Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy — G. de Purucker

Chapter Twenty-Three

The Sun and the Planets. Their Role in the Evolutionary Drama.

The most mystic of discourses inform us, that the wholeness of him (the sun) is in the supermundane orders: for there a solar world and a total light subsist, as the oracles of the Chaldaeans affirm. . . .

Unwearied nature rules over the worlds and works,

That heaven drawing downward might run an eternal course,

And that the other periods of the sun, moon, seasons, night, and day, might be accomplished. — Proclus, Commentary on the "Timaeus" of Plato (Cory, Ancient Fragments, pp. 274-5)

THE SECRET DOCTRINE, volume I, pages 279 and 280:

Whatever may be the destiny of these actual writings in a remote future, we hope to have proven so far the following facts:

(1) The Secret Doctrine teaches no Atheism, except in the Hindu sense of the word nastika, or the rejection of idols, including every anthropomorphic god. In this sense every Occultist is a Nastika.

(2) It admits a Logos or a collective "Creator" of the Universe; a Demi-urgos — in the sense implied when one speaks of an "Architect" as the "Creator" of an edifice, whereas that Architect has never touched one stone of it, but, while furnishing the plan, left all the manual labor to the masons; in our case the plan was furnished by the Ideation of the Universe, and the constructive labour was left to the Hosts of intelligent Powers and Forces. But that Demiurgos is no personal deity, — i.e., an imperfect extra-cosmic- god, — but only the aggregate of the Dhyan-Chohans and the other forces.

As to the latter —

(3) They are dual in their character; being composed of (a) the irrational brute energy, inherent in matter, and (b) the intelligent soul or cosmic consciousness which directs and guides that energy, and which is the Dhyan-Chohanic thought reflecting the Ideation of the Universal mind. This results in a perpetual series of physical manifestations and moral effects on Earth, during manvantaric periods, the whole being subservient to Karma. As that process is not always perfect; and since, however many proofs it may exhibit of a guiding intelligence behind the veil, it still shows gaps and flaws, and even results very often in evident failures — therefore, neither the collective Host (Demiurgos), nor any of the working powers individually, are proper subjects for divine honours or worship. All are entitled to the grateful reverence of Humanity, however, and man ought to be ever striving to help the divine evolution of Ideas, by becoming to the best of his ability a co-worker with nature in the cyclic task. The ever unknowable and incognizable Karana alone, the Causeless Cause of all causes, should have its shrine and altar on the holy and ever untrodden ground of our heart — invisible, intangible, unmentioned, save through "the still small voice" of our spiritual consciousness. Those who worship before it, ought to do so in the silence and the sanctified solitude of their Souls; making their spirit the sole mediator between them and the Universal Spirit, their good actions the only priests, and their sinful intentions the only visible and objective sacrificial victims to the Presence.

We proceed to gather up this evening more of the scattered threads left over from our former studies. First, let us look a little more closely into what is meant by a bodhisattva. It will be remembered that a bodhisattva was spoken of as the personal man relatively perfected; the case where the personal entity had become an impersonal entity, where mortality had put upon itself the vesture of immortality; in other words, a case where the personal man has become an Awakened One or a Buddha short of Buddhahood complete by only one stage; or, to use the Christian (early Christian-Greek) mystical expression, a Christ on earth.

