The Secret Doctrine teaches the progressive development of everything, worlds as well as atoms; and this stupendous development has neither conceivable beginning nor imaginable end. Our "Universe" is only one of an infinite number of Universes, all of them "Sons of Necessity," because links in the great Cosmic chain of Universes, each one standing in the relation of an effect as regards its predecessor, and being a cause as regards its successor. — The Secret Doctrine, I, 43
The life forces in a universe are incessantly working; not for an instant do they become motionless. Consequently, the universe, after passing through the stages of the invisible worlds, is born, reaches its culmination of material existence, but does not stop there, for at the moment when the acme of the curve is reached, the forces then move steadily on downwards, but nevertheless forwards.
A universe comes into being because a cosmic entity is imbodying itself; and a universe dies, as a man dies, because it has come to the point where the major part of its energies have already passed into the invisible realms. Universes imbody themselves just as human egos do. The same fundamental laws prevail in the great as in the small. There is no essential difference whatsoever. The differences are in details, not in principles. Death is only a change; life is only an experience. The one enduring thing is pure unalloyed consciousness, for it includes everything else.
Men commonly think that they grow to maturity and then stop growing, remain mature for a while and then begin to decline. There is no such stopping time. The forces composing the man, and making the man a being, are moving constantly along the same road which brought the child to birth, which brought the child to adulthood, and which carries the adult to death. From the instant when culmination of a man's faculties and powers in any one life is reached, decay begins, this 'decay' simply meaning that the inner man is already beginning to make his way and his new body in the invisible worlds.
Man is at home on many planes. He is at home, in fact, everywhere. Our earth life is only one short arc of the circle of existence. How absurd it would be to say that any one particular place, such as our earth, is the standard by which to judge the entire pilgrimage of man. So too the imbodiment and growth of a universe, as well as its culmination and decay followed by its death, are caused by the cosmic entity's coming out from the invisible spheres into these material realms, imbodying itself in the substances thereof and thus building up a material universe, and then passing on; and when the passing on approaches its completion, the universe is in its stages of dissolution.
It is the same with a star or sun as it is with its parent universe. It is the same with any entity. Life is endless, has neither beginning nor end; and a universe is in no wise different in essentials from a man. How could it be, since man merely exemplifies what the universe imbodies as the primary law. The man is the part; the universe is the whole.
Look up into the violet dome of night. Consider the stars and the planets: every one of them is a life-atom in the cosmic body; every one of them is the organized dwelling place of a multitude of smaller life-atoms which build up the brilliant bodies we see. Moreover, every sparkling sun which begems the skies was at one time a man, or a being equivalent to a human, possessing in some degree self-consciousness, intellectual power, conscience and spiritual vision, as well as a body. And the planets and the myriads of entities on the planets encircling any such cosmic god, any such star or sun, are now the same entities who in far bygone cosmic manvantaras (1) were the life-atoms of that entity. Through the ages they trailed along behind, all learning and progressing. But farther along the evolutionary pathway, as their leader, was their parent, the source of their being.
By our actions we are constantly affecting the destiny of the suns and planets of the future, for when we, by bringing out the native powers of the god within, shall have become glorious suns shining in the cosmic deeps, then the nebulae and the suns around us will be the evolved entities who now are our fellow human beings. Consequently, the karmic relations that we have with each other on earth or on other globes of our planetary chain, or elsewhere, will most assuredly affect their destiny as well as our own.
Yes, each one of us, in far distant aeons of the future, is going to be a sun, resplendent in the spaces of Space. And this will be when we shall have evolved forth the divinity in the core of our being, and when that divinity in its turn shall have proceeded to still greater heights. Beyond the sun there are other suns, so high that to us they are invisible, suns of which our own sun is a divine attendant.
The Milky Way, a complete and self-contained universe, is, aggregatively, but one cosmic cell in the body of some supercosmic entity, which in turn is but one of an infinitude of others like itself. The great contains the small; the greater contains the great. Everything lives for and unto everything else. This is the reason why separateness has been called the 'great heresy.' It is the great illusion, for separateness is nonexistent. Nothing can live unto itself alone. Every entity lives for all, and the all is incomplete without the one entity, and therefore lives for it.
Boundless Space is our home. Thither we shall go, and there indeed we even now are. We are not only connected by unbreakable links with the very heart of Infinitude, but we ourselves are that heart. This is the still small path of which the ancient philosophers taught; the path of the spiritual Self within.
The appearance and disappearance of the Universe are pictured as an outbreathing and inbreathing of "the Great Breath," which is eternal, and which, being Motion, is one of the three aspects of the Absolute — Abstract Space and Duration being the other two. When the "Great Breath" is projected, it is called the Divine Breath, and is regarded as the breathing of the Unknowable Deity — the One Existence — which breathes out a thought, as it were, which becomes the Kosmos. (See "Isis Unveiled.") So also is it when the Divine Breath is inspired again the Universe disappears into the bosom of "the Great Mother," who then sleeps "wrapped in her invisible robes." — The Secret Doctrine, I, 43
When H.P.B. quoted passages from the archaic Hindu scriptures, such as the Vishnu-Purana, about the cosmic Days and Nights as being the inbreathings and outbreathings of Brahma (2) she was using a figure of speech. Brahma may be described as an individualized aspect of the cosmic Oversoul or Brahman, the individual root-divinity of any cosmic unit, whether a solar system like ours, or some larger or smaller individual. Brahma thus is the vivifying, expansive substance-consciousness of nature in its eternally periodic cycles of manifestation. It stands in true distinction to mulaprakriti, or rather pradhana, root-nature, which is the shadow or matter side of the cosmos.
Brahma, generally speaking, is the cosmic divinity, although the word is likewise used in modern theosophical writings to signify the spiritual entity of which a planetary chain (3) forms the seven principles or, otherwise, is the imbodiment. Each globe of such a planetary chain — and on the larger scale this is applicable to the entire solar system — corresponds not only with one of the principles of the Brahma of a planetary chain, but likewise each such globe is a focus or 'knot' in which the consciousness of that Brahma is localized. Precisely in the same manner man in his own sevenfold constitution has his different knots or centers, in which the consciousness emanating from the god within him is localized and wherein it works. In fact, his inner god during its periods of activity in manvantara — in this case in human incarnations — is the man's Brahma.
Every appearance of a solar system (and equally so of a planetary chain) into manvantaric manifestation is an outbreathing of its Brahma or cosmic divinity; similarly every inbreathing of the same Brahma means its pralaya or resting period, the disappearance into higher planes of the manifested being. It is exactly so with man: when imbodied on earth, he is like a pillar of light descending from the spirit downwards through all planes until the physical body is reached; when he dies and his constitution breaks up, the pillar of light gradually is indrawn from below upwards until it again reaches the spiritual realms, which means its disappearance from the lower cosmic planes.
