The Myth of Prometheus
the Coming of Creative Power to Man
as published in “Theosophical Siftings” - Volume 7 - [1894-1895]
[Page 3] IN The Secret Doctrine, Mme. Blavatsky tells us that she has spent a considerable part of her life in studying the hidden meaning of all ancient myths both sacred and profane. For these myths are allegories in which are embodied certain universal truths with regard to the life and history of man. She tells us that "without the help of symbology — with its seven departments, of which the moderns know nothing — no ancient Scripture can ever be correctly understood". For the different offshoots of the Aryan race embodied in various forms the truths which had been carried down by legend from the time when they were revealed to the Sons of Light by their Divine Instructors.
The Grecian myth of Prometheus is one of the most interesting and important of the ancient legends, because it relates to the turning point of the great cycle of evolution, the coming of self-consciousness to man. It symbolizes the emergence of the race from the state of childhood, when good and evil were alike unknown, when the harmony of nature was as yet unbroken, because the individual man had not as yet realised himself as a separate entity. For the race as well as the individual has passed through the stage graphically described by Tennyson: —
"The baby new to earth and sky
What time his tender palm is prest
Against the circle of the breast,
Has never thought that "this is I:"
But as he grows he gathers much,
And learns the use of "I "and "me".
And finds "I am not what I see,
And other than the things I touch."
With regard to this individualizing process, The Secret Doctrine says:—
"The Ocean of Matter does not divide into its potential and constituent drops until the sweep of the life-impulse reaches the evolutionary stage of man-birth. The tendency towards segregation into individual Monads is gradual, and in the higher animals comes almost to the point."
This realising of one's self as a separate entity is the sin of separateness, but it is also a necessary step before the path of renunciation can be entered. One cannot give up that which one is not conscious of [Page 4] possessing. The force of individuality is said in Vasudevamanana to be that "which prevents all except Ishwara and Atmajnahis (those having wisdom of Atma or 'Self') from realizing the differences between Atma and the five sheaths by enveloping such personages with intense mist".
And again: —
"Of the tree of mundane existence it is the effects of Avarana Shakti (individuality) that form the root. . . . And it is this Avarana Shakti alone that is also the cause of final emancipation."
The idea of man as an individual is then the first key to the legend of Prometheus. But it has many meanings, only a few of which can be suggested in the present paper.
Prometheus is Lucifer, the light-bringer, but also the cause of sin; he is the Lord of Light, but also the Spirit of Darkness. He represents the Manasaputra or Sons of Mind, who brought down the key of knowledge from heaven to animal man (see the cover of Lucifer), and became in consequence chained for many ages to the rock of earthly existence. He is the god who descends into matter to redeem it, but becomes thereby tainted by its evil tendencies, and is perpetually tortured by the vulture of remorse. He deliberately chooses to live many lives of suffering with self-consciousness rather than to remain a passive partaker in the joys of heaven.
Prometheus is chained to the rock by the order of Zeus. The latter represents the Lunar Pitris, the creators of animal man, his Primeval Progenitors who are "spiritually lower but physically stronger than the Prometheans; therefore the latter are shown conquered. The lower Host whose work the Titan spoiled, and thus defeated the plans of Zeus, was on this earth in its own sphere and plane of action; whereas the superior Host was an exile from Heaven, who had got entangled in the meshes of Matter. The inferior Host were masters of all the cosmic and lower Titanic Forces; the higher Titan possessed only the Intellectual and Spiritual Fire".
Thus is explained "the War in Heaven" which ever rages in the inner nature of all human beings, and which rages the more fiercely the more clearly the presence of "Prometheus" is felt. "The good which I would I do not", said Paul ruefully, " but the evil which I would not that I do".
Thus is discord brought down upon the earth by the coming of Prometheus, for it is only by suffering that any further progression can be made. "The Occultists", says Mme. Blavatsky, "recognise in pain and suffering but the necessary pangs of incessant procreation; a series of stages toward an ever growing perfectibility". It is the ever present contest [Page 5] between free-will and necessity, the lower nature is bound, but the higher is free. "Our Life", says Carlyle, "is compassed round with Necessity, yet is the meaning of Life itself no other than Freedom, than Voluntary Force. Thus have we a warfare".
Having passed into the human stage of evolution, it is not possible for mankind, did they even wish it, to return to the irresponsible condition of the animal man. The human soul may refuse to listen to the voice of conscience, and may become utterly degraded, lower in one sense than the beasts; the lower mind may break asunder from its inner God, but even then it still remains the distorted image of that which it disregards, the responsibility for its actions remains, the karma of all its deeds must be fully worked out. Its capacity for evil is the inverted aspect of its capacity for good. The gift of Prometheus has become a curse.
Yet there are all stages of knowledge and therefore all stages of responsibility. It is said in The Secret Doctrine, that when "the Sons of Wisdom, the Sons of Night, ready for rebirth came down . . . some entered the Chhâyâs, some projected a spark". The "Chhâyâs" were the animal ethereal forms of primeval man created by the Lunar Pitris who are symbolised as "Zeus" in the Promethean myth. The Sons of Wisdom (Promethean entities) "entered" those who were ready, and these became the Arhats or Sages. "Those who received but a spark constitute the average humanity which have to acquire their intellectuality during the present Manvantaric evolution, after which they will be ready in the next for the full reception of the Sons of Wisdom". There was also a third class, the "latest arrivals" among the human Monads "which had hardly evolved from their last transitional and lower animal forms at the close of the Third Round". These "became narrow-headed", not being ready even to "receive a spark".
