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Study Aids for the Secret Doctrine: 2017

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Study Aids for the Secret Doctrine: 2017

  • Profile photo of ModeratorTN
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    The first and the most important idea to understand in reference to evolution in this our kingdom is the following:

    The pivotal doctrine of the Esoteric philosophy admits no privileges or special gifts in man, save those won by his own Ego through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations. (S.D. I, 17.)

    In the philosophy of Theosophy this fundamental plays the leading role. Every enquirer is told of it at the very start. Every tyro in Theosophy speaks about it. It is not a difficult proposition to understand, and yet, without doubt, it is the most difficult one to practise, and because of that, very often it is the least understood of the teachings. This is not paradoxical but the fact is that this teaching cannot be grasped by mind alone — however mighty the mind. No amount of theoretical knowledge of it will produce necessary effects. To know it thoroughly the teaching has to be applied, has to be practised, many a time, in many a situation, till dimly its activity stands revealed to our perception. It is not a mental process, hence mind alone cannot fathom its mystery; it is amanasic process, in which our mind is only a learner. Ordinarily our minds are the enlightening influence in our lives; but what has given it its enlightening power? Manas, the Thinker, is the teacher of mind; he lights the mind; from him our minds gain their power to illumine, their capacity to shine. Only when Manasic action of the Thinker, the Manushya, the Real Man, begins to operate does this teaching, through application, become clear.

    The “mind is like a mirror; it gathers dust while it reflects,” says The Voice of the Silence. But Manas is the Light of Buddhi which is fed by the Energy of Atma; it is the flame, radiant and luminous, which all the time performs the sacrificial action of consuming dust to make it shine in splendour. The energy of Atma is the Will, free and impersonal; the Light of Buddhi is the Intelligence which utilizes it because it is energized by that Will.

    Will is the creative power in man — the maker of super-man. By our will we are the fashioners of that which is divine in us but which now is asleep, dormant, latent. Conscious, intelligent Will is the faculty par excellence of man, and this is the moulder of Individuality itself. Manas gains mastery over his mind and the other lower instruments by the power of Will and the faculty of intelligent discernment.

    From B.P. Wadia’s Studies in the Secret Doctrine

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    The initial steps of this momentous journey have to be taken now and here by every earnest student of the Wisdom.

    The first of these is to reject, without any mental reservation, without any equivocation whatever, all religious, philosophic or scientific creeds which teach the existence of an Intelligent Ruler of men, Father of His children; which teach dependence on power, force or law outside of man himself; which inculcate the practice of ceremonial and ritual for appeasing powers sub- or super-human; or which encourage the notion of man becoming a ministering angel or deva with a view to propitiate the desires of mortals. To all who are in churches or mosques or schools where either or all of the above doctrines are taught, East or West, Theosophy says — “Come out from among them and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing.” (II Corinthians vi:17.)

     

    That is the first step — the complete rejection of orthodox creeds which have to be blindly believed, or which encourage dependence on outer agencies, personal or institutional.

    B.P. Wadia    Studies in the Secret Doctrine  Growth through Self Effort

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    From SD i  339-341

    The one prevailing, most distinct idea ― found in all ancient teaching,with reference to Cosmic Evolution and the first “creation” of our Globe with all its products, organic and inorganic (strange word for an Occultist to use) ― is that the whole Kosmos has sprung from the DIVINE THOUGHT. This thought impregnates matter, which is co-eternal with the ONE REALITY; and all that lives and breathes evolves from the emanations of the ONE Immutable ― Parabrahm = Mulaprakriti, the eternal one-root. The former of these is, so to say, the aspect of the central point turned inward into regions quite inaccessible to human intellect, and is absolute abstraction; whereas, in its aspect as Mulaprakriti the eternal root of all, ― it gives one some hazy comprehension at least of the Mystery of Being.

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    From Mr. Wadia’s Studies in the Secret Doctrine
    In the philosophy of Theosophy this fundamental plays the leading role. Every enquirer is told of it at the very start. Every tyro in Theosophy speaks about it. It is not a difficult proposition to understand, and yet, without doubt, it is the most difficult one to practise, and because of that, very often it is the least understood of the teachings. This is not paradoxical but the fact is that this teaching cannot be grasped by mind alone — however mighty the mind. No amount of theoretical knowledge of it will produce necessary effects. To know it thoroughly the teaching has to be applied, has to be practised, many a time, in many a situation, till dimly its activity stands revealed to our perception. It is not a mental process, hence mind alone cannot fathom its mystery; it is amanasic process, in which our mind is only a learner. Ordinarily our minds are the enlightening influence in our lives; but what has given it its enlightening power? Manas, the Thinker, is the teacher of mind; he lights the mind; from him our minds gain their power to illumine, their capacity to shine. Only when Manasic action of the Thinker, the Manushya, the Real Man, begins to operate does this teaching, through application, become clear.The “mind is like a mirror; it gathers dust while it reflects,” says The Voice of the Silence. But Manas is the Light of Buddhi which is fed by the Energy of Atma; it is the flame, radiant and luminous, which all the time performs the sacrificial action of consuming dust to make it shine in splendour. The energy of Atma is the Will, free and impersonal; the Light of Buddhi is the Intelligence which utilizes it because it is energized by that Will.

    • Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe
      Gerry Kiffe
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      Profile photo of Gerry KiffeGerry Kiffe

      “Thou canst not travel on the Path before thou hast become the Path itself.” The Voice of the Silence

      Is this essentially the same idea here.  We cannot really awake to metaphysical truths, become perceptive of their actions until we put ourselves in rapport with them through use?  In other words is the intellectual grasp of a metaphysical proposition only a step in the learning process and not the end?

      • Profile photo of Tamiko Yamada
        Tamiko Yamada
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        Profile photo of Tamiko YamadaTamiko Yamada

        We would have to recharge the life atoms of our vehicles to conform to  the Teaching.  Then the vehicle can act no other way but in obeisance to its divine charge.

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    The study of The Secret Doctrine proves unprofitable unless the student sees at his own stage of evolution, in his own life, in the activity of his own complex nature, the unity which is basic from which differentiation springs and on which diversity manifests. Meta-physics is not a subject for consideration by the mind only. Therefore there is no possibility of anyone fully grasping the meaning of the Three Fundamentals by the power of intellect alone. True science is not solely of the senses, however prominent the part sense-perceptions play in its vocation. Thus, unless a serious attempt is made by the student to see the activity of the Three Fundamentals in the function and the process of his own individual life, they must remain mysterious and confusing and fail to inspire him to better life or nobler labours.

    From: Studies in the Secret Doctrine: The Yoga of the Secret Doctrine  by B.P. Wadia

    • Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe
      Gerry Kiffe
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      Profile photo of Gerry KiffeGerry Kiffe

      If the study of metaphysics is more than an intellectual enterprise, more than the marshaling or memorizing of facts, more than a sequence of connected ideas then what role does imagination play in metaphysical study?  Is there a child-like quality to metaphysical flights of imagination?

      • Profile photo of KS
        KS
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        I understand that imagination acts as a conduit for intuition.  When an individual begins to exercise their imagination regarding metaphysical subjects,  it may open a new avenue, or perhaps vistas of wider thinking and assimilation of two seemingly “unrelated” topics.

        We  can look at children, or even remember our childhood experiences- the more that imagination is exercised, the ability to intuit and perceive that which isn’t readily available increases.  Information is assimilated, tested and exercised, then stretched to its limit without losing its fundamental integrity.

        It is said someplace that metaphysics leads directly to the heart doctrine, however we mustn’t understand metaphysics to be “flights of fancy” as so often called, nor should we think that imagination alone leads to Ideal within the heart. The true metaphysician takes fundamental laws and begins to exercise them beyond mere convention understandings, which may be initially done through ones ability to imagine.

        • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe Gerry Kiffe.
        • Profile photo of barbara
          barbara
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          “I understand that imagination acts as a conduit for intuition.  When an individual begins to exercise their imagination regarding metaphysical subjects, it may open a new avenue, or perhaps vistas of wider thinking and assimilation of two seemingly “unrelated” topics.”

          Hi Kristan:

          This is an interesting observation.   What do you think is the relationship between intuition and imagination?  Can one be intuitive without a developed imagination and vice versa?  In the business world we often speak about visionary leaders and, now that I am thinking about it, I can see they are both intuitive and imaginative.  It seems we cannot have one without the other. 

          Some schools stress on the importance of developing a strong imagination while others hardly mention it.  In the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, imagination is defined as one of the five modifications of our mind; the other four are right thinking, wrong thinking, sleep and memory.   

          Imagination is a function found only in humans, it has the power to create and materialize that from the invisible to things substantial.  It is not imponderable to say that all forms are embodiment of ideas.  We live in a visible universe made out of thoughts.  Like everything else, imagination could be used for the good or for evil purposes.    The wrong use could strengthen the veils illusions while the proper use could help us to see things as they are, piercing to the heart of Truth.

          • Profile photo of KS
            KS
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            Hello Barbara,

            To me, it seems unlikely that intuition can be cultivated without some ability to be imaginative, so I would agree with you when you say the two appear to be codependent.

            Perhaps there is a balance that must be maintained however.  I think there can be a lot said about exercising the imagination, for instance, “gathering it” rather than expelling it on the fantasies of the lower mind.  I think you had tougher upon this in your closing sentence.

          • Profile photo of Grace Cunningham
            Grace Cunningham
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            Profile photo of Grace CunninghamGrace Cunningham

            When we study and brood over metaphysical ideas sufficiently what seems to happen is the mind works to form a picture of sorts, to give some analogical form perhaps, to the idea in mind.  This seems to me to be an act of imagination.  It is the image making faculty of consciousness.  The student is invited to wipe the slate clean and start over again in the effort to form a clearer picture, a more comprehensive and perhaps more universal representation.  And this process goes on and on. The better the picture the more dynamic is its suggestive power.

      • Profile photo of Peter
        Peter
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        Perhaps there is another question about the intellect that is worth considering, namely, is the intellect merely the marshalling or memorising of facts; a sequence of connected ideas?

        The intellect is normally defined as the faculty of reasoning and understanding. We certainly need to gather information and ideas as part of the process, but wouldn’t we normally say this is just an initial stage. If we stopped at the gathering stage, our understanding would likely be very superficial.

        When we gather information and ideas but don’t reflect upon them deeply and apply our power of reasoning to them, the danger is we may simply end up marshalling so called facts and ideas that fit in with our pre-existing beliefs while ignoring or reject those which upset them. A mind able to reason and reflect and which values truth over falsity isn’t afraid of ideas or facts that contradict existing beliefs. In themselves, the facts are always friendly.

        What do we mean by imagination? Perhaps, when we talk about imagination we mean the power of using images rather than concepts i.e. we see intellect as merely dealing with concepts in contrast to, say, art which is an imaginative and visual process.

        Is imagination something separate from the intellect? Can we conceptually understand the relevance of Pythagorus’ theorem without first being able to imaging a right angled triangle? Or, what about calculating how a spaceship might be launched from earth and eventually circle around Jupiter when it arrives in a few years time? Can we do that without using the imagination?

        When we talk about imagination in contrast to intellect do we just mean imaginal thinking in contrast to logical thinking? Are both of these aspects or faculties of the Intellect or different aspects of mind altogether?

        ~

        • Profile photo of KS
          KS
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          William Q Judge speaks about the Occult aspects of imagination:

          “In Occultism it is known to be of the highest importance that one should  should have the imagination under such control as to  be able to make a picture of anything at anytime, and if this power has not been so trained by the possession of other sorts of knowledge will not enable one to perform certain classes of a occult phenomena.”

          With this being said, I think Peter mentions some important additions when speaking about the intellect and its role. I believe without the basic knowledge of something, the imagination has little to no bearings to follow.

          If we consider the artist, we find that some years of technical training and basic understanding of color theory must be apprehended in order to produce a sound composition. This is an intellectual process initially, that which follows is the artists’ ability to interpret what they see with the minds eye- “imagination”- and properly convey on to the canvas or other medium.

          Same with the poet. Intellectual knowledge- grammar- followed by the “esotericism” of words- imagery conveyed.

          In studying the SD, I believe fundamental axioms should be taken as essential structures which initially must be logically and intellectually understood, then imagination must be concentrated/cultivated and worked according to the axioms as well as what is immediately perceived.

          In other words, analogy and correspondence.  The ABC’s of developing the Imagination of Occultism perhaps.

        • Profile photo of Grace Cunningham
          Grace Cunningham
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          Profile photo of Grace CunninghamGrace Cunningham

          Added to all these wonderful questions I might add one other. What is metaphysical imagination? If metaphysics is by definition the realm of the formless and timeless then what is imagination in this arena?

          • Profile photo of Odin Townley
            Odin Townley
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            Profile photo of Odin TownleyOdin Townley

            H. P. Blavatsky wrote:

            No more did Simon Magus wait to be entranced to fly off in the air before the apostles and crowds of witnesses. “It requires no conjuration and ceremonies; circle-making and incensing are mere nonsense and juggling,” says Paracelsus. The human spirit “is so great a thing that no man can express it; as God Himself is eternal and unchangeable, so also is the mind of man. If we rightly understood its powers, nothing would be impossible to us on earth. The imagination is strengthened and developed through faith in our will. Faith must confirm the imagination, for faith establishes the will.”

