And now the last part of the explanation of what is ironically beyond explanation.  But who better to do it than HPB.

"Just as pre-Cosmic Ideation is the root of all individual consciousness, so pre-Cosmic Substance is the substratum of matter in the various grades of its differentiation.

    Hence it will be apparent that the contrast of these two aspects of the Absolute is essential to the existence of the "Manifested Universe." Apart from Cosmic Substance, Cosmic Ideation could not manifest as individual consciousness, since it is only through a vehicle  of matter that consciousness wells up as "I am I," a physical basis being necessary to focus a ray of the Universal Mind at a certain stage of complexity. Again, apart from Cosmic Ideation, Cosmic Substance would remain an empty abstraction, and no emergence of consciousness could ensue.

    The "Manifested Universe," therefore, is pervaded by duality, which is, as it were, the very essence of its EX-istence as "manifestation."
* See Mr. Subba Row's four able lectures on the Bhagavad Gita, "Theosophist," February, 1887.

 Called in Sanskrit: "Upadhi."


But just as the opposite poles of subject and object, spirit and matter, are but aspects of the One Unity in which they are synthesized, so, in the manifested Universe, there is "that" which links spirit to matter, subject to object.

    This something, at present unknown to Western speculation, is called by the occultists Fohat. It is the "bridge" by which the "Ideas" existing in the "Divine Thought" are impressed on Cosmic substance as the "laws of Nature." Fohat is thus the dynamic energy of Cosmic Ideation; or, regarded from the other side, it is the intelligent medium, the guiding power of all manifestation, the "Thought Divine" transmitted and made manifest through the Dhyan Chohans,* the Architects of the visible World. Thus from Spirit, or Cosmic Ideation, comes our consciousness; from Cosmic Substance the several vehicles in which that consciousness is individualised and attains to self — or reflective — consciousness; while Fohat, in its various manifestations, is the mysterious link between Mind and Matter, the animating principle electrifying every atom into life.

    The following summary will afford a clearer idea to the reader.

    (1.) The ABSOLUTE; the Parabrahm of the Vedantins or the one Reality, SAT, which is, as Hegel says, both Absolute Being and Non-Being.

    (2.) The first manifestation, the impersonal, and, in philosophy, unmanifested Logos, the precursor of the "manifested." This is the "First Cause," the "Unconscious" of European Pantheists.

    (3.) Spirit-matter, LIFE; the "Spirit of the Universe," the Purusha and Prakriti, or the second Logos.

    (4.) Cosmic Ideation, MAHAT or Intelligence, the Universal World-Soul; the Cosmic Noumenon of Matter, the basis of the intelligent operations in and of Nature, also called MAHA-BUDDHI.

    The ONE REALITY; its dual aspects in the conditioned Universe."

If you needed to explain the First Fundamental to a newcomer to Theosophy how would you do it?  How would you explain it to a child?

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The infinite and eternal Divine Ground of our existence that we only sense as it unfolds into the known universe.


Thank you Di for getting us started.  Cheers.


Di, I would ask you the same question as the others.  How old is the child you are telling this to? It seems pretty complex to me.  How can we communicate the idea to little children without sounding like a pile of foreign sounds to them?

What if they were 5?


While I was away from computers, I enjoyed the offerings with considerable amusement and thank you.  But I was thinking:

Since I don't know children, the good news is that, in reality, no child is at risk here, from me.  Nevertheless, what I can recall from own childhood that may get me off the right footing here is the song known as “This Little Light,”  written by Harry Dixon Loes around the year 1920, often popular with civil rights activists. It can be adapted to something that would not be inconsistent in later years with the fundamentals. Original lyrics of the chorus vary but essentially they are:

This little light of mine

I'm going to let it shine

Oh, this little light of mine

I'm going to let it shine

This little light of mine

I'm going to let it shine

Let it shine, all the time, let it shine


I haven’t spent much time on this but here’s a start for some verse:


The One, One Life eternal (I'm going to let it shine) /

First cause unknown maternal (I'm going to let it shine) /

Great breath starts as a kernal (I'm going to let it shine, let it shine, all the time, let it shine) /


Spirit of the Universe (I'm going to let it shine) /

Nature is the Earth nurse (I'm going to let it shine) /

Both mind and matter soon burst (I'm going to let it shine, let it shine, all the time, let it shine) /


What a fun challenge! I think I need someone to explain it to me! Ok, here's how I would explain it to a child: Anything that you CAN think of, and anything that you CAN'T think of, comes from ONE SOURCE.

Jimmy I am right in line behind you.


