The History of Creation and of this World, from its beginning up to the present time, is composed of seven chapters. The seventh chapter is not yet written.
T. Subba Row.413
The first of these “seven chapters” has been attempted and is now finished. However incomplete and feeble as an exposition, it is, at any rate, an approximation—using the word in a mathematical sense—to that which is the oldest basis for all subsequent cosmogonies. The attempt to render in a European tongue the grand panorama of the ever periodically recurring Law, impressed upon the plastic minds of the first Races endowed with Consciousness, by those who reflected the same from the Universal Mind, is daring; for no human language, save the Sanskrit—which is that of the Gods—can do so with any degree of adequacy. But the failures in this work must be forgiven for the sake of the motive.
As a whole, neither the foregoing nor what follows can be found in full anywhere. It is not taught in any of the six Indian schools of philosophy, for it pertains to their synthesis, the seventh, which is the Occult Doctrine. It is not traced on any crumbling papyrus of Egypt, nor is it any longer graven on Assyrian tile or granite wall. The Books of the Vedânta—the “last word of human knowledge”—give out but the metaphysical aspect of this world-cosmogony; and their priceless thesaurus, the Upanishads—Upa-ni-shad being a compound word, expressing the conquest of ignorance by the revelation of secret, spiritual knowledge—now requires the additional possession of a master-key, to enable the student to get at their full meaning. The reason for this I venture to state here as I learned it from a Master.
The name Upanishad, is usually translated “esoteric doctrine.” These treatises form part of Shruti, or “revealed” Knowledge, Revelation in short, and are generally attached to the Brâhmana portion of the Vedas, as their third division.[Now] the Vedas have a distinct dual meaning—one expressed by the literal sense of the words, the other indicated by the metre and the svara (intonation), which are as the life of the Vedas.... Learned pandits and philologists of course deny that svara has anything to do with philosophy or ancient esoteric doctrines; but the mysterious connection between svara and light is one of its most profound secrets.414
There are over 150 Upanishads enumerated by Orientalists, who credit the oldest with being written probably about 600 years b.c.; but of genuine texts there does not exist a fifth of the number. The Upanishads are to the Vedas what the Kabalah is to the Jewish Bible. They treat of and expound the secret and mystic meaning of the Vedic texts. They speak of the origin of the Universe, the nature of Deity, and of Spirit and Soul, as also of the metaphysical connection of Mind and Matter. In a few words: They contain the beginning and the end of all human knowledge, but they have ceased to reveal it, since the days of Buddha. If it were otherwise, the Upanishads could not be called esoteric, since they are now openly attached to the Sacred Brâhmanical Books, which have, in our present age, become accessible even to the Mlechchhas (out-castes) and the European Orientalists. One thing in them—and this, in all the Upanishads—invariably and constantly points to their ancient origin, and proves (a) that they were written, in some of their portions, before the caste system became the tyrannical institution which it still is; and (b) that half of their contents have been eliminated, while some of them have been rewritten and abridged. “The great Teachers of the higher Knowledge and the Brâhmans are continually represented as going to Kshatriya [military-caste] kings to become their pupils.” As Professor Cowell pertinently remarks, the Upanishads “breathe an entirely different spirit [from other Brâhmanical writings], a freedom of thought unknown in any earlier work, except in the Rig Veda hymns themselves.” The second fact is explained by a tradition recorded in one of the MSS. on Buddha's life. It says that the Upanishads were originally attached to their Brâhmanas after the beginning of a reform, which led to the exclusiveness of the present caste system among the Brâhmans, a few centuries after the invasion of India by the “Twice-born.” They were complete in those days, and were used for the instruction of the Chelâs who were preparing for Initiation.
This lasted so long as the Vedas and the Brâhmanas remained in the sole and exclusive keeping of the temple-Brâhmans—while no one else had the right to study or even read them outside of the sacred caste. Then came Gautama, the Prince of Kapilavastu. After learning the whole of the Brâhmanical wisdom in the Rahasya, or the Upanishads, and finding that the teachings differed little, if at all, from those of the “Teachers of Life” inhabiting the snowy ranges of the Himâlayas,415 the disciple of the Brâhmans, feeling indignant because the Sacred Wisdom was thus withheld from all but Brâhmans, determined, by popularizing it, to save the whole world. Then it was that the Brâhmans, seeing that their Sacred Knowledge and Occult Wisdom was falling into the hands of the Mlechchhas, abridged the texts of the Upanishads, which originally contained thrice the matter of the Vedas and the Brâhmanas together, without altering, however, one word of the texts. They simply detached from the MSS. the most important portions, containing the last word of the Mystery of Being. The key to the Brâhmanical secret code remained henceforth with the Initiates alone, and the Brâhmans were thus in a position to publicly deny the correctness of Buddha's teaching by appealing to their Upanishads, silenced for ever on the chief questions. Such is the esoteric tradition beyond the Himâlayas.