Now the fuller the inner enlightenment, the greater is the power of the individual man for good or for evil, and the greater therefore the karmic result of each action and thought. Prometheus, as stated above, has his dual aspect, and it is not possible to be conscious of the one without at the same time being conscious of the other. Mankind was born as Carlyle says, "when the Sun was in Libra". The active force of nature reveals itself to him in both its aspects at once. Lucifer does not ask .“Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil ", he says on the contrary "Lead us into temptation in order that we may be delivered from evil". As Mme. Blavatsky says: — "Perfection, to be fully such, must be born out of imperfection, the incorruptible must grow out of the corruptible, having [Page 6] the latter as its vehicle, and basis and contrast". It is by means of the union of opposing forces in man's nature, that the attainment of the Godlike state becomes possible. Had Prometheus remained "in heaven", the connecting link between the animal and the divine in man could not have been supplied. "It is owing to this rebellion of intellectual life against the morbid inactivity of pure spirit, that we are what we are — self-conscious thinking men, with the capabilities and attributes of Gods in us for good as much as for evil. Hence the Rebels are our Saviours."
They "preferred the curse of incarnation, and the long cycles of terrestrial existence and rebirth, to seeing the misery, even if unconscious, of the beings who were evolved as shadows out of their brethren, through the semi-passive energy of their too spiritual Creators".
"Tradition shows the celestial Yogis offering themselves as voluntary victims in order to redeem Humanity, which, was created god-like and perfect at first, and endow him with human affections and aspirations. To do this, they had to give up their natural state, descend on our globe, and take up their abode on it for the whole cycle of the Mahâyuga, thus exchanging their impersonal Individualities for individual Personalities — the bliss of sidereal existence for the curse of terrestrial life".
The condition of the early races of mankind, not yet enlightened by the coming of Prometheus, is one which it is very difficult to picture out in words. The physical body was not fully formed. The men of that time were ethereal, sexless. They "had no personality as yet. They had Monads — Breaths of the One Breath, as impersonal as the source from which they proceeded. They had bodies, or rather shadows of bodies, which were sinless, hence Karma-less. Therefore, as there was no Kâma Loka — least of all Nirvâna or even Devachan — for the Souls of men who had no personal Egos, there could be no intermediate periods between the incarnations. 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".
"Thenceforth the soul was too deeply buried under physical clothing to re-assert its existence except in the case of those more spiritual natures which with every cycle became more rare."
The gradual formation of the physical body round the astral by means of the terrestrial forces is described in many passages in The Secret Doctrine, and Mme. Blavatsky says: —
"It is shown in every ancient Scripture and Cosmogony that man [Page 7] evolved primarily as a luminous incorporeal form, over which, like molten brass poured into the model of the sculptor, the physical frame of his body was built by and through and from the lower forms and types of animal and terrestrial life."
The "luminous incorporeal form" was created by the Barhishad Pitris, (Zeus in the Grecian myth) who were possessed of the physical creative "fire". "They would not, simply because they could not, give to man that sacred spark, which burns and expands into the flower of human reason and self-consciousness, for they had it not to give. This was left to that class of Devas who became symbolized in Greece under the name of Prometheus; to those who had naught to do with the physical body, yet everything with the purely spiritual man".
What the Barhishad Pitris gave was the shadowy form, round which the physical body was afterwards built. The first race was mindless and senseless, passive in nature and without sin. It was " too material even in its ethereality to be a Hierarchy of Gods; too spiritual and pure to be Men". Its characteristics were all negative, the element of personal effort had not yet appeared. It "had three rudimentary elements in it, and no Fire as yet; because 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 First Race, having neither astral nor physical bodies of its own, never died. Its "Men" melted gradually away, becoming absorbed in the new forms of the Second Race, more solid and physical. This race was endowed by the incarnating Gods with the first primitive germ of intelligence.
"The Third Race became the Vahan of the Lords of Wisdom". and it was at the end of the Third Race that the physical body was fully formed. The early Third Race was "holy and pure, as yet devoid of an Individual Ego", and possessed "passive capacities only".
Now it may be remarked in passing that it is because the ancestors of man were ethereal and boneless, that modern scientists have failed to discover the origin of mankind. The evolutionary theories of Darwin carry us back to the time when the physical merges into the astral; the earlier period left no trace on geological strata.
As has been said, the early races were sexless, or rather first sexless and then hermaphrodite. "God created man in his own image", that is to say ethereal, spiritual, bisexual. Many ages elapsed after this period before the creation of the man of the second chapter of Genesis, who was [Page 8] formed of the "dust of the ground", that is to say, who had a physical body. From the latter, Eve was formed, that is to say, he symbolizes the race which separated into opposite sexes. Then the sexual method of reproduction came into general use, the angels "fell into generation".
Prometheus brought to mankind the gift of conscious creative power on the highest plane, that is to say, after the method of "God", who said "Let there be light" and there was light. This power was understood and practised by that portion of mankind who were ready, who were fully illuminated by the manasic entities, and who became the Sages and Arhats.
But as all the gifts of Prometheus have their dual aspect, he conferred on man at the same time the power of conscious creation on the physical plane. This faculty was immediately used by that part of mankind who were unable to use the spiritual creative force, and the so-called "Fall" was the result.
