The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett

Letter No. 13

[Mr. Sinnett's Queries in ordinary type with M.'s Replies in bold type. — Ed.]

Cosmological Notes and Queries and M.'s Replies. Received {mid- to late} January, 1882. Allahabad.

(1) I conceive that at the close of a pralaya the impulse given by the Dhyan Chohans does not develop from chaos, a succession of worlds simultaneously, but seriatim. The comprehension of the manner in which each in succession ensues from its predecessor as the impact of the original impulse might perhaps be better postponed till after I am enabled to realize the working of the whole machine — the cycle of worlds — after all its parts have come into existence.

(1) Correctly conceived. Nothing in nature springs into existence suddenly all being subjected to the same law of gradual evolution. Realize but once the process of the maha cycle, of one sphere and you have realized them all. One man is born like another man, one race evolves, develops, and declines like another and all other races. Nature follows the same groove from the "creation" of a universe down to that of a moskito. In studying esoteric cosmogony, keep a spiritual eye upon the physiological process of human birth; proceed from cause to effect establishing {Text missing here in the 2nd Edition has been restored per slide image and Theosophical Publishing House 3rd Edition} as you go along, analogies between the birth of a man and that of a world. In our doctrine, you will find necessary the synthetic method, you will have to embrace the whole — that is to say to blend the macrocosm and microcosm together — before you are enabled to study the parts separately or analyze them with profit to your understanding. Cosmology is the physiology of the universe spiritualized, for there is but one Law.

(2) Taking the middle of a period of activity between two pralayas, i.e., of a manvantara — what I understand to happen is this. Atoms are polarized in the highest region of spiritual efflux from behind the veil of primitive cosmic matter. The magnetic impulse which has accomplished this result flits from one mineral form to another within the first sphere till having run the round of existence in that kingdom of the first sphere it descends in a current of attraction to the second sphere.

(2) Polarize themselves during the process of motion and propelled by the irresistible Force at work. In Cosmogony and the work of nature the positive and the negative or the active and passive forces correspond to the male and female principles. Your spiritual efflux comes not from "behind the veil" but is the male seed falling into the veil of cosmic matter. The active is attracted by the passive principle and the Great Nag, the Serpent emblem of the Eternity, attracts its tail to its mouth forming thereby a circle (cycles in the eternity) in that incessant pursuit of the negative by the positive. Hence the emblem of the lingam the phallus and the {k}teis. The one and chief attribute of the universal spiritual principle — the unconscious but ever active life-giver — is to expand and shed; that of the universal material principle to gather in and fecundate. Unconscious and non-existing when separated, they become consciousness and life when brought together. Hence again — Brahma, from the root "brih" the Sanskrit for "to expand, grow or to fructify. Brahma being but the vivifying expansive force of nature in its eternal evolution.

(3) Do worlds of effects intervene between the worlds of activity in the series of descent?

(3) The worlds of effects are not lokas or localities. They are the shadow of the world of causes — their souls — worlds having like men their seven principles which develop and grow simultaneously with the body. Thus the body of man is wedded to and remains for ever within the body of his planet; his individual jivatma life principle that which is called in physiology animal spirits returns after death to its source — Fohat; his linga shariram will be drawn into Akasa; his Kamarupa will recommingle with the Universal Sakti— the Will-Force, or universal energy; his "animal soul" borrowed from the breath of Universal Mind will return to the Dhyan-Chohans; his sixth principle — whether drawn into or ejected from the matrix of the Great Passive Principle must remain in its own sphere — either as part of the crude material or as an individualized entity to be reborn in a higher world of causes. The seventh will carry it from the Deva-Chan and follow the new Ego to its place of rebirth. . . .

(4) The magnetic impulse which cannot yet be conceived of as an individuality enters the second sphere in the same (the mineral) kingdom as that to which it belonged in sphere 1 and runs the round of mineral incarnations there passing on to sphere 3. Our earth is still a sphere of necessity for it. Hence it passes into the upward series and from the highest of these passes into the vegetable kingdom of sphere 1.

