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The Secret Doctrine

By Helena P. Blavatsky

Book I-Part III- The Elements And Atoms


WHEN the Occultist speaks of "Elements," and of human Beings who lived during those geological ages, the duration of which it is found as impossible to determine, according to the opinion of one of the best English geologists*, as the nature of matter, it is because he knows what he is talking about. When he says "Man" and Elements, he neither means "man" in his present physiological and anthropological form, nor the elemental atoms, those hypothetical conceptions, the entitative abstractions of matter in its highly attenuated state, as existing at present in scientific minds; nor, again, the compound Elements of antiquity. In Occultism the word Element means "rudiment" in every case. When we say "Elementary Man," we mean either the proemial, incipient sketch of man, in its unfinished and undeveloped condition, hence in that form which now lies latent in physical man during his life-time, and takes shape only occasionally and under certain conditions; or that form which for a time survives the material body, and which is better known as an "Elementary."** With regard to "Element," when the term is used metaphysically, it means, in distinction to the mortal, the incipient divine man; and, in its physical usage, inchoate matter in its first undifferentiated condition, or in the laya state, which is the eternal and the normal condition of substance, differentiating only periodically, and is during that differentiation in an abnormal state -- in other words, a transitory illusion of the senses.

As to the "elemental atoms," so called, the Occultists refer to them by that name with a meaning analogous to that which is given by the Hindu to Brahma when he calls him ANU, the "Atom." Every elemental atom, in search of which more than one Chemist has followed the path indicated by the Alchemists, is, in their firm belief (when not knowledge), a SOUL; not necessarily a disembodied soul, but a jiva, as the Hindus call it, a centre of POTENTIAL VITALITY, with latent intelligence in it, and, in the case of compound Souls -- an intelligent active EXISTENCE, from the highest to the lowest order, a form composed of more or less differentiations. It requires a metaphysician -- and an Eastern metaphysician -- to understand our meaning. All those atom-Souls are differentiations from the ONE, and in the same relation to it as the divine Soul -- the Buddhi -- to its informing and inseparable Spirit, or Atman.

Modern physics, while borrowing from the ancients their atomic theory, forgot one point, the most important of the doctrine; hence they got only the husks and will never be able to get at the kernel. They left behind, in the adoption of physical atoms, the suggestive fact that from Anaxagoras down to Epicurus, the Roman Lucretius, and finally even to Galileo, all those Philosophers believed more or less in ANIMATED atoms, not in invisible specks of so-called "brute" matter. Rotatory motion was generated in their views, by larger (read, more divine and pure) atoms forcing downwards other atoms; the lighter ones being thrust simultaneously upward. The esoteric meaning of this is the ever cyclic curve downward and upward of differentiated elements through intercyclic phases of existence, until each reaches again its starting point or birthplace. The idea was metaphysical as well as physical; the hidden interpretation embracing "gods" or souls, in the shape of atoms, as the causes of all the effects produced on Earth by the secretions from the divine bodies.* No ancient philosopher, not even the Jewish Kabalists, ever dissociated Spirit from matter or vice versa. Everything originated in the ONE, and, proceeding from the one, must finally return to the One. "Light becomes heat, and consolidates into fiery particles; which, from being ignited, become cold, hard particles, round and smooth. And this is called Soul, imprisoned in its robe of matter;"** Atoms and Souls having been synonymous in the language of the Initiates. The "whirling Souls," Gilgoolem, a doctrine in which so many learned Jews have believed (See Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia), had no other meaning esoterically. The learned Jewish Initiates never meant by the "Promised land" Palestine alone, but the same Nirvana as the learned Buddhist and Brahmin do -- the bosom of the ETERNAL ONE, symbolized by that of Abraham, and by Palestine as its substitute on Earth.*** The passage of the SOUL-ATOM "through the Seven Planetary Chambers" had the same metaphysical and also physical meaning. It had the latter when it was said to dissolve into Ether (See Isis Unveiled, Vol. I., p. 297.) Even Epicurus, the model Atheist and materialist, knew and believed so much in the ancient Wisdom, that he taught that the Soul (entirely distinct from immortal Spirit when the former is enshrined latent in it, as it is in every atomic speck), was composed of a fine, tender essence, formed from the smoothest, roundest, and finest atoms.

