The Occult Science is not one, in which secrets can be communicated of a sudden, by a written or even verbal communication. If so, all the "Brothers" should have to do, would be to publish a Hand-book of the art which might be taught in schools as grammar is. It is the common mistake of people that we willingly wrap ourselves and our powers in mystery — that we wish to keep our knowledge to ourselves, and of our own will refuse — "wantonly and deliberately" to communicate it. The truth is that till the neophyte attains to the condition necessary for that degree of Illumination to which, and for which, he is entitled and fitted, most if not all of the Secrets are incommunicable. The receptivity must be equal to the desire to instruct. The illumination must come from within. Till then no hocus pocus of incantations, or mummery of appliances, no metaphysical lectures or discussions, no self-imposed penance can give it. All these are but means to an end, and all we can do is to direct the use of such means as have been empirically found by the experience of ages to conduce to the required object. And this was and has been no secret for thousands of years. — The Mahatma Letters, pp. 282-3
LET US OPEN our study this evening by reading an extract from volume I of The Secret Doctrine, page 567:
As to the "elemental atoms," so called, the Occultists refer to them by that name with a meaning analogous to that which is given by the Hindu to Brahma when he calls him ANU, the "Atom." Every elemental atom, in search of which more than one Chemist has followed the path indicated by the Alchemists, is, in their firm belief (when not knowledge), a SOUL; not necessarily a disembodied soul, but a jiva, as the Hindus call it, a centre of POTENTIAL VITALITY, with latent intelligence in it, and, in the case of compound Souls — an intelligent active EXISTENCE, from the highest to the lowest order, a form composed of more or less differentiations.
Majestic, sublime, are the thoughts involved in the study which we begin this evening. It ought to be said, perhaps, by way of preface, that the frequent interruptions of our meetings necessitated by circumstances have prevented us before from entering upon this new departure in our studies; and we shall not, except by inference, embark upon our present line of thought more fully than we shall do this evening until our studies can be continued more definitely. And why? Because from immemorial time our School has set apart a certain portion of the year, at certain specified times, of never less than three months, in which the studies were pursued daily for hours at a time, with intervals of rest; and these were called periods of initiation. The reason for this method was that frequent interruptions, the inroad or ingress into the thought of daily occupations, so distracted the mind, so tore it away from the higher nature, that it could not successfully meet and understand the things which it was then supposed to undertake and to try to comprehend.
But doing the best we can, we shall begin this evening, very shortly, to undertake a study of the atom, and of what H. P. Blavatsky calls its adventures, by referring to collateral and almost identical subjects: the laya-centers, the sun and planets and comets, and the soul and the monad by contrast with the above.
As we read in The Secret Doctrine, an atom is a soul. A soul is an entity which is evolved by experiences; it is not a spirit, it is a vehicle of the spirit. It manifests in matter through and by being a substantial portion of the lower essence of the spirit. Touching another plane below it, or it may be above it, the point of union allowing ingress and egress to the consciousness is a laya-center. A laya-center is, therefore, a center in "homogeneous" substance. It will be remembered that in a former study we derived this word laya from the Sanskrit word li, meaning "to dissolve." The word pralaya comes from the same root: laya is the noun-form from the root li, with a prepositional prefix pra, meaning "towards," "forwards," hence "continuous." In other words, pralaya means "continuous dissolution." A laya-center is that part of an entity, of an atom which, being relatively homogeneous substance, matter "dissolved" into homogeneity, allows ingress and egress for passing consciousness and consciousnesses.
Let us take the laya-center as manifested in the sun. The sun at its core is a laya-center. Each planet likewise has at its central point, and is in its central point, a laya-center; each comet is in building around a laya-center, its heart or core. Dimensions or positions in space have nothing to do with it, because a laya-center is not of a physical and material nature. It is the disappearing-point for all things below it, and the entering-point for all things above it, for any one particular entity, be it an atom, a sun, a planet, a human being.
