THEOSOPHY, Vol. 22, No. 4, February, 1934
(Pages 162-167; Size: 18K)

WHAT IS THE MONAD?

SOME SECRET DOCTRINE STATEMENTS

THE Re-awakening of the Universe to life after Pralaya ... depicts the emergence of the "Monads" from their state of absorption within the ONE; the earliest and highest stage in the formation of "Worlds," the term Monad being one which may apply equally to the vastest Solar System or the tiniest atom. (I, 21.)

"Pilgrim" is the appellation given to our Monad (the two in one) during its cycle of incarnations. It is the only immortal and eternal principle in us, being an indivisible part of the integral whole -- the Universal Spirit, from which it emanates, and into which it is absorbed at the end of the cycle. When it is said to emanate from the one spirit, an awkward and incorrect expression has to be used, for lack of appropriate words in English. (I, 16-17, foot-note.)

Starting upon the long journey immaculate; descending more and more into sinful matter, and having connected himself with every atom in manifested Space -- the Pilgrim, having struggled through and suffered in every form of life and being, is only at the bottom of the valley of matter, and half through his cycle, when he has identified himself with collective Humanity. This, he has made in his own image. In order to progress upwards and homewards, the "God" has now to ascend the weary uphill path of the Golgotha of Life. It is the martyrdom of self-conscious existence. Like Visvakarman he has to sacrifice himself to himself in order to redeem all creatures, to resurrect from the many into the One Life. Then he ascends into heaven indeed; where, plunged into the incomprehensible absolute Being and Bliss of Paranirvana, he reigns unconditionally, and whence he will re-descend again at the next "coming," ... ( I, 268.)

For, however limitless -- from a human standpoint -- the paranirvanic state, it has yet a limit in Eternity. Once reached, the same monad will re-emerge therefrom, as a still higher being, on a far higher plane, to recommence its cycle of perfected activity. The human mind cannot in its present stage of development transcend, scarcely reach this plane of thought. It totters here, on the brink of incomprehensible Absoluteness and Eternity. (I, 266.)

Now what is a "Monad"? And what relation does it bear to an Atom? ... "None whatever ... to the atom or molecule ... as existing in the scientific conception at present. ... nor is it quite the Monas of the Peripatetics. Physically or constitutionally the mineral monad differs, of course, from the human monad, which is neither physical nor can its constitution be rendered by chemical symbols and elements." (I, 177.)

The monad becomes a personal ego when it incarnates; and something remains of that personality through Manas, when the latter is perfect enough to assimilate Buddhi (I, 245.)

... the "human" Monad, whether immetallized in the stone-atom, or invegetallized in the plant, or inanimalized in the animal, is still and ever a divine, hence also a HUMAN Monad. It ceases to be human only when it becomes absolutely divine. The terms "mineral," "vegetable" and "animal" monad are meant to create a superficial distinction: there is no such thing as a Monad (Jiva) other than divine, and consequently having been, or having to become, human. And the latter term has to remain meaningless unless the difference is well understood. The Monad is a drop out of the shoreless Ocean beyond, or, to be correct, within the plane of primeval differentiation. It is divine in its higher and human in its lower condition -- the adjectives "higher" and "lower" being used for lack of better words -- and a monad it remains at all times, save in the Nirvanic state, under whatever conditions, or whatever external forms ... the MONAD has, during the cycle of its incarnations, to reflect in itself every root-form of each kingdom. Therefore the Kabalists say correctly that "MAN" becomes a stone, a plant, an animal, a man, a Spirit, and finally God. Thus accomplishing his cycle or circuit and returning to the point from which he had started as the heavenly MAN." But by "Man" the divine Monad is meant, and not the thinking Entity, much less his physical body. (II, 185-186.)

... for the Greek Monas signifies "Unity" in its primary sense. Those unable to seize the difference between the monad -- the Universal Unit -- and the Monads or the manifested Unity ... ought never to meddle in philosophy, let alone the Esoteric Sciences. (I, 614.)

The Monads are not discrete principles, limited or conditioned, but rays from that one universal absolute Principle. (II, 167.)