And this shows that the ancient Initiates, who were followed more or less closely by all profane antiquity, meant by the term "ATOM," a Soul, a Genius or Angel, the first-born of the ever-concealed CAUSE of all causes; and in this sense their teachings become comprehensible. They claimed, as do their successors, the existence of Gods and Genii, angels or "demons," not outside, or independent of, the Universal Plenum, but within it. Only this Plenum, during the life-cycles, is infinite. They admitted and taught a good deal of that which modern Science teaches now --namely, the existence of a primordial "World-stuff or Cosmic Substance," from which worlds are formed, ever and eternally homogeneous, except during its periodic existence, when it differentiates its universal diffusion throughout infinite space; and the gradual formation of sidereal bodies from it. They taught the revolution of the Heavens, the Earth's rotation, the Heliocentric System, and the Atomic Vortices -- Atoms -- in reality Souls and intelligences. But those "Atomists" were spiritual, most transcendental, and philosophical Pantheists. It is not they who would have ever conceived, or dreamt that monstrous contrasted progeny, the nightmare of our modern civilized Race; namely -- inanimate material, self-guiding atoms, on the one hand, and an extra-Cosmic God on the other.

It may be useful to show what, in the teachings of the old Initiates, the Monad was, and what its origin.

Modern exact Science, as soon as it began to grow out of its teens, perceived the great, and, to it, hitherto esoteric axiom, that nothing -- whether in the spiritual, psychic, or physical realm of being -- could come into existence out of nothing. There is no cause in the manifested universe without its adequate effects, whether in space or time; nor can there be an effect without its primal cause, which itself owes its existence to a still higher one -- the final and absolute cause having to remain to man for ever an incomprehensible CAUSELESS CAUSE. But even this is no solution, and must be viewed, if at all, from the highest philosophical and metaphysical standpoints, otherwise the problem had better be left unapproached. It is an abstraction, on the verge of which human reason -- however trained to metaphysical subtleties -- trembles, threatening to collapse. This may be demonstrated to any European who would undertake to solve the problem of existence by the articles of faith of the true Vedantin, for instance. Let him read and study the sublime teachings on the subject of Soul and Spirit, of Sankaracharya (Viveka Chudamani)*, and the reader will realize what is now said.

While the Christian is taught that the human soul is a breath of God -- being created by him for sempiternal existence, i.e., having a beginning, but no end (and therefore never to be called eternal) -- the Occult teaching says, "Nothing is created, but is only transformed. Nothing can manifest itself in this universe -- from a globe down to a vague, rapid thought -- that was not in the universe already; everything on the subjective plane is an eternal IS; as everything on the objective plane is an ever becoming -- because transitory."

The monad -- a truly "indivisible thing," as defined by Good, who did not give it the sense we now do -- is here rendered as the Atma in conjunction with Buddhi and the higher Manas. This trinity is one and eternal, the latter being absorbed in the former at the termination of all conditioned and illusive life. The monad, then, can be traced through the course of its pilgrimage and its changes of transitory vehicles only from the incipient stage of the manifested Universe. In Pralaya, or the intermediate period between two manvantaras, it loses its name, as it loses it when the real ONE self of man merges into Brahm in cases of high Samadhi (the Turiya state) or final Nirvana; "when the disciple" in the words of Sankara, "having attained that primeval consciousness, absolute bliss, of which the nature is truth, which is without form and action, abandons this illusive body that has been assumed by the atma just as an actor (abandons) the dress (put on)." For Buddhi (the Anandamaya sheath) is but a mirror which reflects absolute bliss; and, moreover, that reflection itself is yet not free from ignorance, and is not the Supreme Spirit, being subject to conditions, being a spiritual modification of Prakriti, and an effect; Atma alone is the one real and eternal substratum of all -- the essence and absolute knowledge -- the Kshetragna.** It is called in the Esoteric philosophy "the One Witness," and, while it rests in Devachan, is referred to as "the Three Witnesses to Karma."

