Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy — G. de Purucker

Chapter Thirty-Five

Occultism and the Mystery Schools. Seven Degrees of Initiation: Man Becomes a God. Seven Kosmic Planes: Our Planetary Chain of Seven Globes on the Four Lower Planes — the Passage of the Life-wave therethrough.

The world — meaning that of individual existences — is full of those latent meanings and deep purposes which underlie all the phenomena of the Universe, and Occult Sciences — i.e., reason elevated to supersensuous Wisdom — can alone furnish the key wherewith to unlock them to the intellect. Believe me, there comes a moment in the life of an adept, when the hardships he has passed through are a thousandfold rewarded. In order to acquire further knowledge, he has no more to go through a minute and slow process of investigation and comparison of various objects, but is accorded an instantaneous, implicit insight into every first truth. Having passed that stage of philosophy which maintains that all fundamental truths have sprung from a blind impulse — . . . ; the adept sees and feels and lives in the very source of all fundamental truths — the Universal Spiritual Essence of Nature, SHIVA the Creator, the Destroyer, and the Regenerator. — The Mahatma Letters, p. 241

I say again then. It is he alone who has the love of humanity at heart, who is capable of grasping thoroughly the idea of a regenerating practical Brotherhood who is entitled to the possession of our secrets. He alone, such a man — will never misuse his powers, as there will be no fear that he should turn them to selfish ends. A man who places not the good of mankind above his own good is not worthy of becoming our chela — he is not worthy of becoming higher in knowledge than his neighbor. — Ibid., p. 252

There is but one general law of life, but innumerable laws qualify and determine the myriads of forms perceived and of sounds heard. — Ibid., p. 255

THE SEARCH for truth is the noblest aim that man can pursue. The original principles of being were uncovered ages upon ages agone, and were coordinated into a complete and marvelous system. Upon that wonderful system as a basis, the teachers of ancient times laid the foundations of the superstructures of the various philosophic and religious systems which have come down to us in the world's literatures as now extant. These systems contain in greater or less degree fundamental truths of being, the study of which in our own time is called occultism — the science of the kosmos and of man as a part thereof; telling us of the origin, the nature, and the destiny of the universe and of man, a part thereof. The Mystery Schools of antiquity formed the inner focus of the ancient thought, and the doctrines there studied were called the heart doctrine, because they represented the doctrines that were hid; and the various philosophies that they expounded in public were called the eye doctrine, because they were the doctrines in exoteric phrasing of the things that were seen and not the things that were hid. The heart doctrine comprised the solutions of the enigmas of being, and these solutions were put forth in exoteric form under the guise of allegory and in mythological treatment, and formed the eye doctrine, or the exoteric religions or philosophies.

But all these ancient philosophies were founded on wonderful and sublime truths, compared with which the philosophies of modern Europe are mere verbiage, little more than fine words. The doctrines comprised in occultism treat, as said, of the real nature, origin, and destiny of the kosmos and man. These Mystery Schools taught causal things, and their effects in life; they taught of the most intimate and profound relations of the elementary beings, whatever their degree in the kosmos, to each other. They taught man that the way to a complete understanding of the mysteries of being was by searching within; that no man could understand a truth properly which merely entered his ears, without having developed in himself also first the capacity, the inner faculty, of comprehension; and it was the development of this inner faculty of comprehension or understanding that was the main aim of the schools of initiation.

The whole effort, then, of these initiating schools was to make man know himself. Why? Because the inmost essence of man is rooted in the inmost essences of the universe, and by following the small, age-old path, as the Upanishads said, which lies within man himself, and to which Jesus alluded when he said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" — by following that small, old path inwards, man could climb step by step inwards or "upwards," inwards and inwards forever, constantly expanding into greater fields of consciousness. And this evolving of the inner man is achieved through the evocation of the spiritual powers latent in man's higher nature. It is, in fact, the uniting man's soul to his divine monad, his inner god.

As pointed out in former studies, three were the states, after the fourth degree of initiation, which the initiant or candidate must win: first came the theophanic mystery, which is the appearance at the solemn moment of initiation of man's own inner god to himself; and this holy presence was called by the Greeks theophany, "the appearance of a god," i.e., man's own higher self to himself. And while in the average candidate this sublime moment of intellectual ecstasis and high vision lasted but a short time, with further spiritual progress of the candidate the theophanic communion became more enduring and lasting, until finally, ultimately, man knew himself, not merely as the offspring spiritually of his own inner god, but as that inner god itself, in his essential being.

