Copyright © 1979 by Theosophical University Press. All rights reserved.
The Microcosm, a Mirror of the Macrocosm. Elements, Principles, Manifestations of the One Life. Relativity: a Fundamental Conception of the Ancient Wisdom.
"Man," says Van Helmont, "is the mirror of the universe, and his triple nature stands in relationship to all things."— H. P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, I, 213
. . . there is but one element . . . This element then is the — to speak metaphysically — one sub-stratum or permanent cause of all manifestations in the phenomenal universe. The ancients speak of the five cognizable elements of ether, air, water, fire, earth, and of the one incognizable element (to the uninitiates) the 6th principle of the universe — call it Purush Sakti, while to speak of the seventh outside the sanctuary was punishable with death. But these five are but the differentiated aspects of the one. As man is a seven-fold being so is the universe — the septenary microcosm being to the septenary macrocosm but as the drop of rainwater is to the cloud from whence it dropped and whither in the course of time it will return. In that one are embraced or included so many tendencies for the evolution of air, water, fire, etc. (from the purely abstract down to their concrete condition) and when those latter are called elements it is to indicate their productive potentialities for numberless form changes or evolution of being. — The Mahatma Letters, pp. 90-1
LET US OPEN our study this evening by reading from The Secret Doctrine, volume I, section 16, pages 638-9:
In ancient symbolism it was always the SUN (though the Spiritual, not the visible, Sun was meant), that was supposed to send forth the chief Saviours and Avatars. Hence the connecting link between the Buddhas, the Avatars, and so many other incarnations of the highest SEVEN. The closer the approach to one's Prototype, "in Heaven," the better for the mortal whose personality was chosen, by his own personal deity (the seventh principle), as its terrestrial abode. For, with every effort of will toward purification and unity with that "Self-god," one of the lower rays breaks and the spiritual entity of man is drawn higher and ever higher to the ray that supersedes the first, until, from ray to ray, the inner man is drawn into the one and highest beam of the Parent-SUN.
That is a superb passage. It contains in embryo the substance of our studies for some weeks past. It will be remembered that we have spoken of the Hierarchy of Compassion, the spiritual hierarchy from which we draw our inner life, spiritual and mental, and whose supreme chief is that Wondrous Being who, in his spiritual capacity, is the dhyani-buddha of this fourth round. His human representative is the chief of what we call the Great White Lodge, he to whom the Masters look up for quickening and enlightenment, he who lights their fires as they light and quicken ours.
How is this quickening and lighting done? How was it that the manasaputras worked, in their incarnations in the hitherto senseless humanity, to raise man — if we can give to the humanity of that time that name — from spiritually and mentally senseless beings to self-conscious humanhood?
Listen: every one of the seven principles of man, as also every one of the seven elements (corresponding in the kosmos to the seven principles in man), is itself a mirror of the universe, that is, it contains in itself everything that the boundless All contains. Everything is in the microcosm that exists in the macrocosm; the one, the less, mirrors the other, the greater. In other words, each of the elements, each of the principles, each of the rudiments to blossom forth later into divinity, is itself a septenary or sevenfold entity, existing on its own septenary plane, which to it is as palpably certain, real, and substantial as this our physical plane is to us as seen through our physical eyes and heard through our physical ears, or sensed by the media of the other senses, two more of which, by the way, are still to be developed.
Now each one being a septenary, each one of these principles or elements is a copy in miniature, if we may use that word, of the Whole. For instance, the principle of manas is septenary. It has its own atman, its buddhi, and its manas — the manas-manas, which is its own particular essence or swabhava; next, its kama or desire principle; then its vital essence; then its garment, its linga-sarira, or model-body, so to say, that which gives it its own particular shape and conformation according to the qualities of that plane; and finally its sthula-sarira, or lowest portion or vehicle or carrier or bearer.
These manasaputras or sons of mind, children of mahat, are said to have quickened and enlightened the manas-manas of the manas-septenary, because they themselves are typically manasic in their essential characteristic or swabhava. Their own vibrations, so to say, could cause that essence of manas in ourselves to vibrate in sympathy, much as the sounding of a musical note will cause sympathetic response in something like it, a similar note in other things.
Who are these manasaputras? They are ourselves in a sense, but we are rather and more particularly those who were quickened and enlivened. They are a mystery; they are at once our higher selves — not our highest selves, but our higher selves — and yet different. We have shown in past studies that from the One spring all the manifold differentiations of a kosmic (or any other) hierarchy, and that there is a perfect kinship or unity of being throughout. These sublime thoughts can be very clearly understood if we awaken in ourselves that portion of our nature to which they are native and familiar. We can do it, and it depends upon us to do it. Why is it that the Masters choose, from time to time, a certain one or certain ones, and take him or them to themselves? Because they see in those so selected the inner Master already quickened, enlivened, at least to some extent. Would they take a beast? No. Why not? Because the beast is not quickened. Would they take an ordinary man? No. Why? Because the man is not quickened, he is not awakened, he is not yet conscious in himself of the inner essential Buddha, the Awakened One. There is no question of arbitrary choice about this fact. It is a selection and an election of the fit and proper ones; it is therefore just, it is therefore right.
