Theosophical University Press Online Edition
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Among the eleven Stanzas omitted* there is one which gives a full description of the formation of the planetary chains one after another, after the first Cosmic and Atomic differentiation had commenced in the primitive Acosmism. It is idle to speak of “laws arising when Deity prepares to create” for (a) laws or rather Law is eternal and uncreated; and (b) that Deity is Law, and vice versa. Moreover, the one eternal Law unfolds everything in the (to be) manifested Nature on a sevenfold principle; among the rest, the countless circular chains of worlds, composed of seven globes, graduated on the four lower planes of the world of formation (the three others belonging to the Archetypal Universe). Out of these seven only one, the lowest and the most material of those globes, is within our plane or means of perception, the six others lying outside of it and being therefore invisible to the terrestrial eye. Every such chain of worlds is the progeny and creation of another, lower, and dead chain — its reincarnation, so to say. To make it clearer: we are told of the planets — of which seven only were held as sacred, as being ruled by the highest regents or gods, and not at all because the ancients knew nothing of the others† — that each of these, whether known or unknown, is a septenary, as is the chain to which the Earth belongs (see “Esoteric
* See the note which follows the Commentary on the preceding page, and also the summary of the Stanzas in the Proem, page 22.
† Many more planets are enumerated in the Secret Books than in modern astronomical works.
Buddhism”). For instance, all such planets as Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, etc., etc., or our Earth, are as visible to us as our globe, probably, is to the inhabitants of the other planets, if any, because they are all on the same plane; while the superior fellow-globes of these planets are on other planes quite outside that of our terrestrial senses. As their relative position is given further on, and also in the diagram appended to the Comments on Verse 7 of Stanza VI., a few words of explanation is all that is needed at present. These invisible companions correspond curiously to that which we call “the principles in Man.” The seven are on three material planes and one spiritual plane, answering to the three Upadhis (material bases) and one spiritual vehicle (Vahan) of our seven principles in the human division. If, for the sake of a clearer mental conception, we imagine the human principles to be arranged as in the following scheme, we shall obtain the annexed diagram of correspondences: —
* As we are proceeding here from Universals to Particulars, instead of using the inductive or Aristotelean method, the numbers are reversed. Spirit is enumerated the first instead of seventh, as is usually done, but, in truth, ought not to be done.
† Or as usually named after the manner of Esoteric Buddhism and others: 1, Atma; 2, Buddhi (or Spiritual Soul); 3, Manas (Human Soul); 4, Kama Rupa (Vehicle of Desires and Passions); 5, Linga Sarira; 6, Prana; 7, Sthula Sarira.
The dark horizontal lines of the lower planes are the Upadhis in one case, and the planes in the case of the planetary chain. Of course, as regards the human principles, the diagram does not place them quite in order, yet it shows the correspondence and analogy to which attention is now drawn. As the reader will see, it is a case of descent into matter, the adjustment — in both the mystic and the physical senses — of the two, and their interblending for the great coming “struggle of life” that awaits both the entities. “Entity” may be thought a strange term to use in the case of a globe; but the ancient philosophers, who saw in the earth a huge “animal,” were wiser in their generation than our modern geologists are in theirs; and Pliny, who called the Earth our kind nurse and mother, the only element which is not inimical to man, spoke more truly than Watts, who fancied that he saw in her the footstool of God. For Earth is only the footstool of man in his ascension to higher regions; the vestibule —
“. . . . . . . to glorious mansions,
Through which a moving crowd for ever press.”
But this only shows how admirably the occult philosophy fits everything in Nature, and how much more logical are its tenets than the lifeless hypothetical speculations of physical science.
Having learned thus much, the mystic will be better prepared to understand the occult teaching, though every formal student of modern science may, and probably will, regard it as preposterous nonsense. The student of occultism, however, holds that the theory at present under discussion is far more philosophical and probable than any other. It is more logical, at any rate, than the theory recently advanced which made of the moon the projection of a portion of our Earth extruded when the latter was but a globe in fusion, a molten plastic mass.*
It is said that the planetary chains having their “Days” and their
* Says the author of “Modern Science and Modern Thought,” Mr. Samuel Laing: “The astronomical conclusions are theories based on data so uncertain, that while in some cases they give results incredibly short, like that of 15 millions of years for the whole past process of formation of the solar system, in others they give results almost incredibly long, as in that which supposes the moon to have been thrown off when the Earth was rotating in three hours, while the utmost actual retardation obtained from observation would require 600 millions of years to make it rotate in twenty-three hours instead of twenty-four” (p. 48). And if physicists persist, why should the chronology of the Hindus be laughed at as exaggerated?
