Studies in the Secret Doctrine:
The Yoga of the Secret Doctrine
The most palpable and therefore noticeable characteristic of the universe is differentiation. The visible nature is composed of forms no two of which are exactly alike; these have evolved from within the depths of invisible because incorporeal nature made of forces, constructive and destructive. The universe of forces and that of forms are not two but one — forms cannot be built or preserved without forces; nor can forces exist without constructing and evolving forms. The variegated forces which ceaselessly build but to destroy and incessantly kill but to regenerate the myriads of forms, exist. These forces and their progeny, forms, exist — somewhere, somehow. That wherein and whereby they exist as phenomena is Existence Itself, the Noumenon.
Each one of us is different from every other human being — bodily, morally, intellectually. Yet a greater similarity subsists between individual members of the human kingdom than that which exists between the different organisms of the human body or those of the moral nature or of the mind. For example the human body of a savage is more like that of a scientist than is our brain like our heart, or our spleen like our lungs. A greater difference, because it is one of kind, exists between our sensuous perceptions and our reasoning faculties than between the sensuous perceptions of a barbarian and of an artist, which is one of degree. But all human bodies are composed of certain material elements; they all are built out of cells which function similarly in the body of an athlete or a philosopher. The properties of flesh and blood and nerve are the same just as the properties of oxygen or carbon or iron are the same wherever these differing elements are found. The purpose of the Third fundamental of The Secret Doctrine is to bring the true vision of the identity which exists in the midst of differentiation.
The study of The Secret Doctrine proves unprofitable unless the student sees at his own stage of evolution, in his own life, in the activity of his own complex nature, the unity which is basic from which differentiation springs and on which diversity manifests. Meta-physics is not a subject for consideration by the mind only. Therefore there is no possibility of anyone fully grasping the meaning of the Three Fundamentals by the power of intellect alone. True science is not solely of the senses, however prominent the part sense-perceptions play in its vocation. Thus, unless a serious attempt is made by the student to see the activity of the Three Fundamentals in the function and the process of his own individual life, they must remain mysterious and confusing and fail to inspire him to better life or nobler labours.
Within our own bodies, in our own being, work the laws which The Secret Doctrine teaches in the Three Fundamental Propositions. In us forces and forms exist. Each one of us is a universe of Existence which is LIFE, which projects forces and evolves forms. Each one of us is the perceiver of forces; each one of us is builder and destroyer of forms. At one time of our long evolution we do not see either of these facts; at the present stage of human growth most people do not see them. The greatest mission of Theosophy, the profoundest message of The Secret Doctrine which is the teacher par excellence of the Wisdom-Religion to our civilization, is to bring the conviction that man is a universe brought into being, maintained and governed by laws which are identical with those which manifest and sustain the atom and the cosmos. Therefore man is not only a universe but The Universe: man is a microcosm created, preserved, destroyed to be regenerated, exactly as atoms and worlds are; as atoms are dependent on him so is he dependent on worlds, and vice versa. Each and every microcosm is a macrocosm: our body is the macrocosm to our brain, heart, spleen; our brain is the macrocosm to the cerebellum, the cerebrum, etc., etc.; and so on, from the great to the small, from the small to the minute. On the other hand our whole body is part of the physical earth, a microcosm of the macrocosm, and that earth but a microcosm of the greater solar system which as a unit is like a tiny cell in the sidereal body. To see within ourselves the working of the law which reveals the truth that each atom is a macrocosm, that each universe is a microcosm is to perceive the identity of all forms — this means the realization that there is but One Form. There is neither micro- nor macro-cosmos, but only Kosmos — the Great Order. This is the supreme vision, the summation of all visions. This is what Arjuna beheld as described in the Eleventh Discourse of the Bhagavad-Gita. At present, material science senses this stupendous truth, speculative philosophy conceives it dimly, creative art feels it spasmodically and feebly; religious mysticism brings it as a belief; abnormal psychism crudely anthropomorphizes it; Theosophy and Theosophy alone enables us to visualize by intelligence the triple truth — Matter is indestructible, Matter is unchanging, Matter is Life. Thus we see that forms of matter die but the Form of Matter always and eternally is. Bodies die, because their organs and organisms die but the Design dies not because of the disintegration of organs and organisms. Thoughts come to birth and perish, but Ideation always lives. The earth, the solar system, the sidereal universe disintegrates but the Power which made them is always an integral whole and brings forth another sidereal universe composed of other solar systems in which other earths inhere.
