There are many persons studying with us who do not say one word to their children, but allow them to go on imbibing the false theories of the current religion, weakly hoping that when the children shall have grown up, the errors can be corrected. How unjust this is to the children who are thus filled up with obstacles to future progress. Surely, if members believe there is anything in Karma or Reincarnation, how easy to tell the children.
-- W.Q. Judge, PRACTICAL OCCULTISM, page 28
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 330-32.]
So many proven facts have been first discovered by occult science, that someday we shall have professors of occult science, as we already have professors of chemistry and astronomy.
-- Balzac, COUSIN PONS.
Honore de Balzac is famous for the gallery of characters that he created with profound imagination based upon acute observation. In his oration at Balzac's funeral, Victor Hugo stressed the fact of these two powers of the great painter in prose. Balzac has also been called the unconscious occultist of French literature. This is an aspect in the author's prodigious output which is very much overlooked. The abnormal and the psychic elements in his writings are not rare. These are not confined, as is ordinarily believed, to his Seraphita which was praised and damned as was no other volume of Balzac's.
Now the news comes of the publication of the first draft of his unfinished early novel FALTHURNE, ably edited by M. Pierre-Georges Castex and published by Jose Corti. In THE TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT for May 25, its discerning reviewer reports:
M. Castex has also studied Balzac's interest in the occult and lays just emphasis upon it; the realist and the analyst in Balzac have been studied too exclusively. There is another Balzac, who never died -- the Romantic with his dreams of the magical arcana.
In Seraphita, Balzac puts in the mouth of one of his characters the truth: "You call a fact supernatural because you did not know its cause." In many of his stories, "the supernatural" is handled by Balzac with consummate skill and rare insight. The significance of this "supernatural" is often missed by the ordinary reader and so the real meaning of Balzac's writing is also missed. His observation of objects and events was accurate and the details and similes in his descriptions have an amazing quality which strikes the readers' understanding. These have a profound philosophical background. This was due to his Imagination or Intuitive Vision.
He perceived the universe of Spirit, the Macrocosm, by the soul-power of imagination while his keen and penetrating senses observed the material Microcosm. In his writings, he used both of his powers in a conjoint action revealing again and again the intimate connection between heaven and hell in man on earth. The great fundamental idea, "as above so below," was so assimilated by his mind that most naturally it leaped to conclusions derived from his application of the law of Correspondence and Analogy. Thus he got at such Eastern teachings as Karma and Reincarnation as will be seen from these extracts -- one from THE MAGIC SKIN and the others from SERAPHITA:
Some day you will lie on your couch, unable to endure noise or light, condemned to live in a sort of tomb, and you will suffer unheard of torture. When you look about for the cause of that slow, avenging agony, remember the woes that you have scattered broadcast on your passage through life. Having sown imprecations everywhere, you will reap hatred. We are the judges, the executioners, of a tribunal that holds sway here on earth, and takes rank above the tribunals of men, below that of God.
Who knows how many fleshy forms the heir of heaven occupies before he can be brought to understand the value of that silence and solitude whose starry plains are but the vestibule of spiritual worlds?
The virtues we acquire, which develop slowly within us, are the invisible links which bind each one of our existences to the others -- existences which the spirit alone remembers, for matter has no memory for spiritual things. Thought alone holds the tradition of the bygone life. The endless legacy of the past to the present is the secret source of human genius.
We are born with the need to aspire skywards. Our native home, like a mother's face, never frightens its children.
Light gave birth to melody, and melody to light; colors were both light and melody; motion was number endowed by the Word; in short, everything was at once sonorous, diaphanous and mobile; so that, everything existing in everything else, extension knew no limits, and the angels could traverse it everywhere to the utmost depths of the infinite.
By John M. Prentice
[This is a true sketch of a Theosophist written by the President of the Australian Section of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena), from THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, November 1945, pages 546-49.]
He was the Doubting Thomas of the little group of young people who were the pride of the Lodge and in whom we saw as a vast possibility for the spread of the Doctrine. This was not to be. In some later age under better conditions when wars will not come to decimate the best in the Race, this potential force for good shall be free. In this enthusiastic band, he alone hung back. He was willing to believe the Tradition yet curiously unable to show his assent in any practical form. He was a natural-born Agnostic. Like Mephistopheles in Faust, his was the Spirit that denied. It would have caused no concern whatever if he had suddenly risen and said, "I'm an Atheist, thank God!"
Born into a poor Roman Catholic family, he knew the bitterness of poverty. Strictly educated in the Faith, it was the hope and dream of his family that he might become an ordained priest. He was the first to realize that he lacked the vocation. This estranged his kinsfolk, and ultimately forcing him to leave home. While in his late teens and still conforming to the requirements of his religion, a semi-political speech by a newly enthroned Archbishop aroused his doubts as to the Divine origin and purpose of the Church. Thereafter, he performed his religious duties punctiliously, but they lacked any inward reality for him.
At this point, he contacted Theosophy. His friendly reception by the group of young people warmed his frozen heart. They asked nothing of him and were willing to share all. He listened to and even participated in many discussions. At the Lodge, he attended some public lectures but refused to examine the literature. The Holy Office had condemned Theosophy. It placed theosophical literature on the Index Expurgatorius. All the same, he gave generously of his significant musical talent.
An accountant by profession, he was a musician at heart. He played the piano and possessed a beautiful tenor voice. With either, he was good enough for the concert platform but not sufficiently outstanding to base a career on either. Occasionally, he played at our Sunday gatherings. He would sing when he could get an accompanist. He heard visiting celebrities, people including singers such as Melba, Nordica, and Eleanora de Cisneros.
By prodigious effort, he obtained for himself a first class piano, having sacrificed almost every pleasure to this end. Bach and Beethoven opened new doors and extended wider horizons. There was the faint aura of doubt about even his acceptance of what the music conveyed. He did not disdain the Moderns or popular music of his day. He played Debussy, Ravel, and Scriabin. He sensed the Theosophy in Scriabin before hearing of the background of the composer's life.
Then came a day when he rocked the group to its foundations. He told the young people, casually and without concern, that he had become the proprietor of a wine saloon in one of the worst quarters of the city. It had a most unenviable reputation. Two murders had happened within a few yards of its unsavory situation. One reached international fame. It is still a classic in the literature of "Famous Cases." The refuse of the city byways made up the saloon's clientele.
When we ventured to walk past it, we saw the place take on a new aspect in a matter of weeks. Repainted, cleaned, and refurnished, with the quality of its wares raised to a new standard, it had become an asset instead of a liability. The police no longer visited it two at a time. After but little time, they ceased to visit it at all.
Then the First World War came. Although he cared little for patriotism in the popular sense, he enlisted voluntarily. Although he was smart and soldier-like, his very uniform seemed saturated with the faint aroma of doubt, the air of disbelief that he wore like an aura.
His military service was reasonably long and quite undistinguished. He did his duty as demanded of him and no more. He could easily have exploited his musical talent but refused to do so. All the same, many a cafe or estaminet echoed to his voice or his rollicking tunes. He his fellow soldiers respected and even liked him, but none penetrated into his inner life. There was a barrier of unbelief, even to love.
The end came on the Menin Road in November 1917. An accident to a transport vehicle was holding up a convoy of soldiers urgently needed at the Front. Bored by inaction, he went forward to assist in removing the vehicle from the shell hole newly formed in the paved road. The shelling was heavy and most had taken cover. An observation balloon evidently signaled instructions as hell let loose on the damaged truck. The third or fourth shell made a direct hit. When the soldiers had sorted out the debris, they found and removed his dead body for burial. His face, they said afterwards, still wore its expression of faint surprise and unbelief.
Because of the Light within, he was never afraid of the darkness, even though he would never have admitted the Light. His hunger for faith was unsatisfied. The wish to believe was always there but could not express itself. He wanted to believe and just could not. He might have said, as another was credited with saying as his confession of faith, "There is no God and Mary is His mother." It may be that in that blinding flash that released him from his body, he saw and knew why he found faith denied to him, seeing why in his case, "the Lonely turned away from the Alone." Perhaps he saw that in his next incarnation it would be possible for him to believe.
Even reincarnation was to him, whenever he discussed it, the return to all the old familiar sights, sounds, and experiences. Reincarnation was a coming back to the known world rather than a doorway to spiritual heights unseen by physical eyes. We shall never know what act of unfaith in some forgotten incarnation that had made faith so impossible now.
Had he known of these lines that follow, he might have seen himself mirrored.
I who have seen am glad to close my eyes, I who have soared am weary of my wings, I seek no more the secret of the wise, Safe among shadowy, unreal human things.
Blind to the gleam of the wild violet rays That burn beyond the rainbow's circle dim, Bound by dark night and driven by pale days The sightless slave of Time's imperious whim;
Deaf to the flooding tide of dreams divine That surge outside the closed gates of birth, The rhythms of eternity, too fine To touch with music the dull ears of earth --
I go to seek the humble care and toil The dreams I left undreamed, the deeds undone, To sow the seed and break the stubborn soil, Knowing no brightness whiter than the sun.
-- Eva Gore-Booth, REINCARNATION
To him, reincarnation was a summons back from the Empyrean to the warm earth. When he does come back, as come he will, a greater faith than before will show him all he longed to know.
By George William Russell
[From THE CANDLE OF VISION, Chapter XIX, pages 162-169.]
Other names might be used in this Celtic Cosmogenesis and the Dagda stand for Lir, Boan for Dana, Fintan for Mananan, and others again might be interchangeable with these.
Even as the generations follow one another in time, each looking upon the same unchanging nature as the ancestors but naming it by other names, so in antiquity races were invaded by others who came with a cosmogony the same in all essentials, but for differences of language and name, as that of the people invaded.
