An archaic Manuscript—a collection of palm leaves made impermeable to water, fire, and air, by some specific and unknown process—is before the writer's eye. On the first page is an immaculate white disk within a dull black ground. On the following page, the same disk, but with a central point. The first, the student knows, represents Kosmos in Eternity, before the reäwakening of still slumbering Energy, the Emanation of the World in later systems. The point in the hitherto immaculate disk, Space and Eternity in Pralaya, denotes the dawn of differentiation. It is the Point in the Mundane Egg, the Germ within it which will become the Universe, the All, the boundless, periodical Kosmos—a Germ which is latent and active, periodically and by turns. The one circle is divine Unity, from which all proceeds, whither all returns: its circumference—a forcibly limited symbol, in view of the limitation of the human mind—indicates the abstract, ever incognizable Presence, and its plane, the Universal Soul, although the two are one. Only, the face of the disk being white, and the surrounding ground black, clearly shows that its plane is the sole knowledge, dim and hazy though it still is, that is attainable by man. It is on this plane that the manvantaric manifestations begin; for it is in this Soul, that slumbers, during the Pralaya, the Divine Thought,27 wherein lies concealed the plan of every future cosmogony and theogony.
It is the One Life, eternal, invisible, yet omnipresent, without beginning or end, yet periodical in its regular manifestations—between which periods reigns the dark mystery of Non-Being; unconscious, yet absolute Consciousness, unrealizable, yet the one self-existing Reality; truly, “a Chaos to the sense, a Kosmos to the reason.” Its one absolute attribute, which is Itself, eternal, ceaseless Motion, is called in esoteric parlance the Great Breath,28 which is the perpetual motion of the Universe, in the sense of limitless, ever-present Space. That which is motionless cannot be Divine. But then there is nothing in fact and reality absolutely motionless within the Universal Soul.
Almost five centuries b.c. Leucippus, the instructor of Democritus, maintained that Space was eternally filled with atoms actuated by a ceaseless motion, which, in due course of time, as they aggregated, generated rotatory motion, through mutual collisions producing lateral movements. Epicurus and Lucretius taught the same doctrine, adding however to the lateral motion of the atoms the idea of affinity—an Occult teaching.
From the beginning of man's inheritance, from the first appearance of the architects of the globe he lives on, the unrevealed Deity was recognized and considered under its only philosophical aspect—Universal Motion, the thrill of the creative Breath in Nature. Occultism sums up the One Existence thus: “Deity is an arcane, living [or moving] Fire, and the eternal witnesses to this unseen Presence, are Light, Heat, Moisture,”—this trinity including, and being the cause of, every phenomenon in Nature.29 Intra-cosmic motion is eternal and ceaseless; cosmic motion—the visible, or that which is subject to perception—is finite and periodical. As an eternal abstraction it is the Ever-Present; as a manifestation, it is finite both in the coming direction and the opposite, the two being the Alpha and Omega of successive reconstructions. Kosmos—the Noumenon—has nought to do with the causal relations of the phenomenal World. It is only with reference to the intra-cosmic Soul, the ideal Kosmos in the immutable Divine Thought, that we may say: “It never had a beginning nor will it have an end.” With regard to its body or cosmic organization, though it cannot be said that it had a first, or will ever have a last construction, yet at each new Manvantara, its organization may be regarded as the first and the last of its kind, as it evolves every time on a higher plane.
A few years ago only, it was stated that:
The esoteric doctrine, like Buddhism and Brâhmanism, and even Kabalism, teaches that the one infinite and unknown Essence exists from all eternity, and in regular and harmonious successions is either passive or active. In the poetical phraseology of Manu these conditions are called the Days and the Nights of Brahmâ. The latter is either “awake” or “asleep.” The Svâbhâvikas, or philosophers of the oldest school of Buddhism, which still exists in Nepaul, speculate only upon the active condition of this “Essence,” which they call Svabhâvat, and deem it foolish to theorize upon the abstract and “unknowable” power in its passive condition. Hence they are called Atheists by both Christian theologians and modern scientists, for neither of the two are able to understand the profound logic of their philosophy. The former will allow of no other God than the personified secondary powers which have worked out the visible universe, and which becomes with them the anthropomorphic God of the Christians—the male Jehovah, roaring amid thunder and lightning. In its turn, rationalistic science greets the Buddhists and the Svâbhâvikas as the “Positivists” of the archaic ages. If we take a one-sided view of the philosophy of the latter, our materialists may be right in their own way. The Buddhists maintain that there is no Creator, but an infinitude of creative powers, which collectively form the one eternal substance, the essence of which is inscrutable—hence not a subject for speculation for any true philosopher. Socrates invariably refused to argue upon the mystery of universal being, yet no one would ever have thought of charging him with atheism, except those who were bent upon his destruction. Upon inaugurating an active period, says the Secret Doctrine, an expansion of this Divine Essence from without inwardly and from within outwardly, occurs in obedience to eternal and immutable law, and the phenomenal or visible universe is the ultimate result of the long chain of cosmical forces thus progressively set in motion. In like manner, when the passive condition is resumed, a contraction of the Divine Essence takes place, and the previous work of creation is gradually and progressively undone. The visible universe becomes disintegrated, its material dispersed; and “darkness” solitary and alone, broods once more over the face of the “deep.” To use a metaphor from the secret books, which will convey the idea still more clearly, an out-breathing of the “unknown essence” produces the world; and an inhalation causes it to disappear. This process has been going on from all eternity, and our present universe is but one of an infinite series, which had no beginning and will have no end.30
This passage will be explained, as far as it is possible, in the present work. Though it contains nothing new to the Orientalist, as it now stands, its esoteric interpretation may contain a good deal which has hitherto remained entirely unknown to the Western student.
