Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy by G. de Purucker

Copyright © 1979 by Theosophical University Press. All rights reserved.


Chapter Nine

Outline of Esoteric Cosmogony, Globes, Rounds and Races: Cosmic Time Periods.

Can one fail to recognise in Creuzer great powers of intuition, when, being almost unacquainted with the Aryan Hindu philosophies, little known in his day, he wrote: —

"We modern Europeans feel surprised when hearing talk of the Spirits of the Sun, Moon, etc. But we repeat again, the natural good sense and the upright judgment of the ancient peoples, quite foreign to our entirely material ideas upon celestial mechanics and physical sciences . . . could not see in the stars and planets only that which we see: namely, simple masses of light, or opaque bodies moving in circuits in sidereal space, merely according to the laws of attraction or repulsion; but they saw in them living bodies, animated by spirits as they saw the same in every kingdom of nature. . . . This doctrine of spirits, so consistent and conformable to nature, from which it was derived, formed a grand and unique conception, wherein the physical, the moral, and the political aspects were all blended together . . ." ("Egypte," pp. 450 to 455.)

It is such a conception only that can lead man to form a correct conclusion about his origin and the genesis of everything in the universe — of Heaven and Earth, between which he is a living link. Without such a psychological link, and the feeling of its presence, no science can ever progress, and the realm of knowledge must be limited to the analysis of physical matter only. — The Secret Doctrine, II, 369-70

WE OPEN our study tonight by reading once again from pages 224 and 225 of The Secret Doctrine, volume I, as follows:

Mankind in its first prototypal, shadowy form, is the offspring of the Elohim of Life (or Pitris); in its qualitative and physical aspect it is the direct progeny of the "Ancestors," the lowest Dhyanis, or Spirits of the Earth; for its moral, psychic, and spiritual nature, it is indebted to a group of divine Beings, the name and characteristics of which will be given in Book II. Collectively, men are the handiwork of hosts of various spirits; distributively, the tabernacles of those hosts; and occasionally and singly, the vehicles of some of them.

And the second paragraph on page 225:

Man is not, nor could he ever be, the complete product of the "Lord God"; but he is the child of the Elohim, so arbitrarily changed into the singular masculine gender. The first Dhyanis, commissioned to "create" man in their image, could only throw off their shadows, like a delicate model for the Nature Spirits of matter to work upon. (See Book II.) Man is, beyond any doubt, formed physically out of the dust of the Earth, but his creators and fashioners were many.

In continuation of our study of the esoteric sense underlying the first chapter of Genesis, we must point out that this chapter does not deal with man as we now know him. The "man" spoken of therein is the spiritual being which descended into matter in the first round of this manvantara, as a spiritual, or rather ethereal, being; and consequently, when in verse 27 we translated the peculiar phrase, "thinker and receiver formed (or evolved) they them," we must understand that this allusion does not refer to sexual man and woman of the present time. These words, thinker and receiver, refer to the spiritual nature of the then ethereal vehicles of humanity, not to our present-day man or woman; and the word receiver can also be translated receptacle, the vehicle or house of the higher nature. Also, at the period dealt with in this verse 27, man in the general sense — humanity — was of double sex, or androgyne; hence, obviously, there was no "woman" then. This first chapter practically ignores the first, purely sexless, state of ethereal Adam, and enters upon its description of "man" when the latter was already sinking into material existence as a semi-self-conscious ethereal androgyne. In other words, the first chapter does not detail the separation of the sexes, which occurred far later. This general statement is plainly shown by even the exoteric rendering of the teaching; but let us read from another chapter of Genesis, verse 5 of chapter 2:

And every plant of the field before it was in the earth and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground [italics ours].

"Man" had not yet come. Let me preface future explanations by saying that this second chapter of Genesis deals with the third and the fourth rounds of our manvantara, the latter or fourth being our present round, and more particularly with the third root-race of our fourth round; whereas chapter first is a highly generalized and succinct Jewish epitome of early cosmogony, and ends with a similarly brief allusion to rounds first and second.

