1. The Eternal Parent,54 wrapped in her Ever-invisible Robes, had slumbered once again for Seven Eternities.
The “Parent,” Space, is the eternal, ever-present Cause of all—the incomprehensible Deity, whose “Invisible Robes” are the mystic Root of all Matter, and of the Universe. Space is the one eternal thing that we can most easily imagine, immovable in its abstraction and uninfluenced by either the presence or absence in it of an objective Universe. It is without dimension, in every sense, and self-existent. Spirit is the first differentiation from “That,” the Causeless Cause of both Spirit and Matter. As taught in the Esoteric Catechism, it is neither “limitless void,” nor “conditioned fulness,” but both. It was and ever will be.
Thus, the “Robes” stand for the noumenon of undifferentiated Cosmic Matter. It is not matter as we know it, but the spiritual essence of matter, and is coëternal and even one with Space in its abstract sense. Root-Nature is also the source of the subtile invisible properties in visible matter. It is the Soul, so to say, of the One Infinite Spirit. The Hindûs call it Mûlaprakriti, and say that it is the primordial Substance, which is the basis of the Upâdhi or Vehicle of every phenomenon, whether physical, psychic or mental. It is the source from which kâsha radiates.
By the “Seven Eternities,” æons or periods are meant. The word Eternity, as understood in Christian theology, has no meaning to the
Asiatic ear, except in its application to the One Existence; nor is the term “sempiternity,” the eternal only in futurity, anything better than a misnomer.55 Such words do not and cannot exist in philosophical metaphysics, and were unknown till the advent of ecclesiastical Christianity. The Seven Eternities mean the seven periods, or a period answering in its duration to the seven periods, of a Manvantara, extending throughout a Mahâkalpa or “Great Age” (100 Years of Brahmâ), making a total of 311,040,000,000,000 of years; each Year of Brahmâ being composed of 360 Days, and of the same number of Nights of Brahmâ (reckoning by the Chandrâyana or lunar year); and a Day of Brahmâ consisting of 4,320,000,000 of mortal years. These Eternities belong to the most secret calculations, in which, in order to arrive at the true total, every figure must be 7x, x varying according to the nature of the cycle in the subjective or real world; and every figure relating to, or representing, the different cycles—from the greatest to the smallest—in the objective or unreal world, must necessarily be multiples of seven. The key to this cannot be given, for herein lies the mystery of esoteric calculations, and for the purposes of ordinary calculation it has no sense. “The number seven,” says the Kabalah, “is the great number of the Divine Mysteries”; number ten is that of all human knowledge (the Pythagorean Decad); 1,000 is the number ten to the third power, and therefore the number 7,000 is also symbolical. In the Secret Doctrine the figure 4 is the male symbol only on the highest plane of abstraction; on the plane of matter the 3 is the masculine and the 4 the feminine—the upright and the horizontal in the fourth stage of symbolism, when the symbols become the glyphs of the generative powers on the physical plane.
2. Time was not, for it lay asleep in the Infinite Bosom of Duration.
“Time” is only an illusion produced by the succession of our states of consciousness as we travel through Eternal Duration, and it does not exist where no consciousness exists in which the illusion can be produced, but “lies asleep.” The Present is only a mathematical line which divides that part of Eternal Duration which we call the Future, from that part which we call the Past. Nothing on earth has real duration, for nothing remains without change—or the same—for the billionth part of a second; and the sensation we have of the actuality of the division of Time known as the Present, comes from the blurring of the momentary glimpse, or succession of glimpses, of things that our senses give us, as those things pass from the region of ideals, which we call the Future, to the region of memories that we name the Past. In the same way we experience a sensation of duration in the case of the instantaneous electric spark, by reason of the blurred and continuing impression on the retina. The real person or thing does not consist solely of what is seen at any particular moment, but is composed of the sum of all its various and changing conditions from its appearance in material form to its disappearance from earth. It is these “sum-totals” that exist from eternity in the Future, and pass by degrees through matter, to exist for eternity in the Past. No one would say that a bar of metal dropped into the sea came into existence as it left the air, and ceased to exist as it entered the water, and that the bar itself consisted only of that cross-section thereof which at any given moment coincided with the mathematical plane that separates, and, at the same time, joins, the atmosphere and the ocean. Even so of persons and things, which, dropping out of the “to be” into the “has been,” out of the Future into the Past—present momentarily to our senses a cross-section, as it were, of their total selves, as they pass through Time and Space (as Matter) on their way from one eternity to another: and these two eternities constitute that Duration in which alone anything has true existence, were our senses but able to cognize it.
