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

Meeting 9

Meeting held at 17, Lansdowne Road, London, W., on March 7th, 1889; Mr. W. Kingsland in the chair.

Sloka (10). FATHER-MOTHER SPIN A WEB WHOSE UPPER END IS FASTENED TO SPIRIT (Purusha), THE LIGHT OF THE ONE DARKNESS, AND THE LOWER ONE TO MATTER (Prakriti), ITS (the Spirit's) SHADOWY END; AND THIS WEB IS THE UNIVERSE SPUN OUT OF THE TWO SUBSTANCES MADE IN ONE, WHICH IS SVABHAVAT. (Vol. I., p. 83.)

Q. Spirit and matter are the opposite ends of the same web; light and darkness, heat and cold, void or space and fulness of all that exists are also opposites. In what sense are these three pairs of opposites associated with Spirit and Matter?

A. In the sense in which everything in the universe is associated with either Spirit or Matter, one of these being taken as the permanent element or both. Pure Matter is pure Spirit and cannot be understood even if admitted by our finite intellects. Neither light nor darkness as optical effects, are matter, nor are they spirit, but they are the qualities of the former (matter).

Q. In what relation does Ether stand to Spirit and Matter?

A. Make a difference between AEther and Ether, the former being divine, the latter physical and infernal. Ether is the lowest of the septenate division of Akasa-Pradhana, primordial Fire-Substance. AEther-Akasa is the fifth and sixth principles of the body of Kosmos — thus corresponding to Buddhi-Manas, in Man; Ether is its Kosmic sediment mingling with the highest layer of the Astral Light. Beginning with the fifth root-race, it will develop fully only at the beginning of the fifth round. AEther is Akasa in its higher aspect, and Ether Akasa, in its lowest. In one sense it is equivalent to the Father-Creator, Zeus, Pater AEther; on the other to the infernal Serpent-Tempter, the Astral Light of the Kabalists. In the latter case it is fully differentiated matter, in the former only rudimentally differentiated. In other words, Spirit becomes objective matter; and objective matter rebecomes subjective Spirit, when it eludes our metaphysical senses. AEther has the same relation to the Cosmos and our little Earth, as Manas to the Monad and body. Therefore, Ether has nought to do with Spirit, but a good deal with subjective matter and our Earth.

Q. "Brahma, as the 'germ of unknown Darkness,' is the material from which all evolves and develops." It is one of the axioms of logic that it is impossible for the mind to believe anything of that of which it comprehends nothing. Now if this "material" which is Brahma, be formless, then no idea concerning it can enter the mind for the mind can conceive nothing where there is no form. It is the garment or manifestation in the form of "God" which we can perceive, and it is by this and this alone that we can know anything of him. What, therefore, is the first form of this material which human consciousness can recognize?

A. Your axioms of logic can be applied to the lower Manas only and it is from the perceptions of Kama Manas alone that you argue. But Occultism teaches only that which it derives from the cognition of the Higher Ego or the Buddhi Manas. But, I will try to answer you on your own familiar lines. The first and only form of the prima materia our brain-consciousness can cognize, is a circle. Train your thought first of all to a thorough acquaintance with a limited circle, and expand it gradually. You will soon come to a point when without its ceasing to be a circle in thought, it yet becomes infinite and limitless even to the inner perceptions. It is this circle which we call Brahma, the germ, atom or anu: a latent atom embracing infinitude and boundless Eternity during Pralaya, an active one during the life-cycles; but one which has neither circumference nor plane, only limitless expansion. Therefore the Circle is the first geometrical figure and symbol in the subjective world, and it becomes a Triangle in the objective. The Triangle is the next figure after the Circle. The first figure, the Circle with the Point, is really no figure; it is simply a primeval germ, the first thing you can imagine at the beginning of differentiation; the Triangle must be conceived of once that matter has passed the zero point, or Layam. Brahma is called an atom, because we have to imagine it as a mathematical point, which, however, can be extended into absoluteness. Nota Bene, it is the divine germ and not the atom of the chemists. But beware of the illusion of form. Once you drag down your Deity into human form you limit and condition it, and behold, you have created an anthropomorphic god.

Sloka (11). IT (the Web) EXPANDS WHEN THE BREATH OF FIRE (the Father) IS UPON IT; IT CONTRACTS WHEN THE BREATH OF THE MOTHER (the root of Matter) TOUCHES IT. THEN THE SONS (the Elements with their respective Powers or Intelligences) DISSOCIATE AND SCATTER, TO RETURN INTO THEIR MOTHER'S BOSOM AT THE END OF THE "GREAT DAY" AND REBECOME ONE WITH HER. WHEN IT (the Web) IS COOLING, IT BECOMES RADIANT, ITS SONS EXPAND AND CONTRACT THROUGH THEIR OWN SELVES AND HEARTS; THEY EMBRACE INFINITUDE. (Vol. I., p. 83.)