What a challenge! I'm still trying to find the way to describe it to my child, but sometimes I think he is just explaining it to me. I think it would have to come from a non-threating way or non-authoritive gestures towards them. If we were to come down on our knees and talk to them, they would see us more as an equal, eye level, and lots can be expressed from them to you at that level. And in turn you can share with them as well. Now I know this is just my limited view, and I'm still trying to figure how to relate it to him, but he comes to me sometimes if he doesn't do something, like sing in his school play, but let's me know that he is of me, and linked to me and any parent should not get upset with their child because of stage fright, I laugh and agree with him. But the very fact that he knows he's linked just says so much, and I think at what point in our lives do we (as adults) forget what we knew as children? Or how did we forget. Maybe being as creative, imaginative and non-threating as a child, could we even attempt to explain this, somewhat, how do you explain the unexplainable? Great challenge! 


For you this exercise is not merely a mind experiment but also a real life challenge!


To a child, I would say,  everything comes from One Divinity and everything will return back to the Divinity. 

"The ONE REALITY; its dual aspects in the conditioned universe."

This phrase seems to be hanging out all by itself after the numbered items in the summary. Is this one phrase the first funamental proposition in a nutshell?

I see it more as a lead-in to the next stage - the manifested universe - since the First Fundamental Proposition deals with the Pre-Manifestation when the universe has not made its appearance.


Barbara,  So would you call it the One Divinity? I am not sure children register with the word Divinity.  I don't think they register with the word God either. Don't worry there are no right or wrong answers here.  I think the exercise is a test of connecting.  Can we find words to point in the direction of the idea that will help spark an intuitions in the child?

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Permalink Reply by Jimmy on December 23, 2012 at 6:36pm
Barbara, I don't see the First Fundamental Proposition as dealing exclusively with a "pre-manifestation" stage of the universe. Instead I understand this proposition to be an exposition of principles which are later unfolded or "unpacked" in the philosophy presented in the Stanzas. For example, the pre-manifested or pre-visible (invisible!) and visible universe can be thought of within the context of the Spirit-Matter or Subject-Object principle.
Permalink Reply by Jimmy on December 23, 2012 at 7:07pm
I can also add the idea of being and non-being as related to the manifested (being) and unmanifested (non-being) universe.
Permalink Reply by barbaram on December 24, 2012 at 6:43pm

Hi Jimmy,

I see both of our points in the TS literature.  Generally, I think of manifestation to be the emanation of the Third Logos while the First and Second Logos are latent, as described in the below passage.

"The First manifested Logo is the Potentia, the unrevealed Cause; the Second, the still latent Thought; the Third, the Demiurgus, the active Will evolving from its universal Self the active effect, which, in its turn, becomes the cause on a lower plane" (Transactions pg 83).

However, I also read in many other places which portray manifestation begin with the third Logos. For example,

"The point within the circle which has neither limit nor boundaries, nor can it have any name or attribute. This first, unmanifested Logos is simultaneous with the line drawn across the diameter of the Circle. The first line or diameter of the Mother-Father; from it proceeds the Second Logos, which contains in itself the Third Manifested Word. In the Puranas, for instance, it is again said that the first production of Akasa is Sound, and Sound means in this case the "Word," the expression of the unuttered thought, the manifested Logos, that of the Greeks and Platonists and St. John (Transactions pg 16.)


Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 21, 2012 at 11:03pm

Jimmy. How old is your child in this scenario?  35?  That would bring  new meaning to the expression "born old"!

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on December 23, 2012 at 2:09pm

We're all still children, depending on our understanding.

The question how old is the child is indeed a good question seeing how different children's minds evolve between say 5 and what… 17 or 18? I know of 10 year old children with a more adult mind than many 18 year olds.

On top of that, all 5 year olds differ in understanding as well depending on the "baggage" they carry forth from previous incarnations. Although theosophy teaches that the Ego "takes possession or descends" into the child round about 7 years old (although it is "present" before conception), with some it can be 4 or 5, with others, as with me it didn't register until I was over 20 :-)

If the 5 year old would be up to it, I would say, "everything you see in this world is not you. You are only the seer of it and this seer is the only thing that is real and doesn't change, all the rest changes", which is already stretching it I think. I would not use words like witness or perceiver which for a 5 year old would already sound too metaphysical.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 23, 2012 at 2:34pm

OK, good points, you got me there.......smartypants!

Let's go with the age of 8.  How do you explain the concept of the First Fundamental in the simplest possible language to an eight year old?

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on December 26, 2012 at 10:15am

Is this the 5 year old that I'm meeting again 3 years later? Or a new kid on the block? :-)

If it's the 5 year old to whom I gave the previous answer, I'd say: "do you remember what we talked about 3 years ago and do you have any further questions?".

