[Note: page numbers cited for The Esoteric Tradition are to the 2-vol. Second Edition and do not correspond to the 1-vol. 3rd & Revised Edition.]
Unveil, O Thou, that givest sustenance to the universe, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return, that face of the true sun, now hidden from us by a vase of golden light, that we may know the truth and do our whole duty on our journey to thy sacred seat. — An ancient Vedic Invocation
Among the many petitions, prayers, and invocations that the sons of ancient times have given us, is this Vedic invocation to the sun, and it is one of the most beautiful and instructive. Deeply inspiring in thought and emotion, it is moreover filled with esoteric wisdom. It indicates clearly the lofty position the sun holds in the scale of universal being; throws light upon its constitution, embracing the consciousness-side as well as the physical side; and indicates the spiritual and physical relationship existing between the sun, the earth and its inhabitants.
In studying and analysing the thoughts and words of this invocation or prayer, it is evident that the supplicant was a devotee of Archaic Theosophy, for he must have had knowledge of what the sun truly is, its place or function in the solar system, and man's ultimate goal or destiny therein. In the appeal that the face of the true sun be unveiled, as being hidden or concealed from him by a vase of golden light, he must have understood that there are various planes of manifestation, and also had an unbounded faith in spiritual powers and forces in the sun, and that through an inner, higher contact with these powers he could know the Truth, and as a true son of the sun, do his whole duty, on this "journey to thy sacred seat."
The Ancient Wisdom teaches that the sun and everything in the universe has not only one "face" or aspect, but seven and even more such aspects or planes through which to work or function, consisting of an ever increasing degree of refinement in matter from the lowest physical to the highest grade or step in spiritual substance, during an objective manifestation of a universe, sun, planet or any lesser form of life. Our inner sight not being as yet active, we are not yet aware of the more ethereal planes or "faces" and if we would unveil, or penetrate with our understanding to these higher realms, it must be by the unfolding and growth of our inner, spiritual senses.
In the words of the invocation "that giveth sustenance to the universe," is contained the teaching as to the office of the sun in the solar system. The sun is the focus for life-forces pouring downwards from supernal realms beyond itself. The sun, in other words, is the reservoir for spiritual intelligences and powers flowing from invisible spheres and from which the solar system, the earth, and all that therein is, draws sustenance, not only physical life-nourishment, but spiritual food for the mind, soul, and higher nature. Every solar force has a focus in man acting or working naturally through him in accordance with the laws of Nature, in relation to his evolutionary status. (1)
Quoting from The Esoteric Tradition by G. de Purucker, in relation to the sun:
The solar system is a living organic entity, its heart and brain combined in the Sun; . . . — I, 188
According to the teaching of the Ancient Wisdom, the Esoteric Tradition, the composite aggregate or bundle of forces and substances which compose man's constitution has its ultimate source in the invisible, or Spiritual Sun. — II, 1080
. . . the physical sun, the day-star which our eyes see, is but the manifestation or vehicle of the inner spiritual and intellectual and other powers which flow forth from within through it and outwards, and thus give life as well as light to the solar system over which the sun presides. — II, 1100
Many of the Christian Fathers, Origen, Jerome and others of the early Christian era, and the various sects and orders of those times, adhered to the esoteric teachings. Among the writings left by them we find certain esoteric truths: "The Christos spirit in man is the luminous substance of the sun"; and "an incarnation from the God-Sun was born in human form." This last referred to the divinity of an Avatara, Jesus, and other Great Ones. It is interesting to note in this connexion that the Christ-child and other divinities, angels, and saints, are pictured with a nimbus, aura, or aureole about the head. This is because such a one is "clothed with the sun," or "the Inner God clothes him with solar splendor shining through him." The aura which is about every man, although invisible to our physical sight, is the efflux of these forces playing through him from above downwards. It is a continuous stream of consciousness, and to the degree in which he lives and aspires towards this divine, spiritual consciousness, does he draw near the God-ray within him, and live enveloped in its radiance.
In the next few words of the invocation: "from whom all proceed, to whom all must return," is the pith or essence of the law of cycles operating throughout the universe: the periods of out-breathing and in-breathing of the Great Breath of the Divinity back of or behind all things — involution and evolution. The involution of spirit from the subjective states or planes to the substances of objective states or planes: the opposite pole — matter, with the resultant evolving or unfolding of spiritual powers and faculties in the general progression of lower life-forms to that of higher states of being. More familiar to us is that cycle of the eleven-year periodic expansion and contraction of the solar heart beat, performing the same office in the sun in relation to the solar system, as does the human heart for the human body — the sun's forces pulsating throughout the solar system of which we are a part and without which we could not live, move, and have our being.
