This group focuses onthe study of H. P. Blavatsky’s magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine.
Study Resources: http://www.universaltheosophy.com/secret-doctrine-study/
The Secret Doctrine Study Group is investigating HPB’s central work through themes and key ideas. We are not going through the book sequentially. Instead we are trying to cover broad themes to help students gain a foothold in the key ideas of the work. Passages from the book will be posted periodically. Students are encouraged to study the passage, and the full section of the book to which it belongs if they so desire.
The Gupta Vidya 2019
January 4, 2019 at 6:20 pm #7563
The Gupta Vidya: Secret Doctrine Study Theme for 2019
“The seeds of Wisdom cannot sprout and grow in airless space. To live and reap experience, the mind needs breadth and depth and points to draw it toward the Diamond Soul. Seek not those points in Maya’s realm; but soar beyond illusions, search the eternal and the changeless SAT, mistrusting fancy’s false suggestions.” — THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE
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The Gupta Vidya 2019
ModeratorTN January 8, 2019 at 3:58 am #7585
SD i. pages 278-9
The Three Trinities
In sober truth, as just shown, every “Spirit” so-called is either a disembodied or a future man. As from the highest Archangel (Dhyan Chohan) down to the last conscious “Builder” (the inferior class of Spiritual Entities), all such are men, having lived æons ago, in other Manvantaras, on this or other Spheres; so the inferior, semi-intelligent and non-intelligent Elementals—are all future men. That fact alone—that a Spirit is endowed with intelligence—is a proof to the Occultist that that Being must have been a man, and acquired his knowledge and intelligence throughout the human cycle. There is but one indivisible and absolute Omniscience and Intelligence in the Universe, and this thrills throughout every atom and infinitesimal point of the whole finite Kosmos which hath no bounds, and which people call SPACE, considered independently of anything contained in it. But the first differentiation of its reflection in the manifested World is purely Spiritual, and the Beings generated in it are not endowed with a consciousness that has any relation to the one we conceive of. They can have no human consciousness or Intelligence before they have acquired such, personally and individually. This may be a mystery, yet it is a fact, in Esoteric philosophy, and a very apparent one too.
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 mani-
* 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.
278 THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
pulated by semi-intelligent beings (Elementals) guided by High Planetary Spirits, (Dhyan Chohans), whose collective aggregate forms the manifested verbum of the unmanifested LOGOS, and constitutes at one and the same time the MIND of the Universe and its immutable LAW.
Three distinct representations of the Universe in its three distinct aspects are impressed upon our thought by the esoteric philosophy: the PRE-EXISTING (evolved from) the EVER-EXISTING; and the PHENOMENAL—the world of illusion, the reflection, and shadow thereof. During the great mystery and drama of life known as the Manvantara, real Kosmos is like the object placed behind the white screen upon which are thrown the Chinese shadows, called forth by the magic lantern. The actual figures and things remain invisible, while the wires of evolution are pulled by the unseen hands; and men and things are thus but the reflections, on the white field, of the realities behind the snares of Mahamaya, or the great Illusion. This was taught in every philosophy, in every religion, ante as well as post diluvian, in India and Chaldea, by the Chinese as by the Grecian Sages. In the former countries these three Universes were allegorized, in exoteric teachings, by the three trinities emanating from the Central eternal germ and forming with it a Supreme Unity: the initial, the manifested, and the Creative Triad, or the three in One. The last is but the symbol, in its concrete expression, of the first ideal two. Hence Esoteric philosophy passes over the necessarianism of this purely metaphysical conception, and calls the first one, only, the Ever Existing. This is the view of every one of the six great schools of Indian philosophy—the six principles of that unit body of WISDOM of which the “gnosis,” the hidden knowledge, is the seventh.
ModeratorTN January 8, 2019 at 4:05 am #7586
SD pages 279-282
We hold to Hermes and his “Wisdom”—in its universal character; they—to Aristotle as against intuition and the experience of the ages, fancying that Truth is the exclusive property of the Western world. Hence the disagreement. As Hermes says, “Knowledge differs much from sense; for sense is of things that surmount it, but Knowledge (gyi) is the end of sense”—i.e., of the illusion of our physical brain and its intellect; thus emphasizing the contrast between the laboriously acquired knowledge of the senses and mind (manas), and the intuitive omniscience of the Spiritual divine Soul—Buddhi.
