In the preceding chapters, a vast scheme of existence has been outlined. Infinite in its diversity, it is nonetheless a Unity, experienced by human consciousness as both objective and subjective, as visible and invisible, as phenomenal and noumenal. The seven planes of the manifested universe are formed of hierarchies of lives in gradations ranging from the unimaginably minute to hosts of incalculable magnitude, the whole being subject to inherent, unerring and invariable laws. The very words and phrases used in the literature of Esoteric Science, if their significance be examined in depth, convey something of the grandeur and complexity of the cosmic process, viz., primeval origins; manifestation; undifferentiated primordial substance; the majestic sequence of processes according to immutable Law; septenary manvantaric differentiations; the ALL of manifested Nature in activity.
Today many of the wonders of this small part of the whole, our Earth, have become part of everyone's experience through the television screen. At one end of the scale, the electron microscope reveals the marvellous intricacies of the cell, while at the other end the radio-telescope brings within the reach of the ordinary man information about the remotest parts of the immediate universe. Yet Esoteric Science affirms that there are other systems, other universes, and that there are other modes of being, especially in the inner worlds, besides the world of "things and lives and minds" of everyday human experience.
It is time to look at the question of origins. Whence the almost unbelievable diversity of living things? Whence the ordered complexity, the design and form, of moss and tree, of butterfly and eagle, and of man himself, of whom Carlyle said, "We are the miracle of miracles,-the great inscrutable mystery of God?" Esoteric Science speaks both of the external world perceived by the senses, the phenomenal world of form, colour and sound, and also of the inner realms of feeling, thought, power, and force, of the noumena behind the phenomena.
There are certain general principles that pertain to the total process: the universality of law, the process of evolution as a becoming "from within outwards," the alternation of phases of activity and phases of rest. The second of these principles is particularly relevant to the question of origins; the Cosmos is projected from the noumenal or subjective states of being into the phenomenal or objective planes, by a process that may be regarded analogously as a gradual densification of the spiritual into the material, as water-vapour is condensed into ice. This means in effect that everything in the Cosmos, and the Cosmos itself, exists already before it becomes.
... the occult teaching says, "Nothing is created, but Is only transformed. Nothing can manifest itself in this universe-from a globe down to a vague, rapid thought-that was not in the universe already; everything on the subjective plane is an eternal IS; as everything on the objective plane is an ever-becoming -because transitory. Secret Doctrine (I 570, I 623, I 293)
In a footnote to her commentary on the process of the becoming of a universe, Mme Blavatsky underlines the fact that
Creation is an incorrect word to use, as no religion ... believes in creation out of nihil, as Christians and Jews do, but in evolution out of pre-existing materials. Secret Doctrine (I 233 fn, I 253, I 279)
She returns later to the same theme:
Modern exact Science, as soon as it began to grow out of its teens, perceived the great, and, to it, hitherto esoteric axiom, that nothing-whether in the spiritual, psychic, or physical realm of being-could come into existence out of nothing. There is no cause in the manifested universe without its adequate effects, whether in space or time; nor can there be an effect without its primal cause, which itself owes its existence to a still higher
one - the final and absolute cause having to remain to man forever an incomprehensible CAUSELESS CAUSE. Secret Doctrine (I 569, I 622, II 293)
The periodic emergence of a universe from the plane of subjectivity into the plane of objectivity is the theme of an important explanatory passage in The Key to Theosophy - explanatory, but by no means easy for the mind to grasp, for the "final and absolute cause [referred to above] is an abstraction, on the verge of which human reason-however trained to metaphysical subtleties - trembles, threatening to collapse." Secret Doctrine (I 569, I 622, II 293) The dialogue between Inquirer and Theosophist proceeds as follows:
ENO. But who is it that creates each time the Universe?
THEO. No one creates it. Science would call the process evolution; the pre-Christian philosophers and the Orientalists called it emanation: we, Occultists and Theosophists, see in it the only universal and eternal reality casting a periodical reflection of itself on the infinite Spatial depths. This reflection, which you regard as the objective material universe, we consider as a temporary illusion and nothing else. That alone which is eternal is real.
ENO. All this does not explain to me how this illusion called the universe originates; how the conscious to be, proceeds to manifest itself from the unconsciousness that is.
THEO. It is unconsciousness only to our finite consciousness. Verily may we paraphrase verse v, in the first chapter of St. John, and say "and (Absolute) light (which is darkness) shineth in darkness (which is illusionary material light); and the darkness comprehendeth it not." This absolute light is also absolute and immutable law. Whether by radiation or emanation - we need not quarrel over terms - the universe passes out of its homogeneous subjectivity on to the first plane of manifestation, of which planes there are seven, we are taught. With each plane it becomes more dense and
material until it reaches this, our plane, on which the only world approximately known and understood in its physical composition by Science, is the planetary or Solar system - one sui generis, we are told.
ENQ. What do you mean by sui generis?
THEO. I mean that, though the fundamental law and the universal working of laws of Nature are uniform, still our Solar system (like every other such system in the millions of others in Cosmos) and even our Earth, has its own program of manifestations differing from the respective programmes of all others. We speak of the inhabitants of other planets and imagine that if they are men, i.e., thinking entities, they must be as we are. The fancy of poets and painters and sculptors never fails to represent even the angels as a beautiful copy of man - plus wings. We say that all this is an error and a delusion; because, if on this little earth alone one finds such a diversity in its flora, fauna, and mankind-from the sea-weed to the cedar of Lebanon, from the jelly-fish to the elephant, from the Bushman and negro to the Apollo Belvedere - alter the conditions cosmic and planetary, and there must be as a result quite a different flora, fauna, and mankind. The same laws will fashion quite a different set of things and beings even on this our plane, including in it all our planets. How much more different then must be external nature in other Solar systems, and how foolish it is to judge of other stars, worlds, and human beings by our own, as physical science does! Key to Theosophy, 84
Now the titles of the two volumes of The Secret Doctrine, Cosmogenesis and Anthropogenesis, indicate the two aspects into which the subject of origination may usefully be divided for purposes of study and exposition - the becoming of the Cosmos and the becoming of Man. Yet, although they may be studied separately, the student is warned against allowing himself to regard them as two unrelated fields.
