Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy — G. de Purucker

Chapter Forty-Two

The Doctrine of the Spheres in its Four Aspects. The Seven Sacred Planets and Their Rectors: Their Relation to our Earth-Chain. The Circulations of the Kosmos: Outer Rounds and Inner Rounds; Sishtas. One Universal Basic Law: As Above, So Below. The Eye and the Heart Doctrines.

The most celebrated of the Babylonians, together with Ostanes and Zoroaster, very properly call the starry spheres herds; whether because these alone among corporeal magnitudes, are perfectly carried about a centre, or in conformity to the oracles, because they are considered by them as in a certain respect the bonds and collectors of physical reasons, which they likewise call in their sacred discourses herds [agelas], and by the insertion of a gamma [angelous], angels. Wherefore the stars which preside over each of these herds are considered demons similar to the angels, and are called archangels: and they are seven in number. — Anon., Theologumensis Arithmeticis (Cory, Ancient Fragments, p. 276)

The "Doctrine of the Eye" is for the crowd, the "Doctrine of the Heart," for the elect. The first repeat in pride: "Behold, I know," the last, they who in humbleness have garnered, low confess, "thus have I heard." . . .

The Dharma of the "Eye" is the embodiment of the external, and the nonexisting.

The Dharma of the "Heart" is the embodiment of Bodhi, the Permanent and Everlasting. — The Voice of the Silence, pp. 27, 29

THE TRADITIONS of mankind tell us, and the records of the ancient wisdom corroborate the traditions, that the doctrines which we have been studying for the last four years or so have come down to us unimpaired and in their pristine purity, in the charge of great minds, great men, great souls. These traditions as the ages passed, dating from the midpoint of the fourth stock-race or the Atlantean, took various forms as they were given out more or less fully at different times; took forms, we say, in the various great world religions; and it is at the back of, behind, under the surface of, these great world religions that we find many, if not all, of the doctrines of the ancient wisdom. We should not include in these religions thus spoken of, the various smaller religions or quasi-religious cults, however large their extent among mankind may have been, because these smaller religions were often the offspring of men who imperfectly understood the ancient wisdom, and who, in some cases, were actually unfaithful to their own teachers. And therein we may find one of the dominating reasons why these archaic teachings have always been held as sacred and secret; because, as was told to Mr. Sinnett and Mr. Hume, the Masters had and have no wish to foist another mere exoteric religion on a world already priest-ridden and creed-burdened.

A source which is polluted at its fountainhead can hardly give forth the pure springs which heal. The best antidote for folly is wisdom; for ignorance, real knowledge; for false and therefore wholly unauthorized theosophy, the archaic teachings of the wisdom-religion.

We take up again tonight the study which was begun at our meeting last week; and the main theme then was what was called the doctrine of the spheres, of which the doctrine of our planetary chain, the planetary chain of our solar system, is a particular case. Let us pass in brief review, at the same time perhaps slightly bettering, the explanation that was then made. The doctrine of the spheres comprises the entirety of the teachings dealing with the origin, the life, and the destiny of the spheres or planets, and of the sun, belonging to and composing our universal solar system. By "universal" solar system we mean all the bodies whatsoever, known and unknown, visible and invisible, that revolve around the sun, which is their primary. There are many such planets, scores of them, most of them invisible to our eyes of flesh.

The second aspect of the doctrine of the spheres is the subsidiary doctrine of the planetary chains. Each one of these planets is a sevenfold body, comprising in a unity seven globes; and one of the seven is visible to our eyes in the cases of the seven or eight or nine planets known to astronomy, because our eyes have been trained through evolution on this planet to see them, for these few cases belong to our own "plane." When we shall be on the globes of our chain to which we shall pass when leaving this earth, our senses will then be trained by nature, by evolution, to cognize, to sense and to see — to know, in other words, other celestial bodies, other planets of our universal solar system. Similarly was it the case with the globes which we left in descending the planetary chain. Each planetary chain, therefore, has seven globes, according to the teachings, existing on four planes: two globes on each one of the three higher planes, and of these seven globes only one is on the lowest plane; our earth is on this lowest or fourth plane of our chain. This doctrine of the planetary chain is our main theme of study at present.