The first illustration is a plain disk, [circle]. The second in the archaic symbol shows a disk with a point in it, [circle with dot]—the first differentiation in the periodical manifestations of the ever-eternal Nature, sexless and infinite, “Aditi in That,”31 or potential Space within abstract Space. In its third stage the point is transformed into a diameter, [circle with line]. It now symbolizes a divine immaculate Mother-Nature within the all-embracing absolute Infinitude. When the horizontal diameter is crossed by a vertical one, [circle with cross], it becomes the Mundane Cross. Humanity has reached its Third Root-Race; it is the sign for the origin of human Life. When the circumference disappears and leaves only the [cross], it is a sign that the fall of man into matter is accomplished, and the Fourth Race begins. The cross within a circle symbolizes pure Pantheism; when the cross is left uninscribed, it becomes phallic. It had the same and yet other meanings as a Tau inscribed within a circle, [circle with lines (Tau)]; or as a Thor's Hammer—the so-called Jaina cross, or Svastika, within a circle, [circle with swastika].
By the third symbol—the circle divided in two by a horizontal diameter—was meant the first manifestation of creative Nature—still passive, because feminine. The first shadowy perception of man connected with procreation is feminine, because man knows his mother more than his father. Hence female deities were more sacred than male. Nature is therefore feminine, and, to a degree, objective and tangible, and the Spirit Principle which fructifies it, is concealed.32 By adding to the horizontal line in the circle, a perpendicular, the Tau was formed, [T], the oldest form of the letter. It was the glyph of the Third Root-Race to the day of its symbolical Fall—i.e., when the separation of sexes by natural evolution took place—when the figure became [circle with vertical line], or sexless life modified or separated—a double glyph or symbol. With the sub-races of our Fifth Race it became in symbology the Sacr', and in Hebrew N'cabvah, of the first-formed Races;33 then it changed into the Egyptian emblem of life, [Ankh], and still later into the sign of Venus, [female symbol]. Then comes the Svastika (Thor's Hammer, now the Hermetic Cross), entirely separated from its circle, thus becoming purely phallic. The esoteric symbol of Kali Yuga is the five-pointed star reversed, with its two points (horns) turned heavenward, thus [five-pointed star], the sign of human sorcery, a position every Occultist will recognize as one of the “left-hand,” and used in ceremonial magic.
It is hoped that during the perusal of this work the erroneous ideas of the public in general with regard to Pantheism will be modified. It is wrong and unjust to regard the Buddhists and Advaitin Occultists as Atheists. If not all of them philosophers, they are, at any rate, all logicians, their objections and arguments being based on strict reasoning. Indeed, if the Parabrahman of the Hindûs may be taken as a representative of the hidden and nameless deities of other nations, this absolute Principle will be found to be the prototype from which all the others were copied. Parabrahman is not “God,” because It is not a God. “It is that which is supreme, and not supreme (paravara).”34 It is supreme as cause, not supreme as effect. Parabrahman is simply, as a Secondless Reality, the all-inclusive Kosmos—or rather the infinite Cosmic Space—in the highest spiritual sense, of course. Brahman (neuter) being the unchanging, pure, free, undecaying supreme Root, the “One true Existence, Paramârthika,” and the absolute Chit and Chaitanya (Intelligence, Consciousness), cannot be a cognizer, “for That can have no subject of cognition.” Can the Flame be called the Essence of Fire? This Essence is “the Life and Light of the Universe, the visible fire and flame are destruction, death, and evil.” “Fire and Flame destroy the body of an Arhat, their essence makes him immortal.”35 “The knowledge of the absolute Spirit, like the effulgence of the sun, or like heat in fire, is naught else than the absolute Essence itself,” says Shankarâchârya. It—is “the Spirit of the Fire,” not Fire itself; therefore, “the attributes of the latter, Heat or Flame, are not the attributes of the Spirit, but of that of which that Spirit is the unconscious cause.” Is not the above sentence the true key-note of later Rosicrucian philosophy? Parabrahman is, in short, the collective aggregate of Kosmos in its infinity and eternity, the “That” and “This” to which distributive aggregates can not be applied.36 “In the beginning This was the Self, one only;”37 and the great Shankarâchârya explains that “This” refers to the Universe (Jagat); the words, “in the beginning,” meaning before the reproduction of the phenomenal Universe.