And in verses 19, 20, 21, and 22, we find the following:

19. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

20. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

21. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

22. And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

As in verse 5 above, I use here the ordinary English translation of the so-called authorized version, although, as a matter of fact, a very luminously different translation could be made of these verses. It would lead us too far from our main point to do so now.

In the first place, this second chapter records a different method from that recorded in chapter 1, and a change as regards the evolving of the ethereal being from the Elohim, having reference to the making of physical humanity, or "man," from the "dust of the ground" (verse 7). In the second place, this English word rib of verses 21 and 22 should be translated "side," the allusion being to the separation of the androgyne or dual-sexed humanity of race the third of our fourth round into sexed humanity as now existent.

Now Plato in his Banquet (§ 190), alludes to this same historical physiological fact of prehistory, and says that (one of) the early races of mankind was bisexually formed; that they had great and terrible powers, and that their wickedness and ambition waxed very great, so that Zeus grew angry at their wickedness and decided to cut them in two, as one would divide an egg with a hair. This Zeus did; and bade Apollo to render the two halves more shapely, etc. Apollo so did, and he closed up the flesh of the two halves. Since then all mankind was man and woman. A typically Platonic tale, imbodying actual facts of forgotten history. This deals with the earliest portion of the fourth root-race, and much more especially with the middle period of the third root-race of the fourth — or present — round on this planet.

We will now leave for the present, with a few more words of explanation, the outline of emanation and evolution as found in the Jewish Bible; but before leaving it, it will be well to say a few words on the question of the Elohim.

Elohim is a word frequently found in the Jewish Bible and is, as stated in our last lecture, in itself an evidence of the polytheistic bias, teachings, and beliefs, of the ancient Jewish people. The Bible itself shows it. Usually this word — a plural common noun — is to be translated as "gods." But in most places where it occurs in the Hebrew text it is translated in the English authorized version as "God." There is no true or solid reason for such a translation; the proper rendering is gods. But the monotheistic and Christian tendencies of the translators made them set the translation for what they considered to be the best interests of the Christian Church, and their God Almighty; so they translated it in various places by various names, as, for instance, "judges" in Exodus 21:6, 22:8-9, and in many other places; but the essential, intrinsic meaning is always gods, or beings having divine standing.

We now approach in our studies very difficult and, indeed, highly esoteric matters. In the first place, let us never forget that the Elohim, the gods, who are spoken of under various names in the various religions of the ancient world as the creators or rather evolvers or parents of mankind, are spiritual beings -- who are ourselves. And the key to this apparent riddle is found in the doctrine and exposition of the hierarchies of individualized life.

A hierarchy can be considered as an aggregate unit, as a collective entity in the same sense that an army is; nevertheless, an army is composed of units; and yet, again, this army of beings in any one hierarchy is indeed from another aspect more than a mere collective entity, because it is united in its apex, in what is actually the fount of that hierarchy. This fount is the hyparxis or spiritual sun from which all the other nine planes or classes of the hierarchy emanate and evolve down to the lowest, thence beginning a new hierarchy; even as the hyparxis of any one hierarchy is the lowest class or plane of a superior hierarchy, and so practically ad infinitum.

Man is a spiritual being throughout, through and through and through. Matter itself is but one manifestation of spirit. We live in a universe of spirit and, although matter exists, it exists as maya, illusion; not as a mere illusionary nothing, but as something, as a modality, so to say, of spirit. But as we grow higher into the upper planes of the hierarchical scale, the maya, for the sphere of life embraced by that hierarchy, fades away from before our eyes, and we see truth in greater degree and progressively more widely the higher we go.

With regard to the descent into matter, or falling into matter, of mankind, that is to say, the descent into manifested being of the spiritual entities, the spiritual hierarchy which man actually and properly is, we must remember that we cannot understand this profound subject very well without undertaking an outline or sketch, more or less complete, of what are the rounds and races; yet before doing this, we must clear away from our minds certain scientific conceptions, or rather misconceptions, which have been implanted in us by intensive teaching from childhood, and which have for that reason become a part of our mental life.