            – Isis Unveiled 2:598
            http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/isis/iu2-12a.htm

          • Profile photo of Pierre Wouters
            Pierre Wouters
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            Profile photo of Pierre WoutersPierre Wouters

            Perhaps this is helpful Grace:

            “For, as soon as DARKNESS—or rather that which is “darkness” for ignorance—has disappeared in its own realm of eternal Light, leaving behind itself only its divine manifested Ideation, the creative Logoi have their understanding opened, and they see in the ideal world (hitherto concealed in the divine thought) the archetypal forms of all, and proceed to copy and build or fashion upon these models forms evanescent and transcendent.

            At this stage of action, the Demiurge is not yet the Architect. Born in the twilight of action, he has yet to first perceive the plan, to realise the ideal forms which lie buried in the bosom of Eternal Ideation, as the future lotus-leaves, the immaculate petals, are concealed within the seed of that plant. . . ” (SD I:380)

            The formless is not devoid of substance, it’s a term used relative to our understanding.

            • Profile photo of Grace Cunningham
              Grace Cunningham
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              Profile photo of Grace CunninghamGrace Cunningham

              Many Thanks Odin and Pierre. I gather the powers of the mind will be more fully developed in ways that we can only “imagine” in future rounds and races.

            • Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe
              Gerry Kiffe
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              Profile photo of Gerry KiffeGerry Kiffe

              I was thinking about your comment here Pierre and it occurred to me that whole concept of Form has a certain illusory quality to it due to its relationship with Time. When we see a form it is a snapshot in a single moment. But actually that form is in motion, going through changes, and if we watch long enough it will change form completely. What we would call an apple changes form completely when consumed. The energies from the sugars and the transmutation of the fluids into blood render what was once called an apple into something different all together. So you get energy passing from form to form never idle never wholly stationary. It is interesting to think about.

              Check it out: https://youtu.be/n2rbpUcavGI

      • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
        Pavel Axentiev
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        Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

        Interesting. In the Fourth Way, imagination is treated in a somewhat conservative way. There it is primarily dealt with as the uncontrolled activity of the mind, which is antagonistic to the development of consciousness. Similarly, in other traditions, controlling the mind comes first, before the mind can be used for its more exalted purposes: for example, in Buddhism, the meditation called “calm abiding,” in which the practitioner learns to control his/her mind by withdrawing from all the on-going thought activity, is a pre-requisite for all higher forms of meditation, including those that utilise visualization (i.e. imagination in its higher sense).

        • Profile photo of James
          James
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          Hi Pavel,
          A really good point on imagination and its duality.
          1. Uncontrolled imagination where the minds is allowed to follow our fantasy’s or desires.
          2. Creative visualization, when the mind directs the picture making faculty to produce a needed outcome such as the Master in the Heart meditation.
          Quote; “Your best method is to concentrate on the Master as a Living Man within you. Make His image in your heart, and a focus of concentration, so as to lose all sense of bodily existence in the one thought”. cw12 697…

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    Studies in the Secret Doctrine:
    The Law of Karma

    The Universe of Law is accepted as a basic truth by all. The most superstitious slave of priestcraft, the believer in chance, coincidence, the “psychological moment,” fatalism, and also the most abject materialist reared by modern science — all avow that the universe, physical, moral, mental, is — must be — governed by law. Law, however, assumes the aspect of a whimsical and mysterious personal god with some; with others, is locked up in the power of thought exerted by human free will; is the code of the partly discovered and the partly to be discovered “facts” of modern “exact science” with a third class. The truth that the “infallible laws” of materialistic science break down in conflict with moral problems does not disturb the upholders of those “laws”; on the other hand the advance of knowledge which has overthrown the “revealed will of God” makes little difference to the blind believer in the non-existent “Almighty.”

    • Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe
      Gerry Kiffe
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      Profile photo of Gerry KiffeGerry Kiffe

      Is the point here that either Law is universal and everywhere present or it isn’t? Could Law be observable in the natural world but be absent from the affairs of man?

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      Gerry Kiffe
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      Profile photo of Gerry KiffeGerry Kiffe

      Is the point here that either Law is universal and everywhere present or it isn’t? Could Law be observable in the natural world but be absent from the affairs of man?

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    From B.P. Wadia’s Studies in the Secret Doctrine:  The Eternal Pilgrim

    Let us study Man; but if we separate him for one moment from the Universal Whole, or view him, in isolation from a single aspect, apart from the “Heavenly Man” — the Universe symbolized by Adam Kadmon, Purushottama, or their equivalents in every philosophy — we shall fail most ingloriously in our attempt. Further, be it noted that unforeseen and unexpected dangers lie that way if and when the student in his earnestness and enthusiasm begins to make applications to himself and in his life arising out of such separative study. Let every single student be thoroughly impressed with an idea, which the Masters have endeavoured to impart to Theosophists at large, namely, the great axiomatic truth that the only eternal and living reality is that which the Hindus call Paramatma and Parabrahman.

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    The human kingdom is the balance between non-humanity and super-humanity. Hence the human kingdom is the plain of Kurukshetra — the plane of struggle and war. The hell of non-self-consciousness is behind, the heaven of all-self-consciousness is in front of man — in his present state the purgation of matter has to be undertaken by him. This means that leaving behind his stateor condition of self-consciousness he has to make of himself a Self-Conscious Being. The personality has to lose its animal nature, its vegetative tendencies, its inert earthiness and become pure; then only can that purified personality be handled by Manas, the Thinker, who running with it, through the seven-fold upward course assimilates to himself the eternal life-power of Atma, and blends it, himself and that Atma into one and becomes a Self-Conscious Pure-Buddhi-Being — Wisdom-Incarnate, Lord of Contemplation.

    From B.P. Wadia’s Studies in the Secret Doctrine “Growth Through Self-Effort”

    • Profile photo of Grace Cunningham
      Grace Cunningham
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      Profile photo of Grace CunninghamGrace Cunningham

      Can something be said about what it means to purify matter? Is it a about making matter more porous to spirit? Is this the role of Manas?

      • Profile photo of Odin Townley
        Odin Townley
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        Profile photo of Odin TownleyOdin Townley

        Having the right tools for a job is essential, just ask any electrician, plumber or carpenter. Equally important, is that the tools being used are dependable and in good working condition. Just ask any parachutist, race car driver, mountain climber, or pole vaulter. Bottom line, their very physical life and existence depends on the quality and reliability of the vehicles they use.

        Similarly, the temper of our body and senses often determine, for better or worse, our spirit’s ability to express its otherwise buried genius.

        The quality and adequacy of “the brain and body to transmit and give expression” to the immortal spirit, Blavatsky wrote in her article “Genius”, is “the result of Karma.” She offers the analogy that “the physical is the musical instrument, and the Ego, the performing artist.”

        No skill of the soul she wrote, “can awaken faultless harmony out of a broken or badly made instrument.” The physical “may be a priceless Stradivarius or a cheap and cracked fiddle,” she said.

        “Genius,” she wrote, “is due to no blind chance, to no innate qualities through hereditary tendencies – though that which is known as atavism may often intensify these faculties – but to an accumulation of individual antecedent experiences of the Ego in its preceding life, and lives. For, though omniscient in its essence and nature, it still requires experience through its personalities of the things of earth, earthy on the objective plane, in order to apply the fruition of that abstract omniscience to them. And, adds our philosophy – the cultivation of certain aptitudes throughout a long series of past incarnations must finally culminate in some one life, in a blooming forth as genius, in one or another direction.”

        Link to HPB’s Article:

        http://theosophy.org/Blavatsky/Articles/Genius.htm

        W. Q. Judge’s Ocean of Theosophy, Chapter 9:

        The whole mass of detail of a life is preserved in the inner man to be one day fully brought back to the conscious memory in some other life when we are perfected. And even now, imperfect as we are and little as we know, the experiments in hypnotism show that all the smallest details are registered in what is for the present known as the sub-conscious mind. The theosophical doctrine is that not a single one of these happenings is forgotten in fact, and at the end of life when the eyes are closed and those about say we are dead every thought and circumstance of life flash vividly into and across the mind.

        Many persons do, however, remember that they have lived before. Poets have sung of this, children know it well, until the constant living in an atmosphere of unbelief drives the recollection from their minds for the present, but all are subject to the limitations imposed upon the Ego by the new brain in each life. This is why we are not able to keep the pictures of the past, whether of this life or the preceding ones. The brain is the instrument for the memory of the soul, and, being new in each life with but a certain capacity, the Ego is only able to use it for the new life up to its capacity. That capacity will be fully availed of or the contrary, just according to the Ego’s own desire and prior conduct, because such past living will have increased or diminished its power to overcome the forces of material existence.

        Link to Chapter 9:

        http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/ocean/oce-9.htm

        By living according to the dictates of the soul the brain may at last be made porous to the soul’s recollections; if the contrary sort of a life is led, then more and more will clouds obscure that reminiscence. But as the brain had no part in the life last lived, it is in general unable to remember. And this is a wise law, for we should be very miserable if the deeds and scenes of our former lives were not hidden from our view until by discipline we become able to bear a knowledge of them.

        • This reply was modified 11 months, 3 weeks ago by Profile photo of Odin Townley Odin Townley.
        • This reply was modified 11 months, 3 weeks ago by Profile photo of Odin Townley Odin Townley.
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    From WQ Judge’s Hidden Hints in the Secret Doctrine

    AKASA AND MANAS CORRESPOND. See footnote p. 13, Vol. I. “That Akasa, the fifth universal Cosmic Principle—to which corresponds and from which proceeds human Manas—is, cosmically, a radiant, cool, diathermanous, plastic matter, creative in its physical nature, correlative in its grossest aspects and portions, immutable in its higher principles.” It must therefore follow, under the law of correspondences, that manas in the seven-fold division is creative, correlative, and immutable in the same way and portions as stated for Akasa.

    MANAS IN THE 5th ROUND. By following out the correspondence we find that as Ether, the lower form of Akasa, now semi-material, will become visible in the air at the end of this Round—the 4th-so manas, now only semi-developed in this race, will be further evolved in the 5th Round, at the same time with the parent source, and as the form of Ether spoken of will then be the superior element in nature, so at the same time the superior principle reigning in the septenary constitution of man will be manas. The full development of manas imposes full responsibility on the race, and thus we see how the turning point is reached and what it may mean, and also what is the meaning of the “moment of Choice.” With full responsibility the choice must be made by the race which thus has perfect manas. It is for and towards that period that the Masters of Wisdom are now working so as to prepare the present Egos for the momentous days when the choice of the good or evil path must be intelligently made.

    And as in many places in the Secret Doctrine the author says that we are the same egos who were in the Atlantean bodies, and that they had a very weighty karma, we may perceive why it is that are those who will be compelled to make the great choice for good or evil destiny in the next Round.

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    Gerry Kiffe
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    Profile photo of Gerry KiffeGerry Kiffe

    From B.P. Wadia’s Study Aids for the Secret Doctrine

    The human constitution is a composite one. Man’s highest or Spirit-pole is a portion of the One Life, universal and unitary. It emerges from its state of spiritual unconsciousness and migrates to the plane of mentality still intellectually unconscious and from there its inherent energizing power functions. Like the grub which becomes chrysalis and butterfly, Man, or rather that which becomes man, passes through all the forms and kingdoms and human shapes, till self-consciousness comes to birth. Then progressing onward through savagery to citizenship and beyond to perfect sageship, the Mahatma is born. But all the time it is one and the same Being. That pole of our being which is the lower-material enjoys the sacrificial offering of the higher-spiritual. Thus Buddhi comes to be because Atma limits Itself, by its own inherent power. Body is formed because Prana sacrifices itself as a connecting, nourishing link holding in unison the countless lives who make the form-rupa. Manas sacrifices itself to redeem the Kamic nature by the same Law of Yagna which joins Buddhi to Manas.

    • Profile photo of Ramprakash ML
      Ramprakash ML
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      Gerry Kiffe
      January 7, 2017 at 10:39 pm #4388

      Thus it is evident that the universe of beings comes into existence because of sacrifice, exist by sacrifice, progresses and emancipated by sacrifice – Yajna. SACRIFICE is the law of life.

      In her polemical discussions with Emile Bournof HPB argues that the Darwinian theory of struggle for life and survival of the fittest that it is a pseudo law, in the sense that it is not universal ; that it seems to be in action in the vegetable kingdom, in the animal world, and not in the human kingdom except in the man’s animal nature; and that it is wholly inapplicable in the higher human nature. Higher evolution of man takes place only by the law of sacrifice.

      • Profile photo of Pierre Wouters
        Pierre Wouters
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        Profile photo of Pierre WoutersPierre Wouters

        Hi Ramprakash,
        what do you understand by “sacrifice”?
        For many people it sounds very negative, as if you have to give up something of yourself that will be lost forever. People often equate it with the word “slaughter”, as in sacrificing animals for instance. However, the etymological root we find in the Latin word sacer, meaning ‘holy’ or ‘sacred’, which gives the word “sacrifice” a completely different bend from its mundane interpretation, thus, “to make sacred”. It is not a “removing from” or “giving up” of something, but rather an “adding to” or “elevating” quality, so that every action we take becomes an elevating experience “sacrificed” to the unity of the Heavenly Man, rather than a degrading experience that leads to disintegration.

