The Eye of Self-Existence
The Secret Doctrine establishes three fundamental propositions:
An omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable PRINCIPLE on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception and could only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude. It is beyond the range and reach of thought – in the words of Mandukya, “unthinkable” and “unspeakable”.
To render these ideas clearer to the general reader, let him set out with the postulate that there is one absolute Reality which antecedes all manifested, conditioned being. This Infinite and Eternal Cause – dimly formulated in the Unknowable of current European philosophy – is the rootless root of “all that was, is, or ever shall be”. It is of course devoid of all attributes and is essentially without any relation to manifested, finite Being. It is “Be-ness” rather than Being (in Sanskrit, Sat), and is beyond all thought or speculation.
The Secret Doctrine, i 14
H. P. BLAVATSKY
In the magical phrase of the Book of Dzyan, the oldest book of revelation kept in the secret sanctuaries of the sacred Mystery Temples, the Rootless Root symbolizes the First Fundamental of the Sacred Science of Gupta Vidya, the Wisdom Religion or Theosophia. It is the unknowable but for humankind; it is also the unthinkable and unspeakable, especially in the Mysteries, for those who have apprehended the unknowable, those who have gone beyond all scattered thoughts to the supernal realm of Divine Thought, transcended even that, and become one with TAT. It is THAT, beyond all names and forms, which includes all, cancelling and superceding all beginnings and endings. It is that which is beginningless, ever existing and never dying. It is the fountainhead and origin of all Life, and of all life in the seven kingdoms of Nature in all worlds and systems, in all stars, planets and galaxies.
It is the origin of all life during manvantara, the ‘Day’ of the great universe, which is the period of activity for every single being throughout the cosmos. It is also equally and exactly the same during the ‘Night’ of non-manifestation in which every being is reabsorbed, without knowing it, into the great bosom of the Divine Ground, that which includes all and yet itself is No-thing, which is everything and nothing. Unthinkable, unspeakable, it is the Soundless Sound in the eternal Silence that transcends all sounds and silences in the manifested worlds of Nature, both visible and invisible. It encompasses the entire human kingdom and all the lives of all gods, monads and atoms, beings of every kind at whatever degree of awareness, knowledge, self-knowledge, universal knowledge, universal self-knowledge or universal self-consciousness.
Beyond and behind all of these is TAT, which is ever full, and which, though boundless, is capable of emanating countless universes, and yet remains totally undepleted. One of the most magnificent stanzas in Sanskrit declares: That which is ever full has taken away from it that which is ever full, and yet, it remains ever full. It transcends all infinities and all sum totals, and therefore it is known to the man of meditation, and sometimes in speech, as that which is No-thing or No-being. It is No-thing in space and time, nothing that is ever manifested, because it is eternally beyond manifest and non-manifest, being and non-being, day and night. It is beyond all contrast, beyond all divisions and dichotomies, beyond Spirit-Matter and the very division and contrast between concretized spirit and sublimated matter on all planes of existence. It has also been sometimes referred to as the One Universal Existence, as in the eighth shloka of the Stanzas of Dzyan:
Alone the One form of existence stretched boundless, infinite, causeless, in dreamless sleep; and life pulsated unconscious in universal space, throughout that All-Presence which is sensed by the opened Eye of the Dangma.
It is the attributeless Absolute, whose only predication is attribute – lessness. This, though a paradox of thought and of language, is a poetical and metaphorical way of conveying what the Mandukya Upanishad calls “unthinkable and unspeakable”.
And yet, as the thirteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita declares, “That which is remoter than the remotest is closer than the closest.” Few fitter poetical depictions of it were offered than these lines of William Blake:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand,
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.
Here is a way of recognizing, revering, honouring and saluting, but also conceiving, the Absolute without attempting to ‘nail it down’ by leaden attributes. That which is attributeless has as many attributes as there are dainty flowers and diverse trees. It has, in fact, itself been sometimes shown in relation to the Tree of Life, which includes all possible trees and all actual trees, in all possible worlds. This mighty metaphor is older than that of Blake. It is as old as thinking man. Everything represented by the hidden roots, the shoots, the trunk, the myriad branches, the myriads upon myriads of leaves, the flowers and fruits of the tree – deeply rooted in the earth and extending upward to the heavens – is significant in this sacred metaphor. It signifies the sacred function of the entire manifested cosmos. It is like a suspended bridge between the Divine Ground and all beings, and is itself expressed throughout the gamut of all existence.
