This group focuses on key concepts as presented in theosophical literature. Each Phase will take up passages drawn from selected texts in order to fuel discussion among members.
This group explores the fundamental principles of theosophy as set out by H.P. Blavatsky and her predecessors in the larger Wisdom Religion tradition of mankind. We are looking at these key ideas from a variety of standpoints, philosophical, metaphysical, psychological, practical or scientific. The hope is to connect with the core ideas so that we can better understand both their esoteric meaning but also to find therapeutic applications.
Theosophical Tenets: Cycles
March 10, 2018 at 7:00 pm #6958
“This second assertion of the Secret Doctrine is the absolute universality of that law of periodicity, of flux and reflux, ebb and flow, which physical science has observed and recorded in all departments of nature. An alternation such as that of Day and Night, Life and Death, Sleeping and Waking, is a fact so common, so perfectly universal and without exception, that it is easy to comprehend that in it we see one of the absolutely fundamental laws of the universe.” -The Secret Doctrine
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Theosophical Tenets: Cycles
ModeratorTN March 10, 2018 at 7:02 pm #6961
From the Three Fundamentals of the Secret Doctrine:
(b.) The Eternity of the Universe in toto as a boundless plane; periodically “the playground of numberless Universes incessantly manifesting and disappearing,” called “the manifesting stars,” and the “sparks of Eternity.” “The Eternity of the Pilgrim”† is like a wink of the Eye of Self-Existence (Book of Dzyan.) “The appearance and disappearance of Worlds is like a regular tidal ebb of flux and reflux.” (See Part II., “Days and Nights of Brahma.”)
Pierre WoutersModeratorPierre Wouters April 2, 2018 at 5:49 pm #7014
That’s indeed a good question Grace, and Barbara’s comment is certainly applicable. Essentially there is no difference between karma and cycles (just like spirit and matter are essentially one). So we could say that karma corresponds to spirit, as cycles (the manifestations of karma) correspond to matter. Cycles ARE karma in operation, or the effect of karma, in turn again relating to new causes.
We often think of cycles as just a sequence of time passing by at a steady pace, but there’s a lot more to it. Within any given cycle there are certain mechanisms and dynamics at play. Even graphically speaking – representing a cycle as a circle on paper – if you start a cycle at the top, there is a tendency to accelerate towards the bottom, and from the bottom a deceleration towards the top. At the same time there is a tendency towards materialization or condensation going down, and the reverse going up. Just like a circle representing for instance a horoscope divided into 12 houses, every cycle has subdivisions where every segment answers to a particular quality within a cycle with its own influences, so this answers to cycles within cycles. The actual movement of a cycle is also not exactly circular but helicoidal (like a screw), we usually refer to it as a spiral, but a spiral is basically two-dimensional, a helicoid three-dimensional. There is also the overlapping of cycles when they follow in sequence. A cycle doesn’t just finish off and then the next one starts at the end, the next cycle already starts when the previous one is still in the process of finishing its course.
So, the study of cycles – and thus karma – is a science in its own right, therefore called the Law of cycles/karma. An intrinsic knowledge of the dynamics at play in every sub-division of a cycle and its relation to other cycles gives the yogi insight into the past, the present and future of karmic activity.
I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface of this deep topic. Mr. Judge has a collection of articles that deal with cycles.
Gerry Kiffe May 17, 2018 at 4:34 pm #7119
Karma is essentially the law of Cycles. It is the relationship between cause and effect which is the core idea behind a cycle. A cycle involves the movement from the unmanifest to the manifest and its return. This is the grand cycle upon which all other cycles are built. Every action begins with a thought, per se, and produces effects, which are manifestations.
ModeratorTN April 2, 2018 at 4:55 pm #7012
The Theory of Cycles
It is now some time since this theory, which was first propounded in the oldest religion of the world, Vedaism, then taught by various Greek philosophers, and afterwards defended by the Theosophists of the Middle Ages, but which came to be flatly denied by the wise men of the West, like everything else, in this world of negation, has been gradually coming into prominence again. This once, contrary to the rule, it is the men of science themselves who take up. Statistics of events of the most varied nature are fast being collected and collated with the seriousness demanded by important scientific questions. Statistics of wars and of the periods (or cycles) of the appearance of great men—at least those as have been recognised as such by their contemporaries and irrespective of later opinions; statistics of the periods of development and progress at large commercial centres; of the rise and fall of arts and sciences; of cataclysms, such as earthquakes, epidemics periods of extraordinary cold and heat; cycles of revolutions, and of the rise and fall of empires, &c.; all these are subjected turn to the analysis of the minutest mathematical calculations. Finally, even the occult significance of numbers in names of persons and names of cities, in events, and like matters, receives unwonted attention. If, on the one hand, a great portion of the educated public is running into atheism and scepticism, on the other hand, we find an evident current of mysticism forcing its way into science.
— H.P. Blavatsky, Theosophist, July, 1880
ModeratorTN May 5, 2018 at 5:05 pm #7081
Cycles From Mr. Judge’s Ocean of Theosophy
In advancing these few observations upon the doctrine of cycles, no claim to an exhaustive study of the matter is made. This paper is merely by way of suggestion.
