THEOSOPHY, Vol. 54, No. 12, October, 1966
(Pages 365-370; Size: 18K)

GREAT NATURE(1)

THAN the Circle, no better definition could be given of the natural symbol and the evident nature of Deity, which having its circumference everywhere (the boundless) has, therefore, its central point also everywhere; in other words, is in every point of the universe. "God is not a mind, but the cause that the mind is; not a spirit, but the cause that the Spirit is; not light, but the cause that the Light is" (Pymander).

The Universe was evolved out of its ideal plan, upheld through Eternity in the unconsciousness of that which the Vedantins call Parabrahm. Being is an endless cycle within the one absolute eternity, wherein move numberless inner cycles finite and conditioned. From Gods to men, from Worlds to atoms, from a star to a rush-light, from the Sun to the vital heat of the meanest organic being -- the world of Form and Existence is an immense chain, whose links are all connected. The law of Analogy is the first key to the world-problem, and these links have to be studied co-ordinately in their occult relations to each other.

Spirit is matter on the seventh plane; matter is Spirit on the lowest point of its cyclic activity; and both are Maya. Esoteric philosophers held that everything in nature is but a materialization of spirit. The Eternal First Cause is latent spirit, they said, and matter from the beginning. While conceding the idea of such a God to be an unthinkable abstraction to human reason, they claimed that the unerring human instinct grasped it as a reminiscence of something concrete to it though intangible to our physical senses. With the first idea, which emanated from the double-sexed and hitherto inactive Deity, the first motion was communicated to the whole universe, and the electric thrill was instantaneously felt throughout boundless space. Spirit begat force, and force matter; and thus the latent deity manifested itself as creative energy.

It is on the right comprehension of the primeval Evolution of Spirit-Matter and its real essence that the student has to depend for the further elucidation in his mind of the Occult Cosmogony, and for the only sure clue which can guide his subsequent studies. Truly, one should study Occult philosophy before one begins to verify and seek the mysteries of nature on its surface alone, as he alone "who knows the truth about the qualities of nature, who understands the creation of all entities ... is emancipated" from error. Says the "preceptor": "Accurately understanding the great tree of which the unperceived (Occult nature, the root of all) is the sprout from the seed (Parabrahmam) which consists of the understanding (Mahat, or the universal intelligent Soul) as its trunk, the branches of which are the great egoism (or Ahamship, which leads to every error); in the holes of which are the sprouts, namely, the senses, of which the great (Occult, or invisible) elements are the flower-bunches, the gross elements (the gross objective matter), the smaller boughs, which are always possessed of leaves, always possessed of flowers ... which is eternal and the seed of which is the Brahman (the deity); and cutting it with that excellent sword -- knowledge (secret wisdom) -- one attains immortality and casts off birth and death." This is the Tree of Life, the Asvattha tree, only after the cutting of which the slave of life and death, MAN, can be emancipated. But the men of science know naught, nor will they hear of the "Sword of Knowledge" used by the adepts and ascetics.

Matter is Eternal. It is the Upadhi (the physical basis) for the One infinite Universal Mind to build thereon its ideations. Therefore, the Esotericists maintain that there is no inorganic or dead matter in nature, the distinction between the two made by Science being as unfounded as it is arbitrary and devoid of reason. Æther, in Esotericism, is the very quintessence of all possible energy, and it is certainly to this universal agent (composed of many agents) that all the manifestations of energy in the material, psychic, and spiritual worlds are due. The Secret Doctrine teaches that the whole universe is ruled by intelligent and semi-intelligent Forces and Powers. There is design in the seemingly blindest forces.

Nature taken in its abstract sense, cannot be "unconscious," as it is the emanation from and thus an aspect (on the manifested plane) of the ABSOLUTE consciousness. Where is the daring man who would presume to deny to vegetation and even to minerals a consciousness of their own. All he can say is, that this consciousness is beyond his comprehension. Matter has extension, colour, motion (molecular motion), taste, and smell, corresponding to the existing senses of man, and by the time that it fully develops the next characteristic -- let us call it for the moment PERMEABILITY -- this will correspond to the next sense of man -- let us call it "NORMAL CLAIRVOYANCE"; thus, when some bold thinkers have been thirsting for a fourth dimension to explain the passage of matter through matter, and the production of knots upon an endless cord what they were really in want of, was a sixth characteristic of matter. The three dimensions really belong but to one attribute or characteristic of matter -- extension; and popular common sense justly rebels against the idea that under any condition of things there can be more than three of such dimensions as length, breadth, and thickness.