The sun, being the repository of the forces from which the solar system draws life, is the home-cradle from which all things have issued forth during the cycle of objective life or manifestation, and the haven to which all things return for the subjective period of spiritual rest and experience. It is our Father-Sun from whom we, the sons of the sun, were sent forth on this journey as un-self-conscious god-sparks, and to whom, after aeons of time in evolving and growing, we return at the journey's end, self-conscious gods.
In the next sentence, "that face of the true sun," the reference is to that highest, most spiritual aspect of the seven "faces" or planes in the constitution of all existing things. The Esoteric Tradition says:
Every sun, as indeed every other celestial body, is the outward veil or the body, or vehicle, of an indwelling Spiritual and Intellectual Agent or Presence or Solar Spirit. — I, 450
It is the Divinity manifesting through the sun and "hidden" to the ordinary physical sight. Even the physical body of the sun, as are the stars and many planets, being of a more attenuated or subtil form of matter than is the earth or its inhabitants, is therefore seen by us only as a fiery ball or, as expressed in the Vedic invocation, "a vase of golden light."
The plea "that we may know the truth," comes from the earnestly aspiring heart, and is one of the greatest needs of today. Truth has had a losing fight for many an age to keep its head above water. Although there is the Bible precept "The truth shall make us free," self-interest and personal ambitions in priestcraft on the one hand, and intellectual laziness and love of worldly pleasures in the great mass of people, on the other hand, have kept the soul of man in the bondage of ignorance, misbeliefs, and sin, until from lack of nourishment, the God-ray within becomes, as it were, a smoldering spark, as far as the human, personal nature is concerned, smothered in the ashes of neglect, until some shock through suffering awakens it. Pain is not a celestial revenge, but a natural, scientific, vibrating response or reaction of one force to that of another. The agony of pain turns the nature away from outward attractions and distractions to an inward, spiritual consolation, and consequent higher life, igniting and reviving the spark to life again. When it flames bright and strong, with an unsatisfied desire for reunion with the Divine fire at the source of being, one then becomes aware of the Truth and of the goal ahead. Without the light of this knowledge, we unseeingly pursue our way, stumbling and groping about in many a blind alley, and into many a pitfall from which we must laboriously climb.
One of the means of avoiding delayed progress, is expressed in the following words from the invocation: "and do our whole duty." It is one of the finest expressions of devotion in this petition. Compare this noble, unselfish desire with other prayers of today, the response to, or the fulfilment of which rests usually upon a subscribing to certain man-made beliefs and requirements, differing in all lands as well as in opposing denominations and sects. The response to prayer is made quite clear by Dr. de Purucker in these words: "In the grand organization of which we are a part, every feeblest vibration or flow of energy, produces a corresponding effect or reaction. Thoughts reaching out in prayer, aspiration or the reverse touch the corresponding force." In other words, in this action and interaction of forces between the different planes of being, if we would have a response from some high source, it must be by the concentration of efforts on our part in raising our consciousness to that to which we appeal; in fitting our natures so that spiritual forces may find responsive expression in us. Again quoting Dr. de Purucker in these most fitting and helpful words: "You cannot receive anything from without before it is already within yourselves. Seek ye first the Divine in you, cultivate it, awake it, and just in proportion as you do that, you will receive from without, because you gave from within."
There is no single thing which clears the way and hastens one's steps on this journey of ours more than in the fulfilling of duties to others and to oneself, it being a law of nature that a neglected duty is but a delayed duty, to be met with at some future time. All thoughts, deeds, and acts involve one in duties or consequences, through nature's reaction to all forces good or bad in establishing an equilibrium. Selfishness, hates, jealousies, revengeful feelings, and so forth, bind and shackle one in chains of a like kind, in a vast, complicated connexion with others which may be very unpleasant and run over into many lives ahead for their working out. This law of cause and effect, action and reaction, or Karman, acts with equal force in the opposite direction, in response to kindly thoughts, desires and actions. On the surface this may seem an ironic situation at times, as an unselfish person may be experiencing or reaping the effects of wrong actions sown in the past, and vice versa; which appears to be unjust suffering or, on the other hand, unmerited happiness. It is, however, but the result or working out of that law, "As ye sow so shall ye reap"; and the sooner it is recognised that unselfishness or impersonality is the key or password to eventual, lasting harmony and peace, the quicker and more easy is the ascent of that right-hand path leading to our evolutionary goal — Godhood.