If it's a new 8 year old, I'd say: "talk to Jimmy and ask him if he's got some questions" :-)

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 26, 2012 at 10:50am

You are definitely not getting the job of teaching Theosophy School to the pre-schoolers!

Permalink Reply by Jimmy on December 23, 2012 at 2:48pm
Pierre, I just ran your explanation by a 5 year old, and he said to me, "Is the "seer" equivalent to the two aspects of Be-ness (Be-ness itself) -- bare subjectivity and unconditioned consciousness? If so, how are we to conceptually understand the relation between the individual consciousness as an absolute subject, and the universal distribution of this "principle"? To put it another way, is there only One Universal "Seer", or many "seers" that should somehow be conceptualized as a unity?"
Permalink Reply by Peter on December 23, 2012 at 5:09pm

That got me laughing, Jimmy.  Thanks!

I don't think I'd be any good with the child.   I imagine that the summary from the SD which Gerry has quoted for this section IS the children's version.

For the newcomer the following simple thoughts come to mind as starting places, and 'starting places' are probably the best we can do for others and for ourselves. 

The Absolute is that which IS whether there be a universe or not.

IT is every thing and no thing.

or perhaps better to say,

It is no thing and yet the Is-ness of everything.

It is the seer, the seeing and the seen.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 24, 2012 at 3:15pm

If I put myself in the place of a child of the above statements the one that connects with me the best is:

IT is everything and no thing.

How about:  IT is everything, and no thing in particular?

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on December 26, 2012 at 10:21am

I like that answer, although I used it on a 40 year old kid last week :-)

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Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on December 26, 2012 at 10:19am

You truly have an excellent sense of humor my dear sir :-)

Permalink Reply by Jimmy on December 23, 2012 at 5:59pm
Yeah like Mork from Ork! ;)

I wasn't participating in your challenge with that post. I notice that HPB's final explanation of this proposition appears to be a stand-alone phrase. Is this phrase the main idea of the entire proposition?
Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on December 26, 2012 at 10:29am

Jimmy, I would tend to say yes, indeed. Good point.

HPB ends the first proposition with a summary referring to the Absolute and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd logos and then this one line you are probably referring to.

"The ONE REALITY; its dual aspects in the conditioned Universe".

That sums up the main idea of the entire proposition I guess and is indeed not limited to the pre-cosmic only.

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on December 23, 2012 at 1:57pm

Good reference Jimmy and well put, the first fundamental in a nutshell, it includes both non-being and being.

Permalink Reply by Peter on December 24, 2012 at 4:37am

Jimmy, I hope I didn't take your post the wrong way. Apologies if so. The idea of a five year coming out with such a sophisticated clarification question like that just made me chuckle.

On the question about the seer, I would express it slightly differently to Pierre. Recognising the seer as real and the world as illusion is hugely significant yet it is still within the realm of duality, subtle though it may be. The seer as pure Awareness (Sat-Chit) is the only reality, however at this most fundamental level (to use the wrong term!) there is no 'other' to be perceived as illusion. This is the advaitic truth about the Atman being 'one without a second' - there is nothing [other from it] for it to know, and no one [other from it] to know it. It's not that everything is ONE, from this perspective, as that would make the ONE some kind of Being. It is not-two, non-dual, and this is the meaning of the term a-dwaita.

To use the analogy of a dream. In a dream we identify with a particular dream self/character while perceiving the other characters and objects in the dream as separate from us. It is our 'reality' for as long as the dream endures. The duality of subject and object which pervades the dream state, with its dream other selves, dream pleasures and fears or dream insights, can't be solved at the level of the dream. It only dissolves with a different kind of movement, we need to awaken. From the awakened perspective comes the realisation that the dream subject and all the other dream persons and objects were all the time just the one underlying consciousness. They all dissolve back into the awakened consciousness. In a very real sense, despite the seemingly real life drama of the dream, from the point of view of the awakened consciousness 'nothing ever happened'. I think it is in this sense that we might understand the statement in the Secret Doctrine:

"It stands to reason that a MONAD cannot either progress or develop, or even be affected by the changes of states it passes through. It is not of this world or plane, and may be compared only to an indestructible star of divine light and fire, thrown down on to our Earth as a plank of salvation for the personalities in which it indwells."
SD I 174

HPB says the same thing about precosmic ideation and Mulaprakriti someone but I can't find the passage at the moment. It's something along the line that despite all the modifications apparent in manifestation, neither can be thought to undergo a change of substance.

You see, I was right: I would be no good with the five or eight year old!