The spiritual creative faculty is that spoken of in The Secret Doctrine as Kriyâshakti. "When the physical triumphed over the spiritual and mental evolution, and nearly crushed it under its weight, the great gift of Kriyâshakti remained the heirloom of only a few elect men in every age".
In Isis Unveiled Mme. Blavatsky speaks as follows of the creative force of the will:—
"As God creates, so man can create. Given a certain intensity of will, and the shapes created by the mind become subjective. Hallucinations they are called, though to their creator they are real, as any visible object is to anyone else. Given a more intense and intelligent concentration of this will, and the form becomes concrete, visible, objective; the man has learned the secret of secrets, he is a magician."
The early races reproduced their kind in various ways before the formation of the physical body. These methods are outlined in The Secret Doctrine. Some of them have their counterparts in physical nature at the present day. It is stated in the Vishnu Purana that Daksha "established sexual intercourse as the means of multiplication" only after a series of other "modes" which are all enumerated therein. But no being lower in the scale of evolution than mankind uses creative power of any kind with full consciousness. Animals use the physical creative force half unconsciously, they simply follow instinct; it is the power of choice which marks the human stage. This power of choice is for the most part misapplied. Man uses the Promethean gift on the lowest possible plane, and then misuses it even there, yet it is still the Promethean gift, the divine force become infernal. [Page 9]
That part of mankind who were fully enlightened by the Promethea entities, and became the Arhats and sages, "remained in their Kaumâric condition from the beginning". "These elect were the germ of a hierarchy which has never died since that period".
They used the creative faculty on the spiritual plane only. As on the physical plane, this force has its two aspects. There is the natural use and the unnatural — for personal gratification. One who having acquired the spiritual creative force, uses it for personal gratification, becomes a black magician.
The unnatural use of the physical creative force has become almost universal, and is regarded by high-minded
and honourable persons in ordinary life as reasonable and right, especially when it is sanctified, as they
think, by marriage or by personal and exclusive devotion. Its abandonment in thought, as well as in act, is
the first feeble and tentative step towards occultism. In those very rare cases where the physical creative
force is used for its natural purpose only, the parents supply outward conditions, suited to the needs of advanced
egos, ready for incarnation, but not attracted by an atmosphere of animalism and lust.
The prevalence of hereditary disease and the sufferings of women in childbirth are some of the karmic effects on the physical plane of the abuse of the creative power on the part of mankind in general. Animals, not having sinned in this respect, are not in general subject to disease, and the birth of their young is to them comparatively painless.
This is the lowest aspect, the physical, of the curse of Prometheus. Its mental and moral aspects are felt in addition when man realizes the unfitness of the unnatural use, yet is unable to free himself and his fellows from the animal tendencies which he and they have inherited from their parents, and which no doubt are the karmic result of their own action in past lives. These aspects of the curse do not fall upon him until he has received the beginning of enlightenment, a spark from the Promethean fire.
The gift of creative power is symbolized in the signs of the Zodiac by the sign Libra, which is at the turning point of the cycle of evolution. "Among the Qabbalists the necessity to continued creation and existence is called the balance".
The word Libra was used by the initiates to conceal its true meaning, because of the perversity of mankind in supposing that the creative faculty must refer to the sexual relation and nothing else. But the Eastern Occultists consider the sexual relation "as a Karma pertaining only to the [Page 10] mundane relation of man, who is dominated by illusion"; they realize its impermanent nature, pertaining to the outward form only.
Originally, only ten signs were known exoterically, Libra being omitted, and Virgo and Scorpio being written as a double sign. Mme. Blavatsky says: — "The true Sabean astrological doctrine secretly taught that within this double sign was hidden the explanation of the gradual transformation of the world, from its spiritual and subjective into the two-sexed sublunary state". Virgo refers to the spiritual creative power; Scorpio to the physical; Libra to man who receives the Promethean gift and chooses which aspect of it he will use. Virgo symbolizes the world in its subjective condition; Scorpio, "the degradation of the whole universe in its course of evolution downward, from the subjective to the objective".
Of this course of evolution Mme. Blavatsky says: — "From an impalpable ideal thought under the creative Will of Him of whom we know nothing, and but dimly conceive in imagination, this globe became fluidic and semi-spiritual, then condensed itself more and more, until its physical development—matter, the tempting demon — compelled it to try its own creative faculty. Matter defied SPIRIT, and the earth, too, had its 'fall.' The allegorical curse under which it labours is that it only procreates, it does not create".
Spiritual creative force will not be conferred upon mankind until we have learned to use the lower force for its natural purpose only. Man must reach the highest steps of the human ladder before he can enter upon the next stage of development. Hence our ignorance as to what the higher force is, and the disbelief in its existence on the part of mankind generally — a disbelief less harmful in its results than the conduct of those would-be Occultists who strive to gain and use the spiritual force for their own selfish ends.
In natural development, the mastery of the lower force precedes the knowledge of the higher, all the grades are passed through. If a student discovers how to use the spiritual force when he has only mastered a few of the grossest and most brutal aspects of the physical, he is the "thief and robber" mentioned by Jesus "who entereth not by the door into the sheep-fold, but climbeth up some other way".
"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”.
"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
"But he that is an hireling and not the shepherd, whose own the [Page 11] sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
"The hireling fleeth because he is an hireling and careth not for the sheep.
"I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
"And other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd. Therefore does my Father love me because I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father".