Therefore, when the Pantheists echo the Upanishads, which state, as in the Secret Doctrine, that “This” cannot create, they do not deny a Creator, or rather a collective aggregate of creators; they simply refuse, very logically, to attribute “creation” and especially formation—something finite—to an Infinite Principle. With them, Parabrahman is a passive because an absolute Cause, the unconditioned Mukta. It is only limited omniscience and omnipotence that are refused to the latter, because these are still attributes, reflected in man's perceptions; and because Parabrahman, being the Supreme All, the ever invisible Spirit and Soul of Nature, changeless and eternal, can have no attributes, the term Absoluteness very naturally precluding any idea of the finite or conditioned from being connected with it. And if the Vedântins postulate attributes as belonging simply to its emanation, calling it Îshvara plus Mâyâ, and Avidyâ (Agnosticism and Nescience rather than Ignorance), it is difficult to find any Atheism in this conception.38 Since there can be neither two Infinites nor two Absolutes in a Universe supposed to be boundless, this Self-Existence can hardly be conceived of as creating personally. To the senses and in the perceptions of finite beings, That is Non-Being, in the sense that it is the One Be-ness; for, in this All lies concealed its coëternal and coëval emanation or inherent radiation, which, becoming periodically Brahmâ (the male-female Potency), expands itself into the manifested Universe. “Nârâyana moving on the [abstract] Waters of Space,” is transformed into the Waters of concrete substance moved by him, who now becomes the manifested Word or Logos.
The orthodox Brâhmans, those who rise the most against the Pantheists and Advaitins, calling them Atheists, are forced, if Manu is any authority in this matter, to accept the death of Brahmâ, the Creator, at the expiration of every Age of this deity—100 Divine Years, a period which in our years requires fifteen figures to express. Yet no philosopher among them will view this “death” in any other sense than as a temporary disappearance from the manifested plane of existence, or as a periodical rest.
The Occultists are, therefore, at one with the Advaita Vedântin philosophers as to the above tenet. They show, on philosophical grounds, the impossibility of accepting the idea of the absolute All creating or even evolving the Golden Egg, into which it is said to enter in order to transform itself into Brahmâ, the Creator, who later expands himself into the Gods and all the visible Universe. They say that absolute Unity cannot pass to Infinity, for Infinity presupposes the limitless extension of something, and the duration of that something; and the One All—like Space, which is its only mental and physical representation on this earth, or our plane of existence—is neither an object of, nor a subject to, perception. If one could suppose the eternal infinite All, the omnipresent Unity, instead of being in Eternity, becoming through periodical manifestation a manifold Universe or a multiple Personality, that Unity would cease to be one. Locke's idea, that “pure space is capable of neither resistance nor motion,” is incorrect. Space is neither a “limitless void,” nor a “conditioned fulness,” but both. Being—on the plane of absolute abstraction—the ever-incognizable Deity, which is void only to finite minds,39 and on that of mâyâvic perception, the Plenum, the absolute Container of all that is, whether manifested or unmanifested, it is, therefore, that Absolute All. There is no difference between the Christian Apostle's “in Him we live and move and have our being,” and the Hindû Rishi's “the Universe lives in, proceeds from, and will return to, Brahmâ”: for Brahman (neuter), the unmanifested, is that Universe in abscondito, and Brahmâ, the manifested, is the Logos, made male-female40 in the symbolical orthodox dogmas, the God of the Apostle-Initiate and of the Rishi being both the Unseen and the Visible Space. Space is called, in esoteric symbolism, the “Seven-Skinned Eternal Mother-Father.” From its undifferentiated to its differentiated surface it is composed of seven layers.
“What is that which was, is, and will be, whether there is a Universe or not; whether there be gods or none?” asks the esoteric Senzar Catechism. And the answer made is—“Space.