Now a bodhisattva, being such, practically means what we might call the higher manas, the higher self (not the highest self, but the higher self) fully developed and in the full radiance of the dual monad atma-buddhi, and thus forms a fit vehicle, a fit medium, between the divine and the lower selves of man; and thus provides an appropriate channel of communication in cases where an avatara is due for manifestation on earth. There could be no such thing as an avatara among men were it not for this medium supplying the necessary psychospiritual link. Pure spirit, in endeavoring to act upon earth, can have neither effect upon, nor chance of communication with, men, because it is the actual divine essence, so to say, of the kosmos and needs the two spiritual qualities or vehicles buddhi and manas-taijasa in order so to manifest, and the bodhisattva, in supplying the spiritual egoic quality, the intermediate quality, furnishes that necessary medium or vehicle. The bodhisattva, furthermore, who, instead of pursuing its own natural karmic higher course in the nirvanic state, chooses by virtue of the compassion inherent in itself to remain on earth, as a helper of mankind, in that case becomes a nirmanakaya, a fully conscious thinking entity upon this our human plane, minus only the physical body. It is stated in the esoteric philosophy that Gautama the Buddha made that sublime choice, and furnished the intermediate principle for the Hindu avatara, Sankaracharya, of whom we spoke at our last meeting. There is a tradition and a record among us likewise that the same bodhisattva furnished the intermediate principle of the avataric manifestation called Jesus, as also in two other cases which we here leave unnamed, the reason being that each race and each subrace, as well as every smaller racial cycle of importance, as we know, is under the particular guidance of a buddha, or of minor incarnations or overshadowings by him.

Gautama the Buddha was himself an avatara plus, i.e., in a larger sense; that is to say, instead of furnishing an intermediate vehicle from himself, in a minor cycle, he was that intermediate vehicle himself in his psychospiritual totality, inspired by his own divine nature, and with his own physical body as the "temple" thereof, differing in that respect from an avatara per se, in which the intermediate vehicle is furnished by the bodhisattva-nirmanakaya of the buddha under whose governance, or rather overseeing, the particular race in which the avatara appears runs its course as a minor cycle of the greater racial cycle of that buddha himself. An avatara, therefore, requires the bodhisattva of the racial buddha as a vehicle in order to manifest upon earth at the time he is due to appear. A buddha does not, because, although an avatara in the sense of being under the direct and fully actual illumination of his own divine self (which is a superterrestrial bodhisattva, studied at our last meeting), he has karma behind him. It is the direct and actual reincarnation of a divine man, which an avatara is not. An avatara is, in a sense, an illusion or maya, because the intermediate or egoic quality — the offspring metaphysically of karma — is lacking there and has to be furnished by the bodhisattva-quality or vehicle.

An avatara, formally only, stands higher than a bodhisattva, but it is a higher stage merely of form of and in a hierarchy, and not from the evolutionary viewpoint. A buddha becomes such by self-directed evolution, the great truth that Katherine Tingley so often tells us of. An avatara comes by karmic racial necessity at certain epochs in the world's history; a buddha does so likewise, but also by personal choice out of an immense compassion for his inferior fellow beings still involved in the toils of material existence. There is the difference, and a very important one it is to remember for our future studies.

We might say in passing that at about our present period, what is called a Messianic cycle is ending and, naturally, a new one is opening — a Messianic cycle running 2,160 years, in definite, exact figures. These cycles succeed one another continuously. So if we choose to count backwards, we can say, if we like, that the European Messianic cycle which is ending, or out of which we are emerging, is that inaugurated for Europe by Jesus, the Avatara. Interesting thoughts come up in this connection which we may safely leave for consideration at another time.

So much for those threads.

Please remember that evolution comprises two lines of action, as it were, two forces running collaterally, that is to say, the spirit or the developed side of existence on the one hand, and that of the undeveloped side on the other hand: otherwise, darkness and light, or the selfish and the compassionate, which, you will remember, is a subject that we alluded to somewhat in studying the fifth of the seven treasuries of wisdom of the Hierarchy of Compassion which is the unselfish or immortal side of existence.

Now the action and interaction of these two lines of energy supply the motive forces behind evolution, behind progress; and the course which evolution takes really arises in, springs out from, and is inaugurated by, the impulses at the opening of the manvantaric cycle given to the dark or matter-side of existence by the dhyani-chohans, I mean by the higher parts or entities of this Hierarchy of Compassion. It is the keynotes furnished by them, the primal and original impulses depending of course upon destiny (or karma) which give the originating plan and the driving power behind everything that happens in that manvantara throughout its cycle of evolution until its close; and while free will exists in man as soon as he has learned to obey the spiritual statutes of self-consciousness, this free will itself, being a divine energy and in a sense springing itself from the general dhyan-chohanic impulse, can in no circumstances militate against, be contrary to, or adversely affect, the general evolutionary current which bears the manifold hosts of entities in manifestation always towards the ultimate goal, signalized by H. P. Blavatsky in the ancient saying, "The Day Be With Us" — the end of a manvantara or the opening of pralaya.