Pralaya — from the root li, to dissolve, and pra, away — is the generalizing term for the state of rest or latency between two manvantaras or life cycles, of whatever magnitude. During the great or mahapralayas every individual or unit that was differentiated disappears from the phenomenal universe and is transformed into the noumenal essence which periodically and throughout endless Duration gives birth to all the phenomenal manifestations of nature. Pralaya, then, is the dissolution of the visible into the invisible, the heterogeneous into the homogeneous; in other words, the objective universe returns into its one underlying primordial and eternally productive cause, to reappear at the following cosmic dawn as a new universe, the karmic fruitage of the old universe, its former 'self.' To our finite minds, pralaya is like a state of nonbeing — and so it is for all existences and beings on the lower ethereal and material planes.
When a solar system appears out of cosmic latency at the end of its solar pralaya, and begins its manifestations from the spirit downwards into matter, it is the outbreathing of that respective cosmic individual or Brahma. Similarly, when the solar manvantara is ended, all the parts and portions of the solar system gradually disappear from the lower planes and are withdrawn in serial order into the spiritual realms; there then ensues the solar pralaya, the inbreathing of that particular cosmic individual. Where formerly existed a sun with its planetary chains, we would see naught but 'empty' cosmic aether, such as that which now exists between star and star in the vast realms of the starry spaces.
Furthermore, pralaya and manvantara are but other names for the systole and diastole of a cosmos. The systole is the ingathering, the inbreathing, the disappearance of all that is, and the diastole is the reverse: the outbreathing or manifestation along the cosmic ladder of life from spirit to grossest matter of the planes of the expanding entity, whatever it may be — sun, planetary chain, or even a galaxy. Systole and diastole are also used for the sunspot periods which represent pulsations of the solar heart.
When a manifested entity on any one plane goes into pralaya, the life-atoms that it leaves on that plane are in their deep sleep which continues as long as the pralaya lasts. What science now thinks to be empty space is really cosmic aether in a state of pralaya; and every part of such miscalled empty space has from eternity in the past been, and will in the eternity of the future again be, the field for the appearance of manifesting entities.
Aether should never be confused with ether. They are as different both in substance and meaning as man's spiritual soul is from his astral body. Aether is virtually identic with the Sanskrit term akasa, both being the highest ranges of the anima mundi. Ether is the grossest or physical aspect of aether, and is often interchangeable with the astral light, which is the lees of the anima mundi or, what comes to the same thing, of aether. In the case of the auric egg of man, in its highest part it too is pure akasa or aether or the spiritual soul, and in its astral and physical parts it is the linga-sarira corresponding to ether and lower astral substance, the physical body being the precipitate or deposit of these last.
During manvantara a cosmic entity, due to forces working from within outwards as well as from without inwards, is manifesting on the different planes of boundless Space; during its pralaya the same entity disappears from these planes, and its higher principles rest in unimaginable nirvanic bliss. Just so with man during life and after death, but on a much smaller scale.
Nirvana (4) is a state of complete, untrammeled consciousness, of absorption in pure kosmic Being, and is the wondrous destiny of those who have reached superhuman knowledge, purity and spiritual illumination. It really is personal-individual identification with the spiritual Self — the highest Self. It is also the state of the monadic entities in the period that intervenes between minor manvantaras or rounds of a planetary chain; and more fully so between each seven-round period, or Day of Brahma, and the succeeding Day or new kalpa of a planetary chain.
There are different degrees of nirvana; there is one so high that it blends insensibly with the condition of the cosmic hierarch of our universe. Nirvana has also been called the vanishing point of differentiated matter. The purely nirvanic state is the "laya of the Spirit in Parabrahman," an assimilation with Parabrahman, a passage of spirit back to the ideal abstraction of Be-ness which has no modifying relation with the manifested planes on which our universe exists during this manvantaric cycle.
Paranirvana is that which is 'beyond nirvana,' the period of kosmic rest or mahapralaya — the Great Night of Brahma — the condition which ensues at the end of the manvantara of the solar system, the Saurya manvantara. (5) Just as a man may attain self-conscious union with the divine monad which is the root of his being, thus attaining nirvana, so the solar system and all self-conscious entities within it, at the end of the Saurya manvantara, attain an exactly similar but far higher union with the hierarch of the galactic universe, and this we may describe as the paranirvana of the solar system.
Again, when the universal solar system has reached its manvantaric end and the Maha-Saurya pralaya begins, then all the three dhatus — or generalized groups of cosmic planes which in their structural unity form any solar system as well as any universal solar system — are swept out of existence like so many dried leaves in an autumn wind, and naught remains except the 'fullness' of vacuity.
Every manifesting entity in the universe is a consciousness or monad. Thus our sun is a solar monad, a divine being in its higher parts; similarly every planetary chain is an individual, an entity of less spiritual magnitude than a sun, but a cosmic individual nonetheless. Every atom is likewise during its manifestation an imbodied individual — a god at its heart, a life-atom in the intermediate part of its constitution, a chemical atom in its body.
"The Central Sun causes Fohat to collect primordial dust in the form of balls, to impel them to move in converging lines and finally to approach each other and aggregate." (Book of Dzyan). . . . . "Being scattered in Space, without order or system, the world-germs come into frequent collision until their final aggregation, after which they become wanderers (Comets). Then the battles and struggles begin. The older (bodies) attract the younger, while others repel them. Many perish, devoured by their stronger companions. Those that escape become worlds. — The Secret Doctrine, I, 201
Our solar system began in Space, in the womb of Aditi, the Eternal Mother, as a nebula — not by chance, but as one of the stages in its new imbodiment. As this nebula slowly moved in space, at its heart there began to be a condensation of its substance. This condensation became the sun, and a little later at various points within that nebula similar but smaller condensations of the nebular material occurred, and these became the planets.
Note the distinction as well as similarity between the terms Space and Aditi. Aditi is used for that particular portion of space which is or becomes the originant matter or cosmic womb from which any spacial unit such as a solar system or galaxy is to be born. Whereas Space can be used in this limited sense, it likewise can signify the Boundless; but it would be straining the meaning of Aditi to call it the Boundless or infinite Space, because neither the Boundless nor infinite Space can be looked upon as acting in an individualized or generative capacity. Aditi is often spoken of as Devamatri, the Mother of the Gods, because, as H.P.B. has it, "it is from her Cosmic matrix that all the heavenly bodies of our system were born — Sun and Planets." (The Secret Doctrine, I, 99; see also I, 53, 356, 527; II, 527.)
Let us raise ourselves in spirit to a portion of cosmic infinitude which science would call empty space; and then raise our minds upwards and inwards seven stages or planes until we reach the plane of cosmic spirit. All the planes through which our mind has passed form the manifested body or being of Aditi — a word which means 'frontierless.' As we remain in thought on this highest plane through aeons of cosmic time, our consciousness, having become an observer, grows cognizant of motion in the spirit-substance around us. A mathematical point or center seems to be condensing, begins to glow with light and take unto itself movement in circular or rotatory fashion, as well as movement of translation or progression.
