Studies in the Secret Doctrine:
Be-Ness, Becoming, Being
All truths harmonize and make a complete system of thought. This is axiomatic, and therefore, though not provable, is realizable. Among scientists and philosophers prevails a strong tendency, due to their desire to conform as much as possible to the dictates of Logic, to postulate that all truths harmonize; but in this era of specialization who dares the attempt to master all truths of the many branches of knowledge? Much less is there a chance of our finding a person audacious enough to assert that through such mastery he has reduced his mass of data and information to a complete and consistent system of knowledge. But such is the claim made on behalf of Theosophy. It is a synthesis of science, religion and philosophy, consistent in all its parts and therefore a harmony, and withal so beautiful that it is a symphony.
There are two ways out of the difficulty in which people find themselves when they face this problem of Absolute and Relative Knowledge, some aspects of which were examined in the first series of these studies: (1) to assume the honest position of the true scientist and plead limitation of knowledge and confess that inconsistency obtains; (2) to resort to the ways of the sectarian religionist and plead the miraculous intervention of God and Gods, the Devil and his hosts, for things not understood or happenings which contradict pet notions and accepted theories.
With the first, Theosophy has little quarrel. It recognizes the state of unfolding consciousness which is that of the civilized crowd, many of whom forgetful of this state, repeat in pride, “Behold, I know.” To this attitude it gently responds with the impersonal reminder: Hominum Sententia fallax. Our one effort with science is to point out that its very claim of exactness is inconsistent with its progressive development, year after year, whereby one “exact” position is abandoned in favor of another and new “exactness” which presently meets with the same fate. In this respect the true science of Theosophy can be rightly called exact, for its fundamentals and principles, as well as its many details and myriad particulars are static, always and everywhere, in their consistency, constancy and immortality.
With the second position, Theosophy has a war to wage. Theosophy does not believe in miracles, and therefore in no era of miracles. It affirms, because it knows, the unerring working of Law, and therefore rejects the existence of miracle-workers and of their parent the Miracle-Worker named God. With us God is Law, and beings high and low, from Shining Lords and Super-Men to elementals and elementaries are creatures born under Law, live and serve by Law, change and unfold because of the Law. For Theosophy there are no unsolved mysteries, necessitating either of the two positions mentioned above.
The Three Fundamental Propositions which are the subject of our study in the current series deal with the nature of Law, in cosmos and in man. In our last we indicated their nature in examining the threefold approach to them in the moral world within, and the world of living stars, “Sparks of Eternity,” without. In Isis Unveiled (II, pp. 587-88) the Three Fundamentals are taught in the second and third items of the ten, thus:
Nature is triune: there is a visible, objective nature; an invisible, indwelling, energizing nature, the exact model of the other, and its vital principle; and, above these two, spirit, source of all forces, alone eternal, and indestructible. The lower two constantly change; the higher third does not.
Man is also triune: he has his objective, physical body; his vitalizing astral body (or soul), the real man; and these two are brooded over and illuminated by the third — the sovereign, the immortal spirit. When the real man succeeds in merging himself with the latter, he becomes an immortal entity.
The first item of Isis Unveiled deals with the subject of which we were speaking and unequivocally asserts:
There is no miracle. Everything that happens is the result of law — eternal, immutable, ever active.
In the study of The Secret Doctrine the effort of the student should be to apply to the full what is implied in this first postulate of Isis Unveiled. The philosophy of The Secret Doctrine is not speculative but can be practically realized and demonstrated by each one for himself. Its science is exact — the “mathematics of the Soul” as pointed out by William Q. Judge, and its doctrine is single in the sense that any one factor discarded, the whole system crumbles to nothingness. In this lies the power as well as the proof of Theosophy, as a system of synthetic knowledge.