That which propels towards, and forces evolution, i.e., compels the growth and development of Man towards perfection, is (a) the MONAD, or that which acts in it unconsciously through a force inherent in itself; and (b) the lower astral body or the personal SELF. The former, whether imprisoned in a vegetable or an animal body, is endowed with, is indeed itself, that force. Owing to its identity with the ALL-FORCE, which, as said, is inherent in the Monad, it is all-potent on the Arupa, or formless plane. On our plane, its essence being too pure, it remains all-potential, but individually becomes inactive: e.g., the rays of the Sun, which contribute to the growth of vegetation, do not select this or that plant to shine upon. Uproot the plant and transfer it to a piece of soil where the sunbeam cannot reach it, and the latter will not follow it. So with the Atman: unless the higher Self or EGO gravitates towards its Sun -- the Monad -- the lower Ego, or personal Self, will have the upper hand in every case. ( II, 109-110.)

The Monad(s) descend from the spheres of expectation, the intermediate spheres, wherein the Monads, which have not reached Nirvana, are said to slumber in unconscious inactivity between the Manvantaras. (II, 57 and footnote.)

... the evolution of the internal or real MAN is purely spiritual. It is now no more a passage of the impersonal Monad through many and various forms of matter -- endowed at best with instinct and consciousness on quite a different plane -- as in the case of external evolution, but a journey of the "pilgrim-soul" through various states of not only matter but Self-consciousness and self-perception, or of perception from apperception....

The MONAD emerges from its state of spiritual and intellectual unconsciousness; and, skipping the first two planes -- too near the ABSOLUTE to permit of any correlation with anything on a lower plane -- it gets direct into the plane of Mentality. But there is no plane in the whole universe with a wider margin, or a wider field of action in its almost endless gradations of perceptive and apperceptive qualities, than this plane, which has in its turn an appropriate smaller plane for every "form," from the "mineral" monad up to the time when that monad blossoms forth by evolution into the DIVINE MONAD. But all the time it is one and the same Monad, differing only in its incarnations, throughout its ever succeeding cycles of partial or total obscuration of spirit, or the partial or total obscuration of matter -- two polar antitheses -- as it ascends into the realms of mental spirituality, or descends into the depths of materiality. (I, 175.)

Metaphysically speaking, it is of course an absurdity to talk of the "development" of a Monad, or to say that it becomes "Man." But any attempt to preserve metaphysical accuracy of language in the use of such a tongue as the English would necessitate at least three extra volumes of this work, and would entail an amount of verbal repetition which would be wearisome in the extreme. It stands to reason that a MONAD cannot either progress or develop, or even be affected by the changes of states it passes through. It is not of this world or plane, and may be compared only to an indestructible star of divine light and fire, thrown down on to our Earth as a plank of salvation for the personalities in which it indwells. It is for the latter to cling to it; and thus partaking of its divine nature, obtain immortality. Left to itself the Monad will cling to no one; but, like the "plank," be drifted away to another incarnation by the unresting current of evolution. (I, 174-175, foot-note.)

In short, as the spiritual Monad is One, Universal, Boundless and Impartite, whose rays, nevertheless, form what we, in our ignorance, call the "Individual Monads" of men, so the Mineral Monad -- being at the opposite point of the circle -- is also One -- and from it proceed the countless physical atoms, which Science is beginning to regard as individualized....

It would be very misleading to imagine a Monad as a separate Entity trailing its slow way in a distinct path through the lower Kingdoms, and after an incalculable series of transformations flowering into a human being; in short, that the Monad of a Humboldt dates back to the Monad of an atom of hornblende. ... The ocean (of matter) does not divide into its potential and constituent drops until the sweep of the life-impulse reaches the evolutionary stage of man-birth. The tendency towards segregation into individual Monads is gradual, and in the higher animals comes almost to the point. The Peripatetics applied the word Monad to the whole Kosmos, in a pantheistic sense; and the Occultists, while accepting this thought for convenience sake, distinguish the progressive stages of the evolution of the concrete from the abstract by terms of which the "Mineral, Vegetable, Animal (etc.), Monad" are examples. ... As the Monads are uncompounded things, as correctly defined by Leibnitz, it is the spiritual essence which vivifies them in their degrees of differentiation, which properly constitutes the Monad -- not the atomic aggregation, which is only the vehicle and the substance through which thrill the lower and higher degrees of intelligence. (I, 177-179.)