3. Universal Mind was not, for there were No Ah-hi56 to contain it.57
“Mind” is a name given to the sum of the States of Consciousness, grouped under Thought, Will and Feeling. During deep sleep ideation ceases on the physical plane, and memory is in abeyance; thus for the time-being “Mind is not,” because the organ, through which the Ego manifests ideation and memory on the material plane, has temporarily ceased to function. A noumenon can become a phenomenon on any plane of existence only by manifesting on that plane through an appropriate basis or vehicle; and during the long Night of rest called Pralaya, when all the Existences are dissolved, the “Universal Mind” remains as a permanent possibility of mental action, or as that abstract absolute Thought, of which Mind is the concrete relative manifestation. The Ah-hi (Dhyân 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 they themselves act 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.
4. The Seven Ways to Bliss58 were not (a). The Great Causes of Misery59 were not, for there was no one to produce and get ensnared by them (b).
(a) There are “Seven Paths” or “Ways” to the “Bliss” of Non-Existence, which is absolute Being, Existence and Consciousness. They were not, because the Universe, so far, was empty, and existed only in the Divine Thought.
(b) For it is ... the Twelve Nidânas, or Causes of Being. Each is the effect of its antecedent cause, and a cause, in its turn, to its successor; the sum total of the Nidânas being based on the Four Truths, a doctrine especially characteristic of the Hînayâna System.60 They belong to the theory of the stream of catenated law which produces merit and demerit, and finally brings Karma into full sway. It is a system based upon the great truth that reïncarnation is to be dreaded, as existence in this world entails upon man only suffering, misery and pain; death itself being unable to deliver man from it, since death is merely the door through which he passes to another life on earth after a little rest on its threshold—Devachan. The Hînayâna System, or School of the Little Vehicle, is of very ancient growth; while the Mahâyâna, or School of the Great Vehicle, is of a later period, having originated after the death of Buddha. Yet the tenets of the latter are as old as the hills that have contained such schools from time immemorial, and the Hînayâna and Mahâyâna Schools both teach the same doctrine in reality. Yâna, or Vehicle, is a mystic expression, both “Vehicles” inculcating that man may escape the sufferings of rebirth and even the false bliss of Devachan, by obtaining Wisdom and Knowledge, which alone can dispel the Fruits of Illusion and Ignorance.
Mâyâ, 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. To the untrained eye of the savage, a painting is at first an unmeaning confusion of streaks and daubs of colour, while an educated eye sees instantly a face or a landscape. Nothing is permanent except the one hidden absolute Existence which contains in itself the noumena of all realities. The Existences belonging to every plane of being, up to the highest Dhyân Chohans, are, comparatively, like the shadows cast by a magic lantern on a colourless screen. Nevertheless all things are relatively real, for the cognizer is also a reflection, and the things cognized 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; for we cannot cognize 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. But as we rise in the scale of development, we perceive that in the stages through which we have passed, we mistook shadows for realities, and that the upward progress of the Ego is a series of progressive awakenings, each advance bringing with it the idea that now, at last, we have reached “reality”; but only when we shall have reached absolute Consciousness, and blended our own with it, shall we be free from the delusions produced by Mâyâ.
5. Darkness alone filled the Boundless All (a), for Father, Mother and Son were once more one, and the Son had not yet awakened for the new Wheel61 and his Pilgrimage Thereon (b).