It is not the One unknown ever-present God in Nature, or Nature in abscondito, that is rejected, but the “God” of human dogma, and his humanized “Word.” Man, in his infinite conceit and inherent pride and vanity, shaped it himself with his sacrilegious hand out of the material he found in his own small brain-fabric, and forced it upon his fellows as a direct revelation from the one unrevealed Space.41 The Occultist accepts revelation as coming from divine yet still finite Beings, the manifested Lives, never from the unmanifestable One Life; from those Entities, called Primordial Man, Dhyâni-Buddhas, or Dhyân Chohans, the Rishi-Prajâpati of the Hindus, the Elohim or Sons of God of the Jews, the Planetary Spirits of all nations, who have become Gods for men. The Occultist also regards the di-Shakti—the direct emanation of Mûlaprakriti, the eternal Root of That, and the female aspect of the Creative Cause, Brahmâ, in her âkâshic form of the Universal Soul—as philosophically a Mâyâ, and cause of human Mâyâ. But this view does not prevent him from believing in its existence so long as it lasts, to wit, for one Mahâmanvantara; nor from applying kâsha, the radiation of Mûlaprakriti,42 to practical purposes, connected as this World-Soul is with all natural phenomena known or unknown to Science.
The oldest religions of the world—exoterically, for the esoteric root or foundation is one—are the Indian, the Mazdean, and the Egyptian. Next comes the Chaldean, the outcome of these, now entirely lost to the world, except in its disfigured Sabeanism as at present rendered by the archæologists. Then, passing over a number of religions that will be mentioned later, comes the Jewish, esoterically following in the line of Babylonian Magism, as in the Kabalah; exoterically, a collection of allegorical legends, as in Genesis and the Pentateuch. Read by the light of the Zohar, the four initial chapters of Genesis are the fragment of a highly philosophical page in the world's cosmogony. Left in their symbolical disguise, they are a nursery tale, an ugly thorn in the side of science and logic, an evident effect of Karma. To let them serve as a prologue to Christianity was a cruel revenge on the part of the Rabbis, who knew better what their Pentateuch meant. It was a silent protest against their spoliation, and the Jews have now certainly the better of their traditional persecutors. The above-named exoteric creeds will be explained in the light of the universal doctrine as we proceed.
The Occult Catechism contains the following questions and answers:
What is it that ever is?—Space, the eternal Anupâdaka [Parentless]. What is it that ever was?—The Germ in the Root. What is it that is ever coming and going?—The Great Breath. Then, there are three Eternals?—No, the three are one. That which ever is is one, that which ever was is one, that which is ever being and becoming is also one: and this is Space.
Explain, O Lanoo [disciple].—The One is an unbroken Circle [Ring] with no circumference, for it is nowhere and everywhere; the One is the boundless Plane of the Circle, manifesting a Diameter only during the manvantaric periods; the One is the indivisible Point found nowhere, perceived everywhere during those periods; it is the Vertical and the Horizontal, the Father and the Mother, the summit and base of the Father, the two extremities of the Mother, reaching in reality nowhere, for the One is the Ring as also the Rings that are within that Ring. Light in Darkness and Darkness in Light: the “Breath which is eternal.” It proceeds from without inwardly, when it is everywhere, and from within outwardly, when it is nowhere—(i.e., Mâyâ,43 one of the Centres).44 It expands and contracts [exhalation and inhalation]. When it expands, the Mother diffuses and scatters; when it contracts, the Mother draws back and ingathers. This produces the periods of Evolution and Dissolution, Manvantara and Pralaya. The Germ is invisible and fiery; the Root [the Plane of the Circle] is cool; but during Evolution and Manvantara her garment is cold and radiant. Hot Breath is the Father who devours the progeny of the many-faced Element [heterogeneous], and leaves the single-faced ones [homogeneous]. Cool Breath is the Mother, who conceives, forms, brings forth, and receives them back into her bosom, to reform them at the Dawn [of the Day of Brahmâ, or Manvantara].
For clearer understanding on the part of the general reader, it must be stated that Occult Science recognizes seven Cosmic Elements—four entirely physical, and the fifth (Ether) semi-material, which will become visible in the Air towards the end of our Fourth Round, to reign supreme over the others during the whole of the Fifth. The remaining two are as yet absolutely beyond the range of human perception. They will, however, appear as presentments during the Sixth and Seventh Races of this Round, and will be fully known in the Sixth and Seventh Rounds respectively.45 These seven Elements with their numberless sub-elements, which are far more numerous than those known to Science, are simply conditional modifications and aspects of the One and only Element. This latter is not Ether,46 not even kâsha, but the source of these. The Fifth Element, now quite freely advocated by Science, is not the Ether hypothesized by Sir Isaac Newton—although he calls it by that name, having probably associated it in his mind with Æther, the “Father-Mother” of antiquity. As Newton intuitionally says, “Nature is a perpetual circulatory worker, generating fluids out of solids, fixed things out of volatile, and volatile out of fixed, subtile out of gross, and gross out of subtile.... Thus, perhaps, may all things be originated from Ether.”47
The reader has to bear in mind that the Stanzas treat only of the cosmogony of our own planetary system and of what is visible around it, after a Solar Pralaya. The secret teachings with regard to the evolution of the Universal Kosmos cannot be given, since they could not be understood by even the highest minds in this age, and there seem to be very few Initiates, even among the greatest, who are allowed to speculate upon this subject. Moreover the Teachers say openly that not even the highest Dhyâni-Chohans have ever penetrated the mysteries beyond those boundaries that separate the milliards of solar systems from the Central Sun, as it is called. Therefore, that which is given relates only to our visible Cosmos, after a Night of Brahmâ.