Persons are often ignorant of the human lessons which are learned in the sexual relation, and by means of parental experience. Marriage is therefore often a training by which the candidate is fitted for Occultism, if the necessary experience has not been gained in previous lives. We must learn the lesser mysteries before we can learn the greater. Especially is marriage needed for any who may think in their ignorance that the physical creative force of nature is contemptible and vile.
Such an one is at the foot of the human ladder, and has to learn step by step to purify his mind, by passing through many stages of experience, until he finally becomes fitted by a complete understanding and mastery of the lower force to learn the meaning of the higher. If the infernal aspect of the lower force is the only one which he understands, then would he assuredly be able to comprehend the infernal aspect only of the spiritual force.
When a life of celibacy is adopted from any selfish motive, from a desire to escape the cares and responsibilities which accompany married life, from a blind and ignorant disregard of the needs of another — when a man or woman dares to say in his heart to another, / am more holy than thou, therefore I will not help thee in thy need — then does such an one sever himself by wrong method from the stream of human life.
And since those who are really free are very few, but those who suppose themselves to be free are many, the voice of the people is in the main correct when it regards the taking of a vow of celibacy as a wrongful and unnatural act. For in the vast majority of cases known to history, such vows have been found to be harmful rather than helpful, to be either broken in secret, or to be more productive of black magic than of true Occultism. [Page 12]
The candidate is only really free when he has learned through many lives to devote himself to others in the ordinary personal relations of human life; and a man or woman who is patiently fulfilling these is in the stream of natural development, while one who cuts himself off from them before his time, is unnatural, and in every way a hindrance to the true and healthy progress of others.
The ordinary man or woman, who believes that personal ties are going to last for ever, is less pernicious than these would-be magicians.
The blindness of the former is a natural result of their stage of development, and will disappear in due time. The perverted views of the latter are naturally regarded with suspicion by all persons of judgment and common sense. They have taken themselves out of the stream of human development, not to help that development, but to please themselves.
Those critics of the Occult teachings who object to the putting forward of the celibate state as an ideal for human life, are therefore perfectly right. As far as ordinary life goes, it is not in most cases desirable. It only becomes helpful at a very advanced stage of evolution, of which these critics have no knowledge. They do not believe that this stage exists, and this disbelief is less disastrous in its consequences than a premature stampede towards so-called Occultism, which must end either in some very unhealthy condition, or in the practice of black magic.
It is he who has been faithful in a few things who becomes fitted to be ruler over more. It is they who have lived unselfishly in the ordinary personal relations of human life that become fitted for a wider field of service.
Many are the men and women who learn unselfishness for the first time through and by the means of an attachment to another, which on this plane assumes a sexual form.
“In the lowest Heaven”says that gifted writer. Olive Schreiner, “sex reigns supreme, in the higher it is not noticed, but in the highest it does not exist”.
The beginner who would enter Heaven, enters first the "lowest",
for by degrees does the soul grow, it cannot rise at one bound from the depths of selfishness to the highest
Heaven. Wiser are they and more helpful to humanity, who thus enter the " lowest Heaven" than those
who thinking to clothe themselves with the garment of freedom remain bound by the bonds of egotism.
Not by freedom from personal ties maintained for selfish motives do men and women become fitted for the "higher heaven" where sex is "not noticed". In this higher Heaven some few live by nature, owing to their karma; blessed are they among their fellows, they carry an atmosphere of [Page 13] purity wherever they go; for others, those only now ready for the lowest Heaven, it must be reached by unselfish effort of one kind or another, and generally by the discipline of married life.
Others again cannot even enter the lowest Heaven, for they dishonour sex, turning it aside in many ways from its rightful use and purpose, using it as a stepping-stone to power, to the satisfaction of vanity, to indulgence in every kind of sensual gratification.
Then again there are the would-be magicians, who having overcome what they call love, and being too gross of nature to be capable of a high and noble passion, think themselves fitted for occultism.
Few indeed are those who are ready to enter the higher Heaven.
And if the teachings of Theosophy are to become widely useful, we must be very careful how we lay undue stress on the existence of an ideal, which very few are ready to understand aright. We must not "create confusion in the understandings of the ignorant". While the ideal must be publicly put forward, in order that it may reach the few who are ready to grasp and understand it, we must not be surprised or indignant when it is treated by the many with suspicion, anger or contempt. Better such treatment than the attempt of the ambitious to enter upon a course of development for which they are in every way unfit! The blindness towards any further ideal is in some cases nature's protection to those not strong enough to bear the conflict which the true carrying out of that idea involves. This blindness may even exist in those who have been on the path in past lives, but are at present working in physical matter so dense that they have not been able to make the light of truth shine through it. Let us not then regret this blindness which in some cases is useful, and may at any moment disappear, and let us not endeavour to force the light on any who may be unwilling to receive it. We must still proclaim the truth in order that those who have ears to hear may hear. And since we have no means of knowing where the few are to be found to whom this teaching is as a saving light, we must even sow the seed broadcast. If any need it not or try to show that such teaching is harmful, — peace be with them ! We beg pardon for having been obliged to disturb them in order to reach the others. When they announce that such teaching is pernicious for all, that criticism is good and useful. Let all sides be heard. It will not deter those who really need the teaching from accepting it. And to these the world's opinion of their personal character is a matter of indifference.
