Copyright © 1979 by Theosophical University Press. All rights reserved.
Either an ordered universe, or else a welter of confusion. Assuredly then a world-order. Or think you that order subsisting within yourself is compatible with disorder in the All? And that too when all things, however distributed and diffused, are affected sympathetically. — Marcus Aurelius Antoninus to Himself, 4, 27 (Rendall, trans.)
Constantly regard the universe as one living being, having one substance and one soul; and observe how all things have reference to one perception, the perception of this one living being; and how all things act with one movement; and how all things are the co-operating causes of all things which exist; observe too the continuous spinning of the thread and the contexture of the web. — Ibid., 4, 40 (Long, trans.)
IN CONTINUING our study this evening, let me once more introduce our subject by calling attention to the fact that the teachings of occultism are based on a foundation of ethics and morals; and, as has so often been said, there is the distinction which marks the division line, as it were, between the hierarchies on the one side, the ascending or luminous arc, and those hierarchies on the other side, the shadowy arc, or those beings and intelligences which are descending into matter for the experience needed in order to enable them to take their march on the upward rise.
Ethics is not a subject which is disputable, as between men; only the forms of ethics are; but the fundamental principles of right as contrasted with wrong, of duty as contrasted with selfishness, of the joy of renunciation and self-abnegation as contrasted with the shriveling influence of the opposite theories of being — and there are many in the world — in these lies the distinction between the sons of light and the children of the shadow.
It will be remembered that our subject in closing our last study was the teachings imbodied in the word atom. Mark first, please, that this does not mean the atom of science. The atom of science is a more or less clear conception of fundamental material particles which has arisen in the minds of scientists in an attempt to explain the phenomena of physical nature as those phenomena have been studied during the last hundred years or so; and the scientific doctrines concerning the atom are based, furthermore, largely on misunderstood teachings of certain Greek philosophers.
But if we understand the atom as the doctrine concerning it is imbodied in the teachings of the ancient wisdom, we shall find that it is an intelligence and a living being of its kind. Let us then open our studies this evening by reading from The Secret Doctrine, volume I, pages 107 and 106; from page 107 first:
. . . every atom in the Universe has the potentiality of self-consciousness in it, and is, like the Monads of Leibnitz, a Universe in itself, and for itself. It is an atom and an angel.
Not a Christian angel; not a being with wings, etc., but a spiritual intelligence. Then from page 106:
The Doctrine teaches that, in order to become a divine, fully conscious god, — aye, even the highest — the Spiritual primeval INTELLIGENCES must pass through the human stage. And when we say human, this does not apply merely to our terrestrial humanity, but to the mortals that inhabit any world, i.e., to those Intelligences that have reached the appropriate equilibrium between matter and spirit, as we have now, since the middle point of the Fourth Root Race of the Fourth Round was passed. Each Entity must have won for itself the right of becoming divine, through self-experience.
These words "self-experience" comprise the thought which Katherine Tingley so frequently emphasizes in her instructions to us — self-directed evolution, a doctrine imbodying the necessity of using our spiritual will and our spiritual intelligence for noble and altruistic and impersonal aims. Let us say here again that for man there is always a choice of paths: the right-hand, the luminous arc, upward and upward forever; and the left-hand, the shadowy arc, leading down into those spheres concerning which we have knowledge, of course, and of which we have already several times spoken.
Further, be it noted that this term or word atom is really a catchword. We say atom, but we actually mean a multitude of thoughts connected with cosmogony and evolution. For instance, gods, monads, souls, atoms, are words jointly and separately involved in profound doctrines explaining cosmogonical and evolutionary processes. And connected therewith very closely is what is called in occultism the laya-center, to which we have briefly alluded in former studies. In part three of this first volume of The Secret Doctrine, H. P. Blavatsky, in section 15, devotes one of the most beautiful parts of her great work to developing the doctrines comprised in what she called "Gods, Monads, and Atoms."
Please understand first, that in these studies, questions of spirituality, ethics, religion, are deeply involved. They go to the very foundation of our being. They are not mere questions of brain-mind disputation, or mere mental exercises in clever speaking. These teachings lead directly to the setting of our feet on the path of the luminous arc; and we who have had the benefit already of these teachings should have some realization, at least, that if there is one primal aim and object towards which we look, it is to become more fully, more heartfeltly, one with that glorious army of which the Masters are the outer vanguard, as it were.