        I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.

        • Profile photo of Ramprakash ML
          Ramprakash ML
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          Profile photo of Ramprakash MLRamprakash ML

          Hello Pierre. Thanks for the nice comment. I agree. The word sacrifice has a crude connotation in the ordinary parlance–as slaughtering animals in religious rites for worldly gains. But it it has an altogether different meaning in Wisdom tradition, as you have pointed out. Yes, it means adding to, elevating, transforming, transmuting, ennobling, raising up something to a higher status. It has an aura of sanctity, a sacredness. I also think Yajna – Sacrifice means this.

          I believe this raising up of something to higher status involve giving up of the lower status by certain means and growing up to a higher order. A seed has to die in order to become a tree, the baby has to die out of its uterine life in order to be born as a man or a woman. Man and woman have to die as man and woman in order to be reborn in spirit as gods. This transition from the lower to the higher involves a certain effort and pain.

          The personal self, the alter Ego on earth of the Eternal Ego in heaven, has to die out of its worldly life, so natural to it, in order to be born as an immortal Ego : ie., merging with the Higher Ego. As St Paul says corruption has to put on incorruption, mortality has to out on immortality. This transition to the higher from the lower is a conscious effort in the light of full knowledge of replacing the transitory and the perishable with the permanent and everlasting. It is a conscious dissolution of the former and rebirth into the latter.

          This is one side of the story.

          • Profile photo of Ramprakash ML
            Ramprakash ML
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            Profile photo of Ramprakash MLRamprakash ML

            The other side of the story, as it seems to me is this :

            The Entities who thus grow in conscious, Manasic, life to divinity are so bound up in the tie of Brotherhood that they are compelled by the Law of Karma–whose ultimate end and purpose is emancipation of all beings–to sacrifice their divine felicitous, blissful heavenly life, exile from that higher life to incarnate on the miserable earth–the mansion of death– in order to raise up the Egos still bound to miseries of conditioned existence, as well as the Monads of the sub-human kingdoms, to higher life. This is Yajna consciously performed with full knowledge and responsibility.

            In the Transactions HPB shows the name of the Higher Ego (which we are, indeed, in reality) Aja, meaning Lamb, as well as unborn (therefore, deathless) who sacrifices himself to himself to redeem all creatures. He is a voluntary sacrificial victim, like the lamb is in exoteric rituals.

            Is not the Spiritual Ego, the Manasa Putra, though innocent of the sins of its temporary series of shadow on earth nevertheless take on the sins of the latter and suffer ? He suffers in order that the thief may be raised up to heaven–a thief difficult to tame and reform. Truly he is the Lamb. He is also the good shepherd, the leader of the herd of sheep.

            In the same way we can say, I suppose, Purusha, the universal Spirit. sacrifices itself to become all this in obedience to the Law of sacrifice out of compassion absolute that all may be saved and emancipated.

            Hence Krishna says in the 8th chapter of the Gita, “I am Adi-Yajna in this body.”

            The Wondrous Being, Mahadeva, the Initiator, the BEING, the MAHA GURU, though emancipated and gone on to the unknown (to us) fields of Absolute Life, refused to go on, but sacrifices himself, and “sitting on the threshold of LIGHT, he looks into it from within the circle of Darkness, which he will not cross; not will he quit his post till the last day of this life-cycle.”

            “Why does he sit be the fountain of primeval Wisdom, of which he drinks no longer, as he has naught to learn which he does not know……because he has sacrificed himself for the sake of mankind, though but a few Elect may profit by the GREAT SACRIFICE.” (SD, I. p. 207, 208)

            Does not Krishna say that though there is nothing in the three regions of the universe for him to perform, nor anything possible to obtain which he has not obtained, and that yet he is constantly in action, failing which all these creatures would perish ?

            Most inspiring !

            Universe comes into existence by sacrifice, is sustained by sacrifice, evolves towards endless perfection through sacrifice. Sacrifice is the Law of Life.

            Selfishness, the Darwinian idea of fight for survival in and for animal existence, though partially true on the animal plane, it is wholly false, the very antithesis of human life in its higher aspect.

      • Profile photo of Peter
        Peter
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        Hello Ram,

        I’m not sure about this ‘survival of the fittest’ question. I’d be interested to see what HPB says in the conversation you refer to. HPB has this to say on the topic in one article in Collected Writings:

        “In his letter of December 7th, Colonel Olcott very appropriately illustrates his subject
        of potential immortality by citing the admitted physical law of the survival of the fittest.
        The rule applies to the greatest as to the smallest things—to the planet equally with the
        plant. It applies to man.”
        (CW 1 297 “Views of the Theosophists’)

        Wouldn’t we say that this applies to the spiritual aspect of our nature too? Perhaps it depends on what we mean by ‘the fittest’ or what it is, exactly, that is fit to survive? For example, only the spiritual aspects of the personality in this or any lifetime will survive, be assimilated and thus ‘immortalised’ by the Higher Ego (Buddhi-Manas) in Devachan. Isn’t the extent to which a human being is able to achieve this union also a crucial aspect of what the Mahatma refers to in His letter to Sinnett?

        ‘…matter ground over in the workshop of nature proceeds soulless back to its Mother Fount; while the Egos purified of their dross are enabled to resume their progress once more onward. It is here, then, that the laggard Egos perish by the millions. It is the solemn moment of the “survival of the fittest,” the annihilation of those unfit. It is but matter (or material man) which is compelled by its own weight to descend to the very bottom of the “circle of necessity” to there assume animal form; as to the winner of that race throughout the worlds — the Spiritual Ego, he will ascend from star to star, from one world to another, circling onward to rebecome the once pure planetary Spirit, then higher still, to finally reach its first starting point, and from thence — to merge into MYSTERY.’
        (Mahatma Letter to Sinnett, letter 9; Barker Edition)

        We see another similar reference in Letter 13, note 6, where the Mahatma talks about the destruction of egos in the fifth Round.

        ~~

        • Profile photo of Ramprakash ML
          Ramprakash ML
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          Profile photo of Ramprakash MLRamprakash ML

          Hello Peter, So nice to hear from you after a long long time. How are you ?

          You have raised a subject most stimulating and deeply interesting. Olcott’s point that the Law of the survival of the fittest applies to all things, from the smallest the the greatest, from planets to man, — it seems to me — is unquestionable. It is unmistakably in action in physical nature. In the SD we are shown how planets fought for supremacy, the larger swallowing up the smaller, the Sun devouring the weaker brethren of his, before the final harmonious adjustments were made by Fohat.

          Yes, it applies to man also, but to man as the terrestrial animal, ie., as personality, the physical being, ignorant of his spiritual nature. Is not this evident, in full flow, in the political economy of our civilization ? But it applies only to animal man.

          But man is not animal, though he has descended from heaven to assume the animal nature in order to tame, refine and raise up the animal.

          It seems to me that you have stated it correctly that the word “Fittest” of “Fit” has a different connotation when it comes to man in his higher human aspect. As you have said what survives the death of man is only his noblest and the most spiritual elements of his personality which become assimilated to Buddhi in Devachan. Thus, in one aspect, what survives is “fit” for assimilation with the Spirit. Whatever is “unfit” in man is his gross, material, selfish, animal propensities which are purged away in Kama Loka. They have no place in heaven. So here the ‘Fit” is in a sense the opposite of what is implied in the Darwinian notion.

          As regards Master’s statement about millions of Egos losing out in the “Race to Immortality” and perish : to my mind it refers to the the terrible calamity called “Spiritual Death,” which is the fate of those personalities which have in them not one iota of a higher thought or feeling which can cling on to the Divine Self after death of man, and hence perish entirely. It is a most profound doctrine, so important that a diffusion of the knowledge of it may save many thousands who otherwise may suffer the dire fate–of ANNIHILATION.

          FITNESS, then in the spiritual life it seems to me to have nothing in common with fitness in the competitive world of animal economy.

          Fitness for immortality is gained precisely by conscious rejection of the selfish and the personal, which are the children of Ignorance–Avidya–and enter upon the Law of our true being and higher nature, which is Sacrifice. The Fire of Spiritual Knowledge it seems burns away the dross of the separative personality so that the purified Human Soul merges with the Higher Self, and becomes the ALL.

          One more important point. In the next post.

          • Profile photo of Ramprakash ML
            Ramprakash ML
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            One more important point :

            Just as only the “fit” –ie., the most spiritual element–in the personality survive, so is the case with civilizations, family races, sub-races and Root-Races. This clearly spoken of in racial evolution in SD vol. II. Egos who make up the race do not all succeed in their fitness for higher evolution in the next higher race which follows. Only those who are MORALLY FIT, called Sishta, survive and become seeds of the next higher race. The failures are swept away in the calamities that invariably occur during the transition of cycles. (SD, II 308)

            Of such great racial evolution through sifting and sorting of nations is beautifully given in SD.

            “Thus, since Vaivasvata Manu’s Humanity appeared on this Earth, there have already been four such axial disturbances ; when the old continents–save the first one–were sucked in by the oceans, and other lands appeared, and huge mountain chains arose where there had been none before. The face of the Globe was completely changed each time; the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST nations and races was secured through timely help ; the unfit ones–the failures–were disposed of by being swept off the earth. Such sorting and shifting does not happen between sunset and sunrise, as one may think, but requires several thousands of years before the new house is set in order. ….The sub-races are subject to the same cleansing process, as also the side-branchlets (family-Races.” (II, p. 330)

            “Great sifter is the name of the Heart Doctrine, Disciple.” (Voice of the Silence.

          • Profile photo of Peter
            Peter
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            Hello Ram, thanks for your warm response. Yes, I guess my posts have been infrequent for a quite a while – largely due to poor health. That said, it’s only been a few weeks since my last contribution. I probably haven’t said anything for a while that’s noteworthy enough for you to notice!

            Yes, I think a lot revolves around what we mean by the term ‘fittest’ when we talk about ‘the survival of the fittest’. It conjures up images of competition and conflict in which only the strongest or most selfish survive. To be fair to Darwin that’s not what he meant by the term. The phrase itself was coined by Herbert Spencer around 1864. Darwin had originally talked in terms of ’natural selection’ to describe his theory of evolution, but as he felt this didn’t quite do justice to what he was trying to describe he adopted Spencer’s phrase.

            By ‘the fittest’ Darwin meant those species whose characteristics were most suited (i.e. adapted or fitted) to their immediate or local environment. Such species (fauna as well as animals) tended to live longer, grow healthier, and have more time to reproduce than those species less well adapted to their environment. Further, they pass on those characteristics to their offspring which ensures their survival, so the cycle continues.

            For example – birds with a beak size and shape suited to the local food source are more likely to live longer and reproduce than birds whose beak shape and size are less suited to the local food source. Peacock females pick their mate according to the male’s tail. The ones with the largest and brightest tails mate more often which means that the males without bright tail feathers have become very rare. Species of trees that are efficient at dispersing their seeds are more likely to survive in certain environments than those that don’t. Thus, according to Darwinian theory, over the long time periods required for evolution, species less well adapted to their environment died out, while those better adapted survived and became the species that Darwin and we see around us today.

            Darwin’s theory of gradual evolution formed a great challenge to the creationist beliefs of religion. The creationist view (especially in Darwin’s time) would be, for example, that the zebra’s stripes, the size and shape of bird beaks and claws, the way trees disperse their seeds, the long neck of a giraffe etc etc – all these are they way they are because God created them that way.

            But Darwin’s theory did not require a creator nor any kind of intelligent design. It’s a materialistic world in which nature is essentially blind and devoid of any plan – all depends on best fit and the opportinuties for reproduction in a changing and complex inter-related natural world, hence this always leads to further adaption and refinement.

            The notion that nature is blind is what really sets Darwin’s theory of evolution at odds with Theosophy, but perhaps more of that another time as this post has got a bit too long.

            ~~

            • Profile photo of Ramprakash ML
              Ramprakash ML
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              Yes, you are right Peter. even in SD HPB comments, in her criticism of Darwin’s hypothesis of Natural Selection and survival of the fittest, that Darwin himself would have been shocked to see to what extent his theory had been perverted by his over-zealous admirers.

              Randomly acting Natural Selection–blind, purposeless, unguided–making selection and transmitting the traits to the progeny, delighted the world of science as a satisfactory explanation of origin and evolution of species, requiring nothing like God’s intervention of much hated clergy. God and creation idea happily became redundant.

              Juxtaposing the monumental absurdity of anthropomorphic God of theologian and his “creation” out of nothing, with the soulless, and equally absurd, blind, mechanical physical forces originating and evolving species, how beautifully HPB offers, in the SD, the philosophical middle ground–of hierarchy intelligent intracosmic intelligent creative forces building and guiding the universe of beings following the plan in the Universal Mind in accordance with cyclic and Karmic laws.

              Darwin’s hypothesis, rather what was made out of it, and Malthusian theory of population growth has shaped the modern western theory and practice of political economy. Adam Smith and Lord Keynes gave it the practical shape as a working model. And this has been carried to a crescendo in the globalized market economy which rules unchallenged in the world today.

