“It is the One Life, eternal, invisible, yet omnipresent, without beginning or end, yet periodical in its regular manifestations—between which periods reigns the dark mystery of non-being; unconscious, yet absolute Consciousness, unrealizable, yet the one self-existing reality; truly, ‘a chaos to the sense, a Kosmos to the reason.’ ”
—The Secret Doctrine.
|Vol. 4||NOVEMBER, 1906.||No. 2|
|Copyright, 1906, by H. W. PERCIVAL.|
BEFORE proceeding with the correspondence between the stanzas of the “Secret Doctrine” and the zodiac as we know it, the following facts should be remembered: First, that the stanzas are not given in the exact chronological order, though in each stanza there are verses indicating the gradual development of the universe from its most noumenal condition to the condition which we know it in. Some of the individual stanzas run the scale of several rounds; but, taken altogether, the gradual progression can be seen. Second, that the whole evolution is at times referred to, as, for instance, in the third stanza, which not only describes the beginning of a round, Sloka 1, but shows it well progressed in Slokas 7 and 12. Some of the stanzas recapitulate what is past, while others anticipate what is to come. Third, the advantages of the zodiac as a key to the understanding of the stanzas as well as of the entire system; for, whereas the slokas are not always in consecutive order, they nevertheless indicate to what place in the system they belong, and, with the zodiac, show the gradual development from the beginning to the end of any period of evolution in its largest or smallest sense; so that there need be no confusion in thought concerning the process described. The Proem of the “Secret Doctrine” gives a synopsis of a manvantara, or great period of the involution and evolution of seven rounds, which the student may interpret according to the physical or spiritual key.
The Proem opens by introducing the symbols, pp. 31–32:*
“. . . An immaculate white disk within a dull black ground.” And, . . . . “the same disk, but with a central point. The first, the student knows, represents Kosmos in Eternity, before the reawakening of still slumbering energy, the emanation of the Word in later systems. The point in the hitherto immaculate disk, Space and Eternity in Pralaya, denotes the dawn of differentiation. It is the point in the mundane egg, the germ within it which will become the universe, the All, the boundless, periodical Kosmos—a germ which is latent and active, periodically and by turns. The one circle is divine unity, from which all proceeds, whither all returns; its circumference—a forcibly limited symbol, in view of the limitation of the human mind—indicates the abstract, ever incognizable PRESENCE, and its plane, the universal soul, although the two are one. Only, the fact of the disk being white, and the surrounding ground black, clearly shows that its plane is the sole knowledge, dim and hazy though it still is, that is attainable by man. It is on this plane that the manvantaric manifestations begin; for it is in this soul that slumbers, during the pralaya, the Divine Thought, wherein lies concealed the plan of every future cosmogony and theogony.
“It is the One Life, eternal, invisible, yet omnipresent, without beginning or end, yet periodical in its regular manifestations between which periods reigns the dark mystery of non-being; unconscious, yet absolute Consciousness, unrealizable, yet the one self-existing Reality.”
We shall now consider, in their connection with the zodiac, some of the aspects of the stanzas as given in the “Secret Doctrine,” with the commentaries thereon.
Stanza 1, Sloka 1.—“The eternal parent, wrapped in her ever-invisible robes, had slumbered once again for seven eternities.” This is the only one of the nine slokas in this stanza which actually describes the beginning, or the fitness to begin, of the evolution of the first round at cancer (♋︎), the beginning of the horizontal diameter line. The eight slokas which follow it describe that state or condition where all manifestation had ceased and matter had been resolved into its original primordial state. The gods, forces, elements, the worlds, in their subjective and objective aspects have been dissolved into the one primordial element. Commenting on this state, we read, Vol. I., p .73:
“The previous objective universe has dissolved into its one primal and eternal Cause, and is, so to say, held in solution in space, to differentiate again and crystalize out anew at the following manvantaric dawn, which is the commencement of a new day or new activity of Brahmâ—the symbol of a universe. In esoteric parlance, Brahmâ is Father-mother-son, or spirit, soul and body at once; each personage being symbolical of an attribute, and each attribute or quality being a graduated efflux of divine breath in its cyclic differentiation, involutionary and evolutionary. In the cosmico-physical sense, it is the universe, the planetary chain and the earth; in the purely spiritual, the unknown Deity, planetary spirit, and man—the son of the two, the creature of spirit and matter, and a manifestation of them in his periodical appearances on earth during the ‘wheels,’ or the manvantaras.”