Whatever may be the destiny of these actual writings in a remote future, we hope to have proven so far the following facts:
(1) The Secret Doctrine teaches no Atheism, except in the Hindu sense of the word nastika, or the rejection of idols, including every anthropomorphic god. In this sense every Occultist is a Nastika.
(2) It admits a Logos or a collective “Creator” of the Universe; a Demi-urgos—in the sense implied when one speaks of an “Architect” as the “Creator” of an edifice, whereas that Architect has never touched one stone of it, but, while furnishing the plan, left all the manual labour to the masons; in our case the plan was furnished by the Ideation of the Universe, and the constructive labour was left to the Hosts of intelligent Powers and Forces. But that Demiurgos is no
280 THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
personal deity,—i.e., an imperfect extra-cosmic god,—but only the aggregate of the Dhyan-Chohans and the other forces.
As to the latter—
(3) They are dual in their character; being composed of (a) the irrational brute energy, inherent in matter, and (b) the intelligent soul or cosmic consciousness which directs and guides that energy, and which is the Dhyan-Chohanic thought reflecting the Ideation of the Universal mind. This results in a perpetual series of physical manifestations and moral effects on Earth, during manvantaric periods, the whole being subservient to Karma. As that process is not always perfect; and since, however many proofs it may exhibit of a guiding intelligence behind the veil, it still shows gaps and flaws, and even results very often in evident failures—therefore, neither the collective Host (Demiurgos), nor any of the working powers individually, are proper subjects for divine honours or worship. All are entitled to the grateful reverence of Humanity, however, and man ought to be ever striving to help the divine evolution of Ideas, by becoming to the best of his ability a co-worker with nature in the cyclic task. The ever unknowable and incognizable Karana alone, the Causeless Cause of all causes, should have its shrine and altar on the holy and ever untrodden ground of our heart—invisible, intangible, unmentioned, save through “the still small voice” of our spiritual consciousness. Those who worship before it, ought to do so in the silence and the sanctified solitude of their Souls *; making their spirit the sole mediator between them and the Universal Spirit, their good actions the only priests, and their sinful intentions the only visible and objective sacrificial victims to the Presence. (See Part II., “On the Hidden Deity.”)
(4) Matter is Eternal. It is the Upadhi (the physical basis) for the One infinite Universal Mind to build thereon its ideations. Therefore, the Esotericists maintain that there is no inorganic or dead matter in nature, the distinction between the two made by Science being as unfounded as it is arbitrary and devoid of reason.
* “When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are . . . but enter into thine inner chamber and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.” Matt. vi.). Our Father is within us “in Secret,” our 7th principle, in the “inner chamber” of our Soul perception. “The Kingdom of Heaven” and of God “is within us” says Jesus, not outside. Why are Christians so absolutely blind to the self-evident meaning of the words of wisdom they delight in mechanically repeating?
281 MATTER IS THE SHADOW OF SPIRIT.
Whatever Science may think, however—and exact Science is a fickle dame, as we all know by experience—Occultism knows and teaches differently, from time immemorial—from Manu and Hermes down to Paracelsus and his successors.
Thus Hermes, the thrice great Trismegistus, says: “Oh, my son, matter becomes; formerly it was; for matter is the vehicle of becoming.” * Becoming is the mode of activity of the uncreate deity. Having been endowed with the germs of becoming, matter (objective) is brought into birth, for the creative force fashions it according to the ideal forms. Matter not yet engendered had no form; it becomes when it is put into operation.” (The Definitions of Asclepios, p. 134, “Virgin of the World.”)
“Everything is the product of one universal creative effort. . . . There is nothing dead, in Nature. Everything is organic and living, and therefore the whole world appears to be a living organism.” (Paracelsus, “Philosophia ad Athenienes,” F. Hartmann’s translations, p. 44.)
