Course given at Gol, Norway, August 1985.
There are quite a number of ways in which one could approach this topic of the study of the SD. I have brought with me a great number of notes to decide how to share these four sessions with you. I thought I might approach it from a number of points of view in order to perhaps help you with an introduction to this study. There are of course very excellent and helpful guides. Perhaps one of the most important for our purposes is a small booklet. I have the edition published by our Department of Education in the American Section and it is simply called "Mme Blavatsky on How to Study Theosophy". This consists of notes taken by one of her students and later checked with her for their accuracy. They are notes from a Commander Bowen, and in these is an indication of how one may proceed. I will not read extensively from these notes because they are available. They are incorporated in a book that I think should be required reading for every member of the Society. It is a compilation of some of HPB's ESSENTIAL teachings and was put together by Ianthe Hoskins: "Foundations of Esoteric Philosophy". At the conclusion of that there are these notes by Commander Bowen.
There are other ways in which one can approach the SD. Geoffrey Barborka, for example, in his "Divine Plan", has approached the subject from the points of view of certain essential doctrines. There is the approach taken by Sri Krishna Prem and Sri Madhava Ashish. Their two books, "Man, the Measure of all Things" and "Man, Son of Man", approach the subject from the point of view of the unfoldment of consciousness. So there are a variety of ways in which one can undertake this study.
I in my own approach combine a number of these ways. At Krotona, I have been going through the SD sequentially, studying it by the Stanzas, and happily, here, there are some Krotona graduates who are familiar with my approach. It may interest you to know that I have just begun the work of Volume 2 (Laughter), and there are a series of ten courses some as much as 8 weeks in length, dealing with Vol. 1. You will see therefore, even though it still has not been in depth, it has taken us quite a little time to cover even the first volume. There are some of my students at Krotona who despair that I shall ever complete Vol.2.! (Laughter) But this is indeed, first and foremost, a lifetime study.
We may say, very briefly, that what is presented to us can be summarised in two sentences and these two sentences reflect precisely what contemporary physics is saying. The first sentence is: "The universe is as it is because we are as we are" and the second sentence is: "We are as we are because the universe is as it is". (Laughter) In fact, last evening I referred to the emerging concept known as the anthropic principle. The reason this is of such interest is because these two sentences summarise that principle in science.
But let me, at least this morning, give some introductory comments about the SD.
First of all, to describe what is in the SD is relatively easy. To describe its authorship is far more complex and difficult. And I think that every student should ultimately investigate that area, the authorship. But that is not my intent in these four sessions with you. It is of course attributed to H.P. Blavatsky, but the big question is - Who was H. P. Blavatsky? She was a complex individual, and in addition there is evidence that there was another authorship involved as well, that her teachers very much assisted in the actual writing of the SD. So there is much to be explored in that whole area which I call the authorship of the SD.
Now, first and foremost, the SD undertakes to describe the principles and sequences by which the periodical perishable phenomenal universe came to be from and within the unmanifested, ultimate Reality. Consequently, it also expounds the essential and cosmic origin of mankind. In brief, therefore, we can say the SD supplies the metaphysics of Theosophy. Now, this purpose governs the method employed in writing and it is the purpose and the method together that provide the directive to the theosophical student. From this point of view, we must read in the spirit of the work itself. To understand a rational, orderly manifested universe is NOT the final object. The ultimate intent is that the reader, the student, the SERIOUS student shall appreciate the causal, intelligible, real source of the apparent or visible universe.
Now, two immediate problems are inherent in the customary mode of western thinking. And I think these must be faced in order to understand how the SD may be looked at, may be studied. First of all, because attention in western thought is given to OBJECTIVE phenomena, we have become incapable of analysing SUBJECTIVE movements. We are so accustomed to analysing that which can be seen, that we are unaware of the process of seeing. Now, as a consequence of this, we have learned to define categories to such an extent that we assign "THINGNESS" to process. And so we are all the time, as it were, fitting everything into rigid little packages, and everything is a THING, and by "thing" we mean something that is stable, lasting, enduring. But the SD points to another realm of knowing. Indeed to overcome these two problems, the SD employs a method of exposition characteristic of all genuine esoteric or occult texts. In the east, that method is called the "Sutra technique" - the use of an aphoristic text with commentaries thereon, the understanding of which is in direct accordance with the growth or expansion of consciousness itself.
The message which is embedded in this method of exposition is a very strange one for western rational thought. Very briefly, it is: Live the life, if you would come to the Wisdom. Again and again, HPB makes this statement. So it is not so much the content of either the Stanzas of Dzyan on which the SD is based or the commentary that poses a problem for us. The real problem is that we must accustom ourselves to a different mode of knowing. It is my belief that what makes the Doctrine secret is simply that until we have awakened within ourselves that mode of knowing we cannot really contact the Doctrine. Elsewhere, HPB has called that mode of knowing "Spiritual Perception". It is what I referred to last night in other terms used by HPB, a "direct beholding". I am carefully avoiding the use of the word "Intuition", and I am doing so very much on purpose because I think there is no more misunderstood word in our vocabulary. What HPB aims at is indeed the awakening of true spiritual perception.
Now, it is not that the teachings presented to us are either irrational: or illogical. Certainly the esoteric philosophy involves rationality and logic. But the knowing transcends both rationality and logic. Both in the SD and in those magnificent letters from HPB's own Mahatmic teachers, emphasis is placed on the fact that there is a life to be lived. This is very clearly set forth in one of the Mahatma Letters in which the Master replies to Mr. Hume; in the letter in which the Master very clearly says: “Yes, it would be easy if there could be produced a manual of occultism,” the Master continues with the statement that unless and until the student is prepared to receive the insights available, he is blind. And therefore the illumination must come from within. This is not easy to grasp. We must put ourselves in a certain condition if we would really comprehend the Wisdom. Now, this is a view to which we are totally unaccustomed in our normal educational systems and in all of our western training. One can be a brilliant engineer, e.g., a genius at mathematics or any such - and be at the same time an alcoholic, a sexual pervert and cruel to his family and to all living things. There is no relation necessary between one's mode of life and one's knowing. But, according to the esoteric tradition. on the other hand, one MUST lead a certain life if one would attain to understanding. The rules are not easy, but, as someone has said, no-one ever promised us a rose-garden! No-one ever said that it would be easy. Now, this does not mean it is not simple! (Laughter) - because, in essence, it is utterly simple, simple with that elegance of beauty which shines through when there IS spiritual perception. For the most part, it is we who make it terribly, terribly complicate. We can really only approximate understanding or comprehension, so we have to continually work at both areas of our being, i.e. we have to work on OURSELVES in order to develop our own knowing, and we are not used to that. We want to know without changing anything about ourselves, and in this area of study, that is impossible.
There is another factor to which I would call your attention. And this is simply the problem of language. And I do not mean language in terms of whether it is English, Norwegian, German, Sanskrit or any other SPOKEN language, because in the languages we use, WORDS usually stand for THINGS. But in the esoteric philosophy, one has to tolerate both paradox and metaphor. We are dealing less with things than with processes, and all words are ultimately inadequate for that task. This is a problem increasingly recognised in contemporary physics. Incidentally, it is dealt with superbly in a comparatively recent book by two scientists I do not know if it is available in any other language than English, but it is a book by two physicists, Drs. Briggs and Peat, called "The Looking-Glass Universe" - and this is a survey of the contemporary ideas being presented by some frontier thinkers in a number of fields.
Consequently, then, I return to the question of method. It really does not matter, from this point of view, where one begins in the SD. And that is why all approaches lead ultimately to what one may call the "centre of the wheel". Sometimes we argue over the approaches to be taken. But it is as though the entire process of bringing into manifestation a universe, a phenomenal universe, is a process of simultaneity.
It is an all-at-onceness, if you like! It is perhaps best expressed in the Buddhist concept of the theory of dependent origination, in which one factor does NOT arise BECAUSE of another, but "this arising, that arises". The fact that one factor is present, ALL factors are present, and, paradoxically, on the other hand, consciousness grows to the appreciation of ALL factors. Now, as a result of the method of exposition, the SD maintains therefore an intrinsic vitality. In fact, I think one can return to it again and again and every time find some new insight, gain some clearer understanding, and yet always become aware that there is more concealed than is revealed. It is also because of this that the work sometimes appears confused and confusing. Indeed, as Commander Bowen reports, HPB herself said on one occasion: “If one imagines that one is going to get a satisfactory picture of the constitution of the universe from the SD, one will get only confusion from its study.” She is reported by Commander Bowen to have added: “It is not meant to give any such FINAL verdict on existence, but to LEAD towards the Truth. Truth, in other words, is not something that anyone possesses. It is not a neat little package inserted into the mind. Truth is a condition of consciousness itself, i.e. when consciousness itself is divested of all that pollutes it, when the field of the mind is cleared of all weeds that are cluttering it, it is in its own natural state, which is a condition of truthfulness. Hence again the injunction: “Live the life, if you would come to the Wisdom!”
Now, one must therefore, I think, let this book work inside us, so that its inherent order reveals itself from within. Our natural tendency is to impose order, particularly on any philosophic study, but order in the esoteric sense is never imposed from without. Order, which is truthfulness, if you like, emerges within the consciousness which has brought itself into a condition which may be said to be in tune with itself. And this is of course a fundamental principle of genuine yoga. And the student of the SD must be a true yogi! This is indeed why HPB, according to Commander Bowen, suggests that Theosophy is Jnana Yoga, i.e. it is the true knowing in which one IS that which one knows.
Now, on the basis of this, certain considerations may be kept in mind. The SD is not a narrative or a description, but a peculiar exposition. I always think that, you know, just even reading through it, from the first page to the last, at least helps us to enter into its spirit. Now, such sequential reading obviously will not provide understanding! But, as I suggested last night, it is a tremendous mystery story. It is thrilling, it is a thriller. And so, just reading through it one picks up all sorts of clues to the mystery. Since the true subject of the work is not something which changes, the work really need have no sequence. Let me illustrate this. Those of you who have at least opened the book and have immersed yourselves in some way will recognise that its basis consists of certain Stanzas from a very ancient archaic manuscript. Now, these Stanzas are numbered, sequentially. And we become very much accustomed, as we study, to these numbers. For example, there are seven Stanzas in Vol. l. And yet HPB tells us at one point that 11 Stanzas were omitted. In other places she informs us that only CERTAIN of the slokas or verses within the Stanzas were translated. Now, these Stanzas in Vol. l are numbered 1 - 7. In Vol. 2., dealing with anthropogenesis, on the other hand, the slokas are not numbered within the Stanzas but are numbered ON, in quite a different way. Indeed, Prem and Ashish have suggested a rearrangement of the slokas of Vol. 2. And therefore I suggest one can enter the work at any point and move in, as it were, two directions to begin to see the total picture. The reason why, of course, there is a certain sequence, particularly in Vol. l., is because the KNOWABLE universe DOES display a complex physical and superphysical structure. It is a structure again. however, in which, one part being present, all parts are present.
