Theosophical University Press Online Edition
"There is no Eternally Unchanging Principle in Man"
Planetary Chains and Principles
I was impressed tonight with the suspicion that all of us, perhaps, have not fully understood the statement made not only by our Teachers, and eminently by the Lord Buddha, but likewise in different places by H. P. B. and by myself in my Fundamentals, to the effect that there is no 'eternally unchanging' principle in 'man.' Yet perhaps on turning the page, you will come upon a statement that the different monads in man's constitution are children of previous manvantaras, therefore implying that in man there are principles or elements which perdure for enormous time-periods. How in the name of goodness can this latter statement be true if the former statement be likewise true? I call your attention to this apparent contradiction, and real paradox, because I feel the need that many experience of having these contrasting statements explained.
The teaching of Gautama the Buddha was, when it is correctly understood, the teaching of the Lord Jesus of the Christians, and of all the Mahatmans of our own Esoteric School of doctrine; to wit, that there is no 'eternally unchanging' principle in man which is different from the rest of the universe, which is in constant change of revolution and evolution.
According to the old idea of all the orthodox — crystallized — schools of religion or philosophy, there is in man an individuality which perdures unchanging, and this is exemplified in the Christian teaching of the personal 'soul' supposedly created by almighty God, which soul lasts for eternity as that soul, and never can be other than what it is, i. e., never can enter into the Cosmic Life except as an unchanging guest, or if you wish, as an unchanging observer; the usually unspoken implication being that as such unchanging entity, it is not an integral part of the Cosmic Life: not life of its life, bone of its bone, essence of its essence; because such orthodox and exoteric religions and philosophies postulate that the universe is but a temporary and evanescent creation of a supposititious God, and that the unchanging soul finds itself in the universe as a guest, an observer, a learner, only — not, as above said, as an integral and unto eternity inseparable portion of the Cosmic Essence.
From the standpoint of the Esoteric Philosophy which envisages man as an integral and inseparable spark of the Cosmic Essence and therefore for ever a part of it, there is no principle or element in man's constitution which eternally abides as such soul, its only modifications or modes of change being those of accretions of experience, or of growth.
There is no such abiding and eternally unchanging ego or soul or even spirit in man, an ego or soul or spirit which is different in essence in each man from what it is in any other man, nor is there any such abiding and unchanging individuality which is different in some god from what it is in some other god. All change; everything grows; the universe itself, as well as all within it and of it, our human souls and spiritual principles included. Out of the same vast kosmic womb of consciousness-life-substance, unitary and one, we all flow forth; and as individuals, and still more as persons, we are illusions by comparison with the Eternal, for that is everlastingly Itself. Whatever modes of change it may have, whatever phases of growth its innumerable parts may experience, whatever contrarieties, diversities, differentiations, may take place, the Eternal is nevertheless the Eternal, perduring from frontierless duration unto frontierless duration; and the essence of each one of us and of all beings and things, is THAT.
On these simple facts of teaching, reposes the doctrine of what the Buddhists call the heresy of separateness: that there is in me a 'soul' or spirit which in its essence is different from the 'soul' or the spirit in you, my brother, or in any other being or thing. This is the heresy of separateness; and it was against this intellectual bane, this deceitful phantasm of a fundamental difference in essence, that the Lord Buddha taught so powerfully in saying that there is no eternally abiding, unchanging, distinct, eternally differentiated principle or element in a man when compared with other cosmic units, such as other men, or other beings and entities. He thus voiced the doctrine so familiar to all Hindu philosophies, and so well known as existing in the Adwaita-Vedanta, of the fundamental unity or oneness of all the interblending and interwoven hierarchies and their component elements in Boundless Space. Such a conception of an eternally abiding and unchanging ego as an individuality separate in essence from the Cosmic Individuality, the Buddha-Gautama called the Great Illusion, Mahamaya.
Yet there are in man numberless lives which compose him, as a composite constituted being, as a compound or integrated entity. Man verily is such a composite being, and this is a simple declaration containing a world of occult truth!