Shrî Shankarâchârya, the greatest Initiate living in the historical ages, wrote many a Bhâshya (Commentary) on the Upanishads. But his original treatises, as there are reasons to suppose, have not yet fallen into the hands of the Philistines, for they are too jealously preserved in his monasteries (mathams). And there are still weightier reasons to believe that the priceless Bhâshyas on the Esoteric Doctrine of the Brâhmans, by their greatest expounder, will remain for ages still a dead letter to most of the Hindûs, except the Smârtava Brâhmans. This sect, founded by Shankarâchârya, which is still very powerful in Southern India, is now almost the only one to produce students who have preserved sufficient knowledge to comprehend the dead letter of the Bhâshyas. The reason for this, I am informed, is that they alone have occasionally real Initiates at their head in their mathams, as for instance, in the Shringa-giri, in the Western Ghâts of Mysore. On the other hand, there is no sect, in that desperately exclusive caste of the Brâhmans, more exclusive than is the Smârtava; and the reticence of its followers, to say what they may know of the Occult sciences and the Esoteric Doctrine, is only equalled by their pride and learning.
Therefore the writer of the present statement must be prepared beforehand to meet with great opposition, and even the denial of such statements as are brought forward in this work. Not that any claim to infallibility, or to perfect correctness in every detail of all which is herein written, has ever been put forward. Facts are there, and they can hardly be denied. But, owing to the intrinsic difficulties of the subjects treated of, and the almost insurmountable limitations of the English tongue, as of all other European languages, to express certain ideas, it is more than probable that the writer has failed to present the explanations in the best and the clearest form; yet all that could be done, under every adverse circumstance, has been done, and this is the utmost that can be expected of any writer.
Let us recapitulate and, by the vastness of the subjects expounded, show how difficult, if not impossible, it is to do them full justice.
(1) The Secret Doctrine is the accumulated Wisdom of the Ages, and its cosmogony alone is the most stupendous and elaborate of all systems, even as veiled in the exotericism of the Purânas. But such is the mysterious power of Occult symbolism, that the facts which have actually occupied countless generations of initiated seers and prophets to marshal, set down and explain, in the bewildering series of evolutionary progress, are all recorded on a few pages of geometrical signs and glyphs. The flashing gaze of those seers has penetrated into the very kernel of matter, and recorded the soul of things there, where an ordinary profane observer, however learned, would have perceived but the external work of form. But Modern Science believes not in the “soul of things,” and hence will reject the whole system of ancient cosmogony. It is useless to say that the system in question is no fancy of one or several isolated individuals; that it is an uninterrupted record, covering thousands of generations of seers, whose respective experiences were made to test and verify the traditions, passed on orally by one early race to another, of the teachings of higher and exalted Beings, who watched over the childhood of Humanity; that for long ages, the “Wise Men” of the Fifth Race, of the stock saved and rescued from the last cataclysm and the shifting of continents, passed their lives in learning, not teaching. How did they do so? It is answered: by checking, testing, and verifying, in every department of Nature, the traditions of old, by the independent visions of great Adepts; that is to say, men who have developed and perfected their physical, mental, psychic, and spiritual organizations, to the utmost possible degree. No vision of one Adept was accepted till it was checked and confirmed by the visions—so obtained as to stand as independent evidence—of other Adepts, and by centuries of experience.
(2) The fundamental law in that system, the central point from which all emerges, around and towards which all gravitates, and upon which is hung all its philosophy, is the One Homogeneous Divine Substance-Principle, the One Radical Cause.
... Some few, whose lamps shone brighter, have been led
From cause to cause to nature's secret head,
And found that one first Principle must be....
It is called “Substance-Principle,” for it becomes “Substance” on the plane of the manifested Universe, an Illusion, while it remains a “Principle” in the beginningless and endless abstract, visible and invisible, Space. It is the omnipresent Reality; impersonal, because it contains all and everything. Its Impersonality is the fundamental conception of the System. It is latent in every atom in the Universe, and is the Universe itself.
(3) The Universe is the periodical manifestation of this unknown Absolute Essence. To call it “Essence,” however, is to sin against the very spirit of the philosophy. For though the noun may be derived in this case from the verb esse, “to be,” yet It cannot be identified with a “being” of any kind, that can be conceived by human intellect. It is best described as neither Spirit nor Matter, but both. Parabrahman and Mûlaprakriti are One, in reality, yet Two in the universal conception of the Manifested, even in the conception of the One Logos, the first “Manifestation,” to which, as the able lecturer shows, in the “Notes on the Bhagavadgîtâ,” It appears from the objective standpoint as Mûlaprakriti, and not as Parabrahman; as its Veil, and not the One Reality hidden behind, which is unconditioned and absolute.
(4) The Universe, with everything in it, is called Mâyâ, because all is temporary therein, from the ephemeral life of a fire-fly to that of the sun. Compared to the eternal immutability of the One, and the changelessness of that Principle, the Universe, with its evanescent ever-changing forms, must be necessarily, in the mind of a philosopher, no better than a will-o'-the-wisp. Yet, the Universe is real enough to the conscious beings in it, which are as unreal as it is itself.
