THEOSOPHY, Vol. 42, No. 8, June, 1954
(Pages 361-365; Size: 18K)
NUMBER, THE RULING DEITY(1)PYTHAGORAS, being asked what was the wisest of things, said it was Number. Number, he said, "is the ruler of forms and ideas, the most ancient and ruling Deity. Number is the canon, the reason, the intellect and the most undeviating balance of the composition and generation of all things." The first essence, according to Pythagoras, is of the nature of Number. The heavens and the stars derive their beauty and order by the participation of the first and intelligible essence. The Pythagoreans asserted that the doctrine of Numbers -- the chief of all in esotericism -- had been revealed to men by the celestial deities. Between men and numbers also, they said, was a science of correspondence.[Compiler's note: This is a copy of the 8th article in the 16-article grouping entitled "Deity (God)", which is found in the "Christianity in the 'Light of Theosophy'" section of the "Additional Articles" index page.]
"Deity geometrizes," says Plato, referring to no personal God. Deity is Number, and Number is Deity. This is asserted as a first principle in all ancient philosophies and cosmogonies. Plato teaches that "the Soul is a Number." Hence the converse is true -- Number is the Soul. According to Orpheus, "the eternal essence of number is the most providential principle of the universe; it is the root of the permanency of divine things, of Gods and daemons." But in what sense can numbers be called Entities? Only when intelligent Entities are meant. When numbers are regarded simply as digits they are, of course, not Entities but symbolical signs. Porphyry thus explains that the Pythagorean numerals were "hieroglyphical symbols by means whereof he taught ideas concerning the nature of things," or the origin of the universe.
If there is no anthropomorphic and personal God, how is it that the process of universal formation is geometrical, i.e., by Dots, Lines, Triangles, Cubes, Circles and finally Spheres? asks H. P. Blavatsky. "The term 'God,' unless referring to the Unknown Deity, which can hardly be supposed acting in any way, has always meant in ancient philosophies the collectivity of the working and intelligent forces in Nature. The word 'Forest' is singular, yet it is the term to express thousands or even millions of trees of different kinds. The truth, however, of Nature ever 'geometrizing' is easily ascertained. It is seen ... in the physical and mechanical law that particles or bodies in motion of themselves assume a spheroidal form -- from a globular planet down to a drop of rain; in the snowflakes which along with crystals exhibit all the geometrical forms existing in nature. When motion ceases, the spheroidal shape alters, becomes a flat drop, then forms an equilateral triangle, a hexagon and so forth. Ice particles on breaking up are found to assume first the triangular or pyramidal shape, then the cubical and finally hexagonal, etc. In depicting the crystalline forms of snowflakes, physical science shows their modifications of a hexagonal prism which shoots out an infinity of delicate needles. It has studied them so perfectly that it has even calculated, with the most wonderful mathematical precision, that all of these needles diverge from each other at an angle of 60 degrees. Can physical science tell us as well the cause of this endless variety of these exquisite forms, each of which is a perfect geometrical figure in itself?"
There is no chance evolution, nor is any so-called abnormal appearance or cosmic phenomenon due to haphazard circumstances. "The smallest as the most immense creations," said Balzac, "are to be distinguished from each other by their qualities, their quantities, their dimensions, their forces and attributes, all begotten by Number. God is a Number endowed with motion.... The existence of the Number depends on Unity, which, without a single number, begets them all."
The use of geometrical figures and frequent allusions to figures in all ancient Scriptures -- the Puranas, Egyptian papyri, "Book of the Dead," and even the Bible -- must be explained. In Sepher Jezirah, or Numbers of Creation, the whole process of evolution is given out in Numbers. In the "Book of Dzyan" as in the Kabala, there are two kinds of numerals to be studied -- the figures, often simple blinds, and the Sacred Numbers, the values of which are all known to the Occultists through initiation. The former is but a conventional glyph, the latter is the basic symbol of all. That is to say, the one is purely physical, the other purely metaphysical, the two standing to each other as matter stands to spirit -- the extreme poles of the one Substance.
No Theosophist, not even as an accepted Chela(2), could expect to have the secret teachings explained to him thoroughly and completely before he had irrevocably pledged himself to the Brotherhood and passed through at least one initiation, because no figures and numbers could be given to the public, for figures and numbers are the key to the esoteric system. The Science of the Numerals is so sacred, indeed, and so important in the study of Occultism that the subject can hardly be skimmed, even in such a large work as The Secret Doctrine. It is on the Hierarchies and correct numbers of these Beings, invisible (to us) except upon very rare occasions, that the mystery of the whole Universe is built.
