Studies in Occult Philosophy — G. de Purucker

Questions and Answers  (part 22)

Qabbalistic and Theosophic Principles

I notice in Chapter Two of Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, that man is divided into four parts: (a) Neshamah, (b) Ruah, (c) Nephesh, and (d) Guf.  Over all these four principles, there is the Ineffable, the Boundless called ’Ein Soph.  Would the author of Fundamentals kindly give me his opinion about the correspondences or the differences between these four principles and the Qabbalistic triad consisting of the three highest Sefiroth: (a) Kether (the Crown), (b) Hokhmah (Wisdom), and (c) Binah (Intellect) — all emanations of ’Ein Soph, the Boundless.

This thoughtful question contains profound suggestions; and the mere fact that the questioner seeks for correspondences or differences between the Qabbalistic Quaternary as given in Fundamentals, and the Qabbalistic highest Cosmic Triad of Sefiroth, shows that he himself has actually answered his own question, but probably is not fully aware of it.

The four human principles as given by me in Fundamentals, are reflections or ‘projections,’ as it were, of all the nine Sefiroth of the Qabbalistic Cosmic Tree of Life; and the differences in manner of enumerating or of expressing the Cosmic Principles and the human principles depend upon the fact that the human principles are reflections or ‘projections’ as above said, of the Cosmic Sefiroth.  The three highest Sefiroth, as given, and properly given, in the question, are the originals or correspondences of what in man in the Theosophical philosophy are called Atman, Buddhi, Manas; Kether corresponds to Atman, Hokhmah corresponds to Buddhi, and Binah corresponds to Manas.

In another sense, Neshamah corresponds to the Divine Monad, Atma-Buddhi; Ruah corresponds to the Spiritual Monad, Buddhi-Manas; and Nephesh corresponds to the Human-Astral Monad, or Kama-Manas-Prana.  Guf is in either case, whether cosmic or human, the mere vehicle of all the other higher principles, and in the case of man corresponds to the physical-astral body.

All the Cosmic Sefiroth are born from the bosom of ‘‘Ein Sof, or the Boundless, and hang as it were like a pendant therefrom; very much as the three highest principles in man, Atman, Buddhi, Manas, are born from the bosom of the Boundless, and are eternally therein, hanging like a pendant therefrom; the lower four principles of man hanging like a second pendant from these higher, just as the lower six Sefiroth hang as a pendant from the three highest Sefiroth.

We thus see that the correspondences are very close, when properly understood, as I have endeavored briefly to outline them in the preceding paragraphs.

Androgynous and Hermaphrodite

My study of The Secret Doctrine and other of H. P. Blavatsky’s writings leads me to infer that her use of the words ‘androgynous’ and ‘hermaphrodite’ has reference more to the duality of spirit and matter in the universe, rather than to a duality of sexes, masculine and feminine.  Is this right?

Yes, quite right.  Used by Theosophy, and as a rule by H. P. B., the word ‘androgynous’ does not mean ‘double-sexed,’ except when very distinctly imbodied beings are referred to.  When it is used of entities of spirit, things obviously, entities obviously, which have no sex — for sex is but a passing phase of our earth evolution, for us and the beasts and the plants — it is used only to signify what in philosophy is called duality, the dual characteristic of manifested nature.  This is sometimes called the positive and negative, sometimes the feminine and masculine, these latter two words being borrowed from human life, not meaning that one side of the universe is actually male and the other actually female, which would be utterly ludicrous, but merely meaning that at a certain point, at manifestation in fact, duality supervenes.  That is all it means.

Of course when we refer to imbodied beings, then it is perfectly proper to speak of mankind as androgynous, double-sexed, of which the as yet vestigial organs remaining in the physical frame are remnants out of that hoary past.  So androgynous, when used of the Universe, signifies only the duality of spirit and matter, consciousness and vehicle, spirit and substance — using any pairs of words you like.  And this androgynous or dual character of all the manifested worlds began indeed with Cosmic Buddhi or Maha-Buddhi; but actually only began to show itself on the plane where Fohat especially works, which is the plane of Cosmic Kama.  Above that the two rays from the one ascend to reunite; and you have an example in yourselves: the individual ego, or the individual spirit, during its imbodiments breaks up into the septenary constitution, one side of which you may call spirit, and the other side, the vehicular; one side consciousness and the other side vehicle; one side you may call will and the other side consciousness.  It does not matter what you call them: duality is there.

