The following is part of an essay that was composed in response to an article titled “The Question of G. de Purucker,” published at blavatskytheosophy.com. The full essay can be found here.
Let it be clear from the outset that we are not here to defend a particular person. Nor are we here to debate or discuss “successorship,” “leadership” or the “occult status” of any individual. It is to be understood that this reply is not the result of parroting G. de Purucker, but simply the result of long independent study, besides the fact that the conceptual understanding of theosophical teachings is always open to interpretation and thus open to misunderstanding by any student.
In the above mentioned article, following a dissertation on the person of G. de Purucker, the article moves on to select a handful of ideas drawn from his writings. In doing so, it is suggested that these ideas are “entirely at odds with the teaching in ‘The Secret Doctrine’.” We find this to be an incorrect conclusion, and believe it could mislead students of Theosophy into believing a priori, without sufficient evidence or argument, that Purucker’s ideas entirely oppose those of H.P. Blavatsky (HPB) and her teachers. We will, therefore, address each of these ideas in turn, providing references to Purucker’s writings and those of The Secret Doctrine (SD) and other writings of HPB. This, we believe, will illustrate that the ten points of criticism in the article are generally mistaken and not actually in opposition to what the authors refer to as “genuine theosophy.”
Point #10: 7 or 12 (or 10 or 14 or…)?
The tenth, and final, point of contention is:
His claim that the higher esoteric teaching follows the pattern and system of the number 12 rather than 7, with there actually being 12 sacred planets, 12 kingdoms of nature, 12 classes of Monads, 12 globes in a planetary chain, and more besides.
Let us begin with a quote from HPB:
Q. Is the Point in the Mundane Egg the same as the Point in the Circle, the Unmanifested Logos?
A. Certainly not: the Point in the Circle is the Unmanifested Logos, the Manifested Logos is the Triangle. Pythagoras speaks of the never manifested Monad which lives in solitude and darkness; when the hour strikes it radiates from itself ONE the first number. This number descending, produces TWO, the second number, and Two, in its turn, produces THREE, forming a triangle, the first complete geometrical figure in the world of form. It is this ideal or abstract triangle which is the Point in the Mundane Egg, which, after gestation, and in the third remove, will start from the Egg to form the Triangle. This is Brahma-Vach-Viraj in the Hindu Philosophy and Kether-Chochmah-Binah in the Zohar. (Transactions, p. 83 )
In other words, when you add up all the numbers in the diagram of SD 1:200, first the abstract triangle or triad (The apex of the triangle on the arupa planes in the diagram), or Shekinah, representing the first 3, then you add Chochmah and Binah representing 2, making 5 in total and then add the 7 globes, we have 12!
(a) The hierarchy of Creative Powers is divided into seven (or 4 and 3) esoteric, within the twelve great Orders, recorded in the twelve signs of the Zodiac; the seven of the manifesting scale being connected, moreover, with the Seven Planets. All this is subdivided into numberless groups of divine Spiritual, semi-Spiritual, and ethereal Beings. (SD 1:213)
Obviously each of these hierarchies relate to the 12 numbers indicated above, corresponding with the triangle on the arupa planes and the seven globes and represent the evolution of monads, thus 12 hierarchies of evolving monads. Purucker’s division gives just this, when dealing with the zodiac: he divides the twelve into 7 manifest, 5 unmanifest (see, for instance, Section 4 of Fountain-Source of Occultism, with it’s opening diagram). The “seven of the manifesting scale” are there corresponded to the seven globes and the seven sacred planets.
The highest group [of the hierarchy of creative powers] is composed of the divine Flames, so-called, also spoken of as the “Fiery Lions” and the “Lions of Life,” whose esotericism is securely hidden in the Zodiacal sign of Leo. It is the nucleole of the superior divine World. They are the formless Fiery Breaths, identical in one aspect with the upper Sephirothal TRIAD, which is placed by the Kabalists in the “Archetypal World.” (SD 1:213)
Occultism divides the “Creators” into twelve classes; of which four have reached liberation to the end of the “Great Age,” the fifth is ready to reach it, but still remains active on the intellectual planes, while seven are still under direct Karmic law. These last act on the man-bearing globes of our chain. (SD 2:77)
Again we see the 12 divided into 5 “unmanifested” and 7 “manifested”, so to speak, with the 7 directly linked to our seven globes.
