The doctrine of cycles is one of the most important in the entire cosmic range of the esoteric philosophy, because repetitive or rhythmic action is fundamental in nature. As a matter of fact, every being and thing that exists is an expression of rhythmic pulsation: we are not only the children of cycles greater than ourselves, but actually within our own beings imbody cycles because we are cyclical in all our life processes. The same rule applies with identical force to any entity in boundless Infinitude, whether a galaxy or an atom.
We perceive cycles by the recurrences of moving beings and things in our world, and are deluded into thinking that these repetitions are caused by some intangible entity called time, while in reality they are caused by the cyclical movements of the bodies or of the consciousness of entities. The revolutions of the planets around the sun is an example; they are not caused by time. It is the moving entities themselves which produce in us the time-illusion, due to our imperfect understanding of their operations in Duration. As one of the Stanzas of Dzyan (1) says: "Time was not, for it lay asleep in the infinite bosom of duration" — because moving things were then no more.
A human being is a cycle; an atom is a cycle — in this technical sense. We say that the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening, and we call it a cycle, a day. The time-illusion produced by the moving object — in this case our earth — gives us the notion that a day is produced by an absolute entity called Time, or is an integral part of such separate entity.
Cycles themselves are not caused as minor integrals of time by time. Where you have no space, there is no time; where you have no time, there is no space. Space is a substantial entity in occultism, and one of its mayavi attributes is what we call time. As Space is eternally enduring, this is the cause of the time-maya. That does not mean that time is nonexistent, but there is no absolute entity apart from things called Time, nor where there are no beings to perceive it.
All the various and varied phenomena of the infinitesimal worlds of physical chemistry; all the movements of nature everywhere, even astronomical and meteorological phenomena, like storms, periods of drought, electromagnetic outbursts such as the aurorae; the periodic epidemics of diseases — all these are rhythmic, because cyclical. The pulsing of the blood in the human body and the heartbeat manifest cycles as fully as does the sunspot period, or that of the precession of the equinoxes, or the whirlings of the rivers of lives along the circulations of the universe. The unending succession of manvantaras and pralayas, whether smaller or greater, rounds and obscurations, etc. — all are cyclical.
What is it in universal Being that sets in motion the various cyclical processes which make up the movements of the worlds? The causes of these interwoven cycles are to be found in the fact that the very swabhava of the cosmic life is pulsatory, rhythmic. (2) Yet to state thus baldly that the cosmic life pulsates throughout eternity is incomplete until we add that such rhythmically vibrational activity is the imbodied expression of the movement of cosmic intelligence.
Now the cosmic life itself from the standpoint of structure may be looked upon as but an incomprehensibly vast aggregate of all smaller beings and things, each such comprehended entity or thing in itself, in its essence, being a droplet of the cosmic life and intelligence, and therefore imbodying its own relative portion of all the cosmic powers and faculties. Thus we have the vibratory and rhythmic movements of the cosmic life, plus all the other interwoven cycles of its incomputable hosts of entities, each one in itself of cyclical character. We have cycles within cycles: cycles within others still greater; or, conversely, cycles of increasing vibrational frequency running into the infinitesimal.
From this we see that every cycle is the life movement of the heartbeat and hence the mind-beat of some cosmic, subcosmic, or infracosmic being or entity. The whirling of a galaxy is an expression of the rhythmic life-pulses of the galactic hierarch throughout all its planes of being, and manifesting, astronomically speaking, on the physical plane as the cyclical wheelings of the galactic body. Similarly so in the world of the infinitesimals, such as the whirlings of the electronic bodies in the atom.
Cycles, then, irrespective of scale or magnitude or hierarchical plane, are the expressions of the pulsations of the life and mind of the hierarchical hosts — of the web of interblending worlds — which not only infill the universe, but actually are it. In short, cycles are the inherent rhythms of life. — From Fountain-Source of Occultism, pp. 157-8
(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 1997. Copyright © 1997 by Theosophical University Press)
1. The Secret Doctrine 1:36. (return to text)
2. See the second fundamental proposition in The Secret Doctrine 1:16-17. (return to text)