Everything that is, was and will be, eternally IS, even the countless forms, which are finite and perishable only in their objective, not in their ideal Form. They existed as Ideas, in the Eternity, and, when they pass away, will exist as reflections. "Ideal nature," the abstract Space in which everything in the Universe is mysteriously and invisibly generated, is the same female side of procreative power in Nature in the Vedic as in every other Cosmogony. Aditi is Sephira, and the Sophia-Achamoth of the Gnostics, and Isis, the virgin Mother of Horus. In every Cosmogony, behind and higher than the creative deity, there is a superior deity, a planner, an Architect, of whom the Creator is but the executive agent. And still higher, over and around, within and without, there is the UNKNOWABLE and the unknown, the Source and Cause of all these Emanations.

The Primordial Atom (anu) cannot be multiplied either in its pregenetic state, or its primogeneity; therefore it is called "SUM TOTAL," figuratively, of course, as that "SUM TOTAL" is boundless. That which is the abyss of nothingness of the physicist, who knows only the world of visible causes and effects, is the boundless Space of the Divine Plenum to the Occultist. Among many other objections to the doctrine of an endless evolution and re-involution (or re-absorption) of the Kosmos, a process which, according to the Brahminical and Esoteric Doctrine, is without a beginning or an end, the Occultist is told that it cannot be, since "by all the admissions of modern scientific philosophy it is a necessity of Nature to run down." If the tendency of Nature "to run down" is to be considered so forcible an objection to Occult Cosmogony, we may ask, how account for the phalanx around us of active stellar systems? Our Kosmos and Nature will run down only to reappear on a more perfect plane after every PRALAYA.

Three distinct representations of the Universe in its three distinct aspects are impressed upon our thought by the esoteric philosophy: the PRE-EXISTING (evolved from) the EVER-EXISTING; and the PHENOMENAL -- the world of illusion, the reflection, and shadow thereof. During the great mystery and drama of life known as the Manvantara, real Kosmos is like the object placed behind the white screen upon which are thrown the Chinese shadows, called forth by the magic lantern. The actual figures and things remain invisible, while the wires of evolution are pulled by unseen hands; and men and things are thus but the reflection, on the white field, of the realities behind the snares of Mahamaya, or the great Illusion.

In India, and Chaldea, by the Chinese as by the Grecian Sages, these three Universes were allegorized, in exoteric teachings, by the three trinities emanating from the Central eternal germ and forming with it a Supreme Unity: the initial, the manifested, and the Creative Triad, or the three in One. The last is but the symbol, in its concrete expression, of the first ideal two.

There is frequent confusion in the attributes and genealogies of the gods in their theogonies, as given to the world by the half-initiated writers, Brahmanical and Biblical, the Alpha and the Omega of the records of that symbolical science. Yet there could be no such confusion made by the earliest nations, the descendants and pupils of the divine instructors: for both the attributes and the genealogies were inseparably linked with cosmogonical symbols, the "gods" being the life and animating "soul-principle" of the various regions of the Universe. Nowhere and by no people was speculation allowed to range beyond those manifested gods. The boundless and infinite UNITY remained with every nation a virgin forbidden soil, untrodden by man's thought, untouched by fruitless speculation. The only reference to it was the brief conception of its diastolic and systolic property, of its periodical expansion or dilatation, and contraction. In the Universe with all its incalculable myriads of systems and worlds disappearing and re-appearing in eternity, the anthropomorphised powers, or gods, their Souls, had to disappear from view with their bodies: "The breath returning to the eternal bosom which exhales and inhales them," says our Catechism.

Everything in Nature has to be judged by analogy. Though the highest Deities (Archangels or Dhyani-Buddhas) are unable to penetrate the mysteries too far beyond our planetary system and the visible Kosmos, yet there were great seers and prophets in olden times who were enabled to perceive the mystery of Breath and Motion retrospectively, when the systems of worlds were at rest and plunged in their periodic sleep.