(5) Everything in the Universe, throughout all its kingdoms, is conscious: i.e., endowed with a consciousness of its own kind and on its own plane of perception. We men must remember that, simply because we do not perceive any signs of consciousness which we can recognize, say, in stones, we have no right to say that no consciousness exists there. There is no such thing as either “dead” or “blind” matter, as there is no “blind” or “unconscious” Law. These find no place among the conceptions of Occult Philosophy. The latter never stops at surface appearances, and for it the noumenal Essences have more reality than their objective counterparts; wherein it resembles the system of the mediæval Nominalists, for whom it was the universals that were the realities, and the particulars which existed only in name and human fancy.
(6) The Universe is worked and guided, from within outwards. As above so it is below, as in heaven so on earth; and man, the microcosm and miniature copy of the macrocosm, is the living witness to this Universal Law, and to the mode of its action. We see that every external motion, act, gesture, whether voluntary or mechanical, organic or mental, is produced and preceded by internal feeling or emotion, will or volition, and thought or mind. As no outward motion or change, when normal, in man's external body, can take place unless provoked by an inward impulse, given through one of the three functions named, so with the external or manifested Universe. The whole Kosmos is guided, controlled, and animated by almost endless series of Hierarchies of sentient Beings, each having a mission to perform, and who—whether we give them one name or another, whether we call them Dhyân Chohans or Angels—are “Messengers,” in the sense only that they are the agents of Karmic and Cosmic Laws. They vary infinitely in their respective degrees of consciousness and intelligence; and to call them all pure Spirits, without any of the earthly alloy “which time is wont to prey upon,” is only to indulge in poetical fancy. For each of these Beings either was, or prepares to become, a man, if not in the present, then in a past or a coming Manvantara. They are perfected, when not incipient, men; and in their higher, less material, spheres differ morally from terrestrial human beings only in that they are devoid of the feeling of personality, and of the human emotional nature—two purely earthly characteristics. The former, or the “perfected,” have become free from these feelings, because (a) they have no longer fleshly bodies—an ever-numbing weight on the Soul; and (b), the pure spiritual element being left untrammelled and more free, they are less influenced by Mâyâ than man can ever be, unless he is an Adept who keeps his two personalities—the spiritual and the physical—entirely separated. The incipient Monads, having never yet had terrestrial bodies, can have no sense of personality or Ego-ism. That which is meant by “personality” being a limitation and a relation, or, as defined by Coleridge, “individuality existing in itself but with a nature as a ground,” the term cannot of course be applied to non-human Entities; but, as a fact insisted upon by generations of Seers, none of these Beings, high or low, have either individuality or personality as separate Entities, i.e., they have no individuality in the sense in which a man says, “I am myself and no one else”; in other words, they are conscious of no such distinct separateness as men and things have on earth. Individuality is the characteristic of their respective Hierarchies, not of their units; and these characteristics vary only with the degree of the plane to which these Hierarchies belong: the nearer to the region of Homogeneity and the One Divine, the purer and the less accentuated is that individuality in the Hierarchy. They are finite in all respects, with the exception of their higher principles—the immortal Sparks reflecting the Universal Divine Flame, individualized and separated only on the spheres of Illusion, by a differentiation as illusive as the rest. They are “Living Ones,” because they are the streams projected on the cosmic screen of Illusion from the Absolute Life; Beings in whom life cannot become extinct, before the fire of ignorance is extinct in those who sense these “Lives.” Having sprung into being under the quickening influence of the uncreated Beam, the reflection of the great Central Sun that radiates on the shores of the River of Life, it is the Inner Principle in them which belongs to the Waters of Immortality, while its differentiated clothing is as perishable as man's body. Therefore Young was right in saying that
Angels are men of a superior kind ...
and no more. They are neither “ministering” nor “protecting” Angels, nor are they “Harbingers of the Most High”; still less the “Messengers of Wrath” of any God such as man's fancy has created. To appeal to their protection is as foolish as to believe that their sympathy may be secured by any kind of propitiation; for they are, as much as man himself is, the slaves and creatures of immutable Karmic and Cosmic Law. The reason for this is evident. Having no elements of personality in their essence, they can have no personal qualities, such as are attributed by men, in exoteric religions, to their anthropomorphic God—a jealous and exclusive God, who rejoices and feels wrathful, is pleased with sacrifice, and is more despotic in his vanity than any finite foolish man. Man, being a compound of the essences of all these celestial Hierarchies, may succeed in making himself, as such, superior, in one sense, to any Hierarchy or Class, or even combination of them. “Man can neither propitiate nor command the Devas,” it is said. But, by paralyzing his lower personality, and arriving thereby at the full knowledge of the non-separateness of his Higher Self from the One Absolute Self, man can, even during his terrestrial life, become as “one of us.” Thus it is, by eating of the fruit of knowledge, which dispels ignorance, that man becomes like one of the Elohim, or the Dhyânis; and once on their plane, the spirit of Solidarity and perfect Harmony, which reigns in every Hierarchy, must extend over him, and protect him in every particular.