(a) “Darkness is Father-Mother: Light their Son,” says an old Eastern proverb. Light is inconceivable except as coming from some source which is the cause of it: and as, in the case of Primordial Light, that source is unknown, though so strongly demanded by reason and logic, therefore it is called “Darkness” by us, from an intellectual point of view. As to borrowed or secondary light, whatever its source, it can be only of a temporary mâyâvic character. Darkness, then, is the Eternal Matrix in which the Sources of Light appear and disappear. Nothing is added to darkness to make of it light, or to light to make it darkness, on this our plane. They are interchangeable; and, scientifically, light is but a mode of darkness and vice versâ. Yet both are phenomena of the same noumenon—which is absolute darkness to the scientific mind, and but a gray twilight to the perception of the average Mystic, though to that of the spiritual eye of the Initiate it is absolute light. How far we discern the light that shines in darkness depends upon our powers of vision. What is light to us is darkness to certain insects, and the eye of the clairvoyant sees illumination where the normal eye perceives only blackness. When the whole Universe was plunged in sleep—had returned to its one primordial element—there was neither centre of luminosity, nor eye to perceive light, and darkness necessarily filled the “Boundless All.”
(b) The “Father” and “Mother” are the male and female principles in Root-Nature, the opposite poles that manifest in all things on every plane of Kosmos—or Spirit and Substance, in a less allegorical aspect, the resultant of which is the Universe, or the “Son.” They are “once more one,” when in the Night of Brahmâ, during Pralaya, all in the objective Universe has returned to its one primal and eternal cause, to reäppear at the following Dawn—as it does periodically. Kârana—Eternal Cause—was alone. To put it more plainly: Kârana is alone during the Nights of Brahmâ. The previous objective Universe has dissolved into its one primal and eternal Cause, and is, so to say, held in solution in Space, to differentiate again and crystallize out anew at the following Manvataric Dawn, which is the commencement of a new Day or new activity of Brahmâ—the symbol of a Universe. In esoteric parlance, Brahmâ is Father-Mother-Son, or Spirit, Soul and Body at once; each personage being symbolical of an attribute, and each attribute or quality being a graduated efflux of Divine Breath in its cyclic differentiation, involutionary and evolutionary. In the cosmico-physical sense, it is the Universe, the Planetary Chain and the Earth; in the purely spiritual, the Unknown Deity, Planetary Spirit, and Man—the son of the two, the creature of Spirit and Matter, and a manifestation of them in his periodical appearances on Earth during the “Wheels,” or the Manvantaras.
6. The Seven Sublime Lords and the Seven Truths had ceased to be, (a) and the Universe, the Son of Necessity, was immersed In Paranishpanna,62 (b) To be outbreathed by that which is, and yet is not. naught was (c).
(a) The “Seven Sublime Lords” are the Seven Creative Spirits, the Dhyân Chohans, who correspond to the Hebrew Elohim. It is the same Hierarchy of Archangels to which St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and others belong, in Christian Theogony. Only while St. Michael, for instance, is allowed in dogmatic Latin Theology to watch over all the promontories and gulfs, in the Esoteric System the Dhyânis watch successively over one of the Rounds and the great Root-Races of our Planetary Chain. They are, moreover, said to send their Bodhisattvas, the human correspondents of the Dhyâni-Buddhas during every Round and Race. Out of the “Seven Truths” and Revelations, or rather revealed secrets, four only have been handed to us, as we are still in the Fourth Round, and the world also has had only four Buddhas, so far. This is a very complicated question, and will receive more ample treatment later on.
So far “there are only Four Truths, and Four Vedas”—say the Buddhists and Hindûs. For a similar reason Irenæus insisted on the necessity of Four Gospels. But as every new Root-Race at the head of a Round must have its revelation and revealers, the next Round will bring the Fifth, the following the Sixth, and so on.
(b) “Paranishpanna” is the Absolute Perfection to which all Existences attain at the close of a great period of activity, or Mahâmanvantara, and in which they rest during the succeeding period of repose. In Tibetan it is called “Yong-Grub.” Up to the day of the Yogâchârya School the true nature of Paranirvâna was taught publicly, but since then it has become entirely esoteric; hence so many contradictory interpretations of it. It is only a true Idealist who can understand it. Everything has to be viewed as ideal, with the exception of Paranirvâna, by him who would comprehend that state, and acquire a knowledge of how Non-Ego, Voidness, and Darkness are Three in One, and alone self-existent and perfect. It is absolute, however, only in a relative sense, for it must give room to still further absolute perfection, according to a higher standard of excellence in the following period of activity—just as a perfect flower must cease to be a perfect flower and die, in order to grow into a perfect fruit, if such a mode of expression may be permitted.