After centuries there comes a blending of cultures and a subsidence into legend, bringing about a bewildering mosaic of mythology. The unity of primeval vision is broken up in the prism of literature. Deities grow in number in the popular imagination and coexist there, who in truth, if their spiritual ancestry was known, were but varying names for one divine being.
There are several mythologies in Irish legend the figures of which are made contemporary with each other by the later poets, and while it might be of interest to scholars to disentangle these and relate each deity to its proper cycle, only the vision of the universe which underlay them all is of real importance.
That spiritual Overworld our Gaelic ancestors beheld was in essentials the same as the Overworld revealed in the sacred books; and in the wonder tales of the Gael we find a great secular corroboration of sacred literature and of half-sacred philosophy such as Plato utters through the lips of Socrates. Earth, Mid-world, Heaven-world, and the great deep of deity they knew as they are expounded in the Upanishads.
We can discern the same vision in the Apostle whose beginning of things was in the fullness of being out of which arose the Christos or divine imagination, in which, as it went forth on its cyclic labors, life or the Holy Breath was born, or became in it, and these again shine and work in the darkness of earth. And when St. Paul speaks of a third heaven we divine he had risen to the world of the Christos and was there initiated into mysteries of which it was not lawful to speak.
In the sacred books there is a profounder life than there is in secular literature where there is vision indeed, but in the sacred books there is the being. The mind in retrospect, meditation, and aspiration needs guidance; and this spiritual architecture of Earth-world, with Mid-world, Heaven-world, and God-world rising above it, made my own vision so far as it went intelligible to me, for my disconnected glimpses of supernature seemed to find a place in that architecture of the heavens.
In earlier pages I described my first visions of other planes, and the beings there, how some were shining and how others were a lordlier folk lit up from within as if a sun was hidden in the heart; and in my retrospect of vision I find all I saw falling into two categories which I think correspond to the Mid-world and World of Immortal Youth of the ancestors.
My vision into the highest of these spheres was rare, and only once did consciousness for a moment follow vision and I seemed myself to be in the world I contemplated. At other times I was like one who cannot enter the gardens of a palace, but who gazes distantly through gates on their beauty, and sees people of a higher order than himself moving in a world enchanting to his eyes.
I did see in some sphere interpenetrated with this beings in an ecstasy of radiance, color, and sound, lovers who seemed enraptured with their happiness, as they tell in old story of lovers on the plains of Moy Mell, and to me they seemed like some who had lived in Earth in ancient days and who now were in the happy world.
And I saw, without being able to explain to myself their relation to that exalted humanity, beings such as the ancient poets described, a divine folk who I think never were human but were those spoken of as the Sidhe. I did not see enough to enable me to speak with any certainty about their life, and I do not know that it would serve any useful purpose to detail visions which remain bewildering to me. Into the lowest of these two spheres I saw with more frequency, but was able to understand but little of what I saw.
I will tell one or two visions out of many. I was drawn to meditate beside a deep pool amid woods. It was a place charged with psychic life, and was regarded with some awe by the people who lived near.
As I gazed into the dark waters consciousness seemed to sink beneath them and I found myself in another world. It was more luminous than this, and I found one there who seemed like an elemental king. He was seated on a throne, and I saw that a lustrous air rose up as from a fountain beneath the seat and his breathing of it gave him power. The figure was of a brilliant blue and gold opalescence, and the breast, as with many of the higher beings, was shining, and a golden light seemed to pervade the whole body and to shine through its silvery blueness.
The tribe he ruled were smaller than himself, and these I saw descending on the right of the throne, their shining dimmed to a kind of grayness, and each one as it came before the throne bent forward and pressed its lips upon the heart of the king, and in an instant at the touch it became flushed with life and it shot up plumed and radiant, and there was a continuous descent on one side of grey elementals and on the other side a continuous ascent of radiant figures, and I know not what it meant.
And at another time I saw one of these lesser beings flying as a messenger out of the heart of one greater, and I saw a return to the heart and the vanishing of the lesser in the greater, and I know not what it meant.
And at another time I was astonished, for I saw rising out of deep water seven shining and silvery figures, and three on one side and three on another side and one beneath, they held uplifted hands on the hilt of a gigantic sword of quivering flame, and they waved that mighty sword in air and sank again beneath the waters.
And after that seven others rose up and they held a great spear, and it they pointed skywards and sank below; and after that arose two carrying a cauldron, and, when they had vanished, one solitary figure arose and it held in its hands a great and glittering stone.
Why these beautiful beings should bring forth the four precious symbols of the Tuatha de Danaan I do not know, for that Mid-world, as Usheen traveling to Tirnanoge saw, is full of strange and beautiful forms appearing and vanishing ever about the mystic adventurer.
There are to be seen many beings such as the bards told of: beings riding like Lir or Mananan upon winged steeds, or surrounded like Angus Oge with many-colored birds, and why these images of beauty and mystery should be there I do not know, but they entered into the imagination of poets in the past and have entered into the imagination of others who are still living.
I can only surmise that they were given the names of Mananan, Angus, Dana, or Lir because they were mouthpieces of the bodiless deities and perhaps sitting on high thrones represented these at the Druidic mysteries, and when the mortal came to be made immortal they spoke to him each out of their peculiar wisdom.
In myself as in others I know they awakened ecstasy. To one who lay on the mound which is called the Brugh on the Boyne a form like that the bards speak of Angus appeared, and it cried, "Can you not see me? Can you not hear me? I come from the Land of Immortal Youth."
I, though I could not be certain of speech, found the wild words flying up to my brain interpreting my own vision of the god, and it seemed to be crying to me,
"Oh, see our sun is dawning for us, ever dawning, with ever youthful and triumphant voices. Your sun is but a smoky shadow: ours the ruddy and eternal glow. Your fire is far away, but ours within our hearts is ever living and through wood and wave is ever dawning on adoring eyes. My birds from purple fiery plumage shed the light of lights. Their kisses wake the love that never dies and leads through death to me. My love shall be in thine when love is sacrifice."
I do not believe that either to myself or my friend were such words spoken, but the whole being is lifted up in vision and overmastered, and the words that came flying upward in consciousness perhaps represent our sudden harmony with a life which is beyond ourselves, we in our words interpreting the life of the spirit.
Some interpret the spirit with sadness and some with joy, but in this country I think it will always cry out its wild and wondrous story of immortal youth and will lead its votaries to a heaven where they will be drunk with beauty.
What is all this? Poetry or fantasy? It has visited thousands in all ages and lands, and from such visions has come all that is most beautiful in poetry or art. These forms inhabited Shelley's luminous cloudland, and they were the models in the Pheidian heart.
They have been with artist, poet and musician since the beginning of the world, and they will be with us until we grow into their beauty and learn from them how to fulfill human destiny, accomplishing our labor which is to make this world into the likeness of the Kingdom of Light.
By Abbott B. Clark
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, April 1939, pages 287-91.]
The Cycle of Initiation was the crowning glory of the work of the ancient Mystery Schools. It was not a ritual formulated by the brain-mind of man. Wise Sages and Seers instituted it. These highly developed spiritual men formulated it in an effort to coordinate the Initiant with the forces of nature, especially the higher spiritual forces. We all believe in the inseparability of Man and Nature, but the process of Initiation has to make that unity a living dynamic reality, so that through that unity the Initiate becomes a master of Nature and her forces.
The Sages have chosen the seasons of the year when the cosmic and solar forces favor this consummation of the most sublime achievement of human evolution. The object of Initiation, if successfully accomplished, is to raise man to the stature, nature, and dignity of conscious godhood.
Primitive men did not found the ancient Mystery Schools to magnify the glories and mysteries of nature, as described in encyclopedias and learned books on the subject. It was quite the contrary. Great spiritually and intellectually enlightened men founded the Mystery Schools for retaining and preserving the instruction given to them by great spiritual and intellectual beings commonly called the gods, who descended on earth to inaugurate and give the primal impulse to the intellectual and spiritual evolution of mankind. The Mystery Schools were essentially and fundamentally ethical and moral. In them were stored, as an Ark of Safety, the teaching of the gods as to the origin, nature, mode of operation, and destiny of the macrocosm and the microcosm, man and his limitless self, the universe.
The Mystery Schools, especially the central one, were an Ark of Safety. In them, the wisdom of the gods could be preserved and carried on from generation to generation of initiates. This continued from age to age, through cycles of spiritual light and of materialistic darkness, to the present. It will continue onward to the end of human time, when man shall have fully achieved his evolution on earth and graduated from humanhood to conscious godhood.
From time to time as cyclic law permitted and human intellect searched for truth and eager, aspiring human hearts demanded spiritual light and help, the Lodge of Light sent Messengers to supply the wants and fulfill the needs of the time. Thus were founded the great religions and philosophies which have raised mankind to such degrees of civilization as the different ages have attained. The greatest of these Teachers were the religious and spiritual ones, called by men in their love and gratitude "Saviors."
At the evening twilight of descending cycles, all is done that can be done to sustain mankind through the dark ages. At the dawn of rising cycles (as at present in the West), more teaching is given out by the Lodge. Provision is made that Mystery Schools or College-Temples, Theosophical Universities, or some form of permanent esoteric bodies suited to the times, are formed. They provide a succession of Teachers to carry on the light from generation to generation, clarifying and amplifying the teachings, and giving out all that the intelligence and character of the age can understand and assimilate.
