Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy — G. de Purucker

Chapter Forty-One

The Doctrine of the Spheres. The Universal Solar System and our Solar System. The Seven Sacred Planets: Why "Sacred"?

But Time was generated together with the universe, that being produced together they might together be dissolved, if any dissolution should ever happen to these. And time was generated according to the exemplar of an eternal nature, that this world might be the most similar possible to such a nature. For its exemplar is permanent being, through the whole of eternity; but the universe alone was generated, is, and will be, through the whole of time. After this manner, therefore, and from such a cogitation of divinity about the generation of time, that he might give birth to its flowing subsistence, he generated the sun and moon, and the five other stars, which are denominated planets, for the purpose of distinguishing and guarding the numbers of time. But the divinity, as soon as he had produced the bodies of these stars, placed them, being seven in number, in the seven circulations formed by the revolution of the nature distinguished by difference. . . . But with respect to the other stars, if any one should think proper to investigate their circulations, and through what causes they are established, the labour would be greater than that of the discourse itself, for the sake of which they were introduced. — Plato, Timaeus, pp. 467-8 (Thomas Taylor, trans.)

The lower world is subject to the sway of the upper world.

In the beginning of its revolution the sovereignty over this lower world is committed to one of the slow-moving stars.

Which governeth it alone for the space of a thousand years;

And for other thousands of years each of the heavy-moving stars, and swift-moving stars becometh its partner, each for one thousand years.

Last of all the moon becometh its associate.

After that, the first associate will get the sovereignty.

The second king goeth through the same round as the first king; and the others are in like manner his associates.

Last of all the first king is for a thousand years the partner of the second king.

Then the period of the reign of the second king is also past.

And understand that the same is the course as to all the others.

When the Moon hath been king, and all have been associates along with it, and its reign too is over, one Grand Period is accomplished.

After which the Sovereignty again returneth to the first king, and in this way there is an eternal succession.

And in the beginning of the Grand Period, a new order of things commenceth in the lower world.

And, not indeed the very forms, and knowledge, and events of the Grand Period that hath elapsed, but others precisely similar to them will again be produced.

And every Grand Period that cometh resembleth from beginning to end the Grand Period that is past. — The Desatir, "The Book of the Prophet, the Great Abad," vv. 102-16 (Mulla Firuz Bin Kaus, trans.)

VAST ARE the reaches of both the space and the time, and profound are the mysteries likewise, connected with and involved in the subjects with which our present cycle of study is opened; for these subjects deal in general with what we may call collectively the doctrine of the spheres: that is to say, that particular and fundamental branch of the archaic philosophy and religion of the ancient wisdom which was most especially developed in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean or Inland Sea — a favored study there, even as in the Farther Orient, among the archaic sages of Hindustan, the doctrines regarding the workings of the various monadic states of consciousness were more largely developed and prized.

In our last study we sketched, though briefly, the outline of the theosophical doctrine dealing with the planetary chain of our earth. Now this subject of planetary chains is a special case, as mathematicians would say, of the general doctrine of the spheres; this subject has always been one of the most carefully guarded, considered as one of the most sacred and occult, because it leads us, in its ultimate reaches, directly to the heart of being. In order to reach that heart of being we have to pass through many secret chambers of Mother Nature, chambers which have been held secret from immemorial time, and the arcana of which have been guarded as one of the most sacred possessions of the Guardians of mankind.

You will remember that our studies were originally opened by taking into consideration the general outline of cosmogony and theogony as found in the archaic cosmology and theology of the ancient wisdom. This was sketched in all its general aspects, as an outline only, details being left for filling in at future dates. We passed in review — only in sketch, please bear in mind — how worlds are born, how, like children, they spring from the womb of nature; how, from a germ, they grow into youth, reach maturity, then decline, and finally decay, followed by ultimate death, again to resurrect in cyclic rebirth from that same womb of Mother Nature.

It was shown also that these doctrines of the ancient wisdom, mystic, marvelous, wonderful, leave no query unanswered, leave nothing to be built upon mere faith — blind faith that is; but that each theorem of its philosophy must be, and is, proved, as the study of it progresses. Remember what proof is. Proof consists in bringing conviction to the mind; conviction of its reality, based upon evidence, is the proof of a fact or theorem. Remember that the various circumstantial things which we may bring in production of proof are merely the evidential part, the evidences of reality.

