In this section HPB answers questions on The Unity of All in All, Evolution, and the Septenary Constitution of the Planet and Man.  This is a particularly good section for newcomers and for students in general who wish to become more familiar with the occult constitution of the human being.  The complete section (pp 83 − 100) can be read on line at:


ENQUIRER. Having told me what God, the Soul and Man are not, in your views, can you inform me what they are, according to your teachings?

THEOSOPHIST. In their origin and in eternity the three, like the universe and all therein, are one with the absolute Unity, the unknowable deific essence I spoke about some time back. We believe in no creation, but in the periodical and consecutive appearances of the universe from the subjective on to the objective plane of being, at regular intervals of time, covering periods of immense duration.

ENQUIRER. Can you elaborate the subject?

THEOSOPHIST. Take as a first comparison and a help towards a more correct conception, the solar year, and as a second, the two halves of that year, producing each a day and a night of six months' duration at the North Pole. Now imagine, if you can, instead of a Solar year of 365 days, ETERNITY. Let the sun represent the universe, and the polar days and nights of 6 months each―days and nights lasting each 182 trillions and quadrillions of years, instead of 182 days each. As the sun arises every morning on our objective horizon out of its (to us) subjective and antipodal space, so does the Universe emerge periodically on the plane of objectivity, issuing from that of subjectivity―the antipodes of the former. This is the “Cycle of Life.” And as the sun disappears from our horizon, so does the Universe disappear at regular periods, when the “Universal night” sets in. The Hindoos call such alternations the “Days and Nights of Brahma,” or the time of Manvantara and that of Pralaya (dissolution). The Westerns may call them Universal Days and Nights if they prefer. During the latter (the nights) All is in All; every atom is resolved into one Homogeneity.

(The Key to Theosophy pp 83-84 original edition)


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ENQUIRER. Having told me what God, the Soul and Man are not, in your views, can you inform me what they are, according to your teachings?

THEOSOPHIST. In their origin and in eternity the three, like the universe and all therein, are one with the absolute Unity, the unknowable deific essence I spoke about some time back.


What correspondences and analogies are there which relate to the three-in-one, above?

How best to understand this trinity of the three-in-one and the absolute Unity of which they are aspects?


What correspondences and analogies are there which relate to the three-in-one, above?

I think we could make an analogy with the unit of Father, Mother and Son. In order to have a child, there must be both a father to provide the seed and a mother to receive it. So even in regular human reproduction there is always a unity of three.


Perhaps we ought to keep in mind the distinction between the three-in-one (Atma "containing" the potentiality of Father-Mother-Son as ONE or the Pythagorean Monad), the ray of and thus one with the Absolute, and the one-in-three where Father, Mother and Son become distinct entities albeit not separated from each other. Thus on the one hand Atma unmanifested (3-in-1) as the noumenon of manifestation, and the latter (manifestation) representing the phenomenon (1-in-3). Add to these two triads the quaternary or square as the 4 lower principles and you have the perfect 10 as the complete unfolded tetraktys or the Absolute as both non-being AND being.


Here's a useful passage on the three in One from the SD:

'Three distinct representations of the Universe in its three distinct aspects are impressed upon our thought by the esoteric philosophy: the PRE-EXISTING (evolved from) the EVER-EXISTING; and the PHENOMENAL -the world of illusion, the reflection, and shadow thereof. During the great mystery and drama of life known as the Manvantara, real Kosmos is like the object placed behind the white screen upon which are thrown the Chinese shadows, called forth by the magic lantern. The actual figures and things remain invisible, while the wires of evolution are pulled by the unseen hands; and men and things are thus but the reflections, on the white field, of the realities behind the snares of Mahamaya, or the great Illusion. This was taught in every philosophy, in every religion, ante as well as postdiluvian, in India and Chaldea, by the Chinese as by the Grecian Sages. In the former countries these three Universes were allegorized, in exoteric teachings, by the three trinities emanating from the Central eternal germ and forming with it a Supreme Unity: the initial, the manifested, and the Creative Triad, or the three in One. The last is but the symbol, in its concrete expression, of the first ideal two. Hence Esoteric philosophy passes over the necessarianism of this purely metaphysical conception, and calls the first one, only, the Ever Existing. This is the view of every one of the six great schools of Indian philosophy - the six principles of that unit body of WISDOM of which the“ gnosis,” the hidden knowledge, is the seventh.'

SD I 278


So if there is no singular creation (whether it be by a God or by a Big Bang, etc.), how does this effect our sense of self? Does anyone have reflections on this to share?


Jon,  perhaps one way to look at it is that our true self, our essence, is beginning-less.  

The Secret Doctrine also presents a grand vision of the future when it looks at the stage of Paranirvana  (the Universal Night in our study text) -  :

"In Paranirvana - when Pralaya will have reduced not only material and psychical bodies, but even the spiritual Ego(s) to their original principle - the Past, Present, and even Future Humanities, like all things, will be one and the same. Everything will have re-entered the Great Breath. In other words, everything will be “merged in Brahma ” or the divine unity.     .    .   .    Nor is the individuality - nor even the essence of the personality, if any be left behind lost, because re-absorbed. For, however limitless - from a human standpoint - the paranirvanic state, it has yet a limit in Eternity. Once reached, the same monad will re-emerge therefrom, as a still higher being, on a far higher plane, to recommence its cycle of perfected activity. The human mind cannot in its present stage of development transcend, scarcely reach this plane of thought. It totters here, on the brink of incomprehensible Absoluteness and Eternity."

SD I 255-256

Thus our real self, our essence, is both beginning-less and end-less; perhaps timeless is a better expression but that doesn't adequately express it either.

So we see that the Wisdom Religion (Theosophy) not only refutes the creationist theory of a new soul for each new birth of but also refutes the the literalist teaching of 'non-self' (anatta) as found in exoteric buddhism.  It accepts the theory of non-self as applied to the collection of skandhas which make up the incarnated entity we call the personality but not when applied to the Divine Ego or Monad.


Thanks Peter. I agree, "timeless" falls short. "beyond time" might be closer, but then the rational mind is pretty much unable to actually grasp the idea of "beyond time". It's always struck me as a bit silly that so many people will speak of the Soul as eternal and in the same breath claim that it had a beginning in time. :{

Just speaking for myself, but resting in meditation or quiet contemplation (as best as possible) as simply the perceiver, or the underlying consciousness, has seemed to make this idea of 'beginningless and endless Self' more accessible. I can begin to (very) dimly grasp how it is that the Self can be and not be limited to time. Space seems to be a good analogy/illustration: even if you remove all things from some area in space, the area itself remains uneffected. That perceiver seems this way to me. It just IS, and everything else is coming and going. In a sense, the perceiver 'feels' like "living and aware Space".


Jon,   I wonder - would it be right to say that time is really an aspect of 'phenomenal consciousness'?  It doesn't exist for 'noumenal consciousness' (should such a term itself exists!).  So we can't really describe or define 'essence' or 'Self' in relation to time at all.

Regarding time, I think of the Absolute as the entire series of events, stretching back into eternity past, and reaching forward into eternity future. So from the Absolute's position, it's all one unbroken series, without beginning and without end. One thing. :)

I think this is an important approach as well.