Without any new impulse of creative force from above, its career round the cycle of worlds as a mineral principle has developed some new attractions or polarizations which cause it to assume the lowest vegetable form — in vegetable forms it passes successively through the cycle of worlds, the whole being still a circle of necessity (as no responsibility can yet have accrued to an unconscious individuality, and therefore it cannot at any stage of its progress do anything to select one or other of divergent paths). Or is there something in the life even of a vegetable which, though not responsibility, may lead it up or down at this critical stage of its progress?

Having completed the whole cycle as a vegetable the growing individuality expands on the next circuit into an animal form.

(4) The evolution of the worlds cannot be considered apart from the evolution of everything created or having being on these worlds. Your accepted conceptions of cosmogony — whether from the theological or scientific standpoints — do not enable you to solve a single anthropological, or even ethnical problem and they stand in your way whenever you attempt to solve the problem of the races on this planet. When a man begins to talk about creation and the origin of man, he is butting against the facts incessantly. Go on saying: "Our planet and man were created — and you will be fighting against hard facts for ever, analyzing and losing time over trifling details — unable to ever grasp the whole. But once admit that our planet and ourselves are no more creations than the iceberg now before me (in our K.H.'s home) but that both planet and man are — states for a given time; that their present appearance — geological and anthropological — is transitory and but a condition concomitant of that stage of evolution at which they have arrived in the descending cycle — and all will become plain. You will easily understand what is meant by the "one and only" element or principle in the universe and that androgynous; — the seven-headed serpent Ananda of Vishnu, the Nag around Buddha — the great dragon eternity biting with its active head its passive tail, from the emanations of which spring worlds, beings and things. You will comprehend the reason why the first philosopher proclaimed all — Maya — but that one principle, which rests during the Maha pralayas only — the "nights of Brahm". . . .

Now think: the Nag awakes. He heaves a heavy breath and the latter is sent like an electric shock all along the wire encircling Space. Go to your fortepiano and execute upon the lower register of keys the seven notes of the lower octave — up and down. Begin pianissimo; crescendo from the first key and having struck fortissimo on the last lower note go back diminuendo getting out of your last note a hardly perceptible sound — "morendo pianissimo" (as I luckily for my illustration find it printed in one of the musick pieces in K.H.'s old portmanteau). The first and the last notes will represent to you the first and last spheres in the cycle of evolution — the highest! the one you strike once is our planet. Remember you have to reverse the order on the fortepiano: begin with the seventh note, not with the first. The seven vowels chanted by the Egyptian priests to the seven rays of the rising sun to which Memnon responded, meant but that. The one Life-principle when in action runs in circuits even as known in physical science. It runs the round in human body, where the head represents, and is to the Microcosmos (the physical world of matter) what the summit of the cycle is to the Macrocosmos (the world of universal spiritual Forces); and so with the formation of worlds and the great descending and ascending "circle of necessity." All is one Law. Man has his seven principles, the germs of which he brings with him at his birth. So has a planet or a world. From first to last every sphere has its world of effects, the passing through which will afford a place of final rest to each of the human principles — the seventh principle excepted. The world No. A is born; and with it, clinging like barnacles to the bottom of a ship in motion — evolute from its first breath of life, the living beings of its atmosphere, from the germs hitherto inert, now awakening to life with the first motion of the sphere. With sphere A, begins the mineral kingdom and runs the round of mineral evolution. By the time it is completed sphere B comes into objectivity and draws to itself the life which has completed its round on sphere A, and has become a surplus. (The fount of life being inexhaustible, for it is the true Arachnea doomed to spin out its web eternally — save the periods of pralaya)). Then comes vegetable life on sphere A, and the same process takes place. On its downward course "life" becomes with every state coarser, more material; on its upward more shadowy. No — there is, nor can there be any responsibility until the time when matter and spirit are properly equilibrized. Up to man "life" has no responsibility in whatever form; no more than has the fœtus who in his mother's womb passes through all the forms of life — as a mineral, a vegetable, an animal to become finally Man.

(5) Where does it get the animal soul, its fifth principle, from? Has the potentiality of this resided from the first in the original magnetic impulse which constituted the mineral, or at every transition from the last world on the ascending side to sphere I does it, so to speak, pass through an ocean of spirit and assimilate some new principle?

