THEOSOPHY, Vol. 49, No. 2, December, 1960
(Pages 81-86; Size: 17K)
NATURE, as well as man, when it reaches purity will rest, and then all become one with Tao (Anima Mundi), which is the source of all bliss and felicity. During the long night of rest called Pralaya, when all the existences are dissolved, the Universal Mind remains as a permanent possibility of mental action, or as that abstract absolute thought of which mind is the concrete relative manifestation. When a visible flame is extinguished it has disappeared, not only from the sight, but from the conception of the materialist, forever. But the Hermetic philosopher follows it through the "partition-world of the knowable, across and out on the other side of the unknowable," as he traces the disembodied human spirit, "vital spark of heavenly flame," into the Æthereum, beyond the grave.
The idea of Eternal Non-Being, which is the One Being, will appear a paradox to anyone who does not remember that we limit our ideas of being to our present consciousness of existence, making it a specific, instead of a generic, term. An unborn infant, could it think in our acceptation of that term, would necessarily limit its conception of being, in a similar manner, to the intra-uterine life which alone it knows; and were it to endeavour to express to its consciousness the idea of life and birth (death to it), it would, in the absence of data to go upon, and of faculties to comprehend such data, probably express that life as "Non-Being which is Real Being." In our case the One Being is the noumenon of all the noumena which we know must underlie phenomena, and gives them whatever shadow of reality they possess, but which we have not the senses or the intellect to cognize at present.
The impersonal Reality pervading the Kosmos is the pure noumenon of thought. A noumenon can become a phenomenon on any plane of existence only by manifesting on that plane through an appropriate basis or vehicle. The existences belonging to every plane of being, up to the highest Dhyan Chohans, are, in degree, of the nature of shadows cast by a magic lantern on a colorless screen; but all things are relatively real, for the cognizer is also a reflection, and the things cognized are therefore as real to him as himself. The various cosmogonies show that the Archaic Universal Soul was held by every nation as the "mind" of the Demiurgic Creator, the Sophia of the Gnostics, or the Holy Ghost as a female principle. Pythagoras taught his disciples that God is the universal mind diffused through all things, and that this mind by the sole virtue of its universal sameness could be communicated from one object to another and be made to create all things by the sole will-power of man. In Pymander it is taught, "THOUGHT, the divine, which is Light and Life produced through its WORD, or first aspect," the other, operating THOUGHT, which being the god of Spirit and Fire, constructed seven Regents enclosing within their circle the world of senses, named "fatal destiny." The latter refers to Karma; the "seven circles" are the seven planets and planes, as also the seven invisible Spirits, in the angelic spheres, whose visible symbols are the seven planets, the seven Rishis of the Great Bear and other glyphs.
The lotus seed contains within itself a perfect miniature of the future plant, which typifies the fact that spiritual prototypes of things exist in the immaterial world before those things become materialized on earth. Not only the progenitors of our mankind, the Rishis and the Prajapatis, but every human being, we are taught, has its prototypes in the spiritual spheres; which prototype is the highest essence of his seventh principle. The Dhyanis of the seven heavens (the seven planes of Being) are the noumenoi of the actual and future elements, just as the Angels of the seven powers of nature are the still higher hierarchies. The Dhyan Chohans are the collective hosts of spiritual beings, the angelic hosts of Christianity, the Elohim and "Messengers" of the Jews -- who are the vehicle for the manifestation of the divine or universal thought and will. They are the intelligent forces that give to, and enact in, Nature her "laws," while themselves acting according to laws imposed upon them in a similar manner by still higher Powers. All the sun-gods, with their symbol, the visible sun, are the creators of physical nature only. The spiritual is the work of the highest God, the Concealed, the Central Spiritual SUN, and of his Demiurge -- the divine mind of Plato and the divine wisdom of Hermes Trismegistus. Esoterically the Dhyani-Buddhas are seven, of whom five only have hitherto manifested, and two more are to come in the sixth and seventh root-races. They are, so to speak, the eternal prototypes of the Buddhas who appear on this earth, each of whom has his particular divine prototype. They are "the glorious counterparts in the mystic world, free from the debasing conditions of this material life" of every earthly mortal Buddha -- the liberated Manushi-Buddhas appointed to govern the Earth in this round.
