This group focuses onthe study of H. P. Blavatsky’s magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine.
Study Resources: http://www.universaltheosophy.com/secret-doctrine-study/
The Secret Doctrine Study Group is investigating HPB’s central work through themes and key ideas. We are not going through the book sequentially. Instead we are trying to cover broad themes to help students gain a foothold in the key ideas of the work. Passages from the book will be posted periodically. Students are encouraged to study the passage, and the full section of the book to which it belongs if they so desire.
Study Aids for the Secret Doctrine: 2017
July 25, 2016 at 5:54 pm #1407
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Study Aids for the Secret Doctrine: 2017
ModeratorTN July 25, 2016 at 6:06 pm #1413
The first and the most important idea to understand in reference to evolution in this our kingdom is the following:
The pivotal doctrine of the Esoteric philosophy admits no privileges or special gifts in man, save those won by his own Ego through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations. (S.D. I, 17.)
In the philosophy of Theosophy this fundamental plays the leading role. Every enquirer is told of it at the very start. Every tyro in Theosophy speaks about it. It is not a difficult proposition to understand, and yet, without doubt, it is the most difficult one to practise, and because of that, very often it is the least understood of the teachings. This is not paradoxical but the fact is that this teaching cannot be grasped by mind alone — however mighty the mind. No amount of theoretical knowledge of it will produce necessary effects. To know it thoroughly the teaching has to be applied, has to be practised, many a time, in many a situation, till dimly its activity stands revealed to our perception. It is not a mental process, hence mind alone cannot fathom its mystery; it is amanasic process, in which our mind is only a learner. Ordinarily our minds are the enlightening influence in our lives; but what has given it its enlightening power? Manas, the Thinker, is the teacher of mind; he lights the mind; from him our minds gain their power to illumine, their capacity to shine. Only when Manasic action of the Thinker, the Manushya, the Real Man, begins to operate does this teaching, through application, become clear.
The “mind is like a mirror; it gathers dust while it reflects,” says The Voice of the Silence. But Manas is the Light of Buddhi which is fed by the Energy of Atma; it is the flame, radiant and luminous, which all the time performs the sacrificial action of consuming dust to make it shine in splendour. The energy of Atma is the Will, free and impersonal; the Light of Buddhi is the Intelligence which utilizes it because it is energized by that Will.
Will is the creative power in man — the maker of super-man. By our will we are the fashioners of that which is divine in us but which now is asleep, dormant, latent. Conscious, intelligent Will is the faculty par excellence of man, and this is the moulder of Individuality itself. Manas gains mastery over his mind and the other lower instruments by the power of Will and the faculty of intelligent discernment.
From B.P. Wadia’s Studies in the Secret Doctrine
ModeratorTN August 4, 2016 at 6:57 am #1526
The initial steps of this momentous journey have to be taken now and here by every earnest student of the Wisdom.
The first of these is to reject, without any mental reservation, without any equivocation whatever, all religious, philosophic or scientific creeds which teach the existence of an Intelligent Ruler of men, Father of His children; which teach dependence on power, force or law outside of man himself; which inculcate the practice of ceremonial and ritual for appeasing powers sub- or super-human; or which encourage the notion of man becoming a ministering angel or deva with a view to propitiate the desires of mortals. To all who are in churches or mosques or schools where either or all of the above doctrines are taught, East or West, Theosophy says — “Come out from among them and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing.” (II Corinthians vi:17.)
That is the first step — the complete rejection of orthodox creeds which have to be blindly believed, or which encourage dependence on outer agencies, personal or institutional.
B.P. Wadia Studies in the Secret Doctrine Growth through Self Effort
ModeratorTN August 4, 2016 at 7:00 am #1528
From SD i 339-341
The one prevailing, most distinct idea ― found in all ancient teaching,with reference to Cosmic Evolution and the first “creation” of our Globe with all its products, organic and inorganic (strange word for an Occultist to use) ― is that the whole Kosmos has sprung from the DIVINE THOUGHT. This thought impregnates matter, which is co-eternal with the ONE REALITY; and all that lives and breathes evolves from the emanations of the ONE Immutable ― Parabrahm = Mulaprakriti, the eternal one-root. The former of these is, so to say, the aspect of the central point turned inward into regions quite inaccessible to human intellect, and is absolute abstraction; whereas, in its aspect as Mulaprakriti ― the eternal root of all, ― it gives one some hazy comprehension at least of the Mystery of Being.
ModeratorTN August 11, 2016 at 12:00 am #2010
From Mr. Wadia’s Studies in the Secret Doctrine
In the philosophy of Theosophy this fundamental plays the leading role. Every enquirer is told of it at the very start. Every tyro in Theosophy speaks about it. It is not a difficult proposition to understand, and yet, without doubt, it is the most difficult one to practise, and because of that, very often it is the least understood of the teachings. This is not paradoxical but the fact is that this teaching cannot be grasped by mind alone — however mighty the mind. No amount of theoretical knowledge of it will produce necessary effects. To know it thoroughly the teaching has to be applied, has to be practised, many a time, in many a situation, till dimly its activity stands revealed to our perception. It is not a mental process, hence mind alone cannot fathom its mystery; it is amanasic process, in which our mind is only a learner. Ordinarily our minds are the enlightening influence in our lives; but what has given it its enlightening power? Manas, the Thinker, is the teacher of mind; he lights the mind; from him our minds gain their power to illumine, their capacity to shine. Only when Manasic action of the Thinker, the Manushya, the Real Man, begins to operate does this teaching, through application, become clear.The “mind is like a mirror; it gathers dust while it reflects,” says The Voice of the Silence. But Manas is the Light of Buddhi which is fed by the Energy of Atma; it is the flame, radiant and luminous, which all the time performs the sacrificial action of consuming dust to make it shine in splendour. The energy of Atma is the Will, free and impersonal; the Light of Buddhi is the Intelligence which utilizes it because it is energized by that Will.