Thus, then, these two lines of energy are eternally coactive — using the word eternally in the sense of lasting throughout the solar kalpa — on one side, the "dark," undeveloped forces of matter; and, on the other side, the Hierarchy of Compassion with its innumerable units urging the hosts of evolving beings forward in one direction, the whole effort of the Hierarchy of Compassion being to raise other less developed beings or units from the matter-side up into the "light-side." The entities of the Hierarchy of Compassion in past manvantaras were themselves thus so raised by other Hierarchies of Compassion, now by this time far, far ahead of us in evolution; and it is our sublime destiny in the future kalpa ourselves so to guide the entities behind us now, a process called the "Passing on of the Light," as the Greek and Latin poets put it.

Furthermore, as briefly alluded to at our last study, please remember that the ancient initiations, and the Mystery Schools in which those initiations took place, were established solely for the purpose of "forcing" or quickening the evolution of fit and proper candidates. They were established from the same motives of compassion that presided over the acts of the great actors of the primal drama, the opening acts of our manvantara. They copied, as it were in miniature, what took place in those primordial times, and what took place in actual life in the Hierarchy of Compassion on our earth, or that section, rather, of the Hierarchy of Compassion which we call the Great White Lodge.

Let us turn a moment to another collateral and very important matter upon which we have touched but lightly, because the questions involved are so profound that it was impossible in treating of one subject adequately to make the meaning clear without temporarily dropping our main theme. But it is likewise necessary not to go too far ahead and leave these loose threads behind; we must gather them in also and weave them into the fabric, into the picture, which we are endeavoring to make.

We refer more particularly to the role which the sun and the planets of our solar system play in the evolutionary drama. There are great mysteries connected with this, and we are told very plainly that not merely the ultimate word but even specifying explanations in no circumstances are given out except to those who have pledged themselves irretrievably and irrevocably to the Lodge. And even then they are given out only with "mouth to ear," and "at low breath"; and, furthermore, only to those, says H. P. Blavatsky, who have passed successfully their fourth initiation, which consists very largely in the personal and individual experiencing of the teachings given in the three preceding stages — three stages of preliminary teaching and training, leading to actual personal experience thereof in the fourth initiation, in which, we are told, the candidate must leave the body of flesh, yea, even the brain-mind, behind, and become that of which he was taught, because only by being can he know. Nevertheless a great deal has been openly said that is, to the student, very illuminating as regards these subjects.

First, at various times we have spoken of the sun, of our solar orb, as the central locus of our solar system. So it is, not merely physically but also in other ways. The sun, paradoxically but truly, supplies most of our material, vital powers; and it is interesting to note that the nearer the planets are to the sun, as a general rule, the more dense they are. Mark well that Mercury, the planet of budha or of wisdom, the particular guardian and initiator in the Mysteries, is the nearest to the sun (but one) of our seven planets, i.e., the seven Mystery-planets. Note the words "but one." You will remember that the ancients spoke of seven Mystery-planets: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars — I give them in the old order — Sun, Venus, Mercury, and Moon. This matter we shall develop somewhat in diagrammatic form later this evening if we have the time.

The intra-Mercurial planet, as it is called, according to our teaching became practically invisible to the physical eye during the third root-race, after the fall of man into physical generation. On March 26, 1859, a body was seen crossing the solar disk, making what astronomers call a transit. That body has not been seen again; but there are other reasons which have induced some astronomers to believe that there actually is an intra-Mercurial planet (although they cannot find it again despite the search for it), such as the perturbations of Mercury. An attempt at explanation of these perturbations has been recently made, based on the relativity doctrines of Einstein, and that explanation is now in fashion. Nevertheless, our Teachers say that there is an intra-Mercurial planet; we may call it Vulcan, as the astronomers so called it.

