Highest Reality. Thought of the Day 70.0

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यावचिन्त्यावात्मास्य शक्तिश्चैतौ परमार्थो भवतः॥१॥

Yāvacintyāvātmāsya śaktiścaitau paramārtho bhavataḥ

These two (etau), the Self (ātmā) and (ca) His (asya) Power (śaktiḥ) —who (yau) (are) inconceivable (acintyau)—, constitute (bhavataḥ) the Highest Reality (parama-arthaḥ)

The Self is the Core of all, and His Power has become all. I call the Core “the Self” for the sake of bringing more light instead of more darkness. If I had called Him “Śiva”, some people might consider Him as the well-known puranic Śiva who is a great ascetic living in a cave and whose main task consists in destroying the universe, etc. Other people would think that, as Viṣṇu is greater than Śiva, he should be the Core of all and not Śiva. In turn, there is also a tendency to regard Śiva like impersonal while Viṣṇu is personal. There is no end to spiritual foolishness indeed, because there is no difference between Śiva and Viṣṇu really. Anyway, other people could suggest that a better name would be Brahman, etc. In order not to fall into all that ignorant mess of names and viewpoints, I chose to assign the name “Self” to the Core of all. In the end, when spiritual enlightenment arrives, one’s own mind is withdrawn (as I will tell by an aphorism later on), and consequently there is nobody to think about if “This Core of all” is personal, impersonal, Śiva, Viṣṇu, Brahman, etc. Ego just collapses and This that remains is the Self as He essentially is.

He and His Power are completely inconceivable, i.e. beyond the mental sphere. The Play of names, viewpoints and such is performed by His Power, which is always so frisky. All in all, the constant question is always: “Is oneself completely free like the Self?”. If the answer is “Yes”, one has accomplished the goal of life. And if the answer is “No”, one must get rid of his own bondage somehow then. The Self and His Power constitute the Highest Reality. Once you can attain them, so to speak, you are completely free like Them both. The Self and His Power are “two” only in the sphere of words, because as a matter of fact they form one compact mass of Absolute Freedom and Bliss. Just as the sun can be divided into “core of the sun, surface of the sun, crown”, etc.

तयोरुभयोः स्वरूपं स्वातन्त्र्यानन्दात्मकैकघनत्वेनापि तत्सन्तताध्ययनाय वचोविषय एव द्विधाकृतम्

Tayorubhayoḥ svarūpaṁ svātantryānandātmakaikaghanatvenāpi tatsantatādhyayanāya vacoviṣaya eva dvidhākṛtam

Even though (api) the essential nature (sva-rūpam) of Them (tayoḥ) both (ubhayoḥ) (is) one compact mass (eka-ghanatvena) composed of (ātmaka) Absolute Freedom (svātantrya)(and) Bliss (ānanda), it is divided into two (dvidhā-kṛtam) —only (eva) in the sphere (viṣaye) of words (vacas)— for its close study (tad-santata-adhyayanāya)

The Self is Absolute Freedom and His Power is Bliss. Both form a compact mass (i.e. omnipresent). In other words, the Highest Reality is always “One without a second”, but, in the world of words It is divided into two for studying It in detail. When this division occurs, the act of coming to recognize or realize the Highest Reality is made easier. So, the very Highest Reality generates this division in the sphere of words as a help for the spiritual aspirants to realize It faster.

आत्मा प्रकाशात्मकशुद्धबोधोऽपि सोऽहमिति वचोविषये स्मृतः

Ātmā prakāśātmakaśuddhabodho’pi so’hamiti vacoviṣaye smṛtaḥ

Although (api) the Self (ātmā) (is) pure (śuddha) Consciousness (bodhaḥ) consisting of (ātmaka) Prakāśa or Light (prakāśa), He (saḥ) is called (smṛtaḥ) “I” (aham iti) in the sphere (viṣaye) of words (vacas)

The Self is pure Consciousness, viz. the Supreme Subject who is never an object. Therefore, He cannot be perceived in the form of “this” or “that”. He cannot even be delineated in thought by any means. Anyway, in the world of words, He is called “I” or also “real I” for the sake of showing that He is higher than the false “I” or ego.

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Non-self Self

Philosophy is the survey of all the sciences with the special object of their harmony and of their completion. It brings to this task not only the evidence of the separate sciences but also its special appeal to the concrete experience – Whitehead

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Vidya and Avidya, the Self and the not-Self, as well as sambhūti and asambhūti, Brahman and the world, are basically one, not two. Avidya affirms the world, as a self-sufficient reality. Vidya affirms God as the Other, as a far away reality. When true knowledge arises, says the Upanishads, this opposition is overcome.

The true knowledge involves comprehension of the total Reality, of the truth of both Being and Becoming. Philosophic knowledge or vision cannot be complete if it ignores or neglects any aspect of knowledge or experience. Philosophy is the synthesis of all knowledge and experience, according to the Upanishads and according also to modern thought. Brahmavidya, philosophy, is sarvavidyapratishthā, the basis and support of all knowledge, says the Mundaka Upanishad. All knowledge, according to that Upanishad, can be divided in to two distinct categories – the apara, the lower, and the para, the higher. It boldly relegates all sciences, arts, theologies, and holy scriptures of religions, including the Vedas, to the apara category. And that is para it says, yayā tadaksharam adhigamyate, by which the imperishable Reality is realized.’

The vision of the Totality therefore must include the vision of the para and the apara aspects of Reality. If brahmavidya, philosophy, is the pratisthā, support, of sarvavidyā, totality of knowledge, it must be a synthesis of both the aparā and the parā forms of knowledge.

This is endorsed by the Gita in its statement that the jnana, philosophy, is the synthesis of the knowledge of the not-Self and the Self:

क्षेत्रक्षेत्रज्ञयोर्ज्ञानं यत्तज्ज्ञानं मतं मम ।

kṣetrakṣetrajñayorjñānaṃ yattajjñānaṃ mataṃ mama |

The synthesis of the knowledge of the not-Self, avidya, which is positive science, with that of the Self, vidya, which is the science of religion, will give us true philosophy, which is the knowledge flowering in to vision and maturing into wisdom.