Now what are these portions, these elements, of his constitution — i. e., the different monads and life-atoms which make him, which build him? Each one of these monads in its essence is a spark of that central Cosmic Intelligence or Fire, the central consciousness-life-substance. We have not as yet, unfortunately, evolved forth in our vocabulary one single term that will include all these elements of the teaching, so that we have to use such an awkward term as this in order to give some adumbration of the idea: consciousness-life-substance. This is not consciousness apart from life, nor apart from substance; but a viewing of all three as in essence one: one side or aspect of it being what we men call 'consciousness'; another side or aspect of it being what we men call 'life'; and another side or aspect being what we men speak of as 'substance' — three in one and one in three; not three different gods or divine essences, but 'one godhead,' one unitary Cosmic Essence, one eternal Reality manifesting through the three masks: Consciousness, Life, Substance. This really is the proper meaning of the Christian trinity: not "three Persons in one God" as they say, but three masks or aspects or vehicles, as the human mind understands the thought, as the human mind translates the thought, of one eternal, boundless, frontierless REALITY. This is the divine root of man: of me, of you, of everything, of every god, of every sun, of every planet, of every beast, of every plant, of every atom. The root of all is THAT.
So, fundamentally and in essence we are all one, and the innumerable, utterly incomputable numbers of beings and things, i. e., of egos and selves in Boundless Space, are not eternally individualities, each different from all others and thus lasting unto eternity as unchanging, ever-enduring, separate egoities. There is a complete and utter and absolute solidarity of Essence, of which we all partake, from which we all came, into which we all shall return — albeit retaining each one of us our vastly increased individuality — when our evolutionary cosmic journey shall have been completed during any one manvantara. But while in manifestation, while in the worlds of manifestation, we are divided up as mayavi beings and entities, the divine spark in each one of us expressing itself in us as individuals: as thoughts, to use a figure of human speech, of the Divine Thinker, of the Parabrahman. 'Divine Thinker' is of course a figure of human speech; but we have to use figures of speech when our human intellect is too feeble to understand the incomprehensible vastness of REALITY; we have to translate our intuition into figures of speech so as to get some intimation or intuition of the REAL. The 'Divine Thinker' thinks divine thoughts. Each such thought is a monadic entity. But the thought is of the essence and of the basis of the Divine Thinker who thinks — which 'thinks.'
Now then, one thought more, taken directly out of our esoteric cycle of studies. These various monads which go to form the constitution of any being — let us say of man in order to define, in order to exemplify, our conception: these various monads, or each such component monad, of man's constitution is not only one of the integral parts of the constitution which ranges from the divine to the physical, but each such monadic center is itself a spiritual being, a living, growing, learning being, as the human monad which we call 'man' himself is.
Now each one of these component monads, or integrals, is, as an individual, you, I. I refer you to the diagram in my Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, on page 203. As human beings we are each one of us Bhutatman; but the Pranatman is likewise a growing, learning entity, rooted in the same Cosmic Divinity that I have just spoken of, and therefore growing, therefore destined in its own evolutionary course to become a man; after attaining manhood destined to become a god; after attaining godhood destined to become a super-god, and so forth, climbing the ladder of life eternally. A marvelous picture; always climbing, always expanding in consciousness, always evolving, hence always changing in form and attributes and individuality and personality, because always bringing out more and more of the essence of divinity within, and yet never utterly attaining it because that Divinity is boundless. An eternal principle, the same for every monad in the human constitution — eternal because its essence is of the Eternal Essence; not eternal because it has or is a 'soul,' whether it be my soul or your soul. Hence, there is no such eternally unchanging and abiding principle in man as an ego perduring in its unchanged or unaltered individuality through eternity, for every ego is growing, which means constantly changing; and hence the notion of such an unchanging perduring ego, or 'soul' is an illusion; it is a figment of a dream; it is wholly illusory. Every atom in man is as much such a monad in its heart of hearts as a man himself is; and we men, in precisely the same way, are the composing monads of the constitution of a god. In our own case this God is the Divinity who is the opifex of our solar system, our solar Divinity. Think! In the diagram in Fundamentals to which I have referred, we see the Atman. It works and expresses itself through the Jivatman; the latter through the Bhutatman; this last through the Pranatman. Only four monads have I enumerated here; yet taking our constitution as a whole, their number in man is legion, is incomputable, when we likewise include the armies of life-atoms. Every life-atom helping to compose man's constitution is at its heart a monad, therefore in essence a divinity.