Gerry Kiffe August 28, 2016 at 3:37 pm #2773
“Thou canst not travel on the Path before thou hast become the Path itself.” The Voice of the Silence
Is this essentially the same idea here. We cannot really awake to metaphysical truths, become perceptive of their actions until we put ourselves in rapport with them through use? In other words is the intellectual grasp of a metaphysical proposition only a step in the learning process and not the end?
ModeratorTN August 17, 2016 at 6:19 pm #2393
The study of The Secret Doctrine proves unprofitable unless the student sees at his own stage of evolution, in his own life, in the activity of his own complex nature, the unity which is basic from which differentiation springs and on which diversity manifests. Meta-physics is not a subject for consideration by the mind only. Therefore there is no possibility of anyone fully grasping the meaning of the Three Fundamentals by the power of intellect alone. True science is not solely of the senses, however prominent the part sense-perceptions play in its vocation. Thus, unless a serious attempt is made by the student to see the activity of the Three Fundamentals in the function and the process of his own individual life, they must remain mysterious and confusing and fail to inspire him to better life or nobler labours.
From: Studies in the Secret Doctrine: The Yoga of the Secret Doctrine by B.P. Wadia
Gerry Kiffe August 28, 2016 at 3:28 pm #2763
If the study of metaphysics is more than an intellectual enterprise, more than the marshaling or memorizing of facts, more than a sequence of connected ideas then what role does imagination play in metaphysical study? Is there a child-like quality to metaphysical flights of imagination?
Kristan Stratos August 28, 2016 at 5:05 pm #2814
I understand that imagination acts as a conduit for intuition. When an individual begins to exercise their imagination regarding metaphysical subjects, it may open a new avenue, or perhaps vistas of wider thinking and assimilation of two seemingly “unrelated” topics.
We can look at children, or even remember our childhood experiences- the more that imagination is exercised, the ability to intuit and perceive that which isn’t readily available increases. Information is assimilated, tested and exercised, then stretched to its limit without losing its fundamental integrity.
It is said someplace that metaphysics leads directly to the heart doctrine, however we mustn’t understand metaphysics to be “flights of fancy” as so often called, nor should we think that imagination alone leads to Ideal within the heart. The true metaphysician takes fundamental laws and begins to exercise them beyond mere convention understandings, which may be initially done through ones ability to imagine.
- This reply was modified 6 months ago by Gerry Kiffe.
barbaraParticipantbarbara August 30, 2016 at 1:55 am #3007
“I understand that imagination acts as a conduit for intuition. When an individual begins to exercise their imagination regarding metaphysical subjects, it may open a new avenue, or perhaps vistas of wider thinking and assimilation of two seemingly “unrelated” topics.”
This is an interesting observation. What do you think is the relationship between intuition and imagination? Can one be intuitive without a developed imagination and vice versa? In the business world we often speak about visionary leaders and, now that I am thinking about it, I can see they are both intuitive and imaginative. It seems we cannot have one without the other.
Some schools stress on the importance of developing a strong imagination while others hardly mention it. In the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, imagination is defined as one of the five modifications of our mind; the other four are right thinking, wrong thinking, sleep and memory.
Imagination is a function found only in humans, it has the power to create and materialize that from the invisible to things substantial. It is not imponderable to say that all forms are embodiment of ideas. We live in a visible universe made out of thoughts. Like everything else, imagination could be used for the good or for evil purposes. The wrong use could strengthen the veils illusions while the proper use could help us to see things as they are, piercing to the heart of Truth.
Kristan Stratos August 30, 2016 at 3:16 am #3067
To me, it seems unlikely that intuition can be cultivated without some ability to be imaginative, so I would agree with you when you say the two appear to be codependent.
Perhaps there is a balance that must be maintained however. I think there can be a lot said about exercising the imagination, for instance, “gathering it” rather than expelling it on the fantasies of the lower mind. I think you had tougher upon this in your closing sentence.
Grace Cunningham August 30, 2016 at 4:29 pm #3090
When we study and brood over metaphysical ideas sufficiently what seems to happen is the mind works to form a picture of sorts, to give some analogical form perhaps, to the idea in mind. This seems to me to be an act of imagination. It is the image making faculty of consciousness. The student is invited to wipe the slate clean and start over again in the effort to form a clearer picture, a more comprehensive and perhaps more universal representation. And this process goes on and on. The better the picture the more dynamic is its suggestive power.
Peter August 30, 2016 at 3:15 pm #3076
Perhaps there is another question about the intellect that is worth considering, namely, is the intellect merely the marshalling or memorising of facts; a sequence of connected ideas?