              In the XVII chapter of the Bhagavadgita — Devotion by means of three kinds of Faith — it is stated that Faith of mortals proceeds from Sattva quality, and that each man is of the same nature as that ideal on which his faith is fixed.

              Our civilization has its faith still firmly fixed on the idea and a belief in soulless, mechanistic universe devoid of any mind, sense, aim or purpose.

              As a man thinks, so he becomes.

  • Profile photo of ModeratorTN
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    The Secret Doctrine, by Blavatsky, is a work whose aim is stated as follows: “To show that Nature is not a fortuitous concurrence of atoms, and to assign to man his rightful place in the scheme of the Universe; to rescue from degradation the archaic truths which are the basis of all religions; and to uncover, to some extent, the fundamental unity from which they all spring; finally, to show that the occult side of Nature has never been approached by the Science of modern civilization.”

    This is a high aim, a great claim to advance. Whether both are fully sustained must be left, not alone to the judgment of individual readers, but to that large verdict of “humanity and the future generations,” to which the author appeals. Meantime, the just critic recognizes that these claims are ably put forth, in a work of great erudition and power. The publication of a book like this has, in itself, an emphatic significance. The attention of thinkers has in late years been directed to the evolution of thought, its laws and its results. Of these last The Secret Doctrine is a tremendous one. It marks the acme of the theosophical movement; that movement which urges a search after truth in every department of life, while predicting the final and essential unity of the whole. It shows the most advanced phase of religious development and points out its future course; not alone concerned with the beliefs of the present; refusing indeed to recognize that present as a separate fact, but showing past and future interwoven into one eternal now, and all religions, all sciences, proceeding from one primeval belief, which afterwards became differentiated, along the path of evolutionary progress, into forms which are various facets of the one truth. The writing of this work is sufficient evidence for a demand for it, and however we may take issue with some of its teachings, we must recognize the breadth and beauty of its aim; also three facts concerning it:

    First, it is a great event in literature per se.

    Second, it is not the outcome of the mental or other experience of any one person. No human brain could singly conceive a scheme so vast, so complex in details, so simple of base. It is evidently an aggregation beginning far back in archaic times.

    Third, it is thrown into the arena where science and religion, where matter versus spirit, are warring, as the sceptre of the king was thrown into the lists to bid contention cease. It logically reconciles the combatants in proving their basic unity, in saying to the materialist: All issues from the one substance which is eternal,—and to the [believers in] spirit: That one substance is vivified by the co-eternal undetermined potency called Spirit, of which our word “will” is the nearest expression.

    WQJ

    A Review of The Secret Doctrine

    The Sherman Democrat, February 10, 1889. Literary Section.

  • Profile photo of Grace Cunningham
    Grace Cunningham
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    Profile photo of Grace CunninghamGrace Cunningham

    I don’t think it is easy to fully appreciate the importance of the publication of the Secret Doctrine. It is the pivot point document after 18 million years of evolution. It is a huge road sign pointing humanity back home.

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 1 week ago by Profile photo of ModeratorTN ModeratorTN.
    • Profile photo of Lami Teksöz
      Lami Teksöz
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      Profile photo of Lami TeksözLami Teksöz

      Thank you Dear Cunningham. I think whatever his or her religion or is, or is an atheıst or not, everyone should read the Secret Doctrine carefully; without any prejudice. Since I met the book, it took me more than four years to understand the main topics.

      Sadly, It is not known much in Turkey. Considering all the things I have learnt and benefited, I wanted to introduce it to Turkish people and prepared and made published a book titled “Madam Blavatsky- Our origins and After Death”. It may not be perfect but it is the first document in Turkish explaining the Secret Doctrine. I must confess that it is not read as much as I hoped. But I am sure, in the future, it will be a kind of reference book.

      • Profile photo of Ramprakash ML
        Ramprakash ML
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        It is commendable work on your part, Lami, to have studied, understood and introduced it to your countrymen the Secret Doctrine of HPB. Only those who have open mind and love of truth can undertake such commendable work.

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    From B.P. Wadia’s Studies in the Secret Doctrine: Growth by Self-Effort

    The “mind is like a mirror; it gathers dust while it reflects,” says The Voice of the Silence. But Manas is the Light of Buddhi which is fed by the Energy of Atma; it is the flame, radiant and luminous, which all the time performs the sacrificial action of consuming dust to make it shine in splendour. The energy of Atma is the Will, free and impersonal; the Light of Buddhi is the Intelligence which utilizes it because it is energized by that Will.

    Will is the creative power in man — the maker of super-man. By our will we are the fashioners of that which is divine in us but which now is asleep, dormant, latent. Conscious, intelligent Will is the faculty par excellence of man, and this is the moulder of Individuality itself. Manas gains mastery over his mind and the other lower instruments by the power of Will and the faculty of intelligent discernment.

    The human kingdom is the balance between non-humanity and super-humanity. Hence the human kingdom is the plain of Kurukshetra — the plane of struggle and war. The hell of non-self-consciousness is behind, the heaven of all-self-consciousness is in front of man — in his present state the purgation of matter has to be undertaken by him. This means that leaving behind his stateor condition of self-consciousness he has to make of himself a Self-Conscious Being. The personality has to lose its animal nature, its vegetative tendencies, its inert earthiness and become pure; then only can that purified personality be handled by Manas, the Thinker, who running with it, through the seven-fold upward course assimilates to himself the eternal life-power of Atma, and blends it, himself and that Atma into one and becomes a Self-Conscious Pure-Buddhi-Being — Wisdom-Incarnate, Lord of Contemplation.

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    From B.P. Wadia’s Studies in the Secret Doctrine

    Deity in Nature

    The Secret Doctrine rejects the notion that in any part of Nature God exists. Deity and Nature are not separate but the One Reality. God is neither male nor female; it is not a person, nor even a personality. Deity is the One universal principle — LIFE, immutable and “unconscious” in its eternity. It is the essence of every atom of matter, nay more, it is substantial, is substance itself. Says Mahatma K.H.:

    The God of the theologians is simply an imaginary power…. Our chief aim is to deliver humanity of this nightmare, to teach man virtue for its own sake, and to walk in life relying on himself instead of leaning on a theological crutch, that for countless ages was the direct cause of nearly all human misery,

    and we might add is so today.

    In its ignorance mankind falls a prey to the machinations of an exploiting priesthood; because, though ignorant, it is craving for a “beyond” and cannot live without an ideal of some kind, as a beacon and a consolation. It is sometimes said that the belief in the existence of a personal God is so universal that there must be some basis of truth underlying that conception. That is so. It lies in this noble aspiration, this unintelligent but instinctive craving on the part of man for the perception of order in chaos, and for the knowledge that “the Heart of being is Celestial Rest.” Because man is god, and because he has forgotten, and is made to forget, that stupendous and sublime fact, there have come into existence the false substitutes of a personal god and an extra-cosmic deity. “To deliver humanity of this nightmare” it is necessary to restore to the individual an unshakable faith in his own powers, and the God within himself — nay, bring him to the conviction that he is deity, now in latency and can realize himself as such in the progress of time.

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    Life is consciousness but is not self-conscious in every form; only in man it attains the state, plane or condition of self-consciousness, and when by self-induced and self-devised efforts it becomes a Self-Conscious Being, it gains for itself the greatest of all opportunities, the attainment of Universal Self-Consciousness. Then man has become divine, the Atma has become Paramatma, the Purusha has become Purushottama. Such a Being is the “Vasudeva, who is all this, the Mahatma difficult to meet” of the seventh discourse of the Bhagavad-Gita. Of his birth The Voice of the Silence sings:

    The silver star now twinkles out the news to the night-blossoms, the streamlet to the pebbles ripples out the tale; dark ocean waves will roar it to the rocks surf-bound, scent-laden breezes sing it to the vales, and stately pines mysteriously whisper: “A Master has arisen, a MASTER OF THE DAY.”

    What a sublime goal! Not from star-dust to star-dust; but from star-dust to the manifestor, nourisher, and regenerator of the never-ending stream of conditioned existence — such is the destiny of Man.

    B.P. Wadia Studies in the Secret Doctrine

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    Studies in the Secret Doctrine:
    Metaphysics of the Secret Doctrine

    The Stanzas of Dzyan, on which The Secret Doctrine is based, belong to the same series as the fragments published under the title,The Voice of the Silence. This information conveyed in the preface to the latter should be made a subject for meditation, for it is a practical hint with an occult significance which students of The Secret Doctrine ought not to miss.

    Wisdom and Compassion are inherent in Law and manifested in Nature. They are not two distinct qualities but two phases of one quality. In man the head and the heart are regarded as two different organisms. All our struggles and sufferings arise from this fundamental misconception. Once recognized that head and heart are but two aspects of one nature, there opens for us the way of the inner life. What follows is the removal of the obstacles which have covered over and obscured the narrow bridge between head and heart; then the establishment of communication; and finally the coadunition of both.

    These two aspects of Wisdom and Compassion are the soul of the Stanzas of Dzyan and The Voice of the Silence. The treatises conjointly used will help to remove the barrier, to bridge the two worlds — to make our reason compassionate and our love intelligent. The Bhagavad-Gita performs this double task within its eighteen discourses, as does the Dhammapada and the very first sermon Gautama, the Buddha, delivered on the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

    In the present cycle our minds are separated from compassion, and our ethical impulses prompted more by our psychic than by our spiritual nature. The study of H.P.B.’s writings uncovers the foundation-principles, intellectual and philosophic, for our ethical beliefs and views; shows us where and how we are mistaken and by what method correction can take place; endows with a living and vital soul our mental perceptions and speculations and indicates how our general knowledge can be practically applied for self-improvement and the service of others.

    — B.P. Wadia

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    The Eternal Pilgrim

    Let us study Man; but if we separate him for one moment from the Universal Whole, or view him, in isolation from a single aspect, apart from the “Heavenly Man” — the Universe symbolized by Adam Kadmon, Purushottama, or their equivalents in every philosophy — we shall fail most ingloriously in our attempt. Further, be it noted that unforeseen and unexpected dangers lie that way if and when the student in his earnestness and enthusiasm begins to make applications to himself and in his life arising out of such separative study. Let every single student be thoroughly impressed with an idea, which the Masters have endeavoured to impart to Theosophists at large, namely, the great axiomatic truth that the only eternal and living reality is that which the Hindus call Paramatma and Parabrahman.

    What is Man? As the student begins to reflect on this question and make use of the material at his disposal to formulate an answer, he encounters a somewhat strange and an unexpected difficulty. Man is a different entity for different classes of people: to the modern scientist he is a bundle of atoms which combine in definite ways to disintegrate in course of time; to the modern psychologist and so-called philosopher man is a collection of sensation-impressions and their reflexes which combine to give birth to mind which also may be named soul; to the psycho-analyst he is a bundle of complexes; to the spiritualist and the psychical researcher he is a ghost or spirit, embodied or disembodied; to the theologian he is a soul fashioned by God to be saved by prayer, as to the surgeon he is a body made by Nature to be saved by the lancet.

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    From Inspiration to Intuition

    The writings of H.P.B. convey information and impart knowledge, but that was not the purpose of her mission. Because of her presence in their midst several earnest individuals availed themselves of the opportunity to tread that Path of Holiness leading to theSanctum Sanctorum on the Mount Olympus wherein sages worship the Pure Spirit, omnipresent and impersonal, but her advent and stay in the world of mortality was not aimed at such an accomplishment. Many and wonderful were the phenomena she performed; great and staggering were the powers she possessed; grand and awe-inspiring was her life of unique sacrifices and marvelous wanderings, but even these do not fully reveal the objective of her toil.

    What and how she taught, how and for what she toiled — these both examined together aid us to fathom the true purpose of her mission. The world to which she came, the age in which she appeared, the readjustment which her wisdom and activities produced, inaugurating a new era in this fifth Mind-Race, adequately studied and carefully reflected upon lead us to understand and help our humanity in whose spiritual service her labors and her love were devoted.

    -B.P. Wadia

  • Profile photo of Giles Hardwick
    Giles Hardwick
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    Profile photo of Giles HardwickGiles Hardwick

    A very important point that distorts many people’s word view and subsequently causes many social and political issues is the Neo-Darwinian concept of nature and that bottom-up view of reality that everything is made of solid stuff called matter through blind chance and selection. I appreciate that the Darwinian concept of nature with its ‘explanation’ of origin of species is considered only a tiny part of the evolutionary process according to Theosophy, but exactly WHAT part does it actually play in the grand scheme? We see no natural or laboratory evidence of this process at work, the fossil record is mystifying with its lack of any transitional sequences and intermediate forms. Mutations are 99.9% deleterious and happen very rarely indeed.

    I don’t see it has having any value except for very very minor changes to existing forms and the fact that evolution does in fact occur. So, what part of it is true?

    • Profile photo of Pierre Wouters
      Pierre Wouters
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      Profile photo of Pierre WoutersPierre Wouters

      As HPB points out in the Secret Doctrine, there is something to say for “natural selection”, but only in its ultimate modification:
      SD I:600
      “The day may come, then, when the “Natural Selection,” as taught by Mr. Darwin and Mr. Herbert Spencer, will form only a part, in its ultimate modification, of our Eastern doctrine of Evolution, which will be Manu and Kapila esoterically explained.”

      and as Giles points out, it only plays a relatively minor part:
      SDII:696
      “Esoteric teaching fully corroborates the idea of nature’s slowness and dignified progression. “Planetary impulses” are all periodical. Yet this Darwinian theory, correct as it is in minor particulars, agrees no more with Occultism than with Mr. Wallace, who, in his “Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection,” shows pretty conclusively that something more than “natural selection” was requisite to produce physical man.”

