Secret Doctrine Commentary (Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge) by H. P. Blavatsky

Meeting 2

Meeting held at 17, Lansdowne Road, London, W., on January 17th, 1889, Mr. T. B. Harbottle in the Chair.

STANZA I. (continued).

Sloka (3). . . . . .UNIVERSAL MIND WAS NOT, FOR THERE WERE NO AH-HI (celestial beings) TO CONTAIN (hence manifest) IT.

Q. This sloka seems to imply that the Universal Mind has no existence apart from the Ah-hi; but in the Commentary it is stated that:

"During Pralaya the Universal Mind remains as a permanent possibility of mental action, or as that abstract absolute thought of which mind is the concrete relative manifestation, and that the Ah-hi are the vehicle for divine universal thought and will. They are the intelligent forces which give to nature her laws, while they themselves act according to laws imposed upon them by still higher powers, and are the hierarchy of spiritual beings through which the universal mind comes into action." (S. D., I., 38.)

The Commentary suggests that the Ah-hi are not themselves the Universal Mind, but only the vehicle for its manifestation.

A. The meaning of this sloka is, I think, very clear; it means that, as there are no finite differentiated minds during Pralaya, it is just as though there were no mind at all, because there is nothing to contain or perceive it. There is nothing to receive and reflect the ideation of the Absolute Mind; therefore, it is not. Everything outside of the Absolute and immutable Sat (Be-ness), is necessarily finite and conditioned, since it has beginning and end. Therefore, since the "Ah-hi were not," there was no Universal Mind as a manifestation. A distinction had to be made between the Absolute Mind, which is ever present, and its reflection and manifestation in the Ah-hi, who, being on the highest plane, reflect the universal mind collectively at the first flutter of Manvantara. After which they begin the work of evolution of all the lower forces throughout the seven planes, down to the lowest — our own. The Ah-hi are the primordial seven rays, or Logoi, emanated from the first Logos, triple, yet one in its essence.

Q. Then the Ah-hi and Universal Mind are necessary complements of one another?

A. Not at all: Universal or Absolute Mind always is during Pralaya as well as Manvantara; it is immutable. The Ah-hi are the highest Dhyanis, the Logoi as just said, those who begin the downward evolution, or emanation. During Pralaya there are no Ah-hi, because they come into being only with the first radiation of the Universal Mind, which, per se, cannot be differentiated, and the radiation from which is the first dawn of Manvantara. The Absolute is dormant, latent mind, and cannot be otherwise in true metaphysical perception; it is only Its shadow which becomes differentiated in the collectivity of these Dhyanis.

Q. Does this mean that it was absolute consciousness, but is so no longer?

A. It is absolute consciousness eternally, which consciousness becomes relative consciousness periodically, at every "Manvantaric dawn." Let us picture to ourselves this latent or potential consciousness as a kind of vacuum in a vessel. Break the vessel, and what becomes of the vacuum; where shall we look for it? It has disappeared; it is everywhere and nowhere. It is something, yet nothing: a vacuum, yet a plenum. But what in reality is a vacuum as understood by Modern Science — a homogeneous something, or what? Is not absolute Vacuum a figment of our fancy? A pure negation, a supposed Space where nothing exists? This being so, destroy the vessel, and — to our perceptions at any rate — nothing exists. Therefore, the Stanza puts it very correctly; "Universal Mind was not," because there was no vehicle to contain it.

Q. What are the higher powers which condition the Ah-hi?

A. They cannot be called powers; power or perhaps Potentiality would be better. The Ah-hi are conditioned by the awakening into manifestation of the periodical, universal LAW, which becomes successively active and inactive. It is by this law that they are conditioned or formed, not created. "Created" is an impossible term to use in Philosophy.

Q. Then the power or Potentiality which precedes and is higher than the Ah-hi, is the law which necessitates manifestation.

A. Just so; periodical manifestation. When the hour strikes, the law comes into action, and the Ah-hi appear on the first rung of the ladder of manifestation.

