Chaos of thought and passion, all confused; Still by himself abused or disabused; Created half to rise, and half to fall; Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all; Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurled — The glory, jest, and riddle of the world. — Alexander Pope 1
Rooted in parentless space, Buddha taught that “the primitive substance is eternal and unchangeable. Its highest revelation is the pure, luminous æther, the boundless infinite space, not a void resulting from the absence of forms, but, on the contrary, the foundation of all forms, and anterior to them. But the very presence of forms denotes it to be the creation of Maya, and all her works are as nothing before the uncreated being, SPIRIT, in whose profound and sacred repose all motion must cease for ever.” 2
Maya is Yama reversed. Maya, as explained by the books on Tantra, is ya-ma, reversed, ya and ma being two complete Sanskrit words meaning, when put together as a sentence, “that which is not,” is as well as not, sad-asat, existent and notexistent, truly mysterious to the outer view.3
It is the cosmic power that renders phenomenal existence and the perceptions thereof possible. In Hindu philosophy that alone which is changeless and eternal is called reality; all that which is subject to change through decay and differentiation and which has therefore a beginning and an end is regarded as maya — illusion.4 . . . if there were no Maya there would be no differentiation, or, rather, no objective universe would be perceived. But this does not make of it an aspect of the Absolute, but simply something coeval and coexistent with the manifested Universe or the heterogeneous differentiation of pure Homogeneity.5
Sustained by conscious mind and compounded by self-interest, It is only the seventh sense 1 [the only Eternal Reality], which pertains to the noumenal world, that can comprehend the Abstract Reality underlying all phenomena. As this seventh principle is all-pervading, it exists potentially in all of us; and he, who would arrive at true knowledge, has to develop that sense in him, or rather he must remove those veils which obscure its manifestation. All sense of personality is limited only to these lower six principles, for the former relates only the “world of forms.” Consequently, true “knowledge” can be obtained only by tearing away all the curtains of Maya raised by a sense of personality before the impersonal Atma. 2
The endless distinctions in appearance and form create the illusion of separateness. Illusion arises from differentiation . . . and absence of differentiation, whether subjective or objective, is the Nirvana of Advaita.3
Prakriti may be looked upon . . . either as Maya when considered as the Upadhi of Parabrahman or as Avidya when considered as the upadhi of Jivatma (7th principle in man). Avidya is ignorance or illusion arising from Maya. The term Maya, though sometimes used as a synonym for Avidya, is, properly speaking, applicable to Prakriti only. There is no difference between Prakriti, Maya and Shakti; 4
Even the existence of infinite space depends upon the perceiving ego, thus the existence of prakriti depends upon the existence of the Logos which is the perceiving ego and when this happens there is differentiation between subject and object.5
Theosophy teaches the spirit of non-separateness, . . . the evanescence and illusion of human creeds and dogma, hence, inculcates universal love and charity for all mankind “without distinction of race, colour, caste or creed,” is it not therefore the fittest to alleviate the sufferings of mankind? 1
Spirit-Matter are aspects of One Reality: inseparable, interdependent, and convertible into one another. But what is “Spirit” pure and impersonal per se? . . . why, such a Spirit is a nonentity, a pure abstraction, an absolute blank to our senses — even to the most spiritual. It becomes something only in union with matter — hence it is always something since matter is infinite and indestructible and non-existent without Spirit which, in matter is Life. Separated from matter it becomes the absolute negation of life and being, whereas matter is inseparable from it.2
As senses comprehend the outer world, so selfconsciousness apprehends the Inner Reality. In the various writings on occult subjects, it has been stated that unselfishness is a sine qua non for success in occultism. Or a more correct form of putting it, would be that the development of an unselfish feeling is in itself the primary training which brings with it “knowledge which is power” as a necessary accessory. It is not, therefore, “knowledge,” as ordinarily understood, that the occultist works for, but it comes to him as a matter of course, in consequence of his having removed the veil which screens true knowledge from his view. The basis of knowledge exists everywhere, since the phenomenal world furnishes or rather abounds with facts, the causes of which have to be discovered. We can only see the effects in the phenomenal world, for each cause in that world is itself the effect of some other cause, and so on; and therefore, true knowledge consists in getting at the root of all phenomena, and thus arriving at a correct understanding of the primal cause, the “rootless root,” which is not an effect in its turn.
And as the highest sees Itself through the eyes of the lowest, The Monad is impersonal and a god per se, albeit unconscious on this plane. For, divorced from its third (often called fifth) principle, Manas, which is the horizontal line of the first manifested triangle or trinity, it can have no consciousness or perception of things on this earthly plane. “The highest sees through the eyes of the lowest” in the manifested world; Purusha (Spirit) remains blind without the help of Prakriti (matter) in the material spheres; and so does Atman-Buddhi without Manas.1
By the illusion of maya and out of which we come to know ourselves. Life is — living. A stream is — flowing. A conscious organism, a living body, an individual, is a perpetual desire, a flame, a force incessantly absorbing and rejecting material, the absorptions and rejections being cognitions, or actions. . . . The fulfilment of desire is the end; cognitions and actions are the means. And yet, if we try to analyse, we find that desire is only desire for cognitions and actions. End and means are always passing into each other. The World process is an endless cycle, a perpetual rotation of these three, a vicious or a virtuous circle, as you please, a maya, an illusion — but by which, and out of which, we snatch self-realisation.
