Question 293. Much has been said of the blackness of our present age, the Kali-Yuga, and indeed we witness such tragedies around us today that the natural cry arises: Is there good in Kali-Yuga? Is mankind doomed to spiritual disaster, inescapably destined to go under without hope?
G. de P. — We live in a very interesting age, a time when history is in the making. I do not think that in the recorded annals that are open to us at the present time there has ever been an epoch when serious-minded students of the Ancient Wisdom, which we call Theosophy, have the opportunities that now we have. It is precisely the stress and the strain which are opening our hearts and tearing the veils away from our minds. It is the same thought that our Masters have told us applies to Kali-Yuga, the Iron Age, a hard, rigid age where everything moves intensely and intensively and where everything is difficult; but precisely the age in which spiritual and intellectual advancement can be made most quickly. There actually have been ages in the past when chelas or students have longed for conditions to be more difficult than they were, to give them the chance to advance faster.
In the Golden Age, which it is beautiful to dream about, in the so-called "Age of Saturn," in the age of man's innocence, everything moved smoothly and beautifully and all surrounding being co-operated to make everything beautiful and pleasant; and there is something in our hearts that yearns to return to it; but it is not what the chela longs for. He longs for opportunity; he longs to climb; he longs to test what is in him, to grow from within.
Isn't it a strange paradox that the hardest, cruelest, of all the yugas is precisely the one in which the quickest advancement can be gained? I think there is a world of wisdom in this thought. Is there not something good in the kali-yuga? Must mankind go under without hope? Why it is the very time when the chances are the most frequent for progress! It is the opportunity-time.
(The Editors draw attention also to W. Q. Judge's words quoted in Letters That Have Helped Me, Letter VII, Vol. I, p. 30:
"The age is black as hell, hard as iron. It is iron, it is Kali Yuga. Kali is always painted black. Yet Kali Yuga by its very nature, and terrible, swift momentum, permits one to do more with his energies in a shorter time than in any other Yuga. . . .")
Question 294. What is the manner in which the great Cycles in the evolution of a Root-Race are repeated on a smaller scale in the development of the various sub-divisions of it? Do they not overlap each other to a considerable extent?
G. de P. — You are asking what may seem to you to be a very simple question, but you yourself will see, after a moment's reflexion, that it is an extremely involved one, because your question calls for an entire elucidation or explaining of the intricacies of Nature's cyclical workings, and how the large includes the small. This is a tremendous order! It would take a volume just to answer your one question, which is a question which has occurred to many, and precisely because it is so involved is one reason why it has always been side-stepped from H. P. B.'s time to our own. It would take literally hundreds of pages to give a complete exposition, and days and days of hard work in dictation.
However, there are always general rules, and until the gods give me a year or two of more time, I am afraid you will have to be satisfied. The general rule is — and it is a wonderful key — that the small repeats the great, that little yugas not only are included in the greater yugas, but repeat them on their own little scales. Example: The present Fifth Root-Race, considered as a whole, and including all its minor sub-races, whether great or small, is now in its Kali-Yuga, which began something over five thousand years ago, at the death of Krishna, and will last into the future for about 427,000 years. Keep in mind that this is the Kali-Yuga of the entire Root-Race, the great Kali-Yuga.
Now, then, all the minor cycles or yugas of this Fifth Root-Race will, some of them, be rising, and some of them be falling, and inter-working with each other, and yet will all be subject to the great Kali-Yuga of the Root-Race, which has just begun. Thus, a minor yuga or race may be in its youth, and rising to its flowering, but yet, because it is included in the great descending Kali-Yuga, will, although having a sharp rise, be nevertheless subject to the general decline of the great Kali-Yuga.
Next, every minor cycle, great or small, included in the Root-Race, in its turn is septenary, and therefore has its own little kali-yuga, and its numerical relations are about the same. Just as the great Kali-Yuga is 432 thousand years long, so a little kali-yuga may be perhaps only 432 years long, or possibly 4,320, or possibly even 43,200. The Hindu or Aryan Race, which was one of the very first sub-races of our own Fifth Race, is now in its own racial kali-yuga, in addition to belonging to the Fifth Root-Race, and therefore of course belonging to the great Kali-Yuga of the Root-Race. But it is striving to rise into flowering again, and will do so in the future.
In the small scale, Spain is in its short kali-yuga, as also Portugal. Italy has just ended a short kali-yuga and is striving to rise again.
