Studies in Occult Philosophy — G. de Purucker

Questions and Answers  (part 21)

Cataclysms as Ways of Establishing Balance

In The Secret Doctrine, Volume II, at the end of the first part, H. P. Blavatsky gives us a description of the terrible catastrophes which will take place during the transition-period from the Fifth to the Sixth Root-Races.  It seems to me that Nature works in a rather hard way.  Is it not possible for the great spiritual Leaders of evolution on this planet — if not to prevent — at any rate to mitigate the effects of these terrible disasters, during which millions of human beings and animals perish?  Is this due not only to cosmic but also to individual karma?

Yes, to both, to both kinds of karma; and also to racial karma, and planetary karma.  The questioner is a highly intelligent man, but there lurks throughout his question the old feeling — that ‘Nature is not just as I think she ought to be.’ Presumably the idea is that if someone else had had the shaping or founding of natural law, of natural being, it would have been more shapely and kindly done.  I wonder!  Nature’s heart is compassion absolute, because that compassion is absolute harmony.  Nature moves on a cosmic scale, and in comparison therewith our ordinary brain-minds are microcosmic, with small reaches of understanding of the great cosmic issues involved, and, so far as the racial karma is concerned, of any Root-Race or Sub-Race, with small understanding of her sweeping away in catastrophic or cataclysmic activities millions of animals and millions of men.

How about the millions of men and millions of animals that die daily, and, yea, that are sometimes, perhaps not in their millions, but in their hundreds and thousands, killed, murdered, wantonly slaughtered?  All these things, all these catastrophes and cataclysms, are one of Nature’s ways of re-establishing balance, equilibrium; just as disease in a human body is a purgation, a purging the system of poison.  Just so, Nature’s ways in its own purgations are these cataclysms and catastrophes.

The so-called ‘Leaders of evolution,’ of which this querent writes, do indeed strive continuously through the ages to mitigate the sorrow and pain, to stem the heavy hand of destiny, if it is possible, or at least as much as it is possible to stem the tide of intellectual and psychical disintegration.  But they never work contrary to Nature’s laws.  They cannot.  They are in very truth the servants of the Law, and therein lies their enormous power.

Cataclysms and catastrophes are occurring constantly.  How about this horrible war?  How many millions have perished so far from direct or indirect causes?  Look at the beasts who die daily in almost countless numbers all over the earth — some of them wantonly slain; others slain by accident.

The world is full of misery and pain brought about by ignorance and by distorted mental views and by unbridled passion; and the time finally comes when these accumulate so greatly that Nature can tolerate no more; and then the crash comes.  Is it not so all through natural being?  A human body will stand so much abuse, so much strain, and then it gives way.  Nature acts likewise on the greater scales.  All of it is karmic.  Yet the entities which are swept off the face of the earth, so to speak, which pass out, within an hour, or a day, or a week, or a month, or a thousand years, or ten thousand years, learn by it — learn the karmic lessons.

Then pause and look at the other side of the picture.  Look at the beauty, look at the sublimity, of the Sons of Light who work through the ages and whose strong hands hold back the accumulated karma from its crushing humanity at one blow; they form the ‘Guardian Wall’ around humanity.  Consider that carefully.

Consider the light side of Nature as well as its automatic retributive or so-called dark side.  Nature is divided into two parts, into two phases, so to say, and these two phases or parts are filled on the one hand with the Sons of Light, and on the other hand with the Brothers of the Shadow: one is the realms of spirit, and the other is the realms of matter.

Origin of the Surya-Siddhanta

In Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy it is said that the Surya-Siddhanta claims an age of “somewhat more than two million years, according to popular interpretation.” — p. 145.  Does it antedate the Rig-Veda, and is anything definite known about its origin?