This is purnajñāna, fullness of knowledge, as termed by Ramakrishna. The Gita speaks of this as jñānam vijñāna sahitamjñāna coupled with vijñāna, and proclaims this as the summit of spiritual achievement:

बहूनां जन्मनामन्ते ज्ञानवान्मां प्रपद्यते ।
वासुदेवः सर्वमिति स महात्मा सुदुर्लभः ॥

bahūnāṃ janmanāmante jñānavānmāṃ prapadyate |
vāsudevaḥ sarvamiti sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ ||

‘At the end of many births, the wise man attains Me with the realization that all this (universe) is Vasudeva the indwelling Self); such a great-souled one is rare to come across’

The Womb of Cosmogony. Thought of the Day 30.0

Nowhere and by no people was speculation allowed to range beyond those manifested gods. The boundless and infinite UNITY remained with every nation a virgin forbidden soil, untrodden by man’s thought, untouched by fruitless speculation. The only reference made to it was the brief conception of its diastolic and systolic property, of its periodical expansion or dilatation, and contraction. In the Universe with all its incalculable myriads of systems and worlds disappearing and re-appearing in eternity, the anthropomorphised powers, or gods, their Souls, had to disappear from view with their bodies: — “The breath returning to the eternal bosom which exhales and inhales them,” says our Catechism. . . . In every Cosmogony, behind and higher than the creative deity, there is a superior deity, a planner, an Architect, of whom the Creator is but the executive agent. And still higher, over and around, withinand without, there is the UNKNOWABLE and the unknown, the Source and Cause of all these Emanations. – The Secret Doctrine

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Many are the names in the ancient literatures which have been given to the Womb of Being from which all issues, in which all forever is, and into the spiritual and divine reaches of which all ultimately returns, whether infinitesimal entity or macrocosmic spacial unit.

The Tibetans called this ineffable mystery Tong-pa-nnid, the unfathomable Abyss of the spiritual realms. The Buddhists of the Mahayana school describe it as Sunyata or the Emptiness, simply because no human imagination can figurate to itself the incomprehensible Fullness which it is. In the Eddas of ancient Scandinavia the Boundless was called by the suggestive term Ginnungagap – a word meaning yawning or uncircumscribed void. The Hebrew Bible states that the earth was formless and void, and darkness was upon the face of Tehom, the Deep, the Abyss of Waters, and therefore the great Deep of kosmic Space. It has the identical significance of the Womb of Space as envisioned by other peoples. In the Chaldaeo-Jewish Qabbalah the same idea is conveyed by the term ‘Eyn (or Ain) Soph, without bounds. In the Babylonian accounts of Genesis, it is Mummu Tiamatu which stands for the Great Sea or Deep. The archaic Chaldaean cosmology speaks of the Abyss under the name of Ab Soo, the Father or source of knowledge, and in primitive Magianism it was Zervan Akarana — in its original meaning of Boundless Spirit instead of the later connotation of Boundless Time.

In the Chinese cosmogony, Tsi-tsai, the Self-Existent, is the Unknown Darkness, the root of the Wuliang-sheu, Boundless Age. The wu wei of Lao-tse, often mistranslated as passivity and nonaction, imbodies a similar conception. In the sacred scriptures of the Quiches of Guatemala, the Popol Vuh or “Book of the Azure Veil,” reference is made to the “void which was the immensity of the Heavens,” and to the “Great Sea of Space.” The ancient Egyptians spoke of the Endless Deep; the same idea also is imbodied in the Celi-Ced of archaic Druidism, Ced being spoken of as the “Black Virgin” — Chaos — a state of matter prior to manvantaric differentiation.

The Orphic Mysteries taught of the Thrice-Unknown Darkness or Chronos, about which nothing could be predicated except its timeless Duration. With the Gnostic schools, as for instance with Valentinus, it was Bythos, the Deep. In Greece, the school of Democritus and Epicurus postulated To Kenon, the Void; the same idea was later voiced by Leucippus and Diagoras. But the two most common terms in Greek philosophy for the Boundless were Apeiron, as used by Plato, Anaximander and Anaximenes, and Apeiria, as used by Anaxagoras and Aristotle. Both words had the significance of frontierless expansion, that which has no circumscribing bounds.

The earliest conception of Chaos was that almost unthinkable condition of kosmic space or kosmic expanse, which to human minds is infinite and vacant extension of primordial Aether, a stage before the formation of manifested worlds, and out of which everything that later existed was born, including gods and men and all the celestial hosts. We see here a faithful echo of the archaic esoteric philosophy, because among the Greeks Chaos was the kosmic mother of Erebos and Nyx, Darkness and Night — two aspects of the same primordial kosmic stage. Erebos was the spiritual or active side corresponding to Brahman in Hindu philosophy, and Nyx the passive side corresponding to pradhana or mulaprakriti, both meaning root-nature. Then from Erebos and Nyx as dual were born Aether and Hemera, Spirit and Day — Spirit being here again in this succeeding stage the active side, and Day the passive aspect, the substantial or vehicular side. The idea was that just as in the Day of Brahma of Hindu cosmogony things spring into active manifested existence, so in the kosmic Day of the Greeks things spring from elemental substance into manifested light and activity, because of the indwelling urge of the kosmic Spirit.

Spiritual Suicide. Thought of the Day 22.0

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असुर्य नाम ते लोका अन्धेन तमसावृताः ।
तांस्ते प्रेत्याभिगच्छन्ति ये के चात्महनो जनाः ॥

asurya nāma te lokā andhena tamasāvṛtāḥ |
tāṃste pretyābhigacchanti ye ke cātmahano janāḥ ||

‘In to the worlds of the asuras, devils, enveloped in blinding darkness, verily do they go after death who are slayers of the Atman, the Self.’

A deep philosophical truth is couched in mythical, symbolic language. Life lived without the consciousness of our divine nature is trivial; it is life of darkness and sorrow. The word ‘darkness’ used in this verse is not physical darkness, but the darkness of ignorance; it is spiritual blindness. The verse compares this darkness to hell. In myths, hell is abode of the asuras, the demons. An alternating reading is asurya, literally ‘without sunlight’, absolute darkness. The verse further tells us that those who prefer to live in such spiritual blindness are really killing themselves. Ātmahana means ‘people who kill themselves’. The death of the body is not so serious as the death of the soul. By neglecting our true nature, by ignoring it by clutching at the shadows of the non-Self all the time, we commit suicide of the most serious kind. Shankaracharya, in his commentary on this verse, explains the nature of this extraordinary kind of suicide which the world practices on the widest scale. Says he:

अविद्यादोषेण विद्यामानस्यात्मनस्तिरस्करणादात्महनेत्युच्यते ।

avidyādoṣeṇa vidyāmānasyātmanastiraskaraṇādātmahanetyucyate |

“Because a man neglects his ever-present Self through the evil of ignorance (spiritual blindness), he is called ‘one who commits suicide”.

Yantra + Yi-Globe = Yi-Yantra. Note Quote.

The lower and the upper semicircles of the Yi-globe,

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where the hexagrams are shown in plane, best serve for direct comparison. There, the structural features common with the yantras are clearly visible: the arrangement of the hexagrams around the center, the concentric circles embedded into one another, and the perfect balance and symmetry.