Krishna in the third discourse says: "When in ancient times the lord of creatures [Elohim collectively] had formed mankind, and at the same time appointed his worship, he spoke and said: 'With this worship, pray for increase and let it be for you Kamaduk, the cow of plenty, on which ye shall depend for the accomplishment of all your wishes. With this nourish the Gods, that the Gods may nourish you; thus mutually nourishing ye shall obtain the highest felicity'."
The Watcher, or the divine prototype, is at the upper rung of the ladder of being; the shadow, at the lower. The immortal spirit overshadows the mortal man. It enters into him, and, pervading his whole being, makes of him a god, who descends into his earthly tabernacle. How is this entry into earth-life made? Ceres-Demeter, and her earthly wanderings in search of her daughter, are the euphemerized descriptions of one of the most metaphysico-psychological subjects ever treated of by human mind. It is a mask for the transcendent narrative of the initiated seers; the celestial vision of the freed soul of the initiate of the last hour, describing the process by which the soul that has not yet been incarnated descends for the first time into matter.
Man was made, the Teachings assert, in the image of a type projected by his progenitor, the creating Angel-Force or Dhyan Chohan. It is correct to say that the man of this Manvantara, i.e., during the three preceding rounds, has passed through all the kingdoms of nature. That he was "a stone, a plant, an animal." But (a) these stones, plants, and animals were the prototypes, the filmy presentments of those of the fourth round; and (b) even those at the beginning of the fourth round were the astral shadows of the present, as the Occultists express it. And finally, the forms and genera of neither man, animal, nor plant were "what they became later." Moreover, "we are forced here to use the misleading word 'men' and this is clear proof of how little any European language is adapted to give expression to these subtle distinctions. It stands to reason that such 'men' did not resemble the men of today, either in form or nature." The evolution of the external form or body round the astral man is produced by the terrestrial forces, just as in the case of the lower kingdoms.
Matter is the vehicle for the manifestation of the soul on this plane of existence, and soul is the vehicle on a higher plane for the manifestation of spirit, and these three are a trinity synthesized by Life, which pervades them all. The body is the sepulcher, the prison of the soul, and many Christian Fathers held with Plato that the soul is "punished" through its union with the body. Such is the fundamental doctrine of the Buddhists and of many Brahmanists too. When Plotinus remarks that "when the soul has descended into generation (from its half-divine condition) she partakes of evil, and is carried a great way into a state the opposite of her first purity and integrity, to be entirely merged in which is nothing more than to fall into dark mire," he only repeats the teachings of Gautama Buddha. The former estate of the soul, according to the Hindu and Buddhist philosophers -- that of purity and bliss and immortality -- can only be reached through the exercises of virtue and the perfect quietude of our worldly spirit. The human mind has to control, and finally subdue and even crush, the turbulent action of man's physical nature; and the sooner he reaches the required degree of moral purification, the happier he will feel.
Since the day that modern science gave what may be considered the death-blow to dogmatic theology by assuming the ground that religion was full of mystery and that mystery is unscientific, the mental state of the educated class has presented a curious aspect. Society seems from that time to have been ever balancing itself upon one leg on an unseen tightrope stretched from our visible universe into the invisible one -- uncertain whether the end hooked on faith in the latter might not suddenly break, and hurl it into final annihilation. "The Aryan nations had no devil," says Max Müller. Pluto, though a somber character, was a very respectable personage; and Loki (the Scandinavian), though a mischievous person, was not a fiend. The German Goddess, Hell, like Proserpine, had once seen better days. Thus, when the Germans were indoctrinated with the idea of a real devil, the Semitic Seth, Satan or Diabolus, they treated him in the most good-humored way. The same may be said of hell. Hades was quite a different plane from our region of eternal damnation, and might be termed rather an intermediate state of purification. Neither does the Scandinavian Hel or Hela imply either a state or a place of punishment; for when Frigga, the grief-stricken mother of Bal-dur, the white god, who died and found himself in the dark abode of the shadows (Hades) sent Hermod, a son of Thor, in quest of her beloved child, the messenger found him in the inexorable region -- alas! but still comfortably seated on a rock, and reading a book. The Norse kingdom of the dead is moreover situated in the higher latitudes of the Polar regions; it is a cold and cheerless abode, and neither the gilded halls of Hela, nor the occupation of Baldur present the least similitude to the blazing hell of eternal fire and the miserable "damned" sinners with which the Church so erroneously peoples it.
