 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".
Generically they are known as the Dhyani-Chohans, though each of the various groups has its own designation in the Secret Doctrine. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 21 /I, 49 /I, 86]
This summary is developed in passages descriptive of particular groups and their several functions. Information about some of these - the Ah-hi, the Lipika, the Builders and the Planetary Spirits - is given here and there throughout the Commentaries, the following extracts being a representative selection.
1. The Ah-hi. The Ah-hi (Dhyani-Chohans) are the collective hosts of spiritual beings - the Angelic Hosts of Christianity, the Elohim and "Messengers" of the Jews - who are the vehicle for the manifestation of the divine or universal thought and will. They are the 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. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 38 /I, 70 /I, 112]
2. The Lipika. The Lipika, from the word lipi, "writing", means literally the "Scribes". Mystically, these Divine Beings are connected with Karma, the Law of Retribution, for they are the Recorders or Annalists who impress on the (to us) invisible tablets of the Astral Light - "the great picture-gallery of eternity" - a faithful record of every act, and even thought, of man, of all that was, is, or ever will be, in the phenomenal Universe. As said in Isis Unveiled [p 343], this divine and unseen canvas is the BOOK OF LIFE. As it is the Lipika who project into objectivity from the passive Universal Mind the ideal plan of the universe, upon which the "Builders" reconstruct the Kosmos after every Pralaya, it is they who stand parallel to the Seven Angels of the Presence, whom the Christians recognize in the Seven "Planetary Spirits" or the "Spirits of the Stars"; for thus it is they who are the direct amanuenses of the Eternal Ideation - or, as called by Plato, the "Divine Thought". The Eternal Record is no fantastic dream, for we meet with the same records in the world of gross matter. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 103 /I, 130 /I, 165]
More information about the function of the Lipikas is given in the Commentaries on Stanza V. We pass now to the Builders.
3. The Builders. There are three chief groups of Builders and as many of the Planetary Spirits and the Lipikas, each group being again divided into seven sub-groups. It is impossible, even in such a large work as this, to enter into a minute examination of even the three principle groups, as it would demand an extra volume. The "Builders" are the representatives of the first "Mind-Born" entities, therefore of the primeval Rishi-Prajapatis; also of the Seven great Gods of Egypt, of which Osiris is the chief; of the Seven Amshaspends of the Zoroastrians, with Ormazd as their head; or the "Seven Spirits of the Face"; the Seven Sephiroth separated from the first Triad, etc., etc.
They build, or rather rebuild every "system" after the "Night". The Second group of the Builders is the Architect of our planetary chain exclusively; and the third, the progenitor of our humanity - the Macrocosmic prototype of the microcosm.
The Planetary Spirits are the informing spirits of the Stars in general and of the Planets especially. They rule the destinies of men who are all born under one or another of their constellations; the second and third groups pertaining to other systems have the same functions, and all rule various departments in Nature ...
The Lipikas ... are the Spirits of the Universe, whereas the Builders are only our own planetary deities. The former belong to the most occult portion of Cosmogenesis, which cannot be given here ... [The Secret Doctrine -I, 127 /I, 152 /I, 185]
The hierarchy of Creative Powers is divided into
seven (or 4 and 3) esoteric, within the twelve great Orders, recorded in the
twelve signs of the Zodiac; the seven of the manifesting scale being connected,
moreover, with the Seven Planets. All this is subdivided into numberless groups
of divine Spiritual, semi-Spiritual and ethereal Beings. [The
Secret Doctrine -I, 213 /I, 233 /I, 260]
Each of these orders of Celestial Beings is described in some detail, for the further study of which the reader is referred to the Commentary on Stanza VII, entitled "The Parents of Man on Earth".
The wealth and complexity of the information given in the Stanzas must understandably have proved perplexing, if not fanciful, to some of Mme Blavatsky's readers. Anticipating their reaction to Stanza V, for example, "perhaps the most difficult of all the Stanzas to explain" - she commented:
Its language is comprehensible only to him who is thoroughly versed in Eastern allegory and its purposely obscure phraseology. The question will surely be asked, "Do the Occultists believe in all these 'Builders', 'Lipikas', and 'Sons of Light' as Entities, or are they merely imageries?" To this the answer is given as plainly: "After due allowance for the imagery of personified Powers, we must admit the existence of these Entities, if we would not reject the existence of spiritual humanity within physical mankind. For the hosts of these Sons of Light and 'Mind-born Sons' of the first manifested Ray of the UNKNOWN ALL are the very root of spiritual man". Unless we want to believe the unphilosophical dogma of a specially created soul for every human birth - a fresh supply of these pouring in daily, since "Adam" - we have to admit the occult teachings. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 106 /I, 131 /I, 166]
Reference was made earlier to the Preface of The Secret Doctrine, in which Mme Blavatsky mentioned that part of her aim was "to assign man his rightful place in the scheme of the Universe". According to the esoteric teaching, humanity is an inescapable stage in the progressive unfoldment of consciousness:
The Doctrine teaches that, in order to become a divine, fully conscious god - aye, even the highest - the Spiritual primeval INTELLIGENCE 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 part 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. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 106 /I, 131 /I, 166]
CHAPTER -5- [BOOK -II- ]
AKASHA AND THE ASTRAL LIGHT
Akasha, "the subtle, supersensuous spiritual essence which pervades all space" [The Theosophical Glossary -], enters into every feature of the manifold universe. In the literature, it appears under many guises, and the terms used to define it will differ according to the particular aspect under consideration. Thus we find a variety of descriptive statements, each one referring to one of its many aspects or functions. For example:
[Akasha is] the primordial substance erroneously identified with Ether. [The Theosophical Glossary -]
... it is to Ether what Spirit is to Matter, or Atma to Kama-rupa. [The Theosophical Glossary -]
It is ... the Universal Space in which lies inherent the eternal Ideation of the Universe in its ever-changing aspects on the planes of matter and objectivity. [The Theosophical Glossary -]
[It is] the power which lies latent at the bottom of every magical performance [i.e. in religious ceremonial operations]. [The Theosophical Glossary -]
... in another aspect it is Kundalini - occult
electricity; the alkahest of the alchemists in one sense, or the universal solvent.
[The Theosophical Glossary -]
It is the] anima mundi on the higher plane as the astral light is on the lower. [The Theosophical Glossary -]
[It is] the ONE Element in its second stage, "Father-Mother"
... divine Astral Light, or the "Soul of the World". [The Secret
Doctrine -I, 140 /I, 163 /I, 196]
There is one great difference between the Astral Light and the Akasha which must be remembered. The latter is eternal, the former is periodic. [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -X, 361 Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge -, 75]
The Akasha is the eternal, divine consciousness which cannot differentiate, have qualities or act. [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -X, 361 Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge -, 75]
Some of the other terms that occur in the above statements must now be studied, especially as Esoteric Science employs them in a way quite different from common usage. Take for example Space, which is ordinarily regarded as a three-dimensional void, whereas in Occultism Space is entirely non-dimensional. If the reader will use the selected statements given here as pointers to lead him into the text, he will find himself breathing a totally different atmosphere from that of modern science, and will increasingly appreciate the grandeur of the concepts of the occult doctrine.
Time and Space are forms of the One incognizable Deity. [The Secret Doctrine -II, 382 fn /II, 399 fn /III, 380]
A Deity that manifests in Space and Time - these two being simply the forms of THAT which is the Absolute ALL - can be but a fractional part of the whole. [The Secret Doctrine -II, 158 /II, 168 /III, 166]
In a footnote in the Proem, Mme Blavatsky quotes, and comments on, a passage from a then recent work in which the author refers to Space as "the Unknown First Cause":
This unknown something, thus recognized as, and identified with, the primary embodiment of Simple Unity, is invisible and impalpable - (abstract space, granted); and because invisible and impalpable, therefore incognizable. And this incognizability has led to the error of supposing it to be a simple void, a mere receptive capacity. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 9 fn /I, 38 /I, 75]
In a page significantly headed "The Pith and Marrow of Occultism", the fundamental Law of the esoteric system is given as "the One homogeneous SUBSTANCE-PRINCIPLE, the one radical cause", a phrase which is further explained:
It is called "Substance-Principle", for it becomes "substance" on the plane of the manifested Universe, an illusion, while it remains a "principle" in the beginningless and endless abstract, visible and invisible SPACE. It is the omnipresent Reality: impersonal, because it contains all and everything. Its impersonality is the fundamental conception of the System. It is latent in every atom in the Universe, and is the Universe itself. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 273 /I, 294 /I, 316]
A later footnote comments on an aspect of early Greek thought which, in its conception of Chaos, echoes that of the archaic doctrine. In Hesiod, for example:
Chaos is infinite, boundless, endless and beginningless in duration, an abstraction at the same time as a visible present. SPACE filled with darkness, which is primordial matter, in its pre-cosmic state. For in its etymological sense, Chaos is Space, according to Aristotle, and Space is the ever Unseen and Unknowable Deity in our philosophy. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 336 fn /I, 359 fn /II, 50]
Another term that occurs frequently in the literature of the esoteric tradition is Anima Mundi, the Soul of the World, or Alaya. Although the particular meaning of any term may vary according to its context, the following statements will show clearly the fundamental concepts which each of the three alternative expressions seeks to convey in regard to the same reality. For example, terms such as "Maha-Atma, Brahman, the Spirit of Life", are used as "identical with the Universal Soul, or Anima-Mundi, the Astral Light of the Theurgists and Kabalists being its last and lowest division" [The Secret Doctrine -I, 461 /I, 499 /II, 182]. Elsewhere, in a quotation taken from Isis Unveiled, both Light and Life are described as
... electricity - the life-principle, the anima mundi, pervading the universe, the electric vivifier of all things. Light is the great Protean magician, and under the Divine Will of the architect, or rather the architects, the "Builders" (called One collectively), its multifarious, omnipotent waves gave birth to every form as well as to every living being. From its swelling, electric bosom, spring matter and spirit. Within its beams lie the beginnings of all physical and chemical action, and of all cosmic and spiritual phenomena; it vitalizes and disorganizes; it gives life and produces death, and from its primordial point gradually emerged into existence the myriads of worlds, visible and invisible celestial bodies. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 579 /I, 633 /II, 303]
A further commentary on the meaning of anima mundi occurs in Volume II of The Secret Doctrine, in a chapter on "The Fall of the Cross into Matter" where it is stated:
With the Esotericists, from the remotest times, the Universal Soul or anima mundi, the material reflection of the Immaterial Ideal, was the Source of Life of all beings and of the life-principle of the three kingdoms; and it was Septenary with the Hermetic philosophers, as with all ancients. For it is represented as a sevenfold cross, whose branches are respectively light, heat, electricity, terrestrial magnetism, astral radiation, motion, and Intelligence, or what some call self-consciousness. [The Secret Doctrine -II, 562 /II, 593 /IV, 132]
A note in the Glossary to Part II of The Voice of the Silence concerning a verse (221) relating to the innermost nature of man as one with the Universal Soul, Alaya, and in explanation of the statement, "the MASTER-SOUL is one, Alaya, the Universal Soul", says:
The "MASTER-SOUL" is Alaya, the Universal Soul or Atman, each man having a ray of it in him and being supposed to be able to identify himself with and to merge himself into it. [The Voice of the Silence -, Frag.3, V 221, note 8]
Like everything in the Cosmos, the Anima Mundi is seven-fold. "it is in a sense", says the Theosophical Glossary, "the 'seven-skinned mother' of the stanzas in The Secret Doctrine, the essence of seven planes of sentience, consciousness and differentiation, moral and physical. In its highest aspect it is Nirvana, in its lowest Astral Light". This astral light is further described in a footnote:
The astral light stands in the same relation to Akasha and Anima Mundi as Satan stands to the Deity. They are one and the same thing seen from two aspects: the spiritual and the psychic - the super-ethereal or connecting link between matter and pure spirit, and the physical. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 197 fn /I, 219 /I, 247]
In the Commentary on Stanza III, Mme Blavatsky had referred to the prototype of the lotus, as of everything else, being present in the Astral Light:
... the Lotus plant exists not only as a miniature embryo in its seed (a physical characteristic), but its prototype is present in an ideal form in the Astral Light from "Dawn" to "Night" during the Manvantaric period, like everything else, as a matter of fact, in this objective Universe; from man down to mite, from giant trees down to the tiniest blades of grass. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 63 /I, 92 /I, 131]
Questioned by her students about the meaning of this statement, she explained further the meaning of the terms, adding:
The Astral Light is that which mirrors the three higher planes of consciousness, and is above the lower, or terrestrial plane; therefore it does not extend beyond the fourth plane, where, one may say, the Akasha begins. [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -X, 360 Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge -, 74]
Elaborating the theme still further, she suggested a comparison between the Akasha and the Astral Light with the help of a simple illustration:
We may compare the Akasha and the Astral Light, with regard to these prototypes, to the germ in the acorn. The latter, besides containing in itself the astral form of the future oak, conceals the germ from which grows a tree containing millions of forms. These forms are contained in the acorn potentially, yet the development of each particular acorn depends upon extraneous circumstances, physical forces, etc. [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -X, 362; Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge -, 76]
CHAPTER -6- [BOOK -II-]
ELEMENTS AND ELEMENTALS
The Elements come into being as a result of the process of differentiation that accompanies manifestation. From the One, the Many: from homogeneity, diversity:
Primordial matter, then, before it emerges from the plane of the never-manifesting, and awakens to the thrill of action under the impulse of Fohat [see Chapter 1 and Glossary], is but "a cool Radiance, colourless, formless, tasteless, and devoid of every quality and aspect".
From this originating matter are produced
the seven primal "Centres of Forces", or atoms, that develop later into the great Cosmic "Elements", now divided into the seventy or so sub-elements known to science. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 82 /I, 110 /I, 147]
(This was written, of course, before 1888. Science today recognizes many more such sub-elements.)
We now have to consider another aspect of differentiation relating closely to the Elements - the Tattvas. A useful explanation of the term is given by Geoffrey Barborka in The Divine Plan:
Tattva is a Sanskrit word which is generally rendered "reality", although the literal meaning of the word is "that-ness", since it is derived from the pronominal particle tat with the suffix tva. It may also be rendered "element", in the sense of the underlying reality behind the outward appearance or physical manifestation. [The Divine Plan - 174]
Further help is given to the reader in a description of the idea associated with the word Tattva:
Tattva conveys the idea that there is a "force-side" or "spirit-side" to the elements ... It is the force, or "spirit-side" of an element that enables it to "change", that is, develop or unfold, as the cyclic periods progress, since each era requires a different aspect - because of the various planes - in which the Element-Principle must manifest in order to accomplish its evolutionary advancement or unfoldment. [The Divine Plan - 173]
Like everything else in Nature, the Tattvas are seven in number, although some Indian systems give only five (for reasons which are explained in the relevant passage). In instructions to her circle of students in London, Mme Blavatsky pointed out that in Nature
... we find seven Forces, or Seven Centres of Force, and everything seems to respond to that number, as for instance, the septenary scale in music, or Sounds, and the septenary spectrum in Colours. [The Secret Doctrine -III, 497 /V, 474 /The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -XII, 610 /The esoteric writings of H.P.Blavatsky - 395]
There follows here a list of the seven Tattvas, each with its distinguishing name according to its characteristic nature or function; Adi (the primordial universal Force), Anupadaka (the first differentiation on the plane of being), Akasha (the Creative Force of the Third Logos), Vayu (the aerial plane where substance is gaseous), Taijasa (the plane of our atmosphere, from tejas, luminous), Apas (watery or liquid substance or force) and Prithivi (the terrestrial spirit or force).