The third aspect of the doctrine of the spheres is what has been called the seven sacred planets of the ancients — likewise a teaching comprising a sevenfold mystery. These planets are respectively Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun (which is a substitute for enumerative reasons for an intra-Mercurial planet), Venus, Mercury, and our Moon which is also a substitute for a planet near our Earth, and which is now dying. These seven sacred planets of the ancients were called sacred for the reasons set forth in our last study. They are the houses of the seven forces of one of the seven chief rays of the solar Logos: this one chief ray being our particular logos. This doctrine is really very simple, but because it is a case of seven involved in seven, it sounds very complicated; actually it is not. There are seven main or chief rays or forces which make and which inform the sun; and these seven forces are the seven solar logoi. Each one of these seven main logoi is subdivided in its turn into seven; and these seven subdivisions of one chief ray or logos form the rectors, the genii, the archangels if you will, of which the seven sacred planets are the houses.

Each one of these seven sacred planets was intimately concerned in building one of the globes of our planetary chain. Each one of the stock-races or root-races on any one of our seven globes during the passage through it of the evolving life-wave, is likewise under the direct governance and control of one of these seven sacred planets; and when we say "planet," please note carefully that we do not mean the mere physical body of it, the planet which we see; that is but the house of the sevenfold dhyan-chohan, the rector, the genius, that particular solar force which has builded and which uses that planet as its house — its "nerve center," so to say.

The fourth aspect of the universal solar system deals with the group which is so sacred that, as H. P. Blavatsky says on pages 163-4 of volume I of The Secret Doctrine: "As to Mars, Mercury, and 'the four other planets,' they bear a relation to Earth of which no master or high Occultist will ever speak [in public, we should add], much less explain the nature."

This doctrine of the spheres is full of wonder. We have merely sketched an outline of it; and closely connected with it is a twin doctrine, even more sacred and more mysterious, which we may call the doctrine of the circulations of the kosmos, of which the circulations of the forces of the universal solar system are a special case. Note here in passing, that the workings of karma and the reincarnation of the human soul on earth are special cases, again, of these two doctrines: the doctrine of the circulations which make the actions of karma to be; and the doctrine of man's successive reimbodiment in houses of flesh, as the doctrine of the spheres shows the building of other globes in houses of physical form, fit for the evolving souls, and providing bodies for them corresponding to each one of those globes. This doctrine of the circulations of the kosmos is one which we approach with a great deal of caution. We should remember that whatever may be said on that subject here at present does not by any means include all that could be said about this recondite subject; no, not one-tenth. This doctrine of the circulations of the kosmos, or of the circulations of the life forces in the universal solar system, among many other things, deals with the passage of the life-wave from globe to globe on our planetary chain; explains to us and elucidates how this is done; while the doctrine of the spheres sets forth to what globes these circulations go, into which globes these circulations enter, and in what states those globes are left when their respective life cycles are completed. This applies also, of course, to us here on earth, and to the life-atoms on our globe here; and, for instance, tells us of such men as we shall be on the next globe following this our earth and such as we were on the globe preceding this earth. And so, on all the globes of our chain the life-wave functions similarly; that is to say, these circulations are related to each globe and to all.

Next, with regard to these planetary rectors or genii or dhyan-chohans — each subsidiary solar logos of the seven minor logoi of one chief Logos forming the presiding genius of each globe — they actually are the builders of our planetary chain, plus the indwelling life or swabhava belonging to our own planetary chain. The human seed is sown, for example; it grows, becomes an embryo, finally is born, grows into a man. There is the indwelling life, the character, the inward urge, the forward push, the development of the inner faculties; but this is done in a world of surrounding forces which affect it profoundly by action and reaction, or karma. So with the globes; so with our planetary chain as a whole.

Let us also remark in passing that these seven sacred planets are profoundly instrumental in building our planetary chain; but the earth also itself is one of another group or series of seven planets, which build or cooperate in building the planetary chain of certain other ones of our planets — so closely interrelated and interlocked are the functionings of the life forces and life-waves in our solar kosmos, our universal solar system.