Unfortunately, our Fifth Root-Race being a very materialistic one, i. e., being heavily sunken in matter due to our Fourth Round, these rises are mostly along the lines of materialisms. Furthermore, our own European general stock of Races, which we may call the European sub-race or family-race perhaps, has been steadily rising since the downfall of the Roman Empire, and will continue to rise, with various smaller shocks and falls and risings again, for some six or seven or possibly eight thousand years more. And then there will be a rapid descent until their kali-yuga is reached, a small kali-yuga, when there will be a great European catastrophe of Nature. This will be some sixteen or eighteen thousand years from now, possibly fifteen or possibly seventeen thousand years. I have never had time to get any really exact figures. But you can say 'about' 16,000 years hence. This period will see the submersion of the British Isles. Most of France will be under the water, also Holland, some of Spain, a good deal of Italy, etc., and other places. Of course all this won't take place in a night. There will be premonitory signs, such as slow sinkings of the coast, and great earthquakes, etc. I hope the answer is helpful. If I get your main idea or question, its answer is in the first part of this my reply, to wit: that although the Fifth Root-Race as a whole is in its great Kali-Yuga, which had just begun some five thousand years ago, the smaller races may nevertheless each one be rising or falling, according to its own time-periods; and each such sub-race or smaller race has its own little kali-yuga repeated after the great one, and bearing the same proportion to the entire length of any such small race that the great Kali-Yuga does to the Root-Race. And this is the same, whether the sub-races are great sub-races, or small sub-races. Thus we have the hour of sixty minutes; we have the minute of sixty seconds; and we have the second of sixty thirds, although of course this last is almost never used in our days.
Thus it is that the rises overlap each other — and sometimes very considerably — but in the manner above outlined.
Question 295 (From Amsterdam, Holland). What is the outward manifestation or physical body of the Silent Watcher of a Globe of the Planetary Chain, and of the Silent Watcher of the Planetary Chain itself?
J. H. Fussell — First, let us bear in mind the most important of all keys: the law of Analogy; man is the microcosm of the Macrocosm; as above, so below. Thus there are many grades of Silent Watchers; every Galaxy, every Solar System, every Planetary Chain, every Globe, man, or even atom, has its Silent Watcher. So too is there a Silent Watcher for every Round, and for every Root-Race. But in each and every case the Silent Watcher has no physical body, and has no direct contact with the physical plane, although hierarchically working through imbodied beings.
Let us then apply the law of Analogy. The Silent Watcher of each individual man is his Spiritual Monad, Atma-Buddhi: the Divine Flame, Atman manifesting through its spiritual vehicle, Buddhi, and thus hierarchically reaching down even to the physical body. Thus, also, the Silent Watcher of our Solar System is the Solar Spiritual Monad, verily a God, one of the Cosmic Divinities. Man has a physical, material body, an earth-body, builded of the matters of this earth-plane (which is the lowest of the four manifested planes, on or in which four planes are the seven globes of our Planetary Chain). So too, our Planetary Chain Terra, and similarly each of the Planetary Chains of the seven Sacred Planets and of the Sun, may be said to have a physical body, namely, Globe D of each such Planetary Chain, and of the Sun. Otherwise these planets and the Sun would not be visible to us. This is explained in Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy (p. 176).
This cannot however be said of the other Globes (i. e., except Globe D) of the various Planetary chains, for the Globes A, B, C, and E, F, and G, are on planes other and higher than the physical, their outer manifestations being composed or built of the matters — corresponding with the 'physical' on this plane — of the planes on and in which they are. Thus, in each case, the outer manifestations of Globes A and G are formed of the matters of the 'Archetypal World' or plane; of Globes B and F of the matters of the 'Intellectual or Creative World' or plane; and of Globes C and E of the matters of the 'Substantial or Formative World' or plane (see The Secret Doctrine, I, 200).
From all the above it is therefore clear that the Silent Watcher has no physical body, because it is on the spiritual plane. And only indirectly, or hierarchically, through the many intermediate vehicles, through the intermediate planes, does the influence of the Silent Watcher reach the physical body, whether of man, or of the respective Globes D of the various Planetary Chains. It may perhaps help us to understand this if we consider the Silent Watcher as sending forth rays of light, of spiritual influence, from itself, which rays, passing from higher plane to lower plane, through vehicle after vehicle, finally reach the physical worlds and the physical body. For, truly, we may — and we do, at times of high aspiration and of noble unselfish endeavor — feel the inspiration of our Silent Watcher, the source of all our spiritual yearnings, and the inspirer of all the impersonal, unselfish love which at times we feel in our hearts. The Silent Watcher is the Spiritual Intelligence behind and permeating, but not imbodied in, any physical vehicle or body.
There is a deep occult truth contained in the Invocation given to us years ago by Katherine Tingley: "O my Divinity, thou dost blend with the earth . . . Thou dost radiate a Golden Light that . . . doth illumine even the darkest corners of the earth . . .", passing through the many intermediate planes and vehicles.
There are innumerable Silent Watchers, of varying rank, namely all those who have reached self-conscious spiritual status, who have made the Great Renunciation, who form the 'Guardian Wall' (spoken of in H. P. Blavatsky's The Voice of the Silence), who refuse to go beyond the 'Ring Pass-Not.' (See The Secret Doctrine, I, 207-8; Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, 183, 441, etc.)
Question 296 (from Holland). Why is it that the ancients seemed to be so much cleverer than we?
