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

Meeting 4

Meeting held at 17, Lansdowne Road, London, W., on January 31st, 1888; Mr. T. B. Harbottle in the chair.

STANZA I. (continued).

Q. With reference to sloka (6), where it speaks of the "Seven Lords," since confusion is apt to arise as to the correct application of the terms, what is the distinction between Dhyan-Chohans, Planetary Spirits, Builders and Dhyani-Buddhas?

A. As an additional two volumes of the Secret Doctrine would be required to explain all the Hierarchies; therefore, much relating to them has been omitted from the Stanzas and Commentaries. A short definition may, however, be tried. Dhyan-Chohan is a generic term for all Devas, or celestial beings. A Planetary Spirit is a Ruler of a planet, a kind of finite or personal god. There is a marked difference, however, between the Rulers of the Sacred Planets and the Rulers of a small "chain" of worlds like our own. It is no serious objection to say that the earth has, nevertheless, six invisible companions and four different planes, as every other planet, for the difference between them is vital in many a point. Say what one may, our Earth was never numbered among the seven sacred planets of the ancients, though in exoteric, popular astrology it stood as a substitute for a secret planet now lost to astronomy, yet well known to initiated specialists. Nor were the Sun or the Moon in that number, though accepted in our day by modern astrology; for the Sun is a Central Star, and the Moon a dead planet.

Q. Were none of the six globes of the "terrene" chain numbered among the sacred planets?

A. None. The latter were all planets on our plane, and some of them have been discovered later.

Q. Can you tell us something of the planets for which the Sun and the Moon were substitutes?

A. There is no secret in it, though our modern astrologers are ignorant of these planets. One is an intra-mercurial planet, which is supposed to have been discovered, and named by anticipation Vulcan, and the other a planet with a retrograde motion, sometimes visible at a certain hour of night and apparently near the moon. The occult influence of this planet is transmitted by the moon.

Q. What is it that made these planets sacred or secret?

A. Their occult influences, as far as I know.

Q. Then do the Planetary Spirits of the Seven Sacred Planets belong to another hierarchy than to that of the earth?

A. Evidently; since the terrestrial spirit of the earth is not of a very high grade. It must be remembered that the planetary spirit has nothing to do with the spiritual man, but with things of matter and cosmic beings. The gods and rulers of our Earth are cosmic Rulers; that is to say, they form into shape and fashion cosmic matter, for which they were called Cosmocratores. They never had any concern with spirit; the Dhyani-Buddhas, belonging to quite a different hierarchy, are especially concerned with the latter.

Q. These seven Planetary Spirits have therefore nothing really to do with the earth except incidentally?

A. On the contrary, the "Planetary" — who are not the Dhyani-Buddhas — have everything to do with the earth, physically and morally. It is they who rule its destinies and the fate of men. They are Karmic agencies.

Q. Have they anything to do with the fifth principle — the higher Manas?

A. No: they have no concern with the three higher principles; they have, however, something to do with the fourth. To recapitulate, therefore; the term "Dhyani-Buddhas" is a generic name for all celestial beings. The "Dhyani-Buddhas" are concerned with the human higher triad in a mysterious way that need not be explained here. The "Builders" are a class called, as I already explained, Cosmocratores, or the invisible but intelligent Masons, who fashion matter according to the ideal plan ready for them in that which we call Divine and Cosmic Ideation. They were called by the early Masons the "Grand Architect of the Universe" collectively: but now the modern Masons make of their G. A. O. T. U. a personal and singular Deity.

Q. Are they not also Planetary Spirits?

A. In a sense they are — as the Earth is also a Planet — but of a lower order.

Q. Do they act under the guidance of the Terrestrial Planetary Spirit?

A. I have just said that they were collectively that Spirit themselves. I wish you to understand that they are not an Entity, a kind of a personal God, but Forces of nature acting under one immutable Law, on the nature of which it is certainly useless for us to speculate.

Q. But are there not Builders of Universes, and Builders of Systems, as there are Builders of our earth?

A. Assuredly there are.

Q. Then the terrestrial Builders are a Planetary "Spirit" like the rest of them, only inferior in kind?

A. I would certainly say so.

Q. Are they inferior according to the size of the planet or inferior in quality?

A. The latter, as we are taught. You see the ancients lacked our modern, and especially theological, conceit, which makes of this little speck of mud of ours something ineffably grander than any of the stars and planets known to us. If, for instance, Esoteric Philosophy teaches that the "Spirit" (collectively again) of Jupiter is far superior to the Terrestrial Spirit, it is not because Jupiter is so many times larger than our earth, but because its substance and texture are so much finer than, and superior to, that of the earth. And it is in proportion to this quality that the Hierarchies of respective "Planetary Builders" reflect and act upon the ideations they find planned for them in the Universal Consciousness, the real great Architect of the Universe.