Now, let me add another point to keep in mind. As you will know, we are approaching the centenary of the publication of the SD. The science to which HPB referred as supporting or not supporting the work - the science on which it can draw for current proof has been emerging only in this century. Indeed. one of the Masters wrote that "science is our best ally". It was not an ally a century ago! It is a very firm ally today in its frontiers of thought. So I suggest that it is useful to have some knowledge of the current state in the physical and life sciences. When we do have such a knowledge, we can speak more meaningfully to the numerous scientists who are, indeed, looking for a deeper understanding. One of the exciting things that we have found, e.g. in the USA is the number of scientists who have come to the TS, who have found in the SD philosophical and physical support for ideas which are stirring within them.
Let me share with you an incident which I related at the English summer school. Each year at the opening of the Krotona School, I endeavour to secure a major speaker to give our opening address. This is not always someone who is a member of the Society, but is someone who will give us very good publicity to attract a very large audience to our opening event. And, obviously, it must be someone who has sympathy for and an understanding of some of the fundamental concepts of the theosophical philosophy. In the past months before I left Krotona I was seeking such an individual to give the opening talk for our Fall term in September. I finally wrote to a Dr. Willis Harmon. Dr. H. is a Professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University. That is one of the most prestigious universities in the US. He is also well known for a number of books which he has written along scientific lines. In addition, he is President of the Institute of Noetic Sciences. This Institute was founded by Edgar Mitchell, one of the early astronauts, or the purpose of research into the realms of consciousness, including, of course, brain research. I wrote Dr. Harmon a long letter introducing him to the Krotona Institute and telling him something of my own background in the Society, and invited him to give our opening address, if his honorarium was not too high! (Laughter) The day following the mailing of the letter - he telephoned me rather than replying by letter, and he said: "It will be an honour to address your Institute", and he added: "Aren't you happy to see the extent to which Theosophy is now accepted in the world?” I nearly fell over! And I asked him hat he meant by that statement. And he said that the ideas that had been presented through the Theosophical Society are now common knowledge among all scientists - and the work which the TS has done has pioneered all of the contemporary scientific advances. And he added: “The only honorarium I ask is that whatever you would like to donate to OUR Institute of Noetic Sciences will be welcome - in order to continue our own researches." So it is useful, I think, to speak with some knowledge of the current state in the physical and life sciences. We need not fight the battles of a century ago. We have enough battles to fight this century! For the next step must be this very emphasis on living the life - in other words, that the esoteric tradition, the Wisdom Tradition is known by the life one lives, that these principles have moral and ethical values - and that this is where our work may well lie.
Now, a further point to keep in mind is that statements of the Eternal Truth - or perhaps we should say Truth about the Eternal - in the SD are drawn from all cultures. And HPB draws from all cultures with a sublime and assured impartiality! Consequently, some general acquaintance with many of the past societies may be useful. But for this one needs to have a proper estimate of the psychology and metaphysics of culture. Culture in the sense of the SD is not physical artefacts, such as pyramids, paintings and so on ... poetry. These are only the signs of an inner, human transformation. What is emphasised is that here is a physical, culture process in a society, associated with corresponding method of understanding. For example the Caldean mode of thought led to achievements in astrology and astronomy. The very use of certain terms from other cultures, whether Hebrew, Sanskrit, Tibetan and so on, introduces us to a metaphysic of those cultures. And this often touches again on this problem of language, e.g. English and most Indo-European languages - therefore Norwegian also - are two-term logic languages. Either a thing is or it is not. If I say this is a table, by inference I am saying it is not a microphone, a chair or a window. Tibetan is a four-term logic language, a quite different logic from ours. And one has to be prepared for this in the SD. The doctrine, in other words, is often unlocked by means of keys developed or perceived through these other correspondences. And therefore the wider contact we have and consequently our study of the religious experiences of humanity - just one example - this wider contact enables us to perceive more and more of the doctrine.
One more point - and then we will have coffee! The SD declares that the origins of the universe are inscrutable and the nature of the Real is to be experienced only after evolution is complete. We are still incomplete! We have yet to explore all that is involved in what it is to be human. I realise that there are some Theosophists who would like to skip this stage and enter super-humanity at once! There are other Theosophists of course who have lost all hope for humanity and therefore are working now on the animal kingdom to ensure that they get into the next Round! (Laughter) But our function is right here at this very critical point in the turning of the wheel, if you like, which is the human kingdom. Perhaps much more exciting, of course, to skip into the superhuman or to regress into the animal! You know - the grass on the other side of the fence always looks greener! But our work is HERE. And consequently the nature of the Real is experienced at each step along the way. Again, it cannot be merely intellectualised, since the Reality IS living, blissful, both infinite and non-infinite, eternal and non-eternal, impersonal and personal. Nevertheless, the SD implies that the nature of the Real can be usefully judged in anticipation of experience through the phenomenal or manifested universe. Each individual inheres in the noumenal. We exhibit Reality. Each individual - if you want to put it in contemporary terms - each one of us is a hologram. And, therefore, each fragment, as in a holographic picture, contains the whole - so each one of us contains the whole. And consequently we begin to exhibit that as we undertake this work. Because each one of us inheres in Reality, we can realise the Truth in two ways. Both of these are required: SELF-SCRUTINY and SELF-MASTERY.
Well, I will leave it at that. You will feel I have not really come to the SD as yet! But we needed to lay a certain groundwork. I don't want to frighten you too much at first!
I am feeling my way and sharing with you as much as I can in those Four sessions together and trying to decide as I go along what may be most useful and most helpful - and also, I hope, most intriguing, because I hope to intrigue anyone who has not gone into the SD, anyone who has not at least dared to open it, to at least say, "Gee, that sounds INTERESTING"! So I hope that you will at least feel the excitement. It IS exciting. And I suggest that there is nothing more exciting in our literature. And I will tell you, however, it is also dangerous! But the door is closed - you are caught!! (In my ideal Lodge ... some of the English members saw this demonstrated at Nottingham ... It is a lodge called "Hodge-Podge Lodge" ... the lock is on the inside and in order to get out you have to deposit … perhaps 5 Kroner, here …) But the danger simply is that - I might as well be frank with you that the SD is like a secret virus that attacks the system! There is no known cure! Once it gets hold of you, you have the virus for life ... He says "Many lives"! I was going to let you off with ONE life! But there you are. You now have been subjected to this virus and it will begin working in you - no matter what! - you are caught! The virus takes hold! I recognise this was not mentioned in the preliminary announcements. I never send advance information of this kind!
Well, I would like to continue this afternoon - still introductory - and try to show you something of the scope that is involved in the SD.
I mentioned this morning the experience which I had in contacting Dr. Willis Harmon. One of Dr. Harmon's statements in his writings, it seems to me, helps us to understand or appreciate the way in which we can approach the SD. He has stated that science is not so much a description of reality as it is a metaphor for ordering our experience. And in one sense the SD is a great metaphor for the ordering of phenomenal universes. This I think must be kept very clearly in mind. E.g. understanding of this metaphor which is the SD is possible only if it is realised that the phenomenal world is not made out of substance but out of principles which have been called elements. That is, the apparent matter of experience is not space-filling, but is, instead, an aggregate of points and essences of spiritual consciousness. We can put it very simply: The world as we know it is made out of spirit or consciousness, and it only BEHAVES as if it were material. This is a very essential point.
Now, basic of course to understanding theosophical metaphysics, the SD postulates 3 Fundamental Propositions, and these must be grasped in essence before any detailed study of the doctrine can be undertake. We can briefly summarise them by three words, each of which begins with BE: BE-NESS, BECOMING and BEING.
BE-NESS: The idea, the fundamental principle of an ultimate Reality beyond ALL human comprehension and beyond all delimiting language. It underlies the entire system. It is ever present. It is unchangeable. But it permits or makes possible all changes, all modes or conditions of being. It is the acknowledgement of that ultimate Reality which marks the theosophical view as non-dualistic. I suggest that there have been occasions when we have said that the theosophical philosophy is monistic. More properly, we should recognise that it is non-dualistic. And there is a subtle philosophical and metaphysical difference. The existence of one implies the existence of many. Let me illustrate: In a number, of North-American Indian languages the concept of number is all in terms of one number, i.e. there is only one. Two is the two-ness of one. Three is the three-ness of one. You see why this morning I suggested familiarity with some of the cultures on which HPB drew. In a philosophical and psychological and metaphysical sense it is helpful to us. In terms of the SD, this is very clearly stated in one of the slokas: "From no number issued one number". The presence of one number indicates a succession of numbers, the whole complex, an infinite number of numbers. And yet, because again, to look at the Stanzas on which HPB based these volumes we have a process not of addition but of multiplication. And 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 ... is what? It is still one. Is not that right? So the system in metaphysics is non-dualistic, because it is beyond ALL numbers. It is therefore BE-NESS, in which all possibilities are present in the multiplicity of points of consciousness. And a point has no dimension. It is everywhere simultaneously present. So we begin to see that it is not a monistic system but it is grounded in a non-dualism. But the issuance or emergence or possibility of its expression is always in terms of a principle of periodicity.
And this of course forms the Second Fundamental Proposition: Cyclic change is possible because there is that which never changes. And consequently that cyclic change or principle of periodicity is orderly and lawful. It is harmonic and therefore beautiful in the sense in which Plato used that term. It may be perhaps most clearly suggested if we look at it in this way - that the movement out from that essential primordial word - Logos - which is orderly and harmonic moves in two directions, one of which is known in the Greek as metron - which gives us harmony and is also that which is now measurable but equally important for the Greek philosophy - AND Theosophy - is the other leg on which this orderliness rests, known in the Greek as arete. This then becomes the beautiful because everything in a manifested universe is approximate. No measurement can be exact. It is always only approximate. But it is always proportion that is proper - appropriate. We can then say - in Platonic terms - that this is the True, the Beautiful and - most important and what has been forgotten in today's world - the Good. And any one of these without the other would not be meaningful. The relation between the Good and the Beautiful leads to the True. The relation between the True and the Beautiful leads towards the Good. And the Good and the True give us the Beautiful. This is of course Plato's philosophy, and it is beautifully exemplified in the SD. The Good is that indeed which resides in the True and the Beautiful. From this point of view, one cannot know the Truth without doing the Good. Therefore: "Live the life if you would come to the Wisdom". We begin to see this inherent beauty of the whole system. But the process is defined here in terms of BECOMING.
Now, the Third Fundamental Proposition carries this a step further and tells us very simply of the ultimate identity of consciousness, however that consciousness manifests. And consequently the unfoldment or pilgrimage of individualised consciousness is in accordance with the harmonic lawfulness indicated in the Second Proposition, ultimately reaching that stage of Self-consciousness characteristic of the man stage when the entire pilgrimage now proceeds by what HPB calls ‘self-induced and self-devised efforts’. Here is the theosophic, anthropic principle.
Now, it is based on these Propositions that the SD describes what we may call the "stages of the appearance of a universe", but we must remember that these come about without impairing in any way the wholeness of the causal noumenon. No phenomenal process ever goes on apart from its causal source, and this is most important because we frequently refer to this entire process as "Maya". And it is a very useful word if we really understand what it means. We have become accustomed to its translation as "illusion". But I think we have grossly underestimated or misunderstood the implications in the word "Maya" itself. So I will probably set you straight tomorrow! I will at least give you what I consider the "authoritative version" - hum - the version according to Joy Mills!!