Humanity suffers more from the obsession of a miracle-complex than is generally recognized. The student of Theosophy is apt to come under its pernicious influence, however unwittingly. In place of a wonder-working God of inscrutable disposition we are apt to install wonder-working Masters, and substitute The Secret Doctrine or The Ocean of Theosophy for the Quran and the Bible. Since “there is no miracle” there is none in Theosophy — either in its philosophy or in any of its organizations, whatever the form of philosophy and whatever the era of organization. The illusion of this miracle-current is so mighty that we are apt to say with Huxley:
If some great Power would agree to make me always think what is true and do what is right, on condition of being turned into a sort of clock and wound up every morning before I got out of bed, I should instantly close with the offer.
Would it be exaggeration to say that nine-tenths of civilized humanity have struck such a bargain, through the agency of creeds and the craft of priests — only, they neither think true, nor always do right? It was the same Huxley who warned his pupils — “Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors,” and there is a lesson for us all in the statement.
In studying the Three Fundamentals of The Secret Doctrine we should continuously bear in mind — “There is no miracle.” These propositions have to be perceived by us and ultimately realized. Vision is neither of argument, nor of analysis, and realization is not provable. Each student of this great book has to make his own effort at this realization, through an intuitive vision of universals and the altruistic service of its reflected particulars. These Fundamental Propositions have inherent in them the strength of universality and eternity. They are the very Soma Juice — essence of all Wisdom; they are in truth Omar’s mystic grape
…that can with Logic absolute
The two-and-seventy jarring sects confute.
To try to get this Logic absolute of the three Propositions is the primal task before the student. For this the first item of Isis Unveiledis the first means — “There is no miracle.”
Theosophy does not believe in Divine license, but in Divine Law and therefore accepts Hume’s definition of miracle as a “violation of the laws of nature.” The study of Divine Law — its operations in Rest or restlessness, in Motion or inertia, in Monad, in Man, in Atom, in Cosmos, has for its axioms these Three Fundamental Propositions. They have therefore to be taken, from the very start, as expressions of Knowledge under Law and not as transcendent revelations born of miracle; therefore, they should not be dicta for belief, but subjects of enquiry and reflection, thought and visualization, leading to Knowledge. They are the basis for all real magic, which is “the higher study of divine, and yet not supernatural law.” (A Modern Panarion, p. 203.) In this connection it is necessary to understand the following on pp. 168-69 of The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I:
Of the four Vidyas — out of the seven branches of Knowledge mentioned in the Purânas — namely, “Yajna-Vidya” (the performance of religious rites in order to produce certain results); “Maha-Vidya,” the great (Magic) knowledge, now degenerated into Tantrika worship; “Guhya-Vidya,” the science of Mantras and their true rhythm or chanting, of mystical incantations, etc. — it is only the last one, “Atma-Vidya,” or the true Spiritual and Divine wisdom, which can throw absolute and final light upon the teachings of the three first named. Without the help of Atma-Vidya, the other three remain no better than surface sciences, geometrical magnitudes having length and breadth, but no thickness. They are like the soul, limbs, and mind of a sleeping man: capable of mechanical motions, of chaotic dreams and even sleep-walking, of producing visible effects, but stimulated by instinctual not intellectual causes, least of all by fully conscious spiritual impulses. A good deal can be given out and explained from the three first-named sciences. But unless the key to their teachings is furnished by Atma-Vidya, they will remain for ever like the fragments of a mangled text-book, like the adumbrations of great truths, dimly perceived by the most spiritual, but distorted out of all proportion by those who would nail every shadow to the wall.
Atma-Vidya, the Science of the Self, is founded on these three Propositions. They verily are the three dimensions of Atma-Vidya. Their activity and operation in cosmos and in man are itemized as numbers 2 and 3 of the 10 items in Vol. II of Isis Unveiled; but these are acceptable to and accepted by orthodox theologies, provided they are given the right of private interpretation of the items; however, in conjunction with item 1, they cannot but be rejected by believers in special creations and revelations, miracles and magic. On the other hand modern science will readily accept that “there is no miracle” but — in conjunction with items 2 and 3? Theosophy alone accepts both the groups and to make that acceptance rational and practical The Secret Doctrine begins where Isis Unveiled ends and puts forward the Three Fundamentals.
