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

Meeting 3

Meeting held at 17, Lansdowne Road, London, W., on January 24th, 1889; Mr. T. B. Harbottle in the chair.

STANZA 1. (continued).


Q. Is "Darkness" the same as the "Eternal Parent Space" spoken of in Sloka (I)?

A. Not at all. Here "the boundless all" is the "Parent Space"; and Cosmic Space is something already with attributes, at least potentially. "Darkness," on the other hand, and in this instance, is that of which no attributes can be postulated: it is the Unknown Principle filling Cosmic Space.

Q. Is Darkness, then, used in the sense of the opposite pole to Light?

A. Yes, in the sense of the Unmanifested and the Unknown as the opposite pole to manifestation, and that which falls under the possibility of speculation.

Q. Darkness is not opposed to Light, then, but to differentiation; or rather, may it not be taken as the symbol of Negativeness?

A. The "Darkness" here meant can be opposed to neither Light nor Differentiation, as both are the legitimate effects of the Manvantaric evolution — the cycle of Activity. It is the "Darkness upon the face of the Deep," in Genesis: Deep being here "the bright son of the Dark Father" Space.

Q. Is it that there is no Light or simply nothing to manifest, and no one to perceive it?

A. Both. In the sense of objectivity, both light and darkness are illusions — maya; in this case, it is not Darkness as absence of Light, but as one incomprehensible primordial Principle, which, being Absoluteness itself, has for our intellectual perceptions neither form, color, substantiality, nor anything that could be expressed by words.

Q. When does Light proceed from that Darkness?

A. Subsequently, when the first hour for manifestation strikes.

Q. Light, then, is the first manifestation?

A. It is, after differentiation has begun and at the third stage of evolution only. Bear in mind that in philosophy we use the word "light" in a dual sense: one to signify eternal, absolute light, in potentia, ever present in the bosom of the unknown Darkness, coexistent and coeval with the latter in Eternity, or in other words, identical with it; and the other as a Manifestation of heterogeneity and a contrast to it. For one who reads the Vishnu Purana, for instance, understandingly, will find the difference between the two terms well expressed in Vishnu; one with Brahma, and yet distinct from him. There, Vishnu is the eternal x, and at the same time every term of the equation. He is Brahma (neuter) essentially matter and Spirit, which are Brahma's two primordial aspects — Spirit being the abstract light.* In the Vedas, however, we find Vishnu held in small esteem, and no mention made whatever of Brahma (the male).

[*In the second chapter of the Vishnu Purana (Wilson's translation) we read — "Parasara said: Glory to the unchangeable, holy, eternal, supreme Vishnu, of one universal nature, the mighty over all: to him who is Hiranyagarbha, Hari, and Sankara, the creator, the preserver, and destroyer of the world: to Vasudeva, the liberator of his worshippers: to him whose essence is both single and manifold; who is both subtile and corporeal, indiscrete and discrete: to Vishnu, the cause of final emancipation. Glory to the supreme Vishnu, the cause of the creation, existence, and end of this world; who is the root of the world, and who consists of the world."

And again: "Who can describe him who is not to be apprehended by the senses: who is the best of all things; the supreme soul, self-existent: who is devoid of all the distinguishing characteristics of complexion, caste, or the like; and is exempt from birth, vicissitude, death, or decay: who is always, and alone: who exists everywhere, and in whom all things here exist; and who is, thence, named Vasudeva? He is Brahma (neuter), supreme, lord, eternal, unborn, imperishable, undecaying; of one essence; ever pure, as free from defects. He, that Brahma, was (is) all things; comprehending in his own nature the indiscrete and discrete."]

Q. What is the meaning of the sentence, "Father, Mother and Son were once more one"?

A. It means that the three Logoi — the unmanifested "Father," the semi-manifested "Mother" and the Universe, which is the third Logos of our philosophy or Brahma, were during the (periodical) pralaya once more one; differentiated essence had rebecome undifferentiated. The sentence, "Father, Mother, and Son," is the antitype of the Christian type — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost — the last of which was, in early Christianity and Gnosticism, the female "Sophia." It means that all creative and sensitive forces and the effects of such forces which constitute the universe had returned to their primordial state: all was merged into one. During the Mahapralayas naught but the Absolute is.

Q. What are the different meanings of Father, Mother and Son? In the Commentary, they are explained as (a) Spirit, Substance and Universe, (b) Spirit, Soul and Body, (c) Universe, Planetary Chain and Man.

A. I have just completed it with my extra definition, which is clear, I think. There is nothing to be added to this explanation, unless we begin to anthropomorphize abstract conceptions.

Q. Taking the last terms of the three series, do the ideas Son, Universe, Man, Body correspond with one another?

A. Of course they do.

Q. And are these terms produced from the remaining pair of terms of each trinity; for instance, the Son from the Father and Mother, the men from the Chain and the Universe, etc., etc., and finally in Pralaya is the Son merged back again into its parents?