"Whatever reality things possess must be looked for in them before or after they have passed like a flash through the material world..." (SD I:39)

It seems to me that when trying to approach the idea of Eternity we must first start by trying to imagine it this way, with a perspective centered in what we call the "present" and looking infinitely "behind" us and infinitely "before" us. But then, I imagine there is another stage where one must go beyond that singular perspective and see Eternity without differentiating the past from the present from the future. In a sense, it's the fact that we're "locked in" to a singular perspective that causes the illusion of the flow of time, whereas if our perspective was not so limited perhaps we would see "time" as not actually "flowing" at all, but instead as a sort of ocean of all-time, which I imagine to be what is meant by Eternal Duration—the "flow" of time is an illusion created by our movement through that ocean (we "flow" through it, but it, in itself, is motionless).

So, if one imagines Duration as a lake or ocean, and imagines that time is the movement of swimming through the water, and further imagines the Self as standing above the water, then diving in, then rising out again, then diving in and rising out, and so on—then perhaps this illustrates two ways of viewing time: either "from above" looking down on "all potential time" as one "body" of Eternity stretching out infinitely (in all "directions"), or looking "from withing" that body of Eternity and viewing time as past, present and future, from an individual perspective, and giving rise to the illusion of the "succession" of "moments".

Also, as we know, "within time" there are countless individual selves. Imagine that Self breaking into a trillion little selves when it hits the water, then swimming through the water like a vast school of fish, down deep into the depths of the ocean and then rising up. But each little "fish-self" takes their own unique route, some are faster some slower, etc., while the "school" remains generally together.

Using this kind of illustration, can we see the problem it raises about the concepts of past, present and future? With this view there is not one-single-unbroken-stream of past nor one-unbroken-potential-stream offuture, as realities independent of the individual selves. When one speaks of the past, is one speaking of the past of one Self? Or is one speaking of the abstract collective of all possible pasts of all possible selves (which would still not be a single "stream" or "line" of past-time)? We can see that Past and Future, as concepts, require an individual perspective in order to become (for that Self) a reality. If there are countless selves passing through this process of diving in and rising out, then there are countless "times" or "time streams", each individualized, each with their own past and future and present.

Furthermore, the past of the Self is broken into segments, into "days" (when time exists for it) and "nights" when "time is not" (SD I:37). So, does the past of an individual Self include that "period" when "time was not" (for it), or do we 'skip' that period when considering its past? (this question can be applied to pralayas and manvantaras, or to the cycle of reincarnation, etc.). If there is an Ocean of Duration, do all selves that dive in swim in the same direction? Is the "time" of one who swims faster the same as the "time" of one who swims slower? (Einstein would answer a definitive "no", of course).

Whenever I approach these kinds of questions I begin to see why one of the Mahatmas said:

"I feel even irritated at having to use these three clumsy words—past, present and future! Miserable concepts of the objective phases of the Subjective Whole, they are about as ill adapted for the purpose as an axe for fine carving." (ML-8)

Ultimately, it would seem to me that Eternity is beyond the concepts of Past, Present and Future, as opposed to being but their totality.

Any thoughts?



I have not thought much about time, but one thing for sure, it is relative to our state of consciousness.  Our sense of time is very different in dreams than awake.  Similarly,  in deep meditation or when we are engrossed in a project, time seems to vanish.




That's a very creative approach to the topic, Jon.  It shows we need to approach the concept of time from a number of viewpoints.  Just on a purely technical point relating to definition of terms. I think that if you were to replace the word 'Eternity' with Duration in your last sentence that would sum up the issue very well indeed.  HPB points out in the beginning of Transactions of Blavatsky Lodge that the term Eternity  while standing for a long period of time is still finite. 

 "The word AEon, which in the Bible is translated by Eternity, means not only a finite period, but also an angel and being."  (p9)

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Permalink Reply by Don Petros on June 12, 2013 at 9:36am


I truly liked your reflections about the idea of 'time'.  That time (and distance) are subjective observations of 'movement'; from here to there, and from past to present ... struck a cord for me. 

The understanding of the ideas we call 'time and distance' would then be something which would be free of the subject (Me), and also free of the separating (now vs. future / here vs. there) influences of manasic/mind.  The understanding would involve more than thought.  Interesting.

I liked the little fish analogy too :)  Imagry works wonders!


Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on July 14, 2013 at 12:20am

I apologize for the very lengthy quotes from the SD below, but I think they are appropriate to the conversation and answer a lot of the very good questions raised as well as the answers provided.

As to time:

""I feel even irritated at having to use these three clumsy words—past, present and future! Miserable concepts of the objective phases of the Subjective Whole, they are about as ill adapted for the purpose as an axe for fine carving." (ML-8)"

Indeed, the past does not exist and has never existed because as soon as we pass one segment of consciousness for another the previous one that was the now in duration has become a memory we think of as the past, and neither does the future exist because that is wishful thinking or expectation and is neither in time because we “think” of it now and becomes instantly a memory as well. Eckhart Tolle does a pretty good job in his The Power of Now by focussing on that particular aspect of the philosophy.

Bold added by me:

STANZA I. — Continued.


    (a) Time is only an illusion produced by the succession of our states of consciousness as we travel through eternal duration, and it does not exist where no consciousness exists in which the illusion can be produced; but "lies asleep." The present is only a mathematical line which divides that part of eternal duration which we call the future, from that part which we call the past. Nothing on earth has real duration, for nothing remains without change — or the same — for the billionth part of a second; and the sensation we have of the actuality of the division of "time" known as the present, comes from the blurring of that momentary glimpse, or succession of glimpses, of things that our senses give us, as those things pass from the region of ideals which we call the future, to the region of memories that we name the past. In the same way we experience a sensation of duration in the case of the instantaneous electric spark, by reason of the blurred and continuing impression on the retina. The real person or thing does not consist solely of what is seen at any particular moment, but is composed of the sum of all its various and changing conditions from its appearance in the material form to its disappearance from the earth. It is these "sum-totals" that exist from eternity in the "future," and pass by degrees through matter, to exist for eternity in the "past." No one could say that a bar of metal dropped into the sea came into existence as it left the air, and ceased to exist as it entered the water, and that the bar itself consisted only of that cross-section thereof which at any given moment coincided with the mathematical plane that separates, and, at the same time, joins, the atmosphere and the ocean. Even so of persons and things, which, dropping out of the to-be into the has-been, out of the future into the past — present momentarily to our senses a cross-section, as it were, of their total selves, as they pass through time and space (as matter) on their way from one eternity to another: and these two constitute that "duration" in which alone anything has true existence, were our senses but able to cognize it there.

3. . . . UNIVERSAL MIND WAS NOT, FOR THERE WERE NO AH-HI (celestial beings) TO CONTAIN (hence to manifest) IT (a).