The subject was brought before my mind by our discussion some evenings ago, when the question of the descent upon earth, or ascent from it, of celestial beings or progressed souls engaged our attention. It seemed certain that such ascent and descent were governed by cyclic laws, and therefore proceeded in regular periods. Some sentences from the Wisdom of the Egyptians by Synesius in matter furnished me by Bro. Chas Johnston, now of India, read:
“After Osiris, therefore, was initiated by his father into the royal mysteries, the gods informed him * * that a strong tribe of envious and malignant daemons were present with Typhos as his patrons, to whom he was allied and by whom he was hurled forth into light, in order that they might employ him as an instrument of the evil which they inflict on mankind. For the calamities of nations are the banquets of the evil daemons. * * *
“Yet you must not think that the gods are without employment, or that their descent to this earth is perpetual. For they descend according to orderly periods of time, for the purpose of imparting a beneficent impulse in the republics of mankind. But this happens when they harmonize a kingdom and send to this earth for that purpose souls who are allied to themselves. For this providence is divine and most ample, which frequently through one man pays attention to and affects countless multitudes of men.
“For there is indeed in the terrestial abode the sacred tribe of heroes who pay attention to mankind, and who are able to give them assistance even in the smallest concerns. * * This heroic tribe is, as it were, a colony from the gods established here in order that this terrene abode may not be left destitute of a better nature. But when matter excites her own proper blossoms to war against the soul, the resistance made by these heroic tribes is small when the gods are absent; for everything is strong only in its appropriate place and time. * * But when the harmony adapted in the beginning by the gods to all terrene things becomes old, they descend again to earth that they may call the harmony forth, energize and resuscitate it when it is as it were expiring. * * When, however, the whole order of mundane things, greatest and least, is corrupted, then it is necessary that the gods should descend for the purpose of imparting another orderly distribution of things.”
ModeratorTN May 12, 2018 at 6:17 pm #7105
The Doctrine of Cycles
The doctrine of Cycles is emphasized in Theosophy, as it is so many-sided and so far-reaching in its application to all phases of life and to all conditions of matter. A cycle means a ring or “turning.” It is not a closed ring; rather, it is a continuous rounding course, advancing on a rising level. Cycles may be likened to a circular stairway, where, in going up or down, we are always above or below the level of the preceding step or round. Another example of a cyclic course is seen in the thread of a screw, which winds around and upward from the point. A more typical form of the enlarging circle is found in the widening spiral of the common snail-shell. This type is symbolic of the evolutionary progress of all things; and not least of all, it symbolizes the natural expanding life-course of us human beings, as we return to Earth, again and again. We follow an absolutely universal
“law of periodicity, of flux and reflux, ebb and flow, which physical science has observed and recorded in all departments of nature. An alternation such as that of Day and Night, Life and Death, Sleeping and Waking, is a fact so common, so perfectly universal and without exception, that it is easy to comprehend that in it we see one of the absolutely fundamental laws of the universe.”
— The Secret Doctrine, 1,17
There are cycles within cycles. Man — both the individual and the race as a whole — though evidently rising and falling in lesser cycles, yet is ever becoming more aware of what is within his own nature as well as what is without him. While he is exploring widening fields of the material world and its forces, he is also becoming more at home in a grander range of humanhood.
The Doctrine of Cycles by Lydia Ross and C. J. Ryan
ModeratorTN June 2, 2018 at 5:54 pm #7158
The Evolution of Humanity and Its Civilizations
The story of mankind cannot be understood without considering the birth of the planet of which we are all inseparable parts. If our universe is a living being, and our sun and earth also, we are then children of the living cosmos. This implies that there are intelligences above man, and beings below the animals and even plants. Without the guiding and sustaining influence of the hierarchies of superior beings which form the inner fabric of the cosmos, nature would become a meaningless chaos. They instigate and ideate the design of nature’s working and are the forces behind its inbuilt healing system or ineluctable return to harmony.
As the human and other kingdoms each attain their evolution, so the earth achieves its form and embodiment. The elemental, mineral, vegetable, animal, human, and divine kingdoms are all essential to one another and to the whole. They are to the earth what cells, the life force, and thoughts are to human beings. Each individual enshrines a divine spark, and from the very beginning of our planet’s reimbodiment all the kingdoms were present, not as they now are, but as seeds about to unfold.
The Evolution of Humanity and Its Civilizations by John Van Mater
ModeratorTN July 15, 2018 at 6:44 am #7250
Causative Nature of Cycles
The doctrine of cycles is one of the most important in the entire cosmic range of the esoteric philosophy, because repetitive or rhythmic action is fundamental in nature. As a matter of fact, every being and thing that exists is an expression of rhythmic pulsation: we are not only the children of cycles greater than ourselves, but actually within our own beings imbody cycles because we are cyclical in all our life processes. The same rule applies with identical force to any entity in boundless Infinitude, whether a galaxy or an atom.
We perceive cycles by the recurrences of moving beings and things in our world, and are deluded into thinking that these repetitions are caused by some intangible entity called time, while in reality they are caused by the cyclical movements of the bodies or of the consciousness of entities. The revolutions of the planets around the sun is an example; they are not caused by time. It is the moving entities themselves which produce in us the time-illusion, due to our imperfect understanding of their operations in Duration. As one of the Stanzas of Dzyan says: “Time was not, for it lay asleep in the infinite bosom of duration” — because moving things were then no more.
A human being is a cycle; an atom is a cycle — in this technical sense. We say that the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening, and we call it a cycle, a day. The time-illusion produced by the moving object — in this case our earth — gives us the notion that a day is produced by an absolute entity called Time, or is an integral part of such separate entity.
Cycles themselves are not caused as minor integrals of time by time. Where you have no space, there is no time; where you have no time, there is no space. Space is a substantial entity in occultism, and one of its mayavi attributes is what we call time. As Space is eternally enduring, this is the cause of the time-maya. That does not mean that time is nonexistent, but there is no absolute entity apart from things called Time, nor where there are no beings to perceive it.
—G. de Purucker