“Nights” — i.e., periods of activity or life, and of inertia or death — and behave in heaven as do men on Earth: they generate their likes, get old, and become personally extinct, their spiritual principles only living in their progeny as a survival of themselves.
Without attempting the very difficult task of giving out the whole process in all its cosmic details, enough may be said to give an approximate idea of it. When a planetary chain is in its last Round, its Globe 1 or A, before finally dying out, sends all its energy and “principles” into a neutral centre of latent force, a “laya centre,” and thereby informs a new nucleus of undifferentiated substance or matter, i.e., calls it into activity or gives it life. Suppose such a process to have taken place in the lunar “planetary” chain; suppose again, for argument’s sake (though Mr. Darwin’s theory quoted below has lately been upset, even if the fact has not yet been ascertained by mathematical calculation) that the moon is far older than the Earth. Imagine the six fellow-globes of the moon — aeons before the first globe of our seven was evolved — just in the same position in relation to each other as the fellow-globes of our chain occupy in regard to our Earth now. (See in “Esoteric Buddhism,” “The Constitution of Man,” and the “Planetary Chain.”) And now it will be easy to imagine further Globe A of the lunar chain informing Globe A of the terrestrial chain, and — dying; Globe B of the former sending after that its energy into Globe B of the new chain; then Globe C of the lunar, creating its progeny sphere C of the terrene chain; then the Moon (our Satellite*) pouring forth into
* She is the satellite, undeniably, but this does not invalidate the theory that she has given to the Earth all but her corpse. For Darwin’s theory to hold good, besides the hypothesis just upset (vide last footnote), other still more incongruous speculations had to be invented. The Moon, it is said, has cooled nearly six times as rapidly as the Earth (Winchell’s “World-Life”): “The Moon, if the earth is 14,000,000 years old since its incrustation, is only eleven and two thirds millions of years old since that stage . . .” etc. And if our Moon is but a splash from our Earth, why can no similar inference be established for the Moons of other planets? The Astronomers “do not know.” Why should Venus and Mercury have no satellites, and by what, when they exist, were they formed? Because, we say, science has only one key — the key of matter — to open the mysteries of nature withal, while occult philosophy has seven keys and explains that which science fails to see. Mercury and Venus have no satellites but they had “parents” just as the earth had. Both are far older than the Earth and, before the latter reaches her seventh Round, her mother Moon will have dissolved [[Footnote continued on next page]]
the lowest globe of our planetary ring — Globe D, our Earth — all its life, energy and powers; and, having transferred them to a new centre becoming virtually a dead planet, in which rotation has almost ceased since the birth of our globe. The Moon is now the cold residual quantity, the shadow dragged after the new body, into which her living powers and “principles” are transfused. She now is doomed for long ages to be ever pursuing the Earth, to be attracted by and to attract her progeny. Constantly vampirised by her child, she revenges herself on it by soaking it through and through with the nefarious, invisible, and poisoned influence which emanates from the occult side of her nature. For she is a dead, yet a living body. The particles of her decaying corpse are full of active and destructive life, although the body which they had formed is soulless and lifeless. Therefore its emanations are at the same time beneficent and maleficent — this circumstance finding its parallel on earth in the fact that the grass and plants are nowhere more juicy and thriving than on the graves; while at the same time it is the graveyard or corpse-emanations, which kill. And like all ghouls or vampires, the moon is the friend of the sorcerers and the foe of the unwary. From the archaic aeons and the later times of the witches of Thessaly, down to some of the present tantrikas of Bengal, her nature and properties were known to every Occultist, but have remained a closed book for physicists.
Such is the moon from the astronomical, geological, and physical standpoints. As to her metaphysical and psychic nature it must remain an occult secret in this work, as it was in the volume on “Esoteric Buddhism,” notwithstanding the rather sanguine statement made therein on p. 113 (5th edition) that “there is not much mystery left now in the riddle of the eighth sphere.” These are topics, indeed, “on which the adepts are very reserved in their communications to uninitiated pupils,” and since they have, moreover, never sanctioned or permitted any published speculations upon them, the less said the better.