      SDII:734
      “Having dealt almost exclusively with the question of the origin of Man in the foregoing criticism of Western Evolutionism, it may not be amiss to define the position of the Occultists with regard to the differentiation of species. The pre-human fauna and flora have been already generally dealt with in the Commentary on the Stanzas, and the truth of much of modern biological speculation admitted, e.g., the derivation of birds from reptiles, the partial truth of “natural selection,” and the transformation theory generally.”

      HPB in the SD is giving credit where credit is due, but at the same time points out that the theory as a whole is widely insufficient to explain the essential reason for the origin and propagation of species. It’s kinda long but important to include, as it contains the gist of the criticism that can be brought against natural selection being the sole cause for the evolution of the species. Nevertheless, the progress made by science in researching the theory of evolution is tremendous compared to, say 130 years ago. We can not reject out of hand all scientific findings, but consent to the extent that they come with facts. It is only with the conclusions drawn by science that Theosophy has a problem.

      SDII:648-649
      “As to Natural Selection itself, the utmost misconception prevails among many present-day thinkers who tacitly accept the conclusions of Darwinism. It is, for instance, a mere device of rhetoric to credit “Natural Selection” with the power of originating species. “Natural Selection” is no Entity; but a convenient phrase for describing the mode in which the survival of the fit and the elimination of the unfit among organisms is brought about in the struggle for existence. Every group of organisms tends to multiply beyond the means of subsistence, the constant battle for life — the “struggle to obtain enough to eat and to escape being eaten” added to the environmental conditions — necessitating a perpetual weeding out of the unfit. The elite of any stock thus sorted out, propagate the species and transmit their organic characteristics to their descendants. All useful variations are thus perpetuated, and a progressive improvement is effected. But Natural Selection, in the writer’s humble opinion, “Selection, as a Power,” is in reality a pure myth; especially when resorted to as an explanation of the origin of species. It is merely a representative term expressive of the manner in which “useful variations” are stereotyped when produced. Of itself, “it” can produce nothing, and only operates on the rough material presented to “it.” The real question at issue is: what CAUSE — combined with other secondary causes — produces the “variations” in the organisms themselves. Many of these secondary causes are purely physical, climatic, dietary, etc., etc. Very well. But beyond the secondary aspects of organic evolution, a deeper principle has to be sought for. The materialist’s “spontaneous variations,” and “accidental divergencies” are self-contradictory terms in a universe of “Matter, Force and NECESSITY.” Mere variability of type, apart from the supervisory presence of a quasi-intelligent impulse, is powerless to account for the stupendous complexities and marvels of the human body for instance. The insufficiency of the Darwinists’ mechanical theory has been exposed at length by Dr. Von Hartmann among other purely negative thinkers. It is an abuse of the reader’s intelligence to write, as does Haeckel, of blind indifferent cells, “arranging themselves into organs.” The esoteric solution of the origin of animal species is given elsewhere.

      Those purely secondary causes of differentiation, grouped under the head of sexual selection, natural selection, climate, isolation, etc., etc., mislead the Western Evolutionist and offer no real explanation whatever of the “whence” of the “ancestral types” which served as the starting point for physical development. The truth is that the differentiating “causes” known to modern science only come into operation after the physicalization of the primeval animal root-types out of the astral. Darwinism only meets Evolution at its midway point — that is to say when astral evolution has given place to the play of the ordinary physical forces with which our present senses acquaint us. But even here the Darwinian Theory, even with the “expansions” recently attempted, is inadequate to meet the facts of the case. The underlying physiological variation in species — one to which all other laws are subordinate and secondary — is a sub-conscious intelligence pervading matter, ultimately traceable to a REFLECTION of the Divine and Dhyan-Chohanic wisdom.* A not altogether dissimilar conclusion has been arrived at by so well known a thinker as Ed. von Hartmann, who, despairing of the efficacy of unaided Natural Selection, regards evolution as intelligently guided by the UNCONSCIOUS (the Cosmic Logos of Occultism). But the latter acts only mediately through FOHAT, or Dhyan-Chohanic energy, and not quite in the direct manner which the great pessimist describes.

      It is this divergence among men of Science, their mutual, and often their self-contradictions, that gave the writer of the present volumes the courage to bring to light other and older teachings — if only as hypotheses for future scientific appreciation. Though not in any way very learned in modern sciences, so evident, even to the humble recorder of this archaic clearing, are the said scientific fallacies and gaps, that she determined to touch upon all these, in order to place the two teachings on parallel lines. For Occultism, it is a question of self-defence, and nothing more.”

      • Profile photo of Jon Fergus
        Jon Fergus
        Moderator
        Profile photo of Jon FergusJon Fergus

        “our Eastern doctrine of Evolution, which will be Manu and Kapila esoterically explained”

        I just wanted to add, for those interested, the “doctrine of evolution” from Manu and Kapila can be found in the Manava Dharmasastra (Manusmriti), primarily Part 1 (verses 1-110), and by a combination of Kapila’s Tattva Samasa, and the later Samkhya Karika, both of which can be found on our sister site. The Tattva Samasa and Manusmriti in particular make for a wonderful study if one goes through them while simultaneously working through the Stanzas of Dzyan.

        One other thing we might all keep in mind, as Pierre mentioned, is that the SD was written 130 years ago and much has changed in evolutionary theory since then (not least of which being the discovery of DNA and all its implications). I think most of us who aren’t deeply educated in up-to-date evolutionary theory tend to think in terms of a kind of caricature of “darwinianism”. We know now that “natural selection” (i.e. the environmental etc. pressures on species) is but one aspect that drives evolution, and that there is a lot more going on on the micro-scale as well. In HPB’s time, evolution was almost solely concerned with the macro-scale, and so was missing many keys to how species vary over time, how heredity works (at least physically), etc. some of which we have now. But, as Pierre notes, evolution as we understand it is only concerned with the physical, and so until science is able to peer into the astral it’ll recognize but part of the picture.

  • Profile photo of Odin Townley
    Odin Townley
    Participant
    Profile photo of Odin TownleyOdin Townley

    “The whole order of nature evinces a progressive march towards a higher life. There is design in the action of the seemingly blindest forces. The whole process of evolution with its endless adaptations is a proof of this. The immutable laws that weed out the weak and feeble species, to make room for the strong, and which ensure the ‘survival of the fittest,’ though so cruel in their immediate action — all are working toward the grand end.

    “The very fact that adaptations do occur, that the fittest do survive in the struggle for existence, shows that what is called ‘unconscious Nature’* is in reality an aggregate of forces manipulated by semi-intelligent beings (Elementals) guided by High Planetary Spirits, (Dhyan Chohans), whose collective aggregate forms the manifested verbum of the unmanifestedlogos, and constitutes at one and the same time the mind of the Universe and its immutable law.”

    * Nature taken in its abstract sense, cannot be “unconscious,” as it is the emanation from, and thus an aspect (on the manifested plane) of the absolute consciousness. Where is that daring man who would presume to deny to vegetation and even to minerals a consciousness of their own. All he can say is, that this consciousness is beyond his comprehension.
    Vol. 1, Page 277-278 THE SECRET DOCTRINE

  • Profile photo of Giles Hardwick
    Giles Hardwick
    Participant
    Profile photo of Giles HardwickGiles Hardwick

    Thank you for the replies Pierre and Odin.

    So, let me get this right: Since variations are NOT random, then ‘survival of the fittest’ (merely a representative term expressive of the manner in which “useful variations” are stereotyped when produced) which produces nothing in itself, and only operates on the rough material presented to “it.”, is the only aspect of Darwinism that is correct? The fact that secondary causes such as, climatic, dietary etc. are in themselves guided forces manipulated by semi-intelligent beings (Elementals) guided by High Planetary Spirits, (Dhyan Chohans), makes it a partial truth? Also, is this survival ‘law’ only applicable to the physical realm? I would suspect so as I struggle to see the need for the conditions that are required for physical survival in the other realms.
    Sorry about these questions , but I have had this issue with Darwinian theory for a long time and found the arguments of the ‘Intelligent Design’ proponents utterly persuasive but found ‘God did it’ a little unsatisfactory to sya the least.

    • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
      Pavel Axentiev
      Participant
      Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

      My understanding is that it is the mechanism of the process of physical evolution is what is at stake. According to the mainstream idea this mechanism is essentially random in its action, being determined by stochastic errors in DNA copying. Whereas the Theosophical idea is that consciousness ultimately directs the process, determining genetic changes. The “hard problem” of this theory would be to understand how exactly (through which medium) this effect of consciousness on the molecular level does occur. The answer may lie in the quantum theory, consciousness being able to mend matter in the field of probability.

    • Profile photo of Jon Fergus
      Jon Fergus
      Moderator
      Profile photo of Jon FergusJon Fergus

      One idea about Darwinian theory that may end up being toppled, is the notion that the “survival of the fittest” in combination with “mutation” occurs on an individual level and is from there driven forwards (in a somewhat “selfish” sense, through individual competition); i.e., the old idea was that you’d have an individual mutation that was advantageous, and that would lead to a greater ability (of that individual with the mutation) to breed (because of its heightened ability to survive), which would result in that mutation being passed down, and over time spreading throughout the species (or causing a branch into two species, etc.). This is the caricature version, anyway. But what some theories are beginning to posit is that in nature it is actually primarily cooperation and group-dynamics that drive the “survival of the fittest”.

      Here’s an interesting paper on the subject: http://www.pnas.org/content/110/38/15348.abstract

      I suppose theosophically we might say that variation (of some kind) begins on a higher plane within the archetypes related to a species, and that from there such variations gradually affect each plane (moving downwards), until it begins to manifest on the physical plane as a physical variation. In this we would have a top-down process, whereas modern evolutionary theory in general posits a bottom-up process. The top-down process would, I think, operate more on a species-wide case, wherein the manifestation of variation in physical individuals would be seen as but an effect and not as a cause.

      This “top-down” view might begin to answer your question about whether the “law” applies on other planes besides the physical. It would seem to me that this “law” is but a sub-law, so to speak, of the law of karma, which must operate on all planes. Again, if the flow of evolutionary change is from top-down, then the law must have an effect on all planes, but likely the way the law manifests/operates on those planes would be much different than it does on the physical.

      • Profile photo of Giles Hardwick
        Giles Hardwick
        Participant
        Profile photo of Giles HardwickGiles Hardwick

        I like your points Jon. Thank you.

        I appreciate your theory of a top-down variation process and wonder if it is some kind of feedback loop whereby consciousness on the physical plane drives an intention for change which is ‘handed’ back down through the planes and then goes ‘live’ in the physical realm with those secondary causes such as, climatic, dietary etc. So, the archetypes related to a species evolve and differentiate into more specific archetypes related to a species. In the physical world, the process matching this is the conventional gene mutation and “natural selection” of evolutionary theory (as above so below).

        • Profile photo of Jon Fergus
          Jon Fergus
          Moderator
          Profile photo of Jon FergusJon Fergus

          Thanks Giles. I think you raise a very interesting view here. Yours would combine both the bottom-up and top-down into an integrated system (see Secret Doctrine 1:639 for a fascinating quote that would seem to support your view). I have two other (though similar) approaches that come to mind:

          1. Perhaps, if we attempt a fairly wide overview of the theosophical idea of “cyclic evolution” we might end up with something like this: an archetype for a type of being, because it is itself beyond causality (beyond the cause-effect flow of the manifested planes), may include in itself the full outline of the evolutionary-process-to-be of that type of being. So, the blueprint of that being, so to speak, includes a kind of map of where it will begin and where it ought to complete it’s evolutionary process (for whichever cycle we’re dealing with), with maybe just the details to be worked out. The initial flow “downwards” into manifestation of that type of being goes from the higher planes to the lower and results in a kind of “starting point” on the physical plane. But, instead of seeing the process as one in which the archetype itself evolves, perhaps what happens is that there is a kind of effort being made (from top-down) to take the manifestation of that being from its starting point to its pre-established ending point, both of which are already established in the archetype. From the point of view of the lower planes, we might imagine that there is an ideal already established for what that type of being can become (in that cycle), and evolution is an expression of the forces involved in trying to change or raise-up the being from their starting-point.

          2. Alternatively, perhaps the archetype contains nothing but a perfect version of the type of being, and what happens is that the “starting point” is simply an imperfect manifestation that must be worked on over time to eventually manifest more perfectly. So in the first option, the archetype includes a kind of blueprint map of the process, beginning and ending points, etc., while in the second option the archetype includes only the perfect ideal and the process is perhaps less mapped out.

          Either way takes much of the randomness out of the equation of evolution by supplying an ideal as the true driving force. In a way, I think we often view us physical beings as kind of pushing or driving ourselves forwards through time, but it may perhaps be more accurate to say that we are being pulled forwards through time by the ideal which (to us) awaits in the future but (in the archetype already is). You put your idea well I think with the phrase “consciousness on the physical plane drives an intention for change”, but what I wonder is: is the intention for change driven by consciousness on this plane, or is it driven by consciousness acting on the plane of the archetype (or, as you seem to suggest, both)?