Before the reader proceeds to the consideration of the Stanzas from the Book of Dzyan which form the basis of the present work, it is absolutely necessary that he should be made acquainted with the few fundamental conceptions which underlie and pervade the entire system of thought to which his attention is invited. These basic ideas are few in number, but on their clear apprehension depends the understanding of all that follows; therefore no apology is required for asking the reader to make himself familiar with these first, before entering on the perusal of the work itself.
The Secret Doctrine then, establishes three fundamental propositions:
I. An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless and Immutable Principle, on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception and can only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude. It is beyond the range and reach of thought—in the words of the Mândûkya, “unthinkable and unspeakable.”
To render these ideas clearer to the general reader, let him set out with the postulate that there is One Absolute Reality which antecedes all manifested, conditioned Being. This Infinite and Eternal Cause—dimly formulated in the “Unconscious” and “Unknowable” of current European philosophy—is the Rootless Root of “all that was, is, or ever shall be.” It is of course devoid of all attributes and is essentially without any relation to manifested, finite Being. It is “Be-ness” rather than Being, Sat in Sanskrit, and is beyond all thought or speculation.
This Be-ness is symbolized in the Secret Doctrine under two aspects. On the one hand, absolute Abstract Space, representing bare subjectivity, the one thing which no human mind can either exclude from any conception, or conceive of by itself. On the other, absolute Abstract Motion representing Unconditioned Consciousness. Even our Western thinkers have shown that consciousness is inconceivable to us apart from change, and motion best symbolizes change, its essential characteristic. This latter aspect of the One Reality, is also symbolized by the term the Great Breath, a symbol sufficiently graphic to need no further elucidation. Thus, then, the first fundamental axiom of the Secret Doctrine is this metaphysical One Absolute Be-ness—symbolized by finite intelligence as the theological Trinity.
It may, however, assist the student if a few further explanations are here given.
Herbert Spencer has of late so far modified his Agnosticism, as to assert that the nature of the “First Cause,”48 which the Occultist more logically derives from the Causeless Cause, the “Eternal,” and the “Unknowable,” may be essentially the same as that of the consciousness which wells up within us: in short, that the impersonal Reality pervading the Kosmos is the pure noumenon of thought. This advance on his part brings him very near to the Esoteric and Vedântin tenet.49
Parabrahman, the One Reality, the Absolute, is the field of Absolute Consciousness, i.e., that Essence which is out of all relation to conditioned existence, and of which conscious existence is a conditioned symbol. But once that we pass in thought from this (to us) Absolute Negation, duality supervenes in the contrast of Spirit (or Consciousness) and Matter, Subject and Object.
Spirit (or Consciousness) and Matter are, however, to be regarded, not as independent realities, but as the two symbols or aspects of the Absolute, Parabrahman, which constitute the basis of conditioned Being whether subjective or objective.
Considering this metaphysical triad as the Root from which proceeds all manifestation, the Great Breath assumes the character of Pre-cosmic Ideation. It is the fons et origo of Force and of all individual Consciousness, and supplies the guiding intelligence in the vast scheme of cosmic Evolution. On the other hand, Pre-cosmic Root-Substance (Mûlaprakriti) is that aspect of the Absolute which underlies all the objective planes of Nature.
Just as Pre-cosmic Ideation is the root of all individual Consciousness, so Pre-cosmic Substance is the substratum of Matter in the various grades of its differentiation.
Hence it will be apparent that the contrast of these two aspects of the Absolute is essential to the existence of the Manifested Universe. Apart from Cosmic Substance, Cosmic Ideation could not manifest as individual Consciousness, since it is only through a vehicle (upâdhi) of matter that consciousness wells up as “I am I,” a physical basis being necessary to focus a Ray of the Universal Mind at a certain stage of complexity. Again, apart from Cosmic Ideation, Cosmic Substance would remain an empty abstraction, and no emergence of Consciousness could ensue.
The Manifested Universe, therefore, is pervaded by duality, which is, as it were, the very essence of its Ex-istence as Manifestation. But just as the opposite poles of Subject and Object, Spirit and Matter, are but aspects of the One Unity in which they are synthesized, so, in the Manifested Universe, there is “that” which links Spirit to Matter, Subject to Object.