The chief difficulty which prevents men of Science from believing in divine as well as in nature spirits is their Materialism. The main impediment before the Spiritualist which hinders him from believing in the same, while preserving a blind belief in the “Spirits” of the Departed, is the general ignorance of all—except some Occultists and Kabalists—about the true essence and nature of Matter. It is on the acceptance or rejection of the theory of the Unity of all in Nature, in its ultimate Essence, that mainly rests the belief or unbelief in the existence around us of other conscious Beings, besides the Spirits of the Dead. It is on the right comprehension of the primeval Evolution of Spirit-Matter, and its real Essence, that the student has to depend for the further elucidation in his mind of the Occult Cosmogony, and for the only sure clue which can guide his subsequent studies.
In sober truth, as just shown, every so-called “Spirit” is either a disembodied or a future man. As from the highest Archangel (Dhyân Chohan) down to the last conscious Builder (the inferior Class of Spiritual Entities), all such are men, having lived æons ago, in other Manvantaras, on this or other Spheres; so the inferior, semi-intelligent and non-intelligent Elementals are all future men. The fact alone, that a Spirit is endowed with intelligence, is a proof to the Occultist that such a Being must have been a man, and acquired his knowledge and intelligence throughout the human cycle. There is but one indivisible and absolute Omniscience and Intelligence in the Universe, and this thrills throughout every atom and infinitesimal point of the whole Kosmos, which has no bounds, and which people call Space, considered independently of anything contained in it. But the first differentiation of its reflection in the Manifested World is purely spiritual, and the Beings generated in it are not endowed with a consciousness that has any relation to the one we conceive of. They can have no human consciousness or intelligence before they have acquired such, personally and individually. This may be a mystery, yet it is a fact in Esoteric Philosophy, and a very apparent one too.
The whole order of Nature evinces a progressive march towards a higher life. There is design in the action of the seemingly blindest forces. The whole process of evolution, with its endless adaptations, is a proof of this. The immutable laws that weed out the weak and feeble species, to make room for the strong, and which ensure the “survival of the fittest,” though so cruel in their immediate action, all are working toward the grand end. The very fact that adaptations do occur, that the fittest do survive in the struggle for existence, shows that what is called “unconscious Nature” is in reality an aggregate of forces, manipulated by semi-intelligent beings (Elementals), guided by High Planetary Spirits (Dhyân Chohans), whose collective aggregate forms the Manifested Verbum of the Unmanifested Logos, and constitutes one and the same time the Mind of the Universe and its immutable Law.
For Nature, taken in its abstract sense, cannot be “unconscious,” as it is the emanation from, and thus an aspect on the manifested plane of, the Absolute Consciousness. Where is that daring man who would presume to deny to vegetation and even to minerals a consciousness of their own? All he can say is, that this consciousness is beyond his comprehension.
Three distinct representations of the Universe, in its three distinct aspects, are impressed upon our thoughts by the Esoteric Philosophy: the Pre-existing, evolved from the Ever-existing, and the Phenomenal—the world of illusion, the reflection, and shadow thereof. During the great mystery and drama of life, known as the Manvantara, real Kosmos is like the objects placed behind the white screen upon which shadows are thrown. The actual figures and things remain invisible, while the wires of evolution are pulled by unseen hands. Men and things are thus but the reflections, on the white field, of the realities behind the snares of Mahâmâyâ, or the Great Illusion. This was taught in every philosophy, in every religion, ante- as well as post-diluvian, in India and Chaldea, by the Chinese as by the Grecian Sages. In the former countries these three Universes were allegorized, in exoteric teachings, by the three Trinities, emanating from the central eternal Germ, and forming with it a Supreme Unity: the initial, the manifested, and the creative Triad, or the Three in One. The last is but the symbol, in its concrete expression, of the first ideal two. Hence Esoteric Philosophy passes over the necessarianism of this purely metaphysical conception, and calls the first one, only, the Ever-Existing. This is the view of every one of the six great schools of Indian philosophy—the six principles of that unit body of Wisdom of which the Gnôsis, the hidden Knowledge, is the seventh.