          A quote from HPB that comes to mind on this subject:

          “There is a predestination in the geological life of our globe, as in the history, past and future, of races and nations. This is closely connected with what we call Karma and Western Pantheists, “ Nemesis ” and “ Cycles.” The law of evolution is now carrying us along the ascending arc of our cycle, when the effects will be once more re-merged into, and re-become the (now neutralized) causes, and all things affected by the former will have regained their original harmony.”

          It would seem to me that perhaps there is that predestination “pulling” us forwards towards an ideal that is already established, but that our free-will and personal desires may either work together with that force or counter it (again SD 1:639 seems to paint this picture).

          • Profile photo of Giles Hardwick
            Giles Hardwick
            Participant
            Profile photo of Giles HardwickGiles Hardwick

            Hi Jon

            Many thanks for your very interesting responses.

            Firslty, “see Secret Doctrine 1:639 for a fascinating quote that would seem to support your view” – which quote is this?

            I think I would concur with your approach 1 whereby there is an initial ‘blueprint’ of a being. So, in the case of human, there was initially an archetype (universal) for the human. However, I may divert from your approach 1 with the idea that the archetype ‘evolves’ as it is dialectically linked to the manifested being (particular) – each reinforcing the other. Why do two linked quantum particles remain entangled after being separated by enormous distances? The reason could be that the linked system can be considered as a universal and the two quantum particles as particulars of the system. They always remain linked to the universal, hence can always be updated instantly on what is happening to the other particular.

            So, here are the finer details of a model I offer (and this includes what I mean by consciousness intention that you queried):

            Once there was an archetype for the human, but it wasn’t a “stable” archetype. Within that single archetype (universal), there were other potential universals corresponding to different types of potential human. I would posit that an intention of a species to change to environmental pressures would skew a probability distribution for a feature, once this change appears (due to now higher probability due to intent ‘pull’ on the probability distribution) in some creatures this updates the archetype (universal human) which then passes on the information to additional humans that are born. Just as cells divide, we might say that universals divide. The single human universal splits into more specific human universals. In the physical world, the process matching this is the conventional gene mutation and “natural selection” of evolutionary theory. Gene mutation is associated with the splitting up of an unstable universal. All universals are aiming for stability, for their individual omega point where they are a perfect actualization of the central idea they contain. Of course, this feedback loop makes its journey through the planes of manifestation.

            Something like that! :-/ 😉

            So, it would appear that with respect to my original question of ‘What part of Darwinism IS true, if mutations/variations are not random?’, the answer is just the superficial appearance of variations and natural selection on the physical plane.

            • Profile photo of Jon Fergus
              Jon Fergus
              Moderator
              Profile photo of Jon FergusJon Fergus

              Thanks Giles. This is a fascinating approach, and seems quite intuitive. I’ll have to ponder over the probability distribution idea a little more; seems like that’s key to putting the puzzle pieces together the way you have. I think I understand what you mean by the archetype “evolving” now a little better, and it definitely makes sense. HPB says that at the close of each life the higher “essence” of the life just lived get incorporated into the higher self (paraphrasing, of course). I suppose such an interchange between the higher and the lower must be occurring not just at the close of a life, but in a sense continuously, and that would seem to fit well into your approach.

              Re: SD 1:639, it’s the middle paragraph I meant, which begins with “Yes; “our destiny is written in the stars!””. One thing I note there is the use of the term prototype, which I believe may differ somewhat from what is commonly meant by archetype, though perhaps another student can shed more light on that.

              • Profile photo of Giles Hardwick
                Giles Hardwick
                Participant
                Profile photo of Giles HardwickGiles Hardwick

                Thanks Jon.

                The HPB quote, for me, means that there is a ‘goal’; that is a being that is capable of evolving to a level of consciousness that can help (with the aid and interaction of fellow beings) raise the level of consciousness of the Universal Mind to become aware of itself. The purpose?? Well, from a purely scientific perspective (although there may be a ‘higher’ purpose that we are unable to comprehend), I would say to lower entropy; Consciousness is fundamental and it is that that needs to reduce entropy from the moment it differentiates. How is this achieved? By love and co-operation – this would explain innate morality ‘codes’ that exist in the human, and the fact that evolution does not stop at bacteria because it’s not about just survival of physical beings…contrary to what materialist scientists would have many of us believe to our GREAT and severe detriment (hence my issue with the paradigm paralysis of the Darwinian concept of nature). So, yes, a need for interchange (feedback loop) between the higher and lower is ongoing I believe.

                Archetype/prototype? H. P. Blavatsky puts it: “the spiritual prototypes of all things exist in the immaterial world before those things become materialised on Earth.” It may all be semantics to a degree, but I think there is an ‘idea’, a ‘form’ dictated, to a degree, by the natural order, but as environmental conditions on a plane of manifestation change, then so do the requirements and demands for adaption.

                OK, onto the mechanics of this particular (no pun intended) scientific organic evolution model that I am still formulating this in my mind:

                The elementals are of course conscious living entities. Their formation and behaviour could be viewed as habitual and therefore “probability distributions” in a kind of memory inherent in nature.. This would include all the so-called natural
                “laws” including formative causation, gravity ect., but also learning, memory and instincts. The reason they appear as ‘laws’ is because of the extremely high probability of outcome – something approaching ‘1’!! For instance, the planets move in regular orbits around the sun; water always boils at 100°C at sea level; apple seeds always grow into apple trees rather than some other kind of tree; and electrons always carry the same electric charge. The habits and likelihood of most kinds
                of physical, chemical, and biological systems have been established for millions, even billions of years.

                So, by this reckoning it is possible, although unlikely, for something other than the very much expected to happen (and is this what witness when something like cancer, for example, clears ‘miraculously’ for someone with no medical explanation?). Now, going back to my previous post, since everything is conscious, there can be intent. At the animal level, this intent could be a strong will to adapt that could resonate through the inherent memory (‘database’, Akashic records…whatever we want to call it) and increase probabilities of other potentialities. When this different, preferred outcome arises and proves to be advantageous for survival, it then gains momentum. It does this via the feedback loop I mentioned earlier.

                Finally, I posit that prayer works by application of intention on this probability distribution.

                This is only an outline.

                • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
                  Pavel Axentiev
                  Participant
                  Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

                  Giles,

                  I am a biologist (although not an expert on evolutionary theory per se), but not a physicalist. I find it questionable that there is such a thing as ‘species intention.’ My understanding is that evolution occurs on an individual level, that is, it is individual consciousness that desires a certain change in how it manifests itself. How it is reflected on the genetic level is a different matter, but I think it is likely that consciousness may affect reality on this subtle, molecular level. A fascinating subject, to say the least.

                  The whole idea of forms (“prototypes”) is, obviously, not HPB’s but Platonic/Aristotelian. I think that this idea is frequently misunderstood, and even that Plato probably did not understand it himself. In any case, it carries with it a static, even dull kind of fatality – while I find that, at least on some level, evolution is more open-ended, characterized by a Free-Will component, enabling the individual (atom, mineral, plant, animal, etc.) to manifest its divine potential by literally consciously creating its own reality. One can see how the law of karma comes into play here – the highest cosmic law, by many HPB’s accounts. Also, it nearly doesn’t make sense that a perfect form, existing in the cosmic mind, should take thousands of incarnations to be generated, subjecting the individual to countless trials and sufferings. This might be more relevant to the Judeo-Christian (and, incidentally, Platonic/Aristotelean) idea of God, than to Theosophy, with its theory of reincarnations and law of karma.

                  The subject of entropy is also somewhat dated (although less than that of Platonic “ideas”) and typically misunderstood. One should be careful in interpreting the interaction of consciousness and matter in the terms of “creation of order.” A perfectly ordered reality is a dead reality. I think we would agree that that is opposite to consciousness.

                  The “forms”/prototypes, in my understanding, may be more like spiritual ideals, rather than forms as in shapes. They are more general, even abstract. In any case, most of this theory belongs strictly to the realm of speculation.

                  Moreover, in my humble opinion, the laws of physical, chemical, etc. systems exist on a somewhat different level than the laws of consciousness. P.D. Ouspensky introduced the “principle of relativity,” which greatly helps in pondering subjects like this. I suggest you look it up. Otherwise, it looks too much like a hodge-podge of ideas, with several elements in the theory asking to be unraveled and properly “folded,” like laundry in a basket. I do appreciate the stimulating, thought-provoking sharing of your ideas.

                  • Profile photo of Jon Fergus
                    Jon Fergus
                    Moderator
                    Profile photo of Jon FergusJon Fergus

                    “The whole idea of forms (“prototypes”) is, obviously, not HPB’s but Platonic/Aristotelian. I think that this idea is frequently misunderstood, and even that Plato probably did not understand it himself.”

                    I mean no disrespect, but must say this seems a little overly confident. If you feel that the doctrine of ideas/prototypes/archetypes/etc. “carries with it a static, even dull kind of fatality”, I would suggest that it is quite likely yourself who is having difficulty understanding it. I say this simply because everyone I’ve spoken to who seems to have a deep understanding of the doctrine feels quite the opposite, and as for myself I don’t see dull fatality involved based on my own humble understanding, even if there is a role for predestination in closed systems.

                    “This might be more relevant to the Judeo-Christian (and, incidentally, Platonic/Aristotelean) idea of God, than to Theosophy, with its theory of reincarnations and law of karma.”

                    Platonic philosophy also includes reincarnation (see Book 10 of the Republic) and karma (nemesis) etc. Again, I think this view you put forward may betray a lack of understanding of the system, as opposed to flaws in the system itself. And if we are to believe HPB, the secret doctrine of the Greek philosophers (and later “neoplatonists”) is one and the same as the Secret Doctrine of the East.

                    “Moreover, in my humble opinion, the laws of physical, chemical, etc. systems exist on a somewhat different level than the laws of consciousness.”

                    I suppose my question would be: what do you define “consciousness” to be when you make this statement? Giles’ comment below, that “‘laws’ are habits of conscious entities” seems perfectly in line with my own understanding of theosophical doctrine (as also Plato’s doctrine, Vedanta, etc.). If we view consciousness as a fundamental principle of reality (purusha etc.), then we need to account not only for the consciousness and will and intention etc. of individual incarnated beings (i.e. mostly that of lower manas), but also of collective non-incarnated beings (i.e. getting into buddhi/atma/mahat, dhyanis, ah-hi and that whole business). Further, if we view consciousness as all-pervading in Nature, than must not the physical, chemical etc. laws be involved with and or even founded upon some functions of consciousness? By existing on a different level are you suggesting those laws are detached from or uninvolved with consciousness?

                    In my view, seeing conscious beings at the root of what we might call the physical laws of the universe really opens up the concept of archetypes to the type of theorizing that I believe Giles is engaged in. As far as I can tell, his is an exercise in trying to view the universe from a quite different point of view than our common waking consciousness; I believe he’s trying (in a manner of speaking) to get at the root of the mind-body problem as informed by the theosophical philosophy. With a system as complex as the theosophical philosophy, we do need to grapple somehow with the relationships between the various planes of being, the beings inhabiting those planes, the laws of those planes, the process of evolution across those planes, etc. (HPB gives a threefold scheme of evolution in the SD; physical, mental and moral if my memory serves; so how do these relate to one another; how is information coordinated between them, etc.?).

                    Lastly, the idea that “evolution occurs on an individual level” is one that I think becomes quite problematic as one delves deeper into the theosophical philosophy. I’m not sure that idea will hold up in the final analysis (as I suggested above). There is certainly some role that the individual conscious Will of an incarnated mind must play in the evolutionary process, but my guess at this point is that it is quite a minor role in the overall scheme of things, at least when compared to the forces/consciousnesses/wills at play on higher planes. I mean to say: an incarnated individual’s will may play a large role in his own individual evolution on each plane, but may have quite a minor impact on the evolution of an entire species, which may be governed more so by conscious beings on higher planes. But that’s just my point of view at present.

  • Profile photo of Giles Hardwick
    Giles Hardwick
    Participant
    Profile photo of Giles HardwickGiles Hardwick

    …Just how evolution appears to go in ‘jumps’ (we don’t see evidence of gradual change/transmutation of species – certainly not in the fossil record) I am not clear on at all. Maybe these are awakened forms and body plans. When a new type of physical vehicle is required for a monad’s development, a suitable prototype is provided by the patterns from previous evolutionary cycles stored in the earth’s memory field.

  • Profile photo of Giles Hardwick
    Giles Hardwick
    Participant
    Profile photo of Giles HardwickGiles Hardwick

    Pavel,

    Thank you for your reply.

    I am sorry but I don’t agree with a lot of what you have put. To respond to your points in turn:

    When I say ‘species intention’, I mean individuals with the same/similar intention. So, for example in the example of the peppered moth to the dark coloured ones, then the intention was to be camouflaged from many individuals. Also, there will be a ‘group consciousness’, and the same species will resonate with this. Check Carl Jung’s concept of collective consciousness.