The intellect is normally defined as the faculty of reasoning and understanding. We certainly need to gather information and ideas as part of the process, but wouldn’t we normally say this is just an initial stage. If we stopped at the gathering stage, our understanding would likely be very superficial.
When we gather information and ideas but don’t reflect upon them deeply and apply our power of reasoning to them, the danger is we may simply end up marshalling so called facts and ideas that fit in with our pre-existing beliefs while ignoring or reject those which upset them. A mind able to reason and reflect and which values truth over falsity isn’t afraid of ideas or facts that contradict existing beliefs. In themselves, the facts are always friendly.
What do we mean by imagination? Perhaps, when we talk about imagination we mean the power of using images rather than concepts i.e. we see intellect as merely dealing with concepts in contrast to, say, art which is an imaginative and visual process.
Is imagination something separate from the intellect? Can we conceptually understand the relevance of Pythagorus’ theorem without first being able to imaging a right angled triangle? Or, what about calculating how a spaceship might be launched from earth and eventually circle around Jupiter when it arrives in a few years time? Can we do that without using the imagination?
When we talk about imagination in contrast to intellect do we just mean imaginal thinking in contrast to logical thinking? Are both of these aspects or faculties of the Intellect or different aspects of mind altogether?
Kristan Stratos September 1, 2016 at 4:30 pm #3248
William Q Judge speaks about the Occult aspects of imagination:
“In Occultism it is known to be of the highest importance that one should should have the imagination under such control as to be able to make a picture of anything at anytime, and if this power has not been so trained by the possession of other sorts of knowledge will not enable one to perform certain classes of a occult phenomena.”
With this being said, I think Peter mentions some important additions when speaking about the intellect and its role. I believe without the basic knowledge of something, the imagination has little to no bearings to follow.
If we consider the artist, we find that some years of technical training and basic understanding of color theory must be apprehended in order to produce a sound composition. This is an intellectual process initially, that which follows is the artists’ ability to interpret what they see with the minds eye- “imagination”- and properly convey on to the canvas or other medium.
Same with the poet. Intellectual knowledge- grammar- followed by the “esotericism” of words- imagery conveyed.
In studying the SD, I believe fundamental axioms should be taken as essential structures which initially must be logically and intellectually understood, then imagination must be concentrated/cultivated and worked according to the axioms as well as what is immediately perceived.
In other words, analogy and correspondence. The ABC’s of developing the Imagination of Occultism perhaps.
Odin TownleyParticipantOdin Townley November 5, 2016 at 6:02 pm #3746
H. P. Blavatsky wrote:
No more did Simon Magus wait to be entranced to fly off in the air before the apostles and crowds of witnesses. “It requires no conjuration and ceremonies; circle-making and incensing are mere nonsense and juggling,” says Paracelsus. The human spirit “is so great a thing that no man can express it; as God Himself is eternal and unchangeable, so also is the mind of man. If we rightly understood its powers, nothing would be impossible to us on earth. The imagination is strengthened and developed through faith in our will. Faith must confirm the imagination, for faith establishes the will.”
– Isis Unveiled 2:598
Pierre WoutersModeratorPierre Wouters November 6, 2016 at 4:43 pm #3748
Perhaps this is helpful Grace:
“For, as soon as DARKNESS—or rather that which is “darkness” for ignorance—has disappeared in its own realm of eternal Light, leaving behind itself only its divine manifested Ideation, the creative Logoi have their understanding opened, and they see in the ideal world (hitherto concealed in the divine thought) the archetypal forms of all, and proceed to copy and build or fashion upon these models forms evanescent and transcendent.
At this stage of action, the Demiurge is not yet the Architect. Born in the twilight of action, he has yet to first perceive the plan, to realise the ideal forms which lie buried in the bosom of Eternal Ideation, as the future lotus-leaves, the immaculate petals, are concealed within the seed of that plant. . . ” (SD I:380)
The formless is not devoid of substance, it’s a term used relative to our understanding.
- This reply was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by Pierre Wouters.
Gerry Kiffe December 1, 2016 at 6:29 am #3920
I was thinking about your comment here Pierre and it occurred to me that whole concept of Form has a certain illusory quality to it due to its relationship with Time. When we see a form it is a snapshot in a single moment. But actually that form is in motion, going through changes, and if we watch long enough it will change form completely. What we would call an apple changes form completely when consumed. The energies from the sugars and the transmutation of the fluids into blood render what was once called an apple into something different all together. So you get energy passing from form to form never idle never wholly stationary. It is interesting to think about.
Check it out: https://youtu.be/n2rbpUcavGI
Pavel AxentievParticipantPavel Axentiev February 7, 2017 at 10:28 pm #4812
Interesting. In the Fourth Way, imagination is treated in a somewhat conservative way. There it is primarily dealt with as the uncontrolled activity of the mind, which is antagonistic to the development of consciousness. Similarly, in other traditions, controlling the mind comes first, before the mind can be used for its more exalted purposes: for example, in Buddhism, the meditation called “calm abiding,” in which the practitioner learns to control his/her mind by withdrawing from all the on-going thought activity, is a pre-requisite for all higher forms of meditation, including those that utilise visualization (i.e. imagination in its higher sense).
JamesParticipantJames February 8, 2017 at 12:52 am #4813
A really good point on imagination and its duality.