All these correspond to our principles, and to the seven senses and forces in man. According to the Tattva or Force generated or induced in us, so will our bodies act. [The Secret Doctrine -III, 498 /V, 475 /The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -XII, 612 /The esoteric writings of H.P.Blavatsky -, 396]
The correspondences between the Esoteric Principles, Tattvas or Forces, and the Human Body, States of Matter and Colour are set out in the comprehensive table below which should be studied at this point in conjunction with the text.
We are familiar with the idea of evolution in the visible kingdoms of Nature around us. Occultism recognizes the universality of the evolutionary principle which brings into existence and develops the Elements one after the other in the sequence of the Rounds (a Round being defined by one of the Mahatmas as "the passage of a monad from globe A to globe Z ... through the encasement in all and each of the four kingdoms" [The Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnett -14, 79:80] ). The teaching is elaborated in the Commentary on the much-quoted Stanza VII, which is in effect a summary of the total process:
... every new Round develops one of the compound Elements ... If Nature is the "Ever-becoming" on the manifested plane, then those Elements are to be regarded in the same light: they have to evolve, progress, and increase to the Manvantaric end. [The Secret Doctrine -I,250 /I, 271 /I, 295]
There follows an account of what is accomplished in material evolution through the successive Rounds.
"Thus the First Round, we are taught, developed
but one Element, and a nature and humanity in what may be called one aspect
of Nature - called by some, very unscientifically, though it may be so de
facto, "One-dimensional Space". The Second Round brought forth and developed
two Elements - Fire and Air, and its humanity, adapted to this condition
of Nature, if we can give the name Humanity to beings living under conditions
unknown to men, was - to use again a familiar phrase in a strictly figurative
sense (the only way in which it can be used correctly) - "a two-dimensioned
species". [The Secret Doctrine -I, 250 /I, 271 /I, 295]
There follows a commentary on the idea of "dimensional Space", and in particular on the use of the expression "the fourth dimension of Space". Furthermore, it is noted that, as the characteristics of matter are closely related to the human senses,
by the time that it [matter] fully develops the next characteristic - let us call it for the moment PERMEABILITY - this will correspond to the next sense of man - let us call it "NORMAL CLAIRVOYANCE". [The Secret Doctrine -I, 251 /I, 272 /I, 296]
The story of the evolution of Matter through the Rounds is now taken up again:
The centres of consciousness (destined to develop into humanity as we know it) of the third Round arrived at a perception of the third Element Water. Those of the fourth Round have added earth as a state of matter to their stock as well as the three other elements in their present transformation. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 252 /I, 273 /I, 297]
The significance of the last few words in the above extract must not be overlooked.
They refer to the fact that, as evolution is universal and continuous, and Nature
"ever-becoming", "none of the so-called elements were, in the three preceding
Rounds, as they are now" [The Secret Doctrine -I, 253 /I, 273
This important aspect of the teaching is further developed in the pages that follow, where we find this paragraph:
The elements, whether simple or compound, could not have remained the same since the commencement of the evolution of our chain. Everything in the Universe progresses steadily in the Great Cycle, while incessantly going up and down in the smaller cycles. Nature is never stationary during manvantara, as it is ever becoming, not simply being; and mineral, vegetable, and human life are always adapting their organisms to the then reigning Elements, and therefore those Elements were then fitted for them as they are now for the life of present humanity. It will only be in the next or fifth Round that the fifth Element, Ether - the gross body of Akasha, if it can be called even that - will, by becoming a familiar fact of Nature to all men, as air is familiar to us now, cease to be as at present hypothetical, and also an "agent" for so many things. And only during that Round will those higher senses, the growth and development of which Akasha subserves, be susceptible of a complete expansion. As already indicated, a partial familiarity with the characteristic of matter - permeability - which should be developed concurrently with the sixth sense, may be expected to develop at the proper period in this Round. But with the next element added to our resources in the next Round, permeability will become so manifest a characteristic of matter, that the densest forms of this will seem to man's perceptions as obstructive to him as thick fog, and no more. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 257 /I, 277 /I, 301]
It may require some considerable effort on the part of the reader to abandon the usual picture evoked by a particular word and to recognize that the reality which that word is used to represent in the occult doctrine must be totally different from his conception of it. Let us take the Element Fire as an example.
Fire, in the ancient philosophy of all times and countries, including our own, has been regarded as a triple principle. As water comprises a visible fluid with invisible gases lurking within, and, behind all the spiritual principle of nature, which gives them their dynamic energy, so, in fire, they recognized: 1st. Visible flame; 2nd. Invisible, or astral fire - invisible when inert, but when active producing heat, light, chemical force, and electricity, the molecular powers; 3rd. Spirit. They applied the same rule to each of the elements; and everything evolved from their combinations and correlations, man included, was held by them to be triune. Fire, in the opinion of the Rosicrucians, who were but the successors of the theurgists, was the source, not only of the material atoms, but also of the forces which energize them. When a visible flame is extinguished it has disappeared, not only from the sight but also from the conception of the materialist, forever. But the Hermetic philosopher follows it through the "partition-world of the knowable, across and out on the other side into the unknowable", as he traces the disembodied human spirit, "vital spark of heavenly flame", into the Aethereum, beyond the grave. [Isis Unveiled -I, 423]
Mme Blavatsky returns time and again to the distinction that must be drawn between the everyday concepts associated with familiar terms and their connotation in Occultism. Both volumes of The Secret Doctrine include a section in which the views enunciated by contemporary scientists - characterized by an anxiety "to drive spirit out of their conceptions" - are contrasted with the occult doctrine. Thus, in a chapter "On the Elements and Atoms from the standpoint of Science and that of Occultism", we read:
When the Occultist speaks of "Elements", and of human Beings who lived during those geological ages, the duration of which it is found as impossible to determine, according to the opinion of one of the best English geologists, as the nature of matter, it is because he knows what he is talking about. When he says "Man" and Elements, he neither means "man" in his present physiological and anthropological form, nor the elemental atoms, those hypothetical conceptions, the entitative abstractions of matter in its highly attenuated state, as existing at present in scientific minds; nor, again, the compound Elements of antiquity. In Occultism the word Element means "rudiment" in every case. When we say "Elementary Man", we mean either the proemial, incipient sketch of man, in its unfinished and undeveloped condition, hence in that form which now lies latent in physical man during his lifetime, and takes shape only occasionally and under certain conditions; or that form which for a time survives the material body, and which is better known as an "Elementary". With regard to "Element", when the term is used metaphysically, it means, in distinction to the mortal, the incipient divine man; and, in its physical usage, inchoate matter in its first undifferentiated condition, or in the laya state, which is the eternal and the normal condition of substance, differentiating only periodically, and being during that differentiation in an abnormal state - in other words, a transitory illusion of the senses. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 566 /I, 619 /I, 290]
(For the meaning of laya, see Glossary.)
The reader is constantly reminded of the fundamental teaching of Occultism, namely, the fact of the ONE LIFE, with its inescapable corollary, that all things are but differentiations of the One, by whatever name that One is recognized. This is the science underlying the affirmation that runs through the sacred literature of India, "THAT art thou", the recognition that man in his essential nature is identical with the One Life.
As to the "elemental atoms", so called, the Occultists refer to them by that name with a meaning analogous to that which is given by the Hindu to Brahma when he calls him ANU, the "Atom". Every elemental atom, in search of which more than one chemist has followed the path indicated by the Alchemists, is, in their firm belief (when not knowledge), a SOUL; not necessarily a disembodied soul, but a jiva, as the Hindus call it, a centre of POTENTIAL VITALITY, with latent intelligence in it, and in the case of compound Souls, an intelligent active EXISTENCE, from the highest to the lowest order, a form composed of more or less differentiations. It requires a metaphysician - and an Eastern metaphysician - to understand our meaning. All those atom-Souls are differentiations from the ONE, and in the same relation to it as the divine Soul - the Buddhi -to its informing and inseparable Spirit, or Atman. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 566 /I, 619 /I, 290]
Returning now to the Elementals, we must remind ourselves that the Cosmos in its totality is intelligent, but that, in order to bring about specific effects at each level of being, it requires qualified agents. These are the Elementals: they are concerned in every phenomenon of the manifested Cosmos, for they are the operative powers. Without Elementals in their numerous kinds, everything in Nature would be dead - or rather, would not exist. Matter would be unresponsive, insentient, inactive. Some of them, for example, are involved in the motions of the winds, earthquakes and floods, in the incidence of droughts and in the responses of flora and fauna to seasonal changes, as in those changes themselves. Others are concerned in the dynamics of our thinking and feeling and in the regulation of our bodily functions. Nothing that is could exist without them. Yet, though they are the operative agents of the Law, they are not in themselves the Law. Moreover, they are subject to higher intelligences, the Dhyani-Chohanic hosts in their ascending grades, culminating in the Lords of Karma who are recognized in occult literature under such terms as Rectors, Regents, Archangels and the Four Maharajahs.
CHAPTER -7- [ BOOK -II- ]
LAW IN COSMOS AND HUMAN LIFE
The aspects of universal Law to be considered in this chapter are periodicity and cyclic progression. These are exemplified in the rhythmic motions of heavenly bodies, including our earth and the moon, down to the lesser scale of our daily lives and our very bodies - the pulse of the heart, the alternation of inhalation and exhalation, sleeping and waking, and indeed in our living and dying. By studying the operation of the Law as it affects the individual man, we may come to understand how the events and circumstances of one incarnation result from his actions in previous lives. The retributive aspects of the Law have not been explained in technical detail, but some partial understanding may be reached by an appreciation of the factors involved, in particular of the hierarchies of entities by whom the universe in all its parts is "guided, controlled and animated" [The Secret Doctrine -I, 274 /I, 295 /I, 317]. Some preliminary information on this subject is given in the synopsis of the seven Stanzas at the end of the Proem, referring to "the septenary hierarchy of conscious Divine Powers", mentioned in Chapter 4,
who adjust and control evolution, embodying in themselves those manifestations of the ONE LAW, which we know as the Laws of Nature. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 21 /I, 49 /I, 86]
Again in that Chapter reference was made to
The AH-HI (Dhyani-Chohans), ... the collective hosts of spiritual beings ... [who] are the 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 ... [The Secret Doctrine -I, 38 /I, 70 /I, 112]
The "Regents or Angels" mentioned in the previous chapter not only "rule over the Cosmical Forces of North, South, East and West" (relative to wherever one maybe on earth and its direction of spin) but are also "connected with Karma, as the latter needs physical and material agents to carry out her decrees" [The Secret Doctrine -I, 122 /I, 147 /I, 180]. It is not to be supposed, however, that it is these Beings who bring down upon man the unhappy consequences of his evil deeds. This is unequivocally stated:
It is not the "Rector" or "Maharaja" who punishes or rewards, with or without "God's" permission or order, but man himself - his deeds or Karma, attracting individually and collectively (as in the case of whole nations sometimes) every kind of evil and calamity. We produce CAUSES, and these awaken the corresponding powers in the sidereal world; which powers are magnetically and irresistibly attracted to - and react upon - those who produced these causes; whether such persons are practically the evil-doers, or simply thinkers who brood mischief. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 124 /I, 148 /I, 181]
The grand processes of Nature operate on their appropriate scale throughout the Cosmos. There is, however, an insistence that, in the study of Nature, we must have particular regard to Man, but never view him in isolation or as separate from the Universal Whole.
Let us study man, therefore, 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' ... we shall either land in black magic or fail most ingloriously in our attempt. [The Secret Doctrine -III, 437 /V, 419 /The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -XII, 517 /The esoteric writings of H.P.Blavatsky -, 350]
The "Heavenly Man' - in Kabalistic terms Adam Kadmon - is a symbol for the whole cosmic process. The "Heavenly Man" is the model or object of "ever-becoming". All is tending to become 'man' - in our planetary manvantara at least - and the Beings in the post-human kingdoms proceed from having been human. Man is not only the model for, but the critical point in, the evolutionary scheme [see The Secret Doctrine -I,133 /I,157 /I,190]
Fohat holds a key place in the cosmic process. It is the energy of Fohat that quickens all the planes and subplanes which in turn are reflected in the constitution of man.
The spark hangs from the flame by the finest thread of Fohat. It journeys through the Seven Worlds of Maya ... [The Secret Doctrine -I, 238 /I, 258 /I, 283]
In the Commentary that follows, Mme Blavatsky explains that the last phrase
refers here to the seven globes of the planetary chain and the seven Rounds, or the 49 stations of active existence that are before the "Spark" or Monad at the beginning of every "Great Life-Cycle" or Manvantara. The "thread of Fohat" is the thread of life before referred to.
This relates to the greatest problem of philosophy - the physical and substantial nature of life, the independent nature of which is denied by modern science because that science is unable to comprehend it. The reincarnationists and believers in Karma alone dimly perceive that the whole secret of life is in the unbroken series of its manifestations, whether in, or apart from, the physical body. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 238 /I, 258 /I, 283]
The Forty-Nine Fires, here mentioned in relation to the Cosmos as "the stations of active existence", relate also to the principles and sub-principles of man's constitution; the Monad or Spark is
JIVA, the MONAD in conjunction with MANAS, or rather its aroma - that which remains from each personality, when worthy, and hangs from Atma-Buddhi, the Flame, by the thread of life. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 238 /I, 258 /I, 283]
Here we have a description of the process of reincarnation: it is the Monad in conjunction with the aroma of Manas, the Ego, that periodically animates the vehicles of perception and action necessary for gaining experience in the psychic and physical worlds. In accordance with the law of analogy and cyclic law, the process applies to Globes as well as to Egos.
An interesting question, incidental to our theme but often asked, is whether there is a finite, and definite, number of human Monads associated with our Earth, incarnating over and over again, only a proportion of the number being in incarnation at any one time.
There must be a limited number of Monads evolving and growing more and more perfect through their assimilation of many successive personalities, in every new Manvantara. This is absolutely necessary in view of the doctrines of Rebirth, Karma, and the gradual return of the human Monad to its source - absolute Deity. Thus, although the hosts of more or less progressed Monads are almost incalculable, they are still finite, as is everything in this Universe of differentiation and finiteness ... there is an eternal concatenation of causes and effects, and a perfect analogy which runs through, and links together, all thelines of evolution. One begets the other - globes as personalities. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 171 /I, 194 /I, 224]
This gaining of experience in the inner, spiritual realms of being leads to a consideration of how we, as individual persons, come to be as we are. Two factors are involved: the Elementals, as the operative agents of the Law, and the Akasha and the Astral Light as the reservoirs, at their respective levels, of all experience and thus the seat of memory. It is through these two, the Elementals and the Universal Memory, that the fruit of what was becomes the seed of what will be. The pattern of what-is-to-be has been determined by all the conditioning factors in the past to which we, individually and collectively, have contributed. These are impressed into Nature's unfading memory, a memory that is inherent in the Maharajas or Regents. The dynamism that brings forth the new order in due season and in accordance with the patterns so established is Fohat and the elemental life. This, in general terms, is the nature of the reincarnation process.
The origins of the personal make-up of an individual when he returns to a new life on earth is explained in The Secret Doctrine in the following passage. Occultism, says Mme Blavatsky, teaches that
(a) the life atoms of our life-principle (Prana) are never entirely lost when a man dies. That the atoms best impregnated with the life-principle (an independent, eternal, conscious factor) are partially transmitted from father to son by heredity, and partially are drawn once more together and become the animating principle of the new body in every new incarnation of the Monads. Because (b) as the individual Soul is ever the same, so are the atoms of the lower principles (body, its astral, or life-double, etc.) drawn as they are by affinity and karmic law always to the same individuality in a series of various bodies, etc., etc. [The Secret Doctrine -II, 671 /II, 709 /IV, 241]
A footnote to this passage adds:
The collective aggregation of these atoms forms thus the Anima-Mundi of our Solar System, the soul of our little universe, each atom of which is of course a soul, a monad, a little universe endowed with consciousness, hence with memory. [The Secret Doctrine -II, 672 fn /II, 709 fn /IV, 241]
To understand more fully the processes of reincarnation as they affect the personal characteristics with which we are born, one has to keep in mind the nature of the Auric Envelope and its function as the accumulator of Karma, and as that in which the new Astral Body is formed. In lay parlance, the process may be described as the re-animation, at the dawn of a new earth life, of the dormant, residual properties and qualities formed as a result of all the actions and experiences of the previous personality. Here too the law of analogy applies, and the process is seen to be universal as well as individual.
