THE FIRST PROPOSITION
ENQUIRER: Having told me what God, the Soul and Man are not, in your views, can you inform me what they are, according to your teachings?
In their origin and in eternity the three, like the universe and all therein, are one with the absolute Unity, the unknowable deific essence. We believe in no creation, but in the periodical and consecutive appearances of the universe from the subjective on to the objective plane of being, at regular intervals of time, covering periods of immense duration. In short, our Deity is the eternal, incessantly evolving, not creating, builder of the universe; that universe itself unfolding out of its own essence, not being made.
Grant us our postulate that God is a universally diffused, infinite principle, and how can man alone escape from being soaked through, by, and in, the Deity? We call our “Father in heaven” that deific essence of which we are cognizant within us, in our heart and spiritual consciousness, and which has nothing to do with the anthropomorphic conception we may form of it in our physical brain or its fancy: Esoteric philosophy denies Deity no more than it does the Sun and has never rejected God in Nature. It only refuses to accept any of the gods of the so-called mono theistic religions, gods created by man in his own image and likeness, a blasphemous and sorry caricature of the Ever Unknowable.
It is to avoid such anthropomorphic conceptions that the Initiates never use the epithet “God” to designate the One and Secondless Principle in the Universe; and that—faithful in this to the oldest traditions of the Secret Doctrine the world over— they deny that such imperfect and often not very clean work could ever be produced by Absolute Perfection. There is no need to mention here other still greater metaphysical difficulties. Between speculative Atheism and idiotic anthropomorphism there must be a philosophical mean, and a reconciliation. The Presence of the Unseen Principle throughout all nature, and the highest manifestation of it on Earth—MAN, can alone help to solve the Problem, which is that of the mathematician whose x must ever elude the grasp of our terrestrial algebra.
The first fundamental conception proposes:
(a) An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable Principle on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception and could only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude. It is beyond the range and reach of thought—in the words of Mandukya, “unthinkable and unspeakable.”
To render these ideas clearer to the general reader, let him set out with the postulate that there is one absolute Reality which antecedes all manifested, conditioned, being. This Infinite and Eternal Cause—dimly formulated in the “Unconscious” and “Unknowable” of European philosophy—is the rootless root of “all that was, is, or ever shall be.” It is of course devoid of all attributes and is essentially without any relation to manifested, finite Being. It is “Be-ness” rather than Being (in Sanskrit, Sat), and is beyond all thought or speculation.
This “Be-ness” is symbolized in the Secret Doctrine under two aspects. On the one hand, absolute abstract Space, representing bare subjectivity, the one thing which no human mind can either exclude from any conception, or conceive of by itself. On the other, absolute Abstract Motion representing Unconditioned Consciousness. Even our Western thinkers have shown that Consciousness is inconceivable to us apart from change, and motion best symbolizes change, its essential characteristic. This latter aspect of the one Reality is also symbolized by the term “The Great Breath,” a symbol sufficiently graphic to need no further elucidation. Thus, then, the first fundamental axiom of the Secret Doctrine is this metaphysical One Absolute—Be-ness— symbolized by finite intelligence as the theological Trinity. Spirit (or consciousness) and Matter are to be regarded, not as independent realities, but as the two facets or aspects of the Absolute (Parabrahm), which constitute the basis of conditioned Being whether subjective or objective.
Just as pre-Cosmic Ideation is the root of all individual consciousness, so pre-Cosmic Substance is the substratum of matter in the various grades of its differentiation.
Hence it will be apparent that the contrast of these two aspects of the Absolute is essential to the existence of the “Manifested Universe.” Apart from Cosmic Substance, Cosmic Ideation could not manifest as individual consciousness, since it is only through a vehicle of matter that consciousness wells up as “I am I,” a physical basis being necessary to focus a ray of the Universal Mind at a certain stage of complexity. Again, apart from Cosmic Ideation, Cosmic Substance would remain an empty abstraction, and no emergence of consciousness could ensue.
From Spirit, or Cosmic Ideation, comes our consciousness; from Cosmic Substance the several vehicles in which that consciousness is individualized and attains to self—or reflective consciousness; while Fohat, in its various manifestations, is the mysterious link between Mind and Matter, the animating principle electrifying every atom into life.
The following summary will afford a clearer idea to the reader.
(1) The Absolute; the Parabrahm of the Vedantins or the one Reality, Sat, which is, as Hegel says, both Absolute Being and Non- Being.
(2) The first manifestation, the impersonal, and, in philosophy, unmanifested Logos, the precursor of the “manifested.” This is the “First Cause,” the “Unconscious” of European Pantheists.( Spirit-matter, Life; the “Spirit of the Universe,” the Purusha and Prakriti, or the second Logos.