Even if Vulcan became invisible during the third root-race, it could yet become visible in transit, that is, in crossing the sun's disk, as this body was actually in 1859 seen to do, because although invisible to our unaided sight, yet through the lens of a telescope when turned upon the unsurpassed illumination of the sun's disk, its body could probably be seen against the great brilliance of the solar orb. The immensely great illumination provided by the sun would readily throw into shadow, or make appear as a shadow, any body of less brilliance, or any body normally too ethereal to be seen otherwise.

The seventh planet, our teaching is, is a planet which under proper conditions is sometimes seen apparently near the moon. It is said that it has a retrograde motion, and that it is slowly dying. It has reached the end of its cycle. I think it erroneous to say that the moon "hides" it. That may be a good way, perhaps, of expressing a certain appearance, but I think it is a misleading one. Let us keep the facts just as they were given us, that it is sometimes "seen apparently near the moon," that it has a retrograde motion, and that it is slowly dying.

Vulcan is in one mystic sense the highest of the seven sacred planets; perhaps not the least dense, but in one sense the highest psychologically; and we have reason to believe that the other planet sometimes seen apparently near the moon is perhaps the lowest of the seven sacred planets. This does not mean that our teaching limits the number of the planets of the solar system to seven. On the contrary, we are taught that there are many more planets in the solar system than are known to astronomers, some perfectly invisible, because they are on planes both higher and lower than our plane. There are planets in our system higher than ours, higher than any planet visible to us; there are also planets in our system much lower than ours, much lower than any planet visible to us.

These seven especial planets were called sacred for a reason most difficult openly to explain; but we may say this, that the seven planets which we on earth (please note the qualification) call sacred, are those planets (and the earth is not one of them) which are the upadhis — a Sanskrit word meaning "bearers" or "carriers" — (to us) of the seven solar forces. They are all "higher" in that sense, or from that point of view, than is the earth; and they are all intimately connected with this earth, and provide this earth, not with its principles, but with spiritual and intellectual and psychical and astral and vital powers, so to say. These seven sacred planets, moreover, are our "makers," and oversee our destiny.

This is a bit of the genuine ancient astrology. It is not merely to the physical body of the seven planets that we allude; doubtless each physical planet or rather globe has its own astronomical forces, such as gravitation and magnetism, and so forth; but we are here speaking of the inner or occult action of them. Each of the globes of our planetary chain, moreover, each of the seven globes thereof, is under the particular watchfulness or care of one of these seven Mystery-planets. Furthermore, each round is under the particular overseeing of one of these seven sacred planets. Furthermore, each race on any one of the globes is under the particular care and overseeing of one of these seven sacred planets. For these reasons, as well as for others still more important and intimate on account of their strait connection with our planetary chain, were they called the seven sacred planets.

The sun and moon are not two of the seven, although for purposes of esoteric astrology they were substituted for the real two, because one is apparently near the moon, and one is so near the sun. Yet, for all that, the sun and moon are both closely in interaction respectively with those two.

With regard to the sun: What is the sun? Is the sun a physical body only? It is not. It is not really a physical body, for it is not gas, it is not gaseous. It is not solid, nor is it liquid or gaseous. The sun is a reflection. What do we mean when we say a reflection? We do not mean the word in the full, complete, and exclusive sense in which it is commonly employed, as when we speak of the reflection of an image in a mirror. We mean it in this sense, that the true sun is a body — strange as it may seem to our present-day scientists — of energy or force. Modern science is beginning to understand now that force and matter are fundamentally one thing. Some years ago everything in the scientific imagination was matter. Now everything has become force to it. Marvelous, that these scientific gentlemen do not see how easily they change the bases of their thought, and how dogmatic they so often are as regards each new series of bases that they assume! But there the fact is. Science today tells us that matter is simply force, which is true. But it is matter all the same. There is no need of running to one extreme in trying to pull ourselves out of another. No need of incurring the perils of Scylla in trying to evade those of Charybdis. Matter exists, it is; it is the upadhi or carrier of force, and force is also the intrinsic life of matter. Nevertheless matter exists; it is a maya, an illusion indeed, but it exists. Maya does not mean illusion in the exclusive and full sense of nonentity. Not at all. Maya actually implies that something exists to produce it, but that the seer of it does not know what the reality is behind; in other words, our senses do not tell us the truth about the thing behind the manifestation. That is what maya means, not that the thing itself is nonentity. That view is an absurdity.