From the very beginning of Æons -- in time and space on our Round and globe(3) -- the mysteries of nature were recorded by the pupils of those same now invisible "heavenly men,"(4) in geometrical figures and symbols. The keys thereto passed from one generation of "wise men" to the next. Some of the symbols, thus passed from the east to the west, were brought therefrom by Pythagoras, who was not the inventor of his famous Triangle. The ten points inscribed within that "Pythagorean Triangle" are worth all the theogonies and angelologies ever emanated from the theological brain. For he who interprets them -- on their very face, and in the order given -- will find in these 17 points (the 7 mathematical points hidden) the uninterrupted series of the genealogies from the first heavenly to terrestrial man. And, as they give the order of beings, so they reveal the order in which were evolved the Kosmos, our earth, and the primordial elements by which the latter were generated. He who will master the mystery of our Earth will have mastered the mysteries of all others.
There are such things as metamathematics and metageometry. Even mathematics pure and simple proceed from the Universal to the particular, from the mathematical, hence indivisible point, to solid figures. The earliest forms of elementary geometry must have been suggested by the observation of the heavenly bodies and their groupings. Hence the most archaic symbols in Eastern Esotericism are a circle, a point, a triangle, a plane, a cube, a pentacle, and a hexagon, and plane figures with various sides and angles. This shows the knowledge and use of geometrical symbology to be as old as the world. Does the physicist comprehend the secret ciphered characters traced by the divine finger on every sea shell; on every leaf that trembles in the breeze; in the bright star whose stellar lines are in his sight but so many more or less lines of hydrogen?
"The laws of nature are the thoughts of God," exclaims Oersted, 2,000 years after Plato. "His thoughts are immutable," repeats the solitary student of Hermetic lore, "therefore it is in the perfect harmony and equilibrium of all things that we must seek the truth." Plato, proceeding as did others, from the indivisible Unity, found emanating from it two contrary forces, each acting on the other and producing equilibrium, and the three were One, the Pythagorean Eternal Monad. "The primordial Point is a circle; the circle squaring itself from the four cardinal points becomes a quaternary, the perfect square, Tetragram." The philosophical cross, the two lines running in opposite directions, which the geometrizing Deity divides at the intersecting point, and which forms the magical as well as the scientific quaternary, is the basis of the occultist. Within its mystical precincts lies the master key which opens the door of every science, physical as well as spiritual. It symbolizes our human existence, for the circle of life circumscribes the four points of the cross, which represent in succession birth, life, death and immortality. Everything in this world is a trinity completed by a quaternary. And every element is divisible on this same principle.
Plato, having fully embraced the ideas of Pythagoras -- who had brought them from India -- compiled and published them in a form more intelligible than the mysterious numerals of the Greek Sage. The transcendental application of geometry to cosmic and divine theogony became dwarfed after Pythagoras by Aristotle. By omitting the point and the circle, and taking no account of the apex of the Triangle, Aristotle reduced the metaphysical value of the Idea, and thus limited the doctrine of magnitude to a simple Triad -- the line, the surface and the body. His modern heirs, who play at Idealism, have interpreted these three geometrical figures as Space, Force and Matter.
The Hebrews followed in the footsteps of the Oriental philosophy -- Chaldean, Persian, Hindu, Arabic, etc. The Arabs had their figures from Hindustan, and never claimed the discovery for themselves. One finds numbers and figures used as an expression and a record of thought in every archaic symbolical Scripture. They are ever the same, with only certain variations growing out of the first figures. Thus the evolution and correlation of the Mysteries of the Kosmos, of its growth and development -- spiritual and physical, abstract and concrete -- were first recorded in geometrical changes of shape. Every Cosmogony began with a circle, a point, a triangle, and a cube, up to the number nine, when it was synthesized by the first line and a circle, the Pythagorean mystic Decade (10), the sum of all, involving and expressing the mysteries of the entire Kosmos -- recorded a hundred times more fully in the Hindu system, for him who can comprehend its mystic language. "The whole astronomical and geometrical portion of the secret sacerdotal language was built upon the number 10."