1. Uncontrolled imagination where the minds is allowed to follow our fantasy’s or desires.
2. Creative visualization, when the mind directs the picture making faculty to produce a needed outcome such as the Master in the Heart meditation.
Quote; “Your best method is to concentrate on the Master as a Living Man within you. Make His image in your heart, and a focus of concentration, so as to lose all sense of bodily existence in the one thought”. cw12 697…
ModeratorTN August 25, 2016 at 6:40 pm #2611
Studies in the Secret Doctrine:
The Law of Karma
The Universe of Law is accepted as a basic truth by all. The most superstitious slave of priestcraft, the believer in chance, coincidence, the “psychological moment,” fatalism, and also the most abject materialist reared by modern science — all avow that the universe, physical, moral, mental, is — must be — governed by law. Law, however, assumes the aspect of a whimsical and mysterious personal god with some; with others, is locked up in the power of thought exerted by human free will; is the code of the partly discovered and the partly to be discovered “facts” of modern “exact science” with a third class. The truth that the “infallible laws” of materialistic science break down in conflict with moral problems does not disturb the upholders of those “laws”; on the other hand the advance of knowledge which has overthrown the “revealed will of God” makes little difference to the blind believer in the non-existent “Almighty.”
ModeratorTN September 21, 2016 at 6:27 am #3475
From B.P. Wadia’s Studies in the Secret Doctrine: The Eternal Pilgrim
Let us study Man; but if we separate him for one moment from the Universal Whole, or view him, in isolation from a single aspect, apart from the “Heavenly Man” — the Universe symbolized by Adam Kadmon, Purushottama, or their equivalents in every philosophy — we shall fail most ingloriously in our attempt. Further, be it noted that unforeseen and unexpected dangers lie that way if and when the student in his earnestness and enthusiasm begins to make applications to himself and in his life arising out of such separative study. Let every single student be thoroughly impressed with an idea, which the Masters have endeavoured to impart to Theosophists at large, namely, the great axiomatic truth that the only eternal and living reality is that which the Hindus call Paramatma and Parabrahman.
ModeratorTN November 16, 2016 at 5:51 pm #3815
The human kingdom is the balance between non-humanity and super-humanity. Hence the human kingdom is the plain of Kurukshetra — the plane of struggle and war. The hell of non-self-consciousness is behind, the heaven of all-self-consciousness is in front of man — in his present state the purgation of matter has to be undertaken by him. This means that leaving behind his stateor condition of self-consciousness he has to make of himself a Self-Conscious Being. The personality has to lose its animal nature, its vegetative tendencies, its inert earthiness and become pure; then only can that purified personality be handled by Manas, the Thinker, who running with it, through the seven-fold upward course assimilates to himself the eternal life-power of Atma, and blends it, himself and that Atma into one and becomes a Self-Conscious Pure-Buddhi-Being — Wisdom-Incarnate, Lord of Contemplation.
From B.P. Wadia’s Studies in the Secret Doctrine “Growth Through Self-Effort”
Odin TownleyParticipantOdin Townley December 1, 2016 at 4:59 pm #3933
Having the right tools for a job is essential, just ask any electrician, plumber or carpenter. Equally important, is that the tools being used are dependable and in good working condition. Just ask any parachutist, race car driver, mountain climber, or pole vaulter. Bottom line, their very physical life and existence depends on the quality and reliability of the vehicles they use.
Similarly, the temper of our body and senses often determine, for better or worse, our spirit’s ability to express its otherwise buried genius.
The quality and adequacy of “the brain and body to transmit and give expression” to the immortal spirit, Blavatsky wrote in her article “Genius”, is “the result of Karma.” She offers the analogy that “the physical is the musical instrument, and the Ego, the performing artist.”
No skill of the soul she wrote, “can awaken faultless harmony out of a broken or badly made instrument.” The physical “may be a priceless Stradivarius or a cheap and cracked fiddle,” she said.
“Genius,” she wrote, “is due to no blind chance, to no innate qualities through hereditary tendencies – though that which is known as atavism may often intensify these faculties – but to an accumulation of individual antecedent experiences of the Ego in its preceding life, and lives. For, though omniscient in its essence and nature, it still requires experience through its personalities of the things of earth, earthy on the objective plane, in order to apply the fruition of that abstract omniscience to them. And, adds our philosophy – the cultivation of certain aptitudes throughout a long series of past incarnations must finally culminate in some one life, in a blooming forth as genius, in one or another direction.”
Link to HPB’s Article:
W. Q. Judge’s Ocean of Theosophy, Chapter 9:
The whole mass of detail of a life is preserved in the inner man to be one day fully brought back to the conscious memory in some other life when we are perfected. And even now, imperfect as we are and little as we know, the experiments in hypnotism show that all the smallest details are registered in what is for the present known as the sub-conscious mind. The theosophical doctrine is that not a single one of these happenings is forgotten in fact, and at the end of life when the eyes are closed and those about say we are dead every thought and circumstance of life flash vividly into and across the mind.