My Atman — to illustrate because we are now speaking of the worlds of differentiation — my Atman will some day grow to be the divinity of a solar system; and all the various monads now forming my constitution manifesting here as a human being will then be the archangels and the angels, to use the Christian terms, of that future solar system: the Dhyani-Chohans in their various grades, to use our own Theosophical phrasing. These various unevolved monads which help to compose even my physical constitution live in their various cells, and these various cells are builded up of life-atoms on different planes; and in that far distant future of which I have just spoken, if I make the race successfully and become the divinity of a solar system in the spaces of Space, all these cells and life-atoms which now compose my physical 'me' will be the component elements of that solar system, each one having evolved to take its own particular and definite place and work therein; and I, the divinity in me, will be the then presiding godhead of that solar system, just as we here are component elements of former life-atoms of Father Sun in a vastly distant epoch of the Cosmic Past.
Thus, as I have hereinbefore explained, there is no eternally abiding and unchanging principle of individuality or 'soul' in 'man.' Yes, an absolute truth: no abiding separate and unchanging principle in man, separate from the similar principle in you, my brother, or in any other being. This is the heresy that the Lord Buddha fought against and that our own Masters so powerfully teach against. There is no such immortal, unchanging, and therefore perduring and abiding 'soul'; yet the very essence of man is immortality itself. Every last atom in his constitution, in its heart of hearts is an immortal divinity because of its essence, the Essence of the Kosmic Divinity. I know no doctrine in all our School of Teaching which so cleanses our human hearts of pride, which so quickly purges the human mind of illusion, as just these beautiful thoughts that I have been attempting to speak of. You will never fully realize the glory that is within you until you become infilled with the most beautiful thought of them all. What is it? I am one with Divinity, and there is no abiding, unchanging, and hence separating personal soul in me; for I am THAT. This doctrine is the teaching of the utter solidarity, the utter oneness, of everything that is, from god to atom, with the Heart of Things.
Were men on earth today imbued with this thought, filled with this doctrine, all the troubles of earth would soon vanish. Men then, sensing their essential unity or oneness, and that what affects one affects all, would instinctively and by love act like brothers, because they would think like brothers; they would see far more of sheer human interest in the mysteries envisioned in the depths of the human eye than they would in counting the money-bags, or estimating the values in the swollen vaults of our banks. All human problems would adjust themselves easily, because men would realize that what causes you to suffer reacts on me, interiorly and exteriorly.
Carry the thought onwards. It is fundamentally the same in business as it is in philosophy. The man who tries to drive his competitor to the wall injures his own business, for that very man should be made a customer, and by Nature's laws actually is a customer unless you ruin him, drive him out of business, which means killing his purchasing power. The same rule which is thus exemplified in the pragmatic affairs in human life holds in the worlds of the spirit and of the soul. I advance far more quickly when I help my fellows, when I feel that they are component parts, so to speak, of my own being; that there is something in my fellow which is closer to me than my own hands and feet, than my own mind, than my own heart, than my own soul; for this is the Essence of Divinity in him which is identic with that Essence in me.
For years really I have felt I ought to speak about a difficult matter of doctrine, to try to correct at least a few simple errors which some of our very best students have fallen into, I fear; I am not sure, but I have the impression that this is the case. It is with regard to the planetary chains, a very technical teaching, but a beautiful teaching, and most suggestive when properly understood, a teaching having a distinct moral value on human life because of the inferences that the student draws from this doctrine of the planetary chains.
Of course there are planetary chains of which we have no physical cognisance whatsoever, because their lowest or fourth globe — following H. P. B.'s septenary enumeration — their fourth respective globes are either above or below our plane of the solar universe. Therefore being outside of the sphere which our eyes can encompass, we do not see these other globes. Nevertheless these higher or lower planetary chains exist. So much for that point.
