Theosophical University Press Online Edition
1. The last vibration of the seventh eternity thrills through infinitude (a). The mother swells, expanding from within without like the bud of the lotus (b).
(a) The seemingly paradoxical use of the sentence “Seventh Eternity,” thus dividing the indivisible, is sanctified in esoteric philosophy. The latter divides boundless duration into unconditionally eternal and universal Time and a conditioned one (Khandakala). One is the abstraction or noumenon of infinite time (Kala); the other its phenomenon appearing periodically, as the effect of Mahat (the Universal Intelligence limited by Manvantaric duration). With some schools, Mahat is “the first-born” of Pradhana (undifferentiated substance, or the periodical aspect of Mulaprakriti, the root of Nature), which (Pradhana) is called Maya, the Illusion. In this respect, I believe, esoteric teaching differs from the Vedantin doctrines of both the Adwaita and the Visishtadwaita schools. For it says that, while Mulaprakriti, the noumenon, is self-existing and without any origin — is, in short, parentless, Anupadaka (as one with Brahmam) — Prakriti, its phenomenon, is periodical and no better than a phantasm of the former, so Mahat, with the Occultists, the first-born of Gnana (or gnosis) knowledge, wisdom or the Logos — is a phantasm reflected from the Absolute nirguna (Parabrahm, the one reality, “devoid of attributes and qualities”; see Upanishads); while with some Vedantins Mahat is a manifestation of Prakriti, or Matter.
(b) Therefore, the “last vibration of the Seventh Eternity” was “fore-ordained” — by no God in particular, but occurred in virtue of the eternal and changeless Law which causes the great periods of Activity and Rest, called so graphically, and at the same time so poetically, the “Days and Nights of Brahma.” The expansion “from within without” of the Mother, called elsewhere the “Waters of Space,” “Universal Matrix,” etc., does not allude to an expansion from a small centre or focus, but, without reference to size or limitation or area, means the development of limitless subjectivity into as limitless objectivity. “The ever (to us) invisible and immaterial Substance present in eternity, threw its periodical shadow from its own plane into the lap
of Maya.” It implies that this expansion, not being an increase in size — for infinite extension admits of no enlargement — was a change of condition. It “expanded like the bud of the Lotus”; for the Lotus plant exists not only as a miniature embryo in its seed (a physical characteristic), but its prototype is present in an ideal form in the Astral Light from “Dawn” to “Night” during the Manvantaric period, like everything else, as a matter of fact, in this objective Universe; from man down to mite, from giant trees down to the tiniest blades of grass.
All this, teaches the hidden Science, is but the temporary reflection, the shadow of the eternal ideal prototype in Divine Thought; the word “Eternal,” note well again, standing here only in the sense of “AEon,” as lasting throughout the seemingly interminable, but still limited cycle of activity, called by us Manvantara. For what is the real esoteric meaning of Manvantara, or rather a Manu-Antara? It means, esoterically, “between two Manus,” of whom there are fourteen in every “Day of Brahma,” such a “Day” consisting of 1,000 aggregates of four ages, or 1,000 “Great Ages,” Mahayugas. Let us now analyse the word or name Manu. Orientalists and their Dictionaries tell us that the term “Manu” is from the root Man, “to think”; hence “the thinking man.” But, esoterically, every Manu, as an anthropomorphized patron of his special cycle (or Round), is but the personified idea of the “Thought Divine” (as the Hermetic “Pymander”); each of the Manus, therefore, being the special god, the creator and fashioner of all that appears during his own respective cycle of being or Manvantara. Fohat runs the Manus’ (or Dhyan-Chohans’) errands, and causes the ideal prototypes to expand from within without — viz., to cross gradually, on a descending scale, all the planes from the noumenon to the lowest phenomenon, to bloom finally on the last into full objectivity — the acme of illusion, or the grossest matter.
2. The vibration sweeps along, touching with its swift wing (simultaneously) the whole universe, and the germ that dwelleth in darkness: the darkness that breathes (moves) over the slumbering waters of life (a).
(a) The Pythagorean Monad is also said to dwell in solitude and darkness like the “germ.” The idea of the “breath” of Darkness moving over “the slumbering Waters of life,” which is primordial matter with the latent Spirit in it, recalls the first chapter of Genesis. Its original is the Brahminical Narayana (the mover on the Waters), who is the personification of the eternal Breath of the unconscious All (or Parabrahm) of the Eastern Occultists. The Waters of Life, or Chaos — the female principle in symbolism — are the vacuum (to our mental sight) in which lie the latent Spirit and Matter. This it was that made Democritus assert, after his instructor Leucippus, that the primordial principles of all were atoms and a vacuum, in the sense of space, but not of empty space, as “Nature abhors a vacuum” according to the Peripatetics, and every ancient philosopher.
In all Cosmogonies “Water” plays the same important part. It is the base and source of material existence. Scientists, mistaking the word for the thing, understood by water the definite chemical combination of oxygen and hydrogen, thus giving a specific meaning to a term used by Occultists in a generic sense, and which is used in Cosmogony with a metaphysical and mystical meaning. Ice is not water, neither is steam, although all three have precisely the same chemical composition.
3. “Darkness” radiates light, and light drops one solitary ray into the waters, into the mother deep. The ray shoots through the virgin-egg; the ray causes the eternal egg to thrill, and drop the non-eternal (periodical) germ, which condenses into the world egg (a).
(a) The solitary ray dropping into the mother deep may be taken as meaning Divine Thought or Intelligence, impregnating chaos. This, however, occurs on the plane of metaphysical abstraction, or rather the plane whereon that which we call a metaphysical abstraction is a reality. The Virgin-egg being in one sense abstract Egg-ness, or the power of becoming developed through fecundation, is eternal and for ever the same. And just as the fecundation of an egg takes place before it is dropped; so the non-eternal periodical germ which becomes later in
symbolism the mundane egg, contains in itself, when it emerges from the said symbol, “the promise and potency” of all the Universe. Though the idea per se is, of course, an abstraction, a symbolical mode of expression, it is a symbol truly, as it suggests the idea of infinity as an endless circle. It brings before the mind’s eye the picture of Kosmos emerging from and in boundless space, a Universe as shoreless in magnitude if not as endless in its objective manifestation. The simile of an egg also expresses the fact taught in Occultism that the primordial form of everything manifested, from atom to globe, from man to angel, is spheroidal, the sphere having been with all nations the emblem of eternity and infinity — a serpent swallowing its tail. To realize the meaning, however, the sphere must be thought of as seen from its centre. The field of vision or of thought is like a sphere whose radii proceed from one’s self in every direction, and extend out into space, opening up boundless vistas all around. It is the symbolical circle of Pascal and the Kabalists, “whose centre is everywhere and circumference nowhere,” a conception which enters into the compound idea of this emblem.