The first round, therefore, is represented by the first sloka of the first stanza. It is the state and condition of the primordial material in the seven globes and spheres of which our universe and world are gradually formed. This state can hardly be realized by the process of thought, as it precedes form and the formation of all things with which we are acquainted. It represents all of that material which had been used in the previous great period of evolution in the past manvantara or period of seven rounds. It is the state in which all that had been matter in its many degrees of development has been resolved into its original source, substance, which is homogeneous and conscious in all its parts, and in a quiescent state without any differentiation. The one Absolute, Consciousness, was present throughout, but it could not be comprehended by substance as itself or different from itself. The purpose of the first round, therefore, was to develop from this homogeneous substance a form or body which should be capable of comprehending, becoming conscious of, the all-presence of the Absolute, Consciousness.
It will be noticed that the order of the signs of the zodiac are from aries (♈︎) to libra (♎︎) by way of cancer (♋︎) downward, and from libra (♎︎) to aries (♈︎) by way of capricorn (♑︎) upward, and that aries (♈︎) begins the first round in the position which we know as occupied now by cancer (♋︎).
For those who may not have anticipated the cause for this and the seeming discrepancy, we would say that there are stationary and movable signs of the zodiac. The stationary signs are in the order we know. They are ever the same, in every round and in every condition. The reason for this is that it does not depend on the sign, but on the position in the circle, as to what the quality or character of the development attained is. For instance, the highest possible attainment is Consciousness, aries (♈︎), symbolized, therefore, by the highest position. In relation to man, in our round and race, this is the head, aries (♈︎), as shown elsewhere in these articles (see The Word, Vol. III., page 5). The sphere is the all-inclusive figure. The head is spherical in shape, the crown of man, and as a sign it is at the top of the zodiac. The order of the names is according to the zodiacal development from the homogeneous element by differentiation and involution, from the unmanifested noumenal to the manifested phenomenal universe.
Each sign has its characteristic name, but must nevertheless pass through the phases of development. Therefore, while passing through this development they are movable signs. Thus we find that in the beginning of the first round (see Figure 20) aries (♈︎) is seen in its movable phase, because it is in that stationary sign or degree of the circle which is the beginning of every manifestation. The initial impulse of every new manifestation is from the center of the zodiac, but manifestation begins at one end of the horizontal diameter line and is completed at the other end. When aries (♈︎), as a period of evolution or round, has been completed it passes upward beyond the plane of manifestation and is followed by the next sign, or round. It should be remembered that each sign symbolizes a round when it is at the beginning of the horizontal diameter line, and that all the signs which follow it in the lower half of the circle to the end of the horizontal line indicate phases of its development as represented by the great root races, seven in number. Thus, aries (♈︎), beginning the first round, not only indicates the predominant characteristic of the round, but also represents the first great root race; taurus (♉︎) represents the second root race, gemini (♊︎) the third root race, cancer (♋︎) the fourth root race, leo (♌︎) the fifth root race, virgo (♍︎) the sixth root race, libra (♎︎) the seventh root race, at the completion of which the first round is closed. It is with this first round that Stanza 1 deals.
In the first round aries (♈︎), as consciousness, is in the stationary sign or degree of cancer (♋︎), breath, which is the beginning of all manifestation. This beginning is described in Sloka 3 of Stanza 4. Stanza 4, Sloka 3, at page 60, reads:
From the effulgency of light the ray of the ever-darkness sprang in space the reawakened energies; the One from the Egg, the six, and the five. Then the three, the one, the four, the one, the five the twice seven, the sum total. And these are the essences, the flames, the elements, the builders, the numbers, the arupa, the rupa, and the force or divine man, the sum total. And from the divine man emanated the forms, the sparks, the sacred animals, and the messengers of the Sacred Fathers within the holy four.