Yet without treading upon the forbidden ground of the “eighth sphere,” it may be useful to state some additional facts with regard to ex-monads of the lunar chain — the “lunar ancestors” — as they play a
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] into thin air, as the “Moons” of the other planets have, or have not, as the case may be, since there are planets which have several moons — a mystery again which no OEdipus of astronomy has solved.
leading part in the coming Anthropogenesis. This brings us directly to the septenary constitution of man; and as some discussion has arisen of late about the best classification to be adopted for the division of the microcosmic entity, two systems are now appended with a view to facilitate comparison. The subjoined short article is from the pen of Mr. T. Subba Row, a learned Vedantin scholar. He prefers the Brahmanical division of the Raja Yoga, and from a metaphysical point of view he is quite right. But, as it is a question of simple choice and expediency, we hold in this work to the “time-honoured” classification of the trans-Himalayan “Arhat Esoteric School.” The following table and its explanatory text are reprinted from the “Theosophist” of Madras, and they are also contained in “Five Years of Theosophy”: —
SEPTENARY DIVISION IN DIFFERENT INDIAN SYSTEMS.
“We give below in a tabular form the classifications adopted by the Buddhist and Vedantic teachers of the principles of man: —
* Kosa (kosha) is “Sheath” literally, the sheath of every principle.
‡ The astral body or Linga Sarira.
§ Sthula-Upadhi, or basis of the principle.
From the foregoing table it will be seen that the third principle in the Buddhist classification is not separately mentioned in the Vedantic division, as it is merely the vehicle of Prana. It will also be seen that the Fourth principle is included in the third Kosa (Sheath), as the same principle is but the vehicle of will-power, which is but an energy of the mind. It must also be noticed that the Vignanamaya Kosa is considered to be distinct from the Manomaya Kosa, as a division is made after death between the lower part of the mind, as it were, which has a closer affinity with the fourth principle than with the sixth; and its higher part, which attaches itself to the latter, and which is, in fact, the basis for the higher spiritual individuality of man.
We may also here point out to our readers that the classification mentioned in the last column is, for all practical purposes, connected with Raja Yoga, the best and simplest. Though there are seven principles in man, there are but three distinct Upadhis (bases), in each of which his Atma may work independently of the rest. These three Upadhis can be separated by an Adept without killing himself. He cannot separate the seven principles from each other without destroying his constitution.”
The student will now be better prepared to see that between the three Upadhis of the Raja Yoga and its Atma, and our three Upadhis, Atma, and the additional three divisions, there is in reality but very little difference. Moreover, as every adept in cis-Himalayan or trans-Himalayan India, of the Patanjali, the Aryasanga or the Mahayana schools, has to become a Raja Yogi, he must, therefore, accept the Taraka Raja classification in principle and theory whatever classification he resorts to for practical and occult purposes. Thus, it matters very little whether one speaks of the three Upadhis with their three aspects and Atma, the eternal and immortal synthesis, or calls them the “seven principles.”
For the benefit of those who may not have read, or, if they have, may not have clearly understood, in Theosophical writings, the doctrine of the septenary chains of worlds in the Solar Kosmos, the teaching is briefly thus: —
1. Everything in the metaphysical as in the physical Universe is septenary. Hence every sidereal body, every planet, whether visible
or invisible, is credited with six companion globes. (See Diagram No. 3, after verse 6 of this commentary.) The evolution of life proceeds on these seven globes or bodies from the 1st to the 7th in Seven Rounds or Seven Cycles.
2. These globes are formed by a process which the Occultists call the “rebirth of planetary chains (or rings).” When the seventh and last Round of one of such rings has been entered upon, the highest or first globe “A,” followed by all the others down to the last, instead of entering upon a certain time of rest — or “obscuration,” as in their previous Rounds — begins to die out. The “planetary” dissolution (pralaya) is at hand, and its hour has struck; each globe has to transfer its life and energy to another planet. (See diagram No. 2 infra, “The Moon and the Earth.”)
3. Our Earth, as the visible representative of its invisible superior fellow globes, its “lords” or “principles” (see diagram No. 1), has to live, as have the others, through seven Rounds. During the first three, it forms and consolidates; during the fourth it settles and hardens; during the last three it gradually returns to its first ethereal form: it is spiritualised, so to say.