When the planetary-chain teaching was first given out by H. P. B., shortly before and at the time of and after the printing of her great work The Secret Doctrine, those students who thought they understood the teaching concerning the planetary chains, imagined that the other globes of a planetary chain, such as our own Earth Planetary Chain, were but different phases of each chain's fourth-plane globe, as for instance of our Globe Earth, our Globe D for our Chain-different levels of consciousness, as it were, of our Globe D, reaching from the grossest or our physical plane up to the spiritual. So strongly did this idea sink into the minds of students of those days, and such vogue did it get, that very unwittingly and utterly wrongly, students spoke of the other globes of our Planetary Chain, or of any other planetary chain, as being the principles of our Globe Earth or of some other fourth-plane globe, with respect to its chain, like Venus or Saturn or Mars or Jupiter. This is all wrong. The reason for such mistake was the very striking and close analogy that exists between the globes of a planetary chain and certain aspects of the septenary human constitution little spoken of in those days, but in our day much more clearly understood, to wit, the monads in the human septenary constitution.
For many years over-emphasis has been given to this idea that I have just spoken of, that the other globes of our planetary chain were so to speak the principles of our Globe D, and for that reason I have taken especial pains to change that current of thought; until about a year ago I became suddenly conscious that the swing of thought had gone far too much, far too far, in the other direction; and that our members had lost sight of the very striking and close analogy between the monads in the human constitution and the globes of a planetary chain, and were beginning to look upon the globes of our planetary chain, or of any planetary chain, as almost unrelated individuals, unrelated globes, or at least held together only by delicate and subtil karmic bonds of destiny — a thought which is true enough, but not nearly close enough, or accurate enough.
If you can synthesize these two points of view, the older and this latter, fuse them into a new and more comprehensive conception, you probably will have the real facts. Let me try to illustrate: The monads in the human constitution — and I will use the septenary form that H. P. B. gave to us as it is somewhat easier than the duodenary — may be reckoned thus: the divine, the spiritual, the intellectual, the psychical, the animal, the astral-vital, and the vital-physical; for even the vital-physical human body, temporary and imperfect as it is, is nevertheless the expression of a monad working on this plane, whose seat (since your western minds always want very definite brain-mind locations), whose seat is in the human heart. The heart is likewise the seat of the spiritual monad working through this lower.
The globes of a planetary chain correspond almost term for term to these monads in the human constitution; and as you know, the human constitution being unitary, one, the principles and monads being in coadunation but not in consubstantiality, so likewise we may speak of the globes of a planetary chain as being in coadunation but not in consubstantiality. Yet these other globes are not the other six principles of our Earth. They are fellow-globes, a septenate, of which our Earth is one. But a septenary unitary fact comes in what I have just told you; that the globes correspond in that chain to what the monads are in the human constitution, because each globe is itself the expression of what we may call a globe-monad.
Furthermore, just as the principles in the human constitution are as given from the very first, atman, buddhi, and so forth, down the scale, so the same cosmic principles, paramatman, maha-buddhi, mahat, etc., are the principles of a planetary chain. Thus you see right there there is the same distinction between globes and the principles of a chain, and the monads and the principles of the human constitution, item for item. Furthermore, just as there is in man a hierarch of his constitution, just exactly so in a planetary chain there is a hierarch of the entire planetary chain, the hierarch for all the seven or twelve globes of that chain, our chain as an example. And this hierarch, who really is a kind of person or individual god for the chain, our chain, is the highest spiritual planetary of our chain, or planetary spirit.
Remember that every globe of a chain has its own minor hierarchy of planetaries. You may call them Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, if you like. I am now using the typically Theosophical term, planetaries. But these combined planetaries of the chain simply make the families of the planetaries of the chain, the highest of such planetary being the hierarch of the hierarchy, the king. Furthermore, every such planetary considered as an individual, in some past cosmic age has been a man, or a being corresponding to a man; that is, the monad now a planetary, now blossomed out, evolved forth, into being a planetary, then was passing through the stage where spirit and matter meet, conjoin, and produce man, the midway stage. We in our turn, all of us, if we make the grade, shall some day be planetaries. Furthermore, note that in the human constitution, all the monads of a man's constitution are inseparably linked, which does not mean closely linked, but inseparably (which means cannot be separated, that is torn apart from each other to become strangers unto each other), are inseparably linked for a galactic manvantara; after which evolution will have so parted them through increasing individualization that although they will still be karmically linked, they will no longer be condensed as it were into a relatively closely knit unit, as they are now in a man.
