(A paper read before the Blavatsky Lodge of the Theosophical Society)
THE task which devolves upon me this evening is a threefold one, and the area to be travelled over is so extensive — the subject itself of so vast and complex a nature — that I trust I may be pardoned if I seem to touch but briefly and inadequately upon the various points to be raised for discussion.I have to take (I) Sevenfold Cosmic Consciousness, (2) its reflexion in material nature, as shown by science; (3) its reflexion in the Sevenfold Consciousness of man.
It has been established that, from the standpoint of phenomenal law upon which all our knowledge rests, the vibrations of sound and light increase regularly, that they divide themselves into seven columns, and that the successive numbers in each column are closely allied: i.e. that they exhibit a close relationship which not only is expressed in the figures [Page 7] themselves, but also is practically confirmed in chemistry, as in music, in the latter of which the ear confirms the verdict of the figures...... The fact that this periodicity and variety is governed by the number seven is undeniable, and it far surpasses the limits of mere chance, and must be assumed to have an adequate cause, which cause must be discovered". [" Secret Doctrine", Vol. 2, page 628]So also, Galton has shown that there are, undoubtedly, a certain number of people in whom the seven notes of the musical scale arouse subjective visions of the seven colours.
The facts I have briefly glanced at are general facts, and cannot happen day after day in so many millions of animals of every kind, FROM THE LARVA OR OVUM OF A MINUTE INSECT UP TO MAN, at definite periods, from a mere chance or coincidence. I think it impossible to come to any less general conclusion than this, that in animals, changes occur every three and a half, seven, fourteen, twenty-one, or twenty-eight days, or at some definite number of weeks or septenary cycles". ["Secret Doctrine", Vol. 2, page 622]Similarly, another writer quoted by Madame Blavatsky, speaks of the harmony of numbers visible in all departments of nature, and in the perception of the mind; and adds, that, from the recent researches of modern natural and physical science, it would seem that “the number seven is distinguished in the laws regulating the harmonious perception of forms, colours, and sounds".
128 (Atomic Doubtful)
Law of Periodic Function", that is, that the properties of elements bear a definite relation
to their atomic weights.
These elements are, as you see, written down — in the order of their [Page 9] atomic weights — in rows of seven to a row; they stand in the order of 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 19, etc. Now if, in this diagram, we start from any element and count forwards, it is a singular fact that the properties of the eighth in order duplicates those of the one from which we start: this shows that the chemical elements fall naturally, by their atomic weights, into sets of seven; each number in each seven corresponding, in its properties, to the same number in the next seven; thus: — Lithium, Sodium, and Potassium, standing under each other in the first column, present an exact likeness to each other in their properties; so do Sulphur and Oxygen in the sixth column; so Zinc and Magnesium in the second; and so on, throughout the series: indeed, by a study of his own plan, Mendelejeff has been able — in one case — to predict the characteristics of an element before its discovery had taken place.
It has already been suggested, by Prof. Crookes, that all matter is radically one; but that there is but the ONE ELEMENT in reality, all the others being only derived from — or rather differentiations of — the same. This ONE ELEMENT, this universal basis of matter, he terms Protyle; now let us suppose this Protyle aggregated in such density and in such arrangement that it exhibits the properties we call Lithium, the first member of the first line of our diagram. A larger quantity and a different arrangement of Protyle aggregates itself, and is now called by us Glucinum, with different properties from Lithium, and weighing 9 instead of 7. Again, a still larger aggregate, and a new arrangement, with different properties and an increased weight of 11; and so on, for seven times. But when the eighth aggregate of Protyle is formed, we do not get a different set of properties, but what we may almost call a replica of the properties of the first, Sodium having properties closely allied to those of Lithium. Nothing, therefore, would seem to be clearer than that physical, material nature is a vast family, grouping itself naturally into sets of sevens.
It may not be out of place to mention here that, as Madame Blavatsky states in the pages of Lucifer (Vol. 6, Page 91), the late eminent Dr. Pirogoff, of St. Petersburg, has in his posthumous memoirs shown very plainly that not only did he believe in Universal Deity — divine Ideation (or Consciousness) — but that he taught this, and tried to demonstrate it scientifically: — “We have no cause”, he says, “to reject the possibility of organisms endowed with such properties that would make of them the direct embodiment of the Universal Mind, a perfection inaccessible to our (human) mind ......... because we have no right to maintain that man is the last expression of the divine creative thought”. Thus he argues that Universal Mind needs no physico-chemical or mechanical brain as an organ of transmission; he even goes far as to admit it, in these suggestive words: — “Our reason must accept in all necessity an infinite and eternal mind which [Page 10] rules and governs the ocean of life..... Thought and creative ideation, in full agreement with the laws of unity and causation, manifest themselves plainly enough in universal life — WITHOUT THE PARTICIPATION OF BRAIN-SLUSH ......... Directing the forces and elements toward the formation of organisms, this organizing life-principle becomes self-conscious, racial or individual. Substance, ruled and directed by the life-principle, is organized according to a general defined plan, into certain types”. This belief Dr. Pirogoff explains by confessing that he could never acquire the conviction that our brain could be the only organ of thought in the whole universe; or that everything in this world, save that organ, should be unconditioned and senseless; that human thought alone should impart to the universe a meaning, and a reasonable harmony in its integrity.