In the Kosmic Auric envelope is all the karma of the manifesting Universe ... Jiva is everywhere, and so with the other principles. [The Secret Doctrine -III, 555 /V, 528 /The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -XII, 657 /The esoteric writings of H.P.Blavatsky -, 436]
When a new universe is to come into being, its processes are started in the same way as for a man, the smaller reflecting the greater. Further, the teaching says that the Karma of a planet, for example, is the collective Karma of the beings it has nurtured. In the aggregate, the thoughts and actions of men determine not only their own Karma but that of their environment and their world. It is in this sense that an individual man plays his part in the evolutionary development of his planet and likewise even in that of the solar system.
The law has its inner as well as its outer manifestations. Although in one respect its cycles can be regarded as mechanistically objective, like tidal ebb and flow, they have corresponding inner aspects which affect periodically the quality and conditions of life. There are times like the seasons, for instance, when qualitative aspects of communal life can and do manifest changes, as in periods of peace or of strife.
Using the axial revolution of our planet as a simile, Mme Blavatsky states that
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. [Isis Unveiled -I, 34]
An important comment on this doctrine of cycles points out that "these cycles
- wheels within wheels ... do not affect all mankind at one and the same
time" [The Secret Doctrine -I, 641 /I, 703 /II, 366].
This raises the question of predestination and free will. The general principle is clear:
There is a purpose in every important act of Nature, whose acts are all cyclic and periodical ... There is a predestination in the geological life of our globe, as in the history, past and future, of races and nations. This is closely connected with what we call Karma ... [The Secret Doctrine -I, 640 /I, 702 /II, 365]
It must not be supposed that the responsibility of the individual is in any way diminished, whether that individual be a person or a nation.
KARMA-NEMESIS is the creator of nations and
mortals, but once created, it is they who make of her either a fury or a rewarding
Angel ... There is no return from the paths she cycles over; yet those paths
are our own making, for it is we, collectively or individually, who prepare
them. Karma-Nemesis is the synonym of PROVIDENCE, minus design, goodness,
and every other finite attribute and qualification ... [The
Secret Doctrine -I, 642 /I, 704 /II, 367]
CHAPTER -8- [BOOK -II- ]
DEATH AND REBIRTH
In Part I, the principal sources of information mentioned were The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett and The Key to Theosophy, in which Mme Blavatsky outlines the instructions she had received from her Adept Teachers. Additional material may be found in The Secret Doctrine and the Collected Writings. Mme Blavatsky refers several times to the source of her knowledge. For instance, in the Key, when the Enquirer asks whether anyone - "even an adept or seer" - can follow out in detail the processes of karmic adjustment, she replies:
Certainly; "those who know" can do so by the exercise of powers which are latent even in all men. [The key to Theosophy - XI, 215]
Again, in answer to the question whether such adepts "really know more than we do of reincarnation and after states", she affirms:
They do indeed. By the training of faculties we all possess, but which they alone have developed to perfection, they have entered in spirit these various planes and states ... For long ages, one generation of adepts after another has studied the mysteries of being, of life, death, and re-birth, and all have taught in their turn some of the facts so learned. [The key to Theosophy - XI, 217]
In the study of the processes of death, we have to remind ourselves of the three parts into which the seven aspects or principles of man may be grouped: an upper Triad, a middle Duad, and a lower Triad.
When man dies, his second and third principles die with him; the lower triad disappears, and the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh principles form the surviving Quaternary. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnett -16(5), 101:103]
At this point the now four-fold entity becomes unconscious:
Every just disembodied four-fold entity ... loses at the instant of death all recollection, it is mentally - annihilated; it sleeps its akashic sleep in the Kama-loka. This state lasts from a few hours (rarely less), days, weeks, months - sometimes to several years. All this according to the entity, to its mental status at the moment of death, to the character of its death, etc. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnett -24(5), 184:186]
Kama-loca is the subjective, invisible (to physical sight) region where the kama-rupa remains, after death, until it disintegrates upon the exhaustion of the passional and mental causes that created it. A similar statement regarding the kama-manasic remains of the deceased and the period of unconsciousness is made by Mme Blavatsky.
The processes and states of consciousness in the Kama-loca present some difficulties. Some further explanatory material is helpful.
According to the Eastern teaching the state of the
deceased in Kama-loka is not what we, living men, would recognize as "conscious".
It is rather that of a person stunned and dazed by a violent blow, who has momentarily
"lost his senses". Hence in Kama-loka there is as a rule (apart from vicarious
life and consciousness awakened through contact with mediums) no recognition
of friends or relatives, and therefore such a case as stated here [from a correspondent's
question that meeting between entities in Kama-loca must be very disappointing
if one of them has progressed through that state as only to leave a "shell"
behind] is impossible. [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky
The passage quoted goes on to state that those we loved will be with us in Devachan, and then it adds by way of further emphasis:
But the process of stripping off the lower, the fourth and part of the fifth, principles is an unconscious one in all normal human beings. It is only in very exceptional cases that there is a slight return to consciousness in Kama-loka; and this is the case of very materialistic, unspiritual personalities ... [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -IX, 164]
What next occurs is described as
a "death" struggle between the Upper and Lower dualities. If the upper wins, the sixth, having attracted to itself the quintessence of Good from the fifth - its nobler affections, its saintly (though earthly) aspirations and the most Spiritualized portions of its mind - follows its divine elder (the 7th) into the "Gestation" State; and the fifth and fourth remain in association as an empty shell - (the expression is quite correct) - to roam in this earth's atmosphere, with half the personal memory gone, and the more brutal instinct fully alive for a certain period - an "Elementary" in short. This is the "angel guide" of the average medium. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnett -16(5), 101:103]
It is the Elementary that is often referred to as a "shell" or "spook". The Mahatma refers here to an explanation given by Mme Blavatsky to Mr Hume, to the effect that, after the loss of the lower principles,
... man's sixth principle [Monad], as something purely spiritual, could not exist, or have conscious being in the Devachan, unless it assimilated some of the more abstract and pure of the mental attributes of the fifth principle or animal Soul, its manas (mind) and memory. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnett -16(5), 101:103]
It is only after the struggle in Kama-loca and the subsequent gestation period that consciousness begins to return "at the door of Devachan" [The Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnett -25, 197:199]. There then occurs the second review of the life just ended, remembrance of it returning
slowly and gradually towards the end of the gestation (to the entity or Ego), still more slowly but far more imperfectly and incompletely to the shell, and fully to the Ego at the moment of its entrance into the Devachan. And now, the latter being a state determined and brought by its past life, the Ego does not fall headlong but sinks into it gradually and by easy stages. With the first dawn of that state appears that life (or rather is once more lived over by the Ego) from its first day of consciousness to its last. From the most important down to the most trifling event, all are marshalled before the spiritual eye of the Ego; only, unlike the events of real life, those of them remain only that are chosen by the new liver (pardon the word) clinging to certain scenes and actors, these remain permanently - while the others fade away to disappear for ever, or to return to their creator - the shell. Now try to understand this highly important, because so highly just and retributive law, in its effects. Out of the resurrected Past nothing remains but what the Ego has felt spiritually - that was evolved by and through, and lived over by his spiritual faculties - be they love or hatred. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnett -24(5), 184:187]
Letter 16 consists of answers to a series of questions posed by Mr Sinnett on the condition of Devachan. He asks whether it is "only attained by the few who are very good, or by the many who are not very bad". The Mahatma replies:
Who goes to Deva Chan?" The personal Ego of course,
but beatified, purified, holy. Every Ego - the combination of the sixth and
seventh principles - which, after the period of unconscious gestation is reborn
into the Deva-Chan, is of necessity as innocent and pure as a new-born babe.
The fact of his being reborn at all, shows the preponderance of good over evil
in his old personality. And while the Karma (of evil) steps aside for the time
being to follow him in his future earth-reincarnations, he brings along with
him but the Karma of his good deeds, words, and thoughts, into this Deva-Chan.
"Bad" is a relative term for us - as you were told more than once before, -
and the Law of Retribution is the only law that never errs. Hence all those
who have not slipped down into the mire of unredeemable sin and bestiality -
go to the Devachan. They will have to pay for their sins, voluntary and involuntary,
later on. Meanwhile they are rewarded; receive the effects of the causes
produced by them. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnett -16(3),98:100]
In Chapter IX of the Key, Mme Blavatsky explains how the kind of communications alleged by Spiritualists between the deceased and those they have left behind cannot be reconciled with the idea of a blissful hereafter. The state of Devachan is one, she insists, of "unalloyed happiness". Letter 16 from the Mahatma develops the description of Devachan at some length, pointing out that
... it is a state, one, so to say, of intense selfishness, during which an Ego reaps the reward of his unselfishness on earth. He is completely engrossed in the bliss of all his personal earthly affections, preferences and thoughts, and gathers in the fruit of his meritorious actions. No pain, no grief nor even the shadow of a sorrow comes to darken the bright horizon of his unalloyed happiness: for, it is a state of perpetual "Maya" ... [The Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnett -16(3), 98:101]
In answer to a question on the duration of the period of gestation between Death and Devachan, the Mahatma refers to some confusion that had occurred in the use of the term "Bardo". Correctly, he explains,
"Bardo" is the period between death and rebirth - and may last from a few years to a kalpa. It is divided into three sub-periods (1) when the Ego delivered of its mortal coil enters into Kama-Loka (the abode of Elementaries); (2) when it enters into its "Gestation State": (3) when it is reborn in the Rupa-Loka of Devachan. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnett -16(9), 103:105]
The duration of each of these sub-periods is then explained, with the reasons for variations, the general principle throughout being the operation of Karma.
sub-period (1) may last from a few minutes to a number of years ... sub-period (2) is very long ... proportionate to the Ego's spiritual stamina; sub-period(3) last in proportion to the good Karma ... 
Later it was explained that sub-period (3) in Devachan lasts "for years, decades, centuries and millenniums oftentimes multiplied by something more":
Every effect must be proportionate to the cause. And, as man's terms of incarnate existence bear but a small proportion to his periods of internatal existence in the manvantaric cycle, so the good thoughts, words, and deeds of any one of these "lives" on a globe are causative of effects, the working out of which requires far more time than the evolution of the causes occupied. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnett -16(9), 104:106]
Chapter IX of the Key introduces a number of questions relating to rewards and punishments. It might appear that if, after death, a condition of unconsciousness supervenes, there can be no sense of punishment. "Karmic punishment", explains Mme Blavatsky, "reaches the Ego only in its next incarnation". It might then seem that, deprived of consciousness of his past misdeeds, the man will continue to suffer blindly.
Not quite so. At the moment of death every man, even when death is sudden, sees the whole of his past life marshalled before him, in its minutest details. For one short instant the personal becomes one with the individual and all-knowing Ego. But this instant is enough to show him the whole chain of causes which have been at work during his life. He sees and now understands himself as he is, unadorned by flattery or self-deception. He reads his life, remaining as a spectator looking down into the arena he is quitting; he feels and knows the justice of all the suffering that has overtaken him. [The key to Theosophy - IX, 162]
Similarly, at the moment of rebirth, the Ego has "a prospective vision of the life which awaits him and realizes all the causes that have led to it". Here is our introduction to the process of coming back into incarnation - in effect, the dying process in reverse, with the re-formation of the soul principles (the fifth and fourth) preceding that of the vital principles (the second and third), which precedes the formation of the new physical body.
The process of return is reviewed in a passage in the Collected Writings, where Karma, Tanha (the thirst for experience) and the Skandhas are described as "the almighty trinity in one, and the cause of our rebirth". After an account of the man's experience at the moment of death, Mme Blavatsky refers to the future incarnation:
... the vices, defects and especially the passions of the preceding life become, through certain laws of affinity and transference, the germs of the future potentialities in the animal soul (Kama-rupa), hence of its dependent, the astral double (linga-sharira) - at a subsequent birth. It is the personality alone which changes; the real reincarnating principle, the EGO, remains always the same; and it is its KARMA that guides the idiosyncracies and prominent moral traits of the old "personality" that was (and that the EGO knew not how to control), to re-appear in the new man that will be. These traits and passions pursue and fasten on the yet plastic third and fourth principles of the child, and - unless the EGO struggles and conquers - they will develop with tenfold intensity and lead the adult man to his destruction. For it is they who are the tools and weapons of the Karmic LAW of RETRIBUTION. Thus ... our good and bad actions "are the only tools with which we paint our likenesses at death", for the new man is invariably the son and progeny of the old man that was. [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -X, 176]
Further information about the processes involved in returning to earth life was given by Mme Blavatsky in her Instructions to the members of her Esoteric Section in London. These are included in the later editions of The Secret Doctrine (3rd edition Vol.III, 495/6; Adyar edition Vol.V, 472/4) and in Vol.XII of the Collected Writings, 515/713.
An interesting passage in The Secret Doctrine tells us that, until the beginnings of the Fourth Race,
... there had been no regular death, but only a transformation, for men had no personality as yet. They had monads - breaths of the ONE Breath, and as impersonal as the source from which they proceeded. They had bodies, or rather shadows of bodies, which were sinless, hence Karmaless. Therefore, as there was no Kamaloka - least of all Nirvana or even Devachan - for the "souls" of men who had no personal Egos, there could be no intermediate periods between the incarnation. Like the Phoenix, primordial man resurrected out of his old into a new body. Each time, and with each new generation, he became more solid, more physically perfect, agreeably with the evolutionary law, which is the Law of Nature. Death came with the complete physical organism, and with it - moral decay. [The Secret Doctrine -II, 610 /II, 645 /IV, 181]
The account of the death process as given by the Mahatmas shows us how it fits into the grand universal scheme of ever-becoming, in accordance with cyclic and evolutionary law. The only real tragedy of death is for those left behind; when in their personal bereavement they see death as an isolated incident instead of one long series. One day maybe we shall all be able to see it in the vast panorama of causes and effects throughout our many lives; we may then see how the events we have experienced have led to the enduring bonds of love and duty. Then too we may see the vast journey of Egoic LIFE as it passes through the many personal lives, until its final perfection and liberation, when the otherwise endless cycle of births and deaths will cease, for ever.
CHAPTER -9- [BOOK -II- ]
The universe comes into being "from within outwards". It exists on different levels in the inner worlds. From the worlds of Ideation it proceeds as archetypes, becoming more and more defined and substantial as it passes down, now as prototypes, through the formative planes; finally it is projected into objectivity on the physical level in the forms we know. The process is cyclical: all things come and go in due season, governed by those laws that are aspects of the one Universal Law.
Man's origins reflect the cosmic process: his higher spiritual principles arise in the formless planes of being; his lower ones reflect the lower quaternary of manifested existence, taking physical form during his life on earth.
It is hardly possible to proceed further without referring in some detail to the Three Fundamental Propositions - the essence of the Secret Doctrine - which Mme Blavatsky lays before us in the Proem of The Secret Doctrine. Here we give only a few extracts from pages that should be studied in their entirety.
The Secret Doctrine establishes three fundamental propositions:
(a) An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable PRINCIPLE on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception and could only be dwarfed by human expression or similitude ...
To render these ideas clearer to the general reader, let him set out with the postulate that there is one absolute Reality which antecedes all manifested, conditioned, being. This Infinite and Eternal Cause ... is the rootless root of "all that was, is, or ever shall be". It is of course devoid of all attributes and is essentially without any relation to manifested, finite Being. It is "Be-ness" rather than Being (in Sanskrit, Sat), and is beyond all thought and speculation.