(a) Mind is a name given to the sum of the states of Consciousness grouped under Thought, Will, and Feeling.During deep sleep, ideation ceases on the physical plane, and memory is in abeyance; thus for the time-being "Mind is not," because the organ, through which the Ego manifests ideation and memory on the material plane, has temporarily ceased to function.A noumenon can become a phenomenon on any plane of existence only by manifesting on that plane through an appropriate basis or vehicle; and during the long night of rest called Pralaya, when all the existences are dissolved, the "UNIVERSAL MIND" remains as a permanent possibility of mental action, or as that abstract absolute thought, of which mind is the concrete relative manifestation. [SD I:36-38]


   The appearance and disappearance of the Universe are pictured as an outbreathing and inbreathing of "the Great Breath," which is eternal, and which, being Motion, is one of the three aspects of the Absolute — Abstract Space and Duration being the other two. When the "Great Breath" is projected, it is called the Divine Breath, and is regarded as the breathing of the Unknowable Deity — the One Existence — which breathes out a thought, as it were, which becomes the Kosmos. (See "Isis Unveiled.") So also is it when the Divine Breath is inspired again the Universe disappears into the bosom of "the Great Mother," who then sleeps "wrapped in her invisible robes."

    (c) By "that which is and yet is not" is meant the Great Breath itself, which we can only speak of as absolute existence, but cannot picture to our imagination as any form of existence that we can distinguish from Non-existence. The three periods — the Present, the Past, and the Future — are in the esoteric philosophy a compound time; for the three are a composite number only in relation to the phenomenal plane, but in the realm of noumena have no abstract validity. As said in the Scriptures: "The Past time is the Present time, as also the Future, which, though it has not come into existence, still is"; according to a precept in the Prasanga Madhyamika teaching, whose dogmas have been known ever since it broke away from the purely esoteric schools.* Our ideas, in short, on duration and time are all derived from our sensations according to the laws of Association. Inextricably bound up with the relativity of human knowledge, they nevertheless can have no existence except in the experience of the individual ego, and perish when its evolutionary march dispels the Maya of phenomenal existence. What is Time, for instance, but the panoramic succession of our states of consciousness? In the words of a Master, "I feel irritated at having to use these three clumsy words — Past, Present, and Future — miserable concepts of the objective phases of the subjective whole, they are about as ill-adapted for the purpose as an axe for fine carving." One has to acquire Paramârtha lest one should become too easy a prey to Samvritiis a philosophical axiom.*

* In clearer words: "One has to acquire true Self-Consciousness in order to understand Samvriti, or the 'origin of delusion.'" Paramârtha is the synonym of the Sanskrit term Svasam-vedana, or "the reflection which analyses itself." There is a difference in the interpretation of the meaning of "Paramârtha" between the Yogâchâryas and the Madhyamikas, neither of whom, however, explain the real and true esoteric sense of the expression. See further, sloka No. 9. SD I:43-44


(b) Paranishpanna, remember, is the summum bonum, the Absolute, hence the same as Paranirvana. Besides being the final state it is that condition of subjectivity which has no relation to anything but the one absolute truth (Para-mârthasatya) on its plane. It is that state which leads one to appreciate correctly the full meaning of Non-Being, which, as explained, is absolute Being. Sooner or later, all that now seemingly exists, will be in reality and actually in the state of Paranishpanna. But there is a great difference betweenconscious and unconscious "being." The condition of Paranishpanna, without Paramârtha, the Self-analysing consciousness (Svasamvedana), is no bliss, but simply extinction (for Seven Eternities). Thus, an iron ball placed under the scorching rays of the sun will get heated through, but will not feel or appreciate the warmth, while a man will. It is only "with a mind clear and undarkened by personality, and an assimilation of the merit of manifold existences devoted to being in its collectivity (the whole living and sentient Universe)," that one gets rid of personal existence, merging into, becoming one with, the Absolute,* and continuing in full possession of Paramârtha. SD I:53-54


Permalink Reply by Peter on July 14, 2013 at 1:06pm

These are excellent passages, Pierre.  Many thanks.  Reading these passages again also brings out that "self-consciousness"is a pivotal doctrine in Theosophy, even though it may be disputed elsewhere.

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on July 14, 2013 at 1:40pm
Yeah, that's a very good point Peter, because the lower kingdoms devoid of selfconsciousness do not have that perception of time as we do, they react instinctively to the cycles to which they are subject but do not "stop" to give it any thought as we do :-)
Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 16, 2013 at 11:13am

What would it be like to have a sense of the "timeless" while going through time? How might you characterize a human being that lived this way?

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 17, 2013 at 1:36pm

That's a great question. I think it's important to try to relate these metaphysical concepts to our experience. So many insights seem to come through this.

I imagine we've all had times in our lives that have seemed "timeless", where we're doing something or completely immersed in something and completely "lose track of time". A couple of examples come to mind for me.

When immersed in some art project (for me, writing does the trick), often hours can pass without much sense of time. I'll even miss meals without realizing it; sometimes I'll look up after some (unknown) time and see that it's midnight.

Another example is when driving. I find driving quite meditative. Sometimes, while immersed in some contemplation time will pass and then suddenly I'll "come out" of the contemplation with no memory of having driven through the previous kms of winding road.

(then again... maybe I'm just a terrible driver ;P)

Anyone else with examples or thoughts on this from regular life?

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on July 14, 2013 at 2:28pm
Yes, "immersed" is a good term, sort of equal to "being focussed", one-pointed or concentrated. I experience that myself when being immersed in the subject I'm working on when sitting behind the computer, there's no awareness of time until I look up from the screen and then see the clock and go oh darn, several hours are gone, and that's the moment when the awareness of time kicks in again. So usually when one "enjoys" the immersion through focussing, hours fly by without being concerned in the least with time, but when I have to wait at a traffic light for 60 seconds when I'm in a hurry, dang, this bloody light will never change! So it proves that time is a psychological phenomenon and not a physical experience although the earth turns around the sun at approximately the same time. We experience the same as we get older, our perception of time speeding along faster and faster seems to be related to the maturing of our lower active consciousness. So we shouldn't confound physical time - referenced by the orbit of the earth around the sun and around its own axis - with psychological time which is related to manifested selfconsciousness in a vehicle (our lower mind). Our three-dimensional space-time experience is also related to physical time because by definition it takes time when we traverse space to move an object from one point to another point in space, but it can only be measured if we have a point of reference to measure the difference in time and distance. We may recall HPBs comment in the second fundamental in SD I:16 bottom line, about "'The Eternity of the Pilgrim' is like a wink of the Eye of Self-Existence". In other words, the "existence" of the manifested monad (the Pilgrim) in eternity - i.e., either for the length of a planetary chain, or even in the 100 years (life) of Brahmâ, is comparatively and metaphorically speaking to the MONAD's eye (of Dangma?) from which this Pilgrim emanates, as one blink of our physical eye is to the existence of the total length of our own physical lifetime. That gives us some perspective on the illusory nature of time don't you think?! :-)
Permalink Reply by barbaram on June 8, 2013 at 3:03pm

 "but also refutes the the literalist teaching of 'non-self' (anatta) as found in exoteric buddhism.  It accepts the theory of non-self as applied to the collection of skandhas which make up the incarnated entity we call the personality but not when applied to the Divine Ego or Monad."

I have read this in Theosophy but have never seen this in any Buddhist literature or with Buddhist teaching that acknowledges a permanent "self."  It seems to contradict the fundamental tenets of Buddhism.  Can you send me some references on this?

Thanks in advance. 