Permalink Reply by barbaram on December 24, 2012 at 7:01pm

Hi Peter:

This is an excellent description and analogy of the MONAD. One idea that always baffles me about this is that if the monad is unaffected by our lives and cannot be developed or progressed, then what do we mean when we speak of the three lines of evolution – spiritual, intellectual, and physical.  I can see the latter two but not the first one.


Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on December 26, 2012 at 12:47pm

Barbaram you're making an excellent point here! The 3 lines of evolution are mentioned in SD I:181. Let me chime in keeping in mind that ANY answer we try to provide in the study of theosophy is limited and not “Absolute” and thus by definition incomplete, we can say that we rather improve upon our ignorance rather than acquire knowledge (though the world may call it that way - haha) and try to remove the veils that lead to the realization that WE ARE THAT. So our answers are in reality just a new platform to improve upon further questions :-)

HPB uses the term monad in different ways, more or less corresponding to the 3 logoi. There is first of all the Monas Monadum (The ONE and ONLY) of Pythagoras, our first unmanifested logos. This THAT indeed doesn’t change, it is the potential white point in the dark circle and in its unmanifesTED “condition”, identical with the dark circle (Absolute). A potential white point being by definition a dark or black point in a circle as there exist no circles without a center. It represents in a certain sense the archetypes of Plato - “the idea(s)”. When it manifests (I’m just giving a synopsis here) it becomes the 2nd logos (the manifesTING potential of Atma-Buddhi-Manas, the THREE in ONE) where the archetype(s) become “thought(s)” in a cosmic sense. These “thoughts” manifest as “the word(s)” or 3rd logos.

When the 3rd logos (the manifesTED) or the word(s) appears, we have the appearance of Purusha-Prakriti-Mahat (distinct but ONE in THREE instead of THREE in ONE)) in the cosmos (actually they ARE the cosmos) corresponding with Atma-Buddhi-Manas in man.

So, there is the 1st logos, the Monas Monadum, unchangeable radiating from the Absolute, then the 2nd logos emanating the “monads” or atma-buddhi’s - the “pure Buddhi’s” or “sparks” of the 3rd fundamental - remember they are identical in essence with the Oversoul (the 2nd logos) - these emanating sparks or atma-buddhi’s in which manas is potential go through the lower kingdoms to develop a sufficiently complex vehicle for the reception of the Manasa Putras (also emanating but already higher developed rays from the 2nd logos (Mahat) - see SD I:577 - “The Astral Rulers of the Spheres (the planets) create the monads (the Souls) from their own substance out of the "tears of their eyes, and the sweat of their torments," endowing the monads with a spark of the Divine Light, which is their substance.”). When they incarnate and light up the sparks that have reached the human stage, the potential manas in those pure buddhi’s (monads) becomes self-conscious on our plane (us as we are now) and have to develop or reach back up through self-devised and self-induced efforts (checked by their karma) to the source from which they emanated. However, this reaching back results in this same source emanating on a higher plane (due to the acquired experience) in the next planetary chain.

To sum up, there is:

1. the unchangeable MONAD of Pythagoras.

2. the manifested monads as atma-buddhi’s going through the lower kingdoms.

(SD I:177 - as the spiritual Monad is One, Universal, Boundless and Impartite, whose rays, nevertheless, form what we, in our ignorance, call the "Individual Monads" of men and SD I:178 - The tendency towards segregation into individual Monads is gradual, and in the higher animals comes almost to the point.)

3. The evolved manifested Monads Atma-Buddhi-Manas. (Mahatma’s and Nirmanakayas)

HPB makes the comment in SD that those who can’t distinguish between the Monad and the monads ought never to meddle with esotericism (that includes all of us I guess :-)

SD I:614 - “For the Greek Monas signifies "Unity" in its primary sense. Those unable to seize the difference between the monad -- the Universal Unit -- and the Monads or the manifested Unity, as also between the ever-hidden and the revealed LOGOS or the Word, ought never to meddle in philosophy, let alone the Esoteric Sciences.”

So HPB can refer to monads, souls, sparks, elementals, pilgrims, manasa putras, etc. and still referring to the same concept from a different perspective. Always look at the context in which she coins a certain term.

The 3 lines of evolution have their ultimate source in the THREE in ONE - the triangle on the arupa planes (Kether-Chokmah-Binah) of the diagram in SD I:200.

Hope this helps a little bit.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on December 31, 2012 at 6:02pm

Hi Pierre,

I think what I am hearing from your message is that the word "monad" is used in different ways and could refer to different things, and not solely to atma- buddhi, the 6th and 7th principle in us.  When we talk about evolution of the spirit,  we are referring to the sparks of the 3rd logos, or atma-buddhi-manas since they are not separate.    If so,  I am not sure there is a difference between evolution of the spirit and the intellect.  