Many persons do, however, remember that they have lived before. Poets have sung of this, children know it well, until the constant living in an atmosphere of unbelief drives the recollection from their minds for the present, but all are subject to the limitations imposed upon the Ego by the new brain in each life. This is why we are not able to keep the pictures of the past, whether of this life or the preceding ones. The brain is the instrument for the memory of the soul, and, being new in each life with but a certain capacity, the Ego is only able to use it for the new life up to its capacity. That capacity will be fully availed of or the contrary, just according to the Ego’s own desire and prior conduct, because such past living will have increased or diminished its power to overcome the forces of material existence.
Link to Chapter 9:
By living according to the dictates of the soul the brain may at last be made porous to the soul’s recollections; if the contrary sort of a life is led, then more and more will clouds obscure that reminiscence. But as the brain had no part in the life last lived, it is in general unable to remember. And this is a wise law, for we should be very miserable if the deeds and scenes of our former lives were not hidden from our view until by discipline we become able to bear a knowledge of them.
ModeratorTN December 12, 2016 at 8:08 pm #4003
From WQ Judge’s Hidden Hints in the Secret Doctrine
AKASA AND MANAS CORRESPOND. See footnote p. 13, Vol. I. “That Akasa, the fifth universal Cosmic Principle—to which corresponds and from which proceeds human Manas—is, cosmically, a radiant, cool, diathermanous, plastic matter, creative in its physical nature, correlative in its grossest aspects and portions, immutable in its higher principles.” It must therefore follow, under the law of correspondences, that manas in the seven-fold division is creative, correlative, and immutable in the same way and portions as stated for Akasa.
MANAS IN THE 5th ROUND. By following out the correspondence we find that as Ether, the lower form of Akasa, now semi-material, will become visible in the air at the end of this Round—the 4th-so manas, now only semi-developed in this race, will be further evolved in the 5th Round, at the same time with the parent source, and as the form of Ether spoken of will then be the superior element in nature, so at the same time the superior principle reigning in the septenary constitution of man will be manas. The full development of manas imposes full responsibility on the race, and thus we see how the turning point is reached and what it may mean, and also what is the meaning of the “moment of Choice.” With full responsibility the choice must be made by the race which thus has perfect manas. It is for and towards that period that the Masters of Wisdom are now working so as to prepare the present Egos for the momentous days when the choice of the good or evil path must be intelligently made.
And as in many places in the Secret Doctrine the author says that we are the same egos who were in the Atlantean bodies, and that they had a very weighty karma, we may perceive why it is that are those who will be compelled to make the great choice for good or evil destiny in the next Round.
Gerry Kiffe January 7, 2017 at 10:39 pm #4388
From B.P. Wadia’s Study Aids for the Secret Doctrine
The human constitution is a composite one. Man’s highest or Spirit-pole is a portion of the One Life, universal and unitary. It emerges from its state of spiritual unconsciousness and migrates to the plane of mentality still intellectually unconscious and from there its inherent energizing power functions. Like the grub which becomes chrysalis and butterfly, Man, or rather that which becomes man, passes through all the forms and kingdoms and human shapes, till self-consciousness comes to birth. Then progressing onward through savagery to citizenship and beyond to perfect sageship, the Mahatma is born. But all the time it is one and the same Being. That pole of our being which is the lower-material enjoys the sacrificial offering of the higher-spiritual. Thus Buddhi comes to be because Atma limits Itself, by its own inherent power. Body is formed because Prana sacrifices itself as a connecting, nourishing link holding in unison the countless lives who make the form-rupa. Manas sacrifices itself to redeem the Kamic nature by the same Law of Yagna which joins Buddhi to Manas.
Ramprakash ML February 8, 2017 at 10:39 am #4814
January 7, 2017 at 10:39 pm #4388
Thus it is evident that the universe of beings comes into existence because of sacrifice, exist by sacrifice, progresses and emancipated by sacrifice – Yajna. SACRIFICE is the law of life.
In her polemical discussions with Emile Bournof HPB argues that the Darwinian theory of struggle for life and survival of the fittest that it is a pseudo law, in the sense that it is not universal ; that it seems to be in action in the vegetable kingdom, in the animal world, and not in the human kingdom except in the man’s animal nature; and that it is wholly inapplicable in the higher human nature. Higher evolution of man takes place only by the law of sacrifice.
Pierre WoutersModeratorPierre Wouters February 8, 2017 at 5:53 pm #4815
what do you understand by “sacrifice”?
For many people it sounds very negative, as if you have to give up something of yourself that will be lost forever. People often equate it with the word “slaughter”, as in sacrificing animals for instance. However, the etymological root we find in the Latin word sacer, meaning ‘holy’ or ‘sacred’, which gives the word “sacrifice” a completely different bend from its mundane interpretation, thus, “to make sacred”. It is not a “removing from” or “giving up” of something, but rather an “adding to” or “elevating” quality, so that every action we take becomes an elevating experience “sacrificed” to the unity of the Heavenly Man, rather than a degrading experience that leads to disintegration.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.
Ramprakash ML February 10, 2017 at 5:35 pm #4854
Hello Pierre. Thanks for the nice comment. I agree. The word sacrifice has a crude connotation in the ordinary parlance–as slaughtering animals in religious rites for worldly gains. But it it has an altogether different meaning in Wisdom tradition, as you have pointed out. Yes, it means adding to, elevating, transforming, transmuting, ennobling, raising up something to a higher status. It has an aura of sanctity, a sacredness. I also think Yajna – Sacrifice means this.