This something, at present unknown to Western speculation, is called by Occultists Fohat. It is the “bridge” by which the Ideas existing in the Divine Thought are impressed on Cosmic Substance as the Laws of Nature. Fohat is thus the dynamic energy of Cosmic Ideation; or, regarded from the other side, it is the intelligent medium, the guiding power of all manifestation, the Thought Divine transmitted and made manifest through the Dhyân Chohans,50 the Architects of the visible World. Thus from Spirit, or Cosmic Ideation, comes our Consciousness, from Cosmic Substance the several Vehicles in which that Consciousness is individualized and attains to self—or reflective—consciousness; while Fohat, in its various manifestations, is the mysterious link between Mind and Matter, the animating principle electrifying every atom into life.
The following summary will afford a clearer idea to the reader.
(1.) Absoluteness: the Parabrahman of the Vedântins or the One Reality, Sat, which is, as Hegel says, both Absolute Being and Non-Being.
(2.) The First Logos: the impersonal, and, in philosophy, Unmanifested Logos, the precursor of the Manifested. This is the “First Cause,” the “Unconscious” of European Pantheists.
(3.) The Second Logos: Spirit-Matter, Life; the “Spirit of the Universe,” Purusha and Prakriti.
(4.) The Third Logos: Cosmic Ideation, Mahat or Intelligence, the Universal World-Soul; the Cosmic Noumenon of Matter, the basis of the intelligent operations in and of Nature, also called Mahâ-Buddhi.
The One Reality: its dual aspects in the conditioned Universe.
Further, the Secret Doctrine affirms:
II. The Eternity of the Universe in toto as a boundless plane; periodically “the playground of numberless Universes incessantly manifesting and disappearing,” called the “Manifesting Stars,” and the “Sparks of Eternity.” “The Eternity of the Pilgrim51 is like a wink of the Eye of Self-Existence,” as the Book of Dyzan puts it. “The appearance and disappearance of Worlds is like a regular tidal ebb of flux and reflux.”
This second assertion of the Secret Doctrine is the absolute universality of that law of periodicity, of flux and reflux, ebb and flow, which physical science has observed and recorded in all departments of nature. An alternation such as that of Day and Night, Life and Death, Sleeping and Waking, is a fact so common, so perfectly universal and without exception, that it is easy to comprehend that in it we see one of the absolutely fundamental Laws of the Universe.
Moreover, the Secret Doctrine teaches:
III. The fundamental identity of all Souls with the Universal Over-Soul, the latter being itself an aspect of the Unknown Root; and the obligatory pilgrimage for every Soul—a spark of the former—through the Cycle of Incarnation, or Necessity, in accordance with Cyclic and Karmic Law, during the whole term. In other words, no purely spiritual Buddhi (Divine Soul) can have an independent conscious existence before the spark which issued from the pure Essence of the Universal Sixth Principle—or the Over-Soul—has (a) passed through every elemental form of the phenomenal world of that Manvantara, and (b) acquired individuality, first by natural impulse, and then by self-induced and self-devised efforts, checked by its Karma, thus ascending through all the degrees of intelligence, from the lowest to the highest Manas, from mineral and plant, up to the holiest Archangel (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 reïncarnations. This is why the Hindûs say that the Universe is Brahman and Brahmâ, for Brahman is in every atom of the universe, the six Principles in Nature being all the outcome—the variously differentiated aspects—of the Seventh and One, the only Reality in the Universe whether cosmic or micro-cosmic; and also why the permutations, psychic, spiritual and physical, on the plane of manifestation and form, of the Sixth (Brahmâ the vehicle of Brahman) are viewed by metaphysical antiphrasis as illusive and mâyâvic. For although the root of every atom individually and of every form collectively, is that Seventh Principle or the One Reality, still, in its manifested phenomenal and temporary appearance, it is no better than an evanescent illusion of our senses.
