THEOSOPHY, Vol. 50, No. 7, May, 1962
(Pages 316-320; Size: 15K)
(Number 4 of a 14-part series)
MANIFESTING, yet unmanifested: This self-contradictory statement presents the major paradox in the Archaic symbolism of the Point -- "the most important of all the geometrical figures used in metaphysical emblematology" -- and demands pondering until the truth it contains is comprehended, for the evolution of the Universe, recorded in symbols, begins with the "point."
Metaphysical ideas are often obscured by words. Words serve their proper function when they invite the mind to look beyond the apparent meaning -- bringing into exercise the present perceptive powers which are strengthened as they penetrate the exterior form of the word and discern the sometimes-subtle idea therein with its ramification of meanings and correspondences.
Words reveal and at the same time conceal. A richness of revelation or a profuseness of words may distract the mind -- leading it to rest upon some luminous detail while it remains blind to the essential nature of the thing or being which is the object of search. Herein is the profound value of the symbolism of the Ancients. The plane of abstraction -- of abstract Archaic symbols -- is inviolate, eternally. The mind that misconceives the meaning of a symbol does violence to itself; the symbol remains unprofaned. However, there is THAT which has neither symbol nor name to identify it: the UNNAMEABLE.This Point is the First Cause, but THAT from which it emanates, or of which, rather, it is the expression, the Logos, is passed over in silence. (S.D. I, 426.)It is an interesting commentary on the mind of the time that The Secret Doctrine, which was written "for the instruction of students of Occultism and not for the benefit of philologists," should need to occupy so many pages with the clarification of the God-idea -- for which the Point is in one sense a symbol -- and it is a revealing commentary on human nature that H. P. Blavatsky, after some fourteen years of work with the Theosophical Society, should say: "I have in vain endeavoured to impart to Theosophists at large the great axiomatic truth that the only eternal and living reality is that which the Hindus call Paramatma or Parabrahma. This is the one ever-existing Root Essence, immutable and unknowable to our physical senses, but manifest and clearly perceptible to our spiritual natures. Once imbued with that basic idea and the further conception that if it is omnipresent, universal, and eternal, like abstract Space itself, we must have emanated from it and must, some day, return to it, and all the rest becomes easy."
Some words of Coleridge, the poet-philosopher, are interesting and relevant on this point:It is the essential mark of the true philosopher to rest satisfied with no imperfect light, as long as the impossibility of attaining a fuller knowledge has not been demonstrated.... Philosophy can not be intelligible to all, even of the most learned and cultivated classes. A system, the first principle of which it is to render the mind intuitive of the spiritual in man (i.e. of that which lies on the other side of our natural consciousness), must needs have a great obscurity for those who have never disciplined and strengthened this ulterior consciousness.... On the IMMEDIATE, which dwells in every man, and on the original intuition, or absolute affirmation of it (which is likewise in every man, but does not in every man rise into consciousness), all the certainty of our knowledge depends; and this becomes intelligible to no man by the ministry of mere words from without.And the insistent note of the "Upanishads, called the holy Bhagavad-Gita," is that a man is "fitted to be the Supreme Being," not by much study of the Vedas -- nor by much hearing or speaking of the Scriptures, nor by alms-giving, nor by sacrificial rites, nor by deeds -- but by the discipline "in all works" of an unfettered mind and subdued heart. Therefore the mind, accustomed by training or habit to looking "without and around" or at best to the invisible workings of objective Nature, is directed in the philosophy of the Ancients to look within and beyond to the only eternal and living reality --Paramatma or Parabrahm.
Para, in the truest sense, means "beyond." According to the Theosophical Glossary: PARA (Sk.) means "infinite" and "supreme" in philosophy -- the final limit. Param is the end and goal of existence. Parama is the "one Supreme;" The Secret Doctrine says, that one "supreme" Parama, called Guhya or "secret," and Sarvatma, the "Super-Soul." Parâpara is the boundary of boundaries. This "beyond-ness" identifies with the unlimiting phrases of the First Fundamental Proposition:An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable PRINCIPLE on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception ... This Infinite and Eternal Cause ... is the rootless root of "all that was, is, or ever shall be." It is of course devoid of all attributes and is essentially without any relation to manifested, finite Being. It is "Be-ness" rather than Being (in Sanskrit, Sat), ...Sat, says H. P. Blavatsky, is an "untranslatable" term, and she adds: "One feels a serious doubt whether, with all its intellectual acuteness, our age is destined to discover in each western nation even one solitary uninitiated scholar or philosopher capable of fully comprehending the spirit of archaic philosophy. Nor can one be expected to do so, before the real meaning of these terms, the Alpha and the Omega of Eastern esotericism, the words Sat and Asat, -- so freely used in the Rig-Veda, and elsewhere -- is thoroughly assimilated. Without this key to the Aryan Wisdom, the Cosmogony of the Rishis and the Arhats is in danger of remaining a dead letter to the average Orientalist. Asat is not merely the negation of Sat, nor is it the 'not yet existing'; for Sat is in itself neither the 'existent,' nor 'being.' SAT is the immutable, the ever present, changeless and eternal root, from and through which all proceeds. But it is far more than the potential force in the seed, which propels onward the process of development, or what is now called evolution. It is the ever becoming, though the never manifesting. Sat is born from Asat, and ASAT is begotten by Sat: the perpetual motion in a circle, truly; yet a circle that can be squared only at the supreme Initiation, at the threshold of Paranirvana." (S.D. II, 449-50.)