Now what do we mean by space? People generally think of space as a "receptacle of things" — a definition which we reject. They talk about infinite space, and yet at the same time call space a receptacle, a container — a curious commentary upon the loose thinking of our age. Obviously if it is a receptacle it is a finite thing; and besides that, the conception entirely misses the heart-meaning of the word space. Understand what we mean by space, and we have a key by which to open much of the nobler teachings hid deeply in the elementary studies. Space, as understood in true occultism, means that all that is, is a fullness, perfect and continuous absolutely, endless and beginningless; not a mere receptacle, not a mere container, nothing finite, but the boundless All. Further, space is; it is not merely on or in one plane, but on and in seven planes, the seven kosmic planes of our universe, besides penetrating inwards infinitely, endlessly, and also outwardly endlessly. It is the infinite pleroma of the Greeks, the Greek word pleroma meaning "fullness."
Obviously, everything that is, is a part of space. Space not being a mere container, an abstraction of the mind, or a mere receptacle, shows why H. P. Blavatsky in her teachings speaks of the only "God" we recognize as That — using the word of the old Vedas — i.e., space, the boundless All. This All obviously contains all things, everything that is, as shown before in our study of that wonderful doctrine of hierarchies, which is the third of the seven jewels or treasuries of wisdom. Space is infilled with an infinite multitude of self-contained universes, interlocking and interpenetrating each other. These universes, again, are themselves infilled with endlessly multitudinous beings of all and various kinds, the high and the low, the inner and the outer. We cannot say the highest and the lowest, because that form of expression would imply limits or bounds, frontiers, and space is limitless. Only within the confines or boundaries of any one universe or hierarchy may we use the superlative form of these adjectives, and say the highest or the lowest.
Take any one universe or hierarchy as an instance of the general rule. Any universe is infilled with beings finding their origin and taking their rise in the summit, the acme, the seed in another sense, which is, so to say, the god of that hierarchy; and this god, at the beginning of any period of manifestation, this spiritual, elementary being, casts off from itself, or throws forth from itself, evolves from itself, brings out from itself, a multitudinous series of hierarchies consisting of less or inferior beings, beings less in spirituality and dignity than itself. They are, as it were, the thoughts that the god or kosmic primal thinker thinks. Take the instance of a thinking human being as an analogy. He thinks thoughts. Each thought has its own life, each thought has its own essence, each has its own course to run. Each thought is based on a particular vibration, as it were, using words common to our understanding today. Each has its own particular swabhava or intrinsic essential nature, which is its individuality.
So this summit of the hierarchy "thinks thoughts." Now I do not mean to say that this summit is a human being or a god-being, which thinks thoughts as we do. The figure here used is an analogy only. As a man thinks thoughts, and thus fills his atmosphere around him with these living beings, these winged messengers called thoughts, so the primordial elementary being, the summit, the seed, the first to issue forth from the bosom of the infinite Mother, casts forth from itself these parts of itself, these monadic aggregations, these kosmic "thoughts."
And what are these first emanations? They are what the ancient wisdom called the gods. And these gods in their turn send forth from themselves other multitudinous series of beings less than they — less in dignity, less in grandeur, less in understanding. And these secondary emanations or evolutions are the monads. And these monads, as they pursue their way down the shadowy arc, in the beginning of a manvantara, in their turn cast forth from themselves, in identically the same way and on the same line of action, other entities less than they, forming still more outward hierarchies, more material intelligences; and these tertiary emanations are the souls. And the souls, as they pursue their way down, exactly as their higher progenitors did, cast forth from themselves, think forth from themselves, send forth from themselves, evolve forth from themselves, beings still less in wisdom and spirituality and dignity and power than they. And these are the atoms — but not the physical atom. Let us cast that idea out of our minds instantly. The atoms of physical science are really molecular aggregations of atomic elements only, existing on the borderland of the astral plane.
The time will come when we shall set forth more clearly than we have time to do tonight, the relation of the atom to the phenomenal physical world. What we need to do this evening in the introductory study now in hand, is to show one action, one hierarchical intelligence, one course of operation, throughout nature. Please remember that these operations of nature are what the scientists and Christian theologians, in their ignorance, call the laws of nature. Now there are no laws of nature, as we have set forth and explained before. There are no mechanically acting laws, so called, because there are no lawgivers: consequently there are no such natural laws. But there are operations of nature, and these operations of nature are what our thinkers see, and from lack of understanding the ancient wisdom, and perhaps from lack of properly descriptive words, they follow the analogy of human operations and say the "laws of nature."
But they are the spiritually automatic operations of beings in that vast aggregate of entities and intelligences, which is called the universe, which is but one of infinite multitudes of others in space. All that is, is one vast organism. There is no void and no emptiness anywhere — all is infilled and is one boundless fullness. If we can fix that thought in our minds, and think of ourselves as linked in a chain of beings, an endless chain — what Homer called the Golden Chain — we shall realize the force, the philosophical profundity, and the deep meaning of what our teachings set forth when they speak of universal brotherhood, the fundamental unity of all that is. Every one of us has in himself the potentiality of becoming a god, and of advancing from godhood still higher into what are now to us inexpressible spheres of divinity. But it depends upon ourselves. At each instant the choice lies before us: the path to the "right hand," and the path to the "left hand," adopting the old Buddhist nomenclature.