To the question of whether the “higher esoteric teaching” follows the pattern and system of the number 12 rather than 7, can be added the same question of whether the “higher esoteric teaching” follows the pattern and system of the number 10 rather than the number 7, which ought to be quite obvious to any serious student of the esoteric wisdom that this is the case. HPB started off in Isis Unveiled with a representation of the standard approach in antiquity of a threefold division—spirit, soul and body—with occasional hints as to a sevenfold system. In The Secret Doctrine we have a definite move towards a sevenfold division (thus not esoteric anymore!) with occasional hints (and not even very subtle!) as to a tenfold system that most likely leads us to an esoteric understanding!
“Ten is the Mother of the Soul, for Life and Light are therein united,” says Hermes. “For number one is born of the Spirit and the number ten from matter (chaos, feminine); the unity has made the ten, the ten the unity” (Book of the Keys). (SD 1: 90 fn*)
“The Deity is like the Sea from which outflows a stream called WISDOM, the waters of which fall into a lake named Intelligence. From the basin, like seven channels, issue the Seven Sephiroth. . . . . For ten equal seven: the Decade contains four Unities and three Binaries.” The ten Sephiroth correspond to the limbs of MAN.” (SD 1:239)
10 equals 7!
The contention thus lies actually between 12 and 10 rather than 12 and 7. That problem had already been several times discussed by HPB, for instance in Isis Unveiled 2:457 and also the section on Ezekiel’s Wheel, where she discusses the problem of whether there are 10 or 12 zodiacal signs and how those two extra signs came into being. It is not a far stretch—by applying correspondence—that this same problem extends to all other occurrences of 12 vs 10. In this sense, twelve may be actually just an extension of ten, depending on the context in which it needs to be used in occult parlance.
In the magic of the old Syro-Chaldeans both are conjoint in the zodiacal sign of the androgyne of Virgo-Scorpio, and may be divided or separated whenever needed. (Isis 2:449)
The patriarchs are not only euhemerized gods—the prediluvian answering to the twelve great gods of Berosus, and to the ten Pradjâpati, and the postdiluvian to the seven gods of the famous tablet in the Ninevean Library, but they stand also as the symbols of the Greek Æons, the kabalistic Sephiroth, and the zodiacal signs, as types of a series of human races. This variation from ten to twelve will be accounted for presently, and proved on the very authority of the Bible. Only, they are not the first gods described by Cicero, which belong to a hierarchy of higher powers, the Elohim—but appertain rather to the second class of the “twelve gods,” the Dii minores, and who are the terrestrial reflections of the first, among whom Herodotus places Hercules. (Isis 2:450-451)
Thus 10 equals 12!
In SD 2:384fn§ one will find a reference where HPB is referring to the six rajamsi of a planetary chain when quoting from the Vendidad, each being dual as pointed out by the Mahatma in the next quote. That gives 12! Our seventh globe is often not taken into account as it is the maya of mayas, just as the physical body in some sevenfold representations of man is not taken into account.
The “Seven Karshvares of the Earth”—the seven spheres of our planetary chain, the seven worlds—also mentioned in the Rig-Veda—are fully referred to elsewhere. There are six rajamsi (worlds) above prithivi—the earth, or “this” (idam), as opposed to that which is yonder (the six globes on the three other planes). (See Rig-Veda, I., 34; III., 56; VII., 10411, and V., 60, 6. See § on Chronology.) (SD 2:384fn§)
Nevertheless the Mahatma includes the seventh in the following statement:
There are seven objective and seven subjective globes (I have been just permitted for the first time to give you the right figure), the worlds of causes and of effects. The former have our earth occupying the lower turning point where spirit-matter equilibrates. But do not trouble yourself to go into calculations even on this correct basis for it will only puzzle you, since the infinite ramifications of the number seven (which is one of our greatest mysteries) being so closely allied and interdependent with the seven principles of Nature and man—this figure is the only one I am permitted (so far) to give you. (Mahatma Letter 14)
In relation to this statement, see Purucker’s treatment of the lokas and talas and the way in which he correlates them with the globes. There is much to ponder therein.