Precisely the same rule holds for a planetary chain; and remember that all that I am saying tonight is but brushing the outskirts, sketching an outline, of much deeper and important teaching that does not belong here.
All the globes of our planetary chain had a common origin, were born together so to speak, just as the monads in a man's constitution have a common origin and were born together so to speak. When they were thus born in past cosmic time they were much more closely in union, united, than now they are, evolution of each globe through the ages bringing about a stronger individualization of each globe, and for this reason we speak of these as being in coadunation; so that as the ages pass, they will have the tendency to separate, still remaining connected by spiritual and magnetic and all other kinds of bonds. The separation, as stated, comes through constantly increasing individualization. But as each globe becomes more strongly individualized, the constellation as it were of globes in a chain separates farther apart. Thus a child born in a family finds the time come some day when it leaves the family and enters the world to carve its own way, or to follow in the footsteps of the father, no longer as a child but as an individual, as a man 'on his own,' to use the slang expression.
Furthermore, every globe in a planetary chain, ours for instance, has its own septenary constitution. The Master in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, outlines what these principles are for our Earth-Globe, but the Master there gives only the septenate for the physical globe. You remember, every principle in a constitution is itself septenary, so that there is even an atman of the physical so to speak. Therefore, every globe not only has its own septenary principles, each principle a septenate itself; but you see this means that every globe therefore is a fully equipped entity with divinity at its heart and manifesting in a gross physical vehicle, veil, frame, body, exactly as a man does. You know that even an atom in your body is a septenary entity. Its heart is divinity. Why should not a globe of a chain be exactly the same? It is. At the present time the globes of a planetary chain, ours for instance, are sufficiently conjoined or coadunated so that they move through space more or less together as a constellation, as it were; so that while they are not inside of each other, the more ethereal inside the more material — that is not so — while they are scattered about in space, but closely together, nevertheless they form a constellation as it were, if you take the twelve of them, or even the seven; and they pursue the same orbit about the sun that the earth does, not because the earth follows this orbit — it is only one of seven or twelve — but it happens to be the orbit that these seven, these twelve, all follow; so that when we move about the sun, we do so, and all the other globes do so, more or less as a constellation, each globe moving and rotating. Follow your thought now: so that actually every globe from this standpoint can be called a planet. It is in itself not only a septenary entity, but if you were on Globe E for instance, or F or G or A or B or C, you would not see the other globes around you. To you it would be an earth, following its orbit around the sun, as does each of the other globes. Therefore the globes from this standpoint can truly be called planets.
What has been said with regard to our earth applies equally well to all the other planetary chains, visible or invisible, of our Solar System. And there are scores of planetary chains. Our modern science knows of only a few planets — I think the total number at present is nine, including Pluto, and about these I have not the time nor is it the place to go into here.
I am debating now in my mind, and also trying to find words in which to speak of something else. These things are not easy to speak of. The teaching is difficult indeed, because it is so utterly apart from anything that our brain-mind knows. What I have said about planetary chains applies equally well to the Solar Chain, or indeed to any stellar chain, the chain of any star. Furthermore, remember that every planetary chain is headed by its hierarch, which is the chiefest planetary spirit of that chain, the highest; and therefore that planetary spirit is for its chain what we in the West I suppose would call a 'personal god.' Now this teaching is a very ancient one, and in its popularization a very exoteric one. It has been known since immemorial time, and was the basis of what the ancients called astrolatry or star-worship. They did not worship the physical globe, they worshiped the life, the light, the intellect, the manifestation of order and beauty and harmony, for which the planet was the symbol and expression. They worshiped, in other words, the regent of the planetary chain. And furthermore, just as a chain has its own chief planetary or hierarch, so every globe has its own subordinate smaller hierarchy of planetaries with its hierarch or chief minor planetary, our Earth as an example; only these are globe-planetaries — at least those on our Earth are. Nevertheless, they are higher than we men, spiritually and intellectually.