Q. The Soul of the World, or "Anima Mundi"?

A. Call it so, if you like. It is the Antitype of these Hierarchies, which are its differentiated types. The one impersonal Great Architect of the Universe is MAHAT, the Universal Mind. And Mahat is a symbol, an abstraction, an aspect which assumed a hazy, entitative form in the all-materializing conceptions of man.

Q. What is the real difference between the Dhyani-Buddhas in the orthodox and the esoteric conceptions?

A. A very great one philosophically. They are — as higher Devas — called by the Buddhists, Bodhisattvas. Exoterically they are five in number, whereas in the esoteric schools they are seven, and not single Entities but Hierarchies.

It is stated in the Secret Doctrine that five Buddhas have come and that two are to come in the sixth and seventh races. Exoterically their president is Vajrasattva, the "Supreme Intelligence" or "Supreme Buddha," but more transcendent still is Vajradhara, even as Parabrahm transcends Brahma or Mahat. Thus the exoteric and occult significations of the Dhyani-Buddhas are entirely different. Exoterically each is a trinity, three in one, all three manifesting simultaneously in three worlds — as a human Buddha on earth, a Dhyani-Buddha in the world of astral forms, and an arupa, or formless, Buddha in the highest Nirvanic realm. Thus for a human Buddha, an incarnation of one of these Dhyanis, the stay on earth is limited from seven to seven thousand years in various bodies, since as men they are subjected to normal conditions, accidents and death. In Esoteric philosophy, on the other hand, this means that only five out of the "Seven Dhyani-Buddhas" — or, rather, the Seven Hierarchies of these Dhyanis, who, in Buddhist mysticism, are identical with the higher incarnating Intelligences, or the Kumaras of the Hindus — five only have hitherto appeared on earth in regular succession of incarnations, the last two having to come during the sixth and seventh Root-Races. This is, again, semi-allegorical, if not entirely so. For the sixth and seven Hierarchies have been already incarnated on this earth together with the rest. But as they have reached "Buddhaship," so called, almost from the beginning of the fourth Root-Race, they are said to rest since then in conscious bliss and freedom till the beginning of the Seventh Round, when they will lead Humanity as a new race of Buddhas. These Dhyanis are connected only with Humanity, and, strictly speaking, only with the highest "principles" of men.

Q. Do the Dhyani-Buddhas and the Planetary Spirits in charge of the globes go into pralaya when their planets enter that state?

A. Only at the end of the seventh Round, and not between each round, for they have to watch over the working of the laws during these minor pralayas. Fuller details on this subject have already been written in the third volume of the Secret Doctrine.

But all these differences in fact are merely functional, for they are all aspects of one and the same Essence.

Q. Does the hierarchy of Dhyanis, whose province it is to watch over a Round, watch during its period of activity, over the whole series of globes, or only over a particular globe?

A. There are incarnating and there are watching Dhyanis. Of the functions of the former you have just been told; the latter appear to do their work in this wise. Every class or hierarchy corresponds to one of the Rounds, the first and lowest hierarchy to the first and less developed Round, the second to the second, and so on till the seventh Round is reached, which is under the supervision of the highest Hierarchy of the Seven Dhyanis. At the last, they will appear on earth, as also will some of the Planetary, for the whole humanity will have become Bodhisattvas, their own "sons," i.e., the "Sons" of their own Spirit and Essence or — themselves. Thus there is only a functional difference between the Dhyanis and the Planetary. The one are entirely divine, the other sidereal. The former only are called Anupadaka, parentless, because they radiated directly from that which is neither Father nor Mother but the unmanifested Logos. They are, in fact, the spiritual aspect of the seven Logoi; and the Planetary Spirits are in their totality, as the seven Sephiroth (the three higher being supercosmic abstractions and blinds in the Kabala), and constitute the Heavenly man, or Adam Kadmon; Dhyani is a generic name in Buddhism, an abbreviation for all the gods. Yet it must be ever remembered that though they are "gods," still they are not to be worshipped.