Two main pillars of our modern science are the following: first, the doctrine of the conservation of energy, that the amount of force or of energy in the universe is constant, and no increase can be created to add unto it, and no amount can be taken away from it. The second great pillar is the doctrine of the correlation, or the convertibility, of forces, that any force can, at least theoretically, be converted into some other force, as mechanical motion into electrical and electrical into mechanical, and so forth as regards the other forces working in matter.

Now these two theories or doctrines of science do make an approach in certain respects to the esoteric conception of the wonderful element back of and causative of all the changes in nature, but nevertheless the conception of the esoteric philosophy cannot accept either of these two doctrinal pillars of science as thus conceived. First, the doctrine of the conservation of energy: it is perfectly true that no "new" force can be "created," and it is likewise perfectly true that no energy or force can ever be utterly lost. Forces are not converted or transformed, as the twin doctrine of science has it; it is possible, however, for a force to pass from one plane of being into another — to come into one plane from a higher or, indeed, from a lower. In other words, it is possible for a force- or energy-element outside of some plane to enter into being and manifestation upon it. Hence, the materialistic doctrine of a universe of dead, lifeless, nonvital matter — nothing above it or beyond it or below it or through it — cannot be accepted by students of the esoteric philosophy.

As regards the correlation or convertibility of energy: it is true, in one sense, that all the forces in the universe are correlated. It is a fundamental axiom of theosophy that the universe, our universe, any universe, is a living organism, and hence that its energies or forces, and all of them, are correlated; but this does not mean that one force can become another. The idea offends the very essence, the very foundation of the esoteric teaching with regard to manifestation, its hierarchies, and individual lives — all offspring of the ONE LIFE. What happens is rather this: that one force is not turned into or converted into another, but evokes or calls forth or arouses into active life or manifestation a "force" which was not "latent" — a curious contradiction of sense — but which was in equilibrium. When the modern scientist speaks of latent or potential energy, it is to the occultist a consummate logical absurdity, the very name energy or force meaning activity, and to talk about a "latent force" is like talking about "latent activity" or "dead life," or a square triangle, or a flat sphere. It is impossible as long as we base our conception on the scientific postulates. But — and note this well, please — an occultist could use this phrase "latent force," because in his mouth the phrase has a meaning and sense.

For instance, a spiritual — hence latent or nonmaterial — force is not "converted" into matter; a material force is not "converted" into spirit. Why? Because spirit and matter, or force and matter, are not two, but fundamentally and essentially ONE. Throughout the long period of manvantaric time there is a gradual evolution of one thing into another, but this procession of life is not accomplished along the lines or by the methods of the scientific theories which apply in the doctrine called the convertibility of material energy. The latter is a dream; it does not exist.

This is, in fact, a subject which we shall have to develop more fully at a later period of our study, but we come now to the question of the descent of spiritual and then ethereal man into matter, down the ten steps of the hierarchical scale. We saw in a former study that this descent was begun by the entrance through a laya-center of the spiritual entities seeking manifestation on lower planes, the time having struck for them to open their great maha-manvantara or the world period which was to follow. As soon as the spiritual essences touched the highest degree of the lower plane, our fourth-matter plane, it stirred the particular laya-center therein, to which they were directed by karmic energy, into corresponding activity or sympathetic life. This first manifestation thereof as seen from the same plane was the nebula, a cloudy nebula; the second stage, aeons later, was a spiral nebula; and the third, aeons still later, was an annular nucleated nebula, like a ring with a globe in the center; the latest stage, before the evolving body settled into life as a planet, was a comet, directed or drawn to that particular solar system or sun to which it was karmically related in the former planetary manvantara.