Let us study Man, therefore; but if we separate him for one moment from the Universal Whole, or view him in isolation ... we
shall either land in black magic or fail most ingloriously in our attempt. Secret Doctrine Addendum (437, 419, 517, 350)
The reason for this is clear; both Cosmos and Man arise in the One, and indeed are that one:
If the student bears in mind that there is but One Universal Element, which is infinite, unborn, and undying, and that all the rest-as in the world of phenomena-are but so many various differentiated aspects and transformations (correlations, they are now called) of that One, from Cosmical down to microcosmical effects, from superhuman down to human and subhuman beings, the totality, in short, of objective existence-then the first and chief difficulty will disappear and Occult Cosmology may be mastered. Secret Doctrine (I 75, I 104, I 142)
At the end of the first part of volume I of The Secret Doctrine, Mme Blavatsky attempts to recapitulate some of the basic teachings thus far expounded. In the following passage from a comprehensive summary of the whole process:
The active Power, the "Perpetual motion of the great Breath, The centripetal and the centrifugal forces, which are male and female, positive and negative, physical and spiritual, the two being the one Primordial Force. – HPB only awakens Kosmos at the dawn of every new Period, setting it into motion by means of the two contrary Forces," and thus causing it to become objective on the plane of Illusion. In other words, that dual motion transfers Kosmos from the plane of the Eternal Ideal into that of finite manifestation, or from the noumenal to the phenomenal plane. Everything that is, was, and will be, eternally IS, even the countless forms, which are finite and perishable only in their objective, not in their ideal Form. They existed as Ideas, in the Eternity,* and, when they pass away, will exist as reflec-
* Occultism teaches that no form can be given to anything, either by nature or by man, whose ideal type does not already exist on the subjective plane. More than this; that no such form or shape can possibly enter man's consciousness, or evolve in his imagination, which does not exist in prototype, at least as an approximation.- HPB
tions. Neither the form of man, nor that of any animal, plant or stone has ever been created, and it is only on this plane of ours that it commenced "becoming," i.e., objectivizing into its present materiality, or expanding from within outwards, from the most sublimated and supersensuous essence into its grossest appearance. Therefore our human forms have existed in the Eternity as astral or ethereal prototypes; according to.which models, the Spiritual Beings (or Gods), whose duty it was to bring them into objective being and terrestrial Life, evolved the protoplasmic forms of the future Egos from their own essence. After which, when this human Upadhi or basic mould was ready, the natural terrestrial Forces began to work on those supersensuous moulds which contained, besides their own, the elements of all the past vegetable and future animal forms of this globe in them. Therefore, man's outward shell passed through every vegetable and animal body before it assumed this human shape. Secret Doctrine (I 282, I 302, I 324)
What is stated here with regard to the forms of the different kingdoms of Nature, that is, that their archetypes existed in the Eternity before they were brought forth and given physical expression-is equally true of their subtle counterparts in each of the planes of Nature. The origins of the inner principles of man, as of everything else, are to be sought in the primordial Substance that comes into being with the polarization of the One Element and its differentiation into the primary Elements. All potentialities, all the capabilities of Life, are here present, involved during earlier cycles of manifestation and now to be evolved during the present one. Every faculty we have as human beings has been developed in this way, to be further developed by use in our humanity. The cyclic process has, it has been well said, no conceivable beginning or imaginable end, yet each recurrent cycle "evinces a progressive march towards a higher life.” Secret Doctrine (I 277, I 297, I 3 I 9) The active period of phenomenal existence, the Manvantara, expresses in the time-space world the possibilities impressed into the dormancy or "non-existence" of noumenal being, the Pralaya.
Three distinct representations of the Universe in its three distinct aspects are impressed upon our thought by the esoteric philosophy:
the PRE-EXISTING (evolved from) the EVER-EXISTING; and the PHENOMENAL - the world 'of illusion, the reflection, and shadow thereof. During the great mystery and drama of life known as the Manvantara, real Kosmos is like the object placed behind the white screen upon which are thrown the Chinese shadows, called forth by the magic lantern. The actual figures and things remain invisible, while the wires of evolution are pulled by the unseen hands; and men and things are thus but the reflections, on the white field, of the realities behind the snares of Mahamaya, or the great Illusion. This was taught in every philosophy, in every religion, ante- as well as postdiluvian, in India and Chaldea, by the Chinese as by the Grecian Sages. In the former countries these three Universes were allegorized, in exoteric teachings, by the three trinities emanating from the Central eternal germ and forming with it a Supreme Unity: the initial, the manifested, and the Creative Triad, or the three in One. The last is but the symbol, in its concrete expression, of the first ideal two. Hence Esoteric philosophy passes over the necessarianism of this purely metaphysical conception, and calls the first one only, the Ever-Existing. This is the view of every one of the six great schools of Indian philosophy - the six principles of that unit body of WISDOM of which the "gnosis," the hidden knowledge, is the seventh. Secret Doctrine (I 278, I 298, I 320)