The “Mundane Egg” is, perhaps, one of the most universally adopted symbols, highly suggestive as it is, equally in the spiritual, physiological, and cosmological sense. Therefore, it is found in every world-theogony, where it is largely associated with the serpent symbol; the latter being everywhere, in philosophy as in religious symbolism, an emblem of eternity, infinitude, regeneration, and rejuvenation, as well as of wisdom. (See Part II. “Tree and Serpent and Crocodile Worship.”) The mystery of apparent self-generation and evolution through its own creative power repeating in miniature the process of Cosmic evolution in the egg, both being due to heat and moisture under the efflux of the unseen creative spirit, justified fully the selection of this graphic symbol. The “Virgin Egg” is the microcosmic symbol of the macrocosmic prototype — the “Virgin Mother” — Chaos or the Primeval Deep. The male Creator (under whatever name) springs forth from the Virgin female, the immaculate root fructified by the Ray. Who, if versed in astronomy and natural sciences, can fail to see its suggestiveness? Cosmos as receptive Nature is an Egg fructified — yet left immaculate; once regarded as boundless, it could have no other representation than a spheroid. The Golden Egg was surrounded by seven natural elements (ether, fire, air, water), “four ready, three secret.” It may be found
stated in Vishnu Purana, where elements are translated “Envelopes” and a secret one is added: “Aham-kara” (see Wilson’s Vishnu Purana, Book I., p. 40). The original text has no “Aham-kara;” it mentions seven Elements without specifying the last three (see Part II. on “The Mundane Egg”).
4. (Then) the three (triangle) fall into the four (quaternary). The radiant essence becomes seven inside, seven outside (a). The luminous egg (Hiranyagarbha), which in itself is three (the triple hypostases of Brahma, or Vishnu, the three “Avasthas”), curdles and spreads in milk-white curds throughout the depths of mother, the root that grows in the ocean of life (b).
The use of geometrical figures and the frequent allusions to figures in all ancient scriptures (see Puranas, Egyptian papyri, the “Book of the Dead” and even the Bible) must be explained. In the “Book of Dzyan,” as in the Kabala, there are two kinds of numerals to be studied — the figures, often simple blinds, and the Sacred Numbers, the values of which are all known to the Occultists through Initiation. The former is but a conventional glyph, the latter is the basic symbol of all. That is to say, that one is purely physical, the other purely metaphysical, the two standing in relation to each other as matter stands to spirit — the extreme poles of the one Substance.
As Balzac, the unconscious Occultist of French literature, says somewhere, the Number is to Mind the same as it is to matter: “an incomprehensible agent;” (perhaps so to the profane, never to the Initiated mind). Number is, as the great writer thought, an Entity, and, at the same time, a Breath emanating from what he called God and what we call the all; the breath which alone could organize the physical Kosmos, “where naught obtains its form but through the Deity, which is an effect of Number.” It is instructive to quote Balzac’s words upon this subject: —
“The smallest as the most immense creations, are they not to be distinguished from each other by their quantities, their qualities, their dimensions, their forces and attributes, all begotten by the Number? The infinitude of the Numbers is a fact proven to our mind, but of which no proof can be physically
given. The mathematician will tell us that the infinitude of the numbers exists but is not to be demonstrated. God is a Number endowed with motion, which is felt but not demonstrated. As Unity, it begins the Numbers, with which it has nothing in common. . . . . The existence of the Number depends on Unity, which, without a single Number, begets them all. . . . . What! unable either to measure the first abstraction yielded to you by the Deity, or to get hold of it, you still hope to subject to your measurements the mystery of the Secret Sciences which emanate from that Deity? . . . . And what would you feel, were I to plunge you into the abysses of Motion, the Force which organizes the Number? What would you think, were I to add that Motion and Number* are begotten by the word, the Supreme Reason of the Seers and Prophets, who, in days of old, sensed the mighty Breath of God, a witness to which is the Apocalypse?”
(b) “The radiant essence curdled and spread throughout the depths” of Space. From an astronomical point of view this is easy of explanation: it is the “milky way,” the world-stuff, or primordial matter in its first form. It is more difficult, however, to explain it in a few words or even lines, from the standpoint of Occult Science and Symbolism, as it is the most complicated of glyphs. Herein are enshrined more than a dozen symbols. To begin with, the whole pantheon of mysterious objects,† every one of them having some definite Occult meaning, extracted from the allegorical “churning of the ocean” by the Hindu gods. Besides Amrita, the water of life or immortality, “Surabhi” the “cow of plenty,” called “the fountain of milk and curds,” was extracted from this “Sea of Milk.” Hence the universal adoration of the cow and bull, one the productive, the other the generative power in Nature: symbols connected with both the Solar and the Cosmic deities. The specific properties, for occult purposes, of the “fourteen precious things,” being explained only at the fourth Initiation, cannot be given here; but the following may be remarked. In the “Satapatha Brahmana” it is stated that the churning of the “Ocean of Milk” took place in the Satya Yug, the first age which immediately followed the “Deluge.” As, however, neither the Rig-Veda nor
* Number, truly; but never Motion. It is Motion which begets the Logos, the Word, in occultism.
† The “Fourteen precious things.” The narrative or allegory is found in the Satapatha Brahmana and others. The Japanese Secret Science of the Buddhist Mystics, the Yamabooshi, has “seven precious things.” We will speak of them, hereafter.
Manu — both preceding Vaivasvata’s “deluge,” that of the bulk of the Fourth Race — mention this deluge, it is evident that it is not the “great” deluge, nor that which carried away Atlantis, nor even the deluge of Noah, which is meant here. This “churning” relates to a period before the earth’s formation, and is in direct connection with that other universal legend, the various and contradictory versions of which culminated in the Christian dogma of the “War in Heaven,” and the fall of the Angels (see Book II., also Revelations chap. xii.). The Brahmanas, reproached by the Orientalists with their versions on the same subjects, often clashing with each other, are pre-eminently occult works, hence used purposely as blinds. They were allowed to survive for public use and property only because they were and are absolutely unintelligible to the masses. Otherwise they would have disappeared from circulation as long ago as the days of Akbar.