The Secret Doctrine teaches the progressive development of everything, worlds as well as atoms; and this stupendous development has neither conceivable beginning nor imaginable end. Our “Universe” is only one of an infinite number of Universes, all of them “Sons of Necessity,” because links in the great cosmic chain of Universes, each one standing in the relation of an effect as regards its predecessor, and of a cause as regards its successor.
The appearance and disappearance of the Universe are pictured as an outbreathing and inbreathing of the “Great Breath,” which is eternal, and which, being Motion, is one of the three symbols of the Absolute—Abstract Space and Duration being the other two. When the Great Breath is projected, it is called the Divine Breath, and is regarded as the breathing of the Unknowable Deity—the One Existence—which breathes out a thought, as it were, which becomes the Kosmos. So also is it that when the Divine Breath is inspired, the Universe disappears into the bosom of the Great Mother, who then sleeps “wrapped in her Ever-Invisible Robes.”
(c) By “that which is, and yet is not” is meant the Great Breath itself, which we can only speak of as Absolute Existence, but cannot picture to our imagination as any form of Existence that we can distinguish from Non-Existence. The three periods—the Present, the Past and the Future—are in Esoteric Philosophy a compound time; for the three are a composite number only in relation to the phenomenal plane, but in the realm of noumena have no abstract validity. As said in the Scriptures: “The Past Time is the Present Time, as also the Future, which, though it has not come into existence, still is,” according to a precept in the Prasanga Madhyamika teaching, whose dogmas have been known ever since it broke away from the purely esoteric schools.63 Our ideas, in short, on duration and time are all derived from our sensations according to the laws of association. Inextricably bound up with the relativity of human knowledge, they nevertheless can have no existence except in the experience of the individual Ego, and perish when its evolutionary march dispels the Mâyâ of phenomenal existence. What is time, for instance, but the panoramic succession of our states of consciousness? In the words of a Master, “I feel irritated at having to use these three clumsy words—Past, Present, and Future—miserable concepts of the objective phases of the subjective whole, they are about as ill-adapted for the purpose as an axe for fine carving.” One has to acquire Paramârtha lest one should become too easy a prey to Samvriti—is a philosophical axiom.64
7. The Causes of Existence had been done away with; (a) the Visible that was, and the Invisible that is, rested in Eternal Non-being—the One Being (b).
(a) “The Causes of Existence” mean not only the physical causes known to Science, but the metaphysical causes, the chief of which is the desire to exist, an outcome of Nidâna and Mâyâ. This desire for a sentient life shows itself in everything, from an atom to a sun, and is a reflection of the Divine Thought propelled into objective existence, into a law that the Universe should exist. According to Esoteric teaching, the real cause of that supposed desire, and of all existence, remains for ever hidden, and its first emanations are the most complete abstractions mind can conceive. These abstractions must of necessity be postulated as the cause of the material Universe which presents itself to the senses and intellect, and must underlie the secondary and subordinate powers of Nature, which have been anthropomorphized and worshipped as “God” and “gods” by the common herd of every age. It is impossible to conceive anything without a cause; the attempt to do so makes the mind a blank. This is virtually the condition to which the mind must come at last when we try to trace back the chain of causes and effects, but both Science and Religion jump to this condition of blankness much more quickly than is necessary, for they ignore the metaphysical abstractions which are the only conceivable causes of physical concretions. These abstractions become more and more concrete as they approach our plane of existence, until finally they phenomenalize in the form of the material Universe, by a process of conversion of metaphysics into physics, analogous to that by which steam can be condensed into water, and water frozen into ice.