Q. Why not, if they are gods?

A. Because Eastern philosophy rejects the idea of a personal and extra-cosmic deity. And to those who call this atheism, I would say the following. It is illogical to worship one such god, for, as said in the Bible, "There be Lords many and Gods many." Therefore, if worship is desirable, we have to choose either the worship of many gods, each being no better or less limited than the other, viz., polytheism and idolatry, or choose, as the Israelites have done, one tribal or racial god from among them, and while believing in the existence of many gods, ignore and show contempt for the others, regarding our own as the highest and the "God of Gods." But this is logically unwarrantable, for such a god can be neither infinite nor absolute, but must be finite, that is to say, limited and conditioned by space and time. With the Pralaya the tribal god disappears, and Brahma and all the other Devas, and the gods are merged into the Absolute. Therefore, occultists do not worship or offer prayers to them, because if we did, we should have either to worship many gods, or pray to the Absolute, which, having no attributes, can have no ears to hear us. The worshipper even of many gods must of necessity be unjust to all the other gods; however far he extends his worship it is simply impossible for him to worship each severally; and in his ignorance, if he choose out any one in particular, he may by no means select the most perfect. Therefore, he would do better far to remember that every man has a god within, a direct ray from the Absolute, the celestial ray from the One; that he has his "god" within, not outside, of himself.

Q. Is there any name that can be applied to the planetary Hierarchy or spirit, which watches over the entire evolution of our own globe, such as Brahma for instance?

A. None, except the generic name, since it is a septenary and a Hierarchy; unless, indeed, we call it as some Kabalists do — "the Spirit of the Earth."

Q. It is very difficult to remember all these infinite Hierarchies of gods.

A. Not more so than to a chemist to remember the endless symbols of chemistry, if he is a Specialist. In India, alone, however, there are over 300 millions of gods and goddesses. The Manus and Rishis are also planetary gods, for they are said to have appeared at the beginning of the human races to watch over their evolution, and to have incarnated and descended on earth subsequently in order to teach mankind. Then, there are the Sapta Rishis, the "Seven Rishis," said exoterically to reside in the constellation of the Great Bear. There are also planetary gods.

Q. Are they higher than Brahma?

A. It depends in what aspect one views Brahma. In esoteric philosophy he is the synthesis of the seven logoi. In exoteric theology he is an aspect of Vishnu with the Vaishnevas, with others something else, as in the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity, he is the chief creator, whereas Vishnu is the Preserver, and Siva the Destroyer. In the Kabala he is certainly Adam Kadmon — the "male-female" man of the first chapter of Genesis. For the Manus proceed from Brahma as the Sephiroth proceed from Adam Kadmon, and they are also seven and ten, as circumstances require.

But we may just as well pass on to another Sloka of the Stanzas you want explained.

Sloka (9). — BUT WHERE WAS THE DANGMA WHEN THE ALAYA OF THE UNIVERSE (Soul as the basis of all, Anima Mundi) WAS IN PARAMARTHA (Absolute Being and Consciousness which are Absolute Non-Being and Unconsciousness) AND THE GREAT WHEEL WAS ANUPADAKA?

Q. Does "Alaya" mean that which is never manifested and dissolved, and is it derived from "a," the negative particle, and "laya"?

A. If it is so etymologically — and I am certainly not prepared to answer you one way or the other — it would mean the reverse, since laya itself is just that which is not manifested; therefore it would signify that which is not unmanifested if anything. Whatever may be the etymological vivisection of the word, it is simply the "Soul of the World," Anima Mundi. This is shown by the very wording of the Sloka, which speaks of Alaya being in Paramarthai.e., in Absolute Non-Being and Unconsciousness, being at the same time absolute perfection or Absoluteness itself. This word, however, is the bone of contention between the Yogacharya and the Madhyamika schools of Northern Buddhism. The scholasticism of the latter makes of Paramartha (Satya) something dependent on, and, therefore, relative to other things, thereby vitiating the whole metaphysical philosophy of the word Absoluteness. The other school very rightly denies this interpretation.

Q. Does not the Esoteric Philosophy teach the same doctrines as the Yogacharya School?

A. Not quite. But let us go on.

STANZA II.

Sloka (I) . . . . WHERE WERE THE BUILDERS, THE LUMINOUS SONS OF MANVANTARIC DAWN? . . . . IN THE UNKNOWN DARKNESS, IN THEIR AH-HI (Chohanic, Dhyani-Buddhic) PARANISHPANNA, THE PRODUCERS OF FORM (rupa) FROM NO-FORM (arupa), THE ROOT OF THE WORLD — THE DEVAMATRI AND SVABHAVAT, RESTED IN THE BLISS OF NON-BEING.

Q. Are the "luminous sons of manvantaric dawn" perfected human spirits of the last Manvantara, or are they on their way to humanity in this or a subsequent Manvantara?