Then, as we passed in review, in outline only, these general theorems, we finally arrived at the doctrine concerning the planetary chains, which, as said, is a special case of the general theorem of the wonderful doctrine of the spheres. Henceforth our studies go more into detail. We have sought to conduct our studies together so that the written report of these may help those who are seeking deeper knowledge of the ancient Mysteries and of the ancient wisdom than they can get from the books of the world. One of the reasons for this is that some students have accepted certain statements of Mr. Sinnett on this very question of the planetary chain, to the effect that two of the physical planets of our solar system, Mars and Mercury, were two of the members of our earth's planetary chain, although H. P. Blavatsky in this very volume of The Secret Doctrine published several years before her death declared positively that this notion is wrong; for indeed, it is not true.

As our studies proceed, you will see for yourselves that it cannot be true. Let me ask parenthetically: Who was the originator of this idea? You will remember that the earliest teachings were given to two Englishmen in India, Mr. A. O. Hume and Mr. A. P. Sinnett, through H. P. Blavatsky, through Damodar (who later went to Tibet to join the Teachers), and through one or two others. The philosophical, religious, and scientific teachings that Mr. Sinnett received in answer to queries sent by him to the Masters through H. P. Blavatsky and Damodar were later incorporated by him in two of his works, The Occult World and Esoteric Buddhism, as he called them. Both were good books for their time, as far as they went, but criticized also by H. P. Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine for their materialistic bias of presentation, and for their overemphasis on certain aspects of the teachings to the neglect of the higher, the more spiritual, the more intellectual, portions, in the attempt by Mr. Sinnett to "reconcile" the teachings of the ancient wisdom with what he obviously thought was the last word of human knowledge, the scientific theories and fads of his day. Those scientific theories and teachings are already out of date now, lost to mind and mostly forgotten. Science has "moved"; but the teachings of the ancient wisdom have remained!

We open our study this evening, after these preliminary observations, by reading from The Secret Doctrine, volume II, first on page 699, "On Chains of Planets and their Plurality":

Did the Ancients know of worlds besides their own? What are the data of the Occultists in affirming that every globe is a septenary chain of worlds — of which only one member is visible — and that these are, were, or will be, "man-bearing," just as every visible star or planet is? What do they mean by "a moral and physical influence" of the sidereal worlds on our globes?

Such are the questions often put to us, and they have to be considered from every aspect. To the first of the two queries the answer is: — We believe it because the first law in nature is uniformity in diversity, and the second — analogy. "As above, so below."

And then on page 703:

When, therefore, we find in the Bibles of Humanity "other worlds" spoken of, we may safely conclude that they not only refer to other states of our planetary chain and Earth, but also to other inhabited globes — stars and planets; withal, that the latter were never speculated upon. The whole of antiquity believed in the Universality of life.

In entering upon the present phase of our study, we are obliged to go into detail. But this entering upon a more detailed study is attended naturally with increased difficulties, not only because of the many subjects that we are more or less perforce obliged to meet in following the main theme of our discourse, but also from the fact that not one iota of teaching can be omitted at any one point; it must at least be alluded to if the teaching is to remain complete and whole and not a divided thing. Hence we shall go slowly. It were indeed easy to hurry over this subject, easy to get a general outline, but in such case we could go but little farther than the surface meaning in The Secret Doctrine; and our instructions are: simplify by illustration, supporting it by confirmation and proof.

Hence, let us first consider what we mean by the doctrine of the spheres, one of the most archaic of the ancient Mysteries. We mean four things, speaking generally. These four are as follows: first, the universal solar system. We mean by this our sun and all the planetary bodies in the solar system, visible or invisible, seen or unseen, known or unknown, owning the sun as their primary. Modern science today recognizes seven, eight, or perhaps nine planets, and a host of planetoids, and no more, as belonging to the solar system. Modern astronomy knows nothing of the great body of the universal solar system except its physical shell, the outer physical clothing of it, the seven, eight, or nine planets which we can see with the physical eye in the heavens, and which are counted as follows: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune. But the ancient wisdom, the esoteric teaching, tells us that there are actually scores of planets in this universal solar system of ours, and that these scores, excepting those counted by astronomy, are all invisible to us, to our eyes of fourth-plane matter — or seventh-plane matter, according to the way by which we may count.