4. Its Humanity develops fully only in the Fourth — our present Round. Up to this fourth Life-Cycle, it is referred to as “humanity” only for lack of a more appropriate term. Like the grub which becomes chrysalis and butterfly, Man, or rather that which becomes man, passes through all the forms and kingdoms during the first Round and through all the human shapes during the two following Rounds. Arrived on our Earth at the commencement of the Fourth in the present series of life-cycles and races, man is the first form that appears thereon, being preceded only by the mineral and vegetable kingdoms — even the latter having to develop and continue its further evolution through man. This will be explained in Book II. During the three Rounds to come, Humanity, like the globe on which it lives, will be ever tending to reassume its primeval form, that of a Dhyan Chohanic Host. Man tends to become a God and then — God, like every other atom in the Universe.
“Beginning so early as with the 2nd round, Evolution proceeds already on quite a different plan. It is only during the 1st round that (heavenly) man becomes a human being on globe A (rebecomes) a mineral, a plant, an animal, on globe B and C, etc. The process changes
entirely from the second round; but you have learned prudence . . . and I advise you to say nothing before the time for saying it has come. . .” (Extract from the Teacher’s letters on various topics.)
5. Every life-cycle on Globe D (our Earth)* is composed of seven root-races. They commence with the Ethereal and end with the spiritual on the double line of physical and moral evolution — from the beginning of the terrestrial round to its close. (One is a “planetary round” from Globe A to Globe G, the seventh; the other, the “globe round,” or the terrestrial).
This is very well described in “Esoteric Buddhism” and needs no further elucidation for the time being.
6. The first root-race, i.e., the first “men” on earth (irrespective of form) were the progeny of the “celestial men,” called rightly in Indian philosophy the “Lunar Ancestors” or the Pitris, of which there are seven classes or Hierarchies. As all this will be sufficiently explained in the following sections and in Book II., no more need be said of it here.
But the two works already mentioned, both of which treat of subjects from the occult doctrine, need particular notice. “Esoteric Buddhism” is too well known in Theosophical circles, and even to the outside world, for it to be necessary to enter at length upon its merits here. It is an excellent book, and has done still more excellent work. But this does not alter the fact that it contains some mistaken notions, and that it has led many Theosophists and lay-readers to form an erroneous conception of the Secret Eastern Doctrines. Moreover it seems, perhaps, a little too materialistic.
“Man,” which came later, was an attempt to present the archaic doctrine from a more ideal standpoint, to translate some visions in and from the Astral Light, to render some teachings partly gathered from a Master’s thoughts, but unfortunately misunderstood. This work also speaks of the evolution of the early Races of men on Earth, and contains some excellent pages of a philosophical character. But so far it is only an interesting little mystical romance. It has failed in its mission, because the conditions required for a correct translation of these visions were not present. Hence the reader must not wonder if our Volumes contradict these earlier descriptions in several particulars.
* We are not concerned with the other Globes in this work except incidentally.
Esoteric “Cosmogony” in general, and the evolution of the human Monad especially, differ so essentially in these two books and in other Theosophical works written independently by beginners, that it becomes impossible to proceed with the present work without special mention of these two earlier volumes, for both have a number of admirers — “Esoteric Buddhism” especially. The time has arrived for the explanation of some matters in this direction. Mistakes have now to be checked by the original teachings and corrected. If one of the said works has too pronounced a bias toward materialistic science, the other is decidedly too idealistic, and is, at times, fantastic.