Let us pursue this thought a little more. Let us take nature and consider her elements. Now this word element is from the Latin and it means one of the rudiments of things, the word "rudiment" in its original sense. The Sankhya especially, one of the six accepted schools of philosophy of India, and also even the Vedanta — perhaps the noblest of those schools — both speak of the six original "producers" or elements of nature as prakritis, the six prakritis derived from the primal Prakriti, or root-Prakriti, the first and highest. The Sankhya also speaks of them, and so do many students of the Vedanta, as the six tattwas or real elements. Now what is the difference between the six elements or prakritis, and the six tattwas? The prakriti is the vehicular or bearer- or carrier-side, so to say, the substantial side, and the tattwa is the analogic or force-side. And these two fundamentally are one, because, please remember, matter and force, spirit and substance, are both fundamentally one. Matter can be called crystallized spirit. We have to hunt for words in any attempt to describe these things; hence this is an inadequate expression, but it perhaps conveys the meaning. Parabrahman and Mulaprakriti — "beyond-Brahman" and "root-nature" — of the Vedanta and the Sankhya, represent the same thought, and these two fundamentally are one. Root-nature is the veil, as it were, of the primordial energy, the primordial consciousness; and these prakritis in the Sankhya, these six or seven prakritis, stand for the six or seven elements of nature, corresponding to our human seven or six principles. And these are born, or issue rather, one from the other. That prakriti which is the higher plane is the parent of the prakriti which is the lower plane. First, the primordial one gives birth to the second: atman, let us say, gives birth to buddhi. And atman and buddhi combined give birth to manas, issuing from the two former, and containing the qualities of the preceding two as well as its own. And atman, buddhi, manas then give birth to kama, the fourth in order; and so on down to the seventh or lowest.
Similarly globe A, the first on the descending arc, gives birth to globe B, and globe B gives birth to globe C; but it does so with the swabhavic tattwa of globe A also working in it. And globe C gives birth to globe D, our earth, but with the tattwas or intrinsic individualities or swabhavas of A and B in it also. Globe D thus has the tattwas of globes A, B, and C inherent in it in addition to its own individual characteristic or swabhava.
When the evolutionary impulse has reached its limit in any one manvantara — and the limits vary in every manvantara, because there is no absolute point or position in space, or any one particular plane where every evolutionary manvantaric impulse in the Boundless must stop, for so many monads, so many hierarchies have so many respective evolutionary impulses and their respective ends — that is, when that outrushing impulse that comes from above, carrying these prakritis and principles down into greater manifestation of matter, has reached the limit possible for that particular manvantara, it then turns, as it were, around the goal and begins the reascent.
We in our planetary chain have passed that goal or turning point of the rounds. Furthermore, in each of the races on any globe of the chain; in each of the globes during any round; and for each of the rounds passing through all the seven globes; there is a midpoint in its respective evolutionary course, and that midpoint is its respective goal or turning point, where the respective cycle begins a reascent. Hence, there will then be a sudden rising of the evolving monads or entities; and, correspondentially, senses hitherto latent and undeveloped will be developed, and the principles in nature which we now do not cognize will then be cognized and known. Ether, for instance, of which we have a mere presentiment today at the middle point of our fifth race in the fourth round, recognized even by science, will during the fifth round become an actuality in what will then be the atmosphere, as palpable and plain to the senses as air is today to us.
So, then, when speaking of the elements or the prakritis, we do not mean that the earth and water and air and fire spoken of by the ancients as elements, are the real elemental prakritis of nature. That is absurd. The ancients used those words symbolically. These four (or five things, including ether) are merely manifestations — four of them so far developed — of four or five out of the seven subprakritis or subprinciples belonging to the lowest prakritic element as manifest at this stage on our fourth globe, corresponding to the seventh or lowest kosmic plane or prakriti.
As each principle is itself a subseptenary and mirrors the Boundless, so does each element mirror all the other elements; and from each element can be drawn the life and nature and characteristic, in minor degree, of course, of all the other six. The above-named qualities of the matter of the seventh or lowest prakriti of our globe, that is to say, solidity, fluidity, air (there seems to be no corresponding adjective in English for air, or for the following one, fire), are merely the correspondences of the similar subprakritis of the four kosmic elements or prakritis in which our planetary chain exists now. Ether as an element will come next; and in the sixth round will be developed the sixth element; and during the seventh round will be developed the seventh. None of the ancient philosophers of the Mediterranean countries, when speaking of earth, water, air, fire, ether, nor the Hindus, when speaking, for instance, of akasa or of adi-tattwa, meant the material things which we can sense, such as earth and water. They meant the root-elements of nature, of which these four or five things that we sense are, as it were, presentments or symbols.