Another of the gifts brought by Prometheus to mankind — one having like the others its dual aspect—was the gift of Karma. Mme. Blavatsky [Page 14] says: — "Lucifer is Divine and terrestrial Light, the Holy Ghost and Satan at one and the same time . . . and the Astral Light, the manifested effects of the two who are one, guided and attracted by ourselves, is the Karma of Humanity, both a personal and an impersonal entity". Karma is at once our Teacher and our punishment, and is needed in both aspects at our present stage, until mankind is ready to be freed from the vulture of greed and desire, which is ever gnawing at his heart. Primordial man, in his state of irresponsible innocence, was not subject to Karma; it comes with the individualising process, with the realization of separate existence. It is a result of the power of choice, the exercise of free-will. It inheres in the Manasic principle, "the golden thread of continuous life" which lasts through successive incarnations.
Mme. Blavatsky alludes to the seventh seal in the Book of Revelation, as throwing light on the Promethean myth. Its deeper meanings are doubtless hidden from us, yet something can be gathered from what lies on the surface.
We read that when the fifth angel sounded, a star fell from heaven unto the earth, "and unto him was given the key of the bottomless pit".
The fifth angel appears to refer to manas as the fifth principle, the Prometheans being manasic entities.
"And he opened the bottomless pit, and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit".
What can one add to this by way of comment ? Lucifer, the morning star, who fell from heaven, did indeed "open the bottomless pit", when he conferred on man the gift of self-consciousness, which enables him if he so choose, to give himself to the service of his lowest passions, of his most brutal tendencies. This is evident in the mental and psychic atmosphere of our time, — "the smoke of the pit", rising from the fire of evil passion in the earthly nature of man.
"And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth; and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
"And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads".
The vegetable kingdom was excluded from the curse, not having any kâmic elements in its nature. The animal kingdom is not mentioned, it feels the result of the fall indirectly, the change being transmitted downwards from man; but the curse falls most heavily on those men "who have not the seal of God in their foreheads".
"And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that [Page 15] they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man".
"And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
The "five months" perhaps means that the torment ceases when the sixth principle is fully roused to self-consciousness, the lower self being then burned out. "Like ourselves masters have wept though they do not now weep". (Letters that have helped me. P. 22.)
The verses recall the cry of David: — "As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me, while they cry daily unto me Where is thy God "?
The meaning of this descent into hell on the part of the human Ego — which must ever remain incomprehensible to us in our ordinary state of consciousness — is suggested by Mme. Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine, when she speaks of the absolute never-erring law "plunging Spirit deeper and deeper into materiality on the one hand, and then redeeming it through flesh and liberating it".
Again, she says that after man has received his external form from the Lunar Pitris, the Solar Pitris, or Manasaputra give him their essence, "which later on becomes the Human Higher Self owing to the personal exertion of the individual". It appears to be this element of personal exertion, which the contact with matter supplies. In the Key to Theosophy, the human Ego is spoken of as "divine in its essential nature, yet not pure enough to be one with the 'All' and having to therefore pass individually and personally through every experience and feeling that exists in the manifold or differentiated Universe".
The spiritual enlightenment of mankind by means of the Manasaputra was a gradual process extending over many thousands of years. It was an evolution on the part of humanity, a change which occurred to each part of mankind as it became ready.
We read in the Stanzas that the third Race "created the Sons of Will and Yoga, by Kriyâshakti it created them, the Holy Fathers, Ancestors of the Arhats". And Mme. Blavatsky adds that Kriyâshati is "that mysterious and divine power, latent in the will of every man, which if not called to life, quickened and developed by Yoga-training, remains dormant in 999,999 men out of a million, and so gets atrophied".
The first result of the enlightenment was that man became conscious of his divine nature. The fall into matter not being at this stage fully accomplished, the veil between the outer and inner man was more easily put aside. Men did not ask at that time for proofs of the existence of the Universal Spirit. Its existence was known to all.[Page 16]
"No sooner had the mental eye of man been open to understanding, than the third race felt itself one with the ever-present, as also the ever to be unknown and invisible All, the one University Deity. Endowed with Divine powers, and feeling within himself his inner God, each felt that he was a Man-God in his nature, though an animal in his physical self. The struggle between the two began from the very day they tasted of the fruit of the Tree of Wisdom; a struggle for life between the spiritual and the psychic, the psychic and the physical. Those who conquered the lower principles by obtaining mastery over the body joined the Sons of Light. Those who fell victims to their lower natures became the slaves of Matter. From Sons of Light and Wisdom, they ended by becoming the Sons of Darkness. They fell in the battle of mortal life with Life Immortal". Mme. Blavatsky speaks elsewhere of the psychic faculties, now abnormal, which were universal in those early times, probably for the same reason that animals can now sometimes perceive clairvoyantly that which is hidden from men. The human intellect was not fully developed, so as to mask the psychic faculty.
"Civilization has ever developed the physical and the intellectual, at the cost of the psychic and spiritual. The command over, and the guidance of one's own psychic nature, which foolish men now associate with the supernatural, were with early Humanity innate and congenital, and came to man as naturally as walking and thinking". The psychic faculties are lost as the fall into matter is accomplished; later on when humanity begins to emerge from the human stage, they reappear in a higher form. The pre-human or animal stage may be roughly described as that of physical clairvoyance, the latter as that of spiritual intuition. The human stage is the furthest removed from the Source of all Life, the blindest to unseen influences, the most deeply imprisoned in matter. But it is a stage which must be passed through before further growth can take place. The physical reasoning faculty has to be developed and used before it is superseded by the higher faculty of divine wisdom.
The wickedness and perversity which accompany the man stage of development is an obvious fact which has troubled writers of all ages. Sometimes, seeing the comparative harmony which reigns in all the lower kingdoms, we are half inclined to regret that we cannot sell our birthright for a mess of potage.