J- H. Fussell — Due to cyclic law — periods of comparative light alternating with periods of comparative darkness. As with men, so with nations and races: they are born, grow old and pass, and new ones take their place; so also with civilizations. Evolution and progress are not 'end-on'; they are never in one continuous, straight line, but are marked by rises and falls. Many such rises and falls occur in the history of every race, every people; periods of material advancement alternating with periods of material decline; periods of intellectual and spiritual enlightenment alternating with periods of intellectual darkness, ignorance, and superstition; periods of inquiry, research, and mental freedom, alternating with periods of mental slavery and dogmatism. "Light and darkness are the world's eternal ways," and along these ways individual men, nations, and whole races travel: now in the light, now in darkness. It is to be understood, however, that these rises and falls, these alternating periods, now of civilization and order and again of 'barbarism' and confusion, are all relative.
Individual men are born, pass through childhood, youth, maturity, and old age, and then die; but only to be reborn, reimbodied in new forms, new times, and new conditions. So also do nations and races. In every case such reimbodiment, such new forms, conditions, and opportunities are the karmic results, the consequences, of the former imbodiments; men, nations, and races alike reaping what they themselves have sown in the past. Just as a normal child, whatever be its inherent character and latent abilities — its latent 'cleverness,' to use the term employed in the question, its latent intellectual and spiritual faculties and powers — cannot express these during infancy and adolescence save as intimations, promises, of future developments; and just as in approaching old-age there is a dimming, a decline, even in many cases a loss of the powers and faculties, the 'cleverness' which had been more or less manifested during the now closing life — although such need not be if the life has been well lived — so with nations and races, and always in accordance with the national racial karman.
Hence, in accordance with the foregoing, the reason "why the ancients seemed to be so much cleverer than we" may be either (a) that 'we' are a young nation, still in childhood or adolescence, and have not yet attained to the flowering of inherent, latent, but as yet undeveloped (although in process of development) faculties and powers; or (b) that 'we' are an old nation which has passed its maturity and may even have reached extreme old age. As examples of the former we may instance (a) all the nations of North and South America; and of the latter (b) Egypt, India, Persia, China, and the North American Indians; while the European nations occupy varying positions between these, i. e., between (a) and (b), some of them on the decline, others in temporary obscuration but karmically destined to enter upon an even higher civilization than they have known in their past history, some again already awaking from obscuration. G. de Purucker writes in his latest work, just published, The Esoteric Tradition (pages 340-1): "Our civilization is at present a civilization in transition," and "civilizations . . . go and come again and again: have their life and pass, and return."
The above is a general answer to the question. As to the immediate causes of the loss of the Ancient Wisdom by any one nation, or group of nations, we would have to consider the past life-history of that nation or group of nations. That however is another story, the telling of which we cannot here enter upon for lack of space.
Question 297. You mentioned in your article 'Why Study Theosophy?' (1) that Theosophy was the basis of many religions. The majority of these believe in the existence of a personal God. Can you suggest the origin of the idea?
A. Trevor Barker — The origin of the idea of a personal God is a long story. It is stated in Theosophical teachings that this idea is not an innate one. The real origin of the personal-God idea is found in the tendency of ignorant man to build a conception of Deity in terms of his own personal self, which is all he knows, and which is necessarily limited; and so he merely builds a big idea of himself and calls that 'God.' The personal God means, according to our European conceptions, an extra-cosmic Deity — that is to say, a being somehow outside of his universe (that is this universe), because he is said to be infinite, boundless, omnipresent, and at the same time somebody who can be prayed to, supplicated to save us from the effects of all the silly things that we have done in our lives.
I have always thought that the translation of the Latin word 'persona,' meaning a mask, is something that helps us particularly to understand our own — what we call — personality, the lower part of ourselves, that which hides the light. It is the external part which is the personality according to the Theosophical teaching, not the higher part, which is real; this lower, material part is the mayavic, the illusory part; and it may be helpful to some to look upon the personal-God idea as essentially an illusory concept.
This personal-God idea is one that the Theosophist does not countenance at all; and I should make it clear that it is the limited, dogmatic concept, particularly of the Christian Churches, which gives such a very false idea of Deity, and which exhorts men and women to look outside of themselves for the source of their salvation. But the Theosophist comes in and directs men's attention to the Divinity within him, which in very truth is a personal divinity for each man; and whilst he takes away with one hand, he gives you something which is really far more sublime; for Theosophy teaches self-dependence; it follows the teaching of the Christian Avatara: that the Kingdom of Heaven is within you. It is to that Deity that we appeal in every man. But this 'personal' God that we aspire towards, and whose light radiates in the heart of every man, this Immortal entity, collectively the aggregate of all the Divinities in our Solar System or our Universal Cosmos together, makes up what is called the Universal World-Soul, and all men are rooted in That, have their being in That, and sooner or later can consciously raise themselves by their unity with that which It represents.
1. The Theosophical Forum, January, 1936. (return to text)