But duality springs forth from the Atman, the fundamental basic egoity or Monad in the human being, and the human being simply copies in his constitution and structure what the universe is.  According to the axiom of Hermes: “As it is above, so is it here below.”  Study here below what you see, thereby gaining a key to knowing the Divine.  The Divine reflects itself in its distant offsprings in its distant vehicles — the imbodied Universe as in man.  The Atman reflects itself in the man feebly because of our imperfectly evolved vehicles; and evolution consists not in a growth of these spiritual realities to something greater, so much as a perfecting of the vehicles, such as mind, through which the divine ray passes so that they may continuously grow, as evolution proceeds in its refining and unfolding powers — so that the divine ray may ever shine forth in larger and greater splendor.  That is what all evolution means: from within outwards.  Just as the seed brings forth the plant, the plant the bud, the bud the flower, and the flower the seed: the seed, the plant, the bud, the flower, the seed, the plant, the bud, the flower.  Nature repeats herself ceaselessly.  She reimbodies, reimbodies, reimbodies.

The Destiny of the Animal Kingdom

Re the animal kingdom: Many species are dying out today.  Some day the life-wave having moved on to Globe E — Globe D will have merely sishtas left on it.  Will there be any animals in the Fifth Round?  Many students are mixed up on this; so am I.  If there will be animals in the Fifth Round, will that mean the animal kingdom as we know it today (but more highly developed), or only some of the highest species?

When a life-wave, any life-wave: human, animal, vegetable, mineral, elemental, or dhyan-chohanic: moves from our Globe D on to Globe E, it leaves sishtas behind on this Globe D. What are these sishtas?  They are waiting for the same life-wave which will have passed through the globes on the ascending arc, to come down the globes on the descending arc in Round Five; and when they reach Globe D, our earth, these sishtas will begin to increase in number because of the incoming monads from the life-wave, and the same life-wave — in the case of your question the animal life-wave with its subordinate life-waves or orders and varieties and genera, etc. — will begin to tend to expand.  Consequently there will be animals in the next round.

But here is a very interesting point: the animals will tend steadily to pass into nirvanic rest, I mean their monads will from now to the end of our chain-manvantara.  Every round will show fewer animals, the reason being that as time goes on and as the steps up the ascending arc are passed one by one, fewer and fewer animals will be able to make the grade upwards.  The calls of matter will be too strong.  Thus at the end of the Fifth Round on Globe D, the sishtas of such animal life-waves will be much fewer than in the preceding round on this globe, because the monads will be entering their Nirvana for the reasons above stated.  Otherwise stated, the individuals of those animal life-waves will have largely died out from this plane because the monads will have gone into Nirvana; and during the Sixth Round the animals, although much more progressed than now they are, will be extremely few; and before the Sixth Round is ended will have died out entirely, with the exception of the anthropoid apes and possibly some of the higher monkeys.  The anthropoid apes will have become then no longer anthropoid apes really, although their more evolved bodies will still continue, but they will be very, very low humans in quasi-anthropoid bodies, nevertheless humans of low grade.  During the Seventh Round even these will have disappeared, but their monads during the next chain manvantara will be low humans in appropriate bodies then.

Thus generally speaking, animal monads tend more and more on the upward arc to go into Nirvana.  Their bodies, there being no monads to incarnate, will tend to die out.

The cause of this is that the door into the human kingdom, (which means the attaining of self-consciousness), closed in the middle of the Fourth Round; and the animals now are just hanging on as it were because of the impetus or momentum they got in coming down the descending arc.  This momentum has carried them up to the present will carry them onward even into the Fifth Round where, as stated before, they will mostly die out because they cannot climb higher.  The spiritual self-conscious nature has not evolved forth from their monads; and consequently there is no sufficient attraction upwards in them, and thus they fall back behind the procession, and die out.