What we are dealing with, then is indeed an appearance which is transient and perishable and whose metron is always approximate. And yet this is our only access to that in which it is rooted. Occasionally, as I go to various places around the world, I am asked to send a photograph in advance! ... and of course, this may be for publicity purposes or so that ... it is hoped somebody will be able to recognise me at an airport! But the photograph is an APPEARANCE, you see, and it is only an approximation, it captures in a flash - a moment - that which is all the time in process. If you say, "Well, then, we will take a motion picture, then we would have more", but you have not, because motion pictures are frames that are individual, static moments. And they are run at a speed that gives you the ILLUSION of process. All you need to do is to examine a movie film and you see there are separate frames which are static, aren't they? So we have to be very careful about this whole matter of appearance. And I emphasise this simply to tell you that what we are now having to deal with are the stages in the APPEARANCE of what we now term a universe.
But we can suggest some of the greater features of this process.
First of all, Parabrahm ever exists. It is the only field, and in this field exist in turn immortal points related to that field. But there is no duality, because points are not things. The points may be called root-matter. If you want the Sanskrit - and I throw it in now and then because it makes most people feel a little more comfortable. It sort of makes you feel that - you know - it was worth your while to get me here! I don't want to disappoint anyone, you see!
So we can call these points Mulaprakriti. In other words, this is our view of that unsayable Reality.
So actual manifestation - and this is the second point then - actual manifestation is preceded by a state in which Parabrahm and Prakriti are a non-dual polarity ... paradox! It is a non-dual polarity, because THIS being present, THAT is also present. So - duality is two separate things, but there are no THINGS to deal with. It is a polarisation, in other words, within the one, which is both Parabrahm and Prakriti. Prakriti or Mulaprakriti, then, may be termed the peculiar points with potential properties. And those potential properties exhibit themselves in terms of different fields. The original potential properties are given an interesting name in the SD. They are called - just again, to make you feel comfortable! - they are called the three Gunas. I call them the three "Guna-Boys". They are triplets, you know, they are sons of the original dynamism Fohat. He had triplets! I mean why not look at this, you see, as a good novel? It is the original great mystery thriller, isn't it? So you have to get acquainted with the guna-boys!
Now, this change as it exhibits itself, is accompanied by the simultaneous manifestation of cosmic principles, principles which determine the subsequent character and behaviour of all organisations and structures within the manifest universe. These organisations and structures are both material, in the sense that they can be exhibited, and they are hierarchical.
Now, personalisation, then occurs and that is the fourth point I wish to make. Personalisation occurs at the cosmic level. Divine ideation or Mahat is the resultant of the total elemental resources of the universe. You are accustomed to seeing this in terms of the unmanifest Logoi becoming, then the Creative Logos bringing forth the system. But if the personalisation were not present in the original source, we would not be persons - Purusha. We have to keep this very much in mind, but it does not mean that in that personalisation we are not grounded in an identity of consciousness. This process results in the human and other conscious potential organisations coming into appearance.
And once appearance begins, Time begins. Perhaps it is more appropriate to say that sequence begins, mainly because we are today learning a great deal about what is time. We are learning, e.g., that there are different kinds of time. There is of course clock-time, chronological time, here on earth, but even that time - chronological time - differs as we move away from earth's gravitational field into the gravitational field of the planets of our own solar system. There is of course psychological time. How long is an hour? If you are discussing the SD, it may go by very rapidly - or it may drag! And our walking in the rain may be different from our hiking in the sun. There is biological time. So there are a variety of different kinds of time. One contemporary writer, who incidentally will be visiting the Krotona School of Theosophy next winter, is Dr. Larry Dorsay (?), who is a medical doctor specialising in internal medicine. Dr. D., who has spoken at our National HQ, has written a very interesting book called "Time, Space and Medicine". It is an absolutely fascinating book, because his thesis is that most of our illness arises from a wrong perception of time, that we suffer from a time-sickness, and this time-sickness manifests in a variety of different illnesses, including cancer and heart disease, the two major killers in the western world today. So. rather than time beginning, we should say that sequence begins and that sequence is very important, because it gives rise also to not only a variety of kinds of time but permits conditions that we call time-less and also conditions that have been called by ... the principle of synchronicity.
And we begin to understand some of the ancient cultural interpretations of time, e.g. the Hopi Indians of the American South-West do not have any words in the past tense.
Now, this is not that they do not recognise that there was a yesterday or that there were ancestors, but in their language, all of this that occurred is still present. And therefore they have a different way of expressing what occurred yesterday. In fact, it was a member of the TS who did a great deal of research into this aspect of linguistics. This member was Dr. Benjamin Whorf, whose work "Language, Thought and Reality" expressed the fundamental concept and was first presented in an article in "The Theosophist" in the late 1930s. Some of you, who were at the English summer school at Nottingham will remember that Dr. John Algeo spoke of the Whorf theory. There is not time now for me to explore it in depth, but only to refer to it in passing.
Now, because this personalisation through points occurs at the cosmic level, conscious potential organisations come into appearance. And the human is indeed, for our system, the central organisation. Hence the importance of what we can call "the man stage". This is very important because the entire system is now advanced by self-conscious effort. The human situation, in other words, is delimited as one of several and the evolution of systems proceeds. And hence HPB makes it very clear in the SD that every being in the universe either was, is or will be man. And it is the study of man, then, that parallels the study of cosmology. Now, when we see this in terms of the Stanzas presented in Vol. l. of the SD, we recognise the whole pattern of cosmogenesis. This whole picture of cosmogenesis is given to us in these first Stanzas in the Volume on Cosmogenesis. Hence, there must be seven stages and could only be seven stages, although (recall what I said) many Stanzas were eliminated. As HPB tells us, in fact, 11 Stanzas were omitted. So it is not the numbering of the Stanzas that is important but the recognition of certain steps or Stages in the revelation, the appearance of a manifested system.
(1) In fact, I have often suggested that if you had only Stanza of the SD you would have everything necessary to build a universe. I am sure HPB would appreciate my saying this now. It would have saved her so much trouble writing the rest of the SD! Everything is given to us in Stanza and we can summarise that Stanza as simply "nought" (See diagramme!) because "Nought was". Again and again in the slokas of that Stanza: this was not, this was not, this was not! Time was not, for it lay in the infinite bosom of duration. The consciousness - the Ah-Hi were not, because there was nothing of which to be conscious. The causes of misery and the ways to bliss were not. And so on it goes on. Have you ever wondered, e.g., why in that one sloka, these two are put together: the causes of misery and the ways to bliss? They are together because they are precisely the same! We think that, if we can get rid of the causes of misery, we will be on our way to bliss. In a manifested universe, they are exactly mirror-images of each other. Or, as the great Greek philosopher, Heraclites, put it, the way up is the way down! The way down is the way up! It is so beautiful, you see, so all you need is the first Stanza! Now, of course, I do invite you to read the rest of the SD! But you will discover that everything that was NOT in Stanza 1 has to stand forth, exist, for a manifested system. So if you are really in earnest, you can go ahead and build your own manifested universe out of Stanza 1! This is of course the ultimate power latent in man, as spoken of in the Third Object of the TS. I really have not found anyone able to do it yet - and I can't do it. That of course is why I became a teacher! Those who can DO and those who can't TEACH! So I prefer to teach until I can do something about creating a universe. But I am telling you, you see, how to do it and you can go ahead. I don't care if ... there is no copyright on this ...! Actually, you are doing it all the time, because we know now that we DO create our own universe, that we cannot even perceive anything in the universe without altering that which we perceive by the very act of our perception. And this, e.g., is well known in the field of sub-atomic physics. The physicist Dr. John Wheeler has put it very simply: "We live in a participatory universe". This, at the sub-atomic level, is very evident to all physicists, and by analogy we can see that it is true at all successive levels.
Again, let me illustrate. When I look at night - if there were a clear sky – presumably sometimes you have clear skies! (We had one on Sunday, so I know it does come about!) ... you may be able to see the Andromeda Galaxy, not necessarily with the naked eye, but through the telescope. But what you are seeing left that galaxy 40 billion years ago. You can never see the stars as they are. The time that it takes for the light to reach us is approximately measurable. And we measure it in a scale known as light-years, which is simply the time that it takes light to travel (186.000 miles per second) in a year. Now, there is a measurable period of time that elapses when we look at each other. And that. too, is measurable - but not in terms of light-years! - but in terms of microseconds. The same situation obtains. We never look at each other as we are, but always as we were. We always see each other in that moment which is already past. What would happen if our vision were suddenly to change and consciously we looked at everything as it WILL BE? What in we were to look at every human being as that human being WILL be. This is a direct beholding, this is spiritual perception. We CAN change the world by our view of it; just as the physicist changes the behaviour of quarks etc. … and all of the subatomic particles by his observation, WE can change the entire world by our observation. This is indeed the supreme spiritual power
latent in man. Instead of that, we fool around with this Third Object and think it refers to psychic powers. And the psychic powers are indeed part of our past history. But, as "The Voice of the Silence" clearly reminds us, the genuine powers are of the future and to be awakened in us as we take ourselves in hand.
So, to come back: Everything that was NOT is necessary for a manifested system.
(2) The second stage is a subtle differentiation which is perhaps best expressed by what I have used as a hyphenated word: ''not-yet". Now, the very expression "not yet" means that something will occur.
(3) And what occurs is an expansion from within outwards. And always therefore it is from that centre, whether you call it the heart of the lotus or the seed - or whatever you call it - it is an expansion of that, an opening into visible existence of that one Reality. But it does not exhaust that one Reality, as we have already said. And this we may call then, actually, the first stage of manifestation. It is best described in the very simple words: "Darkness radiates light". It is, in other words, a polarisation of the original state of fusion. It is a radial expansion along the spirit-matter dimension of the universal, primordial web or substratum of Reality.
I think I have used my time. Do you mind another few moments: You can sleep, you know ... I do not mind. Other people have slept through my talks. But there is so much of course and I will try just to get it in.
But this radial expansion can easily be compared - and analogy is very important - is as though we have a crystalline solution ... in fact one of the Upanishads uses this very analogy of the salt dissolved in water ... Chandogya-Upanishad, thank you. Now, out of that solution, there are axial lines of the crystal which we call salt. Those axial lines are not visible until the solution itself, as it were, comes into light, if I may put it that way. E.g., in our earth, there are
14 known axial structures for all crystals. This, of course, is well illustrated by the so-called Platonic Solids. And it is a kind of radiation of the axial structure from the primordial darkness, if you like. In other words, if the water is evaporated, the structure of the crystal emerges. But where was that structure when the salt was immersed in the water? - if it was present.