As we watch in thought through the ages we see this center become duplicated and multiplied elsewhere in the substance-space around us: these other and apparently smaller foci doing just as the first point had done, glowing with unimaginable splendor and moving both circularly and in translation. We begin to notice that the so-called empty space, in which these various flashing points exist, itself becomes thoroughly active as spiritual substance; and, as still other ages pass by in our thought, we realize that we are observing the condensation or formation of a spiritual nebula, or a sea of flaming but heatless spiritual Fire in which the revolving points exist as living nuclei, each one formed around a laya-center. As time passes on, this spiritual nebula and all parts of it, both its fullness and the different nuclei, send emanations or flowing forces and substances from themselves down to the next lower plane of the body of Aditi, which plane in its turn is thus awakened by regular serial stages to manifesting nebular life. This progressing descent continues steadily through emanation upon emanation, so that every plane of the body of Aditi, or the universe, in its turn becomes a field of space or the stage of awakening existence and of innumerable living points, which are manifesting monads.
When the physical plane of space is reached, we begin to discern the same phenomena: faint wisps and streaks of light coalesce and become a luminous nebula, increasing in brilliancy as the ages pass, in which the living nuclei — or rather the emanations on this lowest plane reaching out from the original nuclei on the highest plane — again appear with their respective circular and translatory motions. Thus we have a nebula in its appearance on the physical plane.
The nebula itself slowly whirls in majestic rotation through long ages, the living nuclei gradually becoming more brilliant and more active in their manifestation on the physical plane. We then perceive that the largest of these living nuclei is really the beginning of our sun, and that the smaller nuclei have taken unto themselves movements as minor nebulae within the greater nebula, all of them being more condensed than the general field of the nebula itself. We see that the living substance forming the general nebula is slowly absorbed or sucked into the respective bodies of these nuclei. Finally we witness the birth of the physical plane of the solar system, with its attendant planetary chains in their first appearances on this cosmic plane.
We understand that both the sun and the planetary chains are manifold in character, extending from the spiritual down through all intermediate worlds to the physical cosmic plane. We notice that these nuclei assort themselves in such fashion that on the highest plane there is one globe, and on every succeeding plane there are two nuclei or globes, until we reach the physical plane where there is one nucleus or globe again — the 'reflection' on this plane of the highest globe on the spiritual plane. Every one of these nucleus-globes, itself being formed not only of the spirit and of the soul but also of the body of Aditi, is therefore as a cosmic unit seven — or ten — or twelvefold in character, according to the way in which we choose to count its different elements or principles.
What we may call the mechanics of the appearance of a universal solar system — first as a point or germ, which the Hindu writings speak of as a hiranyagarbha or 'golden seed' — should be understood clearly in order to avoid confusion. The appearance of the glowing hiranyagarbha on the highest of the seven planes of space really is a laya-center beginning to awaken to activity. This cosmic seed gradually expands as it unfolds, because of the pouring through the laya-center of the unfolding inner life principles from above downwards. As the ages of cosmic time flow by and this golden germ continues its expansion, it finally attains the dimensions of a nebula, filling all the space where it appears with 'cold light' or 'cold fire.' In this nebula, minor hiranyagarbhas or cosmic seeds slowly break through into manifestation, each one in its turn expanding and swelling and likewise being the beginning of the awakening into activity of a laya-center. We have thus a vast expanse of glowing but perfectly cool spiritual flame, which is the general nebula. Here and there in the substance of this nebula appear these minor foci or hiranyagarbhas, each one the seed of a future celestial body belonging to the universal solar system-to-be, and now in process of formation on this highest or seventh or spiritual plane of manifestation.
From time to time one of these minor hiranyagarbhas reaches the point in its emanational unfolding or evolution where, as said before, it takes unto itself movement of both rotatory and translatory character, because of the innate forces working through it — this dual movement making of each such minor hiranyagarbha a comet.
As the descent through the seven planes of manifestation continues through aeonic time, the surplus of life (cf. Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, ch. 45) on the descending arc finally reaches the lowest part of the highest or seventh plane, and breaks through into the highest part of the next lower cosmic plane. Here the same general run of unfolding activity takes place: first the appearance of the cosmic seed, which swells and expands and pours out from the laya-center, which is its heart, ever more and more of the forces and substances it progressively unrolls, so that in time on the lower cosmic plane a nebula is again formed like its parent on the superior plane.
The process continues through all the seven planes of manifestation until it reaches the lowest cosmic plane that it is possible for the karma of the unfolding universal solar system to attain; and this plane we call our material world, the lowest aspect of the universal Egg of Brahma. On this material plane there first appears a cosmic comet which, having stirred in its far distant bed in space because of the awakening of the laya-center, begins to rush in erratic movements through the galactic spaces. Finally it reaches that portion of the galaxy to which it is karmically drawn — our own universal solar system, surrounded as it is by the zodiacal belt. Here it attains relative stability because of the balancing energies or powers of the twelve fohatic magnetisms flowing from the twelve constellations of the celestial zodiac.
The cosmic comet now has settled in space as a relatively circular disc of glowing light surrounding a globular center or heart, which latter is the developed hiranyagarbha that the cosmic comet has become. This heart in later aeonic time becomes the chief fohatic center of the universal solar system.
Movement is innate in any laya-center awakened into activity, because of the forces and energies and substances flowing downwards through it; and thus rotation is immediately inaugurated, a continuation of the rotatory movement of the cosmic comet, and this movement of the entire nebula, as it now is, continues until the end of the Maha-Saurya manvantara. In the fabric of this nebula there appear the minor hiranyagarbhas, each one of which in turn, from innate powers of movement, takes unto itself both rotatory and translatory motion, and these minor foci in the general nebula are the beginnings of what will in time become the planets.
From the primordial or first appearance of the universal solar system — from the first firing up of the laya-center in the deeps of galactic space, and passing through the stages of cosmic comet and later nebula — the various phases of the evolving and expanding entity, the universal solar system-to-be, are all marked by the glowing or shining of the cold flame, which Hindu philosophy calls daiviprakriti (literally, luminous substance).
Now even when the lowest cosmic plane has been reached, there is as yet no appearance of what we call physical matter — which comes only at the most unfolded stage of the evolution of the universal solar system. The cold flame, which is the appearance of daiviprakriti on the lowest cosmic plane, is in fact matter belonging to another subplane than that of our physical world, matter in its first and second highest conditions or states. It is, really, the same glowing luminosity that our sun even at present has, for what we see as our sun is physical matter in its two highest states; however, because the sun in its evolution has reached the lowest possible stage for the present Maha-Saurya manvantara, it is surrounded by an aura or veil of matter somewhat more material, which matter is in its third stage of condensation downwards.