Q. But surely this is THE law and not A law?

A. Precisely, since it is absolute and "Secondless" — therefore it is not an attribute, but that Absoluteness itself.

Q. The great difficulty is to account for this law?

A. That would be trying to go beyond the first manifestation and supreme causality. It will take all our limited intellect to vaguely understand even the latter; try as we may, we can never, limited as we are, approach the Absolute, which is to us, at our present stage of mental development, merely a logical speculation, though dating back to thousands and thousands of years.

Q. With reference to the sloka under discussion, would not "cosmic mind" be a better term than "universal mind"?

A. No; cosmic mind appears at the third stage, or degree, and is confined or limited to the manifested universe. In the Puranas Mahat (the "great" Principle of mind, or Intellect) appears only at the third of the Seven "Creations" or stages of evolution. Cosmic Mind is Mahat, or divine ideation in active (creative) operation, and thus only the periodical manifestation in time and in actu of the Eternal Universal Mind — in potentia. In strict truth, Universal Mind, being only another name for the Absolute, out of time and Space, this Cosmic Ideation, or Mind, is not an evolution at all (least of all a "creation"), but simply one of the aspects of the former, which knows no change, which ever was, which is, and will be. Thus, I say again, the sloka implies that universal ideation was not, i.e., did not exist for perception, because there were no minds to perceive it, since Cosmic Mind was still latent, or a mere potentiality. As the stanzas speak of manifestation, we are compelled so to translate them, and not from any other standpoint.

Q. We use the word "cosmic" as applied to the manifested universe in all its forms. The sloka apparently does not refer to this, but to the first absolute Consciousness, or Non-consciousness, and seems to imply that the absolute consciousness could not be that universal mind because it was not, or could not be, expressed: there was, therefore, no expression for it. But it may be objected that though there was no expression for it, still it was there. Can we say that, like Sat, it was and was not?

A. That will not help the interpretation.

Q. When it is said that it was not, the idea conveyed then is that it was not in the Absolute?

A. By no means; simply "it was not."

Q. There seems to be a distinction, certainly; for if we could say "it was," it would be taking a very one-sided view of the idea of Sat, and equivalent to saying that Sat was BEING. Still, someone may say that the phrase "Universal Mind was not," as it stands, suggests that it is a manifestation, but mind is not a manifestation.

A. Mind, in the act of ideation, is a manifestation; but Universal Mind is not the same thing, as no conditioned and relative act can be predicted of that which is Absolute. Universal ideation was as soon as the Ah-hi appeared, and continues throughout the Manvantara.

Q. To what cosmic plane do the Ah-hi, here spoken of, belong?

A. They belong to the first, second, and third planes — the last plane being really the starting point of the primordial manifestation — the objective reflection of the unmanifested. Like the Pythagorean Monas, the first Logos, having emanated the first triad, disappears into silence and darkness.

Q. Does this mean that the three Logoi emanated from the primordial Radiation in Macrocosm correspond to Atma, Buddhi, and Manas, in the Microcosm?

A. Just so; they correspond, but must not be confounded with them. We are now speaking of the Macrocosm at the first flutter of Manvantaric dawn, when evolution begins, and not of Microcosm or Man.

Q. Are the three planes to which the three Logoi belong simultaneous emanations, or do they evolve one from another?

A. It is most misleading to apply mechanical laws to the higher metaphysics of cosmogony, or to space and time, as we know them for neither existed then. The reflection of the triad in space and time or the objective universe comes later.

Q. Have the Ah-hi been men in previous Manvantaras, or will they become so?

A. Every living creature, of whatever description, was, is, or will become a human being in one or another Manvantara.

Q. But do they in this Manvantara remain permanently on the same very exalted plane during the whole period of the life-cycle?

A. If you mean by "life cycle" a duration of time which extends over fifteen figures, then my answer is most decidedly — no. The "Ah-hi" pass through all the planes, beginning to manifest on the third. Like all other Hierarchies, on the highest plane they are arupa, i.e., formless, bodiless, without any substance, mere breaths. On the second plane, they first approach to Rupa, or form. On the third, they became Manasa-putras, those who became incarnated in men. With every plane they reach they are called by different names — there is a continual differentiation of their original homogeneous substance; we call it substance, although in reality it is no substance of which we can conceive. Later, they become Rupa — ethereal forms.