Now the life cycle or manvantara of a planet consists objectively of seven rounds, or smaller manvantaras, around seven globes; but this is preceded by three elemental cycles — ten in all. The first three stages or cycles, call them the three elemental rounds, if you will, are on the three archetypal planes above the seven. This period is not yet really ethereal manifestation: it is the first descent of the arupa (or bodiless) beings of spiritual nature into subspiritual manifestation; but when the third or lowest of the three archetypal planes has been traversed, by that time the life-wave or life-essence has consolidated sufficiently in ethereal matter to form an airy shape or ethereal globe. This globe thence starts on the manvantaric cycle down into matter, a cycle which proceeds in several stages, actually seven, and upon and in seven globes, as already stated.

During the first round, upon the first globe, the life-wave has to complete a ring consisting of seven root-races on that globe; after, or rather at, the end of the evolution of each root-race, respectively, the root-race's surplus energy is thereupon exploded or protruded into the sphere lower and there forms the first, second, third, etc., element of the second globe of the first round. The life-energy or life-wave has to run a ring of seven root-races in and upon that second globe, and when each such root-race has reached its end there, its surplus energy is thereupon exploded or protruded exactly as before into a magnetic center below it, and the seven there, after all have arrived, form the third globe, and so on till the seven globes are formed. This is the first round. Beginning with the second round on the seven globes, the process is altered in important particulars, because all the seven globes are already formed, as globes.

At the end of the first round there is a planetary obscuration or rest period, when the entities leave the last globe, the seventh, and enter into a (lower) nirvanic period of manvantaric repose, answering to the devachanic or between-life states of the human entity between its respective lives. And so also at the end of the second round, and of the third, when we reach the fourth, which is our present round.

As the life-wave cycles down into matter, it grows with every yuga (or age) grosser and more material, until the middle of the fourth round (ours), when it begins to ascend. Every round is grosser than its preceding one until the present, our fourth, the most material, is reached. This descent is called the shadowy arc, or cycle of darkness. We have, already, passed the lowest or middle period of the fourth round, and in consequence now have begun the ascending arc, or the luminous arc. We have three and a half more rounds to run before we reach the end of the kalpa, or planetary manvantara, when the great nirvana or paranirvana of the entire septenary planetary chain of the seven globes takes place.

epicycloid

Now as regards the geometrical outline of the course followed by this descent into matter, we may consider it to be in the form of an epicycloid. Let me try to explain diagrammatically what is here meant by an epicycloid. An epicycloid is formed when a point on a small circle, which runs around and upon the convex side of the circumference of a larger circle, traces a curve which touches the circumference of the larger circle at the beginning and end of each revolution of the smaller circle thereupon, as at A and B in the figure. The curve AB is the epicycloid. For instance, this figure shows the two circles: we will say that the point on the smaller circle begins its curve at A, rolling upwards to the left; at B the point on the smaller circle has completed a full revolution; the curve AB is the epicycloid.

Any point on this smaller circle as the latter rolls along the outside of the circumference of the larger circle will describe or generate a curve, which is an epicycloid. There is a geometrical relation between the commensurable radii of any two circles: for instance, if the radius of this smaller circle is one and the radius of the larger circle is seven, the proportion being 1 : 7, the rolling point will describe or generate seven arcs or cusps around and upon the circumference of the larger circle.

Each one of these seven arcs represents here, geometrically, a globe of a round. (Equally well does it represent geometrically one of the seven root-races on each globe during any round.) In the first round, the life-wave, starting from the seventh or highest plane, after its third full elemental cycle of and in the arupa world, begins to form the rupa or form world; and as the smaller circle rolls along the circumference of the greater cycle, so to say, the life-wave (or globe) progressively grows more material, each one of these arcs which the cycling smaller circle makes on the circumference of the greater, representing a sphere of being, and also geometrically represents the life-wave of the planet beginning the evolution of material existence, "rising upward" or increasing in material density until it reaches its maximum of materiality, and then "descending" or decreasing in materiality until it again touches the plane of departure, the circumference of the greater circle (or cycle).