This "Be-ness" is symbolized in the Secret Doctrine under two aspects. On the one hand, absolute abstract Space, representing bare subjectivity, the one thing which no human mind can either exclude from any conception, or conceive of by itself. On the other, absolute abstract Motion representing Unconditioned Consciousness ...
Further, the Secret Doctrine affirms:
(b) The Eternity of the Universe in toto as a boundless plane; periodically "the playground of numberless Universes incessantly manifesting and disappearing", called "the manifesting stars", and the "sparks of Eternity". "The Eternity of the Pilgrim" is like a wink in the Eye of Self-Existence ... "The appearance and disappearance of Worlds is like a regular tidal ebb, flux and reflux".
This second assertion of the Secret Doctrine is the absolute universality of that law of periodicity, of flux and reflux, ebb and flow, which physical science has observed and recorded in all departments of nature. An alternation such as that of Day and Night, Life and Death, Sleeping and Waking, is a fact so common, so perfectly universal and without exception, that it is easy to comprehend that in it we see one of the absolutely fundamental laws of the universe.
Moreover, the Secret Doctrine teaches:
(c) The fundamental identity of all Souls with the Universal Over-Soul, the latter being itself an aspect of the Unknown Root; and the obligatory pilgrimage for every Soul - a spark of the former - through the Cycle of Incarnation (or "Necessity") in accordance with Cyclic and Karmic law, during the whole term. In other words, no purely spiritual Buddhi (divine Soul) can have an independent (conscious) existence before the spark which issued from the pure Essence of the Universal Sixth principle - or the OVER-SOUL - has (a) passed through every elemental form of the phenomenal world of that Manvantara, and (b) acquired individuality, first by natural impulse, and then by self-induced and self-devised efforts (checked by its Karma), thus ascending through all the degrees of intelligence, from the lowest to the highest Manas, from mineral and plant, up to the holiest archangel (Dhyani-Buddha). 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 ...
(The Divine Plan, by Geoffrey Barborka, offers a detailed commentary on these three Propositions).
It will be seen at once that the content of these Propositions is inexhaustible, as they embrace the totality of the cosmic process. Let us consider briefly a few of the terms here placed before us.
Space, in Esotericism, is not the room occupied by things or stuff, as in common usage, nor is duration an extended period of time. If we survey the heavens on a clear night, we may wonder how far in any direction space extends. Even if we push thought or imagination to its very limits, we find no answer. But in this instance we are thinking of space as an extension of something measurable, a plenum which accommodates the heavenly bodies; we are granting it size, dimension. Esoteric space is dimensionless. To help ourselves to discover what this might mean, let us look within at the objects of our thoughts and ask: what is the size of an imagined planet or an imagined orange? and where are they? We discover that the images have no dimension in terms of physical measurement, and no location, other than wherever we happen to be. The experience of these truths can be enlightening and liberating. A footnote in the Proem explains the meaning of the word "Pilgrim" as used in these Propositions:
"Pilgrim" is the appellation given to our Monad (the two in one) during its cycle of incarnations. It is the only immortal and eternal principle in us, being an indivisible part of the integral whole - the Universal Spirit, from which it emanates, and into which it is absorbed at the end of the cycle. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 16 fn /I, 45 fn /I, 82]
Motion is explained by Mme Blavatsky as the equivalent, in the material plane, of "the 'Breath' of the One Existence", which is applied "only to the spiritual aspect of Cosmogony".
The One Eternal Element, or element-containing Vehicle, is Space, dimensionless in every sense; coexistent 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. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 55 /I, 85 /I, 125]
Metempsychosis adds an important element to the idea of reincarnation. Repeated life-experiences do not, of themselves, imply soul-growth, and indeed reincarnation is sometimes seen, although mistakenly, to be merely the return of a personality. The addition of the term metempsychosis shows that the significance of reincarnation lies not in the fact of the re-assumption of a human personality by the Ego but in the soul-growth, the development of faculty, that is effected by each such return. Repetition without progress has little value; each new opportunity of earth-life offers the conditions for a further flowering of the potentialities of the Ego.
One of the universal symbols used to represent the becoming of the universe is that of the egg.
Therefore, it is found in every world-theogony, where it is largely associated with the serpent symbol; the latter being everywhere, in philosophy as in religious symbolism, an emblem of eternity, infinitude, regeneration, and rejuvenation, as well as of wisdom. The mystery of apparent self-generation and evolution through its own creative power repeating in miniature the process of Cosmic evolution in the egg, both being due to heat and moisture under the efflux of the unseen creative spirit, justified fully the selection of this graphic symbol. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 65 /I, 95 /I, 134]
Sloka 3 of the third Stanza introduces the egg-symbol to convey the sense of becoming from that which always is.
"DARKNESS" RADIATES LIGHT, AND LIGHT DROPS ONE SOLITARY RAY INTO THE WATERS, INTO THE MOTHER-DEEP. THE RAY SHOOTS THROUGH THE VIRGIN EGG; THE RAY CAUSES THE ETERNAL EGG TO THRILL, AND DROP THE NON-ETERNAL (periodical) GERM, WHICH CONDENSES INTO THE WORLD-EGG. (a)
(a) The solitary ray dropping into the mother deep may be taken as meaning Divine Thought or Intelligence, impregnating chaos. This, however, occurs on the plane of metaphysical abstraction, or rather the plane whereon that which we call a metaphysical abstraction is a reality. The Virgin egg being in one sense abstract Egg-ness, or the power of becoming developed through fecundation, is eternal and forever the same. And just as the fecundation of an egg takes place before it is dropped, so the non-eternal periodical germ which becomes later in symbolism the mundane egg, contains in itself, when it emerges from the said symbol, "the promise and potency" of all the Universe. Though the idea per se is, of course, an abstraction, a symbolical mode of expression it is a symbol truly, as it suggests the idea of infinity as an endless circle. It brings before the mind's eye the picture of Kosmos emerging from and in boundless space, a Universe as shoreless in magnitude if not as endless in its objective manifestations. The simile of an egg also expresses the fact taught in Occultism that the primordial form of everything manifested, from atom to globe, from man to angel, is spheroidal, the sphere having been with all nations the emblem of eternity and infinity - a serpent swallowing its tail. To realize the meaning, however, the sphere must be thought of as seen from its centre. The field of vision or of thought is like a sphere whose radii proceed from one's self in every direction, and extend out into space, opening up boundless vistas all around. It is the symbolical circle of Pascal and the Kabalists, "whose centre is everywhere and circumference nowhere", a conception which enters into the compound idea of this emblem. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 64 /I, 94 /I, 133]
This symbolic account of cosmic beginnings is consistent with what we know as the natural creative and procreative process at the physical level. The Hermetic axiom says, "As above, so below". The converse must equally be true, "As below, so above", and in the study of principles this can provide a useful key.
The story of the genesis of man as we now see him is understandable in terms of his occult constitution. He is a sevenfold entity, his seven principles represented in the three aspects of Spirit, Soul and Body, these three being directly related to the three evolutionary streams - the Monadic, the intellectual and psychic, and the physical. Monads in themselves are highest spirit, but they require appropriate vehicles through which to express their developing powers. These vehicles can of necessity give expression only to such aspects of spirit as it is in their nature to do. On world-chain after world-chain, wave after wave of Monads reach, and then pass through, all phases of the human stage, proceeding onwards into superhuman stages.
Always we must keep in mind that central element of evolutionary law, "from within outwards". As it operates in the cosmos, so it operates in man. In introducing the subject matter of the second volume of The Secret Doctrine, the becoming of man, Mme Blavatsky informs the reader that "the Secret Doctrine postulates three new propositions", the second of these being "the birth of the astral, before the physical body, the former being a model of the latter". This applies equally to the individual as to the race of mankind.
The first race of men were, then, simply the images, the astral doubles, of their Fathers, who were the pioneers, the most progressed Entities from a preceding though lower sphere, the shell of which is now our Moon. [The Secret Doctrine -II, 115 /II, 121 /III, 122]
During the first three Rounds on our Globe, these Fathers or Ancestors, the Lunar Pitris, were recapitulating the developmental stages through which they had passed on the Lunar Chain.
Evolutionary law compelled the lunar "Father" to pass, in their monadic condition, through all the forms of life and being on this globe; but at the end of the Third Round, they were already human in their divine nature, and were thus called upon to become the creators of the forms destined to fashion the tabernacles of the less progressed Monads, whose turn it was to incarnate. [The Secret Doctrine -II, 115 /II, 121 /III, 122]
As we are here concerned with origins rather than later development - a long story indeed! - we may simply summarize this portion of our study with words which, if heeded, will provoke a desire to make further acquaintance with the text:
The mystery attached to the highly spiritual ancestors of the divine man within the earthly man is very great. [The Secret Doctrine -II, 81 /II, 85 /III, 90]
but it is from the spiritual ancestors that man as we now know him obtained all his principles.
CHAPTER -10- [ BOOK -II- ]
GLOBES, ROUNDS AND RACES
A whole panorama of new ideas, some perhaps very strange, is being presented in this book. In the first part of this chapter the idea of planets like our own having principles comprising an occult constitution like that of man, was introduced. It was shown how the Hermetic Axiom, "As above, so below", really is an aid to our understanding of the esoteric view of the Cosmos and its workings. We saw that the rule of seven applied not only to the inner nature of the planet but also to its evolutionary stages, to those of the Races of mankind and to the time periods marked out by those stages. The cyclic law applies throughout the whole process and all phases and aspects of the process are marvellously coordinated, designed to reach a programmed end, whereafter what had been becomes the seeds for a further harvest in the next great cycle of activity.
In this part of the Chapter more details of the several aspects of the global processes are given. These enrich our overall view and help to illustrate the fact that even in the intricacies of some of the relatively smaller processes, the same laws of analogy apply, the minor always reflecting the major.
In this chapter the further information will be given under the following headings:
1. Origins and formation of Globes
2. The classes and nature of the entities that formed and peopled the Globes
3. Ancestry of Man. The journey of development of those entities who provided him with his principles.
4. Man's evolutionary development. The Races.
5. The areas of the physical planet, earth, where the Races developed.
6. Time scales.
The planetary parent of our Globe was a planet whose lingering physical remains are now our satellite moon. The Chain of Globes that preceded our chain is therefore referred to as the Lunar Chain.
At the end of the last Round of the Lunar Chain its Globes die in turn and transfer their principles, Globe by Globe, to the new Chain, to form its corresponding Globes. The Globes in order round the Chain are, as described in Book I, usually represented by letters, A to G (or Z). These new Globes will start their evolution where their parent old ones finished theirs. The new ones thereby, as their development proceeds, represent a higher state of being; they are more advanced than their predecessors. The process of transfer of principles Globe to Globe is illustrated in Figure II, The Secret Doctrine -I, 172 /I, 195 /I, 225.
The universe is a living whole, and everything in it expresses Life as a life, a living entity. In their multiplicity of kind and quality these lives comprise manifest existence in its countless multitudes of living beings, ranging from the infinitely small to the infinitely large. They constitute the Hierarchies.
The ultimate units of Life have been defined as Monads, with the reservation that there is really only one homogeneous MONAD. It is thought of as atomic or unitary when in association with a single unit of Life, an entity, whether small or large, e.g. the Monad of a physical atom or the Monad of a man. (Monad in its totality is sometimes referred to as Monadic Essence.) In connection with the genesis of a Globe, its life principles received from the previous Chain are seen as classes of Monads at various stages of development. There are classes of Monads associated with the elemental kingdoms, the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms, as well as the human.
There is a passage which, after describing the Globe to Globe transfer of principles from the Lunar to the Earth Chain, explains further:
Our Moon was the fourth Globe of the series, and was on the same plane of perception as our Earth. But Globe A of the lunar chain is not fully "dead" till the first Monads of the first class have passed from Globe G or Z, the last of the "Lunar chain", into Nirvana which awaits them between the two chains: and similarly for all the other Globes as stated, each giving birth to the corresponding Globe of the "earth-chain".
Further, when Globe A of the new chain is ready, the first class or Hierarchy of Monads from the Lunar chain incarnate upon it in the lowest kingdom, and so on successively. The result of this is, that it is only the first class of Monads which attains the human state of development during the first Round, since the second class, on each planet, arriving later, has not time to reach that stage. Thus the Monads of Class 2 reach the incipient human stage only in the Second Round, and so on up to the middle of the Fourth Round. But at this point - and on the Fourth Round in which the human stage will be fully developed - the "Door" into the human kingdom closes; and henceforward the number of "human" Monads, i.e., Monads in the human stage of development is complete. For the Monads which had not reached the human stage by this point will, owing to the evolution of humanity itself, find themselves so far behind that they will reach the human stage only at the close of the seventh and last Round. They will, therefore, not be men on this chain, but will form the humanity of a future Manvantara and be rewarded by becoming "Men" on a higher chain altogether, thus receiving their Karmic compensation. To this there is but one solitary exception, for very good reasons, of which we shall speak further on. But this accounts for the difference in the races. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 172 /I, 196 /I, 226]
This "one solitary exception" refers to the primary apes. This story will be told later (in Chapter 11). The irreversible process of ever-progressing growth and development, taking place continually within the Cosmos is exemplified in the grand procession of global development with all that takes place on each Globe. Furthermore the process is entirely ordered. The great Beings who themselves have been through it and attained to a lofty level are the directors.
Now every "Round" (on the descending scale) is but a repetition in a more concrete form of the Round which preceded it, as every globe - down to our fourth sphere (the actual earth) - is a grosser and more material copy of the more shadowy sphere which precedes it in their successive order, on the three planes [see diagram in Book I]. On its way upwards in the ascending arc, Evolution spiritualizes and etherealizes, so to speak, the general nature of all, bringing it on to a level with the plane on which the twin globe on the opposite side is placed; the result being, that when the seventh globe is reached (in whatever Round) the nature of everything that is evolving returns to the condition it was in at its starting point - plus, every time, a new and superior degree in the states of consciousness. Thus it becomes clear that the "origin of man", so-called, on this our present Round, or life cycle on this planet, must occupy the same place in the same order - save details based on local conditions and time - as in the preceding Round. Again it must be explained and remembered that, as the work of each Round is said to be apportioned to a different group of so-called "Creators" or "Architects", so is that of every globe, i.e. it is under the supervision and guidance of special "Builders" and "Watchers" - the various Dhyan-Chohans. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 232 /I, 253 /I, 278]
This passage illustrates how each phase of development is successive, each being superior to its predecessor but inferior to its successor; put differently the Monads are moving up the scale of existence in their classes.
We began this part of the Chapter by stating that analogy applied between the orders of magnitude of the total process of universal ever-becoming, the lesser reflecting the greater. This, as seen in Chapter 3, is the case with man's principles; analogy applies.
It is explained that there are several kinds of Pralaya or rest between periods of activity. There is one between Rounds, a global or planetary one, one for a Chain, another for a Solar System, and so on.
Mme Blavatsky also explains that the Monads who came to Earth from the Lunar Chain "may be roughly divided into three great Classes:
1. The most developed Monads (the Lunar Gods or "Spirits", called, in India, the Pitris, whose function it is to pass in the first Round through the whole triple cycle of the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms in their most ethereal, filmy and rudimentary forms, in order to clothe themselves in, and assimilate, the nature of the newly formed chain. They are those who first reach the human form (if there can be any form in the realm of the almost subjective) on Globe A in the first Round. It is they, therefore, who lead and represent the human element during the second and third Rounds, and finally evolve their shadows at the beginning of the Fourth Round for the second class, or those who come behind them.
2. Those Monads that are the first to reach the human stage during the three and a half Rounds, and to become men.
3. The laggards; the Monads which are retarded, and which will not reach, by reason of Karmic impediments, the human stage at all during this cycle or Round, save one exception ... [The Secret Doctrine -I, 174 /I, 197 /I, 227]
It is therefore Monads of the 2nd Class who comprise the majority of human beings on Earth now. These were the first to arrive on Globe D (Earth) in this the Fourth Round.