Thus when we see in our own selves the great and the small cosmos as passing and the Kosmos as always prevailing, we also see the operation of the Law of Periodicity. Is not the cycle of day and night the alternate function of two sets of brain organisms? Is not the cycle of birth and death working, with breathless speed, in every throb of the human heart? If every throb speaks life, does not that which preceded and succeeds every throb spell death? Is not every year of twelve months but a microcosmic bodily registration of the twelve links in the chain of nidanas which produce the phenomenon of each human incarnation — aye, of even all Divine Ones? Does not the spring of every year produce in every human being, however aged, its joys? Does not every winter affect the hardiest of youths? Cycles great and small are not to be seen outside but are to be registered within. If the golden age of Truth, Satya Yuga, is pleasant, is it not because during that period the pains are distributed over a longer duration of time? Is not the hard iron age, black with sin, called Kali Yuga, fearsome because we crowd eternity of pain into an hour? Do not all children born in this very Kali Yuga enjoy the innocence of Satya Yuga? Is not the savage Africander basking in his sun experiencing the freedom of an earlier yuga while this civilization is steeped in the black sufferings of the cycle of Kali? Can a Mahatma be affected by either, though he lives to serve the same earth on which the savage and the civilized live? Each one of us is the maker of his cycles — circular, or elliptical. We make our own days and nights; we make our own seasons and yugas.
We know ourselves as existing, day and night, and throughout the seasons. The passage of months and years sees changes in body, feelings, thoughts, perceptions, aspirations; hopes realized bring forth other hopes; the wild fancies of youth remain as childish memories, as the dreams of today become facts of tomorrow. Through changing forms and forces we know the reality of that which is behind and beyond them and which changes not. The Law of Periodicity or Cycles reveals the union of the dual universe of forces and forms, of the world of images and of shadows; through these we come to realize the activity of the Law of Unity which is the subject-matter of the First Fundamental Proposition.
Just as the organ which sees — the eye — cannot see itself, so also we cannot see ourselves. The Atman-Self can see its images or its shadows; it can not see itself. It knows that it exists because it sees images and shadows. Because we think, because we sense, therefore we know that the thinker is, we realize that the perceiver exists. The First Fundamental refers to Existence, beginningless and endless, which sees the birth and death of Its images and shadows. He who sows also reaps, and because he wants to reap, again sows; he sows and reaps at different seasons. Above, beyond, behind the seasons is the Farmer-Existence.
To see this Unit — the same Unit — at the back of the duality which expresses itself in the Law of Periodicity, also behind the diversity which is the main factor of the Law of Differentiation, is the aim of the true student. In all diversity must first be seen the duality of force and form. The common factor of all differentiation is that something is known by the fact of something which remains to be known. But the basis and playground of these dual forces of action-reaction, of day-night, of manvantara-pralaya, is Existence. Yoga, union with the Divine, is the realization of the same Life manifesting in all forces, energizing all forms. This Life, therefore, manifests in our own faculties and energizes our own functions. The vision which leads to this Supreme Realization is the real Clairvoyance, which is not “the power of seeing at a distance, but rather the faculty of spiritual intuition, through which direct and certain knowledge is obtainable.” (S.D. I, 46 fn.)
The student of The Secret Doctrine has to undertake the practice of this yoga, this union with the Divine. There is no one within whose reach the beginnings of this higher life do not lie. Theosophy is for all, but everyone must want it for himself; therefore is it only for those who want it. In proportion as each wants it, he takes it, and in that measure gains the clear vision of true understanding and the unmistakable realization of the Unknowable Self. Very different from the so-called yoga-practices is this simple life which is strenuous, this hourly living which is heroic. And what is it?