The Greeks called the elements stoicheia, a plural diminutive of the word stoichos meaning a "series," in other words, a hierarchy. The singular stoicheion would be an entity of a hierarchy, a part of it, one of the composite parts of the hierarchy, although modern scholars can trace no ostensible reason for giving this name to what they recognize as being the ancient conception of the elements of nature. But our philosophy shows why, and explains that the stoicheia are the seven prakritis of the kosmos. Each of the globes of our planetary chain is an imbodiment of all these elements or seven prakritis, but in the manner outlined above, of each element containing in parvo all the others. Our earth, for instance, is an imbodiment or representation of the lowest prakriti, but there is water and there is air and there is fire, and we know that there is ether in development. We know four and recognize five, an exemplification of what has just been said. Nevertheless, the seven globes of our planetary chain are not the respective correspondences of the seven kosmic elements. This would be a false analogy.
Each one of the grades of initiation, of which we have spoken before, corresponds to one of these seven kosmic elements; and the trials through which the initiant or candidate must pass, in order to prove his capacity, are regulated and governed by the nature of each one respectively of the seven prakritis. There are, as a matter of fact, ten grades or degrees of initiation and ten kosmic prakritis — seven in manifestation, and three root-prakritis or the highest; but the uppermost three are so far beyond our utmost capacity of understanding now that we can do no more than mention the fact. Always ten: three arupa or formless (to us, please understand) and seven in manifestation; and of these seven the upper triad is, relatively speaking, also arupa.
Let us here point out something very important — that is, that all the teaching of the ancient wisdom is given from our plane, so that when we say arupa or "formless," it does not mean that in themselves, an sich, per se, these higher planes or entities are formless, which would be absurd. But to us they are formless, exactly as ether is formless, because it is not yet (for us) developed. We have as yet but a mere presentiment of it in this fourth round, and only because we are in the fifth root-race, corresponding in element to that fifth element, ether. And as a corollary to that, and it is an important deduction, as regards the beings inhabiting each element, each principle, of the universal kosmos: their habitations, their countries, all that therein exists, to them are as real and palpable as are palpable and material things on our plane to us. Force, to us, is substance in motion. Do you realize that our most dense and rigid matter is force to beings in the hierarchy below us? Do we realize that what we call the density and the rigidity of matter are merely such to our senses, and that this very density and this rigidity show and prove that our dense and rigid matter is but a balancing of opposing forces? Why, many modern scientists today, making a right-about-face from what was utter truth to science some fifty years ago, now say that there is no such thing as matter per se, that there is nothing but force. Matter is therefore to it a maya, an illusion, and so it is. But so is force a maya, because it is merely matter to something higher than it. All things are relative, a statement which is one of the fundamental conceptions of the ancient wisdom.
So when we speak of these various prakritis and principles, let us recognize first that these elements, these tattwas or principles, from whatever viewpoint we may look at them, are all manifestations of the one universal life, which is likewise universal substance in its lower aspect. Spirit and substance, force and matter are fundamentally one, two sides to the same thing.
This, that is so important, we fain would dwell upon much longer and give illustrations of its application to our studies. Let us make a final application tonight. What is the difference between a Master, and me and you? The former has his higher principles awakened and lives in them. And we do not. From the scientific standpoint, that is all there is to it; from the philosophic standpoint, we may say that a Master has become as far as he can be, more at one with the universal life; and from the religious standpoint or the spiritual standpoint, we may say that a Master has developed an individual consciousness, or recognition, of his oneness with the Boundless. This is the very foundation of the ethics without which there is nothing worthy of the ancient wisdom. No man can misconduct himself without injecting inharmony, disharmony, into the human hierarchy of which he is a part, and for this he shall pay to the uttermost farthing. But this is no vengeance, no punishment, by nature, which merely readjusts the disturbed equilibrium or disharmony. It arose out of the exercise of free will. And the Masters have learned to govern their wills and to cooperate with nature as a whole; thence they grow in strength of soul, and live in unity with the divine. That is the difference between them and us: they live at one with the spiritual summit of our hierarchy. We can do the same. It is simply a matter of opening our inner eyes, of cleansing our souls, of clearing out from our brains the trash which we eat mentally, the husks which the "swine feed upon," and letting in the pure, clear life, the "wine of life."
It is only the molds of mind that impede us, nothing but the molds of mind; and when we say the molds of mind we do not exactly mean the molds of submental matter in which the mind works. That is, I think, a wrong way to put it. We mean the crystallization of the mind itself, when mental force becomes mental matter. Therefore break these molds; no one can do it for you but yourself. The molds of man's mind are his greatest enemy, his worst foe, his strongest opponent, because these molds are living substance. Your mind is matter, but it is living matter; and every thought you think clings to the mind and inheres in it, and becomes what the ancient wisdom calls an elemental, and it will finally turn and torture you unless you break your mental molds. What man would do otherwise, when there are freedom and light and wisdom and peace and glory and knowledge unspeakable for the having, for the taking, providing that we do indeed take the kingdom of heaven by violence!
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