Into these Esoteric Schools were attracted the intelligentsia of the youth of the age, though the elders were not excluded. There they received definite teachings on the science of the soul and of the inner causal worlds far more definite, complete, and accurate than modern technical science. They had a system of education that educes and unfolds the entire intellectual, moral, and spiritual nature into full flower. It is a system more complete and efficient than has entered into the imagination of any modern educator or the best practice of any college or university. The esoteric discipline produced men with self-knowledge and self-control, and Christ-like thoughtfulness for others.
There were many of these branch Mystery Schools, each suited to its time and place. All radiated from the Central Lodge of the Brotherhood of Compassion. From them came thousands of the best citizens, men of talent, of genius, statesmen, leaders, and teachers. The branch centers, Mystical Schools, College-Temples, and Theosophical Universities were all the life-giving heart and center of the civilization in which they lived. Sometimes these civilizations sustained through rising and falling periods for countless thousands of years, attaining heights unimagined by us.
It is the noble destiny and sublime privilege and responsibility of the Theosophical Society to revive the knowledge of these lost mysteries of antiquity, and establish these centers of spiritual light and learning in the west where they will be the radiating heart and center of a new order of the ages, of a higher civilization in the occidental world. The Theosophical University is the first of these College-Temples. It is, and is to be, the radiant esoteric center of the occidental world.
For dynamic reasons, the Cycle of Initiation coincided with the solstices and the equinoxes. The cycle begins with the Winter Solstice, December 21-22, when the sun reaches the southernmost point of his journey, and turning northward, is reborn as the saying goes. The exact moment of this last Solstice at Point Loma, the astronomers tell us, was December 22, 1938, at 4:14 AM Pacific Standard Time.
The Initiations at the Spring Equinox, the Summer Solstice, and the Autumnal Equinox follow. Each Initiation has relation to and is in coordination with the cosmic forces of the season. The Winter Solstice is the season of the greatest of the Initiations when the Christs and Buddhas are spiritually born. We celebrate Christmas on December 25 through a shift in the calendar.
A few words about what Initiation really means are important. There are those who make a pretense of selling secrets of Initiation. So much nonsense has been written on the subject! The process is one of accelerated evolution. In a sense, it is terrible, because the slow work of ages is focalized and concentrated into three or fourteen days. The 'tragedy' is depicted in many religions, mystery-tales, and hero stories, such as the Labors of Hercules, the Descent of Orpheus into the Underworld, the Crucifixion of Christ, and the trial of the Buddha under the Bodhi tree.
In the Near East at the beginning of the Christian era, the Initiant would lay upon a cruciform couch, although any comfortable couch would do. He was plunged into the "sleep of Siloam." In this deep spiritual trance, the soul, the thinker, the individual man himself found freedom from the chains of the body and the attractions of the earth.
He first went into the underworld where he met his bad Karma congealed into objective form and focalized upon him in all its force and quality. He had to face, overcome, and dissipate it. Next, he had to meet and overcome all the elemental forces of nature -- forces that are natural and all right in their own sphere, but so far beneath the highly evolved individuality of man that they are evil and inimical to him. This battle is variously described, as in the Temptation of Jesus by the devil, and Gautama under the Bodhi tree -- a struggle from which the triumphant Siddhartha rose as the divinely illuminated Buddha.
Having become master of himself within, and of the elemental forces of nature without, he right there begins to practice his powers as a member of the Brotherhood of Compassion by ministering to the denizens of these nether spheres, "preaching to the spirits in prison." (1 Peter 3:18-19)
Now, master of himself, of the Underworld, and of Nature, his free spirit wings its way through the airways of the soul. He travels along the Circulations of the Cosmos to the Inner Worlds, the spiritual or causal worlds, to the "many mansions in my Father's house," or certain of the Sacred Planets. Therein, he gains firsthand knowledge by actual experience, by becoming for a time a denizen of these Inner Spheres.
In daily life, man can aspire, pray, or appeal for help to his Higher Self, to the powers within or above him. In Initiation, the Initiant can have no outside help. It is he himself as a man that undergoes the testing. It is he himself that must have developed and become strong in his own inherent godlike qualities. He must be the captain of his own soul henceforward.
The Initiant must know what to do and where to go through the airways of the soul. For this, he must have had a Teacher to impart to him definite technical knowledge during the period of his novitiate. Through his own definite knowledge and inherent power, he must now be his own pilot. He can have no benevolent hand of god or Master extended to him. No kindly Mercury can act as psychopomp, shepherd of the souls of the dead, to guide him as the Monad has during sleep and death.
Having accomplished his journey through certain Sacred Planets, he goes to the Sun, where he fully unfolds the solar qualities that we all have. For a time, he becomes a Sun God, one of the Solar Logoi. Then he returns to earth by the same pathway through which he went, and rises from the tomb or couch or cross as a full Initiate, a Master of Life and Death, osirified, a Son of the Sun. He arises resplendent, radiant, with the light of Divinity.
One needs no words to tell who he is. His condition is self-evident by his presence. To put it into words, his condition is well described by Jesus Christ, crying on the cross, when rightly translated, "Oh God, my God within me, how Thou dost fill me with glory!"
By M.A. Venkata Rao
[From THE ARYAN PATH, March 1935, pages 155-58.]
The study of sleep and dreams for purposes of metaphysical interpretation is a special feature of Indian philosophy. Distinct points of view emerge as early as the time of the Upanishads. I propose to indicate briefly the two rival systems of interpretation that hold the stage and to suggest their value.
The Mandukya Upanishad sets forth the nature of Brahman as fourfold. There are the three aspects of Brahman -- Vaiswanara, Taijasa, and Prajna -- revealed respectively in the states of wakefulness, dream, and sleep; and the fourth (Chaturth or Turiya) is Brahman Itself, in Its indivisible integrity. The mystic word AUM sums up the significance of this fourfold truth; its component letters, A-U-M, designate the three conditions and the word as a whole symbolizes their underlying unity.
Vaiswanara is the waking life of living beings and the theatre of their joys and sorrows. Taijasa is dreaming consciousness, directed inwards, ruminating over impressions left by past experience. Prajna is sleeping consciousness free from the activity of perception and the unrest of desire, both of waking life and of dreams. Consciousness here regathers itself into its pristine oneness -- an amorphous mass shot through and through with bliss.
These states are not the final form, which is Brahman. The fourth is the real Brahman whose nature is described in a few pregnant phrases embodying the quintessence of the noblest mysticism in history. That consciousness is neither inward looking nor outward looking; it is not a mass of consciousness nor is it unconsciousness; it is imperceptible and indefinable. An integral homogeneous self-consciousness is its essence; it connotes the stilling of the world, the peace that passeth all understanding, and blessed joy.
Buddhism apart, the history of Indian philosophy displays two main streams of interpretation of this ancient and venerable teaching, represented by the Adwaita School of Gaudapada and Shankara on the one hand and the Visishtadvaita and Dvaita Schools of Ramanuja and Madhva on the other. Prima facie, the Upanishad seems to be a nest of contradictions.
If the fourth state is the real, what does that say of the status of the external world and the whole course of human experience and history? The answer of Gaudapada and Shankara is decisive. They are unreal. The world of perception is classed with that of dreams and both are dismissed as false imagination.
Adwaita draws the conclusion that entities that can become objects are unreal, for they vary, and variation is the sign manual of lack of self-dependence and so of unreality. The subject is the sole real. This conclusion is suggested by the variation of wakefulness and dreaming in contrast with the changelessness of deep sleep.
Mind is present in waking and dreaming and so is the appearance of multiplicity. The mind is absent in deep sleep and the vision of plurality is likewise absent. "Mind" in Indian thought is not the Self but the inner coordinating agency of the same rank as the senses. Whatever is present when something else is present and absent when it is absent is causally connected with it. Mind is the cause of the appearance of the multiverse. J.S. Mill claimed to formulate this method of agreement and difference as the scientific method. It has been known for over a thousand years in Indian logic as anvaya vyatireka.
By a further application of the method, we draw the conclusion that the Self is the sole reality. It is present in all the three states of waking, dreaming, and sleep, while mind and multiplicity are absent in the last. The Self and the world-appearance are not inherently connected and the latter being sublatable cannot be real. Hence, the ultimate consciousness is integral and one without a second.
The world is mithya, false. It is not false in the sense of impossible objects like the barren woman's son, rabbit's horns and the lotus growing in the sky; for it appears to consciousness and has a method in its madness, but it is not true, for it disappears totally on the attainment of sakshatkara or direct vision of the ultimate reality. The basis is Brahman. When we know it, we see that the world we had imagined in it did not exist in the past, does not exist at the moment, and will not exist in the future.
Ramanuja holds that the world is unreal if regarded as self-existent, but real as an expression of Brahman. The school of Madhva holds that corresponding to the three states of the jiva or individual soul the Deity reveals Itself in three levels of apprehension.
In the waking state, we apprehend the physical universe through which Brahman gives a real glimpse of Its nature. The cosmos is not a part of Its nature but a condition of Its manifestation. In the dream state, strange fantasies are created out of the stuff of the impressions and traces of past experience in accordance with the universal mechanism of which the Deity is the inspirer. The affective side of dreams is regarded as having a moral incidence and as being a part of the teleological scheme. In the sleeping state, the mind is not destroyed; it only becomes implicit.
Further, Madhva questions the Adwaita application of the method of agreement and difference. The concomitance of mind and multiplicity does not prove that the mind is the creator of multiplicity. It only proves that it is a necessary condition of manifestation. It is a mechanism for the revelation of what is already there.
The full value of the mystic experience of the Turiya is sought to be preserved in a more inclusive way. It is suggested that Brahman's nature as ekatma-pratyayasara, unity of self-consciousness, is Its deeper aspect in which It is akhanda, impartible, but that It also includes and sustains a real universe of infinite multiplicity as a condition of Its manifestation. The mystic experience is an experience of the circumambient consciousness that is over all. The Deity limits Itself as a condition of creativity and of the reign of law.