The term ‘Be-ness’, though better than the term ‘Being’, is still only a poor English equivalent to the rich Sanskrit term SAT, which embraces the concepts of Being, Be-ness and Absolute Truth. SAT also encompasses the concept of Universal Absolute Consciousness, because the Absolute, though it has neither consciousness nor desire, neither wish nor thought, is absolute thought, absolute desire, absolute consciousness, absolutely all. It is each of these, and yet it is beyond them all, which is why it cannot be limited by any single being or thing in relation to its vast, immemorial, variegated perception or perspective, vital experience or vocal description. It is beyond all of these, inexplicable, inexhaustible and impossible of definition.
This is implicit in the etymology of the English term ‘absolute’, which is derived from the Latin absolutus, ‘that which is completed’, ‘that which is complete in itself’. Therefore it excludes nothing, it wants nothing, it lacks nothing, it needs nothing. It is all-complete and it is unfettered. Neither earthquakes nor wars, nor the ever-present cycle of destruction can have any mark or trace on it, or in any way fetter the Absolute. It is unconditional and beyond all conditions, and yet it is in all conditions intact, complete, self-sufficient, and utterly incapable of being touched or tainted, circumscribed or narrowed. It surpasses the vastest, infinite sum totals of objects and subjects in all possible worlds. The Latin absolutus is itself derived from the past participle of the verb absolvere, ‘to free from’, ‘to complete’, an etymology which shows that it is not a static concept, nor indeed is it dynamic, for it is that which is endlessly at work, behind anything and everything, and therefore to be identified with the ultimate, unknowable mystery of the one Law ceaselessly operating throughout the cosmos.
It is ever behind every single change, every single movement, all the rhythms and patterns of all of Nature in its intricate, inexhaustible vastness on the invisible causal as well as the visible plane. Therefore, it is ever capable of liberating anything and everything from conditionality. That liberation is known – if indeed we can talk of such knowledge – as the ending of embodied life, as a kind of death, yet in the Absolute there is neither birth nor death. Nothing is ever lost, nothing is ever saved, nothing is ever begun, and nothing is ever ended, because everything that comes to be already exists in the Absolute. Everything that ceases to be continues to remain in the Absolute, otherwise there would be no continuity between manvantaras, immense, immeasurable periods of time, epochs in galactic space. That which is unconditional, inexhaustible, all-complete and omnipresent is also by its inherent nature that which both seemingly binds and effectually liberates.
To the highest minds of meditation, the greatest lovers of true wisdom, who have reached the pinnacle and summit of the loftiest conceivable altitude of philosophic thought, it is impossible to think about it except with reverence. It is unapproachable except by cancelling all divisions between thought, will and feeling, between head and heart, and every category of every school. All of them are dim, feeble, and at best logically limitedrepresentations of existence and reality, which is itself only an irrelevant aspect of that which Ever Is and, therefore, by definition can never emerge into existence and never cease to be. Hence the term ‘Be-ness’. The Latin term solvere, implying an alchemical sense of negation, comes from the Indo-European root leu, which means ‘to loosen’, ‘to divide’, ‘to cut apart’, as with a pair of scissors. In conversation, human beings cut apart themselves, other human beings and the world, dividing endlessly but feebly, compared with the way Nature divides all things with a daily magnificence. All our efforts to cut up, to divide and analyze the Absolute will fail because it is that which can never be divided, can never be cut up. It cannot be extended, contracted, shrunk or swallowed. No spatial metaphor can begin to characterize its essential indestructible property rooted in ever-existing self-existence. It is not only the sole Self-Existent, but it is also inclusive of all that is existent at all levels. If that is so, all words are merely invocations or petitions to burst the barriers and boundaries of finitude, fragmentation and limitation. To move towards the Absolute is continually to cancel and transcend every possible limit or characterization .
That is why the Self-Existent is apprehended by human beings more readily in silence than in speech, in states of non-being rather than in what seem to be modes of being in a body. Spatial terms obviously can have no possible reference to the Absolute. And yet, on the visible plane, both in the sky and in the sea, we have two conspicuous, all-powerful representations of that which is incapable of limitation, that which is so deep and homogeneous that it is incapable of being understood in terms of visible motion, movements and waves. No human being who has ever reflected upon the sky or sea can fail to have some sense of what the Absolute is like. No one who has ever reflected upon all the trees, all the birds upon this earth, all the animals, plants and minerals of every kind, all the millions upon millions of elementals that ceaselessly dance in the three kingdoms below the four visible kingdoms, can fail to recognize the immensity and richness of the Absolute even in the realm of the manifest.
Hermes Magazine July of 1989