5. The root remains, the light remains, the curds remain, and still Oeaohoo (a) is one (b).
(a) Oeaohoo is rendered “Father-Mother of the Gods” in the Commentaries, or the six in one, or the septenary root from which all proceeds. All depends upon the accent given to these seven vowels, which may be pronounced as one, three, or even seven syllables by adding an e after the letter “o.” This mystic name is given out, because without a thorough mastery of the triple pronunciation it remains for ever ineffectual.
(b) This refers to the Non-Separateness of all that lives and has its being, whether in active or passive state. In one sense, Oeaohoo is the “Rootless Root of All”; hence, one with Parabrahmam; in another sense it is a name for the manifested one life, the Eternal living Unity. The “Root” means, as already explained, pure knowledge (Sattva),*
* The original for Understanding is Sattva, which Sankara (acharya) renders antahkarana. “Refined,” he says, “by sacrifices and other sanctifying operations.” In the Katha, at p. 148, Sattva is said by Sankara to mean buddhi — a common use of the word. (“The Bhagavatgita with The Sanatsugatiya and The Anugita,” trans- [[Footnote continued on next page]]
eternal (Nitya) unconditioned reality or sat (Satya), whether we call it Parabrahmam or Mulaprakriti, for these are the two aspects of the one. The “Light” is the same Omnipresent Spiritual Ray, which has entered and now fecundated the Divine Egg, and calls cosmic matter to begin its long series of differentiations. The curds are the first differentiation, and probably refer also to that cosmic matter which is supposed to be the origin of the “Milky Way” — the matter we know. This “matter,” which, according to the revelation received from the primeval Dhyani-Buddhas, is, during the periodical sleep of the Universe, of the ultimate tenuity conceivable to the eye of the perfect Bodhisatva — this matter, radical and cool, becomes, at the first reawakening of cosmic motion, scattered through Space; appearing, when seen from the Earth, in clusters and lumps, like curds in thin milk. These are the seeds of the future worlds, the “Star-stuff.”
6. The root of life was in every drop of the ocean of immortality (Amrita)* and the ocean was radiant light, which was fire and heat and motion. Darkness vanished and was no more.† It disappeared in its own essence, the body of fire and water, of father and mother (a).
(a) The essence of darkness being absolute light, Darkness is taken as the appropriate allegorical representation of the condition of the Universe during Pralaya, or the term of absolute rest, or non-being, as it appears to our finite minds. The “fire,” “heat,” and “motion” here spoken of, are, of course, not the fire, heat, and motion of physical science, but the underlying abstractions, the noumena, or the soul, of the essence of these material manifestations — the “things in themselves,” which, as modern science confesses, entirely elude the instru-
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] lated by Kashinath Trimbak Telang, M.A.; edited by Max Muller.) Whatever meaning various schools may give the term, Sattva is the name given among Occult students of the Aryasanga School to the dual Monad or Atma-buddhi, and Atma-buddhi on this plane corresponds to Parabrahm and Mulaprakriti on the higher plane.
* Amrita is “immortality.”
† See Commentary No. 1 to this Stanza.
ments of the laboratory, and which even the mind cannot grasp, although it can equally little avoid the conclusion that these underlying essences of things must exist. Fire and Water, or Father* and Mother, may be taken here to mean the divine Ray and Chaos. “Chaos, from this union with Spirit obtaining sense, shone with pleasure, and thus was produced the Protogonos (the first-born light),” says a fragment of Hermas. Damascius calls it Dis in “Theogony” — “The disposer of all things.” (See Cory’s “Ancient Fragments,” p. 314.)
According to the Rosicrucian tenets, as handled and explained by the profane for once correctly, if only partially, so “Light and Darkness are identical in themselves, being only divisible in the human mind”; and according to Robert Fludd, “Darkness adopted illumination in order to make itself visible” (On Rosenkranz). According to the tenets of Eastern Occultism, Darkness is the one true actuality, the basis and the root of light, without which the latter could never manifest itself, nor even exist. Light is matter, and Darkness pure Spirit. Darkness, in its radical, metaphysical basis, is subjective and absolute light; while the latter in all its seeming effulgence and glory, is merely a mass of shadows, as it can never be eternal, and is simply an illusion, or Maya.
Even in the mind-baffling and science-harassing Genesis, light is created out of darkness “and darkness was upon the face of the deep” (ch. i. v. 2.) — and not vice versa. “In him (in darkness) was life; and the life was the light of men” (John i. 4). A day may come when the eyes of men will be opened; and then they may comprehend better than they do now, that verse in the Gospel of John that says “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehendeth it not.” They will see then that the word “darkness” does not apply to man’s spiritual eyesight, but indeed to “Darkness,” the absolute, that comprehendeth not (cannot cognize) transient light, however transcendent to human eyes. Demon est Deus inversus. The devil is now called Darkness by the Church, whereas, in the Bible he is called the “Son of God” (see Job), the bright star of the early morning, Lucifer (see Isaiah). There is a whole philosophy of dogmatic craft in the reason why the first Archangel, who sprang from the depths of Chaos, was called Lux (Lucifer), the “Luminous Son of the Morning,” or man-
* See “Kwan-Shai-Yin.” The real name from the text cannot be given.
vantaric Dawn. He was transformed by the Church into Lucifer or Satan, because he is higher and older than Jehovah, and had to be sacrificed to the new dogma. (See Book II.)
7. Behold, oh Lanoo!† the radiant Child of the two, the unparalleled refulgent Glory, Bright Space, Son of Dark Space, who emerges from the depths of the great Dark Waters. It is Oeaohoo, the Younger, the * * * (whom thou knowest now as Kwan-Shai-Yin. — Comment) (a). He shines forth as the Sun. He is the blazing Divine Dragon of Wisdom. The Eka is Chatur (four), and Chatur takes to itself three, and the union produces the Sapta (seven) in whom are the seven which become the Tridasa‡ (the thrice ten) the hosts and the multitudes (b). Behold him lifting the Veil, and unfurling it from East to West. He shuts out the above and leaves the below to be seen as the great Illusion. He marks the places for the shining ones (stars) and turns the upper (space) into a shoreless Sea of Fire, and the One manifested (element) into the Great Waters (c).