Thank you.


Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on January 1, 2013 at 1:02pm

Hi Barbara,

Yes, the word “monad” is used in different ways. There is first of all the One unchanging, unmanifested Monad (the 1st logos). It represents the pre-cosmic potentiality for manifestation, the power to change, move, create, think, learn, act, etc… (you name it). It is identical with the Absolute except for it’s periodical radiation.

In manifested cosmos and man it represents these same potentialities referred to as Spirit (Atma). It doesn’t change - per se - but is the power to change in manifested space. It represents every potential dimensionless point in infinite space as the capacity to exist. Space in this context is represented by Maha-Buddhi (prakriti or potential wisdom), called Buddhi in man. Thus spirit (Atma manifested) together with (Maha)-buddhi are universal and represent the 2nd logos (the Demiurg or architects of the cosmos) containing the potential (sparks or pure Buddhi’s) or individual rays to be manifested. Once this 2nd logos manifests - i.e., the potential universal wisdom becomes active as Mahat in cosmos - and emanates individual rays or sparks as the 3rd logos, it represents the manifested individually active hierarchies we call builders and in man represent mind or manas after the monad has reached the human kingdom.

This mind is dual (higher and lower manas), the higher reaching up to buddhi and the lower identifying with kama). Atma and buddhi (containing the potential manas) is also the monad going through the lower kingdoms (a figure of speech!) to develop a vehicle to allow that potential manas to become self-conscious on our earthly plane (the third fundamental is a synopsis of this process).

Once manas becomes active, that monad is the same atma-buddhi as before but with manas operative.

So spirit or atma per se (including it’s first vehicle (Maha)-buddhi doesn’t evolve. HPB explains that the only thing that evolves is Mahat in cosmos or manas in man. Spirit as a potentiality cannot evolve, what evolves is it’s active (or manasic) emanation differentiated in the universe. So we can say potentiality never evolves because it IS, what evolves is the expressed potentiality probably better referred to as ability. For example, every human being has the potentiality to become a master at playing the violin. Yehudi Menuhin used that potentiality to develop his ability to play and thus became a master violinist. I (as everyone else) have that same potentiality as Yehudi, but didn’t develop the ability and thus can’t play the violin. But my potentiality to do so is still there and as great as that of Yehudi Menuhin, but he developed the ability to play and I didn’t. As there are a gazillion expression of abilities, we can say that ability evolves, but not potentiality. So Atma (potentiality) doesn’t evolve, but manas (ability) does.

Intellect is a capacity of LOWER manas and thus tends toward material development of understanding in space and time (cause and effect), ultimately leading to black magic (HPBs words!) It is a useful instrument on our plane of conceptions but not a goal in and by itself, because it lacks the ability to come to grasp with reality. Intuition on the other hand is a capacity of higher manas because it radiates from Atma-buddhi.

So, whether unmanifested or manifested, the monad is strictly speaking only Atma (potentiality) but the use of the word monad is extended to include (Maha)-buddhi and (Mahat)-manas when that potentiality becomes gradually manifested because they existed within that potentiality before they became manifested.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on January 1, 2013 at 8:00pm


Much food for thought.

Thank you.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on January 16, 2013 at 6:25pm

When Pierre references this passage:

SD I:614 - “For the Greek Monas signifies "Unity" in its primary sense. Those unable to seize the difference between the monad -- the Universal Unit -- and the Monads or the manifested Unity, as also between the ever-hidden and the revealed LOGOS or the Word, ought never to meddle in philosophy, let alone the Esoteric Sciences.”

Is this referring to the central Platonic puzzle of the One and the Many?  What does this warning tell us about our study method?

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on January 16, 2013 at 9:25pm

One idea that comes to mind is simply the notion that we first need to really pour ourselves into the study of the fundamentals. I kind of look at the SD as giving us the proem for our "undergrad studies" ;), and the rest for our "masters degree" (pardon the terrible analogy). In essence, I think we'll really struggle with the nitty-gritty details if we don't first have some grasp of these central ideas. I think one could spend years on the proem and it wouldn't be wasted time. :)

Also, perhaps this quote says something about the subtely of 'flexibility' that we need to develop in our minds. The ability to see subtle distinctions seems so central to theosophical study.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on January 16, 2013 at 11:56pm

So is flexibility of perspective a key here?

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on January 17, 2013 at 11:01am

I would go so far as to suggest that it might be the key in our theosophical life, if we look at 'flexibility' in a larger sense. All our studies are meant, ultimately, to help bring us into a fully-conscious experience of being our true Self, so we want to move from this current state of being 'stuck' in one limited perspective, to being able to not only easily shift through a range of perspectives but to reach towards a more universal perspective. So it seems that this 'being at home' anywhere, carrying a 'continuity of consciousness' throughout the full range of our SELF, is, in a sense, all about 'flexibility'.