(5) Thus you see his fifth principle is evolved from within himself, man having as you well say "the potentiality" of all the seven principles as a germ, from the very instant he appears in the first world of causes as a shadowy breath, which coagulates with, and is hardened together with the parent sphere.

Spirit or Life is indivisible. And when we speak of the seventh principle it is neither quality nor quantity nor yet form that are meant, but rather the space occupied in that ocean of spirit by the results or effects — (beneficent as are all those of a co-worker with nature) — impressed thereon.

(6) From the highest animal (non-human) form in sphere 1 — how does it get to sphere 2? It is inconceivable that it can descend to the lowest animal form there, but otherwise how can it go through the whole circle of life on each planet in turn?

If it runs its cycle in a spiral (i.e., from form 1 of sphere 1 to form 1 of sphere 2, etc. — then to form 2 of sphere 1, 2, 3, etc., and then to form 3 of sphere 1. . . . nth) then it seems to me that the same rule must apply to the mineral and vegetable individualities if they have such, and yet some things I have been told seem to militate against that. (State them and they will be answered and explained.)

For the moment I must work on that hypothesis however.

Having swept through the cycle in the highest animal form the animal soul in its next plunge into the ocean of spirit acquires the seventh principle which endows it with a sixth. This determines its future on Earth, and at the close of the earth life has sufficient vitality to keep an attraction of its own for the seventh principle, or loses this and ceases to exist as a separate entity.

All this misconceived.

Seventh principle always there as a latent force in every one of the principles — even body. As the macrocosmic >Whole it is present even in the lower sphere, but there is nothing there to assimilate it to itself.

(6) Why, "inconceivable?" The highest animal form in sphere 1 or A being irresponsible, there is no degradation for it to merge into sphere 2 or B as the most infinitesimal of that sphere. While on its upward course, as you were told, man finds even the lowest animal form there— higher than he was himself on earth. How do you know that men and animals and even life in its incipient stage is not a thousand times higher there, than it is here? Besides which, every kingdom (and we have seven — while you have but three) is subdivided into seven degrees or classes. Man (physically) is a compound of all the kingdoms, and spiritually — his individuality is no worse for being shut up within the casing of an ant than it is for being inside a King. It is not the outward or physical shape that dishonours and pollutes the five principles — but the mental perversity. Then it is but at his fourth round when arrived at the full possession of his Kama-energy and is completely matured, that man becomes fully responsible, >as at the sixth he may become a Buddha and at the seventh before the Pralaya — a "Dyan-Chohan." Mineral, vegetable, animal-man, all of these have to run their seven rounds during the period of earth's activity — the Maha Yug. I will not enter here on the details of mineral and vegetable evolution, but I will notice only man — or — animal-man. He starts downward as a simply spiritual Entity — an unconscious seventh principle (a Parabrahm in contradistinction to Para-parabrahm) — with the germs of the other six principles lying latent and dormant in him. Gathering solidity at every sphere — his six pr. when passing through the worlds of effects, and his outward form in the worlds of causes (for these worlds or stages on the descending side we have other names) when he touches our planet he is but a glorious bunch of light upon a sphere itself yet pure and undefiled (for mankind and every living thing on it increase in their materiality with the planet). At that stage our globe is like the head of a newly born babe — soft, and with undefined features, and man — an Adam before the breath of life was breathed into his nostrils (to quote your own bungled up Scriptures for your better comprehension). For man and (our planets) nature — it is day — the first> (see distorted tradition in your bible). Man No. 1 makes his appearance at the apex of the circle of the spheres on sphere No. 1, after the completion of the seven rounds or periods of the two kingdoms (known to you) and thus he is said to be created on the eighth day (see bible Chapter II; note verses 5 and 6 and think what is meant there by "mist" — and not a wherein Law the universal great fashioner is termed "God" by Christians and Jews, and understood as Evolution by Kabalists). During this first round "animal-man" runs, as you say, his cycle in a spiral. On the descending arc — whence< he starts after the completion of the seventh round of animal life on his own individual seven rounds — he has to enter every sphere not as a lower animal as you understand it but as a lower man . . Since during the cycle which preceded his round as a man he performed it as the highest type of animal. Your "Lord God," says bible, Chap. I, verses 25-26 — after having made all said: "Let us make man in our image," etc., and creates man — an androgyne ape! (extinct on our planet) the highest in intelligence in the animal kingdom and whose descendants you find in the anthropoids of today. Will you deny the possibility of the highest anthropoid in the next sphere being higher in intelligence than some men down here — savages for instance, the African dwarf-races and our own Veddahs of Ceylon. But man has no such "degradation" to go through as soon as he has reached the fourth stage of his cyclic rounds. Like the lower lives and beings during his first, second and third round and while he is an irresponsible compound of pure matter and pure spirit (none of them as yet defiled by the consciousness of their possible purposes and applications) from Sphere 1, where he has performed his local sevenfold round of evolutionary process from the lowest class of the highest species of — say — anthropoids up to rudimentary man certainly enters No. 2 — as an ape (the last word being used for your better comprehension). At this round or stage his individuality is as dormant in him as that of a fœtus during his period of gestation. He has no consciousness, no sense, for he begins as a rudimentary astral man and lands on our planet as a primitive physical man. So far it is a mere passing on of mechanical motion. Volition and consciousness are at the same time self-determining and determined by causes, and the volition of man his intelligence and consciousness will awake but when his fourth principle Kama is matured and completed by its (seriatim) contact with the Kamas or energizing forces of all the forms man has passed through in his previous three rounds. The present mankind is at its fourth round (mankind as a genus or a kind not a race nota bene) of the post-pralayan cycle of evolution; and as its various races, so the individual entities in them are unconsciously to themselves performing their local earthly sevenfold cycles — hence the vast difference in the degrees of their intelligence, energy and so on. Now every individuality will be followed on its ascending arc by the Law of retribution — Karma and death accordingly. The perfect man or the entity which reached full perfection, (each of his seven principles being matured) will not be reborn here. His local terrestrial cycle is completed and he has to either proceed onward or — be annihilated as an individuality. (The incomplete entities have to be reborn or reincarnated). (1) On their fifth round after a partial nirvana when the zenith of the grand cycle is reached, they will be held responsible henceforth in their descents from sphere to sphere, as they'll have to appear on this earth as a still more perfect and intellectual race. This downward course has not yet begun but will soon. Only how many — oh, how many will be destroyed on their way!