The analogy between the Yi-globe and the yantras can be recognized in almost every formal detail, if the Chamunda-yantra (Yantra literally means “support” and “instrument”. A Yantra is a geometric design acting as a highly efficient tool for contemplation, concentration and meditation carrying spiritual significance) is taken as an example

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The similarity between the two symbols is still more complete with respect to the metaphysical contents. Yantras are the symbols of deities, whereby one part represents a god (generally, a goddess) itself, while the other part stands for the cosmic activity (function) attributed to the deity and the power manifested in the latter; thus actually, a yantra symbolizes the whole universe as well. The power of the yantras lies in the concentrated visualization – completed with the vibration of the associated mantras – capable even in itself of raising and directing cosmic energies into the human psyche, whereby man merges into the deity in his mind and, at last, becomes one with the universe, the cosmic wholeness.

When the properties of the two symbols are analyzed, the following cosmological analogies between the Yi-globe and the yantras are found

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The comparison clearly reveals that the Yi-globe and the yantras represent the same spiritual content and that most of their formal elements are identical as well. Accordingly, it is fully justified to take the Yi-globe as a special yantra.

Figure below demonstrates how easily the Yi-globe transforms into the form of a yantra. Since this yantra perfectly reflects all the connotations of the Yi-globe, its name is Yi-yantra.

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On the petals (or other geometrical elements) of the yantras, mantras are written. On the Yi-yantra, the hexagrams replace the mantras at the corresponding places. (This replacement is merely formal here, since the function of the mantras manifests only when they are expressed in words.)

Based on the exposed analysis, the connotations of the individual geometrical elements in the Yi-yantra are as follows:

  • The two circlets in the center stand for the two signs of Completion, representing the Center of the World, the starting point of creation, and at the same time the place of final dissolution.
  • The creative forces, which are to give birth to the macrocosm and microcosm, emanate from the center. This process is represented by the hexagon.
  • The eight double trigrams surrounding the hexagon represent the differentiated primal powers arranged according to the Earlier Heaven. The two squares show that they already embrace the created world, but only in inherent (i.e., not manifested) form.
  • The red circle around the squares unites the ten hexagrams on the axis of the Yi-globe. The parallel blue circle is level I of the Yi-globe, whereto the powers of the Receptive extend, and wherefrom changes (forces) direct outwards in the direction of level II. The six orange petals of the lotus (the six hexagrams) show these directions.
  • The next pair of the orange and blue circles, and the twelve orange petals with the twelve hexagrams stand for levels II.
  • The next circle contains eighteen orange petals, representing level III. At its outer circle, the development (evolution) ends. On level III, the golden petals show the opposite direction of the movement.
  • From here, the development is directed inwards (involution). The way goes through levels IV and V, to the final dissolution in the Creative in the Center.
  • The square surrounding the Yi-globe represents the external existence; its gates provide access towards the inward world. The square area stands for the created world, shown by the trigrams indicated therein and arranged according to the Later Heaven.

Indian Classical Music

किन्तु वयमिदानीं ते न शक्नुमः परिचर्यां कर्तुम् : भूयिष्ठां बहुतरां ते नमउक्तिं नमस्कारवचनं विधेम नमस्कारेण परिचरेम ।

kintu vayamidānīṃ te na śaknumaḥ paricaryāṃ kartum : bhūyiṣṭhāṃ bahutarāṃ te namauktiṃ namaskāravacanaṃ vidhema namaskāreṇa paricarema |

But now I am not in a position to serve you; I offer you many verbal salutations; I serve you through salutations.

Hindustani Classical Music (2)

Music has been a cultivated art in India for at least three thousand years. It flows from the essential element of chant in ancient Vedic religious expression. More than any other musical form, the Indian raga tradition structurally and acoustically corresponds to and embodies the spiritual/religious experience. It offers a direct experience of the consciousness of the ancient world, with a range of expression rarely accessible today. All Indian instruments are played as extensions of the ultimate, because most natural, instrument — the human voice — that chants the sacred poems, mantras, and invocations of the gods.

In India music is practiced by members of hereditary guilds, often families, whose traditions remain unbroken for hundreds of years. It is the chamber music of an aristocratic society where the livelihood of the artist does not depend upon his ability and will to amuse the crowd. The musician’s education begins in infancy and he must absorb, thoroughly understand, and reproduce all that preceded him before adding his unique perspective to the living tradition. The listener is expected to respond with an art of his own: he must be technically critical, schooled in appreciation of the spirit of musical experience, contribute an attitude of reverence for the tradition, have a desire to “commune with the gods,” a preference for conviction over prettiness, authenticity over legitimacy, and an appreciation of the song apart from the singer/player.

The European musical scale has been reduced to twelve fixed notes by merging close intervals such as D sharp and E flat — a compromise of necessity in the development of the mathematical harmony that made possible the triumphs of Western orchestration, causing the Western keyboard, unlike instruments from other musical cultures, to be inherently “out of tune.” The Indian scale, on the other hand, covers the same tonal range using a twenty-two note scale to develop a purely melodic art which retains the advantages of pure intonation and modal coloring. What is fixed in Indian music is a group of intervals. The precise vibration value of a note depends on its position in a progression, not on its relation to a tonic. Following the Eastern idea that the emptiness enclosed by the form of a vessel is the actual purpose, essence, or soul of that vessel, the interval more than the note is heard as producing the continuity of sound that is the essence of music. In the Indian tradition the interval is what is sung or played as distinct from the vertical harmonic division of European song and the nature of the sound of keyed and fixed-key instruments. The quarter-tone or sruti is the microtonal interval between two successive scale notes, but as raga themes rarely employ two and never three of the seven primary scale notes in succession, microtones are heard only in ornamentation of the theme. They reveal that which lies unmanifest in the emptiness that is the heart of the vessel of melody composed of the primary scale notes. Sruti also designates the word of the guru, impossible to write but revealed by teacher to student in hushed tones or, more often, as an expression of the essence of understanding from one heart or consciousness to another.

The Indian song form, or raga (literally, coloring or passion), may be best defined as a melody-mold or ground plan of a song. Origins of the ragas are varied but all flow directly from human experience of the spiritual or religious and the responsive feeling (rasa) of love, joy, longing, or devotion. The ragas evoke feelings both human and spiritual. A myth tells of the bird Musikar or Dipaka-Lotus whose beak has seven apertures. Through each of these openings it blows a different note, and at different seasons of the year it combines them to produce ragas specific to the hour of the day and season. An egg was created from the ashes of a fire ignited by the magic sound of a raga; from this egg another Musikar was born, followed by many others. Like all myths, this conveys a truth, that of the ideal of raga — a form growing naturally, like ripples on water, a flower toward the sun, or ice crystals on a leaf of grass, whose beauty and meaning are enhanced by a sympathetic human response to the movement of spirit in the world of matter. The myth suggests the numinous, sacred qualities embodied in the raga form.