Permalink Reply by Peter on June 10, 2013 at 10:41am

Hi Barbara,

It looks like I've not communicated my thought very clearly here.  What I intended to say was that Theosophy accepts the buddhist teaching of change and non-self when applied to the personality, made up as it is of the skandhas & so on.  But it does not accept the buddhist doctrine of non-self when applied to the Divine Ego or Monad.  The theosophical position, which I'm sure you know, is given in the passage below, which I gave earlier:

"In Paranirvana - when Pralaya will have reduced not only material and psychical bodies, but even the spiritual Ego(s) to their original principle - the Past, Present, and even Future Humanities, like all things, will be one and the same. Everything will have re-entered the Great Breath. In other words, everything will be “merged in Brahma ” or the divine unity.     .    .   .    Nor is the individuality - nor even the essence of the personality, if any be left behind lost, because re-absorbed. For, however limitless - from a human standpoint - the paranirvanic state, it has yet a limit in Eternity. Once reached, the same monad will re-emerge therefrom, as a still higher being, on a far higher plane, to recommence its cycle of perfected activity.

SD I 255-256

HPB makes a challenging claim about the tenets of buddhism in our previous study section:

ENQ.  But we are distinctly told that most of the Buddhists do not believe in the Soul's immortality.

THEO.  No more do we, if you mean by Soul the personal Ego, or life-Soul - Nephesh.  But every learned Buddhist believes in the individual or divine Ego. Those who do not, err in their judgement.  They are as mistaken on this point, as those Christians who mistake the theological interpolations of the later editors of the Gospels about damnation and hell-fire, for the verbatim utterances of Jesus.

Key to Theo. p79

Permalink Reply by Casady on June 13, 2013 at 1:12pm

Christmas Humphreys' book, Buddhism, chap.11 tends to support the theosophical interpretation. Peter Harvey's Introduction to Buddhism, p. 52 has: "not in itself a denial of the existence of a permanent self; it is primarily a practical teaching aimed at the overcoming of attachment". Maybe the Rime school ( would have notions compatible with theosophy, like with their notion of of other-emptiness and Tathāgatagarbha (


Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 13, 2013 at 2:08pm

I ran across this passage in an anonymous theosophical article.  It seems to back up what you are saying here:  my brackets

"He taught (the Buddha)  that the individuality of every one of us, though spiritual, and though permanent and real compared to the illusory and ever-changing phenomena of the present, is itself relative and unreal in terms of the one Supreme Spirit. He showed that the universal Life Principle is not exhausted in any one form or described by any definition, and it cannot be given any attributes. Therefore, whenever he was questioned about the Absolute, his only answer was utter silence. His silence should not be taken for atheism, a denial of a divine Principle in nature and in man; rather he taught that this condition of universal self-consciousness is, in itself, the highest possible form of knowledge. In order to attain spiritual knowledge, we must cast off the shackles of our identification with the personality."

Permalink Reply by Peter on June 14, 2013 at 6:28am

There's a rough guide to self and non-self (emptiness) in different schools of buddhism in our earlier discussions, should anyone be interested:

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 3, 2013 at 3:55pm

It seems to me that one of the most crippling elements of modern education and culture is our fore-shortened sense of time.  It plays into the hands of the lower mind and the personal nature, falsely magnifying its importance.

Permalink Reply by Peter on June 6, 2013 at 5:05am

I was very surprised at the findings of a Gallup poll carried out in the US in 2012: 

'Forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years. The prevalence of this creationist view of the origin of humans is essentially unchanged from 30 years ago, when Gallup first asked the question.'

A Mori poll in the UK carried out in 2006 found that 22% of people believed the Creationist theory. While only half the number found in the US, it’s still a very large percentage of the population.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 6, 2013 at 8:16am

Here's a poll that shows a comparison between the views in various countries.

One of the central problems with the prevalence of such a view is not only what Gerry pointed out, but also that it tends to lead to a dismissal of the importance of Earth itself. Creationist Christians believe that the Earth is ours to do what we wish withand that it will completely come to an end sometime soon, thus there is no vision of the long term care of the planet. Why bother treating the planet well, if it's God's plan to destroy it soon anyway? Heck, since they believe that the second coming cannot happen until the Earth is immersed in the Apocalypse, not only would they have no reason to start taking better care of the planet, but they'd actually welcome the 'end'.

This, of course, stands in stark opposition to the theosophical view that it is our responsibility to uplift the whole of matter to higher planes, and that the globes and Man are gonna be around for a long, long time.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 7, 2013 at 5:03pm

I wonder if that coincides with world wide reports.  Since the US is a large mix of the world's  people.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 7, 2013 at 7:40pm

Well, I think the easiest thing to do is to draw a comparison with the US's closest neighbor. Canada is, in fact, more ethnically diverse than the US, and with such close ties as countries/cultures the vast difference between the beliefs of Canadians and Americans on this question is interesting (see my link above). Both countries also have a similar number of self-identified Christians per population, percentage-wise (about 70% of total population).

So here's the kicker: of Christians in the US, about 65% believe in Creationism. Of Christians in Canada, only about 30% believe in it. That's a pretty significant difference among quite similar demographics.

The US would seem, even among western nations, even when compared to another melting pot and when compared to other Christian-majority nations, to stand in a unique position in terms of creation-belief.

In terms of world-wide reports... of course Asia and the Middle East (the vast majority of humans on Earth) would be likely to report very low belief in biblical creationism, since Christianity is a minority religion there, but they'd also be unlikely to be pro-darwin, since he plays little to no role in their cultures. Muslims may hold similar beliefs in a majority, but Indians and Chinese would be unlikely to, I would think.

Here's an interesting quote from an article about Darwin and India:

"The first thing to note is that the larger theological controversies that make Darwin a household figure in the west are mostly absent in India. No one has tried to prevent Darwin from being taught in schools or funded an institute that mounts a pseudoscientific defense of creationism. The idea that humans are continuous with other species is, for the most part, both theologically as well as philosophically acceptable to Indians. Unfortunately, controversy also drives fame. Darwin is famous in the west because he challenged and continues to challenge the dominant Christian ethos of those societies. In India, he challenges nothing.
Darwin becomes a far less influential figure without the general challenge to the Biblical worldview in the background. Indeed, it seems as if asking about Darwin's influence on Indian thought and practice is almost incoherent."

So in a sense, the very question: "do you believe in Creationism?" if asked world-wide, would be incoherent to the vast majority of human beings.

The funny thing about the stats on Creationism is that if the question is phrased like it was in some polls—"Human beings, as we know them, evolved from earlier species of animals, true or false?"—then I'd be forced to answer "false", and they'd lump me in with the Creationists. :{

Ultimately, such polls are very "western"... none of them think to ask: did we consciously evolve through the activity of the prajapati, the pitris, manasaputras, etc.? ;P

Permalink Reply by Don Petros on June 10, 2013 at 1:38pm

Gerry, you say..

 "one of the most crippling elements of modern education and culture is our fore-shortened sense of time"

I cannot agree more with that comment, especially as it relates to the idea of each person's lifespan which is normally explained as there being one of such, with each lasting about 75 years.. 

This very notion within our collective imagination has possibly limited mankind more than any other idea that we hold in common.  The tragic implications of this idea are almost endless..    

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 11, 2013 at 8:35pm

We believe in no creation, but in the periodical and consecutive appearances of the universe from the subjective on to the objective plane of being...