In its absoluteness, the One Principle under its two aspects, Parabrahman and Mûlaprakriti, is sexless, unconditioned and eternal. Its periodical manvantaric emanation, or primal radiation, is also One, androgynous and phenomenally finite. When the radiation radiates in its turn, all its radiations are also androgynous, to become male and female principles in their lower aspects. After Pralaya, whether the Great or Minor Pralaya—the latter leaving the worlds in statu quo52—the first that reäwakes to active life is the plastic kâsha, Father-Mother, the Spirit and Soul of Ether, or the Plane of the Circle. Space is called the Mother before its cosmic activity, and Father-Mother at the first stage of reäwakening. In the Kabalah it is also Father-Mother-Son. But whereas in the Eastern Doctrine, these are the Seventh Principle of the Manifested Universe, or its Atmâ-Buddhi-Manas (Spirit-Soul-Intelligence), the Triad branching off and dividing into seven cosmical and seven human Principles, in the Western Kabalah of the Christian Mystics it is the Triad or Trinity, and with their Occultists, the male-female Jehovah, Jah-Havah. In this lies the whole difference between the Esoteric and the Christian Trinities. The Mystics and the Philosophers, the Eastern and Western Pantheists, synthesize their pregenetic Triad in the pure divine abstraction. The orthodox, anthropomorphize it. Hiranyagarbha, Hari, and Shankara—the three Hypostases of the manifesting “Spirit of the Supreme Spirit,” by which title Prithivî, the Earth, greets Vishnu in his first Avatâra—are the purely metaphysical abstract qualities of Formation, Preservation, and Destruction, and are the three divine Avasthâs (Hypostases) of that which “does not perish with created things,” Achyuta, a name of Vishnu; whereas the orthodox Christian separates his Personal Creative Deity into the three Personages of the Trinity, and admits of no higher Deity. The latter, in Occultism, is the abstract Triangle; with the orthodox, the perfect Cube. The creative god or the aggregate gods are regarded by the Eastern philosopher as Bhrântidarshanatah, “false appearances,” something “conceived of, by reason of erroneous appearances, as a material form,” and explained as arising from the illusive conception of the egotistic personal and human Soul (lower Fifth Principle). It is beautifully expressed in a revised translation in Fitzedward Hall's notes to Wilson's translation of the Vishnu Purâna. “That Brahma in its totality, has essentially the aspect of Prakriti, both evolved and unevolved [Mûlaprakriti], and also the aspect of Spirit and the aspect of Time. Spirit, O twice born, is the leading aspect of the Supreme Brahma.53 The next is a two-fold aspect,—Prakriti, both evolved and unevolved, and Time is the last.” Cronus is shown in the Orphic Theogony also as being a generated god or agent.
At this stage of the reäwakening of the Universe, the sacred symbolism represents it as a perfect Circle with the Point (Root) in the centre. This sign was universal, therefore we find it in the Kabalah also. The Western Kabalah, however, now in the hands of Christian Mystics, ignores it altogether, though it is plainly shown in the Zohar. These sectarians begin at the end, and give, as the symbol of pregenetic Kosmos, [cross], calling it the “Union of the Rose and Cross,” the great mystery of occult generation, from whence the name—Rosicrucian (Rose Cross)! This may be seen from one of the most important and best known of their symbols, one which has never been hitherto understood even by modern Mystics. It is that of the Pelican tearing open its breast to feed its seven little ones—the real creed of the Brothers of the Rosie-Cross and a direct outcome from the Eastern Secret Doctrine.
Brahman (neuter) is called Kâlahamsa, meaning, as explained by Western Orientalists, the Eternal Swan (or goose), and so is Brahmâ, the Creator. A great mistake is thus brought under notice; it is Brahman (neuter) which ought to be referred to as Hamsa-vâhana (that which uses the Swan as its Vehicle), and not Brahmâ, the Creator, who is the real Kâlahamsa; while Brahman (neuter) is Hamsa, and A-hamsa, as will be explained in the Commentaries. Let it be understood that the terms Brahmâ and Parabrahman are not used here because they belong to our Esoteric nomenclature, but simply because they are more familiar to the students in the West. Both are the perfect equivalents of our one, three, and seven vowelled terms, which stand for the One All, and the One “All in All.”
Such are the basic conceptions on which the Secret Doctrine rests.
It would not be in place here to enter upon any defence or proof of their inherent reasonableness; nor can I pause to show how they are, in fact, contained—though too often under a misleading guise—in every system of thought or philosophy worthy of the name.
Once that the reader has gained a clear comprehension of them and realized the light which they throw on every problem of life, they will need no further justification in his eyes, because their truth will be to him as evident as the sun in heaven. I pass on, therefore, to the subject matter of the Stanzas as given in this volume, adding a skeleton outline of them, in the hope of thereby rendering the task of the student more easy, by placing before him in a few words the general conception therein explained.
The history of Cosmic Evolution, as traced in the Stanzas, is, so to say, the abstract algebraical formula of that evolution. Hence the student must not expect to find there an account of all the stages and transformations which intervene between the first beginnings of Universal Evolution and our present state. To give such an account would be as impossible as it would be incomprehensible to men who cannot grasp the nature of even the plane of existence next to that to which, for the moment, their consciousness is limited.
The Stanzas, therefore, give an abstract formula which can be applied, mutatis mutandis, to all evolution: to that of our tiny Earth, to that of the Chain of Planets of which that Earth forms one, to the Solar Universe to which that Chain belongs and so on, in an ascending scale, till the mind reels and is exhausted in the effort.
The seven Stanzas given in this volume represent the seven terms of this abstract formula. They refer to, and describe, the seven great stages of the evolutionary process, which are spoken of in the Purânas as the “Seven Creations,” and in the Bible as the “Days” of Creation.
Stanza I describes the state of the One All during Pralaya, before the first flutter of reäwakening Manifestation.
A moment's thought shows that such a state can only be symbolized; to describe it is impossible. Nor can it be symbolized except in negatives; for, since it is the state of Absoluteness per se, it can possess none of those specific attributes which serve us to describe objects in positive terms. Hence that state can only be suggested by the negatives of all those most abstract attributes which men feel rather than conceive, as the remotest limits attainable by their power of conception.