From the doctrine — rather incomprehensible to western minds — which deals with the periodical “obscurations” and successive “Rounds” of the Globes along their circular chains, were born the first perplexities and misconceptions. One of such has reference to the “Fifth-” and even “Sixth-Rounders.” Those who knew that a Round was preceded and followed by a long Pralaya, a pause of rest which created an impassable gulf between two Rounds until the time came for a renewed cycle of life, could not understand the “fallacy” of talking about “fifth and sixth Rounders” in our Fourth Round. Gautama Buddha, it was held, was a Sixth-Rounder, Plato and some other great philosophers and minds, “Fifth-Rounders.” How could it be? One Master taught and affirmed that there were such “Fifth-Rounders” even now on Earth; and though understood to say that mankind was yet “in the Fourth Round,” in another place he seemed to say that we were in the Fifth. To this an “apocalyptic answer” was returned by another Teacher: — “A few drops of rain do not make a Monsoon, though they presage it.” . . . “No, we are not in the Fifth Round, but Fifth Round men have been coming in for the last few thousand years.” This was worse than the riddle of the Sphinx! Students of Occultism subjected their brains to the wildest work of speculation. For a considerable time they tried to outvie OEdipus and reconcile the two statements. And as the Masters kept as silent as the stony Sphinx herself, they were accused of inconsistency, “contradiction,” and “discrepancies.” But they were simply allowing the speculations to go on, in order to teach a lesson which the Western mind sorely needs. In their conceit and arrogance, as in their habit of materializing every metaphysical conception and term without allowing any margin for Eastern
metaphor and allegory, the Orientalists have made a jumble of the Hindu exoteric philosophy, and the Theosophists were now doing the same with regard to esoteric teachings. To this day it is evident that the latter have utterly failed to understand the meaning of the term “Fifth and Sixth Rounders.” But it is simply this: every “Round” brings about a new development and even an entire change in the mental, psychic, spiritual and physical constitution of man, all these principles evoluting on an ever ascending scale. Thence it follows that those persons who, like Confucius and Plato, belonged psychically, mentally and spiritually to the higher planes of evolution, were in our Fourth Round as the average man will be in the Fifth Round, whose mankind is destined to find itself, on this scale of Evolution, immensely higher than is our present humanity. Similarly Gautama Buddha — Wisdom incarnate — was still higher and greater than all the men we have mentioned, who are called Fifth Rounders, while Buddha and Sankaracharya are termed Sixth Rounders, allegorically. Thence again the concealed wisdom of the remark, pronounced at the time “evasive” — that “a few drops of rain do not make the Monsoon, though they presage it.”
And now the truth of the remark made in “Esoteric Buddhism” by its author will be fully apparent: —
“It is impossible, when the complicated facts of an entirely unfamiliar science are being presented to untrained minds for the first time, to put them forward with all their appropriate qualifications . . . and abnormal developments. . . . We must be content to take the broad rules first and deal with the exceptions afterwards, and especially is this the case with study, in connection with which the traditional methods of teaching, generally followed, aim at impressing every fresh idea on the memory by provoking the perplexity it at last relieves.”
As the author of the remark was himself, as he says, “an untrained mind” in Occultism, his own inferences, and his better knowledge of modern astronomical speculations than of archaic doctrines led him quite naturally, and as unconsciously to himself, to commit a few mistakes of detail rather than of any “broad rule.” One such will now be noticed. It is a trifling one, still it is calculated to lead many a beginner into erroneous conceptions. But as the mistaken notions of the earlier editions were corrected in the annotations of the fifth edition, so the sixth may be revised and perfected. There were several reasons
for such mistakes. (1) They were due to the necessity under which the teachers laboured of giving what were considered as “evasive answers”: the questions being too persistently pressed to be left unnoticed, while, on the other hand, they could only be partially answered. (2) This position notwithstanding, the confession that “half a loaf is better than no bread” was but too often misunderstood and hardly appreciated as it ought to have been. As a result thereof gratuitous speculations were sometimes indulged in by the European lay-chelas. Among such were (a) the “Mystery of the Eighth Sphere” in its relation to the Moon; and (b) the erroneous statement that two of the superior Globes of the terrestrial chain were two of our well-known planets: “besides the Earth . . . there are only two other worlds of our chain which are visible. . . . Mars and Mercury. . . .” (Esoteric Buddhism; p. 136.)
This was a great mistake. But the blame for it is to be attached as much to the vagueness and incompleteness of the Master’s answer as to the question of the learner itself, which was equally vague and indefinite.
It was asked: “What planets, of those known to ordinary science, besides Mercury, belong to our system of worlds?” Now if by “System of Worlds” our terrestrial chain or “string” was intended in the mind of the querist, instead of the “Solar System of Worlds,” as it should have been, then of course the answer was likely to be misunderstood. For the reply was: “Mars, etc., and four other planets of which astronomy knows nothing. Neither A, B, nor YZ are known nor can they be seen through physical means however perfected.” This is plain: (a) Astronomy as yet knows nothing in reality of the planets, neither the ancient ones, nor those discovered in modern times. (b) No companion planets from A to Z, i.e., no upper globes of any chain in the Solar System, can be seen.* As to Mars, Mercury, and “the four other planets,” they bear
* With the exception of course of all the planets which come fourth in number, as our earth, the moon, etc., etc. Copies of all the letters ever received or sent, with the exception of a few private ones — “in which there was no teaching” the Master says — are with the writer. As it was her duty, in the beginning, to answer and explain certain points not touched upon, it is more than likely that notwithstanding the many annotations on these copies, the writer, in her ignorance of English and her fear of saying too much, may have bungled the information given. She takes the whole blame for it upon herself in any and every case. But it is impossible for her to allow students to remain any longer under erroneous impressions, or to believe that the fault lies with the esoteric system.