“Bright Space, son of dark Space,” corresponds to the Ray dropped at the first thrill of the new “Dawn” into the great Cosmic depths, from which it re-emerges differentiated as Oeaohoo the younger, (the “new LIFE”), to become, to the end of the life-cycle, the germ of all things. He is “the Incorporeal man who contains in himself the divine Idea,” — the generator of Light and Life, to use an expression of Philo Judaeus. He is called the “Blazing Dragon of Wisdom,”
† Lanoo is a student, a chela who studies practical Esotericism.
‡ “Tri-dasa,” or three times ten (30), alludes to the Vedic deities, in round numbers, or more accurately 33 — a sacred number. They are the 12 Adityas, the 8 Vasus, the 11 Rudras, and 2 Aswins — the twin sons of the Sun and the Sky. This is the root-number of the Hindu Pantheon, which enumerates 33 crores or over three hundred millions of gods and goddesses.
because, firstly, he is that which the Greek philosophers called the Logos, the Verbum of the Thought Divine; and secondly, because in Esoteric philosophy this first manifestation, being the synthesis or the aggregate of Universal Wisdom, Oeaohoo, “the Son of the Son,” contains in himself the Seven Creative Hosts (The Sephiroth), and is thus the essence of manifested Wisdom. “He who bathes in the light of Oeaohoo will never be deceived by the veil of Maya.”
Kwan-Shai-Yin is identical with, and an equivalent of the Sanskrit Avalokiteshwara, and as such he is an androgynous deity, like the Tetragrammaton and all the Logoi* of antiquity. It is only by some sects in China that he is anthropomorphized and represented with female attributes,† when, under his female aspect, he becomes Kwan-Yin, the goddess of mercy, called the “Divine Voice.”‡ The latter is the patron deity of Thibet and of the island of Puto in China, where both deities have a number of monasteries.§ (See Part II. Kwan-Shai-Yin and Kwan-yin.)
* Hence all the higher gods of antiquity are all “Sons of the Mother” before they become those of the “Father.” The Logoi, like Jupiter or Zeus, Son of Kronos-Saturn, “Infinite Time” (or Kala), in their origin were represented as male-female. Zeus is said to be the “beautiful Virgin,” and Venus is made bearded. Apollo is originally bisexual, so is Brahma-Vach in Manu and the Puranas. Osiris is interchangeable with Isis, and Horus is of both sexes. Finally St. John’s vision in Revelation, that of the Logos, who is now connected with Jesus — is hermaphrodite, for he is described as having female breasts. So is the Tetragrammaton = Jehovah. But there are two Avalokiteshwaras in Esotericism; the first and the second Logos.
† No religious symbol can escape profanation and even derision in our days of politics and Science. In Southern India the writer has seen a converted native making pujah with offerings before a statue of Jesus clad in woman’s clothes and with a ring in his nose. When asking the meaning of the masquerade we were answered that it was Jesu-Maria blended in one, and that it was done by the permission of the Padri, as the zealous convert had no money to purchase two statues or “idols” as they, very properly, were called by a witness — another but a non-converted Hindu. Blasphemous this will appear to a dogmatic Christian, but the Theosophist and the Occultist must award the palm of logic to the converted Hindu. The esoteric Christos in the gnosis is, of course, sexless, but in exoteric theology he is male and female.
‡ The Gnostic Sophia, “Wisdom” who is “the Mother” of the Ogdoad (Aditi, in a certain sense, with her eight sons), is the Holy Ghost and the Creator of all, as in the ancient systems. The “father” is a far later invention. The earliest manifested Logos was female everywhere — the mother of the seven planetary powers.
§ See “Chinese Buddhism,” by the Rev. J. C. Edkins, who always gives correct facts, although his conclusions are very frequently erroneous.
(b) “The “Dragon of Wisdom” is the One, the “Eka” (Sanskrit) or Saka. It is curious that Jehovah’s name in Hebrew should also be One, Echod. “His name is Echod”: say the Rabbins. The philologists ought to decide which of the two is derived from the other — linguistically and symbolically: surely, not the Sanskrit? The “One” and the Dragon are expressions used by the ancients in connection with their respective Logoi. Jehovah — esoterically (as Elohim) — is also the Serpent or Dragon that tempted Eve, and the “Dragon” is an old glyph for “Astral Light” (Primordial Principle), “which is the Wisdom of Chaos.” Archaic philosophy, recognizing neither Good nor Evil as a fundamental or independent power, but starting from the Absolute all (Universal Perfection eternally), traced both through the course of natural evolution to pure Light condensing gradually into form, hence becoming Matter or Evil. It was left with the early and ignorant Christian fathers to degrade the philosophical and highly scientific idea of this emblem (the Dragon) into the absurd superstition called the “Devil.” They took it from the later Zoroastrians, who saw devils or the Evil in the Hindu Devas, and the word Evil thus became by a double transmutation D’Evil in every tongue (Diabolos, Diable, Diavolo, Teufel). But the Pagans have always shown a philosophical discrimination in their symbols. The primitive symbol of the serpent symbolised divine Wisdom and Perfection, and had always stood for psychical Regeneration and Immortality. Hence — Hermes, calling the serpent the most spiritual of all beings; Moses, initiated in the wisdom of Hermes, following suit in Genesis; the Gnostic’s Serpent with the seven vowels over its head, being the emblem of the seven hierarchies of the Septenary or Planetary Creators. Hence, also, the Hindu serpent Sesha or Ananta, “the Infinite,” a name of Vishnu, whose first Vahan or vehicle on the primordial waters is this serpent.* Yet they all made a difference between the good and the bad Serpent (the Astral Light of
* Like the logoi and the Hierarchies of Powers, however, the “Serpents” have to be distinguished one from the other. Sesha or Ananta, “the couch of Vishnu,” is an allegorical abstraction, symbolizing infinite Time in Space, which contains the germ and throws off periodically the efflorescence of this germ, the manifested Universe; whereas, the gnostic Ophis contained the same triple symbolism in its seven vowels as the One, Three and Seven-syllabled Oeaohoo of the Archaic doctrine; i.e., the One Unmanifested Logos, the Second manifested, the triangle concreting into the Quaternary or Tetragrammaton, and the rays of the latter on the material plane.