Wordsworth says: —
"The blackbird in the summer trees,
The lark upon the hill,
Let loose their carols when they please,
Are quiet when they will.
With nature never do they wage
A foolish strife; they see
A happy youth, and their old age
Is beautiful and free.
But we are pressed by heavy laws
And often, glad no more,
We wear a face of joy because
We have been glad of yore."
And Walt Whitman:— [Page 17]
I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contained;
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition;
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins;
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God;
Not one is dissatisfied — not one is demented with the mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago;
Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth."
These passages express the natural yearning of the human heart to escape from the discord, which is the necessary accompaniment of self-conscious existence as we know it. The converse truth is given by Tennyson: —
"I envy not in any moods,
The captive void of noble rage,
The linnet born within the cage,
That never knew the summer woods.
I envy not the beast that takes .
His license in the field of time,
Unfettered by the sense of crime,
To whom a conscience never wakes."
The poet is right. Conscience never does wake in the beast, and that is why he cannot progress. The light of conscience proceeds from Buddhi the sixth principle, the spark from the Over-Soul. It becomes active through the awakening of Manas, it requires the self-conscious principle supplied by Manas in order to become operative.
Mme. Blavatsky says: — "It is at this point " (the fourth cycle or Round, the human stage) "that the Cosmic Monad (Buddhi) will be wedded to, and become the vehicle of the Âtmic Ray; i.e., Buddhi will awaken to an apperception of it (Âtman), and thus enter upon the first step of a new septenary ladder of evolution".
In the pre-human stage the Monad is individually unconscious; in its cycle of evolution it proceeds from the unconscious to the conscious stage.
We read: — "No purely spiritual Buddha (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 [Page 18] 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 , (Dhyâni-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 re-incarnations".
"To become self-conscious, Spirit must pass through every cycle of being, culminating in its highest point on earth in Man. Spirit per se is an unconscious negative abstraction. "Its purity is inherent, not acquired by merit; hence as already shown, to become the highest Dhyan Chohan, it is necessary for each Ego to attain to full self-consciousness as a human, i.e.,conscious, being, which is synthesized for us in Man".
"Starting upon the long journey immaculate, descending more and more into sinful matter, and having connected himself with every atom in manifested space — the Pilgrim, having struggled through, and suffered in, every form of Life and Being, is only at the bottom of the valley of matter, and half through his cycle, when he has identified himself with collective Humanity. This he has made in his own image. In order to progress upwards and homewards, the 'God' has now to ascend the weary uphill path of the Golgotha of Life. It is the martyrdom of self-conscious existence. Like Vishvakarman, he has to sacrifice himself to himself, in order to redeem all creatures, to resurrect from the many into the One Life".
The final mission therefore of Prometheus, who supplies the manasic principle to mankind, is to awaken to consciousness Buddhi, the light of conscience, the Inner God. When not roused to self-consciousness he is the "Akâsha" of The Secret Doctrine, the "Yliaster" of Paracelsus, the "Will in Nature" of Schopenhauer. Awakened, he is the "Christ" of the Christian mystic, the "Warrior" of Light on the Path, the "Master" of the Voice of the Silence. His awakening is the merging of the human stage of development into the Divine.
It brings with it the power to use the spiritual creative force mentioned above, it gives mastery over the hidden forces of Nature. It is "the knowledge of what is good to do as to right discrimination of good from evil". It "leads a man to that power, through which he can do the good he desires, often without even apparently lifting a finger". The reason why we do not possess this power as some others do is, that we have preferred to "sit down in the mud" as Mme. Blavatsky says, instead of using the faculties we possess.
In one aspect, it is the "Desire which first arose in It which is the [Page 19] primal germ of mind". Cosmic Desire, the ceaseless striving of Nature towards perfection. As Kâma is the motive force of the Lower Manas, this Universal Abstract Motion is the motive force of the Higher Manas. It is Impersonal — the opposite pole of the desire which proceeds from the personal self. As an earthly man moved by Kâma, brings into existence physical bodies, so does a man moved by the cosmic force generate spiritual sons. On all planes the "Will is moved by desire", "As above, so below".
Mme. Blavatsky says of Buddhi as an active principle, that it is "an electro-spiritual force, a creative power which when aroused into action, can as easily kill as it can create". And again: — "It is an electric fiery occult or Fohatic power, the great pristine force, which underlies all organic and inorganic matter".
As said above, the force has its two aspects, the creative and the destructive, and this is why its nature cannot be revealed to us. It has many manifestations and many names. We read: —
"The chaos of the ancients; the Zoroastrian sacred fire, or the Antusbyrum of the Parsees; the Hermes-fire; the Elmes-fire of the ancient Germans; the lightning of Cybelè; the burning torch of Apollo; the flame on the altar of Pan; the inextinguishable fire in the temple on the Acropolis, and in that of Vesta; the fire-flame of Pluto's helm; the brilliant sparks on the hats of the Dioscuri, on the Gorgon's head, the helm of Pallas, and the staff of Mercury; the ΙΙυρ ᾃσβεότοϛ (asbestos fire); the Egyptian Phtha or Ra; the Grecian Zeus Cataibates (the descending); the Pentecostal fire-tongues; the burning bush of Moses; the pillar of fire of the Exodus and the burning lamp of Abraham; the eternal fire of the bottomless pit; the Delphic oracular vapours; the sidereal light of the Rosicrucians; the AKASA of the Hindu adepts; the astral light of Eliphas Levi; the nerve-aura and the fluid of the magnetists; the od of Reichenbach; the fire-globe or meteor-cat of Babinet; the psychod and ectenic force of Thury; the psychic force of Sergeant Cox and Mr. Crookes; the atmospheric magnetism of some naturalists; galvanism; and, finally, electricity, are but various names for many different manifestations, or effects, of the same mysterious, all-pervading cause — the Greek Archoeus or Αρχᾃἳος".
