An Outline of the “Secret Doctrine”
Lucifer, October-December, 1891, January-March & May, 1892
[In these papers an attempt will be made to give a clear account of the theory of life and development contained in Madame Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine, based on stanzas from the Book of Dzyan. As it is impossible within the limits to which we are restricted to bring forward all the arguments in support of these theories, and as no partial statement would be adequate, no attempt at argument will be made. Readers who may be inclined to accuse us of too dogmatic assertion of unproven facts, of “handling worlds and pebbles too freely”, will kindly remember that this is simply the outline of a doctrine the proofs of which they must seek for in the doctrine itself. As these papers may subsequently be reprinted, any criticism or discussion of them will be very welcome.]
Universal Night. The absorption of the Universe into latency; in its scientific, philosophical, and religious aspects; the Trinity in Unity. The Absolute.
The Secret Doctrine begins by contemplating the Universe as withdrawn from its condition of manifestation into the latent state in which it sleeps during the recurring periods of Universal Night, when time is absorbed in eternal duration.
For us, time is registered by the motions of the sun and stars; by the earth’s rotation, marking out the day from sunrise to sunrise; by the waxing and waning of the moon; by the earth’s yearly journey round the sun; and by that greater year that the pole traces out among the constellations in the slow Precession of the Equinoxes.
But when, at the evening of each universal day, the earth and the moon have faded to pale shadows, and with the sun and planets, one by one have melted back into the common source from which they sprung; when all the stars, the clocks of the universe, have become invisible, then time, as we know it, ceases, and vanishes into the bosom of eternal duration.
Even in the world of manifestation, Time has an uncertain, erratic life. In the waking world, minute drags after minute, with the stiff rigidity of dense matter; solid forms remain unchanged, or imperceptibly unchanged, for hours or ages.
In the world of dreams—as real to itself as the world of day—minutes and hours have more fluidity; image succeeds image, melting, coalescing, transforming, with a rapidity that would be startling in waking life, but seems quite natural in the dream-world, where an hour of day may be an age of dream.
In those clearer worlds to which spiritual vision penetrates, long vistas of being are concentrated into a moment; past and future draw nearer each other, and a “thousand years are as one day”. In the highest world of all, where vision becomes divine, all the lives of all beings are perpetually visible; for the transformations of time have no existence there, and the infinite past and the infinite future have become blended in the Eternal Now.
When the Universe from manifestation in objective life has sunk back gradually through all the planes of being into this highest divine world, then the time that we know is at an end, vanished and absorbed into eternal duration.
When the worlds have thus faded away in each evening of the universe, and the boundless realms of space, from the lowest material plane, through the planes of dream and vision and spiritual sight, to the threshold of the highest divine world, are left without visible inhabitant, either man, angel, or demigod; then, in the decrepitude of time, space too becomes transformed; there is no longer height, nor breadth, nor depth, for there is no longer anything to measure by these attributes; then Space is transformed into Being, independent of the dimensions of space.
Where are all the inhabitants of Space, from the lowest world to the highest, from the human and sub-human to the angel and demigod? Where are the manifold worlds in which they lived and moved and had their being?
To answer this we must ask, what are these worlds, and in what consists the life lived in them by man, and angel, and demigod.
Looked at from one point of view this life, whether of man, angel, or demigod, and these worlds in which they live, consist of an endless series of pictures and images, whether appearing outwardly through the senses, or inwardly in the mind; passing unceasingly before the Consciousness, which takes note of image after image, and picture after picture, observing all as a “disinterested spectator”.
Between these two, Consciousness, the disinterested spectator, and the incessant world of sensations, of images and imaginings that pass before it, a great gulf is fixed; Consciousness remains unchanged on the one side, and the infinite picture-world unfolds itself unceasingly on the other. In this panoramic world of images, space adheres as an attribute, and time adheres as an attribute; space refers to the extent of the image, and the portion of the whole panoramic world it fills; and time refers to the durability of each image or impression, as compared with other images more fleeting or more sustained. Time and Space therefore, as being but a part of the panorama, the unceasing picture-world that passes before Consciousness the disinterested spectator, cannot logically be attributed to the Consciousness which observes them as external to, and different from itself.
This is expressed by saying that Consciousness is eternal, that is, quite independent of and outside time; and also independent of and outside the dimensions of space; or in the words of the Upanishad, Consciousness is the Ancient “smaller than small and greater than great”.
Thus, from this point of view, we are led to divide the Universe into two entirely different though related powers, on the one side Consciousness—eternal and free from the bonds of time and space, and on the other the endless panorama of pictures, images and perceptions, appearing either outwardly through the senses, or inwardly through the mind; between these two, Consciousness, and the objects of Consciousness, a great gulf is fixed, which is bridged over by the magician Perception.
Before the disinterested spectator, Consciousness, stretches a veil or film of images and sensations more permanent and more closely adhering to Consciousness, than the vast mass of pictures and images that pass by, in the endless panorama of the worlds; through this veil or film the other images and pictures are seen, and from it they receive a more or less permanent colouring and temper. This veil that adheres to Consciousness is the personality: the bundle of feelings, thoughts and desires that make up the personal life.
And though Consciousness is a disinterested spectator, this adherent film of personality is, on the contrary, intensely interested in the panorama of pictures that pass before it, and receives from them, or attributes to them, alternate sensations of pleasure and pain, heat and cold, bitter and sweet, longing and satiety, love and hate—the “pairs of opposites” which make up the sum of the feelings and sensations that fill the life of the personality.
This condition of things, the Consciousness as disinterested spectator of the ceaseless panorama of pictures, with the personality as a veil between, is repeated on all the planes. But as life rises from the lower and more material to the higher and spiritual planes, changes appear. The veil of personality becomes gradually more luminous and lucent, till at last it stretches as a hardly visible, transparent film between consciousness and image, and—no longer subject to the “pair of opposites”, pleasure and pain, love and hate, longing and satiety, but rather receptive of the single essences of which love and hate, pleasure and pain, heat and cold, are but the positive and negative poles—the purified and cleansed personality begins to partake of spiritual and divine nature.
Along with this ennobling of the personality, a change passes over the panorama of life on the higher planes or ranges of being. What had seemed on the lowest ranges to be a mere chaotic hurtling of images, an erratic lawless passage of sensations, with no order or relation to the Consciousness to which they were presented, is seen on the higher ranges of life, to be an orderly procession, a steady progress full of disciplinary, educational value.
And on the divine plane, it becomes apparent that the power that marshals and compels these images, these elements of discipline and development, is not foreign or isolated from Consciousness, but is rather the eternal Will wedded to Consciousness, the expression of that Self of which Will and Consciousness are the eternal twin powers. These will-directed elements of discipline which on the lower planes are apparently chaotic and at random, on the higher planes draw closer and closer to the Consciousness, and on the highest divine plane they are seen as not foreign to Consciousness, but partaking of its nature, and subject and object become united in one divinity which is neither of them, and is yet both of them.
When throughout all the worlds the “pairs of opposites”, pleasure and pain, love and hate, longing and satiety, have, after the interval of ages of manifested life, become gradually drawn together, and have coalesced into those single essences of which they are but the negative and positive poles; when throughout all the worlds the images and pictures, the elements of discipline—in which the spiritual Will, the twin-brother of pure Consciousness, expresses itself—have gradually drawn closer and closer to Consciousness, the film between them growing ever purer and more pellucid; and when at last throughout all the worlds the twin-brothers Consciousness and Spiritual Will (in which all manifestation has been absorbed) become once more one, then begins that true life which is veiled under the name of Universal Night.
This re-union of the “pairs of opposites”, their slow re-absorption into spiritual Will, the divine parent of all manifestation, and the re-union of Will and Consciousness, with the disappearance of all life as we know it—in reality the beginning of true life—this is the second element (or the second, metaphysical aspect) of the mystery that is called the Nights of the Universe.
There is yet a third side to this subject. Linked with Consciousness on every plane and range of being is a sense of moral life, an aspiration to, and dim perception of, higher and diviner life above, and a sense of relation with and obligation to, the cognate lives around us.
On the lower range of being these two moral perceptions are dim and clouded.