We can hear in Indian music the richest correlation of sound with the origins and manifestations of spiritual consciousness. The idea of nonmanifest sound — the essence in the interval between notes — is akin to the New Testament conception of the Word, and underlies and pervades the music. It lies beneath all that is manifest in nature, cosmic and microcosmic, and realizes itself as the multiplicities and differentiations of existence.

Philosophically, this cosmic nonmanifest sound continually creates, destroys, and recreates manifold universes. Its capacities are infinite, therefore measureless. For those who can “hear” it, it brings news of vast starry firmaments and interstellar spaces, of all universes past and all possible worlds of the future, whether those firmaments are galactic, atomic, physical, or spiritual. It is a potency, presence, possibility, and performance all at the same time. In India, music is heard not as a thing that humans make but as an aspect of the divine revealing itself (revelation/sruti) to which the musician and listeners contribute by their skill, understanding, acceptance, and appreciation.

The Dipaka-Lotus bird with its seven natural tones which make up the octave is an analogy of the seven principles or souls of sound, the seven veils of Isis or Prakriti, the seven spheres of resonance which constitute a grama (village or brotherhood), and the seven aspects not only of human but of universal nature.

The ancient Indians and their modern musical descendants believe that to one who understands fully the complex nature of a tone, the innermost secrets of our universe are revealed. Each tone in the raga is considered to have a specific spiritual and emotional charge in relation to the whole. The word svara (tone) is often defined as that which shines by itself. Tones are said by Indian musicians, as well as their ancient Chinese and Sufi brethren, to originate in the heart that responds with a spontaneous sensitivity to the movement of purusha (spirit) through prakriti (matter). The purpose of Indian song is not to dwell on and confirm the confusions of life, but to express and arouse ideal feelings and passions of body and soul in man and nature in response to the impulse of divine spirit. There is a magical aspect to sound, growing from the Vedic chants invoking the divine, though music is heard as essentially impersonal:

it reflects emotions and experiences which are deeper, wider and older than the emotion or wisdom of any single individual. Its sorrow is without tears, its joy without exultation and it is passionate without any loss of serenity. It is in the deepest sense of the words all-human. (Ananda K Coomaraswamy, The Dance of Shiva

In appreciating Indian music we experience and appreciate the consciousness of the ancient world embodied in it. It focuses and expresses the individual’s organic oneness with cosmic and natural forces that are the world we know. The materialistic focus of modern consciousness sees itself as separate from and threatened by nature. Indian music reflects a social order based in the awareness of unity and cooperation rather than on division and competition which leads to economic, social, and cultural insecurity and alienation. Goods produced and services rendered were not based on a perceived economic need for constant expansion leading to exploitation but were generated to serve needs of the organic whole. Ancient Indian consciousness focused, as does its music, on serving the needs of spirit rather than the demands of matter. Though Indian music is ancient it is not primitive: sophistication, subtlety, and assumption of the experience of spirit as the root and goal of all existence can best be described as primal. To appreciate it modern listeners must expand their ability to perceive and express human and cosmic spiritual nature, in much the same way that a child matures the primitive sing-song approach and simplistic rhythmic insistence of nursery school to include the subtlety of expression of which adults are capable.

The objective of the raga is the rasa — the aesthetic emotion — the motif embodied in the melody. As souls inhabit bodies, so every rasa is embodied in the rupa (form) of a particular raga or ragini (feminine form of raga). To invoke rasa, one meditates on the rupa that is appropriate to that raga’s essence, the distillation of mood, mode, time, and season. This meditation is shared by musician and listeners. The experience invoked by a master musician’s meditation on a fine instrument with a knowledgeable, appreciative audience is the disappearance of player, instrument, and listener — pure song, spirit singing itself into being.

Rather than confining melody to the necessities of an intellectualized harmonic concept, Indian musicians and listeners do not attempt to “chain with the mind the feet of the mysterious bird that goes to and away from the cage” (Indian folk song). The bird is pure melody, song of spirit supported by and interacting with the essential, complex rhythms of life. It is the spontaneous response of the heart, that which shines by itself, the spiritual fire of a soul lit by the radiance of nonmanifest sound, the Word, Brahman, Atman, God — divinity containing all worlds within it and evolving all worlds forth into being. The song of Brahman is AUM. Indian musical art is an imitation of the perfect spontaneity with which gods and enlightened beings understand and acknowledge that which is beyond inner and outer, rises above good and evil, is beyond conflict, is the perfection of compassion love and wisdom — the very heart of All.

The omnipresent keynote (Aum) of the universe coming into being swells from the tambura (drone) making a pedal point rich in overtones. Like all that is profound it rewards those who with patient humility seek the divine hidden in the heart of the musical experience. The drone corresponds to Brahman, the Unmanifest Logos, source and ultimate goal of Being. From and against this infinite potentiality the musician draws forth the raga whose rhythm is initially free, with the direction of what is to come subtly implied until the essential elements and graceful implications of this universe/song have been as fully explored as the musician’s inspiration and training allow. At a nod the power of the drums begins slowly to unfold, as Daivi-prakriti (Divine nature; divine will; the vital force of the universe; the “electricity” of cosmic consciousness; the Greek Eros; the Tibetan Fohat. Fohat carries the divine thought to become that which it truly is: a song of wonder at the manifold surprises hidden within and evolving from its Self, a reverential awe at the unmovable serenity from the heart of which dance and flow in waves the myriad, ever-changing aspects of THAT which is one and unchangeable. It is spirit discovering itself. The drone is Brahman, the raga is the world, as artistic microcosmic realization of the macrocosmic experience of spirit.

European rhythms are based on repeated stress, as in marching. Rather than using the bar as the fixed unit and marking its beginning with a stress or accent the Indian musician’s fixed unit is a section, or group of bars which are not necessarily alike. The rhythmic cycle of Ata Tala, for example, is counted as 5 plus 5 plus 2 plus 2. Indian rhythmic complexes count into the fifties, and cycles involving half beats (i.e., 5½, 9½) are now developing in this living musical tradition. But even during the most ecstatic moments of the second stage (gat) of the raga, during which the explicate rhythmic pattern unfolds, the drone remains as the omniscient, omnipotent cause from which proceed the origin, subsistence, and dissolution (Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva) of the raga — of the world. The activity and ecstasy of the musical universe build to a glorious climax then fade away into the drone from which they sprang like myriad bubbles of sunflecked foam that danced briefly on the swells of eternity.

As “one can never step into the same river twice” one can never play a raga exactly the same way twice. The musician seeks to express the uniqueness of the moment: time, season, audience, instrument, planets, musician, and stars will never again occur in the same relationship. Though the river is never the same it is always a river, an aspect of the ocean of divinity made manifest. With the assumption that each dewdrop and river flows from and seeks return to its divine source the musician improvises a spontaneous expression of that journey. The raga form conveys all the joy and grief of being human, yet the final absorption of that experience in Brahman transports all to a state in which the universe is perceived as neither good nor bad but simply as TAT (THAT). The raga manifests this understanding and acceptance in a personal, spontaneous, improvisatory, and fully realized expression of artistic beauty and power. It is the inner reality of things rather than any transient or partial experience that the singer/musician voices.