And again: —
"It is this day termed by the Theurgists and Occultists the Living Fire; and there is not a Hindu, who practices at dawn a certain kind of meditation, but knows its effects. . . . And in this appellation of Living Fire we may also discover the meaning of the puzzling sentence in the Zend Avesta: there is a Fire that gives knowledge, of the future, science, and amiable speech: [Page 20] that is to say, which develops an extraordinary eloquence in the sybil, the sensitive, and even some orators".
Eliphas Levi calls it the "Imagination of Nature", and says that it is through it "that all the nervous centres secretly communicate with each other; from it — that sympathy and antipathy are born; from it — that we have our dreams, and that the phenomena of second sight and extra-natural visions take place. * * * It is directed by the Egregores, i.e., the chiefs of the souls who are the spirits of energy and action." Mme. Blavatsky adds that it "is the body of those spirits themselves and their very essence".
Again, we read that "after Pralaya, the first that re-awakens to active life is the plastic Akâsha;" and that Akâsha is "creative in its physical nature", that "in the creative condition it is called the Sub-Root; and in conjunction with radiant heat it recalls dead worlds to life".
Also that the Occultists apply Akâsha to practical purposes "connected as this world-soul is with all natural phenomena known or unknown to science".
The appearance of the "Living Fire" to the early Christians is described in simple and vivid language in the story of their experiences as we have it.
"And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
"And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance".
We are told again that "Akâsha, in her highest form, is the Egyptian sevenfold Heaven". Students will no doubt see the meaning of this, which cannot be given here. Mention is made of "the Maruts", " the swift moving deities", who are "only another aspect, or a development of the Kumaras", and it is said that Diti, the mother of the Maruts, is one of the terrestrial forms of this "Egyptian sevenfold Heaven", the latter being also described as the "sixth principle of metaphysical nature, the Buddhi of Akâsha". Also the mother of the Maruts represents at one and the same time, "the Divine Soul in the ascetic, and the divine aspirations of mystic humanity towards deliverance from the webs of Mâyâ, and consequent final bliss".
What has all this to do with Prometheus ? Very much, if the reader will think it out, but only a partial explanation can be given.
The Kumaras or "virgin-youths" are the Promethean entities who "refused to create" physical man, but afterwards supplied the physical forms created by their brethren with the element of mind, of self-consciousness. [Page 21] The statement that the Maruts or Storm-Gods are only another aspect or development of these entities appears to mean that they are the same entities considered as animated by the Cosmic Living Fire. They are Manas enlightened by Buddhi. They are the saviours of mankind who have become vehicles for the Divine Energy.
How do these Maruts come into existence ? Their mother, we are told,
is the Divine Soul in the ascetic, the divine aspirations of mystic Humanity. The meaning of the former the
student has to find out for himself; the meaning of the latter is clear. Aspiration, the directing of the
conscious human will towards "that face
of the True Sun, now hidden by a vase of golden light", brings into existence the force which saves mankind.
The Maruts are animated by the "Spiritual Fire" which "alone makes of man a divine and perfect entity". It is represented in Alchemy by Hydrogen. Its opposite pole is Kâma (also represented by hydrogen), "the principle of animal desire which burns fiercely during life in Matter resulting in satiety; it is inseparable from animal existence". The mission of the spiritual alchemist is to transmute the base metal into pure gold, and hence the Kumaras are said to be the "howling and terrific destroyers of human passions and physical senses, which are ever in the way of the development of the higher spiritual perceptions, and the growth of the inner eternal man".
Erôs, in his primitive sense, is "the Divine Will or Desire of manifesting itself through visible creation". He is the Spirit of Life-giving in its abstract sense. His correlatives are human passion and physical desire. These latter are the natural accompaniments of the human stage of life, but are extinguished by the former when it awakens to self-consciousness, as the sun puts out a fire.
The Cosmic Creative Fire in its self-conscious form is personified in the Puranas under the name of Narada or Pesh-Hun, the Spy. Mdme. Blavatsky says that Narada is the "great enemy of physical procreation", the executor of the universal decrees of Karma . . . the mysterious guiding intelligent power, which gives the impulse to, and regulates the impetus of Cycles, kalpas and universal events, .... the inspirer and leader of the greatest heroes of this Manvantara".
He "tempts by suggestion" in order "to serve and guide universal progress and evolution".
Perhaps this is why he is called the Spy. The meaning appears to be that the transition from the human stage
of evolution to the first rung of the next ladder must be real, and cannot be counterfeited. [Page
Narada, for refusing to marry, and for persuading others to "remain holy ascetics", was cursed like the Kumaras to be reborn as a man.
Mdme. Blavatsky says that "Nârada is the Deva-Rishi of Occultism par excellence, and the Occultist who does not ponder, analyse, and study Narada from his seven Esoteric facets, will never be able to fathom certain anthropological chronological, and even cosmic mysteries".
Narada appears to be the essence of the Maruts, and therefore Prometheus in another aspect. He is Prometheus when freed by Hercules.