the Kabalists) — between the former, the embodiment of divine Wisdom in the region of the Spiritual, and the latter, Evil, on the plane of matter.* Jesus accepted the serpent as a synonym of Wisdom, and this formed part of his teaching: “Be ye wise as serpents,” he says. “In the beginning, before Mother became Father-Mother, the fiery Dragon moved in the infinitudes alone” (Book of Sarparajni.) The Aitareya Brahmana calls the Earth Sarparajni, “the Serpent Queen,” and “the Mother of all that moves.” Before our globe became egg-shaped (and the Universe also) “a long trail of Cosmic dust (or fire mist) moved and writhed like a serpent in Space.” The “Spirit of God moving on Chaos” was symbolized by every nation in the shape of a fiery serpent breathing fire and light upon the primordial waters, until it had incubated cosmic matter and made it assume the annular shape of a serpent with its tail in its mouth — which symbolises not only Eternity and Infinitude, but also the globular shape of all the bodies formed within the Universe from that fiery mist. The Universe, as well as the Earth and Man, cast off periodically, serpent-like, their old skins, to assume new ones after a time of rest. The serpent is, surely, a not less graceful or a more unpoetical image than the caterpillar and chrysalis from which springs the butterfly, the Greek emblem of Psyche, the human soul. The “Dragon” was also the symbol of the Logos with the Egyptians, as with the Gnostics. In the “Book of Hermes,” Pymander, the oldest and the most spiritual of the Logoi of the Western Continent, appears to Hermes in the shape of a Fiery Dragon of “Light, Fire, and Flame.” Pymander, the “Thought Divine” personified, says: The Light is me, I am the Nous (the mind or Manu), I am thy God, and I am far older than the human principle which escapes from the shadow (“Darkness,” or the concealed Deity). I am the germ of thought, the resplendent Word, the Son of God. All that thus sees and hears in thee is the Verbum of the Master, it is the Thought (Mahat) which is God, the Father.†
* The Astral Light, or the Ether, of the ancient pagans (for the name of Astral Light is quite modern) is Spirit-Matter. Beginning with the pure spiritual plane, it becomes grosser as it descends until it becomes the Maya or the tempting and deceitful serpent on our plane.
† By “God, the Father,” the seventh principle in Man and Kosmos are here unmistakeably meant, this principle being inseparable in its Esse and Nature from the seventh Cosmic principle. In one sense it is the Logos of the Greeks and the Avalokiteswara of the esoteric Buddhists.
The celestial Ocean, the AEther . . . . is the Breath of the Father, the life-giving principle, the Mother, the Holy Spirit, . . . . for these are not separated, and their union is life.”
Here we find the unmistakeable echo of the Archaic Secret Doctrine, as now expounded. Only the latter does not place at the head and Evolution of Life “the Father,” who comes third and is the “Son of the Mother,” but the “Eternal and Ceaseless Breath of the All.” The Mahat (Understanding, Universal Mind, Thought, etc.), before it manifests itself as Brahma or Siva, appears as Vishnu, says Sankhya Sara (p. 16); hence Mahat has several aspects, just as the logos has. Mahat is called the Lord, in the Primary Creation, and is, in this sense, Universal Cognition or Thought Divine; but, “That Mahat which was first produced is (afterwards) called Ego-ism, when it is born as “I,” that is said to be the second Creation” (Anugita, ch. xxvi.). And the translator (an able and learned Brahmin, not a European Orientalist) explains in a foot-note (6), “i.e., when Mahat develops into the feeling of Self-Consciousness — I — then it assumes the name of Egoism,” which, translated into our esoteric phraseology, means when Mahat is transformed into the human Manas (or even that of the finite gods), and becomes Aham-ship. Why it is called the Mahat of the Second creation (or the ninth, that of the Kumara in Vishnu Purana) will be explained in Book II. The “Sea of Fire” is then the Super-Astral (i.e., noumenal) Light, the first radiation from the Root, the Mulaprakriti, the undifferentiated Cosmic Substance, which becomes Astral Matter. It is also called the “Fiery Serpent,” as above described. If the student bears in mind that there is but One Universal Element, which is infinite, unborn, and undying, and that all the rest — as in the world of phenomena — are but so many various differentiated aspects and transformations (correlations, they are now called) of that One, from Cosmical down to microcosmical effects, from super-human down to human and sub-human beings, the totality, in short, of objective existence — then the first and chief difficulty will disappear and Occult Cosmology may be mastered.* All the Kabalists and Occultists, Eastern and Western, recognise (a)
* In the Egyptian as in the Indian theogony there was a concealed deity, the one, and the creative, androgynous god. Thus Shoo is the god of creation and Osiris is, in his original primary form, the “god whose name is unknown.” (See Mariette’s Abydos II., p. 63, and Vol. III., pp. 413, 414, No. 1122.)
the identity of “Father-Mother” with primordial AEther or Akasa, (Astral Light)*; and (b) its homogeneity before the evolution of the “Son,” cosmically Fohat, for it is Cosmic Electricity. “Fohat hardens and scatters the seven brothers” (Book III. Dzyan); which means that the primordial Electric Entity — for the Eastern Occultists insist that Electricity is an Entity — electrifies into life, and separates primordial stuff or pregenetic matter into atoms, themselves the source of all life and consciousness. “There exists an universal agent unique of all forms and of life, that is called Od,† Ob, and Aour, active and passive, positive and negative, like day and night: it is the first light in Creation” (Eliphas Levi’s Kabala): — the first Light of the primordial Elohim — the Adam, “male and female” — or (scientifically) electricity and life.
(c) The ancients represented it by a serpent, for “Fohat hisses as he glides hither and thither” (in zigzags). The Kabala figures it with the Hebrew letter Teth , whose symbol is the serpent which played such a prominent part in the Mysteries. Its universal value is nine, for it is the ninth letter of the alphabet and the ninth door of the fifty portals or gateways that lead to the concealed mysteries of being. It is the magical agent par excellence, and designates in Hermetic philosophy “Life infused into primordial matter,” the essence that composes all things, and the spirit that determines their form. But there are two secret Hermetical operations, one spiritual, the other material-correlative, and for ever united. “Thou shalt separate the earth from the fire, the subtile from the solid . . . that which ascends from earth to heaven and descends again from heaven to earth. It (the subtile light), is the strong force of every force, for it conquers every subtile thing and penetrates into every solid. Thus was the world formed” (Hermes).