As life rises higher and higher, entering deeper and deeper into the divine power that was first only dimly felt above, side by side with this upward growth is an outward growth by which the boundaries, which had at first seemed hard and impassible, between us and the cognate souls around us, begin to soften and melt away; and at last on the great day, when we become one with the divine soul above us, we have also by the same growth become one with the cognate souls beside us; and, though still knowing our own existence in the divine, we are no longer conscious of any distance between our own souls and the souls of our fellow-men—then no longer men, but divine beings, at one with us, and at one with the divine.
This great at-one-ment, or atonement, that brings about the union of all humanities into one divine life, forms the last and highest aspect of the mystery of the consummation of life which ushers in that true being, that real life, which only human blindness calls Universal Night. This gradual growth to perfect fulfilment of our obligation and relation to the human around us, in morals, and to the divine above us, in religion, forms the third aspect of the mystery of the ever-recurring Nights of the Universe.
In reality these three aspects, these three categories of being, or the seven aspects into which they may be divided, are not separate, isolated natures, and their gradual unfolding does not constitute three different and distinct processes; all three are but phases, aspects, or facets, of the one Being in the evolution and involution of which consists the life of the universe.
When this trinity in unity is unfolded, expressed and manifested, the universe passes to Universal Day.
When the trinity in unity coalesces, unites and is re-absorbed, universal day gives place to universal night. In this universal night, there are no separate existences, no separate lives, no separate attributes; time, space, subjectivity, objectivity are no longer; from the standpoint of our thought there is nothing, because nothing is separate from the eternal, infinite All.
But behind this Universal Being which alternately expresses itself in manifestation, and re-absorbs itself into latency, there is another deeper mystery, so profound that human reason almost refuses to grasp it at all. This is the mystery of the Absolute.
As underneath the lump of metal, that in the jeweller’s hands takes many shapes, now melted to liquid, now hardened to solid, the mind conceives a certain quantity of gold, a quantity which remains unchanged, and which the mind regards abstractly as unchanging and unchangeable, even though the lump be separated into many pieces, or alloyed with other metals, or even powdered to dust and scattered on the face of the earth; so behind this evolving and involving universal life,which alternately expands and contracts in universal day and night, thought perceives the necessity of another universal being, the sum of the powers and forces of this (as the gold is the sum of the substance in the jeweller’s hands) and partaking neither in the evolution or involution of this, but remaining eternally changeless, motionless, attributeless, in the everlasting mystery of absolute Being.
The Abstract Unity, which contains within itself the potency of all life, but which has no life because it is all life; which contains within itself the potency of all consciousness, but has no consciousness because it is the totality of consciousness; which contains within itself the potency of all good and beauty and truth, but which is neither good nor beautiful nor true because it is absolute goodness, beauty and truth; which contains within itself the potency of all motion, all sound or colour and sensation, but is without motion, sound, colour or sensation; which contains within itself the potency of all attributes, but is without attributes because it is the totality of all attributes; this is the Absolute: the unknown and ever unknowable God.
The Days and Nights of the Universe. Universal Night. Before the Dawn.
We have seen how Universal Night is brought about by the gradual, rhythmical coalescence into unity of all the opposing elements that make up objective existence.
It is impossible by any figure, picture, or simile, to convey any conception of the condition of the Universe when thus withdrawn into latency, because every conception implies division into the conceiver and the thing conceived, while it is by the elimination of this very division, and by the absorption of the thing conceived into the conceiver, of the object into the subject, that Universal Night is produced.
But, though we must regard the condition of Universal Night as essentially inconceivable by the intellect, still there are various considerations which, if intuitionally grasped, may throw some light upon the question of its nature.
If we compare the gradual, rhythmical passage of the Universe into full objectivity to the forward swing of a pendulum from the perpendicular line of rest, and the gradual rhythmical passage to re-absorption in latency, to the backward swing of the pendulum to the perpendicular, then it will be evident that, as the pendulum, if unimpeded, will swing backward an exactly equal distance behind the perpendicular; so, when the sum total of the potencies of the objective universe has reached the condition of latency at the end of each Universal Day, it is certain that there must be in these potencies a tendency to a further activity which will be, in every detail; the reverse or negative of the former activity.
This is why the “Secret Doctrine”, and the stanzas on which it is based, have defined Universal Night by a series of negative statements (“Time was not; Universal Mind was not;” etc.) by which we are to understand, not that the existent universe had dwindled down into mere non-entity, but that a form of activity had set in which was in every detail the reverse and negative of the activity of the existent universe, and hence inconceivable by us, or conceivable only as non-activity or naught.
We can arrive at the same result by the exactly opposite process of expressing in universal terms all forms of activity which we know of as limited and particular; thus, in Universal Night, universal perception is, because the perceiver has been universally blended with the object of perception; universal life is, because all the limits of particular life have vanished; universal consciousness is, because objectivity has been universally absorbed into consciousness; and universal bliss is, because all the barriers to bliss have disappeared.
Perhaps the best illustration of the form of activity we are considering, is the mathematical process by which a gradually diminishing series of numbers is carried down to zero (corresponding to the perpendicular line of the pendulum), and then beyond zero into a gradually increasing series of negative numbers, which mathematicians regard as equally important and equally capable of manipulation with the positive numbers.
If zero be the threshold of Universal Night, then the gradually increasing series of negative numbers may represent the negative activities which we have postulated as existent therein.
This is merely the metaphysical aspect of this mysterious question; it has also a moral and a spiritual side, but these cannot be expressed in words; a comprehension of them can only be reached by the actual practice of morality and spirituality; or, to speak more truly, we can only prepare ourselves for that true spiritual comprehension of, and moral participation in, this mystery, which will be ushered in at the end of this universal day, by gradually attaining absolute morality and spirituality, during the gradual and rhythmic activities of this universal day.
To return to the illustration of the pendulum; when it has reached the farthest point of its backward journey beyond the perpendicular, it inevitably tends to swing forward again to the perpendicular, and, if free, will swing forward; and in virtue of the momentum thus acquired, it will not halt at the perpendicular point but will swing forward again to the foremost point previously reached. And if the pendulum be entirely unimpeded, this backward and forward swing will repeat itself indefinitely; and, further, the duration and extent of the pendulum’s journey behind the perpendicular will be exactly equal to the duration and extent of its journey in front of the perpendicular.
In the same way, the extension of the universe into objective existence and its re-absorption into latency, will tend to repeat themselves indefinitely; day and night of the universe will be succeeded by day and night, in endless succession; and each universal day and universal night will be of exactly the same duration; or, rather, would be of exactly the same duration if there were any common, continuous standard of duration to apply to both.
At first sight, it would appear that this expansion and re-absorption of the universe, in the endless series of universal days and nights, is a mere fruitless activity leading no-whither; just as, from an astronomical standpoint, the days and nights of the planets and our earth might seem a mere senseless repetition, aimless, objectless, endless; yet we know that this is merely apparent; that each day is fraught with momentous issues, that each day is richer than its predecessors, if only by the mere fact that it had predecessors; that each day is the heir of the ages.
And so it must be with the universal days. Each must have some peculiar worth of its own; must garner some harvest of hitherto inexperienced power or wisdom; must add something, if not to the total quantity of being in the universe—for what can be added to the All?—then to the quality of that being, and to the quality of the life of the units that make it up.
As the sculptor’s statue is first hewn out from head to foot, and then smoothed and polished from head to foot; so, perhaps, the humanity which is only rough-hewn in one universal day, require a second universal day to polish and smooth it to perfection. Perhaps when we have fully learned perfection of individual life in the present universal day, we may find that this is only the preparation for a higher life in complex grouped personalities in some future day of the universe, and so on, ever to higher and purer perfections.
But into these secrets it is fruitless to pry; it is only profitable to note that the forces and tendencies which gave birth to previous universal days, tended, at the period we are considering—the waning of the universal night which preceded our present objective universe—to give birth to a new universal day, richer than its predecessors, and destined to garner a richer harvest than its predecessors had yet known.