There is no equivalent of para in the English language. The prefix in the word metaphysics and in the word parapsychology cannot approximate its meaning because of the materialistic or mistaken and changing views of the "natural Universe" and the erroneous and misleading regard of psychology as the science of mind, instead of Soul. This obstacle to understanding was remarked upon by Wm. Q. Judge in Notes on the Bhagavad-Gita, (p. 3):Before the Upanishads can be properly rendered, the Indian psychological system must be understood; and even when its existence is admitted, the English speaking person will meet the great difficulty arising from an absence of words in that language which correspond to the ideas so frequently found in the Sanscrit. Thus we have to wait until a new set of words have been born to express the new ideas not yet existing in the civilization of the West.The opening pages of the Proem seem primarily to prepare the mind of the reader to understand abstractions. The symbolism of the Point belongs to the indescribable stage of the Second Stanza of Dzyan, necessarily presented in allegorical phrases -- their meaning "left to the intuition and the higher faculties of the reader to grasp." The first reference to that symbol is in these words: "The point in the hitherto immaculate Disk, Space and Eternity in Pralaya, denotes the dawn of differentiation." The words "Space and Eternity in Pralaya" -- what do they reveal? They indicate that Space and Time -- inseparable in manifestation -- are indistinguishable in Pralaya. The "dawn" of differentiation -- to find a simile -- is, perhaps, like the secret, hidden promise of Spring already present in the cold and the dark of Winter solstice -- imperceptible, unsuspected. And what do those words conceal? They leave undisclosed the implicit dynamic of differentiation, inherent in the Point, indissolubly involved in every phase and stage of emerging objectivity, and constituting the essence of every manifested thing and being. "Deity is in every point of the Universe." The Universe and the Deity which informs it are "unthinkable" apart from each other.
The first reference to the word Deity, in the Proem, is the unrevealed Deity "recognized and considered under its only philosophical aspect -- universal motion, the thrill of the creative Breath in Nature." There is no conceptual basis in Occultism for a personal God as creator of the Universe.
Paradox, though, is perpetually present. "Parabrahm," explains the Mandukya Upanishad, "is that which is supreme, and not supreme," IT is "Supreme" as CAUSE, not supreme as effect. And H. P. Blavatsky says, S.D. I, 54:The idea that things can cease to exist and still BE, is a fundamental one in Eastern psychology. Under this apparent contradiction in terms, there rests a fact in Nature to realise which in the mind, rather than to argue about words, is the important thing.To BE, philosophically considered, is ultimate Reality. To "become" is to come to be in the course of time -- inseparability of Space and Time. To BE is an absolute term; to become is relative, implying relationships of time and place and circumstance -- cause and effect. The caterpillar becomes a butterfly -- a fascinating phenomenon to behold and to comprehend, and which might, conceivably, capture the energies of the mind. On the other hand it may serve as symbol -- as could the whole of the manifested world -- and keep awake the aroused spiritual intuition. To quote again from Coleridge:They, and they only, can acquire the philosophic imagination, the sacred power of self-intuition, who within themselves can interpret and understand the symbol that the wings of the air-sylph are forming within the skin of the caterpillar; those only, who feel in their own spirits the same instinct, which impels the chrysalis of the horned fly to leave room in its involucrum for antennae yet to come. They know and feel, that the potential works in them, even as the actual works on them! In short, all the organs of sense are framed for a corresponding world of sense; and we have it. All the organs of spirit are framed for a correspondent world of spirit; though the latter are not developed in all alike. But they exist in all, and their first appearance discloses itself in the moral being.Using the Law of Analogy as infallible guide and recognizing the Law of Periodicity as the unerring rule, Man will learn to be enlightened instead of bewildered by "the mighty magic of Prakriti" because the LAW for the birth, growth, and decay of everything in Kosmos, from the Sun to the glow-worm in the grass, is ONE.
. . . . . . .
The ancients contrived to throw a thick veil over the nucleus of truth concealed by the symbol, but they ever tried to preserve the latter as a record for future generations, sufficiently transparent to allow their wise men to discern that truth behind the fabulous form of the glyph or allegory.
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
"THE UNMEDIATED WHOLE"
Man alone, during his brief existence on this earth, is free to examine, to know, to criticize, and to create. In this freedom lies his superiority over the forces that pervade his outward life. He is that unique organism in terms of matter and energy, space and time, which is urged to conscious purpose. Reason is his characteristic and indistinguishing principle. But man is only man -- and free -- when he considers himself as a total being in whom "the unmediated whole of feeling and thought" is not severed and who impugns any form of atomization as artificial, mischievous, and predatory.
--RUTH NANDA ANSHEN
(Part 5 of a 14-part series)
Back to the
series complete list of articles.
Back to the full listing containing all of the
"Additional Categories of Articles".