Egyptology

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The ancient Egyptians conceived man and kosmos to be dual: firstly, the High God or Divine Mind arose out of the Primeval Waters of space at the beginning of manifestation; secondly, the material aspect expressing what is in the Divine Mind must be in a process of ever-becoming. In other words, the kosmos consists of body and soul. Man emanated in the image of divinity is similarly dual and his evolutionary goal is a fully conscious return to the Divine Mind.

Space, symbolized by the Primeval Waters, contains the seeds and possibilities of all living things in their quiescent state. At the right moment for awakenment, all will take up forms in accordance with inherent qualities. Or to express it in another way: the Word uttered by the Divine Mind calls manifested life to begin once more.

Growth is effected through a succession of lives, a concept that is found in texts and implied in symbolism. Herodotus, the Greek historian (5th century B.C.), wrote that

the Egyptians were the first to teach that the human soul is immortal, and at the death of the body enters into some other living thing then coming to birth; and after passing through all creatures of land, sea, and air (which cycle it completes in three thousand years) it enters once more into a human body, at birth.

The theory of reincarnation is often ascribed to Pythagoras, since he spent some time in Egypt studying its philosophy and, according to Herodotus, “adopted this opinion as if it were his own.”

Margaret A. Murray, who worked with Flinders Petrie, illustrates the Egyptian belief by referring to the ka-names of three kings (The ka-name relates to the vital essence of an individual); the first two of the twelfth dynasty: that of Amonemhat I means “He who repeats births,” Senusert I: “He whose births live,” and the ka-name of Setekhy I of the nineteenth dynasty was “Repeater of births.” (The Splendour That Was Egypt)

Reincarnation has been connected with the rites of Osiris, one of the Mysteries or cycles of initiation perpetuated in Egypt. The concept of transformation as recorded in the Egyptian texts has been interpreted in various ways. De Briere expresses it in astronomical terms: “The sensitive soul re-entered by the gate of the gods, or the Capricorn, into the Amenthe, the watery heavens, where it dwelt always with pleasure; until, descending by the gate of men, or the Cancer, it came to animate a new body.” Herodotus writes of transmigration, i.e., that the soul passes through various animals before being reborn in human form. This refers not to the human soul but to the molecules, atoms, and other components that clothe it. They gravitate to vehicles similar in qualities to their former host’s, drawn magnetically to the new milieu by the imprint made by the human soul, whether it be fine or gross. It is quite clear from the Book of the Dead and other texts that the soul itself after death undergoes experiences in the Duat (Dwat) or Underworld, the realm and condition between heaven and earth, or beneath the earth, supposedly traversed by the sun from sunset to sunrise.

The evolution of consciousness is symbolized by the Solar Barque moving through the Duat. In this context the “hours” of travel represent stages of development. Bika Reed states that at a certain “hour” the individual meets the “Rebel in the Soul,”  that is, at the “hour of spiritual transformation.” And translating from the scroll Reed gives: “the soul warns, only if a man is allowed to continue evolving, can the intellect reach the heart.”

Not only does the scripture deal with rituals assumed to apply to after-death conditions — in some respects similar to the Book of the Dead — but also it seems quite patently a ritual connected with initiation from one level of self-becoming to another. Nevertheless the picture that emerges is that of the “deceased” or candidate for initiation reaching a fork offering two paths called “The Two Paths of Liberation” and, while each may take the neophyte to the abode of the Akhu (the “Blessed”) — a name for the gods, and also for the successful initiates — they involve different experiences. One path, passing over land and water, is that of Osiris or cyclic nature and involves many incarnations. The other way leads through fire in a direct or shortened passage along the route of Horus who in many texts symbolizes the divine spark in the heart.

In the Corpus Hermeticum, Thoth — Tehuti — was the Mind of the Deity, whom the Alexandrian Greeks identified with Hermes. For example, one of the chief books in the Hermetica is the Poimandres treatise, or Pymander. The early trinity Atum-Ptah-Thoth was rendered into Greek as theos (god) — demiourgos or demourgos-nous (Demiurge or Demiurgic Mind) — nous and logos (Mind and Word). The text states that Thoth, after planning and engineering the kosmos, unites himself with the Demiurgic Mind. There are other expressions proving that the Poimandres text is a Hellenized version of Egyptian doctrine. An important concept therein is that of “making-new-again.” The treatise claims that all animal and vegetable forms contain in themselves “the seed of again-becoming” — a clear reference to reimbodiment — “every birth of flesh ensouled . . . shall of necessity renew itself.” G. R. S. Mead interprets this as palingenesis or reincarnation — “the renewal on the karmic wheel of birth-and-death.” (Thrice-Greatest Hermes)

The Corpus Hermeticum or Books of Hermes are believed by some scholars to have been borrowed from Christian texts, but their concepts are definitely ancient Egyptian in origin, translated into Alexandrian Greek, and Latin.

Looking at Walter Scott’s translation of Poimandres, it states that “At the dissolution of your material body, you first yield up the body itself to be changed,” and it will be absorbed by nature. The rest of the individual’s components return to “their own sources, becoming parts of the universe, and entering into fresh combinations to do other work.” After this, the real or inner man “mounts upward through the structure of the heavens,” leaving off in each of the seven zones certain energies and related substances. The first zone is that of the Moon; the second, the planet Mercury; the third, Venus; fourth, the Sun; fifth, Mars; sixth, Jupiter; and seventh, Saturn. “Having been stripped of all that was wrought upon him” in his previous descent into incarnation on Earth, he ascends to the highest sphere, “being now possessed of his own proper power.” Finally, he enters into divinity. “This is the Good; this is the consummation, for those who have got gnosis.” (According to Scott, gnosis in this context means not only knowledge of divinity but also the relationship between man’s real self and the godhead.)

Further on, the Poimandres explains that the mind and soul can be conjoined only by means of an earth-body, because the mind by itself cannot do so, and an earthly body would not be able to endure

the presence of that mighty and immortal being, nor could so great a power submit to contact with a body defiled by passion. And so the mind takes to itself the soul for a wrap

In Hermetica, Isis to Horus, there is the statement:

. . . . For there are [in the world above, two gods] who are attendants of the Providence that governs all. One of them is Keeper of souls; the other is Conductor of souls. The Keeper is he that has in his charge the unembodied souls; the Conductor is he that sends down to earth the souls that are from time to time embodied, and assigns to them their several places. And both he that keeps watch over the souls, and he that sends them forth, act in accordance with God’s will.

