THEOSOPHY, Vol. 23, No. 3, January, 1935
(Pages 130-133; Size: 12K)
(Number 27 of a 36-part series)
STUDIES IN THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY
"THE doctrine of Cycles is one of the most important in the whole theosophical system, though the least known and of all the most infrequently referred to." Yet, no man upon the face of the earth but has seen day fade into dusk and watched the shades of night flee before the dawn. All observe how yesterday's events have laid the basis for activities of today, and count on tomorrow's continuance of culmination of these lines. And who has not witnessed the pageant of the seasons unfolding its marvels: Summer maturing the planting of Spring; Fall bringing all to fruition; and Winter decreeing rest for soil, seed, and sower! The four main stages of human existence are so correspondential with the four divisions of the day and with the four seasons of the year that they are commonly designated as the morning, noon, evening and night, or as the springtime, summer, fall, and winter of life.
Strangely enough, the significance of these correspondences seems to be lost, entirely. Especially are the men of the West, perceiving the revolutions of the Wheels of Destiny, incognizant of the path along which they bear humanity. Failing of its meaning, they belittle the event and miss the import of objective experience. But some poets and philosophically inclined thinkers, unconsciously attuned to the pulse of Universal Life, faintly sense the inherency of this Law of Cycles and weave it into their expressions, guardedly. Such partial expositions, however, are subject to distortions in the absence of fundamental principles, while many analogies are rendered valueless, save for their poetic imagery, pleasing, indeed, but unsatisfactory to the reasoning mind.
What, for instance, could be more inconsistent than to compare a human lifetime to "a day," while denying it the recurrence of morning, or to point the analogy between it and the yearly seasons, without granting the return of Spring! Correct correspondence is reversible; but reversal of these analogies, on a one-life basis, would mentally plunge day into everlasting night and terminate the year with permanent winter. And whence, pray, the initial dawn and springtime? To be consistent, these metaphors must exclude any possibility of a round of seasons, in point of fact. There could not be a year, because there would be only one day. Another day would require another planet. How loudly do such half-truths and curtailed similes shout the name of Jehovah, establisher of sempiternity, creator of something out of nothing! Here is to be seen the lurker behind the sophistry of this era, luring Man to deny his own divinity, prostitute his reason, and blind himself to his continuous, cyclic pilgrimage, with its transcendent destination.
"Western investigators have for some centuries suspected that events move in cycles, and a few of the writers in the field of European literature have dealt with the subject, but all in a very incomplete fashion. This incompleteness and want of accurate knowledge have been due to the lack of belief in spiritual things and the desire to square everything with materialistic science." Still, like unto other men, the investigator is subject to alternations of light and darkness, heat and cold; his breath and pulse depict the ebb and flow of ocean tides and every motion of his consciousness demonstrates the law of periodicity; his own sleeping and waking daily repeat, in little, the drama of Reincarnation. And, too, the microscope's revelations of the exceedingly small, as well as the telescope's sweep of the vastly great, tell the same story of ceaseless rhythmic motion.
True, there is recognition of "the moon cycle and the great sidereal one", but both are looked upon "merely as periods of time". Considered thus, "as but lengths of time, there is no profit except to the dry student or to the astronomer." Mathematical calculations are obviously necessary in the science of Astronomy, but why need they so enmesh the calculator as to further obscure deep mysteries? To whom should the bright glory of the stars yield up its mystic import more than to him who so intelligently charts the perfect order and relationship maintained in the regal, circling march of the stellar hosts across the fields of space?
Who that loves those ancient constellations could feel less than awe at beholding the glittering firmament of night! Who, knowing their conformations, but must eagerly hail the appearance of kingly Orion and lambent Sirius in the winter sky and joyously greet beauteous Scorpio of summer evenings? Like friends of long ago and ages yet to be, they yearly come, reminding all with eyes to see of evolution's mighty scope. Too often, the profoundly informed fall below the layman in appreciation of the very objects of their investigation. So cycles are regarded as mere, dry measures of time!