Now briefly passing in review questions which we shall study in detail later, please bear in mind that the life-wave in any planetary chain — we will take our own as an instance of the rule — passes once from the first globe to the seventh, through all the seven globes; and when it has thus passed once through the seven globes of the chain it completes what we call one chain-round, round being a word which Mr. Sinnett coined for this purpose, and which we still use. Seven such chain-rounds complete a life cycle of our planetary chain. Then what happens?

We now approach another mystery. There are outer rounds and inner rounds. The inner round comprises the passages of the life-wave in any one planetary chain from globe A to globe G (or Z) once around, and this takes place seven times in a planetary manvantara. The outer round — please listen carefully — comprises the passage of the entirety of a planetary chain's life-wave, by the working of the doctrine of the circulations of the solar system, from one of these sacred planets to another, and this for seven times.

Reverting for a moment again to a round in a planetary chain: on our globe, the indwelling egoic force in any one man, or in any one life-entity, evolves for itself bodies correspondential to its surroundings — bodies outer, bodies inner. The higher ones of these inner bodies we may call monadic eggs; and when the life-wave leaves any one such globe of the seven of that planetary chain in order to pass to the next globe, the vehicles correspondential and belonging to that particular globe, its own evolutions thereon, remain behind as the sishtas, a Sanskrit word meaning "remainders," in order to serve as the first vehicles or bodies for the monads when the same life-wave returns on the succeeding cycle, and after aeons upon aeons of time the monads of the returning life-wave find these "sleeping spheres" or dormant "life-atoms" or vehicles waiting for them. These sleeping spheres or dormant life-atoms are correspondential, each one and all of them, to the particular globe of the planetary chain which had evolved them. Thus the sishtas are the already evolved or individualized vehicles or "life-atoms" fit to receive the returning monadic host.

Let us now illustrate this doctrine of our planetary chain by drawing seven circles, each circle to be one of the manifested globes of our planetary chain.

diagram: planetary chain

The life-wave enters globe A, runs through its life cycle there, and then passes on to globe B. Finishing its cycle on globe B, it passes on to globe C; and then to globe D, the lowest of the seven. In our own chain, globe D is our earth. We draw straight lines under the three higher pairs, and one straight line under globe D. These lines represent the four lowest planes or worlds of our solar system, our universal solar system. There are yet three higher planes or worlds, making seven in all; and beyond these higher three planes, there are still three more, thus making the perfect number ten. Of these last three and highest planes or worlds, we shall say nothing more here.

diagram: twelve globes

But now let us draw on the three higher planes of the seven, five more circles representing globes as follows: two globes on the lowest plane of these three highest, two more globes on the plane above that; and one globe on the seventh plane from the bottom, thus forming the acme or summit. We then shall have twelve globes in our planetary chain: seven manifest, and five hid; and this is the system of construction (of the solar logoic force) which we are going to study — each one of these twelve globes, by the way, corresponding in the ancient wisdom to one of the twelve signs of the zodiac. You see, then, that there are seven globes in manifestation; one visible to us, the lowest and the fourth; six higher in abscondito or hid; and finally five globes on the three higher planes of the seven planes, forming therefore seven plus five, or twelve globes in all. This is just a sketch, at the present time, merely outlining the teachings.

The question naturally arises: What is it that circles from globe to globe of a planetary chain in the inner rounds, and passes from one to the other and each in turn of the seven sacred planets in the outer rounds? We have said that each globe of a chain, when the life-wave leaves it, retains its hosts of monadic eggs as the sishtas. We used the word "monadic" there in a general sense; that is to say, it applies in all cases to that particular part of the entire human spiritual-psychological-physical economy which corresponds to that particular globe — which belongs to it, in short, and which is left behind much as a traveler leaves behind a house or clothing fit for certain climates and weathers when he goes elsewhere; because he is coming back to that his quondam home. But what is it, what is that final ultimate, that monad, that higher monad, which provides and really is the undying seed from which all these others spring forth? That is what H. P. Blavatsky called the spiritual self, the divine soul; the immortal seed, the Father-Mother, the source, the fountainhead — give it any name you like — of the oviform body, the auric egg, which in its essence, not in its shape, contains the divine-spiritual individuality of man or of any other life-entity. That is deathless, birthless; it lasts throughout the entire solar manvantara, and goes into the supreme paranirvana only when the universal solar system in the due course of its cyclic evolution passes finally into pralaya or latency.