Here we have a paradox in that the sun itself is neither solid, liquid, nor gaseous; nor is it hot, although it is most emphatically glowing, and glowing with cold flame. Nevertheless there is 'heat' around the outermost veil of the sun, produced not by 'burning' or 'incandescence' but by the tremendous working of chemical and alchemical association and dissociation of the life-atoms which form the sun's outermost garment. All these garments of the sun are its vital aura and, in fact, are the grossest expression of the solar auric egg. The titanic energies producing the luminosity and splendor of the sun's aura are the manifestation of daiviprakriti on the two uppermost planes of the physical universe. Daiviprakriti itself is spiritual consciousness and intellectual light in its highest parts, and nebular and cometary luminosity when it touches the higher subplanes of our material cosmic plane.
During the Maha-Saurya pralaya, the spiritual, intellectual, and higher psychical principles of a universal solar system exist in space in the incomprehensible activity of these higher principles, although the lower principles of such system are dispersed and dissociated. The life-atoms of these lower principles or elements hang in space in a condition which we may perhaps figurate as being 'frozen' in somnolence, and remain in such inactive condition during the long ages of that pralaya. But when the reimbodiments of its higher principles begin to take place as the descending life thereof reaches the lower planes and subplanes of space, these hosts of inactive life-atoms start to awaken into activity again, and are attracted to, and thus help to re-form, the lower principles and the body of this universal solar system.
Returning to the main theme of the reappearance of a universal solar system on the different cosmic planes, we find first the cosmic comet slowly expanding and gathering unto itself multitudes of waiting and 'frozen' life-atoms. Reaching its karmically destined locus in the galaxy, and passing by degrees through the stages of diffuse nebula and slowly rotating spiral nebula, it gradually assumes the form of the annular or ring nebula, and finally attains a spherical or egg-shaped form. Some magnificent photographs have been taken which show these different nebular shapes in various stages of their evolution. Indeed, our own galaxy or home-universe, could we see it from some outside point, would look like some of the flattened or disc nebulae that these photographs show so clearly.
Nature repeats her operations on all planes and in all ranges, high and low, inner and outer, for analogical action is the course of procedure of universal and all-permeant consciousness, which automatically follows the innate laws of its own being. Once a universal solar system or general Egg of Brahma has reached its grossest or most materially evolved stage of emanational unfolding, then we have a universal solar system just like our own, consisting of a number of different solar systems collected together because of karmic descent and destiny.
Now the arc of ascent, which is the return to spirit of the Egg of Brahma, is accomplished by a reversal all along the line of what took place on the arc of descent. Slowly through aeonic time, and from the very beginning of the arc of ascent, the universal solar system follows its long journey back to spirit. First, all the lowest portions of the lowest cosmic plane begin to involve, like an infolding scroll; when this has been rolled up, a similar procedure takes place with the next higher plane. This involutionary process continues through all the seven manifested planes until once again spirit is reached, the Maha-Saurya manvantara is ended, and all the vast aggregate of the highest and higher principles and elements of the system enter into their paranirvanic and utterly inexpressible condition. Where formerly the universal solar system had existed in all the plenitude of its manifested powers and substances, there now is 'empty space.'
Although the ages be many and long, the time in endless Duration will arrive when once more the great drama of a 'new' universal solar system will begin, but on a series of cosmic planes higher than those of its 'old' self. All that was once X and Y and Z in the 'old' is now A and B and C in the 'new'; and thus by gradual stages up the galactic ladder of Being do all systems climb to destinies inconceivable by man.
Yet behind it all, and outside of all phenomenal appearances, however grand these may be, there is that Something, which the sages of archaic times reverently called THAT. We should ever keep in heart and mind as the ultimate intuition of truth, that whatever is 'appearance' is after all maya. It is the incomprehensible, the unthinkable, the ever-enduring, which alone is eternal. It is this vast Mystery, of which we are all children, gods and men, universes and atoms, galaxies and aggregates of galaxies, which is the rootless root of our inmost essence, from which we all came, unto which periodically we all return.
H. P. Blavatsky says truly that our whole destiny, indeed the destiny of the solar system and of every planetary chain within it, is written in the zodiac, and naturally therefore in its twelve constellations, signs, houses, or mansions — all four names being applicable almost indifferently to the twelve parts into which the zodiac is divided. (Cf. The Secret Doctrine, I, 634, "Cyclic Evolution and Karma," and I, 647, "The Zodiac and its Antiquity.") These twelve houses, I might add, are not portions of our solar system, nor of our planetary chain.
The zodiac is that band of constellations which ancient astrology divided into twelve parts and which, seen from the earth, surrounds our solar system like a belt. Each of these constellations, together forming the twelve houses of the zodiac, is a cluster of stars karmically united by past bonds of destiny, each having its own characteristic swabhava — in other words, its own spiritual electricity or fohatic magnetism. Thus the zodiac contains twelve different cosmic fohatic magnetisms, each one distinct from all the others, yet naturally all belonging to and enfolded within the still greater spiritual magnetism or fohat of our galaxy or home-universe.
In fact, every monad throughout infinity has its own characteristic spiritual magnetism, its own magnetic bipolarity, which is its individuality. No two men are identic: if they were they would not be twain but one. Every life-atom likewise has its own spiritual individuality or magnetism. Similarly, man's physical body, indeed his entire constitution, has a spiritual-magnetic swabhava of its own, as has any organism such as a planetary chain or a group of stars like the constellations. Every zodiacal mansion also has its own swabhava, and therefore its characteristic mahat or cosmic intelligence. In other words, the zodiac contains twelve different poles, i.e. polarities of spiritual-intellectual magnetism or fohatic electricity, each one producing its own type of influences in the outflow of its emanations around itself, and extending through space.
The entire belt of the zodiac is a portion of the galaxy, a collection of constellations to which our solar system with all its attending planetary chains is karmically connected in an especial manner. This is the reason they are all grouped together in our home-universe.
Let us consider again the birth of a solar system. The time comes when the descending forces with their accompanying ethereal substances infill a dormant laya-center in the heart of the galaxy. Invigorated by these incoming life streams from higher planes, the cosmic seed of the future solar system rushes from its bed in space, and for ages pursues an erratic course throughout the galaxy, drawn hither and thither by the attractions of various stellar clusters or individual suns.
The Secret Doctrine (I, 203-4) gives the following graphic description of the cometary wanderings through the galactic deeps:
Born in the unfathomable depths of Space, out of the homogeneous Element called the World-Soul, every nucleus of Cosmic matter, suddenly launched into being, begins life under the most hostile circumstances. Through a series of countless ages, it has to conquer for itself a place in the infinitudes. It circles round and round between denser and already fixed bodies, moving by jerks, and pulling towards some given point or centre that attracts it, trying to avoid, like a ship drawn into a channel dotted with reefs and sunken rocks, other bodies that draw and repel it in turn; many perish, their mass disintegrating through stronger masses, and, when born within a system, chiefly within the insatiable stomachs of various Suns. . . . Those which move slower and are propelled into an elliptic course are doomed to annihilation sooner or later. Others moving in parabolic curves generally escape destruction, owing to their velocity.
