THEOSOPHY, Vol. 45, No. 11, September, 1957 (Pages 509-511; Size: 8K) (Number 6 of a 7-part series)
SEEDS AND SEEDLINGS
CYCLES OF DESTINY[The short articles comprising this series are derived from characteristic talks given during the years 1915-35. As often as practicable, the words of the speaker have been used without change, in the hope of conveying some of the force originally imparted to the ideas. The present article is comprised of extracts from a talk given December 29, 1926. -- Editors.]"THEOSOPHY," said Madame Blavatsky, "is the gospel of the rational explanation of things as they are." In order to arrive at this explanation, Theosophy goes beyond all differences, back of all contradictions, to something in nature which is one, and not many; and which, being One, is common to all things -- whether those things are good or evil, high or low in the scale of evolution.
Let us try to see what this something-in-common is. In its simplest terms, this fundamental characteristic is the power to give expressions and receive impressions. No element, even in inorganic nature, can be touched by us without our at once receiving an impression from the contact. Yet, no impression could be made upon us unless it were an expression of something in the elements. If we go beyond the elements, to what to us is immaterial nature, or the field of forces, organized and unorganized, the same thing is true. We find, if we think about it, that we are in contact with energy. Every impression we receive is an expression of the field of force of that object.
So much for our objective contact with fields of energy, or force. What of our subjective experience with fields of energy? Here we find the same thing to be true: No mind can contact another mind without getting impressions from that mind, and without making impressions on that mind. It is this great duality everywhere present in nature -- that is, the power to give expression to what is in us and to react to the impressions received from what is inherent in beings outside ourselves -- that is meant in theosophical language by the word "Karma." "Cycles of Destiny" is but a borrowed phrase: what we are talking about is Karma. Not Karma as a doctrine nor as dogma; not Karma as a theory nor even as a fact; but Karma as the palpitating actuality of every motion of our existence.
Now, taking that as a generalization -- that this Power is common to all things and beings, and therefore resident in each -- we are prepared to get a rational meaning of the word "Spirit." Spirit means that Power which is absent from nothing and which is present in everything. Throughout the books of all the great religions, this Spirit is always spoken of as omnipresent. It could not be omnipresent unless it were just as common to an atom, to a mountain, to a flower, as to the sun or a Divine Being. Spirit means, then, the Life, or the Consciousness, or the Power, which is in all things; which pervades all things, which includes all things, and which, therefore, fundamentally, is all things. This is what is called the First Fundamental Proposition of Theosophy.
Power, however, may be either manifested or unmanifested. If unmanifested, the Power is nonetheless real; for, though the power of manifestation is latent, it is inherent in the Life. The moment there is manifestation of Life, there is duality; and it is this duality which is meant by the word "Cycle."
Most Theosophists, being children of their generation, are of necessity inclined to regard Karma much as a Christian regards God: that is, as a Force extraneous to themselves, which anon brings to them that which is welcome or unwelcome, and anon takes it away. Now, whether we say Law, or whether we say Karma, or whether we say Force, or whether we say Being -- the idea is the same; and this idea is totally false. Nothing in the universe, but has the same power of action as "God"; it is the range of its exercise, the manifestation of the Power that varies.
Thus the duality of Life is expressed by two principles -- or rather by one principle flowing in two directions. The principle of action, or Karma, or manifestation, in its outward flow from any being, or set of beings, as a center, travels out through Life and back again. So initial existence is not a being; it is a flow of force from subject to object. Thus we have the two principles which underlie all manifested existence: the principle which acts and the principle which is acted upon -- in other words, Spirit and Matter. Spirit is always the basis of action; Matter is always that which is acted upon.
So the cycle of Karma, or the cycle of destiny, should be approached, first, from the standpoint that Life is the One Reality -- the Power to manifest -- and that it is common to all things, and that everything is fundamentally identical with it. Next, that the moment there is manifestation or action, whether in the whole of Life or any portion of it, at once there is duality. Spirit has not ceased; it has merely created a metaphysical separation of perceiver and perceived, of subject and object, in itself. So, then, the cycle of destiny is actually, first, descent from the Absolute state (which we may call Spirit, if we will) to that state which we call Matter, and then a reascent from the state called Matter, once more to the Absolute state or condition. This is the cycle of destiny for everything that is. There is no being so high that he can avoid the cycle of destiny. So we can see that "the cycle of destiny" simply means the cycle of manifestation.
The first object of the Theosophical Society was to establish in a man's mind and heart a perception and conviction of his own that Spirit is common to all; that there is nothing which is non-spiritual; nothing which is dead; nothing which is fixed and without the capacity to evolve; but that everything is Life and Consciousness; that everything is under Law, and has the same power to act and react. From this perception of the common source of all, comes the psychic apperception of the brotherhood of the whole of nature.
It stands to reason, then, that we are just half-way through the cycle of destiny as an order of being, because we have descended from the plane of Spirit, or Universal Self-Consciousness, to that point where our Self-consciousness is regained individually -- that is what constitutes Man. Now the problem, the other half of the cycle of destiny, is to return to the primeval condition with Universal Consciousness individually embodied. To reach that condition means to retain our Godhood, no matter which one of the stages of evolutionary ascent we may occupy; to retain our Universal Consciousness no matter what stage of evolutionary descent we may be occupying. That this is possible to man is really the key-note, the heart-felt utterance of every great Teacher who ever lived.
Seeds and Seedlings A Sine Qua Non in Theosophy (Article 7 of 7)