The sacredness of the cycle 4320, with additional ciphers, lies in the fact that the figures which compose it, when taken separately, or joined in various combinations, are each and all symbolical of the greatest mysteries in nature. Indeed, whether one takes the 4 separately, or the 3 by itself, or the two together, making 7, or again the three added together and yielding 9 -- all these numbers have their application in the most sacred and occult things, and record the working of Nature in her eternally periodical phenomena. They are never erring, perpetually recurring numbers, unveiling, to him who studies the secrets of Nature, a truly divine system, an intelligent plan in Cosmogony, which results in natural cosmic divisions of time, seasons, invisible influences, astronomical phenomena, with their action and reaction on terrestrial and even moral nature; on birth, death, and growth, on health and disease. The figures 1, 3, 5, 7 are perfect because thoroughly mystic, numbers playing a prominent part in every Cosmogony and evolution of living Beings. The explanation of this becomes evident when one examines the ancient Symbols.
"There is a Harmony of Numbers in all nature; in the force of gravity, in the planetary movements, in the laws of heat, light, electricity, and chemical affinity, in the forms of animals and plants, in the perception of the mind. The direction, indeed, of modern natural and physical science, is toward a generalization which shall express the fundamental laws of all by one simple numerical ratio." Are science and metaphysics then irreconcilable? The facts prove daily that this is one more fallacy among the many that have been uttered. The reign of Aristotle in the only exact and infallible science in the world of sciences, which proceeds from NUMBER -- has ended. That of Plato, who began with Universals, as opposed to that of Aristotle who rose from particulars, is now opening. Today the question is being asked: "Do numbers and geometrical figures represent to human consciousness the laws of action in the divine mind," i.e., that of Number, the ruling Deity? The Teachers reply, "They do, most assuredly."
THE OBLIGATORY PILGRIMAGE
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FOUR (4) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(1) NOTE.--Based upon statements from standard theosophical works.
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COMPILER'S NOTE: I added the next three footnotes; they were not in the article. If any of them don't paint an accurate enough picture, or are incorrect, I hope the Editors of THEOSOPHY magazine will spot them and point the inaccuracies out to me, so that I can make the necessary corrections.
(2) A "Chela" is a disciple, the pupil of an Adept or a group of Adepts.
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(3) "Round and globe": A "Round" is a very long cyclic period of planetary manifestation which has a beginning and an ending, during which humanity, which is present from the start and is the cause of its beginning and all of its activity until the end of the Great Cycle (a Maha-Manvantara) of seven Rounds, develops each of the seven planes or "Globes" or states of consciousness of our "Planetary Chain" -- from the most ethereal down to the densest material plane which we are familiar with, and then back again to the most spiritual, with the experience gained. And then again and again back through the Planetary Chain as there are seven "Rounds" of this evolutionary activity. We are about half way through this immense cycle of activity of developing our planet and the advancement of the human race on it, being only a little more than half way through the Fourth Round. Each one of these seven "Rounds" of activity contains, for each of the seven planes (or globes or states of consciousness) of our earth-chain, those seven long periods of humanity's evolution called "Races" (also known as "Root-Races"), each of which is divided into seven "Sub-Races", which are each divided into seven "Family-Races", with the shortest of these cycles being about 30,000 years long. We are talking about immense periods of time and human activity, as each of the seven Rounds has a total of 49 Root-Race periods and all that this implies. There is always a long period of overlapping as one racial period of development blends into the next one. But it is we, each eternal soul, individually, and all of us together, who are going through all of these evolutionary periods over and over again, incarnation after incarnation, from age to age, with no final end to this cosmic process.
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(4) "Heavenly Men" -- also known as "Dhyanis", are those "Dhyan Chohans" (or Mahatmas, Great Souls, Great Adepts, Dragons of Wisdom, Gods, Angels, etc., etc.) who have become what they are through self-induced and self-devised efforts, just as we all can, during prior Manvantaras (very long cyclic periods of humanity's and of the Earth's evolution). They are in perfect harmony with their Higher Nature and the Divine Forces and Laws of the universe, and they know how to use and guide these Forces. They are the Teachers of humanity as well as of those of us who are developing into Adepts, and into their ranks, during this present Manvantara. They are one of the prototypes of the Roman Catholic "Seven Spirits" or Angels with Michael as chief, or the "Celestial Host"; the "Seven Angels of the Presence". They are the Builders, Cosmocratores, of the Gnostics and identical with the Seven Prajapatis, the Sephiroth, etc. They are "The Lords of Light". The highest gods, answering to the Roman Catholic Archangels. The divine Intelligences charged with the supervision of Kosmos.
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