We shall see that this harvest is prepared for, by a grouping of the units of life into hosts and hierarchies, ruling over systems of suns and worlds; and, in the case of our own system, seeking a sevenfold perfection by a rhythmical, sevenfold progress through phases of life that, for want of a better name, have been called existence in the mineral, vegetable, animal, human, and superhuman kingdoms. We shall better be able to grasp the reasonableness of this rhythmical progress, if—remembering that objective life is the disciplinary expression of the eternal spiritual will, the twin-brother of consciousness—we conceive these phases of life as picture-lessons, in which the unit of life has to seem a stone in order to learn something of the endurance of which a stone is merely the symbol; to seem a plant, in order to learn the grace and sweetness of a plant; to seem an animal to learn the active energy of an animal; and so through manhood to the demi-god and the divine; ever keeping in mind that that which seems to become these is the eternal spiritual unit, and that it thus seems, through the harmonious action of its twin powers, Will and Consciousness; and ever remembering that this unit is a part of the All; is, indeed, in one sense, identical with the All.
And thus we return to the conception of Universal Night, brooding in latency, awaiting the Dawn.
The Illusions of Differentiation, Separation and Transformation.
This brings us to the point where the last hour of Universal Night is passing into the dawn of a new Universal Day. All the processes of involution which brought about the Night are ready to be reversed.
We have seen that, at the evening twilight, when Universal Night was coming on, all the souls of men had been drawn together into one humanity, and all the humanities of all the worlds had been drawn together into one great Life—united with each other, and united with the Divine—in the evening twilight that ushered in the Universal Night; the twin powers of Will and Consciousness—the one, creator of all the forms of the universe, all the images and imaginings that make up the worlds—and the other, observer of these manifold images and imaginings—had drawn together, coalesced, and become united, so that the difference between the worlds and the Consciousness that knows the worlds had disappeared, and subject and object had become one.
These unions and involutions marked the evening twilight; they are now to be reversed in the dawn of a new Universal Day. The union of the evening is to become the differentiation of the morning; the involution of the evening is to become the evolution and manifestation of a new day. This differentiation will separate again the united humanities; will separate them from each other, and from the Divine; but this separation is not real, or inherent in essential being, but merely apparent and the result of illusory manifestation.
If we conceive of the totality of being as an infinite diamond, pure and incorruptible, then the differentiated humanities are the faces of the diamond, and the differentiated souls of each humanity are the separate facets of every face. Each facet has, in a sense, an independent being in itself; each facet has a certain individuality and separateness. But each facet only exists through being a part of the diamond; and without the diamond it has no existence at all. Each facet is then merely a phase of the diamond, and not an independent being; and each facet is, as it were, a window into the pure heart of the diamond, an entry to the whole of its incorruptible light; and, being a window to the whole diamond, each facet is thus, in a sense, the whole diamond, and able to command the potency of the whole diamond.
And this is exactly the relation of the differentiated souls to the One Infinite Divine, so far as any symbol can convey that relation. It is only in and through the Divine that these differentiated souls exist at all, as it is only through the diamond that the facets exist at all; and each individual soul is an entry to the ineffable heart of the whole Infinite Divine; and can, through purity, command the whole of its infinite Being and Power. Thus every differentiated soul is at once infinite, as being one with the divine; finite, as being but one facet of the divine; and utterly non-existent and void apart from the divine.
In the perfect diamond there are three powers; first, the entity of the diamond itself; second, the differentiation, or margins of the facets; and thirdly, as the result of these two, the facets themselves. So in the universe, when the dawn comes, and differentiation sets in, there are three powers; first, the Being of the universe; second, the differentiation; and third, through the union of these two, the differentiated souls that enter into separate life. These three powers are, in one sense, the “Father, Mother, and Son” of the Stanzas of Dzyan.
There is yet another aspect of the diamond symbol.
Each facet is not alone, but hemmed in and surrounded by other facets; and thus bound, inevitably and indissolubly, to the other facets; and has, with them, a real existence only through the diamond, to the interior of which, and to the whole of which, each and all of them are equally windows.
So each differentiated soul is not alone, but is surrounded by other souls, and indissolubly bound to them; and has with them no real existence except through the Divine ONE, of which they are all the facets, and in the plenitude and power of which they all equally partake; the plenary possession of one in nowise excluding or limiting the plenary possession of the others. Each soul is thus bound to other souls in a brotherhood rising out of the depths of essential being, and as eternal and inevitable as essential being itself.
In the same way, each group of facets, each group of souls, is bound to other groups, in divine hosts and hierarchies and powers, all of which exist only through the Divine, and are without the Divine utterly void and non-existent.
At the dawn, therefore, of the Universal Day, differentiation divides the One Divine into innumerable differentiated souls, each possessing the plenary power of the Divine, and bound together into groups, and hierarchies, and hosts, like the clustering facets of the diamond; and yet, though this differentiation into facets takes place, the diamond, the symbol of the Divine, remains one and indivisible as before.
This is the mystery of the relation of the Divine and man, as far as that relation can be embodied in symbols and expressed in words; but symbols are powerless to express the majesty, the infinite fulness and complexity of the great Life, whose only true symbol is life itself.
The first change, therefore, that springs up in the dawn of Universal Day, is the differentiation of the ONE into hierarchies, humanities, and individual souls, or, to speak more truly, the first change is the birth of the tendency to this differentiation; as the differentiation itself is not completely developed until the noon of Universal Day is reached; at the risk of repetition it must again be pointed out that this differentiation must in nowise be conceived as impairing the eternal unity of the One Divine Life. As we shall note further on, this differentiation, by nature, and in virtue of an inherent essential tendency, is always sevenfold; and that the hierarchies, humanities and souls fall naturally into sevenfold groups, just as the leaves of the horse-chestnut fall naturally, and by an inherent law, into sevenfold groups on each leaf-stem.
The second change that marks the dawn of Universal Day is the reversal of the tendency of Consciousness and the images present to it to coalesce into one united life, which marked, as we saw, the evening twilight of the last Universal Day.
We have traced the relation of Consciousness to the images and imaginings—the images presented outwardly through the senses, and the imaginings presented inwardly through the mind—on the most outward and material planes or phases of life; we have seen that these groups of sensations and feelings, these images and imaginings, follow on this most outward plane a course full of apparent disharmony and chaos, a seemingly cruel and relentless rush of hostile and menacing forces.
Following this relation between consciousness and its objects, through the more inward and less material planes and phases of life, we have seen that, on these higher and deeper planes, subject and object draw closer together, that the deep inherent harmony between them becomes gradually visible, and that at last it becomes plain that the course of these images and imaginings is ruled and directed in disciplinary order by a power inherent in, and indissolubly bound to, Consciousness, the power of spiritual Will, which in the highest, divine phase of life becomes one with Consciousness; this union necessitating the disappearance of the objective universe, or, more truly, its mergence in subjectivity; this disappearance of the objective universe being one of the co-ordinate causes of Universal Night.
At the dawn of a new day, this union is reversed, and the separation of the twin subject-object—the united Will-Consciousness—into subject and object, subjectivity and objectivity, takes place. Here again we have three powers produced from the ONE; first the subject, Consciousness, the cogniser; second, the object, the images and imaginings cognised; and third, the cognition, the magician Perception, that is produced from these two, and binds these two together; these three are a second aspect of the “Father, Mother, and Son” of the Stanzas of Dzyan.
Again it must be insisted that this separation is not real, not inherent in essential being, but merely apparent and illusory, a part of that gigantic world-illusion which brings about the manifestation of Universal Day; and that this illusory separation in no way impairs the essential unity of the ONE.
By a law similar to, and co-ordinate with, that which ordained that the hierarchies, and humanities, and souls, should fall into natural groups of sevens, a law which we have likened to the inherent tendency by which the horse-chestnut produces on every leaf-stem branches of seven leaves, it further happens that the separation of subjectivity and objectivity is sevenfold; that subject and object are confronted in seven phases or planes of life, from the highest and deepest phase in which the two are united in one subject-object, one Will-Consciousness, to the lowest, most unreal and most material, in which the vehicle of consciousness and objectivity are in perpetual strife, generating perpetual pain.
This sevenfold manifestation of the twins, Consciousness and Will, or subjectivity and objectivity, through seven phases or planes, is, in one sense, what is meant in the Stanzas of Dzyan by the words: “the radiant essence becomes seven inside (subjectively) and seven outside (objectively)”.