It was not Zeno alone, the founder of the Stoics, who taught that the
* See next note.
† Od is the pure life-giving Light, or magnetic fluid; Ob the messenger of death used by the sorcerers, the nefarious evil fluid; Aour is the synthesis of the two, Astral Light proper. Can the Philologists tell why Od — a term used by Reichenbach to denominate the vital fluid — is also a Tibetan word meaning light, brightness, radiancy? It equally means “Sky” in an occult sense. Whence the root of the word? But Akasa is not quite Ether, but far higher than that, as will be shown.
Universe evolves, when its primary substance is transformed from the state of fire into that of air, then into water, etc. Heracleitus of Ephesus maintained that the one principle that underlies all phenomena in Nature is fire. The intelligence that moves the Universe is fire, and fires is intelligence. And while Anaximenes said the same of air, and Thales of Miletus (600 years B.C.) of water, the Esoteric Doctrine reconciles all those philosophers by showing that though each was right the system of none was complete.
8. Where was the germ, and where was now darkness? Where is the spirit of the flame that burns in thy lamp, oh Lanoo? The germ is that, and that is light; the white brilliant son of the dark hidden father (a).
(a) The answer to the first question, suggested by the second, which is the reply of the teacher to the pupil, contains in a single phrase one of the most essential truths of occult philosophy. It indicates the existence of things imperceptible to our physical senses which are of far greater importance, more real and more permanent, than those that appeal to these senses themselves. Before the Lanoo can hope to understand the transcendentally metaphysical problem contained in the first question he must be able to answer the second, while the very answer he gives to the second will furnish him with the clue to the correct reply to the first.
In the Sanscrit Commentary on this Stanza, the terms used for the concealed and the unrevealed Principle are many. In the earliest MSS. of Indian literature this Unrevealed, Abstract Deity has no name. It is called generally “That” (Tad in Sanskrit), and means all that is, was, and will be, or that can be so received by the human mind.
Among such appellations, given, of course, only in esoteric philosophy, as the “Unfathomable Darkness,” the “Whirlwind,” etc. — it is also called the “It of the Kalahansa, the Kala-ham-sa,” and even the “Kali Hamsa,” (Black swan). Here the m and the n are convertible, and
both sound like the nasal French an or am, or, again, en or em (Ennui, Embarras, etc.) As in the Hebrew Bible, many a mysterious sacred name in Sanscrit conveys to the profane ear no more than some ordinary, and often vulgar word, because it is concealed anagrammatically or otherwise. This word of Hansa or esoterically “hamsa” is just such a case. Hamsa is equal to a-ham-sa, three words meaning “I am he” (in English), while divided in still another way it will read “So-ham,” “he (is) I” — Soham being equal to Sah, “he,” and aham, “I,” or “I am he.” In this alone is contained the universal mystery, the doctrine of the identity of man’s essence with god-essence, for him who understands the language of wisdom. Hence the glyph of, and the allegory about, Kalahansa (or hamsa), and the name given to Brahma neuter (later on, to the male Brahma) of “Hansa-Vahana,” he who uses the Hansa as his vehicle.” The same word may be read “Kalaham-sa” or “I am I” in the eternity of Time, answering to the Biblical, or rather Zoroastrian “I am that I am.” The same doctrine is found in the Kabala, as witness the following extract from an unpublished MS. by Mr. S. Liddell McGregor Mathers, the learned Kabalist: “The three pronouns , Hoa, Atah, Ani; He, Thou, I; are used to symbolize the ideas of Macroprosopus and Microprosopus in the Hebrew Qabalah. Hoa, “He,” is applied to the hidden and concealed Macroprosopus; Atah, “Thou,” to Microprosopus; and Ani, “I,” to the latter when He is represented as speaking. (See Lesser Holy Assembly, 204 et seq.) It is to be noted that each of these names consists of three letters, of which the letter Aleph , A, forms the conclusion of the first word Hoa, and the commencement of Atah and Ani, as if it were the connecting link between them. But is the symbol of the Unity and consequently of the unvarying Idea of the Divine operating through all these. But behind the in the name Hoa are the letters and , the symbols of the numbers Six and Five, the Male and the Female, the Hexagram and the Pentagram. And the numbers of these three words, Hoa Atah Ani, are 12, 406, and 61, which are resumed in the key numbers of 3, 10, and 7, by the Qabalah of the Nine Chambers, which is a form of the exegetical rule of Temura.”
It is useless to attempt to explain the mystery in full. Materialists and the men of modern Science will never understand it, since, in order
to obtain clear perception of it, one has first of all to admit the postulate of a universally diffused, omnipresent, eternal Deity in Nature; secondly, to have fathomed the mystery of electricity in its true essence; and thirdly, to credit man with being the septenary symbol, on the terrestrial plane, of the One Great Unit (the Logos), which is Itself the Seven-vowelled sign, the Breath crystallized into the Word.* He who believes in all this, has also to believe in the multiple combination of the seven planets of Occultism and of the Kabala, with the twelve zodiacal signs; to attribute, as we do, to each planet and to each constellation an influence which, in the words of Ely Star (a French Occultist), “is proper to it, beneficent or maleficent, and this, after the planetary Spirit which rules it, who, in his turn, is capable of influencing men and things which are found in harmony with him and with which he has any affinity.” For these reasons, and since few believe in the foregoing, all that can now be given is that in both cases the symbol of Hansa (whether “I,” “He,” Goose or Swan) is an important symbol, representing, for instance, Divine Wisdom, Wisdom in darkness beyond the reach of men. For all exoteric purposes, Hansa, as every Hindu knows, is a fabulous bird, which, when given milk mixed with water for its food (in the allegory) separated the two, drinking the milk and leaving the water; thus showing inherent wisdom — milk standing symbolically for spirit, and water for matter.