That was the first step, the first realization. The second came in what the Greeks called theopneusty, which is a Greek compound word meaning "the inbreathing of a god," and in which man not merely was conscious by inner senses, and outer senses even, of his inner divinity, but he felt the inspiration flowing through his intellectual and spiritual veins, as it were — felt the inbreathing from his own inner god and became, thus, inspired, the very word inspiration meaning "inbreathing." With the passing of time and the greater purification of the soul-vehicle, which is man himself, this inbreathing or inspiration became permanent.

Finally, there came at the seventh initiation the most sublime mystery of all, called theopathy by the Greeks, meaning "the suffering a god" — a technical term; that is to say, not that the god suffered, but that the initiant, the candidate, suffered himself to become, abandoned himself fully to be, a truly selfless channel of communication of his own inner god, his own higher self; he became lost as it were in the greater self of his own higher self. This personal self became absorbed, transmuted, and its lower characteristics vanished away like a cloud before the sun; and with the passing of time and the greater cleansing of the vehicle, the soul, the personal man, became blended utterly with his own inner god. And that was theopathy.

Now the various degrees of initiation in the ancient Mystery Schools comprised, first, three degrees, which were those of teaching. With the fourth began the personal experience; that is to say, the teaching was continued, but in addition to that the initiant, the candidate, was made to be, to become, that which before he was taught of, told about; because the only way utterly to know a thing, the only way utterly to understand a thing, is to become it.

There is vastly more in this thought than appears on the surface, and more than we have time this evening to enter into. But let it remain in your minds. And the teaching was continued with every step higher, up to the seventh, ay, even up to the tenth degree. We stop at the seventh, because the three highest degrees are far beyond our comprehension, and pertain only, we are told, to the highest of the Masters.

Teaching continued even up to the seventh initiation, coordinately with the self-experiencing, the self-becoming; and in this way man not merely knew, but felt himself, realized that he was, one with the kosmos, not merely its offspring and child in a detached manner, but verily, in every sense of the word, it itself. Then came the realization of that kosmic self, the atman, that which is the same in you and me, in every dweller on this globe, and in every dweller in every one of the planetary or stellar bodies in space; the feeling, the sense, the knowledge, "I am." That which separates us is the feeling of "I am I," and "you are you"; and this is the action of the ego, egoism.

Yet, mystery of mysteries, know this: it is only through the passing across of egoity into universality that man becomes a god. If there were not the egoic principle enlarged and purified to contain it and to understand it, there could be no such thing as the Hierarchy of Compassion, there could be no such thing as the luminous arc. It remains with each one of us so to live the life, so to purify his inner sheaths of being, so to transmute his soul-essence, that they may become fit channels of communication between his own inner god and himself. When man has accomplished that, he becomes omniscient for our kosmic hierarchy; omniscient, for all knowledge of it and in it is his. And why? Because his essence of consciousness, the egoic essence, has become united through his own inner god with the universal plane, the atmic plane; and knowledge and wisdom then stream through him as the sun-rays stream through the atmosphere.

We have read from The Secret Doctrine at three or four former meetings a paragraph which we shall repeat tonight, in volume II, on page 492, as follows:

The Secret Doctrine points out, as a self-evident fact, that Mankind, collectively and individually, is, with all manifested nature, the vehicle (a) of the breath of One Universal Principle, in its primal differentiation; and (b) of the countless "breaths" proceeding from that One BREATH in its secondary and further differentiations, as Nature with its many mankinds [please note that] proceeds downwards toward the planes that are ever increasing in materiality. The primary Breath informs the higher Hierarchies; the secondary — the lower, on the constantly descending planes.