Here the attention should be called to a left-hand path, the path which leads downwards, in the opposite direction, to darkness, the nether pole — matter; and with it final annihilation with accompanying anguish in the loss of the soul. Human nature like everything else is dual, having in it the germ of every virtue and of every sin, the difference in character being the degree to which the germs of these higher or lower forces are developed and used. The personality with its shifting moods and fancies, likes and dislikes, is made of various grades and intensities of these dual tendencies, the spiritual and material aspects of forces, such as love with its opposite, hate; or charity, avarice; honesty, deception; and so forth. So complex is human nature that even a virtue may be used to gain some personal satisfaction, aim or end, and even spiritual knowledge and powers misused. We are not our desires, good or bad, any more than we are our bodies, for we have the power to choose, direct, and use the forces of desire. The real man at the helm is beyond these.
"The Master is one who has conquered nature before nature has conquered him." He now controls thoughts, feelings, emotions, and desires. He is beyond the sway of joys, sorrows, and disappointments, and no longer stops to wallow in the mire of his own lower nature nor in that of others, thus adding to the hosts of evil forces already in operation; but with peace in the heart and with eyes raised, uplifted to the heights beyond the horizon, he speeds onwards, the nature, spiritually awakened or relatively unawakened, placing the pilgrim-traveler at every moment of choice either on the one path or the other.
As the disciple, or chela, advances on the path of Light, duties and obligations assume a most necessary place in his inner training. An absolute requisite in the conquest of self, and familiar to all candidates, are the injunctions given by the great Teachers: "Do good to them who revile and persecute you"; "Resist not evil"; "Turn the other cheek"; "Defend not yourselves," and the like golden precepts; for in the training of the disciple or chela, the bearing of personal injustice becomes a holy duty. It is a purging fire to the dross in the personal, human nature, separating the lower tendencies from the higher. This silence forced or self-imposed upon the outer nature, compels him to stand alone in patience, endurance and forbearance. There being no outlet for pent-up forces, the personal will is subdued and he is thrown back upon his higher self. Seeking refuge in his impersonal, higher nature, he finds there the strength and support of the spiritual will. The desire for reprisal fades away into recognition of the realities beyond. The lower self becomes the higher self. This wonderful transformation in the nature, of course can be sought for selfishly, in the sole desire of attaining the spiritual goal, with no thought for mankind and its needs. But the true aspirant, with compassion for but no longer dependence upon others, is free to work unselfishly for mankind, yet forms no more entangling webs of evil about himself or his brothers.
The last beautiful thought in the Vedic prayer or invocation, "our journey to thy sacred seat," takes us to the goal of our long journey through life; for the sacred seat is that Divine center in the sun which is the home of the Gods. To the aspirant, the pathway is now realized to be within, and he becomes not only a channel, but a consciously responding or answering focus or center for the spiritual forces flowing forth from that sacred seat in the sun. He has sought and found that shining beam within him, and following it, is flooded with its wondrous light. He then consciously exists in spirit instead of matter, and attains Godhood.
This ancient prayer will always be a classic among devotees. Pure in its freedom from personal material wants and requests; pure in its intentions and aspirations, every word carries some spiritual meaning or Truth. When we feel the warmth of the sun's rays upon us and realize that were it not for those forces which pour forth from the sun to us, we would cease to be, it is a sad commentary upon our intelligence and hopes that we neglect in so many ways to consider the inner as well as the outer relations which there are between us and our life-giving source — the sun. Not that the sun as a body is to be worshiped, but since it is true that we owe our very existence to it; that the highest most spiritual part of our being is fed from the highest most spiritual part of the sun's being: the structure and the function of the sun in the solar system should be studied, known, and revered, and in the purpose and object of all life, and our part in it, should be impressed upon the nature constantly. The Ancient Wisdom teaches that it is by this inner development of spiritual consciousness gathered or garnered from spiritual forces flowing through the sun to us — as a part of his domain, the solar system — that we successfully make the ascent of that right-hand path and return to our Sun-Home as Sons of the Sun.
1. It might be well to note here that when man infringes upon or interferes in any way with the normal action of these laws, as in the abnormal development of any of the forces, such as the cultivating of psychic faculties, breath control practices, hypnotism, and so forth, there are bound to be disastrous results in the end for himself and for others. (return to text)