Neptune is not a member of our universal solar system, according to the ancient wisdom. We will deal with this matter later. Next, Uranus is not a member of our solar system, but is a member of the universal solar system. We shall fully explain what we mean by our solar system. Can you blame Mr. Sinnett for not understanding, and therefore thinking that he knew more than the Master did and than H. P. Blavatsky did, and that the archaic teachings contained contradictions, when the man could not get it through his head that the same words may be used with different meanings; and that one of the favorite, sanctified, methods of concealing truth from those not qualified to get it is to say two, three, four, five, six, seven different things with the same words?

First, then, we have the universal solar system, comprising the septenary sun and all the planets of the solar system, visible or invisible, and on seven planes. Then, we have our solar system, which is the second of these four aspects of the doctrine of the spheres, and is the group usually called the seven sacred planets of the ancients, as these seven are related to our planetary chain. The third is something to which we shall merely allude as occasion arises, and not go much farther. It is alluded to by H. P. Blavatsky in the first volume (pp. 163-4) of The Secret Doctrine in her answer to part of Mr. Sinnett's misunderstanding regarding the earth's planetary chain. You will remember where she speaks of the relation of Mars and Mercury and the four secret planets to our earth; and she explains that they all bear a relation thereto which no initiate will speak of, much less explain. The fourth aspect is our earth's planetary chain per se.

Now Mr. Sinnett asked his question of the Teacher as follows: "What other planets of those known to ordinary science, besides Mercury, belong to our system of worlds?" Please mark those four last words. And he continues: "Are the more spiritual planets — (A, B and Y, Z) — visible bodies in the sky or are all those known to astronomy of the more material sort?" And the answer came as follows: "Mars and four other planets of which astronomy knows yet nothing. Neither A, B, nor Y, Z, are known; nor can they be seen through physical means however perfected." And yet despite that, Mr. Sinnett taught and claimed for years that two of our visible planets, Mars and Mercury, form part of our earth's septenary planetary chain.

You will remember how H. P. Blavatsky alludes to Mr. Sinnett's misunderstanding of the Master's teaching in The Secret Doctrine, volume I, especially on pages 162-8 inclusive. Anyone in reading these pages, unless he has a stultified mind or is entirely ignorant of occult doctrines, must instantly sense that she is hinting at more than one thing. Read those pages and ponder them well. At our next meeting we are going into this matter more deeply.

Now then, for a brief review, first, of our universal solar system: we mean by that expression all bodies and every body belonging to the sun, and revolving around it. The sun is their primary; they circle around the sun as satellites or planets, visible or invisible; that is, the expression universal solar system means not only the mere shell of nature — composed of the seven, eight, or nine planets, that the eye sees — but also the great inner core of the solar system, its seven planes of being. There are actually scores of planets in our universal solar system, of which we see only seven physical ones, on the same plane as the earth; and if we count our globe as one, there are eight. Neptune, however, as already said, does not belong to it; Uranus does not belong to our system of worlds (or our solar system), but it does belong to the universal solar system, because it is a true planet intimately connected with our sun as regards its origin and destiny.

In order to make this point more clear, let me illustrate what Neptune is by a very fortunate illustration which we can draw from modern science. You know that chemical physics, or physical chemistry, teaches that the atom is composed of a central nucleus, which has been called the proton, answering in the atom to what our sun is in the universal solar system; and that around this central nucleus, revolving with vertiginous rapidity, are other bodies which they call electrons. The chemists theorize — and occultism says that this theory is true, you can find the proof of it in The Secret Doctrine — to the effect that if one of these atomic planets or electrons is torn out from that atom, the atom itself is altered or changed; not alone does the electric charge of the atom vary, but the atom itself is de facto altered; and also if, so to say, the atom is electron-hungry, if an electron should pass near — I am using very simple language in order to convey the idea — should pass near that atomic solar system, it may be captured, in which case the atomic electric hunger is satisfied, while the atomic valency is altered.

Neptune, although a "planet" in the sense that it does revolve around the sun, is not a true member of our solar system in any sense. It is a "capture," and its capture changed in one sense the entire nature of our universal solar system; and it will remain captured until the karmic time shall come for it to leave us. It is captured exactly as some of the planets have captured "moons." Why is it, we may ask, in passing, that Venus and Mercury have no moons; and that Mars is said to have two, and Saturn nine, and Jupiter nine, whereas we know by our teaching that each planet can have but one true moon, the others being mere captures, satellites? Now, suppose we were to say that in the past aeons of time, a comet, nearing the planetary stage, passed sufficiently close to the gravitational attraction of our universal solar system on its own plane of being to be captured, and that due to the interplay of various forces it settled into an orbit around our sun; and that long aeons later our astronomers discovered it and named it Neptune. Please consider that as a theory. We will leave it, if you will, for the time, and call it a theory.