It's a little like our mind is frozen, like a block of ice, stuck in the shape of one limited self, with its limited concepts, and we want to thaw this out so that our mind can be fluid and take whatever shape needed.

Permalink Reply by Jimmy on December 24, 2012 at 9:09pm
Peter, you didn't take my post the wrong way. I've been told that my humor can come across as a little dry, making it difficult to tell if I'm kidding or being serious. Oh well. I seem to get by with it.

You've given me a bit to think about here. I'll have to let these thoughts brew in my mind for a while.
Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on December 26, 2012 at 10:23am

You've tried Peter, you've tried, and sowing the seeds is all that matters :-)

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on December 26, 2012 at 3:46pm

"On the question about the seer, I would express it slightly differently to Pierre."

No complaints from me here, I'm with you Peter. Good points.

HPB points out that the only thing acquiring experience and is progressing is Mahat (universal manifested mind), obviously, the Absolute doesn't change as it is immutable as is the MONAD per se, but then again she likes to call that manifested mind also the manifested monad! That's what I like about the theosophical teachings, the paradoxes pushing the mind (whether higher or lower) to its limits so lightning can strike :-)

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 26, 2012 at 10:57am

Not that I was charged with the task, no did anyone assign me judge, jury and executioner but so far we have all failed to communicate the first fundamental proposition to a child.  We need new participants to take up the challenge.  Our current crop of participants are stuck in the stratosphere.

The Moderator

Permalink Reply by Di Kaylor on December 26, 2012 at 1:17pm

See my new post (using a song) and feel free to run with it, everyone and anyone.  Or maybe one of you have a childhood song that you still remember to this day, with fondness.

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on December 26, 2012 at 8:41pm

I was thinking along those lines too, or a Dr. Seuss type story :)

Permalink Reply by Di Kaylor on December 28, 2012 at 10:26am

Winnie the Pooh looks out at the night sky and ponders the universe?

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on December 29, 2012 at 2:55pm

Yes! That works as he often ponders the night sky as well!

You know I didn't even think or realize this until now, that I have the Tao of Pooh, and why I haven't read it to him sooner is beyond me. I read it so long ago I need refreshing! That is going to be our next book we share. Thank you for reminding me :)

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on December 26, 2012 at 8:39pm

You guys are funny! I tried to explain twice. The 1st time he looked at me and said he doesn't understand jibberish! Then I couldn't stop laughing. So tonight at dinner I tried my best again, but for some reason it would go into different subjects, and he was trying to relate it to a God, and then we had to go into that subject, and how he believes in GodS like Zeus, because lightning storms are rare and he still looked at me and said 'I don't know what you are talking about' and I really couldn't stop laughing. We even went into re-incarnations and he nonchalantly gives a 'huh, it's possible'  type shrug. After reading all these, can we put my 8 year old in front of everyone to explain to him? I have failed to communicate it to him. :) 

Permalink Reply by Di Kaylor on December 28, 2012 at 12:15pm

I just remembered something that may amuse him some day, although it doesn't go far enough in our effort to explain the first fundamental:

Perception of the manifested deity was described by a Vedantin swami in the metaphor of a light bulb: Tapping into and providing a conduit for electricity, we create the light bulb and it produces light and heat. Some turn away to see their shadows as real. Some turn toward the light and see god, as still others manage the concept of electricity as the source. The light bulb is material and it is personal.  The light shining forth and the heat on one’s face is also a personal experience.  The electricity however is not personal—it is closer to the divine source (remembering that it is all divine).

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on December 29, 2012 at 3:17pm

This is a great analogy. This would give him something to ponder on about the personal and impersonal and could help with his sensitivity as well. What I really loved about this:

Some turn away to see their shadows as real. Some turn toward the light and see god, as still others manage the concept of electricity as the source.

The correspondence of this to us, or to any entity. The duality of substance, matter. And the non-duality of the source. This just might work, or at least give him a better understanding. You are awesome! Thank You :)


Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on December 30, 2012 at 3:02pm

One thing you could try with him is to explore the idea of everything. You could challenge him to imagine everything. I remember doing this as a kid and realizing that everything just kept going and going and going!

Try this: both close your eyes and imagine everything there is in the whole universe. Then keep imagining more and more, and then ask him how far everything goes? Does everything ever end?