If we pay particular attention to the way the 12 globes are outlined by Purucker, we can see that we could easily label 7 of them “objective” and 7 “subjective,” because two of the globes lie right on the dividing line between “arupa” (formless) and “rupa” (form) planes. Thus we can say that there are 7 objective globes and 5 subjective globes, as Purucker says, or we can also say that there are 7 of each. Our count, for the very same system, can thus be either 12 or 14, with but a minor shift in perspective. Occult numerology is full of these kinds of “perspective dependent” equations.
The above reference to Isis 2:450-451 also indicates that 12 is equally applicable to the 7 planes of the diagram in SD 1:200 as to the 7 globes:
. . . the second class of the “twelve gods,” the Dii minores, and who are the terrestrial reflections of the first.
Like the Indian Rishis, the Patriarchs are all convertible in their numbers, as well as interchangeable. According to the subject to which they relate they become ten, twelve, seven or five, and even fourteen, and they have the same esoteric meaning as the Manus or Rishis. (SD 2:129)
Thus 7 equals 12 and 12 in a different context can be 5, 7, 10 or 14!
If we think of the 12 notes of the chromatic scale, containing 7 whole and 5 half notes, it is perhaps not a far stretch to imagine that intermediate stages of anything relating to 7 or 12 may be involved, even in the kingdoms. HPB does not want us to parrot her, but wants us to think for ourselves when approaching these kinds of problems.
The said key must be turned seven times before the whole system is divulged. We will give it but one turn, and thereby allow the profane one glimpse into the mystery. Happy he, who understands the whole! (Isis 2:461)
Perhaps the “key” needs 10 or 12 or even 14 turns!
So, are there 5 globes on the arupa plane—the triad of the apex of the triangle plus Chochmah and Binah? Well, there is a general tendency in the mind of students—which needs to be overcome—to materialize metaphysical concepts, which is something HPB tried to avoid; therefore she most likely did not refer to them as “globes” but rather as “forces” or “higher intelligences.” But that doesn’t imply that there is no matter on those planes, of which we cannot conceive (see the following quotes). There may occasionally be a certain tendency with Purucker to seemingly “materialize” such metaphysical concepts—or to leave the concepts open to materialization in the mind of the student—but the general division of 12 into 7 and 5, even when applied to “globes” is an idea well worth consideration by all serious students of theosophy.
See Purucker on the 7 + 5 globes (“7 manifest, 5 hid”) here:
More now from HPB:
Q. We can conceive of no matter which is not extended, no extension which is not extension of something. Is it the same on higher planes? And if so, what is the substance which fills absolute space, and is it identical with that space?
A. If your “trained intellect” cannot conceive of any other kind of matter, perhaps one less trained but more open to spiritual perceptions can. It does not follow, because you say so, that such a conception of Space is the only one possible, even on our Earth.” (Transactions, p. 13)
Q. What is really meant by the term “planes of non-being”?
A. In using the term “planes of non-being” it is necessary to remember that these planes are only to us spheres of non-being, but those of being and matter to higher intelligences than ourselves. ( Transactions, p. 106-107 )
Q. What are the higher powers which condition the Ah-hi?
A. They cannot be called powers; power or perhaps Potentiality would be better.” (Transactions p. 21)
Deity or Absoluteness, which can hardly be supposed acting in any way—has always meant in ancient philosophies the collectivity of the working and intelligent Forces in nature. (Transactions, p. 143 )
If one holds the above ideas in mind, while reflecting back on the quotes shared earlier in regards to the Ah-hi becoming Planetary, Solar, Lunar, and even Egos, one may find a clearer picture begin to emerge. In any case, if the above reply illustrates nothing else, it certainly demonstrates the flexibility needed when approaching occult numerology. We ought not to be so quick to dismiss the use of varying numbers in relation to the same ideas. If we keep our minds flexible, we may find many appropriate uses for the numbers 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14 etc.