(5.) The Universe was evolved out of its ideal plan, upheld through Eternity in the unconsciousness of that which the Vedantins call Parabrahm. This is practically identical with the conclusions of the highest Western Philosophy—”the innate, eternal, and self-existing Ideas” of Plato, now reflected by Von Hartmann. The “unknowable” of Herbert Spencer bears only a faint resemblance to that transcendental Reality believed in by Occultists, often appearing merely a personification of a “force behind phenomena”—an infinite and eternal Energy
* To this the late Mrs. (Dr.) Kingsford, the able translator and compiler of the Hermetic Fragments (see “The Virgin of the World”) remarks in a foot-note; “Dr. Menard observes that in Greek the same word signifies to be born and to become. The idea here is that the material of the world is in its essence eternal, but that before creation or ‘becoming’ it is in a passive and motionless condition. Thus it ‘was’ before being put into operation; now it ‘becomes,’ that is, it is mobile and progressive.” And she adds the purely Vedantic doctrine of the Hermetic philosophy that “Creation is thus the period of activity (Manvantara) of God, who, according to Hermetic thought (or which, according to the Vedantin) has two modes—Activity or Existence, God evolved (Deus explicitus); and Passivity of Being (Pralaya) God involved (Deus implicitus). Both modes are perfect and complete, as are the waking and sleeping states of man. Fichte, the German philosopher, distinguished Being (Seyn) as One, which we know only through existence (Dasein) as the Manifold. This view is thoroughly Hermetic. The ‘Ideal Forms’ are the archetypal or formative ideas of the Neo-Platonists; the eternal and subjective concepts of things subsisting in the divine mind prior to ‘becoming'” (p. 134).
282 THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
from which all things proceed, while the author of the “Philosophy of the Unconscious” has come (in this respect only) as near to a solution of the great Mystery as mortal man can. Few were those, whether in ancient or mediæval philosophy, who have dared to approach the subject or even hint at it. Paracelsus mentions it inferentially. His ideas are admirably synthesized by Dr. F. Hartmann, F.T.S., in his “Life of Paracelsus.”
All the Christian Kabalists understood well the Eastern root idea: The active Power, the “Perpetual motion of the great Breath” only awakens Kosmos at the dawn of every new Period, setting it into motion by means of the two contrary Forces,* and thus causing it to become objective on the plane of Illusion. In other words, that dual motion transfers Kosmos from the plane of the Eternal Ideal into that of finite manifestation, or from the Noumenal to the Phenomenal plane. Everything that is, was, and will be, eternally IS, even the countless forms, which are finite and perishable only in their objective, not in their ideal Form. They existed as Ideas, in the Eternity, † and, when they pass away, will exist as reflections. Neither the form of man, nor that of any animal, plant or stone has ever been created, and it is only on this plane of ours that it commenced “becoming,” i.e., objectivising into its present materiality, or expanding from within outwards, from the most sublimated and supersensuous essence into its grossest appearance. Therefore our human forms have existed in the Eternity as astral or ethereal prototypes; according to which models, the Spiritual Beings (or Gods) whose duty it was to bring them into objective being and terrestrial Life, evolved the protoplasmic forms of the future Egos from their own essence. After which, when this human Upadhi, or basic mould was ready, the natural terrestrial Forces began to work on those supersensuous moulds which contained, besides their own, the elements of all the past vegetable and future animal forms of this globe in them. Therefore, man’s outward shell passed through every vegetable and animal body before it assumed the human shape.
* The centripetal and the centrifugal forces, which are male and female, positive and negative, physical and spiritual, the two being the one Primordial Force.
† Occultism teaches that no form can be given to anything, either by nature or by man, whose ideal type does not already exist on the subjective plane. More than this; that no such form or shape can possibly enter man’s consciousness, or evolve in his imagination, which does not exist in prototype, at least as an approximation.
ModeratorTN January 22, 2019 at 4:10 am #7627
SD i. pages 288-292
As the only works now extant upon the subject under consideration within reach of the profane of the Western “civilized” races are the above-mentioned Hermetic Books, or rather Hermetic Fragments, we may contrast them in the present case with the teachings of Esoteric philosophy. To quote for this purpose from any other would be useless, since the public knows nothing of the Chaldean works which are translated into Arabic and preserved by some Sufi initiates. Therefore the “Definitions of Asclepios,” as lately compiled and glossed by Mrs. A. Kingsford, F.T.S., some of which sayings are in remarkable agreement with the Esoteric Eastern doctrine, have to be resorted to for comparison. Though not a few passages show a strong impression of some later Christian hand, yet on the whole the characteristics of the genii * and gods are those of eastern teachings, while concerning other things there are passages which differ widely in our doctrines. The following are a few:—
* The Hermetic philosophers called Theoi, gods, Genii and Daimones (in the original texts), those Entities whom we call Devas (gods), Dhyan Chohans, Chitkala (Kwan-yin, the Buddhists call them), and by other names. The Daimones are—in the Socratic sense, and even in the Oriental and Latin theological sense—the guardian spirits of the human race; “those who dwell in the neighbourhood of the immortals, and thence watch over human affairs,” as Hermes has it. In Esoteric parlance, they are called Chitkala, some of which are those who have furnished man with his fourth and fifth Principles from their own essence; and others the Pitris so-called. This will be explained when we come to the production of the complete man. The root of the name is Chiti, “that by which the effects and consequences of actions and kinds of knowledge are selected for the use of the soul,” or conscience the inner Voice in man. With the Yogis, the Chiti is a synonym of Mahat, the first and divine intellect; but in Esoteric philosophy Mahat is the root of Chiti, its germ; and Chiti is a quality of Manas in conjunction with Buddhi, a quality that attracts to itself by spiritual affinity a Chitkala when it develops sufficiently in man. This is why it is said that Chiti is a voice acquiring mystic life and becoming Kwan-Yin.