Then, again, in Stanza 4, Sloka 5, at page 61:
The Oi-Ha-Hou, which is darkness, the boundless, or the no-number, Adi-Nidana Svabhavat, the
I. The Adi-Sanat, the number, for he is one.
II. The voice of the Word, Svabhavat, the numbers, for he is one and nine.
III. The “formless square.”
And these three, enclosed within the are the sacred four; and the ten are the arupa universe. Then come the sons, the seven fighters, the one, the eighth left out, and his breath, which is the light maker.
The progression according to the root races of the round is from this state of all-inclusiveness represented by aries (♈︎) at the degree of cancer (♋︎), breath. From this is developed the second race, represented by the movable sign taurus (♉︎), motion, in the stationary sign leo (♌︎), life. From this is developed the third race, represented by the movable sign gemini (♊︎), substance, in the stationary sign virgo (♍︎), form. From this is developed the fourth race, represented by the movable sign cancer (♋︎), breath, in the stationary sign libra (♎︎), sex. From this is developed the fifth race, represented by the movable sign leo (♌︎), life, in the stationary sign scorpio (♏︎), desire. From this is developed the sixth race, represented by the movable sign virgo (♍︎), form, in the stationary sign sagittary (♐︎), thought. From this is developed the seventh race, represented by the movable sign libra (♎︎), sex, in the stationary sign capricorn (♑︎), individuality. These are all the great root races of the first round, the matter of which is exceedingly attenuated. Therefore it is not to be supposed that the bodies of that round are to be compared with those in our present race and round, except by analogy. The races of the round show the progression from a state of all-conscious homogeneity into the opposite state, which is tinctured with the character of sex, and is the completion of the round and race in individuality as its characteristic. The lowest body developed in this first round is indicated by the lowest stationary sign in the circle, namely, libra (♎︎), sex, which was the fourth race of this first round, and this fourth and most material race of the first round developed a breath body; that is to say, from the all-inclusive material the bodies became separated in the fourth race at the lowest of its involution, and received in that race, from the stationary sign, the impress of sex and the duality of breath. This was perfected in character only at the stationary sign capricorn (♑︎), individuality, which was the development of the seventh race. The bodies in this first round were spherical throughout the round, and so remain to this day. It is from this first round that all the later rounds, with their representative races, are developed.
Stanza 2 begins by showing in the first five slokas what is necessary for the development of the round and what is not. These are all negative statements. The stanza ends with sloka 6: “These two are the germ, and the germ is one. The Universe was still concealed in the divine thought and the divine bosom.” This is the only sloka in this stanza which is descriptive of the second round. This round, or period of manifestation, begins with the sign taurus (♉︎), motion, spirit, which describes the predominent characteristic of the entire round, and ends with the sign scorpio (♏︎), desire, the completion of the round. Taurus (♉︎), motion, as a movable sign, is the representative of the first race at the stationary sign of cancer (♋︎), breath, the beginning of the period of manifestation. From this is developed the second race, represented by the movable sign gemini (♊︎), substance, in the stationary sign leo (♌︎), life. From this is developed the third race, represented by the movable sign cancer (♋︎), breath, in the stationary sign virgo (♍︎), form. From this is developed the fourth race, represented by the movable sign leo (♌︎), life, in the stationary sign libra (♎︎), sex. This is the lowest and densest body developed in this second round. This body begins to develop lives within its sphere of breath and the lives receive the first impress of their character from the stationary sign libra (♎︎), sex. From this is developed the fifth race, represented by the movable sign virgo (♍︎), form, in the stationary sign scorpio (♏︎), desire. From this is developed the sixth race, represented by the movable sign libra (♎︎), sex, in the stationary sign sagittary (♐︎), thought. From this is developed the seventh race, represented by the movable sign scorpio (♏︎), desire, in the stationary sign capricorn (♑︎), individuality. The completion of this seventh race closes the second round.
Stanza 3 is descriptive of the entire three rounds and some phases of the fourth round. The stanza begins: “ * * * The last vibration of the seventh eternity thrills through infinitude. The mother swells, expanding from within without, like the bud of the lotus.” This describes the period after the beginning of the third round.