Not less suggestive are some of the remarks made in a paper read by the present Professor of physiology at the University of Basle, some time ago, and quoted by Madame Blavatsky in Lucifer (Vol. VI., page 93 et seq.). He speaks of man being endowed, in addition to his physical sense, with an inner sense; a perception which gives him the possibility of observing the states of phenomena of his own consciousness, and that he has to use that in dealing with animate nature: He denies, moreover, the assumption that the states and phenomena of Consciousness represent in substance the same manifestations of motion as in the external world. Following this line of thought, however, we trench upon the third division into which our subject for this evening falls, viz., the reflection of the Sevenfold Universal (or Cosmic) Consciousness in man himself.
Let us turn then to the consideration of the Sevenfold Consciousness of the real man, the “Thinker”; for “Occultism teaches that the physical man is one, but the thinking man septenary: thinking, acting, feeling, and living on seven different states of being — or planes of consciousness — and that for all these states and planes the permanent Ego (not the false personality) has a distinct set of senses”. [ See “Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge”, Part I, pages 61-62 ]
This universal and ever-present septenary is the basis of the very constitution of the man’s whole nature, and it is further reflected in his seven principles (which will be dealt with later in this series of discussions), corresponding to the seven states of Consciousness; man, the microcosm, herein faithfully representing — and reflecting, as in a mirror — the macrocosm, of which he is an integral and inseparable portion, a temporarily isolated fragment of the One great Whole. If we turn in search of information to the teachings of modern science upon Consciousness, we are inevitably led to the conclusion that — save in one or two instances — Consciousness is, literally, the terra incognita of modern physical science. As Dr. Buck, in the admirable chapter on Consciousness in his [Page11] “Study of Man", observes: — "This fact is often realized, but instead of going seriously to work to study the relations and different states and conditions of Consciousness, the foolish attempt is repeated again and again of trying to fit Consciousness to phenomena as an attribute of matter". The ordinary tests of Consciousness are, indeed, admitted by one scientific writer to be — by themselves — fallacious, as the most vivid consciousness may exist, he declares, and one or more of the tests fail entirely: e.g., in epilepsy, where the memory is apparently entirely lost; or somnambulism, and artificial hypnotism. Again, Dr. Buck tells us that "whenever the changes arising in the conditions and manifestations of Consciousness have been carefully noted and critically compared, such observation and comparison have lead to the conclusion that Consciousness is the prime factor in all individual experience, and by no means confined to the sense-motor mechanism of the human brain;" although it is of course the case that Consciousness, in one of its modes, bears an evident and definite relation to the brain and "all mental processes that directly relate to the external world of phenomena".
Yet nothing is more common in ordinary life than the shifting of the planes of Consciousness, and though it is not yet possible to prove that these planes of Consciousness are seven in number, and that each plane has an intimate and inseparable relation to the Cosmic plane which gave it birth; yet we must — if we accept the teachings of Occultism — take this as a fact to be proven hereafter, and as a working hypothesis in our studies and investigations. That the planes of Consciousness do shift is easily enough proved by the action of anaesthetics, and by the recent experiments of the French and German medical schools in hypnotism. To take only the action of chloroform, for example, we find that it "changes the consciousness of the real Ego. The individual cannot be called strictly unconscious: he suffers no pain, and retains no recollection of what occurs while under the influence of the anaesthetic, but the organic consciousness remains undisturbed. Muscular motion may occur, but without co-ordination. The cerebrum, cerebellum and sensory ganglia are unconscious in dreamless sleep; the medulla, spinal cord, solar-plexus and the sexual-area are wide awake and sometimes these are super-sensitive. The light of self-consciousness is withdrawn; it is drawn within, but not quenched. [ “The Study of Man”, by Dr. Buck, Ch. xi ]
Consciousness per se, even in man, we know to be one, therefore the vehicle of the Ego; and although the bodily avenues between itself and the external world are many, yet it is nevertheless, in its existence, independent of all bodily sense or mental condition, though functioning through these in so far as its external manifestations, and the receiving of sense [Page 12] impressions, are concerned. “Through these avenues and relations the conscious Ego comes into definite relations to a phenomenal existence, to the things of sense and time; and by analogy something may be inferred of the nature of Consciousness from its outward manifestation. When once it is understood, however, that through its relations to the brain and sensory ganglia Consciousness manifests in but one of numerous forms, analogies drawn from this one form alone will no longer be regarded as final, even where they are logically so drawn.”[“The Study of Man", by Dr. Buck, Chap. xi]
Consciousness is not only the central fact in man, but it is the medium of communication between the objective and subjective worlds; for everyone will readily admit that "in sleep where dreams occur, Consciousness is on a different plane, or under different conditions from the waking state". In Eastern Occultism the names of three such states, or conditions, are given: viz., Swapua, the dreaming; Sushupti, the deep sleeping; and Turya, the state of high spiritual consciousness, beyond the dreamless state; if, in addition to these three, we include Jagrat, given as the waking — or ordinary normal — state of consciousness, we find ourselves to have arrived at what are, probably, at least four out of the seven states, or planes of Consciousness, in man, in each of which a different portion of the mind comes into action.