(4) One can use another illustration. When one enters a dark room, anything could be in that room. In the darkness, anything could be there - tables and chairs and spiders and dragons and so on. Once one puts on the light, it is not that there is so much more in the room, but that it is now defined and therefore so much LESS. Therefore, differentiation comes with that light. And this marks the second stage or the activation of the contents of universal mind. And the primordial causal powers organise these energies into hierarchies of being, so that before the entirely unmanifest content of the ever-darkness can be brought into full objectivity, it is brought into manifestation as what we may call divine imaginals. And these divine imaginals may be seen as what we call the levels of the universe, and we think of them as spacially separate, whereas in fact they are simultaneously present. I may elaborate on this again in the morning because it is extremely interesting to know.
(5) But it is therefore moving into the third stage, which is the fifth in the series here, which is condensation which permits exteriorisation.
(6) One can put it that the imaginal content of divine mind now assumes form. And so that exteriorisation results in formation.
(7) And there becomes exhibited a sentiency which enables us to contact the visibility of all forms about us.
This is well summarised in the seven Stanzas as given in the SD in the three primary stages of bringing about a universe. - So now you can go and bring forth a universe on your own. But if you find you cannot quite make it - we shall try to help you tomorrow morning!
STAGES OF MANIFESTATION
1. Darkness radiates Light
I have been discussing with my translator some of the problems involved. We are swimming together. It is because I would like to introduce you to some aspects of the SD that are finding verification in other areas. There are of course marvellous discoveries in various fields of science that today support increasingly concepts given in the SD a century ago.
But perhaps even more exciting is the availability of some Tibetan texts hitherto unknown in the western world. And some of these direct support the concepts given in the Stanzas. I think this is exciting because, for many years, scholars have questioned the authenticity of the Stanzas themselves. Not that this makes much difference to us, but it is useful to see the extent to which HPB's knowledge was indeed derived from Tibetan esotericism. One of the quite exciting books published within the past year or so is by a noted Tibetan scholar, Dr. Herbert Guenther. Dr. G. is a professor in Tibetan literature and language at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. And the work which he has translated - and I might say, if you think the SD is difficult, this is really tough! - but it is a Tibetan text which has not hitherto been available to us - at least in English. And the title of his book is "The Matrix of Mystery". And the Matrix of Mystery is man himself. He suggests a triplicity underlying manifestation from the Primordial One. And he has translated this in a wonderful way which is very difficult! In essence, what this ancient Tibetan text (whose name I am not giving you, because I do not know how to really pronounce Tibetan) ... what the text reveals is what he translates as "the first stirring within being". Now, this first stirring within Being, which is what we have called the dynamic process which results in the emanation of a manifested system, this produces what Guenther translates as "the three modalities of pristine cognitiveness". This, in other words, points to the fact which is exactly what Ianthe was saying last night: the universe is conscious through and through - Intelligence came first! And these three modalities of pristine cognitiveness at the same time remain an undivided whole. Just as we pointed out yesterday, if you take a piece out of a hologram, it will contain the whole. If you do not know the process of holography, it is a very interesting one. It is a kind of photography without a lense, in which a laser beam has been directed at an object. And lasers are discrete light. Incidentally, if you go to London now, there is a very interesting exhibition of Russian holography at the Trocadero in Piccadilly. I went all through it because I am so interested in this whole subject, so you might make a trip to London! I think it is on till August. Now, just so, this "pristine cognitiveness", as Guenther translates it, is present in everything. As he translates one part of this really very ancient Tibetan text ... I'll read it and then our poor translator will struggle through it! But it is so exciting to see that we are now having access to texts which really in essence support the Stanzas themselves. The text is:
"In each body of every sentient being there resides pristine cognitiveness, tending towards its coming-into-presence. It coils itself up in its own bed, which is the continuum of Being, the spontaneous bareness of Being."
Isn't that wonderful? For those of you who understand English, I think you begin to let it work inside you! If you begin to meditate on it, it is a tremendous thing! Now, I admit that it is simpler perhaps to say that Intelligence came first and IS present all the time! But this adds to it, this marvellous proposal that there is a spontaneous presence of Being wherever there is any point in the universe.
So what we were going to look at today, particularly this morning (it may go on until the afternoon!) is this whole process of exteriorisation, which, as you may remember from yesterday, is the THIRD STAGE. You remember, I suggested yesterday there are seven steps which really correlate with the first seven Stanzas of the SD. The first two, "Naught" and "Not-yet", are pre-stage 1., i.e. Stage 1. of manifestation.
Often we call this pre-manifestation stage "Chaos", but we have to realise that the Greek word Chaos does not mean disorder. The word itself really means pre-order, therefore possessing within it all potential of order. At least in English, the word "chaotic" has come to mean disorderly. But this is really quite a misapplication of the original meaning. It may perhaps be best expressed by the fact that, in the Indo-European languages, "chaos" is related to the German word "gahnen", which means to yawn. But it means to yawn, and indeed this is found in Norse mythology, that Ymer yawns. This is incidentally why it is also exciting to study comparative mythology. We could go into that whole area also! But please note that, when you yawn (I think it is too early in the day for that - this afternoon, when all of you will be ready to yawn!) - but if you yawn, please note that immediately there is a kind of ring-pass-not formed automatically by the structuring principle of our very body.
Now, when you yawn, there may be sound, but there is not articulation of words. What happens when we speak is that we interrupt yawns. We bring into play the tongue, the hard and soft palate, the lips, the teeth, all of these, along with the larynx and vocal chords. It has been suggested that there is a primary sound - vibration - underlying all process and that, actually, the formation of everything in the universe is the delimitation of that sound. The Absolute, from this point of view, is not soundless, but rather lacks any differentiation of sound. This is a whole other area of study, which time does not permit me to pursue. But it is very well: taken up in a fascinating work by a scientist who, unfortunately, died very young in an air-crash, after being at a seminar at our national HQ at Wheaton. His name was Izak Bentov, and his work is called "Stalking the Wild Pendulum", which may not make much sense until you read the book! I like titles that intrigue one, because then you inevitably read the book! Now, he begins his work with an analysis of sound, waves and vibration and points to the primacy of sound. As he says, we are constantly surrounded by sound. We know that, if we bring a radio into this room and turn it on, we might hear speech, music - almost anything that is on the various radio stations. But there is not some hidden dwarf in the radio producing this. We know very well that we are all the time surrounded by sound-waves. We need instruments to bring it into actual hearing. Now, what that does technically, is to interfere with the primary sound. In other words, from the point of view of science, there are interference patterns which then make sound audible in a meaningful way to us. As Bentov has put it, our reality is a vibratory reality, filled by sounds of different kinds. We respond to differences in these sounds. There has been another very interesting scientist, who was a member of the TS in the USA, who has actually pointed out and illustrated that every object has its own sound because of the different vibrations in atomic waves. This particular individual, Dr. Andrews, worked closely with Fritz Kunz and produced a film which we have at our HQ, which illustrates the difference between the sound, say, of the Venus de Milo statue and a work by Picasso. From the point of view of this knowledge, which is factual knowledge, that we are indeed surrounded by sound, the Absolute is not so much a condition or a state without sound as a state without DIFFERENCES in sound or, to be more technical, without any interference patterns. Every existent thing in the universe is nothing but an interference pattern. And so, when there are different frequences, we call these "fields", which, by their very nature, organise the structures within the fields. One can then visualise even physical matter as being a beat - a frequency. So one can visualise all things in existence as possessing a certainly frequency, a beat. And there is all the time an interaction of sounds of different beats. And therefore, because sound is primary, the whole universe is in constant and instant communication. Indeed, this is what this ancient Tibetan text which Dr. G. has translated points out. And there it is put that the entire manifested system is "beings speaking", so any serious event - any event (I should not say serious) - can be known instantly across the universe by consciousness whose interest is to know these things.
The implication of such a concept is really quite startling. I'll quote Bentov in this matter: "We can be sure that we are sharing a universe in which all the problems which may seem to be problems to us at present have been solved over and over by civilisations ahead of us in time."
We may say therefore that all knowledge that was ever generated is potentially available to us at some point or other in the universe. So the important thing to realise is that the universe is self-excited. And, indeed, this is the very term that is used by Dr. John Wheeler, who is a Professor of Physics, Nobel-Prize winner, now at the University of Texas. I bring this in because, you see, from ancient Tibetan texts to the SD, to contemporary thought, the same thing is being said. Incidentally, this is why I am using here the term "Akasha" as the fundamental fabric of the Universe, because its primary characteristic is sound. We find this also, incidentally, in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. What is the sound of the Self? You see, if you are only an interference pattern in the Absolute, what sound are you making? Remember that in the Pythagorean School one of the fundamental studies was that of music or harmony, based on number. Does this not make us aware that every word we speak has power? Do we watch our words? Even our very physical body produces a sound. Our thoughts are chattering and noisy. Our emotions have their own particular beat or rhythm. It may at times sound like jazz! So we must be aware of the very practical applications of this.
Now, it is because of this primary sound that Dr. Wheeler suggests that the universe can be regarded as a self-excited circuit. And he has visualised the universe therefore as a giant YOU, which has within it its own dynamism. This is the point which, from the point of view of science, is called "the Big Bang" and indeed one may say that the emanation of a system was a terrific BANG! It was all sound together! In the beginning was the word - sound - and God SAID. And in all mythologies sound is primary. It is marvellous. I debated giving you some of these stories from mythology to entertain you. I might even do that this afternoon, because it is quite interesting, you see. There are North-American mythologies in which the creative elements are a coyote and a wolf. I do not know if you know the coyote, but it has a marvellous "Ooooh!", particularly on moonlit nights. It is a fascinating story, incidentally, because the wolf goes to sleep while the coyote does all the work and he wakes up the wolf and the wolf is hungry and devours everything that the coyote has produced. I just put that in to relax you a little bit, you know. But you can see there is a deep esoteric symbolism in that story.
In one of the Upanishads - Ianthe always knows which one - I don't know - I always say just "in one of the Upanishads" - there are two birds sitting on a tree. (Ianthe: It occurs twice: One is Svetasvatara and the other is the Mundaka.) You see, if you thought I was using big words, wait till you hear Ianthe ...! Anyway, there are two birds, and one is just sitting there watching. Here is the wolf who goes to sleep, you see, and coyote, the other bird ... it's interesting. These are different figures drawn out of the mythology of different people, out of their knowledge. (I don't think there were coyotes in that part of India!) Well, now that you have had your relaxation, we will come back to ...
The universe is self-excited because, of course, what happens here, what is the thrust, the dynamism ... Of course, my old friend, my favourite character in the SD, my VERY favourite character, FOHAT. You know, there about 300 references to Fohat in the SD. He is THERE, throughout the whole thing, sort of Peter Pannish! He flies in and out and does all sorts of things! At one point, he even has a son! Fohat Junior. She does not call him that, but ... You see why I say that the SD is fun! And it is serious business - but why should we not have fun? If all we are interference patterns in the Absolute, we might just as well interfere happily! (Geoffrey: He had a lot more fun than you are indicating. He had sons! Joy: Yes, I know he did. - And nobody knows who the mother was, half the time! - It was the Great Mother ... she WAS great, with all those sons! ...)