There are many texts using the term “transformations” and a good commentary on the concept by R. T. Rundle Clark follows:

In order to reach the heights of the sky the soul had to undergo those transformations which the High God had gone through as he developed from a spirit in the Primeval Waters to his final position as Sun God . . .” — Myth-And-Symbol-In-Ancient-Egypt

This would appear to mean that in entering upon physical manifestation human souls follow the path of the divine and spiritual artificers of the universe.

There is reason to believe that the after-death adventures met with by the soul through the Duat or Underworld were also undergone by a neophyte during initiation. If the trial ends in success, the awakened human being thereafter speaks with the authority of direct experience. In the most ancient days of Egypt, such an initiate was called a “Son of the Sun” for he embodied the solar splendour. For the rest of mankind, the way is slower, progressing certainly, but more gradually, through many lives. The ultimate achievement is the same: to radiate the highest qualities of the spiritual element locked within the aspiring soul.

Spirit is Matter on the Seventh Plane; Matter is Spirit – on the Lowest Point of its Cyclic Activity; and Both — are MAYA. Note Quote.

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In the 1930s the scientist Sir James Jeans wrote:

the tendency of modem physics is to resolve the whole material universe into waves, and nothing but waves. These waves are of two kinds: bottled-up waves, which we call matter, and unbottled waves, which we call radiation or light. If annihilation of matter occurs, the process is merely that of unbottling imprisoned wave-energy and setting it free to travel through space. These concepts reduce the whole universe to a world of light, potential or existent . . . . — The Mysterious Universe

The idea of matter being crystallized light echoes what H. P. Blavatsky wrote half a century earlier in The Secret Doctrine, where she speaks of “that infinite Ocean of Light, whose one pole is pure Spirit lost in the absoluteness of Non-Being, and the other, the matter in which it condenses, crystallizing into a more and more gross type as it descends into manifestation” (The Secret Doctrine). Material particles, she said, were infinitely divisible centers of force, and matter could therefore exist in infinitely varying degrees of density. Our physical senses have been evolved to perceive only one particular plane of matter, which is interpenetrated by countless other worlds or planes invisible to us because composed of ranges of energy-substance both finer and grosser than our own.

Modern science has analyzed matter down to the point where it vanishes into wisps of energy. Energy is said to be a measure of motion or activity. But motion of what? It is a truism that there can be no motion without something that moves. Scientists in the last century believed that wave-motion took place in a universal medium called the ether. This hypothesis was abandoned because the ether proved to be chemically and physically undetectable, and science was left with the unlikely idea that waves are transmitted through “empty space.”

Modern physicists believe that underlying the material world there is a quantum field, also called the quantum void or vacuum. The quantum field is said to be “a continuous medium which is present everywhere in space” (The Tao of Physics) and matter is said to be constituted by regions of space in which the field is extremely intense. Scientists assert that the quantum field is non-material, but deny that it is mere nothingness. Paul Davies states that the quantum void is not inert and featureless but throbbing with energy and vitality, a seething ferment of “Virtual” particles and “ghost” particles. (Superforce) It therefore seems to be actually a form of ether, which is non-material only in the sense that it is not composed of physical matter. Rather than material particles being “knots of nothingness,” as Davies calls them, they may therefore be seen as vibrations in an etheric medium composed of a subtler, superphysical grade of substance. The same reasoning applies to all the other “non-material” fields and forces postulated by science.

Everything is relative. Physical matter is condensed energy, but what for us is energy would be matter for beings on a higher plane than ours, as is suggested by the fact that energy does not exist in a continuous flow but is composed of discrete units or quanta. Likewise, the energy on the next plane would be matter to an even higher plane. The loftiest form of energy in any particular hierarchy of worlds is what we call spirit or consciousness. As H. P. Blavatsky put it: “Spirit is matter on the seventh plane; matter is Spirit – on the lowest point of its cyclic activity; and both — are MAYA.” (The Secret Doctrine). To say that spirit and matter are “maya” or illusion does not mean that they do not exist, but that we do not understand them as they really are. Any particular plane of energy-substance can be understood only with reference to superior, causal planes. Everything — from atom to human, from star to universe — is the expression of something higher.

Throughout the ages, sages and seers have suggested that hidden within the phenomenal world in which we live there are inner worlds of reality — astral, mental, and spiritual — and that the physical world is but a pale shadow of the spiritual world. These inner worlds cannot be investigated with physical instruments, but only by delving into the depths of our own minds and consciousness, and this requires many lives of self-purification and self-conquest. Scientists using only materialistic methods are in no position to deny point-blank the possibility of such higher planes.

Most scientists, in fact, now believe that some 90% of the matter in the universe exists in a state unknown to them; it is called “dark matter” because it is physically unobservable, and its existence is known of only by its gravitational effects. Such matter is suggestive of the higher subplanes and planes postulated by theosophy, which are composed of matter of increasingly slower rates of vibration and are therefore beyond our range of perception. Given scientists’ confessed ignorance of most of the matter in the universe and their inability to explain satisfactorily the evolution of life and consciousness and the “laws of nature” along materialistic lines, any suggestion that they are on the verge of discovering the innermost secrets of nature or of reducing the mystery of existence to a single equation is premature to say the least!

In theosophical philosophy, the physical universe is regarded as no more than a cross section through infinitude. Universal nature is composed of worlds within worlds within worlds, filled full of conscious, living beings at infinitely varying stages of their evolutionary awakenment. Our finite minds cannot embrace the infinite. As G. de Purucker says in his Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, we can do no more than to try and form a simple conception of the Boundless All: never-ending life and consciousness in unceasing motion everywhere. The ancients, he says, were never so foolish as to try to fathom infinitude. They recognized the reality of being and let it go at that, knowing that an ever-expanding consciousness and an ever-growing understanding of existence is all that we can ever attain to during our eternal evolutionary journey through the fields of infinitude.

++ Occult/Esoteric ++

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The Greeks were adept in the use of imagery to convey profound esoteric truths, often using the form of sport; or, for instance, they would read into the exercises of the stadium inner significance. One of the best known examples of this was their portrayal through the torchbearer race of the mystic line of succession of great teachers.

In the torch-race, the torch-bearer ran from post to post. On reaching the end of his stage he handed the lighted torch which he carried to the one there waiting, who immediately took up the race and in his turn handed it to the one waiting for him. This exercise of the arena or stadium was taken by many Greek and Latin writers as symbolizing the carrying on of Light from age to age, and as pointing to the spiritual Torch-bearers who pass the Torch of Truth from hand to hand throughout unending time…. This handing on of the light of truth “throughout unending time” has formed the theme of many Mystery parables. The Greeks also referred to this spiritual succession as the Golden Chain of Hermes which they believed to stretch far into the realms of Olympus, to “Father Zeus downwards through a series or line of spiritual beings and then through certain elect and lofty human beings to ordinary men” (Esoteric Tradition).