289 A FEW OCCULT APHORISMS.
EXTRACTS FROM A PRIVATE COMMENTARY, * hitherto secret:―
(xvii.) “The Initial Existence in the first twilight of the Maha-Manwantara (after the MAHA-PRALAYA that follows every age of Brahmâ) is a CONSCIOUS SPIRITUAL QUALITY. In the manifested WORLDS (solar systems) it is, in its OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVITY, like the film from a Divine Breath to the gaze of the entranced seer. It spreads as it issues from LAYA † throughout infinity as a colourless spiritual fluid. It is on the SEVENTH PLANE, and in its SEVENTH STATE in our planetary world. ‡
(xviii.) “It is Substance to OUR spiritual sight. It cannot be called so by men in their WAKING STATE; therefore they have named it in their ignorance ‘God-Spirit.’
(xix.) “It exists everywhere and forms the first UPADHI (foundation) on which our World (solar system) is built. Outside the latter it is to be found in its pristine purity only between (the solar systems or) the Stars of the Universe, the worlds already formed or forming; those in LAYA resting meanwhile in its bosom. As its substance is of a different kind from that known on earth, the inhabitants of the latter, seeing THROUGH IT, believe in their illusion and ignorance that it is empty space. There is not one finger’s breath (ANGULA) of void Space in the whole Boundless (Universe)………
(xx.) “Matter or Substance is septenary within our World, as it is so beyond it. Moreover, each of its states or principles is graduated into seven degrees of density. SURYA (the Sun), in its visible reflection, exhibits the first, or lowest state of the seventh, the highest state of the Universal PRESENCE, the pure of the pure, the first manifested Breath of the ever Unmanifested SAT (Be-ness). All the Central physical or objective Suns are in their substance the lowest state of the first Principle of the BREATH. Nor are any of these any more than the REFLECTIONS of their PRIMARIES which are concealed from the gaze of all but the Dhyan Chohans, whose Corporeal substance belongs to the fifth division of the seventh Principle of the Mother substance, and is,
* This (teaching) does not refer to Prakriti-Purusha beyond the boundaries of our small universe.
† The ultimate quiescent state: the Nirvana condition of the seventh Principle.
‡ The teaching is all given from our plane of consciousness.
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therefore, four degrees higher than the solar reflected substance. As there are seven Dhâtu (principal substances in the human body) so there are seven Forces in Man and in all Nature.
(xxi.) “The real substance of the concealed (Sun) is a nucleus of Mother substance.* It is the heart and the matrix of all the living and existing Forces in our solar universe. It is the Kernel from which proceed to spread on their cyclic journeys all the Powers that set in action the atoms in their functional duties, and the focus within which they again meet in their SEVENTH ESSENCE every eleventh year. He who tells thee he has seen the sun, laugh at him † as if he had said that the sun moves really onward on his diurnal path . . . .
(xxiii). “It is on account of his septenary nature that the Sun is spoken of by the ancients as one who is driven by seven horses equal to the metres of the Vedas; or, again, that, though he is identified with the SEVEN “Gaina” (classes of being) in his orb, he is distinct from them, ‡ as he is, indeed; as also that he has SEVEN RAYS, as indeed he has . . . .
(xxv.) “The Seven Beings in the Sun are the Seven Holy Ones, Self-born from the inherent power in the matrix of Mother substance. It is they who send the Seven Principal Forces, called rays, which at the beginning of Pralaya will centre into seven new Suns for the next Manvantara. The energy from which they spring into conscious existence in every Sun, is what some people call Vishnu (see foot-note below), which is the Breath of the ABSOLUTENESS.