It must not be supposed that this sevenfold manifestation of objectivity, this ranging of images and imaginings into seven categories, phases, or planes, became suddenly complete when the hour struck for the dawn of Universal Day. As we saw was the case with the differentiation of the One Life into hierarchies and humanities and souls, this further separation of the one subject-object into cogniser, cognised, and cognition, and the repetition of this separation through seven phases or planes, is not complete and perfect till the noontide of Universal Day, till the pendulum has reached the foremost point of its swing, and is ready to return again towards and behind the perpendicular.
It is the initiation of the tendency to sevenfold differentiation into subject and object, and not the completion of that tendency, which marks the dawn of Universal Day; and it is this tendency of the One to separate into three—the cogniser, the cognised and the cognition—thus veiling the real unity of the One; and the repetition of this tendency for every unit of being, for every facet of the One Divine Life, which “lifts the veil, and unfurls it from East to West”, in the words of the Book of Dzyan.
In the same Stanza in this book the “Luminous Egg which in itself is three”, is the symbol for each triple group of cogniser, cognised and cognition; such triple group being the cause and basis of manifested life through the corporate powers of subject and object; the “Luminous Egg”, the symbol of these groups, is not one but many, or, more truly, infinite in number; for, to quote the Vishnu Purâna:—
“There are thousands of thousands, and ten thousands of thousands of such world-eggs; nay, hundreds of crores of crores.”
The first element, therefore, of the new dawn of Universal Day is the illusory differentiation of the One Divine Life into apparently separate hierarchies and humanities and souls; while the second element is the fission or division of these hierarchies and humanities and souls into apparently opposed elements of consciousness and will, subjectivity and objectivity. This will is the power that brought into manifestation the ordered chains of illusory images and imaginings that make up the substance of the worlds, which are the objects of the perceptions of the seemingly differentiated though really united consciousnesses, which, though seeming to be many, are really One. As we have seen that the differentiation of the One Life into hierarchies and humanities and souls does not violate the unity of the One Life; but that these hierarchies and humanities and souls are bound together by indissoluble and inevitable bonds, springing from the nature of essential being; we are prepared to understand that the illusory chain of images and imaginings which make up the worlds are not generated by the isolated wills of individual souls without reference to and independent of the humanities and hierarchies to which they belong; but that the illusory chains of images and imaginings are the product of the united wills of the humanities and hierarchies, and that the congeries and series of illusions are welded together into seeming solidity and substantiality by the co-ordinate action of these united wills.
The whole progress of these congeries and series of illusions, from the dawn till the evening twilight of the Universal Day; the quality, quantity, order and character, disciplinary and educational, of these world-images, is the expression, outcome, and manifestation of the inherent nature of the spiritual will linked to each individual soul, to each unit of subject-object, and is thus the expression of the will and inherent law of the humanities and hierarchies to which these units belong; or, to speak more truly, is the expression of the inherent law of that One Divine Life of which the souls, humanities and hierarchies are the facets and faces, the apparent differentiations of the eternally indivisible One.
Besides the apparent differentiation of the One into hierarchies, humanities, and individuals, and the apparent standing apart of these differentiations into the confronted powers of consciousness and nature, of subject and object, there is a third element in the genesis of Universal Day. This third element is the result of the eternal rhythmic tendency to alternate manifestation and latency, which we have seen to be inherent in the One Eternal Divine Life.
About the form of this rhythmic tendency, when in latency, we have seen that it is hardly profitable to enquire; but when in manifestation, its nature and results are more intelligible.
In virtue of this tendency to rhythmic progression, the world-images which are the expression of the will of the One Divine Life, are brought into a continual process of flux and flow, of destruction and regeneration, of waxing and waning, of incessant change from one form and phase to another form and phase.
Just as the individual souls are the infinitely numerous facets of the One Divine Life, so these infinitely numerous destructions and regenerations, and incessant changes of form of individual images and world-images, are the facets and reflections of the eternal rhythmic tendency in the One Divine Life, which in this aspect is spoken of as Eternal Motion.
Between the past and the future of every image—the “what-has-been” and the “what-is-to-be”—is intruded for an infinitesimal moment the present, the “what-is”. This fleeting moment in the life of images and world-images, this “present “, the child of past and future, is yet another aspect of the “One which is the Three”; past being the “Father”, future the “Mother”, and present the “Son”, in the phraseology of Dzyan.
These three phases, past, present, and future, are illusory appearances of the Eternal Now; the illusory appearances being generated by the continuous flux and flow of images and world-images under the influence of the eternal rhythmic impulse of the Eternal One Life.
In virtue of this reflected rhythmic impulse, every image and world-image passes through the three phases of beginning, middle, and end, or creation, so-called; preservation; and destruction, which is regeneration or new creation; these three phases being personified as the Creator, the Preserver, and the Destroyer-Regenerator; and the expression of these three in terms of duration being Past, Present, and Future. Every creation was preceded by a destruction, and every destruction will be succeeded by a new creation; or rather, destruction and creation are the dual aspects of the continual transformation to which every image in the illusory, manifested world is incessantly subject; as no illusory image is for more than an infinitesimal moment the same—this infinitesimal moment being the “present”, the son of the limitless past and the limitless future; of the endless transformations that have been, and the endless transformations that are to be.
These transformations vary in the different phases or planes of life in which the dual subject-object expresses itself, from the lowest, or outermost material phase, to the highest and deepest, where all transformations being present in every image at every moment, this re-entrant motion becomes rest—and from another aspect transformation does not take place at all, but is lulled to sleep in the Eternal Now. This is in that deepest and highest phase of life, where Consciousness and image are united in one dual life; and during the long hours of Universal Day this highest phase remains as the type and symbol of the true being of which the manifested universe, the illusory child of the day, is the unreal counterpart. This perfect type will remain until the course of the Universal Day is ended, and the illusion of separateness and the illusion of differentiation have faded away; and individuals, humanities, and hierarchies, lose the sense of their separation, and realise their essential unity with each other and with the Eternal One; till the ” Sons return into their Mother’s bosom at the end of the Great Day, andre-become one with Her”, in the language of the Stanzas of Dzyan.
We have thus traced the elements which give birth to the dawn of a new Universal Day, in their triple triplicity; we have traced first the growth of the illusion of difference, by which the differentiated hierarchies, humanities, and individuals, arise as facets and faces of the One Indivisible Life.
We have traced, secondly, the illusion of separation by which the One Being is divided into Consciousness and image, into subject and object, linked together by cognition or perception.
Thirdly, we have seen how the rhythmic impulse of the One Life, becoming reflected in these images, gives birth to incessant transformations, which themselves create the illusions of beginning, middle, and end, as phases of the One Is, and the illusions of past, present, and future, as phases of the One Now.
The next section will trace the progress of the chains and congeries of world-images, thus generated by illusion, and, as illusions, moulded and formed by the hierarchies and humanities whose will has given them birth; and the full development of the powers of the Day.
The Mystery of the Seven. The Sevenfold Hosts of Formative Powers.
At the dawn of Universal Day, faint lines of difference marking off the one Infinite Being into separate lives begin to appear. These lines of difference are gradually to become wider and wider, till at last, on the outermost, lowest range of life, the separate lives will appear quite isolated from each other, and quite isolated from the One.
But at first the lines of demarcation are so imperceptible that each one of these separated lives, each one of these doors to the inner majesty of the Infinite, appears almost one with the One Life, and almost possesses the fulness and power of the One Life. This pure and lofty state is shared by every separate unit of life at the dawn of Universal Day; and to this pure and lofty state each unit will return in the evening twilight, before the Universal Night. The purity of the dawn of Universal Day is the purity of unfallen innocence; the purity of the evening twilight is the purity of full knowledge.
Each unit of life in its lofty state, in the dawn, is closely united in almost unseparated life with every other unit of life: and each unit is endowed with the twin powers of Consciousness and Will; the power to perceive, and the power to generate perceptions.
The wills of these almost divine units of life, working in harmony, give birth to the rhythmic chains of images which make up the manifested universe. These chains of images are regarded as illusory because they take birth in the apparent separation of the really united powers of Consciousness and Will; and, as the cause which gives rise to them is thus only apparent and temporary, they are also only apparent and temporary, not eternally real.