In HPB's analogy, we know that the sun doesn't "go anywhere" when night occurs, nor is there any change in state whatsoever, but actually we "turn away" or "revolve away" from it, which remains unaffected by our revolution. If we extend that analogy to the days and nights of Brahmâ it would seem to lead to the idea that the universe remains or still "IS" even during the night—in short that it would disappear only to us, from our perspective. The terms "disappear" and "appear" are not the same, as say, terms like "dissolve" or "materialize", for instance. Disappear and Appear are terms that rely on a consciousness that does the "seeing" or "not seeing" of either term—i.e. when something "disappears" it is implied that it remains but is merely not seen. Yet then HPB closes by saying that

every atom is resolved into one Homogeneity

which would seem to indicate an actual change, instead of something more similar to the illusion of "sun up" and "sun down" caused by revolving bodies... and yet... she uses the term "resolved" not "dissolved" (or something similar).

So, my question is this: does the universe actually change between the day and the night of Brahmâ, or does it remain but simply is either seen or not seen? Or is there another way to approach it besides these two limited options? What is the key to understanding her use of this analogy?

Permalink Reply by Jimmy on June 11, 2013 at 9:27pm
It seems that the Universe must still 'be', even during pralaya, otherwise there would be no universe to manifest for the next period of activity. Maybe we can think of your question in terms of sleeping and waking. And with the Universe being composed of Monads, perhaps the Monads wake up and see each other.
Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 13, 2013 at 11:50am

This reminded me of a quote from the SD:

"The idea that things can cease to exist and still BE, is a fundamental one in Eastern psychology."

It's quite a foreign concept in "western" psychology (or philosophy, science, religion, etc.).

Permalink Reply by Peter on June 13, 2013 at 1:38am

Perhaps the life cycles pertaining to the individual might afford a small clue as to what happens at planetary, solar, and universal level.

During night-time sleep the individual consciousness is withdrawn from the physical vehicle to another ‘plane’, so to speak.  To the ‘sleeping’ individual the material world with its bodies is no longer an object of perception.  To the beings still awake (i.e. conscious on that plane) the physical body of the sleeping person is still present, though inert.  When the consciousness of the individual returns to the physical plane all the activities associated with the waking state and the physical vehicle are taking up again.

On the death of the body the consciousness of the individual is withdrawn to another ‘plane’ - an even deeper level, so to speak.  However, the karma of the life now being exhausted, the matter that made up the subtle and physical bodies instead of resting is now completely dispersed after death. The form of the physical and subtle vehicles isdissolved and its material constituents are resolved back into their original elements to be used by other entities on their respective planes. There is now no physical body of the defunct to be visible to entities still existing on the material plane.  When the individual consciousness is reincarnated at a future date it attracts to itself again the life atoms associated with its previous existences on earth and it takes up another round of activity.

Without trying to tie it down too tightly, the above two processes could be seen as analogous to what are called obscurations and pralayas in respect to the life wave of monads as a whole passing through races, planetary chains or solar systems.  

When it comes to the great pralaya (Maha-Pralaya) all the physical, psychic (subtle) and spiritual elements that make up our sevenfold constitution are both dissolved as entities and elements and resolved back into homogeneity, the One Element - SPACE.

"What is that which was, is, and will be, whether there is a Universe or not; whether there be gods or none?" asks the esoteric Senzar Catechism. And the answer made is - SPACE.”  (SD I 9)

If we look at our now familiar (hopefully) diagram from SD I 157 in a very general way - the three upadhis from the Taraka Raja Yoga column with their three associated states of Waking (physical), Dream (psychic/subtle) and Dreamless Sleep (spiritual) and the ATMAN can be seen to apply to the three types of rest described above.  In sleep conscious is withdrawn into the sukshmopadhi (dream state); between births consciousness is withdrawn into the Karnopadhi (dreamless-sleep). In paranirvana or the Maha Pralaya all three upadhis are resolved back into Atman/Parabrahm.


Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 13, 2013 at 2:08pm

Thanks Peter. This helps lead to another inquiry, if I can think of how to word it...

So... during a manvantara there are said to be seven great rounds of activity across the "planes of being", each divided into smaller periods. Those periods seem to be marked by what you touch on here—i.e. the divisions of "sleeping and waking", "death and birth", (whether of individuals or the collective) etc.. So, since one is able to say that a manvantara is of such-and-such a period of duration, which is marked by these smaller cycles, and since HPB hints that pralaya also has it's "period of duration" (i.e. "seven eternities"), might we understand that a pralaya also contains these same rounds (with their subdivisions)—i.e. "rounds of non-being" on the "planes of non-being" so to speak?

And if that is true, then the simple idea that all matter becomes homogenous and that all is resolved back into Parabrahm during maha pralaya seems kind of... limited, or... one-sided. I mean this in the sense that: if everything becomes homogenous and undifferentiated, yet a maha pralaya lasts for a period of "seven eternities", and any "period" begins with (is dependent upon) differentiation... then there seems to be a contradiction here. How can homogenous matter pass through a period of duration unless it becomes differentiated in order to do so?

This is where I think HPB's analogy might be more than what is seen on the surface... when the sun disappears from the north pole for 6 months, it is very much active ("manifest") at the south pole for those six months, though to those on the north pole it is "unmanifest", so to speak. What if we exchange the terms "north pole" and "south pole" with "being" and "non being"? Might not there be a relativity here in terms of being and non-being, i.e. "non-being" to us seems to be entirely homogenous, and yet to a "non-being" it would be heterogenous... and vice versa? Might not the universe "unmanifest" to us while "manifesting" on (parallel) planes of non-being (again, non-being to us)? Perhaps during pralaya "the universe" passes through an entire series of rounds of "manifestation", but simply in what would be to us "mirrored", and thus seeming to be "unmanifest" or resolved into homogeneity?

The infinity symbol seems to paint this kind of picture...

Everything must have its antipode. What if pralaya and manvantara are relative terms in a similar way as north and south are?

Any thoughts, anyone?

Permalink Reply by Jimmy on June 13, 2013 at 3:19pm
I've had these same questions on my mind for some time, so this should turn out to be an educational discussion for me. I've always thought of pralaya and manvantara in terms of sleeping and waking, probably because these periods are called Days and Nights, and at night I'm asleep and during the day I'm awake, except for the occasional mid-afternoon pralaya :) So it makes sense to me that there are 'hidden' cycles during a Great Night, just like we experience dream activity at night. Does the Universe dream during its night?

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 13, 2013 at 7:40pm

Does the Universe dream during its night?

Here's an additional query along the same lines: is this (here and now) the universe's dream? Do we call it "day" only because we are its "dream-beings", and so to us it's "day"? :)

I'm really thinking there's something to the relativity of day and night being extended to manvantaras and pralayas. Wherever day and night exist in manifestation it is a case of it being day somewhere and simultaneouslynight somewhere else, and when it switches it's still day somewhere and night somewhere else. It's never night everywhere or day everywhere. So... if the law of correspondence holds... does the same relativity exist in the day and night of Brahma?