Well, all right ... now this self-exciting, once it starts, (Bentov?) says - suggests (and this is very interesting to note) moves forward, moves outward ON ITSELF, because Space is curved. This of course Einstein discovered - but the Absolute knew it first! And so everything moves in curves, and, so far as our system is concerned, it has its own natural limits. For a manifested system HPB uses the term "Ring-Pass-Not". But we all have our curved space, as it were. (I know some people have more curves than others! I am sorry, I can't ...!) But there is a natural limit in all things, if you like. And you will note that the perfect form is always that of a sphere. But the interesting thing about a sphere - which I cannot really draw very perfectly - it's the way the earth wobbles too! - is because it is within its own orbit, as it were, has its own natural limit, because space is curved. Its measurability is never exact. No matter how large or how small a sphere or a circle you draw, the diameter is always an inexact figure. I presume you learned this also in Norway, as I learned it in the USA. And that relation of the diameter to the circumference is - what? π. So it is 3.1415 … on and on and on. It is exactly the number that HPB gives, so she learned it too! And it is exactly the number that is given in sloka 3 of Stanza 4. So you see, those who prepared the Stanzas knew it too. So it is always inexact, and that inexactitude is in this power which we call Maya. And it is that then which, in coming forth, thrusts forth to produce, as Dr. Wheeler suggests, the observership of the universe. That is supposed to be an eye.* I am afraid I do not draw very well. I should have had Ianthe to draw. She did not have this. I thought if Ianthe can have all those pictures, I can have a picture too! And this is the whole symbol, then of exteriorisation, because the culmination is indeed in terms of the OBSERVER. And so, as Dr. Wheeler and other physicists are stating today, the existence of the observer completes the circuit. And the existence of an observer is as essential to the emanation of a universe as the universe is to the production of an observer. So we have come, as it were, full-circle, to a realisation that there can be nothing coldly objective in our observations. There must always be the presence of the observer, whether that be an actual human being or a machine which has been placed there by a human being and whose data will be evaluated by a human being.
Now, one can apply this in quite a variety of ways, because there is always the self-limiting of area of being. And therefore, by that very process, everything must react upon that which sends forth the entire system. Consequently, it gives rise to the utter lawfulness of the system, which is indeed the harmonic basis of the system. The universe is through and through harmonic. We call that law of harmony KARMA. And often we think of it therefore not so much as a law of harmony as a law of - blast you! Why did you do that?! But because the system is curved, it always returns to its source. But because the system is also through and through vibrational, we share in that harmonic of everything in the system. What I am saying in perhaps rather complicated terms is simply that no-one can ever, say "This is MY karma - or YOUR karma", because we are all inter-related. The very interference patterns in the primary sound, Akasha, indicate an inter-relationship. And therefore constant interruption. Does this not give rise to that part of the triangle I had yesterday with the arete? The very fact that we ARE responsible for the Good of all life on this planet? We certainly can never say: "Stop the world! I want to get off!" We are IN the system because we ARE the system.
Just one more quotation, this time from the physicist Dr. William Tiller: "As we move off the purely physical path in our future experimentation, we will need to include, clearly define and quantitatively measure those states of bias because we shall find that the human mind and human intention alter the very substratum in which our physical laws operate." Do you realise the tremendous implications of such a statement? That the human mind and human intention alter the very substratum in which our physical laws operate. This of course calls us back to the primary fact that Intelligence comes first. Perhaps this is why we have to recognise, as the great physicist Neils Bohr put it: When it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. And he added - and you will remember he was responsible for formulating the quantum theory - he suggested therefore that the quantum theory provides us with a striking illustration of the fundamental fact that we can fully understand a connection, though we can only speak of it in images and parabolas. And so we are never speaking of any process external to ourselves, although we use the term "exteriorisation". We can no longer dissociate ourselves from anything in the universe. We ARE the universe, and that self-excited circuit is in us to be given conscious direction. Therefore the pivotal doctrine of the SD, says HPB, is that there are no special gifts in man save those won by his own effort - and that is dependent on self-induced and self-devised efforts, so through his own effort throughout a series of incarnation and metempsychoses ...
I think it is very interesting that HPB used both those words: reincarnations and metempsychoses, because the latter word indicates: There is no point, my friends, in putting it off to another life! You can change your entire psychological structure, the kama-manasic structure, if you like, RIGHT NOW! And that is the genuine metempsychosis. It is the inner transformation that will indeed produce the kind of universe we want, the kind of world we really desire to see. If. you don't like the world the way it is, then change yourself! I mean, it is as simple as that. It is having a new point of view. It is seeing things in a new and different way.
Our time is up and …
I did not get to all of this! (Blackboard) We did not get to those marvellous words. This is Guenther's terms for those three, this is his translation from the Tibetan text. This triplicity of the pristine cognativeness: Facticity, actuality and resonating concern. They are marvellous terms, I think, not easily explained - but then, they are better in English than in Tibetan. I mean, I would have been giving them in Tibetan, if I had been capable of that. You might really have been lost! You might have thought I knew a great deal! I hope that it has not been so exhausting and that you will be back at 4 o'clock for the next ... it is not the conclusion, you know, it is just the next part in this marvellous thriller ... I will still leave you up at the end, because YOU have to find a conclusion yourself, YOU have to find it for yourself ... It is Sherlock Holmes that will help you - that is Buddhi-Manas. But YOU have to find Sherlock Holmes yourself. If you mistake Sherlock Holmes for Moriarty, that too is Maya! Well, you have been wonderful, and I know you have nothing else to do anyway this morning!
I want to see if we can somewhat complete the picture of the process. Now, I think that it is this that we are really enmeshed in and we are concerned with this process. I have called it a process of exteriorisation, but in one sense it is merely the opening into the light of consciousness of that which is ALWAYS present in what is known as the darkness of unconditioned unconsciousness. So remember we are dealing with this very difficult matter of language. From one point of view, there is neither exterior nor interior, any more than there is any subjective and objective. It is merely that the universe reveals itself - emanates from that central source, and it is a process of emanation. This is very beautifully described in the oldest scripture of all - the Rigveda - where the entire process is spoken of in these words:
"The germ that still lay covered in the husk burst forth into nature from the fervent heat"
And that heat is Maya, i.e. it is the Shakti or energy or power of reflexion. And the Rigveda continues:
"To let the unknowable know itself, to let the immeasurable measure itself, to let the seer see itself, the ONE by Tapas, that ONE who breathed out breath, turned outward."
The projection is always from within without and the innate energising impulse is often called Maya. This is the supreme shakti of Parabrahm, i.e. it is the feminine energy, the outgoing energy, the energy which gives birth by, it is said, a fervent heat, producing a manifested universe. Now, this whole concept, which we really need to look at somewhat, is an extremely interesting one. It has usually been translated as illusion. But it is not so much illusion as that which produces illusion. As HPB expresses the matter in the 2nd Vol. of the SD, the first lesson taught in esoteric philosophy is that the incognisable cause does not put forth evolution, whether consciously or unconsciously, but only exhibits periodically different aspects of itself to the perception of finite minds. Now, this periodical exhibition is by means therefore of an inherent energising force which is known as Maya and in terms of its application in our own work it is tapas. But the Rigveda indicates that this power is brought forth by what is known as tapas or austerity. If I remember correctly, this is part of Kriya-Yoga: Tapas. Usually Tapas has to do with what we think of as the austerities of life, but actually it is a heating process and we can say, in a sense, that the primordial egg, the Hiranyagarbha, is heated to the point that it bursts open. And the heating takes place by means of laya. So it is the undifferentiated, potential energy which helps in drawing out from Parabrahm a whole manifestation. As HPB has put it, it is the cosmic power which renders phenomenal existence possible. It is the cause of differentiation and at the same time an aspect of that differentiation. It is, if you like, the WILL of the creative diety - the latter itself being a personified maya.
Now, this process results in reflexions which are frequently distorted. And this distorting power, if you like, makes the indivisible ONE appear divisible into many. And therefore, we have the manifoldness of existence, which is merely the broken-up fragments of the One. But by this divisibility it helps to measure the extent of the relative and so-called objective. And as we have already pointed out, of course, there is no real objectivity. And all measurement is approximate. So we have to recognise that it is this which in one sense unrolls the fabric of the universe. And frequently the term "Akasha" has been used for that primordial fabric. In the SD you will frequently find this as "Chid-Akasha", because it is fundamentally conscious.
Now, this power, then, this spiritual fervour, if you like, this fervent heat is a fervour, then, which has its roots in the spiritual, though its outcome is in terms of all of the levels of organisation. In fact, one definition of Maya is that it is the spiritual fervour of the Absolute. And therefore it gives rise, within Akasha, to an infinite number of points. And those points, appearing separate, become known as Atman. But there is only ONE Atman. It is rather interesting, because HPB indicates at one point in her esoteric teachings that Atman is not a principle in man, because it is universal. And yet, because of the holographic principle, we are each a point and therefore Atman! And in the Tibetan text, this is referred to as "facticity". I do not know how that can ever be translated because it is a made-up word, really. I have not even found it in an English dictionary. But I think you begin to get the feel of it. It is the underlying FACT of existence. It is the essence of all facts. And certainly, as we all know, I am certain, the one fundamental fact is: Existence is ONE THING. As the substratum, we may call it Chidakasha, in its manifestation, Atman, in which each one of us is a point and consequently activated when united with Buddhi and Manas. Within us, then, Atma-Buddhi-Manas we frequently speak of as that Immortal Triad. Actually, as HPB defines the Monad, it is always Atma-Buddhi, and many people feel that this must mean that the Monad is really a Duad! But it is NOT. It is because of this subtle distinction that Atman is universal, therefore permits a multiplicity of points, each of which is dimensionless, but can become a unit only through its vehicle of Buddhi. This is its Upadhi, if you like, that which nourishes and gives formation to the particular point - which is why the term "Upadhi" is very useful. Upadhi, which has two parts: Dhi, in this case, which is also the root of the word "Dharma", indicates that it nourishes that which it sustains, and so it gives nourishment to Atman and begins to individualise it, if you like. And this becomes then, in the terms of the Tibetan text I mentioned this morning, actuality. So facticity becomes actuality. But it is energised as the Mahatma Letters put it, only when manas is present. And so we have this reflexion of universal consciousness present as an energising force. Only to confuse you a little bit more - I will add to that that this is awakened only by the incarnation in nascent humanity of the Manasaputras. Manas is present from the beginning, but it is awakened in humanity only at that point when a superior class of beings takes incarnation. This is said to occur in the middle of the Third toot Race. And these superior beings are known as the Manasaputras. I add this simply because you begin to see again how beautifully organised and coherent is this system, because you start to study one part of it and you are inevitably led to see more and more of it as a totality, not as fragmented parts. For the moment, we will let the Manasaputras … well, we can't let them rest, because you ARE manasa-putras!
But this, then, becomes what the Tibetan text calls a "resonating concern". And it is the relation between Buddhi and Manas, really, that brings the actuality of our being into a resonance with the universe.