The torture of Prometheus endures until the coming of Hercules, the strong hero. The latter, having slain the Nemean lion and cleansed the Augean stables, having slain his passions and cleansed his heart from impurity, having performed all the other preliminary labours, finally overcomes, and drags up to the surface of the earth by main force, the dog which guards the gates of hell. He slays the vulture which gnaws at the heart of humanity, he frees mankind from the Promethean curse.
Human passions are strong, but the Evolutionary Force of Nature is stronger than they, and if man once awakens it in himself to self-consciousness, it sweeps away with irresistible force every object from its path.
The rousing of it to self-consciousness is the work of the Manasic aspect of Prometheus, for without the help of Manas, it is unconscious on this plane.
The candidate is told in Light on the Path to look for the warrior who cannot fail in battle, but must be victorious always.
The whole object of Raja Yoga is the awakening and rousing to action of this Inner Fire, which, when awakened, burns out all impurity from the human heart, and forces the personal man in whom it is manifested to live a life in harmony with nature.
Thus there are two main aspects of initiation in the Cycle of Evolution.
The first is the awakening from the animal stage, the stage of ignorance and innocence, an initiation bringing discord, suffering and sin. The second is the awakening to full self-knowledge, the realization of Universal Brotherhood, the coming of the Christ. Nature is ever at work adjusting the pairs of opposites, balancing opposing forces, producing final harmony.
The self-conscious Monad is spoken of in the Anugita as "the seat abiding in the self, where dwells
the Brahman free from all", the indestructible "principle" which is "beyond the perception
of senses", the "Vaishvânara fire sevenfold" which "blazes in the midst of the life-winds,
which move about in the body and swallow up one another". We read again: — Manu declares himself
created by Vaishvânara, the Spirit of Humanity [Page 23] which means that
his Monad emanates from the never-resting Principle in the beginning of every new Cosmic Activity. And in the
note: — "Vaishvânara
is, in another sense, the living magnetic fire that pervades the manifested Solar System. It is the most objective
(though to us the reverse) and ever present aspect of the One Life, for it is the Vital Principle".
The self-conscious Monad is the "Unknown God" spoken of by Paul, in whom "we live and move and have our being" who "dwelleth not in temples made with hands", but "giveth to all life and breath and all things". He "hath made of one blood (blood = life), all nations of men, for, to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation". (Narada and Karma.) “That they should seek the Lord if haply they might feel after him and find him, though he be not far from every one of us."
"It is again the "Living Water" which Christ offers to the woman of Samaria. “Whosoever drinketh of this “water" (earthly passion) shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life". The woman saith unto him, "Sir, give me this water that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw".
It is the "Water of Life" of Revelation:—"And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb"; (lamb =purity and innocence). "And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely". It is truly "Alpha and Omega, the first and the last", that from which we emerge, and that to which we return.
It is the "Watcher" of which Mme. Blavatsky speaks in The Secret Doctrine, the "Initiator", the "Great Sacrifice", who "holds spiritual sway over the initiated Adepts throughout the whole world". And again we read "the silent Watcher and his Shadow (man) becomes more strong with every change". And "the Watcher and his shadows are one", Yet "the Monad of every living being — unless his moral turpitude breaks the connection, and he runs loose and astray unto the Lunar Path — to use the Occult expression — is an individual Dhyan Chohan, distinct from others, with a kind of spiritual Individuality of its own during one special Manvantara".
The awakening to self-consciousness of the Monads is spoken of in the Stanzas as "the Day, Be with Us, when thou shalt rebecome myself and others, thyself and I". "Then the Builders, having donned their first clothing, descend on radiant Earth, and reign over men who are themselves". [Page 24]
The meanings of the Promethean myth are endless, and only a few of them have been roughly outlined in the present paper. Light comes by pondering over the hidden meaning which ever escapes expression in words.
"What", says Mme. Blavatsky, speaking of it, "is the complete truth as well as the Esoteric meaning about this universal myth ? The whole essence of truth cannot be transmitted from mouth to ear. Nor can any pen describe it, not even that of the Recording Angel, unless man finds the answer in the sanctuary of his own heart, in the innermost depths of his divine intuition,
"Therefore we can give it only from its philosophical and intellectual planes, unlocked with three keys respectively, — for the last four keys of the seven that throw wide open the portals to the mysteries of Nature are in the hands of the highest Initiates, and cannot be divulged to the masses at large, — not in this century at any rate".
And elsewhere she says: —
"The Promethean myth is a prophecy indeed; but it does not
relate to any of the cyclic Saviours who have appeared periodically in various countries, and among various
nations, in their transitionary conditions of evolution. It points to the last of the mysteries of cyclic
transformations, in the series of which, mankind, having passed from the ethereal to the solid physical state,
from spiritual to physiological procreation, is now carried onward on the opposite arc of the cycle, toward
that second phase of its primitive state, when woman knew no man, and human progeny was created not begotten.
That state will return to it and to the world at large, when the latter shall discover and really appreciate the truths which underlie this vast problem of sex. It will be like the light that never shone on sea or land, and has to come to men through the Theosophical Society. That light will lead on and up to true spiritual intuition.
Then as once expressed in a letter to a Theosophist: —
The world will have a race of Buddhas and Christs, for the world will have discovered that individuals have it in their own power to procreate Budda-like children — or demons. When that knowledge comes, all dogmatic religions, and with these the Demons will die out".
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