But as the chains of images exist from the dawn to tile evening twilight of Universal Day, they are temporarily real; and, with this proviso, we shall treat them as real in subsequent sections, discussing their forms and successions without further allusion to their illusory nature. The almost divine units of life produce the worlds by the activity of their wills, acting in harmony, and it appears that this activity is in a mysterious sense sevenfold; that there are seven sides or modes of this activity; and that, consequently, the almost divine units of life may be said to fall into sevenfold groups. It is difficult to find any essential reason for this sevenfold division; but the following considerations may, at any rate, illustrate the idea. We have likened these units of life to the facets of a diamond; and if these facets are conceived as circular, that is, of a perfect, unmodified form, it will be seen that around each circle are grouped six other circles, making up with it a sevenfold group. If these circles expand so as to bring their circumferences into intimate contact, their mutual pressure will mould them into symmetrical six-sided figures, or regular hexagons: each of which will he surrounded by six other hexagons, making with it a sevenfold group; just as the cells in a honeycomb become regular hexagons. And each group being surrounded by six others, makes up, with it, a sevenfold larger group.
In this way we may conceive that the facets of the infinite diamond, by which we have symbolised the One Infinite Life, are forced by the necessity of their being into sevenfold, symmetrical groups; and that the almost divine units of life, formed by the first differentiation of the One, are driven by the same necessity to fall into sevenfold groups; and that, for this reason, their united wills which give birth to the chains of images and worlds are forced to act in seven modes, or to put forth seven-sided impulses of formation.
By reason of these seven modes of Will, the almost divine units of life are united with sevenfold hosts, or seven Formative Powers, the units in each of which are innumerable. The sevenfold mode of manifestation, which has its cause in the division of the One into seven Formative Powers, will be seen to reappear in every range and plane of life; and, further, will be seen to determine the division of manifested life into seven ranges or planes of perception: seven modes in which the Consciousness and Will of each unit and of all units confront each other. We shall have most to say of these seven ranges of life further on; at present we will return to the mystery of the seven. We have seen that one circle may be circumscribed by six equal circles, making with it a sevenfold group; and that pressure will resolve these circles into sevenfold groups of regular hexagons, one of the three regular figures which will fill up plane space. Whatever number of regular hexagons be drawn, in contact, we shall still always have each one surrounded by six others, thus making up a series of sevenfold groups.
This property of circles and hexagons is one reason for the repeated appearance of the circle, and the ratio of its circumference to the diameter, which is also the diameter of the inscribed hexagon, in the symbology of the fourth Stanza of Dzyan.
The other regular figures which will fill up plane space are the square and the equilateral triangle. The equilateral triangles when placed together fall into regular hexagons, and thus into the same sevenfold groups. If the square be represented by a cube in space of three dimensions, it will be found that cubes will similarly fill up that space in groups of seven, one cube in each of “the six directions of space, and one in the middle”, in the words of the Stanzas.
It appears therefore that both plane space, or space of two dimensions, are filled up by sevenfold groups of hexagons and cubes respectively. We do not know whether this investigation has been carried out theoretically for other dimensions of space; but apparently the same law would hold true.
This is probably one reason for the use of the triangle, cube, and circle in that part of the Stanzas which deals with the modelling of the manifested universe in space.
Another cause of the sevenfold processes of manifestation seems to be this: let a point be taken to symbolise the beginning of manifestation; the vibration of this point will produce a finite straight line; now a finite straight line is an ellipse whose minor axis is zero; let this minor axis become a finite quantity, though still less than the major axis; we shall thus have three stages of manifestation: first, the point—an ellipse of which both axes are zero; second, the line—an ellipse of which one axis is zero; thirdly, an ellipse with unequal axes. If the axes become equal, we shall have that special form of ellipse which is called a circle, as the fourth stage; and the circle will pass back to the point through three similar stages, thus making the cycle of manifestation in a series of seven; namely: point, vertical line, prolate ellipse, circle, oblate ellipse, horizontal line, and point. This can be demonstrated very beautifully in a well-known experiment with two tuning forks at right angles, to each of which a mirror is attached; a beam of light falling on the first mirror being reflected to the second, and thence to a screen. The point of light will go through the seven forms we have noted. It is impossible to fully explain this familiar experiment without diagrams; but it is well worth studying as an illustration of gradual permutations of form through seven types. These seven types are generated from three elements; the spot of light, the horizontal movement of one mirror and the vertical movement of the other.
In general three elements can be arranged in seven ways: the first three being each element taken separately; the second three being the elements taken in pairs; and the seventh being the three elements taken together. This is one explanation of the derivation of the Seven from the Three in the Secret Doctrine; as the Three were already derived from the One.
It is unnecessary to go further into the mysteries of these numbers; enough has been said to illustrate and in part to explain the division of the almost divine units of life into sevenfold groups, and Seven Hosts of Formative Powers.
The Seven Ranges or Planes of Manifested Life. The Birth of Space.
The Genesis of Worlds. The Seven Principles.
In the earliest and highest form of manifestation, of differentiated life, when the twin powers of the soul, Consciousness and Will—the power to perceive and the power to give birth to perceptions—have only received the first faint tendency to separate, nothing yet exists of objectivity but the latent power of Will to render itself objective, the latent tendency in Will, which is the generator of objectivity, to give birth to the perceptions, images, and sensations, which are to become the objects of Consciousness.
The hardly-separated souls, in all of whom collectively this Will—the parent of objectivity—resides, are, as we have seen, grouped into sevenfold hosts of formative powers.
Of this first and highest range of manifested life it is impossible to say more than that in it spring up the first possibility of differentiation and the first possibility of objectivity, which are afterwards to become fully realised actualities in the lower and later ranges of manifestation.
On the second range of manifestation, we have this tendency to separation further developed and perfected; the tendency to separation widens the gulf between Consciousness the perceiver, and Will the generator of perceptions. This tendency to separation, this link between subject and object, is Perception; in virtue of which alone objects have any reality to consciousness. Perception is the link, the go-between, the messenger between objects and consciousness; this messenger brings to consciousness the message of the form, nature, and intensity of the objective existence perceived; and, as we have said, it is solely and only through the power of this intermediary that objects have any reality at all. In pure philosophy the existence of any object except in relation to consciousness, is utterly unthinkable; if for a moment it be thought possible to conceive of any object not in relation to consciousness, this very thought binds the object thus conceived to consciousness, and the idea that it can be conceived independently is a pure illusion. Absolutely the only test of the existence of any object is its power of being present to consciousness, and all objects are thus seen to be entirely dependent on, and subordinate to, consciousness.
Further, if any object should cease, even for an instant, to stand in relation to some form of consciousness, it is quite inconceivable that the link broken could ever be re-established. Objects, therefore, are absolutely dependent for their reality on consciousness; and they must, to preserve this reality, be perpetually related to some form of consciousness.
The link of relation is, as we have seen, the power or act of Perception, which “runs the errands” between consciousness and objectivity. In the second range or plane of manifestation, the difference between subject and object (which was on the first range merely a nascent tendency) becomes fully defined; and the triple powers of perceiver, perception, and perceived, stand apart from each other, each ready to perform its own functions. What is perceived, Objectivity, is still undifferentiated; it remains merely the potency to exhibit all forms of images and imaginings, which are to be defined as to intensity, expansion, and duration in the subsequent ranges of manifested life.
These potential images and imaginings have as yet neither form, nor colour, nor sound, nor solidity; but they have the germs of all these, not yet separated. This potential Objectivity contains, in reality, the possibility of an infinite variety of perceptions and sensations, only a few of which, such as sound, colour, and form, we can realize, as only these few are related to our present existence.
In the third range, or plane of life, a new element is introduced. The germs of objectivity—which are bound by perception to the unit of consciousness (grouped, as we have seen, in sevenfold hosts)—meet with their first expansion through the element of varying intensity. This element of varying intensity is generated by the eternal motion of ebb and flow which inheres eternally in the One Infinite Life, and which gives birth to the eternally repeated alternation of manifestation and obscuration in the One Infinite Life.