Someone asked me this morning why I did not use the term "vibration" rather than "sound". Now the entire universe is, by very virtue of it being Maya, vibratory. But one aspect of that vibration is sound. And this is, it is said, the fundamental characteristic of Akasha. Now,
Geoffrey quite rightly reminded me ... you see, I have my teachers here - Ianthe and Geoffrey - who keep reminding me of things - Geoffrey quite rightly reminded me that I should have qualified that to point out that we are not talking about physical sound. I ASSUMED you already knew that, that we are not talking about physical sound but sound in what we quite often call the superphysical realms. So, when I talk about primal sound, I am not talking about primitive peoples in Africa beating drums! There is a school of psychology that deals with what is known as "the primal cry", "the primal sound" - and I am not at all recommending that school of psychology to you! But it goes in for this primal cry, you know, so that one brings forth from within one's physical body, you know, some primal sound. I am not quite sure what happens after you have done that - except that you have lost your neighbours! It is safe to engage in only on the other side of the mountain!
Now, it is this relationship, indeed - what we may call the upper triad which produces, I suggest, fundamental Sophos or Wisdom. And because it resonates, it does so through a realm that we may call the archetypes - to use Plato's term. These are the primordial Ideas, which stand between the realm of the Highest within us and the manifested universe our own manifested universe. These are approached, it is suggested, only through the images. We cannot know the archetypes in themselves, but only the archetypal images. So you begin to see that there is layer after layer or mirror after mirror between where we are and the Absolute. And at any point, those mirrors can gather dust. Dr. Taimni in his writings called this a system of reflexions. Now, this does not mean that the Absolute or Parabrahm is not present here, but that mirrors or images have arisen to distort that. These archetypes have now been called, at least by Rupert Shelldrake, "the M-Fields", “M" standing for morphogenetic, Morpho of course meaning form and genetic meaning origins. The morphogenetic fields. Fields in which form begins to originate.
And that reaches, then, into this field of image which I have put here in the box, with four principles: Prana, Kama and then LS and SS … Linga Sharira and Sthula Sharira. It is here that is the great adventure of Theos. Theos, which really comes from the Greek verb "Theon" (?), to grow, to expand from within outwards and is the same root as that of Brahma, which is Bhri, to grow from within outwards, and the ideal, if we may put it this way and which will be recognised by anyone who happens to be a mason, is to bring this into this and form such a picture ... because the teaching is very simple, that all of this must take place in conscious incarnation. Now, what happens is that Maya repeats itself at every level. The Real, which is at the heart of the universe, is reflected in the infinite depths of the Self. By its very function, Maya creates a duality, the reflexion veiling the Real. But it also makes the impossible possible. It brings everything that is beyond all perception within our grasp, in the shape and form of the many. But the many are present within the dark veil of that very Maya which brought them out. It is, as it were, a darkness which can only be penetrated when one frees oneself from all self-imposed limitations. So Maya. which is actually behind all this cosmic drama, struts about on the stage as Avidya, non-seeing, and therefore Shankaracharya* not only as avidya but also as the link between this appearance, the phenomenal world, and the One Reality. Maya is unreal because, the moment Wisdom pierces the veil, Maya automatically is withdrawn. On the other hand, it cannot be unreal, as it is the very cause of the unreal. And nothing that is unreal can be the source of anything. So it is a challenge. By obscuring and veiling that very Reality, it prevents this relative realm which it brought forth from knowing the One, and at the same time it awakens within us the understanding that he Real exists. So it is all the time acting in this very mysterious manner. It explains therefore perhaps another aspect of Maya, an aspect which is called in the literature "Anervachaniya" (?) - the indeterminate. It is something other than Real and unreal. It is neither being nor non-being. It is neither existence nor non-existence. It is not wholly different from the One and yet it is wholly different and the same. It is the same energy which is at the root of our yearning for freedom. It is often also equated with the primordial cosmic substance Akasha. It is the energy, then, which unites the dynamism with all of its fields or matter. So consequently E = MC/2 is the final definition of Maya, because it is both matter and energy. In the Tantric texts, Maya is that energy directed inward which ultimately makes possible the transformation of Avidya into Mahavidya or supreme knowledge or supreme seeing. Vidya is seeing. "Vid" is to see, to perceive ... Non-perceiving (A-vidya) to Mahavidya. Incidentally, in the Trantric tradition, Maya is also Yama, death. And this we have to comprehend. But you can go to Ianthe's class and, if she discusses the Kathopanishad, you will understand it! And you come to know Nachiketa and so on and Yama and all the rest.
Therefore, we are lost in those separate units and consequently plunge into Avidya. But present within that is all knowing or Mahavidya. So let me put it very simply, if I may. Without Maya there is neither Self nor Realisation. There is only BENESS and BEING. It is Maya which brings out the Self and also provides the field for the realisation of that Self. It is the power of creative self-expression which helps to know oneself at every level. It is also the power which liberates the spirit from its self-created limitations. So we may say of Maya that it is the force which brings about all conceptions of the self-existent principle. And because that fundamental principle is self-existent, each reflexion is self-existent. If you would like the word for that, it is Svabhava. And you can look that up in the index of the SD! Now, as the dynamic consort of Shakti, of the One, it casts the spiritual substance of Being into all of its forms. To measure, to know and to perceive itself. It provides also the medium or field to know. It is always present as the jewel in the lotus, and indeed this is how it is described in all the Buddhist texts.
Now, we have attempted, then, to suggest a new way of looking at some of these concepts. Mythology always attempts to put this in terms of realities which touch us very deeply. And I thought I would conclude therefore - I have two ways of concluding - one was to summarise the essential propositions which we find in the SD, but I really think that Geoffrey's going to do this - aren't you, Geoffrey? - (Only a bit) ... Well, why don't I leave that task to you? So I use my alternative ending. But before I do that I must also elucidate a little bit more this question of the transformation which is to take place. And that has to do with the use of the term "metempsychosis" by HPB. And I do this because Ianthe said: "Why don't you use the illustration that you have used on other occasions?" And it is simply the illustration of the caterpillar. I presume you have caterpillars in Norway - and ultimately they become butterflies? So I am safe in using this. One of the very interesting insights which some scientists in the field of zoology etc. are coming to is the fact that all insects which undergo a complete metamorphosis go through certain stages. And of course this metamorphosis has supplied humanity with some of its deepest and most beautiful metaphors. It is now known, e.g., that in the egg of the insect all the knowledge - that is not exactly the right word - but everything that is needed for every stage in the life of that insect is present. And it goes through specific periods at specific times. It is said that in the brain of the insect there are what science now call “imaginal disks" and these are triggered at particular periods in its growth, so that, in one sense, there is a triggering mechanism, even at the physical level, which produces transformation. We can say, in fact, that the readiness is all. Now, as the insect moves from the larva to the pupil (?) stage, there comes a time when it moves within, spinning its cocoon. And all of the organs, i.e. the so-called caterpillar becomes a kind of viscous mass. There is no known or recognisable shape or order to that mass. Everything is present, however, for the restructuring into another type of creature. Nothing is injected into the cocoon. There is not some extracosmic diety sort of putting new little things in that will form wings and all the rest. But within that cocoon a restructuring process takes place, directed by its own inherent dynamism. The very energy is present in there, and this is a process akin to tapas, i.e. there is a kind of fervent heating going on. And the emergence of the butterfly, then, brings out an entity adapted to an entirely different way of life. So that, from a creature that was able only to crawl on the earth, there emerges now a creature able to fly, adapted to air. And in order to do that it passed through two very important stages, represented by the elements of water, i.e. it melts itself down into a viscous mass, and fire, as represented by the heat generated within the cocoon itself. It is a beautiful example of exactly what must happen to us.
Again and again this is repeated not only at the physical level in the transformation, the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the butterfly, but it also provides us with a marvellous metaphor for the kind of transformation which ultimately we must undergo.
Of course, my favourite story of metempsychosis is that marvellous occult work of the 2nd Century, which is really a portrayal of some of the great mystery schools of Isis and Osiris, and mystery schools which were very much reflected again in the Greek mystery schools. It is a wonderful work by Appoleius and it is generally translated into English as "The Golden Ass". There have been a number of translations and one of the early translations was by the great Platonist, Thomas Taylor. A more recent English translation is that of Robert Graves. But it is an absolutely wonderful story of true metempsychosis. Because it tells the story of the individual who sets out for his mother's home, which of course is symbolic of the home of sophos or Wisdom. And all sorts of things, of course, happen to him on the way. There is not time, naturally, to tell you the whole story, so you can go and read it! But his first great adventure is that he falls in with pack of robbers. And they get to a particular city where they stop with some people and he falls in love with the daughter of the family. The daughter's name is Photos. In Greek, of course, that is the basis of our word "photography", so you can imagine what that represents. Photos is Maya, the photographic image, you see, and, of course, Photos' mother, who is really in ONE sense Akasha, well Photos is that aspect of Akasha which HPB calls the astral light. Of course the mother has all sorts of knowledge about various ointments and various things that give the appearance - you know, lotions and potions and so on. I should perhaps point out - I told you this morning about chaos, and chaos becomes, we say, cosmos. Cosmos gives us in English also the word “cosmetic". It is the same basis. There is no difference. It is the same basis of cosmetic, because cosmos is the appearance, i.e. it is the cosmetic which emerges from the primordial pre-order of chaos - via Maya. And so Photos gives to Lucius, this young man, a "cosmetic” which he puts on his face, you see, thinking then that he will achieve spiritual enlightenment, but what happens to him? He suddenly is transformed into an ass, able only to bray! Marvellous, you see, and unfortunately a lot of people are wandering the world today, looking for the cosmetic that will, you know, get them into instant Nirvana! By and large, they are wearing asses' heads. And they go around the world - "Hee Haw! Hee Haw!" And of course that was all that Lucius could do, so he was put out in the stables with the animals! But of course he has many other adventures and ultimately he is told how to get rid of the ass's head. If you are not familiar with the story, I should at least let you know how you can get rid of your ass's head! He has to bathe in the ocean and then he has to eat roses. He has to learn therefore the wisdom of love.
I did not even get to my other ending. I gave you a THIRD ending!
But if you are not in too great a hurry, I shall just put in some of these things. Everybody ready to rush out? Can you bear this a few moments?
What I really wanted to point out is that these processes are indeed not only found in many of the current scientific models, but are really given expression in so many of the great myths of the world. A myth is a genuine mystery. In fact, the words myth and mystery come from the same Greek base. So there is always a mystery involved and this is what makes the doctrine ultimately secret. You remember that HPB quotes Carlisle, that we are the great mystery of mysteries. And I think that the world without myth and without mystery would be a poor world. It is always the discovery of that which is for the moment unknown that drives us on. It leads us into the whole realm of our own non-knowing. Now, one of the interesting things about the many creation myths for example is indeed what can be called a mirror-element. This we find actually repeated in many rituals. When one lays the foundation of a house or a building, one is recreating the whole world. In the establishment of a town or city, a cosmogonical pattern is repeated. And further, in every culture, there is celebrated a new year and this celebration is always of the world itself. A new beginning, with the past cleared. And so it becomes a new cosmos that opens before us.