I believe this raising up of something to higher status involve giving up of the lower status by certain means and growing up to a higher order. A seed has to die in order to become a tree, the baby has to die out of its uterine life in order to be born as a man or a woman. Man and woman have to die as man and woman in order to be reborn in spirit as gods. This transition from the lower to the higher involves a certain effort and pain.
The personal self, the alter Ego on earth of the Eternal Ego in heaven, has to die out of its worldly life, so natural to it, in order to be born as an immortal Ego : ie., merging with the Higher Ego. As St Paul says corruption has to put on incorruption, mortality has to out on immortality. This transition to the higher from the lower is a conscious effort in the light of full knowledge of replacing the transitory and the perishable with the permanent and everlasting. It is a conscious dissolution of the former and rebirth into the latter.
This is one side of the story.
Ramprakash ML February 10, 2017 at 6:27 pm #4855
The other side of the story, as it seems to me is this :
The Entities who thus grow in conscious, Manasic, life to divinity are so bound up in the tie of Brotherhood that they are compelled by the Law of Karma–whose ultimate end and purpose is emancipation of all beings–to sacrifice their divine felicitous, blissful heavenly life, exile from that higher life to incarnate on the miserable earth–the mansion of death– in order to raise up the Egos still bound to miseries of conditioned existence, as well as the Monads of the sub-human kingdoms, to higher life. This is Yajna consciously performed with full knowledge and responsibility.
In the Transactions HPB shows the name of the Higher Ego (which we are, indeed, in reality) Aja, meaning Lamb, as well as unborn (therefore, deathless) who sacrifices himself to himself to redeem all creatures. He is a voluntary sacrificial victim, like the lamb is in exoteric rituals.
Is not the Spiritual Ego, the Manasa Putra, though innocent of the sins of its temporary series of shadow on earth nevertheless take on the sins of the latter and suffer ? He suffers in order that the thief may be raised up to heaven–a thief difficult to tame and reform. Truly he is the Lamb. He is also the good shepherd, the leader of the herd of sheep.
In the same way we can say, I suppose, Purusha, the universal Spirit. sacrifices itself to become all this in obedience to the Law of sacrifice out of compassion absolute that all may be saved and emancipated.
Hence Krishna says in the 8th chapter of the Gita, “I am Adi-Yajna in this body.”
The Wondrous Being, Mahadeva, the Initiator, the BEING, the MAHA GURU, though emancipated and gone on to the unknown (to us) fields of Absolute Life, refused to go on, but sacrifices himself, and “sitting on the threshold of LIGHT, he looks into it from within the circle of Darkness, which he will not cross; not will he quit his post till the last day of this life-cycle.”
“Why does he sit be the fountain of primeval Wisdom, of which he drinks no longer, as he has naught to learn which he does not know……because he has sacrificed himself for the sake of mankind, though but a few Elect may profit by the GREAT SACRIFICE.” (SD, I. p. 207, 208)
Does not Krishna say that though there is nothing in the three regions of the universe for him to perform, nor anything possible to obtain which he has not obtained, and that yet he is constantly in action, failing which all these creatures would perish ?
Most inspiring !
Universe comes into existence by sacrifice, is sustained by sacrifice, evolves towards endless perfection through sacrifice. Sacrifice is the Law of Life.
Selfishness, the Darwinian idea of fight for survival in and for animal existence, though partially true on the animal plane, it is wholly false, the very antithesis of human life in its higher aspect.
Peter February 10, 2017 at 10:13 am #4853
I’m not sure about this ‘survival of the fittest’ question. I’d be interested to see what HPB says in the conversation you refer to. HPB has this to say on the topic in one article in Collected Writings:
“In his letter of December 7th, Colonel Olcott very appropriately illustrates his subject
of potential immortality by citing the admitted physical law of the survival of the fittest.
The rule applies to the greatest as to the smallest things—to the planet equally with the
plant. It applies to man.”
(CW 1 297 “Views of the Theosophists’)
Wouldn’t we say that this applies to the spiritual aspect of our nature too? Perhaps it depends on what we mean by ‘the fittest’ or what it is, exactly, that is fit to survive? For example, only the spiritual aspects of the personality in this or any lifetime will survive, be assimilated and thus ‘immortalised’ by the Higher Ego (Buddhi-Manas) in Devachan. Isn’t the extent to which a human being is able to achieve this union also a crucial aspect of what the Mahatma refers to in His letter to Sinnett?
‘…matter ground over in the workshop of nature proceeds soulless back to its Mother Fount; while the Egos purified of their dross are enabled to resume their progress once more onward. It is here, then, that the laggard Egos perish by the millions. It is the solemn moment of the “survival of the fittest,” the annihilation of those unfit. It is but matter (or material man) which is compelled by its own weight to descend to the very bottom of the “circle of necessity” to there assume animal form; as to the winner of that race throughout the worlds — the Spiritual Ego, he will ascend from star to star, from one world to another, circling onward to rebecome the once pure planetary Spirit, then higher still, to finally reach its first starting point, and from thence — to merge into MYSTERY.’
(Mahatma Letter to Sinnett, letter 9; Barker Edition)
We see another similar reference in Letter 13, note 6, where the Mahatma talks about the destruction of egos in the fifth Round.