(b) The idea of “Eternal Non-Being,” which is the “One Being,” will appear a paradox to anyone who does not remember that we limit our ideas of Being to our present consciousness of Existence; making it a specific, instead of a generic term. An unborn infant, could it think in our acceptation of that term, would necessarily in a similar manner limit its conception of Being to the intra-uterine life which alone it knows; and were it to endeavour to express to its consciousness the idea of life after birth (death to it), it would, in the absence of data to go upon, and of faculties to comprehend such data, probably express that life as “Non-Being which is Real Being.” In our case the One Being is the noumenon of all the noumena which we know must underlie phenomena, and give them whatever shadow of reality they possess, but which we have not the senses or the intellect to cognize at present. The impalpable atoms of gold scattered through the substance of a ton of auriferous quartz may be imperceptible to the naked eye of the miner, yet he knows that they are not only present there, but that they alone give his quartz any appreciable value; and this relation of the gold to the quartz may faintly shadow forth that of the noumenon to the phenomenon. Only the miner knows what the gold will look like when extracted from the quartz, whereas the common mortal can form no conception of the reality of things separated from the Mâyâ which veils them, and in which they are hidden. Alone the Initiate, rich with the lore acquired by numberless generations of his predecessors, directs the “Eye of Dangma” toward the essence of things on which no Mâyâ can have any influence. It is here that the teachings of Esoteric Philosophy in relation to the Nidânas and the Four Truths become of the greatest importance; but they are secret.
8. Alone, the One Form of Existence (a) stretched boundless, infinite, causeless, in Dreamless sleep (b); and Life pulsated unconscious in Universal Space, throughout that All-Presence, which is sensed by the Opened Eye of Dangma.65
(a) The tendency of modern thought is to recur to the archaic idea of a homogeneous basis for apparently widely different things—heterogeneity developed from homogeneity. Biologists are now searching for their homogeneous protoplasm and Chemists for their protyle, while Science is looking for the force of which electricity, magnetism, heat, and so forth, are the differentiations. The Secret Doctrine carries this idea into the region of metaphysics, and postulates a “One Form of Existence” as the basis and source of all things. But perhaps the phrase, the “One Form of Existence,” is not altogether correct. The Sanskrit word is Prabhavâpyaya, “the place [or rather plane] whence is the origination, and into which is the resolution of all things,” as a commentator says. It is not the “Mother of the World,” as translated by Wilson;66 for Jagad Yoni, as shown by Fitzedward Hall, is scarcely so much the “Mother of the World,” or the “Womb of the World,” as the “Material Cause of the World.” The Purânic commentators explain it by Kârana, “Cause,” but Esoteric Philosophy, by the ideal spirit of that cause. In its secondary stage, it is the Svabhâvat of the Buddhist philosopher, the Eternal Cause and Effect, omnipresent yet abstract, the self-existent plastic Essence and the Root of all things, viewed in the same dual light as the Vedântin views his Parabrahman and Mûlaprakriti, the one under two aspects. It seems indeed extraordinary to find great scholars speculating on the possibility of the Vedânta, and the Uttara Mîmânsâ especially, having been “evoked by the teachings of the Buddhists”; whereas, on the contrary, it is Buddhism, the teaching of Gautama Buddha, that was “evoked” and entirely upreared on the tenets of the Secret Doctrine, of which a partial sketch is here attempted, and on which, also, the Upanishads are made to rest.67 According to the teachings of Shrî Shankarâchârya our contention is undeniable.68
(b) “Dreamless Sleep” is one of the seven states of consciousness known in Oriental Esotericism. In each of these states a different portion of the mind comes into action; or as a Vedântin would express it, the individual is conscious in a different plane of his being. The term “Dreamless Sleep,” in this case, is applied allegorically to the Universe to express a condition somewhat analogous to that state of consciousness in man, which, not being remembered in a waking state, seems a blank, just as the sleep of the mesmerized subject seems to him an unconscious blank when he returns to his normal condition, although he has been talking and acting as a conscious individual would.