Repeated in each germ or potential centre of objectivity, as the tide of the ocean is repeated in the ebb and flow of each wavelet, this eternal motion is transformed into a tendency to perpetual waxing and waning of intensity; and this new element enters into each and every potentiality of perceptions, images, and sensations, which, as we have seen, adhere in the undifferentiated objectivity. In the sensation of sound this element corresponds to the increasing and decreasing loudness of any note, the tone of the note remaining, however, the same. In the sensation of colour this element corresponds to gradually increasing and decreasing brightness of any light, the colour of which meanwhile remains the same. This increase of brightness being produced, for instance, when a lamp is moved gradually towards, and then away from, the eye; the increase and decrease in brightness corresponding to an alternate widening and narrowing of the image of the lamp on the retina. Another aspect of this element of intensity depends not on the extent of the retina covered by an image, but on the strength or weakness of the vibrations affecting the same portion of the retina; and this is probably the simplest form of this element.
If a source of sound emitting an even note of uniform intensity be moved gradually towards and away from the ear, the sensation produced will be exactly the same as if the source emitting the note were at a uniform distance all the time, but of alternating intensity; the waxing and waning of the sensation of sound will in both cases be the same. Following out this line of thought, it appears probable that from the waxing and waning of sensation, the idea of distance was originally derived.
If, therefore, we imagine each unit of life in the sevenfold formative hosts, receiving—from the separation of its twin-powers of Consciousness and Will—the power to generate and the power to receive impressions and images; and if we further conceive the elementary objectivity thus formed subjected to a rhythmic ebb and flow, we can figure to ourselves the gradual formation of an objective world containing the potentiality of every form of image, perception, and sensation; these images, perceptions, and sensations being infinitely various, and containing wide diapasons of objectivity which are at present unrealisable to us; further, each of these potential images, perceptions, and sensations possesses the possibility of waxing and waning intensity; and from this waxing and waning intensity the idea of nearness and farness grows up in relation to each image, perception, and sensation. The characteristics, therefore, of this, the third range or plane of life, are the varying intensity of the infinite range of perceptions, with the sense of distance and measure generated by this varying intensity.
This sense of nearness and farness is the first germ of what is afterwards to become the fully developed idea of space.
This plane, the third, counting downwards or outwards from the beginning of manifested life, has been called the plane of Sound, or plane of Æther; perhaps because sound by itself conveys to us no idea of space beyond that of nearness and farness, and therefore belongs peculiarly to this plane of life. It must not be supposed, however, that this plane is limited to the potentiality of producing sound, as we understand it; I think the truth is that it contains equally the potentiality of all perceptions, but in that form and quality that we are most familiar with in sound. This third plane, therefore, has the quality of intensity, of distance, of measure, which we apply to sound, as its dominant character; and may consequently be called the plane in which Sound dominates, or simply, the plane of Sound. It must be remembered, however, that it contains the potentiality of every shade of colour, as well as of every note of sound, and the germ of all other perceptions in the same way; these perceptions being limited to the single manifestation of intensity, of waxing and waning, and giving rise thus to the idea of distance and measure, the germs of space and reason.
The next plane or range of life, the fourth, counting downwards, introduces the element of reflection or consideration. If we conceive of a unit of consciousness, receiving the sensation of a gradually waxing and waning sound or light, which suggests the idea that the source of this sound or colour is gradually advancing and retreating from the point of sensation, and thus generates the idea of distance in a straight line; and then conceive the unit of consciousness to stand aside from the point of sensation, so to speak, and to view this straight line sideways; the conception of the straight line, with the point of view outside it, will at once give rise to the idea of plane space, or surface expansion. This idea of surface expansion thus induced from the memory or consideration of a sensation is the second step in the growth of the conception of space. Speaking generally, this surface extension is equally applicable to all the infinitely varied forms of perceptions, images, and sensations; but to our present form of existence it belongs especially to colour, or the element of fire, which is the source of colour. From the point of view of our present existence, therefore, this fourth range or plane of manifestation, which adds the conception of surface expansion to objectivity, is called the plane of Colour or the plane of Fire; the quality we are familiar with in colour or fire being its dominant quality; and fire therefore being spoken of as its dominant element. To this plane belong all plane figures, which are really the boundaries of spaces of colour. It is therefore the first plane in which form, as we understand it, has any existence, and therefore this and the lower planes proceeding from it are the Planes of Form; the three above, from which it proceeds, being Formless. As the sense of measure in the third plane is the first germ of reason—the measuring of objectivities by each other, so the standing aside and reflecting on sensation, which we have seen to belong to the fourth plane, is the first element of desire; for desire is the reflecting on past sensations, which generates the expectation of future sensations, and the longing for them which gives rise to passion.
The new element of the fifth plane, still counting downwards, is a second standing aside of the consciousness (if such an expression may be permitted), from the surface expansion of sensation which characterised the fourth plane. This standing apart from the surface sensation (which is really more correctly described as a pushing back of the sensation from consciousness), this generation of a point outside a surface, at once gives rise to the conception of capacity; of space of three dimensions; the conception of Space being thereby completed. Perceptions in this space of three dimensions become groups and bodies of images, which pass before and behind each other, according as one group or the other engages the chief attention of the perceiving consciousness. From this process, the ideas of motion, and of the alternate reception of sensation implied by motion, are generated; so that this fifth plane may be called the plane of motion in groups, of motion in space of three dimensions, which we connect with the expansiveness of air. More simply, therefore, and in harmony with the classification of the two previous planes under the general names of sound and colour, or fire, we may call this plane the plane of Air, or of Heat, which causes the expansiveness of Air.
It contains the potentiality of every sensation expanded in capacity beyond surface extension; but as this expansion is for us represented by aerial expansion, we may say that aerial expansion, or, more simply, air, is the dominant element of this plane.
The sixth plane, still counting downwards, adds the ideas of internal mutation to objectivity; and this internal mutation in any given object may be described as molecular motion or growth. The idea of molecular motion or incessant mutation connected with this plane, has led to its classification as the plane of Water, as the molecules of water are perfectly free to move amongst and around each other. As incessant internal mutation partakes of the element of growth, this plane has been designated the sphere of internal growth or vitality.
The seventh plane, counting downwards, the last, adds to objectivity the idea of stability or solidity; and from this point of view the phases of objectivity on this plane are called the most material, and the plane is classified as the plane of Earth; the element earth in this sense simply connoting stability, steadfastness or solidity, in any image, and in the sensation that image gives rise to.
These two lowest planes are as varied in their potentialities as are the others; but as they are more familiar to common experience, it is not necessary to describe them more fully.
These seven planes, these seven ranges or phases of manifested life, are seven modes in which consciousness confronts the seven potentialities of objectivity. Each one of these seven potentialities is subject to further expansion in sevenfold degrees, just as light expands into the seven colours of the rainbow, and as sound expands into the seven chief tones of the musical scale; these sevens being further re-entrant, and capable of practically infinite sub-division.
The seven phases or ranges of manifestation are in fact the fields for the expansion of limitless potentialities of objectivity, linked to consciousness on each range by the power of perception; and this power, varying as it does on each range of manifestation, forms, as it were, a series of vehicles of consciousness, each with its own potentiality for every range or plane. We have, for simplicity’s sake, considered objectivity only in relation to a single unit of consciousness; but as we have already shown, these units are not really isolated, but are bound into sevenfold groups, humanities and hierarchies, hardly separated at first from each other; and hardly separated from the One Infinite Life.
The wills, therefore, of these sevenfold hosts, acting collectively in each of the seven fields of objectivity we have described above, weld the potential objectivities into sevenfold groups and systems, harmonising with the division of life into hierarchies and humanities; and the original rhythmic impulse of ebb and flow acting on these collective objectivities imparts to them a circular, gyrating motion; which motion is destined in course of time to mould the collective objectivities into world-systems, sun-systems, and star-systems, corresponding in character to every range of manifested life.
These seven fields in which the potentialities of objectivity expand and develop before consciousness, and the seven modes or vehicles through which the perception of consciousness is exercised, are sometimes, for convenience, numbered in the reverse order, counting the latest and lowest as the first instead of the last. Let us summarise them:
The First and highest range of life is, as we have seen, a phase in which the twin powers of each unit of life are becoming separated; neither quite united, nor quite asunder. Each unit is further hardly separated from all other units, and hardly separated from the Divine. In this phase, the divinity of each ray or unit of life is hardly clouded by the awakening breath of separation and objectivity; the unity of life is as yet almost unbroken.
This First range of life, counting downwards, is the seventh plane, counting upwards; and the mode of Consciousness in it is the seventh principle, whose field is the seventh plane.