The process by which the spirit descends into matter is called in Sanskrit pravritti (which we may paraphrase into English as "earth-birth," or "earth-day"), practically the same word as evolution or emanation in our modern tongues; and the process of entering upon or ascending along the luminous arc, ultimately to find itself home again in the spiritual world, is called nivritti. Both words are from the Sanskrit root vrit, meaning "to revolve" or "to roll." The prefix pra answers to the preposition "forth" or "forward," and the prefix ni to the prepositional phrases "out of," "away from," hence backwards, or reverse action. Pravritti is therefore used to mean the evolution or emanation of matter, which is equivalent to the involution of spirit; nivritti, the evolution of spirit — the reverse process.

What are the durations of the time periods during which the life-wave manifests in the manvantara of seven rounds, and in the seven respective planets of each round? As H. P. Blavatsky has told us, the doctrines concerning the time periods have been from immemorial time considered too esoteric to be given to the outward world in anything at all approaching fullness of teaching or detail, but throughout the teachings that have been openly given there are many hints of immense value. For instance, the time required for one round — that is, the cycle from globe A to the last globe of the seven (we will call it Z), starting from the root-Manu or collective "humanity" of globe A and ending with the seed-Manu or collective "humanity" of globe Z — is called a round-manvantara, and its period is 306,720,000 years. It is called manvantara because it is the "reign of one Manu" — say, a certain quality of humanity. Now this word manvantara is Sanskrit and means "between Manus," i.e., between a root-Manu on globe A and the seed-Manu on globe Z, for a round-manvantara. Now to this period of 306,720,000 years must be added the length of the sandhi, meaning "connection," or "junction," or interval, according to a certain method of calculation, necessary in order fully to complete the evolution of the planet for the round; this sandhi is of the length of a krita yuga, or 1,728,000 years, which brings the complete period or term of a round-manvantara to 308,448,000 years of mortals. As has already been stated, there is, after the end of every round, an obscuration which also lasts for a certain period which we do not here specify.

But how long a period do the seven rounds take for their course? What is the period of a maha-manvantara, or great manvantara, sometimes called a kalpa, after which the globes no longer go into mere obscuration or repose, but die utterly? The period of the maha-manvantara or kalpa is also called a Day of Brahma, and its length is 4,320,000,000; and the Night of Brahma, the planetary rest period, which is also called the paranirvanic period, is of equal length. Seven rounds, as said, form a Day of Brahma.

These figures are the Brahmanical figures, and they are also the figures of esoteric Buddhism (for we insist that Buddhism has an esoteric doctrine). The root-number 432, as any student knows, is also found in the chronological doctrines of ancient Babylonia; it is likewise the real meaning in the chronological line of the Pythagorean Tetraktys, 1--2--3--4, the 432 springing from the unity or monad, a subject of which we spoke in our last study.

We are also told that the duration of a planet's life, i.e., of a planetary chain of seven globes, is one of 360 divine Days, corresponding to a divine Year, and that Brahma's Life (or the life of the universal system) is one hundred of those divine Years — expressed in 15 figures of years of mortals. A planetary manvantara is also related to the duration of life of a solar system; a planetary manvantara (or seven rounds) is a Day of Brahma, as already said; each of these Days lasting 4,320,000,000 years of mortals, which really means the lifetime of a planet during its seven rounds, and corresponding to one incarnation of a human life on earth.

How long, then, does Brahma live in any one of his manifested universes, which we know are called the "outbreathings of the Self-Existent"? We can calculate it — 4,320,000,000 times 100, times 360, or in other words, 36,000, lives has any planet to live before the prakritika-pralaya (or the elemental pralaya) sets in, the end of that life (or pravritti) of the universal system.