In a word, an experience of the supremacy of the One in the many is the fourth state, which does not annul the individual being of the self but carries it into perfection of self-realization as in the union of perfect love. Then occurs prapanchopasamam indeed -- not the destruction of the world but the quiescence of the fret and fever of the world; the world that is usually too much with us is not annihilated but seen in the light of eternity.
It may seem a strange proceeding to draw conclusions of such moment from the common experiences of dreams and sleep. It sounds wrong-headed to infer objective value of the external world through an inspection of inner experience. The subjective aspect is inescapable, for we cannot think of the external world except through the mechanism of our minds. Indian philosophy makes use of the experience of dreams to point to this inescapable role of the Self in Reality. Dreams reveal the self-luminous creative activity of its character. For Adwaita, the self-luminous self is the sole reality. For Dvaita, it is the supreme reality illumining a subordinate universe steeped in it.
Further, philosophy requires some kind of verification for its ultimate theories. If the mystic vision (it is also the essence of religion) is to be rendered in a system of symbols, it can only be achieved based on typical experiences of a simpler variety. Absolute Idealists in the West, from Plato and Plotinus to F.H. Bradley, have thought of various symbols for suggesting the mystery of the One and the many. Indian philosophers have unanimously pointed to the experience of sleep for the purpose. Here is a condition of consciousness in which the One and the many are dissolved into a single undifferentiated mass, the same in all dimensions (ekarasa).
Bradley neglects such an obvious example and tries in vain to rehabilitate some vague state of immediacy that he calls "feeling." He assumes an unanalysed whole of awareness at the back of all activity of knowing. He wants a unitary state in ordinary life so that the final inclusive unity of the Absolute Experience may be thinkable. Sleep would have served his purpose better. Sleep is the lower immediacy, the oneness before analysis.
In mere feeling, or immediate presentation, we have the experience of a whole. This whole contains diversity, and on the other hand, is not parted by relations ... But it serves to suggest to us the general idea of a total experience, where will and thought and feeling may all once more be one.
-- APPEARANCE AND REALITY, pages 159-60.
Bradley is led to postulate a Higher Immediacy including and transmuting the whole wealth of reality in all its myriad dimensions.
It would be experience entire, containing all elements in harmony. Thought would be present as a higher intuition ... Every flame of passion, chaste or carnal, would still burn in the Absolute unquenched and unabridged, a note absorbed in the harmony of its higher bliss.
-- APPEARANCE AND REALITY, page 172.
He wavers in affirming that it also is a matter of immediate experience for us. He plays with the idea of esthetic emotion but slips back to the conclusion that for us finite individuals a foretaste of that higher integral experience is impossible. Indian philosophers of both the dominant types of Vedanta are agreed that the Turiya is such a higher immediacy, sakshatkara, or aparoksha jnana, and that it is attainable. This interpretation of avasthatraya occupies a central place in Indian philosophy and spiritual culture.
By Phillip A. Malpas
[The following comes from a series that appeared in THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, under Katherine Tingley as Editor and published at the Point Loma Theosophical Community. It later appeared in book form under the title TRUE MESSIAH: THE STORY AND WISDOM OF APOLLONIUS OF TYANA 3 B.C. -- 96 A.D., published by Point Loma Publications.]
TRIAL BEFORE DOMITIAN
To put it bluntly, Domitian was a brute. If Apollonius, like a human catalyst, had precipitated all the family good qualities in Vespasian and Titus, all the dregs had manifested in Domitian. His luxury of delight was derived from the misfortunes of his fellow-creatures, from whatever gave them pain. He was physically of a very robust constitution, florid of countenance, with overhanging brows and a manner calculated to inspire terror, sedulously cultivated.
Now Apollonius had never shown fear, but he did not approve rashness. If his duty called him to rebuke oppression, he did it. If his duty was not in that direction, he did not go out of the way to make trouble for himself or others. He showed himself fearless towards Nero and helped to overthrow him by his attitude.
There was not a man in the Roman Empire who feared Domitian less than Apollonius. It might be said that Apollonius was the only one who did not fear him, for even the brave Demetrius had his apprehensions. Yet the tone of all that Apollonius said or did was not against Domitian as a man so much as against a tyrant and a system of tyranny. In the larger cycle of life, Apollonius was the 'angel' of the Roman Empire and Domitian the 'evil demon.' The greater had to submit to the less, the Higher to the Lower, to raise it and to conquer.
There were three friends of Apollonius: Nerva, Orfitus, and Rufus. Apollonius was closely connected with them during the reign of Vespasian and that of Titus, publicly corresponding with them on the subject of morality. Because of their good characters, he had attached them to the interests of Vespasian and Titus. Even so, he alienated them from Domitian because of his tyranny and pride, and encouraged them to stand forth in defense of the common liberty.
Naturally, these three were accused of being traitors. Nerva was ordered not to leave Tarentum, and Orfitus and Rufus were banished to the islands. All three were thought of as possible Emperors in place of Domitian, for their worthiness and that made them more dangerous still. Nerva's horoscope indicated to Domitian something of the sort, but an astrologer friendly to the former saved him from being put to death by saying that he had only a short time to live in the course of nature. Which was true, but it did not make the horoscope less true.
Apollonius knew quite well that Nerva was to be Emperor, and when, in spite of all the amazing precautions everyone took to avoid the slightest indiscretion in word or letter in those days, he heard that Orfitus and Rufus were banished, he discoursed publicly on fate and necessity at Smyrna in the grove on the banks of the Meles. He wrote nothing and said nothing that he was not perfectly prepared to answer for, since it was a time when slaves, friends, and wives were all spies, and there was not a house but had its secrets betrayed; one might almost suspect the bricks in the walls of having ears and tongues. In spite of this, no informer ever reported that Apollonius had plainly indicated Nerva as the next emperor. Euphrates was able to report that he had spoken publicly as if to a statue of the Emperor, saying, "Fool, how little you understand the decrees of Fate and Necessity. For he whom they appoint to reign will reign; though he should be put to death by you, he will again come to life to fulfill their laws." However, it was understood that the words referred to one of the three.
Domitian took appropriate action. He decided to put all three to death. Even he thought it best to do so under color of reason and justice. Possibly prompted by the informer, he cited Apollonius to appear before him to give an account of his plotting with them.
The reasoning was plain. In the unthinkable event of Apollonius putting his head in the lion's mouth and appearing, he was to be found guilty and then they could all be executed with a fine show of having had a fair trial and proof of guilt. On the other hand, if that troublesome old fellow fled, which, being a clever man, he would certainly do and so relieve them of his constant reproaches; it would be a clear proof of the guilt of his friends Nerva, Orfitus, and Rufus. The dilemma was perfectly contrived. Really, Apollonius was a great trouble, for within the limits of his mission he went all over the Empire creating a spirit of courage to withstand oppression. He was a dangerous old orator, indeed!
ORDER TO ARREST APOLLONIUS
The proconsul of Asia was instructed to have him arrested. By his power of foresight, Apollonius knew this at once and did not hesitate a moment. He told his friends he was going to make a singular journey, and they had some idea he might at last have come to their view of discretion and be going to emigrate to Russia or Britain or the nebulous regions beyond India where there might be a chance of being free from fear of the terrible tyrant of Rome. He did not say to Damis where he was going, but just packed his bag and went off to Achaia, thence to Corinth, and then to Sicily, and Italy. Damis followed -- he had learnt that -- but his amazement knew no bounds when he found they were going into the very midst of the burning fiery furnace, as a younger man might go on a holiday jaunt to the games.
At Puteoli, three day's journey from Rome, they found the brave Demetrius, who judged it wise to rusticate there at that time. Apollonius embraced him and in the most good-humored way in the world chaffed him for his love of ease in such a lovely country residence, comparable to that which made even Ulysses in the company of Calypso forget the blue smoke that rises from the homes of Ithaca in the rose-tinted skies of a Grecian sunset.
Demetrius was too heavy hearted to be otherwise than serious.
"What an injury it would be to philosophy, should a man like this suffer," he said as he embraced the old friend of God, now over 90 and perhaps nearer ninety-five years of age!
"What danger do you mean," asked Apollonius, as if it were the last thing in the world to occur to him.
"None but what you are ready for, that I am sure!" said Demetrius.
"If I do not know you, I do not know myself." Then recollecting that even the stones of the ground seemed to have ears, and the birds of the air to have voices to report the least indiscreet word to the fearsome monster that sat on the Imperial throne at Rome, Demetrius added, "Let us not talk here; let us go where we shall be more private. Let Damis not be excluded, for I look on him, by Hercules as the Iolaus of your labors." Always they compared Apollonius to Hercules.
Times were hard when even Demetrius allowed the thought to flit for an instant across his mind that the faithful Damis might be dangerous! They sat in a country home that had formerly belonged to Cicero. It was best to talk out of doors these days, so Demetrius spoke under a sycamore tree. In parable, he spoke as though of those nature touches which ever appealed to the soul of his hearer.
"The cicadas in the trees have leave to sing in liberty as they please, while we have scarce the right to mutter," he said, as they heard the chirping in the trees above. Demetrius the brave philosopher had been taught to be cautious.
"Even Socrates was only charged by Anytus and Meletus with 'corrupting the youth and introducing new deities.' We find that our love of wisdom is itself a crime; the greater your knowledge, the worse the offense." He went on to tell how Apollonius was accused of being an accomplice with the three friends in seeking the empire. If his accusers had only stopped at that, there might have been something in the matter. As ever, they overdo their cause most woefully. They accused him of sacrificing a boy that by an inspection of the viscera the secrets of futurity might become known. If analogy in history were invariable, one might almost guess that his accusers were guilty of this very practice.
