Secret Doctrine Study Class (wk2) – Proem pages 3 to 10
Editor’s note: At the beginning of the class, we discussed the concept of the absolute – being beyond human conception or thinking – the unfolding of evolving impulses with no causality – the causeless cause – the inbreathing and out breathing of the world with no beginning and no end – It was noted that there is no great “being” behind the scene pulling the strings as in the Wizard of Oz. We discussed HPB’s word choices such as “races” actually meaning stages and cycles, with the observation that we are in the most material stage, the turning point toward an upward trend. The SD helps us to contextualize our human life in time and space – in such a huge timeline – travelling through the universe together.
“The esoteric doctrine teaches, like Buddhism and Brahminism, and even the Kabala, that the one infinite and unknown Essence exists from all eternity, and in regular and harmonious successions is either passive or active. In the poetical phraseology of Manu these conditions are called the “Days” and the “Nights” of Brahmâ. The latter is either “awake” or “asleep.” The Svabhavikas, or philosophers of the oldest school of Buddhism (which still exists in Nepal), speculate only upon the active condition of this “Essence,” which they call Svabhâvat, and deem it foolish to theorize upon the abstract and “unknowable” power in its passive condition. Hence they are called atheists by both Christian theologians and modern scientists, for neither of the two are able to understand the profound logic of their philosophy. The former will allow of no other God than the personified secondary powers which have worked out the visible universe, and which became with them the anthropomorphic God of the Christians — the male Jehovah, roaring amid thunder and lightning. In its turn, rationalistic science greets the Buddhists and the Svabhâvikas as the “positivists” of the archaic ages. If we take a one-sided view of the philosophy of the latter, our materialists may be right in their own way. The Buddhists maintained that there is no Creator, but an infinitude of creative powers, which collectively form the one eternal substance, the essence of which is inscrutable — hence not a subject for speculation for any true philosopher. Socrates invariably refused to argue upon the mystery of universal being, yet no one would ever have thought of charging him with atheism, except those who were bent upon his destruction. Upon inaugurating an active period, says the Secret Doctrine, an expansion of this Divine essence from without inwardly and from within outwardly, occurs in obedience to eternal and immutable law, and the phenomenal or visible universe is the ultimate result of the long chain of cosmical forces thus progressively set in motion. In like manner, when the passive condition is resumed, a contraction of the Divine essence takes place, and the previous work of creation is gradually and progressively undone. The visible universe becomes disintegrated, its material dispersed; and ‘darkness’ solitary and alone, broods once more over the face of the ‘deep.’ To use a Metaphor from the Secret Books, which will convey the idea still more clearly, an out-breathing of the ‘unknown essence’ produces the world; and an inhalation causes it to disappear. This process has been going on from all eternity, and our present universe is but one of an infinite series, which had no beginning and will have no end.” — (See “Isis Unveiled“; also “The Days and Nights of Brahmâ“ in Part II.)
This passage will be explained, as far as it is possible, in the present work. Though, as it now stands, it contains nothing new to the Orientalist, its esoteric interpretation may contain a good deal which has hitherto remained entirely unknown to the Western student.
The first illustration being a plain disc the second one in the Archaic symbol shows , a disc with a point in it — the first differentiation in the periodical manifestations of the ever-eternal nature, sexless and infinite “Aditi in THAT” (Rig Veda), the point in the disc, or potential Space within abstract Space. In its third stage the point is transformed into a diameter, thus It now symbolises a divine immaculate Mother-Nature within the all-embracing absolute Infinitude.
When the diameter line is crossed by a vertical one , it becomes the mundane cross. Humanity has reached its third root-race; it is the sign for the origin of human life to begin. When the circumference disappears and leaves only the it is a sign that the fall of man into matter is accomplished, and the FOURTH race begins. The Cross within a circle symbolises pure Pantheism; when the Cross was left uninscribed, it became phallic. It had the same and yet other meanings as a TAU inscribed within a circle or as a “Thor’s hammer,” the Jaina cross, so-called, or simply Svastica within a circle.