These two arcs, the shadowy arc or the arc of matter, and the luminous arc or the arc of light, or of spirit, exemplify in those two phrases the duality of nature in manifestation; and the beings on the luminous arc are what our Teachers call the dhyani-buddhas, the buddhas of contemplation, those who once in long past kalpas were men as we are now, human beings. The other arc contains the hierarchies which are descending into matter in order to learn the lessons that we of this kalpa have learned in the past; as the dhyani-buddhas, the sons of light, did, long, long aeons agone, but who now are the summit of the buddhic hierarchy of which we form a part, if our hearts are sincere and our souls are strong.
The beauty and the splendor of these teachings fill the soul with awe. It needs but the proper comprehension of them, so firmly to fix the mind and the soul to the eternal truth that nothing will ever shake them in future. Ay, if we can but see, there lies unfolded the great mystery of evolution. Those who have advanced along the path have left their records behind them, and there they stand, those glorious entities, armies of them: the lowest are those just beyond us, the chelas, and then higher still are the masters, and the masters of the masters; and then the chohans; and the maha-chohans; and then the dhyani-chohans; and then the dhyani-buddhas; and thus endlessly, on and up, for infinity is limitless and endless. And this process of hierarchical development has been going on from eternity in the past, and will continue into eternity in the future.
The reason why men find it difficult to accept this sublime teaching is the fact that their minds are so full of other thoughts that it is difficult for them to drive in and find place for and fix in their memory these sublime truths. Men will not willingly give up their prejudices; they break not willingly their mind-molds. How many of us come to a meeting like this with minds made up on what we "know to be the truth," because, forsooth, we have so read it somewhere, and our minds are crystallized in that setting. I know how difficult it is for each one of us to keep the mind always free and plastic, always ready to accept the truth, no matter what our own prejudices, religious, philosophic, or scientific, may be. The critic is not the wise man. The critic unconsciously to himself sees his own littleness; the wise man, the man who knows, will say rather, "I will think, I will examine this that the teacher has given me. This is an opportunity; I will not reject it because it seems difficult for me to believe, or because I have read that H. P. Blavatsky in such a passage said so and so." Pray do not take any one passage of H. P. Blavatsky's or Katherine Tingley's or William Q. Judge's, and build an iron wall of prejudice about it, because you think you have understood it. Keep the mind fluid and open and plastic; hold fast to that which your soul, your conscience, tells you is good; and, if necessary, wait! Thebes was not builded in a day.
Before concluding, there is a question which must have arisen in every thoughtful theosophical mind, and it has been thusly phrased by a student:
If every one is under the guidance of the dhyani-chohans, how does it happen that, as H. P. Blavatsky says in The Secret Doctrine, volume I, page 412, end of the second paragraph, "cruelty, blunders, and but too-evident injustice" are to be found in nature? And she then quotes the saying that nature is a "comely mother but stone cold."
The principles upon which this thoughtful question has been based are very simple indeed. In the first place, the dhyani-chohans do not "guide nature"; not any more than man's inner dhyani-chohan guides the circulation of his blood, or the processes of his own digestion. Those things belong to the lower spheres of nature. There is a dhyani-chohan at the head of every department of nature; but direct interference, the old theological idea of an Almighty God interfering with the mess he has himself created, is not accepted in our teachings. The dhyani-chohans do not "guide" the material processes of nature. They are the summit of the hierarchy and form the "laws" according to which nature works; but every entity, every monad, every atom, every soul, has the power of free will and choice, in more or less limited degree, depending upon its intelligence, and must exercise it or go down. And there is the key, the answer to the question. Man does not control by his thought the beating of his heart or the processes of his digestion, or the time it takes him to grow from babyhood to youth, from youth to manhood, and from manhood to sink into decrepitude. Those things are ruled by what are properly called the nature-forces; and the laws upon which the nature-forces work are those superior operations which represent the automatic spiritual activities of the dhyani-chohans; but to say that they guide nature is untrue; the idea is a relic of the old theological Christian dogmas which remains in our minds; and we must wash our intellects clean of such thoughts if we wish to understand the heart, the essence, of the ancient teachings, which show one organism, one universal life, in diversified action everywhere. And in this one organism, in this one beating heart, in this one universal life, there are these multitudinous and countless and endless and infinite series of intelligences, each working out its own destiny from inward impulses, controlled by various higher entities in which they move, and live, and have their being.
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