Ask him to imagine stuffing everything there is into a little bottle. Start with things... pick some thing and stuff it in there. Like a lion, or a car, or a house, or a mountain. Play with that for a while (he'll enjoy coming up with new things to stuff in), always getting bigger and bigger (stuff in the earth, stuff in the whole sun!, stuff in all the stars, etc.), then ask him: but what's outside the bottle? Is there more? Wellll.... we better stuff that in the bottle too! And wait! Can't we just stuff the entire universe in the bottle? But then... what's outside the bottle? Wait a minute! There's more universe out there! Quick stuff it in!

I think if you play with that for a while perhaps the idea of boundlessness might pop into his mind, since the exercise is endless... there's always more, and always something beyond everything. Kids love this kind of 'game', because they get to imagine things, and they can be silly and imagine anything they want and stuff it in the bottle. :)

The funny twist on this one is after playing with this for a while, say: wait a minute...are we outside the bottle!? ;)

Make something like this a fun game you play with your child and eventually you can explain that everything is boundless and there's always something beyond everything that itself doesn't change, and the child will have some experiential context for the idea.

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on January 1, 2013 at 8:29pm

This is a really great idea! I think he will really like this one, I know I will, I can see all kids would. Sounds like it will be a good outdoor game for us. Thanks you for this!

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on January 16, 2013 at 6:29pm

Sharisse you were the only one to take up the challenge in actuality!

You are a brave soul.  Thank you for reporting back to us.

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on January 17, 2013 at 10:31pm

Thanks for the encouragement, Gerry. I'm still working on this little by little though. It's very hard, as I found I have to choose my words carefully. We are just getting back on track so hopefully I can spend more time with the suggestions received. 

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on December 30, 2012 at 2:37pm

With a child I wouldn't use descriptive words; I'd use visual aids, examples, analogies, etc.. Most importantly I'd have a conversation as opposed to 'telling' them anything.

Use the drop of water in the ocean analogy, as an example. Take a pool of water, show the child a single drop, then let the drop mix with the pool and ask the child where the drop is now. Then use the child's own answers to lead to the idea.

Where is the drop now?
In the water.
Is it still a drop?
Is it different from the other drops?
Is it different from the water?
etc., etc.

Or, use something like space. Lie on the ground and stare up at the sky at night, and ask them: how far does space go? and then play with that idea with them.

In my view, a child isn't going to have the conceptual ability to understand complex metaphysics... anymore than we do ;) ... and besides, what we want is for them to realize the idea, not merely conceptualize it. So, use koans, riddles, and subtle examples to illustrate the idea. A child's mind is free of complex concepts, and there's no need to try to fill it with them. Just aim for simplicity.

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on December 30, 2012 at 2:47pm

Dig! :-)

Permalink Reply by Di Kaylor on January 4, 2013 at 11:12am

This reminds me of a Star Trek Deep Space Nine character named Odo, who was from a shape-shifting race that was mostly unknown (he had been captured and raised in lab), not even recognized as sentient by the solid humanoids.  His "people" came for him eventually and on their home planet, they melded into a literal ocean of being, which they could step into and out of... at one moment the drop of individuality and the next becoming a current in the infinite ocean of everyone. 

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 31, 2012 at 10:48am

I ran the question of how would you explain the First Fundamental to a child by my wife Diane who is both a life long student of theosophy and adept at communicating with children. Her whimsical response was precious and I wanted to share it with the group.

She said: " Buzz Lightyear did a pretty good job when he said "to Infinity and beyond!"

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on January 1, 2013 at 8:35pm

:) That is funny! I like that!

Permalink Reply by Jimmy on January 3, 2013 at 7:37pm
I like it!!! Ask Diane what she thinks about this: I am really beginning to lean toward the view that the PRINCIPLE spoken of in the First Fundamental is non other than the Self (Atman). With that in mind, listen to the words of one of the greatest philosophic minds of western cartoon philosophy:

"I yam what I yam and tha's all what I yam." -- Popeye the Sailor
Permalink Reply by Sharisse on January 3, 2013 at 8:42pm

That's funny too, Jimmy :)

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on January 4, 2013 at 10:56am

Very good.  The ancient Vedic Sages used this expression to say a similar thing.

That Thou Art

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on January 2, 2013 at 9:35am

OK,  I get a shot at this too.  If I was asked in Theosophy school by the youngest children (this has actually happened to me on a Sunday Morning at our Theosophy School class behind the stage at Crosbie Hall in SB where we conducted our children's class for the very youngest 5-10 years of age I believe) to answer the question "What is the first fundamental?"   I would go with:

It is the All everything.        (Down the road the idea of No-thing might register, but not now.)