Nothing whatsoever that is definite, or accepted as definite by Occidental scholars, is known of the age of the Surya-Siddhanta except its own internal testimony or statements; and this internal testimony modern European Orientalists regularly reject as being what they call interpolations at a later date.  There is absolutely no proof of this supposition.  There is no reason to doubt the original authenticity of these statements in the Surya-Siddhanta; but European Orientalists will not admit that it is possible, in view of modern European evolutionary theories of the age of man, for civilization to have produced a book like the Surya-Siddhanta two million years ago or more, they simply deny it off-hand; all of which is high-handed, arbitrary, unreasonable, unsupported by a shred of evidence, and some day will be simply laughed at as an example of what is now called Occidental nineteenth and twentieth century ‘criticism.’

The Surya-Siddhanta states in its picturesque and metaphoric way, that it was dictated by the Sun himself, through a projected solar representative, to the great Sage Asuramaya, whom H. P. B. mentions in The Secret Doctrine, just at the end of the Satya-Age of our present Maha-Yuga of which we are now in the Kali-Yuga part.  Asuramaya received the dictation around the opening of the Treta-Age, which is just at the end of the Satya-Age, and wrote it down; and this is the Introduction to the Surya-Siddhanta.  It claims thus to have been written before the beginning of the Treta-Age, which, counting backwards from our time, since we are at the beginning of Kali, is a period which covers the Dvapara which we have ended, and the Treta-Age which preceded the Dvapara, to wit, 864,000 years, plus 1,296,000, which make something more than two million years.

The Surya-Siddhanta is one of the best known astronomical works of ancient India, and shows really marvelous mathematical skill and ability, and comes very close to, and in some cases to virtual identity with, the modern time-periods of astronomy that our most skilled western mathematicians and astronomers have found.  In some cases there are differences, probably due to changes of various kinds.  It also deals with other things, such as yugas or time-periods in their various lengths, divisions of time itself into infinitesimal quantities, and general astronomical subjects, including not only the time-periods of the Sun, Moon, and planets, but also dealing with eclipses, seasons of the year, etc., etc.  It has been translated into English by a man called Burgess, whose translation was revised later by the famous Professor Whitney of Yale.

As to the question whether it antedates the Vedas, here there are no data whatsoever except internal data.  My own opinion is that it does, for the following general reasons: The Rig-Veda which is the main Veda, and from which the others really were derived, seems to have been throughout past ages the chief religious and mystical book or scripture of the earliest Aryans who are now called the Aryan Hindus; and hence probably is not much older than the Aryan Race itself as a distinct race, let us say about a million years.  It shows many signs of a primitive type of people, but yet contains, when you know how to read it, a vast fund of esoteric suggestion, and by all classes of Hindus is looked upon as their most sacred book.  Everything ultimately is referred to the Vedas for proof, that is, whenever arguments arise.  If it is in the Veda, so to speak, argument drops, opposition ceases.

Now the Surya-Siddhanta, having been delivered to Asuramaya according to its own statements two million years ago, is evidently, if I am correct in my former assumption, about twice as old as the Veda; and thus the Surya-Siddhanta was a late Atlantean work, evidently the product of skilled Atlantean astronomers in the days when Atlantis was perishing.  H. P. B. speaks of Asuramaya as having been one of the famous ancient astronomers and scientists of Atlantis, in its last days of course.  This would mean that the Surya-Siddhanta was composed about two million years ago, when presumably Asuramaya lived, and when the Aryan Race in its first beginnings was 1,728,000 years old; but this refers to the date of the Aryan Race in its infancy before it became a race apart and sui generis.  In its infancy it really was practically a part of the Atlantean civilization.  Our own Aryan Race has been a true Aryan Race or a race sui generis for only about a million years from our present time.

It must always be remembered that Root-Races, and indeed all subordinate races, over-lap each other greatly, and in Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy there is given a graphic diagram of the manner in which each race springs from or is born at about the middle point of the preceding race.  Thus each new race for several millions of years is in its embryonic or infantile stage, and slowly grows into prominence as the preceding race slowly descends into obscurity.

Thus it was that Asuramaya, the Atlantean astronomer and scientist, could with almost equal right be considered as appertaining to the first beginnings of the Aryan Race.

Looking Within

You continually advise us to look within.  In what way does Theosophical ‘looking within’ compare with the psychologists’ introspection?