That this allegory is very ancient and dates from the very earliest archaic period, is shown by the mention (in Bhagavata Purana) of a certain caste named “Hamsa” or “Hansa,” which was the “one caste” par excellence; when far back in the mists of a forgotten past there was among the Hindus only “One Veda, One Deity, One Caste.” There is also a range in the Himalayas, described in the old books as being situated north of Mount Meru, called “Hamsa,” and connected with episodes pertaining to the history of religious mysteries and initiations. As to the name of Kala-Hansa being the supposed vehicle of Brahma-Prajapati, in the exoteric texts and translations of the
* This is again similar to the doctrine of Fichte and German Pantheists. The former reveres Jesus as the great teacher who inculcated the unity of the spirit of man with the God-Spirit (the Adwaita doctrine) or universal Principle. It is difficult to find a single speculation in Western metaphysics which has not been anticipated by Archaic Eastern philosophy. From Kant to Herbert Spencer, it is all a more or less distorted echo of the Dwaita, Adwaita, and Vedantic doctrines generally.
Orientalists, it is quite a mistake. Brahma, the neuter, is called by them Kala-Hansa and Brahma, the male, Hansa-Vahana, because forsooth “his vehicle or Vahan is a swan or goose” (vide “the Hindu Classical Dictionary.”) This is a purely exoteric gloss. Esoterically and logically, if Brahma, the infinite, is all that is described by the Orientalists, namely, agreeably with the Vedantic texts, an abstract deity in no way characterised by the description of any human attributes, and it is still maintained that he or it is called Kala-Hansa — then how can it ever become the Vahan of Brahma, the manifested finite god? It is quite the reverse. The “Swan or goose” (Hansa) is the symbol of that male or temporary deity, as he, the emanation of the primordial Ray, is made to serve as a Vahan or vehicle for that divine Ray, which otherwise could not manifest itself in the Universe, being, antiphrastically, itself an emanation of “Darkness” — for our human intellect, at any rate. It is Brahma, then, who is Kala-Hansa, and the Ray, the Hansa-Vahana.
As to the strange symbol chosen, it is equally suggestive; the true mystic significance being the idea of a universal matrix, figured by the primordial waters of the “deep,” or the opening for the reception, and subsequently for the issue, of that one ray (the Logos), which contains in itself the other seven procreative rays or powers (the logoi or builders). Hence the choice by the Rosecroix of the aquatic fowl — whether swan or pelican,* with seven young ones for a symbol, modified and adapted to the religion of every country. En-Soph is called the “Fiery Soul of the Pelican” in the Book of Numbers.† (See Part II. “The Hidden Deity and its Symbols and Glyphs.”) Appearing with every Manvantara as Narayan, or Swayambhuva (the
* Whether the genus of the bird be cygnus, anser, or pelecanus, it is no matter, as it is an aquatic bird floating or moving on the waters like the Spirit, and then issuing from those waters to give birth to other beings. The true significance of the symbol of the Eighteenth Degree of the Rose-Croix is precisely this, though poetised later on into the motherly feeling of the Pelican rending its bosom to feed its seven little ones with its blood.
† The reason why Moses forbids eating the pelican and swan, classing the two among the unclean fowls, and permits eating “bald locusts, beetles, and the grasshopper after his kind” (Leviticus xi. and Deuteronomy xiv.) is a purely physiological one, and has to do with mystic symbology only in so far as the word “unclean,” like every other word, ought not to be read and understood literally, as it is esoteric like all the [[Footnote continued on next page]]
Self-Existent), and penetrating into the Mundane Egg, it emerges from it at the end of the divine incubation as Brahma or Prajapati, a progenitor of the future Universe into which he expands. He is Purusha (spirit), but he is also Prakriti (matter). Therefore it is only after separating himself into two halves — Brahma-vach (the female) and Brahma-Viraj (the male), that the Prajapati becomes the male Brahma.
9. Light is cold flame, and flame is fire, and the fire produces heat, which yields water, the water of life in the great mother (Chaos) (a).
(a) It must be remembered that the words “Light,” “Fire,” and “Flame” used in the Stanzas have been adopted by the translators thereof from the vocabulary of the old “Fire philosophers,”* in order to render better the meaning of the archaic terms and symbols employed in the original. Otherwise they would have remained entirely unintelligible to a European reader. But to a student of the Occult the terms used will be sufficiently clear.
All these — “Light,” “Flame,” “Hot,” “Cold,” “Fire,” “Heat,” “Water,” and the “water of life” are all, on our plane, the progeny; or as a modern physicist would say, the correlations of electricity. Mighty word, and a still mightier symbol! Sacred generator of a no less sacred progeny; of fire — the creator, the preserver and the destroyer; of light — the essence of our divine ancestors; of flame — the Soul of things. Electricity, the one Life at the upper rung of Being, and Astral Fluid, the Athanor of the Alchemists, at its lowest; god and devil, good and evil. . . .
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] rest, and may as well mean “holy” as not. It is a blind, very suggestive in connection with certain superstitions — e.g., that of the Russian people who will not use the pigeon for food; not because it is “unclean,” but because the “Holy Ghost” is credited with having appeared under the form of a Dove.
* Not the Mediaeval Alchemists, but the Magi and Fire-Worshippers, from whom the Rosicrucians or the Philosophers per ignem, the successors of the theurgists borrowed all their ideas concerning Fire, as a mystic and divine element.
Now, why is Light called in the Stanzas “cold flame”? Because in the order of Cosmic evolution (as taught by the Occultist), the energy that actuates matter after its first formation into atoms is generated on our plane by Cosmic heat; and because Kosmos, in the sense of dissociated matter, was not, before that period. The first primordial matter, eternal and coeval with Space, “which has neither a beginning nor an end,” is “neither hot nor cold, but is of its own special nature,” says the Commentary (Book II). Heat and cold are relative qualities and pertain to the realms of the manifested worlds, which all proceed from the manifested Hyle, which, in its absolutely latent aspect, is referred to as the “cold Virgin,” and when awakened to life, as the “Mother.” The ancient Western Cosmogonic myths state that at first there was but cold mist which was the Father, and the prolific slime (the Mother, Ilus or Hyle), from which crept forth the Mundane snake-matter, (Isis, vol. i., p. 146). Primordial matter, then, before it emerges from the plane of the never-manifesting, and awakens to the thrill of action under the impulse of Fohat, is but “a cool Radiance, colourless, formless, tasteless, and devoid of every quality and aspect.” Even such are her first-born, the “four sons,” who “are One, and become Seven,” — the entities, by whose qualifications and names the ancient Eastern Occultists called the four of the seven primal “centres of Forces,” or atoms, that develop later into the great Cosmic “Elements,” now divided into the seventy or so sub-elements, known to science. The four primal natures of the first Dhyan Chohans, are the so-called (for want of better terms) “Akasic,” “Ethereal,” “Watery,” and “Fiery,” answering, in the terminology of practical occultism, to scientific definitions of gases, which, to convey a clear idea to both Occultists and laymen, must be defined as Parahydrogenic,* Paraoxygenic, Oxyhydrogenic, and Ozonic, or perhaps Nitr-ozonic; the latter forces or gases (in Occultism, supersensuous, yet atomic substances) being the most effective and active when energising on the plane of more grossly differentiated matter.† These are both electro-positive and electro-negative.