Stanza II describes a stage which, to a Western mind, is so nearly identical with that mentioned in Stanza I, that to express the idea of its difference would require a treatise in itself. Hence it must be left to the intuition and the higher faculties of the reader to grasp, as far as he can, the meaning of the allegorical phrases used. Indeed it must be remembered that all these Stanzas appeal to the inner faculties rather than to the ordinary comprehension of the physical brain.
Stanza III describes the Reäwakening of the Universe to life after Pralaya. It depicts the emergence of the Monads from their state of absorption within the One, the earliest and highest stage in the formation of Worlds—the term Monad being one which may apply equally to the vastest Solar System or the tiniest atom.
Stanza IV shows the differentiation of the “Germ” of the Universe into the Septenary Hierarchy of conscious Divine Powers, which are the active manifestations of the One Supreme Energy. They are the framers, shapers, and ultimately the creators of all the manifested Universe, in the only sense in which the name “creator” is intelligible; they inform and guide it; they are the intelligent Beings who adjust and control evolution, embodying in themselves those manifestations of the One Law, which we know as the “Laws of Nature.”
Generically, they are known as the Dhyân Chohans, though each of the various groups has its own designation in the Secret Doctrine.
This stage of evolution is spoken of in Hindû mythology as the “Creation of the Gods.”
Stanza V describes the process of world-formation. First, diffused Cosmic Matter, then the “Fiery Whirlwind,” the first stage in the formation of a nebula. This nebula condenses, and after passing through various transformations, forms a Solar Universe, a Planetary Chain, or a single Planet, as the case may be.
Stanza VI indicates the subsequent stages in the formation of a “World” and brings the evolution of such a World down to its fourth great period, corresponding to the period in which we are now living.
Stanza VII continues the history, tracing the descent of life down to the appearance of Man; and thus closes the First Book of the Secret Doctrine.
The development of “Man” from his first appearance on this earth in this Round to the state in which we now find him will form the subject of Book II.
The Stanzas which form the thesis of every section are given throughout in their modern translated version, as it would be worse than useless to make the subject still more difficult by introducing the archaic phraseology of the original, with its puzzling style and words. Extracts are given from the Chinese, Tibetan and Sanskrit translations of the original Senzar Commentaries and Glosses on the Book of Dzyan—now rendered for the first time into a European language. It is almost unnecessary to state that only portions of the seven Stanzas are here given. Were they published complete they would remain incomprehensible to all save a few high Occultists. Nor is there any need to assure the reader that no more than most of the profane, does the writer, or rather the humble recorder, understand those forbidden passages. To facilitate the reading, and to avoid the too frequent reference to foot-notes, it was thought best to blend together texts and glosses, using the Sanskrit and Tibetan proper names whenever these could not be avoided, in preference to giving the originals: the more so as the said terms are all accepted synonyms, the latter only being used between a Master and his Chelâs (or Disciples).
Thus, were one to translate into English, using only the substantives and technical terms as employed in one of the Tibetan and Senzar versions, shloka 1 would read as follows:
Tho-ag in Zhi-gyu slept seven Khorlo. Zodmanas zhiba. All Nyug bosom. Konch-hog not; Thyan-Kam not; Lha-Chohan not; Tenbrel Chugnyi not; Dharmakâya ceased; Tgenchang not become; Barnang and Ssa in Ngovonyidj; alone Tho-og Yinsin in night of Sun-chan and Yong-Grub [Paranishpanna], etc., etc.
This would sound like pure Abracadabra.
As this work is written for the instruction of students of Occultism, and not for the benefit of Philologists, we may well avoid such foreign terms wherever it is possible to do so. The untranslateable terms alone, incomprehensible unless their meanings are explained, are left, but all such terms are rendered in their Sanskrit form. Needless to remind the reader that these are, in almost every case, the late developments of the latter language, and pertain to the Fifth Root-Race. Sanskrit, as now known, was not spoken by the Atlanteans, and most of the philosophical terms used in the systems of the India of the Post-Mahâbhâratan period are not found in the Vedas, nor are they to be met with in the original Stanzas, but only their equivalents. The reader who is not a Theosophist, is once more invited to regard all that follows as a fairy tale, if he likes; at best as one of the yet unproven speculations of dreamers; and, at the worst, as an additional hypothesis to the many scientific hypotheses past, present and future, some exploded, others still lingering. It is not in any sense less scientific than are many of the so-called scientific theories; and it is in every case more philosophical and probable.
In view of the abundant comments and explanations required, the references to the footnotes are marked in the usual way, while the sentences to be commented upon are marked with letters. Additional matter will be found in the Chapters on Symbolism, which are often more full of information than the Commentaries.
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