It seems to me that the psychologists have seized a part of a truth; but the teaching of Theosophic introspection goes far beyond that.  Too often the introspection, if I may use this word, of modern psychology is a pondering and a brooding upon the vagrant and flitting thoughts of the lower brain-mind, upon one’s wishes and hopes and petty loves and hates — a morbid self-examination of the lower parts and faculties of us; and I think that it is very unwholesome.  There is altogether too much of that.

What we need to do is to free ourselves from the lower part of us, to lift our eyes to the spiritual Olympus, to rise out of the murk and the mire and the mud and the dirt, to strike the shackles from our limbs and to wing our ways into the inner states of the spirit.  Does modern psychology tell us that we must devote ourselves to the inspirations of almighty wisdom, and of impersonal spiritual love?  Never!  It does not know enough; but it thinks it knows quite enough to teach what are in many cases downright perversions of reality.  Some aspects of modern psychology will tell us that if a naughty child does certain naughty things, it is because of an unexpressed sex-complex.  I think that the instilling of ideas like this into the mind of any innocent child is a moral crime, because it is a suggesting to a child to do what perhaps never occurred to it to do.  It is monstrous.

But teach a child to be self-forgetful, to introspect in the higher way, to examine its motives, to look carefully into its yearnings and to rule them, and you will help it and guide its feet.  This is the psychology of the archaic school, which is ours, which is Theosophy.  Psychology really means what the word itself actually says: the study of the soul of man, instead of the study, as it is in modern psychological schools, mostly patterned after the doctrines of Freud of Vienna, a study of the physiological-mental reactions of the body.

Children are responsive to thoughts put into their minds, and the only right way of bringing up a child is to surround it with the thoughts and influences, and if you can the environment, of harmony and beauty and peace and love, teaching it lessons of kindliness and self-forgetfulness, instead of teaching it to concentrate all its thoughts upon the beastly impulses of the animal man.

Did Jesus Suffer?

When Jesus suffered, does it mean that he had violated some fundamental law?

No, I would not say that.  You have touched upon a very esoteric topic of thought.  If you only knew what we Theosophists have to say about the Avatara Jesus and his life and teaching, you would not have thought it necessary to ask me this question.  In the first place — and I hope that I will not tread upon any sensitive corns here — we Theosophists don’t believe that Jesus suffered in the manner that the legend relates.  The story of Jesus as told in the Christian Gospels is a mystery-tale, a tale setting forth certain experiences in the initiation-chambers, with Jesus as the type-figure around which the mystic lessons were woven.

Let me try to illustrate what I mean.  One of the grades of initiation was called Theopathy, from two Greek words theos, ‘god,’ and pathein ‘to sorrow,’ ‘to suffer.’ It means the ‘suffering’ or ‘bearing’ of a god — not that it is a god which suffers, but an entity which suffers the entrance into himself of a divine influence.  He supports the god in his being, he becomes the vehicle of the god and carries the god, resigns his own individual identity or character for the time being in order to become a manifestation, an Avatara so to say, of the god.  He suffers the god to work through him.  Thus did Jesus.

It is our teaching, furthermore, that Jesus called the Christ never was crucified, never suffered on the Cross, in the manner outlined in the legend.  The entire story of Jesus as we have it in the Christian New Testament is a story of the Mysteries.  An initiation-mythos was written around the exquisite figure of a great Sage and Seer called Jesus, the Avatara.  Around the individuality of that great and noble Sage and Seer was woven a series of tales and legends portraying in mystical, and as it were, esoteric and secret, form, a part of what takes place in the initiation-chambers.

The Puranas and the Great Epics of India

I have been trying to place the Puranas in relation to other Sanskrit literature.  Some modern writers say they are of much later date than the Vedas and the Upanishads, yet their name means ‘ancient.’  How do they fit in with the Vedas, Upanishads, Vedanta, etc.?  In other words, are they an entirely separate set of works, as would seem to be the case; and if so, were they contemporaneous with, or earlier or later than, for instance, the Vedas?