Just think a moment, what does all this mean? This means that on any one particular globe — let us take ours, our globe earth, as an illustration, and us men as the examples for the illustration — we evolve here partly from within without by our own inner swabhavic urge, and partly from without inwards by the reaction of nature around us, certain personalities and certain characters and certain vehicles exactly correspondential to the globe on which we then are. Those characters and personalities and vehicles are utterly unfit for another globe, utterly unfit for another plane. They could no more pass to another plane or live on another globe than, let us say, a rose could live at the bottom of the ocean. They do not belong there; they belong on this earth; they belong in the material and psychological atmospheres of this earth; they belong in and to that particular world of circulation of forces which make this earth and which actually are this earth. We do not find roses growing at the North Pole, or glaciers at sea level in the tropics. Everything in nature is fit for and has its own place.

Similarly, on every one of the other globes of our chain, there are bodies or vehicles, etc., evolved, inner bodies and outer bodies, correspondential in each case to those globes, belonging there, which we have made when there, and which we left behind when we left those globes. Similarly, as there is but one fundamental rule, one basic law, to use the popular word, throughout all the kosmos, when man reincarnates he comes back with the same spiritual individuality, indeed, he comes back with the same higher human individuality. But he evolves for himself each time, and on each globe — because the race is different, the karma is different, the circumstances are different, since succeeding evolution has evolved both him and the surrounding globe still more — he evolves personalities, vehicles, etc., out of himself anew from the seeds which at each preceding death had passed into latency in the character, and thus passes into and informs anew the globe monadic eggs of various sorts formerly left behind on the different globes when the life-wave left them to pass onwards.

Those of you who are Oriental classical scholars will readily see how what has been said, little as it is thus far, throws a light which is really dazzling upon the teachings of the greater ones of the ancient religions, such as those of Egypt, and of Greece; preeminently so as regards the doctrines of Brahmanism and Buddhism in India and the Farther Orient. No wonder is it that theosophy has been called the unifying philosophy of the world. It shows the why and the how of all these great ancient religions. It tells us what they were and what they meant.

Now, then, one may ask oneself — and this is a slight digression but apparently necessary — why is there so much talk of seven: seven here and seven there and seven everywhere? Do we live in an anarchical universe, a helter-skelter universe, one without order or well-defined shape? Or do we live in a universe every atom of which is in the grip of forces controlled by forces still higher and more recondite and powerful? Obviously the latter. And these higher forces are in the grip and control of still higher ones. This simply means that there is one consistent life-wave running throughout all being; and being one coherent and consistent will, having one basic direction, it must act on all planes of the universe more or less in the same way. Hence you see the need, the necessity, the value, to us, yea and the beauty, of the ancient teachings, proclaiming the fundamental operation of nature, commonly called the law of analogy, expressed by the Hermetic axiom, "As above, so below; as below, so above."

The primal kosmic Logos, let us say, has one direction in which its will pours forth in floods of light and life. Those floods pass through their various cycles and formations in descending into matter, and re-arising again towards their source. By doing so they but follow — and cannot do otherwise — the powerful impulses springing from the central heart, that one will. We are tempted to use the words purpose, or design, were it not that these words are so misused in the Christian theological schemes, that it would almost give to listeners an idea of a kosmic personal God, and that blasphemy we do not recognize. Just here is where enter the operations of karma. Karma is not a law made by something or somebody. It is the inherent nature or quality of kosmic being to react against action upon it. It is the doctrine of consequences. Kosmically speaking, it has its flow of action or force in a certain direction, which is the will, the life-flow, of the kosmic Logos, and this life-flow of the Logos, as said before, springing from one heart, the central heart of our solar system, and thus forming the constitution or fundamental operation of universal nature, everything in that nature obeys its direction; and hence we have the doctrine regarding the seven, because it is but the photographing, so to say, on our minds of the facts of the kosmos, the solar Logos being divided into ten parts, of which seven are manifest, and three occult or hid. Everything which owes its life to the Logos, which is part of the Logos, which is subject to the sweep of its energy, and to its "law," is therefore by primal necessity likewise built on a sevenfold plan.