We have said that Uranus is not a member of our solar system. We repeat the statement. It is a member, however, of our universal solar system.

You see how it was that Mr. Sinnett, through lack of esoteric training, through lack of knowledge of the ancient wisdom, through being absolutely psychologized with the splendid achievements in purely physical discovery of the marvelous scientific advance of his day — the "last word of knowledge," it actually was proclaimed in the scientific periodicals of that day — preferred the scientific theories and fads of the period to the tenets of the ancient wisdom, those tenets which have been proved by generation after generation of titanic intellects, of men, great seers, who had for immemorial ages tested nature, sending their souls into the very womb of matter, into all its seven planes or spheres, and finding out the truth, the reality, of things.

Now, please note: Mr. Sinnett's question referred to "our system of worlds." Do you not see how vague that question was? At least four different aspects of the doctrine of the spheres could be meant by those words. The Teachers had been urging Messrs. Sinnett and Hume to adopt a definite English terminology and nomenclature which, indeed, Mr. Sinnett did adopt, to a certain extent. We owe many of our common terms and expressions to him, and we are duly grateful to him for the good work that he did in this respect; but many of these terms are too vague. For instance, the term "root-race" is a most unfortunate one. At a later date we shall have to show how unfortunate it is. We propose to adopt the Master's own term "stock-race," using the word "stock" in the sense of body or trunk. We owe to Mr. Sinnett also the expression "round," meaning the passage of the life-wave from globe A, the first of our earth's chain, to globe G, or the seventh at the end; and many more of the words, phrases, and much of the technical vocabulary which is commonly employed by us today are due to Mr. Sinnett and Mr. Hume.

The question about "our system of worlds" asked by Mr. Sinnett provided a perfect opening for the Master to tell him the truth in wholly general terms, and yet to hide from him that which he should not know. Had Mr. Sinnett been definite enough in his question — indeed, to put it in another way, had he been wise enough to ask a perfectly definite question — it would have been much more difficult and embarrassing to the Teacher, in view of necessary secrecy, to give a definite answer. In such case, Mr. Sinnett would have got a definite answer; or he would have been told that his question was one that should not be answered, as indeed happened in several cases. But what was the actual answer that he got? We have read it, and it contains several points of teaching under and in the words. All these four aspects of the general doctrine of the spheres, which we have been alluding to, are contained in the Master's answer in the form of hint and allusion, with especial reference to the most esoteric. "Our system of worlds" was taken at its face value, just as the vague and indefinite question — from the viewpoint of occultism — ought to have been taken. The archaic law is that only those who knock at the door in the right manner can enter therein. All depends upon which door you knock at; and this is an old rule, ancient, ancient, ancient, running back into immemorial time, to the very days of the later Atlanteans when the Mysteries were first established in order to segregate the nobler portion of the Atlantean folk from those who were degenerating and rushing to their doom.

So, then, please understand perfectly clearly that our universal solar system of worlds means our sun and all the planetary bodies whatsoever in the solar system, of whatever degree or kind, on whatever plane, inner or outer, and in whatever orbits they may be revolving around their primary, the sun. Remember likewise in this connection that our solar system is septenary, that it is composed of seven planes, or worlds, and hence that there are seven suns in it, of which we see but one sun, the lowest in degree.

We might as well say here and now, because it is a part of our study, that the inhabitants of the three globes preceding ours and those of the three globes following ours, in our earth's planetary chain, in each case, see two suns. An illustration of this we have fortunately in modern astronomy, in what are called the star-doubles. There are many kinds of doubles. I do not mean mere optical doubles, but true solar pairs or couples, which is a fact of being closely connected with the very interesting and also mysterious doctrine of obscurations, into which we shall have to go in pursuing this our present study of the earth's planetary chain. But these stellar couples or doubles show that those suns, which are seen as doubles, form a septenary system which, like our own sun, have a lower single sun, or lower fourth-plane sun, just as our own physical sun is. You see here how one key to the ancient wisdom will open the door to nature's secret chambers. Never forget the old Hermetic axiom: analogy is nature's fundamental law, "As above, so below."