We learn that the physical bodies of men take the form (i.e. anthropoid) from a pattern projected from Chhayas, the form of the astral bodies of the First Class of Pitris, the most advanced to arrive on Earth, which was then ethereal, not of dense physical matter as now. It is explained in The Secret Doctrine that, as we have seen in Chapter Four, there are seven creative Hierarchies associated with our Globe and our humanity. "These last act on the man-bearing globes of a chain". Of these one is called the Barhishad Pitris or ancestors. These projected the astral model of their form to be assumed by man. A second hierarchy is known as the Agnishvatta Pitris (and many other names such as Solar Angels, Manasas, Manasaputras, Kumaras) who were to endow man with mind, in the middle of the third Race of this our Fourth Round. Up to this time man was mindless.
During the early Rounds, and the early Races of our Round, the Globe D was ethereal, becoming denser with each successive Round and Race. Man, or what was to become man, reflected these conditions of being. It was only in our Fourth Round that the Globe and man became more or less as we know them now. The literature gives us a description, very much in outline, of both the conditions on earth and the state of humanity during Rounds.
The significant event at the middle of the Third Race was the coming of mind to man. Thereafter man became the responsible creature he now is, knowing "good and evil", but coincident with the coming of mind came the division of the sexes. Up to this time there had been the various methods of reproduction mentioned in the previous chapter that are found in the life forms as they move up the evolutionary scale, in the plant and animal kingdoms.
There are seven Root Races, each a developmental stage of humanity, in a Round. There is a short description of the nature of man in each Race, as follows:
... the First Root-Race, the "Shadows" of the Progenitors, could not be injured or destroyed by death. Being so ethereal and so little human in constitution, they could not be affected by any element - flood or fire. But their "Sons" the Second Root-Race, could be and were so destroyed. As the "progenitors" merged wholly in their own astral bodies, which were their progeny; so that progeny was absorbed in its descendants, the "Sweat-born". These were the second Humanity - composed of the most heterogeneous gigantic semi-human monsters - the first attempts of material nature at building human bodies. [The Secret Doctrine -II, 138 /II, 146 /III, 146]
Later there is another description of man's arrival on this Earth, at the dawn of every rebirth of the worlds (in this case the beginning of the Fourth Round),
First come the SELF-EXISTENT ... These lives "are the divine 'Sishta', (the seed-Manus ... the Pitris)
From these proceed -
1) The First Race, the "Self-born" which are the (astral) shadow of their Progenitors. The body was devoid of all understanding (mind, intelligence, and will). The inner being (the higher self or Monad), though within the earthly frame, was unconnected with it. The link, the Manas, was not there as yet.
2) From the First (race) emanated the second called the "Sweat-born" and the "Boneless". This is the Second Root-Race, endowed ... with the first primitive and weak spark (the germ of intelligence) ... And from these in turn proceeds:-
3) The Third Root Race, the "Two-Fold" (Androgynes). The first Races thereof are shells, till the last is "inhabited" (i.e. informed) by the Dhyanis." [The Secret Doctrine -II, 164 /II, 173 /III, 172]
This Third Race became oviparous, producing, at seasons of procreation "... a small spheroidal nucleus which developed into a large, soft, egglike vehicle ... from which issued unaided the young human animal, as the fowls do in our race" [The Secret Doctrine -II, 166 /II, 175 /III, 173 (paraphrased)]. With each race the method of reproduction changed. Later the race became bi-sexual, males distinct from females. This separation coincided with the advent of mind.
The Fourth Race was the first really recognizably human race. As a continuation from the Third Race it was gigantic to start with, but the size slowly diminished to about our proportions.
There is some interesting information about the development of speech:
The First Race - ethereal or astral ... called "Self-born" - was, in our sense, speechless, as it was devoid of mind on our plane. The Second Race had a "Sound-language", to wit, chant-like sounds composed of vowels alone. The Third Race developed in the beginning a kind of language which was only a slight improvement on the various sounds in Nature, on the cry of gigantic insects and of the first animals ... [The Secret Doctrine -II, 198 /II, 208 /III, 203]
A speech was developed in the later Third Race, but it was only in the Fourth Race that speech was perfected, evoluting into the inflectional, highly developed language of the Fifth Race (see interesting information The Secret Doctrine -II, 198 /II, 208 /III, 203 and Footnotes).
There is much reference in the literature to the lands on which the great Root Races developed. The story of where the First and Second Races started and the areas they occupied is obscure because the earth was then ethereal. A land at the North Pole is postulated, always under the eye of the Pole Star, but no such land is now known; later Greenland, which then enjoyed an equable climate, is specifically mentioned. In several places, however, it is said that the axis of the earth has shifted a number of times. Periodically the land masses have sunk beneath and risen up from the oceans.
The name used for the home of the second Race was Hyperborea, ethereal; of the Third Race, Lemuria, mostly dense physical; of the Fourth Race, Atlantis, earth as we now know it. The Fifth Race with its origins in Europe now peoples North America, Australia and parts of South Africa, as well as its old home lands in the east, Northern India, etc.
CHAPTER -11- [ BOOK -II- ]
EVER-BECOMING, THE PROCESS OF EVOLUTION
Behind the processes of Cosmos and all the operations of Nature there is design. The ultimate purpose behind all the cosmic activity cannot be perceived by our finite faculties but Occult Science teaches that the whole process tends toward a progressive unfoldment of SelfConsciousness. There are deep inner areas of subjectivity which at present cannot normally be reached, but something of the design behind the evolutionary process as it applies to our more immediate realms of being and what is in them can be discerned from, for example, the increase in the sentiency of things as they ascend through the kingdoms. Occultism extends this view, perhaps surprisingly. The following introduces some novel, even strange, ideas:
"Every form on earth, and every speck (atom) in Space strives in its efforts towards self-formation to follow the model placed for it in the 'HEAVENLY MAN' ... Its (the atom's) involution and evolution, its external and internal growth and development, have all one and the same object - man; man, as the highest physical and ultimate form on this earth; the MONAD, in its absolute totality and awakened condition - as the culmination of the divine incarnations on Earth." [The Secret Doctrine -I, 183 /I, 205 /I, 234]
There are two aspects to the evolutionary process:- one is the gradual progress of the Monad through the Kingdoms, from the Elemental to the Superhuman; the other is the cyclic nature of its progression. There are cycles within cycles, each itself composed of smaller ones. Each cycle, however, proceeds along the axis of the next larger one, like the coiled coil filament of an electric lamp.
The small coils in Nature are the life cycles of its small lives, of which the life forms of larger creatures, with longer life cycles, are composed, and so on up the scales of being. As forms develop complexity and refinement they become the vehicles for progressively expanding consciousness, where expanding means an ever-widening and deepening field of consciousness. This process extends not only up to the human stage, but beyond it. The significance of this serial development is that matter, the physical as well as the non-physical substances of the inner (to us subjective) realms, becomes educated by their experience in the living beings whose principles are composed of them. All substances are thereby developed to be suitable to play their part in the constitutions of beings and are continually refined as creatures ascend the ladder of life. The more developed beings impress their inner substances with, or project into them, the ideal patterns of their forms. While these forms may originally have been those which Nature had evolved for her purposes in the various situations of earthly existence, they become modified. Modifications in the inner worlds reflect into modifications in the outer, physical world. This process in terms of earth time is exceedingly slow but it is the inner mechanism of evolution. All things coming into being from the within to the without are modified according to changes in the inner subjective worlds. Very occasionally there are relatively sudden changes not in accordance with slow modification, like the sudden departure of dinosaurs. Gradual development is sometimes supplemented by a stepped programme at Dhyan Chohanic levels.
In these processes of ever-becoming, man on Earth is a critical stage. In him it is said the spiritual aspects and the material aspects of Being are equal. Up to the man-state matter was in the ascendent but after it the spiritual aspect begins to predominate. The highest or most developed Beings in the post-human kingdoms represent the forefront of progressive change; as such they become not only the Architects of the forms in the kingdoms below them but also, according to their rank, they become directors, the governors and regulators of the processes. All this is the LAW in operation. There are many passages in the literature describing the numerous aspects of this ordered ever-becoming process; one, attributed to Hegel, summarizes its whole scope:
... 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 Puranic phrase about Brahma being constantly "moved by the desire to create". This explains also the hidden Kabalistic meaning of the saying: "The Breath becomes a stone; the stone, a plant; the plant, an animal; the animal, a man; the man, a spirit; and the spirit, a god". The Mind-born Sons, the Rishis, the Builders, etc., were all men - of whatever forms and shapes - in other worlds and the preceding Manvantaras. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 106 /I, 132 /I, 167] It is important to notice here that it is the "Breath", the Monad, or rather its vehicles, which go through the evolutionary stages; for example, no animal, as such, ever becomes a man, neither has any individual man ever been a plant or animal, nor according to this doctrine can he ever revert and be one in, say, a future life.
The passage goes on to explain
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 ... [The Secret Doctrine -I, 107 /I, 132 /I, 167]
Another aspect of the mystery is that in Unity there are really no discrete parts. Everything is not only in and of the whole but is itself that whole. When considering the inner worlds altogether, we must somehow transcend our ideas of magnitudes if we are to comprehend this. In the (to us) subjective worlds there are no dimensions; they have no magnitude in relation to anything at physical level that we know of. If we bear this in mind, a further quotation may have meaning:
Yet this cosmic dust is something more; for 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. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 107 /I, 132 /I, 167]
The evolutionary process is the actualization of this inherent potentiality. From within outwards is the rule, but between the extreme of spirit on the one hand and physical matter on the other, there are states corresponding to the middle planes of Nature, all subjective to us at our physical level. The inner worlds are, however, those of archetypal, spiritual ideation at the higher levels and of prototypes at the mental and psychic levels in the Astral Light.
Now the evolution of the external form, or body, round the astral is produced by the terrestrial forces, just as in the case of the lower kingdoms; but the evolution of the internal or real MAN is purely spiritual. It is now no more a passage of the impersonal Monad through many and various forms of matter - endowed at best with instinct and consciousness on a quite different plane - as in the case of external evolution, but a journey of the "pilgrim-Soul" through various states of not only matter but Self-consciousness and self-perception, or of perception from apperception.
The MONAD emerges from its state of spiritual and intellectual unconsciousness; and, skipping the first two planes - too near the ABSOLUTE to permit of any correlation with anything on a lower plane - it gets direct into the plane of Mentality. But there is no plane in the whole universe with a wider margin, or a wider field of action in its almost endless gradations of perceptive and apperceptive qualities, than this plane, which has in its turn an appropriate smaller plane for every "Form", from the "mineral" monad up to the time when that monad blossoms forth by evolution into the DIVINE MONAD. But all the time it is still one and the same Monad, differing only in its incarnation, throughout its ever succeeding cycles of partial or total obscuration of spirit, or the partial or total obscuration of matter - two polar antitheses - as it ascends in the realms of mental spirituality, or descends into the depths of materiality. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 175 /I, 198 /I, 228]
All the above is describing something of the process of man's becoming and telling of the uniquely important place he holds in the evolutionary process.
The principles of evolution as generally accepted by science, in so far as the survival of the fittest, and the development of life forms from the primitively simple to the most complex are concerned, are in line with the esoteric view. The latter, however, differing from science, includes the inner, invisible worlds and their influence on the outer. It also includes the further idea of a planned progression, a systematic programme. The total economy of Nature is involved in this and all phases, e.g. at the physical level, all the necessary links in the food chain are coordinated. Another example of this programming is the timed arrival of the Root Races on the planet to coincide with the shifts in the continental land masses, i.e. their emergences from and submergences into the oceans.
Yet a further aspect of this evolutionary process, according to the esoteric view, is the transmission of not only physical but mental and psychic characteristics from units of life to their successors along any given chain of lives, e.g. from one personality to the next personality in man. In this process the Auric Envelope, or Egg, plays a significant part. It is the causative link between lives: for example, in it are stored the karmic effects of a man's successive lives. There is an Auric Egg or its equivalent for every living thing. In man it contains the Skandhas, the aggregate of those elementals which are conditioned by all his activities, both subjective and objective, during life.
Regarding the mechanism of physical heredity, orthodox science recognizes the role played by germ cells (genes, chromosomes, DNA) but in this connection Mme Blavatsky quotes a hypothesis propounded by a Professor Weissmann which negates the process of Darwinian transformation and substitutes the more occult view. The Professor shows
- one infinitesimal cell out of millions of others at work in the formation of an organism, determining alone and unaided by means of constant segmentation and multiplication, the correct image of the future man (or animal) in its physical, mental and psychic characteristics. It is that cell which impresses on the face and form of the new individual the features of the parents or of some distant ancestor; it is that cell again which transmits to him the intellectual and mental idiosyncrasies of his sires, and so on. This Plasm is the immortal portion of our bodies - simply through the process of successive assimilation ... those germinal cells do not have their genesis at all in the body of the individual, but proceed directly from the ancestral germinal cell passed from father to son through long generations. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 223 fn /I, 243 /I, 269]
It was this hypothesis which was accepted by the Professor and a note says it is to this cell that he traces the immortal portion of man. But whence that embryological cell? The Secret Doctrine says,
Complete the physical plasm ... the "Germinal Cell" of man with all its material potentialities, with the "spiritual plasm", so to say, or the fluid that contains the five lower principles of the six-principled Dhyan - and you have the secret ...
When the seed of the animal man is cast into the soil of the animal woman, that seed cannot germinate unless it has been fructified by the five virtues (the fluid of, or the emanation from the principles) of the six-fold Heavenly man. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 224 /I, 245 /I, 271]
The passage goes on to explain that in the lower kingdoms the "germinal cell" does not have all five principles but in man it must or "he will be born no higher than an animal", and even then he must be overshadowed by the upper spiritual principles.
As far as the animal kingdom is concerned, Esoteric Science does not agree with the Darwinian theory that man's original ancestor was the ape. It reverses that idea. It agrees there was a common ancestor but states that it was human not animal. This statement is elaborated and justified. It begins with a reference to the animal forms of the Third Round having been carried forward into the Fourth Round:
And finally the forms and genera of neither man, animal, nor plant were [at the start of the Fourth Round] what they became later. Thus the astral prototypes of the lower beings of the animal Kingdom of the Fourth Round, which preceded (the Chhayas of) Men, were consolidated, though still very ethereal sheaths of the still more ethereal forms or models produced at the close of the Third Round on Globe D. "Produced from the residue of the substance matter; from the dead bodies of men and (other extinct) animals of" ... the previous Third Round ...
... while the nondescript "animals" that preceded the astral man at the beginning of this life-cycle [Fourth Round] on our Earth were still, so to speak, the progeny of the men of the Third Round, the mammalians of this Round owe their existence, in great measure, to man again ... [The Secret Doctrine -II, 186 /II, 196 /III, 192]
To an extent then the animal forms at the beginning of the Fourth Round were the progeny of men of the Third Round.
The text tells us that the man forms were the first to arrive on Earth (Globe D) in the Fourth Round. The mammalia were derived from these forms and to begin with, like man, they were hermaphrodite.
The animals, however, became bi-sexual. "The animals separated first (into male and female)" and began to breed. Man followed suit. "He (man) said "Let us as they: let us unite and make creatures". They did ..." [The Secret Doctrine -II, 184 /II, 194 /III, 190].
The process of the separation of the sexes in the Third Race is told in The Secret Doctrine -II, Stanza X. Then follows a description of how the then mindless men of the time "took huge she-animals unto them".