The writer hopes that, however superficially the comments on the Seven Stanzas may have been handled, enough has been given, in this cosmogonic portion of the work, to show the archaic teachings to be on their very face more scientific (in the modern sense of the word) than any other ancient Scriptures left to be judged on their exoteric aspect. Since, however, as before confessed, this work withholds far more than it gives out, the student is invited to use his own intuitions. Our chief care is to elucidate that which has already been given out, and, to our regret, very incorrectly at times; to supplement the knowledge hinted at—whenever and wherever possible—by additional matter; and to bulwark our doctrines against the too strong attacks of modern Sectarianism, and more especially against those of our latter-day Materialism, very often miscalled Science, whereas, in reality, the words “Scientists” and “Sciolists” ought alone to bear the responsibility for the many illogical theories offered to the world. In its great ignorance, the public, while blindly accepting everything that emanates from “authorities,” and feeling it to be its duty to regard every dictum coming from a man of Science as a proven fact—the public, we say, is taught to scoff at anything brought forward from “heathen” sources. Therefore, as materialistic Scientists can be fought solely with their own weapons—those of controversy and argument—an Addendum is added to each Volume contrasting the respective views, and showing how even great authorities may often err. We believe that this can be done effectually, by showing the weak points of our opponents, and by proving their too frequent sophisms, which are made to pass for scientific dicta, to be incorrect. We hold to Hermes and his “Wisdom,” in its universal character; they—to Aristotle, as against intuition and the experience of the Ages, fancying that Truth is the exclusive property of the Western world. Hence the disagreement. As Hermes says: “Knowledge differs much from sense; for sense is of things that surmount it, but Knowledge is the end of sense”—i.e., of the illusion of our physical brain and its intellect; thus emphasizing the contrast between the laboriously acquired knowledge of the senses and Mind (Manas), and the intuitive omniscience of the Spiritual Divine Soul (Buddhi).
Whatever may be the destiny of these actual writings in a remote future, we hope to have so far proven the following facts:
(1) The Secret Doctrine teaches no Atheism, except in the sense underlying the Sanskrit word Nâstika, a rejection of idols, including every anthropomorphic God. In this sense every Occultist is a Nâstika.
(2) It admits a Logos, or a Collective “Creator” of the Universe; a Demiurge, in the sense implied when one speaks of an “Architect” as the “Creator” of an edifice, whereas that Architect has never touched one stone of it, but, furnishing the plan, has left all the manual labour to the masons; in our case the plan was furnished by the Ideation of the Universe, and the constructive labour was left to the Hosts of intelligent Powers and Forces. But that Demiurge is no personal deity—i.e., an imperfect extra-cosmic God, but only the aggregate of the Dhyân Chohans and the other Forces.
(3) The Dhyân Chohans are dual in their character; being composed of (a) the irrational brute Energy, inherent in Matter, and (b) the intelligent Soul, or cosmic Consciousness, which directs and guides that Energy, and which is the Dhyân Chohanic Thought, reflecting the Ideation of the Universal Mind. This results in a perpetual series of physical manifestations and moral effects on Earth, during manvantaric periods, the whole being subservient to Karma. As that process is not always perfect; and since, however many proofs it may exhibit of a guiding Intelligence behind the veil, it still shows gaps and flaws, and even very often results in evident failures—therefore, neither the collective Host (Demiurge), nor any of the working Powers individually, are proper subjects for divine honours or worship. All are entitled to the grateful reverence of humanity, however, and man ought to be ever striving to help the divine evolution of Ideas, by becoming, to the best of his ability, a co-worker with Nature, in the cyclic task. The ever unknowable and incognizable Kârana alone, the Causeless Cause of all causes, should have its shrine and altar on the holy and ever untrodden ground of our heart—invisible, intangible, unmentioned, save through the “still small voice” of our spiritual consciousness. Those who worship before it, ought to do so in the silence and the sanctified solitude of their Souls; making their Spirit the sole mediator between them and the Universal Spirit, their good actions the only priests, and their sinful intentions the only visible and objective sacrificial victims to the Presence.
“When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are ... but enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.”416 Our Father is within us “in secret,” our Seventh Principle in the “inner chamber” of our soul-perception. “The Kingdom of God” and of Heaven is within us, says Jesus, not outside. Why are Christians so absolutely blind to the self-evident meaning of the words of wisdom they delight in mechanically repeating?
(4) Matter is Eternal. It is the Upâdhi, or Physical Basis, for the One Infinite Universal Mind to build thereon its ideations. Therefore, the Esotericists maintain that there is no inorganic or “dead” matter in Nature, the distinction between the two made by Science being as unfounded as it is arbitrary and devoid of reason. Whatever Science may think, however—and exact Science is a fickle dame, as we all know by experience—Occultism knows and teaches differently, as it has done from time immemorial, from Manu and Hermes down to Paracelsus and his successors.
Thus, Hermes, the Thrice Great, says:
Oh, my son, matter becomes; formerly it was; for matter is the vehicle of becoming. Becoming is the mode of activity of the uncreate and foreseeing God. Having been endowed with the germ of becoming, [objective] matter is brought into birth, for the creative force fashions it according to the ideal forms. Matter not yet engendered had no form; it becomes, when it is put into operation.417
To this the late Dr. Anna Kingsford, the able translator and compiler of the Hermetic Fragments, remarks in a footnote:
Dr. Ménard observes that in Greek the same word signifies to be born and to become. The idea here is, that the material of the world is in its essence eternal, but that before creation or “becoming” it is in a passive and motionless condition. Thus it “was” before being put into operation; now it “becomes,” that is, it is mobile and progressive.