To study these Fundamentals in terms of Atma-Vidya, Self-Knowledge, is to see them as parts of ourselves; but it is the Universal Self and not its particular reflection-aspect which is the human “I.” The attempt, therefore, should be to see their universal application first and then all else. As a matter of fact when the Three Fundamentals are perceived metaphysically in terms of cosmic ultimates their presence and workings become clear everywhere and always in the phenomenal worlds. It is this which The Secret Doctrine (Vol. I, pp. 14-18) demonstrates.
The most obvious of human experiences is that we exist — we are. We can never conceive, imagine or even fancy that we do not exist, that we are not. In the Mandukyopanishad, verse 7, it is indicated that the one sure proof of the Self is Itself.
It is the problem and process of Existence which our intellect has first to perceive and then to realize. To aid this perception The Secret Doctrine puts forward the Three Fundamentals in terms of Life, Existence, which is through changes and mobility as well as through stability and inertia. Be-ness, Becoming, Being — such is the first, the primal, the parent trinity, the Source of all trinities of consciousness-substance, the Trinity of Principles — the one Principle.
As a first glimpse of the Vision of this Reality it will be enough if we see that Be-ness always is, that Becoming always is, that Being always is.
Be-ness does not become; Be-ness IS.
Becoming always is — it does not begin or end. It may be on the Pravritti-marga, the Path of Forthgoing, or on the Nivritti-marga, the Path of Return, but it always and always is becoming. From the state of manvantara-manifestation to that of pralaya-non-manifestation, or vice versa, it is always Becoming. Becoming does not become Be-ness, any more than Be-ness Becoming. Nor is Becoming at any moment Being.
Being always is, whether asleep or awake, turned within or looking without. Its states or conditions alternate but It always persists. It may be on the plane of realization of unity with the All-whole, Atma-dasa, or on the plane of phenomenon, where such realization is absent, Ahankara-dasa — but it is.
These three, Be-ness, Becoming, Being, are one; human intellect perceives them, examines them, understands them for the sole purpose of realizing that they are one. This one in its threefold aspect is the foundation and the basis of Life, Unfoldment, Realization — Life is, Unfoldment is progressive, Realization is attained.
In Ancient Indian philosophy these are named Sat, Chit, Ananda which are translated as Existence, Ideation, Bliss. The trinity as the unit is named Sat-chit-ananda-Ghana. Why Being is of the nature of Bliss, how Ideation is Becoming, what Existence is Be-ness, are the primal, most intimate and highly practical questions, for in answers to them are found the meaning and purpose of our own life, growth and ultimate regeneration.
Therefore says Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, page 511:
This “secret doctrine” contains the alpha and the omega of universal science; therein lies the corner and the keystone of all the ancient and modern knowledge; and alone in this “unphilosophical” doctrine remains buried the absolute in the philosophy of the dark problems of life and death.
In The Key to Theosophy (p. 65), in answer to the query “Then your Absolute thinks?” it is said:—
No, IT does not; for the simple reason that it is Absolute Thought itself. Nor does it exist, for the same reason, as it is absolute existence, and Be-ness, not a Being. Read the superb Kabalistic poem by Solomon Ben Jehudah Gabirol, in the Kether-Malchut, and you will understand:— “Thou art one, the root of all numbers, but not as an element of numeration; for unity admits not of multiplication, change, or form. Thou art one, and in the secret of Thy unity the wisest of men are lost, because they know it not. Thou art one, and Thy unity is never diminished, never extended, and cannot be changed. Thou art one, and no thought of mine can fix for Thee a limit, or define Thee. Thou ART, but not as one existent, for the understanding and vision of mortals cannot attain to Thy existence, nor determine for Thee the where, the how and the why,” etc., etc. In short, our Deity is the eternal, incessantly evolving, not creating, builder of the universe; that universe itself unfolding out of its own essence, not beingmade. It is a sphere, without circumference, in its symbolism, which has but one ever-acting attribute embracing all other existing or thinkable attributes — ITSELF. It is the one law, giving the impulse to manifested, eternal, and immutable laws, within that never-manifesting, because absolute LAW, which in its manifesting periods is The ever-Becoming.