9. But where was Dangma when the laya of the Universe69was in Paramârtha (a),70 and the Great Wheel was Anupâdaka (b)?
(a) Here we have before us the subject of centuries of scholastic disputations. The two terms “ laya,” and “Paramârtha,” have been the causes of dividing schools and splitting the truth into more different aspects than any other mystic words. laya is the Soul of the World or Anima Mundi—the Over-Soul of Emerson—which according to esoteric teaching changes its nature periodically. laya, though eternal and changeless in its inner essence on the planes which are unreachable by either men or cosmic gods (Dhyâni-Buddhas), changes during the active life-period with respect to the lower planes, ours included. During that time not only the Dhyâni-Buddhas are one with laya in Soul and Essence, but even the man strong in Yoga (Mystic Meditation) “is able to merge his soul with it,” as Aryâsanga, of the Yogâchârya school, says. This is not Nirvâna, but a condition next to it. Hence the disagreement. Thus, while the Yogâchâryas of the Mahâyâna School say that laya (Nyingpo and Tsang in Tibetan) is the personification of the Voidness, and yet laya is the basis of every visible and invisible thing, and that, though it is eternal and immutable in its essence, it reflects itself in every object of the Universe “like the moon in clear tranquil water”; other schools dispute the statement. The same for Paramârtha. The Yogâchâryas interpret the term as that which is also dependent upon other things (paratantra); and the Madhyamikas say that Paramârtha is limited to Paranishpanna or Absolute Perfection; i.e., in the exposition of these “Two Truths” of the Four, the former believe and maintain that, on this plane, at any rate, there exists only Samvritisatya or relative truth; and the latter teach the existence of Paramârthasatya, Absolute Truth.71 “No Arhat, O mendicants, can reach absolute knowledge before he becomes one with Paranirvâna. Parikalpita and Paratantra are his two great enemies.”72 Parikalpita (in Tibetan Kun-tag) is error, made by those unable to realize the emptiness and illusionary nature of all; who believe something to exist which does not—e.g., the Non-Ego. And Paratantra is that, whatever it is, which exists only through a dependent or causal connection, and which has to disappear as soon as the cause from which it proceeds is removed—e.g., the flame of a wick. Destroy or extinguish it, and light disappears.
Esoteric Philosophy teaches that everything lives and is conscious, but not that all life and consciousness are similar to those of human or even animal beings. Life we look upon as the One Form of Existence, manifesting in what is called Matter; or what, incorrectly separating them, we name Spirit, Soul and Matter in man. Matter is the Vehicle for the manifestation of Soul on this plane of existence, and Soul is the Vehicle on a higher plane for the manifestation of Spirit, and these three are a Trinity synthesized by Life, which pervades them all. The idea of Universal Life is one of those ancient conceptions which are returning to the human mind in this century, as a consequence of its liberation from anthropomorphic Theology. Science, it is true, contents itself with tracing or postulating the signs of Universal Life, but has not yet been bold enough to even whisper “Anima Mundi”! The idea of “crystalline life,” now familiar to Science, would have been scouted half a century ago. Botanists are now searching for the nerves of plants; not that they suppose that plants can feel or think as animals do, but because they believe that some structure, bearing the same relation functionally to plant life that nerves bear to animal life, is necessary to explain vegetable growth and nutrition. It seems hardly possible that Science, by the mere use of terms such as “force” and “energy,” can disguise from itself much longer the fact that things that have life are living things, whether they be atoms or planets.
But what is the belief of the inner Esoteric Schools, the reader may ask. What are the doctrines taught on this subject by the Esoteric “Buddhists”? With them, we answer, laya has a double and even a threefold meaning. In the Yogâchârya system of the contemplative Mahâyâna School, laya is both the Universal Soul, Anima Mundi, and the Self of a progressed Adept. “He who is strong in the Yoga can introduce at will his laya by means of meditation into the true nature of Existence.” “The laya has an absolute eternal existence,” says Aryâsanga, the rival of Nâgârjuna.73 In one sense it is Pradhâna, which is explained in Vishnu Purâna as, “that which is the unevolved cause, is emphatically called, by the most eminent sages, Pradhâna, original base, which is subtile Prakriti, viz., that which is eternal, and which at once is [or comprehends what is] and [what] is not, or is mere process.”74 “The indiscrete cause which is uniform, and both cause and effect, and which those who are acquainted with first principles, call Pradhâna and Prakriti, is the incognizable Brahma who was before all,”75 i.e., Brahma does not put forth evolution itself or create, but only exhibits various aspects of itself, one of which is Prakriti, an aspect of Pradhâna. “Prakriti,” however, is an incorrect word, and laya would explain it better; for Prakriti is not the “uncognizable Brahma.” It is a mistake of those who know nothing of the universality of the Occult doctrines from the very cradle of the human races, and especially so of those scholars who reject the very idea of a “primordial revelation,” to teach that the Anima Mundi, the One Life or Universal Soul, was made known only by Anaxagoras, or during his age. This philosopher brought the teaching forward simply to oppose the too materialistic conceptions of Democritus on cosmogony, based on the exoteric theory of blindly driven atoms. Anaxagoras of Clazomenæ, however, was not its inventor, but only its propagator, as was also Plato. That which he called Mundane Intelligence, Nous (Νο?ς), the principle that according to his views is absolutely separated and free from matter and acts with design, was called Motion, the One Life, or Jîvâtmâ, in India, ages before the year 500 b.c. Only the ryan philosophers never endowed this principle, which with them is infinite, with the finite “attribute of thinking.”76
This leads naturally to the “Supreme Spirit” of Hegel and the German Transcendentalists—a contrast that it may be useful to point out. The schools of Schelling and Fichte have diverged widely from the primitive archaic conception of an Absolute Principle, and have mirrored an aspect only of the basic idea of the Vedânta. Even the “Absoluter Geist” shadowed forth by von Hartmann in his pessimistic philosophy of the “Unconscious,” while it is, perhaps, the closest approximation made by European speculation to the Hindû Advaitin doctrines, yet similarly falls far short of the reality.