Atma (our seventh principle) being identical with the universal Spirit, and man being one with it in his essence, what is then the Monad proper? It is that homogeneous spark which radiates in millions of rays from the primeval "Seven;" -- of which seven further on. It is the EMANATING spark from the UNCREATED Ray -- a mystery. In the esoteric, and even exoteric Buddhism of the North, Adi Buddha (Chogi dangpoi sangye), the One unknown, without beginning or end, identical with Parabrahm and Ain-Soph, emits a bright ray from its darkness.

This is the Logos (the first), or Vajradhara, the Supreme Buddha (also called Dorjechang). As the Lord of all Mysteries he cannot manifest, but sends into the world of manifestation his heart -- the "diamond heart," Vajrasattva (Dorjesempa). This is the second logos of creation, from whom emanate the seven (in the exoteric blind the five) Dhyani Buddhas, called the Anupadaka, "the parentless." These Buddhas are the primeval monads from the world of incorporeal being, the Arupa world, wherein the Intelligences (on that plane only) have neither shape nor name, in the exoteric system, but have their distinct seven names in esoteric philosophy. These Dhyani Buddhas emanate, or create from themselves, by virtue of Dhyana, celestial Selves -- the super-human Bodhisattvas. These incarnating at the beginning of every human cycle on earth as mortal men, become occasionally, owing to their personal merit, Bodhisattvas among the Sons of Humanity, after which they may re-appear as Manushi (human) Buddhas. The Anupadaka (or Dhyani-Buddhas) are thus identical with the Brahminical Manasaputra, "mind-born sons" -- whether of Brahma or either of the other two Trimurtian Hypostases, hence identical also with the Rishis and Prajapatis. Thus, a passage is found in Anugita, which, read esoterically, shows plainly, though under another imagery, the same idea and system. It says: "Whatever entities there are in this world, moveable or immoveable, they are the very first to be dissolved (at pralaya); and next the developments produced from the elements (from which the visible Universe is fashioned); and, after these developments (evolved entities), all the elements. Such is the upperward gradation among entities. Gods, Men, Gandharvas, Pisachas, Asuras, Rakshasas, all have been created by Svabhava (Prakriti, or plastic nature), not by actions, nor by a cause" -- i.e., not by any physical cause.

"These Brahmanas (the Rishi Prajapati?), the creators of the world, are born here (on earth) again and again. Whatever is produced from them is dissolved in due time in those very five great elements (the five, or rather seven, Dhyani Buddhas, also called "Elements" of Mankind), like billows in the ocean. These great elements are in every way beyond the elements that make up the world (the gross elements). And he who is released even from these five elements (the tanmatras)* goes to the highest goal." "The Lord Prajapati (Brahma) created all this by the mind only," i.e., by Dhyana, or abstract meditation and mystic powers like the Dhyani Buddhas (vide supra). Evidently then, these "Brahmanas" are identical with the Bodhisattvas (the terrestrial) of the heavenly Dhyani Buddhas. Both, as primordial, intelligent "Elements," become the creators or the emanators of the monads destined to become human in that cycle; after which they evolve themselves, or, so to say, expand into their own selves as Bodhisattvas or Brahmanas, in heaven and earth, to become at last simple men --"the creators of the world are born here, on earth again and again" -- truly. In the Northern Buddhist system, or the popular exoteric religion, it is taught that every Buddha, while preaching the good law on earth, manifests himself simultaneously in three worlds: in the formless, as Dhyani Buddha, in the World of forms, as a Bodhisattva, and in the world of desire, the lowest (or our world) as a man. Esoterically the teaching differs: The divine, purely Adi-Buddhic monad manifests as the universal Buddhi (the Maha-buddhi or Mahat in Hindu philosophies) the spiritual, omniscient and omnipotent root of divine intelligence, the highest anima mundi or the Logos. This descends "like a flame spreading from the eternal Fire, immoveable, without increase or decrease, ever the same to the end" of the cycle of existence, and becomes universal life on the Mundane Plane. From this Plane of conscious Life shoot out, like seven fiery tongues, the Sons of Light (the logoi of Life); then the Dhyani-Buddhas of contemplation: the concrete forms of their formless Fathers -- the Seven Sons of Light, still themselves, to whom may be applied the Brahmanical mystic phrase: "Thou art 'THAT' -- Brahm." It is from these Dhyani-Buddhas that emanate their chhayas (Shadows) the Bodhisattvas of the celestial realms, the prototypes of the super-terrestrial Bodhisattvas, and of the terrestrial Buddhas, and finally of men. The "Seven Sons of Light" are also called "Stars."