Q. Is the word "expand" here used in the sense of differentiating or evolving, and "contract" in that of involution, or do these terms refer to Manvantara and Pralaya; or again to a constant vibrating motion of the world-stuff? Is this expansion and contraction simultaneous or successive?

A. The Web is the ever-existent primordial substance — pure spirit to our conception — the material from which the objective universe or universes are evolved. When the breath of fire or Father, is upon it, it expands; that is to say, as subjective material it is limitless, eternal, indestructible. When the breath of the Mother touches it, that is when the time of manifestation arrives and it has to come into objectivity of form, it contracts, for there is no such thing as an objective material form which is limitless. Though Newton's proposition that every particle of matter has the property of attraction for every other particle, is on the whole correct; and though Leibnitz's proposition that every atom is a universe in itself, and acts through its own inherent force, is also true; yet both are incomplete. For man is also an atom, possessing attraction and repulsion, and is the Microcosm of the Macrocosm. But would it be also true to say that because of the force and intelligence in him he moves independently of every other human unit, or could act and move, unless there were a greater force and intelligence than his own to allow him to live and move in that higher element of Force and Intelligence?

One of the objects of the Secret Doctrine is to prove that planetary movements cannot be satisfactorily accounted for by the theory of gravitation alone. Besides the force acting in matter there is also a force acting on matter.

When we speak of the modified conditions of Spirit-Matter (which is in reality Force), and call them by various names such as heat, cold, light and darkness, attraction and repulsion, electricity and magnetism, etc., etc., to the occultist they are simply names, expressions of difference in manifestations of one and the same Force (always dual in differentiation), but not any specific difference of forces. For all such differences in the objective world result only from the peculiarities of differentiation of matter on which the one free force acts, helped in this by that portion of its essence which we call imprisoned force, or material molecules. The worker within, the inherent force, ever tends to unite with its parent essence without; and thus, the Mother acting within, causes the Web to contract; and the Father acting without, to expand. Science calls this gravitation; Occultists, the work of the universal Life-Force, which radiates from that Absolute and Unknowable FORCE which is outside of all Space and Time. This is the work of Eternal evolution and involution, or expansion and contraction.

Q. What is the meaning of the phrase "the Web cooling," and when does this take place?

A. Evidently it is itself which is cooling, and not anything outside of itself. When? We are told that it begins when the imprisoned force and intelligence inherent in every atom of differentiated as well as of homogeneous matter arrives at a point when both become the slaves of a higher intelligent Force whose mission it is to guide and shape it. It is the Force which we call the divine Free-Will, represented by the Dhyani-Buddhas. When the centripetal and centrifugal forces of life and being are subjected by the one nameless Force which brings order in disorder, and establishes harmony in Chaos — then it begins cooling. It is impossible to give the exact time in a process the duration of which is unknown.

Q. Is form the result of the interaction of the centrifugal and centripetal forces in matter and nature?

A. Every form, we are told, is built in accordance with the model traced for it in the Eternity and reflected in the DIVINE MIND. There are hierarchies of "Builders of form," and series of forms and degrees, from the highest to the lowest. While the former are shaped under the guidance of the "Builders" the gods "Cosmocratores," the latter are fashioned by the Elementals or Nature Spirits. As an example of this, look at the strange insects and at some reptiles and non-vertebrate creatures, which so closely imitate, not only in their color but by their outward shape, leaves, flowers, moss-covered branches and other so-called "inanimate" things. Shall we take "natural selection" and the explanations of Darwinists as a solution? I trust not. The theory of natural selection is not only utterly inadequate to explain this mysterious faculty of imitation in the realm of being, but gives also an entirely false conception of the importance of such imitative faculty, as a "potent weapon in the struggle for life." And if this imitative faculty is once proved — as it can easily be — an absolute misfit for the Darwinian frame; i.e., if its alleged use, in connection with the so-called "survival of the fittest" is shown to be a speculation which cannot stand close analysis, to what then can the fact of this faculty be attributed? All of you have seen insects which copy with almost a mirror-like fidelity the color and even outward form of plants, leaves, flowers, pieces of dead twigs, etc. Nor is this a law but rather a frequent exception. What then but an invisible intelligence outside the insect can copy with such accuracy from larger originals?

Q. But does not Mr. Wallace show that such imitation has its object in nature? That it is just this which proves the "natural selection" theory, and the innate instinct in the weaker creatures to seek security behind the borrowed garb of certain objects? The insectivora which do not feed upon plants and leaves, will thus leave a leaf-like or moss-like insect safe from attack. This seems very plausible.