( Cosmic Ideation, Mahat or Intelligence, the Universal World-Soul; the Cosmic Noumenon of Matter, the basis of the intelligent operations in and of Nature, also called Maha-Buddhi.
The One Reality; its dual aspects in the conditioned Universe.
Man, unable to form one concept except in terms of empirical phenomena, is powerless from the very constitution of his being to raise the veil that shrouds the majesty of the Absolute. Only the liberated Spirit is able to faintly realize the nature of the source whence it sprung and whither it must eventually return. The matter-moving Nous, the animating Soul, immanent in every atom, manifested in man, latent in the stone, has different degrees of power; and this pantheistic idea of general Spirit-Soul pervading all Nature is the oldest of all the philosophical notions. The whole series of the numberless speculations of this kind are but variations on this theme.
Among thousands of exoteric or popular conflicting religions which have been propagated since the days when the first men were enabled to interchange their ideas, not a nation, not a people, nor the most abject tribe, but after their own fashion has believed in an Unseen God, the First Cause of unerring and immutable laws, and the immortality of our spirit. No creed, no false philosophy, no religious exaggerations, could ever destroy that feeling. It must, therefore, be based upon an absolute truth. On the other hand, every one of the numberless religions and religious sects views the Deity after its own fashion; and, fathering on the unknown its own speculations, it enforces these purely human outgrowths of overheated imagination on the ignorant masses, and calls them, “revelation.”
According to esoteric teaching, the real cause of all existence remains forever hidden, and its first emanations are the most complete abstractions mind can conceive. These abstractions must of necessity be postulated as the cause of the material Universe, and they underlie the secondary and subordinate powers of Nature, which, anthropomorphized, have been worshipped as God and Gods by the common herd of every age. . . . It is impossible to conceive anything without a cause; the attempt to do so makes the mind a blank. This is virtually the condition to which the mind must come at last when we try to trace back the chain of causes and effects, but both science and religion jump to this condition of blankness much more quickly than is necessary.
“The Deity is boundless and infinite expansion,” says an Occult axiom. The radical unity of the ultimate essence of each constituent part of compounds in Nature—from Star to mineral Atom, from the highest Dhyan Chohan to the smallest infusoria, and whether applied to the spiritual, intellectual, or physical worlds—this is the one fundamental law in Occult Science. If worship is desirable, we have to choose either the worship of many gods or choose one from among them. The worshipper even of many gods must of necessity be unjust to all the other gods; however far he extends his worship it is simply impossible for him to worship each severally; and in his ignorance, if he choose out any one in particular, he may do better far to remember that every man has a god within, a direct ray from the Absolute, the celestial ray from the One, that he has his “god” within, not outside, of himself.
All original thinkers and investigators of the hidden side of nature, whether materialists—those who find matter “the promise and potency of all terrestrial life,” or spiritualists—that is, those who discover in spirit the source of all energy and of matter as well, were and are, properly, Theosophists. The love of truth is inherently the love of good; and so predominating over every desire of the soul, purifying it and assimilating it to the divine, thus governing every act of the individual, it raises man to a participation and communion with Divinity. The aspiration for this knowledge constitutes what is really meant by Philosophy— the love of wisdom.
The evolution of the God-Idea proceeds apace with man’s own intellectual evolution. So true it is that the noblest ideal to which the religious Spirit of one age can soar, will appear but a gross caricature to the philosophic mind in a succeeding epoch! Out side of initiation, the ideals of contemporary religious thought must always have their wings clipped and remain unable to soar higher; for idealistic as well as realistic thinkers, and even free thinkers, are but the outcome and the natural product of their respective environments and periods.
When the Theosophists and Occultists say that God is no Being, for It is nothing, No-Thing, they are more reverential and religiously respectful to the Deity than those who call God a He, and thus make of Him a gigantic Male. The Logos or Creative deity, the “Word made Flesh,” of every religion, has to be traced to its ultimate source and Essence. Chaos-Theos-Kosmos, the triple deity, is all in all. Therefore, it is said to be male and female, good and evil, positive and negative: the whole series of contrasted qualities.
The ever unknowable and incognizable, the Causeless Cause of all causes, should have its shrine and altar on the holy and ever untrodden ground of our heart—invisible, intangible, unmentioned, save through “the still small voice” of our spiritual consciousness. Those who worship before it, ought to do so in the silence and the sanctified solitude of their Souls; making their spirit the sole mediator between them and the Universal Spirit, their good actions the only priests, and their sinful intentions the only sacrificial victims.