Also in the same work (I, 100), H.P.B. quotes from an ancient Commentary which states that Marttanda, our sun, "breathed (drew in) into his stomach the vital airs of his brothers," seeking to devour (6) them, and hence was exiled to the center of the kingdom, and that his younger brothers, the planets, wander around him in order to keep away from him until the time comes when they can safely approach him.
The cosmic germ or comet that does escape annihilation, continues pursuing its wanderings, and finally reaches its objective which, in the case of our own embryonic sun and its sleeping planetary chains, was the group of stellar clusters which we call the zodiac. More concretely, our embryo solar system, then a wandering pilgrim comet, reached the field of space within the galaxy where formerly, as a solar system, it had lived with its family of planetary chains. Once within the enclosing circle of the zodiac and henceforth subject to the mighty spiritual-magnetic fohatic emanations of a twelvefold kind, the pilgrim comet begins to settle in life. It then slowly passes from the cometary stage into the nebular stage, through the ages gradually increasing in size and growing more material and grosser in texture, because absorbing the countless multitudes of its former lower life-atoms which it had dropped on this plane when its previous existence as a solar system had come to an end.
As it passes through this process of concretion it accumulates all-various types of ethereal matter, partly from what science calls the dark nebulae which are but sleeping matter in the fifth, sixth and seventh states counting upwards; and thus by degrees it gathers unto itself, by accretion and attraction, increments of matter belonging to this plane.
Now relatively settled, it is enchained within the twelve polar fohatic attractions of the zodiac in the beginning of its existence as a nebula. It goes through various nebular stages, constantly growing more solidified, more condensed, glowing ever more brightly because of the Forty-nine Fires working through it. (Cf. The Secret Doctrine, I, 291, 347) When it has become a visible nebula, although still of matter not wholly of our physical plane but of ethereal matters belonging to the two or three highest conditions of physical matter — just like the substance of our visible solar orb — we discern within this vast nebula living nuclei spaced here and there within its field. The largest and most powerful of these in time becomes the body of the sun; the smaller nuclei are the respective planetary chains in the first of their rounds. Thus is a solar system begun, and thus is inaugurated the sublime life drama of the new solar manvantara.
After this stage has been reached, the substance of the nebula is slowly absorbed or swallowed up, partly by the sun and partly by the different smaller living nuclei which are the beginnings of the planetary chains. Each attracts and sucks in from the surrounding solar nebula those particular life-atoms which had belonged to it in the previous solar manvantara; in this way each living nucleus, whether solar or planetary, solidifies and strengthens its fabric or body.
During the course of the birth of a solar system, there are not only intense attractions among these different nucleus-globes, but likewise equally strong repulsions, due to the fohatic vitality of the living entity manifesting in and through each globe as its own Brahma.
In the early ages of the formation of the solar system, before the present very beautiful and symmetrical condition of things in this system began, the sun, which was the largest of the then relatively condensed bodies in the nebula, began to pull hard on all other parts of the nebula, trying to gather these other smaller and inferior condensations into itself. There then existed an interplay of attraction and repulsion between center or sun and the outlying condensing points. This resulted in the beginning of the planetary revolutions about the sun. The planets fought against the mighty solar attraction, and there were battles in space between the sun with its terrific pulling power and the planets which attempted to seek safety in flight; and, as they could not free themselves from the gravitational pull — more accurately, the spiritual, psychomagnetic as well as physical influence — of the great sun, they turned around it, in circular and later in elliptical orbits, and thus was the solar system established.
The doctrine of the spheres comprises the entire structure, characteristics and attributes, as well as the origin and destiny, of the solar system and all in it, including of course the scores of different planetary chains which together form the sun's kingdom. This doctrine has four different aspects which may be briefly described as:
1. The universal solar system, including a number of individual solar systems all subservient to the same Raja sun.
2. Our solar system, a twelvefold solar chain, with its seven (or twelve) sacred planets which have our sun as their elder brother. This second aspect treats also of the spiritual-psychological influences which these planets (7) exercise upon our earth planetary chain, and the role they play in its formation.
3. The earth planetary chain per se, which aspect is primarily concerned with the circulation of the various life-waves through the twelve globes of the complete chain, and the manner in which this chain — as an instance of planetary chains in general — is built and formed.
Every planetary chain is the sevenfold (or twelvefold) constitution of a celestial being, whose abode is mainly in the highest globe, and whose vital influence and mind permeate every globe, and therefore every being or atom which goes to form the various globes of that chain. Just as man has his seven principles, so on the cosmic scale every planetary chain has its seven (or ten or twelve) foci or knots of consciousness, which are its respective globes.
4. That aspect of the doctrine which is, perhaps, the most mystical one of the four, and to which H.P.B. merely alluded when she wrote in closely veiled language:
As to Mars, Mercury, and "the four other planets," they bear a relation to Earth of which no master or high Occultist will ever speak, much less explain the nature. — The Secret Doctrine, I, 163-4
There is a tendency to confuse the universal solar system with our solar system. The two are not one but different and in a sense quite distinct parts of the cosmic Egg of Brahma.
Now the solar system which science recognizes is merely the physical portion of our cosmic Egg of Brahma, and even then only that part of the physical portion which our senses can perceive. In reality our solar system exists on seven (or ten or twelve) cosmic planes, ranging from the highest or divine through the invisible worlds and realms down to our physical or prithivi cosmic plane. This cosmic Egg, then, is seen to be a vast aggregate of interpenetrating and interacting planes or worlds, each having its own particular planet-globes with their respective inhabitants in various degrees of evolutionary unfoldment, as well as different suns existing on these cosmic planes.
The ancient Greek mystics and later Gnostics, re-echoing the archaic teaching given in the Mysteries, properly spoke of this World Egg as a vast Pleroma or Fullness. We are thus entitled to conceive of the cosmic Egg as a 'solid,' of which by far the greatest part exists in the invisible worlds, and of which we cognize only imperfectly the physical part. This cosmic Egg is our universal solar system; and it contains not only our own solar system, but a number of others akin to ours because of ultimately identic origin and destiny. All these solar systems, interworking and interacting yet each one quite distinct from the others, are derivatives from a common primeval origin in far past cosmic manvantaras. Further, this cosmic Egg is presided over by one grand solar chain or spiritual sun which, because of its pre-eminence in age and spirituality, is called in the esoteric philosophy a Raja sun, (8) a king sun, or a Raja star.