In the Second range of manifested life, the division of the one into three, perceiver, perception and perceived, becomes complete. Consciousness is linked directly to Objectivity by Perception, and apprehends objects by direct knowledge. The unity of each with all and with the one is still clearly felt. This second phase, counting downwards, is the sixth, counting upwards; its mode is the sixth principle, or Soul, the vehicle of direct apprehension.
The Third phase adds to objectivity the element of varying intensity, illustrated by Sound; from this spring the sense of distance, and the ideas of measure and comparison. This third phase of manifested life, counting downwards, is the fifth plane, that of sound or æther, counting upwards; and its mode is the fifth principle, or Mind, the vehicle of measure and comparison.
The Fourth phase adds the element of reflection, consideration or memory, where consciousness regards objectivity from an outside standpoint, giving rise to the sense of surface expansion, or plane space. The memory and expectation of sensation forming the element of passion or desire. This surface expansion is typified to us by colour or Fire, for all surface expansion, as we know it, consists of spaces of colour. This fourth phase, counting downwards, is also the fourth, counting upwards; it corresponds to the plane of fire, and the principle of Will and Desire.
The Fifth range adds the idea of capacity, or extension in three dimensions, to objectivity. It is typified by Air, or the heat which expands air; it corresponds to the third plane, counting upwards, with its principle, the aerial body.
The Sixth range adds the idea of internal mutation or growth, and is typified by Water. It corresponds to the second plane, and principle, counting upwards, the principle of Vitality.
The Seventh and last phase, the first plane, or principle, counting upwards, adds stability or solidity to the object world, and is therefore typified by the element of Earth.
Each of these ranges being, as we have said, the field of infinite potentialities; to fully grasp them the powers of intuition and imagination must be used; for the mere logical sequence of terms is no more adequate to express them than the word “sky” is to express the blue firmament of heaven.
The Four Lower Planes. The Planetary Chain.
At the dawn of a new Universal Day, the sevenfold powers of objectivity begin gradually to unfold. These powers are the offspring of Will, the twin-power, with Consciousness, of each and all units of Life, of each and all facets of the eternal luminous diamond, by which we have represented the One Infinite Life. Will is, as it were, the luminous ray of each facet; as Consciousness is the facet’s power of perceiving the ray; and as the facets are bound together in septenary groups, of units, humanities, hierarchies, and higher divine septenaries, so the luminous rays of formative Will are bound together into sevenfold streams, pouring forth from each group of units, humanities, and hierarchies. Each ray, we have seen, each formative potentiality, contains within it seven forms or modes by which its objectivity can be manifested. By the operation of the first of these modes, that of incipient differentiation, Consciousness and Will, still almost blended together, tend to stand apart into subjectivity and objectivity, but do not yet actually stand apart. Subjectivity, Consciousness, still includes within itself all possible modes of cognition, and is, therefore, just one step removed from the Divine, infinite Consciousness of Eternity. Objectivity, likewise, still contains within itself all possible modes of manifestation, and is, therefore, just one step short of divine, absolute Unity.
This highest range of being contains all the potencies of Consciousness and all the potencies of manifestation that we can conceive; and contains, besides this, something more, for this highest range is overshadowed by the near presence of the One Divine Infinite Life, not yet veiled by the illusion of differentiation, not yet hidden by the bright phantoms and images of universal day.
In the second range of life, the separation is complete. Consciousness is limited to one mode, that of direct cognition. Objectivity is also limited to one mode, that of direct presentation to consciousness; and, as all objectivity is thus directly present to perfect cognition, this is the range of omniscience. The higher range is something more than omniscience, because the omniscient knower not only confronts, but is blended with, the infinite known. These two highest ranges of life, which reflect the near presence and radiance of the Infinite One, may properly be called divine.
The third range is the link between these two and the fully manifested, fully differentiated objectivity. This third range contains, as we have seen, the germ of varying intensity, when the luminous beam from each facet of the infinite diamond ceases to be homogeneous and thrills into separate rays. Though infinitely varied, like the rays of the spectrum, these luminous rays are gathered together into closely related groups, the type of which are sound, colour, taste and the other elements of perception, each in its turn infinitely various.
These innumerable rays. that thrill forth from each facet of the infinite luminous diamond, react, as it were, on each facet, and establish groups of centres of perception; these nascent centres of specialized perception coalescing together to form the first ethereal vesture or body of each unit of life.
This third range of life contains within it the first germs and undeveloped elements of all forms of perception and objectivity, the types and potencies which are afterwards to be unfolded; these still are limited to one form of manifestation, that of increasing and decreasing intensity.
The bundles of luminous beams and rays which issue from each facet of the One Life are bound together, as we have seen, in septenary streams; and, as the formative rays become more defined and developed, they are focused into united groups, related to each facet and each group of facets—to each unit of life, that is, and each group of units, humanities, hierarchies and higher groups.
The rays, thus focused, form specialized objectivities for each facet, and for each group of facets—special objectivities, that is, for each unit of life, each humanity, and each hierarchy. These separate activities exist in germ in the third range of life, to be gradually unfolded and developed into fully formed bodies, and worlds, and systems of suns and stars, in the lower, more external, ranges of life.
From this point—the formation of specialized objectivities for each unit, humanity, and hierarchy—it is no longer possible to describe the gradual process of manifestation in general terms, applicable to all life. We must henceforth, therefore, confine ourselves to the consideration of one group of units, one humanity or hierarchy; and restrict ourselves to the development of the specialized objectivities, whether bodies or worlds, related to it. The process, for all other humanities in the universe is, presumably, the same; and the specialized objectivities related to them, are, by analogy, subject to similar developments.
After this third stage—the common field of objective worlds—the specialized objectivities of each hierarchy and humanity gain colour and form, capacity and solidity, expanding through the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh ranges of life. It is only to the last four that the name of “planes” can, with propriety, be applied, and it is to development in these four lower planes that our attention will henceforth be directed. The highest of these four, in which perceptions are spread out into spaces and masses, as we see colour spread out, is the first to reach full development, at the beginning of Universal Day. This colour or Fire plane at first is nothing but a glowing sea of intermingling forms and objectivities; through these throbs the rhythmic ebb and flow which is the detailed repetition of the universal ebb and flow of manifestation and dissolution. Under this ebb and flow, this continual circulation and gyration, the glowing sea of forms is gradually moulded into circular vortexes: the specialized objectivity of each hierarchy forming one vortex: and the lesser objectivities related to each humanity are swept into lesser vortices. As the united consciousness and will of each humanity becomes more definite and individual, these vortexes contract, and harden; and from the larger vortexes are formed solar systems: while the lesser become separate planets or worlds; each planet and solar system being, it must be clearly understood, still wholly within the highest external plane, the plane of Fire.
On the planet thus generated by the formative wills of one humanity, the units of that humanity go through a long series of formative, educatory, processes; each uniting of Conscious Will forming for itself an ethereal vesture or body, by the reaction of perceptions which we have already described. If a name be thought necessary for this first world, it may be called the incipient Fire Planet, the first ethereal mould of future more material worlds.
When the possibilities of development which it contains are temporarily exhausted, the formative will of humanity enters another stage, by the addition of the element of capacity, and the unfolding of the potencies it contains, a new plane is formed—the fifth, which we have agreed to call the plane of air. Again, the same process of “circumgyratory motion” is generated by the formative Wills of humanity, acting in harmony with the eternal ebb and flow; and the fluid sea of forms and objectivities is swept into contracting vortices, which gradually harden into a second planetary world. To it we may give the name of the incipient Air Planet, the second of the gradually forming chain.
Yet another plane is entered on, when the educatory possibilities of this second world are for the time exhausted; this new plane adding the element of internal change or growth. Again the flowing sea of images is moulded into vortexes; and of these, coalescing, the third world of the chain, the incipient Water Planet, is formed.
Again, the same exhaustion of its potentialities takes place; and the tide of formative wills advances to another stage; again, the whirling images are wrought together, as the potter moulds the clay on his swiftly-moving wheel, and the most external world of the chain, the planet of solidity, or Earth, is formed.
From this point, the tide of formative wills flows back again through the same four planes. The Earth Planet—the first rough pattern of our Earth—is left for the time exhausted, and denuded of its powers, and the life-tide flows back to the plane above.