The Puranas are much later than the Vedas, if we consider them as composed, or works complete, in literary form — whether written down or repeated from memory as exact traditions; and everyone has noted the phenomenal memory-capacity of the Hindus.  They are called ‘Puranas,’ a word which means ‘ancient,’ because they actually are archaic legends, stories, traditions, containing a vast amount of truth both exoteric and esoteric, which for ages and ages throughout the early part of the Aryan Race were passed from generation to generation as legends, historic stories, quasi-mythical tales, etc., etc.  Yet their transmission has been phenomenally accurate.  Thus in their origins as legends, it is probably quite correct in point of truth and fact to say that they are as old as the composed Rig-Veda and possibly even older, going back to Atlantean times as legends of gods and heroes and men.  But as composed works, bearing different names such as the Vishnu-Purana and the Linga-Purana, and the Skanda-Purana, etc., etc., they are probably of later date than the Rig-Veda, but still immensely older than the date which European Orientalists always try to give to them.  They are probably several hundreds of thousands of years old, even in their present fully composed literary shape, which does not mean in their written shape.  But I mean as fully composed literary treatises, originally handed down through the brain and phenomenal memories of the Hindus from guru to pupil, and thus through the ages.

They are much older than the Vedanta, even as composed works, although it is to be remembered that the Vedanta as a system of thought and apart from its formulations into a philosophic system is — I mean the philosophical principles of the Vedanta are — probably as old as anything on earth, running far back into the glory of the best part of Atlantis — and by best here I mean the spiritual part, such as it was; for the Vedanta, which means ‘The End of the Vedas,’ in the sense of ‘the complete meaning of the Vedas,’ contains philosophical principles which are identical with the Esoteric Philosophy.  As a formulated system, however, the Vedanta is usually reckoned as dating from Sankaracharya, who lived some hundreds of years, say five hundred more or less, before the Christian Era.

The epic works of India, like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana the Hindus call the Itihasa — a Sanskrit word meaning ‘thus indeed it happened,’ which shows that the Hindus look upon these books, and always have looked upon them, as historical works, somewhat as the Greeks did Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.  These epic works are historically of far later date than the Surya-Siddhanta, or the legends of the Puranas, i.e., the Puranas in their earliest shape or form, and probably later than the Rig-Veda, because they represent in their legendary quasi-historical manner, various episodes of epic character in the history of the Aryan Hindu Race, which really describe in brief form their struggles as the new Aryan Race against the declining power of the Atlantean peoples.  So great was the scorn of the early Aryans for the degenerate Atlantean sorcerers, that they describe them under such terms as Rakshasas, or Yakshas, etc., which some modern European Orientalists who do not understand the situation, call imps, or goblins or evil spirits; the Atlanteans were all these indeed in one sense, because they were degenerate sorcerers, but they were nevertheless human beings, and not unincarnate nature-spirits.

Summarizing briefly, I would actually go so far — although I admit that it would be downright difficult to adduce what European scholars would call literary proof — I would go so far as to say that the Puranas, as their name ‘ancients’ shows, are among the most hoary relics of an archaic and now forgotten antiquity, which the conservative genius of the Hindu people has managed to transmit through the ages to our own days; and I mean the Puranas not as they at present exist as more or less shapely and complete literary works, but in their original condition as bodies or collections of legendary and mythical and indeed historic tales and stories handed down from generation to generation through the ages, until different Schools of thought, represented by different men working upon this vast body of legendary material, collected and segregated it into the different Puranas with the definite and distinct names that exist today; and among all which there are such immense similarities as well as curious differences.  But even this ‘composition’ or collection and segregation of the Puranas into distinct treatises is itself extremely ancient, probably running back some hundreds of thousands of years.  Such at least is my own considered opinion, after some forty years spent in study of this and kindred subjects.