    When I talk of prototypes (as HPB did of course), the ‘form’ is in the ‘memory field’ built up FROM the ‘habits’ of those associated with it. It’s not a perfect form at all (did I not put ‘unstable’?). With respect, I don’t believe you have understood what I have put; Evolution creates the evolving ‘prototype’.

    Do you mean the concept of entropy is dated?
    A perfect ordered reality is NOT a dead reality, it is be-ness that differentiates and brings itself back together using consciousness evolution. This is done in eternal cycles.

    I will check out the reference you suggest, but I would say, in MY humble opinion, that ‘laws’ are habits of conscious entities.

    If you take the Theosophical (Ancient Wisdom) Perspective and then look at the work of current scientists: Rupert Sheldrake, Tom Campbell (My Big TOE) and Bruce Lipton (that all compound this), you may understand where I am coming from.

    I am little surprised at your response as they are not in-line with the Theosophical perspective.

    • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
      Pavel Axentiev
      Participant
      Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

      Giles, if you really think how evolution, or, rather, adaptation occurs, according to what is accepted, you will see that it occurs in two steps: first, there is the appearance of a new property (mainstream science says, via random mutation; we may argue that individual consciousness plays a role), second, the property is spread to the progeny via sexual reproduction. So the appearance of a new property occurs in a single individual. Following this, the nature of the process changes drastically, beginning to spread by completely different means, which in some cases (e.g., in plants sharing pollen) are completely stochastic.

  • Profile photo of ModeratorTN
    ModeratorTN
    Keymaster
    Profile photo of ModeratorTNModeratorTN

    From B.P. Wadia’s Studies in the Secret Doctrine: The World of the Archetypes

    Let us turn our thoughts to the absoluteness of knowledge and the world of noumenon. Pythagoras conceived the Unity underlying diversity and the knowledge of that Unity was the objective of those who were guided by his wisdom. Following him, Plato described the World of Ideas from which all forms proceed. These two, we are informed, were initiated into “perceptive mysteries,” and while the influence of the former on European civilization is not so well known as that of Plato, we must not overlook the fact of Pythagoras being the Father of European Esotericism. The abstruse metaphysics, the philosophy of numbers, the science of music and forms, the symbolism of virtues, forces and gods, which Pythagoras taught in the silence of the sanctuary, have naturally escaped the attention of the concrete mind of the race to which we belong. Plato, however, fortunately for the West, does not share the same fate and his influence on European civilization has not only been immense and lasting but is also traceable and recognized.

    “Out of Plato come all things that are still written and debated among men of thought,” wrote Emerson, an intuitive seer greatly influenced by Asiatic and especially Indian thought. Kant’s world of things-in-themselves, Spencer’s Absolute Ethics as distinguished from relative ethics, are the outcome of the influence which Plato’s Ideas exerted and still continue to exert on modern thought.

    For the old Grecian Sage [Plato] there was a single object of attainment: REAL KNOWLEDGE. He considered those only to be genuine Philosophers, or students of truth, who possess the knowledge of the really-existing, in opposition to mere objects of perception; of the always-existing, in opposition to the transitory; and of that which exists permanently, in opposition to that which waxes, wanes, and is alternately developed and destroyed.4

    The Secret Doctrine teaches that all phenomena are rooted in noumena. Every phenomenon has its noumenal counterpart. The entire phenomenal world is a reflection of the noumenal world. The world of noumena is the world of Pythagorean Unity which underlies all diversity of the world of phenomena; nay, makes it possible. It is the world of Platonic Ideas from which all forms in the world of phenomena proceed. It is the world of Kant’s Things-in-Themselves which makes possible the world of things-as-they-seem, i.e., phenomena.

  • Profile photo of Giles Hardwick
    Giles Hardwick
    Participant
    Profile photo of Giles HardwickGiles Hardwick

    “Giles, if you really think how evolution, or, rather, adaptation occurs, according to what is accepted, you will see that it occurs in two steps: first, there is the appearance of a new property (mainstream science says, via random mutation; we may argue that individual consciousness plays a role), second, the property is spread to the progeny via sexual reproduction. So the appearance of a new property occurs in a single individual. Following this, the nature of the process changes drastically, beginning to spread by completely different means, which in some cases (e.g., in plants sharing pollen) are completely stochastic.”

    Pavel. AGAIN, you appear to be completely missing the points I make. Forget what is accepted in the mainstream. I am suggesting that morphogenesis depends on organising “fields” of habit/memory/likelihood. INTENTION from various INDIVIDUALS is ‘pulling’ on the probability distribution and creating new likelihood of organisation. A new property appears in one (or more likely more) and then natural selection works on that. So there is, as I put earlier, a feedback loop between ‘form’ and manifested individuals (universal and particular).

    Remember, genes are deemed to only code for protein synthesis. They are, I believe, a superficial appearance of something going on much deeper “behind the scenes”. Don’t get bogged down mainstream scientific dogma of genes being everything – check the (Human) Genome Project to discover that some very simple creatures have MORE genes than the human.

    • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
      Pavel Axentiev
      Participant
      Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

      I know well what genes are. The fact is that there is evidence that various properties, such as animal colors, and certain perception abilities are inherited in accordance with established laws of genetics. So you might as well not to discard it. HPB was of the opinion that science – proper science – is a valuable tool in the search for truth.

      • Profile photo of Giles Hardwick
        Giles Hardwick
        Participant
        Profile photo of Giles HardwickGiles Hardwick

        Of course science is a valuable tool! Nobody here is discarding it; On the contrary, is this current discussion not exploring reality using science? Was the topic I started not about ‘how much of a PART of random genetic mutations and natural selection is involved in organic evolution?’? Physical science is a method of enquiry, and we have to be careful not to just look at the superficial level of just effects as we see them in the physical realm.

    • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
      Pavel Axentiev
      Participant
      Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

      But I get what you say about probability distributions, etc. I like it.

      Regarding Platonic “ideas,” and the subsequent Aristotelian debunking of them (see “Metaphysics”), I think what many philosophers were confused about, is that they kept insisting that forms exist in the ideal realm as distinct entities, similar to how they appear in the physical realm. It may be a discovery of modern philosophy that the Universe is much less discreet and more probabilistic, as you say, in the realm of energy.

      Now, if you think of the Platonic forms more like blobs of energy, or fields of energy, totally free for including each other and, perhaps, pretty much any information relevant information, you can see that the appearance of new properties in the organisms may go any different way that can be incorporated into the initial form. So, from this point of view, evolution may go any direction. If a certain human achieves a divine idea of some sort, and incorporates it into his/her being, that possibility becomes available for anybody else, because now that idea is included in the form (energy field) of what it means to be human.

      • Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe
        Gerry Kiffe
        Moderator
        Profile photo of Gerry KiffeGerry Kiffe

        I think part of our challenge with this topic is the conceptual leap necessary from the metaphysical to the physical. Ancient Wisdom conceives of manifestation from within without, meaning from the realm of idea to the realm of distinct and measurable form. The word Platonic Forms is misleading to us I believe. It might be more helpful to think of them as Platonic Archetypes or perhaps Platonic Ideas (Capitial I). Thought proceeds action, ideas proceed forms, the blueprint proceeds the house. The reason that nothing in the universe is accidental is because behind manifestation is Mind (Capital M). Ideas and thoughts, in a manner of speaking, are the driving engines of evolution and the creation of forms. And like a great composer all the notes are not assembled perfectly on the first try but rather a process of experimentation is necessary to discover the perfect sequences. Consequently what appears from the outside as a series of accidents is really the creative process of formulation. You try the song in one key and if it does not sound right you change the key. Evolution works this way, we are told, perpetual experimentation directed by metaphysical forces. The denizens of spiritual hierarchies, crores of incorporeal and semi-corporeal beings stand behind manifestation. (Indigenous peoples and the ancients understood this better than we do.) It all sounds strange to those of us trained in modern education which views reality as what is perceptible by the physical senses. But to the Sage what is real is metaphysical because it is permanent and causal. In other words our contemporary idea of what is real and what is unreal is almost completely backwards. And this helps to account for why it is so difficult to assign order to the evolutionary process. We cannot conceive of anything as being “real” if it is on the other side of form/formless equation.

        • Profile photo of Jon Fergus
          Jon Fergus
          Moderator
          Profile photo of Jon FergusJon Fergus

          Well said, Gerry. I believe you’re correct that the fundamental challenge for us westerners educated in a materialistic scheme (generally speaking) is adopting the perspective we find in the theosophical philosophy, which as you say is almost the entire opposite/reverse perspective. Even the terms ‘ideas’ or ‘archetypes’ are concepts I think we generally tend to “materialize” in our minds when considering them. The abstract planes or “arupa” (formless) planes, the top parts of the diagram on p.200 of the SD, the “in the beginning” stage of “creation” in all the old religions… these are things that I believe we struggle to gain much genuine understanding of. Perhaps this is akin in some ways to the “dark energy” of our current material science and its examination of the physical plane… we know there is “something” there, but we cannot say what it is, we cannot (yet) understand it, and one result of that lack of understanding is that we tend to carry on speaking about “reality” without that portion properly represented. In regards to our treatment of archetypes etc., we tend to overly “materialize” that which is meta-physical and imagine it to be much more akin to physical energy and matter than it likely is.

  • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
    Pavel Axentiev
    Participant
    Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

    How can we ensure that our references to “ideal realms” and “deductive reasoning” are something else but pure imagination, a result of roundabout intellectualizing, devoid of any spiritual truth?

    “…we hold faith, such as you advocate, to be a mental disease, and real faith, i.e., the pistis of the Greeks, as ʺbelief based on knowledge,ʺ whether supplied by the evidence of physical or spiritual senses.”
    – Key to Theosophy

    “between faith on authority and faith on oneʹs spiritual intuition, there is a very great difference.”
    – Ibid.

    • Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe
      Gerry Kiffe
      Moderator
      Profile photo of Gerry KiffeGerry Kiffe

      Pavel

      How do buildings get built, stories told, movies made, songs written, furniture created etc. ……. without imagination?

  • Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe
    Gerry Kiffe
    Moderator
    Profile photo of Gerry KiffeGerry Kiffe

    GOOD QUESTION! The very concept of Theosophia (Divine Wisdom) excludes blind belief and unquestioned authority. We are all, here in this forum, after the Truth and nothing less. Every idea, every concept, every theory must be put to the test. It must be examined and probed. This is the ancient way.

    The Secret Doctrine, as a book not as an idea in regards to this comment, was intended to push us in the direction of getting people to think about these things anew and to be open to different explanations concerning the Cosmos and Man rather than blindly accepting conventional views. (Which by the way have all been blown up and reconstituted several times since HPB wrote the book.) For some of the ideas we are putting forth here she simply says, paraphrasing of course, here is an idea that was held in almost every significant civilization of the ancient world in different forms that more accurately describes life as we know it. They have as much merit and are just as worthy for consideration as are the conventional views.

    Theosophia, Ancient Wisdom is very deep and those of us who study it make few claims to understand it very thoroughly or completely. But we are convinced, at least so far, in the reality of the idea of a Esoteric Wisdom that inch by inch we can probe. But testing and questioning it is precisely what theosophy encourages and questions like this are more than welcome in this forum.

    “That it is the uninterrupted record covering thousands of generations of Seers whose respective experiences were made to test and to verify the traditions passed orally by one early race to another, of the teachings of higher and exalted beings, who watched over the childhood of Humanity. That for long ages, the “Wise Men” of the Fifth Race, of the stock saved and rescued from the last cataclysm and shifting of continents, had passed their lives in learning, not teaching. How did they do so? It is answered: by checking, testing, and verifying in every department of nature the traditions of old by the independent visions of great adepts; i.e., men who have developed and perfected their physical, mental, psychic, and spiritual organisations to the utmost possible degree. No vision of one adept was accepted till it was checked and confirmed by the visions—so obtained as to stand as independent evidence—of other adepts, and by centuries of experiences.” SD i page 272

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 1 day ago by Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe Gerry Kiffe.
  • Profile photo of Pierre Wouters
    Pierre Wouters
    Moderator
    Profile photo of Pierre WoutersPierre Wouters

    Hi Giles.

    just throwing in a few thoughts regarding archetypes and evolution, hoping it can contribute to your ideas on evolution.

    It seems clear from theosophical teachings that the Platonic archetypes pretty much accord with the theosophical understanding of it, and one may even ask – since Plato was initiated into the Mysteries – if these may have ultimately been the source of his concepts.

    One can easily draw a correspondence with the fundamental idea in theosophy, that everything in the objective manifested universe (4 rupa planes) – in order to be called life – needs to fall back on the triad of spirit, soul, and body (or consciousness, energy, and matter broadly speaking) in its ultimate objective appearance – leaving aside for this approach the many ways in which this triad can be represented. This triad can equally be represented from a more substantial perspective as archetypes, prototypes and types. One can even push it further and represent each of these triads in turn as again containing the same triad and having both a vertical and horizontal relationship, for example:

    Spirit: consisting of spirit – soul – body.
    Soul consisting of: consciousness – energy – matter.
    Body consisting of: archetype – prototype – type.

    We can also throw in the triad of Idea, Thought and Speech for good measure if you like, also corresponding with the triads above.

    All of which being ONE within its pre-manifested condition, or the Three in One, and all of which representing the One in Three when manifesting and corresponding with each other. All of which reappearing on every plane and every sub-division of every plane (ad infinitum) and furthermore expanding into a sevenfold representation of the ONE, we could as well say that everything exists within everything.