And she adds the purely Vedântic doctrine of the Hermetic philosophy that:
Creation is thus the period of activity [Manvantara] of God, who, according to Hermetic thought [or which, according to the Vedântin], has two modes—Activity or Existence, God evolved (Deus explicitus); and Passivity of Being [Pralaya], God involved (Deus implicitus). Both modes are perfect and complete, as are the waking and sleeping states of man. Fichte, the German philosopher, distinguished Being (Seyn) as One, which we know only through existence (Daseyn) as the Manifold. This view is thoroughly Hermetic. The “Ideal Forms” ... are the archetypal or formative ideas of the Neo-Platonists; the eternal and subjective concepts of things subsisting in the Divine Mind, prior to “creation” or becoming.
Or, as in the philosophy of Paracelsus:
Everything is the product of one universal creative effort.... There is nothing dead in Nature. Everything is organic and living, and therefore the whole world appears to be a living organism.418
(5) The Universe was evolved out of its ideal plan, upheld through Eternity in the Unconsciousness of that which the Vedântins call Parabrahman. This is practically identical with the conclusions of the highest Western philosophy, “the innate, eternal, and self-existing Ideas” of Plato, now reflected by Von Hartmann. The “Unknowable” of Herbert Spencer bears but a faint resemblance to that transcendental Reality believed in by Occultists, often appearing merely a personification of a “force behind phenomena”—an infinite and eternal Energy, from which all things proceed, whereas the author of the Philosophy of the Unconscious has come (in this respect only) as near to a solution of the great Mystery as mortal man can. Few have been those, whether in ancient or mediæval philosophy, who have dared to approach the subject or even hint at it. Paracelsus mentions it inferentially, and his ideas are admirably synthesized by Dr. F. Hartmann, F.T.S., in his Paracelsus, from which we have just quoted.
All the Christian Kabalists understood well the Eastern root idea. The active Power, the “Perpetual Motion of the great Breath,” only awakens Cosmos at the dawn of every new Period, setting it into motion by means of the two contrary Forces, the centripetal and the centrifugal Forces, which are male and female, positive and negative, physical and spiritual, the two being the one Primordial Force, and thus causing it to become objective on the plane of Illusion. In other words, that dual motion transfers Cosmos from the plane of the Eternal Ideal into that of finite manifestation, or from the noumenal to the phenomenal plane. Everything that is, was, and will be, eternally IS, even the countless Forms, which are finite and perishable only in their objective, but not in their ideal form. They existed as Ideas, in the Eternity, and, when they pass away, will exist as reflections. Occultism teaches that no form can be given to anything, either by Nature or by man, whose ideal type does not already exist on the subjective plane: more than this; that no form or shape can possibly enter man's consciousness, or evolve in his imagination, which does not exist in prototype, at least as an approximation. Neither the form of man, nor that of any animal, plant or stone, has ever been “created”; and it is only on this plane of ours that it commenced “becoming,” that is to say, objectivizing into its present materiality, or expanding from within outwards, from the most sublimated and supersensuous essence into its grossest appearance. Therefore our human forms have existed in the Eternity as astral or ethereal prototypes; according to which models, the Spiritual Beings, or Gods, whose duty it was to bring them into objective being and terrestrial life, evolved the protoplasmic forms of the future Egos from their own essence. After which, when this human Upâdhi, or basic mould, was ready, the natural terrestrial Forces began to work on these supersensuous moulds, which contained, besides their own, the elements of all the past vegetable and future animal forms of this Globe. Therefore, man's outward shell passed through every vegetable and animal body, before it assumed the human shape. But as this will be fully described in Volume II, in the Commentaries, there is no need to say more of it here.
According to the Hermetico-Kabalistic philosophy of Paracelsus, it is Yliaster—the ancestor of the just-born Protyle, introduced by Mr. Crookes into Chemistry—or primordial Protomateria, that evolved out of itself the Cosmos.
When creation [evolution] took place, the Yliaster divided itself; it, so to say, melted and dissolved, developed out of [from within] itself the Ideos or Chaos (Mysterium Magnum, Iliados, Limbus Major, or Primordial Matter). This Primordial Essence is of a monistic nature, and manifests itself not only as vital activity, a spiritual force, an invisible, incomprehensible, and indescribable power, but also as vital matter of which the substance of living beings consists. In this Limbus or Ideos of primordial matter, ... the only matrix of all created things, the substance of all things is contained. It is described by the ancients as the Chaos ... out of which the Macrocosmos, and afterwards, by division and evolution in Mysteria Specialia,419 each separate being came into existence. All things and all elementary substances were contained in it in potentiâ but not in actu.420
This makes the translator, Dr. F. Hartmann, justly observe that “it seems that Paracelsus anticipated the modern discovery of the ‘potency of matter’ three hundred years ago.”