Ramprakash ML February 10, 2017 at 7:18 pm #4856
Hello Peter, So nice to hear from you after a long long time. How are you ?
You have raised a subject most stimulating and deeply interesting. Olcott’s point that the Law of the survival of the fittest applies to all things, from the smallest the the greatest, from planets to man, — it seems to me — is unquestionable. It is unmistakably in action in physical nature. In the SD we are shown how planets fought for supremacy, the larger swallowing up the smaller, the Sun devouring the weaker brethren of his, before the final harmonious adjustments were made by Fohat.
Yes, it applies to man also, but to man as the terrestrial animal, ie., as personality, the physical being, ignorant of his spiritual nature. Is not this evident, in full flow, in the political economy of our civilization ? But it applies only to animal man.
But man is not animal, though he has descended from heaven to assume the animal nature in order to tame, refine and raise up the animal.
It seems to me that you have stated it correctly that the word “Fittest” of “Fit” has a different connotation when it comes to man in his higher human aspect. As you have said what survives the death of man is only his noblest and the most spiritual elements of his personality which become assimilated to Buddhi in Devachan. Thus, in one aspect, what survives is “fit” for assimilation with the Spirit. Whatever is “unfit” in man is his gross, material, selfish, animal propensities which are purged away in Kama Loka. They have no place in heaven. So here the ‘Fit” is in a sense the opposite of what is implied in the Darwinian notion.
As regards Master’s statement about millions of Egos losing out in the “Race to Immortality” and perish : to my mind it refers to the the terrible calamity called “Spiritual Death,” which is the fate of those personalities which have in them not one iota of a higher thought or feeling which can cling on to the Divine Self after death of man, and hence perish entirely. It is a most profound doctrine, so important that a diffusion of the knowledge of it may save many thousands who otherwise may suffer the dire fate–of ANNIHILATION.
FITNESS, then in the spiritual life it seems to me to have nothing in common with fitness in the competitive world of animal economy.
Fitness for immortality is gained precisely by conscious rejection of the selfish and the personal, which are the children of Ignorance–Avidya–and enter upon the Law of our true being and higher nature, which is Sacrifice. The Fire of Spiritual Knowledge it seems burns away the dross of the separative personality so that the purified Human Soul merges with the Higher Self, and becomes the ALL.
One more important point. In the next post.
Ramprakash ML February 10, 2017 at 7:43 pm #4857
One more important point :
Just as only the “fit” –ie., the most spiritual element–in the personality survive, so is the case with civilizations, family races, sub-races and Root-Races. This clearly spoken of in racial evolution in SD vol. II. Egos who make up the race do not all succeed in their fitness for higher evolution in the next higher race which follows. Only those who are MORALLY FIT, called Sishta, survive and become seeds of the next higher race. The failures are swept away in the calamities that invariably occur during the transition of cycles. (SD, II 308)
Of such great racial evolution through sifting and sorting of nations is beautifully given in SD.
“Thus, since Vaivasvata Manu’s Humanity appeared on this Earth, there have already been four such axial disturbances ; when the old continents–save the first one–were sucked in by the oceans, and other lands appeared, and huge mountain chains arose where there had been none before. The face of the Globe was completely changed each time; the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST nations and races was secured through timely help ; the unfit ones–the failures–were disposed of by being swept off the earth. Such sorting and shifting does not happen between sunset and sunrise, as one may think, but requires several thousands of years before the new house is set in order. ….The sub-races are subject to the same cleansing process, as also the side-branchlets (family-Races.” (II, p. 330)
“Great sifter is the name of the Heart Doctrine, Disciple.” (Voice of the Silence.
Peter February 13, 2017 at 10:56 am #4878
Hello Ram, thanks for your warm response. Yes, I guess my posts have been infrequent for a quite a while – largely due to poor health. That said, it’s only been a few weeks since my last contribution. I probably haven’t said anything for a while that’s noteworthy enough for you to notice!
Yes, I think a lot revolves around what we mean by the term ‘fittest’ when we talk about ‘the survival of the fittest’. It conjures up images of competition and conflict in which only the strongest or most selfish survive. To be fair to Darwin that’s not what he meant by the term. The phrase itself was coined by Herbert Spencer around 1864. Darwin had originally talked in terms of ’natural selection’ to describe his theory of evolution, but as he felt this didn’t quite do justice to what he was trying to describe he adopted Spencer’s phrase.
By ‘the fittest’ Darwin meant those species whose characteristics were most suited (i.e. adapted or fitted) to their immediate or local environment. Such species (fauna as well as animals) tended to live longer, grow healthier, and have more time to reproduce than those species less well adapted to their environment. Further, they pass on those characteristics to their offspring which ensures their survival, so the cycle continues.
For example – birds with a beak size and shape suited to the local food source are more likely to live longer and reproduce than birds whose beak shape and size are less suited to the local food source. Peacock females pick their mate according to the male’s tail. The ones with the largest and brightest tails mate more often which means that the males without bright tail feathers have become very rare. Species of trees that are efficient at dispersing their seeds are more likely to survive in certain environments than those that don’t. Thus, according to Darwinian theory, over the long time periods required for evolution, species less well adapted to their environment died out, while those better adapted survived and became the species that Darwin and we see around us today.