Third Race man at this time was virtually speechless but acquired speech later. The progeny of his 'sin' with the animals, however, remained dumb, "to keep the shame untold". We are not told what the huge she-animals were. Man at this time being "mindless" was irresponsible, but mind was bestowed on him by the Manasaputras half way through the Third Race, at the time of the division of the sexes. In the Fourth Round, therefore, man had mind and was a responsible being. Nevertheless, we are told, some of the more primitive members of the Fourth Race ... "took wives fair to look at. Wives from the "mindless", the narrow headed. They bred monsters, wicked demons, male and female ..." [The Secret Doctrine -II, 271 /II, 284 /III, 273].
It was from these unions that the present anthropoid apes are descended. The great apes, however, have been the subject of evolutionary changes since those remote times. Since those matings, Nature has prevented offspring resulting from unions of individuals of too widely differing species.
The present primary apes are the 'one solitary exception' (referred to in Chapter 10, Book II) from the animal kingdom able to become man in this Fifth Round. It is said they will do so because by way of their ancestry - more than half human - they are possessed of human Egos. These Egos are entities who had already reached the human stage before this Round [The Secret Doctrine -II, 262 /II, 274 /III, 264].
The reason for the physical resemblance of the apes to that of man is obvious from their ancestry but the following is interesting a propos the barrier between differing species:
Let us remember in this connection the esoteric teaching which tells of Man having had in the Third Round a GIGANTIC APE-LIKE FORM on the astral plane. And similarly at the close of the Third Race in this Round. Thus it accounts for the human features of the apes, especially of the later anthropoids - apart from the fact that these latter preserve by heredity a resemblance to their Atlanto-Lemurian sires. [The Secret Doctrine -II, 688 fn /II, 727 fn /IV, 258 fn]
Evolution of the human race on a planet proceeds through the seven stages of the Root Races. These stages leave their representatives behind long after a new Race has taken the stage. Similarly each Root Race has seven sub-Races and each of these progressively smaller divisions. These divisions small or large are not those used by students of academic Ethnology.
Each of the esoteric divisions, in their day, had its physical characteristics, colour and so on. They inhabited various regions of the earth. Catastrophes caused mass migrations at intervals over vast periods of time. The Secret Doctrine contains a mass of information concerning the Races and their sub-divisions. The following is an important example:
They "of the yellow hue" are the forefathers of those whom Ethnology now classes as the Turanians, the Mongols, Chinese and other ancient nations; and the land they fled to was no other than Central Asia. There entire new races were born; there they lived and died until the separation of the nations ... Nearly two-thirds of one million years have elapsed since that period. The yellow-faced giants of the post-Atlantean day, had ample time, throughout this forced confinement to one part of the world, and with the same racial blood and without any fresh infusion or admixture in it, to branch off during a period of nearly 700,000 years into the most heterogeneous and diversified types. The same is shown in Africa; nowhere does a more extraordinary variability of types exist from black to almost white, from gigantic men to dwarfish races; and this only because of their forced isolation. The Africans have never left their continent for several hundred thousands of years. If tomorrow the continent of Europe were to disappear and other lands to re-emerge instead; and if the African tribes were to separate and scatter on the face of the earth, it is they who, in about one hundred thousand years hence, would form the bulk of the civilized nations. And it is the descendants of those of our highly cultured nations, who might have survived on some island without means of crossing new seas, that would fall back into a state of relative savagery. Thus the reason for dividing humanity into superior and inferior races falls to the ground and becomes a fallacy. [The Secret Doctrine -II, 425 /II, 443 /III, 424]
So the complex story of evolution unfolds. We have seen that the whole process is keyed to the archetypal form, at the highest level of ideation, of the Heavenly Man. Everything in the vast process is being developed to play its part in the constitution of perfected man, and man, we must remember, is a complex of principles for all of which the physical body is the instrument of expression during physical life. The evolutionary process takes place on all levels, right through to the super-human ones. It is in these lofty levels that man's development will culminate. He then will become a 'Builder' and then an 'Architect' in his turn. We are all embarked on a stupendous journey, whereon the pace of our going is entirely up to us, individually. By the principle of Unity, however, each man's progress furthers that of the whole of humanity.
CHAPTER -12- [ BOOK -II- ]
SPIRITUALISM AND PSYCHISM
The teachings of Esoteric Science form one consistent whole. It is only within the context of esoteric cosmogony with its accounts of the planes of nature, and of esoteric psychology with its description of the constitution of man and of the after-death states, that the phenomena associated with spiritualism and psychism can be understood. These phenomena are many and varied, and according to the type of manifestation being considered, so must its appropriate explanation be sought.
Referring to the phenomena commonly associated with the spiritualistic seance, Mme Blavatsky writes:
The cause of such manifestations are by no means so simple as the Spiritualists would like to believe. Foremost of all, the deus ex machina of the so-called "materializations" is usually the astral body or "double" of the medium or of someone present. [The key to Theosophy - II, 28]
It is the astral body, she explains further, that is the responsible force in a variety of manifestations. At the Eddy farmstead at Chittenden where Mme Blavatsky and Col. Olcott first met in 1874, many materializations occurred. They are described in great detail in Col. Olcott's book, People from the Other World. Among the many apparitional forms observed by him were those of a number of people whom Mme Blavatsky had known earlier in her life, one of them being her uncle.
Even the materialized form of my uncle at the Eddy's was the picture; it was I who sent it out from my own mind, as I had come to make experiments without telling it to anyone. It was like an empty outer envelope of my uncle that I seemed to throw on the medium's astral body. I saw and followed the process. I knew Will Eddy was a genuine medium, and the phenomenon was as real as it could be, and therefore, when days of trouble came for him, I defended him in the papers. [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -I, 35]
Repeatedly in her writings Mme Blavatsky insists that there can be no communication between the living and the dead, if by communication one understands the return of the real Spirit (Ego) of the deceased person to the world he has left.
We Theosophists, and especially occultists, must never lose sight of the profound axiom of the Esoteric Doctrine which teaches us that it is we, the living, that are drawn toward the spirits - but that the latter can never, even though they would, descend to us, or rather, into our sphere. [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -I, 36] There can, however, be communication under certain circumstances, particularly premature death of the personality, via a medium, as was explained in Book I.
The word 'spirit' in the above quotation, as distinct from soul or psyche, is used in its proper theosophical sense. It will be noted that there is no question of denying the validity of the phenomena as such: it is only the spiritualistic explanation that is called into question.
I was sent from Paris on purpose to America to prove the phenomena and their reality and - show the fallacy of the Spiritualistic theories of "Spirits". But how could I do it best? I did not want people at large to know that I could produce the same thing at will. [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -I, 73]
The power of producing apparently inexplicable phenomena at will is commonly referred to as "magic". But magic to the occultist is a science, "a profound knowledge of the Occult forces in Nature, and of the laws governing the visible or the invisible world". The passage continues
Spiritualism in the hands of an adept becomes Magic, for he is learned in the art of blending together the laws of the Universe, without breaking any of them and thereby violating Nature. In the hands of an experienced medium, Spiritualism becomes UNCONSCIOUS SORCERY; for, by allowing himself to become the helpless tool of a variety of spirits, of whom he knows nothing save what the latter permit him to know, he opens, unknown to himself, a door of communication between the two worlds, through which emerge the blind forces of Nature lurking in the astral light, as well as good and bad spirits. [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -I, 137]
One of Mme Blavatsky's earliest attempts to place the essential teachings of esoteric philosophy before the public is to be found in the summary which introduces the last chapter of Isis Unveiled. The list of ten important points begins with the unequivocal statement:
There is no miracle.
This is elaborated to affirm that apparent miracles are not a violation of the laws of Nature but the application of laws not known to contemporary science.
Everything that happens is the result of law - eternal, immutable, ever active. [Isis Unveiled -II, 587]
The question may be asked: if there is no communication between the living and the dead, how is it that the entities who seem to communicate through the medium at a seance show not only intelligence but even particular skills, for example, a knowledge of foreign languages (not possessed by any medium or other person present). The explanation is that in the middle principles (Kama-Manas) of the defunct which remain in Kama-Loca for a longer or shorter time, there adhere the psychic idiosyncracies and memories and the personality traits, even to the manner of speech. It is these that impress the entranced medium who assumes them in appearance of visage, tone of voice, etc. Further, the messages received contain knowledge which possibly only the deceased person possessed, even from previous lives. These latter will probably be from the Astral Light. Sometimes knowledge of a high order, even unknown in life to the deceased may come through, but not often, in a seance. Such knowledge is that of the Individuality (Ego). The fact is, says Mme Blavatsky, that the essence of man being one with the Universal Spirit, it
is practically omniscient, but that it cannot manifest its knowledge owing to the impediments of matter. Now the more these impediments are removed, in other words, the more the physical body is paralysed, as to its own independent activity and consciousness, as in deep sleep or deep trance, or, again, in illness, the more fully can the inner Self manifest on this plane. [The key to Theosophy - II, 29]
It is evident, therefore, that before one can enter seriously into profitable discussion, one must understand the distinction between the personality, the temporary embodiment of the Ego, and the Individuality, to which alone the term "spirit" should properly be applied. The same clarification is necessary if one is to understand the nature of the reincarnation process, the personality being - as the word clearly shows - the mask assumed for one incarnation by the Actor, the enduring Ego.
There is another factor not generally taken into account in popular explanations of spiritualistic and psychic phenomena, and that is the difference between spiritual and psychic senses. The psychic is too readily assumed to be the spiritual, so that one whose perceptive faculty is able to pass through gross physical matter is thought to have developed spiritual vision. Ordinary clairvoyants and untrained seers fail to recognize the gradations of matter beyond the physical.
They can see through gross matter, such as a wall, the human body and so forth, as if it were glass, but they cannot see through astral substance, and hence they believe its forms and all the pictures and shapes in the astral light to be real. Only the adept sees through these illusions, which are far more powerful because composed of a subtile order of matter: subtile energies, fine forces, have a highly increased rate of power over grosser ones. The adept has at his command the rate of vibration which dispels them or drives them asunder. [Letters that have helped me -, 27]
Because of the complexity, and at the same time the inter-relatedness of the many facets of the cosmic process, there is no one place in the literature of Esoteric Science in which the student can find a complete exposition of the subject of psychic phenomena and their production. In addition to what has been explained above, one must again refer to the role of the elementals and the ubiquity of the Astral Light.
There is not a single thing going on about us, no matter what, that elementals are not concerned in, because they constitute a necessary part of nature, just as important as the nerve currents in your body. [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -X, 271]
An incident narrated by W.Q. Judge may serve to illustrate their role in the production of phenomena in consequence of their power to acquaint themselves with the thoughts and unuttered wishes of human beings. He was in London at the time, with Mme Blavatsky, and found himself in need of a certain sheet of paper on which he had written a few lines, but he had left it behind in America. Without expressing the thought in words, he wondered to himself whether, by some means, she could obtain the paper for him.
She smiled at me, rose, went into her room, came out at once, and in a moment handed me a piece of paper ... To my amazement it was a duplicate of my paper, a facsimile. I then asked her how she got it, and she replied: "I saw it in your head and the rest was easy. You thought it very clearly. You know it can be done; and it was needed". This was all done in about the time it takes to read these descriptive sentences. [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -X, 273]
Seeking out and putting together the considerable body of detailed information about the planes of Nature (in particular, the Akasha and the Astral Light), the constitution of man in life and death, the elements, elementals and elementaries, the student will find answers to most of his questions concerning psychic faculties (clairvoyance, clairaudience, psychometry, psycho-kinesis and so on), fortune-telling and divination, hypnotism, materializations, healing and apparent magical performances. Because of the essential unity underlying the whole of existence, occult philosophy recognizes no supernatural agency, and all that appears to the ignorant as magical or miraculous must in fact take place in accordance with natural law.
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. We would have all to realize that magical, i.e., spiritual powers exist in every man, and those few to practise them who feel called to teach, and are ready to pay the price of discipline and self conquest which their development exacts ... [Isis Unveiled -II, 635]
We must now say a few words to correct the popular misconception that identifies Occultism with black magic and such black arts as witchcraft and necromancy.
It has been explained earlier that the invisible worlds around us are peopled by Elementals and Elementaries, and that these entities are responsible for the great variety of psychic and spiritualistic phenomena. To this we must add the further fact that human thought-forms are animated by such Elementals and maybe by Elementaries. This is true whether the thought-form is produced by one individual or by a group. Where the thought is strongly defined, and especially when it is reinforced by emotion, the mental image thus created may become vivified by an Elemental and thus acquire a measure of independent life. The collective thought of a group of people, as for example a congregation of worshippers or the audience at a political meeting, may create a powerful entity, ensouled by either an Elemental or an Elementary, which will be fed and strengthened by the intensity of the emotion with which it has been charged. It may then be sensed by other members of the group who thus find themselves swept along on a strong current of irresistible and maybe violent emotion which can cause them to behave in ways which, individually, they would repudiate. Similarly, a mediumistic member of the group may be moved to make utterances or deliver messages which appear to come from a power beyond him - as indeed they do, that power being the entity called into existence by the collective thoughts of worshippers or other people present.
Power in itself, of whatever kind, is neither good nor evil: it becomes either good or evil according to its use. The difference between white and black magic is that in the former the power is exercised only for beneficent purposes, whereas in the latter it is turned to selfish or even maleficent ends. The karmic consequences to the magician will be in accordance with those purposes and with the benefit or harm to others resulting from the exercise of his powers. In both cases, the effective agents are the Elementals, the magician being one who has learnt how to evoke and control them. It is a mistake to think of magic as in any way supernatural, if by that we mean an action brought about in contravention of natural law: in the occult philosophy it is axiomatic that there is nothing outside Nature. In what appear to be miraculous or magical performances, both the white and the black magicians are using - for good or evil - knowledge of their own powers and of the processes of Nature. As stated earlier in this chapter, there is no miracle:
Magic, as a science, is the knowledge of the principles [of man and Cosmos], and of the way by which the omniscience and omnipotence of the spirit and its control over nature's forces may be acquired by the individual while still in the body. Magic, as an art, is the application of this knowledge in practice. [Isis Unveiled -II, 588]
It is hardly necessary to add that the Occultism with which we are concerned is entirely beneficent. Nothing further therefore needs to be added about the black arts, save the recognition that they are no fiction. No occultist of the "right-hand path", no "white Adept", will ever exercise his powers for his own advantage or to escape the disagreeable consequences of past mistakes, nor will he make any attempt to interfere with the karma of others. He may, however, by his wisdom and strength, so inspire and strengthen those who seek his help that they are enabled to face their difficulties with greater understanding and courage.
CHAPTER -13- [ BOOK -II- ]
In instructing the students who gathered round her in London in the late 1880's, Mme Blavatsky emphasized the absolute necessity of understanding that "EXISTENCE IS ONE THING". That One Thing, the source and essence of all, is called by the Hindus Parabrahman or Paramatman. Equally important for the student is the recognition of the inevitable corollary of this truth: if there is but One Reality, we must have come from It - for there is no other source of being, and we must one day return to It - for there is nowhere where It is not. She then uses a passage from Aryasanga, an immediate disciple of the Buddha, to add the third aspect of the corollary - that we must in fact be It, for there is nothing else: THAT ART THOU.
The passage from Aryasanga is an exquisite summary of the Secret Doctrine, setting out in a few lines the whole story of existence from the periodical emergence of the Cosmos through the incalculable aeons of the evolutionary process to the consummation of human life in the individual's realization of identity with the One.
THAT which is neither Spirit nor Matter, neither Light nor Darkness, but is verily the container and root of these, that thou art. The Root projects at every Dawn its shadow in Itself, and that shadow thou callest Light and life, O poor dead Form. [This] Life-Light streameth downward through the stairway of the seven worlds, the stairs of which each step becomes denser and darker. It is of this seven-times-seven scale that thou art the faithful climber and mirror, O little man! Thou art this, but thou knowest it not. [--- The Secret Doctrine -III, 513 /V, 488 /The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -XII, 625 /The esoteric writings of H.P.Blavatsky -, 407]
In those last words - "but thou knowest it not" - is there not an implied imperative, an injunction to the individual pilgrim to know, to abandon his ignorance by obeying the precepts laid down by generations of Teachers, and so to enter the way of enlightenment?