A. Before the question is answered, you must be reminded that the period preceding so-called Creation is not spoken about; but only that when matter had begun to differentiate, but had not yet assumed form. Father-Mother is a compound term which means primordial Substance or Spirit-matter. When from Homogeneity it begins through differentiation to fall into Heterogeneity, it becomes positive and negative; thus from the "Zero-state" (or layam) it becomes active and passive, instead of the latter alone; and, in consequence of this differentiation (the resultant of which is evolution and the subsequent Universe), — the "Son" is produced, the Son being that same Universe, or manifested Kosmos, till a new Mahapralaya.

Q. Or —the ultimate state in layam, or in the zero point, as in the beginning before the stage of the Father, Mother and Son?

A. There is but slight reference to that which was before the Father-Mother period in the Secret Doctrine. If there is Father-Mother, there can, of course, be no such condition as Laya.

Q. Father, Mother are therefore later than the Laya condition?

A. Quite so; individual objects may be in Laya, but the Universe cannot be so when Father-Mother appears.

Q. Is Fohat one of the three, Father, Mother and Son?

A. Fohat is a generic term and used in many senses. He is the light (Daiviprakriti) of all the three logoi — the personified symbols of the three spiritual stages of Evolution. Fohat is the aggregate of all the spiritual creative ideations above, and of all the electro-dynamic and creative forces below, in Heaven and on Earth. There seems to be great confusion and misunderstanding concerning the First and Second Logos. The first is the already present yet still unmanifested potentiality in the bosom of Father-Mother; the Second is the abstract collectivity of creators called "Demiurgi" by the Greeks or the Builders of the Universe. The third logos is the ultimate differentiation of the Second and the individualization of Cosmic Forces, of which Fohat is the chief; for Fohat is the synthesis of the Seven Creative Rays or Dhyan Chohans which proceed from the third Logos.

Q. During Manvantara when the Son is in existence or awake, does the Father-Mother exist independently or only as manifested in the Son?

A. In using the terms Father, Mother, and Son, we should be on our guard against anthropomorphizing the conception; the two former are simply centrifugal and centripetal forces and their product is the "Son"; moreover, it is impossible to exclude either of these factors from the conception in the Esoteric Philosophy.

Q. If so then comes this other point: it is possible to conceive of centripetal and centrifugal forces existing independently of the effects they produce. The effects are always regarded as secondary to the cause or causes.

A. But it is very doubtful whether such a conception can be maintained in, and applied to, our Symbology; if these forces exist they must be producing effects, and if the effects cease, the forces cease with them, for who can know of them?

Q. But they exist as separate entities for mathematical purposes, do they not?

A. That is a different thing; there is a great difference between nature and science, reality and philosophical symbolism. For the same reason we divide man into seven principles, but this does not mean that he has, as it were, seven skins, or entities, or souls. These principles are all aspects of one principle, and even this principle is but a temporary and periodical ray of the One eternal and infinite Flame or Fire.



Q. If the "Causes of existence" had been done away with, how did they come again into existence? It is stated in the Commentary that the chief cause of existence is "the desire to exist," but in the sloka, the universe is called the "son of necessity."

A. "The causes of existence had been done away with" refers to the last Manvantara, or age of Brahma, but the cause which makes the Wheel of Time and Space run into Eternity, which is out of Space and Time, has nothing to do with finite causes or what we call Nidanas. There seems to me no contradiction in the statements.

Q. There certainly is a contrast. If the causes of existence had been done away with, how did they come into existence again? But the answer removes the difficulty, for it is stated that one Manvantara had disappeared into Pralaya, and that the cause which led the previous Manvantara to exist is now behind the limits of Space and Time, and therefore causes another Manvantara to come into being.

A. Quite so. This one eternal and therefore, "causeless cause" is immutable and has nothing to do with the causes on any of the planes which are concerned with finite and conditioned being. The cause can therefore by no means be a finite consciousness or desire. It is an absurdity to postulate desire or necessity of the Absolute; the striking of a clock does not suggest the desire of the clock to strike.

Q. But the clock is wound up, and needs a Winder?

A. The same may be said of the universe and this cause, the Absolute containing both clock and Winder, once it is the Absolute; the only difference is that the former is wound up in Space and Time and the latter out of Space and Time, that is to say in Eternity.

Q. The question really requests an explanation of the cause, in the Absolute, of differentiation?

A. That is outside the province of legitimate speculation. Parabrahm is not a cause, neither is there any cause that can compel it to emanate or create. Strictly speaking, Parabrahm is not even the Absolute but Absoluteness. Parabrahm is not the cause, but the causality, or the propelling but not volitional power, in every manifesting Cause. We may have some hazy idea that there is such a thing as this eternal Causeless Cause or Causality. But to define it is impossible. In the "Lectures on the Bhagavat Gita," by Mr. Subba Row, it is stated that logically even the First Logos cannot cognize Parabrahm, but only Mulaprakriti, its veil. When, therefore, we have yet no clear idea of Mulaprakriti, the first basic aspect of Parabrahm, what can we know of that Supreme Total which is veiled by Mulaprakriti (the root of nature or Prakriti) even to the Logos?