Permalink Reply by Jimmy on June 13, 2013 at 9:44pm
Well everything that we regard as matter or objective reality is mind dependent, held in the Universal Mind. So in a sense we are dream characters in that Mind. I'm not sure if my metaphysics on this precisely squares with the Secret Doctrine, but that's my current notion.

My understanding of the second proposition is that the Universe "in toto" alternates between Night and Day, with Day bringing the appearance of Worlds, and in the Night the disappearance of Worlds. In other words, absolute pralayas and absolute manvantaras.
Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 14, 2013 at 9:53am

In other words, absolute pralayas and absolute manvantaras.

This is where my essential problem seems to arise: if periods of time are dependent upon differentiation, and a pralaya lasts for a period of time, then there must be some kind of differentiation (across multiple planes) in order to cause the cycles of that period. So it seems that an "absolute pralaya" cannot merely be a state of 'rest' or 'inactivity'...

But perhaps Peter's response below resolves this difficulty. Thoughts?

Permalink Reply by Jimmy on June 19, 2013 at 2:47pm
By the word 'absolute' I was trying to indicate the totality of existence rather than the actual state of things. I think Peter caught my meaning when he asked, "Is there ever a time when every possible universe is in MahaPralaya all at the same time?"
Permalink Reply by Peter on June 14, 2013 at 5:22am

Stanza 1, Sloka 8 of the Proem says:


Relativity? -  Well, some of us are awake while others sleep; some are incarnated while others are between lives; some are being born while others are dying. . . We can conceive of this relativity applying to worlds, solar systems, galaxies & so on.  'Is there ever a time when every possible universe is in MahaPralaya all at the same time?'  Given the vastness of just the visible universe, I can't imagine when we will ever know the definitive answer to that question!  It depends on what is meant by the term Kosmos as that does go into Mahapralaya according to the teachings.

Permalink Reply by Jimmy on June 19, 2013 at 3:10pm
I'm not completely sure that the analogy of one person being awake while another sleeps carries over when considering the 'ONE FORM OF EXISTENCE', unless this is talking about one of many existences rather than the Absolute totality of All.
Permalink Reply by Peter on June 20, 2013 at 11:56am

Jimmy - yes, my analogy isn't particularly strong when applied to the One Form of Existence.  It may have some value in Jon's reflections as to whether it is Day or Night of Brahmâ everywhere in the universe at the same time.

Do you feel that the second fundamental proposition of the SD implies there is just the one UNIVERSE  in toto coming and going, or that the Universe in toto as a boundless plane is that 'space' in which numberless universes appear and disappear many at the same time, so to speak?

Permalink Reply by Jimmy on June 20, 2013 at 7:56pm
I've always found the wording first sentence of the second fundamental proposition a tiny bit confusing, but I've settled upon the following interpretation, my commentary in brackets:

"The Eternity of the Universe in toto..."

["the Universe in toto, being EVERY Universe considered as a whole, in Its totality]

"as a boundless plane;"

[It is boundless]

"periodically " the playground of numberless Universes incessantly manifesting and disappearing", called " the manifesting stars", and the "sparks of Eternity".

[mostly self explanatory, but in light of our conversation, I put heavy emphasis on the word 'periodically' and point out that this applies to the Universe in toto]

This is my reasoning behind my statement that there are 'absolute' pralayas and 'absolute' manvantaras.

So I'd have to answer yes to both ends of your question; the ONE Universe in toto is the space in which numberless Universes appear and disappear during the BIG Manvantara, for it is during the Manvantara that the Universe in toto becomes host to this activity.

...or maybe my interpretation needs a bit of tweaking! ;)
Permalink Reply by Peter on June 21, 2013 at 4:10am

Jimmy writes: I've always found the wording first sentence of the second fundamental proposition a tiny bit confusing...


Hi Jimmy - yes, I think this could be interpreted in a number of ways.   I  would probably see it slightly differently with regards to 'absolute pralayas and manvantaras'.    My understanding would be that the absolute transcends the idea of activity and rest.  Also, we might be able to vaguely conceive of the idea of absolute rest/pralaya as this would mean everything that wasmanifested has now returned to its homogenous source.  However, is it possible for the absolute to be in a state of absolute activity or absolute differentiation?  

Just some thoughts.

Permalink Reply by Jimmy on June 24, 2013 at 4:05pm
Peter wrote: "Hi Jimmy - yes, I think this could be interpreted in a number of ways. I would probably see it slightly differently with regards to 'absolute pralayas and manvantaras'. My understanding would be that the absolute transcends the idea of activity and rest. Also, we might be able to vaguely conceive of the idea of absolute rest/pralaya as this would mean everything that was manifested has now returned to its homogenous source. However, is it possible for the absolute to be in a state of absolute activity or absolute differentiation?"

By the word 'absolute' I wasn't referring to the philosophical Absolute, but instead intended the meaning of total or complete. I too understand the concept of The Absolute to exclude all notions of activity or rest. My conceptual picture puts the "Universe in toto" - which is the totality of all Universes, and their number must be infinite - within The Absolute. So to clarify my thought about this: I believe the second fundamental proposition is saying that the "Universe in toto" experiences alternating periods of activity and rest. Throughout this eternal process, The Absolute (The Self) remains unaffected. Are there any other possible interpretations of the second proposition?
Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 14, 2013 at 9:27am

Just another twist on the question perhaps:  We might say that manvantara is a kind of dreaming of the universe since it is not really real.  It is a period defined by time and space both of which have no hold in pralaya.  So the lives we live could be thought of as a sort of dreaming of the Self.

Permalink Reply by Peter on June 14, 2013 at 12:12pm

"..a kind of dreaming" is a good phrase, Gerry.  For me it suggests that our manifested world is 'dreamlike' rather than simply a dream. It is not ultimately real but neither is it non-existent.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Peter on June 14, 2013 at 4:42am

Jon,  Those are really interesting questions.  

I would see the analogy slightly differently - I could be wrong in this.  The sun, symbolising the source of light and life, only appears to arise on the objective horizon to us here on earth.  The solar days and nights are experienced by us alone - depending on our changing relation to the sun - and not by the sun itself.

So, in the analogy, the earth represents ‘that which manifests’ with its periods of activity and rest, the Sun symbolises the source of light and life which ever IS.  When everything (all the planes of existence and being) is finally ‘withdrawn’ back into the ultimate source at the time of the great or Maha Pralaya it all rests in THAT for which there is no day and no night.

We could say that the same is the case for the reincarnating ego, the Individuality: it has its periods of activity and rest of differing kinds, some of which I suggested in the previous post.  Yet the Atman just IS - ever shining, One without a second. When the individuality is finally merged into the Self (Atman) in Nirvana it is absorbed in that which transcends the opposites.

HPB says there are many kinds of Pralaya but three chief ones (see SD I 370-371).  Here is what she says of the Maha Pralaya which comes at the end of an Age of Brahmâ (Maha Manvantara) which is constituted by many 'Days and Nights' (manvantaras and pralayas).