Thus you see, "to come back to our sheep" as the French say, we must not look upon a planetary chain as an indissoluble single body or globe, of which what we call the other globes are merely finer planes. In other words, the other globes are not merely finer planes of our own Globe-Earth that we know. Our own globe that we know is only one of seven or twelve, and in some ways the least important of all, because the lowest. Nor should we again on the other hand look upon the planetary chain as composed of a number of globes, whether we reckon on the seven or twelve, which are merely held together in a kind of feeble union, unconnected in origin with each other, which is quite wrong, because they are very closely connected in origin with each other, and they shall be connected thus closely until the end of the Galactic Manvantara; and then when the new Galactic Manvantara opens, they will still be connected, but much less so than at present, obviously, because of what I pointed out a little while ago: that age, evolutionary progress, gives to each globe an increasing increment of individuality. It becomes more independent in spirit, as it were, just as we find among men. It is a very curious paradox that the lowest things are the most closely united, the least individualized, as we see in the unism of the rocks. As we follow the ladder of life upwards, we find that the component parts slowly seem to separate and become more individualized, until we reach men. And here, strangely enough, although it is among men that the sense of disunion is very strong, it is likewise among men that begins to come to birth again, in men's souls, the feeling of their oneness, the ekatwa or ekata in Sanskrit, their oneness with the Divine. Isn't that a marvelous paradox? Unism at the lowest, but unconscious unism as in the rocks, and in the atoms. Unity in the highest, but self-conscious unity with the Divine.
Try then to understand, to fuse these two thoughts together. The globes of a planetary chain are in coadunation, but not in consubstantiality, which means that they are karmically united as a unitary group at the present time, closely so, but are not consubstantial. That is, the stuff of which the individual globes are builded differs from one to the other.
And now, finally, do not for an instant take the metaphorical symbol used by H. P. B. of the necklace of globes as being a graph, a photograph, as it were, of the actual positions of the globes in space, for that is all wrong. The globes are scattered about the heart of the chain as it were from the central pillar of light, so to speak. And you could write a metaphorical graph of the seven globes, no longer what H. P. Blavatsky on page 92 of her Letters to A. P. Sinnett called a necklace of sausages and protested against it as being a wrong conception; but you could write the way the globes are located towards each other on an ascending line, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7. That would be just as accurate as the necklace of sausages; but that straight-line graph has not the advantage of suggesting the descent into matter until the bottom is reached and the rise again, which the necklace of globes does. The straight-line way of describing the positions of the globes however has one enormous advantage. It shows that every globe of the seven or twelve is on a different plane; and that no two, despite the graph in The Secret Doctrine, are on exactly the same sub-plane. Those are metaphors, that is, diagrams. They suggest things, and the suggestion you must try to understand; and do not take pictures, those metaphorical suggestions, as photographs of the positions of the globes.
Now it is true, and I have emphasized this point myself, that precisely because the globes are scattered about in space, although each one is on a different plane, there comes a time when they come opposite each other in their evolution. I wonder now if you catch that thought? So that it is possible, for instance, for an observer on Globe E at a certain instant in time to catch a glimpse of Globe C, the reason being that the two globes are for the instant in vibratory synchrony. That instant actually may be a million or tens of millions of years. But the globes are in movement. We are speaking now of super-geologic time; but compared with the life of a planetary chain, it is, relatively speaking, an instant.
It is in exactly the same way, or a very similar way, that H. P. B. tries to describe the outbreak of psychic disturbances in our time, foreseen and foretold by the Masters. Do you remember in some of her earlier writings she points out that the world is entering upon a period when the plane on which we live and the plane on which the kama-rupas of kama-loka mostly are, come close together, the partition becomes thin, and there is an inrush of kama-rupic spooks into our thought-atmosphere, and into our world. It is, as it were, as if two planes came close to each other.