Here, by the same formative, circular force of collective wills. a second Water Planet is formed, different from the first, because more akin to the Earth-world, and enriched with the fruit of earth-life which humanity has gained on the world just left. To this planet, the fifth in the chain, we may given for convenience, the name of final Water Planet, to distingutsh it from the first formed image-world, on the same plane.
Once more the wave of humanity flows back, to the plane above, and by the same vortical forces the final Air-world is formed, the sixth in the chain, differentiated from the former Air Planet by the riches added to it from the lower worlds of the chain.
The seventh, the final Fire-world is formed in the same way, and the planetary chain is complete. Nothing now remains but to trace the detailed development of humanity on each planet, and the story of man’s birth and growth will be complete.
The Seven Rounds of the Planetary Chain.
We have seen how the activity of the united formative Wills of Humanity passed through seven modes or phases, and thereby generated the seven worlds of our Planetary Chain; the initial Fire, Air, and Water Planets, the Earth Planet, and the final Water, Air, and Fire Planets.
After these seven phases of activity comes a period of repose; and this is followed by new periods of activity and repose.
Before detailing the phases of these new periods, certain explanations may be entered into here.
When Humanity is spoken of here, it does not necessarily mean an aggregate of human beings, as we know them, with a certain definite organism and certain definite powers; for the human race that we know is only one phase, one brief day, in the whole life of Humanity. What is meant (in the first paragraph of this paper) by the word Humanity is an aggregate of souls, still hardly separated from each other and hardly separated from the One Divine Life; an aggregate of units of life, of facets of the One Infinite Life. Each of these units contains an almost infinite number of units of life of an inferior category, just as each sunbeam contains an almost infinite number of rays, harmoniously adjusted to each other and each in no way interfering with the perfection of the other. And as each ray of light, if traced backwards, is a golden pathway to the life and perfection of the sun, so each thrilling ray of life is a pathway to the One Infinite Life, and is, in reality, one with the One Life and an entrance to the entirety of the One Life.
Each unit of life, therefore, of whatever category, is in itself perfect and is potentially one with the One Life. The process of seven-formed activity which we are considering, and which finds its expression in the seven worlds of the Planetary Chain, is concerned not only with the perfecting of those particular units of life which we know as human souls, but is equally concerned with the higher categories of units of which human souls are the manifold facets, and also with the lower categories of units which are the facets of human souls.
For we have seen that the facets of the One Infinite Divine Life which we call human souls are grouped into aggregates of facets, which are in themselves perfect units; and these again into higher groups, in ascending degrees, of divine humanities and hierarchies.
And, as there are higher, so there are lower units of life, each in itself perfect and individual, while each goes to the formation of higher lives—also perfect and individual. If this explanation be borne in mind, it will be understood that in describing the phases of active and passive life of any category of units, we are describing pari passu the active and passive life of all other units, higher or lower; but even while the different units are spoken of, it must be remembered that they are not really isolated and distinct, but are rather indivisible facets of One Divine Life, and are ultimately one with that One Divine Life.
Again, it must be remembered that when we speak of a Fire Planet, the word fire does not mean the combustion with which we are acquainted, but rather the essence of all fire, the pure potency of all colours and of all forms of perception in the same phase of manifestation as colour. The initial Fire Planet is, therefore, a shadowy form of hardly developed potencies, and the other planets of the chain are also shadowy forms, the first dim manifestations of the various powers of objectivity.
As we have seen that the first phase of every potency of objectivity is that phase of its manifestation which corresponds to “Fire” or surface-perception of spaces of objectivity, it will be evident that all the planets in their first phase of activity partake of the quality of “Fire.” Consequently, while the wave of united Formative Wills sweeps round the dimly formed chain of planets for the first time the quality of “Fire” or surface-perception predominates on each world of the chain; so that, as it has been agreed to call this sweeping of the Formative Wills round the chain a Planetary Round, it may be well to fix the first Round in our minds by giving it the name of the initial Fire Round, to signify that the phase or quality of Fire predominates in each of the aggregates of different activities represented by the seven worlds of the Planetary Chain.
It must be remembered that, as night follows day, as winter follows summer, as death follows life, so each period of activity, whether the activity of a single world of the chain, or the activity of a Round of the seven worlds, is followed by a corresponding period of rest; and thus activity and rest alternate in every phase and manifestation of life. And as midnight follows midday, not directly, but through the gradually gathering shades of twilight, so activity passes to rest, and rest passes to activity, by gradual shades, harmoniously gliding into each other.
So that each world of the chain has its dawn, its morn and midday, passing again to the quiet of evening; and then comes a period of night between it and the succeeding world. This night is darkness as regards manifestation, and rest as regards differentiation; it is therefore light for the unmanifested, and life for the undivided nature of the units of being.
Thus, the initial Fire Planet has its dawn, its noontide, and its evening; then there is a period of night, before the activity of life passes to the phase of the next planet; then this, the initial Air Planet has its dawn, its midday, and its evening, followed by a new period of night.
Then activity passes to the phase of the initial Water Planet, which has its dawn, its midday, and its evening, merging into a period of night. So with all the worlds of the chain; and then comes a period of night for the whole chain, bringing repose after the activities of the initial Fire Round.
To this period of night follows the Second Round, in which the quality of “air,” or capacity and depth, follows for each of the planets of the chain; this Round, which we may call the initial Air Round, is divided also by spaces of night; and, when it is finished, a greater period of night follows for the whole chain.
Then follows the third, the initial Water Round, which brings to each planet the quality of internal or molecular growth; divided also by its periods of rest; and having a period of rest which divides it from the fourth, the Earth Round, which gives to each planet the quality of solidness or substance, and rigidity.
To the Earth Round succeeds a period of rest, when the fifth, the final Water Round, restores the fluidity of internal growth, but with the added potencies gleaned from the preceding Round.
After a period of planetary night, the sixth, or final Air Round succeeds, which renews the depth and expansiveness of the potencies harvested in the preceding Round; and to this, after a period of rest, succeeds the seventh, which finally crowns the work of development by adding the quality of “Fire” or divine activity to the potencies already gleaned. Thus finishes the great week of activity, divided into seven days, or Planetary Rounds; and the Humanities and hierarchies have reached the perfection they worked for, and, once more at one with each other and with the divine, they rest in the fruition of perfect peace.
This rests lasts as long as the full period of Planetary Rounds lasted; and after it the Humanities and hierarchies dawn again into manifestation, to seek the expression of new potencies, to advance one step more on the ladder of infinite perfection.
Then, when these periods are ended, they mingle, perhaps, with the Humanities of other spheres, and thus re-united, pass on ever to higher unity, drawing ever nearer and nearer to the Infinite One, which is, potentially, themselves.
As far as our limited vision can pierce, however, our period of activity closes with the seventh Round, after which all the units of our Humanity will be united in one divine inseparable brotherhood, in full possession of almost infinite life; or, to speak more truly, will realize that they have ever been thus united, though the union may have been hidden under the veils and illusions of day.
As the united Formative Wills of Humanity, working together in seven modes, formed the seven worlds of the chain as a vehicle for themselves; so each minor unit forms for itself a lesser vehicle or body, passing, like the planets, through many phases of activity and rest, of life and death and renovation.
Thus, through this sevenfold and varied aggregate activity, the latent powers of unmanifested divine life become manifested; the hidden potencies become realized, and the work of perfection goes on.
At this point our general survey of the universal processes, as pictured in the Secret Doctrine must cease; from this point we will be concerned, not with general activities and forces, but with the special activities manifested in one Round—the fourth—and on one planet only of that Round, the fourth, or outermost.
We shall see the processes which we have sketched broadly, worked out in minute detail; while the wide, and perhaps rather indefinite, forces which we have dealt with will be focused and embodied in the incidents of our own present life. By reducing the world-processes thus to familiar details, we shall gain a sense of reality and vividness of perception, which will enable us to pass more easily from the mere words and figures of a metaphysical conception to the ever-present and inscrutable mysteries of the universe and its life. Thus realizing the manifold activities indicated, we shall come to learn that we are actually in the presence of the divine realities that have been described, and actually in the company of the divine powers that have been indicated: and with this knowledge, we shall be able consciously to enter into our own heritage of the ineffable mystery of being.