The star under which a human Entity is born, says the Occult teaching, will remain for ever its star, throughout the whole cycle of its incarnations in one Manvantara. But this is not his astrological star. The latter is concerned and connected with the personality, the former with the INDIVIDUALITY. The "Angel" of that Star, or the Dhyani-Buddha will be either the guiding or simply the presiding "Angel," so to say, in every new rebirth of the monad, which is part of his own essence, though his vehicle, man, may remain for ever ignorant of this fact. The adepts have each their Dhyani-Buddha, their elder "twin Soul," and they know it, calling it "Father-Soul," and "Father-Fire." It is only at the last and supreme initiation, however, that they learn it when placed face to face with the bright "Image." How much has Bulwer Lytton known of this mystic fact when describing, in one of his highest inspirational moods, Zanoni face to face with his Augoeides?

The Logos, or both the unmanifested and the manifested WORD, is called by the Hindus, Iswara, "the Lord," though the Occultists give it another name. Iswara, say the Vedantins, is the highest consciousness in nature. "This highest consciousness," answer the Occultists, "is only a synthetic unit in the world of the manifested Logos -- or on the plane of illusion; for it is the sum total of Dhyan-Chohanic consciousnesses." "Oh, wise man, remove the conception that not-Spirit is Spirit," says Sankaracharya. Atma is not-Spirit in its final Parabrahmic state, Iswara or Logos is Spirit; or, as Occultism explains, it is a compound unity of manifested living Spirits, the parent-source and nursery of all the mundane and terrestrial monads, plus their divine reflection, which emanate from, and return into, the Logos, each in the culmination of its time. There are seven chief groups of such Dhyan Chohans, which groups will be found and recognised in every religion, for they are the primeval SEVEN Rays. Humanity, occultism teaches us, is divided into seven distinct groups and their sub-divisions, mental, spiritual, and physical.* The monad, then, viewed as ONE, is above the seventh principle (in Kosmos and man), and as a triad, it is the direct radiant progeny of the said compound UNIT, not the breath (and special creation out of nihil) of "God," as that unit is called; for such an idea is quite unphilosophical, and degrades Deity, dragging it down to a finite, attributive condition. As well expressed by the translator of the "Crest-Jewel of Wisdom" -- though Iswara is "God" "unchanged in the profoundest depths of pralayas and in the intensest activity of the manvantaras" . . ., still "beyond (him) is 'ATMA,' round whose pavilion is the darkness of eternal MAYA."* The "triads" born under the same Parent-planet, or rather the radiations of one and the same Planetary Spirit (Dhyani Buddha) are, in all their after lives and rebirths, sister, or "twin-souls," on this Earth.**