In the second volume of The Secret Doctrine (p. 240) we find the following significant passage:
This "central sun" of the Occultists, which even Science is obliged to accept astronomically, for it cannot deny the presence in Sidereal Space of a central body in the milky way, a point unseen and mysterious, the ever-hidden centre of attraction of our Sun and system — this "Sun" is viewed differently by the Occultists of the East. While the Western and Jewish Kabalists (and even some pious modern astronomers) claim that in this sun the God-head is specially present — referring to it the volitional acts of God — the Eastern Initiates maintain that, as the supra-divine Essence of the Unknown Absolute is equally in every domain and place, the "Central Sun" is simply the centre of Universal life-Electricity; the reservoir within which that divine radiance, already differentiated at the beginning of every creation, is focussed. Though still in a laya, or neutral condition, it is, nevertheless, the one attracting, as also the ever-emitting, life Centre.
The "central suns" here referred to are the Raja suns around which more than one minor solar universe turns. These Raja suns or king stars are scattered through the boundless spaces of Space in virtually infinite numbers, and many are not in our physical world at all. However, there is of course no one central stellar body around which Infinitude revolves.
One solar system can pass its entire manvantara from beginning to end, enter upon and pass through its solar pralaya, and then begin a new solar manvantara, while other solar systems of the same cosmic Egg may or may not be doing the same thing. The time periods, however long for any individual solar system, are all relatively short when compared with the vast time periods of the universal solar system. Just as the planetary chains in our solar system have many reimbodiments during the solar manvantara, in like manner has our solar system many reimbodiments within the universal manvantara of the cosmic Egg of Brahma.
Merely one facet of great cosmic mysteries is here touched upon, and we will understand this better if we remember that there are suns and suns. Some suns are manvantaric ultimates, ends for that manvantara of a majestic evolutionary unfolding which began in the dawn of our own galactic universe. There are other suns which instead of being at their manvantaric end are as it were at the beginning; and these are descending into matter instead of rising out of it. Both types of suns play their respective cosmic roles on the stage of manvantaric life; yet both have paths of activity which cross each other, functions which at times are identic; and both operate towards the common, to us humans utterly inscrutable, consummation of manvantaric time.
The life of the universal solar system is much longer than that of our solar system, with its sun and family of younger brothers or planets. From time to time one of these planetary chains ends its seventh round and enters into its pralaya, while its principles begin to wander thereafter through space. In due course it is attracted back to its solar system as a planetary comet, which gradually finds its own sun, and pretty nearly, if not exactly, its own former orbit. So also our sun, or any other one of the suns in our universal solar system, will run its life period, peregrinate in and through the invisible planes through space, and return to this our universal solar system as a solar comet.
It is important here not to confuse the universal solar system with the system of the galaxy, which of course is likewise an immensely vaster system of suns which we could call perhaps the galactic system of solar systems. When, as above, I use the expression universal solar system in connection with our sun, I mean a particular group of solar systems closely assembling a vast chain of suns, of which only one sun, our sun, is visible to us on this cosmic plane.
Not only are all the other suns of our own universal solar system invisible, but likewise their respective planetary chains, because our vision is limited by our karmic development to this particular sub-subplane of a cosmic plane. Now a god with his consciousness developed on many subplanes of a cosmic plane possibly would see all the suns, and probably all the respective planetary chains of all those suns of our universal solar system. What a picture that would be!
The birth of the celestial bodies in Space is compared to a crowd or multitude of "pilgrims" at the festival of the "Fires." Seven ascetics appear on the threshold of the temple with seven lighted sticks of incense. At the light of these the first row of pilgrims light their incense sticks. After which every ascetic begins whirling his stick around his head in space, and furnishes the rest with fire. Thus with the heavenly bodies. A laya-centre is lighted and awakened into life by the fires of another "pilgrim," after which the new "centre" rushes into space and becomes a comet. It is only after losing its velocity, and hence its fiery tail, that the "Fiery Dragon" settles down into quiet and steady life as a regular respectable citizen of the sidereal family. . . .
What does Science know of Comets, their genesis, growth, and ultimate behaviour? Nothing — absolutely nothing! And what is there so impossible that a laya centre — a lump of cosmic protoplasm, homogeneous and latent, when suddenly animated or fired up — should rush from its bed in Space and whirl throughout the abysmal depths in order to strengthen its homogeneous organism by an accumulation and addition of differentiated elements? And why should not such a comet settle in life, live, and become an inhabited globe! — The Secret Doctrine, I, 203-4
In several parts of her writings H.P.B. has pointed out that the evolutionary beginning in manifestation of any celestial body of whatever kind is a comet. This means that comets are of various kinds, whether or not they become a solar globe or a globe of a planetary chain; and there are other comets of far more widely varying types as regards ethereality or materiality. Yet every comet must pass through all possible stages of the inner worlds before it reaches this physical plane where it makes its first appearance as a tiny speck of light, gradually increasing in luminosity because of the exuded tail as it approaches the sun in its periodic or nonperiodic orbit around it. As a matter of fact, comets are invisible before they enter upon the highest subplane of this physical plane, and in all cases they may first be noticed as an almost ethereally luminous wisp of light.
The planetary chains in their origin were 'little suns' (9) — the difference between them and the sun being that the sun in the evolutionary unfolding of its spiritual nature and powers is far ahead of the planetary chains. An important point here is that a planetary chain manvantara is shorter in length than is the manvantara of the solar chain.
To illustrate: when the planetary chain of earth has reached the end of its manvantara, it dies and the inner principles of all its globes pass into their paranirvana. When the reimbodiment of this planetary chain is karmically destined to take place, the same descent of the higher principles through the inner worlds occurs as in the birth of a solar system. The new planetary chain is attracted to its own solar system, reaching it as a comet, periodically wandering into and out of its parent solar system, and even in and out of the deeps of the galaxy. This comet, the planetary chain-to-be, is attracted in several directions, but makes its way constantly towards that group of stellar clusters called the zodiac, drawn by spiritual-magnetic fohatic polarity. Finally it remains within our solar system, attracted to our sun around which it whirls in an orbit that in time becomes elliptical or perhaps circular. Thus, from being a cometary wanderer in the galactic deeps, it settles in life anew and becomes a planet in the first stages of its early rounds.
The question may arise as to the extent of the sun's control over the so-called periodic comets, because astronomy has shown that many of them travel into distant spaces, perhaps as much as thirty times the distance of Neptune from the sun, and it is likewise recognized that the cause of the periodicity of certain comets is the sun's attraction.
Now the aura or auric egg of any entity extends far beyond its physical vehicle. Hence the auric egg of a celestial body in its different layers has different limits of extension; the higher or more spiritual the layer the farther does it extend from its center, and the thicker or more material it is the less is its reach. The psychological, spiritual and divine layers of the auric egg of the sun are of immense extent, penetrating far into the galaxy, the divine actually reaching the galactic frontiers.
As all celestial bodies are in their essence living beings, expressions of monads, we see the reason why any comet which belongs to the sun's family by karmic relationship is held in the attractive power of the higher layers of the sun's auric egg, no matter how far such comet may wander in or through the galactic spaces. In other words, the sun keeps control of its own comets, which are the periodic ones. Thus while the sun's kingdom on the lower planes comprises what is generally called the solar system, the reaches and therefore the attractive energy of the more spiritual layers of the sun's auric egg can operate by fohatic sympathy even upon comets which are wandering among the stars of the galaxy.