If you examine photographs of sunspots, if you look at the sun through a good telescope and center your gaze upon a sunspot when it is near a limb of the sun, near an edge, you will see that as the spot crosses the solar disk, it seems to be black. Now why does it appear black? We know that it is not black in color. Our scientists have proved that fact, but the visible disk of the sun is so intensely brilliant that the less brilliance of the part within the spot, though very brilliant itself, seems dark to our eyes.

Suppose that we were to say that the sun we see is simply like the glow around some electrical machines, merely a "reflection" of the electrical current, as it were, a mayavi manifestation on our plane of a force so immense that we can form no proper conception of it. Suppose that we were to think of the sun as occupying no space (or dimension) at all, and that what we see, that immense apparent body of light, were like an electrical spark, apparently a body, apparently occupying space. Suppose that we go a step further and say that the visible sun which we see is matter in its sixth state of ethereality, and that what is behind that tremendously brilliant veil or reflection is an atom, so to say, an infinitesimal part of matter-substance, matter in its seventh state. It is easy to follow this thought. The sun is a mass of force; as even the medieval philosophers might have said: "Brother, when a man tells you that he has seen the sun, laugh at him. He has not. The sun is invisible. The true sun, the origin and center of these high forces, is on higher planes, and we merely see on the sixth subplane of our kosmic plane this intense brilliance covering so vast a space as the apparent sun does."

Furthermore, while the sun gives us our light on earth, it probably does not furnish us with 30 percent of the heat that we have, and then not by direct physical radiation, but in somewhat the same way in which the electric current furnishes us with heat, or in a similar way — in the same way would be, perhaps, too strong a manner of putting the fact. Forces emanate from the solar heart or center and reach the meteoric veils encircling the earth, and arouse electromagnetic currents, producing thus a part of the meteorological phenomena which we experience in storms and fair weather and rain and snow and ice. The earth itself produces probably 70 percent or more of the heat which we know; and such things as storms are caused mostly by electromagnetic action and reaction, if I may use that expression, between the innate prana, or vital forces of the earth, and the meteoric continent which surrounds our globe like a veil. For we are encircled during our manvantara, and every other planet of the solar system is similarly encircled during its manvantara, with a thick veil of meteoric dust, most of it very fine, some of it of more or less large bodies.

Take Venus, for instance, or Mercury. They are surrounded each one with its own veil of meteoric or kosmic dust: each one veils her face, or his face. This meteoric veil acts in one sense as does a cushion, thus forming a protection to its planet. We do not see for that reason the real face of the planet. But Mars has no such veil. Why? Because the vital essence of that planetary chain has left Mars' physical globe for its other globes.