This was known to every high Initiate in every age and in every country: "I and my Father are one," said Jesus (John x. 30).*** When He is made to say, elsewhere (xx. 17): "I ascend to my Father and your Father," it meant that which has just been stated. It was simply to show that the group of his disciples and followers attracted to Him belonged to the same Dhyani Buddha, "Star," or "Father," again of the same planetary realm and division as He did. It is the knowledge of this occult doctrine that found expression in the review of "The Idyll of the White Lotus," when Mr. T. Subba Row wrote: "Every Buddha meets at his last initiation all the great adepts who reached Buddhahood during the preceding ages . . . every class of adepts has its own bond of spiritual communion which knits them together. . . . . The only possible and effectual way of entering into such brotherhood . . . . is by bringing oneself within the influence of the Spiritual light which radiates from one's own Logos. I may further point out here . . . . that such communion is only possible between persons whose souls derive their life and sustenance from the same divine RAY, and that, as seven distinct rays radiate from the 'Central Spiritual Sun,' all adepts and Dhyan Chohans are divisible into seven classes, each of which is guided, controlled, and overshadowed by one of the seven forms or manifestations of the divine Wisdom." ("Theosophist," Aug., 1886.) It is then the "Seven Sons of Light" -- called after their planets and (by the rabble) often identified with them -- namely Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, Venus, and -- presumably for the modern critic, who goes no deeper than the surface of old religions* -- the Sun and Moon, which are, according to the Occult teachings, our heavenly Parents, or "Father," synthetically. Hence, as already remarked, polytheism is really more philosophical and correct, as to fact and nature, than anthropomorphic monotheism. Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus, the four exoteric planets, and the three others, which must remain unnamed, were the heavenly bodies in direct astral and psychic communication with the Earth, its Guides, and Watchers -- morally and physically; the visible orbs furnishing our Humanity with its outward and inward characteristics, and their "Regents" or Rectors with our Monads and spiritual faculties. In order to avoid creating new misconceptions, let it be stated that among the three secret orbs (or star-angels) neither Uranus nor Neptune entered; not only because they were unknown under these names to the ancient Sages, but because they, as all other planets, however many there may be, are the gods and guardians of other septenary chains of globes within our systems.

Nor do the two last discovered great planets depend entirely on the Sun like the rest of the planets. Otherwise, how explain the fact that Neptune receives 900 times less light than our Earth, and Uranus 390 times less, and that their satellites show a peculiarity of inverse rotation found in no other planets of the Solar System. At any rate, what we say applies to Uranus, though recently the fact begins again to be disputed.

This subject will, of course, be considered mere vagary by all those who confuse the universal order of being with their own systems of classification. Here, however, simple facts from Occult teachings are stated, to be either accepted or rejected, as the case may be. There are details which, on account of their great metaphysical abstractions, cannot be entered upon. Hence, we merely state that only seven of our planets are as intimately related to our globe, as the Sun is to all the bodies subject to him in his system. Of these bodies the poor little number of primary and secondary planets known to astronomy, looks wretched enough, in truth.* Therefore, it stands to reason that there are a great number of planets, small and large, that have not been discovered yet, but of the existence of which ancient astronomers -- all of them initiated adepts -- must have certainly been aware. But, as their relation to the gods was sacred, it had to remain arcane, as also the names of various other planets and stars.

Besides which, even the Roman Catholic theology speaks of "seventy planets that preside over the destinies of the nations of this globe"; and, save the erroneous application, there is more truth in this tradition than in exact modern astronomy. The seventy planets are connected with the seventy elders of the people of Israel (Numb. 11, 16) because the regents of these planets are meant, not the orbs themselves; and the word seventy is a play and a blind upon the 7 x 7 of the subdivisions. Each people and nation, as said already, has its direct Watcher, Guardian and Father in Heaven -- a Planetary Spirit. We are willing to leave their own national God, Jehovah, to the descendants of Israel, the worshippers of Sabaoth or SATURN; for, indeed, the monads of the people chosen by him are his own, and the Bible has never made a secret of it. Only the text of the English (Protestant) Bible is, in disagreement, as usual, with those of the Septuagint and the Vulgate. Thus, while in the former one reads (in Deuter. xxxii., 8 and 9) "When the MOST HIGH (not Jehovah) divided to the nations their inheritance . . . he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel," in the Septuagint the text reads "according to the number of the Angels" (Planet-Angels), which is more concordant with truth and fact. Moreover, all the texts agree that "the Lord's (Jehovah) portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance" (Deut. xxxii. 9); and this settles the question. The "Lord" Jehovah took for his portion Israel -- what have other nations to do with that particular national Deity? Let then, the "angel Gabriel" watch over Iran and "Mikael-Jehovah" over the Hebrews. These are not the gods of other nations, and it is difficult to see why Christians should have selected a god against whose commandments Jesus was the first one to rise in rebellion.