What happens when comes the end of a solar system? At a former meeting we spoke of the "bells of pralaya." It was with no intention of attempting to be rhetorical, or of employing oratorical phraseology that we used this phrase. We have no such ambition. We chose the words because the teachings are that when the great (or maha-) pralaya comes upon the planets of any system and their sun, then strange noises of various kinds are heard in the air of a planet belonging to such a solar system; and these noises are repeated in miniature, so to say, not only at the end of the planetary manvantara (or the lifetime of the planet), but also in still smaller miniature at the end of every round. These phenomena are also alluded to in other religions than the Indian, as for instance in the Christian and Jewish: in Revelation, 6:14; and in Isaiah, 34:4. The Christian writers speak of the time, 2 Peter, 3:10, 12-13, when the "elements shall melt with fervent heat," and "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise," but they "look for new heavens and a new earth" — or a new planetary manvantara — and allude to pralaya as the time when "the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together," etc. These allusions to pralayic disintegration are figurative to a certain extent, but are sufficiently along the lines of the ancient Eastern thought to show us whence they came — from the archaic wisdom-religion (theosophy) of the Orient. We are told that some of the strange noises that will occur towards the end of the prakritika-manvantara, before the cosmic or prakritika-pralaya sets in, are strange hollow boomings, strange cracklings as of musketry fire, strange bell-like ringings as of the snapping of immense metallic belts.

Now the sun is both the heart and the brain of our solar system, and sends seven-faceted life into every atom of its universe, the solar universe of which we and our planet Terra are a part. The sun itself is in some respects a vampire, but it is also preeminently and essentially a life-giver. It is, cosmogonically, our elder brother, and not at all our physical parent as modern scientific wiseacres would have it. It is also in a vital sense our father-mother, because through it, from planes superior to our own, come down the life-streams from worlds (systems) above ours — yet our planet, as all the other planets, also in a relative degree receives these life-streams, as every individual atom and every human being, in the smallest miniature thereof, receives the same individually from the Inmost of the Inmost within itself or himself. This is, as you will remember was stated in former studies the same spiritual life; but cosmically, that is to say, with regard to the universe, the sun is the brain and heart of our system, vitalizing and informing the endless hosts of beings under its systemic sway.

We do not see the (true) sun. The sun is not burning, or incandescent. Heat exists around the sun, but it is not from burning gases or incandescence. We see the sun's robes, or reflection, but we do not see the sun itself. It is, in very truth, a spiritual thing, and we think we receive our entire supply of heat and light from it because the forces flowing from the sun act in conjunction and reactively with the forces on our own earth — forces working in the universal nature around us. If most of our light is due to the sun, this is not the case with 75 percent of the heat which we receive, which comes — most of it — from our own globe and its forces, and especially from the immensely thick clouds of cosmic dust which fills all space. The electromagnetic forces at work between this cosmic dust and our earth furnish most of the terrestrial heat.

I wish this evening before closing to call your attention to the fact that the ancient initiate-astronomers, when speaking of the seven sacred spheres of our universe — the seven or nine in which the bodies of the solar system and the stars were set, beyond which was the Empyrean or the fiery sphere — desired to convey a meaning which is now lost, for the masses. There was a meaning of deep and wide significance also in their geocentric teachings. They knew as well as do we (and we have proofs of it), that the earth and the other planets whirl around the sun in elliptical orbits, but they had a reason for teaching the geocentric doctrines in public, and some day we shall have need to go into an analysis and proof of this assertion.

Let us close our evening's study in calling attention to the fact that theosophy is a doctrine of hope; it is a doctrine of spirituality; it is a doctrine which refines and elevates man; it is a doctrine in which there is room for the humblest to understand something and for the brightest and highest and most spiritual of us to put our feet on the lowest steps of that spiritual stair along which we may climb in hierarchical ascendings up to the highest, not only in our own planet, hand in hand with the great Buddhas of former times and of the times to come, but beyond our planet and beyond our own solar system into those illimitable spiritual spheres in which the solar system now exists, and through which we derive our life — spiritual, mental, psychical, pranic, and physical.


Chapter 10

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