* [[Para]], “beyond,” outside.
† Each of these and many more are probably the missing links of chemistry. They are known by other names in Alchemy and to the Occultists who practise in phenomenal powers. It is by combining and recombining in a certain way (or dissociating) the “Elements” by means of astral fire that the greatest phenomena are produced.
10. Father-Mother spin a web whose upper end is fastened to Spirit (Purusha), the light of the one Darkness, and the lower one to Matter (Prakriti) its (the Spirit’s) shadowy end; and this web is the Universe spun out of the two substances made in one, which is Swabhavat (a).
(a) In the Mandukya (Mundaka) Upanishad it is written, “As a spider throws out and retracts its web, as herbs spring up in the ground . . . so is the Universe derived from the undecaying one” (I. 1. 7). Brahma, as “the germ of unknown Darkness,” is the material from which all evolves and develops “as the web from the spider, as foam from the water,” etc. This is only graphic and true, if Brahma the “Creator” is, as a term, derived from the root brih, to increase or expand. Brahma “expands” and becomes the Universe woven out of his own substance.
The same idea has been beautifully expressed by Goethe, who says:
“Thus at the roaring loom of Time I ply,
And weave for God the garment thou see’st Him by.”
11. It (the Web) expands when the breath of fire (the Father) is upon it; it contracts when the breath of the mother (the root of Matter) touches it. Then the sons (the Elements with their respective Powers, or Intelligences) dissociate and scatter, to return into their mother’s bosom at the end of the “great day” and rebecome one with her (a). When it (the Web) is cooling, it becomes radiant, its sons expand and contract through their own selves and hearts; they embrace infinitude. (b)
The expanding of the Universe under the breath of Fire is very suggestive in the light of the “Fire mist” period of which modern science speaks so much, and knows in reality so little.
Great heat breaks up the compound elements and resolves the
heavenly bodies into their primeval one element, explains the commentary. “Once disintegrated into its primal constituent by getting within the attraction and reach of a focus, or centre of heat (energy), of which many are carried about to and fro in space, a body, whether alive or dead, will be vapourised and held in “the bosom of the Mother” until Fohat, gathering a few of the clusters of Cosmic matter (nebulae) will, by giving it an impulse, set it in motion anew, develop the required heat, and then leave it to follow its own new growth.
The expanding and contracting of the Web — i.e., the world stuff or atoms — expresses here the pulsatory movement; for it is the regular contraction and expansion of the infinite and shoreless Ocean of that which we may call the noumenon of matter emanated by Swabhavat, which causes the universal vibration of atoms. But it is also suggestive of something else. It shows that the ancients were acquainted with that which is now the puzzle of many scientists and especially of astronomers: the cause of the first ignition of matter or the world-stuff, the paradox of the heat produced by the refrigerative contraction and other such Cosmic riddles. For it points unmistakeably to a knowledge by the ancients of such phenomena. “There is heat internal and heat external in every atom,” say the manuscript Commentaries, to which the writer has had access; “the breath of the Father (or Spirit) and the breath (or heat) of the Mother (matter);” and they give explanations which show that the modern theory of the extinction of the solar fires by loss of heat through radiation, is erroneous. The assumption is false even on the Scientists’ own admission. For as Professor Newcomb points out (Popular Astronomy, pp. 506-508), “by losing heat, a gaseous body contracts, and the heat generated by the contraction exceeds that which it had to lose in order to produce the contraction.” This paradox, that a body gets hotter as the shrinking produced by its getting colder is greater, led to long disputes. The surplus of heat, it was argued, was lost by radiation, and to assume that the temperature is not lowered pari passu with a decrease of volume under a constant pressure, is to set at nought the law of Charles (Nebular Theory, Winchell). Contraction develops heat, it is true; but contraction (from cooling) is incapable of developing the whole amount of heat at any time existing in the mass, or even of maintaining a body at a constant temperature, etc. Professor Winchell tries to reconcile the paradox — only a seeming one in fact, as
Homer Lanes proved, — by suggesting “something besides heat.” “May it not be,” he asks, “simply a repulsion among the molecules, which varies according to some law of the distance?” But even this will be found irreconcileable, unless this “something besides heat” is ticketed “Causeless Heat,” the “Breath of Fire,” the all-creative Force plus absolute intelligence, which physical science is not likely to accept.
However it may be, the reading of this Stanza shows it, notwithstanding its archaic phraseology, to be more scientific than even modern science.
12. Then Svabhavat sends Fohat to harden the atoms. Each (of these) is a part of the web (Universe). Reflecting the “Self-Existent Lord” (Primeval Light) like a mirror, each becomes in turn a world.* . . .
“Fohat hardens the atoms”; i.e., by infusing energy into them: he scatters the atoms or primordial matter. “He scatters himself while scattering matter into atoms” (MSS. Commentaries.)
It is through Fohat that the ideas of the Universal Mind are impressed upon matter. Some faint idea of the nature of Fohat may be gathered from the appellation “Cosmic Electricity” sometimes applied to it; but to the commonly known properties of electricity must, in this case, be added others, including intelligence. It is of interest to note that modern science has come to the conclusion, that all cerebration and brain-activity are attended by electrical phenomena. (For further details as to “Fohat” See Stanza V. and Comments.”)
* This is said in the sense that the flame from a fire is endless, and that the lights of the whole Universe could be lit at one simple rush-light without diminishing its flame.