By the third symbol — the circle divided in two by the horizontal line of the diameter — the first manifestation of creative (still passive, because feminine) Nature was meant. The first shadowy perception of man connected with procreation is feminine, because man knows his mother more than his father. Hence female deities were more sacred than the male. Nature is therefore feminine, and, to a degree, objective and tangible, and the spirit Principle which fructifies it is concealed. By adding to the circle with the horizontal line in it, a perpendicular line, the tau was formed — the oldest form of the letter. It was the glyph of the third root-race to the day of its symbolical Fall — i.e., when the separation of sexes by natural evolution took place — when the figure became , the circle, or sexless life modified or separated — a double glyph or symbol. With the races of our Fifth Race it became in symbology the sacr’, and in Hebrew n’cabvah, of the first-formed races; (1) then it changed into the Egyptian (emblem of life), and still later into the sign of Venus, Then comes the Svastica (Thor’s hammer, or the “Hermetic Cross” now), entirely separated from its Circle, thus becoming purely phallic. The esoteric symbol of Kali Yuga is the five-pointed star reversed, thus — the sign of human sorcery, with its two points (horns) turned heavenward, a position every
Occultist will recognize as one of the “left-hand,” and used in ceremonial magic. (2)
(note: refer to an original text to see the illustration of these symbols referenced above)
It is hoped that during the perusal of this work the erroneous ideas of the public in general with regard to Pantheism will be modified. It is wrong and unjust to regard the Buddhists and Advaitee Occultists as atheists. If not all of them philosophers, they are, at any rate, all logicians, their objections and arguments being based on strict reasoning. Indeed, if the Parabrahmam of the Hindus may be taken as a representative of the hidden and nameless deities of other nations, this absolute Principle will be found to be the prototype from which all the others were copied. Parabrahm is not “God,” because It is not a God. “It is that which is supreme, and not supreme (paravara),” explains Mandukya Upanishad (2.28). IT is “Supreme” as CAUSE, not supreme as effect. Parabrahm is simply, as a “Secondless Reality,” the all-inclusive Kosmos — or, rather, the infinite Cosmic Space — in the highest spiritual sense, of course. Brahma (neuter) being the unchanging, pure, free, undecaying supreme Root, “the ONE true Existence, Paramarthika,” and the absolute Chit and Chaitanya (intelligence, consciousness) cannot be a cognize, “for THAT can have no subject of cognition.” Can the flame be called the essence of Fire? This Essence is “the LIFE and LIGHT of the Universe, the visible fire and flame are destruction, death, and evil.” “Fire and Flame destroy the body of an Arhat, their essence makes him immortal.” (Bodhi-mur, Book II.) “The knowledge of the absolute Spirit, like the effulgence of the sun, or like heat in fire, is naught else than the absolute Essence itself,” says Sankaracharya. IT — is “the Spirit of the Fire,” not fire itself; therefore, “the attributes of the latter, heat or flame, are not the attributes of the Spirit, but of that of which that Spirit is the unconscious cause.” Is not the above sentence the true key-note of later Rosicrucian philosophy? Parabrahm is, in short, the collective aggregate of Kosmos in its infinity and eternity, the “THAT” and “THIS” to which distributive aggregates can not be applied. “In the beginning THIS was the Self, one only” (Aitareya Upanishad); the great Sankaracharya, explains that “THIS” referred to the Universe (Jagat); the sense of the words, “In the beginning,” meaning before the reproduction of the phenomenal Universe.