a relation to Earth of which no master or high Occultist will ever speak, much less explain the nature.*
Let it now be distinctly stated, then, that the theory broached is impossible, with or without the additional evidence furnished by modern Astronomy. Physical Science can supply corroborative, though still very uncertain, evidence, but only as regards heavenly bodies on the same plane of materiality as our objective Universe. Mars and Mercury, Venus and Jupiter, like every hitherto discovered planet (or those still to be discovered), are all, per se, the representatives on our plane of such chains. As distinctly stated in one of the numerous letters of Mr. Sinnett’s “Teacher,” “there are other and innumerable Manvantaric chains of globes which bear intelligent Beings both in and outside our solar system.” But neither Mars nor Mercury belong to our chain. They are, along with the other planets, septenary Units in the great host of “chains” of our system, and all are as visible as their upper globes are invisible.
If it is still argued that certain expressions in the Teacher’s letters were liable to mislead, the answer comes: — Amen; so it was. The author of “Esoteric Buddhism” understood it well when he wrote that such are “the traditional modes of teaching . . . by provoking the perplexity” . . . they do, or do not relieve — as the case may be. At all events, if it is urged that this might have been explained earlier, and the true nature of the planets given out as they now are, the answer comes that: “it was not found expedient to do so at the time, as it would have opened the way to a series of additional questions which could never be answered on account of their esoteric nature, and thus would only become embarrassing.” It had been declared from the first and has been repeatedly asserted since that (1st) no Theosophist, not even as an accepted chela — let alone lay students — could expect to have the secret teachings explained to him thoroughly and completely, before he had irretrievably pledged himself to the Brotherhood and passed through at least one initiation, because no figures and numbers could be given to the public, for figures and numbers are the key to the esoteric system. (2.) That
* In this same letter the impossibility is distinctly stated: — . . . “Try to understand that you are putting me questions pertaining to the highest initiation; that I can give you (only) a general view, but that I dare not nor will I enter upon details . . .” wrote one of the Teachers to the author of “Esoteric Buddhism.”
what was revealed was merely the esoteric lining of that which is contained in almost all the exoteric Scriptures of the world-religions — pre-eminently in the Brahmanas, and the Upanishads of the Vedas and even in the Puranas. It was a small portion of what is divulged far more fully now in the present volumes; and even this is very incomplete and fragmentary.
When the present work was commenced, the writer, feeling sure that the speculation about Mars and Mercury was a mistake, applied to the Teachers by letter for explanation and an authoritative version. Both came in due time, and verbatim extracts from these are now given.
“. . . . . It is quite correct that Mars is in a state of obscuration at present, and Mercury just beginning to get out of it. You might add that Venus is in her last Round. . . . . . . . . . . If neither Mercury nor Venus have satellites, it is because of the reasons . . . (vide footnote supra, where those reasons are given), and also because Mars has two satellites to which he has no right. . . . . Phobos, the supposed inner satellite, is no satellite at all. As remarked long ago by Laplace and now by Faye (see comptes rendus, Tome XC., p. 569), Phobos keeps a too short periodic time, and therefore there ‘must exist some defect in the mother idea of the theory’ as Faye justly observes. . . . . Again, both (Mars and Mercury) are septenary chains, as independent of the Earth’s sidereal lords and superiors as you are independent of the ‘principles’ of Daumling (Tom Thumb) — which were perhaps his six brothers, with or without night-caps. . . . . . . . . . ‘Gratification of curiosity is the end of knowledge for some men,’ was said by Bacon, who was as right in postulating this truism, as those who were familiar with it before him were right in hedging off WISDOM from Knowledge, and tracing limits to that which is to be given out at one time. . . . Remember: —
‘. . . . . . . . . . . knowledge dwells
In heads replete with thoughts of other men,
Wisdom in minds attentive to their own. . . .’
You can never impress it too profoundly on the minds of those to whom you impart some of the esoteric teachings. . .”