In other words the animals will no longer reproduce themselves.  The monads of many animals have already entered their Nirvana even during this Fourth Round — the grossest of their kind.  Some of them, those which still remain, persist mainly by the momentum spoken of and because of dawning mind in them which still keeps them here.

Do We Evolve in Eternity

One of the basic ideas underlying the Theosophical Teachings is that we are eternally evolving in Eternity.  Now this does not seem to be a logical statement.  Surely Eternity implies a static conception of everything in it.  One can evolve in time only — one cannot evolve in Eternity as Eternity implies an absence of time, and if there is no time, what can the individual evolve in?  Is it logical to assume that we are evolving from infinity to infinity in Eternity?  It seems to me that if an entity is a dynamical evolving thing, then it must have a static background to evolve against.  On the other hand, if it is a static thing, it must have a dynamic background to be static against.  Surely the very word evolution means growth in time. Then if that growth is in Time, it cannot be in Eternity.  Then if it is not in Eternity, it must have had a beginning and it must be working to an end?

A thoughtful man and a deep question.  He is right in his remarks about evolution being a finite process, which nevertheless takes place within the bosom of endless Duration, or what Westerners call Eternity; and there does seem a logical quirk here, but it is a seeming one and not a real one, for the following general reasons: All evolution takes place in periodic, repetitive world-periods, called manvantaras, separated, each one from its successor, by equally long world-periods of rest, called pralayas.  Now, these periods of manvantara and pralaya succeed each other in serial order throughout eternity, that is throughout endless Duration, for it is impossible to imagine a beginning of them, or impossible to imagine that they ever can cease.  If we can so imagine, then we should ask ourselves: How is it that they are now?  Eternity is not an actor.  It cannot produce things, for eternity can produce only eternals; and no such manvantara or pralaya, however vast its time-period, is anything more than a wink of the eye in endless Duration.

Now, this line of reasoning shows us that precisely because these periodic intervals exist, and we cannot ever show that they at any time did not exist, nor can we at any time show that in the future they shall ever cease to exist, we are logically driven to infer that they must have been continuing thus throughout eternity.  But the evolving beings, what we call the monads, are each one of them rooted in eternity so to speak; i.e., the very essence, the highest, loftiest, divinest essence or substance of each such monad, is eternity, infinity, itself.  Thus it is only the outward aspects, the garments or veils or what the Hindu mystic calls the ‘dreaming’ of Brahman, which evolve in the serially succeeding manvantaras and pralayas.  Thus it is that the process of evolution is finite, because it deals with finite and evolving beings and things.  Yet the heart or essence or inmost of the inmost of these beings is utter divinity, is eternity, is infinity; and the Hindus express this beautiful phrase, and so do we Theosophists, by the Sanskrit words: Tat twam asi — That thou art!

Ever-Moving Infinite Life

The First Fundamental Proposition, so The Secret Doctrine tells us, is that there is “An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable PRINCIPLE.”  In the same connection we read that “This Infinite and Eternal Cause . . . is the rootless root of ‘all that was, is, or ever shall be.’”  If this “immutable principle,” itself rootless, is the root of all that is, i.e., the root of the mutable and ceaselessly changing existences on all planes of manifestation, then it would seem that it must bear within its bosom the seeds of mutability, and therefore not be “immutable.”  Please unravel this, to me, seeming paradox.

It is a question which has been a perennial puzzle of Occidental philosophy and religion, and, indeed, needlessly so.