Purucker described this mystic succession as the guruparampara. This is a Sanskrit compound literally meaning “teacher beyond beyond.” The term signifies a line of teachers reaching beyond the beyond, through past, present, and into the distant future, whose sublime purpose is ever the same: the work of spiritualization.

The ancient Mystery-Schools of every country of the globe and of whatever epoch in time, have had each one a Succession of Teachers trained and authorized by their training to teach in their turn; and as long as this transmission of the light of Truth was a reality in any one country, it was in every sense a truly spiritual institution.

An outstanding example of this ancient transmission is the succession of “living buddhas” of Tibet, which “is a real one, but of a somewhat special type, and it is by no means what Occidental scholars mistake it to be or have frequently misunderstood it to be” (Esoteric Tradition).

Further, in the Eleusinian Mysteries of Greece,

hierophants were drawn from one family, the Eumolpidae, living in Athens, and the torchbearers were drawn from another family, the Lycomidae, living in Athens; and we have reason to believe that the Mysteries of Samothrace, the seat of an older rite, and which were, like the Mysteries of Eleusis, a State function, were also conducted in the same manner by the passing on of the tradition held sacred and incommunicable to outsiders; and the bond of union between the initiates of these so-called Mysteries was considered indissoluble, impossible of dissolution, for death merely strengthened the tie.– Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy

In Persia as well as Egypt, we find this line of succession manifesting in another form. For example, there were the thirteen or more Zoroasters whose esoteric contribution to Persia’s history was the inspiration of that once mighty civilization:

The number of Zoroasters who have appeared from time to time is confusing, so long as we consider, and wrongly consider, these Zoroasters to be reimbodiments of one single ego, instead of different egos imbodying what we may interpret from the occult records as the “Zoroaster-spirit.” The truth of the matter is that in the scheme and terminology of Zoroastrianism, every Root-Race and sub-race, and minor race of the latter, has its own Zoroaster or Zoroasters. The term Zoroaster means in Zoroastrianism, very much what the term Buddha does in Buddhism, or Avatara does in Brahmanism. Thus there were great Zoroasters, and less Zoroasters — the qualificatory adjective depending upon the work done by each Zoroaster, and the sphere of things. Hence we can speak of the Zoroasters as being thirteen in number from one standpoint, or fourteen from another; or like the Manus in Brahmanism, or like the Buddhas in Buddhism, we can multiply each of these by seven again, or even fourteen if we take in every little branchlet race with its guiding Zoroaster-spirit.– Studies in Occult Philosophy.

In Egypt, Hermes Trismegistus (“Hermes the thrice greatest”) stands out from the long Hermes line, whose writings and teachings were founded on the ancient Mystery doctrine. In Greece also we find the Orphic Mysteries, from whose halls of esoteric instruction came forth many who bore the name of Orpheus.

What impelled these pupils to take the names of their teachers? Why did they sign their work, or give oral instruction, in the name of Orpheus, Hermes, or Zoroaster? Was it a kind of spiritual plagiarism, or was it rather because of a compelling gratitude to the teacher who had given them ALL, who had lighted the flame of esoteric fire in their hearts? Surely the latter, for whatever message they had of inspiration and light they deemed not theirs, but “his who sent me” — “As we have received it, thus shall we pass it on.” This practice is distressing to later historians who struggle always to attach correct labels to things, yet one cannot help but love these old disciples for that loyalty of soul which banishes all thought of individual greatness.

The relationship between disciple and teacher is a most sacred bond of spiritual intimacy. Gratitude wells up from the disciple commensurate with greatness of soul: the little of heart feel only resentment when guidance and protection are offered; but the large of heart burn with the flame of loving and inextinguishable gratitude. The links in this Golden Chain of Hermes are joined by gratitude. As each link is coupled with its brother link, heart with heart, teacher with pupil, pupil with teacher — each teacher a pupil to the one above, each pupil a teacher to the one below — all bonded by unbreakable links of love, fidelity, and gratitude to the teacher, to the Brotherhood, to the esoteric wisdom:

Like signal-fires of the olden times, which, lighted and extinguished by turns upon one hill-top after another, conveyed intelligence along a whole stretch of country, so we see a long line of “wise” men from the beginning of history down to our own times communicating the word of wisdom to their direct successors. Passing from seer to seer, the “Word” flashes out like lightning, and while carrying off the initiator from human sight forever, brings the new initiate into view. — Isis Unveiled

This “long line of `wise’ men” has been kept unbroken since the middle of the third root-race by two methods: (a) the actual reincarnation of adepts, and (b) the birth of the initiate out of the disciple. In this way the Brotherhood revitalizes its membership through the rebirth of hierophants, and the “second birth” of recruits from the ranks of the Mystery chambers. The “Passing of the Word” was the final rite of the solar initiation: without it no transmission of occult authority could be made from initiator to disciple.

Hence the line of esoteric authority and wisdom advances in serial order through grade after grade of chelaship to the adepts; from adepts to high mahatmas; from high mahatmas to buddhas; from buddhas to dhyani-buddhas; from dhyani-buddhas to the spiritual guide and protector of the planetary chain of earth; from the earth planetary spirit to the heart of the sun. Truly a line of luminous glory linking the humblest of disciples of wisdom with the solar logos.

Esotericism. Note Quote.

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So, here is some theosophy. Feels nostalgic, for I was a member at the Adyar Society, and these were the lingua franca then….

To the spiritual eagle eye of the seer and the prophet of every race, Ariadne’s thread stretches beyond that “historic period” without break or flaw, surely and steadily, into the very night of time; and the hand which holds it is too mighty to drop it, or even let it break. — The Secret Doctrine 2:67

This thread of esotericism stretches further still into the dawntime of the human race, where “Truth, high-seated upon its rock of adamant, is alone eternal and supreme” (Isis Unveiled 1:v). Where is this truth, this loom of esoteric history, and what the pattern of its fabric? In the home of the Brotherhood stands this loom, whose warp is the ancient threads of initiation held in occult tension by the sacrifice of adepts, and whose woof is woven century by century as each national unit spins the luminous threads of esotericism in its Mystery centers.

Profane history reveals scarcely anything of consecutive value, except insofar as the relics of this mystic pageantry all point to an identic motif. To “have a consecutive and full history of our race from its incipient stage down to the present times,” archaic records must needs be sought. By such alone could one trace even in faint outline the ancient pattern. Access to these, however, is the privilege of the adept alone, for such “knowledge is only for the highest Initiates, who do not take their students into their confidence” (Secret Doctrine 2:437-8). Nevertheless, we have received a priceless gift: the benefit of evidence gathered by those who have penetrated the veils of the adyta and have had the compassion to return and share with us a guarded portion of their vision. Study of their findings may at first reveal only a broken pattern, but if faithfully pursued such study will point with unmistakable clarity to one universal source of truth.