So we can now, with these words of introduction, pass on to consider the first aspect of the doctrine of the spheres, called our earth's planetary chain. This, as illustrated in diagram 2, is composed of seven globes in manifestation, and five hid: the two highest of the lower seven forming the models for the five and last below. The two next globes are grosser and more material; the two following are of still grosser and more material constituency; the series of planes ending with our earth, which is the copy here below of the superspiritual globe forming the last or twelfth — or first — in our entire planetary chain.

Those of you who know your classics will remember how Plato speaks of the fact that the Deity geometrizes according to a twelvefold plan. Why has the zodiac twelve houses or signs? Why were there twelve great gods — seven manifested and five occult — in all the great world religions of ancient times? In these ancient religions, the forms of expression and the words differed, but the heart doctrine was there and the same in them all; not the doctrine of the eye, i.e., the outward things which were seen, the ceremonial ritual and worship which varied, often greatly, the ones from the others. That was the exoteric part — not "false," but unexplained; but the doctrine of the heart, to use our ancient language, our ancient phraseology, meaning the doctrine of that which is hid and not seen, and which is the higher expression of truth, is hid, not visible to the physical eye. Therefore the outpourings from man's nobler nature, from his higher soul, spiritual, beautiful, holy, yea and divine, were called collectively the doctrine of the heart also.

Now we said at our last meeting that Mr. Sinnett and Mr. Hume and later others had misunderstood and misinterpreted the Masters' teachings with regard to the globes which compose our own planetary chain; and we referred then to the first volume of The Secret Doctrine, and H. P. Blavatsky's kindly but nevertheless mercifully caustic criticisms of Mr. Sinnett's idea that his merely scientifically trained mind knew the secrets of nature really better than his Teacher did, or than did H. P. Blavatsky, his second teacher; and on pages 163-4 of this volume, you will find what she says on the matter. In the first place, she says that in answer to Mr. Sinnett's query the Teacher gave a reply which was more or less vague. This was because the question was very vague. Mr. Sinnett never seemed to realize that he was asking questions, in certain cases, which simply could not be answered by anyone pledged to secrecy. What then was to be done? The Teacher had offered himself to teach. The time had come to teach the world somewhat of the ancient wisdom; a few seeds were to be sown in the world's thought-life. Yet the answer had to be given in a vague way. Had Mr. Sinnett questioned with perfect definiteness, on definite subjects of which he himself had a definite knowledge, he would doubtless have received a definite answer, or would have been told that his question could not be answered for the reasons already set forth. This refusal to answer, indeed, happened several times. His question in this connection was, as read at our last meeting: "What other planets of those known to ordinary science, besides Mercury, belong to our system of worlds?" We have seen that in occultism "our system of worlds" can refer to at least four different things: our universal solar system; our planetary chain; our group of seven sacred planets; and this mystery-group — Earth, Mercury, Mars, and four other secret planets.

Well, the answer came back generalized: "Mars and four other planets of which astronomy knows yet nothing," referring most particularly to the mystery-group. And why? Because Mr. Sinnett had just previously been questioning his informant on a certain aspect of the teachings which could not be fully explained without giving out the doctrine concerning this mystery-group. That is all there was to that. And H. P. Blavatsky says here: "As to Mars, Mercury, and 'the four other planets,' they bear a relation to Earth of which no master or high Occultist will ever speak, much less explain the nature."

Obviously, this sentence does not refer to our planetary chain, because H. P. Blavatsky had already said that Mars and Mercury do not belong to it. Evidently, she is referring to some other group. She also wrote as follows: "For the reply was: 'Mars, etc. [as a matter of fact the Teacher's answer did not contain the word etc.], and four other planets of which astronomy knows nothing." The Teacher's answer contained the word yet, "yet nothing." "Neither A, B, nor Y, Z, are known; nor can they be seen through physical means however perfected."