Again, here are more extracts from another letter written by the same authority. This time it is in answer to some objections laid before the Teachers. They are based upon extremely scientific, and as
futile, reasonings about the advisability of trying to reconcile the Esoteric theories with the speculations of Modern Science, and were written by a young Theosophist as a warning against the “Secret Doctrine” and in reference to the same subject. He had declared that if there were such companion Earths “they must be only a wee bit less material than our globe.” How then was it that they could not be seen? The answer was: —
“. . . . Were psychic and spiritual teachings more fully understood, it would become next to impossible to even imagine such an incongruity. Unless less trouble is taken to reconcile the irreconcileable — that is to say, the metaphysical and spiritual sciences with physical or natural philosophy, ‘natural’ being a synonym to them (men of science) of that matter which falls under the perception of their corporeal senses — no progress can be really achieved. Our Globe, as taught from the first, is at the bottom of the arc of descent, where the matter of our perceptions exhibits itself in its grossest form. . . . . . . Hence it only stands to reason that the globes which overshadow our Earth must be on different and superior planes. In short, as Globes, they are in co-adunition but not in consubstantiality with our earth and thus pertain to quite another state of consciousness. Our planet (like all those we see) is adapted to the peculiar state of its human stock, that state which enables us to see with our naked eye the sidereal bodies which are co-essential with our terrene plane and substance, just as their respective inhabitants, the Jovians, Martians and others can perceive our little world: because our planes of consciousness, differing as they do in degree but being the same in kind, are on the same layer of differentiated matter. . . . . What I wrote was ‘The minor Pralaya concerns only our little strings of globes.’ (We called chains ‘Strings’ in those days of lip-confusion.) . . . ‘To such a string our Earth belongs.’ This ought to have shown plainly that the other planets were also ‘strings’ or CHAINS. . . If he (meaning the objector) would perceive even the dim silhouette of one of such ‘planets’ on the higher planes, he has to first throw off even the thin clouds of the astral matter that stands between him and the next plane. . . . .”
It becomes patent why we could not perceive, even with the help of the best earthly telescopes, that which is outside our world of matter. Those alone, whom we call adepts, who know how to direct their mental vision and to transfer their consciousness — physical and psychic both —
to other planes of being, are able to speak with authority on such subjects. And they tell us plainly: —
“Lead the life necessary for the acquisition of such knowledge and powers, and Wisdom will come to you naturally. Whenever your are able to attune your consciousness to any of the seven chords of ‘Universal Consciousness,’ those chords that run along the sounding-board of Kosmos, vibrating from one Eternity to another; when you have studied thoroughly ‘the music of the Spheres,’ then only will you become quite free to share your knowledge with those with whom it is safe to do so. Meanwhile, be prudent. Do not give out the great Truths that are the inheritance of the future Races, to our present generation. Do not attempt to unveil the secret of being and non-being to those unable to see the hidden meaning of Apollo’s heptachord — the lyre of the radiant god, in each of the seven strings of which dwelleth the Spirit, Soul and Astral body of the Kosmos, whose shell only has now fallen into the hands of Modern Science. . . . . . Be prudent, we say, prudent and wise, and above all take care what those who learn from you believe in; lest by deceiving themselves they deceive others . . . . for such is the fate of every truth with which men are, as yet, unfamiliar. . . . . Let rather the planetary chains and other super- and sub-cosmic mysteries remain a dreamland for those who can neither see, nor yet believe that others can. . . .”
It is to be regretted that few of us have followed the wise advice; and that many a priceless pearl, many a jewel of wisdom, has been cast to an enemy unable to understand its value and who has turned round and rent us.
“ ‘Let us imagine,’ wrote the same Master to his two ‘lay chelas,’ as he called the author of ‘Esoteric Buddhism’ and another gentleman, his co-student for some time — ‘let us imagine that our earth is one of a group of seven planets or man-bearing worlds. . . . . . (The seven planets are the sacred planets of antiquity, and are all septenary.) Now the life-impulse reaches A, or rather that which is destined to become A, and which so far is but cosmic dust (a “laya centre”) . . etc.’ ”
In these early letters, in which the terms had to be invented and words coined, the “Rings” very often became “Rounds,” and the “Rounds” life-cycles, and vice versa. To a correspondent who called a “Round” a “World-Ring,” the Teacher wrote: “I believe this will lead to a further confusion. A Round we are agreed to call the passage
of a monad from Globe A to Globe G or Z. . . The ‘World-Ring’ is correct. . . Advise Mr. . . . strongly, to agree upon a nomenclature before going any further. . . ”
Notwithstanding this agreement, many mistakes, owing to this confusion, crept into the earliest teachings. The Races even were occasionally mixed up with the “Rounds” and “Rings,” and led to similar mistakes in “Man.” From the first the Master had written :—
“Not being permitted to give you the whole truth, or divulge the number of isolated fractions . . . I am unable to satisfy you.”