Now, as we have seen, Occultism teaches that Consciousness is (in its highest aspect) primarily one; Mahat, Divine Ideation — the parent of the Manasic or Mind Element in man — our conscious Egos. This Manas, this "Thinker", is of a dual nature, one aspect functioning on the material, the other on the spiritual planes of our being. This dual mind it is which is divisible into our seven human states of Consciousness, falling naturally into the lower four, or Quaternary, and the higher, divine Triad; of the latter we can, at our present stage of evolution, know comparatively little or nothing ( any more than we can of the three higher of the seven cosmical planes, and Elements); it is, briefly, our spiritual consciousness, the Manasic Mind illumined by the light of Buddhi, "that which subjectively perceives abstractions”. But the sentient consciousness, called " the lower Manasic light", is that portion of Manas which is divisible into the four lower aspects, the Quaternary; being dependent for its functioning upon the physical brain, and senses. That, as yet, little enough is known to science of the true nature and psychic functions of these latter, Madame Blavatsky's two articles (lately published in Lucifer) on "Psychic and Noetic Action", abundantly prove. The whole clue to the permanence of the Re-incarnating Principle lies in this double consciousness of our minds, in the dual nature of Manas; and it is only the higher Spiritual Consciousness, "whose root — so to speak — lies in Eternity, which survives and lives for ever, and which may therefore be truly called immortal, indestructible throughout the [Page 13] life cycle as a thinking Entity and even as an ethereal form; and whose Universal Consciousness transcends a millionfold the self-consciousness of the lower personal self, or Ego".
Thought ( or Consciousness) is the very essence of Manas, called in its plurality Manasa-putra, or the Sons of the Universal Mind.
Let us always remember, too, that "whatever plane our consciousness may be acting in, both we and the things belonging to that plane are, for the time being, our only realities. The upward progress of the Ego is, in fact, a series of progressive awakenings, each advance bringing with it the idea that now, at last, we have reached 'reality' ; but only when we shall have reached the Absolute Consciousness, and blended our own with it, shall we be free from the delusions produced by Maya". [ “Secret Doctrine”, Vol.1, page 40] And what, after all, is Time itself but an illusion (Maya) produced by the succession of our states of consciousness "as we travel through eternal duration", and which cannot exist "where no consciousness exists in which the illusion can be produced".
If, as Dr. Buck says, "we ask the true scientist what we know of anything, of matter, space, time, or motion, of the whole phenomenal world, he will tell us, and tell us truly, that we have our own ideas of these and nothing more". And turning to the philosopher, should we enquire likewise of him, what answer do we receive ? From the teachings of one of the greatest of modern thinkers, Schopenhauer, "we learn that not only the world but ourselves included are reducible to two terms, imagination and will: the one the essence and the creator of all forms in nature, the other the motive and the creative power; and that these powers are as potent on the subjective as on the objective plane; as active in drunken delirium and in insanity, as in that other condition of consciousness that we call sanity". [ “The Study of Man", by Dr. Buck, Chap. xi. ]
Finally, I think the results of this brief, and necessarily most imperfect attempt to deal with the ONE GREAT FACT of Consciousness (both in Man and the Universe), cannot be better summed up than in these words of Paracelsus: — " There is nothing in the macrocosm of nature that is not contained in man, because man and nature are essentially one; and a man who is conscious of being one with nature will know everything, if he knows only — HIMSELF."
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