We have there, comprised in brief compass as said before, the entire outline of the study which we have been pursuing this winter; and at a later moment this evening, or perhaps at our next meeting, we shall go into this question of the various mankinds spoken of. There is involved in this a great and wondrous mystery. Let me merely say at the present moment that the humanity of which we form a part on earth today, that is to say, the particular life-wave which we call mankind or humanity or human beings, is not the sole and only life-stream of intelligent egos traversing the various rounds of evolution on our planetary chain. There are six others, all evolving contemporaneously with us, some ahead of us, and some behind us; and they are evolving in the various lokas or talas which we shall try further to elucidate this evening. A most difficult subject this, but one which we shall do our best to explain, because it is absolutely necessary, even in small degree, in order properly to understand the fundamental questions of the evolution of the evolving ego. Evolution is a subject which is interesting the world very much at the present time, and which our scientists limit, of course, merely to the physical world, more especially as concerns man and the beasts, which are two stirpes (to use the Latin word) only of the vastly numerous families of evolving beings, some ahead of us and some behind.

Now you will remember that at our last two or three meetings we spoke of the principles and elements of the kosmos. The elements form thereof the vehicular, or bearer, or carrier side; and the principles form the energy-consciousness side; and we shall this evening limit our study (with mere allusions to human elements and principles) to the kosmic planes, because our present endeavor is to get a clear picture, as clear as possible at the present time, of what we mean when we speak of kosmic planes, of the seven globes of the planetary chain, and of the rounds.

It is most interesting to note that these subjects, which so many people have misunderstood to be merely interesting questions for intellectual entertainment, are intimately involved with the moral, and with the spiritual, nature of man; and no man can have a proper comprehension of ethics and morals without understanding his proper place in the universe: his origin, his nature, and his destiny. What morals need in Occidental thought is a foundation based on science and philosophy. Morals are not something which is up in the air; they are not something which man must merely live by — they are that, indeed, but they are much more. The moral sense springs from man's spiritual consciousness, and no man — and we lay it down positively — can really understand a theosophical doctrine from the intellectual standpoint only and without having the spiritual light upon it. And that light, that spiritual light, manifests in man's intellectual realm of thought as his instinctive moral sense, that which the great German philosopher Kant spoke of as the one thing which held him firmly to the belief that our universe was something more than mere force and matter.

Remember first, that, as pointed out in the Upanishads and in the several wonderful Brahmanical philosophies, in ancient Greek thought, in Christianity, and preeminently in our own teachings — throughout the world, in fact, in the various ancient philosophies and religions — when we speak of divine things we must understand that we also are a part thereof, and that even the physical world itself, the material world itself, is but the garment of the divine; imperfect, because it is builded by imperfect because evolving hierarchies, by imperfect entities, of which we also are examples. Remember what Goethe says, in his Faust:

Thus, at the roaring loom of Time I ply, / And weave for God the garment thou see'st Him by.

And as Paul, the Christian, said, "In It we live and move and have our being."

Search into yourselves. The teachings given out in these studies are the keys. Prove them; examine the literatures of the world; search all things; and, as Paul said (speaking as an initiate), retain that which is good, retain that which you know to be true.

Seven, then, are the elements of kosmos; seven, then, are its principles, working through those seven elements. From the consciousness-side they are consciousness on the one hand, vehicle on the other. From the substantial side they are force on the one hand, and matter on the other. Let us illustrate this first of all by seven horizontal, parallel lines, to represent the elements and principles of kosmos.

diagram: planetary chain and cosmic principles

Please remember that this figure is a diagram. The elements, the principles, of the kosmos are not really one above another, like a series of steps, or like the rungs of a ladder. This figure is a diagram only, that is, it is a symbol. The elements of the kosmos, the principles of the kosmos, the spheres of the kosmos, are within each other, the most spiritual being the inmost. But this being impossible in representation on a plane surface, we have to figurate the idea schematically, diagrammatically, paradigmatically. Therefore this figure merely shows first, that there are seven planes in kosmos. Let us next represent the evolving and originating life forces, the gods and the intelligences of the three higher planes, by a triangle, using the old Platonic and Pythagorean symbol — a beautiful symbol — because it shows and suggests the originating point, the kosmic point, the seed, from which all divine things spring; and which shows the apex of the triangle also vanishing, as it were, through the highest plane, through a laya-center, a neutral center, a nirvana of all things less or lower than it, vanishing more inward into something higher. Exactly as a seed, an acorn, for instance, will bring forth an oak, in its turn shedding its harvest of acorns, so the kosmic seed sends forth from itself these hosts of hierarchies of beings, themselves producing other lower hosts on the downward scale. Let us then represent this process by a triangle.