When completely manifested, a planetary chain consists of seven globes of form, or rupa globes, in differing degrees of ethereality, and of five quasi-ethereal or arupa globes — twelve in all. Now H.P.B., for reasons of simplicity, draws a veil over the five superior globes, and paints her marvelous word picture of the seven-globed planetary chain.
Every one of these globes, and each on its own plane, visible or invisible, begins its manvantaric career as a comet; so that we have physical comets as well as comets on each of the other six cosmic planes above our visible cosmic plane. Furthermore, each comet is formed around a laya-center — on whatever cosmic plane it may manifest — in order to concrete a globe around itself.
There are quite a number of comets belonging to the sun's family which show a most interesting attraction to the enormous planet Jupiter, and these are called by astronomers the 'comet family of Jupiter.' It might be asked what is the relationship between Jupiter and its comet family. There are two main causes for this attraction: the immense psychomagnetic or vital attraction of the planet itself; and the even stronger and more mystic influences of the Raja sun 'behind' Jupiter. (Cf. The Mahatma Letters, p. 167) We may say that the Raja sun is the general, and Jupiter is the chief aide-de-camp. Furthermore, this group of comets is karmically connected with our universal as well as with our own solar system.
Let us now briefly sketch the building of a planetary chain, limiting our consideration to the comet whose destiny it is to build the lowest or globe D of our earth chain.
No comet when it first enters the highest subplane of a cosmic plane — such as our own lowest or physical cosmic plane — is formed of the gross matter of that plane, but is really ethereal matter 'breaking through' from the cosmic plane preceding or superior to it. Astronomers suppose that a comet is just ordinary physical gas which has aggregated unto itself a more or less large body of cosmic dust and asteroidal particles. Although this process does take place in ever-increasing degree, and especially so from the period when it has finally settled into its orbit, a comet in its first beginnings is essentially built of matter not belonging to our physical cosmic plane.
All celestial bodies are of spiritual origin. They are pilgrims — 'horizontally' through any one plane, and 'vertically' from the highest plane to the lowest. Here we find Plato's philosophical cross of spirit working in and on matter. Thus a comet is originally a solar or a planetary monad. It descends through the planes of space collecting its vehicles which it had thrown off after its previous imbodiment. When it reaches this plane it gradually becomes perceptible to us, and this is the beginning of its full septenary existence — just as a man's reincarnation as a full septenary being begins in the womb.
Now if such a comet successfully escape being caught and drawn into one of the suns that it passes in its interstellar journey towards our solar system, it enters into the field of the psychovital magnetic grip of the titanic forces flowing in and out of our sun. And being at one and the same time attracted to and repelled by our sun it is caught in this balance of forces — this bipolar character of gravitation giving to the comet its safety in its orbital circuits around the sun. Thereafter the comet becomes an individual member of our solar family, in this case globe D of our planetary chain. The other eleven globes of the chain to which this comet belongs are likewise entering their own beginnings of destiny.
It is the respective life forces from every globe of the moon chain (cf. The Secret Doctrine, I, 170-4), or from the chain of any other planetary aggregate, which produce or become the respective laya-centers, the centers of resting energies. A laya-center is not a material thing. There is no laya-center where there is no individual, whether cosmic or human. A laya-center is not something which exists in space, to which life-forces (let us say from the lunar chain) flow. There is a chain laya-center containing within itself the globe laya-centers. Consequently there could be no globe laya-center until all the life essences and life energies from globe A of the lunar chain had left that globe a corpse. The aggregate of these life essences leaving globe A of the lunar chain became a laya-center.
Such a laya-center, being the spiritual-psychomagnetic vital essences of any globe of the planetary chain, must have location. Shall we say that it is located within or outside of our solar system? The latter. In the depths of cosmic space these laya-centers lie dormant, like sleeping germs of life. But the time comes when they reawaken to activity and feel the rising of impulses to a new manifestation — just as the human entity in devachan, when the time approaches for reincarnation, feels the faint uprisings of desire to come earthwards again. When this happens in a globe laya-center it begins to move and, gaining momentum, rushes forth from the cosmic depths, wandering in a more or less erratic fashion, attracted to this or that sun with which it has certain karmic affiliations, evading it, flying past it on the wings of destiny, attracted to some other sun, experiencing perhaps the same thing there; and, finally, drawn by stronger threads of affinity, it approaches our solar system, our sun then bringing and holding it within the confines of its own kingdom — a karmic return home.
The attractive power of the higher layers of the sun's auric egg holds within its sway the periodic comets properly belonging to the sun's family but which are wandering in the galactic spaces among the stars. Since not all comets are periodic, many of them for karmic reasons are only temporarily drawn towards our sun, whirl about it during their transit through our solar system, and then leave it to continue their wanderings towards the particular points in space which are their respective goals, each comet of this nonperiodic character being attracted by its own sun.
The mere fact that the sun with its attendant planets is itself in movement in no wise affects the pull exercised upon the periodic comets belonging to its family, because such psychomagnetic attraction is operative in and through the higher layers of the sun's auric egg. Thus we have the picture of our sun in motion through space affecting at every instant of time its own periodic cometary family, and so bringing about a constant modification of the individual movements of such comets.
Some of our periodic comets which wander among the suns of the galactic spaces are for a time karmically drawn to one or another sun in their immensely long pilgrimage, but always ultimately returning to our sun — unless they meet with the fate of being caught by some other sun and destroyed by its terrific powers. This cometary tragedy not infrequently happens, after which, and very quickly so far as cosmic time is concerned, such comet, being a failure, begins its effort at manifestation anew.
Every planet, if we look upon the higher part of its constitution as a planetary spirit, is both child and brother of the sun — brother, perhaps, is the better term. But when an entity thus born as a life-atom from the heart of the sun begins its evolutionary pilgrimage through time and space, it is as much an entity, distinct from the sun, as the sun itself is different and distinct from other suns. Each one of the planets, after the close of its pralaya, has a new reimbodiment as a nebula. Emerging from the deeps of stellar space, it is slowly drawn to the sun which was its chief in its previous chain-imbodiment. Such an entity reaching a solar system has then become a comet which circles around its own sun. There is now established an equilibrium of relations between the sun and the comet; and this comet, as the ages pass, becomes ever more and more dense and concreted, and at length settles into a regular orbit around the sun to which it has been drawn.
In due course of time a new planetary chain is fixed in its position in the solar system, finding its orbit in the almost identical locus which it had previously occupied as the former planetary chain. If its former globes, now moons, have not yet been disintegrated into their respective life-atoms, the new chain is attracted by and equivalently attracts these globe-corpses which now become its moons on the different planes, and together they thereafter pursue their orbits around the sun, until the moon finally dissolves into cosmic dust. Some planetary chains that are more advanced in evolution than our earth, and are more spiritual in character, have a happier destiny, for their moons long since had been dissipated. In other words, they are not afflicted with a kama-rupic moon or Dweller on the Threshold (10) as we are.