Therefore, when the Pantheists echo the Upanishads, which state, as in the Secret Doctrine, that “this” cannot create, they do not deny a Creator, or rather a collective aggregate of creators, but only refuse, very logically, to attribute “creation” and especially formation, something finite to an Infinite Principle. With them, Parabrahmam is a passive because an Absolute Cause, the unconditioned Mukta. It is only limited Omniscience and Omnipotence that are refused to the latter, because these are still attributes (as reflected in man’s perceptions); and because Parabrahm, being the “Supreme ALL,” the ever invisible spirit and Soul of Nature, changeless and eternal, can have no attributes; absoluteness very naturally precluding any idea of the finite or conditioned from being connected with it. And if the Vedantin postulates attributes as belonging simply to its emanation, calling it “Iswara plus Maya,” and Avidya (Agnosticism and Nescience rather than ignorance), it is difficult to find any Atheism in this conception.(3) Since there can be neither two INFINITES nor two ABSOLUTES in a Universe supposed to be Boundless, this Self-Existence can hardly be conceived of as creating personally. In the sense and perceptions of finite “Beings,” THAT is Non-“being,” in the sense that it is the one BE-NESS; for, in this ALL lies concealed its coeternal and coeval emanation or inherent radiation, which, upon becoming periodically Brahmâ (the male-female Potency) becomes or expands itself into the manifested Universe. Narayana moving on the (abstract) waters of Space, is transformed into the Waters of concrete substance moved by him, who now becomes the manifested WORD or Logos.
The orthodox Brahmins, those who rise the most against the Pantheists and Adwaitees, calling them Atheists, are forced, if Manu has any authority in this matter, to accept the death of Brahmâ, the creator, at the expiration of every “Age” of this (creative) deity (100 Divine years — a period which in our years requires fifteen figures to express it). Yet, no philosopher among them will view this “death” in any other sense than as a temporary disappearance from the manifested plane of existence, or as a periodical rest.
The Occultists are, therefore, at one with the Adwaita Vedantin philosophers as to the above tenet. They show the impossibility of accepting on philosophical grounds the idea of the absolute ALL creating or even evolving the “Golden Egg,” into which it is said to enter in order to transform itself into Brahmâ — the Creator, who expands himself later into gods and all the visible Universe. They say that Absolute Unity cannot pass to infinity; for infinity presupposes the limitless extension of something, and the duration of that “something”; and the One All is like Space — which is its only mental and physical representation on this Earth, or our plane of existence — neither an object of, nor a subject to, perception. If one could suppose the Eternal Infinite All, the Omnipresent Unity, instead of being in Eternity, becoming through periodical manifestation a manifold Universe or a multiple personality, that Unity would cease to be one. Locke’s idea that “pure Space is capable of neither resistance nor Motion” — is incorrect. Space is neither a “limitless void,” nor a “conditioned fulness,” but both: being, on the plane of absolute abstraction, the ever-incognisable Deity, which is void only to finite minds,(4) and on that of mayavic perception, the Plenum, the absolute Container of all that is, whether manifested or unmanifested: it is, therefore, that ABSOLUTE ALL. There is no difference between the Christian Apostle’s “In Him we live and move and have our being,” and the Hindu Rishi’s “The Universe lives in, proceeds from, and will return to, Brahma (Brahmâ)”: for Brahma (neuter), the unmanifested, is that Universe in abscondito, and Brahmâ, the manifested, is the Logos, made male-female (5) in the symbolical orthodox dogmas. The God of the Apostle-Initiate and of the Rishi being both the Unseen and the Visible SPACE. Space is called in the esoteric symbolism “the Seven-Skinned Eternal Mother-Father.” It is composed from its undifferentiated to its differentiated surface of seven layers.
“What is that which was, is, and will be, whether there is a Universe or not; whether there be gods or none?” asks the esoteric Senzar Catechism. And the answer made is — SPACE.
It is not the One Unknown ever-present God in Nature, or Nature in abscondito, that is rejected, but the God of human dogma and his humanized “Word.” In his infinite conceit and inherent pride and vanity, man shaped it himself with his sacrilegious hand out of the material he found in his own small brain-fabric, and forced it upon mankind as a direct revelation from the one unrevealed SPACE.(6) The Occultist accepts revelation as coming from divine yet still finite Beings, the manifested lives, never from the Unmanifestable ONE LIFE; from those entities, called Primordial Man, Dhyani-Buddhas, or Dhyan-Chohans, the “Rishi-Prajâpati” of the Hindus, the Elohim or “Sons of God,” the Planetary Spirits of all nations, who have become Gods for men. He also regards the Adi-Sakt— the direct emanation of Mulaprakriti, the eternal Root of THAT, and the female aspect of the Creative Cause Brahmâ, in her A’kásic form of the Universal Soul — as philosophically a Maya, and cause of human Maya. But this view does not prevent him from believing in its existence so long as it lasts, to wit, for one Mahamanvantara; nor from applying A’kâs’a, the radiation of Mulaprakriti,* to practical purposes, connected as the World-Soul is with all natural phenomena, known or unknown to science.