A. Very plausible, indeed, if, besides negative facts, there were no very positive evidence to show the unfitness of the natural selection theory to account for the phenomena of imitation. A fact to hold good, must be shown to apply if not universally, then, at any rate, always under the same conditions, e.g., the correspondence and identity of color between the animals of one and the same locality and the soil of that region would be a general manifestation. But how about the camel of the desert with his coat of the same "protecting" color as the plains he lives in, and the zebra whose intense, dark stripes cannot protect him on the open plains of South Africa, as Mr. Darwin himself admitted. We are assured by Science that this imitation of the color of the soil is invariably found in the weaker animals, and yet we find the lion — who need fear no stronger enemies than himself in the desert — with a coat that can hardly be distinguished from the rocks and sandy plains he inhabits! We are asked to believe that this "imitation of protecting colors is caused by the use and benefit it offers the imitator," as a "potent weapon in the struggle for life"; and yet, daily experience shows to us quite the reverse. Thus, it points to a number of animals in which the most pronounced forms of the imitative faculty are entirely useless, or, worse than that, pernicious and often self-destructive. What good, I ask, is the imitation of human speech to the magpie and parrot — except leading them to be shut up in a cage? Of what use to the monkey its mimicking faculty which brings so many of them to grief and occasionally to great bodily harm and self-destruction; or to a herd of idiotic sheep, in blindly following their leader, even if he happens to tumble down a precipice? This irrepressible desire, also (of imitating their leaders) has led more than one unlucky Darwinist, while seeking to prove his favorite hobby, into the most absurdly incongruous statements. Thus, our Haeckelian friend, Mr. Grant Allen, in his work upon the subject under discussion, speaks of a certain Indian lizard blessed with three large parasites of different kinds. Each of these three imitates to perfection the color of the scales of that part of the body it dwells on: the parasite on the stomach of the creature, is yellow like its stomach; the second parasite having chosen its abode on the back, is as variegated in color as the dorsal scales; while the third having selected its hermitage on the lizard's brown head, is almost undistinguishable from it in color. This careful copy of the respective colors, we are told by Mr. G. Allen, is for the purpose of preserving the parasites from the lizard itself. But surely this doughty champion of natural selection does not mean to tell his public that the lizard can see the parasite on its own head! Finally, of what use is its brilliant red color to the fish which lives amidst coral reefs, or to the tiny Birds of Paradise, colibri, the rainbow hues of their plumage, imitating all the radiant colors of the tropical fauna and flora — except to make them the more noticeable?

Q. To what causes would Occultism attribute this imitative faculty?

A. To several things. In the case of such rare tropical birds and leaf-like insects to early intermediate links, in the former case between the lizard and the colibri, and in the latter between certain vegetations and the insect kind. There was a time, millions of years ago, when such "missing links" were numerous, and on every point of the globe where life was. But now they are becoming with every cycle and generation more rare; they are found at present, only in a limited number of localities, as all such links are relics of the Past.

Q. Will you give us some explanation from the occult standpoint of what is called the "Law of Gravitation"?

A. Science insists that between bodies attraction is directly as the mass and inversely as the square of the distance. Occultists, however, doubt whether this law holds good with regard to the entirety of planetary rotation. Take the first and second laws of Kepler included in the Newtonian law as given by Herschel. "Under the influence of such attractive force mutually urging two spherical gravitating bodies toward one another, they will each, when moving in each other's neighborhood, be deflected into an orbit concave toward each other, and describe one about the other, regarded as fixed, or both around their common center of gravity, curves whose forms are limited as those figures known in geometry by the general name of Conic Sections. It will depend upon the particular circumstances or velocity, distance and direction, which of these curves shall be described, whether an ellipse, a circle, a parabola, or an hyperbola, but one or the other it must be . . . . . . etc., etc."

Science says that the phenomena of planetary motion result from the action of two forces, one centripetal, the other centrifugal, and that a body falling to the ground in a line perpendicular to still water does so owing to the law of gravity or of centripetal force. Among others, the following objections brought forward by a learned occultist, may be stated.

(1) That the path of a circle is impossible in planetary motion.

(2) That the argument in the third law of Kepler, namely that "the squares of the periodic times of any two planets are to each other, in the same proportion as the cubes of their mean distances from the Sun," gives rise to the curious result of a permitted libration in the eccentricities of planets. Now the said forces remaining unchanged in their nature, this can only arise, as he says, "from the interference of an extraneous cause."