Darwin’s theory of gradual evolution formed a great challenge to the creationist beliefs of religion. The creationist view (especially in Darwin’s time) would be, for example, that the zebra’s stripes, the size and shape of bird beaks and claws, the way trees disperse their seeds, the long neck of a giraffe etc etc – all these are they way they are because God created them that way.
But Darwin’s theory did not require a creator nor any kind of intelligent design. It’s a materialistic world in which nature is essentially blind and devoid of any plan – all depends on best fit and the opportinuties for reproduction in a changing and complex inter-related natural world, hence this always leads to further adaption and refinement.
The notion that nature is blind is what really sets Darwin’s theory of evolution at odds with Theosophy, but perhaps more of that another time as this post has got a bit too long.
Ramprakash ML February 14, 2017 at 4:20 pm #4900
Yes, you are right Peter. even in SD HPB comments, in her criticism of Darwin’s hypothesis of Natural Selection and survival of the fittest, that Darwin himself would have been shocked to see to what extent his theory had been perverted by his over-zealous admirers.
Randomly acting Natural Selection–blind, purposeless, unguided–making selection and transmitting the traits to the progeny, delighted the world of science as a satisfactory explanation of origin and evolution of species, requiring nothing like God’s intervention of much hated clergy. God and creation idea happily became redundant.
Juxtaposing the monumental absurdity of anthropomorphic God of theologian and his “creation” out of nothing, with the soulless, and equally absurd, blind, mechanical physical forces originating and evolving species, how beautifully HPB offers, in the SD, the philosophical middle ground–of hierarchy intelligent intracosmic intelligent creative forces building and guiding the universe of beings following the plan in the Universal Mind in accordance with cyclic and Karmic laws.
Darwin’s hypothesis, rather what was made out of it, and Malthusian theory of population growth has shaped the modern western theory and practice of political economy. Adam Smith and Lord Keynes gave it the practical shape as a working model. And this has been carried to a crescendo in the globalized market economy which rules unchallenged in the world today.
In the XVII chapter of the Bhagavadgita — Devotion by means of three kinds of Faith — it is stated that Faith of mortals proceeds from Sattva quality, and that each man is of the same nature as that ideal on which his faith is fixed.
Our civilization has its faith still firmly fixed on the idea and a belief in soulless, mechanistic universe devoid of any mind, sense, aim or purpose.
As a man thinks, so he becomes.
ModeratorTN February 4, 2017 at 8:47 pm #4797
The Secret Doctrine, by Blavatsky, is a work whose aim is stated as follows: “To show that Nature is not a fortuitous concurrence of atoms, and to assign to man his rightful place in the scheme of the Universe; to rescue from degradation the archaic truths which are the basis of all religions; and to uncover, to some extent, the fundamental unity from which they all spring; finally, to show that the occult side of Nature has never been approached by the Science of modern civilization.”
This is a high aim, a great claim to advance. Whether both are fully sustained must be left, not alone to the judgment of individual readers, but to that large verdict of “humanity and the future generations,” to which the author appeals. Meantime, the just critic recognizes that these claims are ably put forth, in a work of great erudition and power. The publication of a book like this has, in itself, an emphatic significance. The attention of thinkers has in late years been directed to the evolution of thought, its laws and its results. Of these last The Secret Doctrine is a tremendous one. It marks the acme of the theosophical movement; that movement which urges a search after truth in every department of life, while predicting the final and essential unity of the whole. It shows the most advanced phase of religious development and points out its future course; not alone concerned with the beliefs of the present; refusing indeed to recognize that present as a separate fact, but showing past and future interwoven into one eternal now, and all religions, all sciences, proceeding from one primeval belief, which afterwards became differentiated, along the path of evolutionary progress, into forms which are various facets of the one truth. The writing of this work is sufficient evidence for a demand for it, and however we may take issue with some of its teachings, we must recognize the breadth and beauty of its aim; also three facts concerning it:
First, it is a great event in literature per se.
Second, it is not the outcome of the mental or other experience of any one person. No human brain could singly conceive a scheme so vast, so complex in details, so simple of base. It is evidently an aggregation beginning far back in archaic times.
Third, it is thrown into the arena where science and religion, where matter versus spirit, are warring, as the sceptre of the king was thrown into the lists to bid contention cease. It logically reconciles the combatants in proving their basic unity, in saying to the materialist: All issues from the one substance which is eternal,—and to the [believers in] spirit: That one substance is vivified by the co-eternal undetermined potency called Spirit, of which our word “will” is the nearest expression.
A Review of The Secret Doctrine
The Sherman Democrat, February 10, 1889. Literary Section.
Lami TeksözParticipantLami Teksöz February 5, 2017 at 5:38 pm #4801
Thank you Dear Cunningham. I think whatever his or her religion or is, or is an atheıst or not, everyone should read the Secret Doctrine carefully; without any prejudice. Since I met the book, it took me more than four years to understand the main topics.
Sadly, It is not known much in Turkey. Considering all the things I have learnt and benefited, I wanted to introduce it to Turkish people and prepared and made published a book titled “Madam Blavatsky- Our origins and After Death”. It may not be perfect but it is the first document in Turkish explaining the Secret Doctrine. I must confess that it is not read as much as I hoped. But I am sure, in the future, it will be a kind of reference book.