The sun, as we see it, is a reflection, as we have often before said. Suppose that we call it a veil, which is perhaps a better word, though reflection is just as good, because it actually is a reflection — the sun we see, that is. What do we see when we look at the sun? We see a titanic splendor. That is a reflection. The sun itself, its core, could be held in the palm of your hand, and I mean the part of the sun which is behind that splendorous reflection. That part which could be held in the palm of your hand is itself of the seventh or highest stage of the lowest prakriti-stage, a particle of matter-substance of the lowest cosmic grade, the prakriti. The splendor that we see is the aura of that laya-center, its aura or emanations, and these emanations are forces. The sun is a body of unimaginable forces springing from, pouring down through, this laya-center from the true sun which is behind the outer veil. And the golden disk that we see is but the auric manifestation to our physical eyes on this plane of the true sun, pouring through the sun at the center of the visible orb.
So it is in a human being. There is a center in his nature through which pour the forces from above, and through which he himself ascends higher; and that center is the laya-center of his inner nature.
In speaking of the monad, we must not confuse it with the laya-center. A laya-center is the channel, the point, the disappearing-point, the neutral center, in matter or substance, through which consciousness passes — and the center of that consciousness is the monad. For the present moment we need not pause to consider on what plane the monad is acting; on any plane on which it may be acting when it passes from one plane of consciousness to another it does so through a laya-center. It will be remembered that in our last study or two we pointed out the parallelisms running in nature, such as matter and spirit-consciousness. Please remember that these words are used generalizingly, not defining any particular matter or any particular spirit, but only to show the mass of kosmic substance acted upon by the great forces above it, which are the beings of life, the hierarchies of universal nature; and in this kosmic body, in this kosmic substance, there are innumerable laya-centers, because they are really the "critical points," the translation-stages, by which as individuals we gain access to our higher self, and by which the divine and spiritual forces entering into us from above pass.
The sun is the vital focus of its system, outside of other activities far greater still, but the physical sun is that something which we can see with our physical eyes; and further it is a thing of matter, although it is in the sixth degree of our stage of prakriti, counting upwards, the buddhic stage of the lowest prakriti. But the true sun, the spiritual sun, is that divine being behind the sun, an entity, a god. The physical sun is its body or garment, just as in ourselves our higher nature is a god, a divine spark, and that divine spark is a monad. The soul in contradistinction with the monad is its vehicle for manifestation on any one plane. It really means vehicle. The spirit manifests in seven vehicles, and each one of these vehicles is a soul; and that particular point through which the divine influence passes into the soul is the laya-center, and it is, so to say, the heart of the soul, or rather the summit thereof — homogeneous soul-substance, if you like.
It is very necessary to have these preliminary conceptions clear and definitely outlined in our minds. The mysteries behind these words are sublime, unimaginably beautiful; but we cannot understand them properly without knowing the words, and the implications of thought involved in them when we use them.
All the sectarian departures from the great foundation-religions of antiquity have grown out of the lack of following that one rule. Understand your terms and use them rightly. Disputes have arisen about the meaning of terms, due perhaps to the fact that in the origin of any particular religion those terms were not defined in such clever and appropriate manner that later dogmatists could not fasten upon them in order to misuse them.
It is actually a most difficult problem. We are always between "the devil and the deep sea." On the one hand, we have the people who will insist upon literalisms, such as "Pythagoras, the Master, said so." A beautiful sense of loyalty to the teacher in some cases, perhaps; but see how it can be misused by the would-be dogmatists, who insist on taking the letter and losing the spirit! And, on the other hand, there are those who think that the letter has no importance, which is likewise wrong; this class think that they have the spirit and they try to force the letter to conform to their conceptions of what the Master or Masters taught, Pythagoras or any other.
So it is necessary that we have these and other similar words clearly outlined in our minds. When we undertake the study of the atom we embark upon new and vast fields of consciousness, and pass in our minds over to other planes; and our only salvation is, as H. P. Blavatsky has told us, to cling like grim death to the fundamental principles of her teachings which are the Masters' teachings. We cannot so cling unless we know exactly to what we should cling. If we were to say that an atom is a god, we would say wrongly. If we were to say that the atom contains a god, we should speak only partly rightly. If we were to say that the atom manifests a god, we approach a step nearer to the truth.