Everything in the Universe progresses steadily in the Great Cycle, while incessantly going up and down in the smaller cycles. For Hegel, Nature was a perpetual becoming, a purely esoteric conception. Man ought to be ever striving to help the divine evolution of Ideas, by becoming to the best of his ability a co-worker with nature in the cyclic task.

"Is the Jiva a myth, as science says, or is it not?" ask some Theosophists, wavering between materialistic and idealistic Science. The difficulty of really grasping esoteric problems concerning the "ultimate state of matter" is again the old crux of the objective and the subjective. What is matter? Is the matter of our present objective consciousness anything but our sensations? Theosophists and Occultists recognize a distinct vital principle independent of the organism -- material, of course, as physical force cannot be divorced from matter, but of a substance existing in a state unknown to Science. There is a vital principle without which no molecular combinations could ever have resulted in a living organism, least of all in the so-called "inorganic" matter of our plane of consciousness. Occultism says that in all cases when matter appears inert, it is the most active. A wooden or a stone block is motionless and impenetrable to all intents and purposes. Nevertheless, and de facto, its particles are in ceaseless eternal vibration which is so rapid that to the physical eye the body seems absolutely devoid of motion.

The stars differ in their constituent materials and even exhibit elements quite unknown on earth; nevertheless, this does not affect the point that primeval matter -- i.e., as it appeared even in its first differentiation from its laya condition -- is yet to this day homogeneous, at immense distance, in the depths of infinitude, and likewise at points not far removed from the outskirts of our solar system.

"Entity" may be thought a strange term to use in the case of a globe; but the ancient philosophers, who saw in the earth a hugh "animal," were wiser in their generation than our modern geologists are in theirs; and Pliny, who called the Earth our kind nurse and mother, the only element which is not inimical to man, spoke more truly than Watts, who fancied that he saw in her the footstool of God. It is a Vedic teaching that "there are three Earths corresponding to three Heavens, and our Earth (the fourth) is called Bhumi." This is the explanation given by our esoteric Western Orientalists. But the esoteric meaning and allusion to it in the Vedas is that it refers to our planetary chain, three "Earths" on the descending arc, and three "heavens" which are the three Earths or globes also, only far more ethereal, on the ascending or spiritual arc: by the first three we descend into matter, by the other three we ascend into Spirit; the lower one, Bhumi, our Earth, forming the turning point, so to say, and containing potentially as much of Spirit as it does of Matter.

It is said that the planetary chains have their "Days" and their "Nights" -- i.e., periods of activity or life, and of inertia or death -- and behave in heaven as do men on Earth; they generate their likes, get old, and become personally extinct, their spiritual principles only living in their progeny as a survival of themselves. It becomes apparent how perfect is the analogy between the processes of Nature and the Kosmos in the individual man. The latter lives through his life-cycle, and dies. His "higher principles," corresponding in the development of a planetary chain to the cycling Monads, pass into Devachan, which corresponds to the "Nirvana" and states of rest intervening between two chains. The Man's lower "principles" are disintegrated in time and are used by Nature again for the formation of new human principles, and the same process takes place in the disintegration and formation of Worlds. Analogy is thus the surest guide to the comprehension of the Occult teachings.

Nature is never stationary during manvantara. It is ever becoming, not simply being; and mineral, vegetable, and human life are always adapting their organisms to the then reigning Elements. "Just as a human being is composed of seven principles, differentiated matter in the Solar System exists in seven different conditions."

The whole range of physical phenomena proceeds from the Primary of Ether -- Akasa, as dual-natured Akasa proceeds from undifferentiated Chaos, so-called, the latter being the primary aspect of Mulaprakriti, the root-matter and the first abstract Idea one can form of Parabrahman. Modern Science may divide its hypothetically conceived ether in as many ways as it likes; the real Æther of Space will remain as it is throughout. It has its seven principles, as all the rest of nature has, and where there was no Æther there would be no sound, as it is the vibrating sound-board in nature in all of its seven differentiations. This is the first mystery the Initiates of old have a learned.


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