The Magnus Limbus, then, or Yliaster, of Paracelsus is simply our old friend “Father-Mother,” within, before it appeared in Space. It is the Universal Matrix of Kosmos, personified in the dual character of Macrocosm and Microcosm, or the Universe and our Globe,421 by Aditi-Prakriti, spiritual and physical Nature. For we find it explained in Paracelsus that:
The Magnus Limbus is the nursery out of which all creatures have grown, in the same sense as a tree may grow out of a small seed; with the difference, however, that the great Limbus takes its origin from the Word of God, while the Limbus minor (the terrestrial seed or sperm) takes it from the earth. The great Limbus is the seed out of which all beings have come, and the little Limbus is each ultimate being that reproduces its form, and that has itself been produced by the great. The little Limbus possesses all the qualifications of the great one, in the same sense as a son has an organization similar to that of his father.... As ... Yliaster dissolved, Ares, the dividing, differentiating, and individualizing power [Fohat, another old friend] ... began to act. All production took place in consequence of separation. There were produced out of the Ideos the elements of Fire, Water, Air and Earth, whose birth, however, did not take place in a material mode, or by simple separation, but spiritually and dynamically [not even by complex combinations—e.g., mechanical mixture as opposed to chemical combination], just as fire may come out of a pebble, or a tree out of a seed, although there is originally no fire in the pebble, nor a tree in the seed. “Spirit is living, and Life is Spirit, and Life and Spirit [Prakriti, Purusha (?)] produce all things, but they are essentially one and not two.” ... The elements, too, have each one its own Yliaster, because all the activity of matter in every form is only an effluvium of the same fountain. But as from the seed grow the roots with their fibres, afterwards the stalk with its branches and leaves, and lastly the flowers and seeds; likewise all beings were born from the elements, and consist of elementary substances out of which other forms may come into existence, bearing the characteristics of their parents.422 The elements as the mothers of all creatures are of an invisible, spiritual nature, and have souls.423 They all spring from the Mysterium Magnum.
Compare this with Vishnu Purâna.
From Pradhâna [Primordial Substance] presided over by Kshetrajna [“embodied spirit” (?)] proceeds the unequal development [Evolution] of those qualities.... From the great principle (Mahat) [Universal] Intellect [or Mind] ... is produced the origin of the subtle elements and of the organs of sense.424 ...
Thus it may be shown that all the fundamental truths of Nature were universal in antiquity, and that the basic ideas upon Spirit, Matter and the Universe, or upon God, Substance and Man, were identical. Taking the two most ancient religious philosophies on the globe, Hindûism and Hermeticism, from the Scriptures of India and Egypt, the identity of the two is easily recognizable.
This becomes apparent to one who reads the latest translation and rendering of the “Hermetic Fragments” just mentioned, by our late lamented friend, Dr. Anna Kingsford. Disfigured and tortured as these have been in their passage through sectarian Greek and Christian hands, the translator has most ably and intuitionally seized the weak points and tried to remedy them by means of explanations and footnotes. She says:
The creation of the visible world by the “working gods” or Titans, as agents of the Supreme God,425 is a thoroughly Hermetic idea, recognizable in all religious systems, and in accordance with modern scientific research [?], which shows us everywhere the Divine Power operating through natural Forces.
To quote from the translation:
That Universal Being, that contains all, and which is all, puts into motion the soul and the world, all that nature comprises. In the manifold unity of universal life, the innumerable individualities distinguished by their variations are, nevertheless, united in such a manner that the whole is one, and that everything proceeds from Unity.426
And again from another translation:
God is not a mind, but the cause that the Mind is; not a spirit, but the cause that the Spirit is; not light, but the cause that the Light is.427
The above shows plainly that the “Divine Pymander,” however much distorted in some passages by Christian “smoothing,” was nevertheless written by a philosopher, while most of the so-called “Hermetic Fragments” are the production of sectarian pagans with a tendency towards an anthropomorphic Supreme Being. Yet both are the echo of the Esoteric Philosophy and the Hindû Purânas.
Compare two invocations, one to the Hermetic “Supreme All,” the other to the “Supreme All” of the later ryans. Says a Hermetic Fragment cited by Suidas:
I adjure thee, Heaven, holy work of the great God; I adjure thee, Voice of the Father, uttered in the beginning when the universal world was framed; I adjure thee by the Word, only Son of the Father Who upholds all things; be favourable, be favourable.428
This is preceded by the following:
Thus the Ideal Light was before the Ideal Light, and the luminous Intelligence of Intelligence was always, and its unity was nothing else than the Spirit enveloping the Universe. Out of Whom [Which] is neither God nor Angels, nor any other essentials, for He [It] is the Lord of all things and the Power and the Light; and all depends on Him [It] and is in Him [It].