There were other accusations, precisely what one might have expected, for human nature changes little. Apollonius, that terrible old philosopher, fast approaching his century of mortal years, was guilty of -- you would never guess in a hundred tries -- dressing unfashionably! After this, the fact that he was a vegetarian and a teetotaler were enormities worthy of special accusation, and then "they say that the people actually worship him!"
From whence did the information come? Telesinus the philosopher, consul of the days of Nero, told Demetrius. Telesinus was now far away. He preferred banishment as a philosopher to honors, consular honors, as a man of the world. Apollonius would have liked to meet him "but I would not wish him to run any risk on my account, seeing that he has encountered so much for the sake of philosophy."
Apollonius was not above a joke when undergoing trials such as would have crushed smaller men. In fact, he used the power of humor, the saving grace of jest to lighten the burdens of the world.
"Well, Demetrius, what would you advise me to do or say, to calm my fears," he asked.
"Do you jest with me," said Demetrius, "for you have no fears, or you would not even speak of your present situation." Then he spoke earnestly and very seriously to Apollonius, as if he really thought he could persuade that old lion to run away from danger when duty to his friends called him into it. It was a moving appeal indeed, full of argument calculated to break a man's purpose. The very intensity of the appeal sometimes contradicted itself. What was the good of telling Apollonius that it was an unworthy thing for a philosopher to submit out of vanity to a certain ignominious death? "Now if a man dies in giving his life for the liberty of his country, or in avenging his parents, or children, brothers, relatives, or friends, instead of the vanity of maintaining an unpopular cause."
Apollonius said never a word. Was that a little smile at the corner of his old lips? Was he not going to certain death to save his friends? The argument must be changed.
"Why, the very fact that you have come to Rome within the amazingly short space of ten days since orders were sent to arrest you, is suspicious, as confirming your knowledge of the future, and they will only use it as one more proof that you did sacrifice the boy to prophesy by his liver. You cannot say I was not brave in the terrible days of Nero when I withstood him to the face at the baths, and came off with my life only because he had sung extra well that day and was pleased with himself.
I am wise, too, and I say that these times are far more terrible. Nero was a monster, but his cruelties were at least qualified by music, such as it was. This man, on the contrary, has not a single redeeming feature. Why, only the other day he killed some musicians because they disputed which had won the prize in a contest by voice and instrument.
"Look at the harbor there and see the ships! Some are bound for Libya, Egypt, Phoenicia, others for Cyprus and Sardinia, and yet others for more distant lands. If you are wise, Apollonius, go down there and get on board a ship, and go anywhere you please, but not to Rome!"
Damis opened his Assyrian eyes wide on hearing this. He had not known until that moment where they were going -- all he knew was that he was with his master, his beloved Teacher. He was completely overcome at the revelation. There is something pathetic and yet comic in the way he speaks.
"I hope your advice will be of use," he said. "As for me, I can do nothing with Apollonius when I try to dissuade him from running on to drawn swords or into the cruelest tyranny ever known. If I had not seen you, I should not have known where we were going! Yet here am I traveling the seas of Sicily and the Tyrrhenian bays and I literally have to say I do not know, when I am asked where I am going. I appear ridiculous. If I had only been told we were off for Rome, I could at least have told people that Apollonius had fallen in love with death and that I was his rival!"
Already Damis sees the executioner before them. "I will say it while I have the chance, that if I die, philosophy may not suffer much by it. I am but the attendant of a courageous philosopher whose sole merit consists in following his master. If they put Apollonius to death, it will be a trophy for the destruction of philosophy, for he of all men is best able to support her. We have many Anytuses and Meletuses with which to contend."
He is thinking of the informers who accused Socrates. How could Socrates die and Apollonius be saved in circumstances a hundred times worse?
Damis continued, "The friends of Apollonius are accused on all sides, one for having smiled when he glanced at tyranny, another for having justified what was said. One was accused for having started the subject and another for having departed pleased with what was said. For myself, I think a man should lay down his life for philosophy as he would for his altars, his city, and his sepulchers, and many are the illustrious men who have died in the defense of such things. For the sake of destroying philosophy, I would neither wish to die myself nor anyone who loves her and Apollonius."
He was unruffled. Yet the situation was serious and his advisers honest, so he took the trouble to go at length into the position from the standpoint of a philosopher, after chiding Demetrius for frightening Damis, who was an Assyrian accustomed to rulers of absolute power, instead of calming his fears.
"Neither fire nor sword would terrify a wise man or make him flinch, or have recourse to falsehood or equivocation to save his life, for what he knows he will as religiously preserve as if the hidden mysteries of Ceres were confided to him. My knowledge is greater than that of other men, because I know all things. What I know, I know in part for the use of the wise and good, in part for myself and the gods; but I know nothing for tyrants, let them use whatever threats and tortures they please."
Then he gives them a crumb of comfort, a prophecy of the future exactly opposite to all seeming probability.
"I am not come on a fool's errand. I am under no apprehension on account of my own life, for the tyrant's power is unable to destroy me, even though I wished it myself."
Then from point to point, he goes on to show that he could not act otherwise than in the interests of his friend. If he did, he himself and philosophy would suffer reproach and he would not be able to face good men any more, least of all Iarchas, and Bardanes, Phraotes, and Thespesion, after violating the privilege of the cup of Tantalus, which required from all who drank of it a participation in the dangers of their friends. "I will never be false to myself, and I will combat against the tyrant," he said.
Demetrius and Damis both took heart, and the former was actually bold enough to invite them to his dwelling. Apollonius declined, saying that it would be dangerous, even considered high treason, to be seen supping with the Emperor's enemy, nor must he accompany him to the port, for the same reason. "When times shall mend, we shall sup together," was his promise.
It was not easy to upset Demetrius, but the farewell affected him to an unusual extent, though he tried to hide it, by turning his face aside.
Then the test for Damis came. Besides, it was an excuse to pretend not to see the tears of the brave old Demetrius.
"If you are as full of courage as I am," said Apollonius to Damis, "let us embark together tonight. If not, now is the time to decide about remaining where you are. You can stay with Demetrius who is our common friend."
The long and intimate talk of Apollonius had not missed its mark.
"How could I think of leaving you after what we have just heard of the duty of a friend in danger," he asked. "What would the world think of me?" What he meant was, "what should I think of myself?"
Apollonius approved. He loved Damis and was unwilling to have him run into danger without necessity.
"I will appear as I am, but for you," he said to Damis, "I recommend an ordinary dress instead of what you have on. You should cut your hair, put on a linen dress, and go without shoes. I know we must suffer for our course of life, but I am against your sharing all the dangers and being cast into prison, which will certainly be the case if you are betrayed by your habit. I want you to follow me and to be present at all that passes, as one who in other respects loves me without being pledged to my philosophy."
Damis laid aside his Pythagorean garb. He did not do so with fear or sorrow, but because his master wished it.
Going by sea from Puteoli to the Tiber, they arrived on the third day.
The imperial sword was then in the hands of Aelian, the Pretorian Prefect. This man formerly loved Apollonius and used to talk to him when in Egypt, but he said never a word about this to Domitian, seeing that it could only endanger his power of helping Apollonius. Instead, he made light of "the prattle of these sophists, who only do it for advertisement and when they can no longer make a living that way, they want to die so as to depart in a blaze of glory. That is why Nero refused to put him to death, but obliged him to live as a punishment by not giving him the celebrity he sought."
Aelian laughed while he talked in this way as if he did not care about it at all except as something of a joke, but he thought to save his friend from death by it. "Look at Musonius the Tyrrhenian," he said. "He deified Nero and was shut up in the island of Gyara (after being set to digging in the abortive Corinth canal). The Greeks made a regular resort of the island, for they love sophists of this kind. They used to sail to the place to talk to him, but now they go to see the fountain there. For when Musonius went there the island had no water; but he discovered this spring, and it is now no less celebrated in the songs of the Greeks than the fountain of the Muses on Mount Helicon which they call Caballinus."
In this way, Aelian tried to lighten the seriousness of the situation for Apollonius. When the latter was brought before him, he went further. The accuser, Euphrates, attacked the prisoner furiously as an enchanter, and an exceptional one.
"Keep your charges for the Emperor's tribunal," commanded Aelian.
Apollonius asked, "If I am an enchanter, how can I be brought to trial? If I am brought to trial, how can I be considered an enchanter? The only explanation of such a possibility is that calumny has acquired power superior to that of enchantment."
This nettled the accuser, as the dilemma was perfect. He was about to bring forward some more absurd charge, when Aelian said, "I want the time before the trial to examine him privately in the silent room of the court, and let none listen, for the cause is one of great moment. By so doing it will shorten the process, especially if he pleads guilty. If not, then it is for the Emperor to decide."
When alone, Aelian told Apollonius frankly the whole situation. How that he was friendly, but that if the least sign of it leaked out, it would be a hard matter to guess which of them would be killed first. "The Emperor wants to condemn you," he said, "but seems afraid to do so without some solid ground of accusation; besides, he wants to use you as a means of destroying some men of consular authority.
"I was very young when Vespasian, the Emperor's father, went to Egypt to sacrifice to the gods and to consult you on his affairs. Being an experienced military man, I went with him as tribune. I remember you received me with much attention, and when the Emperor was away you took me aside and told me who I was, what my name is, and also my father's name. Then you told me I should one day be what I am, holding an office thought by most people to be superior to every human dignity, troublesome though I think it."
Apollonius said, "As you have opened your mind to me, I will open mine to you. You speak like one of my old disciples, like a philosopher, and as you seem from affection prepared to share my dangers I will declare my whole heart to you."