In the first place, when H. P. B. wrote The Secret Doctrine, she had to use words.  She had to use words which would be understood.  The consequence was that, using understandable words for untrained minds, she clothed Infinitude with a label, with labels.  But Infinitude is without qualities, without attributes, without definable terms, of any kind that the most spiritual human imagination can place there, and nobody knew this better than H. P. B. herself.  Any such attempt to define is a limitation.  Defining means drawing a boundary.  That is impossible with Infinity.  The word itself means Boundless.  Nevertheless, she had to use words to give an adumbration of her thought, for her thought was to teach Christians and Christianly-reared Theosophists that the Boundless is no Creator, is not a Demiurge, is not a motive Cause, does not move, whether in parts or in wholes, to produce creations.  So she said ‘immutable.’ Yet, this Immutable is simply the ever-moving infinite Life, always in movement: Life itself, infinite, boundless, beginningless, endless, without terms, which cannot be defined within limits or compass of any human adjective or human noun.  We can simply say that it is the infinite Life for ever, from eternity unto eternity, in unceasing movement; and this Motion is itself.  I hope this gives some light on the matter.

This Life is to our human understanding composed of incomputable hierarchies of droplets of Spirit so to speak, as the vast ocean is composed of droplets of water, one and yet many — always one, never moving as a complete ocean, but eternally in motion throughout all its parts, in motions, and in movements.  While one part is calm, another part moves.  The part that was calm begins to move, but the part which was in movement ceases its motions and becomes calm.  These are the universes which appear and again disappear into its boundless bosom: Itself, fruits of its bosom; self, selves, of Itself; and thus throughout eternity on all planes.

Occidentals cannot understand that Infinity to our conception, to our understanding, does not, cannot, ever move infinitely as an infinite unit or One, for this would make it no longer infinity, but a One.  Infinity is expressed by the zero-symbol containing all Ones.  In other words, it is not an infinite creator.  If it were, it would produce an infinite creation.  H. P. B. was trying to show that the Parabrahman of the occult philosophy is no creative god, active, moving, mutable.  Christian theology is filled with contradictions because Christian theology has attempted to define, and therefore to delimit, to encompass, the limitless, that which is frontierless, “without body, parts and passions” as they say — and yet a Creator!  Contradictory.

Take anything in the infinite womb of the cosmic Life: you, me, a sun, a planet, on whatever plane, superdivine, divine, spiritual, intellectual, astral, physical, or beneath the physical.  Any entity anywhere, any monad anywhere, which is an offspring, a child, of the cosmic Life for ever within it, cannot ever move out of it, is always there from eternity unto eternity; and yet that monad is unceasingly in movement because its heart of the heart, the core of the core of the heart of the heart of the core of the core of it, is Infinitude.

Thus it is that the universes appear and disappear like the “sparks of eternity.”  In their exterior forms of manifestation, they are mayavi, illusions; but the heart of each, the essence of each, is the Cosmic Life in all its unending realms and reaches.  And therefore the heart of each is Infinitude: the heart of me, the heart of you, the core of me, the core of you, is the root of me, the root of you, reaching endlessly into the infinite Cosmic Life.

Now that infinite Cosmic Life never moves as an individual to produce; yet as an infinitude of monads, as the ocean is an infinitude of droplets of water — its very essence is production.  Electricity, for instance, to take a very homely simile or analogy, is universal, is cosmic.  Considered as an endless essence it is immutable, but in infinite parts or portions of itself is in unceasing activity.  Life is infinite, and yet the infinite Life is builded up, so to say, at least we humans so understand it, of infinite lives, each such life a monad, the heart of which being the whole cosmic life, but being as a monad a droplet therein.  Thus the Cosmic Life is immutable because it is no individual; it does not act or move or function as an individual, which means a monad.  It is the encompassing life of all monads, their mother, eternity, Boundless, out of which all comes, back into which all sinks when its course is run, to reappear again for another manvantaric rise to greater heights of glory, then sinking again to its rest; as we men die, only to be reborn.

Thus there is no contradiction; but the two statements complement each other, explain each other.  The “Immutability” spoken of is such only to our very limited human understanding, much as the ephemeral life and tiny mind of a gnat would look upon the moving of the sun in heaven as no moving at all, but as being immutability and motionless.  So we men, being unable to encompass within the ranges of our feeble understanding or even of our intuition the first and last and greatest function of Infinitude, which is infinite MOTION itself, speak of it as being “immutability.”  On the other hand, to call it “mutable” would be equally false, because “mutable” is a merely human adjective descriptive of certain human and other natural phases of manifested life.

Theosophical University Press Online Edition