The great difficulty that European Oriental scholars have to fight against, which is indeed a most pathetic stumbling-block of their own manufacture which they persist in throwing before their own feet, is their subservience to the mistaken modern scientific evolutionary ideas, that the human race is only a few hundred thousand years old or a million or two years at most, and that it has slowly arisen during this ludicrously short period from a beastly or quasi-beastly condition, to its present state of homo sapiens.  Knowing nothing of universal history except scraps, and having their historical horizons usually limited by the cases of Greece and Rome, Egypt, and Persia, etc., they have no conceptions of civilizations following each other in periodic times, and only vague ideas of continents sinking under, while other continents are rising above, the waters of the changing oceans.  Thus these European scholars wilfully telescope everything into the few hundreds of thousands of years that they admit as existing between man’s origin and the present day; and into this bed of Procrustes they force with equal wilfulness everything to fit, and when it does not fit, or adjustments cannot be made, the constant answer to inquisitive questions is, ‘myths,’ ‘superstitious man in his infancy,’ etc., etc.  But anthropology, ethnology, and archaeology, have made giant strides since the day when H. P. B. wrote; and today the representatives of these and of other sciences are not so cock-sure as they formerly were, and doubts are beginning to creep in all along the line.  Consequently the wholly false and easy ‘set-up’ imagined by European scholars of H. P. B.’s day, of early mankind being fascinated by natural phenomena such as sunlight and storms and wind and the thunderbolt, etc., etc., and their wonderment making them sing mystical and religious hymns which later became the Rig-Veda, and that as time went on poets and historians arose and astrologers and quasi-astronomers, and myth-makers who gave birth to all the later literature — all this easy poppycock ‘set-up’ is crumbling to pieces; and our modern scholars are far more modest and therefore more truly scholarly than were their predecessors of fifty or one hundred years ago.  Now they are beginning to admit the possibility, and even in some cases the probability, that the human race in its various branches over the earth, is far older than has been supposed, and may possibly even have brought civilizations into birth, of which all that remains now is but a memory and the legends of the peoples of the earth.

The Separation of the Sexes

Please may I know what is really meant by the teaching about the separation of the sexes in an early Root-Race.  Is this connected in any way with the idea of ‘twin-souls’?

As regards this question concerning the separation of human individuals into distinct sexes which took place more or less during the Third Root-Race: this separation of each individual was brought about by the natural course of early human evolution, and is founded on the dual nature of mind, of the manasic part in us.  When mind entered into the previously ‘mindless’ race, the dual character of mind immediately made itself felt throughout all the lower quaternary, and when I say ‘immediately,’ I mean dating from that time.  Thus it was that the androgynous race of the time slowly drew apart into the separate individuals as they now exist, into man and woman in other words; and the animals and indeed some of the plants likewise followed suit because of the strong psychic impression made by the human race on the astral mold of our world.

Thus this separation was a purely natural affair, based fundamentally on what you can call the positive and negative sides of mind; or you can otherwise phrase it as being based on the bi-polar character of the manas within us.  Thus sex is really very little higher than the lower parts of the manas, and consequently is not a spiritual thing at all, a mere passing phase in evolution.  As the human race evolves and rises out of the lower mind into the higher, sex will disappear.

In connection with this, let me utter a word of warning: the idea of some rather sensuous people that the higher nature of human evolution is to be achieved by ‘the union of twin souls’ is altogether wrong.  The secret lies in the individual himself or herself, for in each individual there are the two poles.  Thus it comes about that a human individual for two or three or more incarnations is a man or a woman; and as karma makes for adjustment in these things and prevents extremes, slowly such an individual begins to lean or have a bias towards the other half of mankind, as I have often explained, and when that reaches a certain point, then the man’s incarnations become feminine, and the woman’s incarnations, as above explained, become masculine.  Thus it is that our destiny swings us from incarnations as a man to incarnations as a woman, then back to a man, then back to a woman; and this will last until sex disappears slowly and inevitably.

The twin-soul idea is a very dangerous one, and in fact fundamentally all wrong.  What we must strive to do is to rise above sex in both thought and feeling, directing our efforts towards the spiritual within us, in which there is neither sex nor any of its attributes.

Theosophical University Press Online Edition