The round begins with the sign gemini (♊︎), substance, which is the predominant characteristic of the round, and from which is developed duality and dual forms. It is descriptive of that state where from the homogeneous element begin the “pairs of opposites” and all manner and phases of duality. It is in this third round that the forms separate into the sexes. This third round begins with the first race, represented by the movable sign gemini (♊︎), substance, at the stationary sign cancer (♋︎), breath. From it is developed the second race, represented by the movable sign cancer (♋︎), breath, at the stationary sign leo (♌︎), life. From this is developed the third race, represented by the movable sign leo (♌︎), life, in the stationary sign virgo (♍︎), form. From this is developed the fourth race, represented by the movable sign virgo (♍︎), form, in the stationary sign libra (♎︎), sex. It is in this fourth race that the form takes on its lowest development and grossest body, which is that of sex. From this is developed the fifth race, represented by the movable sign libra (♎︎), sex, in the stationary sign scorpio (♏︎), desire. From this is developed the sixth race, represented by the movable sign scorpio (♏︎), desire, in the stationary sign sagittary (♐︎), thought. From this is developed the seventh race, represented by the movable sign sagittary (♐︎), thought, in the stationary sign capricorn (♑︎), individuality. With the completion of this seventh race, which has the power of thought, the round closes. The round began with the development of substance, which involuted into forms having sex, and these forms developed the power of thought, which closed the round and tinctured the following, our fourth round. The “Secret Doctrine,” Vol. I., pp. 182-183, gives the following outline of the first three rounds:
For the benefit of those who may not have read, or, if they have, may not have clearly understood, in Theosophical writings, the doctrine of the septenary chains of worlds in the solar cosmos, the teaching is briefly as follows:
1. Everything in the metaphysical as in the physical universe is septenary. Hence every sidereal body, every planet, whether visible or invisible, is credited with six companion globes. The evolution of life proceeds on these seven globes or bodies, from the first to the seventh in seven rounds or seven cycles.
2. These globes are formed by a process which Occultists call the “rebirth of planetary chains (or rings).” When the seventh and last round of one of such rings has been entered upon, the highest or first globe, A, followed by all the others down to the last, instead of entering upon a certain time of rest or “Obscuration,” as in the previous rounds begins to die out. The planetary dissolution (pralaya) is at hand, and its hour has struck; each globe has to transfer its life and energy to another planet.
3. Our earth, as the visible representative of its invisible superior fellow-globes, its “lords” or “principles,” has to live, as have the others, through seven rounds. During the first three, it forms and consolidates; during the fourth, it settles and hardens; during the last three, it gradually returns to its first ethereal form; it is spiritualized, so to say.
4. Its humanity develops fully only in the fourth our present round. Up to this fourth life-cycle, it is referred to as “humanity” only for lack of a more appropriate term. Like the grub which becomes chrysalis and butterfly, man, or rather that which becomes man, passes through all the forms and kingdoms during the first round, and through all the human shapes during the two following rounds.
Concerning man in the first three rounds, the teachings are, “Secret Doctrine,” Vol. I., pp. 210–211:
Round I. Man in the first round and first race on globe D, our earth, was an ethereal being (a lunar dhyani, as man), non-intelligent, but super-spiritual; and correspondingly, on the law of analogy, in the first race of the fourth round. In each of the subsequent races and sub-races, . . . . he grows more and more into an incased or incarnate being, but still preponderatingly ethereal. . . . He is sexless, and, like the animal and vegetable, he develops monstrous bodies correspondential with his coarser surroundings.
Round II. He (man) is still gigantic and ethereal, but growing firmer and more condensed in body; a more physical man, yet still less intelligent than spiritual (1), for mind is a slower and more difficult evolution than is the physical frame. . . . .
Round III. He has now a perfectly concrete or compacted body, at first the form of a giant-ape, and now more intelligent, or rather cunning, than spiritual. For, on the downward arc, he has now reached a point where his primordial spirituality is eclipsed and overshadowed by nascent mentality (2). In the last half of the third round, his gigantic stature decreases, and his body improves in texture, and he becomes a more rational being, though still more an ape than a deva. . . . . (All this is almost exactly repeated in the third root-race of the fourth round.)
*The Secret Doctrine, the Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy. By H. P. Blavatsky. 3d Ed.