When we see the matrix of pralayic space in the bed in which our body sleeps and on waking recognize its potency to refresh and build that body; when we see the water with which we bathe the body as the purifying nature with which consciousness rejuvenates itself; when in every morsel of food eaten, every drop of water drunk, every breath of air inhaled, every affection absorbed, every word of knowledge assimilated, we see the “mighty magic of prakriti” strong to devour as to regenerate; when in every idea put forth, and every word spoken, and every love given, and in every deed done, we see the creative power of consciousness; when in every child we see the Divine Babe, in every woman Devaki, the mother of Krishna, in every father the mighty Prajapati, in every faithful wife the peerless Sita; when in every melody we hear the music of Orpheus and in every movement perceive the grace of Terpsichore; when in every enlightened mind we see Hermes, in every virile body Herakles, and in every Nara, man — Narayana, god, aye, even in the sick and infirm, that which is named Daridra-Narayana, the God who elevates through illness; when in our every virtue we see the incarnation of Vishnu, and in every vice that of Ravana, and in every overcoming and change that of Shiva — then only do we raise the self by the Self unto the SELF.
In the light of what is written above let the student peruse with care and consider with all the intuition at his command the following from the S.D. (I, 267-68):—
As expressed in the Stanza, the Watchers descended on Earth and reigned over men — “who are themselves.” The reigning kings had finished their cycle on Earth and other worlds, in the preceding Rounds. In the future manvantaras they will have risen to higher systems than our planetary world; and it is the Elect of our Humanity, the Pioneers on the hard and difficult path of Progress, who will take the places of their predecessors. The next great Manvantara will witness the men of our own life-cycle becoming the instructors and guides of a mankind whose Monads may now yet be imprisoned — semi-conscious — in the most intellectual of the animal kingdom, while their lower principles will be animating, perhaps, the highest specimens of the Vegetable world.
Thus proceed the cycles of the septenary evolution, in Septennial nature; the Spiritual or divine; the psychic or semi-divine; the intellectual, the passional, the instinctual, or cognitional; the semi-corporeal and the purely material or physical natures. All these evolve and progress cyclically, passing from one into another, in a double, centrifugal and centripetal way, one in their ultimate essence, seven in their aspects. The lowest, of course, is the one depending upon and subservient to our five physical senses. Thus far, for individual, human, sentient, animal and vegetable life, each the microcosm of its higher macrocosm. The same for the Universe, which manifests, periodically, for purposes of the collective progress of the countless lives, the outbreathings of the OneLife; in order that through the Ever-Becoming, every cosmic atom in this infinite Universe, passing from the formless and the intangible, through the mixed natures of the semi-terrestial, down to matter in full generation, and then back again, reascending at each new period higher and nearer the final goal; that each atom, we say, may reach through individual merits and efforts that plane where it re-becomes the one unconditioned ALL. But between the Alpha and the Omega there is the weary “Road” hedged in by thorns, that “goes down first, then—
Winds up hill all the way
Yes, to the very end….”
Starting upon the long journey immaculate; descending more and more into sinful matter, and having connected himself with every atom in manifested Space —the Pilgrim, having struggled through and suffered in every form of life and being, is only at the bottom of the valley of matter, and half through his cycle, when he has identified himself with collective Humanity. This, he has made in his own image. In order to progress upwards and homewards, the “God” has now to ascend the weary uphill path of the Golgotha of Life. It is the martyrdom of self-conscious existence. Like Visvakarman has to sacrifice himself to himself in order to redeem all creatures, to resurrect from the many into the One Life. Then he ascends into heaven indeed; where, plunged into the incomprehensible absolute Being and Bliss of Paranirvana, he reigns unconditionally, and whence he will re-descend again at the next “coming,” which one portion of humanity expects in its dead-letter sense as the second advent, and the other as the last “Kalki Avatar.”