Then he told how he might easily have escaped to a country of the philosophers where no injustice was possible and therefore no courts were needed, since the people were much more pious than those of Rome were. Fearing to be a traitor to his friends and fearing that they might suffer, he had come to plead his cause. Then he asked what the accusation was, against which he would have to defend himself.
Aelian told him. His manner of dress, his way of living, the adoration paid him, and the answer he gave the Ephesians about the plague were all to be brought against him. Then used was every shred of talk that might be twisted against the Emperor, though more was done purposely and boldly enough. All was said to have been uttered under the inspiration of the gods. The tidbit was the story of the sacrifice of the Arcadian boy by the light of the waning moon in a field, in the presence of Nerva, in order to bring about the death of Domitian -- as pretty a piece of magic and criminal superstition as the mind of an evil magician could conceive.
Aelian begged him not to show disrespect to the Emperor.
"It is to show my respect for him that I come here voluntarily to be tried," he said. "Even if I wished to be disrespectful, I would forego that plan for your sake. I do not care what an enemy thinks of me, but I value the opinion of a friend." In such a manner, Apollonius answered the Prefect.
Aelian then delivered him to the turnkeys, assuming an air of great wrath against Apollonius in order to disguise his real feelings.
A tribune meeting Apollonius mocked him while pretending to be seriously anxious to help him. He failed to score his point, for was not Apollonius so deeply immersed in telling Damis all about the Nile Delta that he did not notice what the tribune said? That was ever the way of Apollonius.
Aelian then ordered Apollonius to be transferred to the place of the unbound prisoners, and Damis was so struck by the coincidence of finding a friend in Aelian that he declared it looked as if a god had tried to lend a helping hand in their dangerous situation. Apollonius rebuked him for his fears. Damis brought forward one or two very good reasons why he should fear Domitian, whom nobody could influence, least of all themselves.
"Do you not see that Domitian is inflated with pride and is evidently insane," asked Apollonius.
"It is impossible not to see it," said Damis.
"Then the more you are acquainted with the tyrant the more you ought to despise him and all he can do," said Apollonius.
The answer, seemingly somewhat cryptic, is important, for Apollonius was a master in the domain of psychology and evidently knew how to deal with a maniac.
By Steven Levey
The Eros in Man
Today I say to any who would listen, That love is like a balm, a salve Which, bathes the heart while the mind glistens. It is like a lighthouse near a stormy sea. Why? Because the Path is my heart and love its beacon.
Let us not over think and become like the world's cynic. Let us rather, cleave to "the marrow of our inward state." Then it is Rumi with whom we share existence and we say: Dare anyone think that love is this and not that? Can we have suffered so for such disparity to have sway, When the One has always been the Eros in man?
Look, it is never to late. Disunity is an illusory If non-existent state. So, when, love has eluded one relax and learn to appreciate, that all have hearts and can weather, if only our soulful depths are allowed face.
By Arthur Christy
[From THE ARYAN PATH, March 1935, pages 161-66.]
To study the rise of Oriental cults in America based on the careers and work of eminent swamis alone is to ignore the previously harrowed ground in which they sowed. There is no better evidence of this fact than even a brief examination of the Orientalism of Henry David Thoreau. American scholarship has been singularly myopic and home keeping in the past; else how explain the fact that it has been only of late that serious attention was given to such sentences from Thoreau's pen as the following?
Depend upon it that, rude and careless as I am, I would fain practice the yoga, faithfully ... To some extent and at rare intervals, even I am a yogi.
The "Laws of Manu" are a manual of private devotion, so private and domestic and yet so public and universal a word as is not spoken in the parlor or pulpit in these days ... It goes with us into the yard and into the chamber, and is yet later spoken than the advice of our mother and sisters.
These sentences are only samples of scores like them to be found scattered throughout Thoreau's work. Considering the large number and diversity of his admirers, time need not be given to a defense of the thesis that Thoreau was a potent force in preparing America for the swami who began teaching in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
My purpose in this essay is to present the results of an examination of several hundred pages of unpublished, manuscript material that will indicate how absorbed Thoreau was in Manu's famous work and in Oriental asceticism. This manuscript material is composed largely of commonplace books that William Ellery Channing described in the study of his friend, THOREAU THE POET-NATURALIST. "His reading," wrote Channing, "was done with a pen in hand: he made what he called 'Fact-books,' -- citations that concern his studies." Most of these fact-books are in the Harvard College and the Morgan Libraries.
Perhaps the most significant sentence in a volume entitled PARAGRAPHS MOSTLY ORIGINAL is the following:
If the Roman, the Greek, and the Jew have a character in history -- so has the Hindu. He may help to balance Asia, which is all too one-sided with its Palestine.
Here is perhaps the clearest statement of Thoreau's reasons for turning Eastward that can be found. There were other pregnant passages in the volume, a few of which later found their way into published pages. There were such enthusiastic outbursts as:
I cannot read a sentence in the book of the Hindus without being elevated as upon the tableland of the Ghauts. It has such a rhythm as the winds of the desert, such a tide as the Ganges, and seems as superior to criticism as the Himmaleh Mounts.
Another unusual sentence was:
The Laws of Manu ... are the laws of you and me, a fragrance wafted down from those old times, and no more to be refuted than the wind.
Some interesting facts may be noted about the twenty-five manuscript pages that contained Thoreau's extracts from Sir William Jones's translation of Manu. Every one of Manu's twelve chapters were quoted from with the exception of the tenth and twelfth, which dealt with the mixed classes and with penance and expiation. The second chapter seems to have received his closest attention, thirty-nine verses culled for the fact-book. It is also interesting to note that with the quotations from the seventh chapter Thoreau wrote, "A Brahman could not be taxed" -- as though Manu had endorsed his own refusal to be taxed by a corrupt state. Following the long series of extracts from the second chapter appears the following, which I quote in entirety as a significant Thoreauvian commitment:
We seem to be dabbling in the very elements of a present conventional, or actual and visible life. Here is a history of the forms that humanity has in all ages assumed. We forget that our entire outward life is but a convention and it is salutary thus to be reminded of it. The old lawgiver seems to have foreseen all the possible relations of men, and provided that they be maintained with adequate dignity. This book could afford a maxim applicable to any condition in which a man may be found.
If we assume -- and in Thoreau the assumption is justified -- that the selection of a passage for preservation in a fact-book meant substantial agreement with Manu, the broad parallels that lay between Thoreauvian Transcendentalism and the Vedanta can be readily indicated. Consider first, then, the essential nature of the universe and its source. From the twelfth chapter, Thoreau took three suggestive verses:
Let every Brahman with fixed attention consider all nature -- both visible and invisible -- as existing in the divine spirit; for, when he contemplates the boundless universe existing in the divine spirit, he cannot give his heart to iniquity.
-- XII, 118
The divine spirit [alone] is the whole assemblage of gods; all worlds are seated in the divine spirit and the divine spirit, no doubt produces, by a chain of causes and effects consistent with free will, the connected series of acts performed by embodied souls.
-- XII, 119
Thus the man, who perceives in his own soul the supreme soul present in all creatures, acquires equanimity toward them all, and shall be absorbed at last in the highest essence, even that of the Almighty himself
Thoreau was fundamentally not a metaphysician. Emerson, equally interested in the Vedantic conception of the universe, went on and gave considerable attention to the doctrine of Maya. It is not so with Thoreau. There is very in his writing to construed as metaphysical concern with the relations of the noumenon and the phenomenon. He was however interested in the doctrine of Karma and its moral implications. Witness the following extracts from the fourth chapter:
Iniquity, committed in this world, produces not fruit immediately, but like the earth in due season; and advancing by little and little, it eradicates the man, who committed it.
-- VI, 172
Yes. Iniquity, once committed, fails not of producing fruit to him who wrought it.
-- IV, 178
The doctrine of Karma found adequate expression in Emerson's essay "Compensation." The Transcendentalists preferred it as a doctrine of moral requital to any they had inherited from the Calvinistic tradition.
Thoreau never formulated a complete eschatology. It is difficult, therefore, to state definitely whether he believed in Transmigration. If he did, it was in a very general way. His eschatology is perhaps best suggested by two passages that he culled from the fourth and sixth chapters of Manu:
Single is each man born; single he dies; single he receives the reward of his good, and single the punishment of his evil deeds.
-- IV, 240
Let him not wish for death; let him not wish for life; let him expect his appointed time, as a hired servant expects his wages.
-- VI, 45
Death was for Thoreau a return to the Original Source, a dying down to the roots, as grass dies down in winter. His belief in the diverse mutations of the cycle of rebirth is uncertain. He probably accepted much of the basic Hindu idea, but it must have been tempered by his heritage and environment.
Consider now other extracted passages in the light of the summum bonum of life. How different from the usual Yankee concept of success is the following verse:
Greatness is not conferred by years, not by gray hairs, not by wealth, not by powerful kindred: the divine sages have established this rule: "Whoever has read the Vedas and their Angas, he among us is great."
-- II, 154
Substitute for the Vedas the concept of nature as the open book of God and the complete Thoreauvian idea appears.
Despite the profound implications of the foregoing extracts, there are others even more significant. As has already been suggested, Thoreau is not known to posterity for the system of philosophy he developed; he is primarily known for the way he lived; he will ever be the recluse of Walden. His interest in the ascetic life led him to extract numerous passages from Manu that dealt with its practice. These passages are also unique in that they state clearly the reasons for the mystic's way of life. The following are from the second chapter:
The organs, being strongly attached to sensual delights, cannot so effectually be restrained by avoiding incentives to pleasure, as by constant pursuit of divine knowledge.