Q. Then the Ah-hi of this Manvantara . . . ?

A. Exist no longer; they have long ago become Planetary, Solar, Lunar, and lastly, incarnating Egos, for, as said, "they are the collective hosts of spiritual beings."

Q. But it was stated above that the Ah-hi did not become men in this Manvantara.

A. Nor do they as the formless "Ah-hi." But they do as their own transformations. The Manvantaras should not be confounded. The fifteen-figure Manvantaric cycle applies to the solar system; but there is a Manvantara which relates to the whole of the objective universe, the Mother-Father, and many minor Manvantaras. The slokas relating to the former have been generally selected, and only two or three relating to the latter given. Many slokas, therefore, have been omitted because of their difficult nature.

Q. Then, on reawakening, will the men of one Manvantara have to pass through a stage corresponding to the Ah-hi stage in the next Manvantara?

A. In some of the Manvantaras, the tail is in the mouth of the serpent. Think over this Symbolism.

Q. A man can choose what he will think about; can the analogy be applied to the Ah-hi?

A. No; because a man has free will and the Ah-hi have none. They are obliged to act simultaneously, for the law under which they must act gives them the impulse. Free will can only exist in a Man who has both mind and consciousness, which act and make him perceive things both within and without himself. The "Ah-hi" are Forces, not human Beings.

Q. But are they not conscious agents in the work?

A. Conscious in as far as they act within the universal consciousness. But the consciousness of the Manasa-putra on the third plane is quite different. It is only then that they become Thinkers. Besides, Occultism, unlike modern Science, maintains that every atom of matter, when once differentiated, becomes endowed with its own kind of Consciousness. Every cell in the human body (as in every animal) is endowed with its own peculiar discrimination, instinct, and, speaking relatively, with intelligence.

Q. Can the Ah-hi be said to be enjoying bliss?

A. How can they be subject to bliss or non-bliss? Bliss can only be appreciated, and becomes such when suffering is known.

Q. But there is a distinction between happiness and bliss.

A. Granting that there may be, still there can be neither happiness nor bliss without a contrasting experience of suffering and pain.

Q. But we understand that bliss, as the state of the Absolute, was intended to be referred to.

A. This is still more illogical. How can the ABSOLUTE be said to feel? The Absolute can have no condition nor attribute. It is only that which is finite and differentiated which can have any feeling or attitude predicated of it.

Q. Then the Ah-hi cannot be said to be conscious intelligences, when intelligence is so complex?

A. Perhaps the term is erroneous, but owing to the poverty of European languages there seems to be no other choice.

Q. But perhaps a phrase would represent the idea more correctly? The term seems to mean a force which is a unity, not a complex action and reaction of several forces, which would be implied by the word "intelligence." The noumenal aspect of phenomenal force would perhaps better express the idea.

A. Or perhaps we may represent to ourselves the idea as a flame, a unity; the rays from this flame will be complex, each acting in its own straight line.

Q. But they only become complex when they find receptacles in lower forms.

A. Just so; still the Ah-hi are the flame from which the rays stream forth, becoming more and more differentiated as they fall deeper into matter, until they finally reach this world of ours, with its teeming millions of inhabitants and sensuous beings, and then they become truly complex.

Q. The Ah-hi, then, considered as a primary essence, would be unity? Can we regard them as such?

A. You may; but the strict truth is that they only proceed from unity, and are the first of its seven rays.

Q. Then can we call them the reflection of unity?

A. Are not the prismatic rays fundamentally one single white ray? From the one they become three; from the three, seven; from which seven primaries they fall into infinitude. Referring back to the so-called "consciousness" of the Ah-hi, that consciousness cannot be judged by the standard of human perceptions. It is on quite another plane.

Q. "During deep sleep, mind is not on the material plane"; is it therefore to be inferred that during this period mind is active on another plane? Is there any definition of the characteristics which distinguish mind in the waking state from mind during the sleep of the body?