We shall have to reserve until next week the diagram which was to have been shown to you this evening, at which point of study we have now arrived. Let us briefly point out that the diagram in question is taken from the mystical Syrian thought in vogue before the Christian era, and represents the exoteric astrological ideas that the Syrians then had of the relationship of the planes of being, and necessarily therefore of the planets and the mystical positions occupied by each of them in the evolutionary drama. They put it this wise. First and highest was the Milky Way, which to them was the utmost limit of this hierarchy or universe. Then came the Nebulae and Comets, which were represented in the spiritual hierarchy by the Seraphim. The third grade still lower were the Fixed Stars, and they were represented by the Cherubim. Then taking a leap over the immensities of the space of our universe, these old thinkers of Babylonia, Assyria, Media, and doubtless Persia, and of course Phoenicia, and all the other countries of Asia Minor, began the inferior series with the planets of our solar system. First, Saturn, the seat of the Thrones; then Jupiter, the seat of the Dominations; then Mars, the seat of the Virtues; then the Sun, the seat of the Powers; then Venus, the seat of the Principalities; then Mercury, of the Archangels; then the Moon, of the Angels; then our Earth. They also enumerated five elements — an enumeration which is exoteric, but it is the same as the esoteric as far as it goes. Our Earth, as well as interplanetary space, comprises these five elements, and when we say our Earth we mean not merely our physical planetary body of this element upon which we move, but the entire sphere comprehended between the Moon and the Earth. These five elements were named Ether, Fire, Air, Water, gross matter or Earth. Outside of this hierarchy or universe or kosmos they placed the Celestial Waters, even as the first chapter of the Hebrew book of Genesis speaks of the "spirit of the Elohim moving over the waters." "Celestial Waters" was a name frequently given by the ancients to what the Greeks called Chaos, undeveloped matter or, as we today would say, spacial deeps.

Our time of study this evening is drawing to a close. Let us, however, point out the interesting fact that this same series of the planets shows us clearly that the ancients must have understood perfectly well the mechanism of the framework of the visible solar system, and that, if their thought was geocentric, making the earth the center of the kosmos, it was a natural thought; and that as man is instinctively anthropocentric, he cannot naturally think from another standpoint. So, naturally, the ancient astrologers and astronomers, with their feet on earth, calculated from the earth, and saw from the earth, and placed man, looking up towards the spheres of the solar system, on earth as the center of observation even as we do today, not meaning at all that they knew nothing of the heliocentric system, which we know they did know.

What can this mean? This cannot mean anything but one thing, and that is, that these planets were so placed on account of and because of the relative time occupied by each in making the circuit of its orbit, to wit: Saturn, about thirty years; Jupiter, the next "lowest," practically twelve; Mars, the next lowest, practically two; the Sun (or the Mystery-planet, the Sun supplying its place), one year; Venus, the next one, seven months; Mercury, three months; the Moon, one month. We would like to point out also that the days of our own common week are based upon this series, and then we shall close for this evening.

Why, in putting the planets in the order Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, did they not make their week of seven days follow that order? Because, dividing the day and night into 24 hours, each day, beginning at sunrise, opens with its first hour under the governance of some particular planet. If you calculate through the 24 hours, beginning with Saturn (there being seven sacred planets), during the 24 hours they go into 24 three times, with three over. Three times seven is 21 hours, with three over: 22, 23, 24, the 25th hour being the first hour of the next day. Three times seven running through the 24 hours, we find that if the first hour began with Saturn as presiding planet, the 8th hour would also be under Saturn, the 15th would be under Saturn, the 22nd would be under Saturn, the 23rd then would be under Jupiter, the 24th under Mars, and the 25th hour, the first of the next day, would be Sun or Sunday. By taking this list and counting each fourth, beginning with the one just ended, as the first (or adding three more to the hour just ended), gives you the days of the week. Thus: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, SUNDAY; Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, MONDAY; Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, TUESDAY (Mars' day); Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, WEDNESDAY, being the Anglo-Saxon Woden, corresponding to the Latin and Greek terms; Mercury, Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, THURSDAY (Thor's day); Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, FRIDAY; Venus, Mercury, Moon, Saturn, SATURDAY, again beginning the second or following week.

So the order and names of the days of our week are ultimately based upon a very interesting and occult reason — ancient astrology explained and given to the world only in the Mysteries as we know them. The order and names of the days of the week were the same in India and in Northern Europe, and in some parts of Asia, a matter which has never yet been satisfactorily explained by our calendarists and astronomers. The reason is found in the fundamentally identical astrological system common to the entire ancient world.

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