-- II, 96
A Brahman should constantly shun worldly honor, as he would shun poison; and rather constantly seek disrespect, as he would seek nectar.
-- II, 162
The more specific instructions of the fourth chapter as to space were also noted:
Alone, in some solitary place, let him constantly meditate on the divine nature of the soul, for by such meditation he will attain happiness.
-- IV, 258
The rewards of the meditative life were described in chapter six. Thoreau did not fail to notice them:
A Brahman, having shuffled of his body by any of those modes, which great sages practiced, and becoming void of sorrow and fear, rises to exaltation in the divine essence.
-- VI, 32
Thus, having gradually abandoned all earthly attachments, and indifferent to all pairs of opposite things, as honor and dishonor, and the like, he remains absorbed in the divine essence.
-- VI, 81
Thus, Thoreau proceeded to balance Asia, too one-sided in its Hebraism. The Philistinism against which he revolted had much in common with that denounced by Matthew Arnold. Whereas Arnold turned to Greece for a corrective, Thoreau turned to India. In belief and practice, he followed the injunctions of Manu with amazing fidelity. A closer study of Thoreau's life and writings will convince the most skeptical of this fact.
Thoreau's natural asceticism sprang neither from any self-punishing Puritanism, nor from a love of asceticism for its own sake. It was neither the result of conversion to a system of practice, nor the effect of any foreign influence of men or books; it was consistently spontaneous and unaffected. This is true despite the fact that the scriptures of the East formed the bulk of his reading in sacred literature.
A close student of Thoreau's mind will come to one conclusion: he read the Orientals because he recognized his spiritual kinship with them. He read the Hindus in particular because in them he found the closest affinity. It is indeed amazing that a shrewd Yankee should have cherished so un-Yankee an objective as the Yoga. Yet Thoreau saw nothing strange in this. "The early and the latter saints are separated by no eternal interval," he wrote in the diary of 1841.
We find the evidence of Thoreau's interest in Oriental asceticism throughout his published and unpublished work.
There is an undertone of Orient-tinged other-worldliness in Thoreau's contributions to the "Ethnical Scriptures" feature of the DIAL. This is true even of the Confucian extracts. Note these samples: "Perfection (or sincerity) is the way of heaven, and to wish for perfection is the duty of man." "He who offends heaven has none to whom he can pray." Find the outstanding illustration in the January 1844 number, containing ten pages of excerpts from Eugene Burnouf's LE LOTUS DE LA BONNE LOI. The entire selection is in exposition of Buddhist abnegation. Thoreau quoted:
Then this man speaks thus to the Sages: What means must I employ, or what good work must I do to acquire an equal wisdom? ... Then these Sages say thus to the man: If thou desirest wisdom, contemplate the law, seated in the desert, or in the forest, or in the caverns of the mountains, and free thyself from the corruption of evil. Then endowed with purified qualities, thou shalt obtain supernatural knowledge.
The significance of these selections will be more clearly understood when one realizes that the "Ethnical Scriptures" were chosen for introducing uninformed Americans to the best in the Oriental bibles.
Were there space for them, scores of comments and quotations from THE BHAGAVAD-GITA, THE HARIVANSA, and THE SANKHYA KARIKA could be offered here in elucidation of Thoreau's idealism and asceticism. These may easily be found in the WEEK and the JOURNALS. Our present interest is in the reason they appeared there. "Like some other preachers," Thoreau once wrote in explanation, "I have added my texts -- derived from the Chinese and Hindu scriptures -- long after my discourse was written." Since the belatedly selected text so appropriately fits the sermon, there can be but one conclusion regarding the sermon itself.
Our study of Thoreau's Oriental asceticism would be far from complete if we fail to mention revealing passages in his correspondence and diaries. In a letter written to Isaac Hecker on August 14, 1844, appear these sentences:
The fact is, I cannot so decidedly postpone exploring the FURTHER INDIES, that are to be reached, you know, by other routes and other methods of travel. I mean that I constantly return from every external enterprise with disgust, to fresh faith in a kind of Brahminical, Artesian Inner Temple life. All my experience, as yours probably, proves only this reality.
These words were written less than a year before his ascetic retreat to Walden pond, and yet, so far as I am aware, they are now for the first time advanced as the reason for the gesture that shocked Thoreau's contemporaries and that has puzzled his countrymen ever since.
If this was the reason he went to his retreat, we have an equally revealing description of his conduct there:
Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise until noon, rapt in reverie ... in undisturbed solitude and stillness ... until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveler's wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night ... I realized what the Orientals mean by contemplation and the forsaking of works ... This was sheer idleness, to my fellow-townsmen, no doubt; but if the birds and the flowers had tried me by their standard, I should not have been found wanting.
To ask whether Thoreau practiced the true Yoga, tutored and with full benefit of rishi, would be to quibble. The fact is he thought he did, following the injunctions of the Oriental sages whose books he read. "I would fain practice the yoga faithfully," he wrote to H.G.O. Blake, his lifelong friend and literary executor. Furthermore, as early as June 1840, Thoreau had written in conscious indication of what he conceived to be the Oriental temper in his retired life:
I will have nothing to do; I will tell fortune that I play no game with her; and she may reach me in my Asia of serenity and indolence if she can.
Fully aware that his gestures were open to misinterpretation, he never failed to emphasize through word and conduct that true mystics lived in "repose without rust." Recall that James Russel Lowell objected to Thoreau's taste for Oriental philosophy, "which would seem admirably suited to men if men were only oysters." One can distil from Thoreau's writings his effective answer to all such criticism: "Yes, but are men mosquitoes, destined only for an ephemeral and inconsequential buzzing?"
What, then, were the results of Thoreau's ascetic way of life? If he turned from Occidental modes of reasoning and science in his intellectual life, did he find something to take their place? Here is his answer:
Science is often like the grub that, though it may have nestled in the germ of a fruit, has merely blighted and consumed it and never truly tasted it. Only that intellect makes any progress toward conceiving of the essence that at the same time perceives the effluence.
Reason will be but a pale cloud, like the moon, when one ray of divine light comes to illumine the soul.
These sentences assuredly indicate his affinity with the seers who wrote the Upanishads. The words that reveal most definitely the Oriental results of Thoreau's life are in WALDEN. They describe his passage over invisible boundaries into a region where the most liberal of laws prevail, where one lives with the license of a higher order of beings, where the universe loses all its complexity, and where "solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, and weakness not be weakness." Nowhere in all Occidental literature will be found words that more appropriately describe the dispelling of the fogs of Maya.
In conclusion, it may be appropriate to take note of Thoreau's penetrating thrust at the materialism of his time. The stricture is even more apposite for the twentieth century.
We hear a good deal said about moonshine by so-called practical people, and the next day, perchance, we hear of their failure, they having been dealing in fancy stocks. There never is any moonshine of this kind in the practice of poets and philosophers; there never are any hard times or failures with them, for they deal with permanent values.
Thus, Thoreau's real life was in the ideal world, completely unexplored by the majority of his countrymen. This was the reason they never understood him. They were like the ideal-doubting materialists whom a Chinese sage once castigated as summer insects that denied the existence of ice. Furthermore, they had not transcended the arbitrary distinctions that meant nothing to Thoreau, whose sympathies were catholic and embraced all mystics, both Occidental and Oriental.
By K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar
[From THE ARYAN PATH, May 1935, pages 301-05.]
In an article in THE ARYAN PATH for May 1933, I pointed out that Theosophy is an expression of the Esoteric Philosophy or THE SECRET DOCTRINE (Gupta Vidya) that is described as the mother of all ancient religious philosophies. It is my intention to show that Indian philosophy -- that is admittedly the most ancient, successful and influential of all such ancient systems -- represents especially in the Advaitic form one such system sprung from this Primeval Fount.
It will be sufficient for this purpose to show the real agreement subsisting between the teachings of Theosophy as given in H. P. Blavatsky's SECRET DOCTRINE and the conclusions of Indian philosophy on such fundamentals as Brahman, Maya, Cosmology, etc.
Such a study may help to remove the suspicion with which Theosophy is sometimes regarded in India, and aid in a more sympathetic appreciation of this Ancient Source.
For in the twentieth century of our era scholars will begin to recognize that THE SECRET DOCTRINE has neither been invented nor exaggerated, but, on the contrary, simply outlined; and finally, that its teachings antedate the Vedas.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, xxxvii
In another connection, Madame Blavatsky states:
Buddhism (of Gautama, the Buddha) was "evoked" and entirely up-reared on the tenets of THE SECRET DOCTRINE, of which a partial sketch is here attempted, and on which, also, the Upanishads are made to rest.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 47
Finally, in summing up her cosmogony, she claims:
It is not taught ["as a whole," and "in full," she must mean] in any of the six Indian schools of philosophy, for it pertains to their synthesis -- the seventh, which is the Occult doctrine. It is not traced on any crumbling papyrus of Egypt, nor is it any longer graven on Assyrian tile or granite wall. The Books of the VEDANTA (the last word of human knowledge) give out but the metaphysical aspect of this world-Cosmogony; and their priceless, thesaurus, the UPANISHADS -- UPA-NI-SHAD being a compound word meaning "the conquest of ignorance by the revelation of SECRET, SPIRITUAL knowledge" -- require now the additional possession of a Master-key to enable the student to get at their full meaning. The reason for this I venture to state here as I learned it from a Master.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 269
The following is peculiarly significant:
We say it again: Archaic Occultism would remain incomprehensible to all, if it were rendered otherwise than through the more familiar channels of Buddhism and Hinduism. For the former is the emanation of the latter and both are children of one mother -- ancient Lemuro-Atlantean Wisdom.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 668
To begin then with the conception of ultimate Reality or Brahman in Adwaita: Ultimate Reality must be supposed to be eternal Existence per se, transcending time and space; while specific forms of existence may be thought away, Being as such cannot thus be conjured away but must be presupposed, like Descartes' cogitating self, in every act of thought (Brihadaranyaka: II, i. 20). Madame Blavatsky prefers the expression "metaphysical ONE ABSOLUTE -- BE-NESS," and says that it is "the first fundamental axiom of THE SECRET DOCTRINE."