(1) See that suggestive work, “The Source of Measures,” where the author explains the real meaning of the word “sacr’,” from which “sacred,” “sacrament,” are derived, which have now become synonyms of “holiness,” though purely phallic!
(2) We are told by the Western mathematicians and some American Kabalists, that in the Kabala also “the value of the Jehovah name is that of the diameter of a circle.” Add to this the fact that Jehovah is the third Sephiroth, Binah, a feminine word, and you have the key to the mystery. By certain Kabalistic transformations this name, androgynous in the first chapters of Genesis, becomes in its transformations entirely masculine, Cainite and phallic. The fact of choosing a deity among the pagan gods and making of it a special national God, to call upon it as the “One living God,” the “God of Gods,” and then proclaim this worship Monotheistic, does not change it into the ONE Principle whose “Unity admits not of multiplication, change, or form,” especially in the case of a priapic deity, as Jehovah now demonstrated to be.
(3) Nevertheless, prejudiced and rather fanatical Christian Orientalists would like to prove this pure Atheism. For proof of this, see about Major Jacob’s “Vedanta Sara.” Yet, the whole Antiquity echoes this Vedantic thought: —
“Omnis enim per se divom natura necesse est
Immortali aevo summa cum pace fruatur.”
(4)The very names of the two chief deities, Brahmâ and Vishnu, ought to have long ago suggested their esoteric meanings. For the root of one, Brahmam, or Brahm, is derived by some from the word Brih, “to grow” or “to expand” (see Calcutta Review, vol. lxvi., p. 14); and of the other, Vishnu, from the root Vis, “to pervade,” to enter in the nature of the essence; Brahmâ-Vishnu being this infinite SPACE, of which the gods, the Rishis, the Manus, and all in this universe are simply the potencies, Vibhutayah.
(5) See Manu’s account of Brahmâ separating his body into male and female, the latter the female Vâch, in whom he creates Virâj, and compare this with the esotericism of Chapters II., III., and IV. of Genesis.
(6) Occultism is indeed in the air at the close of this our century. Among many other works recently published, we would recommend one especially to students of theoretical Occultism who would not venture beyond the realm of our special human plane. It is called “New Aspects of Life and Religion,” by Henry Pratt, M.D. It is full of esoteric dogmas and philosophy, the latter rather limited, in the concluding chapters, by what seems to be a spirit of conditioned positivism. Nevertheless, what is said of Space as “the Unknown First Cause,” merits quotation. “This unknown something, thus recognised as, and identified with, the primary embodiment of Simple Unity, is invisible and impalpable” — (abstract space, granted); “and because invisible and impalpable, therefore incognisable. And this incognisability has led to the error of supposing it to be a simple void, a mere receptive capacity. But, even viewed as an absolute void, space must be admitted to be either Self-existent, infinite, and eternal, or to have had a first cause outside, behind, and beyond itself.
“And yet could such a cause be found and defined, this would only lead to the transferring thereto of the attributes otherwise accruing to space, and thus merely throw the difficulty of origination a step farther back, without gaining additional light as to primary causation.” (p. 5.)
This is precisely what has been done by the believers in an anthropomorphic Creator, an extracosmic, instead of an intracosmic God. Many — most of Mr. Pratt’s subjects, we may say — are old Kabalistic ideas and theories which he presents in quite a new garb: “New Aspects” of the Occult in Nature, indeed. Space, however, viewed as a “Substantial Unity” — the “living Source of Life” — is as the “Unknown Causeless Cause,” is the oldest dogma in Occultism, millenniums earlier than the Pater-Æther of the Greeks and Latins. So are the “Force and Matter, as Potencies of Space, inseparable, and the Unknown revealers of the Unknown.” They are all found in Aryan philosophy personified by Visvakarman, Indra, Vishnu, etc., etc. Still they are expressed very philosophically, and under many unusual aspects, in the work referred to.