‘This is the final PRALAYA -the Death of Kosmos - after which its Spirit rests in Nirvana, or in THAT for which there is neither Day nor Night. All the other pralayas are periodical and follow, in regular succession, the Manvantaras, as the night follows the day of every human creature, animal, and plant. The cycle of creation of the lives of Kosmos is run down, the energy of the manifested “Word” having its growth, culmination, and decrease, as have all things temporary, however long their duration. The Creative Force is Eternal as Noumenon; as a phenomenal manifestation in its aspects, it has a beginning and must, therefore, have an end. During that interval it has its periods of activity and its periods of rest. And these are the “Days and the nights of Brahmâ.” But Brahma, the Noumenon, never rests, as IT never changes and ever IS, though IT cannot be said to be anywhere…..’  (SD I 373)

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 14, 2013 at 9:52am

Thanks Peter. This is helpful.

So it seems that one big question to always ask ourselves would be: "which manvantara or pralaya are we talking about?" HPB doesn't always specify, so I suppose we need to be on our guard to 'decode' which cycle she's referring to when she uses the terms.

So then my question would be: which pralaya is being addresses in Stanza 1, sloka 1 of the Secret Doctrine?

"The eternal parent wrapped in her ever invisible robes had slumbered once again for seven eternities."

A related question that comes up in my mind when reading your response is this:

Does a MahaPralaya last for a certain duration as well? This might be a bit of a materialistic perspective (in fact, I'm quite sure it is), but I'm led to 'visualize' the 'withdrawing' or 'indrawing' of ALL into the ONE, yet since we know that a Mahamanvantara will follow a Mahapralya, I'm led to ask myself: does this happen "instantaneously"? From the imagined perspective of the planes of manifestation, would the final instant of withdrawal into the ONE immediately lead to the re-start of a new Mahamanvantara, since between two Mahamanvantaras "time is not"?

I mean, if "Brahma, the Noumenon, never rests, as IT never changes and ever IS" then it would seem that no "period of duration" would occur for IT during its Mahapralaya. Yet isn't there kind of a contradiction in that sentence itself? If Brahma "never rests" how can IT be "changeless"? Never resting seems to me to imply "motion", which implies "change"...

Thoughts anyone?

Permalink Reply by Peter on June 14, 2013 at 12:40pm

Jon, I believe the stanzas and commentary refer to our solar system. However, bear in mind that what ever the subject in the teachings we are being taught general rules and principles that once grasped we may learn to apply overall.   Have a look at the outline HPB gives of the Stanzas on pages 20-22 of the Proem in the The Secret Doctrine.

‘The history of cosmic evolution, as traced in the Stanzas, is, so to say, the abstract algebraical formula of that Evolution. Hence the student must not expect to find there an account of all the stages and transformations which intervene between the first beginnings of “Universal” evolution and our present state. To give such an account would be as impossible as it would be incomprehensible to men who cannot even grasp the nature of the plane of existence next to that to which, for the moment, their consciousness is limited. The Stanzas, therefore, give an abstract formula which can be applied, mutatis mutandis, to all evolution: to that of our tiny earth, to that of the chain of planets of which that earth forms one, to the solar Universe to which that chain belongs, and so on, in an ascending scale, till the mind reels and is exhausted in the effort.

‘The seven Stanzas given in this volume represent the seven terms of this abstract formula.’

(SD I 20-21  emphasis added)

Permalink Reply by Peter on June 15, 2013 at 3:48am

Jon, I’ll have a try at answering your questions as no one else has responded so far.  Responses are below in question and answer form.

Jon: Does a MahaPralaya last for a certain duration as well?

Peter: The length of time for both pralayas and manvantaras is given from the standpoint of the phenomenal world. We’re told that a pralaya, lasts the equivalent length of time in mortal years as its associated manvantara.  In a similar way we measure the time a person has slept from the point of view of the waking state even though the passage of time is experienced quite differently or may even be non-existent for the person who is asleep. Would the transition from night to the following dawn happen instantly because the person sleeping had no sense of time while they were asleep - or if everyone slept at the same time?   

The above examples don’t fully answer your question about the measure of time when the whole universe and its sentient beings are in Maha Pralaya.  But perhaps they suggest that it’s not unfeasible that such measures are used and have a value from the standpoint of the manifested world. 

Jon:  If Brahma "never rests" how can IT be "changeless"? Never resting seems to me to imply "motion", which implies "change"...

Peter:  I think we have to take these descriptions of the Absolute as indicative not definitive.  They are just pointers for our intuition and whatever understanding we can muster. In the passage you have quoted from, HPB has already said that for Brahman (‘THAT’) there is neither day nor night i.e. no periods of activity or rest as we understand them.  So when she then goes on to say that Brahman “never rests” we must understand it in a different way to the “rest” associated with a pralaya.  She seems to be saying (at least as I understand it) that while everything else from smallest to the greatest repeatedly appears and disappears on the boundless plane of the Absolute (Brahman), Brahman never ceases to be Itself. “[It]…never rests, as IT never changes and ever IS.” 

Jon:  Never resting seems to me to imply "motion", which implies "change"...

Peter:  The whole notion of motion and changelessness going together are testing for us!  I can’t help but feel that with some of the core teaching ideasthat we find in the SD we sometimes need to let them work on us, rather than us try to work on them.  Perhaps the best we can say about it is that from the perspective of noumenon the Absolute is that which ever IS.  While from the perspective of the manifested, phenomenal world, IT is the ever becoming.

‘. . . the Occult teaching says, "Nothing is created, but is only transformed. Nothing can manifest itself in this universe - from a globe down to a vague, rapid thought - that was not in the universe already; everything on the subjective plane is an eternal IS; as everything on the objective plane is an ever becoming-because transitory.’  (SD I 570)

Paradoxically, then, the process of becoming appears to include the realisation of that which we already are and always have been. 

Permalink Reply by Peter on June 15, 2013 at 12:17pm

Jon, my first answer should be in the affirmative - the Maha Pralaya is said to last as long as the Maha Mahanvantara which preceded it.  I forgot to add the term 'Maha' in my response.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 17, 2013 at 10:43am

One other idea to throw out in relation to this topic. In the SD (page 172), HPB gives a diagram of the relation of the globes of a past chain with those of the next chain, and explains the process. Here's the diagram:

So, if we imagine the final (seventh) Round, and we track the process from globe A to G on the Lunar chain, we can see that when the "live-wave" moves from A to B, the "energies" of that globe follow the dotted line (i.e. are transferred to a "laya-center" upon which globe A of the Earth Chain will be built), and the old globe A dies (while simultaneously the new globe A is being built). Follow this through the whole of the A-G process, globe after globe dying on the old chain and giving rise to a new one.

Now, if we follow such a process, could we not say that Round 7 of the lunar chain is Round 1 of the Earth Chain?

And if so, how can there be said to be a Pralaya between the chains?

Permalink Reply by Peter on June 17, 2013 at 2:39pm

Jon, I think this may be too technical and specific a question for this stage of our study in The Key to Theosophy, which is just looking at the general principles of activity (manvatara) and rest (pralaya).  So, here are a couple of tentative thoughts for now, and perhaps we will have the opportunity at another time to look in detail at “Globes and Monads.”   Would that be OK?

A question to consider is the role of the planetary spirits (Dhyan Chohans) in the formation of the globes and the transfer of energies from, say, globe A in one chain to globe A+ in the new chain?  The seven classes of monads that continue around the chain, from globe to globe, while this is happening each go into nirvana (pralaya) before proceeding on to the next chain.