According to Hegel, the “Unconscious” would never have undertaken the vast and laborious task of evolving the Universe, except in the hope of attaining clear Self-Consciousness. In this connection it is to be borne in mind that in designating Spirit, a term which the European Pantheists use as equivalent to Parabrahman, as Unconscious, they do not attach to the expression the connotation it usually bears. It is employed in the absence of a better term to symbolize a profound mystery.
The “Absolute Consciousness behind phenomena,” they tell us, which is only termed unconsciousness in the absence of any element of personality, transcends human conception. Man, unable to form a single concept except in terms of empirical phenomena, is powerless from the very constitution of his being to raise the veil that shrouds the majesty of the Absolute. Only the liberated Spirit is able to faintly realize the nature of the source whence it sprung and whither it must eventually return. As the highest Dhyân Chohan, however, can but bow in ignorance before the awful mystery of Absolute Being; and since, even in that culmination of conscious existence—“the merging of the individual in the universal consciousness,” to use a phrase of Fichte's—the Finite cannot conceive the Infinite, nor can it apply to it its own standard of mental experiences, how can it be said that the Unconscious and the Absolute can have even an instinctive impulse or hope of attaining clear Self-Consciousness?77 A Vedântin, moreover, would never admit this Hegelian idea; and the Occultist would say that it applies perfectly to the awakened Mahat, the Universal Mind already projected into the phenomenal world as the first aspect of the changeless Absolute, but never to the latter. “Spirit and Matter, or Purusha and Prakriti, are but the two primeval aspects of the One and Secondless,” we are taught.
The matter-moving Nous, the animating Soul, immanent in every atom, manifested in man, latent in the stone, has different degrees of power; and this Pantheistic idea of a general Spirit-Soul pervading all Nature is the oldest of all the philosophical notions. Nor was the Archæus a discovery either of Paracelsus or of his pupil Van Helmont; for this same Archæus is “Father-Æther,” the manifested basis and source of the innumerable phenomena of life—localized. The whole series of the numberless speculations of this kind are but variations on the same theme, the key-note of which was struck in this “primeval revelation.”
(b) The term “Anupâdaka,” parentless, or without progenitors, is a mystical designation having several meanings in our philosophy. By this name Celestial Beings, the Dhyân Chohans or Dhyâni-Buddhas, are generally meant. These correspond mystically to the human Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, known as the Mânushi (Human) Buddhas, which latter are also designated Anupâdaka, once that their whole personality is merged in their compound Sixth and Seventh Principles, or tmâ-Buddhi, and they have become the “Diamond-Souled” (Vajrasattvas78), or full Mahâtmâs. The “Concealed Lord” (Sangbai Dag-po), “the one merged with the Absolute,” can have no parents since he is Self-Existent, and one with the Universal Spirit (Svayambhû),79 the Svabhâvat in its highest aspect. The mystery of the Hierarchy of the Anupâdaka is great, its apex being the universal Spirit-Soul, and the lower rung the Mânushi-Buddha: and even every soul-endowed man also is an Anupâdaka in a latent state. Hence—when speaking of the Universe in its formless, eternal, or absolute condition, before it was fashioned by the Builders—the expression, “the great Wheel [Universe] was Anupâdaka.”
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