The above said is the rule. The Buddhas and Avatars form the exception as verily we have yet some Avatars left to us on earth.

(7) The animal soul having in successive passages round the cycle lost, so to speak, the momentum which previously carried it past the divergent path downward which strikes off here, falls into the lower world, in the relatively brief cycle of which its individuality is dissipated.

But this would only be the case with the animal soul which had not, in its union with spirit, developed a durable sixth principle. If it had done this, and if the sixth principle drawing to itself the individuality of the complete man, had withered the interior fifth principle by so doing — as the aloe's flower, when thrown up, withers its leaves — then the animal soul would not have cohesion enough to enter on another existence in a lower world and would be soon dissipated in the sphere of this Earth's attraction.

(7) Reforming your conceptions on what I gave you above you will understand now better.

The whole individuality is centred in the three middle or 3rd, 4th and 5th principles. During earthly life it is all in the fourth the centre of energy, volition — will. Mr. Hume has perfectly defined the difference between personality and individuality. The former hardly survives — the latter, to run successfully its seven-fold downward and upward course has to assimilate to itself the eternal life-power residing but in the seventh and then blend the three (fourth, fifth and seventh) into one — the sixth. Those who succeed in doing so become Buddhs, Dyan Chohans, etc. The chief object of our struggles and initiations is to achieve this union while yet on this earth. Those who will be successful have nothing to fear of during the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. But this is a mystery. Our beloved K.H. is on his way to the goal — the highest of all beyond as on this sphere.

I have to thank you for all you have done for our two friends. It is a debt of gratitude we owe you.


For some short time you will not hear of, or from me — Prepare.


1. By-the-bye, I'll re-write for you pages 345 to 357, Vol. I., of Isis — much jumbled, and confused by Olcott, who thought he was improving it! (return to text)

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