(3) That the phenomenon of gravitation or "falling" does not exist, except as the result of a conflict of forces. It can only be considered as an isolated force by way of mental analysis or separation. He asserts, moreover, that the planets, atoms, or particles of matter are not attracted towards each other in the direction of right lines connecting their centers, but are forced towards each other in the curves of spirals closing upon the center of each other. Also that the tidal wave is not the result of attraction. All this, as he shows, results from the conflict of imprisoned and free force; antagonism apparently, but really affinity and harmony.

"Fohat, gathering a few of the clusters of Cosmic matter (nebulae) will, by giving it an impulse, set it in motion anew, develop the required heat, and then leave it to follow its own new growth." (Vol. I., p. 84.)

Q. Is Fohat to be understood as synonymous with force, or that which causes the changing manifestation of matter? If so, how can Fohat be said to "leave it to follow its own new growth," when all growth depends upon the indwelling force?

A. All growth depends upon the indwelling force, because on this plane of ours it is this force alone which acts consciously. The universal force cannot be regarded as a conscious force as we understand the word consciousness, because it would immediately become a personal god. It is only that which is enclosed in form, a limitation of matter, which is conscious of itself on this plane. This Free Force or Will, which is limitless and absolute, cannot be said to act understandingly, but it is the one and sole immutable Law of Life and Being.

Fohat, therefore, is spoken of as the synthetic motor power of all the imprisoned life-forces and the medium between the absolute and conditioned Force. It is a link, just as Manas is the connecting link between the gross matter of the physical body and the divine Monad which animates it, but is powerless to act upon the former directly.

Q. If Force is a unity or One, manifesting in an unlimited variety of ways, it is difficult to understand the statement in the Commentary that: "There is heat internal and external in every atom"; i.e., latent and active heat or dynamic and kinetic heat. Heat is the phenomenon of a perception of matter actuated by force in a peculiar manner. Heat, therefore, on the physical plane is simply matter in motion. If there is heat in a more interior and occult sense than physical heat, it must be perceived by some higher and more interior senses by virtue of its activities on whatever plane it manifests. For this perception three conditions are necessary, an actuating force, a form which is actuated and that which perceives the form in motion. The terms "latent," "potential" or "dynamic" heat are misnomers, because heat, whether on the first or the seventh plane of consciousness, is the perception of matter or substance in motion.
Is the discrepancy between the above statement and the teaching of the "Secret Doctrine" apparent or real?

A. Why should heat on any other plane than ours be the perception of matter or substance in motion? Why should an occultist accept the condition of (1) the actuating force; (2) the form which is actuated; (3) that which perceives the form in motion, as those of heat?

As with every ascending plane heterogeneity tends more and more to homogeneity, so on the seventh plane the form will disappear, there being nothing to be actuated, the acting Force will remain in solitary grandeur, to perceive but itself; or in Spencer's phraseology, it will have become both "subject and object, the perceiver and the perceived." The terms used are not contradictory, but symbols borrowed from physical science in order to render occult action and processes more clear to the minds of those who are trained in that science. In fact, each of the specifications of heat and force, corresponds to one of the principles in man.

The "heat centers," from the physical standpoint, would be the zero-point, because they are spiritual.

The word "perceived" is somewhat erroneous, it should rather be "sensed." Fohat is the agent of the law, its representative, the representative of the Manasa-putras, whose collectivity is — the eternal mind.

Q. In the passage of a globe into Pralaya does it remain in situ, i.e., still forming part of a planetary chain and maintaining its proper position in relation to the other globes? Does the dissociation by means of heat play any part in the passage of a globe into Pralaya?

A. This is explained in "Esoteric Buddhism." When a globe of a planetary chain goes into "obscuration" every quality, including heat, retires from it and it remains in statu quo, like the "sleeping Beauty," until Fohat, the "Prince Charmant," awakens it with a kiss.

Q. The sons are spoken of as dissociating and scattering. This appears to be opposed to the action of returning to their "mother's bosom" at the end of the "Great Day." Does the dissociating and scattering refer to the formation of the globe from the universally diffused world-stuff, in other words emerging from Pralaya?

A. The dissociating and scattering refers to Nitya Pralaya. This is an eternal and perpetual Pralaya which is taking place ever since there were globes and differentiated matter. It is simply atomic change.

Q. What is meant by the expression expanding and contracting through their own "selves and hearts" and how is this connected with the last line of the sloka, "They embrace Infinitude"?

A. This has already been explained. Through their own inherent and imprisoned force they strive collectively to join the one universal or free force, that is to say, embrace infinitude, this free force being infinite.

Q. What is the relation between electricity and physical or animal magnetism and hypnotism?

A. If by electricity, you mean the science which unfolds on this plane, and under a dozen various qualifications the phenomena and laws of the electric fluid — then I answer, none at all. But if you refer to the electricity we call Fohatic, or intracosmic, then I will say that all these forms of phenomena are based on it.


Meeting 10

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