It may be argued that there is some contradiction in the term "spiritual development", for Spirit is the One Life, present in all things, perfect from the beginning. It cannot therefore be said to develop if by development we mean the emergence of new qualities. Only the vestures, the vehicles through which it manifests, can properly be said to develop in this sense, that is, to become increasingly responsive to the potentialities of Spirit. With the expansion of consciousness comes an ever-widening field of perception which will result ultimately - insofar as one can speak of an end in Nature - in Self-realization, that is, the realization of the Self, the direct knowledge of the identity of one's own life with the One Life. Until now, until this great awakening, the pilgrim soul (the Individual) has been struggling on in darkness, painfully aware of separateness and of the gradualness of the process in which he, and all humanity with him, is engaged.
Below the human kingdom, Self-realization is unattainable, for in the animal the mental principle is dormant. In man, by virtue of the dual mind principle - the outward-turned consciousness functioning through the senses, and the as yet unconscious higher mind - the nature of future progress is seen to be through the increasing responsiveness of the merely human element to the pressure from within, as the higher or spiritual consciousness seeks to manifest through the vehicles with which Karma has endowed him.
Spiritual development then is the development of the faculties or powers in each being that are necessary to give expression to the qualities and powers of Spirit. How those faculties are to be developed is the subject of many works of spiritual counsel and instruction written by advanced individuals for the helping of those would-be disciples in whom has been awakened a sense of direction but as yet little knowledge as to how to proceed. "Lead the life necessary for the acquisition of such knowledge and powers," wrote one of the Mahatmas to a lay chela, "and Wisdom will come to you naturally." [The Secret Doctrine -I, 167 /I, 190 /I, 221]
In an article in The Theosophist for May 1885, introduced by lines from Christina Rossetti which she repeated later in The Secret Doctrine - an indication of her endorsement of the verse "as an epitome of the life those who are truly treading the path which leads to higher things" - Mme Blavatsky points out that, whatever difference there may be in the various presentations of the Esoteric Doctrine, they all agree in regard to "the road to spiritual development".
Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Does the journey take the whole long day?
From morn till night, my friend.
That road is one, and the conditions for its treading are everywhere the same:
One only inflexible rule has been ever binding upon the neophyte, as it is binding now - the complete subjugation of the lower nature by the higher. From the Vedas and Upanishads to the recently published Light on the Path, search as we may through the bibles of every race and cult, we find but one only way, - hard, painful, troublesome, by which man can gain the true spiritual insight. And how can it be otherwise since all religions and philosophies are but the variants of the first teachings of the One Wisdom, imparted to men at the beginning of the cycle by the Planetary Spirit? [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -VI, 331]
That is why, she adds, the methods of spiritual growth, advocated within the Theosophical Society
are those of the ancient Rishis, its tenets those of the oldest Esotericism; it is no dispenser of patent nostrums composed of violent remedies which no honest healer would dare to use. [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -VI, 334]
The pain that inevitably accompanies the process of growth through evolution is largely due to the mistake of
perpetually seeking the permanent in the impermanent, and not only seeking, but acting as if we had already found the unchangeable, in a world of which the one certain quality we can predicate is constant change, and always, just as we fancy we have taken a firm hold upon the permanent, it changes within our very grasp, and pain results. [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -VI, 331]
Warnings there are in abundance in the literature of the spiritual life: warnings against mere intellectual development, the accumulation of knowledge, to the neglect of the intuitive faculty; warnings against reliance on either external practices such as religious observance or the cultivation of psychic powers; warnings against seeking by any means the advantage or enhancement of the personality, or placing the goal of attainment in some future time. It is because of the dangers that await the pilgrim in the later stages of the journey that in the earlier stages there is great emphasis on the necessity for purity in life and the observance of the higher ethics.
Theosophy has to inculcate ethics; it has to purify the soul if it would relieve the physical body, whose ailments, save cases of accidents, are all hereditary. It is not by studying Occultism for selfish ends, for the gratification of one's personal ambition, pride, or vanity, that one can ever reach the true goal of helping suffering mankind. [The key to Theosophy - II, 24]
The effort in these earlier stages is described as a purification, a process by which the personal nature must be disciplined to loosen its hold on the real man. The disciple must get rid - at first gradually but later more drastically - of all the attitudes and desires that are the result of identification with the personal man, uprooting the giant and prolific weed of selfishness. The warning of The Voice of the Silence is severe:
Woe, then, to thee, Disciple, if there is one single vice thou hast not left behind. For then the ladder will give way and overthrow thee ... Beware lest thou should'st set a foot still soiled upon the ladder's lowest rung. [The Voice of the Silence -, Frag.1, v 69]
Popular religion - that is, exoteric religion with its anthropomorphic theology, its rituals and disciplinary practices - is said to be the nursery of future occultists. Hence the necessity for an ethical code that will initiate the process of purification. The eight-fold system of yoga likewise begins with yama and niyama (see Glossary). But the teaching of Esoteric Science introduces a feature that distinguishes it entirely from exoteric religion, that of "self-induced and self-devised efforts" by which the pilgrim may ascend to the heights of spirituality. As we saw in Part One,
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. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 17 /I, 45 /I, 82]
In this philosophy there is no room for reliance on an external saviour, for as it teaches the fundamental identity of all souls with the source of being, the saving Divinity is within, "awaiting its inevitable hour". Spiritual development is the slow unveiling of that Divinity, present in every man, until the individual consciousness is merged into It and becomes that of the ONE ALL.
One of the world's greatest treatises on spiritual development is The Bhagavad Gita. It is the story of the Divine Teacher, the Lord Sri Krishna, instructing his pupil Arjuna. There are eighteen Chapters of inspiring discourse. These engender devotion in the listener towards the Lord ... "who is thine own Self". Another work of inestimable value to the serious aspirant is The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
A major element in spiritual instruction is that designed to free consciousness from the imprisoning effects of personal selfish life. Real teaching aids the aspirant to transcend these limitations by the elevation of consciousness to Egoic or divine levels. As far as we are concerned our Ego is the Divinity within ourselves. In The Bhagavad Gita it speaks to us in the first person:
Those who worship me with constant zeal, with the highest faith and minds placed on me, are held in high esteem by me. But those who, with minds equal toward everything, with senses and organs restrained, and rejoicing in the good of all creatures, meditate on the inexhaustible, immovable, highest, incorruptible, difficult to contemplate, invisible, omnipresent, unthinkable, the witness, undemonstrable, shall also come unto me. [Letters that have helped me - XII, 3 and 4]
There is much else about concentration and meditation. In spiritual development meditation figures largely. It is not the purpose of this book to give detailed instruction, merely to whet curiosity and interest. In this connection, for those wishing a more practical guidance, Mme Blavatsky's "Diagram of Meditation" is recommended.
CHAPTER -14- [ BOOK -II-]
The purpose of the Introductory section of The Secret Doctrine is to place before the public the available evidence which establishes beyond reasonable doubt the existence of an original source behind and beyond the various religions.
Is [the Secret Doctrine] a new religion, we are asked? By no means; it is not a religion nor is its philosophy new; for, as already stated, it is as old as thinking man. Its tenets are not now published for the first time, but have been cautiously given out to, and taught by, more than one European Initiate ... [The Secret Doctrine -I, xxxvi /I, 20 /I, 59]
It is to such initiates and their disciples that we must look for the origins of the exoteric forms of religion known to history.
More than one great scholar has stated that there never was a religious founder, whether Aryan, Semitic or Turanian, who had invented a new religion, or revealed a new truth. These founders were all transmitters, not original teachers. They were the authors of new forms and interpretations, while the truths upon which the latter were based were as old as mankind. Selecting one or more of those grand verities - actualities visible only to the eye of the real Sage and Seer ... they revealed these truths to the masses. Thus every nation received in its turn some of the said truths, under the veil of its own local and special symbolism; which as time went on, developed into a more or less philosophical cultus, a Pantheon in mythical disguise. [The Secret Doctrine -I, xxxvi /I, 20 /I, 59]
Both Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine are characterized by an enormous number of quotations from respected philosophical, religious and historical sources that support this contention. Their purpose is made explicit:
The public must be made acquainted with the efforts of many World-adepts, of initiated poets, writers, and classics of every age, to preserve in the records of Humanity the Knowledge of the existence at least, of such a philosophy, if not actually of its tenets. [The Secret Doctrine -I, xlv /I, 28 /I, 67]
In an important article published in Lucifer in February 1888 under the title "What is Truth?", Mme Blavatsky confronts the question of absolute and relative truth, the former being incommunicable to the limited consciousness of ordinary mortals, the latter being such rays of the Sun of Truth which that consciousness can assimilate. One of the quotations with which the article is introduced makes just this point, that
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. [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -IX, 31]
The quoted fragment says:
... Fair Truth's immortal sun
Is sometimes hid in clouds; not that her light
Is in itself defective, but obscured
By my weak prejudice, imperfect Faith
And all the thousand causes which obstruct
The growth of goodness. [The collected writings of H.P.Blavatsky -IX, 30]
Passages such as these emphasize the distinction that must always be made between ultimate or absolute Truth and the dogmas and scriptural presentations of relative truth that characterize the world's religions. Historical evidence shows that every human grouping has had as part of its culture a form of religion with an identifiable belief-system and its related practices. Occult tradition, however, goes further back, taking us to the very early races of our humanity. Although formalized religion is not present among the Atlanteans, they had religion - from the Race before them - defined as
the binding together of the masses in one form of reverence paid to those we feel higher than ourselves, of piety - as a feeling expressed by a child toward a loved parent - then even the earliest Lemurians had a religion - and a most beautiful one - from the very beginning of their intellectual life. [The Secret Doctrine -II, 272 /II, 284 /III, 273]
The occult tradition teaches that our humanity owes its origins to the sacrificial incarnation of "bright Spirits" who gave of
their own respective super-ethereal essences to animate the man of clay, by endowing each of his inner principles with a portion, or rather a reflection of that essence. [The Secret Doctrine -II, 273 /II, 285 /III, 275]
It was the presence of the divine principles in man that gave him his innate religious sense:
No sooner had the mental eye of man been opened to understanding, than the Third Race felt itself one with the ever-present as the ever to be unknown and invisible ALL, the One Universal Deity. Endowed with divine powers, and feeling in himself his inner God, each felt he was a Man-God in his nature, though an animal in his physical Self. [The Secret Doctrine -II, 272 /II, 284 /III, 273]
This "inner God" is still man's inner essential nature but the realization of it is all but totally obscured by materialism and purely personal concerns.
The degeneration of the pure religious impulse began with the Atlanteans,
the first progeny of semi-divine man after his separation into sexes - hence the first-begotten and humanly-born mortals - who became the first "Sacrificers" to the god of matter. They stand in the far-away dim past, in ages more than prehistoric, as the prototype on which the great symbol of Cain was built, as the first anthropomorphists who worshipped form and matter.[The Secret Doctrine -II, 273 /II, 285 /III, 275]
Coming down now to historical times, we cannot help but recognize the materialization of even the God-idea. The One, the Absolute Existence, unknown and unknowable to the conditioned human mind, becomes in the course of time an anthropomorphized Deity with personal attributes. The rejection of these "gods created by man in his own image and likeness - a blasphemous and sorry caricature of the Every-Unknowable", may lead the superficial reader to the erroneous conclusion that the occult philosophy is atheistic, or at best agnostic. At the very beginning of her great work, Mme Blavatsky states unequivocally the standpoint of the Wisdom-Religion and, incidentally, its relevance for the age in which we live. As we saw in Book I:
... the Esoteric philosophy is alone calculated
to withstand, in this age of crass and illogical materialism, the repeated attacks
on all and everything man holds most dear and sacred, in his inner spiritual
life ... Moreover, esoteric philosophy reconciles all religions, strips every
one of its outward, human garments, and shows the root of each to be identical
with that of every other great religion. It proves the necessity of an absolute
Divine Principle in nature. It denies Deity no more than it does the sun. Esoteric
philosophy has never rejected God in Nature, nor Deity as the absolute and abstract
Ens. [The Secret Doctrine -I, xx /I, 3 /I. 43]
The Adept Teachers who entered into correspondence with Messrs Sinnett and Hume, recognizing the religious conditioning of their correspondents, were no less explicit in their rejection of any compromise with regard to the existence of a Being corresponding to even the most philosophical concept of God. They accepted neither the designation of atheists nor that of agnostics:
Our doctrine knows no compromise. It either affirms or denies, for it never teaches but that which it knows to be the truth. [The Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnett -, 52:52]
In the second summary with which Mme Blavatsky concludes the first part of The Secret Doctrine, she introduces the five proven facts by the statement that "The SECRET DOCTRINE teaches no Atheism". There are, as has been shown through this work, Hierarchies of beings - "Dhyan-Chohans and the other Forces" - the active agents of Karma in their respective functions in the cosmic process. No more than any hypothetical Supreme Being are these to be regarded as
proper subjects for divine honours or worship. All are entitled to the grateful reverence of Humanity, however, and man ought to be ever striving to help the divine evolution of ideas, by becoming to the best of his ability a co-worker with nature in the cyclic task. [The Secret Doctrine -I, 280 /I, 300 /I, 322 ]
After telling us that
Many men have arisen who had glimpses of the truth, and fancied they had it all. Such have failed to achieve the good they might have done and sought to do, because vanity has made them thrust their personality into such undue prominence as to interpose it between their believers and the whole truth that lay behind ...
Mme Blavatsky went on to say,
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 anyone who can find the way; the pure in heart see God. [ Isis Unveiled -II, 635 ]
The trinity of nature is the lock of magic, the trinity of man the key that fits it.
We have now concluded this outline sketch of the vast subject of Esoteric Science. We have learned that Theosophy, the Ancient Ageless Wisdom, exists; that it is the Wisdom Religion, embracing all that is good and true in the great religions of mankind, yet transcending them all. As far as can be expressed in words, we find it reflects Truth, insisting on the Unity of the cosmic process in which each individual is as a spark to the flame; that we are of like nature with Cosmos, and, being of one Essence, are members of one family, a family that includes all things and all beings.
The aim of this work has been to make known something of the scope of the subject and to offer a framework for future study; to provide a base of data relating to the very nature of Nature, and therefore the nature of Man, for philosophers, religionists, and scientists to consider and ponder thoughtfully. That base, importantly, is common to them all. Acceptance of these data inevitably affects our thinking, and therefore our attitudes, pointing a direction away from materialism, selfishness, greed, ruthless competition and superstition, which all stem from fundamental ignorance of the true nature of existence and its processes.
The awful waste in our so-called developed society is beginning to be regarded as totally unacceptable. A spirit of kindness to our Mother Earth is abroad - realization that the Earth needs a recovery time, both in terms of land yield, timber, sea products, etc., as well as the massive energy sources of coal, gas and oil - none of the latter being inexhaustible. Already there are massive aid projects for victims of natural catastrophes, civil war, etc. The public heart has been touched: food for the starving, water supplies, medical aid, land resettlement - all these are now being generously funded.
But beyond all that, and basically, how can human follies be prevented that cause and aggravate so much human suffering? How stem the tide of strife by so-called religious bigotry and fundamentalism on which unscrupulous politicians thrive for their own interest? There is only one effective palliative - a knowledge of the essential spiritual origin and nature of all things, creatures and men. Today the idea of earth as a living entity is receiving growing acceptance. This is a positive start. But who has heard of Alaya, the Soul of the World, indeed of the Cosmos, the common spiritual Soul shared by all?