Next: the seven sacred planets of the ancients — which ones are they? They are as follows. I am not naming them in their proper esoteric order; I am naming them in the old exoteric Greek way: Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. Note, first, that our Earth is not one of these seven sacred or secret planets. Second, that the Moon (the first one in order of enumeration, preceding Mercury) and the Sun, are considered here in exoteric enumeration as planets. Actually, however, they stand for two secret planets which are invisible to us: the Sun for an intra-Mercurial planet which we will, if you like, for purposes of convenience, call Vulcan, a planet visible to the men of the third root-race — or stock-race — in this round, but which now has disappeared from our vision. It will reappear, however, as our own race progresses to higher levels of perception. The Moon, again, as said, stands for another secret planet which is now dying, having nearly reached the end of its septenary life cycle. Before the Earth has reached its seventh round, our Moon will have disintegrated into atomic stellar dust; and this present secret planet, being a dying planet, this Mystery-planet for which the Moon is the exoteric substitute, will then be the satellite of the Earth in place of the Moon that was and now is; but that planet-satellite will not be a true moon, but a mere satellite. Please note the difference. For instance, the planet Mars has two satellites, Phobos and Deimos. Phobos is not a moon; but Deimos is a true moon, but not of Mars. Phobos is a capture, as we may say, by Mars.

This subject of the seven sacred planets of the ancients is intimately bound up with the doctrine of our own earth's planetary chain, the latter a specific instance of the general doctrine of the spheres; and we shall have to go into this subject as a formal study. But let us point out, before closing tonight, that the sun and moon, as forming two of those seven secret planets in the exoteric enumeration, are substitutes for two secret and invisible planets, briefly spoken of already. Furthermore, with regard to Mars, there is a mystery — i.e., esoteric, secret — connected with this matter which we have not time to go into tonight, but in it lies the reason why H. P. Blavatsky, in alluding to these seven secret planets on a certain page of The Secret Doctrine speaks only of four — Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus — and hints at three more which she does not mention there as belonging to the group of the seven sacred planets of the ancients.

Note also that every one of the seven globes of our earth's planetary chain is under the guidance, and is actually formed by, one of the seven sacred planets which, for this reason, with other reasons, was called sacred. So, again, each root-race — or stock-race — of every one of the seven globes during each globe-round is under the protection and guidance of one of the seven sacred planets. But the main reason for calling them sacred is this: as our universal solar system is composed of seven planes of being, in other words, is composed of seven worlds, seven planes, seven spheres of life and activity — not globes but spheres in the larger sense, as when a man says spheres of activity — we search for an answer to the question, Why is it so? Here is the answer, and it shows why these planets are called sacred. These seven planets are the houses, each one to each one, of the seven logoi of our solar system, thus forming a minor group at the head of which is one of the seven primordial logoi of the universal solar system. When our universal solar system came out of latency as a nebula, later it became a comet, still later separating into sun and planets, each one pursuing its own particular life-path; the separation of the nebular inner life into seven cosmic forces for future life activities was done by the seven primordial logoi.

Put it in this way: the chief Logos of the universal solar system is sevenfold, septenary, i.e., the solar Logos — Brahma, as the Hindus would put it — is septenary. Then, each of these seven minor logoi, again subdividing into seven forces or powers, form sevenfold groups or minor solar systems, and our solar system is one of such groups: seven minor logoi, each one, each to each, is the rector, the guide, of one of the seven sacred planets; if you like, its informing soul. But, mark this: this former subdivision composes the life forces of our solar system. Hence our solar system forms a group within the universal solar system. We have explained what we mean before. In other words, then, there are forty-nine of these minor logoi in our universal solar system; but our sacred seven which with our earth's planetary chain compose our solar system, belong to our solar Logos. In still other words, put it in this way: as the sun has its spectrum of seven rays, so each one of these rays again is subdivided into seven minor rays. Please consider that as an illustration. Our planetary chain, you will remember, which will be the subject of our next study, consists of seven globes, collectively the developed sevenfold entity of a former sevenfold chain in another life cycle or manvantara, which chain is now dead, but functioning now as our moon-chain. And remember that when we say our moon in this particular case we mean the sevenfold moon, the entire definite septenary entity. Our present moon, as a matter of fact, is not the physical moon that was, which has disappeared, but is its kama-rupa, its vampirizing shell, purely and truly in more than one sense vampirizing. It is a phantom of the moon that was, its true shell. Our earth, which grew from it, draws still from it the life-atoms which the karmic destiny of our earth obliges it to gather into itself, for its weal or for its woe, as the case may be.

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