This in answer to the questions, “If we are right, then the total existence prior to the man-period is 637,” etc., etc. To all the queries relating to figures, the reply was, “Try to solve the problem of 777 incarnations. . . . Though I am obliged to withhold information . . . yet if you should work out the problem by yourself, it will be my duty to tell you so.”
But they never were so worked out, and the results were — never-ceasing perplexity and mistakes.
Even the teaching about the Septenary constitution of the sidereal bodies and of the macrocosm — from which the septenary division of the microcosm, or Man — has until now been among the most esoteric. In olden times it used to be divulged only at the Initiation and along with the most sacred figures of the cycles. Now, as stated in one of the Theosophical journals,* the revelation of the whole system of Cosmogony had not been contemplated, nor even thought for one moment possible, at a time when a few bits of information were sparingly given out in answer to letters written by the author of “Esoteric Buddhism,” in which he put forward a multiplicity of questions. Among these were questions on such problems as no MASTER, however high and independent he might be, would have the right to answer, thus divulging to the world the most time-honoured and archaic of the mysteries of the ancient college-temples. Hence only a few of the doctrines were revealed in their broad outlines, while details were constantly withheld, and all the efforts made to elicit more information about them were systematically eluded from the beginning. This is perfectly natural. Of the four Vidyas — out of the seven branches of Knowledge mentioned in the Puranas — namely, “Yajna-Vidya” (the performance of religious rites in order to
* “Lucifer,” May, 1888.
produce certain results); “Maha-Vidya,” the great (Magic) knowledge, now degenerated into Tantrika worship; “Guhya-Vidya,” the science of Mantras and their true rhythm or chanting, of mystical incantations, etc. — it is only the last one, “Atma-Vidya,” or the true Spiritual and Divine wisdom, which can throw absolute and final light upon the teachings of the three first named. Without the help of Atma-Vidya, the other three remain no better than surface sciences, geometrical magnitudes having length and breadth, but no thickness. They are like the soul, limbs, and mind of a sleeping man: capable of mechanical motions, of chaotic dreams and even sleep-walking, of producing visible effects, but stimulated by instinctual not intellectual causes, least of all by fully conscious spiritual impulses. A good deal can be given out and explained from the three first-named sciences. But unless the key to their teachings is furnished by Atma-Vidya, they will remain for ever like the fragments of a mangled text-book, like the adumbrations of great truths, dimly perceived by the most spiritual, but distorted out of all proportion by those who would nail every shadow to the wall.
Then, again, another great perplexity was created in the minds of students by the incomplete exposition of the doctrine of the evolution of the Monads. To be fully realised, both this process and that of the birth of the Globes must be examined far more from their metaphysical aspect than from what one might call a statistical standpoint, involving figures and numbers which are rarely permitted to be broadly used. Unfortunately, there are few who are inclined to handle these doctrines only metaphysically. Even the best of the Western writers upon our doctrine declares in his work that “on pure metaphysics of that sort we are not now engaged,” when speaking of the evolution of the Monads (“Esoteric Buddhism,” p. 46). And in such case, as the Teacher remarks in a letter to him, “Why this preaching of our doctrines, all this uphill work and swimming in adversum flumen? Why should the West . . . learn . . . from the East . . . that which can never meet the requirements of the special tastes of the aesthetics?” And he draws his correspondent’s attention “to the formidable difficulties encountered by us (the Adepts) in every attempt we make to explain our metaphysics to the Western mind.”
And well he may; for outside of metaphysics no occult philosophy, no esotericism is possible. It is like trying to explain the aspirations and affections, the love and hatred, the most private and sacred workings in
the soul and mind of the living man, by an anatomical description of the chest and brain of his dead body.
Let us now examine two tenets mentioned above and hardly alluded to in “Esoteric Buddhism,” and supplement them as far as lies in our power.
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