The four lower planes of the figure, which are the four lower kosmic planes, represent all the states that man can reach to in his present period of development. Our own atmic essence springs forth from the fourth kosmic plane, counting downwards. Further, let us next represent our planetary chain in the following manner, that is to say, by inscribing circles, seven of them, on these planes, two on each plane, with the exception of the lowest plane where we inscribe only one circle, representing our own globe Terra. Then, we number these circles respectively, beginning with the left and going downwards, A, B, C, D; and then going upwards, E, F, and G. Please note that there are two circles or globes on each plane, with the exception of globe D, our own. These seven "planes" are really the seven kosmic elements respectively.

It is extremely tempting to suppose, or to think, that each one of these seven globes has a respective habitat or locus or place on or in each one of the kosmic elements, but it is not so. That idea is what we call a false analogy, a tempting suggestion leading the mind astray.

Now, then, when we speak of the seven elements of the kosmos, we mean by elements exactly what the ancients meant, which they described by verbal symbols. They spoke of four usually, occasionally of five, and they were the same all over the world — earth, water, air, fire; sometimes a fifth, aether, was mentioned; but these were certainly not the material earth, water, air, or fire that we know. These things of earth were chosen because they symbolized, by reason of certain attributes inherent in them, the four planes or rather elements of nature on which the seven globes of our planetary chain live and move and have their being. We can say that earth represented kosmic matter, concreted substance, the lowest element of all; and that water represented Chaos in the ancient sense — as the Hebrew Bible puts it, the "waters" of space over which brooded the Elohim, the gods, mistranslated "God." And we can say that air is spirit. The very word spiritus in Latin means "breath," "wind," "air." And fire is the symbol of divine light, the first emanation of the kosmic Logos, which we call, adopting the Sanskrit-Buddhist term, daiviprakriti, "divine nature," "divine light," light being one of the first emanations in the beginning of the evolutionary processional period.

Therefore, when we speak of elements, we mean rather what the average European mind understands by "spheres of action," worlds: the world of kosmic matter, the world of Chaos, the spheres of spirit, and the world of the divine light or daiviprakriti.

The logoic world, which is to us the quasi-divine, the fourth kosmic plane, counting downwards, comprising the planetary globes A and G, let us then call the archetypal world, and we so write it in our diagram. The world beneath, comprising globes B and F, we will call the intellectual or creative world. The world below that, comprising globes C and E, we will call, if you please, the astral or formative world. And the lowest element or world of all, on which our sole globe is, our planet Terra, let us call the physical world.

You will here recognize at once what we have stated before in connection with the doctrines of the Qabbalah — the four worlds that it teaches of. Those of you who have studied the Qabbalah may remember that its world of emanations or archetypal world is called atsiloth; then comes the second, the world called beriah, or creative following downwards; and then the third world, called the world of formation, yetsirah; and finally the fourth or material world, which the Qabbalists called the world of shells, qelippoth, our world, because it is that of the most concreted matter, the shell holding all the others; like the shell of an egg, or the rind of a fruit, and so on, and also meaning something else in connection with kama-loka, but we are not treating of that part of the subject tonight and merely mention it in passing. These worlds are, of course, our four kosmic elements.

Furthermore, please remember the next important thought. Each one of these seven kosmic elements, counting from the beginning, i.e., counting downwards, comprises in itself all the others which preceded it, of which it is an emanation. For instance, the first, the highest, emanates the second, below it, in which it reflects itself, to boot; yet this second nevertheless has its own swabhava, its own essential nature or peculiar characteristic, but it also is the carrier or vehicle of the one above it, as just said. Next, these two emanate and reflect themselves into the third, which yet has its own essential nature, but nevertheless is the carrier or bearer of those above it; and similarly with the fourth or lowest world or element.

Every atom, even of the physical world, has everything in it of the boundless kosmos, latent or developed, as the case may be. Note the optimistic trend of thought in this.

Now, then, these four lower kosmic elements or planes comprise all of us, that is to say, all of us that we have so far developed. The summit of the archetypal or fourth kosmic plane is the element where the laya-center of our atman is — our universal kosmic self. Through it stream the divine forces from above, which originate or rather are our seven principles, our seven elements of being, manifesting in the four lower kosmic elements which likewise form the seven ranges of prakriti or nature as we cognize them. You will remember that every kosmic element in itself is subdivided into seven subelements, i.e., seven degrees of prakriti. So far as we are concerned, the seven subdegrees of prakriti or nature on each one of these four lower kosmic planes comprise the only degrees of prakriti of which we can at the present time have cognizance, because we have not yet evolved the faculties within us necessary to cognize the higher ones.