Q. What is the meaning of the expression in sloka (7), the visible that was, and the invisible that is"?

A. "The visible that was" means the universe of the past Manvantara which had passed into Eternity and was no more. "The invisible that is" signifies the eternal, ever-present and ever-invisible deity, which we call by many names, such as abstract Space, Absolute Sat, etc., and know, in reality, nothing about it.


Q. Does the "Eye" open upon the Absolute: or are the "one form of existence" and the "All-Presence" other than the Absolute, or various names for the same Principle?

A. It is all one, of course; simply metaphorical expressions. Please notice that the "Eye" is not said to "see"; it only "sensed" the "All-Presence."

Q. It is through this "Eye" then, that we receive such sense, or feeling, or consciousness?

A. Through that "Eye," most decidedly; but then one must have such an "Eye" before he can see, or become a Dangma, or a Seer.

Q. The highest spiritual faculty, presumably?

A. Very well; but where, at that stage, was the happy possessor of it? There was no Dangma to sense the "All-Presence," because there were as yet no men.

Q. With reference to sloka (6), it was stated that the cause of Light was Darkness?

A. Darkness has, here again, to be read in a metaphorical sense. It is Darkness most unquestionably to our intellect, inasmuch as we can know nothing of it. I told you already that neither Darkness nor Light are to be used in the sense of opposites, as in the differentiated world. Darkness is the term which will give rise to least misconceptions. For instance, if the term "Chaos" were used, it would be liable to be confounded with chaotic matter.

Q. The term light was, of course, never used for physical light?

A. Of course not. Here light is the first potentiality awakening from its laya condition to become a potency; it is the first flutter in undifferentiated matter which throws it into objectivity and into a plane from which will start manifestation.

Q. Later on in the "Secret Doctrine," it is stated that light is made visible by darkness, or rather that darkness exists originally, and that light is the result of the presence of objects to reflect it, that is of the objective world. Now if we take a globe of water and pass an electric beam through it, we shall find that this beam is invisible, unless there are opaque particles in the water, in which case, specks of light will be seen. Is this a good analogy?

A. It is a very fair illustration, I believe.

Q. Is not Light a differentiation of vibration?

A. So we are told in Science; and Sound is also. And so we see that the senses are to a certain extent interchangeable. How would you account, for instance, for the fact that in trance a clairvoyant can read a letter, sometimes placed on the forehead, at the soles of the feet, or on the stomach-pit?

Q. That is an extra sense.

A. Not at all; it is simply that the sense of seeing can be interchanged with the sense of touch.

Q. But is not the sense of perception the beginning of the sixth sense?

A. That is going beyond the present case, which is simply the interchanging of the senses of touch and sight. Such clairvoyants, however, will not be able to tell the contents of a letter which they have not seen or been brought into contact with; this requires the exercise of the sixth sense, the former is an exercise of senses on the physical plane, the latter of a sense on a higher plane.

Q. It seems very probable from physiology that every sense may be resolved into the sense of touch, which may be called the co-ordinating sense. This deduction is made from embryological research, which shows that the sense of touch is the first and primary sense, and that all the rest are evolved from it. All the senses, therefore, are more highly specialized or differentiated forms of touch.

A. This is not the view of Eastern philosophy; in the Anugita, we read of a conversation between "Brahman" and his wife concerning the senses, seven are spoken of, "mind and understanding" being the other two, according to Mr. Trimbak Telang and Professor Max Muller's translation; these terms, however, do not convey the correct meaning of the Sanskrit terms. Now, the first sense, according to the Hindus, is connected with sound. This can hardly be the sense of touch.

Q. By touch most probably sensibility, or some sense medium, is meant?

A. In the Eastern philosophy, however, the sense of sound is first manifested, and next the sense of sight, sounds passing into colors. Clairvoyants can see sounds and detect every note and modulation far more distinctly than they would by the ordinary sense of sound — vibration, or hearing.

Q. Is it, then, that sound is perceived as a sort of rhythmic movement?

A. Yes; and such vibrations can be seen at a greater distance than they can be heard.

Q. But supposing the physical hearing were stopped, and a person perceived sounds clairvoyantly, could not this sensation be translated into clairaudience as well?

A. One sense must certainly merge at some point into the other. So also sound can be translated into taste. There are sounds which taste exceedingly acid in the mouths of some sensitives, while others generate the taste of sweetness, in fact, the whole scale of senses is susceptible of correlations.

Q. Then there must be the same extension of the sense of smell?

A. Very naturally, as has been already shown before. The senses are interchangeable once we admit correlation. Moreover they can all be intensified or modified very considerably. You will now understand the reference in the Vedas and Upanishads, where sounds are said to be perceived.

Q. There was a curious story in the last number of Harper's Magazine of a tribe on an island in the South Seas which have virtually lost the art and habit of speaking and conversing. Yet, they appeared to understand one another and see plainly what each other thought.

A. Such a "Palace of Truth" would hardly suit modern society. However, it was by just such means that the early races are said to have communicated with one another, thought taking an objective form, before speech developed into a distinct spoken language. If so, then there must have been a period in the evolution of the human races when the whole Humanity was composed of sensitives and clairvoyants.

Meeting 4

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