A. There is, of course; but I do not think that a discussion upon it would be pertinent or useful now; suffice to say that often the reasoning faculty of the higher mind may be asleep, and the instinctual mind be fully awake. It is the physiological distinction between the cerebrum and the cerebellum; the one sleeps and the other is awake.

Q. What is meant by the term instinctual mind?

A. The instinctual mind finds expression through the cerebellum, and is also that of the animals. With man during sleep the functions of the cerebrum cease, and the cerebellum carries him on to the Astral plane, a still more unreal state than even the waking plane of illusion; for so we call this state which the majority of you think so real. And the Astral plane is still more deceptive, because it reflects indiscriminately the good and the bad, and is so chaotic.

Q. The fundamental conditions of the mind in the waking state are space and time: do these exist for the mind (Manas) during the sleep of the physical body?

A. Not as we know them. Moreover, the answer depends on which Manas you mean — the higher or the lower. It is only the latter which is susceptible of hallucinations about space and time; for instance, a man in the dreaming state may live in a few seconds the events of a life-time. (See the discussion on dreams appended after meeting 4.) For the perceptions and apprehensions of the Higher Ego there is neither space nor time.

Q. Manas is said to be the vehicle of Buddhi, but the universal mind has been spoken of as a Maha-Buddhi. What then is the distinction between the terms Manas and Buddhi, employed in a universal sense, and Manas and Buddhi as manifested in man?

A. Cosmic Buddhi, the emanation of the Spiritual Soul Alaya, is the vehicle of Mahat only when that Buddhi corresponds to Prakriti. Then it is called Maha-Buddhi. This Buddhi differentiates through seven planes, whereas the Buddhi in man is the vehicle of Atman which vehicle is of the essence of the highest plane of Akasa and therefore does not differentiate. The difference between Manas and Buddhi in man is the same as the difference between the Manasa-putra and the Ah-hi in Kosmos.

Q. Manas is mind, and the Ah-hi, it is said, can no more have any individual Mind, or that which we call mind, on this plane than Buddhi can. Can there be Consciousness without Mind?

A. Not on this plane of matter. But why not on some other and higher plane? Once we postulate a Universal Mind, both the brain, the mind's vehicle, and Consciousness, its faculty, must be quite different on a higher plane from what they are here. They are nearer to the Absolute ALL, and must therefore be represented by a substance infinitely more homogeneous; something sui generis, and entirely beyond the reach of our intellectual perceptions. Let us call or imagine it an incipient and incognizable state of primeval differentiation. On that higher plane, as it seems to me, Mahat — the great Manvantaric Principle of Intelligence — acts as a Brain, through which the Universal and Eternal Mind radiates the Ah-hi, representing the resultant Consciousness or ideation. As the shadow of this primordial triangle falls lower and lower through the descending planes, it becomes with every stage more material.

Q. It becomes the plane on which Consciousness perceives objective manifestations. Is it so?

A. Yes. But here we come face to face with the great problem of Consciousness, and shall have to fight Materialism. For what is Consciousness? According to modern Science it is a faculty of the Mind like volition. We say so too; but add that while Consciousness is not a thing per se, Mind is distinctly — in its Manvantaric functions at least — an Entity. Such is the opinion of all the Eastern Idealists.

Q. It is, however, the fashion nowadays to speak slightingly of the idea that the mind is an entity.

A. Nevertheless, mind is a term perfectly synonymous with Soul. Those who deny the existence of the latter will of course contend that there is no such thing as consciousness apart from brain, and at death consciousness ceases. Occultists, on the contrary, affirm that consciousness exists after death, and that then only the real consciousness and freedom of the Ego commences, when it is no longer impeded by terrestrial matter.

Q. Perhaps the former view arises from limiting the meaning of the term "consciousness" to the faculty of perception?

A. If so, occultism is entirely opposed to such a view.

Sloka (4). THE SEVEN WAYS TO BLISS (Moksha or Nirvana) WERE NOT.* THE GREAT CAUSES OF MISERY (Nidana and Maya) WERE NOT, FOR THERE WAS NO ONE TO PRODUCE AND GET ENSNARED BY THEM.