A passage contradicted by the very same Trismegistus, who is made to say:
To speak of God is impossible. For the corporeal cannot express the incorporeal.... That which has not any body nor appearance, nor form, nor matter, cannot be apprehended by sense. I understand, Tatios, I understand, that which it is impossible to define—that is God.429
The contradiction between the two passages is evident; and this shows (a) that Hermes was a generic nom de plume used by a series of generations of Mystics of every shade, and (b) that great discernment has to be used before accepting a Fragment as esoteric teaching only because it is undeniably ancient. Let us now compare the above with a like invocation in the Hindû Scriptures—undoubtedly as old, if not far older. Here it is. Parâshara, the ryan “Hermes,” instructs Maitreya, the Indian Asclepios, and calls upon Vishnu in his triple hypostasis:
Glory to the unchangeable, holy, eternal, supreme Vishnu, of one universal nature, the mighty over all; to him who is Hiranyagarbha, Hari, and Shankara [Brahmâ, Vishnu, and Shiva], the creator, the preserver, and destroyer of the world; to Vâsudeva, the liberator (of his worshippers); to him whose essence is both single and manifold; who is both subtile and corporeal, indiscrete and discrete; to Vishnu, the cause of final emancipation. Glory to the supreme Vishnu, the cause of the creation, existence, the end of this world; who is the root of the world, and who consists of the world.430
This is a grand invocation, with a deep philosophical meaning underlying it; but, for the profane masses, as suggestive as is the Hermetic prayer of an anthropomorphic Being. We must respect the feeling that dictated both; but we cannot help finding it in full disharmony with its inner meaning, even with that which is found in the same Hermetic treatise where it is said:
Trismegistus: Reality is not upon the earth, my son, and it cannot be thereon.... Nothing on earth is real, there are only appearances.... He [man] is not real, my son, as man. The real consists solely in itself and remains what it is.... Man is transient, therefore he is not real, he is but appearance, and appearance is the supreme illusion.
Tatios: Then the celestial bodies themselves are not real, my father, since they also vary?
Trismegistus: That which is subject to birth and to change is not real ... there is in them a certain falsity, seeing that they too are variable....
Tatios: And what then is the primordial Reality, O my Father?
Trismegistus: He Who [That Which] is one and alone, O Tatios; He Who [That Which] is not made of matter, nor in any body. Who [Which] has neither colour nor form, Who [Which] changes not nor is transmitted, but Who [Which] always Is.431
This is quite consistent with the Vedântic teaching. The leading thought is Occult; and many are the passages in the Hermetic Fragments that belong bodily to the Secret Doctrine.
This Doctrine teaches that the whole Universe is ruled by intelligent and semi-intelligent Forces and Powers, as stated from the very beginning. Christian Theology admits and even enforces belief in such, but makes an arbitrary division and refers to them as “Angels” and “Devils.” Science denies the existence of both, and ridicules the very idea. Spiritualists believe in the “Spirits of the Dead,” and outside these deny entirely any other kind or class of invisible beings. The Occultists and Kabalists are thus the only rational expounders of the ancient traditions, which have now culminated in dogmatic faith on the one hand, and dogmatic denial on the other. For both belief and unbelief each embrace but one small corner of the infinite horizons of spiritual and physical manifestations: and thus both are right from their respective standpoints, yet both are wrong in believing that they can circumscribe the whole within their own special and narrow barriers, for—they can never do so. In this respect, Science, Theology, and even Spiritualism show little more wisdom than the ostrich, when it hides its head in the sand at its feet, feeling sure that there can be thus nothing beyond its own point of observation and the limited area occupied by its foolish head.
As the only works now extant upon the subject under consideration, within reach of the profane of the Western “civilized” races, are the above-mentioned Hermetic Books, or rather Hermetic Fragments, we may contrast them in the present case with the teachings of Esoteric Philosophy. To quote for this purpose from any other would be useless, since the public knows nothing of the Chaldean works, which are translated into Arabic and preserved by some Sufi Initiates. Therefore the “Definitions of Asclepios,” as lately compiled and glossed by Dr. Anna Kingsford, F.T.S., some of which sayings are in remarkable agreement with the Eastern Esoteric Doctrine, have to be resorted to for comparison. Though not a few passages bear a strong impression of some later Christian hand, yet on the whole the characteristics of the Genii and Gods are those of Eastern teachings, although concerning other things there are passages which differ widely in our doctrines.
As to the Genii, the Hermetic philosophers called Theoi (Gods), Genii and Daimones, those Entities whom we call Devas (Gods), Dhyân Chohans, Chitkala (the Kwan-Yin, of the Buddhists), and various other names. The Daimones are—in the Socratic sense, and even in the Oriental and Latin theological sense—the guardian spirits of the human race; “those who dwell in the neighbourhood of the immortals, and thence watch over human affairs,” as Hermes has it. In Esoteric parlance, they are called Chitkala, some of which are those who have furnished man with his fourth and fifth Principles from their own essence, and others the so-called Pitris. This will be explained when we come to the production of the complete man. The root of the name is Chit, “that by which the consequences of acts and species of knowledge are selected for the use of the soul,” or conscience, the inner voice in man. With the Yogins, Chit is a synonym of Mahat, the first and divine Intellect; but in Esoteric Philosophy Mahat is the root of Chit, its germ; and Chit is a quality of Manas in conjunction with Buddhi, a quality that attracts to itself by spiritual affinity a Chitkala, when it develops sufficiently in man. This is why it is said that Chit is a voice acquiring mystic life and becoming Kwan-Yin.
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