The Planetary origin of the Monad (Soul) and of its faculties was taught by the Gnostics. On its way to the Earth, as on its way back from the Earth, each soul born in, and from, the "Boundless Light,"* had to pass through the seven planetary regions both ways. The pure Dhyani and Devas of the oldest religions had become, in course of time, with the Zoroastrians, the Seven Daevas, the ministers of Ahriman, "each chained to his planet" (see Origen's Copy of the Chart); with the Brahmins, the Asuras and some of its Rishis -- good, bad and indifferent; and among the Egyptian Gnostics it was Thoth or (Hermes) who was the chief of the seven whose names are given by Origen as Adonai, genius of the Sun; Tao, of the Moon; Eloi, of Jupiter; Sabao, of Mars; Orai, of Venus; Astaphai, of Mercury; and Ildabaoth (Jehovah), of Saturn. Finally, the Pistis-Sophia, which the greatest modern authority on exoteric Gnostic beliefs, the late Mr. C. W. King, refers to as "that precious monument of Gnosticism," -- this old document echoes, while distorting it to sectarian purposes, the archaic belief of the ages. The Astral Rulers of the Spheres (the planets) create the monads (the Souls) from their own substance out of the "tears of their eyes, and the sweat of their torments," endowing the monads with a spark of the Divine Light, which is their substance. It will be shown in Book II. why these "Lords of the Zodiac and Spheres" have been transformed by sectarian theology into the rebellious angels of the Christians, who took them from the Seven Devs of the Magi, without understanding the significance of the allegory. (Vide Part II., "On the Seven Souls," and Section xv. in this Part, "GODS, MONADS AND ATOMS").

As usual, that which is and was from its beginning divine, pure, and spiritual in its earliest unity, became, by reason of its differentiation by the distorted prism of man's conceptions, human and impure, as reflecting man's own sinful nature. Thus, in time, the planet Saturn became reviled by the worshippers of other "gods." The nations born under Saturn -- the Jewish, for instance -- with whom he had become Jehovah, after having been held as a son of Saturn, or Ilda-Baoth, by the Ophites, and in the book of Jasher -- were eternally fighting with those born under Jupiter, Mercury, or any other planet, except Saturn-Jehovah; genealogies and prophecies notwithstanding, Jesus the initiate (or Jehoshua) -- the type from whom the "historical" Jesus was copied -- was not of pure Jewish blood, and thus recognised no Jehovah; nor did he worship any planetary god beside his own "Father," whom he knew, and with whom he communed as every high initiate does, "Spirit to Spirit and Soul to Soul." This can hardly be taken exception to, unless the critic explains to every one's satisfaction the strange sentences put in the mouth of Jesus by the author of the Fourth Gospel (chapter viii.) during his disputes with the Pharisees.

"I know ye are Abraham's seed* . . . I speak the things which I have seen with my Father; and ye do the things which ye heard from your Father. . . . . Ye do the works of your Father. . . . . Ye are of your Father, the Devil. . . . . He was a murderer from the beginning, and stood not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When one speaketh a lie he speaketh of his own; for his father also is a liar and the father thereof," etc., etc.

That "Father" of the Pharisees was Jehovah, because identical with Cain, Saturn, Vulcan, etc. -- the planet under which they were born, and the God whom they worshipped. Evidently there must be an occult meaning sought in these words and admonitions, however mistranslated, since they are pronounced by one who threatened with hell-fire anyone who says simply raca (fool) to his brother (Matthew v., 22). And evidently, again, the planets are not merely spheres, twinkling in Space, and made to shine for no purpose, but the domains of various beings with whom the profane are so far unacquainted; nevertheless, having a mysterious, unbroken, and powerful connection with men and globes. Every heavenly body is the temple of a god, and these gods themselves are the temples of GOD, the Unknown "Not Spirit." There is nothing profane in the Universe. All Nature is a consecrated place, as Young says: --

"Each of these Stars is a religious house." . . . .
Thus can all exoteric religions be shown the falsified copies of the esoteric teaching. It is the priesthood which has to be held responsible for the reaction in favour of materialism of our day. It is by worshiping and enforcing on the masses the worship of the shells -- personified for purposes of allegory -- of pagan ideals, that the latest exoteric religion has made of Western lands a Pandemonium, in which the higher classes worship the golden calf, and the lower and ignorant masses are made to worship an idol with feet of clay.

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------
* Abraham and Saturn are identical in astro-symbology, and he is the forefather of the Jehovistic Jews.



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