Point Loma edition 1993
Blavatsky Trust edition 2010
In this chapter an attempt is made to review the vast and marvellous process described in Esoteric Science. Process implies purpose, and it becomes evident that the purpose of the grand scheme is epitomized in the words of the title, Spiritual Development - the unfoldment of the potentialities of Spirit. Humanity is a critical stage in the process, for it is in the human kingdom that the process becomes selfconscious.
The Life that is the very Being of the universe and of the infinite number of lives that compose it is the MONAD: it is the ONE manifesting in countless hosts of lives at every stage of development. The unmanifested ONE, the ALL in potential, is said to breath out from ITSELF, a breath , the ONE manifest, called Monadic Essence: it is the Essence of all Being. From this Monadic Essence issues a multiple Ray, countless rays collectively - these are but words to describe the indescribable and almost infinite variety of forms used by the ONE LIFE, while as the "Pilgrim" it journeys through the planes of Nature, which, with all that comprises them, are themselves emanations of the One. The term Monad is also applied to the "Spark of Eternity" that is seen as the individual Pilgrim, when related to man. It is his two highest principles which form a spiritual Unit, inseparable throughout the pilgrimage. That dual unit is sometimes regarded as a monad when in association with a single form, but it must always remain inseparable from the One Monad.
In the Esoteric Philosophy Buddhi is the upadhi, or "veil of spirit", of Atman, and functions in man as the Discriminating Principle. It is this union of the "two in one", Atma-Buddhi, which constitutes the "Monad". The Divine Plan, 10
When the Monadic Essence is embodied successively within the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms, it is sometimes termed the Mineral Monad,
the Vegetable Monad and so on (but it is never a discrete principle), although it would be more correct to speak of "the Monad manifesting in that form of Prakriti [matter] called the Mineral Kingdom" Secret Doctrine (I 178, I 201, I 230), for such a term as the Mineral Monad means in effect that "the tidal wave of spiritual evolution is passing through that arc of its circuit." Secret Doctrine (I 178, I 201, I 230)
Through the lower kingdoms of Nature, the Monadic Life has passed in virtual unconsciousness to the point where, in the animal, there begins to emerge a sense of self and otherness. In man the possession of lower and higher mind bestows not only consciousness but also self-consciousness. The latter enables him to be aware of his physical surroundings - through his senses - and also his subjective reactions to them by way of the thoughts and feelings provoked by them. These are also objective to his 'self' as subject. It may seem easy to compress into these few words the facts of the evolutionary process, but the student should not lose from sight the immense periods of time, the incalculable experiences of effort, of striving, of success and failure, that must have preceded the condition of this relative self-consciousness that is the characteristic of present mankind.
After long ages there comes a time in the life of the individual when he questions the purpose of life, and of his own life in particular. It is here that some understanding of Esoteric Science becomes of practical value, for the man perceives not only the route by which he has travelled to his present position, but also the way that lies ahead. The purpose of human life is nothing less than the unfoldment of the "deific powers" - a tremendous and awe-inspiring phrase! - that reside within each man. The goal is the realization of the unity of all life, not only of the family of man but of all living things. The intellectual appreciation of this fact is itself an emergent faculty, and, assisted by the ethical precepts of religion - precepts that have been transmitted through the ages by wise men fully acquainted with the truths of Occult Science - the individual recognizes the implications of the fact of unity, he has the actual experience of UNITY, he KNOWS his identity with the One and he therefore accepts his responsibility and bond of duty towards the whole, and sees the necessity for altruism.
We have seen that the cosmic scheme is a living whole, composed of an incalculable number of beings grouped in series of hierarchies, yet all rooted in the One Life.
From Gods to men, from Worlds to atoms, from a star to a rush-light, from the Sun to the vital heat of the meanest organic being - the world of Form and Existence is an immense chain, whose links are all connected. Secret Doctrine (I 604, I 662, I 329)
These links are the beings forming the hierarchical Ladder of Life. In The Secret Doctrine the Beings of the superior Hierarchies are distinguished by appropriate names that indicate their function in the scheme: such are the Creators, Architects, Builders, Watchers, as also the Recorders who are described as
... Entities of the higher worlds in the hierarchy of Being, so immeasurably high that, to us, they must appear as Gods, and collectively - GOD. Secret Doctrine (I 133, I 157, I 190)
Of the diversity and varied functions of these Beings, The Secret Doctrine, extending what was quoted in Chapter 4, teaches:
The whole Kosmos is guided, controlled, and animated by almost endless series of Hierarchies of sentient Beings, each having a mission to perform, and who - whether we give to them one name or another, and call them Dhyan-Chohans or Angels - are "messengers" in the sense only that they are the agents of Karmic and Cosmic Laws. They vary infinitely in their respective degrees of consciousness and intelligence; and to call them all pure Spirits without any of the earthly alloy "which time is wont to prey upon" is only to indulge in poetical fancy. Secret Doctrine (I 274, I 295, I 317)
Yet, however varied and numerous, all these lives are linked and of the same kin, for the same life flows through all; this means that what affects one affects all, and the perception of this truth shows both the interdependence
of all the forms of life and the duty of every part towards the whole. Now the study of the constitution of man in the light of Occult Science shows how every faculty must have a vehicle through which it can be expressed. The vehicle of the personal mind serves the faculty of objective knowing, but actually to experience the unity of life another faculty is required, and for this another principle must be called into activity. This is Buddhi, always present but beyond the conscious reach of the personal mind until a bridge between the higher and the lower functions of mind has been developed, that is, mind made responsive both to buddhic influences and at the same time to kama. This bridge, which connects "the divine Ego and the personal Soul of man", is known as the Antahkarana. Its function is described thus in the Theosophical Glossary:
It serves as a medium of communication between the two, and conveys from the Lower to the Higher Ego all those personal impressions and thoughts of men which can, by their nature, be assimilated and stored by the undying Entity, and be thus made immortal with it, these being the only elements of the evanescent Personality that survives death and time. It thus stands to reason that only that which is noble, spiritual and divine in man can testify in Eternity to his having lived.Theosophical Glossary, Antahkarana
It is here that the occult doctrine endorses the ethical teachings of religion by explaining the rationale behind such injunctions as "Love one another". The virtues inculcated by most religions, and more specifically set out for aspirants to the higher life, are the means by which one may break through the limitations of the personal, self-centred mind and experience the unity of all life. Apart from these ethical constraints, the mechanism by which the bridge is built is meditation, a practice which, by stilling the restlessness of the personal mind, makes it possible for the influence of the ever-present spiritual nature to be felt in daily life.
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