Now comes another thought. What do we mean by atom Do we mean a kosmical atom, an astral atom, a psychical atom, a buddhic atom, an atmic atom? Our studies of theosophy show us that all these atoms are variously "souls," existent on divers planes, in various degrees of consciousness; and we realize then that the atom in its essence, in its inmost of its inmost, is a monad, a divine spark, a being from former manvantaras, which monad has learned its lessons so fully that it needs to learn nothing more in this manvantara. But it is trailed by a train of skandhas, resident in the life-atoms, and which are karmic impressions. These life-atoms are inferior beings, trailing after it, making up its bodies, so to say, as certain elements make up our bodies, beings for which it is responsible because it affected them in former kalpas, former manvantaras, former life cycles: responsible for them because it has soiled them in some instances, and in other instances it has cleansed them from the soil.
What are these inferior things that follow in the track of a Monad? They are parts of its being, thoughts of its thought, children of its soul, offspring of its heart. Sublime thought, in which we have the secret of manifestation in the universe, and also the secret of the Hierarchy of Compassion; the secret why one half of nature is what we call matter, crystallized and so-called inert; and why the other half of nature is will and consciousness, intelligence and love, understanding and life. And these two opposites work eternally together during the manvantaras. At every moment in space and time, units of this train of inferior things themselves reach comprehension and understanding, and pass through their particular laya-center into spheres above — themselves having meanwhile developed or evolved other inferior beings trailing after them.
The processes of kosmic life and evolution are outlined in what has just been said. So that when we use H. P. Blavatsky's expression and speak of the "adventures of an atom," we obtain some glimpse of the study now before us. Do you realize that in the studies which we have followed as faithfully as we have been able to do so, there has been laid down the outline, at least the skeleton-framework, of a system of philosophy entire and complete, so majestic in its reaches, so wide in its subject, having such grandeur in its possibilities, such profundity in its inmost nature, that nothing like it is known in the exoteric literature of the world today? Even the magnificent systems of exoteric philosophy of the Orient and the best efforts of European philosophy — which, by the way, are mostly mere verbiage — cannot compare with it. Their light is as a mere rushlight before the blaze of the noonday sun, when we compare them with the esoteric system.
And why is this so? Because we have outlined the teachings of the gods, the teachings formerly taught in the ancient Mystery Schools. Nor have they been more than hinted at. We have not said the one-thousandth part of what remains to be said.
Seven are the keys which open wide the portals of the ancient wisdom. These seven keys we have touched but lightly, of necessity lightly, in our allusions to the seven treasuries of wisdom. In one or another of these seven treasuries, or in one or another of these seven jewels, lies every department of human thought, every thought that human mind can give birth to. These seven treasuries were given and explained to the ancient races by members of the Hierarchy of Compassion, and by their pupils, and they have been passed down to us. But remember that these seven treasuries, as we have already said very plainly, under the names they go by are mere key words, catchwords, reminding-terms.
These sublime ideas make a man feel at home in any part of the universe. This is the very keynote of occultism, the being one with the universal life, at home everywhere. Occultism is the exposition of the essence of life, of the essence of being, and of the essence of living. Let us never confuse it with the so-called occult arts, arts which are strictly forbidden to us as students of this School. The Brothers of the Shadow lead on their helpless victims with the occult arts, enticing them thereby, and their end is nonentity. But the Masters have told us plainly: first learn discipline, first learn the Law. Then the powers which you may crave, you will crave only as spiritual powers, and only to give yourself and them to others. On the path, the so-called occult arts drop away even from the imagination, because their deluding enticements and their allurements are clearly seen. I do not imagine for a moment that any one of us here needs to be reminded of this.
Katherine Tingley has been insistent upon the necessity of first learning the Law — and the learning of the Law means the development of the spiritual nature; and it is the royal road, the royal union. Having it, you have everything in the universe; boundless knowledge, for instance, and the powers commensurate with it then will come naturally. But any attempt to cultivate them prematurely, any mere longing for them, will pull you down as surely as the sun will rise over the eastern horizon tomorrow morning, because it is the personal coloring of the mind, it is the personal wish, it is desire and appetite for power and novelty that want these things. The divine-human entity, the buddha, the member of the Hierarchy of Compassion by divine right, knows these things and wants them not, for he has passed far beyond them. The constant urge with him is to go above matter, to cleanse the heart from soil, to cast off the garments of the mortal man and to put on the robes of immortality which, in fact, inwardly are yours already, awaiting simply for each individual to recognize them, and to become, as the ancient Egyptian expressed it, a "Son of the Sun," a holy initiate.