We call it the One manifested life—itself a reflection of the Absolute………
(xxvi.) “The latter must never be mentioned in words or speech LEST IT SHOULD TAKE AWAY SOME OF OUR SPIRITUAL ENERGIES THAT ASPIRE towards ITS state, gravitating ever onward unto IT spiritually, as the whole physical universe gravitates towards ITS manifested centre—cosmically.
(xxvii.) “The former—the Initial existence—which may be called while in
* Or the “dream of Science,” the primeval really homogeneous matter, which no mortal can make objective in this Race or Round either.
† “Vishnu in the form of the Solar active energy, neither ever rises nor sets, and is at once, the sevenfold Sun and distinct from it,” says Vishnu Purâna (Book II., Chap. 1 1).
‡ “In the same manner as a man approaches a mirror placed upon a stand, beholds in it his own image, so the energy or reflection of Vishnu (the Sun) is never disjoined but remains in the Sun as in a mirror that is there stationed” (“Vishnu Purâna”).
291 OCCULT APHORISMS.
this state of being the ONE LIFE, is, as explained, a FILM for creative or formative Purposes. It manifests in seven states, which, with their septenary sub-divisions, are the FORTY-NINE Fires* mentioned in sacred books . . . . . .
(xxix.) “The first is the . . . . ‘Mother’ (prima MATERIA). Separating itself into its primary seven states, it proceeds down cyclically; when † having consolidated itself in its LAST principle as GROSS MATTER, it revolves around itself and informs, with the seventh emanation of the last, the first and the lowest element (the Serpent biting its own tail). In a hierarchy, or order of being, the seventh emanation of her last principle is:—
(a) In the mineral, the spark that lies latent in it, and is called to its evanescent being by the POSITIVE awakening the NEGATIVE (and so forth) . . . .
(b) In the plant it is that vital and intelligent Force which informs the seed and develops it into the blade of grass, or the root and sapling. It is the germ which becomes the UPADHI of the seven principles of the thing it resides in, shooting them out as the latter grows and develops.
(c) In every animal it does the same. It is its life principle and vital power; its instinct and qualities; its characteristics and special idiosyncrasies . . . .
(d) To man, it gives all that it bestows on all the rest of the manifested units in nature; but develops, furthermore, the reflection of all its FORTY-NINE FIRES in him. Each of his seven principles is an heir in full to, and a partaker of, the seven principles of the “great Mother.” The breath of her first principle is his spirit (Atma). Her second principle is BUDDHI (soul). We call it, erroneously, the seventh. The third furnishes him with (a) the brain stuff on the physical plane, and (b) with the MIND that moves it [which is the human soul.—H. P. B.]—according to his organic capacities.
(e) It is the guiding Force in the Cosmic and terrestrial elements. It resides in the Fire provoked out of its latent into active being; for the whole of the seven subdivisions of the * * * principle reside in the terrestrial Fire. It whirls in the breeze, blows with the hurricane, and sets the air in motion, which element participates in one of its principles also. Proceeding cyclically, it regulates the motion
* In “Vishnu” and other Purânas.
† See the Hermetic “Nature,” “Going down cyclically into matter when she meets ‘heavenly man.’ ”
292 THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
of the water, attracts and repels the waves * according to fixed laws of which its seventh principle is the informing soul.
(f) Its four higher principles contain the germ that develops into the Cosmic Gods; its three lower ones breed the lives of the Elements (Elementals).
(g) In our Solar world, the One Existence is Heaven and the Earth, the Root and the flower, the Action and the Thought. It is in the Sun, and is as present in the glow-worm. Not an atom can escape it. Therefore, the ancient Sages have wisely called it the manifested God in Nature. . . .”
It may be interesting, in this connection, to remind the reader of what Mr. Subba Row said of the Forces—mystically defined. See “Five Years of Theosophy” and “The Twelve Signs of the Zodiac.” Thus he says:
“Kanya (the sixth sign of the Zodiac, or Virgo) means a Virgin, and represents Sakti or Mahamaya. The sign . . . is the 6th Rasi or division, and indicates that there are six primary forces in Nature (synthesized by the Seventh)” . . . These Sakti stand as follows:—