THEOSOPHY, Vol. 85, No. 4, February, 1997
(Pages 102-105; Size: 9K)

REVOLUTIONS OF LIGHT AND LIFE(1)

WHAT IS LIFE? Hundreds of the most philosophical minds, scores of learned well-skilled physicians, have asked themselves the question, but to little purpose. It is those thinkers alone, who, following the Delphic injunction, have cognized life in their inner selves, who are the only ones rewarded with some measure of success. Like the fire-philosophers of the Middle Ages, they have skipped over the appearances of light and fire in the world of effects, and centred their whole attention upon the producing arcane agencies. Thence, tracing these to the one abstract cause, they have attempted to fathom the MYSTERY, each as far as his intellectual capacities permitted him.

Study the Eastern religions by the light of Eastern -- not Western -- philosophy, and if you happen to relax correctly one single loop of the old religious systems, the chain of mystery may be disentangled. But to achieve this, one must not agree with those who teach that it is unphilosophical to enquire into first causes, and that all that we can do is to consider their physical effects. The revolutions of the physical world are, according to the ancient doctrine, attended by like revolutions in the world of intellect, for the spiritual evolution in the universe proceeds in cycles, like the physical one. Do we not see in history a regular alternation of ebb and flow in the tide of human progress? Do we not see in history, and even find this within our own experience, that the great kingdoms of the world, after reaching the culmination of their greatness, descend again, in accordance with the same law by which they ascended? Till, having reached the lowest point, humanity reasserts itself and mounts up once more, the height of its attainment being, by this law of ascending progression by cycles, somewhat higher than the point from which it had before descended. Kingdoms and empires are under the same cyclic laws as plants, races and everything else in the Kosmos.

The division of the history of mankind into what the Hindus call the Sattva, Tretya, Dvâpara and Kali Yugas, and what the Greeks referred to as "the Golden, Silver, Copper, and Iron Ages" is not a fiction. We see the same thing in the literature of peoples. An age of great inspiration and unconscious productiveness is invariably followed by an age of criticism and consciousness. The one affords the material for the analyzing and critical intellect of the other. The moment is more opportune than ever for the review of old philosophies. Archaeologists, philologists, astronomers, chemists and physicists are getting nearer and nearer to the point where they will be forced to consider them. The day is approaching when the world will receive the proofs that only ancient religions were in harmony with nature, and ancient science embraced all that can be known. Secrets long kept may be revealed; books long forgotten and arts long time lost may be brought out to light again; papyri and parchments of inestimable importance will turn up in the hands of men. Who knows the possibilities of the future?

The whole literature -- or what remains of this sacerdotal literature -- of India, Egypt, Chaldæa, Persia, Greece and even of Guatemala (Popul Vuh) is full. Based on the same foundation-stone -- the ancient Mysteries -- the primitive religions, all without one exception, reflect the most important of the once universal divine Principle, absolute in its nature, and unknowable to the "brain" intellect, or the conditioned and limited cognition of man. To imagine any witness to it in the manifested universe, other than as Universal Mind, the Soul of the universe -- is impossible. That which alone stands as undying and ceaseless evidence and proof of the existence of that One Principle, is the presence of an undeniable design in kosmic mechanism -- the birth, growth, death and transformation of everything in the universe, from the silent and unreachable stars down to the humble lichen. Hence the universal acceptation of "Thought Divine," the Anima Mundi of all antiquity -- the divine Soul of thought and compassion of the trans-Himâlayan mystics; of Plato's perpetually reasoning Divinity, is the oldest of all the doctrines now known to, and believed in, by man. Therefore they cannot be said to have originated with Plato, nor with Pythagoras, nor with any of the philosophers within the historical period. Say the Chaldæn Oracles: "The  works of nature co-exist with the intellectual, spiritual Light of the Father. For it is the Soul which adorned the great heaven, and which adorns it after the father."

"The incorporeal world then was already completed, having its seat in the Divine Reason," says Philo.

In the Theogony of Mochus, we find Æther first, and then the air; the two principles from which Ulom, the intelligible God (the visible universe of matter) is born. In the Orphic hymns, the Eros-Phanes evolves from the Spiritual Egg, which the æthereal winds impregnate, wind being "the Spirit of God," who is said to move in æther, "brooding over the Chaos" -- the Divine "Idea." The Divine Spirit, stands before the original Matter; from their union springs the great Soul of the World, the Spirit of Life. These are identical with the Universal Soul, or Anima Mundi, and the Astral Light of the Theurgists and Kabalists.

Pythagoras brought his doctrines from the eastern sanctuaries, and Plato compiled them into a form more intelligible than the mysterious numerals of the Sage -- whose doctrines he had fully embraced. Thus, the Kosmos is "the Son" with Plato, having for his father and mother the Divine Thought and Matter. The "Primal Being" (Beings, with the Theosophists, as they are the collective aggregation of the divine Rays), is an emanation of the Demiurgic or Universal Mind which contains from eternity the ideas of the "to be created world" within itself, which idea the unmanifested LOGOS produces of Itself. The first Idea "born in darkness before the creation of the world" remains in the unmanifested Mind; the second is this Idea going out as a reflection from the Mind (now the manifested LOGOS), becoming clothed with his matter, and assuming an objective existence.

The life of man is an aspiration to bliss, and that which he aspires to is given to him. The light lit in the soul of man is bliss and life, and that light can never be darkness, as there exists -- verily there exists for man -- only this solitary light which burns within soul.


COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:

EDUCATION

I confess myself utterly at a loss in suggesting particular reforms in our ways of teaching. No discretion than can be lodged with a school-committee, with the overseers or visitors of an academy, of a college, can at all avail to reach these difficulties and perplexities, but they solve themselves when we leave institutions and address individuals. 


--RALPH WALDO EMERSON

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(1) Collated from the writings of H. P. Blavatsky.
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