A. In this case, which is that of a Maha-manvantara after a Maha-pralaya, they are the latter. They are the primordial seven rays from which will emanate in their turn all the other luminous and non-luminous lives, whether Archangels, Devils, men or apes. Some have been and some will only now become human beings. It is only after the differentiation of the seven rays and after the seven forces of nature have taken them in hand and worked upon them, that they become cornerstones, or rejected pieces of clay. Everything, therefore, is in these seven rays, but it is impossible to say at this stage in which, because they are not yet differentiated and individualized.

Q. In the following passage: —

"The 'Builders,' the 'Sons of Manvantaric Dawn,' are the real creators of the Universe; and in this doctrine, which deals only with our Planetary System, they, as the architects of the latter, are also called the 'Watchers' of the Seven Spheres, which exoterically are the seven planets, and esoterically the seven earths or spheres (planets) of our chain also."

By planetary system is the solar system meant or the chain to which our earth belongs?

A. The Builders are those who build and fashion things into a form. The term is equally applied to the Builders of the Universe and to the small globes like those of our chain. By planetary system our solar system alone is meant.

Sloka (2). WHERE WAS SILENCE? WHERE WERE THE EARS TO SENSE IT? NO! THERE WAS NEITHER SILENCE NOR SOUND.

Q. With reference to the following passage: —

"The idea that things can cease to exist and still BE, is a fundamental one in Eastern psychology. Under the apparent contradiction in terms, there rests a fact in Nature to realize which in the mind, rather than to argue about words is the important thing. A familiar instance of a similar paradox is afforded by chemical combination. The question whether Hydrogen and Oxygen cease to exist, when they combine to form water, is still a moot one." (S. D., I., 54.)

Would it be correct to say that what we perceive is a different "element" of the same substance? For example, when a substance is in the gaseous state, could we say that it is the element Air which is perceived, and that when combined to form water, oxygen and hydrogen appear under the guise of the Element Water, and when in the solid state, ice, we then perceive the element Earth?

A. The ignorant judge of all things by their appearance and not by what they are in reality. On this earth, of course, water is an element quite distinct from any other element, using the latter term in the sense of different manifestations of the one element. The root elements, Earth, Water, Air, Fire, are far more comprehensive states of differentiation. Such being the case, in Occultism Transubstantiation becomes a possibility, seeing that nothing which exists is in reality that which it is supposed to be.

Q. But oxygen which is usually found in its gaseous state, may be liquefied and even solidified. When oxygen, then, is found in the gaseous condition, is it the occult element Air which is perceived, and when in the liquid condition the element Water, and in the solid state the element Earth?

A. Most assuredly: we have first of all the Element Fire, not the common fire, but the Fire of the Mediaeval Rosicrucians, the one flame, the fire of Life. In differentiation this becomes fire in different aspects. Occultism easily disposes of the puzzle as to whether oxygen and hydrogen cease to exist when combined to form water. Nothing that is in the Universe can disappear from it. For the time being, then, these two gases when combined to form water, are in abscondito, but have not ceased to be. For, had they been annihilated, Science, by decomposing the water again into oxygen and hydrogen, would have created something out of nothing, and would, therefore, have no quarrel with Theology. Therefore, water is an element, if we choose to call it so, on this plane only. In the same way, oxygen and hydrogen in their turn can be split up into other more subtle elements, all being differentiation of one element or universal essence.

Q. Then all substances on the physical plane are really so many correlations or combinations of these root elements, and ultimately of the one element?

A. Most assuredly. In occultism it is always best to proceed from universals to particulars.

Q. Apparently, then, the whole basis of occultism lies in this, that there is latent within every man a power which can give him true knowledge, a power of perception of truth, which enables him to deal first hand with universals if he will be strictly logical and face the facts. Thus we can proceed from universals to particulars by this innate spiritual force which is in every man.

A. Quite so: this power is inherent in all, but paralyzed by our methods of education, and especially by the Aristotelian and Baconian methods. Hypothesis now reigns triumphant.

Q. It is curious to read Schopenhauer and Hartmann and mark how, step by step, by strict logic and pure reason, they have arrived at the same bases of thought that had been centuries ago adopted in India, especially by the Vedantin System. It may, however, be objected that they have arrived at this by the inductive method. But in Schopenhauer's case at any rate it was not so. He acknowledges himself that the idea came to him like a flash; having thus got his fundamental idea he set to work to arrange his facts, so that the reader imagines that what was in reality an intuitive idea, is a logical deduction drawn from the facts.

A. This is not only true of the Schopenhauerian philosophy, but also of all the great discoveries of modern times. How, for instance, did Newton discover the law of gravity? Was it not by the simple fall of an apple, and not by an elaborate series of experiments. The time will come when the Platonic method will not be so entirely ignored and men will look with favor on methods of education which will enable them to develop this most spiritual faculty.


Appendix on Dreams

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