[*Vide The Voice of the Silence; Fragment III., The Seven Portals.]

Q. What are the seven ways to bliss?

A. They are certain faculties of which the student will know more when he goes deeper into occultism.

Q. Are the Four Truths of the Hinayana School the same as those mentioned by Sir Edwin Arnold in "The Light of Asia"; the first of which is the Path of Sorrow; the second of Sorrow's cause; the third of Sorrow's ceasing; and the fourth is the WAY?

A. All this is theological and exoteric, and to be found in all the Buddhist scriptures; and the above seems to be taken from Singhalese or Southern Buddhism. The subject, however, is far more fully treated of in the Aryasanga School. Still even there the four truths have one meaning for the regular priest of the Yellow Robe, and quite another for the real Mystics.

Q. Are Nidana and Maya (the great causes of misery) aspects of the Absolute?

A. Nidana means the concatenation of cause and effect; the twelve Nidanas are the enumeration of the chief causes which produce the severest reaction or effects under the Karmic law. Although there is no connection between the terms Nidana and Maya in themselves, Maya being simply illusion, yet if we consider the universe as Maya or illusion, then certainly the Nidanas, as being moral agents in the universe, are included in Maya. It is Maya, illusion or ignorance, which awakens Nidanas; and the cause or causes having been produced, the effects follow according to Karmic law. To take an instance: we all regard ourselves as Units, although essentially we are one indivisible Unit, drops in the ocean of Being, not to be distinguished from other drops. Having then produced this cause, the whole discord of life follows immediately as an effect; in reality it is the endeavor of nature to restore harmony and maintain equilibrium. It is this sense of separateness which is the root of all evil.

Q. Perhaps it would therefore be better to separate the two terms, and state whether Maya is an aspect of the Absolute?

A. This can hardly be so, since Maya is the Cause, and at the same time an aspect, of differentiation, if of anything. Moreover, the Absolute can never be differentiated. Maya is a manifestation; the Absolute can have no manifestation, but only a reflection, a shadow which is radiated periodically from it — not by it.

Q. Yet Maya is said to be the Cause of manifestation or differentiation?

A. What of that? Certainly if there were no Maya there would be no differentiation, or, rather, no objective universe would be perceived. But this does not make of it an aspect of the Absolute, but simply something coeval and coexistent with the manifested Universe or the heterogeneous differentiation of pure Homogeneity.

Q. By a parity of reason, then, if no differentiation, no Maya? But we are speaking of Maya now as THE CAUSE of the Universe, so that the moment we get behind differentiation, we may ask ourselves — Where is Maya?

A. Maya is everywhere, and in every thing that has a beginning and an end; therefore, every thing is an aspect of that which is eternal, and in that sense, of course Maya itself is an aspect of SAT, or that which is eternally present in the universe, whether during Manvantara or Mahapralaya. Only remember that it has been said of even Nirvana that it is only Maya when compared with the Absolute.

Q. Is then Maya a collective term for all manifestations?

A. I do not think this would explain the term. Maya is the perceptive faculty of every Ego which considers itself a Unit separate from, and independent of, the One infinite and eternal SAT, or "be-ness." Maya is explained in exoteric philosophy and the Puranas, as the personified active Will of the Creative God — the latter being but a personified Maya himself — a passing deception of the senses of man, who began anthropomorphizing pure abstraction from the beginning of his speculations. Maya, in the conception of an orthodox Hindu, is quite different from the Maya of a Vedantin Idealist or an Occultist. The Vedanta states that Maya, or the deceptive influence of illusion alone, constitutes belief in the real existence of matter or anything differentiated. The Bhagavata Purana identifies Maya with Prakriti (manifested nature and matter). Do not some advanced European metaphysicians, such as Kant, Schopenhauer, and others, assert the same? Of course they got their ideas about it from the East — especially from Buddhism; yet the doctrine of the unreality of this universe has been pretty correctly worked out by our philosophers — on general lines, at any rate. Now, although no two people can see things and objects in exactly the same way, and that each of us sees them in his own way, yet all labor more or less under illusions, and chiefly under the great illusion (Maya) that they are, as personalities, distinct beings from other beings, and that even their Selves or Egos will prevail in the eternity (or sempiternity, at any rate) as such; whereas not only we ourselves, but the whole visible and invisible universe, are only a temporary part of the one beginningless and endless WHOLE, or that which ever was, is, and will be.