Here in this book we have heard of that Universal Law which in no way can be thwarted or turned aside: inexorable in its action but ever wisely just. We learn of the ramifications of the Law of Cycles, periodicity, coming and going, with reincarnation as one of its aspects? And we see that the doctrine of reincarnation, bringing with it the idea of long-term evolution and the ultimate perfectibility of man, makes sense of our life here on earth. The great question then, "What are we here for?" is now answered. Every individual’s life has a long-term purpose - self-development leading to a realization of the nature of one’s real divine Self, and inseparable relationship, through identity, with the Universal SELF.
Who then, accepting these things, can deny Universal Brotherhood, not only in mankind, but also in all sentient life, everywhere, everything?
Compassion is not 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 Voice of the Silence -, Frag.III, v 300]
What about attitudes then? Are harmony and peace and benevolence too much even to contemplate? We can at least try.
This glossary deals only with those words used in the text which may require some explanation. For some, literal meanings are given; for others some further explanation to indicate the meaning in which they are used in the book is added. These meanings may not be those of common use nor those of classical scholars. The books used as references in compiling this glossary are: The Key to Theosophy, The Theosophical Glossary, The Secret Doctrine, Glossary of Sanskrit Terms (G.A. Barborka) and Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary. Grateful acknowledgements are made to all these.
|Absolute||More properly just absoluteness. The One Everlasting Reality, never itself manifesting but underlying all manifestation. Parabrahman (lit. beyond Brahman). From THE SECRET DOCTRINE (Proem), "An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless and Immutable Principle on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception ... (it) is the rootless root of "all that was, is or ever shall be."|
|Adi||Original, the first, supreme; 7th (highest) Tattva.|
|Aether||In THE SECRET DOCTRINE the equivalent of Akasha, the primeval manifested 'substance', undifferentiated - (see Akasha and Ether; divine luminiferous substance which pervades the whole universe.|
|Ah-Hi||"..the collective hosts of Spiritual Beings .. intelligent Forces that give to, and enact in, Nature her "laws" .. (The Secret Doctrine - Stanza I, sloka 3)|
|Ahamkara||The egotistical, I-making principle in man.|
|Akasha||(alternative Akasa) Primordial spacial substance (Aether).|
|Antahkarana||lit. Intermediate instrument; regarded as the bridge between Lower and Higher Manas in H.P.B.'s works.|
|Anthropogenesis||From anthropos(Greek), man, and genesis, origins or beginnings.|
|Anupadaka||Usually taken to mean "parentless" in theosophical writings; 6th Tattva.|
|Astral Body||(or Astral Double). Astral is from the Latin word for star: shining body surrounding and interpenetrating the physical. The model in the inner world around which the physical body is formed. The vehicle of prana, the life-principle.|
|Astral Light||The lower levels of Akasha; lasts for a Manvantara while Akasha is everlasting. The realm of powers, energies and qualities that show forth in manifest existence. The inner seat of all memory, a record of all that has happened.|
|Atman||The Supreme Universal Self: the seventh Principle of Cosmos and correspondingly the divine aspect in Man's constitution, (as the latter it is usually spelt Atma).|
|Brahma(n)||In neuter form "is the impersonal supreme, uncognizable but all-pervading son of the universe", from "the essence of which all emanates and into which all returns".|
|Brahma||With an accent over the second 'a' is male and regarded as the Creator aspect of the trinity of which Vishnu is the preserver and Siva the destroyer aspects.|
|Bodhi||Illumination, spiritual wisdom, receptive intelligence.|
|Buddhi||The vehicle of Atma; the potentiality of intelligence, 6th principle in Cosmos, and in man's constitution; often signifies intuition (direct perception).|
|Causal Body||Name given to Manas (higher) in conjunction with Buddhi. Sometimes the incarnating Entity or Ego.|
|Chain (Planetary)||In Occultism a series of seven globes, usually six subjective, and one objective (physical), as is our Earth with its six companion globes, three preceding and three succeeding it in evolutionary development. The Chain preceding the Earth Chain is said to have been the Lunar (or Moon) Chain.|
|Chhaya||(lit."a shadow") The rudiment of form, projected by the Lunar ancestors, of terrestrial man to become that of his astral model body.|
|Co-adunition||United or combined with (dictionary spelling, coadunation)|
|Cosmogenesis||The beginnings or origins of Cosmos|
|Cosmos||(Greek Kosmos) The world or universe as an orderly or systematic whole. The word is sometimes used in Esoteric Science to connote the immediate visible universe or even the solar system.|
|Cycles||(Greek Kyklos, a circle) A period of time in which events happen in a certain order, and which constantly repeats itself; a necessary series of changes. In Occultism the whole process of universal becoming is regarded as cyclical and is itself seen as composed of an infinite series of cycles within cycles|
|Demiurge||The supernatural power that built the universe and man.|
|Deva||A celestial being with many popular meanings from god to angel (from div, to shine)|
|Devachan||(lit. the dwelling of the gods) The subjective, blissful state enjoyed by the Ego after death, where there is no sorrow.|
|Dhyan Chohan||(lit. Lord of Light) The entities comprising the post-human kingdoms. The divine intelligences that conduct the processes of Cosmos, ruling the lesser intelligences, the elementals.|
|Ego||In Occultism usually spelt with a capital E, the higher trinity of aspects in the human constitution; the divinity within man; the persisting individuality as opposed to mortal, temporary personality, the ordinary ego (small e).|
|Elements||States or conditions of substance at all levels of being, reflecting into physical objective existence as the fiery; vaporous, airy, gaseous; watery, fluidic; and earthy, solid, states. To each of these states the medieval philosophers ascribed temperaments, viz sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholy and choleric (or bilious).|
|Elementals||The spirits of the Elements; the invisible creatures usually associated with the mediaeval philosophers' Elements, viz., Earth, Water, Air, Fire, but there are other kinds; the living forces in Nature.|
|Elementaries||The kama-manasic reliquae of the dead in Kama-loca after the departure to Devachan of the higher trinity. Because of their separation from the Egoic influence, they tend to manifest only the baser, more depraved elements in the deceased's character. They can materialize at seances through a medium and can use elementals to produce phenomena.|
|Elohim||In Occultism taken to mean a hierarchy of creators in the formation of Cosmos. It is a plural noun.|
|Ether||In Occultism an Element (corresponding to the 5th Tattva) which will become manifest in the 5th Round. It is not to be confused with the chemical ether and is not the ether of 19th century science, i.e. the medium in which electromagnetic waves were supposed to travel; this latter meaning would correspond to the non-physical Astral light.|
|Fission||The process of reproduction by division whereby a biological cell divides into two; as in nuclear fission, splitting an atom.|
|Fohat||The primeval energy of Cosmos. Under its action the original homogeneous Substance Principle becomes atomic and differentiates; sometimes called Cosmic electricity and like electricity at physical level is transformable into many forms of energy, viz, light, heat, etc.|
|Hermes||Commonly Hermes Trismegistus, "thrice great", Egyptian or Greek. According to Plato, discovered numbers, geometry, astronomy and letters. The author of the famous Hermetic axiom "As above, so below" etc.|
|Hierarchy||From the Greek, hieros, sacred, and archein, to rule; a body classified in successively subordinate grades. In Occultism the body and grades are represented by collective hosts.|
|Jiva||The general cosmic Life Principle.|
|Jivatma(n)||The highest spiritual (Life) Principle especially when regarded as individualized, as in man.|
|Kama||The 4th principle in Cosmos and man. It is fohatic force regarded as expressing itself as desire, emotion and passions, particularly in man.|
|Kama Loca||That region of, or place in, the Astral Light where the kamic remains of defunct human beings exist for a while (maybe up to some years) and then dissipate.|
|Kama Rupa||The kamic form of the defunct which takes form only after death and in which the deceased under some circumstances may retain some consciousness. It is this form which may manifest at seances.|
|Karma||(lit. action) In one sense the total of the dynamic effects of all cosmic processes. it has many aspects both cosmic and particular. It maintains, by its equilibrium (harmony) aspect, the universe as an orderly whole. For a fine definition see The Key to Theosophy Chap.XI, where it says, "it is the ultimate law of the universe, the source, origin and fount of all laws which exist throughout nature ... etc."|
|Kingdoms||The kingdoms of nature, but taken in Occultism to include three elemental ones below the mineral and three above the human, making ten in all.|
|Kriyasakti||The mysterious thought- (or will-) directed power that enables a potent user of it to produce phenomenal effects.|
|Kumaras||One class of Solar Pitris, closely concerned with humanity. In the formation of earth men they were said, because of their purity, to "refuse to create". They are sometimes referred to as "the mind-born Sons" and Agnishvattas, sometimes equated to Egos.|
|Law, The||A synonym for Karma in its broadest sense. It is the whole Cosmic operation. In The Secret Doctrine it says, "Deity is Law and vice versa." Because everything from the highest to the lowest in Cosmos is living and therefore sentient, it behaves in its characteristic way fulfilling its role in the grand scheme of things. This is how they are ordered. The Universe is self-regulating; there is no outside Law-giver or Regulator.|
|Laya||A condition of dissolution, of rest, of non-activity. A laya centre is a state of inactive neutrality, where substance ceases to be differentiated; sometimes likened to Nirvana.|
|Linga-sarira||The model body, the Sanscrit name for the Astral Body, man's 2nd principle, the vehicle of prana.|
|Lipika||(lit. The 'Recorders) They are said to enter in the book of the unfading cosmic memory every detail of all that has happened during a Manvantara. The highest in the Hierarchy of Celestial Beings; they create a division between the arupa (spiritual) and the rupa (lower, form) levels of existence.|
|Logos||(lit. word or sound) The Collective Being of a system, i.e. Solar or Planetary. Usually represented as being threefold; unmanifest (1st), manifest (2nd), intelligent (mind, Mahat, in action) (3rd).|
|Lunar Pitris||The beings who had reached the human stage in the Lunar (Moon) Chain who formed the chhayas (shadows) of the Astral bodies of the humanity to be on our planet.|
|Maha||Great, e.g. Mahatma, Great Soul.|
|Mahat||Cosmic Ideation, Divine Mind, Universal Mind principle, which reflected into and individualized in man, is his Manasic principle (5th). Regarded in The Secret Doctrine as an Entity, the highest in our scheme, a collectivity of divine beings.|
|Manasaputras||(lit. the Sons of Mind) Solar Pitris who bestowed the spark of Mind upon the up-until-then otherwise 'mindless' man of the Third Root Race.|
The great Regents of a planetary system; the collective beings who act as the progenitors of the successive Races of men on the planet.
|Manvantara||The period of influence of the Manu; otherwise a period of activity always alternating with a period of rest - Prayala.|
|Mayavi Rupa||An illusary, thought-projected form. The vehicle of so called 'astral' travel of any but a short distance from the physical body. Short distance travel may be in the Astral Body proper. The mayavi-rupa is also sometimes projected when someone dying thinks of another to whom it then appears.|
|Modus Operandi||Latin, literally the way or manner of operating or working.|
|Monad||(lit. a unit) An ultimate unit of being; in Occultism the Unit Spirit in or over-shadowing everything. A unit of life. In man the combination of Atma and Buddhi when in association with an entity. Regarded cosmically as the indivisible One, the Unit Life of the System in existence, whence all 'lives'.|
|Moon Chain||See Chain. The Moon or Lunar Chain is said to be the one that next preceded ours, the Earth Chain, regarded as its re-incarnation inheriting its principles, life energies, etc.|
|Mulaprakriti||Root-matter, undifferentiated, the abstract Substance-principle unmanifest; corresponds to Akasa as undifferentiated Substance in manifestation.|
|Nirvana||A state of Egoic consciousness free of the limitations and conditioning of ordinary existence; the highest spiritual attainment. Not extinction but absolute existence and consciousness.|
|Niyama||Restraint of the mind achieved by controlling one's thoughts.|
|Noumenon||The inner, invisible, essential nature behind all visible, objective phenomena or anything that can be an object of sense.|
|Occult||Ordinarily, simply 'hidden' from Latin 'to hide'. "The doctrine or study of things hidden or mysterious - theosophy, etc." (Chambers). Occult Sciences, the Hermetic or Esoteric Sciences which explore the secrets of Nature.|
|Parabrahm||(lit. beyond Brahm) The indescribable, unknowable, unvarying 'absolute' postulated as preceding and sustaining the manifest Universe.|
|Pari Passu||Latin, literally with equal pace; together.|
|Prakriti||The manifest substance aspect, as opposed to the spiritual (purusha) aspect of the One, the material of the universe.|
|Pralaya||The period of rest or inactivity after a Manvantara, or period of activity. Literally meaning dissolution but often applying to a state of suspended being. Can apply variously to a Universe, a solar system or a planet.|
|Prana||The Life Principle (Jiva) when associated with an individual, e.g. man. No body or even inner personal principle can live without it. The breath of life.|
|Prithivi||(lit. the Earth) Sometimes the Element Earth, when regarded as a Tattva.|
|Quaternary||The fourfold constitution of man in the rupa or form planes as distinct from the three arupa or spiritual planes. The quaternary is the Personality whereas the upper spiritual triad is the Individuality or Ego.|
|Race||In Occultism, humanity is represented as passing through seven main development stages during one Round; (q.v.) each such stage is a Root Race, which is divided in seven Sub-Races and each of these is further sub-divided.|
|Regent||A name given to the great (collective) Beings who initiate the cosmic 'creative' process after a Pralaya. They have other names, Maharajas, etc.|
|Rig-Veda||(lit. The Hymn Veda) The first and most important of the four Vedas; the most ancient sacred book of the Hindus; said to be "dozens of thousands" of years old.|
|Ring-Pass-Not||As a man's skin demarks him, as an entity, from his surroundings at physical level, so he is said in Occultism to be so 'entified' in the inner world by a ring-pass-not. Occultism also teaches that every manifest thing and creature has such a ring|
|Round||In Occultism this word is used in a special way to denote the passage of the "Life Wave" round all the seven globes of a Chain once.|
|Rupa||(lit. a form) This applies not only to the objective physical world but to inner worlds, normally invisible, but visible to clairvoyant sight. There even such normally subjective phenomena as feelings and thoughts become perceptible.|
|Skandhas||The "dispositions and tendencies" which persist through the after death states and condition the new personality of a re-incarnating Ego. Exoterically there are five but esoterically seven.|
|Sistrum||An ancient Egyptian musical instrument of the rattle type.|
|Sthula-sarira||Sanscrit for the physical body; the first principle in man's occult constitution. The body which gives expression in the physical world to all man's facilities.|
|Swabavat||The mystic Essence, equivalent to Mulaprakriti, Father-Mother, the primordial Spirit-Substance Principle from which all manifest existence, Nature, proceeds, and into which all returns at the end of the Mahamanvantara.|
|Sui Generis||Of its own kind, the only one of its kind.|
|Taijasa||From Tejas, fire; radiant, flaming. As a Tattva, the Element Fire.|
|Tanha||The thirst for life, that which brings us back into incarnation according to the Buddhists.|
|Tattva||From Tat, That, the original homogeneous Element of Life, in which the several basic qualities of things in Nature arise as the Elements or Tattvas.|
|Theosophy||From theos, god, and sophia, wisdom or knowledge. If God is regarded as universal Deity with everything as a manifestation of the One, Theosophy can be taken to mean an inclusive knowledge of the whole Cosmic process. H.P.B. has said, "It is the last word of possible human knowledge".|
|Triad||A threefold unity; a trinity taken as one. In Occultism the higher triad is the Atma - Buddhi - Manas combination. Its symbol is the triangle.|
|Upadhi||(lit. substitute or disguise) Usually base or vehicle, through which something higher than itself is given expression. The physical body (vehicle) of man gives expression to his 'soul' principles.|
|Vayu||Air, as such, and as a Tattva or Element.|
|Vidya||Knowledge. Avidya, not knowing, ignorance.|
|Yama||(lit.) God of the Dead. Unrestrained activities of the mind.|
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