From Central Asia whose lands comprised a vast territory, including the Desert of Gobi or Shamo, the mountains of Tien Shan and Kuen Lun, the regions of Baluchistan, Afghanistan, Persia, and Turkestan, went forth bands of emigrants, in large part glowing with determination to conquer, to subdue, and many were the battles waged in those early days. A primal cause, yet unrecognized by the populace, was the urge of the Brotherhood aided by karma to carry the light of the Mysteries into other lands, to spread the ancient wisdom far and wide on the surface of the earth:

Not one people alone inhabited and built up these civilizations of Central Asia. They were recurrent waves of our present Fifth Root-Race. . . . each one of such civilizations being in its turn a cradle out of which grew children-colonies sent forth to carry light and initiation to what were then barbarous and uncultivated parts of the world, such as what is now Europe, what is now China, what is now Siberia, what is now India.– Studies in Occult Philosophy

To Bharata-varsha or India went forth the Aryas or “worthy ones,” a band of emigrants who founded a civilization and a culture as yet unrivaled in esoteric history, whose ramifications of spiritual influence extended to Egypt, Asia Minor, and Europe. Another band moved westward to Egypt, the “gift of the Nile” as Herodotus called it, and mixing with the aboriginal stock peopled its valleys. From this union sprang a princely civilization, the glory of which remains after thousands of centuries, the more so as the influence of its Mysteries spread far and wide as conquering nation after conquering nation became captive to the interior grandeur of Egypt. Persia, Babylonia, Judea and Crete, Greece and Rome, all trace their spiritual inspiration to the Egyptian and early Aryan cultures. Furthermore, so immense in esoteric power were these primeval civilizations, that there are records which show Egyptian priests — Initiates — journeying in a North-Westerly direction, by land, via what became later the Straits of Gibraltar; turning North and travelling through the future Phoenician settlements of Southern Gaul; then still further North, until reaching Carnac (Morbihan) they turned to the West again and arrived, still travelling by land, on the North-Western promontory of the New Continent [the British Isles].

What was the object of their long journey? And how far back must we place the date of such visits? The archaic records show the Initiates of the Second Sub-race of the Aryan family moving from one land to the other for the purpose of supervising the building of menhirs and dolmens, of colossal Zodiacs in stone, and places of sepulchre to serve as receptacles for the ashes of generations to come.– Secret Doctrine 2:750

What was the mainspring of these civilizations but the Mystery-teachings — teachings which penetrated into the very thought-life of nations, perhaps unknown of source, unrecognized by the multitudes as esoteric? Nonetheless they constituted the inspiration of the artist in his search for divinity, the intuition of the poet in his yearning for truth, and the resounding harmony of the musician as he sought the music of the spheres. It is no idle phrase to say that all things of spiritual, intellectual, and artistic value were born root and seed from the Sanctuary.

What are the stone and papyrus of Egypt but witness to knowledge of ancient truths long forgotten? The scenes of the weighing of the heart against the feather of truth in the papyri of Pert Em Hru — “Coming forth into Day,” commonly known as the Book of the Dead — portray in symbol and allegory what actually took place in the secret chambers of the initiation-pyramids. Living testimonial is the Great Pyramid of Khufu or Cheops, which H. P. Blavatsky hints more than once may go back at least 75,000 years BC, if not more (see Secret Doctrine 2:432, 750).

What of the Druids and their ancient ceremonies under oak and myrtle, with their stone monuments so oriented that the beams of the rising sun touched the brow of the candidate as he rose from his couch of initiation “clothed with the sun,” literally aflame with solar glory? Whence the training of their candidates in three degrees, a training which demanded absolute moral purity, spiritual vigor, and profound understanding of truth?

What about Persia and its long line of Zoroasters, within whose mystic seven-chambered centers truths of great intellectual and spiritual value were taught to neophytes who underwent the traditional discipline of the Mysteries? Were the Magi born from any other source than the archaic mother of occultism? What of the Orphic Mysteries, whose austere discipline and esoteric content may have had a stronger impact on Greek culture than the Eleusinian Mysteries, so popular for centuries? Do not the teachings of Orpheus indicate an Eastern origin reminiscent of those from India’s asramas or mystery-temples? Did not Pythagoras and Plato likewise travel India-wards and bring back to their disciples the identic pattern of esotericism?

Thus one might go on, with the Norse and Germanic mysticism, the Hindu and Chinese philosophies, the Greek and Roman ceremonial — all weavers of one pattern in one universal motif, a motif applicable to all times, to all nations, because capable of infinite variations. To grasp the inner purport of one Mystery school is to perceive the sacred identity of all of them — not in detail of cultural and ethnic interpretation, but in esoteric essentials.

What therefore is the test of truth? One basic requirement is universality: has it been taught by all those who have been “clothed with the central sun” of initiation? Did Buddha Gautama instruct his disciples in the selfsame doctrine that Christ Jesus did? Did Sankaracharya teach the same esotericism that Pythagoras and Empedocles did? Were Zoroaster and Tsong-kha-pa born in their adepthood from the same womb of the initiation chamber as Apollonius of Tyana, Orpheus, or Lao-Tz\bu? Have Persia and Greece, China and ancient America, Iceland, Wales, and Babylonia all received a message which, stripped of outer vestments, is one in essentials? Assuredly, it is so, for such patterns have been woven on one loom — the ageless loom of truth.

In the words of G. de Purucker, Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, 

These Mystery schools are not a unique system but, based on the spiritual structure of the universe, they were established from the same motives of compassion that presided over the acts of the great actors of the primal drama, the opening acts of our manvantara. They copied, as it were in miniature, what took place in those primordial times, and what took place in actual life in the Hierarchy of Compassion on our earth, or that section, rather, of the Hierarchy of Compassion which we call the Great White Lodge.

One primeval humanity, many children-colonies; one Mystery teaching, many Mystery schools; one archaic pattern, many variations of color and texture as each nation contributes the woof of its national Mysteries. Three are the variants of motif as seen from the present:

(1) the original unveiling of truth to infant humanity by divine instructors working in consonance with the spiritual planetary of our earth who, through the early millennia, successfully gathered together the choice few into a center of esoteric light – the great Brotherhood;

(2) the secondary unveiling springing directly as the fruit of the first: the spiritualizing influences uninterruptedly sent forth by the Brotherhood, and more specifically energized at cyclic intervals by their disciples, the great world teachers; and

(3) the third unveiling born as the progeny of (1) and (2): the penetration of truth into human life through the Mystery schools, the centers of esoteric discipline, in whose inner chambers initiation of the “elect” alone takes place, but in whose outer courts the world-at-large may seek entrance to learn fundamental verities so that life may be ennobled and death accepted as naturally as is sleep. Thus is the pattern of esotericism woven century by century on the loom of truth.