As a concluding thought tonight, you will remember from reading the teachings that H. P. Blavatsky gave us in her wonder work The Secret Doctrine, that the life-wave pursues an evolutionary course through these seven globes, passing from globe A, after finishing its evolutionary cycle on it, to globe B, finishing its cycle on B and passing to globe C, finishing its cycle on it and then passing on to globe D, and so around the chain, making what we call one round.

But we must be cautious in these matters and avoid leaping to conclusions. The above does not mean that only when everything is finished or perfected on globe A, we then jump to globe B. Not at all. Seven sublife-waves evolve on globe A. When the lowest (or the mineral) on globe A — remember that though it is a spiritual planet, yet the "mineral" of that spiritual planet is as dense and as gross to its inhabitants as our minerals are to us — has finished its development for that one round, it feels the impact or impulse of the incoming vegetable kingdom, and its surplus of life overflows into globe B; and when the beast kingdom in its turn impacts upon the vegetable, and when this latter has run its sevenfold course, the vegetable then in its turn overflows into globe B downwards, and the mineral in B passes on to globe C; and when the human world impulses into globe A, then the beast world begins to come down into globe B, the vegetable to pass into C, the mineral into D, and so on. This is the process during the first round; but beginning with the second round the process changes somewhat its order. But we reserve this for future studies.

There is an overflow of the surplus life forces, as it were, from every kingdom into the next globe; and this complicated process is followed (but changed, beginning with round 2) throughout all the rounds, throughout all the seven globes. When globe G, or the seventh, is reached, there ensues for the life-wave a nirvana, answering to the devachan or heaven period between two human incarnations on earth; and also between any two globes there is a smaller time of rest for the evolving life-wave.

This process alone is enough to set the minds of many people in bewilderment. It seems so complicated; in reality it is very simple. It needs only a little honest thought to understand it — half as much thought as most people give to the material things of life: what shall I eat, what shall I put on, what theater shall I go to, how shall I make money, and so forth.

We have spoken of lokas and talas. We shall touch upon that matter more fully at our next meeting. But remember this fact: each one of these globes is divided into fourteen different "worlds." I do not mean globes; I mean conditions or states of matter. For instance, water may be ice or steam, and yet may be water. Suppose that you had to explain to a man who had never seen ice, had seen merely water, what ice is; and after trying to do so he said: "The man raves; he is trying to tell me that water, the most fluid of things, under certain conditions may become cold stone."

Secondly, when we say worlds (we have to use words in order to give some idea of the meaning) we do not mean globes. A globe is globe A, or B, or C, or D, or E, or F, or G; but each one of these globes comprises or has seven lokas, or "places," or worlds, or conditions, or states, or kinds, of matter — subworlds, if you like; and also seven talas, making fourteen altogether. Please remember also that these fourteen (or these twice seven) worlds are not above each other like the steps in a stair. They are within each other, one more inward than another, not exactly like the skins of an onion, but each inner one is finer, more spiritual, more ethereal, than its next outer; and the most ethereal, the most spiritual of all, is the inmost.

Now these seven lokas on each globe are the fields of action of the ascending subwaves in the racial cycles; likewise, the various kinds of bodies, ethereal or physical or spiritual, or whatever else, that the race uses as it passes along the evolutionary cycles, correspond in texture and senses with the various lokas passed through, and the loka which the evolving entity senses is that particular loka or world correspondent to its bodies. And the talas are the same thing on the downward subwaves of the racial cycles. The lokas and talas are always working together, two by two, one of each, because matter is bipolar in manifestation on the globes; of the two (one loka and one tala), one is spiritually positive, attracting one way, and the other is spiritually negative, attracting the other way.

And, lastly, we point out that we are at the present time in one of these lokas and in one of these talas, and that there are six other humanities or life-waves evolving similarly to our own course: intelligent, thinking beings on our planet — I do not necessarily say on our globe D — evolving through these lokas and talas. How this thought stirs the imagination! If this process of evolution did not so take place, we say in conclusion, there could be no completely logical and satisfactory explanation of the phenomenon that the early writers upon theosophical subjects called "fifth rounders" and "sixth rounders."

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