The Path – August 1894

HOW TO STUDY THE "SECRET DOCTRINE": II — J. H. Fussell

If, as has been claimed, the three fundamental propositions constitute a key to the study of the Secret Doctrine, the student should endeavor to apply these not merely to the philosophy as a whole, but to each and every department and special topic and to the linking of these together. Only by so doing can the true relations between the latter be found, and the place and importance of each in respect to the whole. It must therefore be borne in mind that these propositions apply to the whole manifested Cosmos, to Universes, worlds, and men, to all planes of the Cosmos as well as to all kingdoms of Nature; that back of all manifestation is the One Reality, one common Source; that guiding all manifestation is one Universal Law; and that the working of this one Law and the line of evolution are fundamentally the same in all cases.

A study of the great systems of ancient philosophy would show that underlying each are these same propositions, or some phases of them which, although differently expressed, embody the same fundamental ideas. In some instances these have been put into the form of aphorisms, which to a great extent are the keynotes of the systems in which they are so expressed. Such, for instance, are the following: "As above, so below", from the Hermetic school of philosophy; "Man is the Microcosm of the Macrocosm", from the ancient Hindu philosophy; both of these aphorisms are expressions of what is known as the "Law of Correspondences" which was used by all the great Hindu philosophers and to a greater or less degree by more modern writers, e.g., some of the early Church Fathers, and by Boehme, Swedenborg, and others. It will easily be seen that these aphorisms are dependent upon the fundamental propositions of the Secret Doctrine, and in a measure contain or imply the latter. Then there is the Cabalistic saying, "A stone becomes a plant; a plant, a beast; a beast, a man; and man, a god". This particular statement is, however, only a partial statement of the third proposition; it is only a partial statement of evolution. It goes further than the modern scientific statement of evolution in that it does not stop at man, but it makes no statement of the stages of evolution preceding the mineral; it only begins at the lowest point of the cycle of evolution, omitting the elemental kingdoms on the downward arc. The above statements and many others are constantly referred to in the Secret Doctrine, and by presenting these fundamentals in different aspects the student who learns to connect them together is better enabled to comprehend the methods and working of Nature and also that to us most vital problem — man's place in Nature. Furthermore, these various statements furnish an additional argument for the Wisdom Religion's being the fountain of Truth from which all streams of Truth have sprung.

It is necessary, then, to examine these aphorisms and to include them as part of the key of which we are in search. In a letter from a Master to Mr. A. P. Sinnett advice is given to the student to hold to the doctrine of analogy and correspondences. (1)

Everything follows analogy. "As above, so below." Man is the Microcosm of the Universe. That which takes place on the spiritual plane repeats itself on the Cosmic plane. Concretion follows the lines of abstraction; corresponding to the highest must be the lowest; the material to the spiritual. (2)

If man indeed be the Microcosm of the Macrocosm, a copy in miniature of the Universe, we can well understand the value of the injunction given by the Delphi Oracle, "Know Thyself!", and the student of the Secret Doctrine cannot fail to notice the frequent application therein of knowledge about man to the elucidation of the mysteries of the Cosmos. In the same way knowledge of Nature as a whole gives us a knowledge of Nature's miniature, man. The study of man and the study of Nature must be pursued together, hand in hand; if we would understand one we must understand both, each one in relation to the other.

Not only is man the Microcosm of the Macrocosm, but each molecule, each atom, as well as each world and each system of worlds, mirrors the whole Universe; and each individual monad, each spark of the Universal Over-Soul, whether informing a world, a man, or an atom, is a mirror of the Universal Over-Soul.

"Lift thy head, O Lanoo; dost thou see one or countless lights burning in the dark midnight sky?"
"I sense one Flame, oh Gurudeva, I see countless undetached sparks shining in it."
"Thou sayest well. And now look around and into thyself. That light which burns inside thee, dost thou feel it different in anywise from the light that shines in thy Brother-men?"
"It is in no way different, though the prisoner is field in bondage by Karma, and though its outer garments delude the ignorant into saying 'Thy Soul and my Soul'."

The radical unity of the ultimate essence of each constituent part of compounds in Nature — from Star to mineral Atom, from the highest Dhyan Chohan to the smallest infusoria, in the fullest acceptation of the term, and whether applied to the spiritual, intellectual, or physical worlds — this is the one fundamental law in Occult Science. (3)

This fundamental law in Occult Science is the basis of the "Law of Correspondences", which in so many cases has been hit upon by Mystics and used by them intuitionally and, very often it would seem, fancifully. And being acquired merely intuitionally, and no basis or foundation being given, this law has come to be regarded by many as a mere empiricism. All through the Secret Doctrine this law is held to, and it is illustrated to such an extent that it rests with the student himself to test whether it be a law or not. Let the student hold to the doctrine of analogy and correspondences. The Law of Correspondences does not merely hold on one and the same plane, as, for instance, in the case of man and Nature, the physical external man corresponds to physical external Nature, the astral man to the astral side of Nature, etc., but there is also a correspondence between different planes, and action and reaction from plane to plane. Manifestation takes place on four planes, which are phenomenal and rupic (rupa=form), while above these are three arupa or formless planes, where form ceases to exist and which cannot become objective to us. The three higher planes are noumenal and subjective, the four lower are phenomenal, and are, or may be, objective to us. The seven planes represent the seven states of Cosmic consciousness, the three higher planes being inaccessible to human intellect as developed at present". "These seven planes correspond to the seven states of consciousness in man." (4) All ultimate causes originate on the higher planes, and pass from plane to plane to the lowest which is the plane of ultimate effects, whence there may again be reaction on the higher planes. That which may appear as an effect on any plane, due to a cause on a higher plane, may itself act as a cause in reference to a still lower plane. In this way there is correspondence from plane to plane, and in this way all manifestation proceeds, from plane to plane; from within, without. And although very few who can see into the astral and psychic planes of Nature can connect these with the physical plane, or rise to the purely spiritual, yet no links are missing between them, and it is only by a comprehension of the Law of Correspondences that it is possible to connect them together. The varied aspects of Nature, the many phases of development which we see in all the kingdoms of Nature and which exist on all the phenomenal planes; the hierarchies of beings — gods, men, elementals — which represent the stages of the development of the soul, are all links in the endless chain of manifestation. Destroy one link and the chain would be destroyed; but granting continuity, granting the law of cause and effect — Karma, it follows that the Law of Correspondences must also hold good, and we shall be wise if we follow the advice of the Master and hold to it as a guide in our studies.

(To be continued)

FOOTNOTES:

1. Secret Doctrine, I, 187 (new edition, I, 210). (return to text)

2. Secret Doctrine, I, 177 (new edition, I, 200). (return to text)

3. Secret Doctrine, I, 120 (new edition, I. 145). (return to text)

4. Secret Doctrine, I, pp. 199-200 (new edition, p. 2:1). (return to text)


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