Then H. P. Blavatsky continues: "This is plain: (a) Astronomy as yet knows nothing in reality of the planets, neither the ancient ones, nor those discovered in modern times." Obviously, she is merely speaking of visible planets; for modern astronomy did not then admit the existence of other planets on other planes of the solar system, and does not admit them today. "(b) No companion planets from A to Z, i.e., no upper globes of any chain in the Solar System, can be seen." Disproving again what Mr. Sinnett thought. But also mark you this: the Teacher in his answer to Mr. Sinnett did not say "companion planets from A to Z," as H. P. Blavatsky here writes. He said "Neither A, B, nor Y, Z," specifying four planets, two in the beginning, and two at the end of the mystery-group. You see, then, that there is much behind all this, much that does not appear on the surface. H. P. Blavatsky in her turn was faced with precisely the same situation as the Master was. She could not tell the whole truth, because pledged to secrecy; yet she had to give some answer; and she did what Teachers from immemorial time have done in similar cases. They gave an answer, which was perfectly true, as far as they could go, but they deliberately, in view of the interlocking of the nature of the kosmos and also therefore of our teachings, allowed a hint of something else to come in at the same time, which served a double purpose: for it was a "blind," and yet was absolutely responsive and truthful, as far as it went.

Then on page 167 (The Secret Doctrine, volume I) H. P. Blavatsky quotes from the Teacher's words again: "'Let us imagine THAT OUR EARTH IS ONE OF A GROUP OF SEVEN PLANETS OR MAN-BEARING WORLDS. . . .'" Then in parenthesis, and this parenthesis is H. P. Blavatsky's: "(The SEVEN planets are the sacred planets of antiquity, and are all septenary.)." Here still another, a third, aspect of the doctrine of the spheres is alluded to. This is a perfect illustration of how such a situation has to be faced.

As still another example of the policy of secrecy we mention, in another place in The Secret Doctrine you will find H. P. Blavatsky's statement that our Earth does not belong to the seven sacred planets of the ancients, and here she says that it does, and the two statements are apparently contradictory. It is a paradox, but it is not contradictory. And fortunately this paradox is easy of explanation. The seven sacred planets of the ancients, as planets of the solar system, are those mentioned in the beginning of our study tonight, i.e., Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun (a substitute), Venus, Mercury, and Moon as a substitute. Our Earth is not included, as you see. But as we also pointed out tonight, each one of the globes of our planetary chain is the child of, in a sense built by, controlled by, and guided by one of these seven sacred planets, that is to say, by the respective genius or rector of each of the seven sacred planets. Hence, the seven globes of our planetary chain were likewise frequently called the seven sacred planets by the ancients, because those seven globes were builded by their cooperative instrumentality, and are under their guidance. The globes were builded by the seven sacred planets, plus, as before remarked, the action of the indwelling swabhavic life of our own planetary chain.

Our time is drawing very near to an end for this evening, but we wish to call attention to two facts only before closing. First, the seven globes of our planetary chain are not the seven principles of the earth. The analogy is good and very striking; yet these seven globes of our planetary chain are, each one, a distinct and separate entity; each one of the seven, our earth included, has its own seven principles. Yet the other six globes of our chain are not the other six principles of our earth. The idea is grotesque. It is as much as to say that seven men, seven chelas of the Masters, a group of seven chelas, are the seven principles each of each. Not at all. The seven globes form a single group, but each one is a separate entity and has its own seven principles.

The second thing is this, that these so-called planes, these seven planes, should really and truly be called worlds. It is very difficult to find a proper word to describe this fact. These planes, or rather worlds, collectively are the lokas and talas: seven lokas and seven talas, corresponding one to the other, each to each.

This bipolarity of loka and tala, repeated seven times on seven decreasing degrees of materiality counting upwards, or increasing degrees of materiality counting downwards, are the seven planes or rather worlds of the solar system macrocosmically; the seven planes or worlds of our planetary chain are the lokas and talas microcosmically. These lokas and talas, then, are worlds. Look at the world around us: the stars above us, the earth beneath our feet, the winds blowing — in short, all the world we see and feel and know. It is one of the lokas and one of the talas conjointly. And these lokas and talas correspond one to the other, each to each, exactly as in the case of the bipolarity of magnetism or of electricity on our plane. Fundamentally they are one, but they manifest in bipolar character. That particular force or vital current whose tendency is downwards, forms that aspect of the union which is called the tala of any world. And the other, whose aspect is upwards or, technically speaking, north, forms the loka.

At our next study we shall begin a rather detailed investigation of our planetary chain, having now covered the various outlying fields of that which it was necessary briefly to survey before we could adequately understand the teachings regarding the earth's planetary chain.

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