There are no fundamental differences between the occult processes at the birth of a planet and that of a human being. In every case there is a parent, the egg-bearer, and there is a parent, the bestrewer of seed. In every case there is a physicalization, a descent from the more ethereal to the gross realms of material existence. When the lowest point of the descending arc has been reached, there is a corresponding rise, leading the entity, whether world or human being, back to the spiritual realms. In the case of man, this occurs at death, and in rare individuals at initiation.
1. Manvantara is actually a compound of two words, manu-antara, meaning 'between two manus,' and therefore applies technically to the period of manifested activity between the opening or root-Manu and the closing or seed-Manu of any globe. By extension of the idea it has come to have the general significance of the life term of any Egg of Brahma, whether planetary, solar or galactic. Manu thus stands for the entities collectively which appear at the beginning of manifestation, and from which everything is derived. (return to text)
2. Cf. Isis Unveiled, II, 264-5; The Secret Doctrine, I, 368-78.
Brahma is the masculine or personalized form of the neuter word Brahman (from the verbal root brih meaning to expand, to grow, to fructify), and stands for the spiritual evolving energy-consciousness of any cosmic unit such as a solar system, which is properly called an Egg of Brahma. (return to text)
3. A planetary chain consists of seven (or twelve) principles or globes, of which only one is visible to us on this plane. (return to text)
4. Nirvana, a Sanskrit compound — nir, prepositional prefix meaning out or away; vana, the past participle passive of the verbal root va, to blow — literally meaning 'blown out.' So badly has the significance of the ancient Indian thought been understood, that for many years European scholars were discussing whether being 'blown out' meant actual entitative annihilation or not. (return to text)
5. Questions frequently arise concerning the differences among the various kinds of manvantaras and pralayas mentioned in Sanskrit literature, to wit: (1) Prakritika pralaya; (2) Saurya pralaya; (3) Bhaumika pralaya; (4) Paurusha pralaya; (5) Nitya pralaya. The same terms can be used equally well for the respective manvantaras.
The Prakritika pralaya is the dissolution of the universal solar system, which means the passing out of manifested existence into inner planes of all the various prakritis or worlds or planes of the cosmos — our solar universe. It is what Christians would probably call the 'end of the world.'
The Saurya pralaya has reference to the sun or Surya (Saurya being the adjective of this word). It means the death of our own solar chain and the dissolution of our solar system, but does not mean the pralaya of our universal solar system.
The Bhaumika pralaya means the death of Bhumi, our earth. It is the dissolution of our earth planetary chain, when it has ended its life period.
Paurusha pralaya (from Purusha, meaning man) is a term of rare use, and simply signifies the death of a human being.
Nitya pralaya means that continuous breaking up or dissolution which goes on all around us and may be described as the incessant change which takes place uninterruptedly. Change is death of any being or entity which immediately thereupon passes into some karmically succeeding change of state or condition. Thus the revolving seasons of the year bring periodic and never-ending changes; the atoms in any living body, as well as its molecules and cells, are undergoing unceasing and continuous change. All these phenomena of life are grouped under the one term Nitya. (return to text)
6. These devourings take place in all the ranges of cosmic life, but they are devourings of bodies, of vehicles, not of monads or egos. In the case of those comets which are irresistibly drawn into various suns and annihilated, due to karmic attractions from past manvantaras, they are failures only in the sense that they are insufficiently evolved or prepared to exist on our globe D plane. The failure is not because of any spiritual inadequacy of the monad. If the monads of a solar or planetary comet (or a human being, for the analogy is close), are thwarted in the process of seeking reimbodiment on this plane, it is solely the vehicles that are 'devoured,' for the monads or egos are instantly free and proceed once more to build a new cometary (or human) body.
It is well to remember that in the process of cosmic evolution, a sun not only tries to devour his younger brothers, the planets, but also endeavors to help them. It is a paradox. In the case of ourselves, were we to approach the sun, our physical bodies would be annihilated with the rapidity of lightning, for they not only would be dispersed into atoms, but those very atoms themselves would be disrupted, torn apart. This is what is meant when it is said that the sun is a beneficent power but can also be an annihilator or 'devourer.' But the time will come when each one of us will enter the heart of the sun in perfect safety, and do so because the core of our own being is a portion of the solar essence. (return to text)
7. In this connection neither Neptune nor Uranus belongs to our solar system, nor indeed does the more recently discovered planet Pluto. These are what we may call 'captures,' intrusions, so to speak, into our solar system. These three planets belong to a solar system of their own, although equally with our solar system belonging to the universal solar system. It can happen in the economy and interacting relations of the cosmic Egg of Brahma that certain planets of one solar system can intrude into visibility for the inhabitants of another solar system, because both belong to the one universal solar system; and when two such solar systems approach each other as regards position and evolutionary place on the cosmic planes, they are thus partially visible each to each because of similarity of vibrations. (return to text)
8. I might mention that in my Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy (p. 459), the phrase "that revolve around the sun" should read, if we wish to be precise, "that revolve around the Raja sun." (return to text)
9. The name that the ancient Hindu writings give to the planets is adityas, sons of Aditi; and although Aditi is usually said to have given birth to eight 'son-suns,' as alluded to in the Commentary quoted by H.P.B. in The Secret Doctrine (I, 99-100), at other times the number of adityas is given as twelve. (return to text)
10. For the benefit of those readers to whom the phrase "Dweller on the Threshold" is new, the following explanation from my Occult Glossary may be helpful:
A literary invention of the English mystic and novelist Sir Bulwer-Lytton, found in his romance Zanoni. The term has obtained wide currency and usage in theosophical circles. In occultism the word "Dweller," or some exactly equivalent phrase or expression, has been known and used during long ages past. It refers to several things, but more particularly has an application to what H. P. Blavatsky calls "certain maleficent astral Doubles of defunct persons." This is exact. But there is another meaning of this phrase still more mystical and still more difficult to explain which refers to the imbodied karmic consequences or results of the man's past, haunting the thresholds which the initiant or initiate must pass before he can advance or progress into a higher degree of initiation. These dwellers, in the significance of the word just last referred to are, as it were, the imbodied quasi-human astral haunting parts of the constitution thrown off in past incarnations by the man who now has to face them and overcome them — very real and living beings, parts of the "new" man's haunting past. The initiant must face these old "selves" of himself and conquer or — fail, which failure may mean either insanity or death. They are verily ghosts of the dead men that the present man formerly was, now arising to dog his footsteps, and hence are very truly called "Dwellers on the Threshold." In a specific sense they may be truly called the kama-rupas of the man's past incarnations arising out of the records in the astral light left there by the "old" man of the "new" man who now is. (return to text)