It may be noted that simulation, maya, is the very nature of the world-process. 2
Now, it is a fundamental doctrine of Theosophy that the “separateness” that we feel between ourselves and the world of living beings around us is illusion, not reality. . . . In very deed and truth, all men are one, not in a feeling of sentimental gush and hysterical enthusiasm, but in sober earnest. As all Eastern philosophy teaches, there is but ONE SELF in all the infinite Universe, and what we men call “self” is but the illusionary reflection of the ONE SELF in the heaving waters of earth. True Occultism is the destruction of the false idea of Self, and therefore true spiritual perfection and knowledge are nothing else but the complete identification of our finite “selves” with the Great All.3
It follows, therefore, that no spiritual progress at all is possible except by and through the bulk of Humanity. . . . It is only when the whole of Humanity has attained happiness that the individual can hope to become permanently happy — for the individual is an inseparable part of the Whole.
Hence there is no contradiction whatever between the altruistic maxims of Theosophy and its injunction to kill out all desire for material things, to strive after spiritual perfection. For spiritual perfection and spiritual know-ledge can only be reached on the spiritual plane; in other words, only in that state in which all sense of separateness, all selfishness, all feeling of personal interest and desire, has been merged in the wider consciousness of the unity of Mankind.
This shows also that no blind submission to the commands of another can be demanded, or would [not] be of any use. Each individual must learn for himself, through trial and suffering,1 to discriminate what is beneficial to Humanity; 2 and in proportion as he develops spiritually, i.e., conquers all selfishness, his mind will open to receive the guidance of the Divine Monad within him, his Higher Self, for which there is neither Past nor Future, but only an eternal Now.3
Selfishness is the impassable wall between the personal Self and Truth. SELFISHNESS, the first-born of Ignorance, and the fruit of the teaching which asserts that for every newly-born infant a new soul, separate and distinct from the Universal Soul, is “created” — this Selfishness is the impassable wall between the personal Self and Truth. It is the prolific mother of all human vices, Lie being born out of the necessity for dissembling, and Hypocrisy out of the desire to mask Lie. 4 It is the fungus growing and strengthening with age in every human heart in which it has devoured all better feelings.5
Selfishness kills every noble impulse in our nature, . . . and is the one deity, fearing no faithlessness or desertion from its votaries. Hence, we see it reign supreme in the world and in socalled fashionable society. As a result, we live, and move, and have our being in this god of darkness under his trinitarian aspect of Sham, Humbug, and Falsehood, called RESPECTABILITY. 1
Unselfish conduct is the only antidote to the poison of separateness. It is only in that personality that is centred selfishness, or rather the latter creates the former and vice versa, since they mutually act and react upon each other. For, selfishness is that feeling which seeks after the aggrandisement of one’s own egotistic personality to the exclusion of others. If, therefore, selfishness limits one to narrow personalities, absolute knowledge is impossible so long a selfishness is not got rid of.2
Personality is synonym for limitation. . . . and the more contracted the person’s ideas, the closer will he cling to the lower spheres of being, the longer loiter on the plane of selfish social intercourse. The social status of a being is, of course, a result of Karma; the law being that “like attracts like.” 3
Our best teacher is our own Seventh Principle, centered in the Sixth, “ . . . The more unselfishly one works for his fellow men and divests himself of the illusionary sense of personal isolation, the more he is free from Maya and the nearer he approaches Divinity.” 4
It helps us to discriminate between self and Self, perishable and Permanent, virtual and Real. Maya or illusion is an element which enters into all finite things, for everything that exists has only a relative, not an absolute reality, since the appearance which the hidden noumenon assumes for any observer depends upon his power of cognition. . . . Nothing is permanent except the one hidden absolute existence which contains in itself the noumena of all realities.5
And by us helping others to understand and esteem their true nature, the fog of illusion is dissipated. So long as we are incapable of forming even an approximately correct conception of this inconceivable eternity, for us, who are just as much an illusion as anything else outside that eternity, the sorrows and misery of that greatest of all illusions — human life in the universal mahamaya — for us, I say, such sorrows and miseries are a vivid and a very sad reality. A shadow from your body, dancing on the white wall, is a reality so long as it is there, for yourself and all who can see it; because a reality is just as relative as an illusion. And if one “illusion” does not help another “illusion” of the same kind to study and recognise the true nature of Self, then, I fear, very few of us will ever get out from the clutches of maya.
Only when we shall have reached Absolute Consciousness, and blended our own with It, shall we be free from the delusions produced by Maya. The existences belonging to every plane of being, up to the highest Dhyani-Chohans, are, in degree, of the nature of shadows cast by a magic lantern on a colourless screen; but all things are relatively real, for the cogniser is also a reflection, and the things cognised are therefore as real to him as himself. Whatever reality things possess must be looked for in them before or after they have passed like a flash through the material world; but we cannot cognise any such existence directly, so long as we have sense-instruments which bring only material existence into the field of our consciousness. Whatever plane our consciousness may be acting in, both we and the things belonging to that plane are, for the time being, our only realities. As we rise in the scale of development we perceive that during the stages through which we have passed we mistook shadows for realities, and the upward progress of the Ego is a series of progressive awakenings, each advance bringing with it the idea that now, at last, we have reached “reality”;
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