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 14
An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless and Immutable PRINCIPLE ... one absolute Reality that antecedes all manifested, conditioned being ... the rootless root of "all that was, is, or ever shall be" ... It is "Be-ness" rather than Being (in Sanskrit, Sat).
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 14
Pure Being -- devoid of all determinations -- is according to Hegel equivalent to Pure Nothing or Non-being. Some Indian thinkers shy at this identification and criticize Hegel by saying that absolute non-being is unthinkable because it is self-contradictory. Madame Blavatsky repeatedly endorses Hegel's dictum. (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 16, 53, 193) Her explanations, however, make it clear that she does not mean by non-being NOTHING AS SUCH but only fullness of Being.
The idea of Eternal Non-Being, which is the One Being, will appear a paradox to anyone who does not remember that we limit our ideas of being to our present consciousness of existence; making it a specific, instead of a generic term. An unborn infant, could it think in our acceptation of that term, would necessarily limit its conception of being to the intrauterine life that alone it knows; and were it to endeavor to express to its consciousness the idea of life after birth (death to it), it would, in the absence of data to go upon, and of faculties to comprehend such data, probably express that life as "Non-Being that is Real Being."
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 45
Asat [Non-Being] is not merely the negation of Sat, nor is it the "not yet existing;" for Sat is in itself neither the "existent" nor "being." SAT is the immutable, the ever-present, changeless and eternal root, from and through which all proceeds ... It is the ever-becoming, though the never manifesting. Sat is born from Asat, and ASAT is begotten by Sat.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 449-50
Thus with a better comprehension of the Indian view Madame Blavatsky is able to show that:
The Hegelian doctrine, which identifies ABSOLUTE BEING or "Be-ness" with "non-Being," and represents the universe as an ETERNAL BECOMING is identical with the Vedanta philosophy.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 449fn
Such a Reality it need hardly be said must be One and Impartite, and external to it nothing exists.
Such an Ultimate Reality must be unconditioned and non-relational (according to Adwaita); for relation implies difference and the Absolute is, ex hypothesi, undifferentiated, homogeneous, all-comprehensive oneness. The Absolute cannot contain either swajatiya-bheda (difference between distincts) or vijatiya-bheda (difference between opposites), but can there not be even swagata-bheda (difference-in-unity) within it? This fundamental issue sharply divides the Adwaita from the Vishistadvaita system. The latter holds that the Absolute is a Unity of differing parts.
The pronouncement of THE SECRET DOCTRINE, however, sounds rather ambiguous on this point, though Madame Blavatsky stoutly defends Adwaita. The One Existence is spoken of as "the undifferentiated essence." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 197) Yet she says, "The first and Fundamental dogma of Occultism is Universal Unity (or Homogeneity) under three aspects." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 58) In order to imagine the Power that acts within the root of a plant, one has "to think of its stalk or trunk and of its leaves and flowers,"
The idea of ABSOLUTE Unity would be broken entirely in our conception, had we not something concrete before our eyes to contain that Unity. The deity being absolute, must be omnipresent, hence not an atom but contains IT within itself. The roots, the trunk, and its many branches are three distinct objects, yet they are one tree.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 58-59
Is this not perilously near Vishistadvaita? Moreover, is not the Eternal Parent said to be "wrapped in her Ever-invisible Robes," i.e., necessarily associated with Mulaprakriti?
Further Madame Blavatsky adopts the standpoint of the VISHNU PURANA that describes the Pralaya state in the words, "There was neither day nor night nor any other thing save only One inapprehensible by intellect or that which is Brahma, and Pums (Spirit) and Pradhana (crude matter)." She elucidates the text thus significantly:
For Pradhana, though said further on to merge into the Deity as everything else does, in order to leave the ONE absolute during the Pralaya, yet is held as infinite and immortal. The commentator describes the Deity as: "One PRADHANIKA Brahma Spirit: THAT, was," and interprets the compound term as a substantive, not as a derivative word used attributively, i.e., like something conjoined with Pradhana.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 256
The "Pradhanika Brahma Spirit" is Mulaprakriti and Parabrahmam.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 445
Thus, we find that while Parabrahman in Adwaita is, according to the received interpretation, an extra-cosmic Principle UNRELATED IN ANY MANNER TO ANYTHING BEYOND ITSELF, the Eternal Parent, the Absolute of THE SECRET DOCTRINE, is necessarily and always associated with Mulaprakriti that is the Root of all nature and her evolutes. It is a concrete and synthetic Universal. It is unrelated only to finite and conditioned, i.e., manifested things.
This, I imagine is what Madame Blavatsky means when she says that "Parabrahm, being the 'SUPREME ALL' the ever invisible spirit and Soul of Nature, changeless and eternal, can have no attributes; absoluteness very naturally precluding any idea of the FINITE or CONDITIONED from being connected with it." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 7) It is 'devoid of attributes and qualities,' "Absolute NIRGUNA" (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 62), because it is "essentially without any relation to MANIFESTED, FINITE being." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 14)
(The italics in the above passage are all mine. They show that the Absolute, while not being related to anything FINITE, may yet IN ITS ENTIRETY be considered as a Unity of Parts. This is however, strictly MY OWN interpretation of Madame Blavatsky.) It is "the Negatively Existent One" (SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 626), the realm of negativeness corresponding to the Upanishadic NETI, NETI.
Ultimate Reality, then, is Existence in the sense described above. Can we say anything more about it? Yes. Just as Descartes in his famous COGITO-ERGO SUM (SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 242) identified thought with existence, so too the Upanishadic seers conceive of Being in terms of consciousness. Reality cannot be different from or opposed to the nature of thought; consciousness must be of the very essence of its nature (swarupa-chaitanyam). That is, consciousness is not a PROPERTY of Brahman, but Brahman IS consciousness.
THE SECRET DOCTRINE likewise teaches that the One True Existence is "absolute Consciousness" (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 2) and this "absolute Chit and Chaitanya (intelligence, consciousness) cannot be a cognizer, 'for THAT can have no subject of cognition.'" (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 6) That is, the Absolute knows itself but not through the duality of self (subject) and its own processes (not-self, object). Madame Blavatsky herself explains:
Consciousness implies limitations and qualifications; something to be conscious of and some one to be conscious of it. Absolute Consciousness contains the cognizer, the thing cognized, and the cognition, all three in itself and all three ONE.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 56
For this reason, she is not even afraid -- as some Vedantists are -- of characterizing the Absolute consciousness as "Unconsciousness" because our "finite understanding" is unable to distinguish such Absolute Consciousness "from what appears to us as unconsciousness." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 56) Yet although the Absolute does not possess self-consciousness in the human sense of the terms (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 50) and Madame Blavatsky severely criticizes Hegel and the German Transcendentalists for holding that the Absolute evolves the Universe in order to attain clear Self-consciousness (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 50-51) still, it is "Paramarthasatya" or "true self-consciousness," Svasamvedana" or the "self-analyzing reflection." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 48fn)
Firstly, it follows that the One Reality is "impersonal, because it contains all and everything. ITS IMPERSONALITY IS THE FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTION of the System." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 273) Secondly, it "transcends the power of human conception," and is "beyond the range and reach of thought," in short, "unthinkable and unspeakable." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 14)
If a proof were required for the self-identical existence of consciousness that is nevertheless impersonal, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, like the Vedanta, points to the experience of deep or dreamless sleep that is not "annihilation" but a state that "not being remembered in a waking state, seems a blank." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 47) Dreamless sleep "LEAVES NO IMPRESSION ON THE PHYSICAL MEMORY AND BRAIN, BECAUSE THE SLEEPER'S HIGHER SELF IS IN ITS ORIGINAL STATE OF ABSOLUTE CONSCIOUSNESS." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 266)
Finally, Vedanta affirms that Brahman is unutterable Bliss -- Ananda, because it is perfection itself. THE SECRET DOCTRINE likewise refers to the Absolute as "Paranishpanna" or "Paranirvana," that is "that condition of subjectivity that has no relation to anything but the one absolute Truth (Para-marthasatya)." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 53) Where there is conscious Paramartha, there is Bliss (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 54), so that "Absolute Being" is "the Bliss of Paranirvana." (SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 268)
Thus through logic as well as intuition, through reason as much as revelation, does THE SECRET DOCTRINE arrive at the same conclusion as the Vedanta regarding the nature of Ultimate Reality, viz., that it is Sat (Existence), Chit (Consciousness), and Ananda (Bliss) Sacchidananda.
Even then these attributes, according to Adwaita, must not be taken as in any sense implying a POSITIVE characterization of this Absolute! In the spirit of a true Vedantin, Madame Blavatsky declares:
Yet such is the poverty of language that we have no term to distinguish the knowledge not actively thought of, from knowledge we are unable to recall to memory. To forget is synonymous with not to remember. How much greater must be the difficulty of finding terms to describe, and to distinguish between, abstract metaphysical facts or differences. It must not be forgotten, also, that we give names to things according to the appearances they assume for ourselves.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 56
If Madame Blavatsky has astonished the Western World by her marvelous mastery of scientific facts and theories, she has no less amazed the Eastern world by her equally wonderful grasp of philosophical distinctions and metaphysical subtleties.