Q. The term seems to apply to the complex points of differentiation: differentiation applying to the unit and Maya to the collection of units. But we may now put a side question.

With regard to the preceding part of the discussion, reference has been made to the cerebrum and cerebellum, and the latter described as the instinctual organ. An animal is supposed to have an instinctive mind; but the cerebellum is said to be simply the organ of vegetative life, and to control the functions of the body alone; whereas the sensual mind is the mind into which the senses open, and there can be no thought or ideation, nothing of which we predicate intellect or instinct anywhere, except in that part of the brain assigned to such functions, namely, the cerebrum.

A. However that may be, this cerebellum is the organ of instinctual animal functions, which reflect themselves in, or produce, dreams which for the most part are chaotic and inconsequent. Dreams, however, which are remembered, and present a sequence of events, are due to the vision of the higher Ego.

Q. Is not the cerebellum what we may call the organ of habit?

A. Being instinctual, it may very well be called so, I believe.

Q. Except that habit may be referred to what we may call the present stage of existence, and instinct to a past stage.

A. Whatever the name may be, the cerebellum alone — as you were already told (vide "On Dreams," following Meeting 4) — functions during sleep, not the cerebrum; and the dreams, or emanations, or instinctive feelings, which we experience on waking, are the result of such activity.

Q. The consecutiveness is brought about entirely by the co-ordinating faculty. But surely the cerebrum also acts, a proof of which is that the nearer we approach the sleep-waking state the more vivid our dreams become.

A. Quite so, when you are waking; but not before. We may compare this state of the cerebellum to a bar of metal, or something of the same nature, which has been heated during the day and emanates or radiates heat during the night; so the energy of the brain radiates unconsciously during the night.

Q. Still we cannot say that the brain is incapable of registering impressions during sleep. A sleeping man can be awakened by a noise, and when awake will be frequently able to trace his dream to the impression caused by the noise. This fact seems to prove conclusively the brain's activity during sleep.

A. A mechanical activity certainly; if under such circumstances there is the slightest perception, or the least glimpse of the dream state, memory comes into play, and the dream can be reconstructed. In the discussion on dreams, the dream state passing into the waking state was compared to the embers of a dying fire; we may very well continue the simile, and compare the play of the memory to a current of air re-kindling them. That is to say that the waking consciousness recalls to activity the cerebellum, which was fading below the threshold of consciousness.

Q. But does the cerebellum ever cease functioning?

A. No; but it is lost in the functions of the cerebrum.

Q. That is to say that the stimuli which proceed from the cerebellum during waking life fall below the threshold of waking consciousness, the field of consciousness being entirely occupied by the cerebrum, and this continues till sleep supervenes, when the stimuli from the cerebellum begin in their turn to form the field of consciousness. It is not, therefore, correct to say that the cerebrum is the only seat of consciousness.

A. Quite so; the function of the cerebrum is to polish, perfect, or co-ordinate ideas, whereas that of the cerebellum produces conscious desires, and so on.

Q. Evidently we have to extend our idea of consciousness. For instance, there is no reason why a sensitive plant should not have consciousness. Du Prel, in his "Philosophie der Mystik," cites some very curious experiments showing a kind of local consciousness, perhaps a kind of reflex connection. He even goes further than this, demonstrating, from a large number of well authenticated cases, such as those of clairvoyants, who can perceive by the pit of the stomach, that the threshold of consciousness is capable of a very wide extension, far wider than we are accustomed to give to it, both upwards and downwards.

A. We may congratulate ourselves on the experiments of Du Prel as an antidote to the theories of Professor Huxley, which are absolutely irreconcileable with the teachings of occultism.


Meeting 3

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