There are many ways of translating, for example, the first words of the Hebraic section of our Christian Bible. The great Jewish scholar Martin Buber suggested that, rather than translating it "In the beginning", it should be translated "for the sake of a beginning" and every day and every moment and every hour can be that kind of cosmetic beginning for us. Because in terms of the great myths, the emanation or creation is always in terms of an awakening, an emergence from a state of slumbering. So does the SD begin. "The eternal parent, Space, slumbered once again". In the Winnabago mythology (the Winnabagoes are a mid-western Indian tribe in my country) the myth begins: In the beginning the earth-maker was sitting in space, when he came to consciousness and there was nothing elsewhere.
One of the fascinating motives that we find in some of these myths is a kind of dual motive in which creation from above downwards is matched by an emergence from below upwards. E.g. in Iranian cosmology of the Zarvantic tradition, every terrestrial phenomenon corresponds to a transcendent invisible archetype. In many of the myths there are twin creators. They may complement each other in interesting ways.
One may be more active, the other more passive, one more masculine and the other either a woman or feminine in the characteristics. In some of the North American myths one of the pair is very clever, while the other is either stupid or lazy or sleepy. I mentioned already the delightful story of Coyote and Silver Wolf. And then, of course, as I told you, the amusing thing was that when Silver Wolf woke up - he was awakened by coyote - he ate up everything. In Indian mythology, it is Kali or time that eats up creation. And often it is man in fact who assimilates the world. And I don't know how this works in Norwegian, but in English we say, You know, we assimilate food. And so it is an assimilation that eats up. That is: by eating our world, we bring everything into conscious realisation.
Another motive, of course, is that of the primordial creator as an architect or artisan. We have this in Egyptian mythology, where the God Ptah is said to have created the world on a potter's wheel. In on of the earliest commentaries of the Rigveda, it is said that God wove the earth. And another image that is often used is that of the iron-smith. In fact, in the Rigveda, it is said that, even as a smith, the Lord of Prayer together forged this universe. And in, I think, one of the most marvellous of all myths, there is the image of the entire process as a sacrificial act, a primordial Yajna, if you will, i.e. the term that Krishna uses in the Bhagavad Gita as that sacrifice in which one always gives that which is lower to that which is higher. This of course is very much found in Chinese mythology, where creation is a kind of murder. And in Norse mythology, we have the primaeval giant Ymer from whose body the world was shaped. "From the flesh of Ymer the world was born. From his blood the billows of the sea, the hills from his bones, the trees from his hair, the sphere of heaven from his skull. Out of his brows the blyth powers made Midgarth for sons of men and out of his brains were the angry clouds all shaped about the sky."
Well, there are many more, but time does not permit us to really examine them. So let me end with the fact that, as HPB states in her summing-up to Vol. l., quoting a statement from one of the ablest and most competent of occultists of her time, one who might have and was intended to collaborate with her in the production of the SD, the young Indian scholar, T. Subba Rao, who simply stated - and she quotes this - "the seventh chapter is not yet completed." And so the mystery is still a mystery, but we may be reminded in this of the text of the Jewish Midrash (?), one of the sacred books of the Judaic tradition, presenting the esoteric version in the language of that tradition. In that text it is written that Isaac, on one occasion, spoke to God, because in those days it was not so difficult to get through to God! - It is a little more difficult today. But he said to God: "When you created the firmament and all that lies under it, you pronounced it good. And when you created the animals and plants and took up all that activity, you pronounced it good. But when you created man, you DID NOT pronounce him good. Wherefore, O Lord?" And God answered Isaac. Rather interesting you see. Not only could Isaac talk to God but God was willing to talk to Isaac! And God said simply: "I did not make man perfect, but by the law he may perfect himself". And so we have all that we need to couple the story. But to find out all that we have, you need to read and study the SD! It will introduce you to this wonderful cast of characters, each of whom has contributed to our present state, and will set forth for you all of the lawfulness of the universe in terms of the primary doctrines we need to find our own way. It may be only a corner of the veil that has been lifted, but it has given us enough to work on not only for this life, but for many lives to come. And we can, if we will hasten therefore that perfecting of ourselves. A reflexion of the supreme sacrifice but we do not work for ourselves but we work for all humanity and for all sentient existence on this planet. The challenge is great, the opportunities are there, and there is no more glorious
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
I do not know why I am here - I almost said "alone", but, thank heavens I have got translato. I suppose because I have come the farthest ... I have become an expert simply because I am more than 100 miles from home. But I am sure that there are those of you who are listening who could answer those questions much better than I. And please therefore - those of you who do indeed have a greater wisdom - please do not hesitate to either correct, amend, add to or - tell me I am completely wrong! Whether we can deal with all of the questions that have come I am not certain but we will make an attempt.
1. The first question that was handed to me I think I should deal with first. It asks me to explain the meaning of the word "ARCHETYPE". The questioner does not want its etymology but suggests that I give an answer as though I were a Theosophist before Karl Jung was born! That is rather interesting, because Karl Jung was born the same year as the Theosophical Society! He was born in 1875, for those of you who may not know - and so I am not quite sure who other than some of our Transcendentalists in the USA - were Theosophists before that period; so I do not know how it would be answered. In any event, perhaps I could answer it as Plato would answer it. That certainly was before Karl Jung's birth.
According to Plato, the term "Archetype" referred to primordial ideas that in the universal mind there were original ideas, uncontaminated by any feeling or emotion - pure ideas. And it is these ideas which give rise, ultimately, to form, and therefore it is only through these great ideas that we contact the supreme mind of the universe. The only way therefore in which we can came into touch with these ideas of archetypes is through their images.
Plato explored, as did of course Socrates, whom he reported on many occasions - he explored, e.g., what is justice? Now, justice is a noble idea, but our only knowledge of justice is in terms of those actions which are just. And therefore we must ask what constitutes a just action. In so far as an action participates in the appropriate and proper mode of conduct, it is just and therefore it derives from the archetype of justice. And so Plato considered a number of other ideas, e.g. in the Symposium he dealt with the concept of Love and various approaches to love. And in others of the dialogues he deals with the fundamental, primordial ideas, and Plato's concept therefore of all education is that it is a recollection, a remembrance of these original ideas. For any further explanation, read Plato. You know, it really is quite thrilling to read Plato. I don't see why, you should not read Plato! HPB had a great deal to say - complimentary - about Plato. And I think that reading the Dialogues of Plato is a marvellous introduction to what we may call historical Theosophy.
2. This questioner suggests that I have altered the understanding of MAYA. Fine! I am glad I have! - because I feel that, even though HPB herself translated the word as "illusion", it has a far deeper meaning. And one has to - I think - really consider the total literature out of which the concept of Maya arose. The term of course is Sanskrit. It is used in the Rigveda, the oldest of the Hindu scriptures, and of course it appears in the Upanishads, and in Shankaracharya. And it is very present in the Buddhist tradition - in the Mahayana, of which the Tantric is part. In fact, the mother of Buddha was known as Queen Maya! So it is a very useful concept, but we must not think that it is just an illusion. It IS an illusion, but in terms of appearance. It is a power, a shakti! And one may say it is the shadow on the face of Reality as well as the power to cast that shadow. So I have really not altered any meaning. I may have altered your understanding, and for that I am very happy!!
The questioner asks if it is more or less the connection between the One and the manifested world. It is neither more nor less. IT IS the connection. It is the power that makes it possible for the One to manifest as the many. And when we are immersed in the many, that itself is the illusion, because we forget the One, we lose sight; according to Plato, one of the great afflictions is metaphysical forgetfulness. And consequently all of existence should be to remind us of the One. Every experience should be a prod to our memory. It not always is but, at any event, that is Plato's suggestion.
3. This questioner also makes the statement - and then asks if it is correct - that AKASHA seems to be very near to the astral body of the universe. One has to recognise, incidentally, in this regard, that, at the time that HPB was writing the SD, these fundamental concepts which she was presenting had not previously been submitted or presented in what we may call the vernacular. She wrote the SD in English. English is a very useful language, and for those of us for whom it is our native tongue, we find it rather useful! It is not a particularly philosophic language, however. It is a good language of commerce and trade. But it is not basically a philosophical language, as is Sanskrit. Sanskrit is a magnificent philosophical language. And so we have to keep in mind in this regard that the terminology that HPB used was - what shall we say? - being formulated to express concepts which really were not native to the language she was using. Nothing could illustrate this better than the use of the word "astral", which is used in a number of connotations in the SD. So one has to be very careful. The astral light is indeed a part of or a reflexion of or inherent in Akasha. There are instances in the SD when the two - Akasha and the astral light - seem to be synonymous. There are other cases where there appears to be a distinction. But there is certainly a relationship. I do not know if Geoffrey would like to make any comments on this. I know you have done quite a bit of study on that particular area.
Geoffrey: Yes, the distinction between Akasha and
astral light in my mind is - HPB uses the term once or twice - that astral
light is the "dregs" of Akasha. And then in a table in Vol. 3. she
indicates that, whereas Akasha is the One Element, as you come down through
the planes of being, the astral light starts half way through the mental plane
and comes, funnily enough, right through to the physical. That is all astral
light. Then she further says that the astral light is manvantaric - it comes
and goes and finishes - whereas the other one is eternal.
Joy: Yes, but wouldn't you say that she does at times seem to use the terms almost synonymously?
Geoffrey: Oh yes, she does, in the text. And also she uses the word "astral" very loosely. If she was here, we would tick her off!!
Joy: I think we would!
Translator: So there is an overlapping at some of the levels?
Geoffrey: No, no.
Translator: The astral light is part of the Akasha?
Geoffrey: Akasha comes down through all levels of being in a differentiated state. The lower level of it are the astral light. It is not really an overlap. It is a change in dimension half way down.
Joy: I knew that Geoffrey had done some things on this, because you had a paper on it under references when you were at Krotona.
I call this to your attention with regard to terminology, because there is an interesting statement in one of the Mahatma Letters. And that concerns this very matter of terminology. In it the Master very clear says to Mr. Sinnett: Our terms are nearly untranslatable. And e.g. in the use of the term "Race", the Master says: That is not really what we mean, but use it if you like! That has led into a great number of difficulties that may not have been foreseen in the last century, but in this century have had terrific implications, as you know! Certainly what was meant by the races in the teaching has nothing to do with ethnic groups. So we must look behind the words to what is meant, what is intended by these concepts.
4. There are two questions which are very close, and because they are questions very dear to my own heart I am taking them. One question states: There are TRADITIONS IN THEOSOPHY WHICH DIFFER IN SOME RESPECTS. Can you say something about the non-corresponding aspects o HPB an the Masters' Letters on the one hand and Besant/Leadbeater on the other? Is one of these traditions less reliable than the other?
The other question puts it slightly differently, and so I would like to read that question and then comment on it: "Modern theosophical literature can be divided into TWO CLASSES: the original teachings of HPB, the Mahatmas and their immediate pupils or collaborators, and then all the secondary literature which dates from after 1890 and is mainly written to bring the more difficult original books available to the general, non-studious public." That question continues with a question: "How important is it for lecturers and study-group leaders to become familiar with the original literature and what do you regard as the main differences between the two categories?"