Compare the above with what The Secret Doctrine teaches with regard to man's earliest beliefs on earth. At the dawn of his consciousness, the man of the third root race had no beliefs that could be called religion. Had they not their bright gods of the elements around them, and even within themselves? (Nor are the "Gods of the Element" by any means the Elementals.) Was not the childhood of that Race passed with, nursed, and tendered by those who had given them life and called them forth to intelligent, conscious life? We are assured that it was so. For the evolution of Spirit into matter could never have been achieved; nor would it have received its first impulse, had not the bright Spirits sacrificed their own respective super-ethereal essences to animate the man of clay, by endowing each of his inner principles with a portion, or rather a reflection, of that essence. It was the "Golden Age" in those days of old, the age when the "gods walked the earth, and mixed freely with the mortals". Since then the gods departed (i.e., became invisible), and later generations ended by worshiping their kingdoms -- the Elements.
Ancient as well as modern wisdom, vaticination, and science, agree in corroborating the claims of the Kabalists. It is on the indestructible tablets of the astral light that is stamped the impression of every thought we think and every act we perform. It is there that future events, effects of long-forgotten causes, are already delineated as a vivid picture for the eye of the seer and the prophet to follow. He, the seer, goes to the vast repository where the records of every man's life, as well as every pulsation of the visible cosmos, are stored up for all Eternity. The flash of memory which is traditionally supposed to show a drowning man every long-forgotten scene of his mortal life -- as the landscape is revealed to the traveler by intermittent flashes of lightning -- is simply the sudden glimpse which the struggling soul gets into the silent galleries where his history is depicted in imperishable colors.
This philosophy teaches that Nature never leaves her work unfinished. If baffled at the first attempt, she tries again. When she evolves a human embryo, the intention is that man shall be perfected -- physically, intellectually and spiritually. His body is to grow mature, wear out, and die; his mind unfold, ripen, and be harmoniously balanced; his divine spirit be illuminated and blend easily with the inner man. No human being completes its grand cycle, or the "Circle of Necessity" until all these are accomplished. As the laggards in a race struggle and plod in their first quarter while the victor darts past the goal, so, in the race of immortality, some souls outspeed all the rest and reach the end, while their myriad competitors are toiling under the load of matter, close to the starting point. Some unfortunately fall out entirely and lose all chance of the prize, some retrace their steps and begin again. This is what the Hindu dreads above all things -- transmigration and reincarnation; only on other and inferior planets, never on this one.
But there is a way to avoid it, and Buddha taught it in his doctrine of poverty, restriction of the senses, perfect indifference to the objects of this earthly vale of tears, freedom from passion, and frequent intercommunication with the Atma -- soul-contemplation. The cause of reincarnation is ignorance of our senses, and in the idea that there is any reality in the world in anything except abstract existence. From the organs of sense comes the "hallucination" we call contact; "from contact, desire; from desire, sensation (which also is a deception of our body); from sensation, the cleaving to existing bodies. From this cleaving, reproduction; and from reproduction, disease, decay, and death."
Thus, like the revolutions of a wheel, there is a regular succession of death and birth, the moral cause of which is the cleaving to existing objects, while the instrumental cause is karma (the power which controls the universe, prompting it to activity), merit and demerit. "It is, therefore, the great desire of all beings who would be released from the sorrows of successive births, to seek the destruction of the moral cause, the cleaving to existing objects, or evil desire." They in whom evil desire is entirely destroyed are called Arhats. Freedom from evil desire insures the possession of miraculous power. At his death, the Arhat is never reincarnated; he invariably attains Nirvana ... the world of cause, in which all deceptive effects or delusions of our senses disappear.
MAYA [or ILLUSION]
Back to the complete list of the
GROUPING OF HUNDREDS OF "COLLATED ARTICLES"
Back to the full listing containing all of the
"Additional Categories of Articles".
ONE (1) FOOTNOTE LISTED BELOW:
(1) NOTE.--Collated from standard Theosophical texts.
Back to text.