Just some thoughts.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 17, 2013 at 7:12pm

Would that be OK?

Oh, definitely. In the meantime I'll look more into the classes of monads and such. :)

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 15, 2013 at 12:50pm

Wonderful replies Peter. Thanks. I found this particularly helpful:

In a similar way we measure the time a person has slept from the point of view of the waking state even though the passage of time is experienced quite differently or may even be non-existent for the person who is asleep.

I'd love to hear from others on these ideas as well. Anyone with thoughts or intuitions to share, please do. :)

Permalink Reply by Peter on June 24, 2013 at 5:08pm

Jimmy wrote:  By the word 'absolute' I wasn't referring to the philosophical Absolute, but instead intended the meaning of total or complete.


My apologies, Jimmy.  I misunderstood your meaning.

We seem to be running out of spaces to "Reply" (the reply tab is missing under your message) so I've had to put my replay at the end of this discussion thread.


ENQUIRER. But who is it that creates each time the Universe?.    

THEOSOPHIST. No one creates it. Science would call the process evolution; the pre-Christian philosophers and the Orientalists called it emanation: we, Occultists and Theosophists, see in it the only universal and eternal reality casting a periodical reflection of itself on the infinite Spatial depths. This reflection, which you regard as the objective material universe, we consider as a temporary illusion and nothing else. That alone which is eternal is real.

ENQUIRER. At that rate, you and I are also illusions.

THEOSOPHIST. As flitting personalities, to-day one person, to-morrow another ― we are. Would you call the sudden flashes of the Aurora borealis, the Northern lights, a “reality,” though it is as real as can be while you look at it? Certainly not; it is the cause that produces it, if permanent and eternal, which is the only reality, while the other is but a passing, illusion.

ENQUIRER. All this does not explain to me how this illusion called the universe originates; how the conscious to be, proceeds to manifest itself from the unconsciousness that is. 

THEOSOPHIST. It is unconsciousness only to our finite consciousness. Verily may we paraphrase verse v, in the 1st chapter of St. John, and say “and (Absolute) light (which is darkness) shineth in darkness (which is illusionary material light); and the darkness comprehendeth it not.” This absolute light is also absolute and immutable law. Whether by radiation or emanation ― we need not quarrel over terms―the universe passes out of its homogeneous subjectivity on to the first plane of manifestation, of which planes there are seven, we are taught. With each plane it becomes more dense and material until it reaches this, our plane, on which the only world approximately known and understood in its physical composition by Science, is the planetary or Solar system― one sui generis, we are told.

ENQUIRER. What do you mean by sui generis?

THEOSOPHIST. I mean that, though the fundamental law and the universal working of laws of Nature are uniform, still our Solar system (like every other such system in the millions of others in Cosmos) and even our Earth, has its own programme of manifestations differing from the respective programmes of all others.

The Key to Theosophy p84-85


Please share your comments, reflections and particularly your questions.

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It is interesting to me that the enquirer (played by HPB too) assumes that all things (universe) must have a beginning and an ending.  This is the assumption of the modern mind, rather than a cyclic assumption.  Where does the notion that the universe has one beginning and one ending come from?  How did we inherit such an idea?  Observations of nature do not support it.


I think it is because we look at our lives and there is a beginning and an end;  so we assume everything else in the universe must be the same way.    We do look at things more from the surface and more from the materialistic perspectives.


And the assumption again, that we labor under, is that we are the body we are using, and not the spirit that inhabits it.  When we look at nature we sense a life force flowing, cycling.  This is how native peoples seem to see it.  The materialistic view is to see life as the forms themselves and therefore we see things as beginning and ending rather than cycling.  It is really amazing to see so many people cling to youth despite the fact that everything in life is pulling them in another direction.


Well, I think it's understandable that once human beings started examining the nature of cause and effect, which is observed everywhere in nature,  the question arose as to whether it is possible to trace the long line of causes and effects back to a single and ultimate cause.  This is a question that taxed the minds of the ancient as well as the modern philosophers.  


"Theosophist: . . . though the fundamental law and the universal working of laws of Nature are uniform, still our Solar system (like every other such system in the millions of others in Cosmos) and even our Earth, has its own programme of manifestations differing from the respective programmes of all others."

What are the implications of this statement with regards to life on other planets and in other solar systems?

Any thoughts?


This was a question I had year ago that was finally answered (though I'm sure I don't understand it all) by theosophical teachings. It seems to me that once we recognize the relation between Self and Nature, as theosophy explains it, then the question of life on other planets takes on a whole different meaning. How could there not be life on other planets? A planet itself is a "field of life", and is an entity itself.

Judge says that: “Nature exists for no other purpose than the soul’s experience.” From a theosophical perspective, it seems that no planet could or would possibly exist without being for the experience of some collection of souls.


What a good point, Jon, and a really good pithy quote from Judge.  It highlights some of the key differences between Theosophy and Science.  

For science matter comes first.  In suitable circumstances life-forms may evolve out of the interactions of matter and energy.  When the life-forms reach a certain stage of complexity they may exhibit something called consciousness.  However, consciousness is solely a by-product of matter and is something very rare in the universe.  So when science discusses or looks for life on other planets it is looking to see if the right elements (combinations of matter) exist from which simple life forms and eventually consciousness may evolve over time.  This is the view from without-inwards.

As we know, Theosophy states that the Universe is worked and guided from within-outwards. During the stages of manifestation 'Form' is evolved to become in time the 'vehicle' of an already existing Consciousness and Life.


Judge says that: “Nature exists for no other purpose than the soul’s experience.”

This is such profound statement.  It changes our understanding on the nature of reality because the focus of our everyday experience is shifted from without to within.  This corresponds to the other term of evolution, which is the law of unfoldment. 

A passage from SD I, 145, reinforces the inner reality -

"The sensation of light is like the sound of the rolling wheels - a purely phenomenal effect, having no existence outside the observer;  the proximate exciting cause of the sensation is comparable to the driver - a supersensuous state of matter in motion, a Nature Force or Elemental.  But, behind even this, stand - just as the owner of the carriage directs the driver from within - the higher and noumenal causes,..............."


Here's what HPB says in this section about life on other planets:

'We speak of the inhabitants of other planets and imagine that if they are men, i. e., thinking entities, they must be as we are. The fancy of poets and painters and sculptors never fails to represent even the angels as a beautiful copy of man― plus wings. We say that all this is an error and a delusion; because, if on this little earth alone one finds such a diversity in its flora, fauna and mankind ―from the sea-weed to the cedar of Lebanon, from the jelly-fish to the elephant, from the Bushman and negro to the Apollo Belvedere―alter the conditions cosmic and planetary, and there must be as a result quite a different flora, fauna and mankind. The same laws will fashion quite a different set of things and beings even on this our plane, including in it all our planets. How much more different then must be external nature in other Solar systems, and how foolish is it to judge of other stars and worlds and human beings by our own, as physical science does!'

The Key to Theosophy p86


It is amazing how most think that we are the only intelligent beings in this vast universe.  There are a few science fiction writers who capture some esoteric concepts, but, overall, a large number just  portray beings on another planet that are very much like humans. This shows the poverty of our own imagination. 

And according Star Trek, everybody in the universe speaks English - with the exception of Klingons. ;)