I do not really wish to take up any details of the differences between what we can call the primary and the secondary literature. There are significant differences and we must recognise them. I am not going to pass judgement. I think that, for any lecturer, any study-group leader any class leader, acquaintance with the original - and by original I mean that between 1875 and 1891 - anyone dealing with study classes or lecturing for the Society should be VERY familiar with that original literature.
I think one should approach ALL of the literature with an enquiring mind. Even the SD and the Mahatma Letters demand an enquiring mind. And certainly the literature produced in subsequent years demands an open mind. Now, when I say an open mind, I do not mean that one tosses out fundamental propositions. I think, if one stays with PRINCIPLES, one is quite safe. The later literature, the Besant/Leadbeater literature. I think, is commentarial. And I am quite certain that if Annie Besant were living today, she would write quite differently than she did. There was a genuine attempt, and a very sincere and honest effort, to bring the basic teachings into a very popular vein. We always use the language that is available to us. Even HPB had to use the language available to her, if she were to write in English. And this has caused some confusion, as we have just noted in talking about the astral light. However, when she and Mahatmas state fundamental principles, there can be no question of the basic nature of those propositions.
I happen to be one who is an inveterate book-marker! And, in going through the SD, I have put in bright red, with asterisks in the margin every time there is a statement: "This is a fundamental doctrine".
It is very interesting to pick out these - say: This is a doctrine, this is a fundamental doctrine, this is a primary doctrine, this is a fundamental teaching ... Now, the interpretation is always in terms of our own experience, background and the general development of consciousness of any particular period. And I think our interpretations should continue to grow and to change. As we ponder these fundamental principles, I think we translate them into our own language. With regard for example to Mr. Leadbeater, for whom I have very great respect, I think it has to be recognised, on the other hand, that any clairvoyant observation is subject to interpretation and therefore one has to recognise that he was attempting to put into observational language what HE perceived. And today we know, e.g., that perception is very much influenced by a number of other factors. This does not say that he was not in every case sincere in so far as he attempted to state, as he saw it ... but I do feel that one has to, again, put it against fundamental principles. My own particular love-affair with the SD is because I feel that there are, in that work - and in the Mahatma Letters, with which I carry on a love-affair also! - mainly because I happen to share a home with the individual who, I think, is probably the foremost authority on the Mahatma Letters in the theosophical world - Virginia Hanson - and so I have it with me constantly ... I think Virginia has probably done more research e.g. on the Mahatma Letters than anyone else I know of. And she is busily working this summer on a compilation of literally, masses of notes concerning all of the Letters. So I am - you know - in love with both of these works. I feel that one has a touchstone until one develops one's own perception, to come to these original fundamental principles. Now, that happens to be my own conviction, and is the reason why I continue to give classes in the SD.
Perhaps one can also put it this way: In Buddhism there are the original sayings, the SUTRAS, of the Buddha. There are a great deal of commentaries or SHASTRAS. Now, we can be very much indebted to the commentators, those who wrote the Shastras. But to come to the original Sutras is to contact a true fountain of wisdom. And for me the SD constitutes our Sutra literature in the theosophical movement. And I think we do both Dr. Besant and Mr. Leadbeater a serious disservice when we feel that their works are of a Sutra nature. I think that they intended - and certainly everything they said indicates that they intended - merely to ATTEMPT a popularisation of the ideas. And if mistakes were made, you know, they only are magnified because they are in the public domain! And therefore it is, I think, for every generation to attempt what they attempted, and that is to write our own Shastra literature. I think we should bring our own interpretations, and as long as we remain as true as we can to those fundamental principles, then our interpretations may be in terms that will be meaningful to OUR generation. Of the writing of books there will never be an end! So we should, I think, not vest any more in some commentary than we do in another, but always seek to understand that fundamental principle which underlies all commentaries. So, again, I say that I DO think it is important for lecturers, study-group leaders ... to be familiar with the original literature and, as you can probably guess, I think it is very important that we have a wide range of understanding of what is going on the modern world. And the more points of contact we have with the sacred scriptures of the ancient world, with the whole realm of mythology, with all of the traditions, both east and west, I think the better able we are to speak with some understanding of those fundamental principles. So I feel that it is incumbent upon us to have as many points of contact as we can to place Theosophy in a contemporary context but out of that broad background.
5. The second question by one of these questioners states - I shall read the full question - "In Tekels Park last fall there were two Americans, Ken Small and another one (I know them both). They said that the Stanzas of Dzyan had been found - newly. Do you have any comment on that?
Yes. we have a young member in the American Section by the name of David Riegel (?) and he is quite a student of Tibetan. He has done a great deal of research and feels that he has indeed found something of the sources of the Stanzas. And he has published a small paperback booklet called "The Books of Kiu-Ti". Now, HPB makes reference in an essay which originally appeared in what was called Vol. 3. of the SD - an essay which is republished in the Collected Writings - to the books of Kui-Ti, saying there were some 35 volumes of these works, of which about 14 constituted the esoteric writing of this great scholar. These are all part of a very vast library called the Lam-Rin texts. Now, some of these are gradually becoming available the western world. In 1973, which is 12 years ago now, I had the privilege of visiting Dharamsala in North India. I was there to have a private audience with the Dalai Lama and the building of the Tibetan Library and Archive had just been finished. The brother of the Dalai Lama was the chief librarian. A very close friend was with me, whom some of you may remember - Helen Zahara. And Helen and I were shown the room in which at least 1,000, perhaps 2,000 palm-leaf manuscripts were simply DUMPED! These had been brought out of Tibet by the lamas who came with the Dalai Lama when he went into exile out of Tibet. They were probably pretty well catalogued during these past dozen years. But the work of translation goes very slowly. There were, at Dharamsala, on that occasion, two young graduate students from Yale University who were doing their graduate work for their doctor degrees on the translation of some of the Lam-Rin texts. In talking with these students as well as the Dalai Lama's brother, we learned that there are literally thousands of volumes in the Lam-Rin texts.
At least at that time, no-one knew whether all of the texts had been brought out of Tibet or whether some had been destroyed with the burning and destruction of the monasteries. Now, while these may be of course of the exoteric nature, it is suggested by David Riegel, on the basis of his research, that they do hint at and gives clues to the esoteric texts. And it is on that basis that DR has prepared this work. I myself am quite convinced that in due time we will have ample evidence of the existence of these stanzas, whether in the form which HPB gave us or in some other form, I cannot say. And the work that DR has done, which is extremely interesting, is that there are Tibetan texts now available which DO indicate the same principles as are found in those Stanzas. This, incidentally, is why I became quite excited when Dr. Guenther's book "The Matrix of Mystery" was published last year, because I found in the translation of these particular texts which he has now for the first time translated, exact correspondences with the Stanzas, not in the same words as the Stanzas but the same concepts being presented. As I say, I know no Tibetan, but I have long been interested in Tibetan literature. And again I think it is helpful to realise that we can say with some authority now that there may be these texts that are similar to and present the same ideas as those marvellous Stanzas which HPB gave us. What we must be careful about is that there is no historical evidence at the present time of a language known as Senzar. What is recognised by all students of linguistics is that there is a pre-Sanskrit language. There is conjecture that there must be a source for all Indo-European languages, and this is pre-Sanskrit. So there is not any name Senzar given to it by the scholars, and so do be very careful when you speak to a scholar (not to say) that these were originally in a language known as Senzar!
In this connection, you know, it is very interesting that ONE of the Stanzas - I believe it is Stanza 5 of the first volume - HPB says she translated from the Chinese. Now, much of the original literature from the old Sanskrit, which is now lost, is available only in Chinese, e.g. much of Buddhistic literature, which was originally in Sanskrit - it is only the later that is in Pali - much of the original was lost, and only the Chinese remains. So, again, we have perhaps to use a little discretion but also our intuition to realise that she drew from a number of sources which may not all have been in one so-called volume.
Can you stand a few more?
6. There is a question which I think again is rather important. I think in your first lecture you said one could start reading the SD at any place. However, in the little booklet on "How to Study Theosophy", HPB gives definite guidelines how one should start reading the book.
Yes, and - please do not take everything I say so literally! I certain fully agree with HPB in this regard. I do not always agree with her. I see no reason to! I think we each have a right to our own opinion, as it were, and to our own interpretation! In any event, I certainly agree with the guidelines which she gives us for beginning our study. She states there to begin with the Three Fundamental Propositions and there is no question that that is the place to begin! Read the Proem and know those three Fundamental Propositions. These are absolutely fundamental and basic to the theosophical metaphysics. And it is those three Fundamental Propositions that distinguish the theosophical metaphysics from all other systems. And even if you stop there, at least you will know those. If I recall correctly, she then advises the student to read the Summing-Up, which is of course the recapitulation at the conclusion of the first set of Stanzas and the commentaries on them, the Summing-Up which is in Vol. l. Again, you have absolutely fundamental principles presented - and FACTS, as she says. So read those. You may then go to the three propositions of Vol. 2. ... I have forgotten what is after that - but anyway that gets you started. What comes next, Ianthe?
Ianthe: The conclusion to Vol. 2. - but it isn't! ... She says "the conclusion", but the conclusion comes half-way through! It is not the final one.
But then there are other ways. For example, take the term Maya. Go to the index and look it up. Do all the references and get a feel for this word. USE the SD. As she says, it is not simply meant to be read through, as one reads a popular novel. It is meant to be used. It is a tool! Take any term - Akasha - go to the index. Incidentally, in what we may call the "definitive" edition of the SD, this is the original two-volume edition, but completely checked by Boris de Zirkoff. About 95% of the references were actually checked by him. The Sanskrit was given its modern diacritical marks agreed upon by all Sanskrit scholars today. The Greek and Hebrew terms were corrected where they were in error in the earlier editions. But the pagination is the original edition. This was published at Adyar in 1978. I feel it is the really authentic edition and it is the only one I use now. It has the most complete index of any edition of the SD. And it was prepared by Boris de Zirkoff, who of course devoted his entire lifetime to the works of HPB and was responsible for the Collected Writings. Incidentally, you might like to know that Vol. 14 of the CW will be issued this fall, and that completes the CW except for the letters of HPB. The letters still have to have a great deal of editorial work on them, to have notes and references. My file of the letters, which is a duplicate which Boris left to me, takes up about - that much space! - in my cupboard. And, incidentally, since Boris's death we have discovered some further Letters. So there is a great deal still to be done ... In any event, what I meant was: wherever you open the SD, even if you let it fall open, something happens to you by simply reading the words!
It is part of that virus that gets hold of you!
7. I am also asked - in my lectures I said "Civilisations ahead of us". "Can you explain further?"
The reference was specifically to the fact that there is a simultaneity, in which there is neither past nor future. That, in a sense, everything is present now. And therefore we can project ourselves, as it were, into civilisations yet to come which are even here now! This is very similar to the suggestion by the Master that Plato is a round ahead of us. Our place is in the fourth round. Plato, it is said, was a fifth-rounder. And the Buddha a sixth-rounder! So there is, already, here, as it were, the future. It is one of the paradoxes!
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