Permalink Reply by Peter on January 4, 2013 at 5:01am

Pierre writes: "So, whether unmanifested or manifested, the monad is strictly speaking only Atma (potentiality) but the use of the word monad is extended to include (Maha)-buddhi and (Mahat)-manas when that potentiality becomes gradually manifested because they existed within that potentiality before they became manifested."

I've been reflecting on your very good post, Pierre, and wonder if you would say some more about the above. Perhaps wrongly, I've tended to work from HPB's definition of the Monad as stated below in the Collected Writings:

'The “monad” is the combination of the last two Principles in man, the 6th and the 7th, and, properly speaking, the term “human monad” applies only to the Spiritual Soul, not to its highest spiritual vivifying Principle. But since divorced from the latter the Spiritual Soul could have no existence, no being, it has thus been called. The composition…of Buddhi or the 6th principle is made up of the essence of what you would call matter (or perchance a centre of Spiritual Force) in its 6th and 7th condition or state; the animating ATMAN being part of the ONE LIFE or Parabrahm. Now the Monadic Essence (if such word be permitted) in the mineral, vegetable and animal though the same throughout the series of cycles from the lowest elemental up to the Deva kingdom, yet differs in the scale of progression."    (CW V 172)

I notice that HPB is careful to define her terms, i.e. it is the "human monad" she is referring too. This links us with the 3rd Fundamental Proposition in that it is this human Monad which is the same "spiritual Buddhi (divine Soul)" which is one with the Universal Oversoul, and as a spark of the latter can attain (potentially) an "independent (conscious) existence once having passed through every elemental form of the phenomenal world in that Manvatara."  (SD I 17)

I can see the reasoning behind your statement for HPB says of Atma that when acting through the individual (by this I take her to mean in conjunction with Buddhi as the Monad) it is an "active centre of energy":

'“Sophia” is wisdom or the Buddhi — the spiritual soul (our sixth principle). This principle is everywhere represented as a “female,” because it is passive inasmuch as it is merely the vehicle of the seventh principle. This latter — which is called Atma when spoken of in connection with an individual and Purush when applied in its relation to the Universe — is the active male, for it is the CENTRE OF ENERGY acting through and upon its female vehicle, the sixth principle.'  (CW VI 261)

I'm wondering, therefore, can we ever really conceive of Atma without Buddhi and vice versa?

You've brought out rather well this notion of unmanifested potentiality and manifested ability in relation to monadic 'progression'. I like that concept very much. Do we need to relate this to other terms such as undifferentiated and differentiated essence or substance? For example, HPB states:

'the mineral monad is one — the higher animal and human monads are countless. Otherwise, how could one account for and explain mathematically the evolutionary and spiral progress of the four kingdoms.'  (CW V 172)

Just some thoughts, which I hope make some sense, and your insights will be very welcome. Comments, corrections and improvements also welcome from All.

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on January 4, 2013 at 11:07am

Btw, Happy theosophical New Year everyone,

as you all know, it is January the 4th, the day mystically dedicated to the Logoic Hierarchy of the Kumaras.

In the words of HPB: "it is January the 4th which ought to be selected by the Theosophists – the Esotericists especially – as their New Year. January is under the sign of Capricornus, the mysterious Makara of the Hindu mystics – the "Kumaras," it being stated, having incarnated in mankind under the 10th sign of the Zodiac. For ages the 4th of January has been sacred to Mercury-Budha, or Thoth-Hermes. Thus everything combines to make of it a festival to be held by those who study ancient Wisdom. Whether called Budh orBudhi by its Aryan name, Mercurios, the son of Cælus and Hecate truly, or of the divine (white) and infernal (black) magic by its Hellenic, or again Hermes or Thoth its Greco-Egyptian name, the day seems in every way more appropriate for us than January 1, the day of Janus, the double-faced "god of the time”… (From HPBs, "On the new years morrow", Lucifer, 1890, January)

"'The  Kumaras,' explains an esoteric text, 'are the Dhyanis [or Angels] derived immediately from the supreme Principle, who reappear in the Vaivasvata Manu period, for the progress of mankind.'. . . In the esoteric teaching, they are the progenitors of the true spiritual SELF in the physical man – the higher Prajapati [creators] while the Pitris, or lower Prajapati [creators] are no more than the fathers of the model, or type of his physical form, made 'in their image.'" (see Secret Doctrine, I:456-460)

Permalink Reply by Di Kaylor on January 4, 2013 at 11:15am

Thank you, Pierre!  Happy Theosophical New Year, everyone.  This forum has been such a delight.

Permalink Reply by Peter on January 4, 2013 at 12:23pm

Thank you, Pierre.  That really IS something to celebrate!  

And I agree with you Di; this is a delightful forum!

Happy Theosophical New Year to All!