The Monad or Jiva ... is, first of all, shot down by the law of Evolution into the lowest form of matter -- the mineral. After a sevenfold gyration encased in the stone (or that which will become mineral and stone in the Fourth Round), it creeps out of it, say, as a lichen. Passing thence, through all the forms of vegetable matter, into what is termed animal matter, it has now reached the point in which it has become the germ, so to speak, of the animal, that will become the physical man. All this, up to the Third Round, is formless, as matter, and senseless, as consciousness. For the Monad or Jiva per se cannot be even called spirit: it is a ray, a breath of the ABSOLUTE, or the Absoluteness rather, and the Absolute Homogeneity, having no relations with the conditioned and relative finiteness, is unconscious on our plane. Therefore, besides the material which will be needed for its future human form, the monad requires (a) a spiritual model, or prototype, for that material to shape itself into; and (b) an intelligent consciousness to guide its evolution and progress, neither of which is possessed by the homogeneous monad, or by senseless though living matter. (I, 246-247.)

[Monadic] evolution -- viewed from its several standpoints -- i.e., as the universal and the individualized Monad; and the chief aspects of the Evolving Energy, after differentiation -- the purely Spiritual, the Intellectual, the Psychic and the Physical -- may be thus formulated as an invariable law; a descent of Spirit into Matter, equivalent to an ascent in physical evolution; a re-ascent from the depths of materiality towards its status quo ante, with a corresponding dissipation of concrete form and substance up to the LAYA state, or what Science calls "the zero point," and beyond. (I, 620.)

The Monads ... are treated from the standpoint of their individuality, as atomic Souls, before these atoms descend into pure terrestrial form. For this descent into concrete matter marks the medial point of their own individual pilgrimage. Here, losing in the mineral kingdom their individuality, they begin to ascend through the seven states of terrestrial evolution to that point where a correspondence is firmly established between the human and Deva (divine) consciousness. (I, 619.)

... what is called collectively Monads by Leibnitz ... may be separated into three distinct Hosts, which, counted from the highest planes, are, firstly, "gods," or conscious, spiritual Egos; the intelligent architects, who work after the plan in the Divine Mind. Then come the Elementals, or Monads, who form collectively and unconsciously the grand Universal Mirrors of everything connected with their respective realms. Lastly, the atoms, or material molecules, which are informed in their turn by their apperceptive monads, just as every cell in the human body is so informed. ... There are shoals of such informed atoms which, in their turn, inform the molecules; an infinitude of monads, or Elementals proper, and countless spiritual Forces -- Monadless, for they are pure incorporealities, except under certain laws, when they assume a form -- not necessarily human. (I, 632.)

"Every form on earth, and every speck (atom) in space strives in its efforts towards self-formation to follow the model placed for it in the 'HEAVENLY MAN' ... Its (the atom's) involution and evolution, its external and internal growth and development, have all one and the same object -- man; man, as the highest physical and ultimate form on this earth; the MONAD, in its absolute totality and awakened condition -- as the culmination of the divine incarnation on Earth." (I, 183.)

Occultism teaches that -- (a) the life-atoms of our (Prana) life-principle are never entirely lost when a man dies. That the atoms best impregnated with the life-principle (an independent, eternal, conscious factor) are partially transmitted from father to son by heredity, and partially are drawn once more together and become the animating principle of the new body in every incarnation of the Monads. Because (b) as the individual Soul is ever the same, so are the atoms of the lower principles (body, its astral, or life double, etc.), drawn as they are by affinity and Karmic law always to the same individuality in a series of various bodies, etc., etc. (II, 671-2.)

The monad -- a truly "indivisible thing" ... is here rendered as the Atma in conjunction with Buddhi and the higher Manas. This trinity is one and eternal, the latter being absorbed in the former at the termination of all conditioned and illusive life. The monad, then, can be traced through the course of its pilgrimage and its changes of transitory vehicles only from the incipient stage of the manifested Universe. In Pralaya, or the intermediate period between two manvantaras, it loses its name, as it loses it when the real ONE self of man merges into Brahm in cases of high Samadhi (the Turiya state) or final Nirvana; "when the disciple" in the words of Sankara, "having attained that primeval consciousness, absolute bliss, of which the nature is truth, which is without form and action, abandons this illusive body that has been assumed by the atma just as an actor (abandons) the dress (put on)." (I, 570.)


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SOME SECRET DOCTRINE STATEMENTS

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