There are thinkers "who say cycles exist but have no very great bearing on human life"; but the "theosophical theory is distinctly otherwise", holding that cycles are not only "actual physical facts in respect to time", but "have a very great effect on human life and the evolution of the globe with all the forms of life thereon." Of course, if matter is regarded as dead or as unintelligent, and force as distinct from it, the theosophical postulation will seem absurd; but it becomes self-evident when the universe is viewed as a living whole.
"A cycle is a ring or turning, as the derivation of the word indicates." Such turning, or circling back again, implies something to turn -- force of some kind. Controversy as to the kind of force is cut short by Theosophy's statement that all force, whatsoever, emanates from beings. The cyclic action of these forces can be better grasped if it is understood that all beings have both subjective and objective existence, causing them to "now draw in and now let forth". With the outward movement Nature quickens into renewed expression. When the forces are withdrawn, rest falls upon field and forest. Yet this rest does not spell cessation of the creative energies, but alteration of direction and functioning. Rest objectively, means action subjectively. Save for what is accomplished in the seed during its repose in darkness and secrecy, it could not sprout in response to the increase of light.
This alternation of direction by the creative forces is analogous to that of the tidal breath, and of sleeping and waking. It is, in fact, the identical process engaged in propelling the mightiest Rounds of Evolution. "Great Breath" was the name anciently given to the all-inclusive, Primordial Cycle. As the Breath proceeded outward, worlds and beings, already existing in latency, came forth into manifestation, through the expansion of their own innate powers. And "when the force behind the whole mass of seen and unseen matter has reached its limit of duration under cyclic law," the "solar system and the globe we are now on will come to an end."
Probably, there are many who would argue that our yearly procession of the seasons is due simply to the earth's change in relation to the sun, thus increasing and decreasing the amount of direct sunlight received; and that, as a matter of course, this produces germination, growth, maturation, followed by inactivity; that there is nothing occult about cycles nor any adequate warrant for stressing them. Granting the argument: all are familiar with the indicated effect of sunlight; but how many know why the earth changes her position at regular stated intervals? Her tiltings and circuit around the source of physical life and light are methodical. Why? Can it be that Beings have something to do with establishing this means of supply? Perhaps it does not just happen that Mother Earth behaves in this fashion; and possibly there are equally practical reasons for the actions of the other planets. But if the Theosophist senses intelligence ever at work in the yearly cycles, a religionist might well name that intelligence "God's care." What, then, of drought, flood, crop-failure, and famine? The Almighty's perfect plan, individually supervised, should produce flawless results!
Consistent with every fact, Mr. Judge states that "the force at work and determining the great cycle is that of man himself considered as a spiritual being." In the words of another Teacher, this means "that in the beginning, the sun, and all the planets belonging to this solar system, established, through their relations and interrelations, an order of motion, or a certain rate of vibration, which is the key governing all motions." In its currents of force, this Primordial Cycle traced the pattern for the entire system, including the lesser cycles of its planets, and remains the Master-Wheel, so to speak, of the solar machine.
This ideal design, an extension of a prior one, permits of no distortion or alteration; but its unfoldment depends upon the co-operation of human agents. Inherent as the ideal is in all things, great and small, yet Man is the vanguard for its manifestation, and responsible for all imperfections or failures in Nature. Yet, included in the evolutionary scheme, is freedom of choice. Mechanically wrought, by force, the universe would be bereft of its prime object -- that of raising humanity to Godhood. Better that ages were spent in learning wise action -- even by setting up cycles of woe -- than arranged perfection, at best but outward seeming! This is not Nature's way, nor Master's way. The Elder Brothers and Guardians of the Law became such through patient, persistent self-effort along the lines They point out to lesser Souls. Thus only, round by round, may the spiral ladder of progress be mounted. Fortunate, indeed, it is that frailty and selfishness are powerless to erase or even mar the innate pattern; but that, rather, with individual, race, planet, or solar system, what fails of present accomplishment may find attainment in future cycles. For whatever Man's mistakes, within him still abide the Plan, the Way, and the Power.
STUDIES IN "THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY"
(Part 28 of a 36-part series)
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