    Focussing on the subject of archetype, it represents as it were the infinite potential that exist within the substantial aspect of the monad (both from a universal as well as from an individual perspective) and which – in a certain sense – can be “qualified” as being omnipresent, eternal, boundless and immutable. Thus in essence unchangeable and being at the same time an aspect of Divine “Thought” containing all potentialities of possible expression relative to the substance in which it expresses itself, and all kingdoms having this in common on every plane, starting with the 1st elemental kingdom up to man (and even beyond). The archetype contains thus in effect all potentialities of “creation” relative to the system or universe that will be evolved in combination with the residue of karmic effects of previous manifestations.

    This is how HPB gives expression to it in SDI:380
    “For, as soon as DARKNESS — or rather that which is “darkness” for ignorance — has disappeared in its own realm of eternal Light, leaving behind itself only its divine manifested Ideation, the creative Logoi have their understanding opened, and they see in the ideal world (hitherto concealed in the divine thought) the archetypal forms of all, and proceed to copy and build or fashion upon these models forms evanescent and transcendent.
    At this stage of action, the Demiurge** is not yet the Architect. Born in the twilight of action, he has yet to first perceive the plan, to realise the ideal forms which lie buried in the bosom of Eternal Ideation, as the future lotus-leaves, the immaculate petals, are concealed within the seed of that plant. . . . .”

    So the realization of the perception of these archetypes or ideas leads to the formation or “creation” of a prototype or “thought”, which then in turn further concretizes into a type or objective form, “forms evanescent and transcendent”. This is no different from how humanity operates its mind whenever we want to “create” something, whether it be a house, car, writing a novel or anything else, in fact, in so doing we are just repeating “as above, so below”.

    The demiurg (“he who toils for the whole” and representing “spirit”) becomes in turn – through emanation – himself the architect (representing “soul”). The demiurg being the one who wants to build a home, whether it be a galaxy, a solar system, an individual planetary system, a shack in the garden, a human body or a cell, as he is now in possession of the perceived and assimilated archetype. The architect in turn (as the emanation of the demiurg) concretizes this archetype or the plan and creates a prototype or blueprint based on the instructions received from the demiurg. The architect in turn emanates himself into the builders (representing the “body”) who are the contractors building the actual objective house based on the prototype.

    So this triad of archetype, prototype and type becomes more and more densified and therefore limited as it descends through each plane of involution from arupa to the most concrete rupa, and etherealized as it ascends again through evolution back into its source, meanwhile containing the experience gained in the process which might result in better prototypes for the next “creation” of a system or universe, as this experience allows for a deeper and better perception of the archetypes existing on a higher plane of substance in future evolutions.

    You will notice that HPB in the SD invariably changes terminology (such as using prototype instead of archetype and vice versa), She can express – in a matter of speech – with one term 10 different processes, or uses 10 different words for the same process. I guess essentially avoiding the pitfall of becoming dogmatic and at the same time drawing attention to the process rather than the terminology. Yet at the same time she can be very specific in choosing her words which can be discovered by looking at the context into which a specific term is being used.

    I’m sure you can recognize many elements in the above that pertain to your train of thought, and obviously my few thoughts are not written in stone, but open to adaptation and refinement.

    So, indeed, there is a “goal” in what science calls evolution (they unfortunately don’t recognize involution yet), and it would be hard to imagine that the expression of archetypes and prototypes wouldn’t allow room for creativity and adaptation. The adaptations being geared towards the changing conditions on the physical plane represented by climate, geological environment (sea, land or air), elevation, food sources, (over)population, protection, and so forth. The perceived randomness of it being in fact driven by cause and effect which makes it in actual fact the law of karma.

    If we would allow for an archetype being at the basis of every principle (from spiritual to physical so to speak, or Atma to the physical body), one could perhaps say that conditions – as they approach more and more the physical realm – begin to answer more and more to “physical” archetypes and their demands (being geared towards the changing conditions on the physical plane as indicated above), rather than the spiritual archetypal demands already established on a higher level. As each level has its own archetypes, prototypes and types, perhaps as involution approaches more and more the physical realms, the emphasis of evolution may perhaps shift towards “external” rather than internal needs.

    So, when I read your comment referring to archetypes as evolving, I prefer myself to apply this evolving rather to prototypes, although perhaps that may be what you meant by prototype being an archetype. When for instance a carmaker produces a new model, they first need to have the idea (archetype) dropping like lightning into their minds, this idea then materializes into a more objective thought which they express through computer modeling and often also as a clay model (prototype) before it finally ends up as a production car rolling off the line (type). I wouldn’t want to draw too sharp of a line between these three, as nature doesn’t make jumps as HPB points out. An apparent jump perceived on the physical plane may as well be the result of a gradual development on the astral plane.

    Of course, the sevenfold decent of spirit into matter – each stage having its archetype, prototype and type – although having corresponding principles, may in its objective appearance look and act quite differently from either the plane above or the plane below. For instance, although the astral body may be the blueprint for the physical body, its material and psychic qualities are unlike anything we recognize on the physical plane.

    In one of your replies you mentioned the excellent statement that “‘laws’ are habits of conscious entities.”, which is exactly what HPB expressed, both with regard to laws as well as to forces.

    If human beings can give expression to the good, the true and the beautiful in combination with an infinite variety of imagination, I wonder what spiritual hierarchies are capable of when expressing their habits or laws. I doubt that for example all expressions of varieties in appearance in the different kingdoms would be solely limited to function, survival, adaptation and so on, and that there can be room for imagination and “creativity” as an art form, otherwise the archetypes on their respective planes would not represent infinite potential, but be limited only to function, etc.

    • Profile photo of Jon Fergus
      Jon Fergus
      Moderator
      Profile photo of Jon FergusJon Fergus

      Thanks Pierre. This is very helpful and has given me many things to add to my list to ponder over. 😉

      I wanted to share some thoughts for the group, which relate to the idea of an archetype. I’ve been letting the back of my mind work through some problems related to epistemology lately, i.e. I’ve been trying to figure out what it really means to “know” and how that idea is represented in eastern texts. This comes originally from trying to understand the distinctions between the Sanskrit terms which are commonly translated as “know/knowledge/understand/wisdom/etc.” (i.e. vid (vidya, veda, avidya, etc.), jna (jnana, prajna, etc.), dhya (dhyana, etc.), and so on).

      So first there is something that popped out to me while studying Sanskrit that relates to this and to our archetypes discussion: The language is structured so that there are verb roots, but no such thing as noun roots. There are verb/noun stems. And then there are nouns, derived from those stems.

      So, what we might say is that there are three basic levels, in a sense. On the first there are only processes (verbs); on the second there are basic processes and things; on the third there are complex things (this is all very roughly speaking, and of course there is much more to the language than this). I also reflected on the fact that it is a common thing in many languages to have multiple terms for “to know”/”knowledge”/etc. and in several of these the division in meaning is (roughly speaking) between “knowing a thing” and “knowing a process/action”. If we superimpose this on the threefold structure we end up with three levels of knowing: 1. to know a thing, 2. to know a thing across time (i.e. to know the process of a thing), and 3. to know a process abstracted from a thing. This correlates quite well with the threefold streams of evolution outlined by HPB: 1. physical, 2. mental, and 3. moral.

      Common human morality is more-or-less derived by abstracting principles from things, so that we end up with moral injunctions that can be applied to many things/situations. Basically, we might say that we 1. perceive a thing, 2. examine the process/action of the thing (i.e. its role in cause/effect etc.) and its relation to other things across time, and then 3. abstract a moral principle from this examination. An example: 1. we perceive fire, 2. we examine that fire burns us when we tough it, and that being burnt causes suffering to us, and then 3. abstract out a set of moral principles around the use of / interaction with fire in relation to any being we believe to be like us (i.e. not just the specific thing/being we were originally perceiving), in this sense we’ve established a principle that can be applied to a group of things/beings but is independent of any specific one.

      Ok, so, I think we can also tie these ideas together with our notion of archetypes and how they relate to prototypes and types, and then how these interact in terms of the three streams of evolution. Let’s say we can make the following table of correspondences (building on Pierre’s):

      Archetype – Spirit – Consciousness – Moral evolution – knowing a process abstracted from the thing – verb roots
      Prototype – Soul – Energy – Mental evolution – knowing a thing across time – verb and noun stems
      Type – Body – Matter – Physical evolution – knowing a thing – nouns

      This made me reflect on the idea that I may have been thinking of an archetype too much in the sense of it being a kind of abstract “thing”, where perhaps it would be better to think of an archetype as something like “processes/principles as abstracted from things”. If you want to create a noun in Sanskrit, you start with a verb root, then through some operations you can create a stem, and then from that stem you can develop a noun (and from there, more complex nouns related to it). This seems like perhaps a decent way to come at the problem of archetype -> prototype -> type. Begin with an abstract process, through some operations give rise to a kind of blueprint that includes process and thing qualities, then through further operations give rise to a proper thing (this is a decending arc, or involution). On the upper end of the scale you have process abstracted from thing, and on the bottom end you have thing abstracted from process (i.e. the thing in one instant of time, perceived in the present). Reversing: we have a thing, which we can observe and interact with across time, from which we can abstract a moral principle (this is an ascending arc, or evolution).

      When we think of a thing, we tend to think of it independent of time, but as HPB says, it is the sum-total of the life of a being/thing that is that thing itself, and each cross-section in time is but an appearance of the thing. To know a thing abstracted from its process is one kind of knowing; to know a thing across time is to know the thing more fully; and to know what would appear to us to be an abstract principle of “process” is to know the root of the thing.

      It seems that the physical and moral evolution are mediated by the mental evolution, which is the “bridge” between the two (relating to the “feedback loop” of Giles). So, questions:

      1. is it that we abstract and apply a moral-principle on to an archetype, or is it just that through our evolutionary process we come to perceive more of the moral-principle that has always been part of an archetype? i.e. about an archetype that relates to fire/heat/burning/etc. is there a moral principle there, or is it only something superimposed onto the archetype by us (at a certain stage of our mental evolution)?

      2. (this question still remains for me): is physical evolution merely a matter of manifesting more fully the qualities of an archetype, or does it effect the archetype itself? I mean, what if we physically evolved in such a manner that fire could no longer burn us, would that be an altering of the archetype related to fire/heat/burning/etc. or would it merely be an alteration of how we morally relate to that archetype, etc.? (i.e. if we couldn’t be burnt by fire, we wouldn’t have need for the same moral principle related to it, but does that remove the “burning” aspect/quality of that archetype?

      If, as Pierre suggests, an archetype represents “the infinite potential” that exists within the substantial aspect of the monad, then it would seem to me that, for instance, the “burning” aspect of such an archetype would be part of that infinite potential that would affect us in a certain ways at certain stages of our physical and mental evolution, thus leading to different manifestations of morality at those stages. But “burning” would remain part of the infinite potential of the archetype of “fire” regardless. Thus there is no change to an archetype through the process of evolution, but solely a series of changes in how we mentally interact with it and with the forms (types) that arise from it (or something like that).

      …and I’m sure I have a thousand more questions, but as you can tell I’m not sure how all this might all be tied in with what Giles has suggested or what Pierre has laid out, and these ideas are far from fully flushed out. But I thought they might be helpful or at least intriguing.

      • Profile photo of Giles Hardwick
        Giles Hardwick
        Participant
        Profile photo of Giles HardwickGiles Hardwick

        Thank you all for your contributions to my initial post thread.

        My query was/is really “when Theosophy ALWAYS claims that Darwin’s theory is a partial truth, then just what aspect of it is true?” I don’t appear to have got much further with this other than my own view that what looks like random mutations cannot be (if we use reason, logic, probability and mathematics) and that natural selection is merely a fine-tuning aspect with no creativity – this is so obvious it is barely worth a mention – let alone make it the ‘engine’ of organic evolution! It’s like saying ‘I have ten letters and nine pillar boxes so how many have to be discarded?’ So, I am still somewhat unclear as to what value Theosophy places on Darwinism other than evolution occurs, mutation takes places (clearly NOT random) and natural selection plays a role (albeit a minor and an obvious ‘common sense’ one).

        • Profile photo of Giles Hardwick
          Giles Hardwick
          Participant
          Profile photo of Giles HardwickGiles Hardwick

          Getting back to the mechanics of organic evolution (rather than rather vague generic philo/theosophical statements), I would add the following further detail to my model of a feedback loop and the dialectical link between particular and universal:

          The gene variations are quantum possibilities in an ocean of potentialities. Consciousness has the vital blueprint of the organ unconsciously giving it a rough guideline of what to process for. When there is a match, a quantum leap takes place all at once and consciousness makes a physical (organ) representation of the morphogenetic blueprint expressing all the necessary uncollapsed genes all at once. As mentioned earlier, once manifested, this then becomes easier to form elsewhere (just a new compound crystalizing does) and gains momentum and probability. No fossil record for the intermediate stages, because there are no intermediate stages.

          When science grasps this, we will see a momentous leap in consciousness quality in mankind as it realises that there is purpose to life, and that their lives need not mirror the “law of the jungle” of looking after number one, love being an illusion and the ultimate fatality of death.

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